In just a couple of days, our little guy is going to be five months old. It seems like forever ago and just yesterday at the same time. With the move and so much change all at once, we are still reeling and recovering. But, despite all of the chaos, we had a really beautiful, inspiring birth with Theo, so I'm excited to finally tell you all about it.
On the morning of August 1st, I woke to roll my giant belly over in four steps and was shocked to discover I had wet myself. Just a tiny bit! Of course, I knew I hadn't and that my water had broken, but I was really tired so I just changed my pyjamas and went back to bed. Who does that?!
A couple of hours later, I woke up again - and changed again - and told Joel, "I think we're having a baby today!" He groaned. Understandably. We had been hoping to have one last day to unpack and put things away and then a peaceful weekend before my due date. How silly of us to assume that because Coco was late, Theo would be too. Haha.
I finished packing up my hospital bag. Then we dropped Coco off at the daycare she was in for the week so we could get stuff done at home. We obviously weren't going to get anything done, so we went to Target and printed off a huge stack of photos of Coco to take with us to the hospital. We went back home and packed Coco's overnight bag for her first overnight stay away from me with her cousins. Then we had barbeque for lunch and went for a nice, long walk in the sand on Park Pointe.
I still was not contracting! We decided to go home and Joel had a nap. While he slept, I started to freak out and cry. I was so upset that the house was a mess, that our container shipment from Switzerland had yet to arrive and that I was going to be bringing a baby home to nothing. UPS showed up at the door with a package from Amazon. Okay, not nothing. We'd have four muslin blankets, four organic cotton newborn size Onesies, almond oil, diapers and some of those disposable change pads. Sob! Not the homecoming I had hoped for. More crying and a trip to the toilet and I realized that I was no longer leaking amniotic fluid. I noted that as strange. Time ticked on and I called an acupuncturist who happened to be just down the road and went in for some needles. That darling woman opened the door to welcome me and asked how I was feeling. I sobbed. I sobbed and sobbed and told her we weren't ready and she listened and gave me tissues. Then she started needling me and turned on that crazy Chinese music that's super relaxing and lit incense and left me to breathe deeply and relax and the contractions started. By the time the session was over, the contractions had stopped. I went back home and cleaned and fretted a bit more. I tried to lie down for a nap. More amniotic fluid. Interesting. I couldn't sleep. I wasn't hungry. Woe was me.
By this time, it was early evening. Coco had gone home with her cousins from daycare and my mom was calling. She was watching the clock and wisely suggested that I head into the hospital to see if my water was broken. Oh, fine. I said and we drove in.
Just like last time, I had a big "hospital bag" full of things I never used. It turns out I don't need to be in my own clothes during labor. Just give me one of those hospital gowns and I'll be happy. I was lucky enough to arrive at the change of shifts. The outgoing resident checked me and determined my water had broken, but it was probably a high tear and not a real rupture. She was all geared up to induce me and get things going. I was not keen on that plan and neither was my labor nurse. The nurse sort of shooed the doctor away and the next shift came on. Dr. Griffith came in with her sweet smile and happy curly red hair and I felt so good to be in her hands. She adopted a wait-and-see approach and the resident, Dr. Payne (poor guy), was on board, too. Hooray! No induction.
I began doing lunges and hopping around. Because my water had been broken for more than 12 hours AND I was Group B Strep positive, I was put on some antibiotics. Whatever. Natural childbirth was already dropping like a rock on my list of priorities. I sipped water and looked out the window over Lake Superior. The sun was beginning to set and the evening felt so safe and relaxing. I'll admit, it was awesome to be toddler-free and just chatting with Joel while the doctors hooked me up to IVs and all that.
Pretty soon, the contractions got more regular. Then they got more intense. For a few hours, we had a really great rhythm going with the birthing ball. Joel stood behind me, supporting me. I was breathing through them and they really had my attention. Pretty soon, breathing progressed to moaning. Then a switch flipped and it all changed to back labor. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
I felt like I would die and asked for the anesthesiologist in case there was a wait. He showed up about thirty seconds later. I sent him away again and tried to keep going. Joel was no longer able to help me through the contractions. I screamed at him and told him not to take any more photos. I also yelled a bit at my nurse. I tried getting in the shower and the feeling of water made me want to go ballistic. Out of the shower. Then it was a variety of positions, tons of screaming (and yelling) and I was still only at 5 cm. EPIDURAL. Obviously.
Dr. Bayer showed up on the dot. I was so relieved. Then I had to get through two or three more contractions while he inserted the epidural. Joel was sent off down the hall to the waiting room and I didn't even care. I panted through the contractions. Now here's where I say, in retrospect... In retrospect, given that I was able to pant through the contractions while holding my nurse Joyce's hands in a death grip, and given that they were so strong my upper lip sweat and I saw blue in between and thought I would pass out, I was probably heading into transition. Maybe I could have even kept going because maybe it wouldn't have been much longer. But jeez. I just couldn't take it anymore. Back labor is not normal labor. It's not dull pain or discomfort. It's white hot, searing pain that makes your upper lip hot-cold with sweat and your vision black out. I'm woozy just recalling it. So forget all that "in retrospect" nonsense.
Things progressed from there. The first epidural didn't work, so about an hour of excruciatingly painful-on-one-side only contractions, Dr. Bayer came back and re-did it and I went to sleep. Bliss!
Things progressed on their own without any pitocin or help. But, Dr. Payne did rupture my (already-broken) waters with a crochet hook and very soon after, I was fully dilated. Just as the sun was coming up over Lake Superior outside the window.
The room was glowing. It was time to push and I was so ready.
Now, here's where I get to feel really, insanely, extremely proud. I may not have been able to hack it against the blacking-out back labor. But, let me tell you, I can push. I am so incredibly good at pushing and I love it so much.
For our first attempt, Joyce had me on my back pulling on a sheet tied in a knot with Joel on the other end. (I think he was pretty amazed at how strong I am!) We tried that for about 25 minutes over four contractions and then I told Joyce it wasn't working and I wanted to try my side. Once I was in a favorable position, she was cheering, told me to remember exactly how it felt to push like that and went to get the doctor after the first push. It was a flurry of activity, lots of gloves snapping and robes going on.
And then, just three pushes later - THREE - Theo was born into a sun-drenched room exploding in cheers for the awesome pushing. The first thing I noticed looking down between my legs were his massive man hands.
He was huge.
4354 grams, or 9 pounds 9 1/2 ounces. Wowza. No forceps, no straining. Just my own strength. Grrrrr. That felt so good.
What a beautiful day.
After some much needed sleep, Joel brought Coco to meet her brother. And our life as a family of four began. To all those people who love to quip, "You only need boobs and diapers!" I am here to tell you, you're wrong! But we survived somehow - and continue to do so! Stick with us. Lots more good bloggy stuff to come. xoxo