Ransom Whittaker: Birth Story

Oct 27

Ready for a birth story that is the complete opposite of Finley’s awesome birth??

Okay, here we go…

First of all, there’s the pregnancy. My pregnancy with Ransom was very different than my pregnancy with Finley. I gagged constantly, never wanted to eat anything, had a terrible metallic taste in my mouth for a solid month (which just made me gag and vomit more frequently), was exhausted, uncomfortable, and always out of breath (starting around 18 weeks, so early!). It was all around just a more uncomfortable experience. I threw my back out and started seeing a chiropractor (shout out to Inspire Chiropractic–they rule!)

I thought maybe the difference was just because I was also chasing a toddler around, in addition to working. When I was pregnant with Finley I pretty much took a 2 hour nap every day and was pretty lesiurely (perk of being self-employed!).

Anyways, the second time around I started having Braxton Hicks contractions around…hmmmm…maybe week 27 or 28? It seemed really early, especially considering I didn’t have any with Finley until a few days before she was born. But Dr. Google said that it was totally normal, so whatever. I could feel the contractions with my hand on my belly, but they would also take my breath away a little bit.

Fast forward to week 33. I flew to Oklahoma for a whirlwind trip that involved very little sleep, infrequent meals, and lots of walking/carrying luggage. Ain’t no thang and certainly nothing new for me. I mean, I’ve done that probably 50 times, and it really wasn’t any different than my daily life with Finley.

I was gone approximately 28 hours. I got home, took a nap, and went to my prenatal appointment with my wonderful midwife. Adam ratted on me for not eating enough, and she wanted to set up a separate appointment to discuss nutrition. But here’s the thing–I simply COULD NOT eat a lot! Like, everything sounded gross to me. I was definitely eating, but I was super picky about what went in. Mainly because I hate throwing up, and the few times I made myself eat something…I would inevitably vomit.

At the appointment, she had a hard time figuring out Ransom’s position. I stayed after for an ultrasound, and it was just plain ‘ol tricky. I figured he was in a weird position because I was much bigger when viewed from one side, and I was also HECKA uncomfortable. We determined that he was curled up on the right side of my belly. Odd.

Pretty much as soon as we left Carolyn’s, I started having MILDLY painful contractions. Nothing crazy, but slightly more intense than the Braxton Hicks I had been having for the last month. We went from my appointment straight to my parents house to pick up Finley. My mom fed me dinner (because she’s my mom and she’s the very best), and I kept having the contractions throughout dinner, and the whole night.

The contractions got more and more painful throughout the night, even though I was asleep.

Secret about me: nothing is more important to me than sleep. When I had Finley I had severe engorgement and I would wake up in so much pain that I didn’t even want to breathe because it moved my chest. But I also didn’t want to get up and pump because I was hoping I would just fall asleep. I mean, that’s crazy! I’d lay there for an hour before finally thinking “Just go pump, you lazy girl!”

Anyways, the contractions were painful enough that I actually had dreams where I was having the contractions and in labour. I woke up and was like “Oh shoot! Those contractions were real and my brain just incorporated them into a dream. BLAH.”

But I also thought “I’m only 33 weeks pregnant, so it definitely can’t be labour.”

I let Adam know what was going on, and got Finley ready to go to story time at the library. As we were getting ready, I was having brutal contractions. I mean, they took my breath away and I couldn’t talk through them. Looking back, DUH. I was in labour.

We got to the library, and the contractions were coming every ten minutes and they HURT. But again, I was only 33 weeks pregnant so it couldn’t be true labour. I was also feeling sharp, random pains in between contractions, like Ransom was punching my cervix.

My girl Jaime (I photographed her wedding many, many moons ago) was at story time and she saw that I was in distress and prayed for me as I left the library. Love her! My thought was to go home, put Finley down for a nap, and finally time my contractions.

I laid down for an hour and they were steadily coming every ten minutes, but they were kind of all over the place with their intensity. I’d have a brutal contraction, a medium one, a brutal one, a brutal one, and a light one. They made no sense. Adam, who I was text updating at work, finally called the midwife and she told us to come in to get checked.

After taking care of Finley (thanks mom and dad!), we made the thirty minute drive to Carolyn. On the way there, my contractions were still all over the place. Some were brutal, some were kinda painful, and some were easy breezy.

I figured I’d get checked and Carolyn would tell me to take it easy for the next few weeks. No big deal.

But what really happened was…
Carolyn checked me and I was 4-5 cm dialted and my cervix was…I can’t remember. It was crazy soft and she could feel the edges of it? So I was effaced? I don’t know! But I know she said “We’re going to the hospital RIGHT NOW.” And I started crying. I was so sad and everything felt out of control and…THIS WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HAPPENING.

She rode in the backseat with me as Adam drove us to the hospital and prepared us by telling us that they would likely try and stall my labour with medicine, and they might be able to stall it a week. If they could, I would be on bedrest at the hospital for that week. If not, I was having a baby today. Either way, Ransom would be in the NICU and we needed to put our lives on hold.

I’m choking back tears. Oh, right. And since this is a blog and you don’t really know me…I DON’T CRY. EVER.

We get to the hospital, they tell me to go to the waiting room, Carolyn gets fiesty and says “I have a 33 week pregnant woman in pre-term labour! We are NOT going to a waiting room!”

They wheel me back into triage, tell me they’re going to give me something to stop my labour, give me a steroid shot to help the baby’s lungs develop, and THEN they check me. (Which, by the way, is awful. I never got checked with Finley because my labour was so fast and I had no idea. Carolyn was gentle and fine. The hospital was rough and made me bleed. Not my favourite.) It had been about 30 minutes since Carolyn checked me. The nurse tells me that I am AT LEAST 7cm, and that was being very modest with that number.

She had someone come in for a second opinion (sure, let’s all shove our hands into my vagina!), and she confirms. They say they can feel Ransom’s hand and that I have a bulging bag of waters. At this point, there was no stopping my labour.

I stay cool and tell Adam to have my mom cancel my hair appointment that was scheduled for the next morning, and they wheel me back into labour and delivery. Tears are steadily pouring down my face. Not because of not having my home birth, but because I knew I was having a preemie baby who was going to have to live in the NICU. NOT WHAT I WANTED.

When I was in labour with Finley, I was standing up during transition, and then on a stool or birthing ball for the rest of labour. All these things made the pain considerably less than being horizontal or stationary. But because they wanted things to go as slow as possible, I wasn’t allowed to stand up and HOLY SMOKES!!! My pain level was through the roof!!! They wouldn’t even let me get up to go pee! So yeah, I used a bedpan for the first time in my life, but made everyone leave the room because I had stage fright.

The doctors were having a really hard time figuring out Ransom’s position. There were, no exaggeration, about a dozen people in the room. Even with the ultrasound, they couldn’t figure him out. They finally figured out he was breech, and the nurse had felt Ransom’s feet instead of his hand. The doctors got in close around me and told me “We typically do sections on breech babies.”

I was like “Woooooooooa, let’s not get crazy. I didn’t even know I was in labour until an hour ago! Can’t you try and turn him?”

They didn’t seem thrilled, but they definitely tried. MY GOSH. I was having contraction after contraction after contraction (all of them way more brutal than anything I felt with Finley), and this doctor’s gripping my belly/Ransom and trying to rotate him. But my belly would get rock hard during contractions! And Ransom’s heart was showing his distress! And I was just trying to stay alive!

They suggested an epidural to help my uterus muscles relax so they could have a higher chance of success with turning Ransom. I’m ALL ABOUT not getting an epidural. SPOLIER ALERT: I’ve now had an epidural and I am very much still all about NOT getting them. Also, if they weren’t able to turn him, I would need the epidural for the C-section.

Oh, and I was pushing Ransom out at this point.

The anathesologist prepped me for the epidural, and then I started vomiting and the c-section doctor (who was a total cutie–looked like a handsome Ben Folds)  said “That’s it! No epidural, C-section now!” and started to open the door to get me into the operating room. The anesthesiologist fought for me insisted that he could do it in time, and…he did!

As I was pushing, something gushed out of me. I thought it was my water breaking, but they later told me my bag of waters was intact and that it was just blood (whatever the heck that’s all about!).

There was probably about 5 minutes between when I got the epidural and when they cut me open. So trippy. I never ever want another epidural (although I wouldn’t have wanted to be cut open without it), or c-section.

The whole “birth” was a blur. I couldn’t see anything and it was boring.

Adam said they had a hard time getting him out of my belly because of the weird position he was in. Ransom came out butt first, and his head was stuck and took a seemingly long time (the doctor said the same thing later.) He was born at 4:50pm and was 5lb 2oz and 17 inches long. I got to see him for about 3 seconds before they took him to the NICU.

What a strange and unnatural thing…to give birth to a child and then not have the child with you. It’s like my mind couldn’t understand why I didn’t have a baby in my arms. It started to seem like I didn’t actually have a son.

The rest of my 48 hour stay in the hospital was also a blur. Adam and the nurses took great care of me. Hospital food isn’t very good. Having a catheter was my favourite part of the whole experience. I was so bummed when they took it out.

We left at the 48 hour mark. They kept saying “You know you can stay up to 5 days,” and we were like “No thanks!!! Wanna go home now!”

And we went back to Chattanooga to visit Ransom twice a day since. At the end of his stay, I just decided to camp out there from 8am-10:30pm and nurse him at all his feedings. We did that for three days and then he was ready to come home!

I had mentally prepared myself that he would be in intensive care for 2 weeks, but I told the nurses (and Adam, and myself) “I won’t be devastated if he’s not home in 2 weeks.” But deep down, I genuinely thought he would be home…so of course I wouldn’t be devastated! And then, he’s not home (the end isn’t in sight), and I’m devastated. So much for managing my expectations.

There were several times during all this, where I would walk out to the parking garage, climb into the car, and sob.

Jeez. So…that’s Ransom’s entrance to the world.
He’s an awesome baby and is gaining a pound a week since he’s been home. How awesome is that?! I mean, he eats around the clock so…

Here’s a photographic highlight reel:

My last preggo selfie, 2 days before Ransom was born

August 31, 2017: Ransom’s born!

As soon as the epidural wore off enough for me to get into a wheelchair, I raced off to the NICU to see Ransom. It is so strange + unnatural to give birth to a child and not have them in your arms.

This was the first time we saw his face without the breathing mask!

We loved our skin-to-skin time with Ransom. I would do skin to skin in the morning, and then Adam would do the snuggles when we came back at night. (until Ransom started nursing)

We tried to keep Finley one day every weekend. It was so hard to not pick her up! But I was terrified of ripping open my incision…

Slowly but surely Ransom began to lose cords and wires…

Finley was in good hands at my parents house for the 4 weeks that Ransom was in the NICU.   🙂

The doctor asked “Who want to go home?” and Ransom raised his hand!

27 days later and we were homeward bound!!!!! I couldn’t even believe it. I kept thinking they were gonna call us back and make him stay longer. Also, Adam grew a beard during the time Ransom was in the hospital and declared that he wouldn’t shave it off until Ransom was inside our house.

Little dude is just getting bigger and bigger!


Maternity Portraits 12 days before Ransom was born!


Five week old baby Ransom



Family portraits on Ransom’s due date (October 15, 2017) with him already 52 days old!

So yeah. It’s been a WILD ride.

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