That day I took River to church. It was embarrassing going to Relief Society, since I was supposed to be teaching the lesson, but had found a sub to teach for me. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have a newborn by now. On the way home, I noticed how easy it was for me to walk around. In a way, I felt less pregnant than the week before and I took this as a sign the baby was going to take his sweet time to arrive.
Thankfully, I was completely wrong… so much for instincts. At 7:10 pm that night, I was giving River a bath and he asked me to close the door all the way. I didn’t feel like standing and walking to the door, so instead I reached as far as I possibly could to grab the handle and just when I reached it, there was an audible pooping sound and a gush of warm water. My water had broken and all I could think was, “Seriously? The one day I don’t change out of my church clothes???” I stood up right away, which was a mistake, as the gushing just continued and now my boots were filled with amniotic fluid. I started laughing so hard thinking about how I was going to clean that out and I must have seemed a little off my rocker, because River started asking in a very startled voice, “What happened Mommy? What happened?”
I told him my water broke and he started excitedly yelling, “Water broke! Water broke!” for the next hour and a half. He didn’t know what it meant, but he could tell it was big news. I opened the door and yelled for Bear, who was super happy this wasn’t happening at 4:00 am. I stood on a towel and continued to laugh like crazy as an unseemly amount of fluid continued to poor out. Gross I know, but that is what happened. When I was finally cleaned up and able to change my clothes, I started making phone calls. This was so different than with River, since I woke up in labor with him and never called anyone till after I had him.
I didn’t know when/if my body would go into labor on its own and I knew I only had a 24 hour window to get this baby out, since my water had broken. The hospital gets super worried about infection. If my labor didn’t start on its own and progress quickly enough, they would first give me Pitocin and as a last resort, do a C-section. I really wanted to give birth completely naturally and un-medicated, so I wondered if I should not call the hospital, or if I should lie about what time my water broke and buy myself more time. I wasn’t worried about infection and know plenty of home- birthers who have taken longer than 24 hours to give birth after their water had broken, but I ended up calling the hospital and telling the truth. I felt I would put up a fight later, if need be.
The hospital told me to shower and pack a bag and come in, but I didn’t need to rush and so that’s what I did. I tucked River into bed. I let him know I loved him and that I was going to go to the hospital tonight to have baby brother. I held his hand an extra-long time and tried not to let him see the tears rolling down my face, knowing this was the last time our relationship would be just this way. I’ll be honest; I’m tearing up right now thinking about it. He was super excited, but blessedly fell asleep quickly.
I called my family and let them know the little one was on his way. I called my friend Robert, who was going to stay the night with River and told him to come over and then I called my friend Danielle, to see if she could come take pictures. She had volunteered, but I wasn’t sure, since this was going to be happening in the middle of the night. She was all in and I told her I would call her back when my labor started and give her a guesstimate of when to come to the hospital. The last call I made was to my friend Becca and when I voiced my fears about the Pitocin, she said not to worry and that my labor would start on its own. Interestingly, my first contraction happened immediately after I hung up the phone with her. It was almost 10:00pm.
Robert said he would be over at 11:00 and I thought that was plenty of time, but in just one hour my contractions had become super strong. Packing my bag was getting pretty interesting. I was having to stop every few minutes, but I was determined to finish drying my hair and get everything packed. By the time Robert arrived, I was bending over and holding on to something during my contractions. I was amazed at how much faster everything was progressing than with River. I was anxious to get to the hospital where I could listen to my hypno cds and focus.
When we arrived at St. Mark’s hospital, I was happy to get a parking space right by the elevator and even happier that a thoughtful person had left a wheel chair by said elevator. I had pre-registered, so the check in process was pretty fast and I quickly found myself changing into a hospital gown and going through the initial checks they do. I was almost dilated to an 8, which is what I was with River. I listened to one hypno cd and was doing a good job of breathing through my contractions. In hypno-birthing, they are referred to as surges and I kept having the image in my head of surfing and catching a really intense wave and being nervous I was going to fall, but then riding it out to calmer waters. It really helped for quite some time and my friend Danielle over heard the nurses talking at their desk about me having a lot of control and being awesome. I’m not going to lie, ego boosts definitely help me!
The contraction were getting intense enough, I decided it was worth ruining my hair to get into the jetted tub. I did the same thing last time and was so sad I didn’t get any good pictures before I looked like a drown rat. Luckily, I was pretty sure Danielle had already gotten some with my hair looking nice. (The things that run through your mind between contractions???) I stayed in as long as possible. It really did help things relax, but after about 40 minutes I was overheating and had to get out. After drying off, I thought I’d sit on the birthing ball for a while, but that lasted for two seconds, before things got crazy hard and I HAD to have help getting in the bed.
My husband was amazing through all of this. He had the hypno script down cold and while I was going through transition, he held my hand and went through the 60 second relaxation script time and time again. I just focused on his voice and kept riding the waves. One of my favorite things about natural child birth is it really is a family experience. We are in it together. There is no checking football scores. Magic is happening and everyone is involved. Once I was back in the bed, the nurse checked me again and I was almost at a 10. It was good to hear, but I was at a 10 with River and still had fours of pushing ahead of me, so I didn’t get too excited.
They called for my doctor and wouldn’t you know it, he was unavailable. That’s two strikes and this wasn’t even a holiday. It turns out he had a really sick patient that he couldn’t leave, so I forgive him, but I was really disappointed. Dr. Horvath came in to sub and she was decent. I was trying to sit the bed up as much as possible to create a birthing chair situation and have gravity help me out, but the doctor kept having me recline it back and by the end of everything I was pretty much flat on my back. This position is nice for the doctor, but not so comfortable for giving birth and even though I pushed for an hour with Ash, instead of four hours with River, it hurt worse.
Every birth should have at least one comical moment and mine came towards the end when Ash was really close. The nurse and doctor had told me to stop breathing the baby down and push as hard as I could instead. They promised it would be over soon and go faster. It got a lot more painful, but they had me with the promise of faster, so I stopped my hypno breathing and held my breath and started pushing as hard as I could. I focused as hard as I could on not panicking when a contraction was about to start. I wanted to love them, since they were bringing my baby closer to me, but it was hard not to hate them. I was trying not to go into a black place, but I started feeling like I was getting beat up by the waves. Things were getting overwhelming and I was going to a place that no one could follow, not even my husband’s voice was penetrating. This is when I hear the nurse through my cloud of fog say, “You have super strong kegel muscles and I see a lot of vaginas!” Like I said before, ego boosts really help me and this made me laugh pretty hard. It was short lived, but it was a fun break in the rough final stages of labor. The nurse said I needed to try and relax my kegel muscles, because Ash was descending while I was pushing and then my kegel muscles would snap him back up. Hmmm… okay…. Let me add one more thing to my to-do list.
I tried to keep a bridle on the sarcastic side of my personality and just trust that if I told my body to do something, it would know how to do it. It must have worked, because the doctor said I was super close. I could see my husband and Danielle out of my peripheral vision. They were both holding their breath and closing their eyes with me during my contractions and I could feel their support wrap around me. It sounds a little cheesy, but you really can borrow others strength when you are all out of your own. I was thankful to have them both with me.
I knew things were almost over when I started to envision the universe splitting in half and I heard the words, “I can’t do this.” Come out of my mouth. It actually gave me a little boost, because I knew from last time, that when I finally got to the point of saying I couldn’t do it, it really was almost over. I thought my eye balls might pop, but I dug deep and gave one final push and I felt the sweet relief of Ash’s head and shoulders pushing through. He was born on Monday November 19th, 2012 at 2:17 am. They handed him to me for a quick second. Like River, he was gray and not crying yet. Unfortunately, I was unable to nurse him right away, because the doctor was worried about the color of my amniotic fluid. She thought it might have meconium in it, so they called in a suction specialist to clean him out, just in case.
I know it is better to be safe than sorry, but I was sad to miss those initial moments when the baby recognizes your voice and looks straight at you. Plus, it is a much friendlier transition to be skin to skin with your mom and nursing than have tubes shoved in your nose and throat to clean you out. I was super anxious to get him back and meanwhile the doctor was pushing on my stomach so hard to get blood clots out. It was painful with a capital P. With River, I was in such a euphoric place while I was nursing and bonding with him, I didn’t even notice any pain with any of the afterbirth.
They finished suctioning Ash and since they already had him away from me, they weighed and measured him. He was 8 lbs 8 oz and 20 inches. I knew he was a big boy. He was crying, but the second they handed him to me he started nursing and relaxed into my arms and he pretty much hasn’t cried since. He is a super content baby and so far, has been spared the stomach issues and colic that haunted us with River. I fell in love instantly. His eyes were a bright shade of blue, but they have already started turning darker and his hair is not quite as long or as dark as Rivers, but he still has quite a bit. We are tired, but it is magical having a newborn in our house again and the best part about it is being able to enjoy it, instead of counting down the days till they said the colic would end.
They gave me the option of leaving the hospital a day early, but I stayed the full three days, just to have one on one time with Ash. I never put him down. He slept in my arms and we just stared into each other’s eyes. River has been so great with him, but I will always cherish that one on one time with Ash. I am all for home births, but I think I will always have my kids in the hospital, because I don’t know of any other way that you get that kind of one on one bonding time with your children after your first.
Now that I’m back home, we’ve had some rough transition moments, but I feel like me and having gone through one baby where I didn’t get to be myself for four months, I know what a huge gift that is. I feel so blessed to have these gifts from Heaven in my home and I pray that I can be exactly the kind of mom they need me to be. I have goals to learn and do and become so many things for them, but right now, I’m just going to work on the showers and the naps and remember to celebrate the small victories.
POST EDIT- So I wrote this story in November and finally got around to publishing it today. Some things have changed since then, like the no crying thing... yeah right... welcome to fussyville! Also, while I am able to enjoy Ash as a newborn, more than I did with River, since I have been spared any bad post-partum issues, I am counting down the days till he is 12 weeks and sleeping better. I can't help it. I know you are supposed to live in the moment and they are only newborns for such a short amount of time... BUT I AM SO TIRED!