I’m not sure I’m completely ready to write out my birth story just yet. I’m too close to it to really be able to look back and reflect on the day. However, I figured I would write the basics about what happened and how it went.
It is more common for first time moms to head to the hospital or birth center only to be sent home with the news that they’re not in labor or that they’re not far enough and need to come back later. Things are always a little more muddy with mommies who have already done this before. New mommies aren’t always sure what to expect, so they often go in during false labor or Braxton Hicks contractions. I had been having contractions on and off for a long time as my body geared up for the real deal. But when the real deal started I wondered if this could really be it. I kinda thought it might be false labor.
I woke up with some pretty nasty back pain in the morning and had contractions on and off throughout the day. We had several plans for the day including taking our van in to the shop for the AC, grocery shopping (thank God we did this when we did), plans for Josh to see a movie with a friend while his wife & I hung out with the boys, and cookout and games afterward. The guys left for their movie at about 2:15. Around 4:00 or so my contractions started to get so intense that I decided to download a contraction tracker on my iPad to help me calculate if they were really coming as often and sticking around as long as I thought they were. I tried not to let Cece on to what was going on. I didn’t want to startle her if it was nothing. However, they were getting painful enough that I couldn’t really talk through them. The guys got back to the house after the movie around 6:00 or so and we fired up the grill. I told Josh that I had been keeping track of my contractions but wasn’t really sure what to make of it. They were a little irregular, but very intense.
At about 6:20 I decided to call Cherish and Lori, my midwives, to see what they thought. To my surprise, there was another mommy who was having a baby at the Birth Center, so they couldn’t leave to come to my birth at home. So they asked if I would be willing to pack up my stuff and head to the Birth Center and, potentially, forego my plans for a home birth (which would have turned into an unassisted birth). I was fine with that. I mean, of course I wanted to be in my own home, but the Birth Center is comfortable and quiet and a really great alternative…and certainly better than an unassisted birth.
We arrived at Ancient Paths in Chino at 7:15pm. Everything was so quiet. A mommy had just given birth to her little boy in another room. My contractions were definitely getting closer and feeling more intense. Cherish sat down and asked me some questions. They prepared a room for me to get comfortable (seriously…better than a hotel), and decided to check me out and see if we were dilated. Sure enough, I was at 4-5cm and Lori said, “you’re not going anywhere.”
I was pretty uncomfortable so I climbed in the big, beautiful, white, claw foot soaker to take some of the pressure off. My friend, Christian, arrived not long after to assist me as a doula for the birth. I soaked in the tub and dreaded each contraction, but Christian, my midwives, and Josh were all very encouraging. There was a CD of instrumental hymns that was playing in the background. Some of my favorites helped me to concentrate through the contractions. Softly and Tenderly, The Old Rugged Cross, He Walks With Me…humming them or thinking the words along to the songs and remembering specific people that I associate with each song. The Old Rugged Cross was a favorite of my grandpa Huisheere, so it made me think about how excited he would be to see the two great grandsons that he didn’t get to meet…and how I am so thankful that I will see him again someday. He Walks With Me was sung at the funeral of the friend whom I posted about in a previous post. It is such a beautiful song and every time I hear it I think of Stephanie and what a beautiful life she lived. It made me remember to truly cherish this birth and my children. Softly and Tenderly is not a well-known hymn, but I have a favorite A’Capella group that sings it and it reminded me of all the times that it has brought me peace knowing that Jesus is waiting for us and calling for us to come to Him. Not everyone loves hymns…but I do. Each one brought me peace in some way…or at least gave me something to focus on.
Probably around 8:15 or so I had a contraction and told Christian that I felt like I needed to push on that one. She calmly said, “Let’s try not to do that just yet. Just breathe through it for now,” and told Lori what I had said. Just a few moments later Lori and Cherish were there. I realized I was still in the tub and a big part of me wanted to get out. I had no desire to deliver in a tub before, but standing wasn’t going to be an option at this point either. So, out went that plan. But I really didn’t care. Each contraction grew more and more painful and I thought to myself, “I totally get why people want epidurals.” As I pushed I could tell that we were getting closer to being done…but as most women can attest, every moment feels like an eternity. So I was also feeling a little bit of frustration and wanted so badly to cry…but I couldn’t. Lori reassured me that we were almost there, his head was coming, and asked if I wanted to touch it. “No,” I responded quickly. In my mind I was thinking, “I just want to get him out. I don’t want to touch…it will hurt to touch.” I probably pushed through 4 contractions or so and he was out! 8:32 pm…just over an hour after we arrived at the birth center.
It wasn’t over, though. He had come out still in the sack. My water had broken, but it never came away from him. Also, his umbilical cord was tightly wrapped around his neck. I didn’t see that part because they’re so quick to remove it, but I heard about it later. All I knew was that he was out, he was cold, blue, and not breathing…but I also saw that he was kicking, which gave me hope. They quickly placed him on my chest and started rubbing his back. They grabbed a little oxygen bag and mask to help get him going. I just kept whispering, “Please breathe. Please breathe. Please breathe.” It was probably only seconds, but felt like forever. His first cry was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. “Thank God.” I could breathe now that he was breathing.
Cherish and Lori grabbed some warm blankets and covered him up as he lay there on me still attached to the umbilical cord. Now, I’ve read articles about the importance of delayed cord clamping, but now I got to experience it firsthand. I was able to watch as his little blue body quickly turned more pink. His body filling up with oxygenated blood. The lack of chaos in the room when he wasn’t breathing…all because he was still receiving oxygen from me. It bought him some time and it really helped him to gain his color quickly. He even latched on right away–within minutes of being born. Lori noticed that he had a little blister on his hand, probably from sucking it so much in the womb. Sure enough…he was sucking on that little fist later.
My friend, Jen, had been waiting outside the door while labor came to a close. I was sad that she missed it, but she got to hear what was happening. :-). It was nice to see her and get some support and encouragement from her. She wasn’t able to stay long as she had her husband and daughter waiting outside for her. But I know that she would have been there the whole time if she had the chance.
We decided the water was a little chilly (I generally don’t like baths and I get overheated easily…so the water was not very hot) for Miles so it was time to pull him out, wrap him in warm towels, and get cleaned up. After that, it was just warming up and cuddling…periodic temp checks and blood pressure checks, the newborn screening…etc. So peaceful to get to lay in a comfy bed and hold my precious little Miles.
The only thing that was sad was that I had really wanted Emery and Levi to be able to see their baby brother sooner after he was born. I missed them and wanted to hold them and tell them how much I love them. So a little after 10pm I was able to talk on the phone with Emery before he went to bed. I told him that he would meet Miles in the morning and that I couldn’t wait to see him.
At about 12:15pm we left the birth center…a happy, and even more complete family. We got home a little before 1am and climbed into bed and all got some rest.
So far, I am doing a lot better emotionally than I was after Levi was born. I fully believe that having the ability to be home with my family in a peaceful environment shortly after delivery is a key for me. I love my kids and being away from them breaks my heart. No, not everything went as planned. But so far that really doesn’t bother me. Two weeks ago Cherish and I were going over my birth plan. One of the questions was “What is the worst thing you can think of happening during labor & delivery” or something to that effect. My answer was “die.” Beyond that, nothing else really mattered. My notes said that I wanted it to be a calm, supportive environment without chaos, bright crazy lights and panicking nurses or doctors. I just wanted it to be as peaceful as possible. And, all things considered, it was. I am beyond pleased with my choice to home birth…and ultimately deliver in a birth center. The tub didn’t kill me…and was pretty comfy for a while. I got to go home to see my boys and sleep in my own bed. I felt the kind of love, support, and care from the women who were there for Miles’ birth that I didn’t get at the hospitals with my other two boys.
Now…to talk Josh into getting a vasectomy…