Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Birth Story

May 2nd, our "due date" arrived. All throughout the pregnancy I told myself that I would carry the baby 1-3 weeks past the due date. I knew that most first babies were born late and I didn't want to feel impatient. If he needed to bake a little longer, so be it!

(May 2nd, 40 weeks)

The 2nd was a Sunday and the weather was beautiful. Jerad and I went out to brunch, then took the dogs on a long walk. I was feeling kind of "off" and just very pregnant. I was having contractions, but I'd been having prodromal labor for weeks with contrax sometimes as close as 5 minutes apart so I didn't really think anything of it.

Throughout the day we finished a few things around the house, answered a million calls asking if we'd had the baby yet, and joked how strange it would be if this was our last weekend alone. Little did we know! Later we gave the dogs baths, the last undone "to-do list" item.

As the day wore on, the contractions got stronger, but were very irregular and definitely bearable so I still didn't think that it was the real thing. Around 9:30pm I was sick of dealing with the contractions and wanted to go to bed. Jerad wanted me to call the midwife and give her a heads up, just in case. For some reason I HATED that idea. I didn't want to be the first time mom that kept crying wolf, especially since I still didn't think this was it. Jerad pointed out that Tiffany (midwife) would probably rather have a false alarm and be prepared and able to get some extra sleep than have us not call her. Whatever. So, I called her and basically said "Jerad is making me call, I may or may not be in labor." She thought that was funny and told me to have a beer or glass of wine, try to get as much sleep as possible, and call her if my water broke or there were any major changes and she would check back in the morning.

We got in bed and I listened to a few hypnobabies tracks on my ipod while I tried to go to sleep. Around 11:30 ish I woke up because the contractions were getting more intense and a bath sounded nice. I decided not to wake up Jerad (besides, it wasn't like I was in labor...) and just tried to relax. I listened to my ipod and managed to doze off in the tub. By 2:30 I decided I needed Jerad so I woke him up. He sat with me in the bathroom for awhile until I felt ready to try to sleep again, around 4:15am. I kept saying I just wished my water would break, or I'd start loosing my mucous plug or SOMETHING to tell me that yes, I was probably in labor.

At 4:30 I was just drifting off to sleep when I felt something POP inside of me. Almost like a rubber-band. Jerad was passed out kind of spooning me with his hand on my belly and I asked him if he had heard or felt anything. He obviously hadn't, so I got back up and went to the bathroom to pee. It seemed like there was some extra fluid going on so I told Jerad that I thought my water "might have broken."

Looking back over this whole experience, I was in such denial...

There was another gush of fluid as I went to stand up, this time with some vernix in it. I called Tiffany to let her know, and she told me that I should refrain from having sex (no duh), and to try to get some sleep since I had basically been up all night. Since I had tested negative for Group B Strep, we didn't need to worry about any antibiotics.

Within 30 minutes I was having regular contractions, every 2-3 minutes apart and lasting for 40 seconds up to a minute. They were more intense than they had been, but still bearable. I was feeling them mostly in my back. Finally we gave up on trying to sleep. We went through our birth supplies one more time to make sure we had everything, and put the liner in the birth tub.

At 6am Jerad called Amy, our Doula, and told her what was going on. She came over at 6:30. I was still able to talk through contractions, but they were uncomfortable and I was having a lot of back pain. She suggested different positions, hands and knees, leaning over the birth ball, sitting on the birth ball, lunges, leg up on the coffee table.... none of which helped with the discomfort in my back. Oh well, a long time ago I had resigned myself to the fact that this baby was going to stay posterior and I would be facing back labor, so be it!

Throughout the morning my contractions began to get less intense (or I just got better at managing them), and started to space out. Around 8am Amy and I went on a walk while Jerad made a Jamba Juice run and went to the grocery store to pick up a few last minute things we needed to back the carrot birthday cake for the baby. At about 9 we sent Amy home because I felt like I was handing things fine and it was going to be awhile. Tiffany checked in and said that things would probably start picking up after dark. She said if I felt like I could, to nap because I was running on no sleep and was going to need my energy.

After Amy went home the contractions started picking up again. It became apparent that having ppl around (besides Jerad) just kind of slowed things down. Jerad and I spent a few hours watching tv and trying to rest. Amy and Tiffany continued to call for updates. Around noon Tiffany asked if I was feeling like I'd like to get things progressing a bit more, or if I felt like I wanted to try to rest and save my energy. I told her I didn't feel like I could rest, so we should get this show on the road. She suggested a homeopathic and taking black and blue cohosh every hour for 4 hours, then if that didn't bring it on we could talk castor oil. If labor hadn't picked up by that night and we had to go the castor oil route, she recommended waiting until the next morning so that I didn't spend the whole night in the bathroom.

I was really excited that she wasn't too concerned with hurrying things along even though my water had broken. Being "on the clock" was one of my biggest fears and I knew the norm was once your water broke hospitals like the baby to be born within 24 hours. Even if he took another day, I knew the baby would come when he was ready.

Neither one of our 2 tiny health food stores had the blue cohosh or the homeopathic med, but Jerad brought home the black cohosh and I took the first dose diluted in water at 1pm. It tasted like ass.

That might even be an understatement.

Tiffany made plans to bring the other 2 over at 7:30pm.

By 3pm contractions were picking up again and were between 8 and 15 minutes apart. They were strong enough that I needed to pause whatever I was doing and concentrate. Jerad and I started working on the cake. Well, he basically did everything and I took about 45 minutes to grate the carrots. Amy stopped by again and while she was over the contractions stopped again.

After she left, they started picking back up until my mom stopped by at 4 with some miso soup and they again tapered off. At this point I still thought it would be at least a day until the baby was born. For the most part I could still talk and walk during the contractions. It felt SO MUCH BETTER to vocalize and move my hips during the contractions, but it was hard for me to do that with my mom there. For some reason whenever anyone was there I felt like I wanted to make THEM comfortable, and just couldn't get in the zone. When it was just Jerad and me, I could focus. He would also vocalize with me which made me laugh, reminded me to keep the tones low, and really really helped.

About 2 hours after my mom arrived, the contractions got really intense and were relentless. Jerad and I were putting the finishing touches on the cake when I started feeling shaky and like I was going to throw up. I threw up in the kitchen sink then ran to the bathtub before I had another contraction. I was barely getting any breaks in between. There was no relief and I could find no comfort in any position. Everything I had planned on doing to be more comfortable, just didn't help. Counter pressure on my back, the birth ball, sitting on the toilet. NOTHING. Laying in the tub on my side was the only thing that remotely helped. I felt really hot and having cold wash cloths on my forehead really helped.

I should mention that since about 4:30 my mom was wigging out that we weren't calling the midwife to come over. I think she was convinced that the baby was going to just fall out. By 6:30 pm the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, lasting about a minute. I started throwing up and shaking and having bloody show when I peed. In my head I briefly though "hmmm, this could be transition?" but then I also thought that it could just be early labor and I should stop getting my hopes up and being a wuss. I remember looking at the clock and trying to figure out how many contractions I'd have to make it through before the midwife got there to "get labor going." I was SO WORRIED that I really was only in early labor. I was tired and everything was so intense, if I had to keep going for another 12 hours I knew I couldn't make it. I also just wanted to be alone and free to be miserable so I shut everyone out of the bathroom.

Jerad called the midwife and she was already on her way. He didn't really tell her that things were intense because I was still in denial and wasn't really acting like I'd be having the baby soon. Ever since 2:30 am he had been wanting to fill up the birth tub and I'd been putting him off. Since we were having the baby at home, I knew there would be no option for pain meds... the tub was as good as it could get for me and I wanted to save it till the last possible second. Finally at about 7pm I told him he could fill it up, and to call Amy because I needed her.

Amy got here about 5 minutes later and it was such a relief. I had started feeling a little panicky and like I couldn't stay on top of the contractions any more and she was sooo calming. Reminding me how to breathe, to keep my voice low, getting me cool cloths...

At 7:15 Tiffany got there and could tell by the sounds that I was making that I was much much farther along than she'd been expecting to find me. She started rushing to bring in her supplies and called her assistant to head on over. I asked if I could get in the birth tub now (she had said before that she wanted me to wait until I was in active labor) and she laughed at me and said of course I could.

Because I'm a freak, in between contractions (which were now only a minute apart), I asked Jerad if he could clean the bathroom so people could use it. Because the thought of people trying to pee with bathwater in the tub and the towels all messed up was more than I could bear. OCD much? Then I told the midwife and Amy that they should go get chairs so they'd be more comfortable instead of kneeling on the floor.

Tiffany asked if I'd like to be checked (this would be my first and only cervical check for the entire pregnancy). I said I would, mostly because I still couldn't believe that this was it, and not only was I fully dilated, the baby had also descended well into the birth canal.

Jerad threw on some board shorts and got in the tub with me. All of a sudden the contractions changed and my body was pushing HARD. I don't know how some people "breathe the baby down," there was no way I couldn't push.

Jerad was amazing. Everything was so intense and he stayed so calm and just whispered calm, loving, words of encouragement to me. He kept reminding me that we'd be meeting our baby soon, and he was so proud of me and telling me what a great job I was doing.

Between the pushing contractions I would just bliss out. I felt like they were 5 minutes apart and was frustrated because I just wanted it over with. I told the midwife and assistant that I needed more contractions, they said that was the first time anyone had ever asked for that. Apparently they were only a minute apart, but it felt so much longer. I was able to drift off between them... probably because I was running on no sleep:)

Pushing was the most challenging part of the whole experience. I felt totally unprepared for how forceful my body would push all on its own and how vocal I would be. It just felt so much better to yell out during the pushing. Amy kept reminding me to keep my voice looooow.

Jackie, the midwife's assistant arrived a few minutes into the pushing. Everything after I started pushing is kind of a blur. I remember Amy using hypnobabies cues and putting cold cloths on my forehead and chest. I know my mom kept bringing me water because I was DYING of thirst. Tiffany was doing things like checking the baby's heartbeat and my blood pressure and I remember apologizing for accidentally dipping the blood pressure cuff in the water.

I started pushing about 7:45, and the baby started crowning a little after 8. I wouldn't say I felt The Ring Of Fire everyone talks about, but I definitely felt the stretching. Tiffany asked if I wanted to touch the head and I did not. I also didn't want to see him coming out in the mirror. I just wanted to close my eyes and have the baby! Jerad watched him in the mirror. He came out slowly, and it felt like forever, but he was born at 8:25, so really I was only in hard labor for about 2.5 hours.

Tiffany immediately put him on my chest and it was just surreal. Everything that I'd gone through the last 40 weeks, the labor, I still hadn't been able to imagine the BABY that was coming. All of a sudden there he was! So small yet so huge.

We sat there in the water, holding him covered in a towel until his cord stopped pulsing.

The actual birth was so peaceful, it was everything that I wanted. Jerad and I in the tub. The lights in the room were all turned off, so we just had the dim light coming in from the laundry room and hall way. It was such a smooth transition going from the womb to the warm water. Once he was born he was placed right on my chest and we just snuggled him and looked at him until his cord was ready to be cut.

After about 10 minutes, the cord stopped pulsing and my mom cut it. Then the baby was wrapped in a blanket and my mom held him while everyone helped me onto the bed. Jerad changed quickly and held the baby (and hasn't really stopped holding him since).

We sat on the bed holding the baby and trying to nurse until the placenta was ready to come out (I think around 10 minutes?)

He wasn't too interested in breastfeeding at first, he just wanted to sleep.

Tiffany likes to wait awhile to do the newborn exam so that the parents can bond and the baby has a nice smooth transition into the world, but we asked her if she'd weigh him so that we could let ppl know since that what everyone always wants to hear:)

Everyone guessed the weight first. I thought he was in the high 6lb range, but guessed 7.3 since everyone else was guessing in the 7's.

(weighing the baby)

(surprised at the weight)

Much to everyone's surprise, he was 8lbs and 3 ounces!

At this point, he still didn't have a name. I asked Jerad if we could name him Marshall Ford and he thought it seemed right.

After the placenta came and making sure I wasn't bleeding too much, Jerad went to see the group of people that had congregated in our living room:

I had no idea so many people were there! Everyone was soooo quiet!

(serving the homemade birthday cake)

I had a small tear that needed a few stitches. Tiffany used topical and then inject-able lydocaine so it wasn't bad at all. I just got to hold and stare at our beautiful baby Marshall.

After that it was time for the newborn exam:

(14 inch head)
(19.5 inches long)

The exam was so gentle and thorough. He slept through most of it:

By 10:30, only 2 hours after the birth, everyone was gone. Jerad and I took a shower together and the three of us went to sleep in our own bed. No strange sounds, smells, nurses checking vitals, just our little family in our little house. It was amazing.

I'm so glad we were able to have a homebirth, I can't imagine having done it any other way.


Erin said...

I LOVE reading that. What a great experience! I'm so happy that you had him at home. And it sounds like you did amazing. I feel like the births seem to go really smoothly when the mom is in denial. That's how I was with Claire. And then all of a sudden she was there!

Thanks so much for sharing. He is such a cute little guy. Good job Stepanie!

Beth McDermott said...

Those pics are GREAT! You know I am a huge huge personal fan of denial, well done. ;) WAY proud of you guys... you have a pretty stinkin awesome family... and a wickedly adorable newborn baby boy... who I AM DYING to see more of, btw... ;)

Flo Paris Oakes said...

LOVED reading this!
It reminded me SO much of Amelie's birth. Whenever anyone asks about it, the only adjective I come up with is, "Fun!?" So strange but I felt like after the peaceful birth, it was a big party at my house with the new babe and I loved every minute of it.
Looks so much like that from these pictures.
It actually reminded me so much of it, I remembered the actual feeling of contractions as I read part of it.
It makes me want to birth another babe ASAP.
GOOD job mama, and what a precious baby.
So glad for you all, and SO glad you got the birth experience you wanted...besides the actual baby, there's nothing better than that:)

Oh..and I loved this line, "So small yet so huge."
Totally true:)

liz oelker said...

That's an amazing story Steph. I don't think I'd ever have guts to do a home birth but you're story is awesome. And i love the visual of Jerad in the tub just holding you ever so dearly whispering in your ear. What a joy to have that!! And just the slow going pace of it all. I cannot wait to meet the little bundle. Love you guys!

Beatrice Blount said...

love it! i even teared up, and that is...well..odd. :)