Sunday, July 12, 2015

You Were Born On A Cold Day In July (Week 41 with #3 and Birth Story)

* Having had a traumatic first birth experience, I know how sometimes reading birth stories can come across as in a way that feels like the story is judging the way other births have gone differently than it. So I just wanted to mention, no matter what I write out, I am very much not implying anyone should do anything like I did,or this story is better than others -- I’m very, very pro going with what feels right in your gut for your pregnancy -- I think mommas have a deep sense inside for what’s the right path for her and her baby/ies. None of my pregnancies, or labor and deliveries, have been the same and I think there is a lot of value in honoring the journey each one takes us on.
This birth went shockingly well. So if you feel tempted to get jealous of me, go back and read through this pregnancy’s blog posts-- that might even it out a bit for ya.

** This is a birthstory -- some of it might be gross, and/or TMI, to some people. Read at your own risk.

*** I don’t use my midwife or her assistant's name because the homebirth laws in Illinois are a bit ify (not illegal, but not in favor) and I don’t wanna jeopardize them in the slightest. But they do have names. :) And I like that it’s a first name basis kind of care -- I feel lame calling them “midwife” or “assistant” in the story. But that’s how I’m writing it out.

Last I left off in my updates I was starting my 41st week of pregnancy.
I honestly dont know exactly when to start my birth story, so I’ll kinda talk about week 41 for a bit first.
Either way this was gonna be long, so sit back…maybe grab a coffee or something...

At the start of the week, I had really intended to sew up the cushion covers I’d mentioned before. But I was just too physically exhausted and too nauseous to do much more than nap on the couch for the first few days of that week. I was feeling guilty as a mom because I really was barely an adult presence for the girls. Eventually I was able to start sewing on the cushions and I honestly dont know how many trips I made to the fabric store that week. It was like once a day for something or other. I know the workers were recognizing my repeat round self. (After all that, so far I’ve only fully finished one of three cushions!)

By Thursday (41+2 weeks) though I was just done with existence -- I called Blake from a bathroom crying begging him to come home from work because I couldn’t mom any more, I just needed to be done. He was so sweet and came home without any hesitation or guilt, cancelled a meeting -- and we were sure everyone thought the baby was coming. I told him “They are gonna be mad when we don’t have this kid five weeks from now!” He took over the house, I sewed poutily waiting to be done being sick-pregnant.
I was SO happy when he told me that the school wasn’t even open on Friday for Independence Day weekend. I thought there may be hope for my brain to survive until this baby comes if I don’t have to be alone any more.
Friday night, July 3rd, I’m now 41+3, I ran to the fabric store and brought home Chipotle for a date night (we like to get take out and watch a movie every friday.) The workers at Chipotle were the first people to ask me when I was due for a long while now (never understand the way I get told I’m about to pop months before hand and yet then totally unaddressed for the last "due month"…maybe its the frown?) Anyway it was funny because this 20 year old guy asks when are you due? And I say, “Awhile ago.” Big eyes, confused eyebrows and “Oh…” lol I’m not sure he knew that was an option.

Anyway, while I was out I was very crampy.  And once I got home I was having mild contractions. I didn’t think anything of it really for the time being -- I’m used to being faked out -- But I did start to hype myself into thinking I’d have a 4th of July baby. This was actually something I seriously did not want to happen last time with Ruby -- I wanted her to have her own special day to herself. So when I thought it might happen this time I had to come up with lots of reasons it would be good.

Sure enough in the morning on July 4th I see a lot of show -- the most I’ve ever seen in any pregnancy prior to labor. I start thinking it must be true. I spent most of the day getting the house clean thinking I’d want it really nice for evryone coming. But I go the whole morning long without any contractions, and very few the rest of the day. I had been really nervous to go see the fireworks in case I went into labor and got stuck in traffic. (An over blown fear I’m sure…but you know hormones…) But right before Blake and the girls left I decided to join them. I was glad I did.

Sunday (41+5) nothing happened at all. We all hung out at home and I don’t even remember contractions but I think I must have had light ones through the day. I had more show again all day. I went to bed with contractions I slept through.

Now somewhere during the week, my attitude started to change. I think it may have started when I found out Blake didn’t have to work on Friday. Either way, at some point I started to leave behind (without any trying on my part) the horrible cloak of suffering I had been wearing for 10 months now. As this was happening (or perhaps: this was happening because) my body was starting to get sensations of “normal.” I still was queasy. But something was different. I could think about food more optimistically. I could smell things, the wind and trees and summer, and enjoy them. I could finally kiss Blake, without kissing being a nauseating thing. (You guys, there is nothing more disheartening than being put off by the smell (normal clean person smell of being alive) and everyday touch of your loved ones, and everyone, for the better part of a year. Being able to kiss him again and enjoy it was one of the more moving moments of my life.) Being able to feel like a person who knows what good is, in a deep profound way. To be grateful to be able to be grateful….even if massive parts of me were still mired in hardship…was so so good.

So Monday (41+6) I had a prenatal appointment that had hoped wouldn’t come, but I was feeling pretty optimistic for.  I knew this pregnancy had to actually be almost done now. Or at worst, maybe like another crazy week, but at least I was moving towards it.
Blake was gonna go into work before she got there, and then stay home after that.
That morning I told my mom it was probably time to come down, it couldn’t be much longer. And the plan was for her to hang out with the girls for us while I labored.
My midwife and her assistant came over checked us out.  We did the check in the living room. Everything was good. Baby sounded great. I measured 42 weeks. My blood pressure was a smidgen high, but not anything dangerous, and not where I couldn’t do homebirth -- it was just up some. I kinda think it was just me feeling amped up thinking about it all with them here.
I initially figured that, overall with this pregnancy, I would skip any membrane sweeps because they never did anything before (all 7 per prior pregnancy.) But at essentially 42 weeks, with lots of show for days I thought one might actually help tip the scale over this time.
So we went upstairs to my bedroom (didn't wanna flash the neighborhood through my front windows for this) When my midwife checked her first statement was, “Oh yeah you feel way different than the last check” (when I had scary false labor.) I was 95% effaced, really mushy and 3 cm dilated. So the show was saying something was happening. The sweep was therefore way more comfortable and easy to do.
So then they headed out saying let them know when I need them. ( I was really hoping I could call them right back.)

I went on a walk, had some contractions. My mom arrived. We ate some deep dish pizza. (My old man neighbor saw me on the walk and told me a big meal would get me into labor. I laughed and told him that would be my next step.) I had some more contractions through the day that would take my attention away from conversations a bit, but not keep me from participating. Per my midwife’s suggestion I took an epsom salt bath. (Actually, I think I may have taken two that day.) While I was in there I put a wash cloth soaked in castor oil on top of my belly. (I guess that can be another way to use it instead of ingesting it. I wasn’t about to drink the stuff after this nauseous pregnancy -- I knew I’d just puke my brains out. And it hadn’t worked to start labor for me in my second pregnancy, so I didn’t think it was a worth while avenue. But I figured on my belly was fine.) I also did some nip stim while in the tub. I got contractions, but they didn’t go much of anywhere. I had some show on and off all day. I went to bed with contractions, I started timing some, but fell asleep.

So with all this going on, on Monday I had basically just started to agree with myself that I was in slow motion labor. I was just gonna keep telling myself that I am dilating over days, and that is ok, because really it’s not hurting, so that’s a great speed for my tired worn out body. With the contractions I’d just agree I was dilating. A lot of times I’d just tell myself "I’m at a five already.” Just for the encouragement.

I had been really hoping that this pregnancy would NOT turn into my longest one yet, but seeing as how I wasn’t in labor by Monday late afternoon, I just admitted, whelp this is my longest one no matter what now. Both my other two pregnancies ended at 41+6. To be fair the first one was via induction, but either way, that’s when it ended. So going past that now, I had already beat my old record for ridiculously long. So I also quit caring what day it happened. I was already longest no matter what.
41+6 Weeks
Now I know the general idea of going to or past 42 weeks is taboo, or considered risky. But for me, I was not at all concerned, I have come to the fact that this is my normal gestation time frame and my body is really good at maintaining healthy levels and placenta and such for that long. My midwife did not seem at all concerned that I would go past the next week, we all could see I was heading towards labor, I was right there.

Tuesday (42 weeks to the day) I am now a very watched pot by both Blake and my mom. They kept asking me since the day before if I was feeling anything, and I would be like “Yeah, but nothing that means I should call the midwife.”
I ate some breakfast with my mom.  I was kinda distracted again by my contractions, but I really didn’t think I was gonna go anywhere with them. After they distracted me all through breakfast and I had more show, I figured I better at least get my bed ready. (Put on layers of old sheets and plastic sheets, so I could change it fast if needed.) My mom helped me with that. Then I figured that I hadn’t washed my hair in a while, it’d be good to take a shower “in case.” Took a shower. Took some iron pills, and some chlorophyll. Fixed my hair. Gave it a while and then figured I’d do my makeup just cause it’d make me happy.
Around then I decided to time the contractions I was kinda thinking might mean something. They were about 45 seconds long and about 4-5 mins apart -- average anyway. But they were super chill. But since I’d been having stronger ones in the morning, and some all day, I texted my midwife. I really didn’t think I’d need her, but she said during the day to try and give her more heads up if possible so she could deal with the fact she had appointments (like as in have time to leave from them to get to me.) So she called and asked if I wanted her to come. I felt really pretty silly. I did not think I was in labor, but I thought I might be soonish. And since it was gonna take her like an hour and a half to get there I said, yeah ok. And she told me I could tell her never mind if I needed to.

My mom was kinda excited to hear me on the phone. But I told her I don’t really know if this is anything. So I decided to take a walk to make sure they didn’t go away. I had asked Blake come home from work right before the midwife had called. So he was there to take the walk with me. The walk I took on Monday was hot and sweaty. So this time I put on this really flowy, light, almost too short dress in preparation for labor walking in summer, and added the stunning fashion forward touch of neon orange running shoes. (Sarcasm -- this is not in the good way that can sometimes be achieved. This was in “aww that poor pregnant thing” way.) But when I got outside it was almost cold. It was really weird for July in Illiois. And it had rained earlier so the sky was misty and grey and the trees would rain down when the wind blew. Honestly I was in heaven. It was right on the edge, where I wasn’t quite cold, but almost -- which was great for super pregnant walking. The air was poetic. We walked and talked and laughed. He held my water bottle (I never wound up drinking from because it wasn’t hot and sweaty.) We would stop and talk through my contractions. I could have walked through them, but just kinda chose not to. I had brought my phone and was timing the contractions at first, but eventually I just was like “who cares” and quit. I knew I was having them, but I also knew they weren’t amping up. But I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was just enjoying the walk. The weather was so exciting, and I felt like we were on a secret date. I kept thinking how cool it was that I was maybe in labor and just walking around the neighborhood. That all the cars and people going past us had no idea. I would have walked a long long time, but I decided my bladder was not in favor of that. So we turned around. The closer we got to the house the closer I wished I was!! When I got in the house I rushed past my mom saying, “Have to pee SO BAD.” And she said, I thought you were gonna say “Have to have a baby so bad!” :)

After that I went upstairs and changed from my short dress to a long dress because I was feeling chilly.
42 Weeks. Personal Record.
And then I started timing my contractions to see what happened. They had spaced out to about 8 mins apart now. And I was feeling pretty silly because my midwife was supposed to get here any time now, and I was starting to think maybe this was all just more prodromal labor.
I decided to lay down on my side on my bed to give myself a chance to rest. I didn’t wanna wear myself out before I was even in labor.

When my midwife got here around 12:30, she asked if she could check my cervix just to get a baseline. And she showed me with her fingers how dilated I was, “I’d say like a 4 or 5.” I nodded like “ok, well that’s good.” but I still was kinda thinking it was maybe a waste of time for my midwife to be here. She asked if I wanted to do another stretch and sweep just to prompt things along, and I said yes. I was ready to tip the scales into the real deal. She said there was nothing holding my cervix back, that she could get her finger all the way around it and to the baby’s head. So we did that and then my midwife just kinda tucked herself away to work on some office work in the baby’s room while I hung out.

Next Blake made some frozen pizza for me and everyone. I remember eating it with very shaky hands. I felt like it was hungry shakes. But I guess it was hormones.

I can’t remember what I did next, I think I tried to move around some, and give gravity the upper hand.

But then I just finally went with my gut that said lay down for a while. I had on a Kari Jobe Pandora Radio Station and I just laid down totally peacing out. Blake laid across the bed from me the whole time. I don’t remember needing to moan for these contractions. All I remember for this part was getting really trancy. I was in another world. I was almost alseep, but totally awake. And At some points I would feel the music so much I would be seeing it live in concert. And at other points I would travel back in time to memories and be there extremely vividly -- but almost like a bystander rewatching it as an adult in the same exact place it happened. Other times I would just have these really happy thoughts about feeling better after the baby was here. I started to feel very grateful and very hopeful. And it all felt so worshipful and transcendent.
I have no idea how long I did that for. But it was a good while. Blake just hung out patiently near me. Maybe he napped --- I have no idea. But I was very glad he was there. I especially love having him near me when my emotions are close to wild, he can keep me grounded and make me feel like I’m not wrong or bad for having the emotions. Clearly labor is one of those times I’d like that support.

After that I felt like I should get up. Everything still felt so calm. But my midwife didn’t seem worried that things weren’t going more intensely. She didn’t need me to time anything. She didn’t make me feel like there was no reason for her to be here. (At one point, I don’t know when in the timeline she did head out to do some errands and I actually felt good about that because I seriously was worried I’d be having her stay at my house for the whole week at this rate.)
I was starting to get bored in my room, Blake was downstairs for now.

So I started to pace our upstairs hallway. I considered going downstairs with everyone, but I felt like maybe that would distract me out of it all. So I kept pacing. I could hear them all talking together. They were talking about when Ruby was born, and episiotomies and how they became routine, but how my midwife last time had felt Ruby needed to get out fast at the end so that’s why I got one. I could feel my mom worry a bit in the conversation, so I went back into my room where I couldn’t hear them and walked around my bed for a while. Still having contractions, but none that made me make any sounds.

I probably have the time off, but I think around 3:00pm my midwife’s assistant arrived. She felt bad because her car alarm went off and she was worried it would have bothered me. But I was just walking the hallway again and told her it was no big deal. My mom waved up to me from the downstairs entryway and  told me I looked great. I wanted to laugh because I was thinking, “Yeah I probably look so good because I’m not in labor.” But then I had to go back to agreeing with myself that I was just in slow motion labor, I WAS in labor, I just had to be patient.
She came up and the both moved the birth supplies into the bedroom. The assistant checked on the baby’s heart, and baby sounded great. My girls came in for a moment then, and both gave me a kiss before heading back downstairs to play.

And my midwife and her assistant both went to work on some stuff in the baby’s room again.

I think it was around now that I finally started to vocalize through my contractions. But they still weren’t bad.

All day long I had the urge to just drink tons and tons of water. And of course I then than to go to the bathroom tons and tons. On and off through the day I would have more show, and I would think “Ok good, eventually I will get there, it might just take a really long time." Every time I sat on the toilet I could feel the pressure shift downward towards my bottom. It always kinda freaked me out. It didn’t feel right yet on the toilet. But then the thought occurred that maybe I should try sitting on the birthball to give gravity the same helping hand, but still have support under my bottom. So I asked Blake to bring it up (I’m guessing it was around 4:00pm now) and I sat on it rolling it around, while he laid on the bed and we talked and laughed about lots of stuff. It felt just like the right place to be. At first I really still was just barely sure I was in labor. And I told Blake I was bored -- and how weird it was that I could get bored and be in labor, and how I kept thinking maybe I wasn’t in labor, or worrying that I would have to do this for a few days. That was the hardest part of this labor -- was not mentally taking steps to make it a bad labor -- to start panicking that everything was wrong, and that I would never have this baby because I would wear out before I did. I had to constantly step back and choose to tell myself that I WAS opening even if it wasn’t happening from strong contractions. But the longer I was on the ball and were were hanging out, the more I would need Blake to take breaks from whatever he was saying while I had contractions. I had a couple pretty strong ones on the ball. But everything was still spaced quite a bit out.

Soon after this I got on the bed and laid on my side again. I did some time with moaning through those contractions on my own there. But pretty soon I let Blake know I was gonna want him to do counter pressure for me. The first few with those were right on the edge of needing them, so they just kinda appreciated his counter pressure. And I was able to show him just where and talk about it more. As they went on, I really did need the counter pressure to get through them. (These were contractions. Now I’m mentally committed to being in labor.) These were decently long. I would always do one great big “Ahhh” moan, run out of air, take a deep breath, and then another “Ahh” moan before they were over.

I could feel the baby squirm right before the contractions would start. I was really interested in that because I didn’t remember feeling Ruby or Jasmine at all during labor. And it was kinda cool to feel that because it was like a signal to me that a contraction was about to come on. It was kinda like a conversation between us.

I remember being happy that this stage on the bed set in through. I think I’m crazy, but this was my favorite part of my labor with Ruby. I loved the rest I got on the bed between the hard contractions, and I loved the counter pressure, and I loved that by that point (in that labor) I was basically out of my body. I found that whole part rather magical. (Not saying it didn’t hurt -- but it was magical inside of that.) So when I got to the counter pressure this time, and my body was also wanting to lay down for it again I felt very at ease. I felt really confident at this stage. Blake was seriously perfect. He stayed right by my side the whole time, ready at the helm to press any time I asked him. He would press really hard, right into it, and that would make it so that I felt that more than the super strong contractions. Even at this stage my contractions were about 6 mins apart. (Blake couldn’t resist timing them.) In between them I would just rest and listen to the music.
Now I’ll be honest and say these contractions were painful. They were very very strong. But for me so far in my experiences natural contraction pain is easy for me to think of as something other than pain. I just think of it as strength and it doesn’t register as pain per se. (Pitocin contractions…those were just pain.) And with the counter pressure I was able to just focus on that and then just generally realize I was opening up.

During this phase my midwife came in a couple times. The first time was when I had started the bigger moans and counter pressure, and she just asked if things were changing. I told her “yes they are getting counter pressurey.” then I laughed and said, “I don’t know what I’m saying.” and I was trying to find words, but she just said, “You need that now.” and I laughed and said yes.

At a different point she listened at the door. (Maybe often times…I’m not aware.) But around dinner time she asked if I felt like it was ok if she and her assistant went to go get some food. I felt fairly sure I didn’t need her yet. And she said they would be close and come right back if I changed my mind.

So they left. Blake had eaten some strawberries at some point. He may have eaten some more food again (I forget.) I figured I should try to eat. I asked my mom for a bowl of cheerios. I tried to eat those, but after one bite and one contraction I was like “this is never happening. I so don’t want food.” so she took it back for me.

We went back to the counter pressure thing for a while. Contractions never got that close together.
But my emotions started to change. I started to feel really needy. I started to feel just general fear. I started to think it could be transition. (But that felt silly, because it felt like I hadn’t done too much yet.) I also felt the need to move now. After having gone to the bathroom, I was on the other side of the bed, with my feet on the floor, my body bent over and my hands on the bed. I rather desperately had Blake come over and give me counter pressure from this position. I was just feeling really burdened with fear -- I have no way to pin point it. I just felt like a big winged bird of fear came with it’s wings out and rested on my shoulders with it’s wings draped over my arms. I started to quietly say out loud, "I am not scared, I am not scared.” I tried to keep up with that. But I started saying things like “I don’t know” more and more about things -- like saying I don’t know if I need my midwife. Blake called or texted her and they were almost back by then.

I don’t remember exactly when these picture was taken (by the assistant), but it was right around here in the story, and only about 20 mins before the baby was born. I think they probably came right before (or between different times of) me standing next to the bed. (The next pictures all have the baby in them.)

I thought at this point, “This must be transition. But no, that’s crazy, I haven’t even labored yet."

My body was starting to shake -- my legs quivered during and after contractions. I had taken off my dress and was wearing a tee shirt. I wanted my legs free, but my arms felt cold.
I had some more of these contractions with my midwife and her assistant back. I don’t know how long this part lasted. But it couldn’t have been long from when I was by the side of the bed till things changed. I told them I was feeling scared in a more specific way. I told them I was scared about the pushing stage. “I never feel like a confident pusher.”

Having never made it through the pushing stage with my oldest (we needed a c-section) had definitely traumatized me. I left that birth feeling very unsure of myself as a whole. And some of  that never fully healed. So despite having a VBAC since, and therefore having pushed my second out, I still felt a lot of fear for the pushing stage. Also, one of my biggest concerns of this birth was the fact that I chose not to use a birth pool this time. Last time I was so excited to have one, and while I did like it, I didn’t feel like I liked it enough to use one again. Getting into the pool through my emotions off a lot. And that made it hard to do those contractions at first. And I also really disliked the fact that inside the pool I felt alone and secluded from my helpers. I didn’t want a barrier around me this time. The other thing about pushing this time was: I had an episiotomy last time. The fact that I did, hadn’t traumatized me or anything. It was just that I very much did not know what I was getting into this time. I had no ring of fire or anything like that last time. Ruby’s heart rate went down at the end, so I had to get out of the pool and push with everything I had contractions or not (I was pushing so hard I didn’t have time to feel anything), when she got to crowning, my midwife did the episiotomy (which hurt a lot) and after that she pretty much just flopped out without any hurting. It was all very rushed and intense. I knew I wasn’t very likely at all to have such an experience again. I was pretty intimidated to experience a long drawn out pushing, crowning, burning, tearing, all without pain meds or emotional crazy rush. I was worried I would HATE that I hadn’t used a birth tub -- since people seem to be very into that for the crowning stage. (I figured I didn’t know any different, so who cares. But I was worried I’d be really mad mid pushing.)

I’m telling them I’m afraid of pushing. And I wasn’t even sure if I’d be pushing that day. I still felt like labor had barely done anything. Generally, I can’t feel an urge to push when it’s time. My contractions just hurt more and differently. But I don’t feel pushy. I was worried I would be not pushing for too long and mess things up. The assistant told me “You can let your body do it.” And that did calm me down, because I figured eventually things would work out even if I was very confused. So I’m having all these crazy emotions, and shaking, and saying kinda lots of “I don’t know” nonsense. I felt like a wild squirrel, skittish and frantic. Somewhere in the midst of these I told Blake I don’t want counter pressure anymore. (I’m guessing this is when my contractions changed to pushing ones and I panicked more.) I said,  "I think I need to get in a new position, my legs are tired." As I climb up on the bed I get another contraction and I feel this crazy internal sensation. I feel the baby slide down. I don’t know what this would be, but to me it felt like the baby slid over and past this round speed bump of a doorway, down really quickly, and then bumped into the end of me, as I felt a pop inside and warm wet fall out. My panic voice says, “That was really weird! That was really weird!” “I need to take off my underwear now.” Blake and the assistant pull it off for me. The assistant says it looks like some mucus. That kinda threw me off because I felt pretty sure that had to be my water break. (Talking later with Blake he thinks it was, but that it did look very mucusy. He thinks maybe the water broke up high, because he said water was kinda just leaking out the rest of the time.)
Now I start to say, “Should I push? Should I push?” And my midwife asks me if I think I should. And I feel some what annoyed like “You tell me.” But I say "Ok I’ll try one.” (Because I had no idea.) I was on my hands and knees on the bed. We had disposable  absorption pads under me all around. I started to push and said, “I’m going to pee!” I felt really out of control, but trying to be ok. They told me that’s fine, you have pads here. I don’t know if I peed or if it was my water, or all of the above, but something happened wet! That contraction felt way better while pushing, so I knew I was to the pushing stage then. So I was glad because that meant somehow I’d gotten this far, but I was not glad because I don’t like the pushing stage and now I had to face it.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this way, but stage one is almost artistic to me in a way. It feel like you can transcend it in this poet mind over matter trippy way. It’s an ethereal  kind of physical. But stage two is not poetic, it’s salt of the earth, sweat off the brow, nitty gritty exertion.  And while I’ve in past years learn to embrace physical exertion and it’s benefits, I’ve always been more the artistic thinker. So the extreme way these two meet up in labor and delivery is very hard on me. But I just know you have to deal with it, there isn’t another option. My brain is still out in space, but my body is asking it to come back and help it to act in strong force. 

 I think I did one more push on my hands and they asked me if I want to try to be more upright. I said yes, and I move over to my headboard. 

I grabbed the top of it with my hands and faced out the window. Moving my worn out body felt so hard. The headboard was inches away but to felt so hard to reach. They were shoving more pads under me. I’m sure I was saying more “I don’t know” nonsense.

*Here is where you wanna stop reading if you do not want to think about me and my bodily functions. Sign off, just look at pictures.

All day long I had been telling myself it’s just gonna happen -- I’ll poop during pushing, and that will have to be ok. With Ruby’s labor I had a bout of diarrhea in labor and so I didn’t poop while pushing. (I was so happy about that.) This time, no such luck, and I had been feeling stopped up for a couple days now, so I knew I was gonna poop. I had read in some book about birth that you literally want to try to pee and poop at the same time when you push out a baby. So that’s what I did. I just started trying to poop on my bed. (lol That’s hilarious now.) And poop I did. I had a moment where I wanted to be really mad and embarrassed and have a pity party. “Yeah this is SO not what I had wanted to do today, poop on my bed, in front of people.” I even kinda wanted to cry for a minute. But then I told myself, “Remember how much you want to stop being pregnant? The only way out is through -- poop like crazy.” And after that I started to just all out push down. (And I think I was done pooping anyway.) The sensation was freaky, so I started to press my body up towards the ceiling, and away from the baby while I was pushing, with my legs.  My midwife said to me, “You’re gonna have to go against your instincts, if your instinct is to pull away.” “You need to push into it.” (I feel like I could currently ponder that one for days, and how it could play into so many things.) I wasn’t thrilled about that, but new she was right. So I tried to squat more. I was hanging onto my headboard for dear life. (My back muscles still remind me of that 5 days later.) I was gripping and pulling with my hands and arms, and pushing with the bottom half of me. I was very surprised at how vocal I was. With Ruby’s delivery, it was so frantic that I never made any sounds, just with the cut I screamed, then the rest of the time I just bore down silently pushing with everything. So this time when I felt like grunting, growling, and using tension releasing sorta scream-yells after the contraction was over I was kinda shocked by myself. Again I wanted to be embarrassed and feel bad for/about myself -- I thought I would be more peaceful -- but they kept telling me good job, so it felt ok. Pushing was a lot harder than I was expecting. Getting a baby out without an episiotomy was very, very different than with. I think I pushed maybe four times upright like that (I don't know exactly.) At some point, either my midwife or her assistant told me they were gonna reach in and check things. They said I had a bit of a cervical lip and they had pulled it back now. I pushed some more. I can't remember if I did any of the pushes while they had their hand on my cervix or not. Either way after a couple pushes I was starting to feel a bit defeated, thinking I was getting nowhere, but they told me I could reach down and feel my baby’s head. I’ve seen that in so many birth videos, but never got to do that. I always thought I wanted to….It was shocking! It felt crazy. I could feel the baby’s head, but I could also feel my whole lower regions reshaped into a ball, all tight and stretched. I was both super happy to feel the baby so close and totally freaked out to feel my crotch like that.  I was suddenly SUPER aware of how full my crotch was with what felt like a bowling ball that somehow fits where I never thought it could. I said “woah” reach up and grabbed the headboard again, ready to get that baby OUT. No one should leave a ball wedged in there like that! This needs to change!! I don’t know if I pushed upright one more time or not, but pretty soon they asked me to try hands and knees. Which made me think of all the stuff I’ve read on birth -- in particular the Gaskin Manoeuvre. We weren't to the shoulders yet but for some reason while pregnant I spent like two weeks reading up on shoulder dystocia, so I just calmly thought when they asked me to get on my hands and knees,  “Oh like Ina May.” But I think my words came out call nervous and crazy again, like “I don’t know if I can move.” Because well, I had a head between my legs -- I’d never felt anything so weird. (Plus this pregnancy really still had me so sore and huge and immobile, all the movements I made during the pushing stage felt like a major production.) But I was able to get down.  My head was basically in the headboard, and my butt was out towards the door. I pushed maybe two more times and the head came out. It felt kinda like a pop. And I asked, “Was that it?!” (I meant the head, but I think they thought I meant the whole baby, and told me, “It was the head.”) I immediately put my head down on the bed in pure joy saying “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it!” I was sighing and ahh-ing. I knew I’d need another contraction and then I’d be done. Well at least based on my last pushing experience. With an episiotomy there last time the shoulder were a total synch. So I didn’t know I was celebrating a bit too soon this time. I got a small contraction going and went to push and NOTHING. So I stopped. They asked me if I had a contraction and I said I have nothing right now. They were ok with me waiting. I guess my midwife had her hand wedged to the side -- to give baby’s cord a bit of room. And my mom had come in the room right before the baby came out -- she keeps telling me how long his head was out for. (I think it wasn’t really super long, just that she didn’t really know you could leave the head out before the shoulders much at all.) Blake told me he was so anxious just staring at that face thinking “Boy or Girl!? Boy or Girl!?” As my next contraction was starting my midwife said, “Ok I’m gonna help you.” I think I just said “Ok” but I was thinking “Heck yes -- get this baby out please!” She reached in and probably pulled from under the arm(s) -- I don't really know exactly, I didn’t feel much with whatever she did. But out the baby came -- that funny lump bumpy fast flop. You can almost feel the soul leave your body with them it’s so intense to be emptied. I felt like I essentially collapsed down in total relief. I had no thoughts, just relief. I tried to look back at the baby but I really couldn’t move. I could kind of see dark hair, but didn’t know what I was seeing. I just put my head down.
Then Blake’s excited voice, “We have a boy!” And then a baby cry.
Part of me had hoped it’d work out that I’d get to look and see what the baby was, but I loved hearing how happy Blake was. We of course would love, and be thrilled with, another girl too. But I was just so utterly relieved to hear we had a boy. This pregnancy was so hard, I don’t know if I could do another one, and I so hoped Blake would be able to have a son. (The poor guy has ONLY girl relatives (besides his dad) as far as the eye can see (3 sisters, all have had girl babies so far, only girl cousins, only girl neighbors as a kid) I so hoped he would have a guy to hang out with.) I almost cried hearing it, but was just so relieved it didn’t turn into tears. 
Also, honestly if it was a girl... I would have been so, so, so baffled as to why this pregnancy was so immensely different --- knowing it was a boy, made some of it feel justified, at least in perhaps some sort of reason. (Even if it might be kinda a less plausible one. It feels plausible to me.)

I was kinda struggling to figure out how to move to get to the baby. But my midwife passed him up between my legs and I sat back on my heels (sorta) and scooped him up. He was all slimy-wet and smelled like the womb. It’s not a bad smell, but it’s not a good smell either. It reminded me vaguely of fish food (it’s not the same, but I don’t know any other smell to compare it to.) But I remember thinking that was the best thing to be smelling right now. I pulled him to me and chanted “Hi.” and I kissed his slimy wet head over and over. And petted his hair. He has so much hair (for one of our babies -- the girls had just fuzz.) All I could think to say was “hi….….hi……..hi.” This person that I barely could understand existed, was now right in my arms. He was here. I was finally delivered. And this sweet, innocent, non-malicious, beautiful thing, was alive in my arms; and I loved him.
That moment was amazing. And seemed without time.

Eventually my legs started to fall asleep under me and I laid back on some pillows with him on my chest to deliver the placenta.

I pushed really hard and it came out. It felt enormous and extremely heavy. The assistant was helping with this part and she even was shocked by how heavy it felt. (I kinda wished we weighed it just to see. But we didn’t.) We looked it over later on and she said it was extremely healthy no degrading at all even at 42 weeks. And she said something about me nourishing it well. Which I found hilarious since I essentially only feed it junk food and milk shakes since that’s all my nausea would stomach.

After that the girls came in to meet their brother.

Blake told my mom what his name is (We named him after our dads for his first and middle name) and she teared up.

On the blog I’m gonna call him Bronson. That’s been our pretend womb name joke because we liked the name until we realized it  rhymed hilariously with our last name Johnson. But that makes for a perfect blog name. :)

Ruby made sure to bring him a baby toy right away -- a fish shaped teething toy.

Then we had to look over my bottom area to assess for damage. I gotta be honest, this part sucked. It was so stingy. It’s a kind of pain I don’t know how to labor away from. It just is ouchy. I had been kinda worried I’d just tear right through my old episiotomy scar. But I had very little tearing, and not at all in that spot. Most of it was skin splits that wouldn’t need anything. And really she said I wouldn’t need any stitches at all, but one of the small tears was a bleeder so she thought stitches would be best.
I honestly really hated this part. It’s just one of those things I feel like you suck up because you are a grown up. You pay bills, you get shots and don’t cry, you suck up the fact that you need stitches. I did lots of ouchie sounds, and then by the end (it took a while) tried to do some weird “do do do” signing to distract myself. A lot of the stitches were painless after the numbing, but the last ones were not.

Eventually we got to weigh him. And I was shocked that he was only 8 pounds 8 ounces! Shocked. I thought for sure he was gonna be huge!! (I may never get over it, after how bad my diet was during that pregnancy and how long he stayed inside.)

My midwife at some point told me that I have a big perineum. I laughed and said what does that mean. I guess I have more than the standard space between. I hadn’t ever thought about how bodies might different in that one kinda funny spot. But her explanation made so much sense on this and the last delivery. She said it’s really good for streatching and less tearing. But she said she (who has never done an episiotomy because she hasn’t needed to) could see why my last midwife would have thought she needed to give me on last time. With all that extra stretch my skin has it took longer to get baby past it, I can just keep stretching out really far, with the effort of the push not really getting past the stretchiness. Which is why she helped my with the shoulders. So she said she could see why, if baby needed to get out fast, that was what she chose.

I was really glad she explained that to me. My last doula had kinda made me feel like my last midwife may have jumped the gun on that episiotomy. And while I was never mad at her (I knew she was doing what she felt was in our best interest, and I of course wanted a safe, healthy baby) I had always kinda wondered about it. This made me feel like each birth was just what it needed to be. And now I know why. That’s always nice.

And after the explanation I had zero need to wonder about what happened this time. It just all made immediate sense.

I will say healing this time around is much easier. Much. I haven’t put any ice down there. (Last time I needed ice for days. And it hurt for weeks.) I’ve just taken Ibuprofen. And it’s only been 5 days, but I have times where its fine already. (Other still quite ouchie times too though.)

So I think it’s kinda nice, in a weird way, that I’ve experienced all three delivery options. (C-section, episiotomy, all natural.)

I had so many doubts going into this labor. And they all worked out so perfectly. (Thank you again for your prayers!)

I doubted that I had the strength. And therefore really was doubting the whole home birth/ no epidural decision….bur my body took the slow, easy, and steady wins the race pace. And it was awesome! (Thank you, God. Thank you, body.)
Plus, if I had been planning to go to the hospital (well ignore the fact they wouldn’t have let me be pregnant long enough for this birth to happen) I don’t think I would have ever left the house to get there --- my contractions never got to be 4 mins apart  --- which is when they say to leave!

I doubted my choice to not get a doula…but Blake is the best doula in the entire world for me. And a second person wasn’t needed. He makes me feel so safe, totally accepted, free, and he brings all the right physical support I need perfectly. I couldn’t pay someone to be what he is for me in labor. I love him like a billion times more now.

I doubted my choice to not look for a birth photographer….I wound up with all the pictures I wanted.  Of course they are not perfectly framed and focused, but I don't care. I took a couple early on with my phone since everything was so chill.  The assistant snapped some at the end and after with my big camera. So did my midwife. And I kinda love the pictures more because they took them. And my mom snapped some with her phone while just his head was out. (sorry, not sharing those with you…too much of me for the internet!) And I was so glad she did cause I had really only wanted that picture taken. lol. Weird I know. But after ruby was born and I saw pictures there was none with her until she was fully out. And with it being my VBAC I really kinda wished I could have seen more evidence of her exit, to wrap my mind around it. So I love having these terrifying photos this time. (lol -- seriously weird to look at a head sticking out of you, while you are in one of the least flattering positions ever.) So I got perfect pictures. And had a photographer been hanging out with me all day I would have hated it --- with how easy my labor was I would have felt like they were just a pest.

I doubted my choice not to get a birth pool…. but I think my gut knew that I shouldn’t have one. I didn’t ever feel like getting in one. If I had maybe my slow labor would have stopped (I don’t know.) And the way my pushing stage went, with needing a bit of help, I think the water would have gotten in the way. I’d probably have had to get out anyway (I don’t know.) And I liked having the hard solid headboard to hold -- a blow up pool edge wouldn’t have been what I wanted. Plus there was a poetry to birthing while looking out the window that I’d so often stared out while laying on the bed sick. Plus it’s cool that as long as I own this bed I own a place I’ve given birth. (uh oh, I think I just lifetime committed to this headboard lol)

My gut helped me make some very nice choices. Included being surprised by the gender this time around. I really loved it. (And I loved knowing in the other two pregnancy. Each time felt right.)

So that’s my birth story. I particularly love it.

My first night after giving birth I didn’t sleep a wink (I never do the first night) and I laid there deliriously happy.

Since then I’ve been really blessed by my mom and Blake to have gotten to have a babymoon in bed -- resting, recovering (I do still feel very weak -- I think almost more from the pregnancy than delivery) and getting to know this sweet little guy. The last day or so I’m actually not feeling nauseous. I still dont have much taste for food yet. But I’ve gotten to feel hungry! (While pregnant I never got to feel hunger -- I’d grow queasy long before I could feel the sensation of hunger. Who knew I could miss that feeling I so often hated!)

I’ve been trying my best to stay in the moment. I can’t always do it. But when I am I’m so very happy.

I know I have emotions left from the hard pregnancy. They started to come with my hormone surge/crash. I’m not sure what will come of that.
But I do know I have a deep desire now to always enjoy life when it’s good -- and after spending that long feeling very very bad, I find good is easier to come by than I used to think.


  1. Beautiful... You, your baby, your lovely family, the birth process... are all so beautiful! Congratulations! I followed your 3rd pregnancy and became so anxious, especially in your (long) last trimester and now I feel so relieved and happy to see you passed the hardship in pure womanly strength, with help from a loving husband and others. Soooo happy for you! Congratulations!

  2. Congratulations on your precious baby boy! I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to pregnancy so I love hearing birth stories. I had my second son just a month ago so my memories are still fresh. I agree with your perspective on the second stage of labor - I hate pushing! Your description of how baby feels as they emerge is also spot on. Such a strange, yet exhilarating sensation! I'm so happy for you and your new addition to your family. I'm also really happy that you can start feeling normal again! Congratulations again and here's to the new, beautiful, family-filled, loving chaos.

  3. What a beautiful birth story! Thank you for sharing your experiences so authentically. I hope you are enjoying your babymoon! I wish many blessings on you and your sweet family :-)

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