Sunday, April 29, 2018

Evangeline's Birth Story

Evangeline Belle was born 6 days “past due” on April 16. I was 4 days late with Eden and 8 days late with Jack (induced by castor oil) so I was not expecting her for a few more days. On Sunday, April 15th, I began putting Clary Sage essential oil on my abdomen, feet, and ankles. This is supposed to encourage labor to begin but I knew that none of these things would work unless my body was ready. I wasn’t desperate for her to come, but I was ready to move in that direction. I also ate a whole bunch of pineapple that afternoon. This was not an abnormal thing, though, because I had been eating lots of pineapple to increase my circulation (I had carpel tunnel). I may have had a tad more than usual, but not much. I felt crampy that afternoon and evening, which was different than what I had been feeling, so I thought this *could* mean something, but who knows?!

I awoke to a contraction at 1:30am but was able to go back to sleep until I awoke to another around 2:50am. These felt like real, light labor contractions to me. Not Braxton Hicks. I got up to go to the bathroom and I had a bowel movement, which is quite abnormal at 3:00am in the morning. =) I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t because I began having contractions every 5 minutes. They were not intense, but felt like the beginning. After 45 minutes of this, I texted my midwife, who just happened to be 5 minutes away, and she said she would head over. I woke Adam up and said we should start getting things ready. My previous 2 labors progressed really quickly so even though I didn’t feel like I was in active labor, I knew that could switch at any moment. My midwife was only there for 1 hour of my labor with Eden because it progressed so quickly. This felt like it could move in the same direction, so I thought, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.“

The midwife team came and got everything set up and I started making my laborade. Around 4:00am, I was between 4-5cm. After my midwife checked me, I bled and lost some stuff that I guess was my mucus plug. As I was up and moving around, my contractions came closer together but with not as much intensity. Eventually, they began slowing down. At 6:30am, I decided to rest because things were slowing down, I was SUPER tired, and my kids would be waking up soon, so I figured now was the time to rest. When I did that, contractions stopped altogether. Weird, very weird. (for me)

Around 9:00am I finally decided to try and get things moving myself. I put more Clary Sage on. I bounced on the birthing ball and did nipple stimulation. That brought on hard contractions but as soon as I stopped, the contractions would taper off. We went for a walk and that didn’t make anything progress either. But I was SO exhausted that I had to lay down again. 
At 12:20 I did the oils, ball, and nipple stimulation again. Same thing happened. I did keep having contractions, but it wasn’t really “moving forward.” 

Toni, my midwife, came to our house around 2:30 to check on things. She said that it was possible I was not actually in labor. So, we could just wait for it to start naturally, which would probably in the next day or two, or we could do *all the things* to get things moving. She had been up the entire night before so she wanted to go home and sleep, or have this baby. Adam and I did not like the idea of waiting around when we were already in full blown labor-zone. She had not checked me at this point so I had her do that. I was 5.5-6 cm. This meant that things WERE progressing, just slowly. Toni said she was not going home (a 45-minute drive) at this point. So we decided—let’s do what we can to get this baby out! 

Toni had a tincture called B&B that is supposed encourage labor, but it doesn’t always work for every woman. She gave me 4 doses (at 3:00pm) and we were in business! I had been having sporadic contractions—15 minutes apart, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 13 minutes, with varying intensity. But upon taking the tincture, contractions were much closer together and much more intense. Just to make sure we were on the right track, I got my breast pump out and tried a more intense nipple stimulation. I lasted 2 minutes before throwing those pumps away from me because contractions were so hard and intense! By 4:00pm, there was no relief or rest and contractions were very close together and very intense.

When these 2 woke up in the morning, Adam told them we 
were going to have the baby today so they wanted to wear these shirts.

The tincture that made it all happen!

At some point in all of this intensity, one of the midwives suggested I get in a position where my bottom was up and my head was down. The idea was that perhaps the baby was not in an ideal position and that‘s why labor had been so weird. So I tried that for maybe 10 minutes but stopped when a contraction came on. Later on, she asked if I felt like it helped, and i’m not really sure. I didn’t feel any big movement, but it’s possible it helped in a way I don’t know. When I was laboring in bed, the best position, in all 3 labors, has been laying on my side with my legs stacked on top of each other evenly. But I remembered during Jack’s labor, around transition, they told me to open my legs more to encourage him to move down. That position helped, and I felt like it was a better position, though very difficult. So I was trying to figure out what to do with my legs and one of the midwives suggested I keep the bottom leg straight and bring the top knee up towards my chest, resting on a pillow. Even though I had to fight the urge to keep my legs together, this definitely seemed like the better position for labor and movement of baby. 

From about 3:30pm till 5:40ish, I was mostly laboring in bed, as labor was intense, painful, and difficult. I was pretty much in my own world. Adam was doing various things, checking on me periodically and then getting the birth pool filled with water. The midwives kept checking the heartbeat. My kids were next door at my mom’s house all day, but came home at some point during this part, along with my mom. My in-laws were there as well—caring for the kids, getting some dinner, and helping with “the birthing pool situation.” Thankfully I have a big house that allows for all of this to be happening while I am ”blissfuly” unaware. =)

Our little helper, filling the water with hot water

At some point, I said out loud that I wanted to get in the pool. I wasn’t ready to push, but I wanted the sweet relief that the water brings me. So Adam began filling the pool with water. . . and of course, it took longer than expected, because we have had a “birthing pool situation " every time! Apparently some sediment came out of our hot water heater into the pool, then the water pressure was no good, then there wasn’t enough hot water. It just so happened that Adam’s dad had providentially bought a water transfer pump for a project at house house, and still had it in his car.  By God’s good grace, this was exactly what we needed to get the sediment out efficiently and perfectly! 

While this was going on, I really felt like I could sense things progressing along like in the past: contractions got more intense, one on top of another; I felt like I could feel the baby moving down; and then I felt the pressure building slowly to push. But since the labor had been different than the other two, I doubted what I was feeling. Julia, one of the midwives, came to check the baby’s heartbeat at some point close to 5:40 and she said the baby was really low. This was SO encouraging to hear, because it affirmed what I had been feeling! 

At some point close to 5:40, I asked Adam if the pool was ready and he said, “give me 5 minutes.” The water was not quite warm enough, so they poured more hot water that had been boiling on the stove into the pool, and it was ready! I think as this was happening, I said a couple of times, something like “the baby is coming.” “lots of pressure.” “it’s coming.” When Adam heard those words, he was like, “she knows what she’s talking about. When she says that, the baby IS coming” Toni checked me and said there was a little cervix still there, but I was fully dilated and could push if I wanted to. More affirmation!! I made her repeat it because I couldn’t fully believe it. Those are truly some of the best words you can hear during labor. =)

Stepping into that pool of warm water is such sweet relief. No, it doesn’t take the pain away like an epidural, but it just does wonders for me. Everyone was ready and in  position for me to push immediately, but I didn’t feel the urge right away. As soon as I got in the pool, Adam was wanting to find my mom to get Eden in there to watch the baby come out, but I did not. I said something about how we don’t know how long this will take. Even though I did not push for long in the past, this labor has been different, and what if I have to push for a long time? I don’t want her in there for all of that. We had been talking to Eden about the birth and left it up to her if she wanted to watch the baby come out. In the beginning, she wanted to, but then she changed her mind when it got closer and thought it might be scary because I might scream. I was fine with that because, the truth is, I didn’t know how I would be! Adam was encouraging her to be courageous because that’s something we’ve been working on with her. Either way, it didn’t matter, because it didn’t work out for her to conveniently be in there anyway. 

As soon as I got in the pool, the intensity of my contractions relaxed. It was like a contraction would start to come on and then subside. But, I continued to feel pressure building in my bottom which I knew meant I was about to push. This is the first time I was aware enough to feel the pressure building. The other 2 times, it felt like the urge to push just came out of no where. So I sat in the pool for maybe 10 minutes like that. . . .then BOOM, I was pushing. My water had not yet broke, so Toni mentioned something about breaking it if she needed to, or perhaps the baby would come out still in the bag. I thought that would have been cool to see, but just wanted to get the baby out! On the first push, Adam could feel the baby’s head, but he later said that it felt kind of rubbery—this was the bag of water. On the next push, Toni broke my water with her finger and there was a HUGE release of pressure that made me scream out. It was crazy. I think I took a breath or two, but then continued pushing through that contraction. . .  and her head came out. . . so I just kept pushing because I wanted to be done. And then she all was out! And Adam got to catch her!

We put her on my chest—she was very clean and very calm. She looked great and made a couple of little cries so we knew she was fine, but she really didn’t cry much. In the past, I wasn’t really sure what to do with this baby on me but this time I knew to just talk to her and hold her close. I remember thinking, “this has to be one of the best feelings in the world”—the feeling of being done wth labor. Such a relief! 

After about a minute, we lifted her up to see that she was a girl! Needless to say, we were very excited. We were both kind of hoping for another girl. As soon as I saw it was a girl, I immediately asked them to get Eden in there because I knew SHE would be just as excited to have a little sister since that’s what she was hoping for as well. 

My mom had come in the room right after I pushed her out, so she went to get Lala and the kids and they came in to meet their baby sister. It was so sweet. They were both precious. Then we lifted Evangeline up so they could see what she was, Eden thought she was a boy because she saw the umbilical cord first. =) We then cut the cord. I got out of the pool and on to a birth stool where I sat for about a minute, and then delivered the placenta. Yay for gravity! Once I was in the bed, Evangeline nursed a little bit and I got to start dealing with the after-birth pains—whoohoo! And everyone was right—the cramps get worse with each kid! It was pretty horrible. 

Coming to meet the baby! So excited!

Obviously everything went well and we were both safe and healthy. I am beyond grateful for 3 safe, healthy, (and for the most part) quick water births. Evangeline weighed 6 lb 14.5 oz and was 20.25 in. I’m all for those small babies for delivery! 

Some other notes. . . 

We did perineum massages for all 3 pregnancies but we did not do it near as much for this one. I figured I didn’t need it quite as much but also, we were just too busy. I had the tiniest little tear on my perineum but it wasn’t worth doing anything about and I never felt it in recovery. Speaking of recovery "down there”—this was definitely the best and quickest recovery. It seems to get better each time. We did not do any “relaxation practices” this time like we did the other 2 pregnancies and that made me a little nervous going into labor. I didn’t use any of the practices during the first two labors, but I still felt like the practices trained by body how to relax, how to focus on my different body parts, etc. I was nervous that I may go into labor and not remember how to relax and would be too tense. Well it turns out, I did pretty much the same thing I did in the other labors. I would try to relax my body as much as I could but there was only so much I could do. With each intense contraction, I would tell myself, “let it happen. Don’t fight the pain. The pain brings you closer to the baby. Embrace the pain.” I guess that helped. Who knows! I think the speed of active labor is really the key. =)

They put their Big Brother and Big sister capes on after she was born

Our photographer made it on camera!

I am so thankful for my midwives; Jessica’s photography skills and her presence; for Adam and how he just stepped into the labor routine like he was a pro; that our big kids got to be around for the labor and meet her right away; and that we have a another precious little girl!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jack's Birth Story


I write this primarily for myself, but also for my few friends who are really into natural birth and those sort of things. With that in mind, this is really long. I read Eden’s birth story shortly before I gave birth to Jack and it was wonderful to reread everything and be reminded of many things. Because of that, I’m writing down even more details for this birth.

Somewhere along the way, toward the end of the pregnancy, I convinced myself that this baby might come a little early. I think this was for a few reasons: it was my second baby; my painful physical symptoms were much worse this time and I just couldn't imagine how I could go late with them and endure; lastly, Adam’s family was coming for Thanksgiving and I couldn't bear the thought of them coming here, when I was already past due, but not getting to meet the baby for another 3 months (when we would see them again). With Eden, I totally expected to be late, but with this one, I partly expected this baby to come at 39 weeks, which was naive on my part. It only made each day that passed very disappointing and discouraging.
             Also, I had few separate days where I thought I was going into labor, but I never actually did, so that toyed with my mind. At 38 weeks, I had an entire half-day of irregular contractions anytime I moved, and cramping along with it. Then at 39 weeks and 3 days, I had the same thing but in addition, I felt like the baby was so low it was going to drop out. Then at 40 weeks and 3 days, my midwife "checked me" (for the first time) and I was 2 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and there was a dot of blood. I knew those things did not mean anything at all about when I would go into labor, but for the rest of the day, I had "bloody show," and THAT can mean labor is imminent, so that deceived me again! Then, at 40 weeks and 4 days, it was a full moon, which doesn't mean a whole lot to me, but I thought it COULD do something. All it did was give me lots of cramps throughout the night, but no baby. When the baby didn't come on a full moon, when I was overdue, I gave up any hope of expectation. I was just going to have to find a way to endure the pains and increasing discomfort for another week or two....

40 weeks

             I enjoyed Thanksgiving with Adam’s family with no newborn, but that weekend I started contemplating the idea of taking castor oil. I did some research and talked to my midwife, and it seemed that if I just took a little, I should be fine, but if my body was not ready for labor, it wouldn't work.
          Sunday morning, November 29th, I woke up with all my usual painful symptoms, plus a headache and nausea. I was done! Also, Adam’s parents were going to leave town that day.

So at 3:30 in the afternoon, I took 2.5 tablespoons of castor oil in a smoothie.

[Effects of castor oil:
I did not really have crazy cramps and "bowel" symptoms. I had to "use the bathroom" 3 times before labor, and then twice during labor. Though gross and inconvenient during labor, it didn't bother me much because I had a lot worse things going on! So yes, it cleared me out, but it also probably helped make labor faster, which is always nice. And it had the intended effect of putting me into labor!]

             I attended church that evening, and for the majority of the service, my stomach/uterus felt hard, and I was having the same contractions I'd been having for weeks, only they were more frequent. I came home and ate a little something at 6:30, then we decorated part of the Christmas tree and hung out with the family. I felt things happening, but didn't know if it was the same symptoms I had been feeling for so long, possibly just castor oil symptoms, or actual labor beginning.

             At 8:00, the crampy contractions got more intense, and by 8:30, I had to stop what I was doing to breath through some of them. I put Eden to bed then went to lay down and talk to Adam. I told him I thought this was it, but wasn't sure when to call my midwife, Toni. The next moment, I had a very strong contraction that assured me it was time to call her, then felt a "pop" and a gush of liquid. My water broke! Time to move! It was 9:35pm.             

I rolled off the bed, called Toni, told Adam to move Eden upstairs, get the pool set up, and get Jessica in here so she could get ready to take pictures/video.
             Things got intense fast, so it's hard to remember... I know I labored on the ground on top of the tarp that was covering the bedroom floor for a while. Moving sounded awful. Plus I had lots of stuff coming out of me, and didn't want to get on my bed till they had covered it.

             Toni and her assistants got there around 10:30. I was 9cm. I got in the pool at one point and that felt great. I had to get out a couple times to "use the bathroom" and also because I was feeling the baby kicking. At one point I said, "Why is he kicking me?? Isn't he supposed to be coming out??" Toni wondered if he was posterior, especially because one kick was really high up and the kicks were right on top, where you could see them. So she told me to try getting on my hands and knees. This felt awful during contractions. I would simply collapse. So she had me do it in the bed with pillows under me so that if I collapsed, I would somewhat stay in that position.

             Around 11:40, I felt him move down through the birth canal. It was the most painful contraction yet. I was laying on my side in bed and Toni told me to keep my legs open. That was too difficult, so Cheryl, the assistant, held my leg up until Adam could take over. I definitely screamed out at this point and knew the worst was about to come. There were a couple times during labor that I would think about what it felt like to push Eden out and I said to Adam, "I don't want to have to push" or "I'm REALLY not looking forward to pushing."

             It is such a strange sensation to feel the urge to push, knowing that it means I'm going to see my baby SO soon and all of this will be over, yet knowing that I'm about to enter the most concentrated physically painful portion of my life. Bittersweet, to say the least.

             They helped me get back into the pool, and within a few minutes, Toni was asking me if the baby was ready to come out: "Do you need to push?" All I could do was nod, yes. One part of the video that made me laugh out loud was here: I felt the sensation to push and I started to scream but then I caught myself, literally grabbed my scream with my mouth, put my head down, and turned it into a deep, animalistic moan, and used that energy to push. And I pretty much kept it that way the rest of the pushing. It was funny to watch, but I was very proud of myself because one of my goals was to not scream as much during pushing, and instead use that energy to push the baby out. I knew this would be difficult, because with Eden I did not feel like I had a choice about the screaming--it just flew out of me.

             I'm not sure exactly how many pushes I did but it only took 10 minutes (half that of Eden's). When he was crowning, they couldn't pick up his heartbeat on the monitor. Then I pushed half his head out....and had to sit like that for several minutes while I waited for another contraction. Ring of fire!

        At one point, I was still making a lot of noise, so Toni encouraged me to push that energy into the baby. She said, "Take a deep breath. Chin to chest. And bear down." I needed her to break it down and tell me exactly what to do like that. So I did that, made much less noise, and was more effective.
They still couldn't find the heartbeat, so they told me that if I didn't push him out on the next contraction, I would need to get out of the pool. Ha! With half a head hanging out of me?? Well you can imagine what happened next. I pushed that baby out! I just kept pushing with everything inside me, and did not let up until he was out.

             When I first saw him as she was putting him on my chest, I thought, "Oh, hello, baby boy! That better be a boy because it totally looks like one!" It was wonderful to be so much more alert and aware with this baby. I held him and immediately started talking to him and felt so much more in control. I knew what to do with this baby on me. I tried to lift up his leg and see what he was pretty quickly this time! But I seem to have short umbilical cords, so it was difficult to find. A couple minutes later, we discovered he was a boy! It was a wonderful surprise, but not AS shocking as with Eden. I’m not totally sure why. Perhaps because he was the second?



           I tried to nurse him right away. We cut the cord then got me to the bed to deliver the placenta, which came out pretty quickly and without much work, thankfully. I was able to walk to the bathroom and shower not too long after he was born, which was NOT the case with Eden. I was completely coherent and everything was just so great this time! Everyone was gone and it was all wrapped up by 2:00am. So quick! I don’t know what its like to birth at the hospital, but I do know that I loved being at home, staying in my bed, and not having to go anywhere. It was so convenient. 

            Another thing that was different this time around was my connection with Adam. With Eden’s labor I definitely needed him and he was so very helpful, but this time, I felt my need for him more. I didn’t need for him to do or say anything in particular, I just needed him with me. He did a ton of practical stuff like get the pool completely set up and hold my body up when I couldn’t hold myself. But having him sit next to me and hold my hand was just as important to me as that “practical” stuff. I am incredibly thankful for him as my husband, my birth coach, and the father to my children. 

            As with Eden’s labor and delivery, I am so thankful for my birth team! Toni is a wonderful midwife who handles everything with patience, peace, and discernment. She had an opportunity to guide me more through more labor this time because she was there for more of the labor. I’m grateful for that. Both of the assistants, Cheryl and Karen, were extremely helpful. Jessica, my sister-in-law who lives with us, helped Adam fill up the pool, was in charge of videos and photos, and did various other helpful things. When we told her I was in labor, she jumped in and seemed to know exactly what to do—like she was a pro at this! I’m beyond grateful to have everything documented. It is a treasure to look back on the births of my children and remember things that I never would have remembered without it being documented. I am incredibly thankful for her. And of course, Adam was obviously indispensable and wonderful! Adam’s parents were here and were helping to warm water on the stove, making my "labor-aid," and I’m sure were helping in ways I do not even know! My mom came over towards the end of labor and was able to come in the room right as I was pushing Jack out. With arms ready, she was the first one to get to hold him after I held him in the pool.

            Jack was born at 11:55pm on November 29th. He weighed 7 lb 2 oz and was 19 ¾ inches long. It took us (Adam) 36 hours or so to decide on his name, which we anticipated because we have a hard time with boy names! I am still in awe of how smooth and quick everything went. I do not know if it could have gone any better! The Lord has been so very good to us and words can’t express how overwhelmed and grateful I feel to have a perfectly healthy and beautiful little girl and baby boy. Giving birth to a baby boy on the first Sunday of Advent drew me into the Christmas story in a new way this year. God came into the world as a helpless baby boy  and we had our very own baby boy during this season of remembrance. 

 Jessica and her dad boiling water

Toni and her assistants 
 Eden wanted to change his diaper right when she met him

 First meeting: hi-five, brother!