CJ’s birth story

It feels so surreal to be writing my baby’s birth story! Settle in and grab your favorite beverage because this might be a long one. I read tons of birth stories when I was pregnant and each one was so beautiful- they reminded me that giving birth is a normal, natural process and I was capable of doing it. I hope to offer that same encouragement to someone else, and of course I also want to have all these details documented before they fade in my memory!

I’m going to begin this story on Saturday, September 26, because in retrospect I think that night is when my contractions started revving up. I was on my feet most of the day between work, going to a pumpkin patch with friends, and taking a walk around the neighborhood in the evening. That night I had a hard time sleeping because of belly pains, but chalked it up to Braxton-Hicks contractions and just being physically worn out from the day.

Sunday was a restful day which, looking back, was much needed. I went grocery shopping in the morning and then we spent the afternoon with Josh’s family for his sister’s gender reveal! That evening we just relaxed on the couch and watched the Panthers game. I had trouble sleeping again that night because of the same pain I had on Saturday.

On Monday, September 28, I woke up early for my 38 week OB appointment, having absolutely zero idea that it would be our son’s birthday!!!! I told my doctor about the belly pain (referring to them as Braxton-Hicks) and also noted that on Sunday morning I started losing my mucous plug. She said those were good signs and sent me on my merry way, saying that we might meet this baby within a week or so. She didn’t check my cervix, but if she had, I think we would have realized that I was about to enter active labor.

I got home around 8:30am and soon after Josh left for work. The weather was nice so I got Baby K ready and we went outside for a stroll. We ended up walking for nearly an hour and towards the end of this walk my pain started to increase significantly. When we got back, I was suddenly having trouble concentrating on simple things like folding laundry and making a bottle. For some reason I became super fixated on prepping this soup that I wanted to have for dinner that night, but could never focus long enough to look up the recipe. Around 11am I started thinking that these contractions had to be the real deal, but I didn’t want to sound the alarm if it was nothing. I think on some level I knew it was almost game time though, because I somehow managed to print our birth preferences and pack Baby K’s diaper bag.

It was also around this time that I put Baby K down for a nap and took a shower to see if that would ease some of the pain. He only snoozed for a bit and then woke up super fussy, but I had no idea how to console him as my contractions seemed to be nearly constant by then. At one point the two of us were lying on the couch crying together! What a sight that must have been.

Finally around noon I felt like my grasp on reality was slipping and I knew that I would not be able to care for Baby K the rest of the day. I called Josh sobbing but didn’t know how to articulate what was happening, so I just kept repeating, “I need help, I need help.” Luckily he was on his lunch break and came home right away. Looking back I think this must have been the beginning of what’s called the “transition phase” because I truly did not have the capacity to engage with anyone or anything. I remember hearing Josh on the phone with various people (my OB, our doula, etc) and he started asking me questions but I couldn’t answer. A nurse from the OB’s office tried to talk to me and all I could say was, “I don’t know,” as I tried to breathe between contractions. She told us to come in right away so they could see if I was dilated.

By then it was about 12:30pm and our sweet friend Sally came over to take Baby K until my in-laws could pick him up. I remember feeling so sad to hug him goodbye but also a huge wave of relief knowing that he would be in such good hands.

This is when things start getting fuzzy in my mind. We got to the OB’s office around 12:45pm and they rushed us right in. They did a quick cervical check and told me I was 7cm dilated already. WHAT!!!!! Off to the hospital we went, which thankfully was right across the street.

I have no idea how I got from the car up to the birthing room. I do remember hearing lots of honking as we were driving through the parking garage, and later Josh told me it was because in his frenzy to get us where we needed to be, he had driven in the wrong direction! Too funny.

I quickly got set up in the birthing room (I’m guessing it was a little after 1pm) and they asked me if I wanted an epidural. I said no and Josh gave them our birth preferences that I had printed earlier. Even though I didn’t want any medication they still tried to place an IV so there would be access in case of emergency. They tried four times to stick me and it never took, probably because I was so dehydrated, so I ended up not having an IV in place.

For the next 4ish hours I was in a completely different world. Nothing I researched could ever have prepared me for this experience. Time passed quickly but also not at all. Each contraction started to feel like it would never end, and I felt like I got only a few seconds of relief before the next intense wave started. I remember my doctor calmly telling me things like, “You are in control. This one will end just like the last one did.” These were two of the most helpful things for me to hear because the pain felt so out of control and like it was going to last forever.

Pretty early on the doctor broke my water, and after that things got really real because that’s around when I started pushing during contractions. When I was preparing for birth I remember reading that laying on your back is actually not the most ideal position for pushing, so I assumed I would want to move around during labor. Ha! Once I was laying on my back, I couldn’t even fathom having to move. At one point someone set up the squat bar for me and I did use that for a bit, but it intensified the pain and pressure so much that I eventually had to stop and return to laying on my back.

I’m going to be honest, there were very few things that brought me any sort of relief during labor. It just felt so intense and all-consuming and constant. A few things I remember helping slightly were: ice cold wash cloths on my face, calf massages (thank you Josh), and going inward to remind myself that God designed my body to give birth and that I was capable of having our baby. Josh said I yelled/screamed a lot which I only vaguely remember, but I definitely believe him because my throat was so sore afterwards!

At one point I said something to the effect of, “I can’t do this anymore. What if he never comes out?” Josh, our doula Margo, and the nurse gave me so much encouragement which was exactly what I needed to keep going. Physically I was exhausted but tried to stay in the moment and not think about how much longer it was going to take. I also sipped ginger ale for a little energy/sugar boost in between pushing because I had started to feel like I was running on empty.

I had no understanding of how much time was passing but all of a sudden I could tell the voices around me were getting more excited and I heard Josh yelling, “I can see him! I can see his hair!” That was all I needed to hear. Meanwhile Margo kept telling me, “You can do this. Push through the pain.” As intensely painful as it was to push the baby’s head and shoulders out, I felt like that was when I got this burst of physical energy and mental resolve because I knew we really were about to meet our child!!! I pushed with absolutely every ounce of strength I had left in me and before I knew it he was on my chest and all thoughts of pain were completely gone, instantly replaced with relief and happiness. It was so surreal! As we continued doing skin-to-skin I pushed the placenta out and then Josh cut the umbilical cord. They wanted to give me a low dose of Pitocin to help with postpartum bleeding, but since I didn’t have an IV they just gave me an intramuscular injection in the leg. I also got stitches since I had a second degree tear from pushing.

Christian Jeffrey (CJ) Hogg ended up being born on September 28 at 5:30pm, weighing 8lb 1oz! The hour after birth felt so magical. He just laid on my chest and looked around at his new world as we cried tears of joy and Josh prayed over him. Our son!

Margo offered to bring us dinner and I immediately requested Five Guys. Literally nothing sounded better to me than a burger and fries in that moment. We inhaled our food and then around 8pm were transferred to our room on the mother/baby unit. The lactation consultant came by to help with breastfeeding, but other than that everyone was pretty hands-off and we had lots of time to relax and bond as a family. Oh and I also got swabbed for COVID, which was supposed to happen before I was admitted but since the admission process was a bit of an emergency, they waited until after I delivered. Thankfully the results came back negative!

Side note: One reason we decided to work with a doula was because I really desired to have an unmedicated birth but also wanted to deliver in a hospital, and I thought maybe if we had a doula there to advocate for me and coach me through the pain, there would be a greater likelihood of having the birth experience I wanted. Margo was so supportive and just her presence there in the delivery room helped calm and reassure me. I would highly recommend working with a doula, especially if it’s your first time giving birth!

That night Josh and I stayed awake talking about names (we thought we had 2 more weeks to decide!), listening to worship music, and reliving our experience of the labor and birth. I wanted to sleep more than anything but just couldn’t! What a day. CJ also cried a lotttt that first night which stressed me out, but the nurses reassured me it was completely normal and he probably just had a headache from his tight squeeze through the birth canal! Fair enough. 😉

Our journey to meeting this child began in 2017, and God used the past 3 years to shape me in ways that I can’t yet fully articulate. Pregnancy and childbirth showed me that the human body is miraculous, but the years leading up to them showed me that the human spirit is pretty miraculous, too. I feel so grateful to be able to share this story and to know, truly, that nothing is impossible with God.

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