Haven Mae Rush graced us with her presence on April 20th, 2014 which was Easter Sunday and the most exciting, painful and beautiful day of my life. I had pretty much convinced myself that my Haven would come late so I wasn’t anticipating her arrival anytime soon..
My mom was supposed to come in town on Saturday the 19th, but a family emergency came up so she wasn’t able to make it, which I was told on Friday evening. I was pretty bummed that she wasn’t going to make it but, like I said, I didn’t think that Haven would be coming on my due date so I thought she would have extra time to get here before I went into labor. Saturday night Cory and I decided to go out to celebrate him passing his final part of boards as well as our possible last weekend as just a couple. So we went to Tsunami sushi (don’t worry I didn’t get anything raw) and then walked down the big dock that has swinging benches by the water. It was raining a little bit and it was windy so we sat there and swung a bit and talked about our lives and how much it was about to change. Then we went home and I was ready for bed! I was so tired I felt like a giant whale, so I just wanted to lay down and let my body relax.
Eventually I fell asleep and around 1:00 am I woke up to what I thought were some Braxton Hicks, I didn’t think much of it and tried to go back to bed but they kept waking me up, so by the time 3:00 rolled around I couldn’t take just laying there anymore so I got up and walked around our tiny little apartment trying to “walk it off” but they just kept getting worse, so I woke Cory up and told him I was having some pretty bad contractions, but I told him not to get his hopes up because it may be a false alarm. So he rubbed my back a bit as I tried to relax, but I couldn’t really relax. So we started timing my contractions to see how far apart they were and they were which was about 5-7 minutes. I went back to what we learned in our Bradley Method class and they said to eat something, go for a walk, and take a shower and see if the contractions go away. At this point I was still not convinced that I was in labor, I thought it was just a false alarm for some reason. So Cory made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while I bounced on our exercise ball. I ate the sandwich, and my contractions just kept coming so we decided to call our doula, Kassie Anderson and let her know what was going on. So she told me to try to relax and get a little sleep while I still can, so that is what I tried to do, but the contractions were just so uncomfortable and I couldn’t lay still, so I took a nice long hot shower for as long as I could stand it.
I was feeling a little better, so I climbed back in bed with Cory and I actually fell back asleep for maybe 30 minutes, but was awoken again by more intense contractions. So it was probably around 5am by the time I was up and continuing to have contractions about 5 minutes apart. We hung around the house timing contractions on and off and just trying to relax. Around 7:30am we decided to go for a little walk around the block, with a few stops during contractions as I hugged Cory and tried to relax through them. When we got home I told Cory that we still needed to open our Easter baskets! So at least we got a little Easter celebration in as we opened each others baskets to one another.
By the time 10:30 rolled around Kassie (my doula) came over and that is when the ball started rolling on my contractions. They began to get worse and worse as Kassie stood behind me and put pressure on my back as I leaned over our bed and Cory was there holding my hands coaching me through each contraction. Haven was posterior, meaning that she was facing my stomach when she should have been facing my back, which leads to a longer more painful labor. So we were trying to get her to flip over during my contractions which was a very uncomfortable and quite painful thing to do. Kassie was so knowledgable and comforting during the whole thing and she knew exactly what to do with the posterior situation. She had me stand up against the wall during a few of my contractions and when each one started I would follow my hip bones down to my pelvic area and lift Haven’s head and then press down on my stomach to try and get her to flip, it was not a fun thing to do at all during a contraction. We did a few other different positions during contractions as well to try and get her to flip. The rest of our time at home laboring was kind of a blur, but it was so incredibly painful! There were times when I would have contractions back to back four times in a row, where a contraction would peak and go down a little bit and then peak again and go down a little bit and peak again and again where I just didn’t get a break. That happened a few different times and I remember thinking I was literally about to die. Towards the end I didn’t think I could take it anymore, I kept telling Cory and Kassie that I was done and I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to run away every time I had a contraction. It felt like someone had taken a rope and squeezed it around my insides while 5 knives were stabbing me in the stomach over and over again. This went on for a little longer until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I told them that we needed to stop and go to the hospital, I was done. If I didn’t have Kassie and Cory there supporting me the whole time and giving a little relief to my back while I labored I wouldn’t have been able to do a natural labor. Seriously, having a doula and taking the Bradley Method classes with Cory was one of the best decisions I could have made. Cory and Kassie were the best help to me and they were there to support me and cheer me on, when I felt like I was going to die.
So after I told Cory and Kassie that we needed to leave, Kassie had me go to the bathroom before we left. I could barely sit on the toilet seat the pressure was just so painful. As I was about to break down, I was in there alone, when I thought to myself, that I can’t run away from this pain, there was nothing I could do to make it go away and I just needed to embrace it and let my body work. As I got up I realized that I lost my mucus plug, so I walked out slowly and quietly told them I had lost it. Then Cory ran out and pulled the car up to the door, I just remember dreading getting in the car and driving to the hospital because I knew it was going to be so painful driving over the all the bumps and uneven roads downtown. So I got in the back seat and hugged the headrest as I kneeled on the seat. I COULD NOT sit down, it was not going to happen. So I held on to that headrest for dear life and tried to just focus, I went inside myself I couldn’t even talk I was in so much pain. I remember Cory asking me if I was doing okay and I couldn’t even say a word to tell him yes or no. I’m sure it scared him a bit that I was so silent, because just before I went to the bathroom I was very vocal about how I was feeling and how much I couldn’t take it anymore.
We had left the house around 1:45pm for the hospital and got there at about 2:00. After we parked, I remember just having the hospital room on my mind, I was determined to get there as soon as possible. We had to stop a few times as I turned to hold on to Cory as I had more contractions, we walked down the white hallways and were greeted by a nurse that just happened to be walking down the hall. She ran and grabbed a wheel chair for me to sit it, when she told me to sit I really really didn’t want to because I knew it would be so uncomfortable but once again, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t tell them how I was feeling so I sat on the edge and held myself up with my arms. We finally got into the delivery room and the nurses were asking me a bunch of questions about when my due date was, who my doctor was (which we forgot to call the OB to even let her know I was in labor and that we were on our way to the hospital) and other questions that were a blur, but the whole time they were asking me I just looked at them, I couldn’t get a word out. I just looked at Cory hoping that he would answer the questions for me. I continued to have my contractions over and over again, it felt like they were within seconds apart, it was killing me. They checked to see what I was dilated at, which was about 8cm, then they hooked me up to an IV and by the time they were done I felt like I was about to poop my pants. So finally I spoke up and the first thing that came out of my mouth was that I felt like I needed to go #2! So they took the IV off so I could go to the bathroom, I tried to sit down but I couldn’t, I had another contraction and lost more of my mucus plug. As I stood up I remember yelling “I’M GOING TO POOP ON THE FLOOR!” I just felt so much pressure and I could hardly stand it! I took three more steps and the next thing that came out of my mouth was “I’M HAVING THIS BABY NOW!” I didn’t really know I was having the baby but that is just what was coming out of my mouth, it’s crazy how your body just knows and somehow I was able to vocalize it. So the nurses told me to get on the bed so they could check to see how dilated I was, once again I couldn’t lay down because the pressure and pain was so intense so I was on all fours as the nurse checked to see where I was, and apparently she got half of her finger in there and then she said “yup, that’s a baby’s head!”. Next thing I knew, people were scurrying around and metal trays with instruments were being wheeled over and things began to get real serious. The doctor came in just in time and had me lay on my back, I told her that I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t. She told me that I couldn’t deliver the baby on all fours, it was too dangerous (which I think would have been fine, because they say it is one of the birthing positions) so I mustered up my strength and courage and turned around and all of a sudden the doctor was saying that the baby was still intact with the bag of waters, so she had to pop it. Next thing I knew I felt a gush of water, as if someone had poured a gallon of water all over me. The the doctor told me to push, I was determined to get Haven out, I was so done with this labor, so I pushed as hard as I could. I could feel everything down there stretching so much it burned! So the next contraction came along and I pushed again with all my might, by the third contraction I yelled “get this thing out of me!” I was going crazy, so the doctor told me to give one last big push and that she was so close to coming out, so I gave it one last hard push and she was out! My umbilical cord was so short that they could only put Haven on my stomach and I just remember saying “my baby, my baby! She’s here! My baby!” We finished letting the cord pulse so that baby could get as much of the cord blood as she could and then Cory cut the cord. Everything was such a blur and seemed so surreal. I remember the nurse stuck a huge needle in my leg to help stop the bleeding because I guess they said that I bled as much as someone who had a c-section, so they had to give me something to help stop the bleeding. Then I remember being so cold I was shivering like crazy and my whole body was shaking, during this time I birthed the placenta and then the doctor stitched me up. Luckily I didn’t tear that bad, I only needed three stitches. I was just in such awe of my baby girl I couldn’t believe that she was really here! I had her laying on my chest, and they asked what her name was and Cory and I had two names in mind, either Sienna or Haven, but we both knew it was Haven. Haven Mae Rush. Our beautiful baby girl weighed 7 lbs 9 oz and was 19 inches long, with a full head of black hair and cheeks for days.
It took a little while for it all to set in for me and it is still setting in, but seeing my baby girl for the first time, with her black head of hair and her sweet little cry was something I wouldn’t trade for anything. I have never felt so much love and eagerness to protect and care for this little girl, she has brought a whole new meaning of motherhood to me. With everything you go through for this little one including the nausea from early pregnancy, the discomfort of later pregnancy, the hours of labor, the birth and all the pain that follows after from stitches, bleeding, cramps, pain from nursing and little to no sleep it is all worth it and you deal with it all with love knowing that it is all for your new child. I can’t wait to see my little Haven grow and develop. She is my everything and I love the little family that Cory and I have created.
Everybody always hears about the woman’s birth story, but the fathers side is never really told… so I had Cory right his own little version of the birth of our Haven.
For me the birth started in a haze at 3 a.m. There was Laura, on all fours and breathing hard trying to relieve the stress of her random contractions. This wasn’t the first time that she’d been dogged by cramps at the most un-godly hours imaginable, but with every day one day closer to the due date I was a bit anxious. Laura told me to not worry about it and to go back to sleep, that she’d get me up if anything different happened. It was like that for a few hours until I got up and started checking times every now and again. The contractions were still sporadic but had been going on all morning.
We started the labor process with me trying to keep Laura relaxed, fed, and hydrated, and Laura being a champ about every contraction. It wasn’t until about 10 a.m. that we called our doula friend Kassie to come over and give a hand. The contractions got more and more steady and harder and harder on Laura. One particularly hard part about her labor was that the baby was posterior, meaning that her face was facing forward instead of towards Laura’s back. When babies are posterior they tend to make for longer, more painful births. With Laura trying to do this birth naturally it wasn’t going to help her to have it be either longer or more painful, so our doula started having Laura do some exercises and moves to get the baby to turn around. From my perspective, there is nothing harder than watching the pain of a contraction compounded by the discomfort of trying to manipulate the baby’s positioning. It’s hard to witness the grimace of pain on your wife’s face and not be able to do anything about it but reassure her that this is natural and that contractions are a good thing leading us to baby’s arrival. Laura labored until about 12:30 p.m. without her pain becoming overwhelming, but then she hit the wall. Her contractions started stacking on each other, leaving her with no or reduced breaks between each one. Couple that with the fact that they were getting so hard that she started saying that she couldn’t do it anymore, that it was too hard, that she was going to die, and the whole thing got so hard to witness and stay positive. I only knew that being positive was the only thing I could really do to help so I was going to do it.
She labored until 1:45 p.m. and gave a couple more heroic efforts to rotate the baby before she called it and we headed off to the hospital. Laura didn’t talk at all the entire ride over. She just kneeled on the back seat, hugging the headrest like a lifeline. Just as a side note, downtown Charleston is NOT conducive to comfortable driving in high stress situations. Ironic, then, that it has two hospitals. Would it kill them to make the roads EVEN and fill some potholes? Anyways. We arrived at the hospital and checked in at 2 p.m. Laura walked into the hospital on her own steam and an arm thrown over my shoulders. She had at least 4 contractions on the way into the hospital and at least 6 before they finally put her in a room. She was quiet, and couldn’t sit down to be wheeled in because it was far too painful for her. The nurses were very gracious (but kept trying to ask the incoherent pregnant woman questions that they could have EASILY asked the anxious, yet coherent, husband standing by her side).
They got Laura into a room and then into a gown. They then strapped her to a fetal heart monitor for what they said had to be at least 20 minutes, but try telling that to a woman 8 cm dilated who needs to get up to go to the bathroom. Laura got up, with us wheeling her IV bag along for the ride, and announced to the room at large that she was “going to crap on the floor”, eloquently put. She made it to the toilet, luckily, and passed her mucous plug. Now things were getting moving. As Laura was walking back into the room she stopped, had a contraction, and then following the contraction slapped a hand on the wall, leaned against it, and yelled “I’m about to have this baby right now! She’s right between my legs!” which caused the already flustered nurses to be extra flustered. From what I’m told it is pretty common for women in the later stages of labor to yell something like that, even when the baby is still a ways away. Not the case, as we were about to find out. Laura then climbed onto the bed on all fours because it hurt too much to lie on her back. The nurse went to check dilation and all I hear is “Oh, that’s a head. Thaaat’s the baby’s head. Baby coming now!” The other nurses seemed a bit confused until it set it that it was magic time. They had Laura roll over, which by the looks of things was VERY unpleasant, and prepare for the doctor. We, in our anxious/excited state, had completely forgotten to call our OB, which is just as well because she wouldn’t have been there on time anyways. Luckily, however, St. Francis recently began having an on-floor OB at all times due to circumstances such as ours. She was scrubbed and gloved just in time to tell Laura to push. Laura had some choice words to say while pushing, including “get this thing out of me!” But who could blame her? The bag of waters was still intact when it came time to push so the doc decided to pop it to help Laura out. I can’t imagine it’s much fun to try to push out a baby inside a water balloon. The pushing wasn’t long, only 4 contractions, but with each one I could see our sweet little girl’s jet-black hair a bit more. I got tears in my eyes as I saw her. My voice broke a few times when I turned to Laura to tell her how close she was and that I could see a head full of beautiful black hair like hers. After only 4 contractions, little Haven Mae Rush came into the world bawling and using her new little lungs to full effect. I’ve never been so proud and elated and relieved at the same time.
My wife amazes me, and I have a respect for her strength and steadfast nature that will never be rocked. She is awesome, in that she fills me with awe and wonder. I love her and I love my sweet little girl more than I ever knew I could. I’m so excited to see her grow and watch her progress in life.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Jenna Miller >> http://www.jennamillerphotos.com/