Bear's Birth Story

Well I'm finally doing it...I'm finally sitting down to write the story of our Little Man's birth. I'll preface this by saying that this post is only for the long-winded, truly baby-loving readers; there is just so much to tell. It was, after all, the best day of our lives.
It all started Saturday afternoon, November 17th, around 1pm. I hadn't had a single contraction (that I knew of) through the entire pregnancy, but I'd had a little bit of menstrual-like cramping that last week. Zach's Mom, sister Katy, and her boyfriend Caleb were staying with us already on "baby watch" when I told them I was having some light cramping Saturday afternoon. Lisa immediately knew it was early labor and suggested we started timing the contractions. "Ummm, I don't think these are really contractions", I told her, "It's more just like very mild cramping". She said, "It's starting! This is the real deal, Brittany. My prediction is you'll be waking us up at 2:30am tonight to head to the hospital". Zach and I just laughed it off thinking there is no way; this baby will come on his induction date next Tuesday. Little did we know just how spot on Lisa would be.
We spent the afternoon shopping for Katy's birthday; Lisa downloaded a contraction timing app to her phone and we kept track of how frequent/intense the contractions were coming (I would recommend this for all pregnant ladies! It really worked wonders for us...especially later on). Most of the afternoon the contractions were 25-30 minutes apart and very mild. People in the mall would stop and ask how far along I was; it was fun telling them "Today's my due date!" and seeing the look on their faces. Katy was really hoping he'd come on her birthday, adding even more to the excitment.
By about 9pm, the contractions were 15-17 minutes apart. I was definitely a first timer considering I STILL didn't really believe the baby was on his way. Everyone went to bed except me; I couldn't sleep out of anxiousness and contractions that were getting closer and closer together. Not wanting to disturb anyone (especially my snoring husband), I went to the living room around midnight with my iPad and timed the contractions using the same app we had used all day. I realized they were around 8 minutes apart at midnight and went ahead and took a bath and started getting our bags ready to go.

 By 2am, the contractions were 6 minutes apart. I curled my hair, put on make-up, and waited a tiny bit longer to wake everyone up. Honestly, the contractions weren't that painful. I passed 3 kidney stones a couple years ago and the pain of those was immensely worse; I told Zach I think that was God's way of preparing me for childbirth. By 3am, the contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and sill tolerable, but I woke everyone up anyway and decided we should head to the hospital. The whole way there I kept telling Zach, "I'll feel awful if this isn't the real thing after waking everyone up in the middle of the night!"
We arrived at the hospital around 3:30am and they immediately put us in triage. My contractions were now 2-3 minutes apart but I was only dilated to a 2. The nurse suggested we walk the halls for 45 minutes, so that's what Zach, Katy and I did. It helped a little with progression, getting me dilated to almost a 3, so they went ahead and got us a room ready. That was the first time it actually set in with me...this is really happening! Our baby is coming in the next 24 hours. It all felt so surreal, yet so wonderful. We were beyond ready to meet our Baby Boy.
By the time we got in our room, it was around 5:30am. The next few hours were spent talking and calling other family while we waited for the anesthesiologist to come give an epidural. The contractions were still bear-able (sorry, couldn't resist :)), and Lisa was a lifesaver by jumping up and coming over to apply pressure to my lower back every time one hit. I had feared back labor as everyone says it's the worst, and sure enough that's what I ended up having. I couldn't believe the pain wasn't worse and I was actually able to talk and function through contractions. Having family and support there definitely helped.
Z did his part to keep the mood light.
The anesthesiologist arrived around 7-8am and I was given the much anticipated epidural. At the last minute I actually considered not having one, since everything was still tolerable, but decided to go ahead knowing the pain would get much worse. Looking back, I'm glad I did.

After the epidural kicked in, the pain pretty much went away. The doctor came in around 10am to check on us and broke my water, which I couldn't feel at all. The utensil she used scared me a little bit (looked like a wand with a hook on the end), but luckily I felt nothing. She also told the nurse to start me on Pitocin to speed things up a bit, as I was still only dilated to a 3/4. We were playing the waiting game at this point; I wanted a nap but was too excited to sleep.

 Ice chips became my best friend and I was constantly begging the nurse for water and a quarter pounder with cheese. We had eaten Whataburger the previous evening and that was the last food or drink I'd had; I was famished and SO thirsty. I have honestly never been more thirsty in my life. Our sweet nurse told me I could drink the water from the melted ice, and that was seriously the most exciting part of labor prior to meeting Baby Bear. When the ice melted enough to provide a teency bit of water, I gulped that stuff down like nobody's business. I even told Zach at one point that I wanted to drink the urine from my catheter if it was cold enough. Yes, I was THAT desperate.
The next few hours were spent relaxing and visiting with family; the pain was extremely mild (I mostly felt nothing) and I was tired but also anxious to meet our boy. Around 1pm, the epidural started to wear off. The contractions were pretty intense at that point but nothing like I'd feared.

 By 1:30pm, the nurse came in and told us I was dilated to a 7. We were shocked! Things were moving along quicker than we'd expected. Zach held my hand for an hour and a half until the anesthesiologist came and gave me more medicine. That was the longest hour and a half of the day.
My blood pressure was pretty high, much higher than normal, so they kept an eye on it and hooked me up with an oxygen mask. I was also running extremely low on potassium so they gave it to me through the IV.

My temperature peaked at 101 during labor, which they feared could affect Bear, but luckily we were both fine. (we ended up staying an extra day in the hospital so they could run tests on him)
My Mom and grandma arrived around 2:30pm and I was really relieved to see them. We'd worried my Mom wouldn't make it in time to see the birth, but luckily she did. I needed my Momma.
By 2:45pm, I was dilated to a 9. We were almost there! At 3pm, the nurse called the doctor and told me it was almost time to push. I began to get scared; the pushing really worried me because I could feel nothing down there. How would I know if I was even pushing at all?

The doctor came in about 3:15pm and I was so relieved to see her. The nurse told Zach to stand on one side while she stood on the other and poor Zach was slightly shocked but did what she said; he had no idea he'd actually be "thrown into the fire". We thought he would be standing close to my face, talking me through things and holding my hand. Boy were we wrong. He got to see all the action...probably more than he wanted to.

My Mom and mother-in-law stayed in the room to take pictures and I'm really glad they did; they captured so many great pictures of those first precious moments. I pushed for ten minutes before our sweet baby Bear made his grand entrance into the world. I'd like to describe this moment, but there are simply no words. It was.....absolutely perfect.
Twenty-six hours of labor (from the first contractions at home) and he was finally here. Our healthy, beautiful baby boy.

I had an episiotomy, so the doctor was still working on things while I was soaking up those first few moments with our son. I honestly can't even remember her being there. It was Bear and me; no-one else existed in the room. The first time we locked eyes, I knew he knew me. He knew I was his Momma.
Remember when I told you how thirsty I was? Right after they took Bear from me to weigh and measure him, I begged every person in the room for water. Three different people brought me a cup full, which I quickly chugged, and immediately threw up. A lot. I didn't care though; our baby was here.
I've never seen Zach more proud.
A perfectly sweet arrival indeed.
Trying to sum up the magnitude of November 18th, the day we met our baby boy, is simply impossible. We now know what it means to truly fall in love, instantly, with another human being. I've never experienced a better, more incredible feeling than the moment our son was placed in my arms for the very first time. He was everything we needed, our precious little gift. We are blessed beyond measure.

Bear Clayton Fullwood
November 18, 2012
8 lb. 4 oz.
21 3/4 in.