Baby Monk Monk just turned 3 months, so I guess his birth story is “old news.” Bunkee is sleeping through the night now (unless I just jinxed that!), he’s down from 8 or 9 feedings a day to 6, I’ve started working at my new job, and things are starting to settle down a little. In my last post I promised to tell our birth story; whether or not anyone wants to read it remains to be seen, but I’m telling it, starting today and finishing it sometime before Chumpkin turns 30. I think.
We were waiting anxiously for something to happen. My due date came and went on Sunday before Thanksgiving without even a smidge of a labor indicator. My midwife had warned me that first-time moms often go late, so I wasn’t too surprised that Munchie was a little late. The emails, texts, and facebook messages piled up, asking if there was any progress; everyone was anxious to meet our new Monkey, especially since we didn’t know if we were going to have a Little Man or a baby princess. But we just had to wait and wait. And wait. I was glad I hadn’t taken my maternity leave any earlier, or the waiting would have seemed even more interminable (like forever and a half instead of just forever I guess…).
Early Tuesday, about 4am, I woke up with painful contractions. I had to get out of bed so Scott could sleep. I parked on the couch, cringing every few minutes, using my new app to time the contractions. They didn’t go away as I drank water. They didn’t go away when I was lying down. They didn’t go away when I got up to walk around. I started cleaning, figuring that it made more sense to get some work done as long as I couldn’t sleep. The irregular contractions kept up until about 10am, when they just faded away. I tried to get some rest that afternoon, but couldn’t really. That evening I went to bed disappointed and yet relieved– disappointed that we didn’t get to meet the baby, but relieved that I wouldn’t have to face labor quite yet.
I woke up after only a couple of hours of sleep. At 1 am the contractions started again. I got out my phone with my handy-dandy app and assumed they were false labor again. The contractions got closer together until they were five minutes apart. Then lengthened out again to 8 minutes. Then we’d have another stretch at 4 minutes apart. After breakfast I called my midwife, Lisa, to let her know. She said it sounded like false labor again, but to keep her apprised as things went on. I talked to my mom, too, since she was planning to come for the birth. On the one hand, we didn’t want Mom to come if it was another false alarm; on the other hand, the weather was supposed to turn nasty in the evening, with freezing rain and snow and ice, so if the baby did decide to make an appearance that night it might not be safe for Mom to drive over.
The day went on and so did the contractions, now 7 minutes apart, now 4 minutes apart, varying but strengthening. Mom decided to come ahead before the weather could get bad and arrived in the early evening. We called the midwife again. She said it still sounded like false labor and to try two glasses of wine as the alcohol could stop false labor and that amount that late in the pregnancy wouldn’t have any bad effects for the baby. She said it was important for me to get some rest. I don’t really like wine, but I was ready to try anything!
I choked down about a glass and a half (the nausea accompanying contractions was not helping any!), then waited a couple hours. The contractions didn’t change. We called Lisa again (as she’d told us to do), and she said she’d be out to check on me. And would I mind if she brought a friend, also a midwife, who was visiting from out of town? I didn’t mind in the least, so they came around 10pm.
The good news was that it was labor starting. The bad news was it was super early and I had a long time to wait. After staying an hour or so, Lisa and her friend left to try to get some rest.
Scott went to bed.
Things were ramping up when Lisa came back at 7:30, but she said we still had quite a while to wait. She went back home, picked up her friend, and came back. I got into the shower to try to get some relief; the heat helped, though Scott had to hold me up when a contraction hit. I got out and tried to walk around to speed things up. Mom or Scott would walk with me, stopping when a contraction made me double over, then helping me back up to walk.
We had planned to have a birthing pool, but I had forgotten to pick it up in time for the plastic to acclimate to the warm house, so we couldn’t use it. I think it would have helped immensely, as every time I got in the shower or tub the pain was much more bearable. I will NOT forget next time, for sure!!
About 12 Lisa said it was time to check again. I told her, “If you say I’m just at six I’m gonna scream.” Thankfully I was about 8cm dilated. Lisa said she though she could stretch me to nine, though it would be a little painful. I was like, “Are you kidding? Speed it up! It can’t be worse than this!”
It wasn’t long till it was time to push. We set up in the bedroom. Lisa needed another flashlight so there was a little confusion as I tried to tell them where to find a flashlight; and after they found one, where to find the other flashlight that doesn’t have to be wound up to use! We started off with me on the bed, sitting on the edge, my feet on Lisa’s knees as she sat on a low stool. We tried that position for probably 20 minutes without much success. I was exhausted. It was certainly a relief to get to push, but I was tired out from the hours and hours of contractions. Lisa suggested that we change positions. I stood next to the bed, facing it, with Scott sitting cross-legged in front of me to hold me. Then I squatted as the contraction hit.
It was a pretty quiet delivery, actually. Lisa told me that grunting or crying out decreased the pressure, and that shut me up quickly. I wanted that baby OUT!
“I can see the baby’s hair!” Lisa exclaimed after a particularly rough contraction. “Boy, you’ll be able to put it in a ponytail it’s so long!” I did not care. I could feel that head stuck in a place that was way too small for it. My legs were weak and trembling from squatting (I’ve always had wimpy quads) and I felt like I was going to collapse. Another contraction. Push. Don’t breathe yet. Keep pushing. Almost there. Contraction’s gone. Breathe. Breathe. Feel another one coming. This could be it. Push, don’t breathe, Push, don’t breathe, just a little more and….
I could feel a gush of fluids (no need to say what all!) and I could hear Lisa and Mom scrambling to catch the baby. A lot of babies stay in the birth canal a little while, but once his head was out Jack just squirted right onto Lisa’s lap. Scott pulled me up onto the bed so I could rest. They propped me up and put the baby on my chest. Scott told me it was a boy just before they handed him up to me. The cord wasn’t cut yet, but we got him started nursing.
The placenta came out easily (and disgustingly–it’s an amazing organ but pretty gross), and Mom got to cut the cord. After a few minutes of feeding and snuggling, they took baby Jack to get him cleaned up. After he was clean, Scott took him in to watch the Cowboys game on TV while I got my stitches. They did a great job of stitching me up; it was hardly painful at all. I couldn’t believe it was all over and I could finally rest.
Jack arrived on Thanksgiving Day at 1:30, 36 hours after I started having contractions. He weighed in at 8lbs 1 oz, and was 21 inches long. He was breathing well but didn’t cry, which Lisa said is actually pretty normal for home birth babies.
Lisa and her friend were absolutely great through the whole process. And I was so very glad Mom had come and could be there for everything. She was so helpful and calm and comforting that the midwives tried to convince her to become a doula. She’d love it, and she’d be good at it, but she has other commitments at the moment. I was glad she was there to be my doula, though! Scott did well, too; no faintness, no anxiety, just tried to comfort and help me as best he could. Such a great hubby!
So, that’s the story of how our little turkey arrived. I don’t have any other pictures of the birthing process I can post, since I was *ahem* not quite properly clothed (stark naked) during the pushing process. But like Jim Gaffigan says, at least I didn’t give birth in a gown someone died in the day before…
I loved having a home birth. I mean, labor is an awful process to go through to get your baby, but it’s just one of those things you have to do. Natural birth was good for me, especially since my labor was so slow and an epidural probably would have stalled it. I liked having a private birth with only 4 other people present. I liked being able to walk around and eat some toast (though I was so nauseated it was hard to eat it). It was great to be able to switch positions so gravity gave me some help. And the midwives were very helpful, explaining everything and giving me some wonderful advice for the post-partum period.
Would I recommend home birth? Absolutely. But I realize it isn’t the best choice for everyone. I would encourage people to consider it, though, and not just dismiss it. Look into the benefits of natural birth. Do some research. Don’t just say, “I could never do that.” Piffle. Women have given birth naturally for thousands of years, and they were not our superiors in any way. Now if you don’t want to do it, that’s fine. Just say so. It’s your choice. I would encourage you to look around, ask around, find out what options are available. You might be surprised at how capable you are! But no matter what you choose, the end result is a life-changing little person who will bring enough joy to erase the memory of the pain and get you started thinking about when you should have the next one!