An (epic) story of labor and birth…

I wrote this birth story in 2 sittings last week…I’m glad I got it all down so that I can look back over the years and remember just how it all went.  Enjoy!

Today has been exactly one week since Urijah was born.  I don’t know where the time has gone!  However, this story starts quite a few days before last Thursday, when my water unexpectedly broke during my 36th week of pregnancy.  It was early Sunday morning, October 9th, at about 2 am, when I felt a small gush and thought that I had to go to the bathroom.  A minute later I felt another small gush and got myself up and to the bathroom.  Immediately I started thinking “no, no, no, it’s too early”, but at that point it was out of my hands.  My water had indeed broken, so I woke up Scott to tell him, but we went back to sleep since nothing else seemed to be happening.

I called Heather the next morning and told her what was going on, but that I wasn’t having any contractions yet.  We decided to wait and see what happened.  Little did we know that “Wait and see” would turn out to be the mantra that we would repeat to ourselves for the 5 days until Urijah decided to make his appearance.

On Tuesday morning, I felt my first identifiable contractions.  They were sporadic and not very strong, so we went to the birth center for a check in and to come up with a plan.  We all agreed that we were willing to maintain the wait and see approach – we didn’t feel there was any need to go to the hospital even though the hours were ticking away since my water had broken.  The baby sounded good and I felt good, so we wanted to give him as much time on the inside as possible.  Since the risk of infection was a possibility after my water broke, the midwives couldn’t check me to see if I was progressing, so we did a swab to verify that my water broke.  The first swab I did at the center was negative so we thought I was mistaken and it was a false alarm, but a second swab a little while later once we were back at home showed that my water had indeed broken with no question.  User error on the first try?  We’ll never know!

We essentially continued this pattern for the next 2 days…I would have sporadic contractions that would really pick up in the evening and nighttime, and all but completely stop during the day.  They were easy to breathe through, so that’s what I did.  I was running on very little sleep, and on Thursday morning after another sleepless night of stronger contractions that were coming regularly, I called Heather and said I needed to come in.  I was tired and starting to feel anxious and she agreed it might be time to head in, so we did.  We got settled into the room and tried to get some rest.  The contractions came and went and Scott and I managed to get a bit of sleep on and off.  Heather continued to monitor the baby and me throughout, and we were fine.  Then the contractions stopped…again!  Around 2:00pm, we decided to head home, although we were hopeful enough that we left our stuff in the room.  I wanted to have that baby!  I couldn’t handle any more waiting around.  As it turned out, I didn’t really have to.

I napped at home for 2 hours and woke myself up around 5pm moaning through some pretty strong contractions.  I leaned by the side of the bed for a few of them, but had to go downstairs to get Scott to help me though them, as they were starting to come fast and hard.  These contractions felt absolutely different than any I had felt so far.  At 6:00, I was shivering and knew this was it – I called Heather and told her what was going on, and she said she would call Sandra and meet us at the birth center.  Scott was concerned that I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast and I would need some energy for what was to come, so we loaded up and got into the car, thinking we would swing by Subway to get some food just in case I would manage to eat.  Ha.  It was quickly evident that was not going to happen – I was feeling the urge to push while we were about halfway there!  We got the birth center and I’m sure I made quite an impression on the Hypnobirthing class that was sitting in the family room waiting for their class to start, as Scott helped me back to our room.

Heather and Sandra did some quick assessments and they could tell – this was it.  They starting filling up the birthing pool and I leaned over the birthing ball that was on the bed, as the contractions came.  I told Heather and Sandra that I needed to push, and they assured me I could go ahead!  Scott stood behind me and applied counter-pressure to my lower back during each contraction, which helped so much.  At this point, I started to feel scared – this was unlike anything I had felt before, and I could feel the panic starting to take over.  I think I started to make high pitched noises during the contractions and Heather reminded me to make deep, low noises and Scott reminded me to relax my jaw and even those two small things made such a difference.  It gave me a sense of control over what was going on, even though my body was really in control – I just had to go along and let it do what it knew was best.

When the pool was full, Scott and I both got in the water and it was THE best feeling ever.  The water was so warm and so soothing and immediately helped me to relax.  I changed positions in the water several times trying to find which one felt the best and while I stayed on my knees for a time, I figured out pretty soon that my legs were too tired to maintain that.

Finally, Scott and I settled into a position with him behind me and me reclining between his legs, which was so wonderful as he could keep whispering in my ear to relax and telling me how great I was doing.  Heather and Sandra monitored the baby’s heart rate as contractions came and went and I began to calm down and just concentrate on the moment and relax as much as possible – I didn’t have any space in my mind to spare anticipating the next contraction.  Heather knew just what to say during and after each surge – she told me when to push more and longer, she told me how fantastic each push was and what good progress I was making each time, and when I was making nervous comments about the pain, she reminded me that yes, it does hurt, but that it’s not bad and that I didn’t need to be scared of it…I respond really well to positive reinforcement, so this was just what I needed to hear.

I pushed from about 7:00pm-10:52pm when Urijah came into the world.  He made his appearance with the cord wrapped around his neck and his little hand up next to his cheek, and I caught a glimpse of his face under the water when only his head was out and all I wanted was for the rest of him to come OUT! Heather unwrapped the cord and maneuvered his arm and the next thing I was aware of was there was a baby on my chest and Heather and Sandra telling Scott and I to talk to him while they rubbed him with a towel and worked on getting him to announce himself.

What a feeling!  I said to Scott, “Can you believe this!?”  Scott didn’t say much at the time, but later he told me he was overcome with emotion, and wasn’t able to speak without losing it totally.  We enjoyed a few minutes in the birth pool snuggled together, but since Urijah was so small, we needed to be concerned about his temperature, so we all moved to the bed to get to know each other and get him warmed up on my chest, and for me to deliver the placenta which seriously, felt so good!  Scott cut the cord once it was done pulsing, and after a while, Heather stitched me up and we worked on some breastfeeding with Sandra’s help, and then Baby U got the full once-over and we learned that our baby boy was 5 lbs 15 ounces and 20.5 inches long!

I am so proud of my birthing experience and what I was able to accomplish.  This being my first baby, I obviously didn’t know what to expect pain-wise.  I must say, even during the contractions, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I knew I could handle it.  They were manageable and even though I was so tired, my body kicked in during each surge and it felt like a rocket boost of energy that made each push so much more effective.  I have such a respect for my body and what it was able to do….near the end of the pushing my contractions had really slowed down, and I was able to relax so much between them that Scott told me I fell asleep several times!  Who would have thought?!

The whole long labor was not anything like I anticipated, and definitely lasted a lot longer than I would have chosen, but I believe that my body knew just what it was doing and Urijah got 5 extra days in utero because we were patient and willing to trust my body and our midwives.  Heather and Sandra both took excellent care of us, and I could not have asked for more supportive and intuitive caregivers during the entire process.  We never felt rushed or pressured, and they were absolutely patient and calm during all of the waiting – always encouraging us and reassuring us.  The delivery was just what we had hoped for – calm and peaceful and intimate and Scott and I will forever be grateful that they were there to guide us and share in the birth of our baby.

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