I'm typing this after listening to a recorded audio of Mitchell and I sharing the story
As with most moms, my goal was to give birth naturally with no interventions, and certainly no medications. We hired a doula to help us prepare for an all-natural unmedicated birth, but sometime after the whole world went on shut down because of the pandemic, things started taking an interesting turn in my otherwise low-risk pregnancy. Needless to say, I still got the unmedicated* part of my birth plan, and my baby boy was born healthy.
(*With the exception of Pitocin that was administered to me upon induction.)
Side note: This is the full extensive version for my own record. Scroll down to "At the Hospital" if you wanna skip to the part when we get to the hospital.
THE FINAL 4 WEEKS
At my routine 36-week prenatal appointment on April 24th, my doctor ordered me an ultrasound to confirm baby's size and position. The day after I got my ultrasound done, I got a phone call from our doctor (who was at the hospital at that time) saying we needed to see her to discuss the results of the ultrasound. Once we got to the hospital, were told that baby was measuring small for his gestational age and that his belly was measuring smaller than his head, which means that baby might not be getting enough nutrients from the placenta, hence the disproportion. The ultrasound also showed that my amniotic fluid was on the low end, and that if it got too low, it could be detrimental for baby in utero which means baby would need to be delivered ASAP to get him out. You can imagine how heavy my heart felt after hearing those words. I can still feel it to this day.
The results from the ultrasound immediately moved me from being low-risk to high-risk, which meant our doctor had to hand us over to an Obstetrician. I remember complaining to God, "as if navigating my last trimester in the middle of a pandemic wasn't hard enough, now I have to be under the care of a doctor I don't even know???" After meeting the OB and after having him explain how baby will be monitored closely and how the goal is for baby to be delivered healthy, I started to feel a tiny bit better.
The OB ordered us to come back to the hospital for a Non-Stress Test every other day for one week to monitor fetal movement, fetal heart rate, and my contractions. He also ordered an ultrasound for me every week for 2 weeks, to measure baby's growth and my amniotic fluid level. Mitchell and I basically got to know the Labour and Delivery unit really well in my last month of pregnancy. After every Non-Stress Test, the nurses would always ask me to fill out a fetal movement chart and I remember always telling them that baby moved soooo much in my belly, I would need a whole binder for all the charts I'd fill out.
At around 38 weeks, we met with the OB again to discuss the ultrasound results. He confirmed that baby's small gestational size is most likely because of genetics (seeing as I'm under 5 feet and both Mitchell and I aren't overly large people). I later confirmed with both my mom and mother-in-law that both Mitchell and I were small babies when we were born, but we. both quickly climbed up to the 75th + percentile by 2 months.
During that week, I saw my Pelvic Floor Physio twice for pelvic floor/perineal prep and I also started seeing my Chiro again for adjustments for me and baby. Mind you, everything had been shut down since after my baby shower in March. Physio and Chiro literally opened up that week and I know it was God's way of helping me prepare for labour.
At my 39-week appointment (39+4 to be exact), my blood pressure was higher than usual so the OB booked me in for induction that evening. Because of Covid protocols, the hospital was limiting the number of doctors on call. So even if I was under the care of OB "A", I would get whatever OB was on-call the day I go to the hospital to give birth. Turns out, our current OB wasn't on-call until 2 days after my now induction date, which meant that I had to be transferred to yet another physician. At this point, it didn't matter whose care I was under. I just wanted baby out safe and healthy! My induction was scheduled for 6 PM that evening (May 19th) and I went to see my Chiro 2 hours before my induction for final adjustments for me and baby.
After my Chiro appointment, I took a nap while Mitchell finalized all the stuff we were bringing to the hospital - bags, snacks, car seat, etc. We managed to snap a few photos of just the two of us before meeting our little guy!
AT THE HOSPITAL
We headed to the hospital for 6 PM for my scheduled induction. We met the OB on call who will administer the induction, as well as our first nurse who happens to be a friend from Young Adults! The OB checked my cervix and I was already 3-4 cm dilated at this point. Shortly after, I was given Cervidil to induce labour and the OB also ordered blood work to make sure "I'm not sicker than I look", as per his words. I was supposed to stay at the hospital overnight while Cervidil worked (since it takes anywhere from 4-12 hours to work), but the blood work came back showing that I was waaaaay sicker than I looked. The OB diagnosed me with pre-eclampsia so he took the Cervidil out and decided to give me Pitocin to get labour going faster since I was already 4 cm dilated.
By 8:15 PM I was moved to the Labour & Delivery Room, hooked up on Pitocin and had my water broken. About 15 minutes after, the contractions started coming in, and every 10 or so minutes, they came stronger and stronger but were still very manageable. The first time the OB checked in on me (which was maybe 30-45 min after I started getting contractions), I was offered pain meds (epidural) and I refused cuz I honestly didn't think the pain was bad. I mean, I was comparing it to my period cramps which were reeeaaaally bad.
One thing I remember that helped with the contractions was bouncing on the exercise ball + Mitchell applying pressure on my lower back/hips, just like we did almost every night at home since I was 36 weeks pregnant. I hella bounced on the exercise ball!
I remember going for a walk with Mitchell around the unit, stopping at every contraction and pushing my head against the wall. After what felt like 2 laps around the unit, we went back to the L&D room so I could bounce on the exercise ball more.
After a while, I asked the nurses if I could try the bath and I remember feeling relieved in the water for a couple of hours. The thing was, I was too short for the rub that if I wanted to lie on my back and submerge as much of my body as I can, I'd end up submerging my whole body, lol. So I had no choice but to sit on my knees and have Mitchell pour water on my back using the shower head. I think I was in the bath for a good hour or so. I started passing out of exhaustion and that's when Mitchell called the nurses to take me back to the room.
By the time we got back to the Labour & Delivery Room, the OB checked me again and I was at 8 cm. (The last time he checked me was 2 hours prior.) By this point, my contractions were back to back and the pain started becoming unbearable so I asked for the laughing gas. I think I asked for the epidural at this point, but I was told that I was at the "no turning back point" where it was already too late to get the epidural. I think I was also lying on my left side by this point, with Mitchell pushing on my lower back/hips to relieve the pain. I remember feeling like I needed to poop and push (and I remember making a weird "oooooo" noise to deal with the pain). I asked the nurses when the next time I could see the OB, thinking that I had to wait another 2 hours before I could see him. The nurses said I can see him whenever I want to which I replied (according to Mitchell), "Are you kidding me? Why didn't anyone tell me that?! I wanna see him now!"
The OB came, checked me again and I was fully dilated. I asked if I could push now, to which he replied "Yeah, I guess if you want to." LOL! I asked to lie on my side (instead of on my back) and the OB let me try pushing that way but we had no luck. Baby started to go into distress, so they had to put me on my back to push. I went on my back, with one of the nurses holding my left leg, and Mitchell holding my right leg up, pushing on their cue. I remember biting my tongue while pushing to distract me from the pain going on down there (spoiler: I ended up with a blister on my tongue because of how hard I was biting it while pushing. NTS, don't do that again lol) According to Mitchell, I hella popped blood vessels on my face!
Because of COVID restrictions, we couldn't have our doula at the hospital with us so she equipped Mitchell with the massages and moves and mojos to help me with the unmedicated labour I wanted to have. For someone who hadn't done this before, he did an AMAZING job encouraging me and keeping me calm and advocating for me!!! One of the nurses (Nurse Sarah) stayed by my side, holding my hand as she calmly directed my breathing and pushing (like I imagined our doula would have done.) After about 15 minutes of pushing, the baby's heart rate started going down so the OB brought out the forceps. He was telling us about forceps and basically asking for consent to use it, and according to Mitchell, I had ZERO care in what they were and what they were going to be used for. Mitchell gave the OB permission on my behalf to use the forceps (mind you, NO EPIDURAL). I gave it a few more pushes and at this point, I remember Mitchell telling me that he can see baby's head! And with that bit of encouragement, Baby Lee came out after a couple stronger pushes!
Mitchell got to cut the umbilical cord, which was super special. And because baby's heart rate was in distress, he had to get checked by a team of NICU doctor and nurses before they could give him to me. Once everything was clear, one of the nurses put baby on my chest for skin to skin and IT. WAS. UNREAL. The surge of emotions I had holding my baby was more than I could handle. It was the most beautiful feeling I've ever felt. He is the most beautiful baby I've ever seen.
JACKSON MITCHELL GRAZA LEE: THE MEANING BEHIND HIS NAME
Well, there it is! The birth story of my first born. The story that made me a mother and Mitchell a father. We love him so so so much and I still can't believe we get the honour of parenting and discipling Jackson!