Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jean's Journal entry amidst labor (The story of her unmedicated birth)

"May 19th, 2009

This morning when I woke up I was having a contraction with cramps. They were coming on and off for weeks (if not months – the Doc made me take Terbutaline to stop “premature contractions” at 33 weeks and then again at 36 weeks).

I went to a checkup at the doctor’s office at 11:30am as part of my regularly scheduled appointments, and he said I was 38 ½ weeks (due date May 26, 2009), 70% effaced and 2 cm dilated.

By about 3:30 p.m. I noticed they (contractions) were getting pretty close together. Lying down or doing things didn’t make them go away. I started cooking at 4:30 p.m., and that’s when the cramps and pinkish bloody show came. By 6 we were eating dinner and I really felt the contractions growing in intensity. We packed the car after dinner, watched a TV show. I took a shower, packed Kevin a sandwich, and at 8pm we headed to the hospital. I was afraid that my water had broken, and my contractions (3-5 min. apart consistently) were going to cause the baby to come.

They observed me until 9:30pm; the nurse said the baby was doing beautifully with the contractions. That was good to hear. We could go home to go labor more there.

Now we are at home – Kevin’s belly is satiated with In-and-out, and I’ve just gorged on meatloaf and a bagel. We are listening to Christian hymns and it’s wonderful to have such beautiful truth to meditate on. It’s about 11 p.m. at night.

Here’s some more I hope to think about:

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God. The faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

“My soul, waits silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” Psalm 62:5-7"

"May 20th, 2009

I have given birth to a beautiful daughter! Here is the rest of the story of what happened:

We went upstairs to lay down at about midnight, and we were laying there until 1 pm and suddently I heard a POP!! My water broke!

Kevin leapt up from bed and we jetted out of the house to the Labor & Delivery Room. There was such a relief when it popped, but then suddenly the contractions seemed to get more painful. I started shaking. Kevin freaked out.

Somehow we made it to the triage shaking, I was checked to be 80% effaced and 3 cm dilated. I was bummed. It was so painful I thought surely I was going through “transition” already! Shouldn’t I be something like 5 or 6 cm dilated at least? The pain!

There was meconium in the amniotic fluid, so I had to have the baby monitored the whole time and they needed to put an IV in me. OK, no problems, I thought. Who cares when you’re in this much pain! Just make the pain stop!!! At least for an hour so I can take a break.

But it was unrelenting and I thought to myself that there was no way I would be able to bear this unrelenting pain if I was going to progress THIS slowly.

The nurse, Maria (she should be a doula), popped into the room and I took the chance (desperate as I was) to ask the question: “How can I make my labor progress?” and she said, “Honestly” trying to be as gentle as possible, “stronger contractions.” And I said, “REALLY?” Thinking how strong my contractions already were. She said, “You have to relax through them. The uterus and cervix is a muscle and won’t dilate unless you relax it.”

It was then I thought, “This is do or die. It’s going to be way worse than this and I’ve got to relax through more pain!!”

So I became dead. I zoned out. Put on monastic music & turned the lights off. At this point, Cecilia our doula walked in. The angel! God’s grace to me. My soul was really downcast at that point. To do it without pain medication seemed an insurmountable task.

She told me how great I was doing working through the contractions – that fed my spirit. I must be on to something right.

I was hee hee hee hooing – and she said I was doing it right. So did Maria. Of course I don’t know why it was right, it just seemed to work in their minds.

I used the birthing ball and swayed left & right. For my back pain Cecilia rubbed my back for 30 minutes to an hour. I felt the baby moving. Could the head really turn? I was having tremendous back pain because the baby’s head was in the wrong position to come out.

I was talking to the baby now, saying “C’mon baby, turn…. Come on, baby… “and then “Relax! Relax!” While screwing my head into a pillow.

Then it got tiring & I thought “Geez how long can I endure this? Marie & Marcus delivered at 12 noon the next day. She labored 8 hours & it’s only 3am/4am for me. Sheesh. I’ve been here maybe an hour. Two at most.”

So I said to myself, “Dude I need to rest. Let me just lay down. Yes, it’ll all go away if I just lay down.”

So lay I did – on my left side, in case the baby needed to turn. Little did I know that the baby already turned! Suddenly the next contraction hit like an 8 point earthquake – wham! "Whoa…"

“Let’s get up!” I said in my mind. This is definitely hurting way more than when I was using the birthing ball and dancing/swaying to Christian hymns.

But just then Cecilia says, “You are having stronger ones this way. You should stay!”

So in my mind I said, “OK! do or die.” I can avoid pain or I can welcome it and let it work to bring the baby closer.

Cecilia was saying all these things and it helped me to choose my baby. My baby or less pain? That was the choice. I wanted less pain, and that was my gut instinct, until Cecilia said that every contraction will bring me closer to the baby.

So then I continued. I tried to imagine water washing over me with every contraction. Let it work! I said. Suddenly, I felt pressure on the cervix. “Pressure!” I yelled.

“That means you’re dilating.”


Cecilia calls the nurse to ask her if I can get checked.

She comes in. I am 100% effaced and 7 cm dilated. It’s 4am or something ridiculous. Kevin & Cecilia can’t believe it. 2am I was 3cm. 4am and I am 7cm.

I said, “Woohoo!” and everyone laughs.

I was praising God in my heart. He had given me the grace to go from 3-7 cm. What grace! Now just 3 more to go.

But then I started getting shivers. Like, “Lalalalalala” uncontrollable, ridiculous shivers. Am I in transition?

Cecilia tells me, “Jean, It won’t get any harder than this. If you can just bear this through, you will have your baby in your arms very soon!”

So my spirits soared! I let the pain come like a rushing wave to engulf me and take over. I couldn’t resist it, I had to say, “Yes, pain come!” It was so emotional to be that vulnerable.

Then the urge to push suddenly came upon me. Ahh! Could the baby’s head be here? The nurse said I was 0 station, fully dilated and effaced and I said, “Darn!” I won’t be able to push until +1 or +2 station!” How long can I hold it off, plus the doc is in bed sleeping!!!

“Get Dr. Wu here!” I yelled.

It was almost comical at this point. I was so happy with the progress, but felt like now I was too fast that now I have to wait on the doc! And poor Doc, it’s 4:30am in the morning. I thought, “I really should be nicer to him!” He has to do this every night, sheesh!! What a life – OMG.

15 minutes later I really couldn’t hold it – the baby was at the door! They kept telling me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth – Lifesavers, those angels Maria & Cecilia. I was otherwise hyperventilating.

“Don’t push! Breathe through it!”

I hadn’t the faintest idea how: like what? It’s pushing itself, how do I hold it in? So I started clenching & then Cecilia says, “Don’t Clench!” So then I would let go, but then it would push! Ahhh!

“Mr. Doctor hurry up!” I screamed. Maria says something like, "He's on his way! Just hold on a little more!"

"I can't! It's coming out!"

Finally the doctor arrives! He checks me. I am 100% effaced, +3 station – dude! It’s all happening faster than you’re butt can get out of bed. I should've been able to push +1 station ago. Later, he told us he ran a red light. Haha. Livin’ on the edge! I mean, he’s pretty old! He says he’s been doing this for 40 years, so that means he’s at least 60 something.

Then he says, “I gotta change” So I said, “sure, sure!” in the sweetest tone. I amazed even myself.

Dude I can wait 2 minutes while he changes, what difference does it make?

Finally he’s in his scrubs – does he live in them?

And he comes up and I say, “Just don’t use episiotomy scissors on me!” That was part of my birth plan: no epidural, and no episiotomy.

And suddenly he says, "Ok, you can push now." I’m given the green light.

So I do and it feels good. And I push – like – maybe 5 contractions, 4 or 5 pushes per contraction, & she’s out!!

And the doctor says (at 3 contractions), If I just cut here, it could come out – and I’m like, “NO! I waited so long, I can wait a little more!” So he shuts up and starts stretching me & putting KY Jelly on me. And I said, “Thank you Dr. Wu.”

2 Contractions later & several hard pushes, the baby’s head is out, then hand, then butt – Kevin is crying!! He is crying so much because he sees the head!

And it’s a girl!

“It” turns into “she.” “Noelle” to be exact.

She is indescribable. An angel. She’s my daughter and she is sooo cute! I can’t believe God made her inside of me.

More on motherhood later. Now to learn how to breastfeed and to eat something. And to have the parents come visit. Kevin is at home sleeping and I am journaling. It’s 11am and men have been jackhammering outside my window since 8 am. Wow, I really wanna go home. The hospital is so uncomfortable."


  1. Wow! Thanks for the detailed account! Now I know a little better what to expect in October. Thanks for your inspiration :).

  2. Jean you did an amazing job birthing Noelle. I am also amazed at this detailed account you really remembered every moment. You are also very right Noelle is very cute. You and Kevin will be excellent parents.