The Birth Story of Ethan Cade
The Birth Story of Baby Marchlewski #4 On Wed. morning, the 9th of May, I discovered a little bit of a bloody show after using the bathroom. It was nothing really to write home about, but being at the end of pregnancy and near the end of my rope with it, it was encouraging nonetheless. I went about the business of running a household filled with littles, with little to no other signs of impending labor. I wasn’t all that surprised, but I was a little discouraged that I wasn’t even having braxton hicks. The next day, Thursday, I started to have some mild to moderate braxton hicks contractions and little by little throughout the day, I lost my mucus plug. Being 39 weeks along, all my girlfriends were in the habit of asking how I was doing, and I was finally pleased to announce to them that there was some “action down below!” I certainly wasn’t in labor, as far as I knew, but it was encouraging to finally see tangible evidence that the coming of my little one was drawing nearer. I continued on with my life and tried not to be too excited. After three other children, I know that losing a mucus plug doesn’t really mean much, and I WAS only 39 weeks along. All that to say however, I was prepared to do what I could to help things along if possible and my husband was more than happy to help too, if he could.
That evening we went to sleep at around 9pm. I slept really well for about an hour and woke up with a humdinger of a “braxton hicks” contraction. Could this be the beginning of something? I was hopeful to spite my best efforts not to be, and decided to get on my yoga ball and roll around a bit. I did that for about 15min. and didn’t have any more contractions, so I gave up and laid back down. I rested for a short while and then another one came. It was another strong one that I sort of had to breathe a little through. “Okay” I thought, “we might just have a baby tonight!” I barrel rolled out of bed again and headed to the bathroom to straighten my hair, which is a strange little labor ritual of mine. ( I figure a girl doesn’t have to have frizzy hair just because she is working hard.) The contractions were still coming, and were all strong enough to need to concentrate a little on, but they were incredibly irregular; 7 minutes, 15 minutes, 5 minutes, 30 minutes. I went into the kitchen to try to tidy up, squatting and moving my hips back and forth when I could, trying to get things moving along in more of a pattern. No luck, they were still really irregular. Off to bed again. This time, I was scarcely down for a minute when another contraction came on really strong. I HAD to get out of bed for this one. At about midnight we decided to call the call center. Cindi called back and I told her what was happening. She suggested just going to bed, stating that sometimes contractions will regulate themselves when you are in a more relaxed state. We hung up and off to bed I went. I was still having irregular strong contractions, but was able to rest in between. I’d wake up with a contraction, look at the clock to see how long had passed since the last one, go to the bathroom, and get back in bed. This was how my night went until I woke up the next morning. By 6:00am, my contractions were an hour and a half apart! I’d had consistently more bloody show each time I’d get up in the night, so it was a bit surprising to still be ‘not in labor’.
As mornings go in a house full of small children, breakfast was served and children were readied for the day. I was prepared to go about my day as usual, as I was totally fine in between contractions, but was concerned that when I was having the contractions that my children (who are incredibly sensitive) may be upset by seeing Mommy act so funny, for example: vocalizing and breathing deeply. Still desiring for the contractions to become more regular, I figured the best thing I could do was to continue to take Cindi’s advice and rest as much as I could, and that doesn’t happen with three small children, so Jake and I decided together that it would be best for them to spend the day with Grandma and Grandpa. Jake would go to work for a few hours just to finish up a job he had been working on, and when he got home we’d go walking somewhere to work on speeding things up a little. Jake was going to drive the children, but somehow I ended up being the one who loaded the children up in the van and drove them 35 minutes to their grandparents house. I realized that they hadn’t had very much for breakfast and not wanting to drop them off hungry, ‘supermom’ here stopped at McDonald’s AND Krispy Creme so at least they’d have some ‘food’ in their tummies. We made it fine to Pace, I dropped the children off and quickly made my way back home stopping of on the side of the road three or four times on the way because the contractions were becoming more frequent and harder to deal with while driving. (I know, I know. I should not have been driving while in labor, but I was still convinced that I wasn’t in labor. (In hindsight, the McDonald’s and Krispy Creme should have been my first tip off that I was), I rested as much as I could for the remainder of the morning and when Jake got home at around 1pm he had decided that we would go to Destin and walk around at the outlets for a while. One of two things would happen, either we would get into a regular labor pattern and be able to get to the birth center in a timely manner, or we would have a day date in Destin. Either option sounded good to me, so off we went.
We live 70 miles from GBO, so getting to the center without having the baby on the side of the road was one of my biggest concerns. The quickest way, which takes right at an hour and fifteen minutes, is via interstate. We did not take the interstate, we took 98. On the way, we stopped and ate lunch, stopped for a bar of dark chocolate (which I had heard may help with the production of oxytocin), stopped at a Murphy’s station to check the tire pressure, stopped at another Murphy’s station to check the tire pressure again since the first pressure gauge was apparently broken... By this time, we had already been in the car for more than an hour. My patience and my bladder were both about to expire, so I went into the Murphy’s station to ask if they had a bathroom and where it was. That’s when I felt another contraction begin to build. “Just make it to the lady, ask quickly, and get out the door,” I thought. I did most of those things successfully but the contraction began to peak just as I was opening the door to get back outside. The lady must have RUN out the opposite door to have met me around the building just as I was about to enter the bathroom. She got in my face and excitedly said, “ARE YOU IN LABOR?!” “Yes, I am” I calmly replied. “DO NOT GO IN THERE! DO NOT PUSH IF YOU FEEL THAT BABY CROWN!” (Two things here, 1. I had to pee really bad. 2. Why was she talking to me when she could clearly see that I was in the middle of a contraction?) I kindly responded to her that I wasn’t quite that far along in my labor yet, and for her not to worry, it was my fourth child so I pretty well knew what it felt like for a baby to crown. (I didn’t want to have my baby in her toilet anymore than she wanted me too.) She informed me that she would be right outside and had a key.
I made it out of the bathroom, still pregnant, and much more comfortable. Come to find out, this dear concerned lady had also verbally assaulted checked with Jake to see if he was my husband while I was in the restroom. Upon my returning to the van, Jake said that we needed to go to WalMart to purchase a tire pressure gauge of our very own, because this one was also broken. I wanted to go in with him, figuring that at least then I would be walking, which was what this trip was supposed to be all about in the first place, but he wisely said that I should just wait in the car. I had a couple more hard contractions while he was in the store and was pleased when I opened my eyes after one, to see him back out and checking the tire pressure. Now, I could get out of the car and lean over the seat with the next one that was quickly building. It felt good to stand up and move my hips through it. By this point, not vocalizing was not an option, so that was happening too. When the contraction was finished, I looked up and meekly smiled at the elderly couple quietly putting their groceries in their sedan right next to our van. I don’t think they could see my giant belly, so who knows what they were thinking.
Back in the car, and on the road again, I expressed to Jake that I really wanted to just call Cindi and see if we could pop in and have my cervix checked. I told him,“If she could just say I was seven centimeters, that would be so encouraging!” He said not to expect that, so as not to be disappointed. I was hesitant to call, because I felt like I was pestering her, when the phone rang. It was Cindi! She was calling to check in with me to see if baby had been moving. (I had called her earlier in the day because I had felt an unusual decrease in movement that had concerned me some) I told her that the baby had been moving some, and of our plans to go to Destin and walk but that I really wanted to be checked and she very sweetly said yes to come on by. We were still 45 minutes away even though we had been in the car for nearly an hour and a half. When we arrived at GBO Cindi greeted us with a smile and we went into her office. She checked and said that I was a “stretchy 6-7 centimeters” PRAISE JESUS! I was so encouraged! God is so sweet in His mercies towards us. I had been unsure if I should call her and she called me, and my prayer to be 7 centimeters had been answered. These contractions were irregular, but they were doing some work! We decided to stay close to the birth center and I FINALLY got to go for my walk. We walked along the bay for about 30 minutes before Florida’s state bird the mosquitoes started attacking us. At just after 5:00pm, we retreated to our room where I rolled around on the ball a bit during contractions. After about an hour I expressed that I wanted to get into the birthing pool. Cindi said that the water may slow things down. As we were discussing this, I felt another contraction begin to build. Cindi watched me through it and after said that it hadn’t sounded like one that could be slowed by being in the pool, so she went to prepare it for me. It took a while for the water to be ready for me, but I was sure ready for it! While we waited, I continued to work through the contractions as they came and in between I chatted and laughed with Jake and enjoyed meeting the birth team as they arrived. I was able to get into the pool at around 7pm. It felt nice to be in the warm water, and at some point shortly afterward, the contractions began to be closer together. At that point, I remember making a conscious decision to stop being chatty and to get down to business. Labor-land, here I come.
I squatted a lot in the water, not because I liked it, but because I know it helps to open the pelvis. I did not like sitting during contractions, that was pretty terrible not to mention counterintuitive. I started having hot flashes and began to feel nauseated. I knew that those were signs of transition, but felt that I couldn’t possibly be in transition yet since I had only just gotten into the water. I surely had several hours more to go. The thought of that was super discouraging to me and I began to have a bad attitude. Labor is an amazing process in so many different ways. Although nearly impossible to adequately describe, one is that your ‘logical self’ can think clearly and reason, while at the same time your ‘physical self’ detaches and just does its own nearly involuntary thing. In your head, you are still able to think and process and analyze, you just have a harder time getting those inner ideas verbalized. I know that sounds weird and kind of ‘trippy’, but this is what was happening to me when I realized that my attitude was deteriorating and I asked my husband to pray for me. I silently asked for forgiveness and strength and as is always true of His character, the Lord was merciful and faithful. My legs had begun to go numb from the squatting on the side, so I moved to the edge of the little seat in the birth pool and was able to be in a similar position without really having to use my legs at all. I’m not really sure how long I was there, but I remember several contractions, and being able to really feel the baby moving down with each one. I kept waiting for someone to tell me it was okay to push and remember asking, I think, if they thought I was fully dilated. I know that pushing before then can cause trouble, and I didn’t want to pick a fight with my cervix. Though they’ve all been drug free, (with the exception of pitocin to induce with my first), and my third baby delivered at home, I’ve never had a labor that I wasn’t “messed with” in some way and didn’t know what to do without being bossed and poked and prodded. This was, however, how I had wanted it to be. I wanted my labor to be as self directed as possible. My throat was scratchy from all the vocalization and it had begun to be uncomfortable to keep doing so. I had begun to push just a little with each vocalization and Marilyn suggested to keep doing it, but without making the sound. That felt good. I had given a couple of small quiet pushes with the contractions when all of a sudden I got a miserable cramp in my hip! I tried to straighten out my legs to get it to go away. When the contraction subsided, the cramp did too. Another contraction and another cramp! ‘Wait,’ I thought, ‘that isn’t a cramp, that is the baby moving down.’ Then I felt kind of a muted pop, ‘and that was my water breaking.’ Immediately after my water broke, I felt what the lady at the Murphy’s bathroom had warned me about, the familiar burning stretching sensation as the baby crowned. Marilyn said for me to reach down and hold my baby’s head as it was coming out, to which I replied “No, I don’t want to”. (I felt that if I let go of my handles on the birth pool, that I’d become unstable and would slip down and sit on the baby.) Baby’s head was born, and another contraction was coming quickly! I pushed with it and felt those shoulders push past and then felt that little body slide out. At 8:25pm, praise Jesus, I was done! Baby was here! I heard someone say, “Get your baby!”, and opened my eyes, picked that beautiful little creature up out of the water, brought it to my chest and began falling in love. It was only when my husband said, “Well, let’s see what we got!”, that the spell was broken long enough for me to lift the baby up and see that it was a boy! Another precious boy to raise up Godly and strong, and a sweet baby brother for two excited big sisters and one excitable big brother.