*Disclaimer, this birth story involves a lot of foul language and sex….sex is where babies come from, so if you have the wherewithal to read a birth story you are probably fine reading about sex…and if you’ve read here before you are probably used to the language…I just wanted to warn you.
It all started as a bit of a joke, I had put an appointment in my outlook calendar for Friday (Jan 24th) that said “If I haven’t had the baby yet, have the baby today”. Andy and I had talked about how we’d put some “effort” into it. I went to work in the morning, set my auto-reply e-mail up (just in case) and sat down with a co-worker to talk through one of my latest projects so she could take over (again just in case). There were no signs as I headed to my weekly midwife appointment and I told everyone in the office ‘well…I might see you monday…not sure’.
Karen and I joked about her having plans to go out for mojitos with a friend that evening. We discussed if she didn’t have a mojito then I wouldn’t go into labor, but if she did then I most certainly would (her friend ended up canceling on her so turns out it didn’t matter either way). She asked if I wanted to be checked and for her to strip my membranes if she could.
Being only 39 weeks 4 days I wasn’t in a super rush, but I was a bit curious if there were any signs of something pending. When she checked me at 40 weeks 4 days with Jack my cervix was still high and pointed to the back…so I was mostly just curious where things stood up in there. After about 2 seconds I felt a wave of defeat wash over me as I could tell she wasn’t feeling favorable conditions in there.
She said she would “have a chat with my cervix” for a bit and see if it responded. The conclusion after “the chat” was that my cervix is a stubborn bitch and Karen looked at me and said ‘you’re probably only 25% effaced and only 1-2cm, but it is very firm….it could be another week’. I tried to reset my brain that I wouldn’t be having a baby that weekend as I had hoped and gave it the ole ‘I can be pregnant for another week, I feel good’. It honestly was just a matter of wanting to meet my little man more than anything. I didn’t have much to complain about, my hip pain had mostly subsided, I was pretty waddly and slow, but I was getting around okay and had space to breathe and all that.
I texted my friends that it was looking like a ‘no go’ anytime soon and headed to get myself an ice cream cone to pout. Now ice cream is a funny thing. It really does have the power to change your whole perspective on life. Half way through my cone my attitude changed from “oh well, I guess sometime next week” to “let’s give it a go anyway!”. And I pointed my car towards home, ready to jump Andy’s bones (note: I am going to have to change this story up in Drew’s journal…I will just tell him we played Chess…games of strategy make women go into labor).
Andy and I “played chess” and then discussed what we would do with our weekend now that we weren’t having a baby. He suggested we go out to dinner that night and so we got up to shower before going to get Jack from daycare. I was feeling super tired, so after my shower I just laid in bed for a bit relaxing. He came back down and said he could go get Jack if I wanted to stay there and when they got back we’d decide where to go to dinner.
After he left the house I started thinking staying in sounded really good. Some mild crampy contractions had started (this would have been around 4-4:30pm), but I wasn’t sure if they would keep up. I decided we should order pizza and just stick around, I told him we could go to dinner tomorrow night instead. I timed a few contractions just to see what was happening they were sporadic and about 20-35 seconds long and 3-7 minutes apart. I remembered that was how things started with Jack, so I figured it could be a false start or it could be another 3 days? It was anyone’s guess. I only timed for a little while and then let it go.
I topped off the air in my fitness ball and sat on it in the living room while we ate pizza and watched some stand-up.
I started timing again around 6:30 and the contractions were still only 30-40 seconds long, but they were getting closer, still sporadic though. I was staying in contact with Karen the whole time, letting her know where the contractions were at, how things felt, etc. My contractions were definitely developing more of an edge – much stronger than the early ones with Jack. I should have known it was the real deal, but I was still deciding if I was in labor or just warming up for later in the week. Karen told me to go for a walk, but it was dark, so instead I got on the elliptical machine while we continued to watch TV. I tried to keep up a good pace, but would slow down a bit through contractions. After about 30 minutes of that I moved back to the ball.
By 9pm they hadn’t gotten much longer and although they felt stronger, they weren’t regulating either. They would be anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes apart. We decided we’d “play chess” again, to stick to that whole “3 times in 24 hours” thing that apparently has been shown to get labor going. I headed downstairs and I thought Andy would put Jack to bed, but he came down a few minutes later and said “He’s watching batman, we have 23 minutes!”….nothing like a short timeline!.
Now as you might imagine, moving quickly while laboring is not something that happens. As I went to get undressed (TMI warning) I saw “the thing that shall not be named” in my underwear (mucus plug). I recoiled in disgust with Andy standing right there in plain view of it. ‘Holy shit! What is that?’ I asked….as if he would know ‘I think that must be
my mucus plug the thing that shall not be named’. I didn’t lose “the thing that shall not be named” with Jack, so this was my first experience with it….and man! there is nothing like it to really get you into the mood. Andy was like “this is really helping!”. “I’m sorry! I didn’t know it was in there!”. We laughed and were grossed out and then got down to “chess playing”.
This is when a lock on your bedroom door would really come in handy. We heard Jack coming down the stairs at one point and Andy had to leave the “chess game” to go holler at him that he would be right back and to just keep playing upstairs. Needless to say, despite all the odds against us, Andy showed his true grit and gave that “chess game” his all.
He went back up to hang out with Jack and I laid in bed to see what was happening. I decided to text my Mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and Emily and said “I think I am in labor, so stand by, will let you know if contractions keep up”.
I touched base with Karen and we laughed about how disgusting “the thing which shall not be named” is. She said what she said with Jack “try to get some sleep” but she also said to lay the plastic out under the pool and get the plastic under the sheets on the bed. I waddled around the basement getting everything ready. Andy heard me rustling with the plastic and called down to see what I was doing.
“Karen said to get the plastic under the pool and on the bed, just in case”
“Karen said to put the plastic down”
Jack and Andy together “What?”
“UGH! Never mind! (middle of a contraction)”
Good for births or murdering folks
I hooked the hose up to the sink and made sure the valve was tight. Then crawled in bed to see about this sleep business. I was having to lay on my side and lift one leg up through the contractions….there was going to be no sleep tonight.
At 11:30 pm my contractions were 50-55 seconds long and about 3 minutes apart, they were pretty twingey. Andy brought Jack in to lay down (so much for putting him to bed in his room…he’s such a sucker!) and I was not able to lay still. Jack was being so sweet, rubbing my arm and snuggling up next to me, but I knew he wasn’t going to sleep because there was no way I was going to stop moving and audibly breathing.
Andy who was probably more aware than me that stuff was progressing quickly asked:
“so when does Karen come?”
“well they aren’t all a full minute long yet”
“how long are they?”
“oh yeah, not a full minute then” which made me laugh. He brought down my ball and I knelt on the floor. I texted Karen that they were getting close and strong. She asked if I wanted her to come. I was so determined not to get everyone to come if this was a false alarm (you’d think by then I would have known it wasn’t a false alarm). I figured if I talked to her on the phone that she would be able to tell where I was. So I called (approx 11:45p).
“So how are you doing?” she asked
“I think we are having a baby this weekend”
“Andy must have magic sperm”
Which cracked us both up. She said she’d be here in about an hour (unless I needed her faster, but an hour sounded fine) and if I wasn’t very far along she’d just stay the night. As soon as I knew she was coming it was like it suddenly dawned on me that it was really happening. I told Andy to call his mom and I called Emily. We both got voicemail.
I left an awesome message on Emily’s, something to the effect of “Hi, so I think I am having a baby, Karen will be here in an hour (contraction getting big) ooooo crap hang on…..contraction….so um yea……um…come over….if you want…..rrrrrr…..bye” (note: her phone died and she didn’t come, but that’s a story for another day)
When I realized that Andy hadn’t gotten a hold of his mom and she hadn’t returned the text from earlier I started to panic. I called my sister-in-law (who thankfully had moved in with my MIL just the week before)….but no answer…..Andy and I both joked about how with Jack there were like 15 people in our house and now we can’t get a hold of two to come over. We waited a bit and then it dawned on me, maybe my SIL’s boyfriend had his phone nearby.
Thank god for Raffi. He answered all groggy and sweet “what’s up nat?”.
“Hey Raffi, I am having the baby, can you have Em go get Cathi and have her come?”.
“Oh sure (turning away) go get your mom, she’s having the baby (turning back) here talk to Em”
In brain: fuck no I don’t want to talk to Em just get Cathi….
me: “hey, can you get your mom? we’re having the baby”
“yeah okay….are you okay?”
me: “yeah I gotta go, have her call Andy”
I continued to labor on the ball on the floor. I turned some music on and Jack sat on the side of the bed talking to me and petting my head. He was pretty awesome and cute, but it was also really late and so I asked Andy to see if he could get him to go to sleep upstairs.
Must wear superman shirt to bed – duh mom
It took about 10 minutes of rocking and Jack was passed out in his room and I felt some relief that I wouldn’t even have to worry if he was scared or worried or what have you. And it didn’t matter if anyone besides Karen made it to the house to take care of him. Now I could get to work.
Karen walked in the door at about 12:45 and we talked as she watched me labor. I was rotating between sitting on the ball and kneeling with my arms draped over it. She asked which was more intense: definitely sitting.
She asked if I was ready to be checked? “Yeah, better to know now if I am just crazy or something is happening tonight”. Her face was so surprised “Wow, this isn’t even the same cervix!” she said – “Okay you’re a 4, but 80% effaced and he is right there”. She had another “chat with my cervix” for a minute. “You’re in active labor, I’ll let Melissa know”.
“Awesome” – I responded, then looking at the clock “but let’s not do what we did last time, let’s wrap this up in the next 3 hours or so”.
“Sounds good” – she laughed. My mother-in-law arrived just shortly after Karen and she sat on the bed next to me and we chatted. I told her about this blog I was reading by a British midwife earlier that day (stopping in the conversation to breathe through the contractions) and how amazing it was that every woman’s birth story is so different. She told me about Andy and Emily’s births which was wonderful and calming.
Karen and Andy went out to the living room to get stuff set up. I was walking back and forth between the bedroom and the living room, through the bathroom and sort of registering what was going on out there. It is amazing how much stuff fits into the birth kit box. It looked like troops were mobilizing in my living room.
I can say this now, because I am a veteran birther (ha!) laboring on the toilet has to be the closest thing to hell on earth. At one point I was considering just going pee in the shower because as soon as I would sit down a contraction would start and I would be swearing and trying to get back up.
Non-toilet contractions were getting pretty real as well. The contractions were intense and I was not managing them with breathing alone. I would moan/groan and then every so often swear my head off. Andy said he would be talking to Karen in the other room and hear me start groaning and then “shiiiitttttttt” or “uhhhh this sucks!!!”.
Laying over the ball wasn’t comfortable, nor was sitting on the ball. Soon the only not outrageously painful position was to stand holding onto the wall. Which was really tiring….as you might imagine. I asked Karen if we could fill the pool. And I recall looking at her with exhaustion and saying “I wish they’d spread out a bit more, this is really tiring!”.
“I know sweetie, you’re doing great”
I could feel him on my ischial spine (those evil fucking pointy parts) and started circling my hips through contractions to get him off of them. My waters hadn’t broken (unlike with Jack), which I was convinced would mean that there would be a softer buffer between Drew and those pointy parts….I was wrong. But circling my hips got him past them….or at least off them which was a relief.
As I walked between the bedroom and the living room, I was watching the pool fill. “It’s almost time to put you in” Karen said “now because we are still filling it, you are going to have to keep him under the water, so you probably can’t do hands and knees until it gets more full.” I asked her what else I needed to know (honestly I was surprised how coherent I was this labor….could have been the 30-some fewer hours for this one….ya think?). She would want me out before we delivered the placenta, just to monitor the amount of blood, etc.
Even as she was talking about the pool I remember looking at it and thinking ‘I don’t think I am going to make it’. Which might have been helpful to tell her.
Aside: she pretty much knew after she checked me that I was cookin’ along quick. She told me later that while she first told Melissa to take her time getting there, she called her back about 20 minutes later and said ‘yeah, nevermind, get here as soon as you can’.
So I was standing in the doorway of the bathroom looking at the pool, thinking I wouldn’t make it in there (probably my transition) and Karen was doing her last check of the pool before putting me in. “Shit!” she said “Andy I think we have a leak”. I walked over to see a little bit of water on the plastic. Not a ton, but still, it was a leak none-the-less.
Aside 2: probably due to the fact that our 2-year-old liked to roll the pool out and flop into it while he watched TV, but you know what? It took me about 4 seconds to make my peace with never birthing in a pool and then I turned my attention to getting the baby out.
So Andy and his mom jumped into gear sumping out the pool, and Karen followed me back to the bedroom, moving all her supplies.
The only consolation to no pool is that we have an amazing bed. It is basically a king-sized hospital bed…yes we are 90 year olds…..but in this case it is awesome that we are geriatrics. I didn’t care so much about the pool, but I did know I was not birthing on my back again. So I got in bed on my knees. Then I grabbed the remote and sat the head up so I was basically in “kneeling with arms over the ball” position, but up on the bed.
I started feeling the need to push, but couldn’t quite get myself organized into remembering what to do. Melissa arrived and sweetly patted my back “how are you?”. “Good, how are you? I’m glad you are here now we can get this baby out” I laughed. I kept moaning and swearing. At one point I turned to Karen “Karen, this sucks so bad!”
“I know it does”.
“We’re not doing this again okay?” We all laughed.
“But you’re so good at it!….Are you feeling the need to push?”
“Yeah I am, but I don’t know where he is at?”
“Well go with the feelings, just gentle pushes”
Then I heard Melissa say “Wow, looks like we are having a baby”.
Things felt infinitely different from Jack’s birth. Very intense, very real (again I was so much more present this time than I was with Jack), but not at all the same. I felt like a first timer. But soon I figured out what I was doing and organized my pushes and felt some relief.
Unlike with Jack, once I pushed Drew down a little, he stayed down. I remember Jack going back in and feeling so frustrated about it.
In the midst of my pushing, I heard Karen say “Where’s Andy?” and I thought to myself ‘what the fuck do you mean where’s Andy?’. His mom answered sweetly and quietly ‘um he’s up in the bathroom’….yes folks, my husband apparently was suffering from explosive diarrhea at the exact time that I was trying to push a baby out of my vag!
He said he was upstairs listening to me and trying to rush it along…..obviously this adds to the extreme charm of our beautiful birthing story, but hey, keeping it real.
Andy’s mom was handing me cool wash cloths and it felt so amazing! Then I would hear her say sweetly “can I freshen that up for you?” and wanting to laugh about it, but being too busy at the time.
Anyway, I was pushing, Andy made it back to the room, and I felt the ring of fire. Then I heard Karen say “he’s going to be born in the caul” and it registered for a second how awesome that was. I could feel my body pushing him out for me (sort of like involuntary vomiting, it is going to happen no matter how awful it feels or how much you don’t want it to, it’s coming one way or the other so you might as well jump on board).
I cursed that Orgasmic Birth chick in my head as I bore down and delivered Drew’s head. Indeed his head was born in the caul or en caul. Andy said (again adding charm) it reminded him of a horror movie where they have a baby’s head in a jar of water. Men are such romantics with their words. He said Drew opened his eyes.
Then I paused as Karen broke the bag and he came tumbling out. It has to be one of the most magnificent feelings of relief that moment right after your child is born: your body was in so much pain just a split second ago and now amazing and wonderful elation sweeps over you. I laid my head on my arms and groaned in ecstasy that it was over and I heard Drew’s first little sweet cries. Karen passed him under and between my legs and I pulled up my sweet boy. (To give you some perspective Karen said I pushed for 9 minutes….so it felt like a lifetime…and I am sure reading my writing makes it sound like a lifetime, but it was really quick).
Everyone helped me rotate onto my back (shoving chux pads under me and handing me warm towels to wrap him in). I was so incredibly happy and so fulfilled. Another amazing and wonderful birth.
I couldn’t believe it had only been a little over 3 hours since Karen had first arrived. It felt like a lifetime. We all chatted and laughed for the next hour. I delivered my placenta and got several fun stomach palpitations. Soon it was time to pee and shower. I practically jumped off the bed I felt so good. Melissa grabbed me “wait!…..feet first and then pause for a minute!” Whoops. Apparently I felt too good for their liking. I walked slowly to the bathroom and then carefully into the shower. Being sure to talk the whole time so they knew I was okay.
Then I crawled back in bed (armed with a monstrous awesome diaper, mind you) and got back to my sweet boy.
7lbs 10oz, just shy of 21 inches long,
January 25th 3:15am,
approx. 7 hours of labor
Welcome to the World