Monday, April 7, 2014

Linus' Birth Story

"Put me back in!"

I had been warned by so many people that your third labor is often a "wild card."  Starting labor a week late was definitely unexpected, but other than that, the labor was much in the same pattern as my previous two kids.  And if anything, it actually went even more smoothly. I wish I could say that labor is less painful each time (wouldn't you think it should be?!), but it's definitely not.  Each time, though, I get better and better at dealing with the pain, and knowing what works best to help me through it.  So maybe in some ways, I could consider each of my deliveries "easier" than the one before.

 Building Towards Labor

I had been having contractions on and off each day for almost a week before I finally went into labor for real.  There had been so many false alarms and dashed hopes, and it was all very frustrating to deal with.  When labor started with my other two kids, it was very clear - but this time around, I was becoming convinced that my body was trying and just couldn't do it (Tom said it was like turning the throttle without starting the engine).  A number of women who had gone through similar situations assured me that the daily contractions weren't for nothing - that my body was doing real work to prepare for delivery, and that it would make the actual labor go more smoothly when it finally came.  I didn't want to hear that, though, so I didn't really let myself believe it.

Tuesday was one week past my due date.  I spent the morning cleaning the whole house.  What else did I have to do?  I even vacuumed the stairs, which was quite a feat consider the weight of our vacuum and the size of my stomach at that point.  Tom told me to take it easy, but I think my nesting urges were taking over.

I was scheduled to go see the midwives for a non-stress test in the afternoon just to make sure the baby was still doing alright.  While I was lying in the bed strapped to the heart monitor, I had a number of uncomfortable contractions.  The test finished up, baby looked good, and the midwife asked if I had any questions.  I told her that I was pretty much done being pregnant, and really just wanted this baby to come out.  She offered to check whether I was dilated, and to "sweep my membranes" if I wanted.  In case you are unfamiliar with the term, as I was, it is when the doctor/nurse sticks a finger inside your cervix and spins it in a circle to push the amniotic sac away from the cervix (not to break it).  Weird, I know.  Supposedly it releases prostaglandins which can help start labor.  She checked me, and I was already five centimeters dilated (I guess those contractions had been doing something afterall!), and then she did the - quite uncomfortable - membrane sweep.

I went home and settled on the couch to wait it out and see what might happen.  Tom was fortunately working from home that day, since he had needed to keep an eye on the older kids while I went to my appointment.  I continued having the occasional contractions, but wasn't getting my hopes up yet.  But two and a half hours later, things started to get real, and I knew it was finally finally time!  My dad was enlisted to come get the kids.  Unfortunately, it was 4:30pm at this point, and he was working in an office on the complete opposite end of town, so it was going to take him a while to get through traffic.

 The Hamburger Incident

So...earlier in the day, before I had known that labor would actually be starting, I had pulled out some ground beef to defrost, and had a conversation with Tom about all the ingredients I would be mixing into it to attempt some yummy restaurant-quality hamburgers for dinner.  Fast-forward to about 4:00 when contractions were starting to build (and I was already at LEAST five centimeters dilated, mind you).  Tom offered to make the dinner instead.  Fine and dandy.  Now fast-forward to 5:00, when I'm definitely in labor, and having to breathe through each contraction, and getting anxious because my dad is still not there.  Tom says something about how he'll just throw in a frozen pizza real quick instead (I figured he wanted to eat something himself before we left.  I figured the hamburgers were obviously totally out of the picture by that point).  I reminded him that the frozen pizza was all gone.  He said, "oh, well, I'll just figure something out", and went down to the kitchen, fortunately taking the kids with him to let me have some peace and quiet.

About fifteen minutes later, I hear pans banging all over the stove, and the unmistakable smell of hamburgers cooking.  What the heck?  I got really annoyed that instead of getting the kids' overnight bag and the other things I had asked him to collect around the house, or calling up the midwives for me, he was down there cooking hamburgers.  For who?  I certainly didn't want one, and I figured my dad was just going to feed the kids dinner.  We never even eat before 6:00 anyways.  I'm sitting upstairs alone and in pain, and he's down there surely making a huge mess in the kitchen [this fact was very much confirmed later], and he can't hear me when I call to him because he's banging around and sizzling up stupid hamburgers while I'm in labor!!!!

And then the kids must have sneaked away from him, because suddenly they were both upstairs with me, fussing because I wouldn't let them climb into my lap while I was sitting on the fun-looking exercise ball, and I started yelling for Tom to come up and get them RIGHT NOW!!  When he got up the stairs, I started into him: "Why the heck are you making hamburgers now?!  I DON'T WANT A HAMBURGER!!!!!"  He replied that he needed to feed the kids.  I yelled, "WE DON'T NEED TO FEED THE KIDS!  MY DAD CAN FEED THE KIDS!" and then we both started yelling, and things got ugly, and I finally screamed - yes, right in front of my children - "I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!!" and I slammed and locked the door in his face, and went to sit back on my exercise ball, and cry angry tears through the next few lonely contractions.

It was a bad moment, man.  I'm not proud of myself.  Truly, a woman's most animalistic instincts come out when she's in labor.

My dad finally arrived, and my emotions eventually settled down a bit.  The drive to the hospital was pretty silent, because Tom and I both needed some time to cool off.  Once we arrived there, I think there was an unspoken agreement to just forget it had ever happened, and deal with the business ahead.


My doula, Bethany, arrived within minutes and I got changed into the gown.  The midwife came in and checked me again - almost 8 centimeters dilated already! 

I was ready to get to work, so I asked the nurse to find me a birth ball.  Sitting on the ball had been my salvation with the other two labors - it feels great to just stay on it almost until it's time to push.   The nurse frowned and said, "oh...there are a lot of women here today who use the midwives...all the birth balls are in use."  Me, Tom, and Bethany exchanged looks of horror.  The nurse could see how important it was for me, so promised to see what she could do.  A few minutes later, she entered triumphantly holding a ball....the dinkiest little exercise ball I've ever seen. I'm not kidding, it was about a foot and a half off the ground.  I gave it a half-second chance, and it failed utterly.  I was practically sitting on the floor.  Not happening.

So I ended up just sitting in a chair for most of the labor.  It was a little harder for Bethany to sit behind me pressing my pelvis during contractions (which is always the thing my body "wants."  My labors follow a very similar pattern each time), but it worked.  Tom's job during contractions was the stroke my arms in a downward motion, helping me to stay loose and relaxed. 

I find that I'm very focused and business-like during my labors.  I know what I need, and I just ask for it.  By this point, I'm not hesitant to assign tasks to my husband or my doula as needed.  Between contractions, I either chat with them both or encourage them to chat together while I just relax.  When I feel a contraction about to start, I say, "ok!" and everyone gets into position, and stops talking until it's passed.

When I arrived at the hospital, I was already in the dreaded "transition" phase of labor.  When Stella was born, transition was really rough.  But transition with both Sly and Linus just meant slightly more intense contractions.  I realized later what made the difference: my water had already been broken before transition when I had Stella.  When an amniotic sac is still intact, it makes the contractions more gentle. 

During all of my births, I have had to ask the midwives to break my water for me.  All three midwives have also remarked about the unusual thickness of my sacs...haha (sorry, that's kind of a gross detail.  At least I will not be sharing with you the photo Tom took of it afterwards!).  Labor tends to slow way down for me towards the end, I ask the midwife to break my water, and then things pick right up, and a baby soon arrives.

Baby is Born

The slow-down started happening, and things were getting more painful.   I moved to sit upright in the bed.  Tom and Bethany were enlisted to place icy washcloths on my forehead and chest between contractions.  They were coming farther apart at this point, and between each one, I closed my eyes and almost fell asleep. 

Eventually, the midwife suggested she check me, and we consider breaking my water.  I was almost completely dilated, except for a small "lip" of my cervix.  She did break my water, and then wanted me to try other positions to make that lip move out of the way.  I absolutely did not want to try any of her suggestions.  I wanted to just recline in the bed and not support my own weight.  So I asked if she would be able to move it out of the way manually.  It just took a couple contractions, and she had cleared the way.  Baby was all ready to go, and I had the ok to push with the next contraction.

I was again disappointed my how under-equipped the hospital was that night, because they couldn't find the "mirror on a stand" which I had used when I had the other kids.  Some women have no interest in watching themselves give birth, but I find it extremely motivating to be able to see that my pushes are actually doing something.  The nurses searched every delivery room for the mirror with no luck.  So I had to do it blindly this time. 

It took the first contraction for me to remember what "pushing" is supposed to feel like, and where to focus my energy.  But I was ready for the next one.  In one gigantic and drawn-out push, Linus went from not even crowning yet to being completely born!  I was so determined to just get him out!

They put him on my chest immediately.  Tom started bawling with joy, as always.  I stared into space in shock and relief, as always, my whole body twitching with adrenaline. Labor was about six hours total, which is my fastest yet.

Anyways, Linus was perfectly healthy.  I didn't tear or have any complications, so my recovery has been fine.  I have to say, I am so so happy not to be pregnant right now.  And it's wonderful to have a snuggly little newborn in the house again.  I'm already getting sad because I know how fleeting this time is.

meeting their new little brother


  1. NO BIRTH BALLS??? I would have thrown a fit. I've seriously considered bringing ours to the hospital and then I never have and then I can't get comfortable at all without it... If we don't have a homebirth next, I'm bringing a ginormous bouncy ball with me!!!

    So glad he finally made his way out - what an adorable sibling picture :)

    1. I know - next time, we're going to be rolling our ridiculously huge ball into the hospital with us...I'll probably be too far into labor to feel embarrassed about it ;-)

  2. I'm sorry, the hamburger story was soooo funny to read. I could just see that happening here. :-) he is beautiful

  3. Congratulations! I'm glad everything went well. Such a cutie. And the kids meeting is sweet.
    I have to say, my sympathies are entirely with you on the hamburger incident. If your wife is about to give birth to your child, you do not argue with her wishes, you just do it. You can discuss it later, after she's pushed that 8 lb baby out.

  4. You didn't tell me about the hamburgers! Haha! That is great.

  5. What a blessing. And funny. Animistic instincts- yes :) My sister bit her husband's hand to bleeding (fortunately instead of the inflatable tub she was in) and growled at a nurse at the hospital (after three days straight of active laboring at home). Thanks for sharing.

  6. Congratulations!

    I've never tried a birth ball, I think that would be too close to sitting for me. I have to walk and walk and walk and walk and have people not touch me. And I've never even heard of the mirror!

  7. I truly don't know what I would do without a birthing ball. I always ask for one right away with a silent threat to the nurses that they had better get one to me fast or else... They always offer the mirror and I'm really not interested but it does make sense that it might be helpful to see progress. I've never thought of that.

    It's so true about how fleeting this time is. I love the newborn stage so much.

    The picture with the kids is really cute.

  8. I couldn't do the mirror - I'm always surprised to hear when ladies want one! I was probably 12 the first time I heard about it and my jaw hit the floor. LOL

    Congratulations on your little boy; he is beautiful. :) I hope your recovery is going well and thank you for sharing your birth story. I'm due in August and I love to read them for inspiration!

  9. YAY! Welcome little Linus and congrats to you guys. :) He's adorable and you're a champ, for sure.