In honor of Labor Day, I thought I'd tell Wyatt's birth story (my own labor day). Some of the details are already so fuzzy, so I'd better hurry up and write it down before my memory completely fails me! No pictures with this post, since I've already put up all of the birth day pictures that I want to share on a public forum like this. :) This is going to be a long post, but I want to have a record of this since I know Karl and I won't remember everything as well as we'd like to. So if you're bored by all words and no pictures....sorry!!
On with the show!
My due date was Wednesday, 7-7-2010, but that day came and went without incident. It was hot, hot, hot in Seattle that week and I was pretty uncomfortable. My feet/ankles were swollen to balloon-like proportions, and the heat wasn't helping matters. Plus my mom was in town visiting for just a few more days, so I was feeling the pressure to have this baby sooner rather than later so that she could meet her latest grandchild!
On Saturday, 7-10-2010, with no labor signs presenting themselves yet, we decided to take my mom to go see Toy Story 3. As we were preparing to leave, our doula (Annie) called me. She said she just wanted to check on me to see how I was, since I was 3 days past my estimated due date. She also wanted to let me know that she was heading to a birth...a client whose water broke 3 weeks early...so she asked me (jokingly) to please not go into labor within the next few hours since she'd be busy with the other birth.
"Great!" I exclaimed to Karl, as I got off the phone with Annie. "I'm totally going to go into labor now, and Annie's not going to be available and we're going to be stuck with her back-up doula whom I've never met and I'm going to feel like we wasted our money!"
"Don't worry, honey" Karl soothed, "It's all going to be fine! Calm down!"
I played along with that line of reason, but in my head I just knew that I'd go into labor soon and the thought that our doula wouldn't be available was seriously stressing me out.
On to the movie we went, and wouldn't you know it...I started having contractions during the movie! I could tell these were totally different from any of the Braxton Hicks contractions I'd had previously because it felt more like a menstrual cramp than an all-over belly tightening. I had 3 or 4 of these during the movie, but didn't say anything to Karl or my mom. Needless to say, I had a hard time paying much attention to the movie!
As we're leaving the theater, I whispered to Karl what was going on. At this point I really didn't want anyone else to know (including my mom....sorry, Mom!) that I was having contractions because I didn't want to worry any one and I didn't want to feel the pressure of answering questions or having the baby within a certain time frame. Karl wanted to call Annie or our midwife (Loren), but I said no to both of those suggestions. The contractions weren't strong or close together, so I knew we had a lot of time left.
We ate dinner, Karl re-read all of his labor coach guidelines and finally at 7:35pm I texted our doula..."Have had a few ctx, irregularly spaced and all lasting less than 1 min. Feels like menstrual cramps and there's prob been 5 or 6 over the course of 3 hrs. I'm doing good, no worries. Just wanted you to know!" and she responded right back "Thanks! Drink two glasses of water and take an Epsom salt bath. And keep me up to date dear." I took Annie's advice and proceeded with the rest of our evening. I talked to my friend Melissa for a long time, and she had no idea that I was breathing through contractions during our whole conversation. :)Annie checked back in with me at about 9:15 that evening, and let me know that she still had a ways to go with her other client. Grrrrreat. My contractions had been picking up a bit at this point, so I felt even more stressed that Annie wouldn't be available when the time came.
At some point in the evening/early morning, I was joking with Karl that the baby was packing up his bags to get ready for moving day since he was being so active. My stomach was moving so much, it was crazy! At 2:29am I sent Annie this text: "Baby is very active, ctx are 3-10 min apart, lasting 34-45 sec & are a bit more intense now. I've slept on & off since 11. Haven't called Loren yet - should I?". And then at this point Karl took over the texting and phone calls because my labor was picking up and I did not feel like talking or texting! Little did I know that Annie's client was giving birth at our birth center with our midwife...so my birthing room, my midwife and my doula were all busy while I was in labor. Freaking fabulous. The birthing room and the midwife weren't as big of a deal because they have a second birthing suite and a second midwife who could be called in. But still, it all stressed me out. Luckily I found all of this out just as they were wrapping up with the other birth, so there was no need for me to feel stressed anymore. Whew!
Annie came over to our house around 9am on Sunday, 7-11-10. My mom had woken up a little bit before Annie got to the house, and Karl filled her in on what was going on. I couldn't believe she'd slept through the night without realizing I was in labor! I'd taken several baths, moved all around the house, talked, breathed loudly through contractions...but she's a very sound sleeper apparently, because she didn't hear any of it! Mom asked if there was anything she could do for me, but at this point I just wanted it to be quiet and dark and I didn't want people looking at me so I told her that there wasn't anything to be done except wait patiently.
The next 6 hours were spent laboring at home. Annie was amazing! She's a massage therapist as well as a doula, so she spent a lot of time rubbing my back and legs. I spent a lot of time either laying in bed or sitting on the toilet because those two places just felt the most comfortable to me. Karl was really great through all of this as well, making me food (which I couldn't eat, but it was sweet nonetheless), supporting nearly all of my weight as I moved around the house and just being a constant reassurance that I was doing a good job.
Around 3:00 in the afternoon Annie decided it was time to head to the birthing center. She called Loren to fill her in on where we were at - contractions coming every 1-3 minutes and lasting for 3-4 minutes each. They were SO INTENSE and I was exhausted. It was really hard to move out to the car because the contractions were coming basically right on top of each other. I was draped on Karl with my eyes closed and listening to Annie's breathing instructions, but we finally made it out to the car and started the journey to the birthing center. It's only about a 20 minute drive, but that was the longest 20 minutes ever! Every bump or turn kicked off a contraction and I wanted Karl to drive slower but to hurry up and get there so I could get out of the blasted car! Annie followed us in her car and kept me on speaker phone the whole time so she could talk me through it while Karl drove.
When we got to the birthing center, Loren (our midwife) and a student were there setting up. They took my temp and blood pressure, listened to the baby's heartbeat and then I spent a long time in the bathroom. Something about sitting on the toilet was just very comforting to me, although my legs did keep falling asleep so I'd periodically had to stand up to get feeling back. :)
Once the birthing tub was filled, I got right in. I'd had this thought that everything would feel SO MUCH BETTER once I got in the water. It's nature's epidural, right?! Well, really it just helped me relax enough that labor really got going and my contractions were crazy intense from this point on. Loren checked me right after I got in the tub, and I was 6cm dilated and 80% effaced with a small lip of cervix still protruding. An hour later I was at 8cm but still had that pesky lip of cervix hanging out and not wanting to soften (FYI, the cervix has to be completely softened and out of the way before baby can come out). It was at this point that I started to feel the urge to push. And let me tell you, when your body wants to push, it WANTS TO PUSH! But since I wasn't fully dilated or effaced yet, I couldn't push (well I could have, but it would have just put unnecessary pressure on the baby and would have increased the chances that I'd tear or get hemorrhoids...no thank you!). So here's where Annie really earned her fee...she had me keep my eyes open during each contraction and breathe really quickly (kind of like Lamaze-style breathing) rather than the deep breathing I'd been doing thus far. Keeping my eyes open and breathing fast like that helped stall things out a bit and also helped distract me enough that I didn't push. 15 minutes later though, and I could not hold off any longer because the urge to push was so insanely strong. It was like I wasn't even in control of my body! So Loren checked me and found that in the 15 minutes since my last exam I had fully dilated to 10cm, was fully effaced, no more cervix protruding and my water had broken. I was given the official go-ahead to start pushing, and was told to just push during my contractions. If I pushed when I wasn't contracting, they probably wouldn't be productive pushes and I'd just exhaust myself further and increase risk for injury down there (again, no thank you!).
I pushed for just over an hour, and Wyatt's head was crowning for nearly that entire time. His head was so big (a trait that runs in my side of the family) that it just took a little extra time to come out. His heart rate stayed super strong that whole time, so everyone was content to let me keep pushing without intervention. Near the end though, his heart rate did drop slightly (but was still in a healthy range). Loren said something along the lines of "Okay momma, this is the first time that your little guy is telling us he's not very happy with where he is so we need to go ahead and get him out soon. He's fine, there's no need to worry yet, but we do need to get him out. Let's try another position, out of the tub on the birthing stool. If that doesn't work, I'm afraid I'm going to have to do something I've never done...an episiotomy." I knew without a doubt that I did not want an episiotomy, but I also knew that I was so exhausted that I didn't think I could stand up and get out of the tub either! So everyone starts hauling me up to heave me out of the tub, and right at that moment a strong contraction hit and Loren said to let me back in the water so I could push....and out came Wyatt (it was 6:45pm)! His cord was wrapped around his body (not his neck) a few times, so Loren did some type of crazy maneuver to get it all unwound. I remember the midwife's assistant holding the stopwatch and calling out how long he'd been out and still under the water. I think the total was about 30 seconds before he was out of the water and up on my chest. I remember thinking "Holy cow, this baby is huge!" He was purple since he hadn't started breathing oxygen through his lungs yet (he was still getting everything he needed from the umbilical cord). Loren vigorously rubbed his chest and he immediately started to pink up and started to WAIL. This kid has a serious set of lungs!
After a few minutes of family cuddle time in the tub (Karl was out of the tub, but right beside me supporting me, just like he had been the entire time...my rock), they took the baby to examine him. Karl went with them and Annie stayed with me. I slooooowly got out of the tub (I think it took me at least 10 or 15 minutes just to stand up because I was so shaky and weak) and then took a shower. Wyatt had a tiny amount of fluid in his lungs, so they were pumping oxygen near his face while Karl held him. I got checked out and everyone exclaimed how they couldn't believe that I'd just delivered this big, big baby and only had one very minor tear! Loren said that once she'd felt how big his head was while I was pushing she got excited and thought maybe he'd be a record-breaker for the birth center. But alas, our 10 lb 10.5 oz little boy fell short of the birth center's record birth weight of 12.5 lbs (thank goodness!!). Wyatt scored a 9 out of 10 on his APGAR test, and was declared to be pretty darn perfect.
At this point Karl dressed and diapered Wyatt so we could get ready to go home. Except...the newborn-sized diapers were too small! We ended up using surgical tape to secure the diaper, and called my mom to ask her to run out and pick up some larger diapers for us before we got home. I also sent out a mass text to everyone letting them know that Wyatt was finally here and we were all doing well, and Karl called a few people to fill them in as well before we loaded up the car and headed home about 3 hours or so after giving birth.
I am so very glad that we decided to go the route we did. With how big Wyatt was, and how long he was crowning, I am 100% certain that if we'd been in a hospital I'd have had an episiotomy and had forceps and a vacuum used to get him out. By using a midwife at a birthing center, they were able to monitor my health and the baby's health while letting nature and my body do their jobs. Wyatt came out in perfect health, and I recovered a lot quicker too. Everything went exactly as planned, and we were thrilled beyond belief with it all.
Wyatt...it was a long journey to get you here. I honestly had given up hope of ever having a viable pregnancy by the time I got that BFP (that's big fat positive, for those of you not down with the trying-to-conceive lingo). Then I worried and worried through the first trimester that something was going to go wrong, and then I worried and worried that your birth wouldn't be nearly what I wanted it to be if we stuck with our OB and the hospital. Once your dad and I decided to make the switch to the birth center though, my worrying ceased, I trusted my instincts and the excitement started. We were prepared, I was healthy and you were healthy. We let nature take it's course. You were totally worth it, even the stretch marks and swollen feet. Our lives have been irrevocably changed by you, for the better. Our hearts broke and came back together 1,000 times bigger the moment we looked into your eyes that night. Our family of two became a family of three, and we couldn't be happier about it.
The End (actually, I should say The Beginning).