Ohhhh, Brayden Asher Willis… Words can’t describe how much I love this little man. He’s definitely a wild one, and his birth was no different. It was scary, unexpected, difficult, and surprising, but so SO worth it of course. I didn’t go into labor sitting at home or walking around a park. I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with contractions that just happened on their own. We went to my 38-week appointment only to be told I needed to stay there and be induced ASAP because our baby’s life might depend on it. One of the scariest days ever, but it was followed by the most perfect one.
On September 22, 2016, Brax and I went in to see my midwife for my 38-week appointment. Totally normal day, just like any other day we had an appointment. We drove the hour to Davis, California for my checkup and had it scheduled for the same day as Braxton’s softball game that was over that way. Planned to hit up Chick-fil-a between the two, per usual.
So we go in for the appointment, they check my weight, measure my uterus, find his heartbeat with the doppler. My uterus was measuring a little small, but everything was all good. And then they ask me about his movements. I really didn’t think much of it, so I just told them I feel him kick, but not a lot, and that I wasn’t sure how often I should feel them. That paired with my small uterus caused some concern and they wanted to do an ultrasound.
We go into another room and someone comes to do our ultrasound. Baby boy looks fine, but he is apparently measuring between 34 and 35 weeks rather than 38, and my amniotic fluid was low. I still didn’t think that was anything to be concerned about, but she turned to us and said she thinks I should be induced. She was concerned that my placenta had matured too quickly and that the baby was no longer getting proper nutrients to grow, or possibly even survive if he didn’t get delivered ASAP.
I felt like I couldn’t speak at first. I got really hot and my head felt fuzzy. When I did find words, I just said okay and asked when. “Today. I don’t think you should leave.” My eyes began to water. I mean, it was my FIRST baby. That sounds scary even if you’ve had a baby before. She didn’t even think I should leave with Braxton to go get our stuff. I was told we should walk directly over to the birthing center and they’d be expecting us. So after taking a few minutes to regain feeling in my body again, that’s what we did.
On our way over, Braxton had to stop at the restroom. Someone was in the men’s room, but he really had to go, so he decided to just use the women’s restroom. As someone who has used that restroom every time we had an appointment, I knew the door was freakishly heavy and slammed shut. But he had obviously not used that restroom before, so when he came out, expecting the door to catch and slowly close, he reached in to turn the light off and SLAM… right onnnn his finger…
I guess there’s no great time to slam your finger in a door, but if there was, that time definitely wasn’t it, despite already being at a hospital. ? Somehow, we managed to both keep pressing on toward the birthing center to get me checked in though; all the while Braxton had blood just pooling underneath his fingernail and creating painful pressure. The man’s a trooper.
Checking into the birth room
We got put into a birthing room and a super sweet midwife came to bring me some water. She told me that drinking water can help get my amniotic fluid back up and that they would do another ultrasound after I drank some. She also offered to get me some food, stating their chicken salad sandwich was amazing. I have never eaten a chicken salad sandwich. I would never even try it. It always looked disgusting to me. But one, I didn’t know what to choose and didn’t want to be complicated; and two, what I was gonna eat was the least of my worries at that point.
She comes back with the sandwich, and I don’t know if it was the pregnancy or if I’ve been missing out my whole life, but it was the best thing in the world to me. Has this happened to anyone else? Pregnancy is weird. ?
After eating and drinking plenty of water, someone came in to do another ultrasound. Sure enough, my fluid was back up. To me, that meant we were in the clear and could leave. But they still insisted on me being induced! He was still measuring small, and they were really concerned about me not feeling his kicks a lot and the placenta maturing too quickly. When you hear there’s a possibility of your baby being stillborn if you wait, well… ya don’t really wanna take that risk. So we stayed. And the [really sucky] process began.
Beginning the induction process
First of all, nobody tells you that it hurts when you get your cervix checked. So let me just say, IT HURTS. I mean, I definitely wasn’t relaxed given the situation. But on top of that stress, that was the first time I had any kind of “female” exam if you catch my drift. With my history of sexual abuse, it’s just something I’ve not been able to bring myself to face, even now. So the cervix check was a little traumatizing despite having a very kind midwife [Not to mention, Braxton had gone to go get our things and the birth center was an hour away from home, so I was alone]. But they had to check to see what they needed to use to dilate me before giving me Pitocin to induce labor.
Verdict: I was only 1cm, maybe 1.5cm dilated. So they decided to insert Cervidil into my cervix for dilation [it is to stay in 12 hours, then they recheck].
I was warned that this could start labor [which I was totally okay with because I wanted to avoid Pitocin if possible]. They inserted it around 8pm that evening and I just stayed in bed hooked up to a machine while they monitored Brayden’s heart rate, waiting for Braxton to return from getting our bags [Note to self: Pack hospital bags, yes. Then bring them with you every time you leave the house]. When he got back, he checked on me to make sure I was okay and stayed with me for a little while. He still had his injured finger though and it was really painful, so he ended up going to the ER next door and I tried [failed] to get some rest.
They were also monitoring any contractions I’d have. I was having some the machine picked up [but I didn’t feel] for a little bit. Then around 1am, I started feeling light ones. No big deal at all. Braxton got back and we both tried to get some sleep to prepare for the big day ahead of us!
Out of nowhere, my contractions started getting really intense! If you don’t know, whenever something is done to put you into labor versus it naturally occurring, your contractions can be much more intense with very little reward. Meaning, I was having contractions as if I was about to birth a baby, but they weren’t even hardly dilating me. I’m not even gonna sugarcoat it — it was AWFUL.
Braxton was trying to be helpful, but I felt chills and nausea and I just kept apologizing because I didn’t want him to touch me or talk. Both those things seemed to just make it worse. I even asked him to politely tell the midwife to stop talking to me at one point.
I just can’t seem to deal, so one of the midwives or nurses or someone recommended I try the birthing shower in my room. They turned on the warm water for me, set up low lighting, and gave me a folded towel for my knees in case I wanted to lean over the bench in the shower and have the water on my back.
Now, this shower is in the restroom of my birth room. It’s not a bathtub. It’s a shower in a section of the restroom with a drain in the floor. I was in there for a while trying every possible position I could to relieve the pain. Then suddenly, Braxton and multiple midwives/nurses come up in there while I’m butt-naked and dying in this shower… Apparently, I had the towel for my knees over the drain for so long that water had flooded out into the birth room AND into the hospital hallway. ??♀️ Luckily, because I was dying in the shower, I didn’t care about all the people seeing me butt-naked in a weird position as they squeegeed the water from the hall and room into the drain.
12-Hour dilation check
The hours between getting out the birth shower and them rechecking my cervix at 8am is honestly such a blur. I just remember moving around a lot and not being able to calm down. I definitely threw up a couple times. And I was exhausted. I had barely been sleeping the previous few days, because who can really get comfortable enough in the third trimester?
Anyway, the new midwife [shift change] comes in at around 8am to remove the Cervidil and check my dilation progress. It was so much more painful that time for some reason that I screamed. I HADN’T EVEN PROGRESSED 2CM. I WAS ONLY 3CM DILATED AFTER ALL THAT. Oh, I was so upset. I couldn’t even keep my eyes open because of how exhausted I was. The only words that were coming out of my mouth were, “I’m so tired” on repeat.
I was also really dehydrated. So they let me know they were going to have to insert an IV for fluids. Then they said they could give me medicine since I was getting the IV anyway that might help take edge off a little. That it wasn’t gonna help with pain, but it might help calm me down, and it wouldn’t harm the baby. I really wanted to avoid medicine, so they left the room for me to think about it. I looked over to Braxton who of course said it was totally up to me… And I decided to try it. So they came back in, gave it to me, and that’s the last thing I remember before I was birthing a baby.
A couple hours later, I wake up to Braxton sleeping on the couch in the room and nobody else around. I have this really strong feeling like I need to use the restroom… I’d heard before that that’s what it feels like when you’re about to have a baby. I had no idea if I had to go to the bathroom or if I needed to push out a baby, but I was still so tired, in pain, and had no energy left to move. So I just pushed once and passed back out.
I wasn’t looking at a clock or anything, but it was probably only a few minutes later that I woke back up with that feeling again. I still had nothing left in me to move, so I pushed again… And once more… And then I yell Braxton’s name to wake him up and say “I NEED YOU TO GO GET SOMEONE. I’M PUSHING A BABY OUT.”
Everybody comes rushing in! Nobody had expected me to go from 3cm to 10cm in a few hours. They were just waiting for me to wake up to start the Pitocin. Then about 5 minutes later, on September 23rd, 11:22am, baby Brayden was welcomed into the world! ☺️ Perfect. Healthy. 6 pounds, .07 ounces. 19.25 inches. Brayden Asher Willis.
We delayed the cord cutting for a little bit and Brayden laid on my stomach. Then Brax cut the cord and we got to cuddle our sweet babe close. I was too dehydrated to cry. But I did get to see Braxton cry [which is a big deal], and that’s still probably the most special moment ever to me.
I was feeling really great after having him. Didn’t tear. Wasn’t tired at all anymore [Did anybody else get a burst of energy after labor???]! They gave us a bit before switching us from the birth room, but I was ready to walk and carry our stuff no problem. After eating something of course. I requested a granola bar from my bag nearly immediately after labor. Girl’s gotta eat.
When we got settled into the new room and just soaked in all the sweet baby goodness for a while. Later that evening, Braxton went back to the ER to have the blood drained from his finger again, and I just got some sleep with our baby boy. ☺️
Usually they have people stay two nights, but we asked to go home after one [had to be home for the first NFL game of the season of course]! So the following morning, after Brayden passed all his tests with flying colors, we packed up, got little man in his carseat, and took our sweet babe home to watch the games!
In hindsight, I think he would’ve been perfectly fine staying in until he was ready to come out on his own. We discovered the position of the placenta was muffling his movements, and with both my pregnancies, my uterus and babies have measured “small”. But I’m a small person who just makes “smaller”, but very healthy babies. Either way, I’m glad he’s okay. Well, more than okay. He’s perfect. ☺️
I know I called Brayden’s wild, but Knightly’s is a whole other kind of wild! And the good news? It’s now up and ready to read here!