I should have known that the story of Parker’s birth would be nothing short of spectacular. After all, he was conceived on the very first try, and my pregnancy was nearly picture perfect. What started as a story turned out to be more of a novel, as you’ll see below, because I don’t ever want to forget a moment of the best day of my life.
The wheels were set in motion on Friday, June 7. We had our weekly doctor’s appointment that morning, at which time a growth scan was performed since I had lost 5 pounds the week before. Luckily, the baby looked wonderful and was estimated to weigh around 7 pounds, 15 ounces.
After examining me, Dr. Dignan-Moore announced that I was almost fully effaced and 1 centimeter dilated. She was excited about my progress since the week before, and suggested doing a membrane sweep to get the ball rolling. She said that if it was effective, I would go into labor within 24 hours. That thrilled me to no end, because I was really hoping for a June 8th birthday (8 is my lucky number; our wedding anniversary is 8/8/08).
I spent the rest of the day cleaning the house, putting some last touches on the nursery, doing laundry, and grocery shopping. I was pretty discouraged that I wasn’t having any contractions, but was still holding out hope.
My friend Crystal texted me that afternoon and offered to go walking with me, since that had worked for her. After walking the Centennial Park trail near her house and hanging out with her family a bit, I headed home and was excited to be feeling a little crampy.
Zach and I had plans to go on one last pre-baby date that night, and by the time we got in the car, I was having contractions. They weren’t super painful, but they were pretty regular (about 7 minutes apart). We headed to Lake Pointe Grille, and I enjoyed every last bite of my salmon while timing my contractions. They continued after we got home, and I was fully convinced we would be off to the hospital that night.
By 11, they were not getting any closer together nor stronger. Discouraged, I went to bed, waking up every hour or so to use the bathroom and feeling a little contraction here and there, but nothing substantial.
That is, until 4:15 am, when I was jolted awake by a contraction that was stronger than anything I had felt the night before. Of course, I was very excited and laid in bed tracking them using an app on my phone until about 5. Once I determined that they were regular (about 6 minutes apart), I got up and went into the living room. I bounced on my exercise ball for a little while, but the contractions continued to get stronger to the point where I had to lean over and breathe through them.
At about 6 am, I decided to take a shower…just in case. During that very quick shower, I had 4 strong contractions that were about 2.5 minutes apart. This had to be the real deal. So I got dressed and told Zach to get in the shower and put his things in a bag (mine had been packed for weeks!). He thought I was overreacting — after all, my water hadn’t even broken yet! But after speaking with the nurse at Springfield Clinic, and checking in with my doula Janet (who had just gotten back from vacation the night before), I was told to go, go, go.
We dropped Sadie off at Zach’s parents, and by that time, I was in a lot of pain. I was also a little scared, and just completely flooded with emotion. Once we got to the hospital and were checked in at 7:30 am, we headed up to triage to get checked out. Sure enough, those contractions were coming about 2 minutes apart, and I was 3-4 centimeters dilated. Holy cow!
Just as the nurse finished checking me out, Janet walked into the triage room. I had several more contractions right there, and she talked me through each one. She immediately calmed me down and made me feel confident that I could have this baby naturally (epidural-free), just the way I had been planning for the last few months.
Janet walked the halls with me for about an hour, and we’d stop and lean over the railing with each contraction. She helped me breathe and stay in control, reminding me not to let the contraction overtake me. Zach and my mom were also with us, but they hung back for the most part and let us do our thing.
At one point, I had to stop walking and have my IV line inserted as well as my blood drawn. Sitting through that was torture, since standing up made the pain much more tolerable. Then the OB resident wanted to check my progress, so we went to my delivery room (we got the best one on the floor, thanks to Janet!) and I had to get into the bed for that. More torture, but awesome to find out I was dilated to 6-7 centimeters!
I sat on the birthing ball for the next few contractions, which really helped. Of course, the pain was tremendous during each one, but I got through them because I knew they would only last about a minute. The breaks I got in between were so nice — I even managed to crack a little smile for Zach, who (no surprise) had the camera out.
After awhile, Janet encouraged me to get back up, since all that walking had helped me progress so far in a short time. I made it over to the chair in my room and had one last contraction before I told her I needed to get into the bed, because I was getting the overwhelming urge to push.
I was starting to get panicky at this point, because I knew I couldn’t push yet. Janet was so amazing at talking me through, and telling me exactly what I needed to do. The on-call OB, Dr. Ertmoed, came in to check my progress, and then they started wheeling in all the equipment for the delivery. This was really going to happen soon!
The next thing I knew, everything was set up and I was in pushing position. My lovely nurse, Lindsey, reported that my OB, Dr. Dignan-Moore, was rushing in and hoped to be there in time for the delivery. I was so happy to hear that. Just as I was about to give my first push, she ran through the door and put on her gown while cheering me on.
The next thing that happened was simultaneously awesome, gross, and hilarious — my water broke and reached all the way across the room on that first push! I still laugh every time I think about it. Talk about a dramatic moment. After that, it was serious business; pushing with strength I never knew I was capable of. This went on for just 25 minutes, and then Janet told me my baby had a head full of dark hair. He was almost out, which made me even more determined. A couple of pushes later, there he was; my baby was on my chest.
I couldn’t believe how beautiful my baby boy was. I also couldn’t believe how in love I was at first sight. As soon as the cord stopped pulsating, Zach cut it like a champion, and then I just stared into my baby’s eyes while trying to process the fact that he was finally here.
Parker Joshua Rambach was born at 10:31 am, a mere 3 hours from the time I checked into the hospital. He weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and was 20.5 inches long.
So many moms have told me that they forgot the pain of childbirth almost immediately afterwards, and I could never wrap my head around that. But it’s true. When Parker was in my arms, all of those contractions were a distant memory and all I felt was happiness.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I didn’t even want to think about the actual delivery process. It completely terrified me, and I just always assumed I wouldn’t be picky about my birth experience. But once I reached the middle of my second trimester, I had some serious conversations with a couple friends — specifically Vanessa and Crystal — who turned me on the idea of an epidural-free, all-natural birth.
The more I researched, the more I felt like it was the right decision for me. I was met with a lot of resistance; even Zach was skeptical for a long time because he didn’t want me to experience all that pain unnecessarily. But he eventually came around, and was an amazing support. The three people who were by my side on the big day — Zach, my mom, and Janet — helped me to have a birth experience that surpassed even my highest expectations.
And now Parker is here, and I am on cloud 9. I can’t wait to share him with my friends and extended family, but for now, we are just enjoying our time as a very, very blessed family of three.