Can you believe that I’m actually getting another birth story written?
For men and children readers:
I went into labor early on the morning of our fourth wedding anniversary and much later that day our baby was born, our first boy whom we named Matthew. Both baby and mother were fine.
If you are a child, please get your mom’s permission to read the rest of this post.
For other moms:
Our 3rd baby was due in May. After Kaitlin’s Pitocin induced birth, I assured Mark that I did not want to attempt another birth with Pitocin without an epidural. Since neither of us was comfortable with an epidural, I was prepared for a late baby!
The baby was due a couple of weeks before our anniversary and we laughed that if this baby was as late as Kaitlin it would be possible for it to be born on our anniversary. It was all a big joke, certainly we wouldn’t have another baby who was 2 weeks late, after all I’d been in labor with Kaitlin when the trauma of my mom’s heart attack stopped the process. Two weeks late had been just a fluke, right?
May came and went and two weeks after my due date there was still no baby. My OB was fine with me going another week as long as I came in for daily non-stress tests. We were fine with that.
The day before labor starts a 2 liter of soda is spilled on the floor. You would have thought it was the end of the world by my reaction. I cried for 30 minutes over that spilled soda. Mark knew that things were close and I KNEW that I’d be pregnant forever.
However contractions start at around 6 am the next morning. These are my usual, regular, 5 minute apart contractions. I get up and get breakfast for the children and Mark heads off to work. I’m still unconvinced that this baby is actually going to make an appearance and wander around tidying and cleaning until I’m experiencing a discernible 30-40 second peak with each contraction.
I don’t want to bother Mark at work, still convinced that this can’t be it, but I call Ivy (our doula), around 10am to let her know that ‘something’ was happening.
Ivy isn’t comfortable with me being so far from the hospital (we lived about 50 minutes away) having contractions as strong and close together as I was having them. I’m still not ready to head to the hospital, so I call Mark and we decide to go to Ivy’s house (about 5 minutes from the hospital) and hang out there for a while.
The car ride is horrible, making the contractions more intense and closer together. I decide that in the future we will time this l-o-n-g drive at an earlier stage of labor.
As soon as we get out of the car the contractions go back to normal. I’m only 3 cm dilated so we decide to walk. Ivy has a neighbor with an amazingly, steep driveway and for some reason she thinks that this is a good place for us to walk, in the heat, in the humidity, with my 9 1/2 month pregnant belly. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Very hot and I keep thinking of how tough the ride in the car was and that I have another 5 minutes of that torture before we are at the hospital.
We go into the house for a drink and I begin to shake and feel nauseous. I’ve not experienced these symptoms before transition during my last two labors and even though I know we’re not quite at that point, I am finally convinced that we will be having a baby in the near future.
We get in the car and head to the hospital about noon. Ivy wants us to walk some more before we check in. The baby is OP “sunny side up” and with each contraction she has me lean forward and rest my hands on my knees trying to get the baby to turn around so that labor and birth will be easier.
We walk in the park next to the hospital, and walk and walk. We are walking AWAY from the hospital. Far away, considering I am no longer able to walk through a contraction and I am having 60-90 second contractions (beginning to peak) about 3 minutes apart. I am hot and tired and wondering who was going to carry me back to the hospital if things got to that point.
I’m ready to check into the hospital and take a shower.
I’m thankful for the hospital’s air conditioning. We check in about 2. I am now 6 cm. The baby remains high and I am finally able to empathize with those who experience back labor (my first and only time).
As soon as I get the OK, I get into the shower. Our deal with Dr. G. is that I’m only monitored 15 minutes each hour. Other than that mandatory monitoring time I stay in the shower.
By 3pm I’m 8 cm and 100% effaced. “How much longer?” Contractions are one on top of another and extremely intense.
Back labor continues although the baby has partially turned and Ivy encourages me to spend time in the torturous position from hell, otherwise known as being on my hands and knees. I long for the shower, but try to spend as much time in that position as possible. The baby has turned a little by this time, but is now just facing one of my legs and still not facing my back in the best position for birth.
Here is where my memory gets a bit blurry. I’m thankful that during the most difficult parts of labor God allows your mind to find rest.
I stand in the shower putting the shower head on my stomach then back, stomach then back. I wish that there were two shower heads. I need two.
“How much longer?”
“Transition doesn’t last long, right?”
“I can’t do this.”
At 6pm I’m still 8cm. The nurse has mercy and allows me to try pushing to see what happens. With the next contraction I push and the water breaks, but pushing is all wrong. We wait some more.
There is a picture on the wall across from the hospital bed. A picture of a baby asleep under a quilt. I hate the picture. It’s mocking me. I will never have this baby. I wish that someone would move the picture.
By 7 pm, after being in hard transition for 4 hours and STILL being only 8 cm, The nurse has me try to push again while she tries to push the cervix back out of the way. It
I get back into the shower. Mark reminds me to relax. He tells me I’m doing a great job.
We try squatting, standing, kneeling. I remain in hard, unrelenting labor and have not made any measurable progress in 4 hours.
Eventually we try pushing again with the nurse pushing the cervix back and this time it works, the baby’s head is past the cervix. The baby’s head crowns and is born with the next push. I did it. It’s over. I know from experience that as soon as that head is born the baby’s body just slides out, but everything still hurts. Did I misunderstand?
The room fills and Dr. G. starts giving orders. I don’t know what is happening. Mark is standing beside me, holding my hand.
He can see what I can not. Our child’s head has been born. The face is purple and still.
The bed is laid flat and a nurse climbs up next to me and begins pushing down on my fundus (the top of the uterus). Another nurse pushes one of my legs back, Ivy gets the other leg. Everyone is pushing HARD. Dr. G. tells me to push. I am pushing. I don’t think that I’ve stopped.
“Push, harder, push. Don’t stop.”
I can’t breathe.
“I’m going to break the collar bone.” He grunts with the effort, but the bone will not break.
“I need the OR prepped.”
Ivy, “No, she can do this. Please give her some more time.” To me, “You have to push as hard as you can and just keep pushing.”
“Pull her legs back farther.”
“More fundal pressure.”
“I need that OR, NOW.”
Everyone is pushing or pulling.
“I’m going to have to break both collar bones.”
“How are we coming with the OR?”
Dr. G. apologizes before he cuts the episotomy.
“Ouch, ouch, ouch.”
“I know, I’m sorry.”
Pain, everywhere and then it’s over, 15 minutes after the head was born the rest of our baby was delivered.
Our baby is whisked to the warmer.
“It’s a boy.”
Our first son, born at 8:05pm.
“Is he OK?” They always say, ‘yes’ and they give us that hollow reassurance now.
Dr. G. is still attending to me and there is a crowd around the warmer.
I’m exhausted and rest. Mark is still holding my hand.
Then we hear what we’ve been waiting for, a baby begins to cry. Mark collapses on the bed beside me and joins his son, crying, as the relief that our child lives floods over him.
They eventually bring our baby over for us to see and he looks as if he’s been in a fight. His face is one huge bruise.
They place him on my belly, “umph”, he is much heavier than I anticipated. “‘I bet that baby is at least 8 pounds.”
He was 9 pounds 15 ounces, although Dr. G. says that I can tell everyone 10 pounds because he is certain that Matthew lost at least an ounce while he was stuck.
Once again God was merciful to us. After testing it was determined that Matthew had not suffered any brain damage from lack of oxygen. Dr. G. said that both his arms looked good, a statement that Mark and I would not fully understand until 8 years later when our 9th child suffered a brachial plexus palsy injury (Erb’s Palsy). And despite Dr. G’s efforts he is our first baby who does not have a broken collar bone.
Matthew had a bit of jaundice, but other than that he was just fine.
I was in rough shape after the birth and going home was hard as Mark had only one day off and I had all little kids (2 1/2 years, 16 months and a newborn) and no helpers, but that too passed and life settled down to ‘normal’ as we adjusted to our wonderfully blessed life with three small children.