As you know by now, Jude Sterling Stamm, the little boy who changed our lives, was a bit of a surprise in his conception. And as luck would have it, he would be a surprise in his debut as well. Our original due date was supposed to be August 28th 2018, then it changed to September 9, 2018, and I ultimately gave birth on August 26th, 2018.
I worked throughout my entire pregnancy. As a social worker, I was working intense hours and traveling back and forth from trainings, court cases, and home visits. Mustering the energy and care needed to handle 25 foster care cases at once was exhausting, in and of itself, but doing so while pregnant, was an entirely new type of difficulty. Even now, a part of me resents that I worked as hard and long as I did because I feel like I didn’t get to fully enjoy my first pregnancy.
I knew I was overextending myself, but what could I do? Those cases had be tended to. Towards the end of the pregnancy, it was apparent my work ethic had consequence. My hands were super swollen, my feet and ankles had ballooned up to twice their size, itching all the time. Now, I know swelling is typical for pregnancies, but mine was a bit beyond the normal and my midwife soon became concerned about preeclampsia and cholestasis. She even started to have thoughts about inducing me, something I desperately did not want. So to prevent that, she asked me to stay home and not continue working for the rest of my pregnancy. This was on August 20th.
On Saturday, the 25th, my husband and I were watching Shameless and just hanging out. I remember he made some frappes and I asked him for a little taste (to this day, he swears his coffee was the reason I went into labor and it’s something he’s proud of). I had just gotten off the phone with my mom. We were all planning on going to Durham that Sunday, because Matt was attending a tournament and I was going to go with him, our last little getaway before Jude arrived. Besides, while Matt was at his event, I could hang out with my sister, who was attending college there. In fact, we had just been talking about packing up that night so we could leave in the morning.
As I got up to pee, like one does 10,000 times a day when they’re pregnant, I felt a gush of water. So, I ran to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. I immediately yelled out for Matt and told him that I thought my water broke. I felt the sharp edge of panic and a wave of anxiety. This. Is. Happening. Matthew, on the other hand, was pacing in a circle in the hallway. I told him to call the hospital and ask them what we should do next because I had tested positive for Strep-B and I didn’t know how soon we needed to get to the hospital. They instructed me to shower and get some food because once we got there, they wouldn’t allow me to eat anymore. I immediately jumped into the shower while Matt called the rest of our family.
We are procrastinators, to say the least, and we had nothing packed except for the baby’s bag. Matt’s job was to pack everything for us while I got ready. Within 45 minutes we were out the door. We had nothing at the house to eat because we had recently moved in and had not really done a lot of groceries. Half of the house was still packed up. The only place near the hospital that would be quick was McDonalds (Yuck). But, that was the only option, so off we went. Talk about SLOW fast food. We were in line for what felt like forever. I finally told Matt to just tell them I was in labor and to please hurry. Luckily, I wasn’t in pain yet.
I remember on the drive to the hospital that Matthew and I looked up at the moon and it was so full and so beautiful. It was a bright yellow color and the sky was so clear. I’ve always had a fascination with the moon and this moment reinforced that. Finally, around 9 PM that night, we arrived at the hospital. My entire family was there waiting for us. I got settled in and the waiting began.
By 3 AM they had to give me pitocin because I wasn’t dilating quickly enough. I honestly wish I had said no. It slowed things down, making the whole process longer and more painful. By 9 AM the next morning (13 hours in) the pain was pretty severe. At that point I asked what I could take for pain that wasn’t an epidural. They came back with some medicine that they put into my IV, I have no idea what it was, but it was very strong. The nurse did not even finish telling me how long it would take for it to kick in before I was knocked out. A lot after this was a blur.
I remember opening my eyes and seeing my husband’s family and then going back to sleep, unintentionally. I don’t remember this, but according to Matt, at some point I asked for the next step up for medicine to control my pain. My midwife came in and told me I had at least 8 more hours to go and that I should consider an epidural, although it wasn’t my first choice, I agreed.
My epidural experience was not the best. The anesthesiologist was arrogant and condescending. He did the procedure and left, with little regard for me as a person. Not long after, my contractions still felt really strong. I asked why I could still feel them so intensly. Turns out, the epidural had come out. So he had to go in with the dreaded needle again. Great. Sure enough, he missed the intended spot. On the third try, he finally got it done correctly. Despite my irritation at his incompetence, I was a bit more calm and aware.
I had Matthew, my mom, and both my sisters in the delivery room. My sister, Holly, was our birth photographer, which is why they allowed me to have both of them in there. At around 4 PM I felt that I needed to push. They got everything set up for me to deliver. You guys, the ring of fire is a very real thing and it is extremely painful! I really think that they got the epidural in a bit too late or it had came out again because I still felt quite a lot of pain. To top it off, the way Jude’s arm came out when I pushed, caused me to tear, resulting in 10 stitches.
After 15 minutes of pushing, Jude came into this world at 4:15 PM, on August 26th. It was a total of 20 hours of labor. But it was SO worth it. Jude was perfect. When they laid him on my chest, I did not know how to react. I remember he cried but soon calmed down in my arms. I just couldn’t stop looking at him. Who was this tiny person in my arms? I felt so many emotions at once. Matthew was on a cloud! We all were. It was such a beautiful and emotional experience.
Matthew was such a rock for me. We truly made an incredible team. My mom and sisters were so encouraging. My midwife was a rockstar! I was so lucky to have such an awesome birth team. Childbirth is truly a beautiful miracle. God’s timing was perfect with Jude’s birth. He was brought into this world at the perfect time and place. We are truly blessed and grateful for our little family <3
Fun little fact: Jude was named after the Beatles song ‘Hey Jude’ and without us knowing it or planning it, of course, he happened to have been born on the 50th anniversary of the song Hey Jude!