Perhaps long-awaited by some, here is the story of our son's birth (brace yourself for the long version).
Some may remember when I listed the pre-first stage labor signs I had leading up to the actual event. Thankfully everything that I felt happening inside really was making progress. Friday, October 5 when we went for our prenatal appointment, our midwife (one of our top favs) offered to examine me. I'm very grateful I didn't have to have exams throughout the pregnancy, and this was an option for me. She discovered I was at 3cm and 50-60% effaced. I was happy, but also knew I could hang out from 3-5 cms and be fully effaced for days before ever going into the first stage of labor. Still feeling those irritating tuggings and some uterine tightenings, hubby and I decided to walk at the mall to see if anything more would happen. Since we live over an hour away from the clinic and hospital, we hated the thought of getting home, labor starting, and having to come all the way back.
We walked the perimeter of the mall, stopping every once in awhile for a slightly stronger tightening, then decided to see "Transylvania", but before the movie, hubs bought me some chocolate at the chocolate shop! After the movie we walked some more. We spent almost 6 hours at the mall. Things got exciting around 5pm, then everything stopped around 6pm. I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before (heartburn, peeing constantly... general restlessness) and just wanted to go home and chill. When we got home David lit candles for me and I enjoyed a long shower and then bubble bath. We then set up the laptop in the bedroom, candles on my dresser, and cuddled in bed while streaming "Clueless" on Netflix. I couldn't handle the stupidity in the movie and finally thought I could sleep, it was 9:45.
*I'm really, really thankful we got to make so many special memories together in the hours leading up to delivering our son! A nice way to go into labor :-)
I barely dozed off and was up around 10:15 to use the rest room. Gave up on sleeping at 10:45 as I was very uncomfortable. Went downstairs to watch netflix on the tv, and at about midnight woke hubby up to help me time contractions. We sat in the baby room in the dark, me in the rocking recliner, him on the cot, me calling out when contractions would stop and start. After 1 hour the contractions had consistently been coming every 2-4 minutes and lasting 1.5-2 minutes. They were pretty strong. We finally decided to check in with the midwife. One of our other favorites was on call. She wanted me to try to eat and drink something and see how things were going in another 45 minutes to an hour.
Hubby and I went downstairs, flipped on netflix, I had a banana, trail mix, v8 fusion, and waited. We decided to watch "The Office" the niagra and baby episodes. When contractions would become strong I had to pause the show and focus. This went on until about 3:15am. I decided to call the midwife back and tell her things had slowed down. She recommend I go to bed and try to sleep. I told David he needed to rest. As soon as I tried to lay down I would get a huge contraction. I gave up trying to sleep and just rocked in the chair. I would get super hot, then really cold. It was really frustrating. All the while I'm wondering if this will be go-time or am I once again going through alot of discomfort/pain for nothing.
At 4am I realized contractions seemed regular again. I started timing on my own. After 2 hours I called the midwife again. She said it was best just to come in and get checked out. She said try and eat something first. I was having really bad heartburn (this would continue for the rest of my birthing process), I didn't know how I would eat. I woke David up around 6am and told him the latest. We got ourselves together, a couple outfit changes for me, I didn't expect it to be cold outside. We went first to get gas, then grabbed some breakfast to go at Burger King because there was no line, we did however have to wait by the door because they didn't have anything fixed ahead of time. All the while I'm breathing through contractions. My pain level was manageable, but I really had to focus. I couldn't eat through contractions.
As contractions intensified, I decided to call my best friend (it was 7:30am), she is the one person I could count on being up early on a Saturday and who I thought I could handle talking to in this situation. I asked her to read one of my birth passages, Psalm 33. I feel certain this is when I got to 7cm. I became pretty weepy and had to set the phone aside to try and focus. When she was done reading I said I had to go so I could keep focusing. As we got closer to the hospital, it was getting pretty intense. The roads were getting bumpy and we were hitting every red light!!!
We couldn't remember how to get to valet parking. We drove crazily through the parking garage and finally saw signs to valet. Valet ended up being closed because it was Saturday. David found an employee who said we could park wherever we wanted. We got a spot near the door. We made our way to triage. Triage was STUPID!!!! As always. I had one simple page to feel out, but the whole time I'm trying to breathe through my contractions, she's asking me more questions that I can hardly bring myself to answer, AND she can't find me in the system. They can NEVER find me in the system. Of all the names I have that she could spell wrong, she was misspelling "Miranda." Really?
FINALLY! In a triage room. Getting in a gown. Then, SURPRISE! The midwife-in-training we had met the day before at our appointment is on call with our fav midwife who had also seen us the day before. Midwife had the student check me. SHE.WAS.AWFUL! Roughly fumbling around in my business, squinting and twisting her face trying to figure out where I was. I'm telling you, she had a alot of room in there and I felt every plunge of her rough little fingers. She's mumbling out, "mm, well, uhh, I'm thinking a ssixxx?? Maybe six and a half?" The midwife says, "Would you like me to come in behind you and make sure?" "Yea, I think I want you to come in behind me." Midwife is in and out and says, "She's more like a 7, I'm going to say 7 1/2." I was relieved, all that work for a reason! David was beaming, of course. Midwife says, "Good news, you're going to have this baby today! We just have to make sure we can get you a room. There are a lot of babies being born today."
Let me interject here to say in this moment I had another realization of how differently David and I approach situations. For me, I saw this as a time to work. We had a mission. Its time to get the baby out. David only saw the end result, our baby coming, finally, and that's all he could think about and he was over the moon. I desperately just needed his focus to help me breathe.
In a little while, a nurse came in and prepared us to move to a delivery room. We got a room with somewhat of a view, which was nice later in the afternoon. By 9am I was getting my antibiotics for strep b. That was annoying. I had to sit in the bed with IV fluids and antibiotics and getting monitored. This, I felt, was getting in the way of my progress.
note snack bag and yoga mat in the background.
I didn't have a single snack and the yoga mat was a fail!
Admittedly, I did not have the patience I should have with the nurses. I didn't verbally express annoyance, but I didn't respond to their friendly chatter either. Internally I was responding with snarky comments. For me, this was not a time for light-hearted, random chatter. This was serious business! Finally the antibiotic finished and the bag of fluids. They left the port in my hand, but at least I could move about freely again.
I was able to keep VE's (vaginal exams) at bay for most of the day. The midwife and student came in every so often to observe, but mostly stayed out of the way. They loved how David and I were working together and didn't want to get in the way of something that was working. The main nurse of the day kept monitoring me, but finally the midwife convinced her to just use the doppler instead of trying to strap me in every 30 minutes.
My temp kept fluctuating, I'd have the gown on, half on, completely off by times. Sometimes bundling up in a sheet while my teeth chattered so hard I thought they would fall out!
This is the majority of how we spent our labor. Me sitting and trying to relax when I got a break, and then once a contraction would come on I would leap up and wrap my arms around David's neck and beg him to count my breathing so I could work through the pain. Seriously, the midwife was really impressed with this.
With all the Birthing Better Pink Kit Skills we had practiced, I mainly found sitting in a way that allowed my pelvis to feel open, and just breathing through the pain to be most useful. I tried using my yoga mat for some pelvic opening poses, but I really couldn't handle it, in the moment it didn't feel as helpful as when we had practiced at home.
Around 3pm the midwife and student came in to talk with me and find out how I had been feeling and to observe a few contractions. They could tell they were coming on more intense. Midwife offered to check me to get an idea where we were. I asked if there was any way I could get checked without lying down in the bed. The idea of lying back on my back sent my mind reeling. She said no, but that we could wait till I was ready. I made sure to ask that she be the only one to check me. While I was getting examined the nurse had to monitor. Midwife found me to be at 9cm. She offered to break my bag of waters if I wanted to move things along. I declined. I then labored on the toilet for a while. They all, midwife, student, nurses wanted me to labor in the shower. The shower was DISGUSTO!!!! Big yellow stains on the tiny stall floor, calcified shower head with little flow, and no stool to rest on. At every one's behest, I gave it a shot. It was awful. The water didn't get to my back or anywhere helpful. The toilet worked for me. I was impressed and grateful that the midwife came in there and sat with us for a while, just crossed-legged on the floor like any regular person. She talked with me about my options - breaking waters, it wasn't too late for epidural, vaginal sweep. I resisted. I still wanted to give baby and I shot at natural birth. We had been working on it this long, why not keep going?
I had a couple intense contractions and midwife said try pushing with them a couple times to see how it felt. OUCH!!!! I backed off pushing as soon as I started. She said, "it doesn't feel good? Like a relieving feeling?" All I could do was shake my head no. She said ok, don't worry about it for now. Shortly after they wanted me off the toilet and to sit on the edge of the bed and try laboring that way. They had brought in a birth stool earlier that I had tried for a while, it was now serving as a foot stool for me. Then I got one HUGE contraction. I lept off the bed and grabbed for David, as I did there was a flood of water pooling in my flip flops. I was shocked, shocked out of even feeling the contraction. Everyone in the room got really excited. This was 4pm. (there was a clock in the room, I was always staring at it, so I know the exact times of everything). Shortly thereafter midwife wanted to check again. I hadn't dilated any further, but she said my cervix was really nice and soft. She said a small corner of the bag remained and she could get it for me if I wanted and then I should open all the way. I let her do it, then another huge contraction came on!
She said I could try to push when ready and things should move along quickly now. I tried a couple pushes, it felt awful and I stopped (probably out of fear). I really didn't want to push in the bed. I had a huge stigma against birthing in bed. I wanted to be like the African tribal women who wonder how people ever birth in bed on their back. Still, we tried in the bed for a while. We got serious about pushing at 5pm. Around 6 (maybe later?) they urgently told me to stop pushing, got oxygen and monitors strapped on. The baby's heart rate had dropped. Midwife began saying that if they couldn't get the heart rate back up they would bring in a doctor for his opinion and we might have to go the forceps route. I couldn't get my control back for a long time at this point. I found it difficult to even inhale the oxygen. Finally I made eye contact with David and he helped me count breaths again. After a little bit they let me try the squatting bar. This actually felt good. My head could comprehend pushing in this position and I was actually getting the baby down, so I thought. I was doing well enough at this point that they took the monitors off. I was so eager I started helping them unstrap me, which made everyone laugh.
Midwife discovered that he was just not as far down as she first thought, she was a little surprised. As I continued to push using the squatting bar, midwife noticed I began swelling. She made me lie back immediately. She told the nurses and student who were there to grab my legs. She kept thinking "this was it" and getting ready to catch, and then the head would go back in. She was encouraged at the softness of the cervix and she said the slowness at which I was pushing would prevent me from tearing.
*Side note. This whole time I really did not feel as in control as I imagined myself to be once I got to this situation. I felt weak, scared, and like a wild animal... I couldn't push without screaming. I'm sure I was the loudest person in the hospital. I kept waiting for my uterus to do the work like I had read and heard about from so many. The urge never happened for me. I had to wait for strong contractions and push with those.
Midwife really wanted me to have the baby on her shift. She had been with us for several appointments and with us the whole day, she wanted the honors. She made the comment "C'mon Miranda! Time to get him out, I really don't want (name of other midwife) to catch this baby!" Believe me, I wanted her to catch the baby too. I kept looking at the clock and trying to get him out before 7.
At 6:30, the next shift came in. The room filled up with people. I had two people at each leg, David was one of the people holding my right leg. I had another person pushing my back forward with pillows. It had been all women, but with shift change, in comes this strange looking man with horn-rimmed glasses, white ponytail, and he goes to my back to hold me up. I ended up being grateful for him because he was a lot stronger than the nurse. David and I had definitely exchanged a look though, we had not expected a man.
*Side note, remember the nurse who kept monitoring me? She was now at the top of my left leg, occasionally dropping her hold to ANSWER or SEND a TEXT!!!! Seriously! She would show people around her and say "Oh this is my kid!" and random stuff like that. Every time she did that I would totally lose focus in irritation and bewilderment. HOW COULD SOMEONE TEXT IN THIS SITUATION???? OF all the places where it's inappropriate to text, the delivery room during 2nd stage labor when people are counting on you to help, should be one of those places! I could not believe it!
Finally at 6:40 I got really into pushing, I hit my groove or something. I was staring at that clock and praying with everything I had, screaming in my head to the Lord. "OH MIGHTY GOD! PLEASE HELP ME! I HAVE NOTHING LEFT (something I would also say outwardly)! PLEASE LORD, YOU ARE MIGHTIER AND STRONGER THAN ME. PLEASE PUSH THROUGH ME BECAUSE I CANT!" I had begged for the midwife just to pull my baby out, get forceps, anything! She was patient and encouraging, kept telling me I could do it, that we would have this baby naturally. She never stopped believing. All the people in the room, and believe me, there were a TON! I had no idea so many people would be in there, this was also distracting, they just kept cheering. They could see the head and they would say, "There he is! You're doing good Miranda," "you're doing so great!" "Keep going!" All I could do was keep praying over and over again. The new midwife was sitting in the catching position (She happened to be the one I talked with on the phone in the early morning, and our other fav). The first midwife was in the room watching from afar. I pulled myself up, bore down, and with every last ounce of strength I had just pushed, pushed, and kept pushing. I could feel the excitement in the room, I saw the light shining from David's eyes as I felt the head come through. In that moment, I was far enough up that I could look down and I saw his face between my legs, eyes close, face scrunched up and gray, covered with fluids, and I was a little horrified. It was just crazy looking! Monsterish, even. (that ring of fire? not the good feeling I've heard some women describe. I thought it would kill me), the new midwife smiled encouragingly and nodded saying not to give up, keep going he's almost here! Then, FINALLY I felt his feet slip through, it kind of gave me a sickening feeling. Then, his slimy, wriggling, crazy strong and weak body, was on top my belly. It was 6:59pm, 10/6/12.
(we couldn't have video. David started to video the birth and the nurses threw up their arms saying "No! No video in here! No crotch shots". Bummer. Weirdos! My Body, our birth, our choice! Guess not.)
It took me what seemed like several minutes to even realize it was over and that my baby was with me. Finally I started to discover him. Then I began to fall in love with him. For David, it was much more instantaneous. I didn't pay attention in the moment, but I love looking back and remembering that swell of love and amazement he felt. He was in love with his son right away, and fell deeper in love with me.
Once Elijah was out, they told me to take my bra off so the baby could better bond with me. I didn't even think about it, it just flew off. I now remember that the old, male tech was sitting in the rocking chair towards the foot of the bed. I start chatting it up with different people in the room, learning about them and their families, while I'm learning to nurse my newborn son. Crazy right? I hadn't slept for two days, had nothing to eat for 12 hours, and I'm full of energy and being social, all the while I'm completely naked... not that everyone in the room hadn't just seen everything that was once a mystery.
So weird what childbirth does to a woman :-)
So that's our story. Here's his first bath and other fun stuff:
She styled his hair!!!
Loved his who-do! Or baby faux hawk ;-)
The bath and everything took about 1 hr. I really missed my baby and hubs!
Just before we leave the hospital, new family all together!
Taking him inside his home for the first time.
Showing him his room!
Hope you enjoyed, folks!