Saturday, November 7, 2009


It is hard to believe that a little over three weeks ago I gave birth to Hailey Grace Jennings! She was born on Tuesday, October 20th at 11:26 am. I will never forget the week before she was born!

She was due on October 11th. Toward the end of my pregnancy, me and everyone else seemed to be sure that she would not make it to her due date. My tummy looked SOOO ready! So many people would say, "Holy Moly she is SOOO LOW." or "That baby is coming ANY DAY!" Everyday I would wake up to countless facebook and text messages predicting that day as the day she would be born. And then she didn't come. I had set myself up to NOT BE disappointed if she didn't come early. Naturally, I felt done physically, but mentally I was doing pretty well. However, all that changed on October 12th, the day after my due date! It changed even more on Tuesday the 13th when the doctor told me I was only
1 cm and not really effaced. My doctor stripped my membranes that day (Youch!) which I thought would at least jump start something...and then there was nothing...I remember my doctor saying, usually there will be spotting that follows and some cramping after membranes are stripped. Not a cramp could be felt...not a drop of blood could be seen. I would start making things up...swearing that there was a pink tinge on the toilet paper...but there wasn't!

I have to say that I PRAYED everyday that I would not have to be induced. My plan was to go unmedicated as long as possible. I was told that I may not be able to have an epidural because of some platelet issues. I was preparing for the worst and the thought of pitocin and no epidural didn't sit so well with me! On the Thursday before I went into labor on my own (PRAISE GOD), I started having some pretty heavy bleeding. I called the advice nurse and she said to just keep an eye on it. When you are pregnant for the first time and have no idea what to expect, your first reaction is "Keep an eye on WHAT?!" On Saturday I was still bleeding quite a bit. Not enough to compare to a period, but more than spotting. I had always heard that when you have "bloody show" that labor is not far off. It had been days of bleeding and not even a cramp. I called Labor and Delivery again that night, and they said that I should come in to just make sure everything was ok. I was pretty frustrated because I knew I was not in labor. I had made up my mind that I would not be one of those women that is in and out of the hospital 40 times before they ACTUALLY go into labor. I threw on some slippers and didn't bring anything that I had packed. After Matt and I enjoyed Kaiser's cable, the prognosis was that I should go home. That night I was still 1 cm, but was now 75% effaced. I was a little encouraged knowing that my body was doing something!

Sunday was another hard day. I went to church and endured the countless comments about how everyone could not believe that I was still pregnant. Everyone was so sweet, but I was a huge grumpy overdue hippo! I remember worshipping that Sunday and asking God to try and keep me focused on Him...I was so distracted. Not to mention the back pain from the hard squeaky pews. After church I retreated home back to my couch to sit it out. I had heard a lot of things about how to induce spicy food! (check), walk a LOT (check), do lunges (check), somehow bribe your husband and figure out how to have sex (check). That Sunday, I was done with the labor inducing techniques. I resorted to eating brownies on the couch. I forgot to mention that by this time we were on a time crunch. My friend Corinne had come into town specifically to see Hailey born. She had plans to leave on Monday because there was NO WAY that I could go any longer! Sunday evening, I finally felt SOMETHING! Little contractions here and there...they stabilized to about every 10 minutes and were getting stronger. Then, they stopped. I'm not sure what triggered them to stop, but probably because Gus (our dog) ran in the house and to our surprise had been SKUNKED! The house smelled horrible, the dog smelled horrible. I can only laugh now thinking about how wild that night was. My friends Corinne and Mallory gave him a crazy bath which included tomato paste. My little black and white dog was now a pinkish color and smelled like skunky tomatoes. Needless to say, I went to bed wondering if this baby was EVER going to come out. I slept GREAT that night. I don't think I woke up at all, not even to go to the bathroom (which is a common day miracle!)

Monday morning, I woke up out of my sleep at 7am with a pretty strong contraction! 7 minutes later, another...and another and another. By 9am, I woke Matt up and told him that he should probably let his work know that he was starting leave! I hopped in the shower to get ready for the day. Contractions were hard, but as long as I breathed they were VERY doable! Matt was so great timing them for me! He had a little piece of paper where he listed the times, and he would always yell out how far apart the one before had taken place. By noon, they were about 6 minutes apart and getting longer and stronger. We decided to go grab a bite to eat at Chilis to pass the time. In the birth class that we took, the midwife was telling us that being up and moving during early labor is the best way to get things progressing. Because of the epidural issue, I wanted to stay at home as long as possible. I had told my doctor this and she told me that I should come to the hospital when my contractions were 3 minutes apart. After eating, Matt and I went to Target. Thinking back on this is pretty comical. Every 4 minutes we would have to stop so I could breathe. I'm sure the people in Target were wondering what the heck was going on! We walked through almost every aisle there. Matt did a pretty good at cracking me up during this time...which actually made my pain worse. We were both so excited. I remember we bought something but I can't remember what. By the time we left my contractions were about every 3 to 4 minutes and hurting pretty bad! At this point we decided that we should run home and get things in the car to go to the hospital.

I was nervous about making the decision to go the hospital. I don't think I could have handled them telling me to leave and go home and wait it out, or to sit in triage waiting for my body to progress until they thought I was ready to be admitted. I had been having contractions ALL DAY LONG! We arrived at the hospital around 5:30. Once they hooked me up to the monitor, you could definitely see my contractions rise and fall. At this point, there was no talking through them. I would just have to breathe. Even though they hurt, I was surprised how easy it was to get through them. The doctor came in and checked me and I was 4 cm and ready to be admitted! I can't tell you how thankful I was at that moment. I think I said outloud, "PRAISE GOD." Stacey (my sister in law) came to say hi in triage and I'm pretty sure I was smiling through my contractions at that point! Matt unloaded the car while they moved me into a beautiful labor suite. The room was huge and gorgeous. Matt called my mom to let her know and she headed to the hospital. Once we got all settled I can remember thinking, "Now what?" We had a few visitors...Thank you to Jeff and Laurie for coming and praying over me that night! The next hours were full of breathing and walking. I was progressing pretty slowly, but I don't remember feeling impatient. Around 1 am I was only 6 cm, but still getting through contractions ok! I seemed to get on this rotation. I would sit on the birth ball that I had which was very comfortable. After about 30 minutes of the ball, I would get into the shower and sit under the hot water. After about 30 minutes of the shower, I was too hot and would get out and then walk for a while with Matt. At 4:30 in the morning, I am not exaggerating when I say I was feeling great. I was tired because it was 4:30 in the morning, but I felt very relaxed and in control! I was so surprised by how well I was doing and I think everyone else was too. All my labor support that was there was probably feeling like this thing was uneventful. The midwife came in around 4:30 and I was 7 cm. She told me that she thought that we should break my water. I asked her a few questions. I knew that once my water broke my contractions would be stronger, but things would go by a lot faster. In my own research, I had read a lot about transition labor (the hardest part of labor next to pushing). Everything I had read said that it is usually only a few hours long and then pushing begins. Someone in a class I took once taught that transition is sometimes as short as 13 contractions. I braced myself for the hard road ahead and decided to have my water broken. I'm not sure why, but it took a while for her to break my water. It was a crazy feeling to have all that water pouring out everywhere...all over me and the bed. I was a little embarrassed, but the staff was great in letting me know that I had nothing to feel weird about.

That first contraction after my water broke was a WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL GAME! My contractions became VERY strong and VERY long. They were only 2 minutes apart at most. I remember thinking that if I could just get in a different position it would feel a little better, but there wasn't enough time between them to even get there! It was a little stressful at this point...I never felt ready for the next contraction because I didn't have time to prepare! This is when my labor team came to my rescue. My amazing friend Kristin would massage my lower back, while my friend Mallory held my arms and talked me through them. My mom would massage my feet and help me breathe! Corinne decided to stay in town so she was there too! She held Mallory's baby and just her presence was a life saver (yes we had a FULL room). Everyone had a role and they were all great at it. For three hours I breathed through these contractions and tried to focus. I was getting really tired and started thinking that I wasn't sure how much longer I was going to be able to get through it. The whole time God kept my mind steady. I knew exactly what I wanted. I had decided that if I was close to pushing time, I would opt for a small does of morphine or something like that to take the edge off. If I was still far off, I wanted an epidural if I could have one. The nurse came in to check me around 8:00am. At this point, I was in a lot of pain. My contractions were out of control close together and hard! I can't remember what Matt was doing but I'm pretty sure he was SLEEPING! ha The nurse checked me through a contraction which was the worst pain of the whole experience. She said "You're about the same," to which I immediately said, "I would like an epidural." I love my labor team for supporting me! No one ever asked if I was sure, and no one ever suggested it before I decided to get one. I was not disappointed. My platelets were fine and the doctor said it would be about 20 minutes before they arrived, to which I said, "Can we make it sooner?" Around 8:15 the anesthesiologist came in. She was a little rude I have to admit. She made some people leave the room, and she told me that I waited too long. But I loved her all the same! Getting the epidural was really hard. Trying to hold still through those contractions seemed to be impossible. It took a really long time and a lot of contractions before it was in place. Around 9:00am the epidural was in place, and by 9:3o I was feeling relief! It was the MOST glorious feeling ever! I remember thinking, "Ok, I'm only 7 cm so I should get a few hours to sleep and get ready to push this baby out!" 45 minutes later, the nurse came in and checked me because Hailey's heart rate was showing signs that I was progressing. I was 10 CM! Ready to push! So much for sleeping! I think the epidural was exactly what I need to relax to get me to the point where my body could finish this thing! By 10:30, I gave my first pushing attempt. I was surprised how I could feel the pressure of pushing, but no pain! Matt held one leg and my mom held the other. After the first push the midwife was surprised that her head could already be seen. The midwife pulled out a flashlight and called everyone around to see her head. I remember cracking up and saying, "ok guys, I've never had so many people looking at my crotch under a flashlight before!" A lot of people might think I was crazy for having so many people in the room (my sisters and Matt's Aunt Barb joined us at the very end to see her come into the world), but honestly it was an incredibly exciting time and there support was soothing to me!

Pushing was very easy compared the pain of transition labor. The pressure was uncomfortable, but again, very doable. I could feel each contraction come even though I had the epidural. The midwife that delivered was absolutely amazing! I can still hear her voice in my calming! After a little less than an hour of pushing, Hailey Grace came into the world! All glorious 7 pounds 15 ounces of her...20.5 inches long! As any mom knows, there is nothing so amazing in your entire life as holding that new life for the very first time. They put her on my chest and she looked up at me right away. I will NEVER forget that moment or that feeling! We were all in tears (including Matt...sorry to call you out). She really was gorgeous...I remember thinking that I couldn't believe how cute she was already :)

The next part was probably the worst part of all. They began to stitch what they thought was only a few mild tears. However, once the midwife started stitching, she quickly realized that they needed a doctor to come in and finish. Once the doctor took a look at me, she immediately ordered the nurse to have my epidural turned on full blast. I have NEVER felt so numb in my life. I couldn't even hold my own body up above the waist! Such a weird feeling, but I'm sure better than the alternative. The doctor than began to put me back together. After THREE HOURS and 150 stitches, she was finally done. I remember feeling so bad for my dad who was standing out in the hall all that time just waiting to come in! It seemed like forever. The doctor said that since my blood platelets were low it made my tissue very soft in the birth canal. As Hailey came down, things just began to tear one right after the other. I can tell you that if I ever write a book about pregnancy or motherhood, it will be about postpartum recovery! Maybe call it The Last Six Weeks (and beyond.......) I was prepared for labor and delivery, but not for recovery! While I can tell that I am getting better every day, it is still pretty painful. I am so antsy just sitting around doing nothing. I try and do a small outing everyday, but after about 5 minutes of walking, I'm quickly over it!

A lot of people have asked me why they didn't just take her out via C Section because the process was so that I say I THANK GOD that I didn't have a C Section. Labor is hard, don't get me wrong, and there probably isn't anything that can really prepare you for the pain...However, I am not lying when I say I am truly blessed to have the experience that I did. I know that there were a lot of you praying for me through the end of the never ending pregnancy, and I can't tell you just how thankful I am for you all! Since that day, there have been a few hard ones trying to figure out motherhood, but it's the most precious gift God has ever given to me. That He would entrust little Hailey to us as her parents is the highest honor. Matt says all the time that he understands God's love for us so much better. To give up His only son...when you have your own child that sacrifice is made much more real.

Thanks for reading this long one!

Jeff and Laurie praying!

Walking the halls...the nureses labeled me "The Walker" ha

Proud Parents!

Beautiful Hailey

I love him

Daddy's Girl


Brooke said...

What a beautiful birth story! I knew a lot of it but I was still biting my nails through it! LOL!

Love you guys!

gramma diane said...

I loved the story! and still tearing up thinking about it an hour later - I so wish that I had been there - I will see you soon though - so don't let Hailey get too grown up too soon ! Much love - mom

Ryan and Desyrae said...

SUCH a trooper! Way to go Ashley (and Matt) what a beautiful ending ... and an even better beginning!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog and hearing all of the details and etc. I so loved seeing beautiful little princes and her mamma and daddy. and of course everyone else, too. I hope you are healing up Ok inside of you. Don't overdue so you rip out those stitches. Love, Mom Dean