Friday, April 12, 2013

Birth, The Second

There is some information in my first birth story that will probably give you a bigger picture of how I was dealing with events surrounding my second birth story.  I see no need to reiterate because, frankly, I'm lazy, and the first birth story is here on the blog, too.  If you'd like to read it, search for it yourself.  Just kidding.  It's here.  Oh, also, a note: because it was either just me or just me and The Carpenter for all of early labour, there are no photos at the beginning of the post (save for the first few).  Don't let that deter you, though.  You will be rewarded with photos to hold your interested later in the story, rest assured.

40 weeks
 After much stress and hard work, here we were in our new home (yes, we moved when I was 37 weeks pregnant - again), getting settled in and unpacked and I was still pregnant, which I'd never expected.  Each morning that I'd wake up still pregnant, I couldn't believe I'd gone another day.  Having had my first baby at 36 weeks and 4 days, making it to 40 weeks was a crazy feeling, never mind 41!  I wondered if this baby would come on April 6th, since my mother is born on February 6th, I'm born on December 6th, The Smiler is born on May 6th and both of my babies were conceived on the 6th, as well.  When April 6th rolled around, I was bound and determined to have a baby that day.  Alas, at 11:30 The Carpenter and I tucked into bed, me still very pregnant, and him saying to the baby, "Well, you have a half hour left to make an appearance, little guy!"

41 weeks
At 12:15 am, The Smiler woke up (yes, my nearly three year old still wakes up every night) and The Carpenter went to get him from his room.  I could hear him screeching that he only wanted Momma and refusing to let The Carpenter pick him up.  I called to him down the hall, saying Daddy would bring him to me but he wasn't down with that.  After a few minutes of this (it's a problem pretty much every night), I got annoyed, flew out of bed, stomped down the hallway, flung open his door and grumpily said, "It doesn't matter who comes to get you!  I'm right down the hall, Daddy brings you to our bed when you wake up!"  The Carpenter had just left the room to go back to bed and - SPLASH - my water broke all over the floor.

I started to laugh.

I called to The Carpenter that my water had broken and asked him to bring me a towel as The Smiler whined at me to lay down with him in his bed.  Not wanting him to come in to our bed since I expected to now be in labour all night and thinking this was his last time being an only child, I obliged, towel between my legs, and laid with him a while.  I was cold and wet, though, and the hormones were giving me the shakes pretty badly so I crept away a little too soon.  Within minutes of leaving the room, he was up again and calling for me.  I felt very annoyed at the universe for that.  Thankfully, The Carpenter was able to calm him and get him back to sleep.

I called my dear friend C, who would act as a secondary support to me at the birth to let her know my water was broken and that I'd call her once things kicked into gear.  Then I debated whether or not to call the midwife.  I knew I couldn't settle for anything less than the amazing family birth I had with my first baby and wanted to feel certain I could still have that if I had an attendant there.  I know so many people who've had attendants promise them that only to completely change their tune come the birth.  On the flipside, I knew and understood why The Carpenter wanted someone there who could provide emergency care in the event something went wrong with me (he knew I would know what to do if there was a problem with the baby but was concerned he wouldn't react well if something happened to me).  I thought about it a lot and decided that my midwife really did understand and respect my wishes for my birth fully so decided to call her.  She was off call for the night (of course, right?!) but the one other midwife who I'd met with a few times and connected well with was on call in her place.  I let her know what was happening but told her not to come yet since I wasn't sure if things were going to start moving fast or what.

Well, sure enough, after a few good rushes, things petered out.  I called both C and the midwife back to tell them I was going to try and sleep and they should do the same.  I put on my Hypnobirthing CD and ended up sleeping from about 1:30 until 7 in the morning, waking up with some light rushes a few times but nothing to complain about.  In the morning I had some more convincing rushes and sent The Smiler to my parents' just around the corner thinking I'd be labouring all day.  My midwife called to see how I was doing; my primary one (we'll call her midwife A) was back on call now and the secondary one (we'll call her midwife B) would come as a second attendant when I felt ready for them.  These were the two women who fought for me to have care and who supported my wishes fully throughout my pregnancy.  They never once pressured me and consistently respected my intelligence, knowledge and capability to make informed decisions about my prenatal and fetal care without question.  This was the first moment in the entire pregnancy where I felt certain I would be comfortable being attended at my birth trusting my wishes would be respected.  I told midwife A that I would call her when things got moving and then started puttering around the house to distract myself.

She called me around lunch to ask if I wanted her to come check fetal heart tones and to let me know she was supposed to offer antibiotics after 18 hours of ruptured membranes and consult with an OB after 24 hours.  I declined heart tones and antibiotics and could hear the smile in her voice as she said, "Okay!".  She explained that at 24 hours she had to call an OB who would then make a recommendation of chemical induction in hospital at which time I could decline (again, I heard the smile in her voice as she said, "Which I assume you'll do.") and she would still attend me at home as planned when I was ready for her.

Around 1:00 when I would usually put The Smiler down for a nap I texted my mom and told her that I still wasn't in active labour and if she wanted to send him home for a while, that would be okay with me since I would probably need to send him back later once things stepped up.  So The Carpenter brought him home.  I decided to nap with him but before we went to sleep, The Carpenter was debating whether or not to cancel the much needed appointment for the dog to get groomed at 3 pm.  I finally told him to go since there was still nothing convincing happening and it wouldn't take too long.  He decided we'd kill two birds with one stone and he'd go buy the vacuum we wanted while he waited for her.  Off I went for a nap with my big boy.

Around 3 I woke up from sleep with a rush.  I put on my Hypnobirthing CD and tried to relax.  Another one broke my concentration and I decided to time them for a while.  They were coming about 10 minutes apart but lasting quite a while at a minute to even a minute and a half long sometimes with a decent peak, though still manageable pain-wise.  By 4 they had jumped to about 6 minutes apart and were getting more intense.  I expected The Carpenter to be home by then so I called and he said he was still waiting for the dog.  I was having a hard time dealing with The Smiler during rushes so I told him to hurry home!

At 4:45 I texted C to tell her things were about 5-6 minutes apart and about a minute long.  The Carpenter came home around the same time and, with no sense of urgency, started assembling the new vacuum as The Smiler watched excitedly, exclaiming that he wanted to try using it.  By this point my rushes were about 3-4 minutes apart and I was at the place where I didn't want to hear sounds, be talked to or have to talk during them.  I told The Carpenter to hurry up and get that kid dropped off at my parents' already and went and ran a bath.

In the bath tub, the rushes started to ramp up again and I had two or three where I couldn't find my groove.  As with my first birth, I felt like a dog spinning to make a place to lay.  I was looking for a physical position or movement to use as a ritual until I realized being upright was relieving the discomfort as much as was possible and the real issue was in my head.  I had felt very resistant to giving birth throughout the last weeks of my pregnancy and even during labour, I kept thinking that I wanted the baby but didn't want to do the work to get him.  Through the rush, as I felt the long fingers radiate out from my spine, wrap around to the front and pull rhythmically, I thought over and over, "This will bring your baby.  This sensation will bring your baby.  This opens the path for your baby."

The Carpenter came home and I leaned against the back wall of the tub as he sat on the bathroom floor keeping me company.  I breathed through rushes and kept mentally repeating my mantra.  I told him more than once that I didn't want to do this part of it.  He was wise.  He just looked deep into my eyes and said, "I know.  It's okay.  I know."  C called at one point and The Carpenter talked to her.  She said she'd be over within an hour.  I think that was around 5:30 or so.

My tub in my ensuite is quite large and I thought it would be good for birthing in but after a while I got tired of the hard bottom and wanted to stretch my body out more.  I asked The Carpenter to fill up the birth pool I had borrowed from a friend, instead and I was so glad I did.  The inflated bottom of the La Bassine pool is so soft and comfortable - much nicer than the hard bottom of a regular bathtub.  Plus it's even bigger and the sides are equally soft, supportive and comfortable.  As he filled it, I got out of the other tub, put on a bikini top and skirt and walked around the house a while, holding on to doorknobs during rushes and swaying my hips.

I decided to call A since things were definitely getting intense at this point.  She said she'd drop her daughter off at home and head over.  That was around 6 or 6:15, I think.  I went back into the bedroom feeling anxious to get into the tub but it wasn't quite full yet.  I got up on the bed on my knees and tried leaning forward through a rush just as The Carpenter tried to ask me something and I yelled, "I don't care!  Ooooh!  Shut up!"  He quietly continued on - smart man.

I got into the tub finally and it felt much better.  I was having continuing pain at my pubic bone in between rushes by this point and it was making me feel very frustrated because it came with a sensation of needing to pee but not being able to.  I heard some rustling of papers in the kitchen and looked around kind of confused so The Carpenter said, "C is here."  I told him I wanted her to come see me.  She came in and asked how I was doing and I complained of the sensation of needing to pee and not being able to and the pain at my pubic bone not stopping between rushes.  I lamented, "Why did I do this again?" and she said, matter-of-factly, "Because you're having another son."  Then she said, "You're shaking.  Are you cold?"  I said, "I don't know...  I don't really feel cold but I can feel myself shaking."  Then I whined, "Unnhhhh!  Another one's coming!" and had another rush.  I told her I didn't think I was in transition, yet and she quietly said, "Okay."  Afterwards she told me it was obvious I was totally in transition at that point.  At some point in there I felt it necessary to tell her that if I said I felt like throwing up, I wanted to throw up in the white bowl, not the stainless steel bowl.  I have no idea why I thought that was important but I sure felt that way at the time.

The Carpenter came close to me and I asked him to rub my back - side to side, not up and down, not in circles, just in this exact area - the same way I had during my first birth.  C offered me water and I drank.  I leaned forward with my shoulders against the wall of the tub and my face resting on the edge.  I stretched my legs out long behind me, as if I was doing a push up, and mostly stayed in this position thereafter.  I felt such a need to stretch out long, which was different for me since with my first birth I was on all fours or rearing upright.

I felt my breath catching at the start of the next rush and C said gently, "Don't hold your breath, Amy."  I realized I had just pushed a bit and whined, "I feel pushyyyyyy!"  and she softly said, "Okay.  That's good."  I complained to The Carpenter that I wasn't getting a break, that I just wanted a little break to rest a minute.  He lovingly said, "I know.  You're working hard.  You're doing so good."  With the next rush I started to squeeze my hips and The Carpenter immediately used his free hand without being asked to squeeze on the one side for me so I could keep holding myself up with one hand, too.

I vaguely remember hearing a bit of rustling around outside the room, C telling me, "A and B are here." and ignoring it all.  The Carpenter tells me I actually said, "Ugh, I don't care." though I don't remember that.  Later C told me that a few minutes later A came to the doorway and mouthed, "Is she pushing?" C nodded and A walked away again.  I am so grateful that she respected my wishes for an unhindered experience.

I felt myself push at the beginning of each of the next few rushes and then all of a sudden a rush came on and I felt myself start to bear down hard.  I was surprised to hear myself groan - long and loud and guttural - because I didn't make any sound pushing my first baby out.  I immediately felt the baby's head move down a lot and was shocked it was moving so fast!  I honestly didn't even believe it was the baby at first (like, what else would it be?!).  I reached my hand down to feel and was even more shocked when I barely had to reach inside at all to feel him there.  I felt myself bear down again, this time quietly I'm told, and kept my hand there to feel him moving. The rushes didn't seem to end at that point, I would just catch a breath and then be pushing again.  He was moving so fast!  I said, "He's right there.  He's right there!" a few times, I think.  Later I told The Carpenter that I was surprised I had been so loud and he looked confused.  He said, "You only groaned  loudly with that first big push, after that you were dead silent again, just like last time."  I was sure I'd made a lot of noise but I guess just that first loud push stuck in my mind, is all.

I was still in the push up position and then moved to a genuflect position as I felt his head start to crown.  I really didn't want to tear with this birth so I started to blow my breaths out, trying to slow myself down but it didn't do much, that baby was moving so fast.  C told me later she could hear me trying to slow it down and could see that I couldn't.  I felt his head slide out and breathed as I waited for the shoulders.  I could feel the rush starting to wane and all I could think of was that I really didn't want to wait for another one before getting those shoulders out of me so I turned my hip a bit, gave a little nudge and out he came.  With my hand on his back, I started to sit back and I have such a beautiful image of his face coming up in the water, eyes open, arms spread wide as though asking to be picked up, looking right at me.

The Carpenter and C were both surprised to see a baby coming up as I sat back - neither realized he was that close to being born at that point.  Later C said that it was about 10 minutes where my breath caught at the beginning of each rush and then another 10-12 minutes of active pushing before he was born.  A far cry from the 2 or so hours I pushed with my first baby!  B said she and A were starting to unpack their stuff when she heard me talking and she said, "I think baby's here, we probably don't need to unpack."  It was 7:15 pm when he was born.

I pulled him up and started talking to him.  I rubbed his back and he took a moment to come into himself fully as he looked at me.  I softly said, "Hi, baby, hi.  Momma's got you." and some other little things as he transitioned and The Carpenter looked at him excitedly.  He gave us a lusty cry and then almost immediately started rooting around.  I took off my bikini top and just let him rest near my breast and within a few minutes he latched on.  I remember saying, "Oh, he's not that big after all." and C saying, "Ummmm... he's pretty big, Amy."  A said the same thing when I said it to her later, too.  I have no idea why I thought he wasn't that big, especially now when I look at the photos.  I had been worried about a big baby for the last few weeks of the pregnancy, though, since this baby had just shy of 5 weeks more cook time than my first!

A very large clot floated up (probably about 6" in diameter and 3/4" thick) so I called A in to show her though I wasn't particularly worried about it since there was barely any blood in the water at all; she judged it no big deal and also commented on the lack of blood in the water.  No one bothered me to get out of the tub or asked to do anything to the baby.  Everyone was silent, just as I had requested.  In fact, A left the room right after looking at the clot, I didn't even have to ask her to.  I finally decided I wanted to get out of the tub maybe 10 minutes later and The Carpenter helped me out.

I had a bit of the shakes again so put on my housecoat and wrapped it around myself and the baby but then I started to feel like I wanted the placenta out so I had them put a bowl under the toilet seat so I could sit down.  The cord was much shorter than The Smiler's epic-length cord had been and I was having trouble sitting comfortably while The Carpenter held the baby so I decided to cut it.  It was limp, thin and white by this point, anyway.  I sat some more, just looking at the baby, stroking his cheeks, looking at my husband, telling them I loved them.  The Carpenter told me I did awesome and he was proud of me.  The placenta didn't come, though.  I didn't feel crampy, either.  Same as with my first birth.

I decided to lay down and rest a while and let the baby nurse some more to see if it would help.  After probably a while more than 30 minutes, A very gently said, "It's been 30 minutes.  I have to offer you pitocin now.  Would you like to accept or decline that?"  I said I was declining and she kindly said, "Okay, keep trying to nurse him." and left the room again.

I talked to C about The Smiler's birth and the placenta not coming (it was just sitting in my birth path but I had no crampiness or anything).  I talked about how with his birth I kept feeling like pulling on the cord and then kept telling myself I shouldn't do that because it was dangerous.  That was the only part of his birth where I didn't follow my intuition and regretted it later.  I was feeling this yucky, 'want this placenta out of me' feeling - something I had felt with The Smiler's birth, too - so I called A back in and told her to look and see if the placenta was just sitting there.  Sure enough, that's exactly what was going on.  She said, "It's right there.  Give a push and I'll tug a bit."  I pushed and she was pulling so gently that I finally said, exasperated, "Oh, A.  Just pull it out already.  I don't want it in there anymore, it's making me feel baaaad."  She laughed and pulled it out.  I immediately felt better.  A said I had a barely 2nd degree tear, we discussed it and I opted not to get sutures.  B came to the doorway and very respectfully asked if she could come look at the baby and I happily invited her in.  Later A joked that in all her years as a midwife she'd never had anyone tell her to just pull their placenta out.

In any event, the placenta was out and deemed beautiful by all; the cord was precisely centred and there was one perfect hole in the membranes which were otherwise fully intact.  My only regret is that we didn't take a photo of it.  Particularly the part where The Carpenter nonchalantly chowed on an apple as A showed him the placenta in detail!

At this point I said I felt comfortable with A doing a quick newborn exam.  Baby was very peaceful throughout the process and Daddy and I talked to him the whole time.  He weighed in at 8 pounds 13 1/2 ounces.  A full 2 1/2 pounds bigger than my first baby!

My first birth was 27 hours from rupture of membranes to onset of what I consider actual labour, then 9 hours until birth.  My second birth was 15 hours from rupture of membranes to onset of what I consider actual labour, then 4 1/4 hours until birth.  So things were basically cut in half, which I understand is generally  the case with subsequent births.  Very manageable.  As with my first birth, while it was happening I kept thinking I wasn't as far along as I actually was and really steeling myself for what was to come.  As with my first birth, when I felt myself pushing, I was shocked I was that far already.  As with my first birth, when it was all said and done, I was honestly surprised that it wasn't as hard as I was prepared for it to be.

I felt like getting up soon after baby was checked over and did just that, holding my new boy wrapped up against my skin under my housecoat.  I drank some water and lemonade, chatted joyfully with the midwives and C and The Carpenter and lounged on my couch while marvelling at my son some more.  I called my mom, told her baby was here and that I'd send The Carpenter up to get The Smiler so he could come meet his brother.  I asked her to wait about half an hour and then she and my dad could come see the baby, too.  The Smiler was very happy to meet his baby brother and immediately pronounced him "dorbul" and gave him kisses.  It was a wonderful moment.

My parents came to visit and brought some leftovers which The Carpenter and I ate voraciously.  After they left, we spent some more time as a family before all climbing into bed together.  Everyone but me slept.  I had insomnia but I didn't mind - I had the best view in the whole wide world.

I'm a compulsive editor so I've already been back in this post making teeny edits here and there.  Hey, it's my blog, I can do what I want here.  In all seriousness, though, I feel the need to add that I can never express how grateful I am to Mother Nature for not only one but two beautiful birth experiences.  I have read more birth stories and watched more birth videos than I could ever count, I am involved with a lot of birth-related groups and I know there are many, many people who don't get to have this kind of experience even once despite the most careful planning and diligent preparation.  I am so, so, so filled with thankfulness and appreciation each time I think about my boys' births and the beautiful moments I get to treasure for all eternity.  Each time I think about them, I send out love and healing light to those of you who have had less than ideal birth experiences.  I want you to know that your experiences are valid, your babies are perfect and your feelings are real and right to have.  I want you to feel held in love and safety each time you reflect on your experiences and know that I honour you and your strength each time I reflect on my own.


  1. You were made for this, mama. Many happy tears for you. And bravo for listening to your intuition and knowing what was right for each of your babies and for you, even though it was a little different each time. You are an inspiration. <3 NdG

  2. Congratulations to your new addition! What I want to know is, how on earth did you score a midwife???


Keep it clean, guys.