Sunday, October 15, 2017

Alexander's birth story

I had my last prenatal appointment yesterday afternoon (and by yesterday I mean Friday, October 13, because I started writing this on Saturday). Of course, I didn't realize at the time that it was going to be my last prenatal appointment so when I was told to strip everything waist down so my doctor could see how far along I was I asked if we could skip that part. I might be at risk for preterm labour but my cervix is super competent, like A++. I'm locked down at a big, fat zero until labour starts and then I'm a zero-to-sixty (or zero-to-ten, if you will) in no time flat kind of girl.

Later in the afternoon I began to feel...icky. Not terrible, just...irritable...

Andrew texted me that he was leaving his office to go pick up my race packet—because I may or may not have signed up for a 5K at BYU (The Sugar Rush, for diabetes research, and, yes, I was planning on walking it)—and then would be on his way home. I was like, "Perfect. Thanks for doing that for me," but by the time he finally made it home I was like, "Yeah, I dunno if I'm even going to need that anymore," because I'd begun having rhythmic-ish contractions.

Still, rhythic-ish contractions is nothing to get one's hopes up about. So I didn't, though I did admit to Andrew that they were "different" from my other contractions because I could feel them coming in waves, wrapping around my body from the back to the front...which should have been a clue. Honestly though, I always have a lot of contractions and these weren't that painful. The weird thing was that nothing would stop them (sitting, eating, walking, "napping"). They were relentless...but a little tricky to decode.

6:15 (8 minutes)
6:27 (11 minutes)
6:34 (7 minutes)
6:50 (15 minutes)
6:58 (7 minutes)
7:12 (13 minutes)
7:37 (23 minutes!)
7:51 (13 minutes)

I had been having contractions for two hours, but was still wondering if I was truly in labour at all. Because 15, 7, 13, and 23 minutes apart certainly doesn't scream "longer, stronger, closer together," does it?

I half-heartedly continued to time my contractions (apps these days makes it so ridiculously easy; much easier than the pen-and-paper days of Rachel, Miriam, and Benjamin, who were clearly born in the stone age compared to Zoë and Alexander) while I read stories to the little kids, sang them lullabies, and tucked them into bed.

8:00 (9 minutes)
8:08 (8 minutes)
8:14 (5 minutes!)
8:21 (7 minutes)
8:32 (11 minutes...)
8:40 (8 minutes)
8:50 (10 minutes)
8:58 (8 minutes)
9:05 (7 minutes)
9:08 (3 minutes)
9:19 (11 minutes...)
9:38 (18 minutes...)

Three, eleven, eighteen minutes... Honestly?! What am I even supposed to do with that information?

9:43 (5 minutes)
9:56 (13 minutes)
10:07 (11 minutes)

I think it was about here that I decided to take a nap because obviously even if this was actual labour we were going to be doing this for quite some time since I didn't seem to be making any obvious headway. Unfortunately the contractions were annoying enough that I couldn't sleep through them.

10:17 (10 minutes)
10:38 (11 minutes)
10:49 (11 minutes)
10:58 (9 minutes)

They seemed to be holding in a steadier—though somewhat depressing—ten-minute pattern. I asked Andrew if he wanted to watch a show with me since I wasn't able to sleep anyway. And I took a break from timing contractions because I'd been averaging ten minutes apart for hours and enough already. I made Andrew pump up my exercise ball while I got my nightly hold-your-blood-sugar-stable-until-morning snack ready, just in case sitting on it would help move things along. Since nothing seemed to be stopping these contractions I was beginning to believe they were real.

We watched a The Good Place and an episode of Superstore. And then I decided that bouncing on that ball had done something, so I started timing contractions again while we watched Madam Secretary (or did we do that the other way around...I can't even remember).

11:59 (8 minutes)
12:06 (7 minutes)
12:14 (8 minutes)
12:21 (7 minutes)
12:29 (8 minutes)

Clearly this change fell into the "closer together" category of labour progressing.

12:32 (3 minutes)

Maybe we'd better go...

12:43 (11 minutes)
12:54 (11 minutes)

Or maybe not...

12:59 (5 minutes)
1:03 (4 minutes)
1:08 (5 minutes)
1:13 (5 minutes)
1:18 (5 minutes)

Actually, we'd probably better get going...I guess...

1:21 (3 minutes)

That was the last contraction I timed. I went to the bathroom and had some bloody show, which would have freaked me out except I knew that was simply a sign of rapid dilation (the same thing had happened to me with Benjamin). This is when I acknowledged that I was really in labour, though I assumed I still had hours left to go because my progress had been so slow.

In all honesty, it had been about a decade since I'd laboured through the day at all. Usually (with Miriam, Benjamin, and Zoë) I've just been ripped from my sleep in super-mega labour and we've just run from the house. But with Rachel I did some light labour all through the day until a couple hours before the workday was over and I just couldn't hack it anymore. And then we went home to labour to the hospital to have a baby (going home first was a silly mistake because by the time I couldn't hack it anymore the baby was pretty much out).

Anyway, I wasn't really sure how labour is supposed to go, having always (at least usually) skipped the annoying latent labour part in my sleep.

We told Karen we were heading to the hospital and she said she'd go upstairs to sleep on the couch so the children could find her easier. Knowing it was chilly outside, I'd grabbed a pair of socks to wear but then I couldn't put them on. I felt perfectly calm and reasonable but I couldn't bend over to put on my own socks.

"How about flip flops?" Andrew suggested, running off to retrieve them.

So that's what I wore.

Contractions certainly slowed en route to the hospital. I was glancing at the clock and watching the minutes tick by without anything happening.

"Ugh," I'd remark. "Maybe going to the hospital is a mistake because I haven't had a contraction in...oh, never mind. Here comes one now. Oh, and it's a big one!"

It was almost like I had to verbally remind my body that we were still in labour. And I was still talking through contractions, which you're not supposed to be able to do when you're in active labour. But I've always talked calmly through active labour so I don't think that holds true for everyone.

The next couple of contractions I did did have likewise felt huge, though they were about ten minutes apart, and I began to wonder how long I was going to be in labour at this rate and if I could even do it at all and if I'd have the resolve to refuse an epidural should one be offered to me because—man alive—this contraction is a doozy and I don't know how much more I can take. I mean, if this is early labour and I still have hours to go there is no way I can do it. I'm so tired. A rest would be nice. Oh, but I hate epidurals. But I've been up since seven in the morning. I just don't know...

That's when I realized I hadn't been using my "outside words" at all. Andrew was sitting in panicked silence while I was...sitting there, doubting everything...*internal gasp*! Transition.

Oh, dear, I thought. I'm supposed to arrive at the hospital with four hours to spare (GBS+ again) and I'm already transitioning. Maybe there's still time...we're almost there...

We parked and made to the lobby, which, of course, was completely deserted, save a lone security guard way on the other side of the room. Technically, we should know our way around the hospital pretty well because we basically lived here for five weeks after Benjamin was born, but they've been doing a lot of renovations and we just weren't...quite...sure...anymore. So Andrew and I sped toward the security guard until I was stopped dead in my tracks from a killer contraction and leaned up against the vacant information desk.

"I'll be a minute," I half-panted.

"Let me guess: Labour and Delivery?" the security guard asked, pressing a button to allow us to use the elevator.

"Yup," I squeaked. "Almost done. Phew. Okay. Let's go!"

And we were off again, bustling into the elevator, waiting helplessly while we rose to the fifth floor, spilling out the doors and rushing to the telephone on the wall.

"Hi, yes," Andrew said to the phone. "We're here because my wife labour...obviously."

The person on the other end of the phone beeped us in and we rushed over to the check-in counter. I told the nice lady my name and birthday and verified my address while impatiently banging my ID and insurance card against the counter. Not that I was trying to be annoying. I just know...feeling a little jittery.

"I'll take those," she smiled. "So, why do you think you're in labour?"

I stared at her.

"Are you having any contractions? Did your water break?" she clarified.

"Oh, uh, some contractions," I said. "And, uh, I'm group strep B positive so I'm supposed to get an IV."

"That's good to know. I'll make a note of it in your chart. How fast are your labours, typically?"

"Pretty fast," I said. "My last baby was GBS+ as well and I only made it to the hospital in time to get half the dose of antibiotics that I needed."

"Okay, well, hopefully you made it here with a little more time today," she said.

I started to agree with her, "Hopeful..." when I was gripped with an insane contraction and as I made a Herculean effort to not push (because it wasn't time!) my uterus made a Herculean effort to expel this baby.


"Oh, dear!" I said. "I think my water just broke. Either that or I peed myself."

"Oh, that was definitely your water," the desk lady said.

And I thought to myself how very bad that was because my water has only ever broken as my babies were crowning, which meant the baby was coming right now.

"I'm having this baby right now," I whispered in disbelief.

"Can you walk back to this room?" the desk lady asked with some urgency.

"How far is it?" I asked.

"Not very far," she assured me. "And then we can put you in a wheelchair."

"Okay," I said, and Andrew helped me shuffle back to wherever we shuffled (it's kind of a daze, guys). I sat down in the wheelchair and Desk Lady took off flying through the corridors. Andrew ran like a mad man behind her. The delivery room was already bustling with nurses (Desk Lady had raised some sort of alarm) and they all pounced on me, pulling off my clothes, stuffing me into a hospital gown as they helped me into bed and hastily administered an IV.

"I'm going to check you really quick," one of the nurses said. "Okay, she's complete. Get the on-call doctor."

The foot of the bed was ripped off in a hurry, converting the bed into a birthing chair. A doctor rushed in and was stuffed into his surgical gown by the same nurses who'd just stuffed me into my hospital gown.

"Have you delivered naturally before?" the doctor asked. "Because if's your chance."

And then a whole room of strangers started telling me to push.

"I need somebody to help me!" I wailed. I felt so flustered. I had completely convinced myself I was still in somewhat early labour. I wasn't prepared to push. I didn't know what to do.

It's my fifth baby and I didn't know what to do!!

"You're okay! You're okay!" a nurse said, getting right in my face. "Just hook your arms under your legs, put your chin down, and push whenever you get the urge."

Right, right! I remember this!

I pushed through two contractions and then they handed me a baby. And apparently I made a face that said, "What the heck?!" which is fine because, Alexander, I assure you the feeling was mutual.

In my defense, my admittance bracelet was printed off at the front desk at 1:53 am (it says so right on it) and I had a baby in my arms by 2:08 am. It was a pretty intense (and somewhat surprising) quarter of an hour!

Andrew was in a "no holds barred" mood with the camera, so half the pictures he took I'm either like, "That's what I look like when I'm pushing out a baby?!" and the other half are completely x-rated.

This picture, for example, is a decent one. It's the stuff of nightmares, but it's decent. I'll just let you imagine what the other pictures are like. Have fun with that.

Andrew's inappropriateness behind the camera started at home, actually, when I said we'd better take a belly shot because we hadn't yet done that and "this might just be our last chance."

"But first let me go to the bathroom," I said. Because contractions make me have to go pee.

So he snapped a picture of me coming out of the bathroom, moaning about how annoying labour is (thanks, honey). And then I made him take a real one (where I managed to smile and pose even though I was active labour...apparently (I read all my birthing books this week and being able to smile and pose for a picture is supposedly a sign it's too early to head to the hospital but I'm pretty sure that's not a hard and fast rule)):

Now I'm wondering why I have socks on here when I distinctly remember being barefoot and not being able to put socks on. When did my socks come off? Oh, maybe this was before my shower. This was before my shower. Because I didn't wear that shirt to the hospital either. I wore pyjamas. Like a boss.

Childbirth is so glamorous!

Here's Alexander giving the world his "Why me?!?!" face (I told you the feeling was mutual):

Getting stitched up is always the worst part (I always tear, sadly), but I was still pretty distracted by everything that it wasn't so bad. And the nurses all stuck around to chat me up while the doctor was doing his stitching.

"Now that we have that bit out of the way," the in-your-face nurse said. "I'm Denise, the head nurse."

One by one the room of nurses introduced themselves. Then the doctor paused with his stitching, poked up from between my splayed legs and quipped, "And I'm the janitor!"

That made me laugh because I'd never seen him before in my life so for all I knew they could have called in a janitor instead of a doctor. But he did a fine job catching the baby and stitching me up so I guess it doesn't matter what his profession is. (But don't worry; he was really a doctor: Jeffery Broberg, MD—I looked him up later, not because I was worried he wasn't a doctor but just because I was curious).

Here's Alexander all snuggled up for some skin-to-skin time after all my stitching up was done and the foot of the bed was back on (he did a great nursing session as well):

I think this was about the part where my actual OB (Steven Nance, MD) came in. Tsking a little, he patted my knee.

"I got here as fast as I could," he said forlornly. "I'm sorry to have missed it. I feel like I should have been here after visiting with you every week for the past few months. My ladies on injections are always my favourite patients because I just get to know them so much better than my regular patients. And here I've missed your delivery. But...I still get to do your paperwork!"

And here's a picture  of the two of us in our recovery room (Alexander's first "selfie" with mom) doing some more skin-to-skin contact but looking a lot more pulled together:

It was a pretty eventful evening for us, but we're all excited Alexander is here (especially Auntie Kelli because he was born on her birthday)!

A random note that I didn't fit in above:

While Andrew and I were watching television, waiting to see if we were really going to be having a baby, Zoë fell out of bed. Andrew scooped her up and comforted her and got her settled back in bed and then rejoined me in front of the television. A few minutes later there was another big thud. This time Benjamin had fallen out of bed. Andrew went to check on him and got there just in time to watch Benjamin fall backwards into bed, with his arms splayed dramatically to his sides.

"Ow," he moaned, and then curled up into a ball and snuggled into his pillow.

"Wow," I said (referencing this video of Leslie Uggams forgetting the words to June is Busting Out All Over), "Kids are busting out all over..."

Like, literally busting out all over. All over the [unintelligible] tens.

They're falling out of bed left and right, as well as, know...other places.

And now, what with this 5:2 (kid/parent) ratio, we're completely, hopelessly outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, out-planned. You wanna meet my right-hand man?

Here is Alexander Spencer looking beautiful and perfect and just a wee bit shell-shocked:

And here are his stats, which I'm sure you'd also like to know:

October 14, 2017
6 lbs. 10 oz.
18 inches
2:08 am


  1. Conveniently, his name has the proper number and accent of syllables to borrow the Alexander Hamilton song!

    Congratulations Heiss family!

  2. Thanks for the birth story! They never get old, do they? And also, Dr. Nance delivered my first two girls. He really is a great doctor!

  3. What a great story! And I loved the postscript at the end. I quote the "busting out all over" song to myself all the timme.


  4. You crack me up. When Grace was born i told Jason, "welp I'm in labor." He said, "how many contractions have you had." I said, "two." 😂 Andrews bathroom pics crack me up. Glad he made it here safe and sound!

  5. Congratulations and all our love to the whole family and young Alexander from Belgium and Massachusetts! :) Great pictures!!!!

  6. I don't usually enjoy birth stories that much, but this was great! Congrats on Alexander's birth!