Archer Inspired (Birth Edition)
Archer Inspired: the name of my business, but also the title of this blog. But this time, this isn't about my business.. it's about my son. Little Mr. Archer Jacob Williams.
Now that he's here, and two weeks old today (cue the tears), I've had a chance to sit down and breathe a bit. Now I have time to do something I've been wanting to do: write out our story. From the very beginning when we found out we were pregnant, to when he entered this world. So this blog will be lengthy, but I'm going to share my birth story. (So if you don't like birth stories.... buh bye!)
So to start from the beginning... I found out I was pregnant on my last day of college. Talk about one door closing and another opening! I woke up that morning and knew something was different. So I took a pregnancy test and it immediately came back positive. I didn't believe it (I thought hey, this is just a cheap test.. maybe it's wrong), so I went and bought 3 more tests (ridiculous I know), and they all came back positive. I couldn't believe it. I immediately texted Jake to come home from work. He knew, even without me telling him anything... he knew. He came home and saw me standing in our hallway and I just started crying. He held me up since my knees were shaking so much. I showed him the test, and we both cried. We were both still in so much shock, because honestly we weren't planning on getting pregnant. Our plan was to wait about 3 more years before starting to try to have babies, but God had a different plan for us. God knew what we needed, when we needed it. Jake and I have always been the couple that loves going on new adventures, and this one was going to be the greatest one yet.
Since we found out we were pregnant the Monday before Thanksgiving 2015, we decided we were going to tell all of our extended families on Thanksgiving, but wanted to tell our parents sooner. So I made little books for them. The front said "Thank you for..." and the inside said different things like "for being my first hug," "for being my biggest fan," "for being my biggest supporter." Then the last page said "for being the best first time grandparents." Both sets of our parents couldn't believe it. Shocked, crying, speechless. Because they knew that we weren't planning on starting our family yet, so it wasn't what they were expecting at all. But after the shock subsided a bit they were all so beyond excited and happy to be expecting their first grandchild.
When it was time to find out the gender of our little babe, we invited our immediate families to our ultrasound so we could all find out together. After our little one finished squirming around, the legs spread and I immediately said "it's a boy!" We now knew we were expecting little Archer Jacob.
The following doctor appointments all went so smooth. No gestational diabetes, no issues, no complications. We were so blessed with a smooth and easy pregnancy. I stayed healthy and so did our son. We were so thankful for that.
We spent 12 of our last weeks of our pregnancy attending a Bradley Method birthing class taught by Jacqueline Blackwood, a Bakersfield instructor. Every Thursday night we joined two other couples as we sat on Jacki's living room floor, learning all that we needed to learn. I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions we made. It focused on husband coached childbirth. Allowing Jake to be my coach and play a large role in the labor and delivery. We practiced techniques, studied the stages, educated ourselves on our rights and the process. It also focuses on natural childbirth. Doing it without medication and allowing your body to do what it was meant to do, on its own timing. Literally everything you could need to learn and more, we learned through the Bradley Method. Without this class, Jake and I sincerely believe that we would have not been prepared for labor and delivery. We cannot thank Jacki enough for all that she taught us and the new friendships we made.
Leading up to our due date, I started walking more, started bouncing on my birth ball more. At the doctor appointments leading up to my due date, I was progressing quite a bit with dilation and effacement. Something I was super grateful for since some women go into labor at only 1 cm, and here I was at 4cm and 80% effaced since week 36!
As you can see, Winnie was super excited...
Which brings us to Sunday, July 10th. My sister-in-law Emily came over and brought us chipotle for lunch, which I could barely touch. I just kept bouncing on my birth ball. My husband, sister, and I then decided to go walk at Riverwalk. Which was painful as I wobbled along, but we did it.
Once we got home I noticed consistent braxton hicks. They were about 5 minutes a part and lasted about a minute and a half. The pain wasn't bad, just a lot of pressure. I got in the shower, and let the hot water fall on my back as I leaned against the shower walls. They got more frequent, so we decided to go to the hospital.
At 6:30pm we arrived at the hospital to get checked out. They monitored the contractions and noticed they were coming 1-3 minutes a part but I was still at 4cm and 80% effaced. They wanted me to stay for 2 hours and walk the halls to see if I progressed at all. So that's what we did. Wobbling for two hours and getting SO hungry. I was craving pizza.
At 9pm, without progressing anymore, the doctor said we could go. Dr. Patel, the on call doctor that night, mentioned that he doubted I would make it through the night and on our way out he said "Go get some pizza and I will see you later!" So right after leaving, feeling a bit silly for going, we went to Bakersfield Pizza Co. I ordered a large pepperoni, sausage, and bacon pizza, mac and cheese, and wedges. We ate it all. It was so good. SO good.
After eating, at around 10:30pm, we went home and laid on our bed and looked up apartments in San Jose. At this point, we already knew Jake was going to get the offer for Winchester Mystery House so we started looking for places to move. As we were laying there, I turned over and POP. I was soaked, the bed was soaked... my water broke. It was the craziest thing. All of the sudden those braxton hicks turned into full blown contractions. The pain I wasn't feeling earlier, started to come now. We already had our bags in the car from a few hours ago. So we called our families, kissed Winnie goodbye, and headed for the hospital.
Once we got to the hospital, Dr. Patel was there and asked "So, did you get your pizza? I told you that you would be back..." He was right.
11:30 PM: We got into our room, I got hooked up to the monitors, and it was go time. As part of our birth plan, I chose to only get a hep-lock (when the IV needle is in your hand, but not hooked up to anything). I didn't want to be given fluids to keep me hydrated because I wanted to hydrate myself by drinking water. Again, all natural in every way. My childhood friend since kindergarten, Kate, also showed up to wait in the waiting room, but not before getting my hair out of my face by giving me a bun, which I definitely needed.
11:45 PM: My contractions were consistent. The pain was real. I was at 5cm. No meds.
1:00 AM: I was 7cm dilated.
Let me also take this time to comment on my AMAZING husband. I seriously could not have asked for a better coach. He took on the challenge of coaching me alone, and definitely succeeded. He gave me so much strength and encouragement to keep going, to keep breathing, and to see the light at the end of the tunnel. He held my hand through every contraction, he gave me cool rags for my forehead, and encouraged me with such sweet and loving words of affirmation.
1:30 AM: Transition started. SWEET BABY JESUS HELP ME. Transition is INSANE. But thankfully, we knew what transition would be and what to expect from our class. Honestly, if I didn't know what transition was, I think I would've thought I was dying. I threw up dinner and I started shaking, and not a little bit... full on uncontrollable shaking. The contractions were on top of one another, giving me no break in between. But I still never asked for meds. I was sweating, shaking, and uncontrollable. I even went cross-eyed. Weird, I know. But I remember the entire time I was staring at my nose and I was seeing double. I couldn't stop going cross-eyed, I couldn't snap out of it. Jake and Lori (my sweet friend and amazing birth photographer) both said it was the craziest they've ever seen someone. It was such an out of body experience. I remember the entire thing so vividly, but I remember not being able to control or stop myself. But I just kept reminding myself "this is the shortest and hardest part... I'll have my baby soon." Jake was such a trooper during this time. As I screamed, he calmly told me to breathe. As I was shaking, he held my hand tight. My husband is such a rock, and I needed that more than ever before.
2:20 AM: They checked me, and I was ready. I remember my nurse saying "It's time to have a baby." Also, let me note that the two nurses who were with me the whole time, were amazing. I think I fell in love with both of them that night. But I hear that most women will connect with their nurse during their labor and delivery if they have a good nurse. And my nurses were God sends.
2:30 AM: Time to push. I told them that I wanted to push on my own time, not theirs. Meaning, I wanted to wait until I had the urge to push, and man did I want to push. 3 pushes per contraction. Jake was there the whole time. So supportive. Coaching me every step of the way. Jake also thankfully remembered that I wanted a mirror. It was a good sized mirror on a stand that they wheeled in so I could see what was going on, and I could see when my baby's head was crowning. (Let me tell you, this mirror helped me SO much and gave me that much more determination to keep going when I could see my own progress.)
2:50 AM: Baby's head was crowning. I could see it. It was the most surreal thing to see and feel my body pushing and fighting to bring a child into this world.
2:58 AM: I heard him cry. That sweet beautiful cry. Another part of our birth plan was to have delayed cord clamping. However, the cord was really short, so Dr. Patel asked if I wanted him to wait longer for him to cut it, or if I wanted my baby on me. I wanted him on me, so he clamped the cord and I watched Jake cut it. Then my screaming baby got placed on my chest. Skin to skin. Beautiful. We had about an hour and a half of uninterrupted time together. That initial skin on skin time with mama and baby are so important. He immediately latched and he fed on both sides within his first hour of life.
July 19th was his due date, however, our little man came 8 days early on July 11, 2016 at 2:58 A.M. weighing 8 pounds 4 ounces, and 20 1/4 inches long. Getting 9's all the way across his APGAR test.
It is the most surreal thing to look at your child for the first time. To look at a little baby that you and your spouse brought into the world. I've never experienced something so beautiful. It's also amazing how all the intense pain you felt just a few minutes ago, immediately goes away once your baby is born.
3:45 AM: Our photographer left, but our birthing class instructor Jacki came over. Since we were going natural and learned so much with the Bradley Method, we also decided to take her up on another service she offers: placenta encapsulation. So she arrived at the hospital with her red cooler to pick up my placenta to encapsulate it into pills for me. Even though there isn't any "actual" proof that it's beneficial in any way because studies can't be done to prove one way or the other, there is definitely some benefits that we believe exist within encapsulation. Milk supply, emotional stability, and physical healing, are just a few of the benefits.
Before Jacki dehydrates the placenta for encapsulation, she puts an edible dye on it and makes a print of it first. So this is what my placenta looked like...
4:30 AM: After giving us a solid hour and a half of bonding time, they then came in to weigh and measure him and do his footprints. They also gave him his vitamin K shot, but we opted out of anything else, including the erythromycin in his eyes because after educating ourselves, we just didn't feel like it was necessary.
We also chose to have his first bath be at home with us and not in the hospital. All that goodness that's on their skin when they're born, the vernix, is incredibly beneficial for their skin. So we chose to just rub that into his skin, and let him be in all his perfectness.
We then started to have Archer's first visitors. Of course we had our parents come see him first.
My mom, his Nonnie.
Jake's mom, his Mimi.
My Dad, his name TBA.
Jake's Dad, his Pops.
I was so amazed with how alert Archer was. We learned during our class that babies who are born without an epidural or any meds are much more alert, which was also another one of our reasons for going natural. The doctor and nurses agreed that when mamas don't use medication or get an epidural, their babies are much more awake and far less lethargic when they're born. Archer was proof of this. He was wide eyed and so observant from the very beginning and still is. I mean look at him just two hours after being born...
Jake's sister, his Aunt Emily.
My best friend, his Aunt Kate.
Our dear friends, his Godparents William and Makenzie.
6:00 AM: We then got moved into our recovery room. They asked if I wanted a wheelchair, but I chose to walk instead. William and Makenzie also left to go get me not one, but TWO Panera breakfast sandwiches... and they were quite possibly the best things I've ever eaten. We got settled in our room and spent that time to adjust as a family and welcome a few more visitors. All the tests and vitals that Archer and I had to take, we passed with flying colors.
We were all so exhausted. But then again, we still are ;)
Looking back on the entire experience start to finish, I can't help but cry. From learning that we were pregnant, to every doctor's visit, to having the labor and delivery that we had wanted, to then holding my sweet son in my arms... I couldn't have wished for anything more.
This adventure that started out unplanned, was the most beautiful and most rewarding adventure Jake and I have been on. I look back with nothing but happiness with how our first child was brought into this crazy world. And just like how one chapter ended with finishing college on the same day another chapter began by finding out we were pregnant... the same thing happened when Jake got the offer letter for his new job at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose on the same day our first child was born. Another adventure, now as a family of three.
So here's to the beautiful adventure that is our birth story and our sweet 7/11 baby <3