Sunday, February 16, 2014

Baby Grant

As always, I will WARN you that this is a highly detailed and lengthy post about birth!  So only read if you are interested :)

I am long overdue in writing this post since my baby boy is 5 and a half months now!  That kind of tells you how busy life is these days :) But I wanted to write this because I feel blessed to have had such an incredible birthing experience with him. As I said in a previous post, this time around, my husband and I decided to deliver at a birth center, called The Birth Center! An original name, I know ;)  For any of you who have toyed with the idea of delivering at a birthing center, like I did for many years, just know that it was a wonderful experience that I will forever hold sacred in my heart.

Leading up to it, I was trying not to be nervous about the labor, but at my core I really was.  With my previous labor/delivery (Bridget), I was sick with a cough/cold, and during my pregnancy with her I didn't sleep great, so her delivery was harder mentally for me because I was tired.  Also, with Bridget I had tested positive for GBS, and was advised to be at the hospital 4 hours prior to delivery, so during her labor I was thinking about time, and debating when I should go to the hospital.  During labor, it's NEVER good to think about time and it messed me up.  With this pregnancy (Grant's),  I also tested positive for GBS (stinkin' GBS), but my midwife at The Birth Center told me to just go with the flow of labor, and if I got there in time we would do antibiotics, but not to stress about the time of arrival at the birthing center.  Just her saying that brought me some mental relief.

Anyway, long story short, before Grant's birth, I was praying (hard!) to be able to cope positively with labor this time, and to be able to find comfort in the process somehow.

17 days until due date.
An answer to my prayers came from my husband.  I was 3 days overdue, and we were on a Saturday night date.  He took me to Deseret Book because he said he had to get something. While there, he surprised me with a book he'd seen advertised called, The Gift of Giving Life, Rediscovering The Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth. It was EXACTLY what I needed and I was weeping as I started reading it, right there in the store.  I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the book resonated with me on so many levels.  It included many different birth stories from LDS women, all describing the divinity of their birth experiences. As I read, I felt the impression that my baby probably hadn't come yet because I first needed to read this book and learn that I needed to imagine the birthing process more as a spiritual experience.  I felt I also needed to imagine working together with my baby, and to solicit God's help, in the labor process.  I know this is all very religious, but I feel it's important to say because something just clicked for me.  This book changed me.  Changed the way I would labor and bring this baby into the world. 

At 6:45 am on August 27th, 6 days overdue, I woke up and felt a contraction that I thought/hoped was the start of true labor. I was surprised because usually I go into labor in the evening, and don't get much sleep throughout the night. I remember thinking, a few days earlier, that it would be really nice to go into labor after a great night's sleep, and I couldn't believe it had actually happened!

I mentioned to Jacob it was probably labor, but usually my labors are pretty lengthy, and my mom was already staying at my house to help, so he went to work.  I came downstairs for breakfast and mumbled to mom something like, "I'm having some pretty good contractions".  But I guess I said it in a way that didn't indicate I was in labor. Haha.  So she had no idea :) But I didn't know that she didn't know.  Lol!

During labor. 6 days overdue. Bridget wanted to pose with my shoes ;)

My mom and I went on with our day, taking care of kids.  We took Paige (5) to dance and later took her to school. After I got home, I laid Bridget (almost 2) down, and she actually took a long nap, which was a miracle in itself because she was starting to be inconsistent with her naps. I then took a nap.  A great nap!  At least 2 hours of restful sleep.  I can't tell you how amazed I was that I was able to sleep during labor.  I felt like miracle after miracle was occurring.  I knew God was helping me through this labor, and making it a joyful experience for me.

I woke up around 2:30 pm to some strong contractions. Thankfully, my mom went to get the kids from school, and Bridget was still sleeping.  I got my trusty iPod out and started listening to my music.  This time around, I had put some more upbeat songs on my birthing playlist, just in case.  It ended up being just what I needed!  Instead of feeling like relaxing and doing Hypnobirthing, I wanted to dance with my baby!  I danced around my room, laboring and moving, rubbing my belly. I tried to concentrate on my baby as an active participant in the labor, and thanked God for giving me strength, confidence, and positivity, and most important, for blessing me with the sweet spirit that was about to arrive.  I had back labor and found a great position to relieve the intensity in my lower back. Surprisingly, this time around I actually really liked laboring by myself :)

Around 3:15 pm, I went downstairs to talk to my mom.  It was at this time she finally found out I was in labor ;)  I felt like playing cards so we played one hand, and during contractions, I would put my cards down and breathe through the surge.  After one round of cards, my mom said, "Your contractions seem a bit more consistent and intense?  Don't you think you should call someone?  Jacob?  Maybe your midwife?"  (Lol.)  I just looked at her, trying to decide if I thought it was time to call anyone yet :)   I replied, "Maybe", so I called Jacob.  My mom ended up talking for me because I had contractions during the call. Same thing happened during the call with midwife a minute later. Bridget woke up around this time. I decided to go back upstairs to my room to labor.

Around 4 pm Jacob got home and I didn't even notice when he came into the room.  I was in my back-labor position, probably listening to "Crossfire" on my iPod.  That song has a great intro that matched the rhythm/timing of my contractions.  When I felt a contraction coming on, I'd start the song.  I played it over and over again.  I wasn't timing my contractions, but I tried to pay attention to their length, and I estimated them to be only about 15-20 seconds long.  So at this point I still thought I had a long way to go before the baby would come.  In hindsight, though, I remember taking 7 slow breaths to get through a contraction, and when I reenacted it after delivery, it took about a minute to get 7 breaths in.  It was a huge blessing that the contractions seemed shorter than they really were.

Around 5 pm, I got in the tub for about an hour.  Labor was so easy in the tub, but I felt more like moving than sitting/relaxing, so I chose to get out.  I asked Jacob the time and I was really surprised it was about 6 pm! But Labor still didn't seem consistent to me...Every now and then I'd have a really strong contraction, but I wasn't sure that I was very far dilated.  I thought those really strong surges needed to be more consistent before going to the birthing center.  At this point it wasn't just me laboring by myself.  It was my husband and I together.  Mostly I wanted Jacob to apply counter-pressure to my lower back when I had contractions, and I'm surprised his thumbs didn't fall off by the end of the night!!

About 6:30 I had a some super strong contractions and I told Jacob we should probably go to the birthing center, although I was worried I would only be dilated to a 4 or something.  It took a while to get down the stairs and into the car, stopping for contractions.  It was pretty intense at this point and I knew it was the right decision to go to the The Birth Center.

As we were driving, I had a really strong contraction where I felt a little "pushy", and it is the first time in all of my deliveries that I thought there was a chance the baby would be born in the car. It was pretty intense, but actually I liked the labor position --Sitting up, holding onto the "oh crap bar" (don't know the technical name, sorry), and digging my feet into the floor of the car during a contraction to release the energy.

At 7:15 pm,  we arrived at The Birth Center, and my midwife was waiting by the door, ready to welcome us.  I went in a back door that lead straight into the birthing room, so it took me all of about one minute to get out of the car, into the birth center, and into the tub, which was already filled with warm water.  No messing around with getting into the hospital, registering, triage, answering questions, or waiting for a tub to be ready.  When I got to The Birth Center and everything was ready, I thought.  "Oh my goodness.  Best. Decision. Ever. to birth here." I was so happy and relieved to be at the birth center, with a great midwife there to guide my husband and I through the delivery. Just FYI, there was also a birth assistant present.  She took pictures during the labor and delivery, monitored the fetal heart-rate, and helped the midwife with whatever she needed.

At the birth center: Jacob applying counter-pressure.

My midwife asked how I was feeling, as in, "Is the baby coming soon?".  I wasn't quite sure.  Labor was intense, but although I had felt "pushy" in the car, I still wasn't quite sure how close I was to delivering.  I asked her to check my dilatation, and try to break my water because my water had never broken on it's own with my previous births (even when I was dilated to a 9+ with my second child), and I thought keeping the membranes intact would lengthen my labor. She wasn't too keen on breaking my water, but she said she'd do what I wanted.  So she checked me (I was an 8/9!!), but since I was in the tub, she couldn't get a great angle for the amnio hook and couldn't break my water.  So on we went!

Around 7:45 pm, my mom arrived at the birth center, and it was a good thing she was able to get there so soon! (A shout-out to a good friend who came to my house to watch my kids so my mom could come to the delivery!). I continued to labor, and then there was a period of time during which I felt like the baby was trying to come out, but couldn't.  I was trying to find a position that felt conducive to delivering the baby.  At one point, I was practically doing the splits in the tub!  I felt like the position I needed to be in was on all fours, leaning on my elbows, with my head low to the ground.  Only problem was, the water level was too high for that position and I was practically drowning myself! The midwife recognized the problem, and lowered the water to only a couple of inches.

8:00 pm: With one of the following contractions, I felt a big pop! and something gushed out -MY WATER!  I declared that my water had broken and my husband questioned whether I was sure! Haha.  I was definitely sure.  I knew the baby was coming soon, but with the next contractions, after pushing harder than I'd ever pushed before with no success of delivery, and upon hearing the midwife ask the birth assistant to check the heart-rate with every contraction (usually only checked periodically), I knew everything was on me to get the baby out quickly. It was now or never. With the next contraction, I held my breath, plunged my face in the water, and pushed harder than I knew I was capable of, even to the point of breaking blood vessels in my face ( which I didn't notice until the next morning ;) ).

With a great POP, out his head AND HAND came, with the cord wrapped tightly around his shoulder and across his chest, like a toga.  My husband said it was the weirdest thing he'd ever seen.  The midwife calmly unwrapped the cord, and with the next contraction the rest of the babe's body came out, with the cord wrapped TWICE around the lower part of his body.

All of that explains why it took such forceful pushing for him to come out -- his hand had to fit through with his head, and he was also being held up by the cord.  And man, it was a LONG cord.  Think about all that wrapping!  The midwife said she was sure I had torn with the sound it made when he came out, but guess what?  Nothin'.  Nothin' at all.  Thank you, healthy skin ;)

And although it was intense for a minute, it was all good in the end....

Moments after birth...

Baby Grant was born at 8:15 pm, weighing 8 lbs. 1 oz, and 22 inches long. Perfect in every way. What a blessing to be able to have such a great labor, shorter than ever, with energy and joy throughout, that culminated with a beautiful, healthy baby boy. My husband and I worked together to bring this sweet spirit into this world. What a perfect memory I get to cherish forever.

Four hours later, we went home to our own beds and slept...

The new family -- Grant, 7 weeks.

5 months old!


Foster Mom said...

Love this!

Elizabeth said...

oh my goodness. love.

Ali said...

So cute! And I LOVE a happy birthing story. Congrats!