Weight: 8 lbs. 14 oz.
Height: 20 inches
Labor: ~19 hours
I will try to leave out all graphic details, but remember this is a birth story so if the subject generally leaves you squeamish, you may want to skip this post.
For several nights I had been having contractions so intense they kept me up for half the night. Then the next morning they would subside and I would go about my day. Then Friday night there were more physical signs of labor beginning so we assumed this was it. Well it wasn’t and again on Saturday the contractions subsided. Finally Sunday morning things picked up and by 1 p.m. I was having regular contractions.
Grandpa came to take our two year old and Mr. S and I prepared for the birth. Because contractions started so early in the day this time around (last time it was 8 p.m.) we figured that we may have a baby before the clock struck 12. After all, second births are always easier and quicker, so they say.
I continued to labor through the evening and we called our midwife to let her know what was happening. She wondered if she should come, but I knew it wasn’t time yet. I spent most of my time walking around or in bed. We tried to lay down at around 9 or 10 that night, but my contractions just picked up. I was half asleep and had a contraction so intense it left me feeling like I was in transition afterwards, shaky, scared, nauseous, exhausted. So my husband called the midwife at around midnight and her and her assistants were on their way.
I thought I was in transition and then things started slowing down. I started regretting having them come, but was also relieved when they arrived. By around 2 a.m. I was starting to get frustrated. The contractions had slowed down and I wasn’t sure what was going on. It was almost as if transition had come and gone and I still wasn’t feeling the urge to push. Then it felt as though transition would hit once again and once again contractions would slow down. After talking with our midwife we agreed to wait a bit longer and then she would check to see where I was at. I was scared that I would be disappointed to hear ‘6 cm.’ or even less. So we waited it out for another hour or two and by that time I wasn’t feeling the urge to full on push, but had an urge to lightly push back towards the end of the contraction.
I told my midwife and she said that this was a common thing that not very many people talk about. So she checked me and I was nearly at 10. I almost cried with relief as it was about 4-5 in the morning and I was exhausted and praying that this baby would come soon. By this point our birthing pool was inflated and filled and we decided that I would get in and see if that relieved some of the pain and would help me rest up in case this was going to be a while.
Contractions were still at least 3-4 minutes apart and I was able to rest a little between them. I thought this was strange at the time because with our first baby they were right on top of each other and I was struggling just to breathe between them. The only difference at this point was that my water hadn’t broken yet. As soon as my water broke with our first contractions increased in intensity and frequency right away and within a few hours he was born. This was not the case this time around.
The pool did help me relax and rest but it also slowed down the contractions even more. I was pushing a little, but nothing was happening. After a little over an hour we decided I would get out. At that point I went to the bathroom and found that sitting on the toilet made the contractions much more intense. I had another feeling of transition and tried to make it to the bed. I then went to use the bathroom again and as soon as I sat down I called for my midwife because I feared this baby was going to fall right into the toilet.
I finally felt as though the baby was coming down and my midwife said ‘yep, I can see the bag of water hanging down.’ At that point I thought I was going to give birth right there. My midwife asked if I wanted to try to make it to the pool and instinctively I said yes. I really wanted to try to have a water birth. My husband and our midwives had to almost carry me there because the baby was so low my legs would give out. I remember asking ‘are you sure this won’t slow it down again?’ and my midwife was fairly certain that it wouldn’t because she assumed the baby’s head was right behind the bag of water.
I got in and contractions slowed down a little bit, but were also very, very short. I could barely get a push in before a contraction would end. I found that strange as well since with our first it seemed like they would last forever and be right on top of each other. Next came something none of us ever expected. After one strong push my midwife said "I need you to get out of the tub so I can check you."
I didn’t understand, but then looked down and realized what had happened. While the water still hadn’t broke and the baby still hadn’t descended that far into the birth canal, it looked as though someone had just poured a cup of blood into the pool. At this point everyone helped me get to the bed in our bedroom. I lied down on my back, she checked me, and said that she did not know where the blood was coming from.
I could see a bit of panic on her face. Most of the rest of this is a blur, but I will try to be as accurate as possible with the rest of the details. I am not entirely sure of the order of these events, but I remember each event clearly. The next thing she said is "I need you to push this baby out as fast as possible." I remember asking if I should push between contractions and she said yes, I basically need to get this baby out right now.
During the pushing I looked down at one point while she was using the doppler to find the baby’s heart beat. She couldn’t find it. Her face looked totally panicked as she jumped the doppler all over my baby trying to find a heartbeat. After a minute or two (maybe?) she finally found it. I remember saying "It’s going to be ok." I don’t know for sure because I couldn’t see anything as I was on my back, but I think I continued to lose blood from the time I left the pool. In the middle of all of this somewhere our midwife told an assistant "Call 911, tell them to have an ambulance on standby." That was the moment that I thought we were going to lose our baby.
Throughout all of this I was still pushing and my midwife kept telling me "You need to push this baby out now." This is significant because she is a very hands off, calm, nurturing midwife. Because of this I knew the urgency of the situation. As I continued to lose blood (I think) and was pushing my husband was holding my hand. My husband and midwife kept asking if I was ok, if I was with them, etc. They kept checking my blood pressure as it was dropping. I never blacked out, but was having a hard time breathing, was seeing stars and felt a bit out of it.
I looked over at my husband’s face and saw a look I had never seen before. Maybe it was fear or panic, but it looked like a general realization that we weren’t in control and didn’t know how this was going to end. He was praying over me and the baby. At one point he looked at me and said something along the lines of ‘you have to push the baby out now.’ Finally after what I thought was an hour, but later found out was only 20 minutes the baby started crowning.
Once the head was born my midwife told me to stop pushing. She, very skillfully, was allowing the slow squeezing of his body to spit out the blood that he had been swallowing. Finally our baby was born. That moment of relief that occurs when the baby finally exits was stricken with panic as there was no cry. The baby was on the bed to the right of me as my midwife checked him. My husband told me that he was a bit limp when he first came out.
After what seemed like days I heard him cough and cry. I began to cry immediately as they put him on my belly. I remember saying ‘baby, baby’ as I sobbed so thankful for a live baby. I continued to lose a lot of blood. By this point the ambulance and a fire truck had arrived in our driveway. An assistant was keeping them outside of the home until the point that we may or may not need them. I was so thankful for this. I was terrified that they were going to bust down our door and haul me away to the hospital.
I was given several herbal tinctures to encourage the uterus to clamp down and stop the bleeding. They kept checking my blood pressure and we were encouraged as it began to climb back up. Eventually the placenta was born and they propped me up on pillows so that I could more easily nurse our baby boy.
At this point I was considered stabilized and the midwife was able to call off the emergency crew outside. I was so thankful. Finally the scare was over. I was holding our precious baby boy in my arms, my husband looked exhausted but relieved and I felt that wonderful high you get after having a baby. It was because of that high that I had almost completely forgotten about the preceding events.
It’s amazing what our body’s are designed to do and how all of the hormones function to assist in forgetting those events. It took me a while to fully realize what had happened. I thought that the concern was for the baby, but later found that it was for me. I didn’t realize how much blood I was losing and so thought that the baby was in trouble. Of course if I had passed out I wouldn’t have been able to push the baby out, so the baby was in trouble if I was.
Throughout this whole process I somehow knew it would be ok. I was scared for a moment, but then was strengthened through the prayers of my husband and my own. God’s sovereignty is so clear through all of this now that I can step back and look. The baby or I could have perished, but God’s mercy and grace were upon us. I am so thankful to know that whatever the outcome of any situation, God is sovereign and merciful.
We now have a four week old baby boy who is growing like a weed, but not necessarily sleeping like a baby sometimes ;). I have read that the biggest struggle with being a new mom is feeling sorry for yourself. I find that to be so true. It can be hard and exhausting, but as soon as I start feeling sorry for myself I am reminded that this little boy is a miracle that we almost lost.
As far as my health… I still have some concerns. It took me a while to get back on my feet. I was taking floradix and eating lots of iron rich foods and still am. I still have some questions about my health, but between now and four weeks ago there is a huge difference. I am so thankful for the help and support we had from our midwives, family, friends and my long suffering husband. He has been a steady support through my slow recovery, my weepy hours (5-8 p.m. for the first two weeks), nursing struggles and many late night/early morning feedings. I could never deserve the love that I have found in him.
The biggest blessing has been seeing God’s grace in all of this. "Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee."