Forgive me as this is a long story - and I might continue to edit as time goes on and I remember more details - but I wanted to get it written while the experience is still fresh in my mind. Today is Sam’s “due date” and he is 11 days old and adjusting to life outside the womb beautifully. He is such a mellow baby and I am really thankful for that.
These are the nitty gritty details of how he came into this world - some images or descriptions might be disturbing to some - so read at your own risk.
July 2nd – lost a bit of my mucous plug in the morning – after having emptied my bowels every morning for the past 6 days – had a few light contractions – a bit more noticeable than the Braxton hicks I had been having - thought that this was definitely the start of something…my body was preparing…
July 3rd – had my mom come in from Florida “just in case” – so she wouldn’t miss the birth this time – still having irregular contractions off and on throughout the day – bowels still emptying every morning
July 4th – lost another pretty good amount of my mucous plug just before bed – more sporadic contractions but nothing regular – contractions definitely feeling stronger
July 5th - Rosie slept great the previous night– even through all the fireworks – we joked that maybe she knew something we didn’t and that none of us were going to get any sleep on this night – I lost some more of my mucous plug in the morning and this time it had some light streaks of blood in it… We spent the day swimming at my Mother-in-Law’s and joked that I would for sure go into labor since it was the farthest I had traveled from home in over a week…I was having some stronger contractions throughout the day – most noticeable when we were driving in the car – but they were still not regular
Got home from swimming around 4pm and I laid down on the couch on my left side and noticed the contractions were now coming every 7-13 minutes – we timed them until around 7 and called my midwife, Bridgett to let her know that they were getting stronger and coming semi-regularly (I had been updating her every couple days on how I was feeling). Bridgett said to call back at 8pm with an update – but by 7:45 they were coming in regular intervals of 6-7 minutes and were getting MUCH more intense – to where I had to stop and breathe through them. I called her back and Bridgett said she would be on her way (as she is about an hour away – and my last birth was only 4.5 hours). We also called my friend S who would be taking photos, and Joe’s sister-Pauline and Mom-Carol who both wanted to be present for the birth as well…
I started to sit and lean on the birth ball and have Joe press on my back during the contractions. Joe had brought me gnocchi and donuts for dinner (I was craving both) but by this point I was feeling shaky and cold, yet sweaty – my body was already moving into birth mode – and all I could eat was a few bites of chocolate donut (I figured the sugar would give me a good energy boost.) At this point (around 8:30)– The contractions were getting much more intense and I was kneeling over the birth ball – trying to relax – but it was getting more difficult - Rosie was getting a bit tired and obnoxious – and I was just getting ready to retreat upstairs to my bedroom for some quiet – when Rosie leaned down during one of my contractions and gave me the sweetest kiss. My heart swelled with love and I started to cry thinking of the beautiful big girl she had become and how I was getting ready to bring her sibling into the world.
I went upstairs around 8:45 and put on my playlist of mellow birthing songs I had compiled on i-Tunes on my computer – I continued to move and sway through the contractions – sometimes leaning over on my birth ball – sometimes dancing and swaying with Joe – sometimes sitting on the birth ball and circling my hips. One of the songs on my playlist was “Amen Omen” by Ben Harper – it was a song that reminded me of when Joe and I first started dating – he held me during that song and asked me if I could have imagined when we first heard this song that 4 years later we would be getting ready to have baby #2. We both were swaying to the music and crying.
Around 9:10 (according to her notes) Bridgett arrived – I was sitting on the birth ball – breathing through a contraction – they were about every 2-3 min apart now – sometimes shorter. I think I heard her say she thought I was getting close to transition – which I was happy to hear. Rosie’s birth was only 4.5 hours from the first contraction until I was holding her in my arms – so I was hoping for a quick and easy birth this time as well. After a few more contractions – I decided to get in the tub – but I wanted Bridgett to check me first – to see how much I was dilated. I was dilated to 8 – 100% effaced – and at +1 station with a bulging bag – the baby’s heart rate was 130 (again from Bridgett’s notes). Everything was good and we were well on our way to having a baby….
We ran the bath and by this point the other midwife, Linda has arrived – she lit all the candles in the bathroom and got everything ready for us. I got into the bath and it really relaxed me and made the contractions much more manageable. I felt calm and prepared to meet my new baby shortly – It was aroung 10pm and I was thinking I would have this baby before midnight.
Everything kind of blends together in my mind at this point – I know Carol and Pauline arrived – as did my friend S to take photos – I was just trying to enjoy the moments between contractions as I let my body do its work in birthing this baby. The contractions continued to intensify and I was trying to make myself as comfortable as possible – Joe was sitting behind me in the bath and I was leaning back on him in between contractions – and when I would feel a contraction come on – I would say “push” and have him push me up into a sitting position and I would lean forward and he would press on my low back and I would push back against him as well… This seemed to work for a while – but at some point it stopped and I kept trying other ways to relax – I was already feeling “pushy” during the contractions and I was getting tired and hoping that this baby would be here soon. Bridgett checked me and found I was completely dilated, but still had a bit of an anterior lip. She suggested I lean back a little more (I was kind of leaning forward and squatting forward at the time) and thought it would help to get the lip to go away. I kept trying new positions - keeping moving somewhat was helping. I was trying to sway my hips and lower body at some point – and I did the “Stevie Wonder” head and upper body sway from side to side as well…everything seemed to work for a little while – but then it frustrated me when it stopped working – and I was starting to get really pruney and uncomfortable in the water. I think Joe asked someone what time it was around this point and I was surprised to hear that it was already 12:30am – the morning of the 6th – I remember thinking (saying?) that this baby’s birthday would be the 6th – instead of the 5th as I thought earlier.
I think Bridgett checked me at this point and found that I still had a bit of an anterior lip – but she thought I could push through it. I started to aggressively push with every contraction – and after a while I got frustrated that I wasn’t feeling any progress… Bridgett checked again and the lip was still there – so she held it back during the next few pushes and I could finally feel progress. I continued to push for a while longer and Bridgett helped with the lip a few more times. Then I started to feel intense back pressure as the baby’s head came down and started under my pubic bone. This baby was stubborn and it took a while to finally get under the pubic bone, again Bridgett helped with her hands somewhere inside me – not sure where – but I know my pushing was much more effective with her helping me. At some point around this time – my bag of waters broke. I was so tired and my legs were shaking and my ab muscles were sore and I remember thinking and saying “I just want this baby out”. I felt like I had been in labor and in the bathtub forever.
Finally – The baby’s head cleared my pubic bone and I could feel the baby’s head moving down the birth canal and I could finally feel a little of the baby’s head starting to crown. A couple more pushes and the baby’s head was halfway out and I was feeling the familiar “ring of fire” – I reached down and was holding the upper part of my yoni to keep from tearing. The baby’s head was out up to the point of right under his nose – I stayed like that until I felt another strong urge to push – then I got the rest of the head out up to the neck and the release of pressure felt great. Bridgett reached in and felt for a cord around the neck – and there was none - I had a few more contractions and pushed – but the baby was not moving. I pushed a few more times and still the baby seemed to be stuck – I thought “uh oh – shoulder dystocia” for a second – but tried to think positively and pushed again with all my might and thought “come on baby – down and out”. Still no movement – I think Bridgett reached in and tried to hook her finger under an arm – but couldn’t quite reach – so she said – “OK let’s get her out”.
I remember being perfectly calm and not worried at all as Joe and my midwives hoisted me out of the tub and onto the bathroom floor onto my hands and knees. I almost anticipated this – I had been re-reading Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth – and the last birth stories I had read were those centering around dealing with shoulder dystocia and the infamous “Gaskin maneuver”. So, while I am sure Joe was freaking out and wondering what was happening – I knew exactly what we were doing and why and never really got scared – I knew this is what needed to happen and trusted my body and my baby and the midwives – I never had any doubt things would be OK.
Once on my hands and knees – things definitely took on a more urgent tone. Bridgett was all business – instructing me to push with all my might – I remember grunting and groaning and putting my head down on the ground and just pushing as hard as I could. I think it took 2 pushes (and Bridgett’s help) to get the shoulders out and I expected the baby to just slide out after that – but this baby was stubborn and would not budge – Bridgett grabbed him around the chest and wiggled him from side to side while pulling him out – she had to keep pulling to get the legs and feet out too – this baby was really wedged in there. The head was really blue from being stuck outside my body – but started to pink up after a minute or two – he was breathing softly and his heart rate was great – and I was holding and rubbing him and he was making some soft cooing noises – then finally he let out a loud cry and everybody felt a little better. I was holding his little body in my arms with a towel wrapped around him – but we didn’t know the sex yet – the midwives had grabbed a pink hat and put it on as soon as the baby was born – but they said they just grabbed the first hat and didn’t know the sex. I felt a little sqiishy, warm thing hanging on my arm, and I peeked under the towel and, sure enough, it was a little scrotum I was feeling – I told Joe – “it’s a boy honey” and he burst into tears. He had been SO wanting a boy – so I knew he was very happy. The midwives said “I’m sorry little guy” and they replaced the pink hat with a blue one. We sat for a few more minutes and I could feel the pressure of the placenta pushing against my yoni – so, with my midwives help, I leaned back and pushed and birthed the placenta. It was perfect and whole. The midwives said it was the most perfect placenta they had ever seen. It looked like it was a fundal placenta – sitting right up at the top of my uterus. The baby was still attached to the placenta, so Bridgett took the placenta and wrapped it in a big waterproof pad – and helped me up so we could get off the bathroom floor and get into bed. It felt SO great to be out of the bath and done with the birth and just be able to lie down in bed and relax finally.
After the birth – we realized the reason for the difficulties, the baby’s head was tilted or asynclitic – so his head was presenting at an angle, which made it much larger than it should have been – coming down the birth canal. Also, there was a significant bruise on his left wrist and forearm, so the midwives said he probably had his hand up by his head, also making the delivery and pushing more difficult. Add to that the shoulder dystocia, and I think he was also doing yoga – baddha konasana – or the cobbler pose – with the soles of his feet together and knees out to the side –(his legs seem to naturally fall into this pose) this is why he was so darn hard to get out! All that and I didn’t tear one bit!
I felt like the entire birth lasted forever – but looking over the notes from the midwives – prodromal labor from 4-8pm – 1st stage of labor 3 hours 40 min – 2nd stage – 1 hour 40 min – 3rd stage 11 min – for a total of 5 hours 31 minutes of active labor and delivery. So, in the grand scheme of things it was still a pretty quick birth – amazing considering all the challenges we encountered. The head was showing at 1:10am, crowned at 1:17am, birthed at 1:19am – and the entire body was out at 1:22am on Friday morning, July 6, 2007. 11 days early and 8 days before his big sister’s 2nd birthday.
After about 20 minutes of lying in bed and cuddling – and a few attempts to nurse (he latched on great – and would suck a couple times then would seem to lose interest)– Joe finally cut the umbilical cord and we did the newborn exam and weighed and measured him. His apgar scores were 8 and 10 – he weighed 8 lbs, 11oz and was 21 inches long. My perfect baby boy. We named him Samuel Arthur Wolf. Sam after my dad, Arthur and Wolf for Joe’s grandfathers.
It was definitely more of an extreme, adventurous birth that I had anticipated. I learned that - just because your first birth is quick and easy - it doesn’t mean your other births will be the same. But everything is great now, it all worked out fine, and we have an amazing family of four. I have a daughter and a son. And an amazing husband. And I am very happy.
*once again, photos courtesy of the fabulous S (gearhead mama)