September 26, 2018

Jacob Reve Hjelmeseth: His Birth Story

I think back to Jacob's birth on Friday, September 14, 2018 1:33 PM every day since. In a dramatic minute, my life was permanently changed and the events leading up to 1:33 PM become a distant afterthought to the whirlwind of change that happens after. But I find myself thinking back to his birth at least once a day, because I marvel at how this miracle came to be and I replay every minute of labor in my head to analyze how it was nothing more or less than God's hand bringing him to me in the most unexpected way.

I had always planned and wanted an all-natural birth. No interventions, no medication. My mom did it this way and I felt compelled to experience birth the same way, to share the pain and joy as a new mom with her first-born like she did with me. Pregnancy was incredible for me. There were no complications and I barely had any negative symptoms like morning sickness. Though there was an inkling of a thought in my head that there's got to be a hardship somewhere along the way and maybe that would be labor. Still, I hoped for my most optimal plan to happen, but everything went exactly as unplanned.

Early labor started for me Thursday morning around 10 AM with mild cramps that felt like menstrual cramps on the first day of my period. It was a persistent discomfort that lasted all morning and afternoon and I had a feeling that this was strange and unusual, but not too out of norm as I have had some on and off abdominal cramping in the last couple of weeks. I did lose my mucus plug a week or two before and I've had some signs of 'bloody show' just in the last day. Friday September 14 is Jacob's exact due date. This little man is punctual! At 2 PM, I started feeling slight contractions, varying between 10-20 minutes apart, but I started to consistently have 5 contractions per hour. At 4 PM, they started to get between 5-8 minutes apart. At this time, Kyle was still working (at home) and my sister was also over, so they both spent time with me in bed and we watched Monsters University and Kung Fu Panda. I felt compelled to tune into something nice, uplifting, and cute! At 6:30PM, I told Kyle that the contractions are starting to feel hard and I really needed him next to me always. He'd help push his hands into my lower back whenever I felt a contraction to relieve the pain and pressure and this was happening every 4-5 minutes. I told him that I think he needs to prepare the hospital bags by the door and get the car seat in the car. While I was more positive this was real labor, I still had my doubts only because this felt too surreal. Around 10 PM, I got up to walk around the house more and this time, the contractions were coming ever 2-3 minutes. Yikes! They say to go to the hospital when you have contractions 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 whole hour (5-1-1 rule), so we called my doctor's after hours line just to get a second opinion and they said to go to the hospital. We took one last polaroid of me and Jacob in my bump, I changed into a slip dress and a cardigan, and Kyle and I left with our hospital bags. By the time we got downstairs to our garage, I could barely walk through the contractions. We got into the car and sure enough, we were so low on gas that we definitely couldn't make it to the hospital, so we had to stop by the gas station first! Kyle filled it up just a quarter and made our way to Cedars-Sinai around 11 PM.

Active labor was happening. They admitted me at 4-5 cm dilated. I bore through intense contractions coming in every 2 minutes and Kyle was a champ just following me around the room as I crouched over the bed, the door, the wall - anywhere I could grip - and he would try to relieve the pain as much as possible with the lower back counter pressure technique. I tried visualizing calming scenes and so forth. Every contraction was incredibly tough to get through. I definitively have high pain tolerance, but my tolerance still wasn't enough for my contractions. Kyle was getting tired (I could tell, though he'd never say it!). I was not getting any rest or reprieve between contractions. 4 hours later at 3 AM, I decided that I didn't want to bear the pain any longer and that I wanted a walking epidural. The decision weighed on my previous strong will of going all-natural and I kept wavering back and forth for a short while. In the end, I decided to go for it. Getting the walking epidural was painless, effortless, and provided nearly instant relief that I didn't think would be in my near future. Kyle and I were both so relieved and I just loved not feeling any pain while I can still feel my body (the walking epidural is a milder dose than the full epidural that just numbs your abdomen, lower back, and groin). We actually fell asleep for a couple of hours, which was nice considering I was laboring for 15 hours already. At 5 AM, my OB suggested breaking my water since it hadn't yet, to get things moving along since I was laboring for so long already. 2 hours later at 7 AM, I was fully dilated at 10 cm. BUT, I wasn't ready to push just yet! Jacob was facing up towards my abdomen, which isn't an optimal position for birth, so I had to lay on my side for 1.5 hours to get him to turn. As I was getting closer to pushing, my epidural started to wear off, because it was running out and at 9 AM, the hospital got super busy so the anesthesiologists took a long time to get back to giving me another dose. The pain of contractions at 10 cm started to set in, my OB was present, and Jacob was low enough in the right position, so it was time to start pushing no matter what. I pushed to each 1.5 minute wave of the contraction and pushed with all of my might and strength. Kyle, my OB, and my nurse were supporting me every second. Every push was harder than the last and I started to feel desperate and tired 2.5 hours later. As much as they could see the top of Jacob's head, he wasn't making his way past a certain point in the birth canal; he was stuck. I tried 10 minutes more, then another 10 minutes, and then another push, thinking and willing this would be it. But it wouldn't happen and I started to feel hopeless and scared that there was no end. I developed a high fever and was given antibiotics through IV. I pushed so hard that I strained and bruised my shoulders in the process, because I put too much tension there. Finally, as supportive as my OB was of my will to have a natural delivery, he gave me the option of doing a c-section and after a bit of deliberation in my mind on my child's safety and health (I didn't want him to continue to be stuck in the birth canal and to get distressed), I agreed that the c-section would be the best thing to do for us.

It happened so quickly. My OB and the nurses prepped for the c-section as quick as a snap and I was given the regional anesthesia that helped block my contraction pain again and I was whisked to the OR. For what seemed like 20 minutes, they prepped for surgery while Kyle had to wait outside. As soon as I had to lay flat on the OR table, my shoulders started to uncontrollably spasm and nothing could relieve the intense pain from laying there. I couldn't lay my arms straight for the nurses to take my vitals or do other things and I begged for pain relief. I guess they had given me something, because eventually the pain had calmed down just a bit, but I was still feeling the shakes and spasms and I tried hard to visualize my baby to help ease my mind. Finally, Kyle came inside and sat next to my head, held my arms close, and prayed into my ears. My OB started the procedure (I couldn't feel a thing, not even pressure) and just minutes later, I heard the first cries of our baby. I gasped out of shock and immediately started crying. The pain and spasms in my shoulders went away and all I could think about was my baby whom I couldn't even see yet. Kyle saw him over the blue curtain and exclaimed "That's a big baby! That's a giant baby!" and laughed with joy. Our OB gave me a quick peek of him over the curtain before sending him to the baby station to get cleaned and taken care of, while my OB took care of me. I felt so much comfort knowing that Kyle stood by our baby every second while he was away from me. 5 minutes later, Kyle carried Jacob to me and I was able to hold him in my arms on my chest, with his tiny puffy face just inches from mine. I'll never forget that moment as it was so unreal to meet my child face to face and he had his big eyes open, staring straight into mine. I think that Jacob and I were both in a surreal state of mind, him entering this crazy new world and me with this tiny human that came out of me with the help of the superstar team at Cedars.
We spent 3 nights at the hospital in what I like to call baby boot camp. Jacob latched on great the very first time when we did skin-to-skin, so breastfeeding has been going really well since. I've been healing from the c-section just fine. The first few days are rough as it's really hard to lay down and sit up, get in and out of bed, and to walk a long time (they encouraged walks around the maternity floor for recovery). I was insanely swollen the first two days, because they pump a ton of fluids during the c-section. I took some strong pain relief meds at the hospital, but after coming home, I've only been taking ibuprofen which has been managing the tenderness well. All in all, Kyle, Jacob and I are doing amazing. And I often think back to his birth because it was such a wild rollercoaster of events and emotions - how desperate and hopeless I felt one minute turned into complete elation the next. I would absolutely go through the exact same labor again if I had to, to bring my child into the world next to me. Jacob's smile, touch, and presence is worth everything that happened to get him here. I truly believe that God was there with me, giving me the grace to move beyond the moments of despair and hardship to deliver this handsome miracle to us.



  1. Congrats and welcome to the world baby Jacob! It brought me to tears as I got to the part about your intense spasms as it reminded me of what it was like when I gave birth 1.5 year ago. Wishing your family all the best!

  2. Congratulations. So excited for your new journey with the baby. so cute ♥️

  3. Congrats <3

  4. Congratulation