The Birth Story of Drew
I have to begin by saying that the details of my labor are fuzzy. I can’t remember exact times. I can’t remember the exact sequence of events. I can’t even really remember how it started. I have these memories that float around like clouds; some are light and fluffy while other are dark, thunderous clouds. So, I guess in my best way I’ll record what I do remember before the memories slowly slip away.
It was a Wednesday and Scott had just finished his last flight. I had gone with him to the airfield to wait while he flew. Afterwards, we drove to Fort Walton Beach for the ultrasound for my BPP since I was 41 weeks and 2 days. All was well on the ultrasound. Drew slept soundly through the procedure, which worried the ultrasound technician, but not me since it was his usual sleepy time. The tech ended the procedure by estimating his weight at 9.5 pounds. When I was done at the radiologist’s I called Cindi and she suggested that since I was in the area I should come by the office so that she could check my cervix to see if much had changed since she stripped my membranes the day before. I was glad to go to her office. I was so done with being pregnant and this would save an extra trip out to Gentle Birth Options. When we got to the office, everyone was in jeans and tee shirts and that instantly made me relax. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, I was used to the midwives I worked with being in scrubs or street clothes and I had only seen Cindi in professional dress with heels and her hair done. It’s funny how the little details stand out. Anyways, she checked my cervix and it was 1-2 cm, same as the day before but a little thinner and a little softer. I encouraged her to strip my membranes again to help ripen the cervix. I felt like time was running out and I did not want to birth in the hospital.
After leaving the office, I felt the usual cramping. I was glad and hoped it continued. I knew that the more cramping and the more bloody show that I had the more my cervix was softening and thinning. It was late afternoon by then and we decided to go to our friend’s house for dinner and a movie. They live only a few blocks from us and I felt that this was a welcome distraction to the ever looming question of, “will I or won’t I go into labor tonight.” We walked the half mile to our friends, had a relaxed dinner and a watched a movie (I don’t even remember which one it was!). I tried to stay standing for the majority of the time to increase the pressure of the baby’s head on my cervix. It seemed to help keep the cramping going. Nothing was painful though and my hopes began to dwindle that I would go into labor that night.
Once we got home I headed to bed and sure enough, as soon as I lay down, the cramping went away. I decided it was probably a good thing since I was tired anyways. I started to drift off to sleep, and maybe I did sleep a little. I can’t really remember how long I was asleep, but it wasn’t long before lying down just did not feel right. My back was killing me, so I decided to stand up. Standing really helped with the backache. I started timing my back aches and realized they were contractions, every 5 minutes lasting about a minute each. I think I texted Cindi around this time just to give her a heads up. I told her I was going to try to go back to bed. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. After a couple of hours it was starting to get really intense. I reasoned that I needed to get in the tub to space the contractions out so that I could get some sleep. The hot water of the bathtub was so nice and relaxing. It really helped soothe me, but the contractions stayed around. After some time I started to have panicky thoughts. “I can’t go into labor! I haven’t had any sleep! I’m already exhausted!” Cindi had been telling me stories of her past few clients having fast labors and I started to worry that she wouldn’t be able to make it to my house in time since she had to drive an hour and fifteen minutes. So, Scott texted (called?) her and encouraged her it was time to come. I felt instantly more relaxed knowing she was on her way, but to help me with the contractions I started doing this sing song chanting thing. I don’t really know where it came from, but I reminded myself of Will Ferrel in Elf where he makes up songs on the fly.
A couple hours later Cindi and the birth team were arriving at the house. I was still in the tub trying to sleep in between my contractions. The team was so quiet and calm that I didn’t even realize they had arrived. I was so glad to see that Jessica was one of my birth attendants. Due to a weird set of circumstances I hadn’t got to meet any of the birth assistants at my 36 week home visit, but Jessica was someone I knew from the office and really connected to. I loved her relaxed demeanor and she always seemed to have a smile on her face. Joy was the other birth assistant. She is an RN that works at Sacred Heart in the NICU and I just felt more at ease having another health professional there. I felt like we could all talk to same language. I could not have picked a better team myself.
In the tub, things were really starting to ramp up. I was convinced I was a good 6 cm. After watching me in the tub for a while, I got out to move around and have Cindi assess me. She listened to the baby and took my blood pressure. After being at my house for a couple hours she checked my cervix. I was 3-4 cm. I thought, “no way! I’m pretty sure I’m about to transition.” Rookie mistake. I knew the bathtub was no place for me if I was only 3-4 cm, so for the next few hours I walked around, rocked back and forth and spent the majority of my time hunched over a cabinet, a chair, a ball, the toilet or was on all fours on the floor. I don’t remember a single pain in my stomach just the undeniable ache of my back. Joy was such a sweetheart and applied as much counter pressure as she could, but after a few hours I’m sure she was exhausted from so much pushing on my lower back! The team tried to teach Scott how to apply the counter pressure but he just didn’t have the touch like they did. I also preferred him at my head giving me sips of my coconut water.
I don’t remember how long passed, but a few hours later Cindi checked me again. I was 6 cm. “At least I’m making forward progress I thought!” That is when I really started to spend more time on the toilet. No one ever said anything directly to me but I’m sure Drew was malpositioned in my pelvis because Cindi was encouraging me to do a lot of my contractions with one leg up on a stool or lunging if I was standing. Nausea started to overwhelm me. The team was always encouraging me to eat, but I just didn’t have the appetite for it. I stuck to my coconut water. I had never in my life drunk coconut water before and honestly it tasted terrible, but it settled my stomach so I stuck with it. Every few contractions I would pee a little into the toilet. I took this as a good sign of keeping up my hydration even if I wasn’t eating.
A few more hours later the contractions started to feel different. My back pressure got so much stronger. I had no desire to push, but Cindi suggested I try small little grunts while on the toilet and it did make my back pressure feel so much better. I did this through a few contractions and then it was time to check my cervix to make sure I was fully dilated. Unfortunately, I was not! I was only 9 cm and my cervix was starting to swell. I was so frustrated because I had finally found something that made the back pain feel better. However, I knew from my prior experiences that pushing on a 9 cm cervix could have negative consequences.
I decided to get back in the tub. That helped me deal with the contractions earlier and I hoped it would help me resist the urge to push. The warm water was extremely nice and soothing. I made a mental note that my next baby would be a water birth. It felt like heaven. The contractions did start to space out which I was disappointed in, but the water was so nice that I didn’t even care. I think Cindi let me stay in the tub for about an hour before she encouraged me to get out. The contractions were coming every 10 min or so at this point. She could see how tired I was and set up a place for me to rest on my side on the floor with my leg up to encourage Drew into the proper position. On the floor, I fell asleep and I distinctly remember being asleep for 30 min before I had my next contraction. At some point while I was 9 cm my water broke, but it was such a small trickle that I took no notice of it. And also, at some point someone convinced me to eat dried blueberries and Cream of Wheat. It tasted like the most delicious food on earth.
The 30 min nap was great, but that first contraction after my rest was a doozy! I got up off the floor and walked out into the living room where the team was resting. I sat down in the rocking chair and took my next few contractions there but then I knew things were ramping up and I needed to stand. I think I had about an hour of strong regular contractions before Cindi checked me again. I was 9.5 cm but my cervix was paper thin and stretchy, much better than stiff and swollen! At this point, I was done. Cindi knew it and Scott knew it. I’m so glad Cindi was trying to take advantage of my “rested” state and she suggested reducing my cervix during a contraction so that I could just get to the pushing stage before I completely ran out of energy.
Up to this point, cervical exams were terrible. Mostly it was the laying on my back part, but also the actual exam was no walk in the park. This particular exam though was the worst. I remember screaming through most of it. Joy got in my face and told me to start breathing instead of screaming. It took 2 or 3 contractions to reduce the cervix then Cindi told me I needed to push as hard as I could to bring Drew’s head low enough so that my cervix would not be able to go back to 9cm. After 2 pushes she told me to get out of bed and stand up. We had talked in the clinic about how I had been having dreams for years that I would deliver squatting. I really wanted to see everything so I started squatting and pushing in front of my bedroom mirror. Scott would grab my hands at the start of every contraction and I would squat down and pull on him with my hands. I loved pushing. It was invigorating. I felt so strong, like a warrior mama and that this is what all the working out was for. After maybe 50 min of pushing Drew started to crown. I thought it was so cool being able to see and feel everything. I had some burning up where I pee and I knew I was tearing up there but I didn’t care. The pain was not strong enough to stop me from pushing. At 6:13pm (18ish hours after my contractions started) I delivered Drew’s head. I had a mini panic moment where I looked up at Cindi who was a few steps away and said something like, “aren’t you going to catch him?” But even then I didn’t care enough to wait and just pushed him the rest of the way out and Scott was there to catch him. Drew came right to my chest, the exact place I wanted him to be. I was so elated. Scott was crying. Relief and happiness flooded over me. I sat down on the floor where Cindi delivered my placenta and cut the cord. I was bleeding a little more that I would have liked had I been the nurse at my own delivery, so I told Cindi it was ok if she wanted to give me pitocin and misoprostil. Both of which she did. We had discussed this possibility earlier in the clinic and I had told her that in my view, I was more conservative when it came to blood loss. I knew a large EBL could destroy a good breastfeeding relationship and even cause a transfer to the hospital, both of which I wanted to avoid.
The next couple hours were bliss. I held, breastfed and loved on Drew. I felt like I had known him my whole life yet I was just meeting him for the first time. My brain was so foggy. People were telling me things, but I had no idea what they were saying. I was love struck.
I was immediately grateful to have a homebirth. I know if I had been in the hospital I would have been encouraged to get pitocin when my contractions slowed down. I also know that they would not have let me stay at 9 cm for 6 hours like Cindi did. I’m pretty sure a cesarean section would have come up. Yes, I could have declined all those interventions, but it is so hard to resist anything while in labor and having to concentrate on your contractions. I was glad that I trusted my body and was patient with it and let my body take the rest it needed. It gave me a whole new outlook to the way I practice birth. I think when the time comes for me to return to work, I will have a hard time returning to the hospital world. The best part about the homebirth was holding Drew afterwards. No one got in my face to talk to me or take him away. The crew just did their jobs quietly while I got to bond with my baby. That meant more to me than having an unmedicated natural childbirth. I will never forget those first couple hours and the intense feelings that come with having a baby.
Drew’s Birth Story Take 2
So, I’ve already written your birth story Drew, but Dad is making me write it again. Arggh! He can be such a perfectionist sometimes. He said the old birth story sound like I was writing a birth synopsis for work. He insisted that you wouldn’t want to know the gory details and that I should jazz it up. I told him that the problem is I mainly remember the nurse type stuff because that’s what I am – a nurse! Anyways, so here goes.
I thought you would never come out. I’d read all these books telling me to stay positive and that you would come when you were ready, but I have to say I was consistently disappointed every morning for the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy. When I’d wake up and I hadn’t gone into labor overnight, I easily became disheartened. Yeah, I was only 1 week and 3 days past our due date, but I was sure that I was going to have you at 39 weeks. I was convinced that you would give me a pleasant surprise and come early – WRONG. At the time we had just moved to Pensacola from Seattle and I wasn’t working because you were going to come in the next couple months after moving. Without work, I was so bored! I’d frozen a bunch of meals in advance and gone through my birth stuff a million times to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. I even read a bunch of books and worked on my tan the best I could for being the middle of winter in Florida. I figured I had nothing to do but go into labor and was so frustrated to be kept waiting.
Meanwhile, you father was not bored. He was quite busy, in fact. He had just started his pilot training and was trying to finish up all his flights in IFS before you came. Luckily, he did just that. You decided to make your entrance the very day after he completed his final flight.
As a mother, I would say I went into labor around midnight of March 28 going on March 29. As a nurse, I would say my labor began around 6 am on March 29. I thought those first few hours of contractions were pretty strong. I logically knew that they would get stronger, but having the overly optimistic views that I do, I really thought I would speed through labor and you would come flying out after 6 hrs – WRONG again! The time you picked was 6:13 pm on March 29, according to our iPhones and the bedroom digital clock.
All night and all day I worked very hard. I tried to stay focused and put everything I had learned from nursing and our birth classes into action. I walked around the rooms of our house (as best as I could), I relaxed in the deliciously warm water of the bathtub, and I spent quite a lot of time sitting on the toilet (because it was the most comfortable chair in the house!) while your father fed me sips of coconut water out of our plastic camping flask. I kept trudging along and so did you. Every time our midwife Cindi checked your little heartbeat, it was pitter-pattering away; even my practiced ears could not discern a single drop in your heart rate.
After a while though, as awesome of a mom that I am, I began to get tired. And for some reason, I think you knew I needed a rest. The contractions began to slow down, get shorter, and space out. As a nurse, my brain was panicking. I just envisioned this was the beginning of the end and I would end up needing to go to the hospital. I REALLY wanted to have you at home. I wanted to prove that I could do it all by myself. (I’ve always had a bit of a stubborn streak and been too self-reliant and independent; it was those qualities that fueled my desire to birth you at home.) But I was soooo tired. If only I could just rest and regain some strength I knew I could finish out strong….and that’s what we did. You and I (and Dad too!) rested. My contractions stopped and for the next blissful 30 minutes I slept like a rock. I was awakened by the most powerful contraction yet. After my mini recuperation, I was ready to rock n roll. It wasn’t long and the pushing phase started. I was born to push. In my honest opinion I think I pushed like a champ. No really, I felt like a champion warrior, so strong, methodical, and focused. The pushing did not take long and you started to emerge. I was so excited and your dad was thrilled. He bent down and put his hands under you and brought you to my chest. I hugged you and kissed you and cried my eyes out. Your dad was bawling and even you were screaming your little lungs out. I had never been so happy in my life.
In the moments to come a sense of pure bliss washed over me. I felt elated. I turned to your dad and told him you smelled like cinnamon rolls, so sweet and delicious. I also remember thinking you had the most perfect lips. They were all puckered up and kissable. I could not get enough of you. Your father could not wait to tell the whole world about it. He texted the whole family and started you a Facebook page before the first hour of your life was up. You loved being held by Dad. He was so warm for your scrawny little 7-pound body that you would curl right up to him and sleep so contently. Life.was.RIGHT.