Sadie Garnett Boudreaux was born on August 27th, 2020 at 8:48PM, weighing in at seven pounds and one ounce. After lots of blood, sweat, tears, and a 22ish hour labor, the most beautiful girl was born. This is our story:
On August 26th, 2020 (her due date), we headed to the hospital for my scheduled induction due to high blood pressure. I was terrified to push a tiny human out of my body. I was sick with anticipation. Bubbling with excitement. I kept thinking about how we were going to the hospital as a family of two and going to leave there as a family of three. Someone who was not out in the world would make her way and take her first breath and forever be a part of our life. It sounded like a really cool magic trick that I could not figure out.
There’s a lot to process after you have a baby, I discovered. Of course there’s the physical trauma your body goes through and needs to heal from. But there’s also the abrupt change in your family dynamic which takes time to wrap your brain around.
I remember having a conversation with Stevie while I was pregnant about how I was anticipating that the adjustment into parenthood might be hard on me. I am good at making physical or task-related changes. I can jump right in to a new challenge or role. However, I have realized over the past couple of years that even if I can physically keep up, I sometimes putter along emotionally and mentally. There is no “full speed ahead” for this heart. I process, overthink and reminisce. My body may be present, but my heart and mind can be months behind and worlds away. Having this awareness has made such a difference in my life. I have started to come around to the belief that I’m not strange, slow or stuck in the past. I just need my own amount of time to be sad, to grieve, to sludge my way forward. My pace is simply my pace. It comes with the tender-hearted territory. When you love hard, you feel everything.
And then there’s the whole processing-the-birth thing. Funny enough, I knew I’d need a grace period for the life changing chapter of new parenthood. But I didn’t anticipate needing time to also mentally process the physical toll that labor took on my body. What happens in that delivery room in a matter of hours can take weeks or months to understand, grasp, and move forward from. Even accepting that I wasn’t pregnant anymore took some time. There are moments to this day I hold my belly like I’m pregnant and think “wait, why am I cradling my supper?!”
All of this unpacking has made me really thankful that baby humans don’t come out walking, like baby giraffes or something. We need time to get our minds and bodies and souls adjusted to this new life. I think that’s why God made the sleepy newborn phase. Yes, they also may cry and poop and eat around the clock, but at least they don’t come out walking too.
This brings me to Sadie’s birth. I didn’t realize sharing your “birth story” with friends or family or counselors was really a thing until I found myself desperately needing to tell people what we went through and how Sadie made her debut. Now I find birth stories fascinating, and I want to hear every single mama’s, new and old. (I’m not, however, able to stomach any birth videos yet. Maybe after my third child I’ll be brave enough.)
Oh and before getting into it, I need to make a disclaimer. There are parts of our story that are not positive, cheery or light-hearted. I had moments of misery, pain, and maybe even a mental breakdown or two. It comes with delivering a child, so I’ve heard. That being said I hope you see that despite all of that, I am grateful for each and every hard thing. I am humbled and thankful that I was able to get pregnant, carry my baby for 40 weeks, and birth her safely. I know there are countless couples who would endure any amount of pain just to be able to have a child. We were that couple. I pray often that our story is one that breathes hope into your spirit. But I’m also going to warn you about back labor.
Whether we moms want to admit it or not, we all have some sort of expectation or picture for how our birth experience will go. One of my goals and prayers towards the end of pregnancy was that I would go into labor naturally and be able to labor at home for a little while. Especially with Covid policies in place at the hospital, I wanted to minimize my time there as much as I could. I imagined close family being able to see us before we headed in to the hospital and being able to get through those first contractions in the comfort of my home.
Well, thanks to some high blood pressure that became concerning to my OB, that wasn’t our story. At my 40 week check up (it was a few days before the due date), I still had high blood pressure which was trending towards preeclampsia, with no labor signs in sight. After talking our options over with my OB, we decided to schedule an induction a few days later. Between then and the 26th (when the induction was scheduled) I prayed so much that I would just go into labor on my own. I was pretty scared of being induced and wanted things to happen on their own. I did not want to go into the hospital being at 0% with labor. But alas, there weren’t any changes so off we went on the night of August 26th, her due date, to Williamson Med. After getting settled in the L&D room, they started me on Cytotec around 10PM. I was actually 1cm dilated when I came in and having some contractions (I couldn’t feel them, but the monitor showed them). I was given a couple doses of Cytotec throughout the night, which brought on cramping, but I tried to sleep through it (pretty unsuccessfully). I was checked every couple of hours to see how much I had dilated, and unfortunately at around 8AM, almost 12 hours later, I had only progressed 1 more cm. So 2 total. That was so discouraging after lying there cramping all through the night. I felt drained and disappointed. The task ahead felt daunting.
My nurse started me on Pitocin which brings on contractions (and intensifies them) and my OB broke my water. This was all to help get things moving and labor going. I knew I wanted an epidural, but I wanted to get to around 4cm before I got it so it didn’t slow down labor and I could walk around. That proved to be a lofty goal. The contractions were only about 2 minutes apart so I hardly had a moment of relief or rest in between. I was miserable. I couldn’t walk around even if I wanted to. I labored without the epidural for a few hours before deciding there was no point in delaying it anymore. I desperately needed to rest.
Side note: I had wondered if contractions would be anything like Endometriosis pain, and it actually was similar. I would compare it to the worst Endometriosis pain I’ve had while unmedicated.
Another side note: Back labor is a b word.
Around 11:30AM, I received the epidural. Because I have scoliosis and because my contractions were so close together, the process was grueling. My nurse helped me through it though. Her name was Chris, and she stood right in front of me, held my hand, and coached me through each minute of it. “Okay, now drop your shoulders. Breathe. Breathe. Good girl. Drop your shoulders. Round your back. Don’t hold your breath. Breathe.” She sounded like a sweet broken record helping me through each contraction. The anesthesiologist was a God-send too. He assured me that although the scoliosis made it difficult, he would get it done right for me even if he had to redo it. “Don’t worry, sweetie. We’ll get you fixed up,” he said. Those 10-15 minutes were excruciating, but I had the best team around me. Oh, and Stevie was there too of course. But another nurse was trying her best to distract him from seeing me in pain.
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I asked God continually for the best, kindest, smartest nurses possible. I was nervous about who my nurses would be because I knew they would tremendously contribute to my experience. All throughout my pregnancy I prayed over who they would be and how they would treat me and care for us. God blessed me with the best nurses in that hospital. Each one was so wonderful that by the time their shift was done and they were about to leave, I got anxious over them leaving and dreaded who was coming in next. But each nurse was the best fit for the stage of labor I was in. I am truly blown away and brought to tears thinking back on that. My first nurse was with me through early labor throughout the night. She was so kind, conversational, and thorough. She talked me through what was going to happen, kept me comfortable, and distracted us with conversation. My next two nurses were with me through the hard labor. One in particular was so nurturing and motherly. The one who guided me through the epidural. She gave me lots of great advice on managing the pain and breathing through contractions. She even came to see us after we had Sadie! Our only visitor. My final nurse was with us through delivery, and she was incredible. She was full of energy, so confident in me (which made me confident in myself), and an excellent coach.
About 20 minutes after the epidural kicked in, the catheter was placed. I knew pretty immediately that something wasn’t right with it. I was told I’d probably feel a strong urge to urinate because of the catheter, but this was more than discomfort. Anytime I moved my body in the slightest I felt a sharp pain. (And staying still is hard to do through a contraction!) I endured it as long as I could, brought to tears, until it was too much to bear. I started to feel anxiety about the catheter – how I could feel it, how much it hurt, how I couldn’t move freely. And that snowballed into panic over everything else. I became overstimulated and started to breakdown. I felt discouraged at this point. My efforts to be strong were tiring out. Exhaustion and anxiety took over.
During all of this, my nurse told me about how they could remove the catheter and do what’s called a straight catheter instead. That’s where instead of keeping the catheter inside the whole time, they could put the catheter in every 3-4 hours, empty the bladder, then remove the catheter. Stevie did the math, and we estimated that at most they’d probably have to do that procedure 4 times which would be about 20 minutes of pain/discomfort. They encouraged me that the whole reason for the epidural was to give me relief, and if the catheter was keeping me from that, then this straight cath was a good route.
The catheter was removed and I felt a complete and total 180 happen. Although I could still feel my contractions, they were far less painful. I believe I could feel the perfect amount of contractions. I wasn’t totally numb, I knew where I was at with labor, but the epidural took the edge off and gave my body moments to rest. With the catheter removed, I was finally able to move my body around without pain. From there, labor started speeding up and making progress.
I have always been told that epidurals slow down labor. But I think for me, since I was able to relax my body and not fight through every painful moment as much, it somehow helped get things moving. I went from 2cm to 4cm to 8cm each time they checked me. By 6:30PM, I was at 8cm, and it was getting close to push time! We were so encouraged to have made all the progress we did in 6 hours.
My mind shifted to delivery – what I was most nervous about. Would I be capable? Would Sadie be safe? How long would it take? Would they have to do a c-section if it took too long? I started feeling a ton of physical pressure, like have-to-use-the-bathroom-right-this-second type of pressure. My nurse told me to breathe through it and resist pushing. Which got more and more difficult as the minutes dragged on. When she checked me again, I was at 9.5cm and 90% effaced. We were almost there! Around 7:30PM my nurse Casey a.k.a coach extraordinaire suggested we do “practice pushes”. She guided me through what to do, how to breathe, what Stevie could help with. (Shoutout to Stevie for being the best birth partner ever. He kept me going and kept me fighting.)
After a few minutes, nurse Casey looked at me and said, “Okay, I think we’re ready to actually push now!” She ran out of the room to get supplies, and that’s when I whispered to Stevie, “I don’t think I can do this.” He reassured me I could, but I was so nervous. After years of waiting, this moment was finally here. I felt the magnitude of what was coming to fruition.
My nurse came back in, and we started pushing. (Well, *I* started pushing, but it felt like a team effort!) She watched for contractions to come on the monitor as I could physically feel the wave coming. “Ready, deep breath in, hold it, and pushhhhhhh!” she coached. Each time the goal was to push as hard as possible for 10 seconds during a contraction. Stevie was right there beside me, holding on to me, and cheering me on. After each push, I asked my nurse how I could improve on the next one. Did I have good form? Did I hold my breath at the right time? Should I change my angle? She laughed at my eagerness, but I meant business. She gave me tips and told me multiple times that I was a pushing champ. (If there is a Dundie Award for that I want it.) She encouraged me to keep going and believe in myself. That I did. I gave it everything I had. The thing I was so afraid of ended up being my favorite part about labor.
Slowly more people started trickling in the room, getting set up for their post-delivery jobs. There were 2 baby nurses, 1 surgery tech, my delivery nurse, and the OB. As we neared the hardest pushes and biggest hurdles to get through, all five of them gathered around me. They joined Stevie in holding onto a body part and cheering me on. As the contractions came each woman yelled out, “You got this girl!” “PUSH!!” “You’re doing great!” They were cheering over each other, clapping, holding limbs up, etc. It was the wildest, movie-like scene. I still get chills thinking back on it and the way they lifted me up (mentally and physically).
At some point during delivery, I spiked a fever. I was so focused on getting Sadie out that I didn’t want to stop and sip water. But the nurses (gently) forced me to out of concern over the fever. There was worry Sadie could have one too, and that they may need to get her out quicker. This made me more determined than ever to keep going, to not give up, to get this little lady out safely, and to eat some ice chips between contractions.
We were down to the final pushes. They could see Sadie’s head, which everyone had to point out was a head full of hair. A few of them kept telling me to look down at her head, to which I refused. Props to anyone who can do that, but it ain’t me. “Noooo, I have to focus! I’ll see her when she gets here!” was my response. There was now one last push that was needed to get her head through, then the rest of her body would follow suit. With that, I closed my eyes and pushed as hard as I could. Stevie and crew were cheering so intensely that I knew we were close. She was right there. I had to give it all I could, but I also felt completely maxed out. I clenched my eyelids tighter together, going somewhere else in my mind to muster up the strength to push even harder, focusing on the dark. It was what happened next that made everything I had been through the last 22 hours completely worth it. I don’t know if I can fully describe what happened, but I’ll try. I asked God to help me, and in that moment, I had this flashback of our journey. From first trying to get pregnant, all we endured with infertility, to being pregnant, to now – meeting our baby. For that split second, time stood still as I took it all in.
At the same time that I was praying God would help me make this the last push, I was groaning out loud. That groaning of course helped with the physical pushing, but there was something else to it. If you’re familiar with the verse about the Holy Spirit praying for us that is what I felt so very tangibly –– “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27.
(Also, did you catch the verse and chapter numbers there?)
As I was pushing with all my might, groaning out loud, remembering all God had done for us, asking him to get me through it, I had this moment with the Holy Spirit that I’ve never quite had. I felt his presence, his love, his strength like never before. I want to be able to articulate it better, but some things are too precious for words I suppose. It was the most incredible thing to feel the Lord so close. I knew He was all around me, that we were safe, that it was time. Through the nurses cheering and Stevie whispering in my ear, my focus shifted back to the room. And as I was on the final push, Stevie’s words cut through everything. “Oh my gosh, babe, I see her. She’s beautiful. I see her, babe. I see her! She’s here!” I felt her leave my body in an instant (craziest feeling ever). And right as I opened my eyes, the doctor held her up high, right in front of me, and they placed her on my chest. We held her, cried, and stared at her in awe. She was the most beautiful sight. We were so excited that we laughed and laughed as tears poured out, and the joy we felt was unspeakable. We didn’t care who was watching or how emotional we were. We just let it out. Finally she was here. We thanked God. We exchanged lots of I love you’s. And we snuggled our Sadie close.
It’s been a year since that day, and I am still in awe of God’s goodness and how he carried us through and brought Sadie Garnett Boudreaux to us. We love her so much.