Wednesday, September 9, 2009

At Long Last: Birth Story!!!

Tomorrow night is baby’s week birthday, so here goes!! Birth story!!!

(I have to admit that even during the worst labor pains, I was busily writing my birth story. I have a bad habit of writing – mentally – about things even while they’re happening, and there were no exceptions here.)

I know that I’ll be coming back to add/improve/clarify this birth story for at least a month, so this will have to serve as a rough draft at best.

I had originally thought that we might just have a due-date baby (September 5th) due to the fact that our due date fell on a full moon – our midwife had told us that full moons and bad weather tend to put moms into labor. Well, we didn’t make it to the full moon – the bad weather got to us first!

I had a ton of long-lasting pre-labor symptoms that had me living on edge for about 2 weeks before baby actually arrived – a week and a half of an upset tummy, a week of menstrual-type cramps, and 48 hours of blood-tinged mucous. Completely unlike last time (when labor set in suddenly). It was kind of like waiting for the other shoe to drop… and it took its time to do so!

On Monday night (August 31st) we had a terrific electrical storm – thunder, lightning and lots of rain. I wondered briefly if “tonight would be the night.” Thankfully we were ready! (We found out later that the storm brought not only our baby, but two more – our midwives had three births that night!! One of our midwives arrived at our labor straight from another birth, and our other midwife arrived at our labor only to have to leave ten minutes later to attend another birth - you can read that birth story here.)

I went to bed sometime around 10:30 p.m. and woke up at 11:36 p.m. to use the restroom. When I sat up, my water broke! But unlike last time, when there was enough fluid to drench several counties (thus making it quite obvious what had happened), this time there was only a small amount of fluid – making me unsure if my water had really broken or not. However, by the time I had made a quick trip to the bathroom to clean up, I had already had one good, strong contraction – and so I knew that this was the real thing.

I let my husband, Joe, know what had happened and went back to bed in hopes that labor would hold off long enough to get some sleep, as I was quite tired. However, it was not to be. Two strong contractions later I was resigned to the inevitable – so I hopped out of bed and started moving our birth supplies out to the kitchen table and posting the informational signs I had made for our birth team, and generally getting things ready. I was quite nervous.

Sometime around 1:00 a.m., Joe went ahead and called our midwife. I hesitated on letting him do this, as I didn’t want to wake her (not knowing she was already at another birth!), but things were really moving quickly and he thought it would be best. She told him to go ahead and get our doulas, Rose and Nikki, to come over, so he called them and they said that they would be on their way. I was really embarrassed when Joe told me that he had called them already, as I thought that they wouldn’t be needed for several hours and shouldn’t be bothered. However, our midwife was really on-target with that one (surprise, surprise!) – by the time they arrived, I was completely ready to have them there.

When our doulas arrived, I was still able to deal with contractions by closing my eyes and focusing, but within a short time of their arrival I felt the need to start moaning with each contraction. I asked them how soon they thought I could get in the tub, and they said that any time would be good! So they went to start getting things ready in there.

I should say that despite the hours of research I have put into the subject, the only method of pain management I have found that works for me is making massive amounts of noise – moaning, groaning, shouting, yelling, whatever. Sad, but true! I trust that our birth team is recovering well from their client-induced hearing loss, because I was quite loud – just like last time, but this time I didn’t bother trying to suppress or control it.

I got in the tub sometime around 2:00 a.m., and stayed there for the rest of the labor and birth. Things really moved along quickly. Contractions got more and more and more painful, and I got louder and louder and louder! That about sums it up. Having our doulas there was a wonderful godsend – their coaching, encouragement and physical help were lovely. It didn’t reduce the pain, but it made it less of a panic-stricken ordeal and more of a journey with companions who had been there before. If you don’t have a doula, get one!!!
Our midwife arrived at 4:00-something, and our second midwife arrived shortly thereafter – however, she had to leave for another birth within a short time, so one of their students was called to help out. We were sorry to lose our other midwife, but their student did a terrific job as well.

I found it super-interesting to notice changes between my first and second labors. For one thing, it didn’t get as painful or as terrifying. It was still hard and extremely painful, but it never reached the level of labor #1. My estimate is that it got to about 70% of labor #1, plus or minus about 15%.

Additionally, I stayed much more cognizant of my surroundings. With my first labor, I was really out of it. I didn’t notice most of what was going on or being said, I didn’t notice anything that was being brought in or done around me, and I completely lost the ability to communicate verbally with anyone (I spent about 2 hours trying to say hello to my midwives – never managed it.) With this labor, I noticed most of what was going on (people arriving, equipment being brought in, etc.) and was able to hold a conversation throughout my entire labor (though I refrained through most of active labor due to fatigue and the need to focus – but I was always able to communicate when I wanted to). I even managed to greet all three of our midwives and hold (extremely) brief conversations with each of them. Fascinating! That fact alone made me think that I was a lot less further along than I really was.

Our three-year-old woke up at 5:00 a.m., and Joe got him started with some toys, which kept him happy. He wandered in and out of the bathroom at various intervals, always pausing to spout some of his birth knowledge (“Mommy has to make noise to get the baby out”) and adding a tag about Winnie the Pooh (“And Tiggers don’t like honey!”). He was completely unphased throughout the whole thing. According to my best memory, he was present during the entire pushing phase and the birth, as intense as it got, and dealt with it perfectly. We had set up a babysitting team who ended up being unable to be there for the birth, but thankfully he didn’t even need much supervision – our preparation definitely paid off! He was just fine.

We tried counterpressure duing one contraction, and it was very powerful – unfortunately, it made the contraction much worse! Also, for some reason I felt really uneasy facing the back of the tub. So after half of a contraction, we gave that up.

During what I guess was transition I had my one big throwing-up spell, just like last time. I was worried that it might be earlier (I’d recently heard a midwife say that some moms throw up at 4 cm and then again at 8 cm, or some such thing), but it was actually pretty close to the end.

Second stage was fascinating. Last time I had no idea when the dilation phase edged into the pushing stage – it was a gradual and hazy transition that I never noticed. This time, the change was instantaneous and noticeable. After one contraction, the lights in my head switched back on, and I opened my eyes and looked around – “Hello, everyone! I’m back!” It was amazing! What a complete switch! One of our doulas said that she noticed the switch actually happening in the middle of a contraction – it started as a dilation contraction and ended as a pushing contraction. Wow!

Pushing contractions started immediately. Now, I must say… I hate pushing. I really hate pushing. I often hear women say that pushing is a relief for them, but for me… no. Pushing is just as bad or worse than dilation, even though the contractions themselves are less painful. So with the beginning of pushing, I was pleased to find out that I could control the urge to push – and not push! (Heh, heh, heh… I’m supposed to be pushing, but I’m NOT!!! Mwa ha ha ha!) It was great.

Unfortunately, that lasted for only 3-5 contractions. At that point (and this gets a bit hazy, so don’t quote me on the order of things), I had a forebag emerging (where the bag of waters emerges intact in front of the head) – I’m not sure what I thought it was, but when it burst…. Well, with apologies for the profanity, all hell broke loose as far as I was concerned. My body started pushing violently, completely apart from my own willpower, and so I was dealing with tremendous pain. Pushing had started in earnest!

I checked his head to see how far he was descending, and it was encouraging – quite low, with just the thinnest rim of cervix (which wasn’t a problem at all) - though in between contractions his head would shoot all the way back up out of reach (our midwife said that this is typical of multip labors – unlike primip labors, in which progress tends to be a steadier 2-forward-1-back progress).

Then our midwife came over to check heart tones (which she’d been doing all along), and things got even more intense because baby was having some serious heart decels – down into the 80’s with bad recoveries. She immediately said, “Okay, this baby needs to come out NOW,” and started helping to coach some pretty intense pushing. I pretty much lost all control at this point and was screaming my head off! Pushing was bad enough, but sustained and hurried pushing was worse. However, as before, I reached a point where I finally gave in and thought, “Well, if I really have to push out a bowling ball covered in broken glass shards, I may as well get on with the job” – and started pushing like a maniac. Once we got his head out, our midwife helped to deliver the rest of the body (thank goodness!) to help hurry that part along. Baby was born at 6:47 a.m., and Joe was able to catch.

(Apparently something similar happened with our first son, though in a much more minor way, but I was too out of it to notice – I hadn’t known anything was wrong until after the birth when my husband told me about it. However, our first son was crying almost on the perineum and was completely fine immediately (additionally, his decels hadn’t gone so low and had a better recovery in between contractions. This baby didn’t have good recovery between contractions and was a much slower and harder starter.)

When baby came out, his color was not too great (grey-purple) and he was none too anxious to start breathing/crying. We stimulated him on my chest and our midwife suctioned him repeatedly with her DeLee (first time I’d seen a DeLee in action – very cool). I have no conception of time, but it definitely took a while to get him going.

For some reason, I was not worried at all during the time it took to get baby started. I'd been paranoid about him for the entire pregnancy, but now I really felt that everything was going to be just fine - and it was.

Meanwhile, I was getting really uncomfortable from third-stage contractions. Eventually (quite a while later, actually) I got out of the pool to try to deliver the placenta, and it fell out as soon as I squatted down. Hurray! I had specifically requested no cord traction unless an emergency occurred, and that was just lovely. It took longer, but what a relief!

I moved onto the bed, but unfortunately (as with my first birth) I was immediately hit with rather yucky afterpains that made the immediate postpartum extremely unpleasant and completely prevented nursing for several hours. However, this gave Joe some great time with the baby, which he very much enjoyed.

We had decided to utilize placenta medicine, but for those with weak stomachs, I will not detail that here. You can read about our escapades with that here.

Last time we had the distinction of having a super-long umbilical cord… This time we had a super-large placenta!! Fun!!!

Upon examination of our placenta, it was confirmed that our water did break twice, just as I’d thought.
I loved looking at the placenta – so fascinating!! Last time I didn’t even really give it a glance. Mamas of the world, check out your placentas! They’re beautiful things!

Our birth team got going about three hours after the birth (when they were all ready to drop), and we were left with our beautiful newborn!

I can’t say I’m left with an immediate “Let’s do it again!” feeling…. But I loved being at home, I adored our lovely birth team, and I had a great experience of being respected, loved and treated with the utmost care. All in all, a great birth! Thank you, birth team!!

Baby Glenn Matthew
Born at home on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 at 6:47 a.m.
7 pounds, 15.5 ounces, 21 inches long


  1. Congratulations on the amazing birth! It just sounds incredible.

    I want to be you haha. You did a fantastic job and your boys are just adorable.

  2. What a great story, I can't wait to her you tell it at Birth Circle in a few weeks!!
    ~ Nancy from EV Birth Circle

  3. You're amazing! I loved reading your story and seeing the pictures! Your boys are perfect! :) Congratulations!

  4. Thank you so much for posting your story. I soaked up every word of it. Your little guy is so cute!
    PS I know Mary from college and read her birth story too about having three births that night! how funny!

  5. He is absolutely DARLING! And you did amazing, no doubt about that.

  6. I probably should not have read this, because now I'm terrified, but I'm glad you posted. It was fascinating! :)

  7. Awww... What a great birth story!


  8. Great birth story:) I enjoyed reading every detail. I think it's great that you are honest about how you felt about your experience. You didn't try and dress it up to be someting that it wasn't and I like that. Having a homebirth sounds like HARD work and it should. What a neat experience though. I'm glad all went well. Your little guy is very cute.

  9. Thanks so much for the raw, wonderful details. Congratulations!! You won the distinction of being my "quote of the day," by the way... :-)

  10. Yay!!!!! Blessed Birth, and blessed Baby!
    I am so happy for you.

  11. What a beautiful story! Belated congratulations to you, warrior mama.
    And I love seeing J, W, N, and R there to support and love you...some of my fav people in this birth community.
    Enjoy the magic of baby Glenn.


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