Baby Boy's Birth Novel... er Story

For those of you who don't know, I LOVE reading birth stories. Give me all the details, even what most people would consider TMI, I'll eat it up. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm sharing baby boy's birth story in a full-length, super detailed, TMI-filled novel of a blog post. I thought about separating it into two parts, but what fun is that? So grab yourself a sweet tea, maybe some crackers and cheese, and kick back for a few minutes while I share his story with you! Enjoy!

So there I was, twiddling my thumbs at 41 weeks 1 day, just waiting for something {anything} to happen that even remotely hinted at the start of labor. My midwife Diane recommended I come in to see how things were going and talk about possible options for the next week if things didn't start progressing. Let me just take a moment to say that I absolutely ADORE my midwife. She is truly a gift from God, totally behind my decision to have a natural birth, and wouldn't dream of pressuring me into something I didn't want to do. Her number one priority is the health of her patients and their babies and I can't imagine not having her in my life.

During my visit Diane voiced her concerns about the baby getting too big and my fluid levels being low so she suggested an ultrasound just to make sure everything was ok. The ultrasound showed that my fluid levels were still great and the baby's heartbeat was super strong. But as the doctor {and owner of the practice who had joined us for the ultrasound} looked closer at baby boy's breathing movements he started to get concerned. He wasn't seeing any of the practice breathing moments that babies generally have at that stage of pregnancy. It's one of the check points they look at during a biophysical profile. I had never heard of fetal breathing movement, especially in terms of something my baby might be lacking. Needless to say, I was scared. He reassured me that it wasn't something I needed to be rushed into a cesarean for but that I might consider induction in the next  few days, at least before 42 weeks, due to the fact that low breathing movements tends to be a result of the placenta reaching the end of its life. Because I was already anxious about having not gone into labor yet, this made my emotions even more heightened. My saint of a mother was with me, texting Z with updates and holding my hand when I needed it. Thank God she was there.

When the ultrasound was over we went back to Diane's office to chat.  Knowing the ultrasound had made me very nervous Diane helped calm me down and reassured me that the baby was still doing well but suggested she check me to see if there was any progress from the previous week. That way we could make a better game plan for the coming week. She quickly checked me and gave my knee a gentle squeeze before looking at me with a beautifully big smile on her face.

"You will NOT need to be induced"

My heart skipped a beat.

Diane told me that not only was the baby in perfect position, but that my cervix was nice and thin {effaced} and my waters were bulging. She told me to go home, relax, have a good dinner, and rest easy knowing my sweet baby would be here in a day or two. I called Z from the office to tell him the latest and heard Diane call to me from another room, "Tell my boyfriend {what she calls my husband} to place his bet on if baby will be here the 6th or the 7th". She bet him that Keelin was a girl during my first ultrasound with her. We had guessed boy. She got a Starbucks gift card. Did I mention I love my midwife?

I was supposed to teach class that night but decided to cancel and focus on relaxing instead. Thankfully my students were incredibly supportive. My mom and I said "see you soon" to Diane and hopped over to my favorite cafe for a chai tea on the patio. Talk about relaxing. We sat and chatted for a while before getting back in the car to head home. After filling everyone at the house {my dad and brother were also there} in on the appointment, we ordered dinner from our favorite burger joint and kicked back for a nice relaxing night.

Baby boy had other plans...

Just after dinner I started noticing the strength in my Braxton Hicks contractions increase. They weren't painful, just strong, but I only took note of them considering I'd had fairly powerful BH contractions for the last few months. To avoid alarming anyone else, and to keep getting my own hopes up, I quietly started tracking them on my handy-dandy contraction tracker app. By 9:00 they started to get pretty consistent. My hubby caught me using my tracker and I winked at him with my finger in front of my mouth to make sure it stayed our secret for a little longer.

By 11:00 I was pretty sure I was in early stage labor as I'd gotten a burst of energy and a sudden urge to work on K's baby book. {I'd only made it through about month 4 when she was actually a baby, but it was a great to go back and reminisce right before welcoming another child into the world} I was still not in any real pain, but I did have to focus a little more with each contraction. We decided to call it a night, not knowing if we'd bet getting any sleep, and I told Z to go ahead and try getting some shut-eye since I was still pretty comfortable at that point in the labor. I took a shower to see if the frequency and duration of the contractions would change at all but they continued like clockwork. Joining the hubs in bed, utilizing my Bradley "sleep" pose to really help me relax, I started to get more and more uncomfortable with each contraction. I texted Diane to let her know things were moving but we were going to stay at the house as long as we could and would let her know when we were headed to the hospital. Soon it was my natural instinct to hum/moan through each contraction as the pain {mostly focused in my back again} had greatly increased and the need to relax fully through each one became more difficult. Z had taken full charge in his role as my coach and was encouraging me and rubbing my back during each contraction. What a Godsend.

I was feeling really confident in how things were progressing, especially the fact that I wasn't getting sick between contractions like I did with K. Remember that crazy birth story ? Well, that confident feeling was short-lived when, at about 1:00am, I had to run to the toilet as soon as the last contraction passed. Great. Not again. I instantly flashed back to my 16-hour labor with K where I needed to be hooked up to an IV in order to keep my fluids at a safe level and was so exhausted from throwing up that relaxing during contractions was almost impossible. Something I did NOT want to have to relive. BUT, I pushed that thought out of my head and kept focusing on each contraction one at a time, despite the fact that my laboring had shifted from laying our comfy bed to frog-squatting on my knees hovering over the toilet. FUN. Although it wasn't the most comfortable position to be in, seeing as how my knees were taking the brunt of my weight on the hard bathroom floor, it gave Z direct access to my lower back where he was able to really apply pressure with his fists and help relieve some of the pain. I did try different positions like laying over a chair and getting on all fours but because every third or fourth contraction was accompanied by the need to throw up, I ended up returning to my frog-squat.

At about 2:00am  Z started suggesting we make our way to the hospital. I distinctly remember a conversation similar to:

Z: Baby I think it's time we go to the hospital.  You're working so hard and I know you're exhausted but we need to get you up before the next contraction hits.

Me: I'm trying {not moving a muscle}

Z: I know you are and I'm so proud of you. You're doing an amazing job. Let's get up

Me: --contraction--

Z: Ok, that was great. You're doing such a wonderful job. Let's get you up and dressed.

Me: grunt, moan, and mumble as I finally got up off the floor.

My contractions were coming hard and fast and lasted 60 plus seconds each. The ones that caused me to get sick seemed right on top of each other because by the time I was finished throwing up, another one would hit. Overlapping contractions are generally a tell-tale sign of transition, which precedes pushing, so Z was on high alert and knew if we didn't get moving soon we'd be having a baby on the side of the road. It took 30 minutes for Z and my mom to get me dressed and into the car with my puke bucket in hand but we were finally on our way {after a slight detour when I realized I'd forgotten my ID... points for me} around 2:30 am. The hospital is about 35-40 minutes away but thankfully the early morning hour made the traffic non-existent and Z was not afraid to push the speed limit a little.  I stayed as still as possible and continued having contractions/getting sick the entire way.

At 3:00am we arrived at the Women and Children's pavilion and promptly got me into a wheelchair. After checking in we went back to the nurses station and sat for what seemed like forever. The nurse came up to us and said they didn't have a room for me because 10 other babies had been born that night and they were still in the process of cleaning 5 of the rooms. So they wheeled me into a side triage room where they had every intention of checking my progress and the baby's heart rate. I was still in the wheelchair as the nurses got a gown out for me to change into when I felt a really strong contraction building. I leaned forward in the chair and at the peak of the contraction felt a sudden release in pressure as my water broke all over the floor... and wheelchair... sorry folks. Z laughs looking back at this moment because he said I was mid-contraction and broke free of my moan to let everyone know my water had broken. To his recollection it went a little something like this:

HUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMY WATER JUST BROKE UUUHHHHMMMMMMMM {splash}

Since my midwife broke my water for me with K, and I was laying on a bed when it happened, the sensation of my water breaking on its own, while sitting upright, was TOTALLY new. I laugh now wondering why I felt the need to inform everyone in the room that it had happened because the splash that followed the initial release of pressure was no joke. I believe one nurse described it as a "gross rupture of membranes". Awesome. I'd like to formally apologize to the nurses who had to clean that up... and to my husbands tennis shoes which were in the line of fire. Blame the kid.

Almost immediately after my water broke I started feeling an intense amount of pressure in my nether regions. Not quite an undeniable urge to push, but it was getting there. I had a few more contractions while putting on my gorgeous hospital gown, each one causing me to fold at the hips and 'rest' my upper body on the nearby bed. I finally got onto the bed as my midwife popped her head into the room. She asked me if I was feeling pressure and I gave a quick and definitive YES response.  Then the following conversation took place between Diane and the nurses.

Diane: Why is she in here? She needs to be in a room.

Nurse: We are waiting for a clean room, but figured we'd bring her in here and check her.

Diane: No. She's having this baby now. Get her to a room or we'll be having a baby right here.

Nurse: Ok, we'll get her in the next available room.

Diane: How about the closest? Go. Now.

Did I mention how much I love this woman?

Apparently a room had become available because they quickly wheeled me down the hall while I serenaded them with my labor moans. I had another big contraction with lots and lots of pressure as soon as we got into the room and I remember calling for Z to come hold my hand. He was there in a blink. As soon as my contraction was over I told him to make sure the nurses knew our birth plans... because, just like with K, we had left our printed plans in the car. He looked up to try to get someone's attention but the nurses were all running around in different directions. Before he even opened his mouth, Diane put her hand on top of ours and said, "I know what you want, don't worry about a thing."

As soon as my next contraction was done Diane told me to roll over onto the delivery bed. The pressure at this point was pretty hard to ignore and I knew it was time to start pushing. Once I was settled on the bed Diane leaned over and whispered that the baby's heart rate had dipped during that last contraction {I was unaware they had even gotten a monitor on me} and I needed to bear down during the next one.  She had also whispered the same news to him, to make sure he knew how to coach me during the next contraction. The nurses weren't aware of his drop in heart rate and to avoid any panic on their end Diane only shared the information with Z and I. Z was at my head, holding my hand and giving me lots of encouragement. I looked at him and began to recite the Hail Mary. Who better to help support me than bringing a life into the world the Mother of Christ, right? During the next contraction I left the moaning behind and bore down as hard as I could. I was laying on my left side with my knees bent and my right leg slightly forward. After the first push Diane told me she could see our son's head. Another contraction came and I pushed again while Z stroked my hair and showered me with guidance and encouragement. The "burning ring of fire" hit and I knew he was crowning as my position shifted slightly to my side/back. I felt a small release and I knew his head was out. I heard Diane say that the cord was around his neck but there wasn't even the tiniest bit of panic in her voice as she gently lifted it over his head and told me to reach down and touch my baby. As soon as my fingers touched his sweet little head I got a rush of energy for the next push. HE WAS ALMOST HERE! I relaxed back onto the bed and gave one last, giant, push and Henry Graydon Pierce was born at 3:40 am.

Diane quickly suctioned his nose and mouth and lifted him to my chest for skin-to-skin bonding, cord still attached. All I could say was "Oh my God, oh my God, he's here he's here, thank you God" as I tickled his feet to get a nice solid cry out of him. Once he gave me a few good screams I pulled him across my chest and he instantly latched. The resulting contractions were pretty painful but I was in my own little blissful world staring down at our perfect little miracle so I didn't mind. It wasn't long before the cord stopped pulsating and Z was wielding medical scissors. He was impartial when it came to cutting the cord but Diane winked and said, "Of course you're cutting the cord, get over here". They asked me if I would be willing to donate some cord blood and I happily agreed so once the cord was cut they extracted what they needed. Thanks to HG's awesome nursing abilities I soon birthed the placenta and Diane was able to point out areas of the outer layer that were already beginning to deteriorate. The human body is kind of amazing, am I right? Diane began getting things cleaned up and I realized I hadn't asked if I'd torn at all. I know it might seem odd that I would need to ask such a thing but at this point in the birthing game things are kind of still in shock so I couldn't tell. Since I had torn slightly with K I made sure to take extra steps during this pregnancy to ensure it didn't happen again. When I asked Diane just smiled and said, "Not at all, you did beautifully. You were a champ!". What a relief. In the words of a friend and fellow Bradley instructor, "Ain't nothing cooler than not tearing". So incredibly true.

We spent about an hour skin-to-skin, soaking each other in, before the nurses took him to be weighted. 8 lbs, 1 ounce, 21 1/4 inches long. Our perfect little boy.

It was an intense, joyful, and BEAUTIFUL birth. I wouldn't have changed a thing. Ok... that's a lie.... vomiting during labor is the pits, but apparently it's just how my body handles the pain. That aspect I could have done without. But the rest was pretty close to perfect. And in case you weren't keeping track of time, this labor only lasted about 6 1/2 hours from the start of what I'd consider "real" contractions to holding HG in my arms. I think that was his way of thanking me for hanging in there through 41+ weeks of pregnancy. Once he was ready he wasn't wasting any time getting out.

We are so in love with our little one and can't wait to share more stories of life in these times... Now with two beautiful babes.

Until next time...