22 May 2010

Xander's Birth Story

For those of you who love the play-by-play labor story- read on. You know me, I don't mince words. If you are the type who likes the Sport's Center version, well - you can ask Justin :)

To start, I had been having contractions every night the entire month of May. Now, I know that this can happen with any labor. Although I am glad that it got me a head start on the whole dilating process, it also served to make me very anxious. Seeing as how I didn't know my EXACT due date, and knowing that Naomi was 2 weeks early, I spent all of May wondering if tonight would be the night. By the time the weekend of the 15th rolled around (a weekend I thought I would be taking care of a newborn) I was ready for him to come.

So, I took the advice of my midwives. I sent the girls to Nana's, and Justin and I had a relaxing date night, with all that a date night entails. I guess it did the trick, because by 4am, my body was emptying itself of all contents (beginning with my stomach and intestines.) When the contractions continued to get stronger and closer together, we were pretty confident that we would have the baby that day. Since the girls were next door, Justin and I had a relaxing morning together. Although I knew that I was still in early labor, at 9:30am we decided to head to Annapolis to see how things were going. (With Naomi's pregnancy, I went from "I think we have lots of time" to "Oh My Goodness, I Have To Push!" in less than an hour.)

We went to the Birthing Center, and I was only 4cm (I had been 3 the week before). So we decided to go for a walk, and since I was feeling better, we went for breakfast. It was a BEAUTIFUL day, and I actually enjoyed a morning just walking (and laboring) with Justin. After walking for a couple hours, the contractions were getting more intense, but still manageable. So, we headed back, just to check things out again. This time I was 5cm, so we went for a walk around the hospital grounds. It was interested seeing the different reactions between the people at the hospital ("Are you ok?!? Do you need us to rush you to labor and delivery?!?") compared to the people at the birthing center ("All right, you look like you are in early/active labor, and doing great - want to go for another walk?") After an hour of walking the hospital grounds and stopping every so often to assure people that I was ok, I was getting a bit tired, and the contractions were getting more intense. So, the midwives officially admitted me to the Birthing Center around 12:30pm.

I thought now would be a nice time to try out this whole "jacuzzi laboring" thing. So they filled up the big tub and I hopped in. Justin - remember, he has been aimlessly walking this whole time with me - sat down next to the tub and promptly feel asleep. The warm water felt good. Too good. After 10 minutes, and only 1 contraction, I was afraid I had just slowed down my progress. As nice as it felt, the last thing I wanted to do was prolong the inevitable. So I got out, got dressed, and started pacing. Praying that the contractions would come back. (I know, sounds a little insane, but hey, I wanted to get that baby out.)

I decided to go for another walk. Let me just take this moment to say that I LOVED my time with the Birthing Center. It was so wonderful to just labor in a way that felt comfortable and productive. So, around the hospital grounds I went again. Only this time, I was a little more motivated - practically powerwalking. The contractions returned to the same intensity and consistency as before, and I was glad that I hadn't completely stopped the process. But I was also getting pretty tired. By now, I had been walking for about 3 hours. I decided to head back and labor in bed for a bit.

I got into the room, and all of the sudden, my water broke. That was kind of cool. I have never experienced that before, and I kept thinking that I wouldn't notice it if it happened. But, it was just like everyone described. I felt a pop, and then a gush of water. My excitement was short lived, as with the breaking of the water, often comes the "strong stuff." The midwives checked me, and I was only 6cm, so I decided now might be a nice time for the tub.

I assume this is the time I hit transition, because my thoughts went from, "Oh good, he is definitely coming today," to "What in the world was I thinking!?! Why did I think I wanted to do this again!?!" Pretty soon, I was telling them I needed to push. Now, Justin and I had talked about the whole water birth thing. I was ok going either way, but Justin was pretty sure he thought it would be too "Discovery Channel." So, I told him that when it came time to push, he was going to have to get me out of the water, because I knew that I would not be in any state of mind to move myself. And, turns out I was right. We didn't expect me to be ready to push so soon, and when Justin asked if I wanted to get out of the water, I told him there was no way I was moving any more than necessary. (Ok, it probably came out more as a whimpering, "I can't move.") Suffice it to say, I stayed in the tub - and pushed.

By this time, I was pretty tired. And for some reason, I was only half-heartedly pushing. Later, Justin and the midwives said that I had great control during the pushing portion. Little did they know it was just exhaustion. Finally, a sane thought pushed its way through, reminding me that if I pushed, he would come out, and then the pain would be over. Ahh, now that was motivation. I got serious then, and he was out. That was at 3:33pm, Thursday, May 20th.

Words can not express the emotions of that exact moment. He barely cried (just enough to count on the Apgar) and was purple all over. Apparently I did better with my breathing this time. I think it had something to do with the fact that I allowed myself to make noise. I was pretty noisy. As a friend said earlier, "Some woman scream their babies out." I figured screaming was way better than holding my breath. He pinked up pretty quickly, and he was perfect. We moved to the bed to deal with the rest.

No one warned me that the contractions to release the placenta get more intense with each subsequent labor. I was a little surprised at the intensity of these contractions. I guess it makes sense, and all in all, I should be thankful that my body did what it needed to do to prevent hemorrhaging. Soon, that part was over too, and my little Xander was latched on and eating like a champ.

Although I was tired, I felt really great, and was looking forward to going home so introduce Xander to his sisters. I ate a little food, my blood pressure was good, and my uterus was contracting as needed. I was cleared for release at 7pm. The girls came over, were both enamored by their little brother. After a couple hours, they were getting a little overwhelmed, and went back to Nana and PopPop's for bed. It was nice, just me, Justin and Xander for that first night. It was wonderful to be in our own bed. To not be woken up every couple hours to have my vitals checked, or to make sure the baby was eating enough, or all the other million things the nurses have to make sure they do when you are a patient. And just as importantly, Justin was able to get a full nights sleep, making him rested and useful the next day, when I knew I would need him.

All in all, it has been great. I mean, don't get me wrong. I just went through 12 hours of labor, and now I have 3 young kids running around. It isn't all roses. But, when I step back for a second, and just enjoy my amazing family, I feel blessed. I have an amazingly supportive husband, (who made delicious waffles, from scratch, this morning.), a beautiful 3 year old, who has been so helpful, throwing away diapers, putting toys away. I am amazed at Naomi's gentleness with her brother. She really does love him. And I have a beautiful, perfect little boy, who I look forward to getting to know more and more.


Loris said...

I enjoyed every word of your beautiful labor description. What a treasure you now have to keep and remember always. Your family is the admiration of all who know you. Blessings to you and yours,

L. said...

Loved it! A good birth story is like an epic; it's an old theme but each one is different and fresh. Thank you for yours


Jen said...

Oh, I love labor stories, and this is a beautiful one! Congratulations on the beautiful new treasure out-and-about in the world of your family! It was a privilege to read his birthday story! :)

Roseanna M. White said...

I am so in love with the fact that you got to go home THE SAME DAY. It didn't occur to me that the afterbirth-contractions are stronger each time, either, but now that you mention it . . . yep.

Glad you and the clan are doing great, Karlene!! Can't wait to meet the new little guy--whose name I FULLY approve of. =) Go, X!

Jan Graffius said...


Karlene, you are such a gifted writer, & it's a privilege to read your blog!

God's richest blessings on your beautiful family!