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No better reward: The birth of Blakeleigh Epidural

No better reward: The birth of Blakeleigh

"The nurse came back into the room and said, 'Here's your ticket to labor and delivery.'"

On July 2, I went in for our last OB appointment—a bittersweet moment. I hoped it would be my last, but I knew there was a possibility of coming back if baby girl didn’t want to come on time. We started with our usual non-stress test, followed by an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed that my fluid was still pretty low, sitting at a 4. My regular doctor was out of town, so I met with the nurse, whom I love. We waited for the on-call doctor to look at everything.

At this point, I’d had contractions for about a week, and baby girl was sitting pretty low. This was the moment of truth, though. I had so many emotions running through my body. The back and forth of, please let’s go into labor today, and the opposite of, wait—I’m not ready, can she stay in a little longer?! Well, God had plans for that day.

The nurse came back into the room and said, “Here’s your ticket to labor and delivery.” My heart stopped. I was ecstatic but completely terrified. I didn’t have my hospital bag, my husband was at work, and I was by myself. This wasn’t exactly the plan for the big day. I called Marcus and told him I was being induced because the doctor said the baby’s fluid had been too low for too long.

I was in tears trying to call everyone. In the midst of tears, I was trying to get everything situated as I walked across the parking lot to labor and delivery. Then I got a text from Marcus; it said, “It’s going to be OK. Breathe, and I’ll be there in just a few minutes.” As anxious as I was, I read this, took a deep breath and focused on the fact that by this point tomorrow, I would be holding our baby girl. I walked into labor and delivery and checked in. They took me back to a triage room where I changed into a hospital gown and waited for the nurse to come in.

About five minutes after being taken back, Marcus showed up and gave me a big hug and kiss. Before he even got to sit down, the nurse came in and told us we were going to the labor and delivery room because there was no point in waiting in a triage room. We walked our way over to what would be our room for the next 20 hours or so and got comfortable.

The nurse put my IV in and hooked up a bag of fluid. She let me order lunch before she started anything else. I chowed down on a PB&J, fries and a chocolate milkshake. Very nutritious. After a couple of hours, the doctor came in and talked to us about the plan. She was going to strip my membranes, start me on Pitocin, and then once my contractions were frequent and consistent she would come in and break my water.

The first step: stripping my membranes. I’ve been told this is pretty painful, so I was terrified. The doctor was awesome, though. She was pretty gentle and walked me through the entire process. It definitely wasn’t the most pleasant thing I’ve ever felt, but it wasn’t completely awful. Once that was done, the nurse hooked up Pitocin and got that pumping! Because I was already having contractions, they were hoping this would just get them moving along and more consistent.

The next five hours were long and slow. Marcus took a nap, I watched “Fixer Upper” on HGTV, my mom showed up and crocheted away, and we all just kind of hung out. I could feel my contractions, but they weren’t terrible—they felt like light period cramps. The nurse suggested that I bounce on an exercise ball to try and help speed things along. After about an hour of doing that the contractions seemed to be getting stronger. Then, the doctor came in and broke my water. That’s when things really started moving along. I barely had any water because her fluid was low—but still enough to feel like I peed my pants. Ha!

We checked in around 11:30 a.m., and by 6:30 p.m., I was really feeling the contractions. They were about two minutes apart, I was 100 percent effaced, and I was dilated at a 3. I had made some progress, so that was great! (I started at 1 centimeter and 95 percent effaced when I first checked in.) I was pretty excited about the progress, but I was also in quite a bit of pain—so I was trying to just keep my mind on the end goal: holding my sweet baby girl.

Around 8 p.m., I decided I was ready for an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in fairly quickly after I received an entire bag of fluids via IV and gave me the epidural. This is when I started to panic. I had a serious freak out moment. Could I do this? Wait … can we stop?! Guys, I’m not ready! I mean, I was about to be in charge of a human life, not to mention push that human life out of a fairly small place. … After panicking for a few minutes, I finally calmed down and my epidural kicked in. Now, I just watched the contractions on the monitor but didn’t actually feel them—pure bliss, y’all.

Midnight rolled around, and I was pretty emotional, anxious and exhausted. I had watched more re-run episodes of “Fixer Upper” than I cared to (no matter how much I love that show), and not being able to feel my legs really stressed me out. However, I would have rather not been able to feel my legs than feel the pain of contractions. I do not have a high pain tolerance. I cried, laughed, tried to sleep and talked to Marcus, my mom and sister, Courtney. Marcus was absolutely amazing through this entire process. He rubbed my back, held my hand and supported me the entire way. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in this journey!

Pressure, I was feeling so much pressure. At 1 a.m.—and TMI—I swear to you I thought I was going to poop. Everyone tells you this is what it feels like, but until you really experience it, you have no idea. The nurse came in and said this was normal and I was just progressing. About 30 minutes later she came in again, and I told her the pressure was really intense. She decided to check on things. The next words that came out of her mouth were ones I will never forget. “Alright, she’s low. She’s really low, and it’s time to have a baby!” I had jumped big time and was dilated at a 10. It was just about time to push.

Again, this all seemed completely surreal. They came in, set up all the delivery stuff and got me ready. We all sat there anxiously! Before I knew it, it was 2:05 a.m., and it was time to push. After about 10 minutes of pushing, little Blake’s heart rate began to drop. We tried one more push to see if it was just a fluke, but sure enough it dipped again. They called the doctor in to check on things, and she said, “Let’s get this baby out.”

By this point, Marcus had to sit down next to me (he got a little queasy and doesn’t do well with this sort of thing), so he sat right next to my head and held my hand. My mom held my other leg for me. At 2:18 a.m., Blake was pretty close to making an entrance! Six big breathtaking pushes later, Blakeleigh Marie Oakes was born at 2:29 a.m. on July 3.

I instantly burst into tears. Marcus did, too. They wiped her off quickly and then put her on my chest. She wasn’t really crying, which stressed me out, but a few seconds later she let out a few little whimpers. She just takes after her dad and is a pretty calm little babe (knock on wood). The next hour was a blur, and I’m so glad we have pictures. I remember just staring at her and watching Marcus gaze at her, but I was a little out of it.

Marcus took her over to get weighed and measured, a whopping 6 pounds, 4 ounces and 19 inches long. Then he put on her first little diaper. It was the most amazing thing to watch him with her. I’ve never been more in love with him, and our daughter was absolutely perfect—is absolutely perfect.

Giving birth was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done by far. This little girl brings us so much happiness, and I can’t imagine life without her. July 3 was the best day of my life.

Read more about Jessica’s adventures as a new mom at positivelyoakes.com.

Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!