I’ve decided that I’m going to break up G’s birth story into three parts: early labor, active labor, and afterward. I’ll try not to ramble 🙂 Also, I will use cuss words. And I will be graphic. If you’ve never had a baby and are hoping for a natural birth, I don’t recommend you read this. I will be honest.
Matt and I arrived at the hospital at 2PM. We parked in the parking garage and I wanted to walk up the stairs, but Matt coaxed me into the elevator. I was practically skipping to the entrance. I was full of adrenaline and was in a positive mood. My contractions were starting to get stronger- I could still walk and talk through them, but they were uncomfortable. We got to the admissions desk and I handed over my paperwork, thinking I’d be sent right up to L&D. Nope. The lady must have thought I was still in early labor, because she made no effort to hurry. She was chatting with the other ladies there and was joking around with me. Three contractions later, a nurse came down with a wheelchair for me, which I declined. I walked my butt to the elevator and then all the way to my room. I walked by the nurses station on the way and passed my midwife, Carolyn, who was smiling at me and shaking her head. Who needs a wheelchair? Not this girl.
My room was a room I was familiar with- I had been there many times before. It was the same room a few of my sisters delivered their children in, and one of my friends also had been in there. I saw my first birth in that room when I was 12. It has paw prints on the ceiling 🙂 I felt comfortable immediately.
There were a few things I had specifically asked for in my ‘birth plan’. One of those being intermittent monitoring, and another being IV-free. I got both, but Carolyn asked if I would at least allow them to monitor me on the machine for twenty minutes, as per hospital policy. She asked if I would allow an saline lock, too. I was fine with both. (You can read about why both are unnecessary here and here) So, I had to get on the bed and get my gown on, get all hooked up, and poked. While I was doing that a nurse was sitting by my bedside with a full desktop computer on wheels, asking me questions and entering information. This pissed me off- why they feel like they need to get information like this while a woman is in active labor is beyond me. They did it while I was laboring with Lily too. I get that they need your medical information, but your OB or midwife can easily just fax over that kind of stuff.
A half an hour later, by 2:45PM, I was miserable and ready to get out of bed. While that nurse was asking me all those questions, my contractions were getting exponentially stronger. Like, they went from being totally tolerable to pretty uncomfortable. I had started moaning at that point and turn over on to my side. We’d talk, then we’d stop and I’d contract. I was having what we called ‘after-shocks’. I’d have a very strong contraction, then a minute later I’d have another weaker one. Three minutes later I’d be back having another strong one. I was mad that I was on my back and was looking forward to the jacuzzi tub.
Now let me stop and say right now– I think that my contraction intensifying right when I got to the hospital was not a coincidence. I think that I knew it was my ‘safe zone’ and that I let go once I got there. I don’t think I was mentally holding on to anything, but my body knew where was safe. Ina May Gaskin talks a bit about how your cervix is a sphincter in her book “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” and it really hit me then that she was right. I think all of my uterus relaxed and started doing it’s job much more efficiently. I think my cervix relaxed and started letting the baby drop.
It was time, and my body knew it.
I finally made my way to the tub. I had a contraction on the way there and was bent over the sink while the nurse filled my tub. Once it was time to get it I just handed my gown to the nurse. It didn’t even occur to me then that I was completely naked in front of a stranger. Matt’s eyes bugged out. I brought a swim suit and shorts for the jacuzzi! I definitely hadn’t planned on being naked. I’m a more private person, but at that point, I really didn’t care. I was more focused on getting into the tub before another contraction happened.
It’s funny how you enter a sort of ‘labor mode’. I really didn’t care what was happening around me.
Matt pulled up a chair next to the tub and brought over his PlayStation Vita. He turned on some Tosh.0 hoping it would help distract me, but it ended up annoying me more than anything. He kept trying to talk to me and I kept asking him to be quiet. I wish I had been nicer than I was! He didn’t care though.
I turned on the jets in the tub and turned them off right away. I hated the extra stimulation. I really just wanted to be left alone. The lights were turned off in the bathroom. I didn’t know then, but we were completely alone. Carolyn had told the nurses that I had asked to labor as privately as possible.
My contractions amped up in the tub. I started moaning much louder. I felt like I had no choice in the matter! Once they began I instinctively closed my eyes and started a low yell. It was a low “ahhhhhh!” Not high pitch at all. I remembered Ina May Gaskin saying something about an open mouth will help an open bottom- as in, your cervix will mirror your facial expressions. Well, my mouth was very open. So!
I’m not sure exactly what time I got out of the tub. Maybe 3:45? I remember feeling the baby moving down and getting a bit scared. I was fine with having the baby in the water. I didn’t want the baby being born without the midwife there, though. Having an unassisted birth scared me. I remember I reached in to feel if I could feel his head. I couldn’t. Whew. But after a few more contractions, I knew he was making his way down, so I told Matt I needed to get out of the tub NOW.
A few contractions in the bathroom out of the tub. Matt helped wrap me in a towel. I slowly made my way back to the bed. It was only twenty feet away, but man, it felt like a mile. I had a contraction before I could get onto the bed and flopped myself over. I was yelling pretty loudly at this point. Matt knew I didn’t want him touching me, so he sat down in the chair by the bed. He said something like, “I read about this. This is transition. You’re going to get a break soon. It’s going to stop and you’re going to cry and get a break.” Um, no. I snarled something mean at him. I was past that point. Transition was probably while I was walking my pregnant butt to my room.
My nurse came in and started putting counter-pressure on my back. I snapped at her to not touch me- sorry! It didn’t help at all. She was an unwelcome distraction. She asked (told) me to get into the bed so she could check the baby’s heartbeat. I told her I couldn’t! I really didn’t think I could. I didn’t want to move.
I remember yelling “I can’t move. The baby is coming!” I’m sure I sounded like an idiot. Obviously the baby is coming…it’s hard to explain this part to anyone who hasn’t had a baby. Of course the baby is coming, but it doesn’t really HIT you until a baby is IN YOUR VAGINA. Like, HELLO. THERE’S A BABY COMING OUT OF ME. Yes. It freaked me out feeling pressure. When I started yelling that at her I remember a flood of nurses and my midwife. I crawled into my bed and onto my back. I was naked, again, but didn’t care. I’m fairly sure someone threw my gown back over me, but it was barely on. I had a contraction and rolled onto my side, just like I had been when I had first arrived. I would grab the bedrail and bury my head down, yelling.
I kept my eyes closed for a good majority of the time. I remember seeing a bunch of medical equipment rolling in. A nurse asked to check me and I reluctantly agreed. She said I was ready but had an anterior lip. Hah. I’ve heard stories of women pushing with a lip and causing problems, but there was NO WAY things weren’t going to keep going. I could not hold this baby in. He was coming out and I had nothing to do with it.
The contractions felt lower and lower each time. Much more pressure. I felt like my pubic bone might break from all the pressure. At this point, I’ll admit, I lost my shit. Seriously. My contractions kept coming and I was not ready for them. I kept thinking, NOT ANOTHER ONE! NOT YET! Yeah, your body doesn’t wait until you’re ready.
I have no idea how fast they were really coming, but they felt like they were back to back. Matt tried to touch me at one point and I slapped his hand away- sorry! He started offering my ice water then. It was awesome- thanks Matt! Sweat was pouring off me.
The nurse plopped the doppler on my belly and I slapped it off. She put it back on and got a quick read. Seconds later Graham kicked me. It felt like it was below my belly button. I said, “THE LITTLE MONSTER IS KICKING ME!” Hah. I didn’t like the contractions either, little dude.
So, back to how I lost my shit. I started screaming. Not screeching. But instead of long low moans and yells, I started quick, higher pitched yells. Like “AHHH AHH AHH”. I started yelling “There’s a baby coming out of me!” and asking my midwife to put me out. Yep. I was begging Carolyn. I was yelling as loud as I’ve ever yelled, ever. I thought the whole city would hear me. I thought that I would scare all the the other laboring women. I was incredibly loud. Carolyn said, “Jennifer, breathe!” I really wasn’t. I was yelling even after my contractions had ended because I was freaking out. I needed to calm down.
I opened my eyes and saw everyone smiling at me. I was so pissed off at everyone then, but now I really love that they all were smiling. They all were there for me and supported my goal for a natural birth. I feel like I was surrounded by love. I was surrounded by people who understood what was happening to be and had faith that I was alright. They knew this part would pass. I am happy they were smiling.
Carolyn never said no. She never told me to quiet down. She just smiled at me and looked at me with her motherly eyes. I love my midwife, if you couldn’t tell. I calmed down and re-centered, although I was still yelling. I had lowered my yells a bit and felt that urge to push. Well, I wouldn’t really call it an urge. I felt my body pushing him down without me. He was right there. He was nearly crowning.
Two contractions of him moving down and I was done. I literally said, “I am NOT doing this any more! He is coming out of me NOW.” I started pushing with each contraction. It felt empowering. I was growling at that point! It was a deep growl. I pushed once and felt him crowning. I never felt that ‘ring of fire’. I suppose I was distracted. What I did feel though was an incredible pressure of my pubic bone, inside. It was the strangest feeling. I felt like he was pushing on my urethra, which I suppose he was! It was a sharp burning feeling just in that one tiny spot. I was afraid he was going to break my bone and rip my clitoris off. Seriously.
So, I WAS DONE. The next contraction I pushed for as long as I could, even after it had ended. And his head popped out, just like that. I remember feeling his ears and thinking “god damn, how much more of his head can there be?” Once his head was out I felt relief- I was done! Then Carolyn said, “Jennifer, you’ve gotta push his shoulders out now, c’mon!” and I told her I didn’t know how to push. Of course she laughed at me, but it felt like my muscles just had given up. I bared down once, not during a contraction, and got his shoulders out.
He was here, finally.
Graham Levi Blake. Born at 4:24PM on July 27th, 2012.
Carolyn set him on my lower abdomen and I grabbed him and pulled him up. I scared all the nurses I guess because they didn’t know if his cord was long enough, but Carolyn reassured them it was fine. He started crying and I started kissing him and apologizing. I said, “Oh, I know, I’m so sorry, I didn’t like any of that either. Those contractions suck. I’m sorry your got squeezed. You’re okay now, we’re all done.”
Aw. He was so warm and wet and smelled awesome. With Lily, I remember wanting her washed first because I didn’t want to kiss her head and get ‘baby juice’ on me. I was so much more immature then. I LOVED kissing Graham’s wet head. I loved smelling his sweet new baby self. He quieted down not long after and I started patting his back.
We flipped him over and Matt snipped his cord. He said he almost cut his penis because the dumb nurse was holding him in a curled position. He said he would have cut the cord and caught a bit of his penis while doing it! I’m thankful he noticed and didn’t!!
I accidentally knocked my saline lock off. I wiped my hand (it was on the top of my left hand, where I wanted it) and it slide right off. I guess my sweat loosened the tape. I started spurting blood everywhere and we wrapped the blanket around my hand quick. A nurse grabbed a cotton ball and some more tape.
Carolyn asked me to push a bit to birth the placenta. I honestly couldn’t. She was tugging on the cord a bit and pulled it out. I propped myself up to see it and said “IT’S BEAUTIFUL!” Hahaha…look how crunchy I’ve become. It really was beautiful. It was huge. It was bright red. She giggled at me and took it away.
I looked to the nurse by my side and asked her if I could have something for the pain now. I felt a lot of stinging/burning pain then. And I was done being in pain 🙂 She gave me two Tylenol a few minutes later.
Matt took some pictures then-
Then I took some for Instagram-
Everyone left us then, and we got to love up on our new Squish ❤