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!