Not sure how to begin this story of Han’s birth…
On May 5, 2014, Cinco de Mayo, Rick and myself decided to have our selves a private fiesta (insert *wink* here).
39 weeks later, at 4 am I woke up having my first contraction. The day before I had felt pretty lousy, suffering from a sinus infection and an ear infection, but by God’s miraculous healing touch all my symptoms minus a runny nose had vanished. I just felt excited. Today could be the day I meet Hananiah!
I went about my usual routine, getting Grady ready for the day ahead and packing him an overnight bag just in case. My friend Lindsay came to pick him up, and Rick suggested I take a nap, as he somewhat frantically started loading up the car with our bags, installing Han’s car seat, and sweeping rooms of the house.
I attempted to nap around 10 am but my contractions were coming more regularly now, and I wasn’t able to sleep. I decided to put on a movie, Bride Wars, while I timed my contractions and wrote them down. They were coming anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes apart.
After the movie ended and I realized that these contractions were not letting up, I called my doula Brittany to let her know that I was in labor and that I would let her know when I was ready for her to make her way to Seneca to assist Rick and me.
That afternoon my contractions grew more intense. I began counting up to 20 and then back down from 20 at each one to help get over the waves of pain. I commonly use this technique to get through the last minute or so of an 800 repeat when I workout on the track doing intervals, and it really helped me mentally to get through to the peak of the pain, and then see relief in sight as the pain came back down. As I grew more tired Rick began to help me by counting for me and holding my hand with each one.
Around 4 pm I decided that I wanted to see if taking a hot shower might help, as I had been side-lying in bed for most of the contractions. While standing up my contractions started coming about every 2 minutes, which totally freaked me out because my doctor had said to come to the hospital when my contractions were regularly 5 minutes apart. I could not handle the intensity of the contractions coming every 2 minutes in the shower so I got out and made my way downstairs to lie on the sofa and eat a chocolate pudding cup. I called my O.B.’s office, describing my contraction pattern to the on-call doctor, and they said to come on over to the hospital.
I’ve never seen Rick move so fast. He put a few more items in the car and then tried to hurry me along. I told him I wanted to finish my pudding cup on the couch and he reluctantly agreed. Then after I finished the pudding, I asked him to make me a hot cup of tea to help clear out my sinuses. He again agreed but declared, “Okay but this is the last thing!”
His worry for me was both endearing and comical.
We called Brittany and told her to meet us at the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital around 6:30 and, to my disappointment, we were told my doctor was on vacation and the other doctor from my practice was also gone. The doctor on call was a man I had never met. We also learned that I was only dilated 1 cm. The nurse suspected that the reason for the rapid contractions might be because my urine indicated I was dehydrated. They checked the baby’s heart rate and my vitals and then told me I could go home if I wanted to labor longer there, which I certainly did (the pain of the contractions was a lot harder to cope with lying in the hospital bed).
Back at home my contractions regularly were coming every 2 to 3 minutes and I was also having some immediately back to back which we started calling the “twinsies.” Rick continued the count up and count down while Brittany lightly rubbed my back, both making sure I drank water in between contractions. The pain was growing so intense I started feeling nauseous so Brittany drew up a hot bath for me. The water felt amazing. I immediately felt relief from the nausea and my contractions seemed much more bearable.
After about 30 minutes, I felt like it was time to get out of the tub and head to the hospital again. Upon standing again my contractions felt super strong and Rick helped me through the next few by using a technique called the “8th grade dance.” We swayed for a while and then it was back to the hospital around midnight.
At the hospital we learned I was still only 3 cm dilated. After 3 more hours of laboring at the hospital, walking the halls with lots of counting and “dancing” I had dilated 5 cm. At this point I was extremely fatigued. I seriously wanted an epidural, even though I had planned for an un-medicated birth, but I was still very concerned that an epidural might slow everything down and lead to an eventual c-section. One of the nurses suggested I have a dose of Staydol, which after consulting with Brittany (again worried drugs might slow everything down) decided on that option.
My contractions felt just as painful after that but I was able to relax my whole body in-between contractions (my legs had not stopped shaking). We called this drug the “Disney drug” because it made me slightly loopy at first. In-between one contraction I asked Rick and Brittany why Papa Smurf was kicking me in the ribs.
At 6:30 am I was still only 5.5 cm dilated and the Staydol had completely worn off. The intensity of my contractions had reached a new level of pain. I had mentally prepared for this 24-hour day to be the most painful of my life, but as 26 hours had passed since my first contraction and I still was only at the half-way point as far as dilating goes, I craved relief. Brittany was helping me to the bathroom to empty my bladder when I had the most painful contraction yet. As I let out a loud cry, I was comforted by the most wonderful sight – my doctor poked her head into the bathroom.
“I’m so glad you are here!” I exclaimed. I LOVE my doctor and knowing she would deliver my baby was such a blessing.
I asked her if she thought I would continue progressing if I got an epidural, and she assured me that I would. She saw no risk of me needing a c-section, especially since my water had not yet broke.
I laid my head on Rick’s chest while Dr. Drake gave me the PERFECT epidural. All the nurses talked about how good he was, but even they were amazed at the results. I could still move my legs and also could pee by myself, making a catheter unnecessary (one of the reasons many women choose un-medicated births is because the need for a catheter often leads to UTIs).
Then I slept. For the next 10 hours I rested, texted family members, and enjoyed the company of Rick and Brittany.
Around 2:45 pm I was dilated 9 cm and knew time to push was coming soon. I told Rick and Brittany I wanted some alone time to pray. I had purchased a fuzzy bear suit for Han to wear home from the hospital, and I clung to that as I prayed for his safety and thanked God for him.
Just before 4 pm I was dilated 10 cm and was told my doctor would be in shortly. It was almost time to push! I asked to be alone with Rick. When everyone had cleared the room I started crying, “I’m scared.” Rick hugged and kissed me and assured me that I would do great and I felt a new wave of confidence.
Finally the moment arrived to get Han born. I requested that Rick cue up a worship playlist for background music. I was surrounded by such an amazing team of people-my doctor Christina, also a Christ-follow, our good friend from church, Angie, was the nurse assisting, and Brittany and Rick of course. I could sense so strongly the presence of the Holy Spirit with all of us in that room, and I felt so well cared for and supported by my support team.
In between pushes we all talked about distance running (don’t act surprised). My doctor is about to run her first half marathon and I tried to offer her encouragement as the big day is only two weeks away. As I continued to push I grew less chatty but my support team kept up the dialogue making me feel very at ease. My doctor directed the pushing until she noticed that I could tell we had missed a contraction. She then instructed me to direct the pushing since I could clearly feel the pressure of each contraction. Nurse Angie was so encouraging. She kept saying things like, “Maggie we can tell you are an athlete! You are pushing like a pro!”
And then with one great push, he was out. With Kim Walker singing, “Spirit Break Out” in the background, baby Han entered this world. Prior to delivery I felt the Lord tell me that Hananiah would be a worshiper, one who led others into His presence. Rick and I both feel that song has prophetic meaning for Han’s life.
Rick embraced me as Angie quickly suctioned Han’s mouth and nose and then Hananiah Redding Turner was placed on my chest for me to hold for the first time. What joy!
I’m still in awe of how amazing those two days were. God blessed me with such a fabulous support team. Rick and I both agreed that having Brittany serve as my doula was a tremendous blessing. She was just a great a help to Rick as she was me and I know she played a huge role in making the birth experience so positive. And then there is my husband. I really have no words that could adequately express just how overwhelmed I am by Rick’s love and support. He is my partner, my best friend, and my love.
Don’t really know how to end the story, so I’ll just say that I serve an awesome God. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him, and through this experience I was, and continue to be, overwhelmed with His goodness and love for me. My family just continues to get more awesome.