Subtitle: Apparently it takes me three days to have babies
I'm not patient, especially while in labour so the world curses me with long labours
How I met the Wee Boy
The Wee Boy is 19 weeks old. In all that time, I have related his birth story to many, but never actually written it down. As a doula, I've witnessed birth many times and recognize that everyone's perception of what happened, how long things took, etc., is all very subjective. Because of that I, at times, have not wanted to write his story thinking that somehow I'll get it "wrong." This is ludicrous of course and frankly I want to write it because I want it on record somewhere...if only because I forget everything these days.
And then, the birth. As I mentioned above, I seem to take three days to have babies. I never really had Braxton Hicks with my first pregnancy, but this time I had them nearly every night, over and over, never painful, but enough to wake me at night (you'd wake too if you suddenly rolled on to a bowling ball). Then, on a Monday evening, the day before my due date, I had one REAL contraction at around six p.m. And then....nothing. No BHs, no more contractions, just one relatively uninterrupted evening and night of sleep. On Tuesday night, at 1 in the morning (so technically Wednesday), a big contraction woke me up. I got up and lolled around downstairs. They were semi regular but not really and I could handle them fine. By morning, I asked the Hubby to call the doula; he took Chou to daycare and the doula arrived. But after a few hours of chatting and walking and chilling out, I fell right asleep. For two hours. Not one contraction. We sent the doula home.
I was bummed out (when I woke up). My labour with Chou had started on a Wednesday (with my water breaking) and she was born on a Saturday. Thankfully, my water hadn't broken, but I was already a bit tired and sure baby wasn't sitting in a great position. Visions of inductions and epidurals and all those nasty things danced in my head. My doula brain was telling me that all was fine and normal and lots of labours stop and start, but I was frustrated — this was supposed to be my 8 hour, text book labour! Or so I had hoped.
Wednesday passed with hardly a twinge. It was cold, with a wicked wind, so we didn't go outside much. I made a groaning cake (so delicious) and generally we waited. Like clockwork, at 1 am the next night (so technically Thursday), I woke again. Determined not to call the doula with a false alarm twice, I laboured downstairs on my own until 530 am, Thursday. Then, of course, it all stopped. Thursday was a milder day. I was tired and frustrated and called the midwife — she said to walk, sleep, eat and just chill out. I didn't want to but the husband insisted we walk the 1.5 miles round trip to pick up Chou from daycare. We got home at 5. And 10 minutes later contractions started. And were longer and stronger, but still manageable. I started timing them, they were exactly 7 minutes apart and a minute long. Better! I thought.
I made supper while I used the iPhone app to time contractions. I forget what I made, which is funny. Chou and the husband played while I swayed and breathed through each minute-long contraction. At bath/bedtime, things spaced out a bit, which was fine with me. I think I needed to have Chou tucked in bed before I could really pay attention to labouring. I laid down with her after telling her a story and she was nearly asleep when I had a HUGE contraction....it took everything I had to not groan and moan and wake her up! I went downstairs, and on we went — 7 minutes apart, one minute long. Then, five minutes apart, one minute long...but not stronger. But by 10 pm, I was ready for help. We called the doula. By midnight, I sent the husband to bed and the doula and I slept in between contractions (now back to 7 minutes) and I'd get up from a sound sleep to lean on the couch while she did the hip squeeze. At some point she suggested I put my butt in the air and see if his head would move a bit (we discussed that he was likely not in a great spot). I tried it, but nothing changed. But by 130, I needed a shower. It was lovely. I emptied our hot water tank. At 3, I was back in. I was starting to shake and gag and I thought, "Oh, good, REAL labour." By 3:30 am, I wanted the midwife to check me....and I hoped she'd stay to catch a baby.
Instead, when the midwife arrived at 430, she checked me and I was...wait for it...2 cm! I wanted 4, that was all. You wouldn't believe how frustrated I was. This was 12 hours into regular contractions and I was 2! She confirmed that baby wasn't in a great spot (Chou was posterior, which is bad). Wee Boy wasn't quite that bad, but he wasn't face down like he should be. I sighed and right there gave up on the idea of a home birth. I knew I didn't have another 24 hours in me. I asked to go to the hospital and get some pitocin and an epidural. Everyone cleared out (we agreed to call the midwife when we were heading in and I sent my doula home to get some sleep). Chou woke around 630 and I laboured while she ate her oats and watched a kid show. The hubby took out the garbage and recycling, and while I was alone I had a large contraction, sweet Chou rubbed my lower back and said, "There's no one here now, Mama, so I'll rub your back." It was the sweetest moment ever.
On the way to the hospital (around 830 am), the contractions spaced to 10 minutes apart, thankfully (have you ever tried labouring while sitting in a car? Awful). The heated seats were a godsend. As we neared the hospital, suddenly the contractions felt easier, but were suddenly four minutes apart. We went straight to a room (no triage! The joys of having a midwife!), and once settled we discovered I was magically at 5 cm. Oddly enough, the contractions were stronger and closer together but far easier to cope with. Wee boy had decided to turn himself around into a better spot and I made quick progress. I decided against the pitocin, seeing as I was finally getting somewhere, but huffed on some nitrous. Sure, it made my head spin and my jaw feel funny, but it let me get stoned enough to sleep a bit in between contractions.
Within an hour, my water broke. Another 30 minutes and I was 7 cm. We called the doula back (poor girl! She left my place at around 530 and I was 7 cm by 10 am...not a lot of rest for her!), as things were moving quickly. Then I was 8 and I though "Ok, here we go, hardest but shortest part of labour." No.
I sat on the ball, I went in the shower, I rolled from side to side, tired and cursed with contractions that went on for 2 minutes and piggy backed one after the other. It went on and on, and still, 8 cm. After two hours of this, I said, OK, call for the pitocin and the epidural -- I'm getting nowhere. The midwife put the call in, and then called for the back up midwife, as midwife B needed a lunch break. Midwife T arrived. We had met several times and she was young and energetic and in hindsight exactly what I needed at that point.
When T arrived, she spoke with the husband, our doula and the nurse (who I had met at my very first doula birth here and a few times since. It was a great team!), and to me, as much as she could. We all agreed that this baby needed to move every so slightly or he'd never get out. She told me to put my butt in the air for two or three contractions, as baby was still pretty high up and I was still 8.
I did...at about 3 pm. I lasted one contraction -- the labour until now had been tiresome, intense and frustrating but never overwhelmingly painful. Until this one contraction. I remember moaning "This is AWFUL", and then as soon as it ended I fell over on to my side and blacked out. Yes, really. It was only for a second and when I came to, my body gave the most incredible push. The midwife and nurse said "Don't push!" and all I could answer was "I'm not!" It really is true that the pushing reflex is just like any other reflex -- we can't control it. I was on my side, and the midwife wanted to check me to see if, magically, in one contraction I could be 10 cm and pushing but I could NOT roll on to my back. I could feel the immense pressure on my tail bone as baby made his way down...I shouted, "someone hold my leg!" because I could feel baby moving down and thought, hilariously, "If no one holds my leg, how will the baby get out?" I also thought, someone better be standing there to catch this baby. In my mind, it felt like baby was suddenly about to pop out...which he was, but not nearly in 10 seconds. Ha! I laugh about it now.
Either way, within a moment my body pushed again and a quick check (on my side, I really couldn't move at all) showed that baby's head was well down and yes I was obviously 10 cm.
I pushed and my body pushed and while I stretched, it burned, but it really wasn't more painful, it's true. It was powerful, overwhelming and all encompassing, but not painful. Having never felt this before (I was totally numb for Chou's arrival), it was all surprising and lovely...but it was over oh so fast...
Because after about 11 minutes from putting my butt in the air, Wee Boy was out! I remember the midwife telling me "The head is born!" and I was so in my own world I didnt' reach for him. Then she said, "Now a push for the shoulders" and suddenly I remember I was "supposed" to worry about his shoulders getting stuck. Why? Because, while we didn't know he was a he, we greatly suspected so and for whatever reason him getting stuck at the shoulders worried me before labour. But just as quickly as the thought came, it went, as he easily passed to the chest. Then, "Now, push out the body" Seriously? don't they just slide out after that? Finally, I opened my eyes as I felt the most velvety soft, warm slippery thing lay on my belly. He didn't yell like his sister, just announced he was here. I got to check and announce "It's a boy!" and we all laughed and cried and generally carried on like all people do. We played "Guess the baby's weight" which I guessed right on (7 lb, 12 oz, 21 inches, born at 3:11 pm, January 13. Yes, a Friday). After 22 hours of labour (about 8 of active labour), Wee Boy was here. And, unlike, Chou I didn't know his name right at that moment. But more on that later.
Instantly, oh so instantly, I felt no pain, only fatigue. I will say this, having had an augmentation/epidural birth vs. only the gas and nothing else for labour -- while I felt everything and that was painful and intense, I recovered ever so quickly. I felt like myself, I wasn't water logged or bogged down with fluids and medicine. While I'm glad we have modern medicine, birth really is quite fantastic with as few 'extras' as possible. We stayed one night in the hospital, and headed home the next day. And thank goodness my recovery was quick, because this baby was TOUGH on us. In the meantime, I leave you with birth-y photos. If you're PMS'ing, I apologize, as they will make you cry (I'm a non crier and they still make me cry)
My beautiful babies.