I have been meaning to get this typed up sooner, but it hasn’t worked out. Jack was not a snuggly baby. Not even remotely. He was always awake and doing crazy stuff like push ups and planks on my chest and daring me to try to put him to bed. Bennett however gives me a look that says “hey, let’s go to the milk bar, and then I’ll sleep on you for a few hours”. How can I say no to such a proposition?
Before we had Jack, we took a 12 week series of classes on the Bradley Method style of childbirth. They were very intensive and we learned a lot. One of the teachers of the course referred to the mindset of a laboring mom as “labor land”, and you are the only one who exists in that space. Your memories might be a bit fuzzy, and details skewed because you are so intently focused on the task at hand.
This post is written from the viewpoint of labor land. It all makes sense to me, but I may get a detail or two a little “squishy”. Forgive me.
Also, it’s a legit birth story, so if the idea of that kind of stuff makes you woozy, here is the Reader’s Digest version: I had a baby and it was great. Then end!
For anyone else, read on…
As you know, my big work project deadline was over at noon on Wednesday, January 27th. Which also happened to be my due date. I told my boss this summer that come hell or high water, I would be there for the wrap up of the 18 month body of work. Every morning the week of the 25th, she would text me and I would respond “still pregnant”. I joked around with everyone at work that I was going to hold out until at least that evening, since I wanted to go celebrate with everyone at lunch. You may remember that I had been gluten-free for almost two months at the advice of my midwife to try to increase my absorption of iron. I sent her this text from lunch on the 27th:
We ended up cleaning out the work room after lunch, and I hauled binders from one end of our building to my boss’s office via a rolling cart. I must have taken 20 plus trips (in heels) down the hall when my boss said “why don’t you stop, and let someone else do that”? To which I replied “I have to get this baby out”! She sent me home around 3 pm, and told me to take the next day off as a free day. I had already planned to be off on Friday, so I told everyone I would see them Monday if Bennett hadn’t made his appearance.
I was pretty sleepy that evening, and crashed a bit on the couch before dinner. After dinner, I was chilling on the couch, and started feeling what was either the start of contractions…or gas. I texted a few friends letting them know things might be getting started, but probably not. The contractions were once every 20-30 minutes, and nothing to write home about. I hadn’t slept in months, and especially the week of the project, so I decided to take a Unisom and go to bed as early as possible. I never ended up falling asleep, due to the fact that the contractions were getting stronger and were making me pause to focus on them. Finally, around 11 pm, I told Troy what was happening and told him pack up the car except for the food we were bringing (the birthing center doesn’t have food), and to try to get some sleep.
The birthing center recommends that you come in when your contractions are 4-1-1; four minutes apart, lasting for one minute, and that has been going on for one hour. I had downloaded a contraction counter on my phone and was tracking everything. After the contractions were coming every two to four minutes, I told Troy to call his parents to come get Jack. And to pack the food. And leave a note for my parents downstairs telling them where we were. I called my midwife and let her know I wasn’t exactly following the pattern, but they had increased dramatically in the last hour, and since we were so far away from the birthing center, I wanted to head in. She said she would meet us there, and to drive safely.
At 1 am, there was no traffic, and we got there in record time. We picked out the room we wanted, and she got busy preparing it (removing the nice bedding, etc.) while I leaned over a couch breathing through the contractions. We got settled in the room and she checked me…and I was only a whooping 3 cm dilated. For crap sake! She took some vital signs (BP, temp, etc.), tucked us in to bed and said she would check on us every hour on the hour, but to call if we needed anything because she was literally right outside the room.
I couldn’t fall asleep, but Troy was not afflicted with such issues. Having contractions while your partner is snoring next to you gives you varying degrees of rage. At one point during a really bad contraction, he kind of woke up, and “petted” my head; only to fall asleep with his hand covering my face. I felt very comforted.
During the Bradley Method birthing classes, we were taught how to labor on a yoga ball, while walking, in the shower, and all other versions of being mobile. With Jack, I ended up lying on my side in the bed chewing on a wash cloth. They didn’t cover that one in our lessons. The people who designed the birthing center really knew their business, because the bed was a brass bed with a headboard with vertical bars. I rode out all these contractions on my side clutching the headboard and breathing out like I was trying to avoid having someone smell my breath.
At 5 am, my midwife said we would do another check at 6 am and then make a plan for the day. At 6 am, I was 6 cm “almost 7” and I was so relieved. I told her if she had said I was only 4 cm, I was going to cry. She asked if I wanted to get in the tub at that point, and I practically shouted “yes” in glee. She started filling up the tub, and went out of the room to start getting more supplies. At this point, the contractions were very intense, and I felt so much pressure like my water was going to break. I stumbled/shuffled in to the bathroom and sat on the toilet so that I wouldn’t make a mess when it finally broke. My midwife came back in to the dark room and asked where I was. Troy told her I headed to the bathroom so I wouldn’t make a mess if my water broke, and I could kind of hear her chuckle. I was leaning on the bar in the bathroom breathing through contractions and couldn’t really hear the conversation out in the room. After the next contraction was over, she asked if I had heard what they were talking about. She had been telling Troy that she didn’t know many other women who could control their bodies like I could. Willing myself to not go in to labor until my project was over, and then deciding to have a baby THAT day. And to be able to get up and sit on the toilet to avoid having my water break on the bed. I was like “damn right I am”. No, I didn’t say that. I probably just asked if the tub was ready.
I was almost gleeful when I got in the tub. I announced that I hadn’t fit in a bathtub for years, and damnit, I was going to enjoy this. As much as one can enjoy contractions and such. Troy put on his swim trunks, but I told him to stay out because I wanted it all to my self and besides “this is going to get gross”.
There was a small clock next to the tub, and I saw at one point it was 7:35 am. I’m not sure if I said it out loud, or just in my head, but I made the determination to have this baby by 9 am; no exceptions.
The tub didn’t have any great ledges to hang over, and I was still blowing out air with every contraction at this point. I would lean over the edge and rest my face on the cool tiles. Troy asked if my hands were tingling, and I said “yes”, and he said “you’re hyperventilating”. Balls. At the same time, my midwife told me I was tensing up too much during contractions and needed to try to let me body relax. The problem with all of that was the entire labor was concentrated in my back (and right hip oddly enough). I hadn’t experienced back labor with Jack, and I have to say, it sucked much more than “normal” labor. My midwife stepped out of the room for something, and during a contraction Troy told me to get on my back and relax. I said I couldn’t and he said “well, it’s going to help you relax”, to which I forcefully and loudly said “I CAN’T”.
It was never mentioned again.
My midwife went to call the midwife assistant at this point. She said it would take her an hour or so to get there, and to the best of my recollection, she never made it. There was an assistant there, but I think she was “borrowed” from another birth that was taking place a few doors down.
Since Troy had warned me that my breathing was putting me at risk of hyperventilating, I somehow decided that low moaning would be better. Right? My moaning ended up sounding like a cow that needed Javier Bardem and his cattle gun from No Country For Old Men.
As transition ramped up, the moaning got louder and I magically found a zen point to relax during contractions. I felt like the baby on the Nirvana Nevermind cover; floating and just enjoying the feeling of weightlessness.
…or so I thought. After being all “zen” and “weightless” for multiple contractions, I heard Troy talking to the midwife saying “I can’t hold her up any longer”. Say whaaaaaaa? Turns out he was outside of the tub and was propping me up with his arms under my armpits during each contraction. So much for my zen-like state.
The cow noises got louder and louder, and my water eventually broke. I started feeling the urge to push, and felt a little “whoops”. I said “sorry, I think I pooped a little”, and my midwife said “nope, just some blood”. The midwife assistant said “and don’t be sorry, be excited. Having to poop means you’re almost done”. At this point, Troy asked if I needed anything. My suggestion was that he go ahead and birth the baby because I was done. Someone said “no, you’ve already done all the hard work, so you get to see it to the end”. Whatever, I would have been happy to switch places at that point.
With one more contraction, I knew it was go time. It’s funny looking back at my labor/delivery with Jack in the hospital. I didn’t realize when the OB got there, but I randomly just saw a dude that I didn’t know covered in a gown, a face shield, and drapes everywhere. And there were people telling me not to push because things weren’t ready. Bennett’s birth was overseen by someone I knew very very well, and was in normal clothes the entire time. I think she took her cardigan off at some point, but it was a much different presentation. And no one told me not to push or tried to stop what my body was not ready to stop. They simply asked if I was ready to push, and the dying cow noise probably was my only verbal response.
They tried to get me on my back in the tub, but the back labor was a real bitch and I simply couldn’t make it happen. Troy jumped in the tub and sat behind me to give me leverage for pushing…and probably to make sure I didn’t try to flip over off my back. I pushed a few times, and at one break between contractions my midwife told me I was a super pusher and was going to do some real damage to my business if I kept pushing like that. She recommended a strong push, then two breaths out like I was blowing out birthday candles. Oh sweet Jesus, it worked so much better and my business and I are very thankful to her for that tip.
I pushed for less than 10 minutes (over an hour with Jack) and could feel that Bennett had crowned. My midwife told me to wait until the next contraction and then it would be over. In my brain, the words “fuck no” were flashing, because I was not content to wait until the next contraction to be done with this process. I gave one final push, and his head was completely out. My midwife reached in to the tub to get him, and another push and he was fully in the water and being whisked up to my chest. My midwife later told me that his hand was right by his face when his head came out, and when she grabbed his head, he grabbed her hand. F-R-E-A-K-Y!
Troy and I held him in the tub and covered him with a little towel to keep him warm. We stayed in there until his cord stopped pulsing, and Troy was able to cut the cord. After that, I moved to the bed, and Bennett and I got our vital signs taken and quick once over to make sure we were stable and healthy. I nursed Bennett and he latched on with a barracuda grip that my nips and I quickly remembered from Jack. Ouch! We were left alone to be a little family, call friends and family, and just rest for a bit.
Bennett finally stopped eating after about two hours (ouch), and we both got a full once over. Bennett was weighed (7 lbs 12 oz), length check (21.5 inches), and head (on the normal side of huge), and given a 9 on the APGAR. I was assessed as well, and then my britney and I were used as a “teaching” opportunity for the midwife’s assistant to observe some stitching. Jack did some damage down there when he was born, so hilariously all my friends were texting after Bennett’s arrival asking about the state of my “business”. I’m pleased to say that this time my nickname will not be “FrankenCooter” (thanks for that Troy), and I sustained just one second degree tear. Almost felt like a vacation compared with last time.
Hilariously, I was sitting on the bed with Bennett, and I noticed what I thought was a “fog” over everything. It seemed weird, but I wasn’t bonding 100% with this kid, and I thought it was because I was tired, or just stunned. Finally, I looked at my midwife, and asked “am I wearing my glasses”? Someone fetched them for me, I put them on, and had the gift of sight to finally see Bennett and melt over his sweet little old man baby face.
I was preparing to get up to take a well-deserved shower, but unfortunately my blood pressure was too low. WAY too low. As in like 71/50 low. Same thing happened after Jack was born, so I laid back in bed while my midwife talked me through options. I was told to drink 48 oz of water in 30 minutes, and then also offered an IV of fluids which I took and was presented with a plate of mac and cheese. After being gluten-free for almost two months, the mac and cheese was a delicious meal. The fluids and food helped, and less than an hour later, my BP was up to 110/70 (something). I then took the second best shower in the history of showers. For the record, the best shower ever was after Jack’s birth.
After my shower, Bennett kept eating. And eating. And eating. We were observed a bit longer, and then given the all clear to go home. The thought of being home on our own couch, eating our food, and introducing Jack to the brother he has been waiting so long to meet was glorious. As we drove away, I asked Troy “which did you prefer: hospital birth, or birthing center birth”? He said “birthing center” without hesitation. We both agreed that having the same dedicated team with us was amazing, and Troy said the midwife’s presence was so calming (for him) and he felt like everything was just so smooth compared with Jack’s birth. Not to mention no one would bust in to our room at 7:30 am to empty the trash, causing Troy to launch out of the bed and yell “GET OUT”.
We’re finding our groove as a family of four. Jack has been amazing, and is so in love with his little brother. Troy has been a rock picking up all of my slack. My midwife was very clear that I pretend to the have the flu for two weeks, and just sit around. I was also instructed to not go up or down stairs, so Troy was in charge of laundry, most meals, and pretty much everything else while Bennett and I became couch slugs and watched an epic number of Top Chef episodes on Hulu.
Nursing has been going as well as can be expected I suppose. Part of me thought that nursing Jack for over two years would mean I’d just jump back in to it without issue. Silly, silly, silly me. The act of breastfeeding is much easier than last time, but ouch still so very painful. Both boys have had a slight tongue tie, with incredibly powerful latches. So powerful that when pediatricians and lactation consultants test their latches with their finger, they yelp and pull them back out. Feels super awesome on a sensitive part of the body. I also got a raging case of mastitis a week in, and that was painful and physically draining as well. Looking forward to hopefully not having that again!
People ask me what is my “secret” to losing the baby weight so quickly.
“Is it a special diet” they ask? Nope
“Is it exercise” they say? Nope
“Is it breastfeeding” the inquire? Kinda
“Kinda”?? Yes, kinda. The secret to losing your baby weight in a flash…is none other than foot sweat.
Having a kid with such a powerful latch meant that for the first two weeks of his life, whenever he was hungry, my body’s instant reaction was to start pouring sweat from my feet. I had to wipe my feet on burp rags before walking on the wood floors for fear that I would slip and fall. The first few nights when I was nursing him in our bed, I would kick violently at the covers and yell at Troy to rip them off of my feet. If I could have put my feet in ice water during every feeding, I would have been in heaven.
We’re so very blessed and thankful to have this boy in our lives and in our family. I’m so very glad that the birth and delivery went exactly as we wanted, and was even better than I could have imagined. Having the choice to be in such a wonderful setting is something I’ll never forget!