David's Birth Story
For weeks and and weeks prior to the birth, I'd been having prodromal labor... meaning that I was having some really uncomfortable contractions that never escalated into real labor. They were uncomfortable enough to make me extremely grumpy, though.
Thankfully it was on and off instead of constant. So there were plenty of days in those last few weeks wherein I hardly noticed what my uterus was doing, thank goodness. And then there were the days where my uterus was a complete and utter jerk.
A week ago, I got my membranes swept at my checkup with the midwife. That means she stuck her fingers into my cervix (that's the entrance to the uterus, located at the top of the vagina) and then manually separated the bag of waters from the cervix. It feels really, really crampy. But, seriously, compared to the discomfort my uterus had been inflicting on me for a while, it wasn't that bad.
In theory, sweeping the membranes is supposed to stimulate prostaglandin release, and thus encourage the cervix to soften and dilate, and therefore encourage labor to start. At this point, I was 3-4 centimeters dilated and 50% effaced. Emily, the midwife in clinic that day, thought I'd go into labor quite soon and even told the on-call midwives to expect my call at any time.
Only... jerkface uterus was against this idea, and besides cramping like a monster all of that day, nothing happened. The uterus wasn't too mean to me for the rest of the week. I was supposed to go get my membranes swept again on my due date, but this didn't pan out because a midwife had called in sick and things were hectic.
So I went in to see the midwife in the morning yesterday, a little frustrated that I had made it several days past my due date, especially when I really wanted to have the baby in the birth center. (I would be required to give birth in the hospital after 41 weeks, which was only a few days away.) Oh, and not to mention that I was having pretty much every pregnancy symptom in the book on top of the disgusting nausea and vomiting.
The midwife (Emily again) swept my membranes for the second time. This time, I was 4-5 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. In the words of my sister-in-law, I was walking around with the door half-open. (Ha.) Emily also mentioned that my bag of waters was "bulging" and that she was afraid that she'd accidentally break it.
I went home and, within a few hours, my uterus got grumpy again. Soon I was having contractions every five minutes apart or so. At this point, I would still label this prodromal labor, but I guess it's hard to say. I say it's prodromal because, although they were really, really uncomfortable and annoying, they were still the kid brother contractions I'd been having for weeks, not really real ones. That said, they were kid brother contractions with an attitude, and I thought they might escalate into real labor, so I summoned James home. This was mostly necessary because I was getting really grumpy with Amelia, who was magically headbutting me in the uterus every single time I had a contraction, and jumping all over me, and... well, if you're having contractions (even the kid brother kind), this is not welcome attention. I swear the kid had a spidey sense, or something.
After James had been home for an hour or so, we decided to go on a walk since the contractions, still every five minutes, had not intensified. We walked outside, and decided the sun was too assaultive, and jumped into the car instead. We headed over to Target and walked there instead. For hours.
Sure, the contractions sucked... But I'd done labor before, and I was under no impression that anything was actually happening with them. They'd been going on for four hours now, every five minutes, and I hadn't had any worthy of the name mama bear... all kid brothers. All of them.
Frustrated, I called the midwife on call (Patricia). Her advice was to go home and take a warm shower/bath, which would do either one of two things: 1) kick real labor into gear, or 2) relax my uterus into a non-labor stupor. It did the latter, which very nearly crushed all of James' hopes and dreams. Seriously, he was more depressed than I was. Patricia had me eat a good dinner, drink lots of water, and go to bed on time, warning me that she suspected real labor would probably start in the night some time.
I had some contractions later in the night before bed, but again, these were all kid brothers. I managed to sleep through them. When I did wake up multiple times in the night, it wasn't the contractions that woke me, it was the full bladder.
Until about 4:30 am, that is. Bam. Contraction! I was suddenly awake. And oh, this wasn't a kid brother. So I pulled out my phone to time the suckers (I hate timing contractions... hate, hate, hate it), and after about three of them, five minutes apart, hurting like the dickens... I determined this was real labor and called the midwife around 4:45 am.
It was Hilary at this point... and her on-call shift ended at 6am. She thought I probably had some time before I'd need to show up at the birth center, and told me just to plan on meeting Patricia (the midwife who'd be on call starting at 6am) there... at 6am. Like... over an hour later. Of course, she said, call back if you really think you need to get there sooner, but I think you'll be fine.
I agreed to this plan at first, thinking it was probably sensible enough. I got into a warm bath, hoping that this'd soothe the pain somewhat, but...
I ended up calling Hilary back at like 5:20am to tell her I needed to go to the birth center before 6am. My contractions were three minutes apart. Oh, and they sucked. All I could think of is that these contractions sucked so bad, and boy, did I not want to be confined in the passenger seat of the car while trying to deal with one. Seriously. That plan was a no-go. Car ride now, not later. (We also called our friend Cassie to come, because we needed someone to watch Amelia at the birth center while James was helping me out.)
Poor Hilary reluctantly met us at the birth center at about 5:45am once I insisted that I really couldn't wait until 6am. I think I was right. Once we got there, I started to get very nauseous. (For the people who don't know, this is a sign that I am almost fully dilated and that the pushing stage is about to happen. I.e. labor is almost over.) We had to wait a few minutes for Hilary to show up, and during that time, I was madly pacing through contractions and keeping an eye out in the landscape for a suitable place to vomit. Because I might have to.
We got inside. I stripped immediately. Well, immediately after a contraction, anyway. I found a toilet. Baby was low. As in, really low. Pushing poop out low. My rectum felt squished, probably because it was. It was like... like... there was a baby's skull pushing down on my butthole from the inside. Kind of like that. Only this was secondary to feeling like my entire pelvic bone was trying to come out. Basically, lots and lots and lots of pressure in the nether regions.
Hilary checked baby's heart rate and my cervix as soon as I let her. Baby was fine. My cervix was 9 centimeters dilated, so she warned me that I'd probably want to start pushing any time now. "Has your water broken?" "No." At this point, Patricia showed up and took over. Anne (a midwife-in-training) showed up, too...
I got in the bath, only to discover that James had failed miserably at making sure the water was warm. It was pretty chilly. Too chilly for the baby, so I wasn't going to be allowed to give birth in the tub, and the water wasn't all that effective at relieving the pain. I supposed that was okay, because my only specific plan for the birth was to do whatever I felt like, but I was pretty annoyed. Not gonna lie. Annoyed.
I elected to stay in the water for a time, though, because of the buoyancy. I started to basically bob up and down with each contraction, because that's what my body felt like doing. I suppose this was getting baby down into the birth canal. In the meantime I was still annoyed at the cold water. Oh well.
Patricia and Anne kept saying things like, "Wow. She is so calm and focused!" between the contractions. I'm not sure what I would have called it. Focused, I guess. Calm...? I might have been. I think there should be a different word for it. I don't know what it is. I felt very primal though. Maybe that's it.
I was bobbing up and down for a contraction in the tub, when... SKIDOOSH. (Not the Wuxi finger hold!) "My water just broke." It felt like there was Diet Coke up there and someone had dropped some Mentos in. Only it was exploding out my hoo-ha. (Pleasant? Uhhh... not really...) Followed immediately by a baby's head.
And that's when I stood up and somehow got out of the tub. I'm not sure who I used to get out. James, Patricia, or Anne... or all of the above, maybe. In any case, I got out of the tub, and sat promptly on the birthing stool. And at this point the pressure in the nether regions got really bad, that and the stinging. Oh, the stinging!
The stinging is the stretching of the... everything. The perineum and everything around it. We could feel David's head when I got out of the tub. It was so squished that it was super wrinkly. (The midwife later told me one dad asked if that was baby's brains when the same thing happened with his baby. Nope. Just very squished head.) Someone commented that he didn't have much hair. I said "can't" here, I think. I was trying to say that "I can't tell if that's baby's head or just me", but talking was impossible. The stinging felt like I was ripping in half, right down the middle. I have some important bits right down the middle. I was worried about them.
I got fed up with the birthing stool, and waddled kind of spread-eagled over to the bed, because I had this idea that side-lying would be comfortable for me. Only as soon as I laid on my side, I realized... No, no way. Not the side. So I turned onto my back, slightly propped up, and with my legs wide...
And then I really, really, really had to push. I'd kind of been pushing before, but now I pushed. And I vaguely remembered that screaming helps with pain management. So I let out some mighty screams. Best pain management technique ever. It really did help. It also really helped to keep in mind that David was practically almost out.
With a mighty scream, I got his head out. And also, a lot of amniotic fluid. I don't remember if he made any sounds at this point. I wouldn't have realized that he was partly out had the midwives not told me. With another mighty scream, and a lot of my body urging me to just get that sucker out, I got the rest of him out in a giant gush of fluid. James was fortunate not to get splashed.
And then I felt much better. It was 6:39am, about an hour after we'd arrived, and about two hours after labor had started.
They put him on my belly, and he started talking and complaining about his exit immediately. Seriously, really cute baby noises. He sounded like the cute baby dragon or baby dinosaur noises you hear on cartoons and movies.
[You can read more about Jenna and David's adventures at the Birth Center here]
Did you have your baby with the Peace Health midwives?
Did you have your baby with the Peace Health midwives?
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