We checked into the hospital around 11pm. I had lost all concept of time, and everything at this point everything is very fuzzy in my memory. I was completely in a different place mentally and physically, focusing all of my energy on the work before me. I remember being shocked to find out it was 11pm – I thought it was much earlier! We were delivering at a brand new hospital, and it was like a ghost town. It had only opened its doors 2 weeks prior, and we were the only ones there to deliver a baby! It was pretty great. Instead of triage, I was escorted straight to a labor and deliver room since all of them were empty.
Upon arrival, I was 5 cm and 95% effaced. I was hoping to be further along, but I was also grateful I wasn’t going to be sent home. I hugged my mom and sent her home to get some sleep. After monitoring the baby’s heart rate for a while on the bed, I was glad to get off the bed and back onto the birth ball. I sat on it a while, leaning over the hospital bed while Will rubbed my back. Gracious, that back labor was intense.
Will put on his swimsuit and we headed to the shower. The warm water felt amazing on my lower back, so I sat on the birth ball for a while and Will coached me through each contraction. A few minutes later, we heard the nurses come in and say we had to get out! The water from my shower was leaking all over the ER downstairs, and we had to change rooms! Hilarious.
I put on a robe and scurried to my new room between contractions. We hopped right back into the shower because it was my favorite way to labor. Sitting on the birth ball relieved my shaky legs, and the warm water was soothing. My contractions took a new course, and I found myself yelling as my entire body took over. I was on a ride, and my entire body was heaving and pushing our baby down. It was painful and intense and incredible. I felt my water break while in the shower, and we called the nurse in to check me again. I was 7 cm, but she said my water did not break! I knew that it did, but she explained it was probably a high leak, so every time I had a contraction it would squeeze out a little bit of water. Back to the shower I went and continued to labor until 2:30am, when it became so intense I couldn’t help but push. At this point, I knew I had to be checked because I was getting close.
I was 9cm and 100% effaced, but my bag of waters had still not broken. The nurse said I was close enough to call in the doctor! Dr. Jacobs arrived and checked me, then asked if he could break my water. I said YES, please! Anything to make things progress! When I got on the bed and he broke my water, things became crazy. I remember it being the most intense pain when the contraction would come. I was writhing and yelling and just trying to cope – I was definitely in transition. Will later told me this was the hardest part for him to watch… he felt so helpless. I felt helpless too, and really ready to have our baby.
Just a few minutes later the Doctor checked me and said it was time to push! Let me say – I have never exerted so much physical energy in my life. I was giving this baby everything I had left in me. I pushed on my side, on all fours, on my back. My leg started cramping up making matters worse. I remember hearing Cheyenne’s voice and Will’s voice only. Will would coach me how to breathe, then how to control my voice and hold my breath. Cheyenne kept saying “good work, good work!” and that the nurses were warming up the table, waiting for my baby. That encouragement and coaching was exactly what I needed. I really could not have done that without them.
I had a longer break between contractions at this point, and before my final pushes I turned to everyone in the room and said, “Final guesses, everyone! Boy or girl?” Cheyenne: “boy!”, Toni: “boy!”, Will: “boy!” and I said, “boy!” The doctor said girl, but I didn’t find that out until later because I soon began pushing again.
I remember having waves of fear come over me, and I was afraid to push. Then I remember hearing the Holy Spirit say, “Don’t fear the pain, Nancy. Embrace it.” As soon as I made the decision to embrace the pain no matter what happened, I felt peace and determination like never before. It was go time. Every ounce of strength I had left, I gave to this pushing.
I felt the pain, and I heard the doctor saying he could see the baby’s head. He was wondering why I wasn’t making more progress because I was pushing so effectively. In the next push he said, “Oh! Here’s the problem.” And he pulled a tiny hand out from beside the baby’s head. Our baby was face up, a much more difficult position to deliver, leading the way with a tiny hand… making matters even more difficult.
I was yelling. I was trying not to, but I couldn’t help it. I would hold my breath, push, then yell. I wanted to badly to stop yelling because my throat was burning, but there was no stopping this train. Through the yelling and listening to Will and Cheyenne, I heard a different voice saying “Shh! Shh! Shh! Look at me! Look at me! Shhh!” I opened my eyes and the Doctor was looking straight at me saying “Look at me!” trying to get my attention.
“Reach down and grab your baby.”
What?! Did he really just say that? I reached down, and with Will’s help, delivered my sweet baby onto my chest. We immediately started crying our eyes out. It was so surreal. We finally had our baby.
Will had asked to be the one to announce the gender in the hospital room, but we were so smitten with the fact that we had our baby that he forgot! “So, what is it?!” One of the nurses asked. Will said, “Oh my gosh I forgot to look!” and with that, he announced “It’s a girl!” and we all laughed. I looked at our baby girl and smiled and said, “You tricked us! You’re a girl!”
Milly Elizabeth was born at 3:08am on May 26th, 2015.
Meeting my baby girl was one of the sweetest, most incredible moments of my life.
After snuggling her a few more minutes, the Doctor let me know that I had to have surgery. There was some significant internal tearing that could only be repaired with a spinal block in the OR. It was definitely ironic, being that I fought my hardest the past 24 hours to not use drugs, but I was grateful in that moment that I was in a hospital, in the hands of an experienced doctor. I was wheeled away, leaving my sweet girl in the arms of her Daddy for an hour, as they did “skin to skin contact.” These images are definitely some of our favorites. I was overwhelmingly thankful and peaceful as I was being wheeled away. Just knowing that Will and our baby were together brought me so much joy as I lay on the operating table.
I really can’t think of a better way to summarize this birth story than to say what an incredible man, husband, birth coach, and father William Ray is. I would not and could not have had a natural childbirth without him by my side. As I fought fears (with tears) throughout pregnancy, he spoke life over me. As I labored through every contraction, he was right there with me. Even when he had been up for over 24 hours, he never gave up on me, never offered me anything but words of strength, a hand to squeeze, encouragement, and endless back massages. I have never been more proud to be married to this man than I was after I delivered our baby. I know without a shadow of a doubt he’s not going anywhere, ever. My love for him has grown so deep, it’s hard to explain. I love you, William Ray.
After surgery, they wheeled me back into the room with my sweet family. It was 6:00am, and the sun was beginning to rise.
We named her Milly Elizabeth Ray.
This sweet film has me in tears every time I watch it. If the photographs weren’t enough of a gift, The Schultzes put together this incredible slideshow capturing Milly’s arrival. Grab some tissues, friends…
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