jacob’s story

I can’t believe I am already writing this.  My due date was yesterday, but my little blessing entered the world almost two weeks early, 12 days before his due date.  This whole experience: pregnancy, labor, child birth…all reinforced my belief that children are God’s greatest gift to us.  There is no bigger blessing in my life than the gift of motherhood.  This entire forth experience with pregnancy, labor, and birth strengthened my love for my three older children and helped me to appreciate this whole miracle even more.  Mainly so that I never forget, but to give all of you, my friends, a glimpse as well, here is Jacob’s birth story…

Jacob.

When I found out I was expecting baby number 4 I was surprised, and thrilled, and excited.  Would our next blessing be another little boy, or were we headed down the girl path again?  Eric and I {or as he would tell you, I} decided not to find out until our baby was born.  We had a girl name all ready to go from the start, but no boy name, not at all.  I should have known from that moment on that a boy was headed our way!

Pregnancy No. 4

I finally documented my entire pregnancy with lots of pictures and weekly posts.  As with my other pregnancies, I also kept a private journal at home throughout the entire thing.  Certain that this was my last pregnancy, I didn’t want to forget a thing!  It was an easy pregnancy over all.  I felt great throughout the entire thing, although extremely tired in the third trimester {mainly due to work and a move into our new house!}.  I enjoyed every moment of being pregnant from the million prenatal appointments, to the ultrasounds, to the baby kicks.  I was surprised three times with three intimate showers and made sure to enjoy every last minute of every pregnancy related thing.  For the first twenty weeks of the pregnancy or so, I was positive we were expecting a girl {mainly due to the fact that I had no morning sickness ~ the same at the girls’ two pregnancies}.  Halfway through, however, I started to feel like the little one was a boy.  By the end, I was almost 100% sure little No. 4 was indeed a boy.

At 36 weeks 6 days I started to have fairly strong contractions about four minutes apart while out to lunch with my family.  The contractions kept up in intensity and stayed at about every four minutes for over an hour.  Instead of heading to the wedding we were supposed to go to, Eric and I headed to labor and delivery at the request of my doctor.  Once there, the contractions immediately slowed, I was checked and not at all dilated, and was sent home after about two hours and a shot of medicine to completely stop contractions.  I took this as my sign to slow down.

In addition to this warning, I had also had a feeling throughout this entire pregnancy that our little number 4 would arrive early.  With that in mind, I decided to work half days the week before Thanksgiving and then take Thanksgiving week completely off {in the hopes that I would get a little break in between work and baby to get the house cleaned up, relax, and enjoy a little time off}.  Ha!

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{taken just hours before we headed to the hospital}

“Labor.”

Monday, as Eric and I relaxed and watched a TV show, I started having “side aches” like the ones you experience when running.  I thought it was strange, but they weren’t contractions, so I switched the way I was sitting and thought nothing of them.  Later that night as I got ready for bed around 9:45, I started to shiver and shake uncontrollably, like when you are freezing and can’t warm up.  Except I wasn’t cold.  When I went into labor with Andrew, and I knew for sure I was in labor, I started shaking just like this.  The only difference this time was that I didn’t know for sure whether or not I was in labor.  There were no contractions, there was no bleeding…I just had a weird feeling.  The longer I lay in bed and tried to ignore and stop the shaking, the more nervous I got.  What if I am in labor?  I thought.  We are thirty to forty minutes from the hospital.  I think that distance was my biggest fear all along.  I was worried that I wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time to have the baby with my history of 6, 4, and 2 hours of labor with each of my three kids.

After about 45 minutes of this shaking and some back cramping, I headed out to the living room to tell Eric that I felt “off.”  He immediately called his sister who came over to be with the kids, and after a call to my doctor, we headed off to the hospital, again.  Honestly, I didn’t think this was it.  I thought we’d be home in a few hours, me feeling silly for yet again going to labor and delivery for another “false alarm.”  I kept telling Eric, this is my forth pregnancy.  You’d think I would know!  After all, I had known for sure, without a doubt, with my other children.  All the way to the hospital I felt silly for making him call my doctor.  The shaking stopped, but I did notice mild contractions about six to eight minutes apart.  On the way, we talked about baby names.  We still didn’t have a boy name or a girl’s middle name.

We checked in at the emergency room since it was after hours and they wheeled me down to labor and delivery.  The nurse checked me out, and found that while the baby was very,very low, I was only one to two centimeters dilated.  I was having regular, mild contractions, but they were still only every six to eight minutes.  My doctor was already at the hospital delivering another baby and instructed me to walk for an hour to see if that would speed  up contractions and dilation.  Eric and I began our walking up and down the same halls we walked when in labor with Caitlyn. That time I entered the hospital six centimeters dilated and clearly in labor, this time, I just felt silly.  I heard the nurses counting for a woman pushing in one of the other rooms.  I heard the first cries of another baby.  I felt like an impostor, not really in labor, surrounded by women all around me who were having babies “for real.”  I don’t know what it was about this forth pregnancy, but a lot of it made me feel like I had never been pregnant before!

After an hour of walking, around 1am, the nurse checked me again and found me at a mere two to three centimeters dilated.  My contractions were still very mild and completely painless.  As she went to talk to my doctor, Eric and I made plans for when we got home: that I would officially be done with work so that I could just relax until our little one was really ready.  When my doctor showed up at the door and said, “let’s get you admitted, I’ll come back and break your water in the morning,” I was in shock.  I was so nervous, and felt like I had no idea what was happening and like I had no control over the situation.  I wasn’t in active labor, but the baby was doing well and was in a great position.  My doctor also asked that the nurse start me on pitocin.  Now, if you know anything about me, you know I am against starting labor unnaturally as a rule, so this word made me bristle.  As hesitant as I was, something made me stop and not say anything to decline this course of action.  I think I was just relieved that it was time for baby instead of having to head back home and worry about when labor would start.  Plus, I trust my doctor 100%.  He has always been there for me, done exactly what I want, and has done what is best for the baby and for me.  So that was that.  The baby was coming.  Eric left to get the kids and bring them to my parents’ house and I was left to sit and wait.

As I lay there for two hours while the nurse got all of my paperwork ready and officially admitted me, I had a lot of time to think and to pray.  With my other three, I had given birth within fifteen minutes of my water breaking.  The pain after my water broke was also excruciating and unbearable, but since it was so quick, I was able to breathe through the contractions and have all three kids naturally without medication.  My fear this time around, with my contractions coming on as slowly as they were, was that my water would break, the pain would set in, but the baby wouldn’t be ready for hours.  I could picture myself pushing for hours.  Going through this over and over in my head as Eric left to get the kids, I felt unsettled, worried, and very nervous.  When the nurse came in with all the paperwork, I asked to sign consent for an epidural and immediately felt a weight lift off my shoulders.  I had an option now, if things didn’t go quickly.

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{my last “bump” picture}

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{just after two a.m. waiting in labor and delivery.  just waiting.}

When Eric arrived back at the hospital around 4am, we started having a serious name conversation.  If the baby was a girl, we would have a little Abigail Elizabeth, but if the baby was a boy… We finally narrowed it down to two names: Elijah and Jacob.  We had always had Lawrence, my dad’s middle name, picked out as a boy’s middle name.  Eric made the decision to wait until the baby was born to decide.  If the baby was indeed a boy, we would choose his name when we saw him.

Labor.  Officially.

You hear all these things about pitocin and how it speeds up contractions and makes them unbearably strong.  Well, my drip started {I think it was around 5:30 am}, the nurse increased the amount every half and hour, and NOTHING.  Yes, contractions got closer together, every two to four minutes, but they were extremely mild and still completely painless.

Around 7:30 am my doctor came in and broke my water.  The baby was no longer posterior, which was a good thing and meant he or she was facing the right way for delivery.  Things didn’t speed up as quickly as they had with my other pregnancies after my water broke this time.  I was only about 2-3 cm dilated when my doctor broke my water, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  Contractions got stronger slowly.  My mom came in to stay with me while Eric went and got breakfast.  I was able to talk through contractions like nothing was happening.  As Eric returned from breakfast, contractions were finally starting to feel a little painful and pick up in intensity.  As they started to get to the really uncomfortable point, I decided to ask for the epidural.  Why?  When I had done this three times before without any medication, twice before without any IV or anything at all?  Because I had a fear this time around, about labor and delivery.  I’m not quite sure where it came from, but I couldn’t quite shake it throughout the entire pregnancy as much as I prayed about it.  I prayed for a quick, safe, and fairly painless labor, and I guess the epidural was the answer to my prayers.

I had a wonderful nurse with me during the administration of the epidural and my anesthesiologist was great as well.  They made me feel completely comfortable and we talked about the anesthesiologist’s kids and the color of my nail polish.  Honestly, getting the epidural really didn’t hurt at all, compared to the pain of the contractions that were on the horizon.  In fact, getting the IV in my arm hurt more than getting the epidural!  Within about ten minutes, I was comfortable and feeling nothing.  This was SO bizarre to me!  I don’t think you can really understand how strange it is, if you’ve never given birth without medication.  I felt great, I finally relaxed, and actually started to enjoy this whole process again.  The nurse checked me shortly after I got the epidural and I was already at 7 cm.  About fifteen minutes later I thought I felt pressure {which again is so bizarre after experiencing three births without medication!  That pressure I thought I felt this time around, I knew was just being numbed by medication and was actually SO strong, it really had enough force to start pushing that baby out on its own}, so the nurse checked again and her words were, “you’re complete.”  I was fully dialated and the baby was ready to go.  She said that each contraction was practically pushing the baby out on it’s own {no wonder I’ve never had to push much!  My body knows what to do.}.

The next part of labor and delivery was amazing to me.  Without their patient being in pain and in rush to push baby out, the nurses calmly set up the room and my doctor strolled in and calmly got ready.  It was as if everything was in slow motion compared to my previous births where the delivery room became a whirlwind of activity with everyone moving a million miles a minute.  I felt calm and excited.  I was so ready for this now.  I felt happy and at peace.  I pushed four quick times in about a minute, and that was that.  There was no pain, no screaming.  As my doctor lifted the baby up, I got the first view: baby number four was a BOY!  The cord was wrapped around his neck, but the doctor calmly had it unwound in about one second and we heard our little one’s first cries.  I was thrilled our baby was here safely and I rested my hands on him as Eric cut the umbilical cord.  Our little boy was then whisked away to be quickly checked, measured, and weighed.  Eric followed the nurses and the baby to get some first pictures and came back to my bedside smiling, “he’s a Jacob.  He’s definitely Jacob.”

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Jacob Lawrence Ikari was born at 10:25am on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 after about five hours of active labor, my first epidural, and one false alarm.  He was 7 pounds 11 ounces, and 20 inches long.  This whole journey was sure a lot different than I thought it would be, but in the end it was wonderful, miraculous, and one of the best days of my life.  I will never forget holding Jacob in my arms for the first time and looking at his tiny ears, his little head full of hair, and his beautiful and peaceful face.  I am so very thankful for each of my four children.  They are truly the greatest blessings I could ever pray for.

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And so our journey begins…

Jenny

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