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Leah's Birth Story

Today my sweet baby, Leah, turns 1! I can hardly believe that a whole year has passed by already so I wanted to share and relive all of the precious details of one of the most special days of my life!

My birth experience was not a typical birth experience for a first time mom. I was in early labor, having very real contractions every night for 3 weeks before the contractions finally picked up. Every night I would struggle to fall asleep as my contractions picked up in intensity and every morning I would wake up and they would be completely gone. I started to worry that I would never have any idea of when it was time to head to the hospital.

The day before Leah was born was a pretty normal day. Zeb went to work and I sat at home working on some last minute things that I wanted to get done before the baby came. When he got home, we spent most of the evening relaxing. It was Zeb’s last night on call for the week, and it was definitely his last time on call before the baby came. Since the next morning was Zeb's birthday, we sat and finalized his birthday plans. We were going to make breakfast, I had a doctors appointment and then after work, Zeb had FINALLY scheduled a haircut - it was long overdue! After that, we were going to head to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. We joked that as soon as we made Zeb and appointment to get his hair cut, the baby would come since his hair was so long! That night my contractions, which I had been having throughout the day, picked back up. Since this had happened so many nights before, I didn’t think too much of it, and was prepared to wake up and for the contractions to be gone again. Before we went to sleep, Zeb said he fully expected me to wake him up in the middle of the night to head to the hospital. “That would be a pretty good birthday gift!” I told him.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018:

I was up and down all night having contractions. They were maybe 10 minutes apart, but I wasn’t timing them because I thought for sure that they’d go away. I’d doze off in between them and they would hurt enough that they would wake me up again. This went on all night, so when I woke up around 6:00 AM, I decided that I may as well stay awake, even though I could have slept longer. I was encouraged that it was morning and they were still coming, but I was trying to stay calm, and not get my hopes up. As soon as I was up and moving, the contractions started to become more painful. Not painful enough to not be able to walk or talk, but enough that when one would reach its peak I would stop for a second and say, “Ow.” When Zeb finally woke up, I gave him the rundown about what I was feeling and we were both excited to hear what my doctor had to say!

As we drove to Zeb’s parents’ house (his mom was taking me to my appointment) we were so excited to see that it was snowing, which Zeb said never happened on his birthday! I timed my contractions as we drove and they were consistently 2-5 minutes apart. We got to his parents house, said goodbye, and I headed to my doctors appointment!

My appointment was at 8:00, so we got checked in and got called back to see the doctor really quickly. When she came in the room she asked how I was doing and asked if I had been experiencing any contractions.

“Actually,” I said, “I've been having consistent contractions since last night. They’re about 3-5 minutes apart now and starting to feel pretty painful.”

“Really?! Great! Let’s check you,” she said. At this point I was 3 cm dilated and 100% effaced. I was so excited that I could have leapt out of the chair and done a dance (but I didn’t). My doctor decided to hook me up to a monitor to monitor the baby’s heart rate and to monitor my contractions. She also gave me a little button to click anytime I felt the baby move. 15-20 minutes later, she came back in to ask how I was doing and if I had felt the baby move. I really hadn’t felt them move at all, so she used this little tool that vibrated my belly and when she did that I felt the baby wiggle around. Even though I was hurting a little, it was so neat to watch the natural pattern of my contractions. I would have one big, strong contraction, and then one smaller contraction about two minutes later. After another 15 minutes, my doctor came back in to look at my contractions. She said that it’s safe to say that I’m definitely in labor and she would advise me to go home and get everything that I need together, eat something, and then head up to the hospital! She said that there wasn’t a need to rush because I was going to either wait around at home, or wait around at the hospital.

At 8:56 AM I texted Zeb, “Call me when you get a second!”

I headed back home, and Zeb called me in the car. I gave him a rundown of what was going on, told him not to rush, and to make his way home as soon as he could. When I got home, I was in a whole different world. I wandered around the house getting together our last minute hospital things, letting Stewart puppy out and munching on an apple. I decided to straighten my hair before we left and as I stood in the bathroom, Stewart came and laid with me. I think he knew something was happening, because he was following me all over the house. Zeb got home and immediately got dressed (in his black polo and khakis) and I laughed at how serious he was being - which is completely understandable! While Zeb packed the car, I called our families and let them know what was happening and told them that we would let them know when we were admitted to the hospital. We got in the car, said one last goodbye to our puppy, and headed to the hospital to meet our baby!

Zeb and I had made this drive a few times, and Zeb was pretty confident that he could get there without the GPS, but we still turned it on, just to be safe. We chatted as he drove about how we were going to get to meet our baby soon, and FINALLY going to know if it was a boy or girl (we didn’t find out the gender). We were on the parkway when suddenly, we hit standstill traffic. I felt really panicked knowing that my contractions were already very uncomfortable to handle in the car, but thankfully, within 5-10 minutes, we were back to moving at a normal pace. When we finally arrived at the hospital, we headed up to the second floor, Labor and Delivery, and began the check-in process. Once I checked in, we sat in the waiting room and watched the funeral of George H.W. Bush while we waited.

A nurse came out, called my name, and took me back to ask me questions about my

pregnancy and about what was going on. We then were put into a room in triage where the nurse hooked me up to the monitors to monitor my contractions and baby’s heartbeat. The triage doctor came really quickly into the room and said “You’re too happy to actually be in labor.” It seemed like a silly statement to me because between contractions I felt amazing and I was so excited for the baby to be here! He checked me and I was only at 3 and a half centimeters, which felt very discouraging after 3 hours. The doctor said that he would be back in about two hours to check me again. In the meantime, my nurse offered me Graham Crackers and peanut butter, which I happily accepted. She also asked if I was wanting to sit on a birthing ball, and I eagerly agreed, wanting to get out of bed. So I sat on my birthing ball, munched on crackers, and Zeb and I watched more of the funeral on TV.

Zeb watching the funeral on TV and snacking!

While I was sitting on the birthing ball, my contractions definitely started to pick up more and become more painful. My triage nurse came in and asked how I was feeling, and told me that her main job with me was to help my labor progress. She asked if I felt like getting up and walking, and knowing that it would help speed up my labor, Zeb and I got ready to take some laps around the Labor and Delivery unit. Our nurse told us to be back in 45 minutes, and we set off walking in circles. We talked about how exciting it was to be there, and what all of our family was probably doing.

Walking the hallways and chatting about meeting our baby!

During our walk, my contractions started getting to the point where I couldn’t talk through them, and then very quickly go to the point where I had to stop walking to breathe through them. At that point, I told Zeb that we had better head back to triage, and he agreed. As soon as we got back, my nurse came in and told me that she talked to my normal doctors, and that they cleared me to order some food. I was so excited to be able to eat, and Zeb and I picked something that we would both like. After we ordered food, I told Zeb that he better take my picture now before I didn’t feel like anymore pictures.

My very last belly picture! 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant!

I got back on the birthing ball to rock through my contractions. At this point, I was really hurting, and Zeb started to talk me through each contraction. He watched the monitor and would tell me when it was starting, when it peaked and when it was making its way back down. I was starting to think during every peak of every contraction, “I want an epidural.” I was terrified to actually get an epidural, but also scared to not have one. I was completely undecided on the matter. The doctor finally came back to check me again around 2:00 p.m. and as soon as he checked, he said, “She’s coming in. 5 centimeters.” I wanted to jump up and down, but also didn’t want to move at all. I was so happy to be progressing. Zeb texted our family members to tell them that we were being admitted and my nurse began the paperwork to move me from triage to Labor and Delivery.

The nurse took my blood, and then started to put an IV in to give me fluids. When she was putting in the IV, my she told me that I was doing so well and that when she had her babies, she was at 1 centimeter and asking for an epidural. Then my food came. I was so sad that I wasn’t going to be allowed to eat it, but glad that Zeb would get some food in. My nurse told me I could sneak a couple bites of the food, and that it might take awhile to move me to my new room. So she left, and I snuck a bite of a grilled chicken sandwich, two cucumbers, and a red pepper. Zeb finished the rest and I laid in bed working through my contractions. At some point, our moms arrived and came back to see us. My contractions were feeling harder and harder to work through and I started to really need to focus to get through them. Finally, my nurse came in and told us that we were moving to the room that we’d be having the baby in!

We walked to our room around 4:30 p.m. and I soon as we got there, I was hit with a really strong contraction. When it was over, Zeb and I talked about it and told my nurse that I wanted the epidural. She immediately got to work making that happen and I laid down in the bed, working through the contractions that were growing closer and closer together.

The anesthesiologist came to give me my epidural and I was so afraid to have it done that I started crying, which seemed to only make my contractions feel worse. My new L&D nurse was so sweet and reassuring as she set me up to have the procedure done. They put a pillow in front of my belly and had me bend forward to curve my back. Zeb sat in front of me to hold me steady, and to help calm me, and the anesthesiologist quickly did the procedure. It felt really cold when the medicine went in, and I was afraid to lay on my back at all. They laid me on my right side, the nurse shut out the lights, and told us to try to get some sleep. “Yeah right,” I thought.

My legs started going numb but I was still feeling my contractions around my stomach, and in my back. My left side felt worse than my right, and the anesthesiologist had told me that whatever side I’m lying on, the epidural will favor. So Zeb helped flip me over to my left side to see if that would help, but it did not. My legs were completely numb so all of the pain I was feeling was in my stomach and my back. My contractions were coming stronger and so close together that it felt like I wasn’t getting a break. At some point during this extremely hard labor, our moms came back in the room. One of the moms touched my leg and all I can remember was saying that I absolutely did not want them to do that. My legs felt tingly like they were asleep. I was in so much pain, and getting no breaks between contractions. I remember thinking, “I wouldn’t have gotten the epidural if I knew it was still going to hurt so bad.” I cried to Zeb asking why it was still hurting and finally I said to him, “I need you to do something.”

He called to the nurse and told her that my epidural wasn’t working, and within 5 minutes, the anesthesiologist was back. He took a sharp, plastic pin and poked my arm with it. He started poking from my thigh up and told me to let him know when the poke felt the same as it did on my arm. He got to right below my hips and I told him that's where it felt the same. So essentially, I was only numb from below my hips and down. He told me that my body must just be more sensitive to pain, that he was going to give me a nice “cocktail,” and that we needed to hit the button to administer the medication every 30 minutes. Within minutes I was feeling way better and the anesthesiologist did his “poke” test again. This time I didn’t feel the same poke until the top of my stomach. The anesthesiologist and the moms left and I told Zeb that I felt “magical.”

All smiles after my epidural!

Once my epidural was working the way it should be, I was all smiles again, and able to just lay and relax. Our families started arriving at the hospital, and Zeb and I had visits from my dad, my stepmom, my brother, my sister & brother-in-law, and my grandma.

At some point, I started to get the shakes. I thought I was just really cold, but my nurse told me that the shakes usually means that something is going to be happening really soon AKA baby is coming! Around 6:30 p.m., the doctor that would be delivering the baby came in, and I was checked for the first time since 2:00 p.m. The doctor checked me said I was at 9 cm, and I watched her pull over towards me what looked like a crochet hook. I was looking at Zeb and his eyes bugged out really big. I couldn’t feel a thing so I genuinely didn’t have a clue what was happening. “What was that,” Zeb asked. The doctor told him that she had just broken my water and Zeb said that he thought it looked cool. Around this same time, my new nurse was coming in for her shift, and I remember thinking that 1) This would be the nurse that would help me deliver the baby and 2) She looked so much like Kendall Jenner. Most of the staff that we encountered at the hospital asked us if we were having a boy or girl. When they found out that we didn’t know, the majority of them took their guesses. Our new nurse said that her guess was a girl, because she wore pink socks that day.

It was so strange that they had broken my water, but that I couldn’t feel anything going on. I asked Zeb if there was something in between my legs because they were tingling, and I guess the doctor had stuck a towel there after she broke my water. The doctor also saw meconium - which is baby poop - when she broke my water, meaning that the pediatricians would have to be there to make sure that baby didn’t swallow any of it. The doctor left and my nurse told me to let her know if I started to feel any pressure. If not, the doctor would be back in 2 hours to check me again. About 45 minutes after they broke my water, I started to feel like I had to go to the bathroom, and within an hour, I told the nurse that I was pretty sure I was feeling a lot of pressure. She told me that she’d call the doctor, and she started to set up our room for the delivery. I continued my uncontrollable shaking and Zeb and I sat, waiting for the doctor.

When the doctor came in and check me again she said that I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing. I started to panic and cry. I had no idea what to expect when pushing and it could potentially take hours. I guess I didn’t have a choice though because baby was coming one way or another! I started pushing at 7:49 p.m. and I remember everybody being so encouraging and telling me that I was doing a good job, but I really had no idea what I was doing. At some point my nurse walked away to page the pediatricians, so I knew that had to mean that we were getting close to the baby being here. My nurse counted for me while I was pushing, and gave me oxygen in between contractions. I couldn’t stop crying when I was pushing but Zeb was so intrigued by everything and smiling the whole time. After pushing for a while, the doctor told us that she could see baby’s head and then shortly after, the doctor said baby was coming! Zeb, my nurse, and my doctor were cheering me on, telling me to “Push, push, push!” Then, after so much waiting, our sweet baby was here! I actually ended up only pushing for 20 minutes!

I heard baby cry and felt so relieved knowing they were okay. Zeb looked down and said, “It’s a…. GIRL!” The first thing I said was, “No way!” We couldn’t believe it! I had a very typical boy pregnancy, and everyone was sure that I was having a boy. Our nurse was right with her pink socks!

Leah Noel was born on December 5th, her Daddy’s birthday, at 8:13 p.m. They took Leah right away to check on her, measure her, and weigh her. She weighed 7 pounds 13 ounces and was 20 inches long. I just kept saying, “I can’t believe she’s a girl,” and tried to peek over at her from the hospital bed. Finally they brought her over to me and I got to meet our sweet baby girl. She was so perfect and beautiful, and I was already so in love with her. They laid her on my chest and her big blue eyes were wide open, just staring at me. She was so alert from the very start and spent her first hour on my chest with her eyes wide open. Zeb and I were all smiles snuggling and staring at our little girl. We couldn’t believe the instant love that we felt for this tiny girl already and we were so thankful that she was finally here!

Our first family photo!

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