(me 9 months pregnant)
Just days after conceiving in early June of 2009, I knew I was pregnant. In all honesty, this was surprise baby #3. We never planned any of our pregnancies, but please do not mistaken these as unwanted in any way. My husband and I practice the rhythm method of birth control, and there are times we are being risky and we know it. I know my body and my cycles and know when we are close to days of possible conception. So lets just say I was kinda wanting another baby :)
I had a few pregnancy tests from about 6 months earlier when I thought I was pregnant, but found out I wasn't before I used them. It was a busy morning the day I took it to confirm I was indeed pregnant. The kids were getting dressed, my husband was in the shower...I just strolled in and sat on the toilet and peed on the stick and held it up to my husband. He was really taken by surprise, but of course we were both overcome with joy...ok, and a bit of panic about having a 3rd baby!
Like my other two pregnancies I was easily tired and had morning/day sickness for 12 weeks. At about 14 weeks I made my 1st midwife appointment and knew we would have our baby around the Spring Equinox, March 20th. The rest of my pregnancy was uneventful, I marvelled at my growing belly and was super anxious to meet him or her. We elected to not have a sonogram and therefor did not know the sex. Matt really did not want to find out, I kind of did but decided a surprise would be nice.
(just after we arrived at the birthing center)
(warning, I labored for 22 hours, 12 hours were hardcore labor, this may be a long story!)
On Monday night/early Tuesday morning at 2 am I awoke with a contraction. It was strong enough to make me think that at two days past my estimated due date (just like my other boys)...this may be the beginning of real labor and that I should rest. I fell asleep to have another at 2:30 and then they came every 20 minutes or so and I tried to sleep in between them.
At 8:30 am they were 15 minutes apart and I was growing anxious and unable to sleep through them. My boys woke up and bounded down the stairs and I set them up with breakfast and a movie in their room so I could continue to labor downstairs.
At 10:30 I woke Matt up and told him this was it, they were 10 minutes apart. He immediately jumped out of bed and we got ready to go. I called the midwife and we agreed it was no rush and we would meet at the freestanding Birthing Center at 1:00. Matt was nervous so when his mother arrived to stay with the boys we left a little early at 11:45.
I was hungry and Matt went to Dunkin Donuts for me to get me bagels with cream cheese :) Not something he would ordinarily do for me as he is anti all fast food in any way, but he did this time for me. And even went in b/c the window in our Honda would not go down. I had a contraction in the car waiting as they were now coming every 8 minutes.
Thankfully we missed rush hour going into the city, but I still could not help but curse and then apologize to my dear husband as he hit bumps during contractions. And PA is known for the worst roads after a hard winter, so the bumps were almost constant!
Amusingly we both had to pee very bad! Matt was seriously bouncing in his seat within blocks of the Center, and haha, he actually pulled over 2 blocks away to pee in a bottle he could not wait anymore, I teased him about his water breaking and swore at him for bouncing the car up on to a curb when he pulled over.
At 12:30 we arrived and you have to be buzzed into the building, they asked who it was, I said, "Mary Beth, I am having a baby". When they buzzed me in I darted to the back bedroom where I planned to birth and ran to the bathroom, the nurse thought the baby was coming out and ran in behind me. I told her I just had to pee really bad!
The midwife on duty, Kara, and her nurse Vanessa came to see how I was. They watched me get contractions every 2-3 minutes and thought I was close and said it was a good thing I came when I did. At 1:00 when they checked me I was only 4 cm and 50% effaced.
I was crushed. With my last baby I was 10 cm when I arrived, I expected to hear at least 6 or even 8 for as strong and close the contractions were.
The other midwife on call, Lori arrived after doing rounds at the local hospital and came in to see how I was progressing. She did not want to check me again but asked if I wanted to stay or go back home, I decided to stay. I live 30 minutes from the center and did not want to risk delivering in the car coming back!
(breathing through a contraction with banana in my mouth)
At 2:00 I got in the jacuzzi to ease the contractions that were still coming every 2 minutes.
At 3:00 we decided to try walking around. I went up and down the steps in the center and then we went outside. It was blustery and rainy but we huddled together under an umbrella and walked very slowly along the city blocks. Me in my hoodie, sweats and flip flops, Matt in loafers and flannel PJ pants. We had to stop for me to lean on cold brick walls and office building doorways while I breathed and yelled through contractions. Quite a sight to see I am sure. :) It was really odd to be laboring right on the sidewalk in the city.
I decided I was hungry again, and the bag of fruit we brought was not enough so we got in the car to go to the health food store a few blocks away. I labored in the car and cursed at Matt when he came back for taking so long. He ran into people he knew and was explaining what we were up to.
At 4:00 we went back to the Center to eat the squash soup and rolls Matt got, I ate between contractions 2 minutes apart. The food made me very nauseated with bad heartburn.
At 5pm they checked again, still 4-5 centimeters, more devastation. I could not believe it. He was not dropping, they could not break my water b/c he was not low enough...but I had been laboring so hard....I was already so very tired.
(the birthing ball was a big help!)
6:30 pm, Six centimeters. Progressing, but slowly. I was so exhausted already. Dozing between contractions and swearing and moaning during them.
At 7 pm the midwives changed shifts, Lisa left and Nancy came in. My nurses also changed and Jamie was my new nurse. They were both so wonderful while I labored. Stroking my arms, massaging my back, putting cool cloths on my head, giving me sips of ice water...I was so thankful they were present. Matt was also an amazing labor partner as always. He rubbed my back and tried to keep me relaxed.
Around 8 pm I got back in the jacuzzi, the loud sound it made distracted me a bit during the very strong contractions. I was so exhausted I actually fell into a deep enough sleep in 1-2 minutes between contractions to dream. Every time another contraction would come, my limp hand would emerge from the water for Matt to hold and let me squeeze his hand. I would awake and come back to reality, to the moment and try to get through the next contraction. When the contraction ended my arm and hand would drop back into the water. I labored in the jacuzzi for what seemed like hours. I felt like i was in a meditative trance like state while I was in there. When I finally decided before getting out that I wanted narcotics, they told me it was too late, it was time to push.
I finally got out and made it to the bed and laid on my back. The midwife then was able to break my waters by just barely touching the sac while I had a contraction. This was very painful and I think I yelled at her but the baby dropped down just after she broke my water. So then I began trying to push. I was feeling pretty sick and would throw up a little bit after each contraction. It was near impossible for me to get in a good push, Matt and the nurse had to hold my legs up and back, I just could not do it, I was exhausted.
It was so different than 4 years earlier, in this very same room, when I delivered my 2nd son Sam. I did not have that super woman strength or motivation this time around.
It was very painful for me on my back, because like my other babies, this one was posterior, so they had me get on all fours on the bed. When your baby is posterior, facing the wrong direction, it causes you to have very bad back labor. I barely had the energy to hold myself up on my hands and knees. I cried pretty hard and then threw up a lot. I really was having a hard time at this point. I remember banging the top of my head on the headboard during contractions, trying to displace the pain and distract myself, and some out of frustration.
I would look Nancy, my midwife, in the eye, and tell her I just could not go on, I could not do this. I begged to just be able to go to sleep, for it all to just end. But they all cheered me, told me I could, and I had to. The midwife then asked if I wanted to try the birthing stool. (a U shaped stool)
Matt sat behind me on the bed and I leaned on him for support while I sat on the stool. I was digging my elbows into his thighs, but he beared through it and gave me the physical and emotional support I needed to get the baby out.
I pushed for over an hour while on the birthing stool when the baby finally dropped down far enough that they could see his head. Hearing this news gave me the 2nd wind I needed to get my baby out and into my arms. My midwife asked if I wanted to feel his head, I didn't with my other two babies, so this time I was eager too.
(I think that maybe I started pushing too soon, in reflection, I wished I had waited longer, but at the time I just wanted the baby out so bad)
After feeling his warm and wrinkly head full of hair I felt this incredible surge of energy. I pushed really good 3-4 times for each of the next few contractions....I also screamed like a wild woman when he finally began to emerge. My, for lack of better words, butt hurt so bad that I kept screaming this to my midwife. There was not really the ring of fire pain, but such incredible pressure I thought I would burst open. I know I screamed louder than with Sam's birth. I had this feeling that I had lost all control and didn't remain as calm as I did with Sam.
His head finally emerged and two pushes later his shoulders and the rest of his beautiful little body was born at 11:30 pm.
Unlike my other births, I did not cry when I finally pulled my sweet baby to my chest, but my dear husband did. It's not that I didn't feel the same overwhelming emotions, I was just so very exhausted. I also didn't even think to see if "it" was a boy or a girl until 2-3 minutes after he was born. I finally peeked and and then was hit with beautiful floods of emotion as I told my husband we had another boy! I knew this all along, maybe it was intuition, but I just knew my entire pregnancy that we would have another boy.
When he first came out he did not cry immediately and was a purple-blue color. After a minute he finally let out some cries and pinked up immediately. (I was happy to learn the midwives do not believe in sucking that baby with the suction ball, they think this is unneccesary and uncomfortable and baby will clear that out on his own)
I slid back on the bed and laid my sweet boy on my chest and my husband and I just gazed at him while I put him to my breast to nurse. He latched on and nursed eagerly.
They cut the cord after it stopped pulsating, about 20 minutes after he was born. (this is very important!) Matt chose to not cut it, just like the other times, as this is a little too much for him :) My placenta delivered very soon after with just one push. It helped that the baby was nursing which makes it easier. I was happy and surprised to hear I did not tear at all! We got to check out the placenta and cord, which is just an amazing thing to me, to see what nourished and held my baby for the last nine months. We also brought it home. I took a piece and made a homeopathic tincture ( http://www.placentalremedy.com/ ) and we will be burying the rest under a newly planted tree in a few weeks.
After letting us bond for those early moments, the midwife and nurse came to check Silas out to make sure everything seemed ok. The beautiful thing about birthing here, rather than a hospital, is they do this while he is still laying on your chest. There is no whisking away of the baby to clean, weigh, examine, ink, etc. The baby lays with you for as long as you want until you are ready to let them weigh him. With my hospital birth with my 1st son, I was so upset by this, I hated that his first moments of life were him on a table screaming his little head off while they did all that too him, I wanted him to be with me so very bad!
A few hours later, when I was ready, we found out he weighed 7lb and 4 oz, 21 inches long. Exactly what my husband guessed. Matt told me he really wanted to name him Silas and I agreed. Silas means of the forest or man of the forest, which is very fitting for our tree hugging, outdoor loving lifestyle.
(Daddy giving Silas skin contact warmth while I showered)
It was after midnight and I was ready to sleep, but 1st I got up to get a shower. Although I was exhausted, I still felt wonderful. While I showered and Matt rocked the baby, my nurse changed the bedding and then left us peacefully to rest. Silas slept between Matt and I until 5 am when I awoke, energized and ready to go home. I was a bit sore, but nothing like my hospital birth when I had an episiotomy. This time I just felt like I ran a marathon the day before.
They made me English muffins with peanut butter and jelly, as I requested. At the Center, they will make you anything you desire after you deliver! All good healthy food, donated by Whole Foods.
At 7am we all got dressed and ready to go home. The discharge nurse came in to check our vitals and to get Silas's foot prints and finished up some paperwork.
(just before we left to go home)
The nurse walked us to the car and Matt and I headed home to introduce our sweet new baby to his big brothers and his Grandma and Ya-ya.
(I have done birth photography for two clients, and debated while I was pregnant to let a photographer friend document this birth. I decided in the end that I did not want to. Mostly b/c it is such an intimate setting at the Midwife Center. Just a midwife, a nurse and my husband and I in a small dark bedroom. If it were a hospital birth I would have asked her to come. These are photos my husband and I took. There are not many, and the quality is really bad b/c it was dark and I did not want a flash, but I am still pleased with the few memories he captured. I also chose to not video this birth, like I did with Sam and Max's.)
Now almost 20 days later as I reflect on this birth, I have to ask myself, if I were to do it again, would I go drug free? At first I thought I was no longer an advocate for an all natural birth, but after that sweet baby was laid on my chest I knew I would and could do it again. We do not plan on an "again", but if it should happen, I will most definitely go drug free, and AT HOME!!
I loved my experiences with the midwives at the birthing center, but I also would love to have a home birth. I let Matt talk me out of it this time around, mostly because he was so nervous about it, and financially we could not make it work, as we would have had to pay a large sum of cash vs. our insurance covering it all. But IF there is a next time, I will be laboring and birthing in the comfort of my own home :)