Being first-time parents is overwhelming. Jill Gaul and her husband, Doug, were definitely in that boat. Not only were they pregnant with their first baby, Jill was also relatively new to the area. She started her journey into motherhood with the help and recommendations from friends on where to establish her care.
“I heard good things about Dr. O’Connor, so I decided to go to him as my OB/GYN,” Jill shares.
Jill says Dr. Robert O’Connor was always willing to answer any questions and ease any concerns. Additionally, Jill enjoyed sharing her first pregnancy experience with his nurse, Haley. She also happened to be experiencing her first pregnancy.
“Haley was towards the end of her pregnancy, early on in my pregnancy. She had her baby, went on leave and came back at the end of my pregnancy. It was fun relating to each other’s experiences,” Jill says.
As it got closer to Jill’s due date, Jill and Doug were grateful to attend a Childbirth Saturday, a one-day education class for parents. They were eager to learn more about what to expect during labor and delivery and the basics about caring and feeding their baby for those first few weeks. They were most excited to tour the Birth Center and familiarize themselves with the hospital.
Jill’s due date came and passed. Her anticipation grew since they live outside of Fort Dodge and she wanted to make sure when she went into labor, they had enough time to get to the hospital.
Finally, Labor Day came, both figuratively and literally speaking. Monday, September 2, Jill’s contractions started to get stronger and closer together.
She shares, “I went to the hospital that morning and was closely monitored. I did a lot of walking but was still only dilated to a three, so they sent me home. However, they reassured us we made the right decision to come in.”
Late that night, Jill’s water broke, and they quickly made their way back to the hospital.
“I didn’t have a specific birth plan per se. I went in with an open mind not knowing what to expect. My back labor was intense though, and I knew I wanted an epidural when we arrived.”
Whether or not to use pain medication during labor is a very personal decision, one that Jill didn’t take lightly.
“I felt all my decisions were supported and I wasn’t judged at all throughout my stay. I’m confident I would have been supported regardless of what my decisions were.”
Six hours after arriving, at 8:21 AM on Tuesday, September 3, Jill delivered a healthy baby girl. She and Doug named her Avery, who weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces and was 21 inches long at birth.
“We didn’t know the gender. The moment I saw her raised up in the air and realized we had a daughter, was precious and something I’ll never forget,” Jill smiles.
The next couple of days in the hospital were spent bonding as a family and preparing to go home as a family of three.
“We received a lot of good information without it being overwhelming. The education piece while we were in the hospital was great. I cannot say enough good things about the nurses I had. They were phenomenal. They were all so encouraging and answered all my questions and just took really good care of us,” Jill says.
When it came time to leave, the proud parents felt prepared – well, mostly.
“Well, as much as you can be as a first-time mom,” Jill chimes in.