My Own Labor Story – Bringing Jack Bittle into the World – Columbia, MO

Here is the story of how the littlest Bittle came into the world on Dec. 30th, 2012 at 1:17 PM. He weighed 8 pounds exactly, and was 21 inches long.  The photos below were taken by Max BittleFred Barnes, and a few by yours truly.

On a very foggy morning on Snow Pond last April, I found out that Max and I would be bringing a baby into the world sometime toward the end of December. When I told Max the big news, he was speechless… and with the passing weeks, we became more and more excited to meet the little bean that was growing inside of me. We also decided that, after being in New Hampshire for three years, it might be time to move back to the midwest to be closer to family and friends, especially with a baby on the way. We found a little green stucco house near downtown Columbia, Missouri and with Zelda in tow, made the move to our new home in October of 2012.

My due date was December 23rd (2012), and as that day came and went, we became more and more anxious to meet our first son (or daughter… we wanted to be surprised if our baby was a boy or a girl!). After a fancy dinner out on the town at Sycamore on Saturday night, Dec. 29th, we came home and watched a few episodes of our latest favorite show, Sherlock. I noticed that I was having some mild contractions, every few minutes apart. But, I’d had these before, and just thought it was my body preparing for what was ahead.

We went to bed, and at 5:30 AM, I awoke to my water breaking (more like the hoover dam busting open) in bed, and I jumped up, and with a beaming smile, I told Max in the dark that my water broke! He replied, “I guess today is the day we’re going to have a baby!”. Our wonderful doula (birthing coach), DeeDee had told us that once we knew labor was imminent, we should rest as much as possible to prepare for all of the hard work ahead. So, we went back to sleep. I wasn’t really having contractions, and I slept until 7 AM. When I woke up, I almost forgot that my water had broken, and when I remembered, my heart started racing with excitement… it felt like we had been waiting years for this day, and suddenly, it was here! I made myself some oatmeal, did a load of laundry, made it through very mild contractions, and around 8:30 AM, decided I should wake up Max.

I called a few close friends, and my parents, to tell them the big news. Around 10:30 AM, my contractions became more intense, and I “rejected” my oatmeal breakfast. Max was keeping track of my contractions, and I was breathing through them, mostly on my knees and using the couch (that my mother lent us, that I swore I would have recovered by the time I went into labor–no dice) for support.

Around 11:15 AM, we decided it was time to call DeeDee. Once she arrived, I realized that I was having some back labor. I had around 10 or 12 contractions with DeeDee here, and she did this amazing thing of pushing down on my lower back, over my tailbone, making the contractions way easier to deal with. At the same time, Max was rubbing my shoulders… it felt like I was really experiencing everything with everyone, I never felt alone. It was incredible. To get through the contractions, I would take deep breaths for the 45 seconds of strong lower cramping in my body. Max and I learned in our birthing class to pick a focal point to help get through contractions. As mine were getting fairly intense, I started really using the couch to support myself while kneeling on the floor. I kept my eyes closed tightly while breathing, and I kept hearing Max say, “Pick a focal point!” In my head I kept thinking, “Pick a focal point? I can’t even open my eyes!”  ;)  I decided that maybe we should head to the hospital. I still felt like it was early, but I assumed I’d be in labor for several more hours, and it would only get more intense, and I was NOT looking forward to the car ride to Womens & Childrens hospital 10 minutes away.

I had a few contractions in the backseat of the our Prius, and another in the lobby of the hospital when we arrived around noon. While Max was parking the car, DeeDee and I took the elevator upstairs to the delivery floor, and I had a really strong contraction in the elevator. I was most comfortable on my hands and knees, so I dropped to all fours in the elevator and breathed through it. Just as the contraction was coming to an end, the doors opened on the third floor, and I looked up and locked eyes with the receptionist, who picked up her phone and called for several people and things in a room in a very urgent voice. It was like something out of a movie! While DeeDee helped me walk to the delivery room, I whispered to her that if I was at 5 cm dilated, I would be really happy! (Have I mentioned that all this time between contractions, I couldn’t stop smiling? Bizarre!)

We went into the delivery room, a nurse flew in, then some doctors, someone checked my cervix, and the next thing I knew, a nurse looked me in the eyes, “You are complete (fully dilated), and at station zero. You’re ready to push girl!”. YIKES! I was not expecting this, but was immediately ecstatic (and a little scared), and I realized the moment Max and I had been looking forward to for the past nine months was almost here.

Everything suddenly seemed to go into overdrive. Doctors were snapping on gloves, ten people were talking to me at once… I remember someone asking me how I spell my last name, which I thought was funny, as this seemed like a clear sign that we made it to the hospital just in the knick of time to have this baby. Max was so supportive throughout all of this, holding my hand, telling me I was doing a great job, helping answer the nurse’s questions about my vitals… and DeeDee was relaying what the doctors were doing, and explaining their concerns at times that the baby’s heart rate wasn’t coming back up between contractions as quickly as they wanted.

Once I started pushing, a lot of coaching began, from a lot of people. I wasn’t quite sure how the pushing thing worked, but everyone was telling me to push with all of my might, and in turn, I would push until I screamed (or sort of scream-grunted). “Don’t yell… use all of that energy to push your baby out!”, said a nurse. “Katie, if you don’t really push on these next contractions, we are going to have to consider getting OB in here for a c-section because the baby’s heart rate is dropping,” said the only male doctor in the room (who also kept his arms crossed the entire time), and then a nurse would suggest, “Let’s try a different position.”  Once we found the best position for pushing, the baby’s heart rate returned to normal, and a sense of calm came over the room. I really wanted to have a natural childbirth, so I remember feeling really happy that the c-section crew were pushed to the edges of the room.

I think at this point, it was around 1 PM. With every contraction, and set of three pushes I would do, I had a lineup of four women at my feet who would cheer me on with the sort of vigor one would expect from from an Olympian’s parents during the competition. “That’s IT! GO GO GO KATIE!”, and “GOOD PUSH, GREAT PUSH… YOU’RE DOING IT!”. It was all very exciting, and in all honesty, I really did feel like I was competing in some special Olympics sport with all of the cheering. One of my nurses was from Jamaica. She would calmly, but sternly look me straight in the eyes and say, “Kadeee, you gonna push dis baby out. Girl, you so close, you gonna push and push and push your baby out!”. She was so incredible, and I remember even amidst all the chaos of the room, loving hearing her accent.

Max was holding my hand, and I remember squeezing his hand so tight at one point that I was afraid I’d hurt him! During contractions he was calmly telling me that I was doing a great job, and he would explain to me what the doctors wanted and how I should be trying to push with my legs. Between contractions, I was yelling out, “Max, are you taking pictures?!?”. I’m sure the doctors were giving some quizzical looks, because I heard DeeDee quickly explain, “They’re both professional photographers!”.

After another set of really intense pushes, where I held my breath to be sure not to put my energy into yelling, someone said, “Look at all that hair!”, and a doctor told me to reach down to feel the baby’s head. I didn’t actually feel the baby’s hair, but I said “Wow”, anyway, just because I didn’t really feel capable of using more than one or two words at a time. ;) A doctor told me that if I pushed really hard with all of my might on the next contraction, I would get to meet my baby. This seemed like some sort of new goal, and I pushed as hard as I possibly could… two pushes, three pushes, and a final fourth push, and our baby’s head, shoulders, and then legs were suddenly visible. I remember looking down, and seeing a nurse guide my little baby up into the room… at that instant, it felt like everything suddenly stopped. I couldn’t hear the doctors, or DeeDee… In what felt like a twist of fairytale fate, this little creature that I had only known as tiny hiccups and kicks from inside of my belly, had suddenly materialized in front of me… and at 1:17 PM on Sunday, December 30th, 2012, we claimed the title of parents, and now had a a beautiful 8 pound baby boy. We named him Jack Fredrick Bittle.

DeeDee and I checking Jack out… 

I loved this shot of Max. He looks so happy to be a dad!

Attempting to breastfeed for the first time…

My parents see Jack for the first time. I wanted them to arrive a few hours before I actually gave birth, but I literally started pushing two hours after my most intense contractions… it all went so fast!

Me, probably talking about how quick my labor was… this was just before moving to the post-partum room.

I love this picture of Max and my dad… two photojournalists. ;)

Max’s dad and my mom watching as Jack is measured and weighed…

Max’s mom holds Jack for the first time…

My mom takes a turn at shooting a few pictures, but gives up after failing at back button focus…

The two grandpas!

Jena came to visit as soon as she could!

For me, this photo really sums up the entire experience. Magical!

It’s amazing how much Jack has changed in the first week. This photo best looks like what he looks like now…

Skin to skin with Jack…

I absolutely love this photo of him… he looks like a little punk rocker monkey!

Here is what it looked like outside on December 31st… we got several inches of snow. It was beautiful!

And last but not least… a photo Max shot of Jack all swaddled up, and sound asleep.  ;)

I’m sure there will be many, many more photo of Jack over the years on this blog… but for now, I wanted to share the story of how he came into the world. Thanks for reading, and check back again soon for more pictures (and probably less words!)… ;)

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