Dec 6, 2012

The Night I Soaked My Tennis Shoes in Amniotic Fluid

     Writing down James Patrick’s birth story seems like quite the task, but I know I need to do it soon..the details are already so hazy. He was born at 39 weeks exactly.  Throughout my whole pregnancy, I had a feeling he would be born at 38 or 39 weeks.  I did get a little insecure at the end wondering if I would be late like most first time moms.  The Wednesday before he was born, I went for a  two mile walk while Marcus was at work.  On the way back I was really struggling, my back was really hurting me and the Braxton Hicks contractions seemed really intense.  I stopped a lot on the way back and when I finally made it home I got right in bed even though it was only 3 in the afternoon. Every time I got up or tried to do anything, the contractions kicked back in.  I knew they were not labor contractions so I wanted to stay hydrated and make sure I got them to stop so I could sleep.  I woke up feeling pretty normal the next day and went for a walk with Marcus-this time with no contractions.  Then on Friday night I began to have bloody show.  I texted my doula’s/midwives to keep them updated but I agreed with them knowing it could still be a couple weeks.  On Saturday I spent the morning at Old Beech Farmer’s Market with my mom and then walking around a craft show.  I was pretty back was bothering me and I just felt generally worn down.  That night, contractions kept me up. Every time I would dose off, another one would wake me up.  They were not painful, but I had to remember not to hold my breathe and keep my body relaxed during the quick 30 seconds that they tightened around my abdomen.  I spent most of the night on the couch reading.  We went to 9 am mass the following morning and I remember having 3 contractions on the way to church {about a 30 minute drive} and then 4 during mass.  The contractions made me irritable since they were not painful but obnoxious enough to keep me from working on my to-do list for Sunday.  I was planning on freezing some meals and giving the bathroom a good cleaning.  None of those things were accomplished since movement made the contractions stronger.  I spent most of the day on the couch, uncomfortable and annoyed. Marcus wanted to go to the gym and I reluctantly agreed since I was feeling a little nervous.  By the time he came back I was ready for his constant support/presence.  We decided to put together the co-sleeper just in case.  I texted my doula/midwife and they gave me lots of suggestions to slow it down or stop it.  So I showered, drank insane amounts of water, spent time on my hands & knees and tried to nap again and again. I was getting frustrated that I was not able to stop it.  We had not timed any of the contractions up to the point but I was pretty sure they were 10 minutes apart and only lasting 30 minutes.  I called my mom to tell her what was going on and she encouraged us to time them.  When we did we were both surprised to find that they were consistently actually 5 minutes apart! That was my first hint that my sense of time in labor & delivery was WAY off.  The midwife suggested we go ahead and go to my mom’s thinking that it would progress my labor or stop it.  So we scrambled around packing up and joined my family for dinner. My sister and her family were there and I remember Cecilia being super sweet & cuddly in between contractions.  Again, they were not very painful, just enough that I had to focus through them.  I freaked out my younger brother who wanted to know if it was really going to happen tonight and if he should leave ;) I assured him the baby was not coming yet.  My mom made him do some timing while she watched me.  She suggested we go for a walk thinking it would get things moving or tire me out so I could sleep.  So around 8:50 my mom, Marcus and I headed down the street.  The contractions came every 4 minutes lasting a bit longer.  With each one I would stop, wrap my arms around Marcus’ neck and literally let all my body weight hang.  Thank goodness for strong husbands! 


    As we headed back towards my mom’s house, the telltale gush of water at the height of a contraction told me this was the real deal. As I stood there, leaning on Marcus, my eyes got big as I looked at my mom and I started to cry because I was a little scared. My mom on the other hand was tickled pink since her water never broke on her own.  She ran a couple blocks home to get the car and a bunch of towels. After returning home my sense of time & detail gets very, very hazy. My water broke at 9:03 on Sunday night and James arrived at 5:16 Monday morning. I’ll record what I remember of labor but I am sure my times are way off! When we got home, I went to the bathroom & took off my soaked tennis shoes and then labored on the vanity in the bathroom. Obviously after my water broke, the contractions increased in intensity and were painful but manageable. I leaned over the counter and blew horse lips and swayed my hips through each one.  I’m not sure how long I labored there but it felt like a while.  It was during this time that my midwives and doula arrived.  I could hear my mom & the midwife setting up the bed, while her apprentice came and checked my blood pressure, baby’s heartbeat and such.  I remember just feeling scared and a little sick to my stomach.  My doula wanted me to try an empty my bladder really frequently so I moved from the counter to the toilet and I remember just having to labor on the ground for a while.  Moving was difficult and spurred on the contractions.  Poor Marcus physically held all my body weight during a lot of those.  At some point, everybody convinced me to try getting in the tub for a little bit, of which I had no interest.  I knew I wanted to heed their suggestions though & so I got in for a little while…sat cross legged and rocked and blew horse lips through the contractions.  I don’t remember feeling relief from the warm water, but I was very in the zone at the point and kind of unaware of what was going on around me.  My doula thought I sounded “pushy/grunty” at the end of my contractions in the tub.  After the tub, which again, I have no idea how long I was in there for I made my way to the bed. I labored on my side, and reluctantly on my hands & knees as my doula recommended.  I mostly liked sitting Indian Style, rocking back & forth like a complete crazy person and blowing horse lips. I find that hilarious now, but I guess reading those Ina May Gaskin books stuck with me!! I held on tightly to Marcus during each surge. My doula had me drinking water in between every contraction and kept that blessed heated sock on my lower back. That felt good!! Marcus was pretty quiet during the contractions, he would whisper some encouragement here & there but was mostly just physically present.


     After a while on the bed, my midwife asked if I wanted my cervix checked.  I was absolutely terrified of being told I was only 3 or 4 cm, so I told her she could check but she couldn’t tell me, just Marcus.  After she checked, she laughed and said that she was going to tell me anyways since I was pretty much complete!!  This is where I incorrectly assumed it would be over soon. I continued to labor & it continued to get more intense with contractions coming two back to back..those were not fun.  They were very manageable if I did my whole rocking/horse lips routine but if I got weepy at all they hurt much worse.  All I wanted to do was cry, though! I was going on night number two with no sleep.  I wasn’t finding the whole thing excruciating painful, but just SO MUCH WORK and I wanted to be done!!  The midwife pulled Marcus aside for a minute to ask if he felt comfortable if everybody (doula, two midwives, & mom) left the room for a little while so that we could labor by ourselves. She thought I might progress quicker if I was not being watched. ( I didn’t feel like a watched pot at all and wasn’t thrilled about everybody leaving but I tried to trust my midwife) I remember being incredibly insecure when the midwife was talking to Marcus and demanding to know what she was saying and asking “Are they going to make me go to the hospital?!” “Am I doing something wrong?!”


    Marcus and I labored alone on the side of the bed for about an hour (again..I think!) I was extremely discouraged and trying to cry and whine and tell him I couldn’t do it anymore. I was so exhausted.  He just held on to me and said I was doing it and it would be over soon. He also prayed for a while over me.  I kind of went into a trance here…I would have two very strong back to back contractions and then fall asleep in between them.  My midwife came back in to check me and apologized saying I had a cervical lip and that is why it was taking so long.  So it was back to laboring sitting up on the bed and I have no idea for how long.  I know I had tried to push earlier in the evening after the first time she told me I was complete but after trying to 30 minutes it was clear that I didn’t quite have the urge yet.  I wish I hadn’t wasted that energy :( When the urge finally came, I KNEW it! It felt like dry heaving downwards or throwing down instead of throwing up.  It was an all-consuming feeling and it scared the living daylights out of me.. I did not enjoy it at all. I remember feeling so confused as my body pushed on it’s own and I kept asking Marcus what was going on or insisting that I was throwing up.  He assured me I wasn’t, that my body was pushing.  Weirdest. thing. ever!  It didn’t last very long as I began to have to bear down to push with each contraction.  It took a while for me to figure out how to push and it was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done.  I felt very out of it, like I was watching the scene and not a part of it.  Everybody’s voices sounded funny to me.  I kept telling everybody I was going to pass out.  They told me I wasn’t going to, but gave me plenty of spoonfuls of honey for good measure.  Unfortunately, while I was pushing, the babies heart rate kept decelerating..they ended up keeping the doppler on the entire time and having me switch positions in between contractions.  His heart beat always came back up as I gulped huge breaths of air in between pushing, but I knew the midwives were being very vigilant.  The apprentice applied oil & did hot compresses and guided my pushing, while the midwife handled the doppler & Marcus did all the pushing coaching.  I pushed until I felt like I was going to die, people! My midwife kept saying “Your baby is right here!” but I wanted to punch her! IF he was right there why was I STILL pushing.  But, my sweet little baby was on his way.  Maybe he heard me yelling “get OUT baby!!” as my patience wore…sorry about that, sweet little man! I slept in between pushes.. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true and all of the sudden, baby was crowning. I remember thinking that it didn’t hurt like I thought it would…anything was better than those contractions or that pushing! After he crowned, I was so out of it that I don’t remember the rest of him being born, but just him handed to me and placed on my chest with a towel.  I instinctively began to rub him and cuddle him and call him James. I looked at Marcus and saw he was laughing and crying but I felt too tired to do anything but just look at him!  My mom & doula, who missed his birth since everybody was so distracted by the decelerations, came in the room. I looked at my mom & started crying and telling her “It was SO hard!” She was crying too and told me that I had a hard, hard labor and I did a good job.  I later found out that she spent the time I was pushing on her knees right outside the door so she heard everything.  I wish she had been there.  My doula immediately began attending to me, getting me to eat & drink and cool washcloths for my forehead.  Marcus and I just looked and looked at our son.  I noticed he had my nose & eyes and Marcus’ dimples and lips.  I thought he was perfect and was happy to see he had a sweet storkbite!! Baby didn’t fuss at all, but just looked at us.  I know he must have been tired too…delivery is no picnic for the baby either!!


     James Patrick had his newborn examination while I unfortunately struggled to deliver the placenta.  That wasn’t a fun experience, especially when I was told before labor/delivery that it mostly comes out on it’s own. I delivered mine TWO hours later with lots more pushing :(  The midwives told me I tore during the delivery of the babies shoulders and I would have to get stitches- I cried when they told me but that whole situation ended up being bathed in God’s blessing! My mom called Dr. Hughes with Women Care Centers {my OBGYN before I transferred to Seven Cities Midwifery Care} and he agreed to take care of my stitches.  If he hadn’t, I would have had to hobble myself to the ER with an hours-old newborn.  Not fun.  Dr. Hughes took great care of me and his sweet nurses brought me food and coke to help my shakes.  Everybody was so kind and loving.  I am so, so grateful.  I prayed really, really hard during my pregnancy that I wouldn’t tear since I knew the midwives weren’t certified to do stitches and I would have to go the ER. I also focused on eating a high protein diet to ensure good tissue integrity..but I believe God allowed me to tear so I could learn even more of his love & mercy and how to trust Him more completely.  When the midwives came for my postpartum visit they said I didn’t tear at all while crowning, but his shoulders were pretty stuck and they had to work them out rather quickly for his own safety.  To hear about the days following James Patrick’s birth, read this.


     I’ll have to wrap it up with some thoughts on natural childbirth & homebirth.  I had been interested in natural childbirth for quite a while and knew I would probably pursue that route.  I took classes, watched films, read books, practiced relaxation techniques, ate healthy, and exercised. But that is it…other than that..God granted me an uncomplicated pregnancy and labor/delivery.  Being able to deliver natural was not of my own merit, but a grace from God.  In fact, I don’t feel like it was something that I did, but rather something I let be done to me.  After delivery, I was looking for that natural childbirth high..feeling like I could do anything, that I was more of a woman,  or had proved something to myself or to others…but NONE of those feelings came.  Instead of feeling empowered, I felt incredibly, incredibly humbled.  I was aware of how small I was and how big God was. Although it was hard, I think it was an honor to be able to experience it naturally.


     I think natural childbirth is a great thing to prepare for, but you won’t find me in the club of women who think it is the ONLY way.  God presents us all with different pregnancies, different labors, different deliveries, different complications.  I am just so thankful that I had a healthy and normal pregnancy that made it easier to deliver naturally.  As for the homebirth, we made that decision after feeling like we were not getting the personal care we desired from my OBGYN. We prayed A LOT, talked it over with some people who had medical & Godly wisdom, made sure Marcus & I were on EXACTLY the same page…then took a step of faith.  I absolutely loved being at home {Or, at my mom’s! Thanks Mom!} and knew I had made the right decision for this baby and this delivery.  We wouldn’t have had a homebirth if we were not told by people we trusted that it was safe for my healthy pregnancy or if we didn’t discern God’s blessing and will.  I was never scared or worried about not being at the hospital..even when the baby’s heart beat was decelerating. I trusted the midwives completely and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt they would transfer me to the hospital at any signs of true danger. And, I had peace knowing there were two close hospitals! The thought of drugs or an epidural never crossed my mind, and not because it wasn’t painful..but more because labor registered for me as exhausting I more wanted to be finished than I wanted pain relief!


   Finally, I have to pay tribute to a couple people.  Obviously, the skillful, patient, trusting midwives.  I received the most caring prenatal treatment and their postpartum care & concern has been so touching and helpful.  I am extremely thankful for my midwife Aimee of Birth Insight..she had the most calming, quiet presence during my labor…and she took great care of Marcus as he supported me.  She gave him suggestions, kept him eating and drinking, and stood in for him when they could convince me to let go of him long enough for him to go to the bathroom :)  I had so much peace before the labor knowing she was on my birth team.  She also helped us figure out when labor was beginning through many texts :)  I am also in awe of the prayers of my in-laws.  They didn’t even know I was in labor, but I knew they had been covering me in prayer over the whole 9 months.  That, and my sisters and I had done nothing but talk baby/labor/delivery for the past 9 months.  My husband has such a beautiful family and I am still pinching myself that I get to be a part of it.  My older sister Mindy is such a blessing.  She did nothing but help me out as my time drew near, and she was there with sweet support during those tough postpartum days.  She is helpful by nature and I hope I can be the same to her when her little girl comes!  My younger sister Kathleen kept Marcus & I fat and happy in the week we stayed at our moms.  She literally came in our room every morning asking what she could make us for breakfast…Thank you!!  After the baby was born-we had sweet friends bring us food for nearly two weeks! Needless to say..we ate very well and are so humbled at everybody’s help!  And my mom, what can I even say.  She was there during most of my labor, just quietly in a corner, praying.  I drank in so much strength, being able to look in her eyes and know she did this 6 times. Afterwards I thought she needed her head checked for doing it six times ;) But truly, I was so touched to have her prayers, have her there, have her love.  She amazed me.  Last but of course not leas is Marcus. Who never got mad at me for drenching HIS tennis shoes in amniotic fluid, too! Who was a pillar of physical, emotional & spiritual strength throughout the whole thing. He kept reminding me that he trusted God and he trusted my body.  He had such a peace and that was a gift to me.

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1 comment:

Cat said...

What a beautiful birth story! I think someone is, uh, cutting onions nearby...


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