Waiting for River
Estimated Due Date: May 26th, 2014
It is the week before my due date and my mother has come in to stay with me since Dave had been working out of town through the week. It was nice knowing that I wouldn’t be alone if and when labor kicked in and Dave wasn’t here. Mom helped out a lot; we took Landon and his friend to the zoo, to the strawberry patch, the park, we played outside in the sprinkler, we even got a call to show the house. The whole week was coming and going, I felt amazing, and we just kept waiting for something to happen with my labor.
Each time we went out or did something around the house, my mom was hoping something would kick my labor in so she could be here for the birth. If he wasn’t born on or before his due date, she was going to miss it entirely. As the Director of her local adventure camp, she had to be back home by the evening of my due date.
Friday evening I met with Brenda for a check-up. She immediately commented on how good I looked before she asked how I felt. I just had so much energy and felt so chipper. She checked me and I was dilated 1-2 centimeters, 90 percent effaced and he was at a +2 station (very low). Everything was looking really good and while I was excited about my progress, I had to remember that none of it necessarily meant he was coming that night, that it could still be days even.
Sunday morning (25th) came and I woke up in a different kind of mood. I was quiet and reserved and after mom and I talked, she decided to go ahead and go back home so she could spend some time with my dad before her vacation was over. We got up and around and I was hit with a little bit of a nesting bug. I quietly went around cleaning, organizing, going back through our birth equipment and setting up our room just so, washing all the cloth diapers and organizing some other things in the bedrooms. This made my mom sad because she felt something was about to happen and she was going to miss it.
Mom hit the road after a tearful farewell. Dave, Landon and I settled in for a quiet afternoon. I relaxed into the idea of having a little bit of time as just our little family before Dave’s mom arrived; which was going to be Monday (26th). I sat back in the recliner and quietly watched Dave and Landon playing and wrestling; thinking that not much longer would we be a family of three, but soon be a family with two boys! I browsed through Facebook, passing some time, and stumbled on a baby papasan. We decided to purchase it and Dave and Landon headed out to go pick it up.
I took the opportunity of some alone time to turn up some music and take a shower. It was nice to have a little bit of quiet time to myself. I wrapped up in a towel and went back to the recliner (the only place I could ever get “comfortable”). I would wait there until Dave and Landon got home and we could then spend the evening relaxing; I could get away with hardly any clothes!
This apparently wasn’t in the cards. Dave called to let me know that mom (my mother-in-law) was in town and would be here very soon…just in case I was naked. I pretty much was. I immediately couldn’t help but feel upset. Mom had no idea that my mother had already left and she had tried to call while we had taken naps. She wanted to come in and see my mom and she was excited too for labor to start. I got up and dressed and tried to warm up to the idea of more company. Mom came in and gave me a big hug. I felt awful, but I couldn’t feel excited. I had reached a primal feeling of wanting to retreat with my little family and hide. Between all of the well-meaning text messages, Facebook comments and face-to-face, “anything happening yet”,” when is River making his debut” and other comments, I was feeling like I was on a clock. I went back to our bedroom and just cried. Hard. I felt like a zoo animal under observation for having a baby and just wanted to grab my family and retreat to our “cave” and shut the whole world out.
Monday came and went and I began to wonder if all this “attention” was somehow hindering my body. Mom headed back home Tuesday morning and we asked our friends to respect the process by containing their enthusiasm until we were able to actually introduce River to the world. With a quiet house we settled back into the week to wait for River. Each day I would wake up hopeful that it was “the day” and each night I would go to bed hoping I would wake up with contractions. By Thursday, it was getting pretty old. My midwife called Thursday morning to see how I was doing and discuss some options for a game plan. We decided that I would try pumping with my breast pump to get my body to start releasing oxytocin. Then I would come in that afternoon for her to strip my membranes and then pump again later that evening. All of this would hopefully get my body contracting and then, if my body was really ready, it would stimulate labor.
I had begun to feel some contractions with what we had done but they didn’t feel crampy. Instead it was more like someone was putting a weight on the top of my stomach and then my lower abdomen would tighten, sometimes wrapping all the way around my lower back. We timed them, but they never became a pattern or consistent; 45 seconds long, 8 to 12 minutes apart. This continued on all day Thursday and Friday.
Friday overnight, I woke up with some of my contractions. They were feeling different so I tried to time them, but I kept dozing back off on the tail end of the contraction and wouldn’t push the stop button to end the timer. Around 6:30 Saturday morning I woke Dave and asked if he would come out and help me time the contractions. I just wanted to see if there was any pattern to them and what they were doing. Our efforts were futile because I did the same thing to him. I would tell him to start the timer and then I would wake up to, “Casey, are you still having the contraction?” a couple minutes later. I would wave my hand and go back to sleep. A little after 7, Landon woke up so Dave got up and made breakfast while I dozed off and on in the recliner.
We ate and a while later I noticed that I needed to focus a little more on breathing and relaxing during the contractions. Then, I noticed I was beginning to vocalize through them. I decided to try timing them again; they were coming 4 minutes apart and lasting over a minute long. No longer was I comfortable in the recliner as my lower back pain intensified and I needed Dave to dig his fists into my lower back with each contraction. I also noticed that I felt slightly nauseated as the contraction peaked.
This is where it gets really fun! I put a call into our midwife to let her know what was happening and figured at minimum she could listen to me through a contraction and determine if it was worth getting excited about. It hadn’t settled in to me that this could actually be labor even though I had done this before. I woke up that morning feeling like I was going to be pregnant forever so I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
She was just finishing breakfast so she asked if she could call me right back. I headed to our bedroom where Landon was watching some cartoons and thought I would lean over the bed so Dave could dig into my back easier. I felt I should fill Landon in so I said, “Landon, remember the videos we watched and how we talked about how having babies was hard work, that mommies will sometimes make noise because of the hard work? Well, your brother may be coming today because Mommy’s body is starting to work.” As he was jumping on the bed, he enthusiastically said, “Okay, mom!”
With the next contraction Brenda called back and pretty much instantly said it was go time and she would call Eva, her assistant, and send her on her way. She was an hour closer than her and that way someone would be here soon. I got up to go potty and no sooner was I done when I turned around and threw up with the next contraction. I knew I was in transition at this point. I got up, brushed my teeth and with the next contraction, my water broke! We texted Brenda to let her know and were then instructed to text directions to Eva. Things were moving fast so I sent one more message to our backups for Landon to let them know things were happening but Landon wanted to stay, just to be on standby.
Dave got Landon set up with some coloring pages and brought his tricycle in from outside. With each contraction my voice was getting louder and lower. My body was getting down to business. All the while, Landon is riding his bike around our room, running between my bum and Dave to look out the bathroom window to watch for Eva and Brenda, and sticking his fingers in his ears saying with a big grin on his face, “Mommy is being loud!”
After a while I felt the need to go lie on the bed and labor on my side. I was hoping this would slow things down a little for Eva to get here. It really felt like things were going fast! Soon, Eva arrived and instantly began setting up their supplies. She came over to me at the bed and just smiled, encouraging me through a couple contractions before asking if she could check me and the baby. I was at an 8!
Soon, our dear family friend, Carol called to see if we needed her to come for Landon and we felt at that point it would be a good idea since I needed Dave right there for my back labor. Carol and Brenda arrived at the same time. They came inside and went to their respective charges. I think Landon was glad to have someone to play with even though he was handling his mommy in labor very well.
Brenda came in and joined the excitement of how quick I was progressing and how soon we would meet our little guy. She checked me after a couple of contractions and I was complete with a little bit of cervix that was getting pinched because of my position of choice. She asked if I wanted to move. I said yes, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go.
I ended up standing and eventually leaning over the exercise ball on the bed, Dave still behind me digging his fists into my lower back with each contraction. Once I was vertical, within two contractions, my body was pushing! Wow, we were in the home stretch!! We ended up maneuvering around to the foot of the bed and my legs were shaking enough that I wanted to kneel at the bed. My body’s pushing then became more focused and within 20 minutes, River was here!!
The cord was around his neck twice but came off easily before he was all the way out and he was blue but trying to make his first breath. So, Brenda and Eva gave him some oxygen and he pinked right up and let out a cry! Dave was so excited that he got to watch everything this time. With Landon, he was supporting me on the bed behind my back, this time he was beside me and able to move.
River was then handed to me from under my legs and guided to my chest, still crying and pink as can be. Within seconds, Landon came strolling in with Carol close behind and an instant grin painted his face, “My brother!” He came right over and stroked his head, his smile never wavering, just taking it all in. Carol, smiling from the doorway, said Landon must’ve known his brother was here because he told her, “My mom and dad are inside doing the baby thing. I want to go check it out.”
We maneuvered up onto the bed so that I could deliver the placenta and be checked over. Dave, Landon, and I just kept smiling and looking at River, listening to his newborn cries and soaking it all in. The rest of my delivery went perfect, only a small tear and my body was doing everything it was supposed to do. Soon we were all situated on the bed so River could nurse and I could be observed a little longer for any excess bleeding and so on. River latched on like a champ. He was tired so he kept popping off and falling asleep but he was catching on quick. I asked Dave to go get Carol; she couldn’t come help with Landon and not get to see River up close!
Carol then took Landon to town for lunch and then back to their farm to play with her grandkids and let us get some rest. He ended up having a great time playing hide and seek, marbles, and playing outside. He finished his big day with helping Max, her husband, go on a vet call before coming home later in the evening. Dave went in the kitchen fix me some grub. My post labor choice; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a big glass of milk! While I ate, we measured and weighed River. We couldn’t believe it…9 pounds, eight ounces and 21 inches long, his head and his chest both measuring 14 inches. He was just a long and lean baby, built like his brother was, just 3 pounds bigger and an inch and three quarters longer!
When we were done with River’s measurements, we decided we were all hungry for some real lunch. So, Brenda ran a bath for us and then Dave would grill us up some chicken and green beans. River loved his bath and I really enjoyed a hot shower after that. We settled on the couch to snuggle, eat, and visit with Brenda, going over our postpartum care before Brenda headed home. I couldn’t believe he was finally here! I woke up that morning feeling like I would be pregnant forever and a few short hours later I was holding and nursing the precious little being that I have loved from my inside out.
~This birth is our second home birth. They were so different from each other in so many ways but similar in other ways. Both births have left me feeling empowered, capable, awestruck, and inspired.
Does labor hurt? I think the pain is determined by perspective. Labor is labor, meaning hard work, and when a woman approaches labor with preparation and “training”, much the same as an athlete would train and prepare for a marathon or competition, the experience can be truly rewarding for her. Both require intense physical exertion, both challenge the person in mind, body, and soul, and both can offer an extreme amount of personal satisfaction at the finish line.
A home birth isn’t for every woman, a natural birth isn’t for every woman, and even a vaginal birth may not be for every woman. But every woman can have an educated birth experience, one that can be a positive and empowering experience for her.
Did you ever consider a home birth? Or birth at home? Leave a comment please!