Today my third little baby turns 3! Barrett is such a unique part of the family and we can’t imagine our lives without him. He’s mellow, serious, cranky, silly, stubborn, and funny! He’s a worrier and a rule-follower, but always manages to make us laugh with his funny faces and silly anecdotes. He’s got a great laugh. We love him to pieces.
In honor of his birthday, I thought I’d bring his birth story over from my old blog. His birth is my favorite and most memorable. Read at your own risk… 😉
Unlike my previous two labor experiences- which seemed to start and end completely within a 24-hour period- this one seemed to drag on for weeks! I was sure that baby #3 would be born early. Never would I have guessed that he would be born the latest out of all three! On my due date, I started coming down with the same cold that had swept through my family the previous week. I was in a panic because I knew he would be here any minute, and I didn’t want to have to go through the labor and delivery while being sick. I wanted to try to go naturally this time, and that was one obstacle I really didn’t need. Not to mention I worried about getting my baby sick after he was born. Amazingly, though, the cold came and went in a matter of days and by the time my labor started, I had no indication that I was ever sick.
This time, the labor was a long process that started about two days before he was born. At dinnertime on Friday evening (January 13th), I had three contractions that were kind of painful and lasted about a minute each. They came thirty minutes apart. Then they went away. Then in the early morning hours, I had three more of the same contractions. They kept me awake for two hours, but never developed into anything. Saturday morning I had a few contractions here and there, but they weren’t progressing into anything more. I made breakfast and cried to my husband over something trivial. We went to a lunch date over at my mom’s house to visit with relatives who were in town. I had some contractions while we were there, which were still about thirty minutes apart. I also began to have my “bloody show” while we were at her house.
Finally, at about 4:00 that afternoon (the 14th), the real labor seemed to start. I was lying down to try and nap, but they began coming 15 minutes apart and were painful enough that I couldn’t sleep. For the rest of the evening, they came 15 minutes apart. I knew I was in labor, but also felt that it was going to be a while still. We walked with the boys down to the mailbox in the dark to try and move things along. (Our mailbox is a little ways down a private road, so the boys thought this was an adventure!) We put the boys to bed at 9pm and gave all of the family and friends the heads-up that the baby would likely be coming in the middle of the night at some point. Raphael lay down at 10pm to get some sleep and I lay down with him to try and sleep. The contractions were still coming 15 minutes apart and were painful enough that I couldn’t rest. I felt a little frustrated because I was really tired by this point. Amazingly, at around 11:30pm, the contractions completely stopped and I fell asleep.
When I woke up an hour and a half later, happy to be a little more rested, I was having a massively painful contraction. It was hard to stay on my back. I continued to lie there for a while anyways, and the contractions began coming 7-8 minutes apart and were painful enough that I couldn’t lie down anymore. I got up, took a quick shower, put some makeup on, and got dressed. I made sure my bag was ready to go and woke Raphael up. I told him that the contractions were 7-8 minutes apart and that I was ready to go to the hospital. My doctor had informed me that we should head to the hospital when they were about 5 minutes apart, but I just felt the need to head there anyways. We called my parents and my step-dad headed right over to watch the boys for us.
We arrived at the hospital at about 2:30am. As we were walking through the parking lot, I had another contraction and told Raphael that I thought I might just want to get the epidural…I was tired of the whole thing already! We checked in at the ER and from there I was wheeled up to the labor and delivery triage department. They always start the mommies off there so that they can determine if you are really in labor before they assign you a room to deliver in. My contractions were coming about 5 minutes apart, but I was still in good spirits and was quite chatty with the nurse who was checking me out. She even joked that she’d never seen a patient smile through a contraction before! She checked me and told me that I was 5cm dilated. She asked if I wanted to get the epidural. I told her that I wasn’t exactly sure. I had intended to go natural, but I was kind of waffling in my decision. She smiled and said that she thought it was a good idea to wait on the epidural for a while if I could because the baby was sunny-side-up (a difficult position for delivery), and if I were to walk around for a while longer, he might flip around on his own. She then asked if I wanted to try out a birthing tub?! I was grinning from ear to ear because I had never imagined they had birthing tubs at the hospital and if they were willing to set one up for me, I was totally up for trying it out! I then told her that I did not want the IV! My doctor had said that if I did a natural delivery (and because my Strep B test had come back negative), then I did not need to get the IV. I HATE those darn IV’s and so I was ecstatic at the thought of being able to avoid one. Between that and the birthing tub, I had a newfound enthusiasm to try and go naturally!
It turned out that the nice nurse from the triage department (Allie) was also going to be my delivery nurse. Yayy! I already really liked her! We got up to my room and she started filling up the birthing tub. It took a while to fill up, so I began walking around the room to manage the pain of the contractions. My doctor, who is new for this pregnancy, but whom I love dearly already, showed up to check on me. I chatted with him briefly and he said he’d be nearby for whenever I was ready. He had a patient in labor at a nearby hospital, and he’d be going back and forth…but we seemed to be on different timetables, so it shouldn’t be a problem. My sister, Jaime and good friend Nicole had already shown up while I was in triage (They left for a little while to get me a sports bra and some deodorant from Wal Mart…you’d think by my third kid I’d know how to pack my hospital bag! For the record, I also forgot flip-flops and lotion- two things I really could have used.), and now they were back, along with my mom and dad. My grandparents also showed up at some point, but I have no idea what time that was and I don’t remember seeing them until after the baby was born.
I’d guess that I was in the birthing tub for about an hour, give or take 20 minutes! It was nice and warm and really seemed to help with my contractions. The fact that I could move around and lean forward over the edge of the pool made everything so much easier to bear. The contractions were quite painful and I could no longer talk during them, but between contractions, I was carrying on conversations and laughing with my family and sweet nurse Allie. Honestly, if it wasn’t for that nurse, I would have never been able to do what I did. She was amazing! She was calm and encouraging and unobtrusive. I could also tell that she really wanted me to succeed at going natural, but pushed me along in a gentle way. Doctors are important, but it is the nurses who can make or break a childbirth experience.
At somewhere around 4:45am, I had a really bad contraction while still in the birthing pool. When it was over, I looked up at the nurse and announced that I was done with the whole thing and was ready for the epidural. She looked at me sympathetically for a moment (because she likely knew the cold hard truth…that it was too late for an epidural), and encouraged me to get out of the tub and onto the bed so she could check me. She said it was possible I was really close to the end and that’s why I was suddenly so miserable. I agreed and they helped me over to the bed.
She checked me and told me that not only was I 8cm dilated, but that the baby had flipped over into the proper birthing position! She told me that if I could just hang on for one more hour, he’d probably be out. I remember asking “So does this mean that I’m in transition…is that why I want to give up so badly?” And she responded “Yes, all women want to give up at this point, but you are doing so great that I think you can do this.” So I reluctantly agreed, but I asked for everybody but Raphael (and the nurse) to leave the room. Everybody obliged and left immediately.
Then things got really ugly.
I was in so much pain that I was starting to lose control. I was walking around the room in a panic. I then had to run to the restroom because something embarrassing was happening and I was vomiting a little bit at the same time. My contractions were on top of each other now, with no break in-between. I continued to sit on the toilet because I just felt safe there for some reason. I was moaning and getting up and down. I was begging for the epidural. She agreed to order it and went over to the phone, but I’m not sure she ever did order it…there was no time and she knew it. Raphael stood back and let me be alone because he knows I don’t like to be touched or bothered when I am in pain. He handed me wet rags when I asked for them and tried to encourage me the best he could. At 5:24am my water broke while I was sitting on the toilet. I immediately felt the urge to push.
Allie told me that she needed to check me and asked me to go back to the bed. I couldn’t move, so she and Raphael helped move me over to the bed. She tried to get me to lay on my back, but I refused. I couldn’t stand the thought of being on my back and I continued to lay on my side. At some point my family came back in the room and stood off to the side. My sister said it looked like I was about to fall off of the bed and I was making her very nervous. Allie somehow managed to check me anyways and told me I was fully dilated and ready to push. Raphael asked me if I minded that everybody was there. I heard him ask this question, but I couldn’t answer. After a few seconds, he said “Never mind!”. The truth was that I didn’t care. I just wanted to be done.
Raphael said that it was at this point that people started racing around. My doctor had apparently left to go to the other hospital and they knew he wouldn’t make it in time. They kept trying to get me to wait to push, but I didn’t listen. I NEEDED to push and they had better just get ready for the baby! That’s when a woman came in and introduced herself, saying that she was going to deliver my baby. She was another one of the doctor’s on call at the hospital. Her name was Jacque, just like mine! She told me to go ahead and push whenever I was ready.
And that is exactly what I did. I pushed with all of my strength because it hurt really bad and I was not interested in pushing for 20-45 minutes like I had with my other boys. I was done. It was the most crazy, intense feeling in the world. They call it the “ring of fire”, but I’d say it was more like the tunnel of fire. It hurt all the way down. Ironically, though, it felt better to push through the pain. And I screamed very loudly. I was that woman in the movies who is screaming a war-cry and making all the other women in labor nearby thankful that they had chosen to get the epidural! After two huge pushes, his head came out and then one more and his body came out. He was born at 5:33am. I sat there in disbelief for a few minutes. He was here, and I had actually done it! I hadn’t died, like I thought I was going to. I was so thankful that the end part had gone so quickly.
The doctor checked me and determined that I had a second degree tear. She numbed me with a local anesthetic and began to stitch me up. This is another interestingly gross difference between a natural and medicated delivery. You feel like you have rug burn all along the inside and even when the doctor touches you down there, it doesn’t feel good. She numbed me enough that I didn’t really feel the actual stitches, though, even though I felt like gagging!
They let the baby stay on my chest for several minutes before they asked me if I wanted to find out how much he weighed. We all knew he was big, but were curious for some exact numbers! First they weighed him in grams and the nurses all gasped and chuckled! Then they did pounds and we all gaped with our mouths open when we heard he weighed 9lbs 7oz! His head was 15inches! And he was 21inches long. Good grief! It’s not like we’re big people (as my husband has said repeatedly since Barrett was born)! When they brought him back over to me, I began to nurse him and he was a pro! He nursed for 30 minutes straight!
I could tell that Allie was a little concerned about me, though. She kept massaging my tummy and there were lots of big clots and tons of blood coming out. She apologized for causing me so much pain (it wasn’t pleasant for her to do this), but she said that I wasn’t doing so well. After a few minutes, she decided she needed to give me a shot of Pitocin. I found this to be a little bit ironic…I had done a completely natural delivery with no drugs, no IV’s, not even a catheter, but now I needed some Pitocin! That seemed to do the trick, though, and the bleeding finally slowed down.
Overall, I’d say the whole experience was amazing, scary, and crazy! Would I do it naturally again? Hmm, I think you’d have to ask me in a year! Immediately afterwards, I said that I would NOT do that again. I would say, though, that the recovery was slightly easier. It wasn’t night and day, but there was a difference. I could stand up immediately afterwards and use the restroom without help. And now at two weeks post-partum, I barely notice the pain from my tear anymore. I’m pretty sure when I was cut with the other two deliveries, it was 3-4 weeks until I felt better down there.
Either way, I just feel blessed and happy to have three big, healthy boys!