Saturday, May 13, 2017

James Christopher's Birth Story Part 2: Labor and Delivery

Part 2 is labor and delivery.  Make sure to read part 1 which includes details leading up to labor starting. It should go without saying, but this is a birth story and will include details about child birth.  You have been warned. :)

Photos are by Victoria Brown Photography. Getting a birth photographer was somewhat last minute, but I am so glad I had one!

We left off Friday evening with me going to bed around 11 pm.  Just after midnight, I woke up to a decently strong contraction.  I didn't think much of it because this had been happening every night for the past week.  After about 20 minutes, I decided to go get in the tub because they were getting stronger. While in the tub, I realized that maybe I should let Chris know what is going on, but he had been sleeping downstairs.  Between his snoring and my need to get up to pee every 30 minutes, no one had been sleeping.  I told myself that after the next contraction I would go downstairs and let him know labor might be starting.  As soon as that contraction was finished, I heard Chris coming up the stairs.  Thank goodness! Apparently the fridge had been super noisy and woke him up. Then he heard me upstairs and said that he knew I was in labor.

Chris sat in the bathroom with me and of course was asking how far apart the contractions were.  I despise timing contractions.  I find it to be a huge distraction and don't like to do it.  He grabbed my phone and started to time them as best as he could, but again, I despise this task.  I was not good at telling him when they would start and when they would end, so he was just guessing.

I got out of the tub around 1 am and Chris said we need to start contacting people (people means the midwives, my friend Kirsten, and the birth photographer).  I told him it was way too early for that and I don't want to disturb people in the middle of the night unless it really is go time.  I still thought that this was exactly what had happened every night for the last week.  I figured contractions would stop in an hour or so.

As I was attempting to convince Chris that this wasn't labor, he said "well, your contractions are about 2-3 minutes apart, so you'll probably have another one in about 10 seconds."  I said "yeah, ok, whatever."  But wouldn't you know it, 10 seconds later, another contraction. At this point I started to think that maybe this actually was labor. In my head, if it was labor, it was still very early labor. The best thing to do is relax and rest as much as possible.

Around 2:30 am, I was extremely hungry and asked Chris to grab me a luna bar and a bottle of juice. Being hungry and wanting to eat just further convinced me that I was not in labor as I had never been hungry during my other labors.

I continued to have regular and consistent contractions about 3 minutes apart.  I was watching The Office and resting as much as possible.  Around 3:30 am, Chris fell asleep.  Not sure how he could sleep through me having contractions, but he did.  Lol.

Around 4:30 (I think), Chris woke up and I told him that maybe it was time to let people know.  He called the midwife who asked if I felt that it was time to head up to the birth center.  I did not feel that it was time, so she said to call back when we were heading up to the center.  She said that if we get there and I'm not very far along, we could just go get some food or something. Once he got off the phone, he told me there was absolutely no way he would be taking me to a restaurant while I was clearly in labor.  Lol. Chris texted Kirsten and the photographer around this time as well.

Around 5 am, I was super hungry again and asked for a bagel and chocolate milk.  Again, wanting to eat continued to convince me that I was not actually in labor.  I also had not had a bloody show, so I was convinced this was still early labor.

Shortly after 5, I messaged another friend to let her know what was going on.  If someone needed to take the kids, she would be the person to do that.  I told her my plan was to try to wait until 6 am and then wake the kids up and head to the birth center. Chris and I agreed that he would make them breakfast to eat in the car.  Obviously I now realized that this was the real deal.

Chris got Benjamin up first to give him a quick bath. Genevieve was awoken a little after Benjamin and Chris informed the kids that it was baby time and to get dressed. Genevieve picked out a "Big Sister" shirt on her own.  Her hair was still braided from the night before, so that was a good call on my part. Everyone was downstairs getting ready to go, or so I thought.  Around 6 am, I got back in the tub and I thought I had told Chris to get everyone ready to leave and I would get out of the tub at the last possible minute.

At 6:30 or so, I got the urge to leave ASAP.  I got out of the tub and got dressed.  I went downstairs to find everyone sitting at the table eating breakfast.  Contractions were 1-2 minutes apart at this point and I was having to vocalize through them.  Genevieve was concerned, but I reassured her that it was ok.  I grabbed a chux pad and a towel for the car ride, just in case.  We got in the car shortly after 7 am.

As we were leaving our neighborhood, I asked Chris if he had contacted the midwife on call to let her know we were heading in.  He said he had not, so I told him that was an important call to make.

The 25 minute drive was relatively uneventful. I had 3 contractions or so in the car, so they had slowed down immensely.  Once we pulled up to the birth center, it was 7:30 and we were the only ones there.  I immediately got out of the van and leaned on my seat as I was having contraction after contraction now.

It was such a beautiful morning and a beautiful day to have a baby! I was excited to be in labor on a Saturday. I really hate inconveniencing people and a Saturday was the best for the photographer and my friend. Their husbands were home, so child care was not an issue for them. 

A nurse was the first one there and she asked how far apart contractions were and such.  I laid on the bed so she could check me and she said I was 7 cm with a very stretchy cervix and a bulging bag of waters. My first thought was "of course I am 7 cm with a bulging bag of waters.  7 cm is where I get "stuck" and I am all too familiar with a bulging bag of waters." The nurse seemed confident that the baby would be born soon, but I had my doubts.  Chris contacted the photographer and Kirsten and advised them to head on in. I messaged my friend Amanda to give her an update.

Since I was clearly in active labor, the nurse got the birth tub going.  I could not wait to get in.  Meanwhile, I just walked around and leaned on the bed during contractions.  As soon as the tub was full enough, I got in.

 Laboring in the inflatable birth tub vs a regular birth tub was something I wanted to experience.  I wanted to see if there was a difference between the two and there really is!  The inflatable pool is soft and it is easy to get into various positions.  In a regular tub, being on your knees is very uncomfortable and your options of positions are limited. 

 Sweet Genevieve and one of the midwives, Natalie, in the background.

 Between contractions, I was great.  I was laughing and talking. At one point, Nicole and I were chit chatting about some VBAC stuff between contractions.

 The kids were so very excited to meet their new sibling. We were team green, so we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl.  Benjamin, Chris, and I thought it was a boy, but Genevieve was holding out for a girl.

That Saturday was supposed to be a dinner night that a small group of friends and I usually participate in.  Kirsten is one of those friends, so she told me that Courtney, the hostess, was aware that neither of us would be attending the dinner that evening. Lol.

Something else that was different with this labor was that I wanted to listen to music.  It felt so quiet in the room! We listened to some 90s playlist from Amazon. There were multiple songs in a row that talked about breathing, but the one that sticks out to me is Breathe (2 AM):
"Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
And no one can find the rewind button, girl.
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe. Just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe

There's a light at each end of this tunnel,
You shout 'cause you're just as far in as you'll ever be out"

There were two things I repeated to myself in my head over and over again: "The only way out is through." and "You can do anything for 90 seconds."

They had essential oils diffusing which was nice. When I had Benjamin, I had taken my diffuser and oils to the hospital to diffuse.  The smell of clary sage always reminds me of labor and birth now.
 I discovered that if I sat back like I am in the photo above, the contractions were much less intense and were further spaced apart. I made sure to take advantage of this when I needed or wanted to relax.

The tubes are just hoses to fill up the tub.  They do a great job at keeping the water at just the right temperature. You don't want it too hot or too cold for the baby.

Also of note is that I packed 2 bags of food.  At the birth center, you need to bring your own food.  I had no idea how long I would be in labor and wanted to make sure we were well prepared.  The kids quickly discovered the snack bags and all we heard for about 3 hours was "I'm hungry." In the above photo, Genevieve is snacking on some dried fruit.  I should also note that at 38 weeks when I was told we would need to go to the hospital, I repacked my bags for a hospital birth.  This meant I had more stuff as a hospital stay is longer than a birth center stay. I bet the midwives and nurse saw our stuff and wondered how long we planned on staying.  Lol.

 Natalie was checking the baby's heart rate.  It was great!

 The nurse was applying counter pressure on my low back.  Sometimes this felt good and sometimes it did not. I need to say sorry to Natalie for swatting your hand away.  Lol.

 This is when things started getting real.  I'm guessing it was around 11 am.  How do I know things were getting real?  The glasses came off.  Lol.  I was pushy, but things just weren't feeling quite right.  I asked the midwives if they are going to do a check and I was told that they wouldn't normally do a check. A few minutes later, I asked to be checked because something just didn't feel right.  Natalie checked me and said I was 7-8 cm.  It had been 4 hours at this point and the birth center has a rule that if you go 5 hours without cervical change, you have to transfer.

It was also around this time that I started getting very nauseous. With Genevieve's labor, I threw up the entire time. It was awful. Staying hydrated was impossible. With Benjamin, I asked for anti-nausea meds as soon as I got to the hospital. I was so worried about throwing up during labor, that I had a prescription filled for anti-nausea meds that I could take with me to the birth center. Anyway, Natalie got some spearmint essential oil and put a couple of drops on a paper towel and fanned that in front of my face.  It really helped! I made it through the entire labor and birth without getting sick!  I am quite happy about that.

I asked the midwives what we could do to move things further along.  Natalie said we could change positions or maybe break your water.  At this point, my monkey brain kicked in and I could not make a decision for the life of me.  I asked someone to just tell me what to do.
 Kirsten came in and did what we had discussed.  She stepped in and told me to get out of the tub.  She said to go labor on the toilet and see what happens.  I had been going to the bathroom pretty regularly as I was drinking water between each contraction.  I knew how much those contractions on the toilet sucked.  Kirsten said I gave her an evil look and snapped at her with "easier said than done" when she told me to get out of the tub. Bwhahaha!

 Getting in and out of the tub was not an easy feat as I am pretty short.

 The birth center has an awesome playroom area next to the birth room I was in. It was so wonderful because the kids could come and go as they pleased. The door to my birth room stayed open the entire time.
 This was when I was laboring on the toilet.  Those contractions were pretty awful and I was done with sitting on the toilet after a few minutes.
 Nicole suggested that I start squatting during contractions and she would do hip squeezes during the contractions.  Those hurt like a bitch too.  I should add that one of Chris's co-workers called during one of these squatting contractions and he actually answered the phone about 3 feet away from me! Sorry John if you heard me roaring through a contraction.  Lol.

We did this for about 30 minutes and then I was checked again.  Still no progress.  Nicole advised me that she recommended breaking my water.  She said the OB at the hospital would require internal fetal monitoring and would not allow her to run pit.  She said we need to have this baby here.  I consented to having my water broken.  I was nervous about this because I had my water broken with Genevieve and she got stuck in a bad position. With Benjamin, my water ruptured on its own when I got to 10 cm, but once it broke, I went back to 7 cm and it was another 20 hours before he was born. To say I was nervous about having my water broken is an understatement.

I was laying on the bed at that point and Nicole told me to go to the toilet and we would break my water there. I was having contraction on top of contraction and could not move.  Chris tried to pull me up and I am pretty sure I yelled at him.  I would get myself up, but at that moment, I felt like a cockroach stuck on its back.

I made my way to the toilet and Nicole got this thing that she stuck on her finger to break my water.  I asked if she could feel the baby's head and she said yes, but it was very high.  She tried to break my water and said something like "this sac is tough and doesn't want to break." She had called for someone to get the stick to break the sac and about 5 seconds later, I felt a pop and a gush.  My water had broken.

Immediately things changed and I lost it. I started screaming that they HAVE to help me. I can't do this.  I'm going to die.  GET ME OFF THIS TOILET.  In my head, I was thinking "I have wanted a water birth for like 8 years now, no way in hell am I having this baby on the toilet!!! I wonder if I can just jump into the tub from here." Once I stood up off of the toilet I could not move or straighten my legs.  Nicole was telling me to stand up and move and I literally could not.  I was trying to move and my legs were not listening.

Somehow between Chris and the midwives, they got me over to the stool to get into the tub. Nicole said "ok, that leg is bent, just put it up on the stool." Again, in my head my leg was moving, but in reality, it was not.  Chris grabbed my leg and put it on the stool.  Then somehow I got into the tub.  Still not totally sure how that happened.
 I was still freaking out.  Nicole gave me a homeopathic that she later told me is for patients who are losing it.  Yep, that was me! The homeopathic was distracting, in a good way.  I was focusing on those little tablets that were in my mouth and that somewhat brought me back into reality.
 Kirsten heard how drastically things had changed and brought the kids in. Kirsten told me that when she told the kids the baby was coming, Benjamin asked if he could go outside and play with the baby. Lol!

At that point I was on my hands and knees and was still screaming and grunting. All of a sudden, I felt something change and I got up onto my knees.  I had started calming down and didn't think I was going to die. It was surreal. Almost an out of body experience.

Apparently I grabbed Chris's arm the wrong way and he said it was like I was trying to pull him into the tub via a bicep curl.  Lol. Thank you Burn Bootcamp.  :)

 I asked Nicole to check to see if the head was low enough for me to start pushing.  I didn't want to push if I wasn't fully dilated.  She said it was low and I could push.  Yeah, my body was already pushing on is own.

 About a minute later, I asked Nicole to check again and tell me how low the head was.  She said something like "well you're crowning, so the head is pretty low." The photo above is one of my favorites.  I didn't actually push like I had pushed with Genevieve and Benjamin.  My body was totally doing it on its own. I was not thinking about what was happening. Everything was very instinctual.

 You can see his head coming out in the above photo.  I was reaching around to support myself which is what I instinctively needed to do.  There was also no thinking about what position to push in.  Being on my knees was what I instinctively did.

 As soon as his shoulders came out, I said something like "I think he just slid back in" because I felt a pop.  I realized later that it was his shoulders popping out, not something going back in.  As soon as I saw him, Nicole said "oh, the cord." It was wrapped around his neck, so she quickly untangled it, grabbed him, and handed him to me.  (Still didn't know it was a boy though.)

 When I saw the hair, I said "It has red hair" and immediately assumed it was a boy. I also said that he was so tiny and Nicole told me he looked long. 

 Very shortly after I had him, Nicole told someone to grab the bag and the doppler. The baby looked pale and floppy. (You can see the doppler in two photos above being used to check the heart rate.)   She checked his heart rate and it was over 100, so that was good.  Then they bagged him and he pretty quickly started breathing and looked better.  It was somewhat scary, but Nicole handled it so well that there wasn't really much time to be scared.  By the time I realized what was happening, he was fine.

 I have no idea what Nicole and I were chatting about, but the expressions on our faces crack me up.

 Then I asked Nicole how long between my water breaking and his birth.  She said 13 minutes.  She also informed me that when she broke my water, I went back to 6 cm.  So yeah, I went from 6 cm and a -2 station (which means his head was really high) to baby in arms in 13 minutes.  That's kind of insane. Those 13 minutes were the most intense 13 minutes of my life.  With Genevieve, I got to 10 cm and pushed for 6 hours, unmedicated, and never felt anything like I did with this birth. With Benjamin, I had a failed epidural and again, did not feel anything like I did with this one.

Because of the drama when he first came out, I didn't check right away to see if it was a boy or a girl.  A couple of minutes later, I checked, and sure enough, boy!

 Benjamin was so excited!

I did it.  I freaking did it! I got my second VBAC and first out of hospital, water birth. I have some choice words I would like to say to the OB who told me my pelvis was too small and I could never have a vaginal birth. 

 My older kids got to witness the unmedicated birth of their brother.  That's a pretty cool thing!

 After the birth, I got out of the tub and went to the bed to deliver the placenta.  Nicole held James while he was still attached and I climbed out of the tub. Chris cut the cord once the cord had stopped pulsing, was flat, and turned white. The placenta came out a few minutes later and I felt much better once that was out. Oh, and no tearing!

 I am so thankful for Kirsten, my dear friend, to be there. I know it wasn't an easy thing for her, but she was exactly who I needed. Thank you!

 He was so alert!  This was maybe 10 minutes after we got out of the tub. After his initial crying was finished, he didn't really even cry for the next day or so. He was so chill and just kind of took in his world.

 The kids could not get over how tiny his hands and feet are.

They did his newborn assessment and he was 6 lbs 5 oz, 20 inches long, and a 13 1/2 inch head.  The person doing his assessment checked for lip and tongue tie and he did not have any! I couldn't believe it! Benjamin had severe lip and tongue tie which I feel caused feeding issues.  Genevieve had a lip tie which made nursing uncomfortable, but not as bad as Benjamin. I credit the lack of ties to my knowledge of the MTHFR mutation and taking the proper supplements during pregnancy.

Stay tuned for part 3 where I will talk about my thoughts about my different birth experiences.


  1. I would like to know what you did differently knowing about mthfr..both my kiddos had lip and tongue tie and I have mthfr but would love to know diffbthings if I have a third congrats!!❤️

    1. Avoiding folic acid is the big thing! I took a prenatal with methylfolate instead of folic acid. My naturopath also prescribed Thorne Methylguard plus and an additional B6. I also ate paleo as much as possible. You have to read the ingredient labels on food very carefully because enriched flour contains folic acid.

      This is a good read too:

      (Insert usual disclaimer that I'm not a doctor and am not offering medical advice.)