I love reading birth stories and knew I needed to write down Orion's birth story. Orion is already a month old and I feel like some of the raw emotion and details I felt in the first few days postpartum have gotten foggier in my memory.
I was due May 4th and the end of pregnancy was rough for me. After being overjoyed at getting pregnant our first month trying, experiencing no morning sickness, watching my bump grow, and seeing my sweet baby on ultrasound, 1st and 2nd trimester were truly a joy for me. My biggest complaint my entire pregnancy was the insomnia. I haven't slept well since early September but I think my body has adjusted to less sleep and it has prepared me well for nursing a newborn 24/7 which doesn't involve a lot of sleep. I wrote about my lack of sleep back on March 11 and I seemed to have a pretty good attitude about it then.
I think most people hit a point in the third trimester where they are just "done" being pregnant. You're huge, you're uncomfortable, the newness and fun of pregnancy have worn off, and you're simply ready to meet your baby. With Brennan I didn't get this way until 38 weeks and while I was pretty miserable it was only for two weeks. With this pregnancy I hit the wall much sooner and by 33 weeks I was feeling very huge and uncomfortable and ready to be done. My March 15th blog post talked about those feelings and everyone around me those last few weeks knew I was ready to be done. 37-42 weeks is full term and I kept hoping the baby would arrive closer to 37 or 38 weeks. Week 33 was really rough but I tried to take some time to myself and scheduled a prenatal massage and pedicure. My attitude improved some days but generally I was over being pregnant. 37 and 38 weeks were especially hard. I wanted him to arrive so badly and had almost convinced myself he would arrive a little early. Once I made it to 39 weeks I decided to be at peace with the fact that he wasn't coming early and that he would come when he was ready. I was much less stressed the last week of my pregnancy.
On the morning of May 4th I went to my 40 week midwife appointment. Since I had declined to be checked I didn't know if I had progressed but we did talk about options moving forward. I was on the fence about having my membranes stripped. I wanted to give the baby time to arrive on his or her own but I wanted to avoid medical induction at all cost. The midwives would let me go to 42 weeks with additional monitoring before being induced. I decided to give the baby a few more days to arrive on his or her own and I made a appointment for Tuesday morning (this was Friday) to have my membranes stripped. At 41 weeks (5/11) I would have to a non-stress test and bio physical profile in addition to another midwife appointment.
I had been doing various home induction techniques such as evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf tea, walking, stretches, a local old wives tale about labor inducing spumoni, you get the idea. Walking is good either way so I kept walking. Since it was Friday night I suggested a family friendly hike in the foothills and dinner out with the kids. The hike ended up being a lot more exciting than I anticipated. Near the beginning of our hike I almost got bit by a rattle snake, crazy huh? Just what a 40 week pregnant lady needed. It happened so fast I didn't have too much time to be scared but hubby saw it much better and I think it freaked him out more than me. I didn't see the snake only heard the rattle and moved away quickly. Hubby said the snake was coiled up and ready to strike. Good thing I moved away. I had never seen a rattlesnake in the wild and hope to never again. We continued on our hike though the 3 mile loop proved to be a little long for me and we did less than 2 miles.
We ended our night with dinner at Red Robin. During dinner I started having some contractions. They were only about 30 seconds long and were about 15 minutes apart. I had been having braxton hicks for weeks so I didn't think much of them when they started. Of course I hoped this was real labor but the contractions could have just as easily stopped. We walked around the outdoor mall by Red Robin and then headed home. Contractions kept coming but I wasn't convinced this was it.
Once we got home I made sure the older kids were in bed and tried to settle down to sleep. My midwife had said if it was the real thing the contractions would not stop when you tried to sleep. Since it was 9:30 or 10pm at night I decided I'd try to sleep and see what happened. Around 10pm I went to the bathroom and noticed some bloody show. Once I saw that I knew this was the real thing. Things were moving slowly but I was in early labor. I sent a text message to my friend who was taking the older kids just warning her that we may be calling in the middle of the night.
Early labor was slow. Contractions gradually increased in length and intensity but at a snail's pace. The bloody show continued and I spent a lot of time on the toilet while laboring at home. The position is supposed to be good for bringing the baby down so I just listened to what my body needed. After a few hours and once the bloody show continued I took out my Hypnobabies materials so we could review what we were supposed to do in early labor. We listened to the birthing day affirmations track and some of my favorite tracks, the deepening track, and easy, comfortable childbirth. Once we were sure this was it hubby and I did a fear clearing session and I took a shower so I would be ready when we wanted to go to the hospital. My plan was to labor at home as long as possible and I ended up spending 9 hours of early labor at home. Hypnobabies does not promise a pain free birth but a faster, easier, and more comfortable birthing experience using self hypnosis, relaxation techniques, and birthing scripts/prompts read by your birth partner. Hubby and I had invested a lot of time into learning and practicing the Hypnobabies techniques so I felt prepared for my birthing time. I'll admit even the early labor contractions were more painful than I remembered or anticipated. The videos of other Hypnobabies births showed moms remaining totally calm and relaxed even during transition, which is not what I experienced. While at home I was able to relax through about 90% of my contractions using my Hypnobabies techniques. The ones I did not relax through were painful and tensing up made it worse. I would take some time to re-focus and get into deeper hypnosis before the next contraction would come. Hubby also helped keep me relax by using some of the cues we had practiced. I thought I would want to walk or spend a lot of time on the birth ball but I spent a lot of time sitting upright in bed. I tried different positions but that was most comfortable to me so I went with it.
Around 2am I called the midwife to check in. The midwives had assured me they wouldn't force me to go to the hospital too soon but did ask once I was sure I was in labor to call and check in. Contractions were about 5 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds at this point. The midwife just said call back once they were 60 seconds or longer for an hour or two or my water broke or if I was ready to come in. I remained really calm while on the phone with her and she didn't sound 100% convinced this was it for me, though I was. Nate called our friends to come pick up the kids after we talked to the midwife. While we weren't ready to leave for the hospital I wanted to make sure they were taken care of in case things started moving more quickly.
A little before 3am the kids were picked up and my contractions started lasting over a minute each. Around 4am after about an hour of contractions over a minute long and 5 minutes apart I decided I was ready to go to the hospital. Hubby tried to remind me I wanted to labor at home as long as possible and didn't think we needed to go yet. I had made up my mind and was ready to go to the hospital. The contractions were getting much harder for me to relax and stay in hypnosis through. In addition to my hypnosis I was breathing and vocalizing through my contractions. If things were already this intense I did not want to do the drive to the hospital and complete the check in process while in transition. Nate called the midwife to let her know we were headed to the hospital. She called back while hubby was downstairs so I answered and immediately got a contraction. I told her to hold on and tried to relax and breath through it. I told her we were headed to the hospital and she said she'd meet us there.
Our stuff was packed but by the time we gathered everything, loaded the car, and drove to the hospital, another hour had passed and it was 5am when we arrived at the hospital. Since it was after hours we had to enter through the emergency room. They offered me wheelchair up to the third floor but I declined and just said I would need to stop and focus during contractions. Since my contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart I had one in the car and then we quickly went in knowing it would likely be 5 more minutes before another one hit. I continued to listen to my Easy First Stages Hypnobabies track on my ipod and tune everyone else out. Hubby was good at answering questions for me and I just pulled out one headphone if I needed to listen to anyone.
Getting checked into labor and delivery is a slow, annoying process. In the midst of contractions they have a million questions to ask you. My midwife was there once we got there and came into the room to help us get settled. Part of the reason we choose a midwife is because they will spend a lot more time with you in labor and it is a more personal experience. The midwives listen to your questions and spend time answering them in a caring, unrushed atmosphere. The nurse started in with her questions and I directed most to Nate. I did not want to be continuously monitored but was willing to accept the hospital policy of 20 minutes on the monitor when you check in and then intermittent monitoring via doppler. As soon as I was on the monitor Orion had a heart deceleration which meant the nurse wanted to keep monitoring me. Hospital policy is to get a 20 minute good strip before removing the mom off the monitor. Every time we'd get close to 20 minutes he'd have a tiny deceleration which kept me on the monitor. When the nurse left the room the midwife flat out told me she was not worried and his decels were small and not of concern. She thought I was fine to get off the monitor but she said the nurses and hospital policy were pretty strict about having 20 minutes of monitoring without incident. At that point I had been there almost and hour and half and just asked to be put on the wireless monitor so I could move around. I had also declined to have an IV put in but consented to hospital policy of a buff cap which is a catheter put into a vein so IV or medication can be started if needed but it is closed off when not in use. Everything at the hospital moves at super slow speed. Filling out paperwork and answering questions took forever. The nurse coming back with the wireless monitor took forever. Once she brought it to me I asked to get into the tub. She said it takes a long time to fill up so she started the water so I could get into the tub sooner rather than later. I continued to listen to my Hypnobabies on my ipod and relax and put myself into deeper hypnosis with each contraction. Nate was fading fast at this point since neither one of us had slept since Thursday night. The midwife suggested he go get a coffee and some breakfast so he could stay awake. I asked her if she would stay with me while he went to the cafeteria so she did. Once he got back the tub was full so I got in. I immediately felt a sense of relief and was able to relax so much better than I had before I got in the tub. The hardest part was remembering to keep my buff cap for the IV out of the water because it was a big, deep tub.
Nate went down to get breakfast when the cafeteria opened around 6:30am and I was probably in the tub around 6:45 or 6:50am. I probably only had 4 contractions in the tub when my water broke and all hell broke loose. I felt a pop and immediately the baby descended and the length and intensity of my contractions skyrocketed. The baby descended so much so quickly I felt like I had to push. I started screaming and wanted Nate to get the midwife or the nurse because no one was in there but Nate or I. Nate was very calm and told me he'd get someone but he didn't seem to have the urgency I was feeling. I continued to scream and told him hitting the call button was not enough that he needed to go out to the nurses station and get someone in there now! My room was the first on the floor and Nate said they could all here me screaming but didn't seem concerned. I was concerned with my lack of control and inability to use my Hypnobabies techniques to relax now that I had hit transition. I think my experience is fairly common with natural childbirth which is why how I was acting didn't concern the nurse or midwife. The midwife said I had to get out of the tub to check me. I had lost all sense of modesty at this point and the midwife and the nurse literally pulled me out of the tub and wrapped blankets around me. My contractions were lasting a minute and half to two minutes with almost no break between them. They were very intense and I could not relax. The midwife checked me and said I was 8cm and to not push yet. She said the pushy feelings were likely from my water breaking and the baby descending.
From the time my water broke until the baby was born was very quick. I think this also accounted for some of the intensity. I've heard that the quicker the birth the more intense and what I experienced was quite intense. Though looking back I still think I'd rather have intense and quick rather than less intense and long and drawn out. I never asked for pain medicine but I did scream, "I can't do this" a couple times which is also very normal during transition. From the time my water broke and I was at 8cm until I was 10cm and ready to push was a little over 20 minutes. I then pushed for a little over 20 minutes before Orion was in my arms. Crazy, how fast the last part of labor can be, especially considering how long the first part of labor was.
One thing we talked about a lot in our Hypnobabies course was mother directed pushing, listening to your body, and doing what feels right. No coaching or counting from the nurses, no laying on your back (a position that works against gravity). We had talked about and practiced various pushing positions so I had some ideas about what I may want to try. What I ended up using most was a kneeling position draped over the bed. It allowed me to be supported but still upright which allowed gravity to help bring the baby down. Once I got to the pushing phase my contractions were still intense but the end was in sight and I had more of a break between contractions, maybe 4 or 5 minutes. For the first few contractions I kind of let my body do it's own work without forcefully pushing. I wasn't making great progress and could feel the baby's head get ready to crown and then go back up. I tried side lying for one contraction but didn't like that so I went back to my original position. I asked the midwife for some guidance at this point and she said to really bear down and push like you're having a bowel movement. As the baby's head crowns there is a lot of burning and stretching sensations and pushing through them is a weird feeling but I asked the midwife at this point to guide me a little more and she gently encouraged me to continue pushing. Within two contractions of pushing more forcefully Orion was born. It was an immediate sense of relief. The pain and pressure was gone and my sweet baby was here. The midwife placed him on my chest and I saw he was a boy! Waiting until the birth to find out was such a great experience and I am glad we stuck with it our entire pregnancy.
His cord was around his neck when he was born which is somewhat common and accounted for the decelerations he was having earlier. The midwife was good about allowing his cord to stop pulsing before clamping and cutting it. Nate cut his cord and I snuggled him skin to skin. He started crying as soon as he came out which is a good sign but he did take some time to pink up. His nurse said she was a little concerned about his color a couple times and said if it didn't improve she would have to take him to the warmer. It did improve and he was fine in that regard. His breathing was quite rapid at first and they did want to take him to the warmer but his nurse kept saying it was borderline and kept giving us more time since immediate skin to skin and delaying newborn procedures until we had a chance to breastfeed was important to us. Eventually his breathing regulated and he wasn't taken off my chest until I was ready. That bonding time was so precious and I am so thankful I was able to experience it without interruption.
I had originally requested not to be given routine pitocin for the delivery of the placenta and asked that the placenta be allowed to be delivered naturally. I did have some bleeding and after watching and waiting for a bit the midwife said she wanted to give me a little bit of pitocin to help my uterus contract and to help stop the bleeding. I ended up having a bag of pitocin but didn't lose enough blood for any longer term concerns. I had one small first degree tear that needed a few stitches. The midwife said Orion came out with his hand up by his face and if his hand wasn't there I likely wouldn't have needed stitches at all. The tear and stitches gave me almost no discomfort and I healed so much better than with Brennan when I was given an episiotomy.
Orion was allowed to stay on my chest for two full hours which was wonderful. He wasn't ready to breastfeed right away but within an hour he was at the breast and nursed great on both sides. I am so thankful to be given that time because with Brennan he ended up being taken to the nursery and by the time I tried to nurse he wasn't interested. There was a night and day difference between Orion's first and second nursing session. By the second session he was really sleepy and not that interested in nursing which just further proves to me the importance of allowing mom and baby to try to nurse within the first two hours after birth. Finally after two hours on my chest it was time to start moving towards the postpartum wing of the hospital but Orion did need to be weighed and measured and get a full examination. We all guessed he weighed about 7.5 pounds because he didn't look that big but he was 7 pounds 15oz and 20 1/4 inches. We did consent to vitamin K after he had a chance to breastfeed so he was given that at this time. We declined Hep B, antibiotic eye ointment, and circumcision as we try to do things as naturally as possible and after a lot of research found all three to be unnecessary for our baby. I went back and forth about the vitamin K injection but it was the one thing all providers, even ones who I felt respected our parenting and health care philosophy, kept asking us to consider. The odds of a complication from vitamin K deficiency in newborns is very rare but if complications arise they are devastating so we consented.
Orion was born the morning of the super moon and it was a busy morning for deliveries. His nurse got called away to other births two times so we spent over 3 hours in the delivery room after he was born just finishing things up. His labor went so quick we didn't get through much paperwork so we were signing and filling that out afterwards too (mostly Nate).
There are many amazing things about natural childbirth, an alert baby ready to nurse, a baby not so full of IV fluids they don't lose as much weight, a mom who feels almost back to normal within hours. Within a few hours of Orion being born I was walking around the room and had showered myself and changed into my own clothes. I was hungry and tired but I hadn't ate much since dinner (at this point it was lunch the next day) and hadn't slept in 36 hours. Above all though we were thankful that both Orion and I were healthy and that we were able to have the birth experience we wanted in the hospital thanks to the midwives and nurses being very caring and respectful of our wishes.
Orion's birth story is unique to him and unique to him and I am thankful I have a place to record it. With both of my pregnancies I went into labor on my due date and both of my son's were born the next morning. With Brennan I went into labor at 9pm on my due date and he was born at 9:45am the next morning. With Orion I went into labor at 8pm on my due date and he was born at 7:53am the next morning. Despite being 12 years apart they followed the same pattern, how crazy!
Our lives have been so enriched by the new addition to our family. I can't wait to share more pictures and stories of my sweet, baby boy as he grows and changes.