Monday, February 22, 2010
A birth story is in and of itself a bit graphic, so if you can't handle the details, don't read :). It's hard to share the story without sharing the details!
The birth of Levi was amazing… I am excited to share! This is how birth should be… gentle, normal, relaxed, unhindered. Everything about it was how God made it to be. I wouldn't change one thing about it.
Wednesday, February 10th, Robert and I both woke up really early for some reason (4:00). We both couldn't go back to sleep, so at about 4:45, I decided to go make some coffee (mostly decaf with just a little bit of caffeine!!). As I was making it, I felt a "trickle," and noticed that my shorts were a little wet. I just knew that my water was starting to break!! I got very excited!! This happened with Ethan, and within about 30 minutes, it broke all the way. So, I did the things that I needed to (to prevent infection), and I waited. It was too early to really call anyone because I didn't really know what was going to happen. I decided to take a shower and then just see if the water continued to leak. And, it stopped. I was SO confused… what was that? If my water was breaking, it should continue to leak… maybe I'm just crazy… who knows. So, at about 6:30, I decided to call my midwife, Kristen (yeah, still a bit early, but I'm a little anxious to know what's going on at this point). Luckily, she was awake already (or maybe she just told me that so I wouldn't feel bad). She said that it should continue once it starts (so she's not real sure if that's what it was), but to go ahead and take precautions as if it was leaking. Oh, just to add, she had been sick for several days before this and had I gone into labor just the day before, she wouldn't have been able to be there. Just so happens that her fever had now been gone long enough and she was feeling good enough to come that day. God's timing is perfect :). She ends up calling me back a little bit later and said that Levi's head was so low that maybe he was just creating a "plug." She really thought that my water may not leak anymore, and it definitely wasn't going to break all the way (she later decided that my second bag of waters probably leaked and sealed back over).
At this point, I just rested for a while because I knew I would need my energy. I called my friend Corrina (who was going to be at the birth), and I called my mom (who was going to be picking up the kids). Corrina would only be able to be there in the evening because she had to wait until her husband came home from work (so someone would be there with her daughter). My mom had an appointment that morning that she really didn't want to miss (and I didn't want her to miss it unless completely necessary), so we decided that she'll just go on with her day as planned unless something changed. At this point I wasn't even completely sure what was happening, so I didn't want anyone to change their plans yet! We went on with our day. Robert was already off, so he didn't have to call in, which was nice since we didn't know what to expect!
A few hours later, I began having some other signs of impending labor, then I started having some contractions. The contractions weren't that painful, and they weren't regular… so I decided that after my mom picked up the kids, I would go for a walk and see what happened. They continued for the rest of the morning… Kristen came just after lunch (because she was already coming that day for my appointment anyway), and she felt that I was probably in early labor. I definitely wasn't in active labor, and we didn't think it would be just real quick. She went ahead and called the apprentice (who is actually acting as an assistant now because all that she's lacking is her final test!). She was at Ethan's birth, and she was excited about being here because she thought Ethan's birth was amazing :).
After my mom picked up the kids, Robert and I went for a walk. While walking, I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes, but they weren't that painful yet… I could continue walking through them. I knew that those were not the same contractions that I felt when I was in labor with Ethan… so I was either still in really early labor (which I never had with Ethan!), or was just having some "warm up" contractions. I still didn't know what to expect at this point. I came home kind of frustrated. Kristen asked me if she could check me to see if I was progressing at all (the last time she checked me was the week before and I was 1cm dilated and the baby was at +1-+2 station, which is as low as he could get!). When she checked me, I was only 2cm dilated, and the baby was actually higher than he was the week before!! She decided that it was probably going to be a while because the contractions seemed to slow down a lot when I got home. She asked me what I wanted… did I want her to stay? Did I want her to leave? When I wasn't sure, she decided to have me lay down for a while. If the contractions continued and got longer, stronger, and closer together, then we knew I was really in labor. If not, then they would leave and I would call them when they got longer, stronger, and closer together (which she thought would still be pretty soon).
I laid down, and the contractions stopped. I was pretty upset because I knew that what I had been feeling before wasn't just Braxton hicks, but what were they?? Kristen came into the room and started working on getting the supplies together while she waited (because she knew it would be soon no matter what). I was just visiting with her while I laid there, and I had a strong contraction. It was a little more difficult to talk through than the others were. A little bit later I had another one. Then another… They weren't consistent yet, but they were definitely getting stronger. By about 5:30, we determined that I was in active labor, and I had progressed another centimeter, and the baby's head dropped again. So, I decided it was time to get in the tub. Robert lit some candles and turned on my favorite relaxing music (which was actually a lullaby tape, yes a tape :), that a volunteer here at the camp gave me when Karis was a baby!). I breathed through the contractions and just let my body do the work. Being in the tub is so nice while in labor! After a while, I decided to get out of the tub and lay on my bed. I laid on my right side for a while and just continued to breathe through the contractions. With each contraction, I just visualized the baby moving down. Very quickly, I started to feel some pressure. Scottie, who was the apprentice, was right there in front of me. I told her that I thought I was starting to feel pressure, but wasn't sure if that's what I was really feeling. She told me that she is pretty sure that I AM feeling pressure, and that I was probably already approaching transition (she could tell that the hormones were making me really sleepy, which is one of the signs). I couldn't believe it because even though the pain was really bad, it wasn't NEAR as bad as it was with Ethan during transition. So, I decided to go ahead and have Kristen check me to see what was going on because I was really doubting that I was approaching transition. Well, sure enough, I was almost at an 8!! I couldn't believe it. At this point, my water hadn't broken yet, so that actually helped the pain because it gave a cushion. I continued to breathe and consciously attempt to relax my body with each contraction. The contractions continued to get longer, stronger, and closer together. I then began to feel the need to push. Kristen wanted to check to make sure that there wasn't any cervix left before I started pushing because it's not good to push if you're not fully dilated. So, she checked and felt that there was just a little bit left. At this point, I really needed to go to the bathroom because I felt that my full bladder was making the contractions worse, BUT I didn't want to get up! They helped me get up and get to the bathroom, and it did help, but having a contraction while up is much worse than when laying down! They quickly helped me get back to the bed. I had a few more contractions, then my body just had to start pushing. I had no control, really. I remember that feeling with Ethan, and it actually makes me feel better to just let my body do the work. Plus, I knew that because I let my body do the work with Ethan, I had no tears. That was my goal again this time.
After Kristen checked me, Corrina came in :). It took her a while longer to get here than she had hoped, but she got here just in time. At some point (can't remember if it was before Corrina got there or after), the assistant midwife came as well.
My body began pushing with each contraction. At this point, my water still hadn't broken, so Kristen and Scottie were preparing for a mess :). I didn't push for long and my bag of waters started coming out, intact. They were completely surprised that it hadn't popped on its own (and midwives don't normally pop the bag unless absolutely necessary because that's considered an intervention). They eventually started to try to pop it because they knew it would be easier on me, but it wouldn't pop! It was very strong! Levi's head came out, then the bag popped. It made a nice mess :). Kristen said that I had a LOT of fluid (which is what I was told with Karis as well). That's probably why I looked SO huge at the end. A little bit later, the rest of his body came out (with a lot of work and pain… this was the most painful part for me this time). But, even though it was painful, it was only about 10 minutes, and it was over. And, I didn't have any tears again (just a few "skidmarks…" which is like when you bite the inside of your mouth; they heal quickly on their own). Robert caught him, and put him up on my chest. They cleaned him off a bit, then just let him lay on my chest for a while. I just held onto him and wouldn't let him go! We still had a few more things to take care of (the placenta, etc), then I was able to breastfeed him. He latched on well on his own. He seemed so tiny to me (and to everyone… they were expecting a bigger baby because of how big my belly was). Scottie fixed me some food and Robert fed me while I fed Levi. I fed him for what seemed like about an hour. It was a beautiful time. Kristen and Scottie cleaned up, washed the sheets and towels that were used, etc. I took a shower and felt much better :). While I took a shower, Kristen did the newborn exam, weighed him, measured him, etc. Scottie guessed that he weighed 7 lbs 12 oz, and she was right :). My smallest baby so far! And longest, at almost 21 inches! So, he's long and skinny... with long fingers and long feet.
I then climbed back into bed and cuddled with Robert and our new little one. We had a quiet, peaceful night. It was perfect!