The rest of Calvin’s birth story

I’m so sorry for not finishing sooner.  It’s been on my list of things to do since the moment I hit the publish button on the first part, but giving birth and moving house in the same week tends to put a pinch on computer time.  :)

Picking up where I left off…

cont’d from Part 1

I wasn’t just surprised.  I was shocked and suddenly lost.  In 11 previous deliveries, my water has NEVER broken before I am fully dilated and ready to push.  My biggest and best signal of where I stood in labor had just disappeared.  I fought my rising panic and called for Perry, desperately hoping he was still in the house.

He didn’t answer, but Lydia heard me and came to see what I needed.  I calmed my voice, and asked if Dad was still home.  Yes?  GET HIM.

He was up the stairs and in the bedroom with me in a few seconds.  I was still on the bed, afraid that if I moved the tiny gush I had felt would turn into a bigger mess on my unprepared bed.  “My water just broke.  Help me to the bathroom.”  He helped me up and I lurched a few steps to the bathroom.  Once in there, I stepped into the tub and lowered myself to a squatting position, bracing my arms on the sides of the tub.  I felt the expected gush as Perry called the midwife from my phone.

I heard them discussing amniotic fluid and called out that it was clear, knowing that Jennifer would be asking.  She was picking up the other midwife and heading straight over as quickly as possible.

Perry asked if I wanted the pool, and I nodded numbly, still unsure of what was happening – or what would happen next.

He went downstairs and got the three older girls moving as quickly as possible.  They used the hose to start filling the pool directly from the water heater until it ran cold, then they started heating pots of water on the stovetop.  I heard them bustling and hurrying about, voices sounding tense and excited.

I hung suspended over my tub, waiting to see what happened next.  Perry checked on me every few minutes.  Surely I wasn’t ready to push, though my water had never broken until that point in previous labors.  Nearly 10 minutes had passed now with no contractions, and I cautiously headed for the computer on the far side of my bedroom to post an update.  I connected my phone to the cable (we tether our phones to provide internet for our computers) and I felt a contraction beginning.  I ran for the tub, not wanting to get anything on my bedroom carpet.

When the contraction had ended, I tried again.  This time I didn’t even make it to the computer before the next one hit me.  I raced it back to the bathtub, ever mindful of the carpet.  That was two strong contractions nearly back to back.  Now I was a little worried.  I didn’t even have my phone with me to time them.

I had several more over the next few minutes, strong but still manageable if I focussed completely.  Now I knew the end was very near.  I knew I wanted Perry up here with me, but I was so completely engrossed in staying in control that I couldn’t move outside myself enough to call him.  I could clearly hear voices and footsteps downstairs and knew they would hear me if I called, but the contractions were taking every ounce of my attention.

After what seemed like ages but was really only a few minutes, he was by my side.  The pool wasn’t ready yet, but might be enough to help if I could get down the stairs.  A few more contractions came and went, long and intense with no break between, and I realized I wasn’t going anywhere.  I was going to deliver right here.  The big question was whether Jennifer would make it this time.

Perry told me to wait for a break, and then get out of the tub.  He reminded me that I needed to be where someone could reach the baby when he came.  I wanted to comply, but just couldn’t move.  There was no break, no relief, and no chance to move.  I just couldn’t do it.

I wasn’t ready to push yet, but I knew that part was coming quickly.  With every contraction I waited to feel the baby move down.  Not yet.  Not yet, but soon.  I knew I was almost there.

Finally, I stood up.  Perry helped me over the edge of the tub and I sank to my knees as another contraction hit.  He laid down an absorbant pad and some pillows to pad my knees against the floor, and I continued to relax as much as I could through the never-ending waves of contractions.  It had now been about 35 minutes since my water broke, and 25 minutes since labor had started in earnest.

Now I felt the baby move down.  This was it.  I knew it would be over in a few more contractions, a few good pushes.  I was scared of this part because it’s always the worst part for me, but excited and relieved to know that it would all be over so soon!

Perry called Jennifer again to see how far away she was and to tell her what was going on.  She told him to have me elevate my hips.  With gravity working against me, their hope was that labor would slow enough for the midwives to arrive before the baby.

I was crushed, but couldn’t object.  While we did have two babies arrive before the midwife, we never wanted an unassisted homebirth with all the risks they entail.  For the next 15 minutes, I suffered through non-productive contractions as my body tried to fight gravity.  I heard myself making weeping sounds.  The pain was probably no worse than it had been a few minutes ago, but it was so much harder to deal with when there was no longer an end in sight!

Perry encouraged me as much as he could, knowing how much harder this was.  He did everything he could do make me comfortable.  I remember asking why I had to wait, didn’t he know I could be done already?  “It’s for safety,” he reminded me.  I knew this, but I thought of all the hospital horror stories where a woman’s baby is crowning and she is commanded not to push until the doctor arrives.  I thought of one friend who had a nurse actually push her knees together because her baby was coming and the doctor wasn’t in the room yet.  I felt their frustration, their rage.  I wanted to be done!

After one more phone call to Jennifer, Perry gave me the go-ahead.  She was just a couple of minutes away now.  It was time to finish this!

Pushing took longer than I remember for the last several babies, and it was 4 or 5 more contractions before the baby was ready to crown.  Jennifer and April came in with one contraction to spare, quickly set up their supplies, and coached me through the actual delivery.  I have heard many moms say that they don’t notice a difference in delivery with bigger babies, but this guy outweighed my next biggest baby by 11 oz. and there was definitely a difference in delivering him.  Once the baby crowns, my last three had arrived in a single push, but this one stopped once at his eyes, again at his neck while Jennifer loosened the cord that was around his neck and under his arm, and again at his torso: four long pushes over the course of three contractions to get him out.  OUCH!

And then it was all over.  It was 7:02 PM, just over an hour since I woke from my nap and my water broke.  I was holding a 9 lb 4 oz boy, and he was yelling angrily at me.

I later learned that at least one of the girls downstairs took a vow of celibacy in response to the noises she heard during the delivery, but I thought the labor overall was very easy, and the intense part was mercifully brief.  The others just vowed to have water births, because laboring and delivering out of the water is Far More Intense.  Next time I think we’ll have the pool ready way ahead of time even if it means taking a chance that it will go cold.

See?  If I can say the words “next time” already, it wasn’t such a bad labor.

Baby Calvin’s birth story

Yes, we’re calling him by his middle name, Calvin.  Bonus points if you remember why.

Here is my best recollection of his birth:

We spent the weekend finishing up the biggest parts of our move.  Since the moving crunch was over and having a baby was the next thing on our list, I was finally allowed to work a little.  Nobody wanted me to overdo it, but I was given clearance by the entire family to go into labor anytime.  By Sunday we were ready for some good ole’ Sabbath rest.  We all wondered if that would be my cue to start labor.  I had labored slowly on a Sunday with Parker, and delivered him early Monday morning.  Maybe it would happen the same way this time.

It seemed like a promising theory, but Sunday morning came and went with no sign of labor.  We all went to church, stayed for the fellowship meal that followed, and headed home in the afternoon as usual.  For the first time, our drive home was less than 15 minutes.  I think we’re going to enjoy living in town!

The rest of the day was similarly uneventful, and I went to bed still wondering if I had 10 hours or 10 days to wait.

Around 6 AM on Monday morning, I woke to mild contractions.  There was nothing unusual about this.  They tend to hurt a little more when my bladder is full, and it’s always full by morning.  However, after a trip to the bathroom I found myself still lying awake with contractions every 15 minutes.  These seemed just a little stronger and more regular than the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing for long.  They were just enough to make me casually glance at the clock each time I felt one.  I lay there awake for the next hour, using my phone to time contractions read email and browse facebook.

At 7, Perry woke and asked if I was timing anything.  (How did he know?!  I wasn’t even doing it self-consciously.)  I waffled, hopeful but not wanting to raise false hopes.  “No. Well, sort of.  Every 15 minutes, but nothing strong.  I’m sure nothing will happen with everyone home and awake.  Maybe tonight?”  He asked if I wanted him to take all the kids to work today, and I thought it was a wonderful idea.  I’m not always in a hurry for so much solitude, but today I relished the idea of a quiet, empty house.  Maybe labor would start if I had the house to myself.  It would feel like laboring at night, when all was quiet and nobody was watching or demanding constant updates.

While they all got ready to leave, I got up, showered and dressed.  The activity caused a change in my contractions: instead of light and regular, they were frequent, indistinct and slightly crampy.  There was no beginning and no end, just some vague discomfort that radiated to my back and entire torso.  I lay down again.  I didn’t want to slow things down, but this felt unproductive.  I just wanted to hit the reset button, and start again with nice regular contractions.

Before leaving, Perry prayed with me and said some encouraging things.  I smiled, thanked him, and told him I wasn’t scared now. I was ready to do this.

The reset worked, and I soon rose again to a quiet, empty house.  I wandered restlessly, doing light housework and posting an update on our blog.  Contractions were coming every 6-10 minutes, not painful, but intense enough to require my attention.  I called my midwife to let her know I was in early labor but progressing very slowly.  Her office was just minutes away, and after I hung up I realized I should have asked her to stop by before she left town, but I wasn’t worried about it.  I could call her later, or maybe she would call for an update when she finished the day’s appointments.

The entire morning passed this way, slow and uneventful, with contractions very gradually gaining strength but staying widely spaced.  Perry checked in on me via email and text, requesting updates and making sure I didn’t want or need anything.  By lunchtime, I was experimenting with my exercise ball and making low sounds at the peak of each contraction, but not out of necessity.  I was just practicing some self-conscious relaxation for when I needed to manage the pain later.  At this point, the peaks were strong but hardly what I would call painful.  I was hesitant to even call it active labor.  I thought of this as more pre-labor, as my body got ready for the real stuff later tonight.

Perry and the three oldest girls came home for a late lunch.  He had let the three youngest spend the afternoon with Deanna and Tyler, and the pastor’s wife took the three middle girls to play with her daughter.  I was afraid our sitters had been unknowingly volunteered to host slumber parties, but I wasn’t about to complain.  This had been such a peaceful labor so far, I didn’t want to derail it with chaos and ruin my own attitude.  Perry knew what he was doing.

I came downstairs and had lunch with them, chatting between contractions and leaning quietly against any handy furniture during peaks.  Before they left, they inflated the birth pool and hooked the hose to the water heater just in case I wanted to use it quickly and didn’t want to wait for Perry to make the 15 minute drive home from work.  At this point, I didn’t see that happening, but I appreciated the thoughtfulness.

After they left, contractions picked up a bit more in strength.  Now I was finding it very helpful to breathe and vocalize through the peaks.  On a scale of 1-10 I wanted to say the pain was peaking at a 4 or 5, until I remembered that the Labor scale was nothing like the I Stubbed My Toe scale.  Then I realized I’d better keep the numbers conservative so that I didn’t end up at 27 on a scale of 1-10.  I decided to call it a 3, or maybe just 2.5.  Or if I really wanted to scare myself, it could be a 2.  This hurt, but it wasn’t scary at all yet.

I posted another update to the blog at 3:40 and wondered how much progress I was making.  I felt a little shaky, but knew it was probably because I hadn’t eaten enough during the course of the day.  Lunch was late and light, and I had forgotten to snack throughout the morning.  I had a snack and knew I would feel better in a few minutes when it hit my bloodstream.  I resolved to do better when labor kicked in later tonight.  Right now, I was going to have a nap so I could save my strength for later.

When I lay down, contractions went back to every 10-12 minutes and seemed to lose a little strength.  They were 1 1/2 – 2 minutes long now and still strong enough to wake me, but I was easily able to sleep between them.  Just before 6, Perry and the girls got home from work.  I heard them moving about downstairs for a few minutes, and then footsteps headed up the steps. I was still in bed but awake when Perry looked in on me.  He was thinking of going to the store for some last-minute labor supplies.  Was I still doing alright?  Was this a good time to leave, or did I want him to stay home now?  I assured him that I was resting easily, labor was still light, and he should definitely go.

I felt another contraction start as he headed down the stairs.  5:51 PM. A minute later, my water broke.

I wasn’t just surprised.  I was shocked and suddenly lost.  In 11 previous deliveries, my water has NEVER broken before I am fully dilated and ready to push.  My biggest and best signal of where I stood in labor had just disappeared.  I fought my rising panic and called for Perry, desperately hoping he was still in the house.

cont’d here

Birth story: Parker Cromwell (part 2)

cont’d from Part 1

We settled into bed around midnight, but I wasn’t ready or able to sleep.  After all my apprehensions, I was still just a little nervous but finally looking forward to meeting this baby.  Contractions continued to build in intensity and frequency and I watched the clock, timing them at 8 minutes apart, then 7.   At about 2:30 AM with contractions at 5-6 minutes apart, I turned the laptop back on to update the blog and Perry woke up.

He began setting up the birth pool even though I didn’t plan to get in right away.  We knew that it would take a while to fill with warm enough water, so he rushed back and forth, heating water in pots and pans on the stovetop while the water heater recovered.

Becca also woke up about this time to let us know that she was sick.  After throwing up once, she kept me company while Perry continued to prepare, checking in often.  Becca was excited and a bit of a chatterbox but she understood the need to keep quiet during contractions so I didn’t mind her company.

I soon found I needed to focus more on relaxing during contractions, so Perry sent Becca back to bed.  She was replaced by Kaitlyn, who confessed to lying awake in bed and using her iPod to check our blog for updates on my labor.  Kaitlyn helped Perry while I wandered between the bedroom, the bathroom and the deck.

By the time the pool was ready, so was I.  It was after 4 AM now and though I was holding up well, things were getting intense.  I was planning to get in and out of the pool and move around regularly, but was ready for some relief by means of “nature’s epidural,” as laboring in warm water is often referred to.

Contractions stayed steady at 4-5 minutes apart, but the water did its job and the pain stayed manageable.  I noticed that my back hurt, though not severely.  I was surprised to feel most of the pain in my cervix rather than all over my abdomen.  I don’t remember having such sharp and localized pain with past labors but thought maybe it was better than having the pain spread out.

Perry wondered aloud whether it was time to call the midwife, but I assured him that we probably had plenty of time.  I was plagued by fear that she would arrive and find me at 5 cm.  I don’t like an audience, and wanted to be sure things were well underway before she arrived and called in the assistant midwife and the midwife-in-training.

I think he waited until about 5 AM, then called. When Jennifer heard that contractions were 4-5 minutes apart, she agreed that it was time to head out.

About 5:15, I got out to use the bathroom.  I wasn’t surprised when 2 long and painful contractions came nearly back-to-back.  I headed back out to the pool again and noticed that my face in the bathroom mirror was very pale.  Another strong contraction hit me as I reached the doorway.

Instead of trying to climb into the pool in the middle of a contraction, I staggered across the deck and leaned against the rail for support.  Perry saw what was happening and came to help support me.

I felt myself getting woozy and sank to my knees.

Then I was soaring over verdant hills in bright sunlight.  All was peaceful and quiet except the rushing of the wind in my ears.

Gradually, I became aware that something was wrong.  Wasn’t I supposed to be somewhere?  Was I in the middle of doing something else?  Something important?

The sunlight around me faded, and everything was dark.  I heard Perry yelling into my ear, or so it seemed.  He told me later he was praying, afraid that I was dying or had already died.  I opened my eyes and remembered where I was and what I was supposed to be doing.  The peaceful feeling lingered, fading slowly.  I felt refreshed by my little break.

“I’m fine,” I murmured.  “I was dreaming.”  He was relieved, but not at all refreshed by my little break.  By our reckoning, I was out for about 45-60 seconds.

While I was out, he had yelled to Kaitlyn to find his phone.  She scrambled around, found it, and dialed the midwife.  As Perry prayed aloud, Kaitlyn told Jennifer I had fainted.   Then she brought him the phone and he spoke to Jennifer, who was already on the road and would be here asap.  She assured him I was probably fine and it was likely due to a combination of low blood pressure and low blood sugar, both known issues for me.

They were still on the phone when I finally came to, and since we didn’t have any orange juice Jennifer told Perry to feed me bites of sherbet between contractions to boost my blood sugar.

Contractions came again, easing me back into the real world.  The first 3 or 4 were still close together but either milder than before or I was still slightly sedated by having passed out.  They quickly built to their former intensity and I stayed where I was on the deck, leaning against Perry for support.

He called the midwife once more to let her know I was ok but things were happening quickly.  She was still at least 10 minutes away.  She told him not to let me back in the pool right away just in case I fainted again.  She needn’t have worried.  I wasn’t going anywhere.

Kaitlyn was rushing around inside the house, preparing our bed in case I ended up delivering in there.  Presumably, this was the back up plan, but I wasn’t moving.  I sat on the deck, right where I had landed, bracing myself between the rail and my husband’s body.  Contractions came one after another, with no break between.

I warned Perry that I was feeling “pushy” and he asked if I could wait, then called my mom to let her know that she’d better get here quickly if she wanted to witness the birth.

I had one or two more contractions.  “Are you pushing?!” Perry wanted to know, still shaken.  He sounded like he’d caught a child being naughty, and I felt like one.  “Just a little,” I admitted.  Under other circumstances, I would have found it hard not to laugh.  I think I did chuckle just a little.

Headlights came up the driveway and Perry suddenly looked relieved: “Here she comes.  The midwife is here.”  He sent Kaitlyn to help her carry up her equipment.  I felt the baby descending and shifted to all fours.  There was a loud pop as my water broke.  I knew it was too soon for the midwife to be here but had other things on my mind.

“Here it comes!” I told him, as footsteps topped the stairs.

I think there was half a moment of stunned silence, and then: “The baby?  The baby!!!”  I was briefly afraid that Kaitlyn would have to catch while Perry supported me, but he didn’t hesitate now.  He scrambled around to the business end of the affair and assumed the catcher’s position with hardly a second to spare.  I was oblivious as my mom and Kaitlyn joined us.

For the first time ever, there was no distinct “ring of fire.”  I felt the head and then the rest of the baby’s body emerge all in one quick push.  It was still dark and we were far from the windows and lights, so Perry was catching blind.

The rest happened just as quickly.  At first, Perry thought that the baby slid through his hands in a smooth curving motion and landed face up on the surface under my belly.  Having reviewed the event in his mind, he thinks what happened was that he caught the baby then tried to pass him into my hands, but the cord was around the baby’s neck and/or body.  There wasn’t enough slack so he quickly set the baby down to unwind things, letting his bottom hit the deck with a thump and then easing his head down.

Either way, the baby was on the surface directly below my belly, just as surprised as the rest of us.

Then he yelled.  Somebody – Mom? – brought a towel to wrap the baby, who was already crying lustily.  She called for a suctioning device and checked to be sure his airways were clear.

{Parker and Grandma Brown}

It was 5:50 AM, just 35 minutes since I had climbed out of the pool.

Perry announced that it was a boy (“Really?” I asked him, wondering when he had found time to check.  “A boy?  Really?“), and we all relaxed, laughing over how quickly everything happened.

Jennifer arrived about 5 minutes later, followed a few minutes later by April, the trainee.  The second midwife was called off since she wasn’t needed at this point.

After that, things proceeded more normally.   I peeked under the towel when Perry wasn’t looking, still disbelieving.  Yup, it was a boy.  He was breathing well, nicely pink and very angry.  The adults discussed the baby’s position and landing, and decided that he must have been delivered sunny side up to have landed the way he did.  He was unscathed by his ordeal except for the ridge across the top of his skull indicating that he was, indeed, born posterior.  I was doubly thankful for the relatively short labor and swift delivery.

{angry little man}

Perry, on the other hand, has vowed to call the in the midwife much sooner in the future.  He is also ready to institute a new rule that I’m not allowed to leave the pool for any reason until the midwife arrives.  He didn’t mind my having jumped the gun once in 9 deliveries, but now we’re at 20%.  That’s a little worse, and he wants to play it safe.  I can’t say I blame him.

{Deanna takes a picture of Dad taking a picture of Grandma taking a picture. Note my jelly belly at 1 hour post-partum.}

{with sister Rachael}

{with sister Kaitlyn}

{with uncle William}

{with sister Lydia}

Birth story: Parker Cromwell (part 1)

At 10 days past due, Parker officially cooked longer than any of his siblings so far, but I don’t doubt the midwife’s assessment that my dates were a week off and he was probably closer to 3 days past due.

He is the hairiest little guy I’ve ever seen, with muttonchop sideburns and copious black fuzz on his back and shoulders.  He’s also one of our smallest babies, weighing in at 7 lbs. 5 oz.

But he has a big head, big hands and feet, and long rangy limbs so I have little doubt that he’ll have that Coghlan growth spurt and wind up wearing size 13 shoes just like his dad someday.

His birth was, I think, one for the books.

I typically spend some part of each pregnancy dreading the impending labor, but this feeling normally abates as the duedate approaches.  This time, I was still struggling when the duedate came and went.  I tried not to complain aloud, but I inwardly cringed each time a well-wisher blurted out, “I’ll bet you can’t wait!”  Oh yes, I could.

I shouldn’t have worried.  I’ve always thought that God prepares us emotionally for labor and delivery, and the fact that I didn’t feel prepared could have – should have – been taken as an indicator that labor was just a little farther off than I thought.  By the time it started in earnest, I was ready.  Oh me of little faith.

In the meantime, one way that I tried to deal with my lack of psychological readiness was by exercising.  I knew that physical fitness often plays a part in how labor proceeds, and I knew that I had spent a large part of the last 6 years being much less active than I used to be, so I finally got in gear.

I started walking daily, building up from one mile at a time to over 3 miles.  I didn’t start this until 4 weeks before my duedate, and I worried it would be too little, too late to affect my upcoming labor and delivery, but hubby encouraged me enthusiastically, often walking with me, so I persisted.

God encouraged me too, with unseasonably mild weather and plenty of cloud cover.  The blazing south Texas sun hardly showed its face for the entire month of May.

I also found that contrary to what I expected, I immediately felt better than I had in months.  My typical aches and pains nearly disappeared, my piriformis syndrome seemed better instead of worse, and my energy levels were much improved.  I forgot to be bothered by the mild arthritis in my knees.  My prenatal checkups showed that my uterus and the baby were growing, but my weight stabilized and I began to lose some excess padding all over.  To top it all off, I found that I felt stiff and achy on the rare mornings that I missed my walk.

My outlook improved, though I was still apprehensive.  I found myself hoping to go past my duedate so I’d have a little longer to prepare, both physically and emotionally.  God granted that desire.

At 7 days past due, I had a chiropractic adjustment.  It wasn’t because I was in any pain or discomfort, but because I had done the same thing just before Becca’s birth – my fastest and easiest labor ever, so fast that the midwife missed the grand event entirely.  I didn’t mind at the time because I had been very apprehensive about the labor and I was just glad to have it over with so quickly.  In fact, I had been hoping for a repeat performance ever since – the fast and easy labor, that is. Not the part where the midwife arrived after the birth.

Two days after my adjustment, hubby and I walked 5 miles.  We didn’t really set out to walk so far, but a casual joke became a challenge and so we did it.  Later that day, my intermittent contractions seemed to settle into a 10-12 minute pattern, and I began to suspect that I was in early labor.

Contractions continued throughout the night, still regular but mild enough that I was able to sleep well.   On Sunday morning, we decided to go to church as usual.   Based on past experience, we knew it was likely that labor would pick up that night.  Daytime has always been pretty safe for me, and this time was no different.  We stayed out the entire day, and on the way home I finally felt the contractions becoming more intense, though they didn’t increase in frequency right away.

We put the kids to bed and made a few phone calls: the in-laws, and a heads-up call to my mom and the midwife who would be attending the birth to let them know that we’d probably be calling on them in the wee hours.

Then we settled into bed ourselves, hoping for a few hours of sleep before the excitement started in earnest.

cont’d here

Birth stories: I love them!

It’s Wednesday, and still nothing.  I’m not feeling nearly as impatient as I probably sound.  I’m actually feeling a little foolish for my apprehension over the last few weeks.  I should have known that the baby wouldn’t come until I felt good and ready – that’s the way it’s always been, and I’ve always thought that God planned it that way for most of us.  I should have trusted His timing more and worried less about the calendar and my own state of mind.

But now I’m feeling eager and ready in spite of the fact that I’m really enjoying this pregnancy.  It’s a pleasant surprise to have so much energy and so little discomfort at this point, which makes it a little puzzling that I’m so ready to face the pains of labor and be done with this pregnancy – but only a little puzzling.  There’s quite obviously a sweet reward at the end, and who wouldn’t be excited about that?

And speaking of the reward at the end, what mother doesn’t love reading birth stories?  Is it silly that I always get teary-eyed at the end?  I don’t know why, but I can’t resist.  This one is real tear-jerker. I dare you not to cry.

I’ve shared most of mine in the past except for The Boy, since I live-blogged his labor and never thought to write up a single cohesive account of his birth.

I also asked for links to birth stories when I was expecting Bethany – this is when I discovered those by One Thing.  She tells a great birth story, and has plenty of them to tell.  I think her birth stories kept me entertained for several centimeters while I labored with Bethany.

Now, even before I could ask you all to share more links to your own or other favorite birth stories, I found that Kimberly at Raising Olives is sharing hers too – and boy, does she have some stories to tell!  Here’s her first, and her second is split into part one and part two.  I can only assume the series will be ongoing since she’s expecting #10 in just a few weeks.

But I still want to know – where are your favorite birth stories?

Baby Girl’s birth story

Thank you everyone for your blessings, well-wishes, enthusiasm and congratulations!  I have enjoyed and deeply appreciated each and every comment and am very thankful for all of your prayers.

Now that the children are all asleep and the house is quiet, I’ll try to put together a few thoughts and details on the baby’s birth while it’s fresh in my mind.  Don’t expect a cohesive, well-written birth story; after all, I was up all night. Nonetheless, here is my account.

Picking up where my own posts left off:

I waited a few minutes for the pool to fill and when I saw that it was half full, I checked the temp and hopped carefully climbed in.  The water heater had given out at this point and the flow from the hose was cold so I tossed it on the deck and called to hubby to turn it off.  He continued to heat pots of water on the stove while we waited for the water heater to wake up and get back to work.

Once I got into the pool, my contractions continued at a good rate; they seemed to slow just a bit and the warm water took the edge off of the pain but labor didn’t threaten to stall the way it can when I get in too soon.  I was definitely ready!

It was still dark outside, and it was an uncommonly cool and breezy morning: about 70 degrees with a steady wind from the east.  I was cold at first, but it turned out to be ideal weather once we had the pool filled enough with nice hot water.  The hot water soothed my pains while the cool breeze kept me from overheating, and the cloud cover kept the weather from heating too rapidly even after sunrise.  In the midst of a drought, the cool breezy weather and cloud cover were a welcome and unexpected blessing.

Labor seemed to progress steadily; hubby ran tirelessly back and forth heating water, turning the hose on and off, bringing me ice and water and offering support and company.  As usual, he had an uncanny sense for when I needed his presence and when I felt better alone.  Like a good waiter, he was always available, anticipating my wants and needs but ever unobtrusive.  :D

The children slept on, oblivious to lights, noise, and the constant traffic – except Kaitlyn, who knew exactly what was going on but wisely pretended to sleep for as long as she could stand it.

We waited and waited for Ann, our midwife.  It seemed like hours, though she was only 70 miles away.  Maybe it was hours; I wasn’t exactly watching the clock on her account.  I was more focused on the minutes than the hours.  On a crazy impulse, I had hubby call Ann and leave a message on her cellphone asking her to stop at the last gas station for a 57-cent cup of crushed ice, my current obsession.

I felt things were going well; contractions were painful but manageable.  I was confident that labor was progressing, and though I always dread the first internal check I was also looking forward to finding out just how close we were to the end.

Ann finally got close enough that I could hear her car down the road, but she wasn’t sure of the last turn or two and called for directions.  The acoustics in the hills out here are amazing, and I could hear her driving back and forth while hubby talked her through landmarks: “Did you get to ___ Road yet? If you do, just turn around.  Wait, did the road make a hard left? No, you don’t have to make a left turn, just follow the road as it wraps to the left.  If you go straight, you’ll head into somebody’s driveway…”

I listened through 3 contractions, fantasizing about a 42 oz. styrofoam cup of crushed ice.  Finally, Ann pulled into our driveway.  No ice.  I crunched a piece of common ice and contracted on while she and hubby carried birthing supplies up the steps.

By now I think it was about 6 AM.  I had been in active labor – the stuff that hurts – for about 5 hours, with the last 2 hours or so being relatively intense.  Ann performed the much awaited and dreaded internal check.  Would it be a disappointing 5 cm?  7?  10, and you can start pushing any time?

I was at 8 cm, she said, with a big bulgy bag of water.  This was good enough for me.  Not at the finish line yet, but an end was in sight.  I could do this.

I labored on, mostly in silence, moaning a little with each contraction.  They grew more intense.  Half an hour, an hour passed.  I grew impatient and a little discouraged.  I had hoped to be done now, and the pains were still increasing.  Worse yet, the pain didn’t really let up between contractions.  I was in constant pain.  Not terrible, but constant, and I could feel myself beginning to fear the end.  I tried to push just a little with each contraction, knowing that I must be ready by now, but it just hurt too much.

Ann and hubby murmured encouraging things like “You’re doing great!  You’re almost done!” but my fearful and cynical ears heard something more like: “You’re almost at the worst part!  Ready or not, here it comes!”  The smart aleck in me wanted to say so and crack jokes about it, but my sense of humor was curled up in a fetal position somewhere far back in my head.  It didn’t come when I called it so I kept moaning instead through endless contractions.

I wanted to be funny and tell hubby that I was taking a vow of celibacy after this, but was pretty sure it wouldn’t sound funny just then.  Still, I considered it.  What was I thinking getting pregnant again?  How could I forget how much labor hurt?  This wasn’t fun, and I wanted out.  I didn’t want to finish the job; I just wanted out.

Ann asked if she could get me anything.  My traumatized sense of humor looked up.  “Not unless you have an epidural in that black bag?” I joked weakly.  Well, I was only joking if she didn’t have one in there.  She didn’t, so I was joking.

I felt a little woozy with pain and even saw stars on occasion.  I threw up once.

Finally, the continual pain and lack of progress frustrated me enough that I got up and shifted to a new position in the pool.  I tried 2 or 3 different positions and at long last, pushing past the pain and fear, I felt that welcome pop as my water broke.

After that, it all happened very quickly: with the very same contraction that broke my water, I pushed out the baby’s head.  I screamed, yelled and somehow the next moment I was turned around, sitting down, and the baby was out on my belly wrapped in a towel.  It all happened in one quick contraction. It was 8:07 AM.  One or two scared pairs of eyes peeked out the front door and were quickly reassured.

Remember what I said about the acoustics out here in the hills? I just hope the neighbors were at work, because earlier this morning I realized I could clearly hear the new neighbors out feeding their dogs, 10  or 15 acres away.  We have many other neighbors within a similar range.

The cord had been around the baby’s neck twice, loosely, but she was fine.  She came out quiet and content, alert but a little dusky.  She took a few minutes to pink up to Ann’s satisfaction, mostly because she had no inclination to cry – she only wanted to look around.  I don’t blame her; it was a beautiful morning and we have a spectacular view out on the deck.  It must have been a nice way to start life on the outside.

The children had woken up one by one over the last hour or two and were watching a movie in our bedroom.  We called them out to meet their new sister and snapped the first of many photos.

stats:

  • date: June 27th
  • time: 8:07 AM
  • weight: 7 lbs 10 oz
  • length: 20.5″ long
  • name: to be determined