My big boy turns 3 years old today!
In honor of his big day and in light of the fact that he had a somewhat unusual birth (born naturally in water at a birth center, which accounts for less than 2% of births in the US) I am sharing his birth story.
On January 4, 2012 you were “due.” Your Grandma Mary and I took Tess for a walk. While we were walking I started having mild “waves” (contractions in Hypnobabies language. We used Hypnobabies to prepare for the birth). Every 15 or 20 minutes I would feel some pressure in my belly. It felt exciting. After we had made one loop around the park we decided to keep walking so that I could keep feeling the waves. We walked from 2:30-4 in the afternoon. At four we got in the car and drove into Pittsboro. I saw some crazy Adirondack chairs at the Habitat store and I almost bought them, but then the reality that you might be arriving set in and it wasn’t the best time to figure out moving chairs. We stopped at the Chatham Market and bought our favorite cannolis. We drove home and I told your daddy that I was having waves if I walked. He was very excited and we decided to go for a walk. We walked around the farm until the sun set.
When it was too dark and cold to walk we came home and called our doula, Joanne. I told her I was having waves 12-20 minutes apart if I walked. I told her I wanted to keep walking. She said that wasn’t a great idea. She told me to eat dinner and go to bed so that I would be well rested for when you decided to arrive. That is what I did. We ate curry that Sue made for co-op and our cannolis while we watched a Maria Bamford documentary. In our birth class we learned that laughing and relaxing are good ways to prepare for birthing. We laughed a lot. I decided to take a bath before bed. Your dad and I talked while I took a bath. I told him that I didn’t want to just watch TV and go to bed. I told him we needed to do something important and meaningful before you arrived. I suggested we start a non-profit. He suggested we go to bed.
At 10:30 before we went to sleep I really wanted an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. I didn’t often crave food at night so this was out of the ordinary. We live far away from fancy pretzels, but your dad made me a bagel with butter. We put on the hypnosis CD and fell asleep.
At midnight I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. When I peed I noticed that I was bleeding. I woke your dad up and told him. We decided to call the Birth Center to let them know. They told us to go back to bed. As soon as I laid down I felt the first real wave of labor. There was no way I could go back to sleep. I started having contractions every five minutes. At first I used the hypnosis and breathed through each wave. When it got harder your Dad went downstairs and got your Grandma Mary. She came up to the bedroom and rubbed my back and helped me as I tried to use the hypnosis to ease some of the pressure.
We called the Birth Center again and they suggested I take a bath. We filled up the tub and I labored in the bath for about 40 minutes until I was just too uncomfortable. We also called the doula and asked her to come to the house. It was clear to us that you were on your way, although since you were my first baby everyone thought you would take a bit longer to show up than you did.
You dad carefully timed each contraction and recorded how often I was eating, drinking and peeing. The Birth Center wanted us to wait until the contractions were one minute long and three minutes apart for an hour. By 3:30 they were coming that quickly and we called the Birth Center and said we needed to come in. They agreed to have the midwife meet us at the birth center at 4:30am. They also said it would probably be “several more hours” which freaked mommy out a bit because at that point, even though it had only been three hours, it was getting intense. I wasn’t sure I had “several more hours” in me (fortunately I didn’t have to wait that long, but we will get to that).
When I got out of the bath the doula arrived. I was having a very hard time using the hypnosis to cope. She suggested that I move around during waves if that felt right. She also gave me permission to be vocal. I really needed that. I was pretty loud after that. Joanne massaged my back and I continued having contractions in bed. I tried a few waves swaying with Grandma Mary and then Daddy. I didn’t like the way Daddy’s grey sweater smelled and I told him to change. He did.
We tried to get into the car, but it took us a half an hour to get out the door because I kept having to stop to have waves. It was very cold, but I had on lots of clothes and was burning up. Daddy tried to turn on the heat, but I wanted him to roll down the windows instead. He froze and had to sit on his hands to keep warm. The labor got really intense during the drive (looking back now we know I was transitioning, but we didn’t know that then). The waves kept coming and there just wasn’t a break. I felt extremely nauseous as well. I was the longest 25-minute drive I have ever taken. We saw five deer on the road though.
We got to the Birth Center at 5am. I had a contraction as we parked, another one as soon as I got out of the car and one in the hallway on the way to our room. We burst through the Birth Center doors and fell on the first bed I saw and had another difficult contraction. I threw up a little which startled me. We found out that our favorite midwife, Leigh Ann, was on call.
Leigh Ann checked to see how far progressed I was. I didn’t want to know the number in case it was low and it would freak me out. She checked me and said “I really want to tell you your number. You are a 9. Get in the tub.”
They filled up a big hot bath, my third of the night. I jumped in just as I was feeling “pushy.” I looked at your dad and asked, “Are we ready for this?” And he said, “Yes, of course we are.” So I started pushing, and after transition the pushing felt really good. Although the actual contractions were really intense in the lull in between it didn’t even seem like I was in labor. It was still dark outside and the lights were very dim and calm in the room. I pushed and pushed with each contraction and you moved down. You were in a great position. Daddy held my hand and helped me growl through each contraction so I would keep my voice nice and low. After about 45 minutes of floating in the water and pushing you were ready to be born.
On the last push your head came out and your little arm was up (like Superman). At 6:12 am with one final push the rest of your body slid out and Leigh Ann caught you and swooped you up out of the water onto my chest. I looked shocked that you were there. And your daddy kept saying “He’s here. He’s here.” You cried a gurgly little cry all on your own. Since you were bright pink and crying and doing really well you got to stay cuddled on my chest in the warm water covered in a warm blanket. Leigh Ann told me I was a rockstar, and I felt like one.
The placenta came out with the next contraction (I couldn’t believe I had to have another contraction since you were in my arms!). They floated the placenta in a bowl in the water and your daddy cut your umbilical cord. Then it was time to get out of the bath. I was bleeding a lot so I got a shot of pitocin to help stop the bleeding and they helped me to the bed so I could be stitched up. I tore a little and had to get a few stitches.
While the nurse and midwife took care of me, your Daddy took off his shirt and held you skin to skin. You peed your first pee on him, which he said was lucky. We cuddled you for an hour before they wheeled in a scale and daddy weighed you. You weight 8 pounds 5 ounces when you were born. We thought you had dark hair but as you dried off we saw that you were a little blond-haired blue-eyed baby. (You are 4 months old as I write this and you are still blond and blue. )
We called Grammy and Grandma Mary and told them you were here. They were surprised you came so quickly. We asked them to bring us bagels and a giant turkey sandwich for me. They came to the Birth Center to meet you. At 2 in the afternoon we headed home. You slept the whole way home. In fact, you were very sleepy for the first few days. You spent your first night cuddled in our bed, part of one big happy family.