Finally, a birth story post!
Jude Patrick Libby was born on July 20th (his due date) after a moderately easy and uncomplicated eight hour labor, with half an hour of pushing and no tearing or other issues . . .
That was the plan, people. And one thing I learned in the act of bringing a baby into the world is, nothing goes according to plan, so be ready for anything!
Now here's the real birth story, with a warning first:
If you are faint of heart or don't like to read anything involving "tearing," "nipple stimulation," or other such labor related terms, do not read on. Because this post is the unvarnished no-holds barred version. I will also add, this is how I remember things, but as the entire story covers a number of days I may have gotten some details wrong. The major bits are there though, so happy reading! And final warning, this may be the world's longest blog post ever!
My estimated due date of July 20th came and went with no signs that labor was impending. Which was fine with me, because we were in the middle of that VERY HOT heat wave, and I did not want to be laboring in it! I decided that it would be perfect to go into labor the night of the 23rd, because that was when the heat wave was supposed to break.
July 23rd (Saturday) I decided to make eggplant parmesean . . . my hypnobirthing instructor had given us a recipe that was supposed to result in the baby making an appearance within 48 hours, and I was already having some irregular contractions that afternoon, so decided to help them along.
Sure enough, after dinner and into the night my contractions increased in intensity and frequency, and by 4:30 in the morning they were 4-6 minutes apart. We were going to have a baby that day! I woke John up and we called the midwife, who arrived around 6 or 7 a.m. Mom and Mallory (my sister) arrived then as well, and we talked about the baby sharing a birthday with my brother Sean.
Thruout the day my contractions continued to gain intensity, though they fluctuated in frequency. John and I went for walks around the neighborhood to get things to pick up, and while walking the contractions were every 2 1/2 minutes. We must be getting somewhere, right?!
Sometime that morning Brenda (one of my midwives) checked me, and I figured at that point I must be at least 5 centimeters dilated. Wrong.
1 centimeter. 1 lousy centimeter.
Brenda went home shortly after that and said to call again when things got going, and I continued to walk, labor on the birthing ball, and occasionally rest in the recliner thru contractions. My sister Kristin was there as well for much of the day, and between John and other family members I kept up my food and fluid intake as instructed by the midwives. Nanny had made a big pot of chicken soup that I ate thruout labor (and to which I attribute in no small part my successful labor and delivery!).
By 4 that afternoon the contractions were frequent and intense enough that we had called the midwives back, and when Lindsey (another midwife) arrived I was so ready to go in the birthing tub. John had worked to get it full earlier in the day, and I was excited to use it. I knew for sure that I must be so close to the end now . . . into the pool I went.
I was in the pool for about 20 minutes, and at first it did help with the pain of the contractions. But by the end of that time it was apparent that it also had another effect on the contractions . . . it stopped them. Or perhaps they were petering out anyway, but either way I went from every 3 - 5 minutes to every 10 - 15.
What to do? More walking? The question was answered when I got checked again at 7 p.m. . . . 2 centimeters. Much despair (tears and frustration) on my part. I had labored all day and that was my progress?!
Brenda sent me to bed with a benadryl and tylenol cocktail, and I slept well between contractions. All night they came about 15 minutes apart . . . I would wake up and breathe thru them (loudly, poor John!), then fall back to sleep until the next one. All in all I felt much more rested the next morning than I would have thought. I did wake up and go downstairs at one point during the night, and felt better when I saw that Brenda had stayed over . . . perhaps there was hope of having this kid yet!
Monday morning dawned with the same 10 - 15 minute apart contractions, and Brenda did go home, but gave me a name for what was going on, and a game plan. What I was experiencing was prodromal labor, and it unfortunately could go on for a while before the real deal kicked in. The plan was to go about my day, and try to ignore the contractions.
On Sunday I had started putting up "decoy" statuses on facebook so that I wouldn't get any "labor yet?" questions, and I continued that all the way thru labor. So Monday I put up an "I'm going to the library" status, and Mallory (My 12-year old sister . . . she and my mom have actually been staying over at our house since I first went into labor, what a Godsend!), Sophia, and I headed off. We walked the mile to the library, with me pausing every so often for a contraction, then we would continue on. I'm sure it was a funny picture for passing cars, but I was glad that no one stopped to ask if we were ok!
Monday afternoon my mom needed to run some errands, and I sent John off to play golf, in the hopes that Murphy's Law would kick in and labor would really crank up. No go! All that happened was that I kept having contractions but had sent my moral support away and was depressed and emotional.
Night came and with it another dose of tylenol and benadryl as I headed to bed. Contractions continued as they had the previous night, but by 2:30 a.m. I couldn't get back to sleep between them. I got out of bed and labored downstairs in the recliner, listening to relaxing music and "birth affirmations" on my iPod.
Now it was Tuesday morning, and John got up at 5:30 to get ready for work. By now the contractions had not only increased in intensity, but also in frequency, and were about 6 minutes apart. John tried to convince me that he should call out of work, but I insisted he go in, thinking that if he stayed home and it wasn't the real thing we would be wasting a day off.
Of course, then when John left for work (with misgivings) at 6:30, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart, and quickly increased over the next hour to being 2-3 minutes apart.
My grand plans had included a quiet and serene labor, with Sophia coming in and out as she wanted (except for the actual birth).
It was becoming more and more obvious that my plans were insane, as any child of any age would probably be terrified by the loud noises issuing forth from my mouth with each contraction. So my mom called John's sister Patsy, who came to pick up Sophia to spend the day at their house.
She also called the Brenda, who headed back out our way, and then called my sister Kristin to come . . . Mom was convinced from the contractions I was having that the baby was coming right away. Lastly, she talked me into calling John home from work . . . poor guy had just gotten there and was seeing his first patients so had to do some arranging.
While we were waiting for everyone to arrive I had climbed in the shower, which increased my contractions intensity dramatically. Figured I better get out so the baby wouldn't get here before the midwife! Then Brenda arrived, followed quickly by John . . . and my contractions slowed dramatically. From 2 minutes apart to 4 or 5 . . . what the heck?! I was petrified that they would stop again and I would have more days of contractions with no baby . . .
Time to go for a walk! This time I really did figure we would get questions from passers by, as I was literally hanging off of John during each contraction, but people in Auburn seem to mind their own business. Contractions got back to every 3 minutes, and still increased in intensity.
We got back to the house and had Brenda check how far along I was . . . figuring at this point I must be close.
"Well," she said, "you are further along than you were the other day, and your cervix is much softer."
Meaning, 3 centimeters instead of 2, I'm sure, but she didn't want to tell me a number that might push me over the edge to complete despair. Smart midwife!
The next number of hours are a blur of laboring on the birthing ball and in the recliner, going for the occasional walk, shower time to get things cranking, and eating and drinking whatever was put in front of me. Including some YUMMY brownies that Mom made . . . chocolate makes everything better!
Around 4 in the afternoon I was in the kitchen talking with Brenda (and really badly wanting this baby OUT and thinking it was never going to happen), and she suggested I try nipple stimulation (I warned you!) to pick things up. Basically, it is the same technique you use to express breastmilk by hand. Let me tell you, 5 minutes and my contractions were in a whole new ballpark of intensity. Wherever I was I would stop and fold over to lean on any piece of furniture nearby when one would hit. A rice heating pad on my lower back was the best relief ever!
I did try the birthing tub again, though I was afraid it would slow things down. Not only did it not slow things down, but it was agony not having anything to lean on, and I was hyperventilating and could feel my face/hands/feet getting tingly . . . next step passing out, so Brenda had me get right out of the tub and into bed. I felt so cold and shivery, I had to have the down comforter over me and made John take his shirt off and climb in with me to warm me up. I was so encouraged when Brenda told me that having the chills like I did was a sign that my cervix had probably just dilated more and my body was adjusting. Progress!
At this point, everything is even more of a blur for me. I remember being so disheartened with how long it was taking, and that I needed a LOT of encouragement that I could do this. At some point I asked my mom to pray, because I just knew that I couldn't do it.
More time in the shower, more time in the recliner with my iPod (I do remember having the best foot massage of my life from Brenda when I was in the recliner!), more pep talks and reassurances from the midwives (Lindsay had arrived sometime in the early evening), and eventually a check that showed my cervix was 7 centimeters!
Along with the 7 centimeters, Brenda said that the baby's head was not positioned quite right, and she wanted me to do some lunges with my front foot elevated in the shower. Right foot forward didn't do much, left foot forward made my contractions ratchet up a notch again, wowzer! I stayed in the shower as long as I could stand, then headed back to the bedroom to labor on the birthing stool in an attempt to move that baby down.
At that point I had another check, and Brenda said that I was 8 centimeters and that the baby's head had moved into the right position (hooray!) and that we could think about breaking my water as the baby was so much lower now. Yes, please! I remember having such a sense of relief, because I knew that if she broke my water things would move right along, and the baby would come and it would all be OVER. I had become so convinced that the baby was never coming, and to have a potential end in sight was everything at that moment.
Brenda broke my water at 12:50 on Wednesday morning while Lindsay listened to the baby's heartbeat, and then John and I went into Sophia's room for the next few contractions, me hanging off his neck with each one. About three contractions later I felt like I needed to go #2, so headed into the bathroom. Brenda and Lindsay came in too, and asked me if I needed to push. I said I wasn't sure, but maybe I didn't need to go after all.
Back into the bedroom, down onto the birthing stool . . . just in time! My body took over with pushing, and what a crazy feeling! I HATED pushing. It was like someone else took over, and I had no control whatsoever on what my body was doing. (Control issues, much?!) It was terrifying, and all I could do was squeeze onto whoever's hands I could reach with each contraction. I pushed with everything I had, because I wanted it OVER. The birthing stool ended up not being my thing, so back into bed on my side, and that is where Jude Patrick Libby was born at 1:31 a.m. on Wednesday, July 27th after half an hour of pushing!
What an incredible feeling, to be done, to have the baby in my arms, and to have had Jude at home with all of my family and my incredible midwives at my side. I know if I had been at the hospital things would have gone so differently, and that this was right for me. I was able to be encouraged when I needed it and eat and drink the whole time. (So very important in my long labor, and I actually had a couple teaspoons of honey for energy just shortly before pushing . . .) Though my midwives monitored Jude's heart rate closely, especially as labor went on and got more intense, I was able to be up and moving the entire time.
I was so disheartened at different points I know I would have agreed to any intervention that would have ended my pain/labor sooner, and could very well have ended up with another C-section. Not the end of the world, and you still get a baby out of it, but this was very important to me, and I am so glad that things went as they did. After my labor experience, I feel like I can do anything . . . I remember someone saying to me that I had run a marathon, so this must be nothing, and I said that the marathon was nothing. Labor and birth was the true experience of how far the body can be pushed.
Skin-to-skin with Daddy!
Of course, we did still have to take a trek to the hospital at 3:30 in the morning to get my 3rd/4th (not sure which) degree tear stitched up . . . that's what happens when a 9 pound, 6 ounce baby with a 14 1/2 inch head flies down the birth canal and out in half an hour of pushing! Thanks to Brenda calling ahead, CMMC got us in and out in a couple of hours, and then we were home for good with our new little Cuddler.
Brenda weighing Jude, and the first picture this mama took of the new Libby!
Sophia loves her little brother . . . "Dude" as she pronounces it . . .
Anyone wanting to know more about homebirth or the midwifery practice that we had for Jude's birth can contact me or get more information at their website: www.sacopeemidwives.org