Friday, March 18, 2011

Muffin's Birth Story, 03/18/2009

Happy 2nd Birthday to my littlest guy! Well, littlest guy right now. :) Baby brother will swipe that title sometime in the coming weeks.

My sweet baby turns two years old today! I truly cannot believe how the time has flown by! I can still vividly remember all of the prodromal labor, the real labor, and his most amazing entrance into this world. And so, to commemorate my sweet Muffin's birthday, I have written out his birth story, with photos! I had intended to write his birth story ever since his birth, but have been so occupied that I never got around to completing it! So, without further ado, The birth story of Nathanael (a.k.a. "Muffin") James:

The talker in me wants to elaborate on so any things, haha, but I will start Muffin's birth story from Monday, March 16th, 2009. I was past all of my other due dates (I had so many, since we were not sure of the date of our dates, so we relied on sonograms, but each one gave us a different due date), and two days away from my last given due date, which was March 18th.
That Monday (16th) morning I had a midwife appointment, which were on a weekly basis by that time. For some reason, Lucas and both of the older kids tagged along. My wonderful midwife Holly did my prenatal that day, and asked if I wanted to be checked again. I had been walking around 3 cm dilated for a couple of weeks already, with several random days of prodromal labor, that always ended in nothing.
Well, she checked me, and I was still a 3-4, and my "bag was bulging". She asked if I wanted her to strip my membranes, and I hastily agreed, even knowing it would be somewhat painful and may or may not help me progress into labor. Yes, it hurt.
Holly was sure I'd be calling in either that evening or that night, ready to have a baby! Needless to say, I started having regular contractions, and I even made a 2am call to the Midwife on call (Robin, <3) one night, because contractions were getting closer together (< 5 mins) and much stronger, and I thought it could indeed be time. Needless to say, her sweet advice was for me to try to go back to sleep and call her when things intensified. I worked hard to actually fall asleep, and was finally able to. When I awoke on Tuesday the 17th, the contractions were gone. I was in tears.

I felt so physically drained and weary from all of the "false alarms" I had been experiencing, and I spend most of the morning resting in bed. I got calls from family and wonderful friends, asking if there was any "news", and even one friend said she wondered if I forgot or changed my mind about having her at my birth, since she didn't get a call that night. I think I must have cried on the phone with at least 5 callers just that morning, haha! Oh the beautiful emotions of a hugely ripe and pregnant woman. :)

I'm not sure why, but I called the birth center around noon-ish, maybe just for sulking purposes? Haha, I don't remember my reasoning, but I'm glad I called. I spoke with yet another of their wonderful team of midwives, this time it was Sam (Samantha), and she listened to me cry, and she consoled me, and she gave me some fun advice. Her advice was to go to Olive Garden and have an Eggplant Parmigiana, and enjoy every bite of it!

I didn't get my olive garden, and I actually vaguely remember what else happened for a few hours of that day. But around 3:30pm, I felt the contractions return, once again, and with a vengeance. I "knew" it was just another false alarm, so I didn't give them any credit, or mention them to anyone, thinking I would just disappoint everyone yet again with another false alarm.

Well, that evening as I tried to cook a late dinner for the family, and continued on with life as usual, I found myself having to focus just a little bit more with each contraction. I still wasn't convinced that this would be "it", and was preparing myself for yet another disappointment. Sometime that evening, my best friend Michelle called to check in, and ask if she could visit. I am EVER so grateful for her call and her visit, as it helped to keep me calm and relaxed through what was early labor (even though I wasn't convinced at the time). She arrived just after we had put the kids into bed, and even took me to run a quick errand, which, embarrassingly, was to pick up an enema kit from Walgreens, haha, which I never did end up using. I remember the cashier at said Walgreens being quite concerned to learn that I was probably in labor while standing in her store, hehe.

Just before leaving Walgreens, Michelle suggested we pick up a movie to watch, to distract us in case I wasn't in labor, or if I was, it would help pass the time. There was a RedBox right outside the store, so we picked out one there, and I had a few contractions just while picking out the movie. :)

After we arrived home, around 11pm or so, believe it or not, I still wasn't convinced that it was "time", and kept wondering, at least inwardly, if the contractions would soon cease altogether, as they had so many times before. Michelle and I continued to talk and laugh, and I can never thank her enough for being there, because if she hadn't, I probably wouldn't have dealt with each contraction so calmly.

I don't know what Lucas was doing through all of this time, but at around midnight-ish, I began realizing this was probably the real deal, FINALLY! It was late when he made a quick trip to Walmart to pick up some last minute supplies and snacks, to get us through the labor and birth.  Well, my hilarious husband decided to be funny, and pick up some scuba gear for our waterbirth. When he returned and showed me, I was not laughing, haha! I found it completely annoying. Said scuba gear was never used, and was returned, un-opened, a few weeks later. :)

I called my parents just before 1am or so, and my mom and sister arrived to stay with the kids around 1:45am. We made the real call to the on-call midwife, Sam, right around 2am, when I was finally completely convinced that these contractions were not going away. Sam later told me she couldn't asses me very well over the phone because I was so sweet and cordial. I even apologized for calling so late and waking her, hahaha! She couldn't imagine I was very far into labor, as most women would be in a much less "nice" state. I think I must have just been exhausted and delirious, rather than just "nice", :)

The drive to the birth center was, to put it lightly, the worst car ride ever imaginable! Not having the freedom to move around and change positions as I needed to was horrific! I also realized for the first time ever, that our vehicle did NOT have grip handles! I had never noticed before, but right then I needed something to grip during contractions (which inevitably got stronger and harder to manage on the car to the birth center), and there was NOTHING! I was livid about that fact, hehe.

We arrived and met Sam at the birth center around 2:45am. I was at 7cm and was able to get ready to get right into the birth tub! I was so afraid of arriving, only to find I was till at 4cm or something! I was so happy to know all of those contractions were making some progress! :D
Michelle followed us there in her car, and my wonderful Sister-in-Law, Yocasta met us there.

Let me just say, that having the birth tub there, was pure bliss! Although I do feel as though it didn't "fit" me very well (as in I could have definitely used something to grip onto, and push against the edge with my feet at times, but I was, and still am, haha, too short), the water itself was the most amazing, relaxing sensation! I had always wished to labor in water with my first two (which were hospital births), but that was never an option. Now I truly know how wonderful it really feels!

And here begin the photos! Disclaimer, hehe: I dislike and even loathe photos of me, no matter what! So some if these are obviously very unflattering, and also obviously, capture some of my most vulnerable moments. I consider myself to be a very modest person, and do not ever show the amount of skin that is about to be seen in these photos. But I love and am passionate about birth and natural birth, and am willing to open up, be vulnerable, and share with the world. There is NOTHING too graphic, and nothing even rated PG. It is all safe for all audiences, I assure you.  I (obviously, since I am in them) did not take these photos. They were taken either by Lucas, Michelle, Yocasta, and maybe even one of the midwives? But I couldn't tell you who took what or when, as I was in "Labor Land". I only called out a few settings here and there, so many of them are poorly exposed, unfocused, etc. But who cares?! They may not be to professional standards, but I love them and cherish them, and go through them every few months, to remind myself of the wonderful, beautiful and amazing entrance that my son was able to make into this world. The end. :)

 As you can see, even in active labor, the mood is light and we all had several moments of laughter and jokes. Having an amazing team of support really does prove to be helpful.

 One of my amazing midwives, Holly!

My two bestest friends and "sisters", Michelle and Yocasta. Their love, words of encouragement and support were exactly what I needed to help me get through everything.

 From left to right: Two of the 3 present midwives, Holly, Sam, and Michelle.

 After a while (I had no sense of time whatsoever), Lucas got into the tub and proved to be helpful for the gripping that I felt like I needed to do during contractions. I loved just being able to melt into his chest and (try!) to relax as well.

 Holly checking baby's heart rate. He sounded perfect during the entire labor and birth! :)

One of the moments of said joking and laughter! :)

 My wonderful in-laws came to be at the birthm but only waited in the lounge/waiting area ooutside of the birthing room. After I hit transition though, my moaning/coping noises became louder, and my father-in-law had to step out and continued to wait in his van. My sweet mother-in-law said she stayed and cried and prayed in the waiting area.

 As I began to hot transition, I did become nauseous, but never vomited. I was so afraid of puking though, so I stubbornly refused to really eat or drink anything, which then resulted in pure exhaustion. I've learned my lesson for next time.

 In this timeline of photos, you can pretty much visibly see the change in my demeanor as I hit transition. I was finding it harder and harder to relax through my contractions. My awesome team had to remind me EVERY single time to relax! I even got a good laugh at how I needed that reminder and encouragement with every contraction.

 I had wanted some gum to chew on, and Yocasta handed out gum to anyone who wanted some.

The midwife checking baby's heart tones this time is Jennifer! She was wonderful, and was still a student/apprentice at the time I believe! I'm sure she can answer that if she reads this. She has since graduated! Congratulations Jennifer!

 I don't remember why I had to get out of the tub at this point, but I do remember not being too happy about it, haha! The water feels so amazing, and is a wonderful help in relaxation. I remember that once I did get out, and sat on the bed through several intense contractions, I didn't want to move!

I was completely unaware through all of these photos that there were even photos being taken of me. I will attribute that to being in "labor land" too. Despite the fact that these photos show the very imperfections I would love to hide, I love them for being the last photos I have of being pregnant with Muffin.

 And to think I had no idea there was an 8+ lb. baby in that belly! :)

 Another wave of intense contractions hit. By this point I was about complete at 10 cm.

 I can not thank my "birth team" enough for the support like this! <3 Knowing that my best friend and sister-in-law saw me at my most vulnerable state (where I had absolutely nothing to hide), and at what is probably near my very worst, and they STILL love me, means the world to me.

 It was here on the bed when I began feeling that primal urge to push. It wasn't so strong that I couldn't hold back yet, but I could feel it coming.

 As I started feeling those urges, I was checked again, and Holly agreed I was complete and should start pushing as I felt the urge. Since our original plan was for a waterbirth, I jumped (more like made my way super slowly, haha) back into the tub and began pushing.

 Little did I know, this would be a "complicated" and long pushing phase. As Holly and Sam realized he wasn't descending like he should when I was pushing, we had to resort to something other than the water. I was surprisingly not as disappointed as I would have thought. At that point, getting him out was the priority, not just birthing in the water,

 From the birthing tub they suggested I try pushing while on the birth stool. I hated every second of it. For one, I was much too short for such a stool, and my stubby legs couldn't reach the ground! I really felt like I needed that leverage while I pushed, and it wasn't there. Second, it is essentially just steel pipes, with a foam padding on the top to sit on. My legs kept falling asleep, and I was so uncomfortable. As if the contractions and descending baby putting pressure on my body wasn't "uncomfortable" enough! If I ever have to use a birth stool in the future, I will not let it be that one, and I will ask for something to prop my feet up onto for the leverage that I need. Another lesson learned.
Well, after who knows how long pushing on the birth stool (again, my sense of time was completely non-existent), he still wasn't descending like he should, and I was pushing with everything I had. I could sense that the midwives were sensing something was up. I tried not to worry and focus on opening up and getting my baby out. But worry just came. I had never pushed this long before, even with an epidural.

 From the stool, I moved onto the bed, and continued to push with all of my might. Because I was pushing without abandon, I was so worried about having a bowel movement, and kept asking if I had gone! I hadn't, but I was pushing so hard I was sure I had, hahaha! During prenatal visits, all of the midwives assured me that I wouldn't worry or care about that when it came time to birth, but I was! Thankfully, there was no poop to report, hahaha! Okay sorry, tmi?

After pushing on my back for a few contractions, the super exhaustion set in. By that point I had been pushing for over two hours, and my body was physically exhausted, as well as mentally. I felt like giving up. I hit the wall. The wall I had read and heard about. I felt like I could not go any more. Like I could not give one more push. Although the words never came out of my mouth, I thought to myself "that's it, I tried, I can't do it anymore. I just need to go to the hospital and let them do a c-section." I was that exhausted, and obviously not thinking completely clearly either. My wonderful midwives believed in me, believed in my body, and believed I could do it. They never doubted me, they never made any sort of inclination that I might have to be transferred to the hospital, nothing. They were consistently encouraging and wonderful. Exhaustion had just taken over, and I felt like giving up.

Finally, they moved me to my left side, and THAT is what Muffin needed! That is what it took, and he descended like he was supposed to, and I was able to push him out! His head had been cocked to one side, as well as he had his hands up by his head/face. When I pushed and he wasn't engaged correctly, of course he couldn't descend! We could obviously see that one side of his head was swollen due to that fact, :(

 And this is the moment that I was able to pull him out! After all of that pushing, I heard one of my midwives say "Okay! Reach down and get your baby!" And so I did. So with my own hands, I pulled my baby up to my chest! Not a doctors hands, not even my midwives hands. I was the first one to touch and hold and kiss my baby! Straight from my womb to my chest! It was the most amazing and powerful feeling!

 I felt so relieved, but SO exhausted! I think my exhaustion comes through pretty well in the following photos! Despite my elation, my relief and utter exhaustion seem to take over my facial expressions, :)

I have not finished editing the text portion of the blog, but I am posting it for anyone who wants to see the photos and read what is up so far. To Be continued when it is not 5am. :)


Lal said...

What a beautiful and amazing birth story! I loved reading it all! And amazing pics too! Thanks for sharing it with us :)

Jennifer said...

It was a beautiful birth. I always love reading peoples birth stories. They have such powerful emotions attached to them.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your birth. Yes, I was an apprentice at the time and am now a licensed midwife. It is wonderful families like yours that allows midwives to continue exists!!

I love the raw photos! They really capture what you are going through. And yes, I took many of the tub pictures. thank you for sharing.

Happy Happy birthday Muffin. You are one loved little guy.

Michelle said...

Wow. I have no idea how I missed this post!! :( I'm glad I somehow came across it.

So you have great "pregnancy memory" and bad "any other time memory"?!?!! Lol ;P. Because I had forgotten the trip to walgreens and the movie rental... I just remember watching you curl your hair and pause for contractions hahaha.

Again, I love you and thank you so very much for allowing me to experience such an amazing part of your life! I am truly grateful.

Oh and I'm so happy to finally see some of the photos!! I don't even remember taking some of those --I just remember thinking I was too camera happy and probably annoying the heck out of you and Lucas by sticking that camera in your face at such intense and personal moments.

I'll try to keep a better eye on your blog for future posts :)
Love you!!