Warning. There is going to be a excruciating amount of detail in this post. This is just as much for my records as it is to share with all of you. For that I apologize. Also, it may be to much info, but come on now people. It is a birth story. Births are graphic. If you want the PG version, go back a post and scroll to the bottom. That is the best I can do.
And so it began...
Up until this starting point, I was feeling amazing. I knew I was having contractions, but I would have to put my hand on my stomach to feel it grow taught. There was absolutely no pain or even uncomfortableness involved leading up to the 33 hours between my water breaking and Adler joining us.
Friday, Oct 21st
6 pmThomas and I decided to go to dinner at Katie Downs with our friends Mike and Stacey, since clearly nothing was happening any time soon. As we were standing in line to order our food, the lady asked me what dressing I wanted on my salad. I told her and at the same time felt a little wet on my jeans. I thought, "I know I did not just pee myself. I haven't lost bladder control yet." I turned to Thomas and quietly said, "I think my water just broke."
I went straight into the bathroom and did the smell, color, amount triage. I decided that it was a very small amount and I should be ok to actually eat the food we had ordered. I texted my midwife and she said if it had broken that I would just keep on leaking. So we enjoyed our dinner as I very careful tried not to shift or move to let any more out, all the while praying that when I stood up I wouldn't gush everywhere. Whew! Success! No gushing.
At this point I also texted my friend Emily who we had planning on having as our photographer. She lives in Spokane though, so she needed warning to drive the 4.5 hours it would take to get over here. Unfortunately this was the 1 weekend where she was the only OT on call at her work, so unless nothing happened until Sunday night, she told me she wouldn't be able to come. No big deal, we had planned for this and Mary our doula was going to be our backup. Whew! Crisis averted. :)
We made it home and as I moved around a little more, I did indeed keep leaking. Yay! Something is happening! This also started my 48 hour time line of being able to be with my midwife. If nothing happened in that time, I would have to be transferred to an OB's care. Thomas and I decided that it was a good time to actually finish packing our Birthing Inn Bag. I texted her that evening simply saying nothing was happening with contractions, I was just going to get some sleep and I would text her if anything happened. We finally went to bed at 10 pm.
|Hanging out at home after my water broke.|
Saturday, Oct 22nd7 am
I slept out on the couch so that when I got up every few hours to change my pad (so that I wasn't just leaking amniotic fluid all over the place), I wouldn't wake up Thomas. I got 9 hours of decent sleep, only getting up every 3 hours of so because of a contraction, bathroom break, changing of the amniotic fluid filled pad.
The day consisted of me trying to rest and tracking my contractions. They were about 6.5 minutes apart and mild all morning. They then went between 4 min and 10 min apart and mild. In the afternoon we went for a walk just around the block and they dropped down to every 2-3 min apart, but still mild. I went back home and they went back consistently to about 5 min apart, but still mild in the pain department.
Meanwhile, early in the morning Mary, my sweet doula, texted me saying she had been up all night with her 2 boys who were throwing up. She still felt ok with only a sore throat. Just hours later, she texted again saying she was in bed sick and down for the count. When i read her text, I looked at Thomas and just laughed. People were dropping like flies around us! I knew it was ok though, because we had prayed about this and we knew that God had already written our birth story.
As sad as it was to not have Emily or Mary, when we had pictured them as a part of the birth team for months now, ultimately i know i would be so bummed if i didn't have pictures of the whole birth. After asking another friend who was unavailable, i just threw it out there and asked the gal who was going to do our newborn pictures if she was available that night and the next day. She is absolutely amazing and said yes! It seriously took a load off just knowing that.
Once that was all taken care of, at about 5 ish we made dinner together, while I would pause between contractions. The pain ramped up a little bit and in texting with Neva, she suggested taking a shower to help with the pain too. It really did help. The water on my lower back during contractions was wonderful. I didn't want to get out. Sweet Thomas sat on the floor while i took the shower and continued to time my contractions for me.
And then the intensity increased. The contractions were 4 min 30 seconds apart, moderate pain, and i had to get up and both move and breathe through them. At this point Neva and I agreed to meet at The Birthing Inn in 2 hours if nothing had changed. She still kept asking me if i could talk through them or if they suddenly dropped to every 3 minutes. I sent Thomas to bed so he could catch a nap, because clearly i wasn't going to be able to sleep at all and if things were going to go down that night, he needed a little rest. So i just sat, and walked, and tested a few friends to keep myself occupied.
|My contraction timer.|
|Thomas waking up from his 2 hour nap.|
At this point I was texting a friend and i was starting to feel like i needed people encouragement. When i told Kristen that and that i was going to go wake Thomas up, she freaked out on me and said, "Mica, DON'T BE A MARTYR! He should be up with you!" It definitely made me smile. This was also the only time my entire labor when i thought, "I understand why people get epidurals now."
My body also knew what was coming, because twice it completely cleared itself out. Definitely something I recognized as something your body does to prepare for active labor.
I was also texting Neva and she said she would meet me at The Birthing Inn an hour after I said I needed to. So I said, "I need it." We agreed on 10:30 and I went in and told Thomas everything and also said i needed him because i couldn't do it on my own any more. I also needed a little pain relief, so we took out the rebozo and he used it on my hips. In between contractions we got everything ready and he took it out to the car.
We got in the car and headed on over. Those 2 contractions in the 4 minute ride over in the car were not fun!
|We got to park in the laboring mother spot!|
We arrived and decided to not bring anything in until we knew what the game plan was. I knew that often times the transition to the birthing place could slow down labor for a little bit and i was prepared for that. i really wanted to know where my body was at though because honestly i wasn't sure i would recognize the transition, or that it would come on so suddenly that we wouldn't all be able to get there in time.
We walked in and Neva said, "You still have a smile on your face." I worked through a contraction in the midwifes station as Thomas went and got the rebozo to help. We went then transitioned into birthing room number 3, so that she could check me. i was only at a 4, but was 100% effaced (cervix thinned out).
At this point she said we had 2 options. She was going to stay and go sleep in her office. She already had everything set up for us, so we could go home and continue laboring, or we could stay and see what progresses. And if nothing would progress by early morning, we would start trying to get things moving because, I would have to get antibiotics in the morning because my water had already broken.
We decided to stay and work on progressing things by lunges and walking, but also trying to rest in between contractions, because we weren't quite sure what the night was going to look like. We started off by me getting into the tub. At this point when I got into the warm tub, similar to the shower, the warmth of the water almost completely took the pain away for me. I got in and out of the tub twice over the next 3 hours. During that time, I did side lunges through contractions trying to bring him down more. I also tried to rest on the bed in between contractions, but i found that every time I rested, the contractions would be stronger and come on quicker. Meanwhile Thomas would rest in the chair and jump up withe the rebozo every time I would have a contraction. He really was a champ through the whole thing. We also walked the halls/stairs outside the office and that definitely sped things up. A few different times i had to go to the bathroom, and contractions on the toilet were not pleasant. All I could do was grip my hips to try and help. And 1 of the times, as I was on the toilet, it hit me at the same time that I had to throw up. the was a game time decision... throwing up in the toilet won. I had officially cleared out my system. I was ready for active labor. And because of this, Thomas never had to go fishing in the birthing tub, which was jokingly his biggest fear. Not long after that, I got into the tub for the final time where I remained until this sweet boy was born.
Sunday, Oct 23rd1:30 am
There I was in the tub, with Thomas using the shower wand to massage my back during contractions. One particular contraction hit me and I knew that it had changed. There was then the next contraction, which I couldn't get to stop, so it ended up being about 3 together for about 5 minutes. Once I got through it, I told Thomas that it was time to go get Neva. He went to her office and woke her up telling her I need her.
She came in all cozy without any real hurry. I had figured out at this point that being on my hands and knees was the easiest way to take the pain with Thomas using the water to massage me. She told me she needed to check me and that I would have to sit in my rear with my back against the tub. But by the time all that was communicated, another contraction was coming. She let me get through it and the I quickly rotated back over and she checked me. I was dilated to 8 cm. It was go time.
She woke up really quick and her demeanor changed into work mode. She said she was immediately going to call the birth assistant and she started setting up everything she would need since we were clearly doing this birth thing that night. Thomas texted the family, "Sitrep, we are at The Birthing Inn. Game faces people!" And then he texted Chelle our photographer to join us.
At some point, I had started to make deep throated noises to help work through the pain and help with my breathing. I remember thinking, "apparently this is what my body is doing. This is how I am going to do birth. Ok." I was on all fours with my feet out froggy style and every time a contraction hit, I would back myself to the back of the tub to brace myself so I could bare down. In between I would move slightly forward and relax a little. At some point someone put a towel on the front of the tub for me to rest my head on. I only used it every so often though, because it was often too much work to get all the way to the front of the tub. And sometimes getting up there would set off another contraction, so I definitely moved gingerly.
Both Chelsea (Neva's assistant) and Chelle had joined us at some point. I remember them both coming into the room. Neva introduced her in between a contraction and I remember saying, "hi Chelsea." And then when Chelle came in, I remember hearing the clicking of her camera and wondering what crazy faces of mine she was going to get. She had walked over and sat on the chair in the corner, and in between another contraction I remember looking over at her and saying, "Hi Chelle." Thomas laughs about it now because he says it was just such a contrast of me in a contraction and then me just nonchalantly saying hi as new people joined us.
As I labored, Thomas and Chelsea would give me sips of water by just putting the straw up to my lips . Most of the time I would take it, but every once in a while it made me feel like I needed to throw up. they also both would use a wash cloth to wipe the sweat off my brow. And Chelsea got a bin of ice water and they put a cool cloth on my neck to keep my temperature down.
During this time, Thomas was behind me with the water massager and Neva was in front of me on a little stool. My eyes were closed most of this time. Both of them were encouraging me. Thomas was reminding me to breathe during contractions. At first his voice held a little too much urgency, which i remember thinking wasn't helpful, but then just like i got into my rhythm, so did he. Neva was also encouraging and saying things like, "That's how its done." "You are doing so good."
Although I was using all my pain management techniques, as some point it just clicked that when I breath down into my pelvic floor it would help and the stretching pain was good because it was stretching it all out for him to get out. It's funny how it just clicked at some point.
I remember at some point fairly early on, looking at Neva straight in the eye between a contractions and saying, "This sucks." She nodded and said, "I know it does."
At some point I said, "I am never doing this again." Neva said it shocked her because I had been so positive the whole 10 months leading up until then. I also remember saying it, but the details are fuzzy.
Neva would listen to his heart rate in between contractions every 30 min through this time to make sure he was doing ok. He was just fine. She would tell me to, "take a deep breath for baby. In through your nose and out through your mouth." And it would give him more oxygen during that time.
At one point Neva had me check to see where his head was. I checked and was pretty sure it was his head, but wanted her to check and make sure. Sure enough, I was at 10 cm and his head was right there.
It definitely gets a little less coherent and flow here because I was in labor land. I remember my eyes being open and I was thinking completely coherently and incredibly alert, but not able to say more then a word or two at a time about what I did or did not want. In my head though, I was having whole conversations. My eyes were closed or focused on things like the things floating around in the tub, since at some point Neva had turned on the light in the tub. I really don't know how to describe it. Labor land is weird. Your own little world.
At this point, 10 cm dilated, his little head had worked all the way through the cervix and down through my pelvis, but he still had to thin out my vaginal wall (both the muscle and the skin).
During this time, one of the times after Thomas gave me water, it made me want to throw up. So Thomas put the bin in front of me after I got out the word, "throw up". I didn't want throw up in my birthing water! I know I threw up, but apparently nothing came out apparently.
I have some very vivid memories during these 40 minutes. It was so long and yet quick all at the same time.
3 times during the next 40 minutes, I would push and breathe very low and guttural, but then at the end of the push, my pitch would go high and I would whimper and I would say, "I quit."
I remember thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro and thinking, I could have just sat down on my way up the summit and turned around and climbed back down. I couldn't do that during birth. I was literally stuck. I couldn't quit.
At some point during this time, I remember thinking about my friend Kaitlynn's birth story where she said that at one point she just knew she needed to bring 1 knee up to help push. I remember thinking, "will I know when it is time? Is this it?" I don't remember how long after it was, but I did transition to having 1 knee on the ground with that leg half under me supporting me with my other knee up in the air. I heard Neva talk to Thomas about trying to catch Adler because when some women are in that position, they just stand fully up. After a contraction I promised her that I wouldn't stand up.
Thomas, sweet man that he is, just wanted to make me smile. He caught me between a contraction and said, "Mica, at least your hair still looks good." It definitely made me smile, but according to Thomas it was a smile that also said, "you are a dork."
His little head was basically half way out for most of these 40 minutes. It would definitely hurt way more during contractions, but basically the stretching on fire sensations was almost non stop. Every once in a while his little head would reverse prairie dog (if that is a thing) and go back inside. When that would happen, I would say, "no little guy, don't go back in." As much as I wanted a little relief, I also just wanted him out. At this point, she started monitoring his heart rate after every contraction because his head was half way out.
Around this time, I told Thomas that the water no longer felt good on my back. So he turned it off, but then I said it was too quiet, so they just had it running in the background. I remember thinking about how much water I wasted that day. Thomas and Neva switched places, so Thomas was now in front of me and Neva was now behind me. Neva had her hands in the water and was supporting my perineum during contractions the entire time during the 40 minutes. I continued to focus on breathing the pain and Adler down and out. Thomas kept telling me to breath deep not high and then said good when I did it right. He was an amazing coach.
The final 3-4 contractions, my hips were killing me, so with Neva still supporting my perineum, Thomas was also behind me squeezing my hips together to help with the pain. Those last contractions I remember every time I would get ready to push again, Neva would take her hands off of my perineum to do something else. So with the last contraction, I remember saying, "ok, this is it." I was going to give it my all. She put her hands back down to support and with 3-4 pushes, his little head popped out. My hands were also already down there feeling his head along with Neva's. The relief was so immediate I cannot even begin to describe. But during that time, Neva told Thomas to go to the front of the tub. Apparently it was about 30 seconds between his head coming out and the rest of his body coming out. I just remember all of our hands down there catching him as his whole little body slipped out.
Welcome to the world Adler.
With all of us catching him, Neva scooped him up in the water and placed him immediately on my chest. He was quite blue, but he was coughing and trying to get air in. As I held him on my chest, she was flicking his foot, rubbing his chest, and using the bulb to help get the stuff out of his nose and mouth. She also put a warm wet wash cloth on top of him since he was half in and half out of the water and she wanted to keep him warm. Slowly his color came back and he cried for a few minutes to clear everything out. (Knowing him now, he really just didn't like to be naked and cold). I told Thomas to go get his knife and clean it off for when he needed it.
I also remember looking down after all of this while he was still crying and seeing that he was indeed a boy and looking up at Thomas and saying, "He is a boy." :)
Once he had stopped crying, was all warm, and the blood had stopped pulsing between the placenta and Adler, Neva clamped his little umbilical cord close to his little belly. She also clamped the cord close to the placenta. Once everything was in order, Thomas came over with his knife that he had on both tours in Iraq. He was so excited to have his fun and cut the cord with his knife. Neva held the cord, I held Adler and his little boy parts and Thomas cut away!
Now that Adler was separated from the placenta which was still attached to me, Chelsea put a warm towel around him and gave him to Thomas who was sitting in the chair in the corner, for skin to skin time. Meanwhile, Neva was working with me for me to deliver the placenta. She had already looked down at one point and saw some blood enter the water, which was her indication that the placenta had detached from my uterus. She pulled on the cord a little bit and more came out. She said, wow that is a long cord. She very gently pulled and then said, "give me a good push." I pushed once and the placenta came out. I pushed a little bit twice more for the rest of the bag of waters. Once that was out of the water and into a pan, I gently transitioned to the side of the tub. Chelsea and Neva both helped me stand up. They put a puppy piddle pad between my legs to catch anything that dripped and helped me out of the tub. I shuffled the little rug over to the bed so that I didn't make a mess. I laid down and there I stayed for most of the remaining time at The Birthing Inn.
While Thomas was still doing skin to skin, Neva did the uterus massage on me. With the placenta out, she had to massage my uterus to help it start shrinking back down to the size of a mason jar. To me it felt like mild cramps. It didn't feel good, but there definitely wasn't crazy pain either. With each massage, blood and some clots would come out. She mentioned pitocin at one point if the bleeding got bad, but in the end I was fine and didn't need the pitocin to stop the bleeding, it stopped all on its own.
Once she was done massaging my uterus, it was time for my skin to skin with Adler and time to get him to latch. Chelsea took him from Thomas and carried him over to me. She had propped me up a little bit and then laid him on my chest and Neva put him in the best position to get him to latch naturally. He ended up nursing for almost 45 minutes.
During him nursing, Neva uses that time to stitch people up because they are distracted by their new little ones. I had a 2nd degree tear with both the muscle and the skin. Thomas didn't want to see it being sewn up, but I had asked her to explain to me and show me what had torn. Thomas did watch that explanation.
Chelsea had also taken the placenta and she walked us through each part of it. The tree of life on it was absolutely beautiful! We also got to see the lakes and the placenta circumvallate that was found during my 20 week ultrasound.
Neva and Chelsea went away to do some paper work and clean up out of the room. Chelle took a few pictures of us as a family of 3.
Thomas fed me some past left overs from the night before because I need to eat to be able to leave. I then just rested with Adler while Thomas started getting all of our stuff together to take home.
|The first picture I took of him.|
|Neva measuring him.|
Neva and Chelsea came back in to do Adler's measurements. He had already done his first meconium poop on the blankets while I was holding and nursing him. So his may have weighed an ounce or two more. He was born at 3:37 am on Sunday October 23rd. He weighed 7 lbs 10 oz, was 21" long, had a head circumference of 13 3/4" with a chest of 13 1/4" and a temperature of 98.5 degrees. Neva showed Thomas how to put a diaper on him and then he held him while they worked on me.
I had to pass the pee and not faint test. So I slowly sat up, swung my legs around the side of the bed, and then had to walk to the toilet to go pee all by myself without fainting, in order to be able to get discharged. Apparently I went completely pale, but I didn't feel like I was going to pass out (which I have done a few times in my life, so I know the feeling.) They had continued to monitor my blood pressure through out the whole labor and birth process and after birth, my blood pressure was definitely very low. I made it to the toilet though and they showed me how to rinse with the portable bidet as Thomas calls it. Chelsea helped me into the delightful depends and I made it back to the bed.
Neva came in one more time and gave us discharge instructions. We made an appointment to see her the next day for Adler's 24 hour state tests. She said that is was such a special birth and so honored to be a part of it. She told Alder, "You were adopted into an amazing family." She also said that she was glad a student didn't watch the birth, because she wouldn't want them to think they were all this simple and easy!" I am not sure I want to know what that means.
She said that we were welcome to stay as they cleaned up and did paper work, or we were technically discharged at 7 am, so we were also welcome to go home. So Thomas got the rest of our stuff ready to go, we got both Adler and I dressed, and we slowly, very slowly, said our good byes and walked out. Of course it was raining and putting Adler in his carseat in the rain was a great "welcome to WA" from the world.
|Thomas changing Adler's first diaper.|
|Adler dressed and ready to go home! Thank you Auntie Marissa for the outfit and Tanie Em for the shoes!|
|He made it on the board!|
We were home, unpacked, and Adler and I were in bed 9 hours after we had left our house for The Birthing Inn.
|First car ride.|
|Freedom!!! Oh wait.... And responsibility. Dang.|
|First family of 3 self. We made it home!|