Since my baby is about to start to kindergarten in a week, I realized I hadn’t posted his birth story here! It’s a little long, but it is a tale of a first time mom having her first natural childbirth even though everyone said she couldn’t do it. This was written when he was about 1 day old.
Evan’s Birth Story
21 inches long
I read somewhere recently that when a baby is born, in most parts of the world people say, “A woman has given birth!” In America, we simply say, “A baby has been born.” Since I have now given birth for the first time, I can definitely appreciate the first statement more than the second. I haven’t fully processed the events of my labor and delivery yet, and when anyone asks me “How was it?” I can only respond with, “It was an experience!”
On Tuesday, October 2, 2007, Mike and I went to bed at about 10pm. We had eaten dinner, and watched a recorded episode of Heroes. After turning out the lights, my stomach started hurting, kind of like it does when you have a stomach virus of some sort. I did start to notice though that the “achiness” would come and go, and I could time it. I really thought I was sick from dinner, so I went downstairs where I noticed that I had left a candle burning in the bathroom. I bent forward to blow it out, and felt a little trickle of fluid. I thought I just peed on myself, so I changed my undies, and sat down to update my pregnancy journal. I felt another trickle, and after two more underwear changes, I decided that I was not peeing on myself, my water had broken (this was about 11:30pm). I went upstairs and woke Mike up, who was pretty much out of it, and seemed confused. It didn’t take him long to realize what was going on though. I guess the stomach ache I had was the beginning of the contractions.
We went to the grocery store to pick up snacks and juice for the birth center, and not long after we came home, my contractions started. This was about 1:00am. They started at 4 minutes apart, and only got closer together, never were they further apart than that. They were pretty uncomfortable from the beginning, there was no talking through them, no walking through them, I had to concentrate on every one of them from the first one, with Mike at my side helping me relax and breathe through them. Eventually I got in the tub, which felt wonderful, and my contractions only got closer together. I think it was at about 2:30 when Mike called the Birth Center to let them know what was going on and find out when we should go in since I was GBS positive. They wanted us to wait until they got to be 3 minutes apart (I didn’t think one minute difference was that big of a deal). We didn’t end up leaving for the birth center until about 6:30 or so and my contractions were about every 2-3 minutes in the car, and the pain was much much worse. I had to pray through every one of them, and I began to question if my body really could get me through this.
Upon arrival at the Birth Center, I was checked by Sarah one of the midwives, and much to my surprise, I was 5cm dilated, 100% effaced and +1 station. I was really concerned that I would get there and still be 0 because I was worried about the possibility of having scar tissue on my cervix from cryosurgery that was done last year. She said if I did have scar tissue there, I had busted right through it. What a relief to know that I was half way there, I was truly amazed, and that did give me some confidence (for about 5 minutes) that I could get through it. I had an episode of vomiting after that which I found to be absolutely miserable. Having been an L&D nurse though, I knew that this often happened and was usually a good sign that labor was progressing. I got my IV started, got some fluids and a dose of penicillin for the GBS. After that, Ellen (the nurse) capped off my IV and I got in the tub. That was heaven for about an hour or so, I kind of lost track of time. My contractions spaced out and seemed to get a bit shorter, so I was able rest between contractions, almost falling asleep. At some point, Sarah came back in and said that since the contractions had slowed down, she wanted to check me to make sure I was still progressing. If I was, I could stay there, but if not, I needed to get out and try something else. I was 8cm then, so she said I could stay, but I opted to get out and try the shower. The tub had become hot since they re-ran the water, and it seemed as if I just couldn’t get back in the zone that I had been in.
Mike accompanied me to the shower in his swim trunks. I started out sitting on a labor ball, and for about one contraction it felt good. After that, I asked Mike to get in with me, and he sat on a stool facing me. It seemed as if the contractions suddenly intensified, and I lost all focus. I couldn’t breathe properly, I couldn’t relax anything. I don’t know what made me do it, but I found myself staring intently into Mike’s eyes, and I would not move my gaze until the contraction subsided. This helped tremendously! Mike and I have a very close relationship, but NEVER have I shared that sort of gaze with my husband. I believe our relationship changed, and grew so much closer at that moment. I don’t know how long we sat in the shower working through contractions, but it finally got to the point where I told Mike, “I can’t do this, I don’t want to do this, I want to go home!” That must have been transition right there. We got out of the shower (Maureen, the midwife who delivered me when I was born) was there by then. Once I was able to lie down on the bed (which I hated Hated HATED by the way), she checked me and said there was only a tiny rim of cervix left, and I needed to lie on my left side to get it to go away. I thought that doing that was the hardest most difficult thing in the world, and that asking me to lie on my left side was some sort of torture! By this time, absolutely NOTHING was comfortable because Evan’s head was so low in my birth canal that the pressure was intense beyond words. They helped me to get into a “good” position though. Within a few minutes, she told me that she was able to push the rim over his head, and that I could push on the next contraction.
“PUSH”…that is a word I have said hundreds of times to women…but the thought of me pushing was the most insane thing in the world. I had prepared myself for months for a natural childbirth, but when the labor started, the whole thing terrified me. I was supposed to push this baby out of my vagina and be ok with it. “Ok” I thought, “I’ll do whatever she tells me.” Maureen said that when the next contraction started, to take two deep breaths, and push on the third. That would give the contraction time to build and I could work with its force. (I wonder how I remember all of this considering the state of mind I was in?) Anyway, I did that. At that moment, it didn’t matter to me if I had a bowel movement the size of a horse there in the bed, I wanted that baby out, and I knew how to push. They were impressed at my pushing from the very first one. I could feel everything, I could feel him move, and I knew how to do it. It took a while, and I got frustrated because of that. I think my exact pushing time was about 45 minutes or so, I’m not really sure.
Sometime during all of this, Maureen had to go upstairs and see a patient, and Sarah came back in to work with me. I kept pushing all the time on my left side, or toward my left side. My left leg was on the bed and bent, and I was pulling back on my right leg, which Mike was helping support. When we started, they had me push twice with each contraction, but I finally figured out that if I didn’t push all the way through the contraction until it ended, that I was miserable afterward, and the pain/pressure was horrible. I pushed with more determination that anything I’ve ever done in my life. Maureen had me reach inside to feel his head, and the first time I was a little disappointed because even though I could feel it, it wasn’t close enough to being out for my liking. The next time, I was impressed how much closer he was. While she was gone, I decided that I was going to get this baby out…and it was going to be sooner than later. I was tired, and I was tired of the pressure I was feeling. It was time this little boy come into the world, and I was the only one who could make it happen. That’s about when I got mad. I remember when that contraction started up that I thought, “GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and I pushed like there was no tomorrow. I can’t explain the feeling I had, because I could literally feel his head moving down there, and the tone of Mike’s voice got so excited. I pushed and pushed like this, and the next thing I knew, I could hear Sarah, or I think it was Sarah, calling upstairs telling Maureen to come on down, it was time to have a baby. I vaguely remember hearing Maureen say that she almost tripped and fell down the steps on her way down. Someone asked me if I wanted to see, and I said yes. They brought the mirror, and it did a wonderful thing for my heart, and my confidence, to see my baby’s head sitting there, and not moving back in when the contraction was over. I thought it would hurt, but it did not. It was pressure, but almost a relief from what I had been feeling for the past few hours.
Also, at this time, I told them that my sister’s friend Shannon could come in and take pictures of the delivery. She had arrived as a stand-in for my sister Ellen a while earlier, but I had asked that she wait in the waiting room because I was so uncomfortable. When he was starting to crown though, I realized that I may want to see pictures of all of this, so I let her come in.
We had to wait, what seemed like forever, for that last contraction so that I could push again. I asked them to leave the mirror there because I wanted to see what was going on. This really surprised me because I won’t even watch someone drawing my blood with a butterfly needle. I watched as I started to push, and when it got to the point that the biggest part of his head was coming out, I felt the most intense pain that I felt the whole time. It only lasted a few short seconds, but I let out a scream from the pit of my stomach. I wanted someone’s hand to squeeze, but Mike was down with Maureen prepared to help catch Evan. Shannon was taking pictures, so I was grabbing the air. Thankfully, it was over quickly. The next thing that happened was a few nurses pushing both of my knees back, and I knew they were worried about his shoulders getting stuck. I thought to myself, “This is NOT going to happen, he is NOT getting stuck!” I pushed with everything that was left inside of me, and the next thing I knew, I had a warm, wet, screaming baby laying on my chest. I’m not exactly sure how he got there, meaning I don’t know for sure who put him there, I think Mike helped though. At that very instant, all of the pain and discomfort were gone, and relief washed over me as I looked into my little baby’s eyes! I couldn’t believe that my son, who I had just birthed, was lying on my chest. What an absolute miracle! His eyes were open right away, and he screamed for what seemed to me like a good 20 minutes. There was no wondering whether or not he got his lungs cleared out! He was a beautiful shade of pink, and absolutely perfect in every way imaginable.
Maureen assessed to find out if any damage had been done, and found I had only tore a small amount. I received three stitches for that. I also had a little more bleeding than they felt comfortable with, so I got a shot of pitocin in my leg, and then a dose of cytotec in my rectum (not pleasant). The cord was clamped somewhere in all this, and Mike cut it, and Maureen asked me to push to deliver the placenta. I couldn’t really figure out how to do that after giving birth to Evan, but whatever I did must have worked because out the placenta came. It wasn’t too long after that, I told them it really felt like I had to pee, so they helped me up to the bathroom, but I couldn’t find the right muscle group to use to actually make myself pee. I tried all sorts of tricks, but after about 10 minutes or so, they said I could try again later. It took me three tries to be able to pee.
The remainder of that day was just amazing. We had very few people coming in and out, so we got a lot of privacy, and it was nice not having someone trying to take my blood pressure every 15 minutes! Mike fell asleep in the bed (we had a full size bed in the room) because he had been up over 24 hours. I was tired, but on a high of sorts and couldn’t go to sleep until later in the afternoon when we all napped together. Evan breastfed pretty much right away without any difficulty, which amazed me. I didn’t have any reason to think we would have a problem, but it seemed like he knew exactly what he was doing…despite how clumsy I felt!
My sister Ellen finally arrived with lunch for Mike and I (Arby’s sandwiches, Yum!). Shannon and Ellen held the baby for a little while so we could eat, and after they left was when the three of us napped together. They came back with dinner for us later in the evening. That night, Maureen came down and did the full assessment on Evan, and washed his hair for us. We ended up going home at about 10:00pm that night.