Note: I started writing this a few days ago, it took me multiple sit downs to finish it though, because I have a baby now who, when hungry, does not care if his mama is busy writing. ;) Also, sorry it is so ridiculously long.
Gus was born at 2:32 AM on September 5th, 2009. I’ve wanted to write his birth story but things have, not surprisingly, been pretty crazy the last week and a half! However, the visitors have started to space out a bit, Dan is back to work, and I’m beginning to feel a little bit more like myself again (well, a completely different version of myself actually, becoming a parent has a way of forever changing a person at their core, but “myself” nonetheless!)
It’s my first day at home with Gus without Dan. I was a little freaked out going into it, if I’m going to be honest, but it’s going ok so far. This morning was rough, the little guy only slept about an hour between feedings last night, and since Dan was getting up at 5:30 AM for work after more than a week off, I didn’t want to wake him to help with any of the diaper changes or burping. So yea, I’m exhausted. And then he was pretty much a little fuss-monster all morning long, so I wasn’t able to meet my mom for coffee down the street like I had hoped. But by the power of the Miracle Blanket, I got him down for a nap around 11:00 and I was able to take a shower, and now he’s sleeping again on my chest allowing me time to write for the first time since his arrival.
Anyway, that’s a long introduction to what is supposed to be his birth story. I’ll say first off that it was pretty insane, but amazing and perfect and I couldn’t feel more blessed that we were able to welcome Gus into the world through a completely natural, med-free, uncomplicated birth. It all started around 6:45 PM on Friday, September 4th, the day after my due date. Actually, I suppose looking back on everything, it started earlier than that, because I was pretty much crazy nesting that entire day. I had the day off, so I cleaned the whole house, top to bottom, and afterwards still had all this bundled up energy so I took the dog for an hour and a half walk. I should have known right? Anyway, so at 6:45 I went to the bathroom and noticed a little bloody show, so I knew that something was happening soon. I wanted to stay calm though, knowing how adrenaline can really slow down labor, and Dan and I were both trying to stay prepared for a marathon birth experience, so I thought it would be best to go about my evening as planned. Lisa, my mom, and I were planning on going to a movie and Lisa was actually on her way to my house to pick me up. Being in a movie theatre just did not sound like the best idea though, especially with the risk of my water breaking all over the place, so we rented a movie and Lisa and my mom came over. I made popcorn, we got the movie started, and seriously during the opening credits, at around 8:30 PM, my water broke. I wasn’t really prepared for what the whole water breaking thing would entail, I thought it would just be one big gush, but I pretty much trickled amniotic fluid for the rest of the labor. We called the midwife and after assuring her that my water did in fact break and I didn’t just pee my pants, she asked if we wanted to go to the hospital, or if we were hoping to labor at home for longer. We had wanted to labor at home for as long as possible, which is what I told her, so she told me to try to get some sleep, and call her around the time that I would normally be getting up in the morning, at around 7:00 AM. Ha!
We managed to finish out the movie, and I was barely having contractions at that point, but it was definitely uncomfortable sitting on plastic bags and towels and feeling just generally disgusting. By the time Lisa and my mom left at around 10:30, I was really starting to feel the contractions, I could no longer sit, even on the birthing ball, and they were ALL in my back. So it was around that time that we really got serious and started timing them. Dan got out the laptop and hit up www.contractionmaster.com (awesome site), and we went upstairs to the bedroom where it was more comfortable. I was hoping to get some rest, again with this being my first baby we were prepared for one of those 24 hour labors that everyone always talks about. Though from the very beginning, the contractions were quite close together, and almost started out at four minutes apart, lasting for a minute. I labored on the bed for a while, hanging over the foot board on my hands and knees, which was the only way I could handle the back pain.
After a while, I asked Dan to start filling up the tub, hoping that would help relieve some of the back pain I was having. It was great at first, but pretty quickly I realized I just couldn’t be on my back, even in the water. So I got on my hands and knees again, in the tub, and during my contractions Dan would spray my back with hot water. That felt AMAZING. It’s a claw foot tub, so I was essentially hanging over the back, and I started this rhythmic moaning when the contractions were getting even closer together. I was definitely “in the zone” and at one point while in the tub, my mom called and insisted on talking to me, and both Dan and I kind of freaked out on her on the phone. Later I found out that she was pretty concerned at that point that we were farther along in the labor than we thought we were, and felt that we probably should have been at the hospital. She called my aunt to tell her and was tempted to call back but didn’t want to get yelled at again. Though I had no sense of time whatsoever, I had only been having contractions for about an hour to and hour and a half! But we were both still just so much in the mindset of trying to stay home as long as possible, especially since our water had broke, and we really didn’t want to be on the hospital’s time table. I kept telling myself that it was going to get so much worse, that this was only the beginning, I think that kind of helped me manage the pain, in a strange sort of way.
In the Bradley Method classes we took, we talked a lot about the “emotional signposts of labor”. They really stressed with the dads the importance of recognizing those signs throughout labor, as they’re indicators of how far along a woman is in the whole process. Here they are:
Early first stage – Excitement
First stage/Active Labor – Acceptance
Late first stage – Seriousness
Transition – Self Doubt/Surrender
Second stage – Determination (this might be wrong)
While I can only vaguely recognize these things now, in hindsight, Dan was witnessing me just fly through each of these signposts like a crazy woman. I don’t know how long I was in the tub, but it wasn’t very long, and I know I probably went through a couple while in there. For instance, when I first got in, I was asking Dan to lift up my hair and put it over the edge of the tub so it didn’t get wet and all crazy, since I had straightened it that day. However by the time I got out, I looked like a wild woman, I could have cared less about my hair, which by now was sopping wet from me thrashing around in there on my hands and knees.
Once out of the tub I pretty much stuck to the bathroom floor, on my hands and knees, getting my rocking and moaning on. I remember focusing intently on the pattern of the little black and white tiles on the floor, and my breathing. Dan kept reminding me to breath abdominally when a contraction would come on and I’d get a bit panicked. Oh, and the back pain was just torture, and I NEEDED Dan there for each contraction to squeeze and put pressure on my lower back. At this point we started realizing that contractions were lasting a minute, and were coming on every two minutes. So that means I would have 60 seconds in between each one, though during those 60 seconds the back pain would remain, it would just get more bearable. We finally convinced ourselves that, yea, holy crap, we need to call the midwife again and probably get to the hospital. I remember that being sort of a frantic situation, because it’s a hotline, and you have to leave a message with some sort of nurse/operator to have the midwife call you. She said if Amy didn’t call back in 20 minutes, to call back again. Bitch. Well Dan went ahead and started getting things ready for the hospital, and I really started to panic because how in the hell was I going to ever be able to leave the house? I was a complete naked mess, and there was just no way I was going to be able to sit in the car. I had to get through a few contractions here and there on my own, because those 60 second intervals in between them were just not enough time for Dan to race down the stairs and out to the car to get it loaded, finish packing the bags, deal with the dog, and get the midwife on the phone.
Oh, I almost forgot, at some point during all of this, I started to feel like I had to poop. The urge would come on super strong at the peak of each contraction, and I literally thought my whole butt was going to explode. We’re not stupid, we know that the urge to push is often compared to feeling like you need to poop, but we were so in denial that it could be happening that fast! So Dan and I got the bright idea that he would look “down there” and if he didn’t see anything (i.e. a BABY!) than maybe it was ok and I should just go ahead and poop. Ha! We’re geniuses. Well sure enough he didn’t see anything, so I went and pooped, multiple times, and it felt so good. (I know, duh right, I was entering second stage at home.)
Well when we finally got ourselves out of the house and to the car, I tried to sit in the back seat but just wasn’t having it, so I rode out the 5 minute ride to the hospital (I know, thank goodness it is so close) on my hands and knees. Dan asked me if I wanted him to drop me off at the emergency area by myself, or if he should park in the ramp which would mean I would have to make the extra trek. All I could muster between my moans was, “I don’t know”, but he made the right decision and went to the ramp. There was no way I wanted to be alone at that point, getting through a contraction without him putting pressure on my lower back was absolute torture. I was willing to walk a bit farther.
The walk from the parking ramp to the labor and delivery floor was pretty ridiculous, I can’t imagine how we looked to outsiders, but since it was almost 2:00 AM, there weren’t a lot of people around. In my condition though, I wouldn’t have cared one way or another, I had to do what I had to do to get through each contraction. So every minute, or about every 100 feet, I would drop to my hands and knees and start my moaning and rocking again, and Dan would drop the bazillion bags he was carrying in order to apply pressure to my back. As we passed the security desk the guy playing solitaire at the desk asked if we wanted a wheel chair and Dan told him there was no way I would sit in one of those and that he had already offered. Outside of the elevators we had to wait for the next one because I was having another contraction by the time the door had opened. Some nice ladies came by and held the door until I was done with my contraction so we could get in there, and then held it again once we got to the 3rd floor so I could ride out the next contraction inside the elevator. Then the one lady ran to the nurses’ desk and declared that there was a “lady in distress” in the elevator. I made it out of there on my own and she tearily told me that she was on her way to the hospice floor, saying something about one leaving this world and another entering and how fitting it was. It was really sweet actually, and she wished me luck and I gave her my condolences and then it was to the assessment room to see where the heck we were at.
Dan helped me get into a gown and my midwife came in and got down on her hands and knees next to me to say hello, and that as soon as I was ready and felt able I should get up and get on the bed so she could check my cervix. At some point between me being on the floor and on the bed the back labor amazingly went away, and we’re thinking all that rocking on my hands and knees must have gotten the baby in the correct position, because he was no doubt posterior.
Well when she checked me, we were all in shock, because I was complete and the baby was at +3 position. We were ready to push, and there were no labor and delivery rooms available, so we would be having this baby in triage. Whoo!
Pushing was scary, exhausting, exhilarating, and empowering all at the same time. My midwife and the two nurses were amazing, they gave me so much support, kept telling me how fantastic I was doing, how I was a rock star and they had never witnessed a delivery like this. It really helped when my midwife put pressure on the spot where I needed to be focusing my pushing. I totally pooped, multiple times, and even apologized for it. I specifically remember saying, “I pooped didn’t I? I’m sorry, that’s so gross.” Now I realize how ridiculous that is, because SO MUCH gross stuff is happening, like they care about a little poop! I also sprayed amniotic fluid all over everyone during one of my last pushes. Dan was amazingly the only one that avoided the splash.
I definitely felt the ring of fire, and it was nothing compared to all that back labor, seriously. I was a little annoyed though when I got the head out and then I had to still do quite a bit more work. I was all, “I thought after the head I was home free, what is this about?!” The midwife helped get the shoulders out, and then Dan got to do the final pull/catch. When it was time for that, Dan took note of the fact that everyone was all covered in paper gowns and wearing gloves, so he asked the midwife if he needed gloves, and she just said, “No, you’re the dad!”
The image of my little Gus, all purple and squishy and smooshed and perfect, coming towards me and being placed on my chest, with Dan exclaiming, “It’s a boy!” is something I’ll never ever forget. It was the perfect moment, and I went from exhaustion to total elation in those few seconds, I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins. It was just amazing, there’s no good way to describe it. Love at first sight.
So it was only 6 hours from the time that my water broke to the time that Gus was born. It was insanely fast, and we’re lucky we went into the hospital when we did. It was a full moon that night, my midwife herself had already delivered three babies since midnight by the time we came to the hospital, and the hospital had a total of 9 deliveries that night, which is what they usually average in a full day. All I know is that it was nothing like what I had expected, but perfect and wonderful all the same. We’re so lucky.