Our baby boy, Julian, is almost a one year old! So I have been thinking a lot lately of his birth. I prepared for months for Julian’s birth. It has been the most monumental moment of my life, thus far. I have written before about how I feel immensely grateful to be Julian’s mother. But today I wanted to tell you all the story of how I became a mother. This is the cliff notes version, because as you’ll see, it was a very long process to finally be able to meet our son. And it was worth every minute.
It was a few days past my due date, and on a long walk through Bloedel Reserve, I started to get some abdominal cramps and I knew I was going to have my baby boy soon! But, nothing happened that “soon” afterall. My incredible doula, Jen Watson and the midwives from the Salmonberry Birth Center came to our home a few days later when my contractions were really starting to pick up. But I wasn’t progressing. I spent days at home in what is called “prodromal labor” with contractions, sleepless nights and vomiting. I was planning on having a peaceful, natural home birth. One that I had prepared myself for. I dreamed of nothing else, and I couldn’t wait to welcome our son in our own home. When my water broke we discovered that there was meconium in the fluid, which can be a sign of fetal distress. We decided to transfer to Jefferson Healthcare’s Birth Center in Port Townsend for further care. That car ride while in labor was hands down the worst moment of the labor for me! Jeff drove, and I sat in the back seat with Morgan, a student midwife as she encouraged me and held a bag for me to vomit into. I told you it was a rough ride.
While at the hospital I was joined by my sister and mother, and I felt the love and support of everyone around me. I cannot speak highly enough of the team at Salmonberry Birth Center and Jefferson Healthcare. Kitsap mamas, if you’re expecting I encourage you to look into both of these centers, I think you’ll be overwhelmed with their philosophies and facility.
When I moved into my Labor and Delivery room I labored in the shower, on the bed, in the hallway, and while pacing the room! I was moving a grooving and trying it ALL to hopefully progress the labor. But I was not dilating, and we discovered that Julian was in the wrong position for birth. Up until this point I was handling the contractions with breathing exercises and meditation. But when we discovered that we needed to move Julian’s position everything changed. In order to get Julian to move, Melanie, our midwife, had me lay in the most painful position through some of the worst contractions. I felt like I couldn’t breath from the pain. It was the first time I realized that this birth may not go exactly like my birth plan had been written. And still, Julian barely moved and I was still not progressing. After days of laboring and at 9.5cm dilated, I finally decided to get an epidural. At this point I didn’t feel guilty, or saddened or any negative emotions about the situation. And I still don’t. Because I knew in my heart I had tried everything I could. And my team had given me every opportunity to try, and to make my own decisions.
Many hours later when I was fully dilated, I finally had the chance to push. Mind you, this is days after those first signs of labor! I pushed for nearly 4 hours and Julian would not budge. The contractions and the pushing didn’t hurt, but I was growing weary and Julian was not advancing. With the help of our team, Jeff and I decided that it was best to have a c-section. Julain was doing well in utero, so this was not an “emergency c-section.” It was a last resort, this is just not going to happen c-section.
I wasn’t afraid at that point, I was eager to meet our son. I even could see part of the surgery from the reflection of an overhead light. (Former ER nurse here!) I felt grateful that our surgeon was the same doctor that had been with us for days of laboring. We had quickly grown to trust and respect her. I couldn’t imagine a scenario where everything was seemingly “going wrong,” going so right.
Julian was born exactly a week past my due date on November 11, 2015 at 7:57am. When I heard Julian’s first cry my heart burst. It was the most magical sound I had ever heard. They brought him straight to my chest for skin to skin contact where he stayed just about the whole day. I remember I couldn’t even see his face yet because they placed him directly under my chin, but I could feel his skin and smell his scent, and I cried tears of joy. Jeff and I embraced our son; our Julian was here.
One of my favorite memories was in the elevator, returning to our room, I was staring at Julian on my chest, and he was lifting his head and looking right at me. I was amazed by his strength already! And his beauty. His ears were smushed and looked like cinnamon rolls, his feet were enormous, and his cheeks as chubby as could be. Later Jeff told me how all of the nurses were making a fuss about how big Julian was. Of course, I wasn’t paying much attention at the time, I was a little distracted with loving on my guy! But sure enough, our little man was a big guy afterall! Julian weighed in at 10lbs 13oz and measured 22 inches long.
Julian, is our greatest joy, and loved beyond measure.
Julian Koki Stephens:
Born November 11, 2015 at 7:57am
10lbs 13oz, 22 inches
Photography by Sara Krebsbach Photography