I wrote Joseph’s birth story more for myself than anything, because I know that as time goes by the memory will start to fade…It’s a long one, so if you want you can just skip to the photos at the bottom!
Joseph’s actual due date was April 27th, but for a variety of reasons (number one being that I am a high-risk pregnancy), my doctor elected to induce me on April 22nd – close enough to my actual due date that he’d be fully developed, but offering a bit of a cushion just in case I went into labor a bit early. There were a few times in my third trimester that I was genuinely worried that he wouldn’t make it to the date – primarily because he was diagnosed as being very small for his gestational age (16th percentile at one point). I had regular ultrasounds and NST’s just to ensure that he was developing properly, and thank goodness he continued to grow in the last weeks.
We checked into Swedish First Hill at 7am on the 22nd. But let’s be honest, there wasn’t much sleep going on the night before! It’s one thing to have a due date in your mind, but it’s quite another thing to have a date and time when you know you’re heading into the hospital to have a baby. To say it’s rather surreal to drive to the hospital for an appointment, knowing you’ll be driving home with a baby in your car, is an understatement.
So we checked in and I was put on the monitor to check where things were. My amazing OB Doctor Hanrahan, who I absolutely adore and can’t say enough good things about, popped by to say hello and tell me her general plan – start pitocin to get from a 2 to a bit more progressed, break my water, and deliver a baby by that evening. Sounded good to me, especially seeing as Olivia’s labor was much longer than that! Only issue was that it was a very busy day on the L&D floor and every room was occupied, so they told us to basically wander around and kill an hour and a half. So we did what smart parents-to-be do, we walked to the grocery store for coffee and snacks for the long day ahead of us. It was so weird to be walking around with my hospital bracelet attached, knowing that we were wasting time so we could get into a room to have our son.
We went back at 9am and they were still busy, so we just hung around for another hour until a room was finally ready for us. I met my amazing nurse, Lisa, who told me that she had delivered both of her kids in room 555, the very room we were going to be in. Super cool. Swedish has a 1-1 nurse/patient ratio, so she would be by my side all day. Good thing I liked her from the get go.
So we got into my room, changed into the lovely hospital gown, answered a million questions, and then the IV and pitocin got started. Easy breezy. The first few hours were relatively pain-free, just small contractions but nothing bigger than I had been feeling throughout my third trimester. Around 1:00pm my OB stopped by and broke my water. I remembered from Olivia that this would get things going, so I had some lunch and relaxed as much as I could.
Over the next few hours the contractions were definitely getting more and more painful, but I was determined to hold out as long as I could before I got my epidural, for no real reason than a personal point of pride, I guess. For some reason I had 4pm in my mind. I just wanted to make it until 4. Crazy pregnant woman reasoning, I know. Around 3:45 I decided to try and get up and was violently shaking, and I called it. The anesthesiologist was there shortly after.
Getting an epidural isn’t really what one would call a pleasant experience, but like I explained to Doug, it’s better than the alternative pain in my mind. Except this time the anesthesiologist informed me that my spine had very small spacing, resulting in great difficulty in even getting the epidural in. Holy moly, it was awful. Contractions galore while someone digs around in your spine? Not pleasant. I was crying and trying to breathe through it, and when I looked over at Doug he had turned away and was facing the wall. It was that bad. She finally got it in and I have never been more relieved. Except that it only took on the left side. So one side numb – great! Other side, full pain – not cool. After changing positions and waiting a while it finally began to work on both sides. Hallelujah.
I knew we had a bit of time to go (I think I was at about a 5), so I sent Doug out to get a burger and a beer since I couldn’t eat anything but ice chips and I knew he was hungry. A hour or so passed and my OB popped by around 6ish to apologize that she had to go home and tell me about the on-call OB who would take over. I had a feeling that I had a while to go at this point so I told her I understood and that I’d see her later.
Well, I was totally wrong. Lisa, my nurse, predicted that I’d have the baby before shift change at 7:30. Soon enough, I started violently shaking and feeling incredible pressure. Long story short (and skipping the gory details, you’re welcome), I went from a 6 to a 10 in under 30 minutes. Thank goodness for the anesthesiologist who came in and gave me a shot of pain meds straight into my spine. The on-call doctor, Dr. Droz, came in around 7, checked me, and asked if I was ready to have a baby because he was on his way out. I was in shock that it happened that quickly! They got everything ready, and three quick contractions later Joseph made his way into the world at 7:24pm. It was amazing. They say that birth is the closest thing to watching God in action, and I definitely believe that. He barely fussed and spent his first minutes just staring at us, taking it all in. It was, in a nutshell, incredible.
Many have asked us about his name. Truth is that I’ve always loved the name Joseph, it’s a name that has been in the back of my mind since I found out we were having a boy. And what made it all the more special is that after he was born, we found out that my great-grandfather (my mom’s mom’s dad) was named Joseph. My mom never knew him because he passed away when my grandma was young. And Edward was Doug’s grandpa (dad’s dad). So both names are family names.
We feel so blessed to have him. Our journey to a second child wasn’t easy, and much like many things in life it didn’t go as planned. I had three miscarriages along the way. The first was a very early one, aka a chemical pregnancy, in December 2010. And then after a year of trying another one at around 10 weeks in December 2011, when I went in for an ultrasound and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. Talk about devastating. Then a third on my 32nd birthday in May 2012. Worst birthday ever for sure, spent in the ER trying to figure out what was happening.
After all of that heartbreak, finally meeting Joseph truly felt like a miracle. I am so unbelievably thankful for him, words can’t even explain how grateful I am that he is here. I still can’t believe he’s ours.
Gold star for you if you made it through that entire story! A few recent photos as a reward…