Birth Stories

I have now given birth to five babies.  I wanted to share all these stories in one place as they were all very different and I have fairly detailed accounts of each.  My account of Erik’s birth is the clearest in my opinion – I believe it’s this way because I had no interventions (I went into labour on my own and had no drugs throughout the course of labour).  I’ll post the stories just as I wrote them at the time, without changing anything.  Anyway, here they are from Jenny to Sam.

Jenny’s Birth – June 1, 2005

My due date was May 23rd, and by the end of that week, my doctor had decided to induce my labor the next week. Tuesday, May 31st was the scheduled date, so we thought there was a chance for us to still have a May baby. We went in to the hospital in the evening of the 31st and I was put on a monitor for quite some time. It was picking up my heartbeat, which was fast, but not the baby’s, so they assumed that mine belonged to the baby, which concerned them. So, I laid on my back for two and a half hours before they decided it was safe to go ahead with the induction. Then it was another hour before I could get up. I was having contractions before they induced me, but once it was done, they got a lot worse. However, I wasn’t really making any progress, and it was nearly midnight by then. The nurse gave me a sedative and had us stay the night at the hospital so that I could rest (Mike got to stay with me, which was great!).

In the morning, they did a second induction at around nine, and this time, it did the trick. My contractions quickly got very bad. I’ll try not to scare any of you too much (guys or those women who haven’t been through childbirth), but within two and a half hours, I was feeling worse pain than I’ve ever felt before. So, just before noon, the nurse felt I should have some Demerol/Gravol so that I could relax, and at that point, I started sleeping between contractions. The contractions were still really bad, and I was very drugged – I actually remember quite well feeling drugged, and at times, someone would ask me a question, and I would give a one word answer about ten times (i.e. “Do you want this grilled cheese sandwich?” to which the answer should be, “As if,” Or “Yeah, right,” but instead comes out as, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.” with lots of head shaking.).

Just before one, they finally checked me, and said I was ready to move to a delivery room. We went in, they broke my water, and within five minutes, I had made some more progress. I started feeling like pushing after another five minutes or so, and they said I was ready and let me go ahead with it. So, I pushed for about forty-five minutes, and at 1:50 pm on June 1st, Jenny Rose was born! She was “no midget baby” as my doctor had predicted when I was pregnant. She weighed 9 lbs. 6 oz. and was 20.5 in. long. My labor in total was around five hours, which is not so bad for a first baby, but because I was induced, it was very intense. Mike was with me through the whole thing, and a tremendous support. The doctor and the nurses were very impressed with him, and I’ll probably go on bragging about how he did for the rest of our lives. He’s also fallen right into being a daddy, and is doing a very good job.

Anyway, that is our story, and now, almost two weeks later, we’re still doing very well. Life with a newborn is not easy (lots of you probably know that), but she is a joy, and every pain I had in labor was worth it. She is already making progress and looking different than when she was born, and we are so excited to see her grow up.

Elias’s Birth – September 6, 2006

I had my baby on Wednesday the 6th at 6:45 pm, it was a boy, he weighed 7 lbs. 4 oz, was 20.5 inches long and we have named him Elias James. Also, Jenny is very excited about him, and we are quickly trying to teach her the meaning of the word “gentle”.

Okay, now for the fun stuff. First of all, as many of you know, I had been experiencing an uncomfortable pregnancy, with lots of painful Braxton Hicks (translation: fake) contractions. I was very anxious to get the whole thing over with, so when on Tuesday I started having stronger contractions and a number of other signs of labour (fellow mothers, you can imagine what I mean, otherwise, I won’t go into it), I thought I might actually be in labour. I put off going to the hospital, though, because things kept going back to normal on me (how frustrating). Finally, around 8 that night, I had a couple bad ones (compared to what they were before, anyway), and Mike decided we would go (I absolutely needed him to make the decision because I just hate being wrong about things like this and I was afraid the nurses or my doctor would scold me or something if I wasn’t in labour). We took Jenny to Mike’s parents and went in, only to find out that my contractions were still Braxton Hicks, and that nothing was happening internally to indicate that I was in labour. Leaving the hospital an hour later, I told Mike that I was not going to do that again unless my contractions were so bad I was screaming, or if my water broke. And I also decided that obviously, I was not going to have this kid anytime soon, but probably two weeks late, sometime in October.

I started Wednesday morning off as normal as I would any other day; I read my Bible, had a muffin, organized a few things and tidied up my newly spotless kitchen (oh, yeah, last Friday, I had a burst of nesting that came in the form of thoroughly cleaning my kitchen, bathroom and living room). I then got up to go to the bathroom, and very quickly found that something was not right.

— Again, if you’re reading this, and you’re easily bothered by descriptions of birth or “female things”, you should probably quit now, cause this is when it gets interesting. —

What I found that was not right was that something was falling out of me. I have never felt anything so bizarre in my life. My immediate worry was that it might be the umbilical cord, but still in the amniotic sac, as my water hadn’t broken or anything. The only other odd thing that had happened this morning wasn’t really odd at all, I was just having little cramps, so this caught me completely off guard. I phoned the hospital, they said to come in right away, and then I phoned Mike at work and Mom to have her come over to get Jenny. We got to the hospital at about 10:30, they checked me, said I was probably 4 or 5 centimetres dilated, but my doctor, once he showed up, couldn’t find the position of the baby’s head. The ultrasound I had a week before had actually indicated that the baby was head down, but my doctor really didn’t feel that it was. He consulted our town’s only obstetrician, who said that what we would do is have another ultrasound done, find out where the head was, and then if there was a great deal of fluid between the baby and my cervix, or if the cord was down low, they would stick one big gigantic needle in my stomach to remove some of the fluid. I was really not crazy about that idea, and if they had found the baby to be transverse, I was still looking at a C-section because I was already past the point of no return due to being as dilated as I was.

I went down for the ultrasound, was checked by the obstetrician and he and the tech. said that the baby’s head was down (thank goodness), it was just very far up still. Because there was a lot of fluid for the baby to move around in, there was risk that if my labour didn’t progress naturally and the baby didn’t descend, it could still move into a bad position, or the cord could be swept out if my water broke. So, the decision was to put me on a pitocin drip to get my contractions going and encourage the baby to move its head down, and to let my water break on its own. At 1:30, they hooked up a monitor, put me in a bed (where I stayed the rest of the time…not really very fun), and started the drip. For probably two to two and a half hours, I didn’t feel anything terrible, although I did start breathing through my contractions as they got worse. The nurse asked me a number of times whether I wanted medicine, but the first three or four times she asked, I couldn’t imagine taking anything, because things just weren’t bad enough yet. I knew I wouldn’t want an epidural (I’m firmly set against them), and with Jenny, they gave me Demerol and it made me feel stoned (I’ve never actually been stoned, but some people who have been have told me the feeling is similar), plus it gave Jenny low oxygen levels because they gave it to me so late in my labour. After about three hours, though, things started to feel worse, and I would guess it was sometime between four and five that I had them give me Fentanyl, which ended up being fine, because all it did was let me rest completely in between contractions. I don’t really remember when it was, but I would guess it was five thirty or so that my water broke, and let me tell you, when it happens unexpectedly (they broke mine when I was in labour with Jenny), it feels so bizarre, and it really does speed things up. Also, a few people had guessed that there was lots of fluid, and they were right. Mike says it was like an inch and a half deep on the bed, and the nurse said it must have been gallons. Anyway, after that, it got hard not to push, but every time they checked me, I was still at an eight and the baby’s head wasn’t down far enough. I must have asked them to check me four times or so, and finally, the last time, the nurse told me to push against her fingers. I could hardly believe it, because this was the part I was waiting for. Even though I had pushed with Jenny for forty-five minutes, it felt productive and made me feel better while I was having contractions. Mike said that he looked at his watch when the nurse first told me to push, and it said 6:37. I had maybe three contractions and at 6:45, Elias was born. Also, I had really wanted to avoid stitches this time, and I managed it, which is probably part of why I’m feeling so good now. I also didn’t break (or bruise) my tailbone this time either, which certainly helps.

Compared to Jenny, Elias feels so tiny, not only how Jenny is now, but how she was when she was born, since she was two pounds and two ounces bigger than him. The only thing I had to learn was to keep him wrapped up more; since he was so small, his temperature was too low for awhile if I didn’t have him very wrapped. Well, I guess I’ve had to learn how to diaper a boy as well….point things down and make sure and cover them up or you might get it in the face. 🙂 That hasn’t actually happened yet, but I’m sure it will eventually.

Well, that’s the story, and it’s all the time I have anyway. Maybe one person will be interested in this, and if not, it is at least a good record for me to have. Oh, and I’ll try to get some pictures up, or get somebody else to put them up for me if I can’t.

Erik’s Birth – June 15, 2008

After a long and not so comfortable pregnancy – okay, it was normal in length, but felt really long – and both of my previous deliveries not going my way, I was anxious to do this one on my own. While lots of women are pushing for induction at a week overdue just to get the kid out of them, I insisted on putting it off until twelve days past my due date, which was as long as my doctor would let me have. For a month before my due date, I was having increasingly uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions. The week before my due date, I was sure I was in labour at least once, only to have everything stop and go back to normal.

On Tuesday, June 10th, when I was two days overdue, I went for my doctor’s appointment and expected to have my membranes stripped. Turns out, my cervix was not ripe at all and so it wasn’t possible. I went home figuring I would be back in another six days to try it again. The next morning, I lost my mucous plug and had a number of contractions, some very close together, throughout the evening. After a long night, I had Mike take me to the hospital Thursday morning. As soon as I got there, my contractions almost completely stopped. They weren’t showing up on the monitor and when the nurse checked me for dilation, she said nothing, which indicated to me that nothing was happening. The concern that day was that the baby was transverse and so I went back a few hours later for my doctor to check. As far as I can tell, the baby had moved in the two hours that I was not in the hospital, because when I went in on Thursday at noon, he was head down for sure. My doctor did an internal exam as well, and again, said nothing to me about dilation. The only thing I heard was her saying was that something was long, which I assumed was referring to my cervix, and that it wasn’t effaced yet. I went home feeling depressed and had a little cry over what I assumed meant another eight days of pregnancy. Friday went by pretty normal – it was a busy day, but after a hockey team barbeque and being at my in-laws until eleven, I felt pretty good. I was feeling a little bit strange physically, but not having many contractions. I had actually found that day that when I went to the bathroom, I would have a contraction almost every time. I worried that I might have a bladder infection, as I had heard that they could cause contractions and pain when using the bathroom.

We went to bed late on Friday and I had about two hours of sleep when I woke up with a contraction. I had them five minutes apart for three hours and then was able to sleep between them for the next four hours. They were painful enough that I was breathing through them and using effleurage to deal with the pain. In the morning, I checked my cervix to see what I could feel and something was definitely different. Instead of feeling the neck, I just felt the edge of it, which I figured meant that those seven hours had at least gotten me effaced. I didn’t check any more than that, but I may have been somewhat dilated as well.

My contractions more or less stopped when I got up and so I told Mike that we had to stay busy that day or I was going to go nuts. I figured that I would probably have the baby soon, but had no way to really tell and I had errands to run and cleaning to do in the house. I decided that if we could get a few things done at home and then have the kids nap at Mike’s parents while we went shopping, it would be a good way to stay busy. We finished up at home and went to his parents around three-thirty. We put the kids down for their nap, Mike had some steak and we left to get our shopping done. I was pretty tired and not feeling great when we got back to pick up the kids, so we didn’t stay for a long time. We had some dessert and left around seven-thirty. I had at least two or three bad contractions when I was at my in-laws, but nothing was regular. On the way home, we stopped at Safeway to get ice and against my better judgement, I went in to get it myself. Getting back out to the van, I was in a terrible amount of pain. We got home and Mike sat down to watch a movie with the kids. I heated up some food for myself and gave them some string cheese to snack on while I checked my email and did a few other things on the computer. I got up to go to the bathroom a little after eight and had a bad contraction when I was in there, so I decided to take a bath and see if it would make me feel a bit better. It felt good, but mostly just made me have more contractions. When I got out around eight thirty, I checked myself again and realized pretty quickly that I could feel a good sized circle of the baby’s head through the amniotic sac. At this point, my contractions were bad enough to make me cry, and I figured that this was a good sign that real labour was finally happening.

Mike called his parents, who were already in bed, and we packed the kids up and took them over. They had not had supper and I felt bad about it, but there was no way I was taking the time to do it. It turns out that when they got to their grandparents, they went right to bed and slept through the night without ever eating anything. We got to the hospital around twenty to ten. Right away I was having contractions that the nurse said sounded like the real thing. After being on the monitor for awhile, she checked me and said I was four or five centimetres dilated, which meant, she said, that they were keeping me. Mike and I high-fived after she left – I was actually in labour!

I stayed in the same room for a short time and then went to the delivery room and got set up in there. It must have been ten-fifteen or so at that point and things were still slow but getting more intense. I was having intense back pain and the nurse suggested that the baby was posterior, so I got on my hands and knees to try to get the baby to flip. I’m not sure that he ever did, but things did feel better after awhile, so he must have at some point. It seemed that the whole time I was in the delivery room, I would just get into a position that was comfortable and then I would have to pee. So I would move to get up, have a contraction, go the bathroom, have another contraction and then repeat it all going back to where I was. I spent some time in the shower, but found that while it felt great on my belly during a contraction, the rest of my body was getting too cold. Every time I changed positions at all, I would have a contraction, even if I was just at the end of one. Finally, I got back in bed and didn’t feel like getting up again. The nurse checked me and said that I was six or seven centimetres and while she was checking, she broke my water. She said that while I was having a contraction, there was a bulge in the amniotic sac and she just had to loop her finger into it to break it. Things went fast after that was done – I must have gone right to an eight in the next few minutes and soon, I was feeling a lot of pressure; not quite the urge to push, but I knew it was close. When I mentioned it, the nurse checked me again, found that I was nine centimetres and a minute later, nine and a half, with just a lip of the cervix still there. They called the doctor, told me that she would be three minutes and that I should pant if I felt the urge to push. I think I had two or three contractions before my doctor got there and I was panting through the second half of every one. Finally, my doctor walked in and I was told that I could push. For some reason, unlike when I was in labour with Jenny and Elias, I didn’t feel the animalistic urge to push. I felt pressure, but I was reluctant to do it. They all kept telling me to give it everything I had and I tried to do that during the second contraction, but still didn’t feel like much was happening.

I had no drugs during labour at all, so at this point, I was very aware of what was going on. They were checking the baby’s heart rate off and on, and during contractions, it was going down to 80 or 90 beats per minute. I knew that this was a bad thing, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I looked down at my doctor and heard her ask for Lidocaine. The nurse told her that I wanted to go without an episiotomy or tears, but my doctor said that the baby needed to be born and she was just going to have to get it out. I knew right away that I had to do it if I wanted to escape without stitches. They had already seen the baby’s head at this point, so I knew it wasn’t long and with the next contraction, I finally gave it all my strength. When he crowned, they coached me through little pushes and panting to keep me from tearing. It was really hard not to just get it over with, but having experienced stitches after an episiotomy and then, when Elias was born, making it out with just a tiny tear, I knew it was worth it for my recovery. Very soon after he crowned, I pushed his head out and then, even though I could have waited, I pushed his shoulders out as well. The cord was wrapped around his neck a bit, which explained his heart rate dropping. It was 12:46 am when he was born – I had been in the hospital about three hours and had only pushed for ten minutes.

Because of his cord being wrapped, no one said anything to me about whether the baby was a boy or a girl. I had felt like it was a girl, but when I sat up to see for myself, I said to Mike, “Oh, it is a boy!” So many other people had said it was a boy, but I hadn’t really believed them. Mike had said during my labour that he was hoping for a boy, and I was glad to see that he had gotten his wish. It was amazing being so aware of what was going on that I could sit up to see him at the foot of the bed. I had asked to let the cord pulsate after the baby was born, so they put a towel on my chest and then laid him on top of me. It was amazing, as it always is, that I loved him so fully the moment I saw him. I held him for a few minutes until the cord was definitely done pulsating and then cut the cord myself. Mike had not interest in doing it, but my doctor asked if I wanted to, and I thought it might be a good experience. I wouldn’t jump at the chance to do it next time, but it was neat being so clear headed that I was able to do it. After I cut the cord, they took him and cleaned him up quickly and looked him over to make sure things were good. I think I actually heard his Apgar score mentioned (which I never have with the other kids). My doctor said eight and something about his colour, but I didn’t really care. As soon as he was back with me, I nursed him and he stayed with me for at least forty-five minutes, nursing while I had a snack. He was very awake and making eye contact with both of us for most of the time. It was amazing, because Jenny and Elias were taken away much sooner and were not nearly as alert as Erik was.

After he seemed to have enough to eat, Mike took him to have him bathed and weighed and the nurse cleaned me up and moved me to my room. At this point, it was close to two in the morning and I felt bad for my roommate in the bed across from me. Mike came back ten minutes or so later with the nurse and our new little boy. I quickly asked Mike how much he had weighed – I had been expecting a nine pound baby because when Jenny was eight days late, she weighed 9 lb 6 oz. Erik was a week late and after holding him, I knew he wasn’t as big as Jenny had been, but I still thought he had to be bigger than Elias was at birth – 7 lb 4 oz and two and a half weeks early. I had the second shock of the night (the first being that he was a boy) when I heard he was only 7 lb 1 oz! I guess because our nephew was born 5 lb 8 oz so recently (about five and a half weeks before), Erik just didn’t seem small. He was twenty inches long, half an inch shorter than both Jenny and Elias. Right away, we noticed that he had a completely different look than both of our kids. They had looked so different from each other that I thought our third would look more like one or the other. Erik has lighter skin like Jenny, but only a few similar features to Elias. He has lighter hair than both of them and much less than they both did when they were born.

Mike went home around three in the morning and I slept off and on through the night, waking up to feed Erik once or twice before breakfast. Mike went to breakfast at his parents house before they went to church and then he came back to be with me. He snoozed on my bed holding Erik while I made phone calls to my family. When I was in labour, we were watching the clock to see if the baby would be born on Saturday or Sunday. When the hands moved past midnight, I knew that I’d be giving Mike and our dads a great Father’s Day present. My dad had mentioned weeks ago that I should have the baby on Father’s Day, but I brushed the idea away because I didn’t want to be pregnant still. It was also nice being in the hospital Sunday afternoon, because the whole family came all at once to see us after they went to church.

My doctor came Sunday morning and actually indicated that I could go home if I wanted to, but I knew that the rest in the hospital would be good for me. I did tell her that I definitely wanted to go home the next morning. With no tears or stitches, I felt really good right away. Monday morning, after a pretty good night’s sleep (my roommate left Sunday before noon and I had the room to myself the rest of the time), Erik had his PKU blood test done and my doctor checked us out and gave us the go ahead to go home. We went home around ten in the morning – I wasn’t even in the hospital thirty-six hours this time!

So far, Erik has been a very happy baby. He eats really well and sleeps for long stretches. He’s also awake for long periods of time, which has been lots of fun for anyone who sees him. He has an intelligent look about him, like he’s really studying things and wondering about the world already. Right from the beginning, it has looked like he wanted to smile at us. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he does it before he’s a month old.

My recovery so far has been great, too. The pain I had after labour went away quickly and other than cramping while nursing, I have felt good since we came home. My milk came in during the night on Tuesday, which was just in time because Erik seemed to be needing more than he was getting. Other than the discomfort coming from some engorgement, my body does not feel like it just went through labour four days ago. This makes me look forward to any future deliveries – hopefully they’ll all be like this one (or even shorter). The great thing is that even though it was a fast labour, it wasn’t really intense. My labour with Jenny was just barely longer than this one, but it was awful right from the beginning. I was very quiet during my labour this time and only yelled a bit when I was pushing. It felt good to have control like that over my reactions to the pain.

So, that’s the story of Erik Michael, born June 15, 2008. His big brother and sister love him and the whole family thinks he’s pretty cute. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to be like as he grows up.

Ben’s Birth – May 21, 2010

Benjamin Joshua was born on May 21st, 2010 at 12:01 am. He snuck his way into Friday even though we were certain he would be born on Thursday. We were also fairly certain he would be a girl – but he got us there, too. The one thing we weren’t surprised at was his size – everyone was predicting a big baby and he felt huge when I was carrying him. He still wasn’t as big as Jenny was (9 lb 6 oz), but he was longer than any of our other kids at 21 inches and he weighed 8 lb 14 oz – just eight ounces under Jenny’s birth weight. He was also very late – according to my longer cycle, he was eleven days late, and according to the due date my doctor gave me, fifteen days late. Unfortunately, he refused to come on his own and I was induced on Thursday morning (May 20th).

I went in Wednesday night to possibly be induced and was told that they had too much going on in the maternity ward at the time(five women walked in to deliver babies within a twenty minute period that afternoon). They did a non-stress test on me to make sure baby was doing well – I had a non-stress test on Tuesday night as well so this felt a little redundant. They quickly deduced that he was an active baby but almost too active – so they sent me home to walk for an hour and put him to sleep. We went back to the hospital a little after ten and I was put back on the monitor. He did what they wanted – slept – but they left me on until midnight. I kept thinking about the fact that I had to be back in the morning at seven thirty – and that I wasn’t sleeping well as it was. We went home and went to bed (the kids were already at Mike’s parents’ for the night) and went back in Thursday morning.

Around eight o’clock on May 20th, the first induction gel was administered by my doctor, who then had six hours in town before needing to leave – I hoped to quickly go into labour and have the baby before then. That didn’t happen. We were told to come back if my contractions got bad or if my water broke, but otherwise to come back at two o’clock to have a second, larger dose of gel administered by another doctor. I had contractions but nothing too crazy and managed to have a short nap before we went back in. When I was induced with Jenny, a first gel was given on Tuesday night, then a second Wednesday morning and Jenny was born four and a half hours later. I fully expected things to work the same way this time; they would give me the gel and I would go into labour so fast they wouldn’t bother sending me home again (something I was getting pretty sick of). We went in, the second gel was given, I stayed on the monitor for half an hour and we left again. We came home to eat and watch a movie and around five or five thirty I started having stronger contractions that were bad enough to breathe through. I took a bath and decided around six thirty that we should go back in. I was scheduled for a third gel at seven, so we figured it wouldn’t hurt to go early and see if the contractions were working.

We got checked in and put into a delivery room right away – a good sign since it generally means they won’t send you home again. The nurse told me later that based on the pain I appeared to be in, she expected I would be dilated to a six or so when she checked. No such luck – I was only one centimetre dilated. It was about quarter to seven and I couldn’t imagine going through that kind of pain for much longer. After a shift change, the new nurse suggested I try the shower – something that hadn’t really worked when I was in labour with Erik. I thought I’d give it a try anyway and it turned out to be a good idea. The shower I had used with Erik didn’t have good heat control and would go cold frequently and also didn’t have a handheld shower head like the one this time. I was able to sit and keep the water on my belly or back during contractions while Mike sat on an exercise ball in the little shower room. He was roasting (or steaming, I suppose) but he stuck it out with me. I figured that even with how bad things were, if I could just stay in the shower, I could make it through.

I was in the shower for more than an hour the first time before the nurse had me come out so she could check my dilation. I was pretty hopeful because things were getting worse, but she said I was only two, maybe three centimetres dilated. This was at least an hour and a half after she had checked me the first time and I was starting to feel incredibly worn out. I got back into the shower and about twenty minutes later, the nurse came back and said that the doctor wanted me to consider an epidural, just because I was progressing so slowly but was in so much pain. I mulled it over, thinking that if I got out again in another hour and still hadn’t gone anywhere, I might consider it. I’ve always been very anti-epidural, and because my labours are generally really quick, never imagined getting to the point of needing one to begin with. But after six hours of sleep the night before, a very long day and a trying labour so far, I knew that if I wasn’t progressing, I was going to need some sort of help. The next time the nurse checked me she said I was four or five centimetres – this sealed the deal that I wouldn’t be getting an epidural, but I still felt frustrated at going so slow. The strange thing was that at this point, she also started saying she expected me to deliver any time. Ben’s head was still high but she said she had seen women go from this point to pushing in fifteen minutes before. She suggested fentanyl for the pain, but said she would have to start an IV for that. Then she said maybe I’d like to try the gas – something I had used with Jenny but not found particularly helpful. I took one breath through my nose in the mask and didn’t think I could do it – it just smelled so awful. The next contraction came and she said I should just try to use it once. I tried putting the mask just over my mouth instead of my nose and it worked. I don’t remember what time it was then, but around eleven o’clock, she checked me again and said I was eight – this was probably the one time I really felt happy throughout the whole labour (up until the point that Ben was born, anyway). Five minutes later, though, she said I was a six or seven. Still, she rushed around, calling the doctor and getting the room ready for delivery. The gas was still helping – before I started using it I was nearly screaming with pain (something I generally don’t do in labour), but now I was able to just breathe deep through contractions. From there, my memory of it is mostly just a contraction coming on, putting the mask to my mouth, breathing through the contraction and collapsing when it was over. I felt funny but the gas wasn’t staying in my system for too long so I would just about be over the weird feeling when I’d have another contraction.

As soon as I was confirmed to be seven or eight centimetres, I started feeling the urge to push. The nurse kept checking me and telling me to wait – plus they were waiting on the doctor to come. When he came, he checked me, said I was good to go and I started pushing. Mike says it was either eleven twenty-five or eleven thirty-five when I started pushing. The doctor broke my water then, and they found that it had a bit of meconium in it, but wasn’t very dark (which just meant that Ben probably wouldn’t be affected by it yet). Jenny took me forty-five minutes of pushing, but the boys took only eight and ten minutes, so I was sure that this baby would be born by midnight. Maybe because of his size, he took longer. It was nearly midnight when he crowned and his head was born, but his umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his shoulders so essentially, he got stuck. The doctor cut his cord while he was still at that point, just to make the rest of it easier. They were coaching me, telling me not to push (which, for anyone who has never done it before, seems completely impossible) and finally right at midnight I was able to push again. I asked later and the nurses agreed that Ben was fully born at one minute after midnight. If he had been born at midnight, they might have said he was born at eleven fifty-nine and fifty-nine seconds, just so his birthday could be the 20th and not the 21st, but that one minute meant that the 21st would go on the birth certificate. While the labour was hard and the delivery took longer than my last two babies, I feel more or less the same as I did after the other boys – probably due to having no need for stitches. With Ben’s shoulders getting stuck, I’m actually quite surprised that I avoided tearing or having an episiotomy.

They took Ben to the little table to suction him well since he had pooped before he was born but found pretty quickly that he was healthy. They laid him on my chest skin to skin and we had a good snuggle before he started eating. He ate for about an hour and didn’t want to quit but we figured it was a good idea to get everything cleaned up and get to bed – it was nearly two o’clock in the morning by then. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to breastfeed all my babies right away after birth, and especially Ben and Erik who responded really well to it in the first hour or so after birth. Ben and I got to our room after he was weighed and measured and Mike went home a little after two. I only stayed in the hospital that night and the next night and left on the morning of the 22nd – I was feeling good enough that I didn’t see any reason to stay longer.

Other than some latching issues with breastfeeding – Ben has a small mouth, a big appetite and NO patience – things have been going very well. Jenny wasn’t disappointed by another brother even though she was rooting for a sister. We’re getting into the swing of things with a new baby in the house – making sure everyone is gentle and no one tries to pick Ben up and move him (something that Jenny and Erik have already tried). Mike had the weekend off and since it was a holiday, Monday as well. He took Tuesday off of work and went back yesterday (the 26th). I’m napping whenever I find the time – sometimes sleeping while sitting in the rocker after nursing Ben. The great thing about the older kids is that they play quite well together and aren’t incredibly needy, which means I can focus on Ben most of the time and do things with them when he’s sleeping. I’m still a little stunned to be the mother of four – and especially that three of those four are boys! I never imagined myself having three boys at this point, although I have always hoped that we would end up with three of each. No telling if we’ll end up with any more girls at this point, though! I’m rather smitten with my newest little boy and can’t wait to see his personality form over the next years.

Sam’s Birth – April 30, 2012

(This birth story was first written as a testimony of God’s faithfulness in getting me through labour. It was posted on a message board connected to Be In Health, I haven’t changed it from that format yet so it might read a little funny at times)

Many of you know that I was diagnosed with polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid) last week, at one week over my due date with my fifth baby. I was scheduled for an induction of labour on Monday morning at 7:30. Baby had been twisting and turning every time they checked out how he was doing, and he kept it up right through last weekend. We prayed and prayed that labour would start on its own, primarily because my past induction experiences had been so rough. But, Monday morning, nothing was happening so we started the process.

The first induction at eight didn’t seem to do much, but while we waited for something to happen, we were at home together (kids were with Grandma and Grandpa). I did dishes and laundry to catch up before having baby and my husband suggested we listen to the childbearing teaching, as he had not heard the whole thing yet. We went to lunch together and I started having some contractions during lunch. NO pain, just tightening.

When we got back for the second induction (they do it with a gel here rather than putting you on an IV), I still had no dilation. That was at two o’clock. Almost immediately after it was done, though, my contractions picked up. We were left alone to labour and I did what felt right – swaying, rocking, moving around and breathing through my contractions. I kept reminding myself of the rule I had made for myself when I was having Braxton Hicks contractions: “no ouch face,” and it made such a difference. I thought about what Pastor Donna and Adrienne said on the CD about it being work and pressure rather than pain, and was continually amazed by how painless it felt! I imagined I might have made a bit of progress, but was actually surprised that when I was checked a little after four (only two hours after the second gel), I was dilated to three centimetres and fully effaced. In my labour with my last baby, I had five hours of zero progression and terrible pain. I really thought that inductions just had to be that way. What a blessing to learn otherwise! Since this was my fifth baby and dilation typically goes very quickly at a certain point with later births, I knew I could be done very soon afterward.

I was moved to a delivery room and my doctor was called to come break my water. The big concern was the baby’s position and the risk of cord prolapse (the cord coming out before the baby – VERY dangerous), so she wanted to do it sooner rather than later. When she did it, my belly shrunk by probably two-thirds. She estimates that I had eight litres of fluid in there – four times the normal amount. Unfortunately, even though we thought baby was head down, she quickly found him to be breech. Because he was estimated to be as big as eleven pounds (they were way off there), they couldn’t let him come breech as his head could get stuck. As soon as she said, “That’s a bum,” I knew we would have a c-section. This was something I had never wanted. Everyone went scurrying off to arrange things and while they were all gone, I put out one last request to Daddy, “Father, if there is any way for this baby to get into a head first position now, please do it!!” My husband agreed.

Nothing happened in that regard, but I did not feel let down. I had the most amazing wave of peace washing over me as they added another IV, talked to me about what was going to happen, took all my jewelry, etc. I was contracting still and feeling like I needed to push, which obviously, I couldn’t do. As they took me downstairs, I panted through contractions. I had one nurse downstairs say that if that had been her, she would have been screaming her head off. I just never felt any fear, only peace that this had to happen and it was for the best.

The whole process of getting me ready took twenty minutes or so, with a spinal done rather than general anesthetic. This was yet another blessing – God kept me from dilating any faster so that I would be awake during the birth (something that is both safer and better mentally for mom). My husband came in and we shared a quiet time together, waiting for our baby to be born. It was a very strange experience, but it went very well. I had my doctor, a competent surgeon that I was familiar with (he actually took my tonsils out a few years ago) and a great anesthetist who was gentle and reported to me frequently on how things were going (it turns out he is my doctor’s husband!).

When our son cried for the first time, it was such a wonderful sound. When they wrapped him up and handed him to Mike, I had him put Sam (his name is Samuel Nicholas) right next to my face, cheek to cheek. I still feel like I missed something, not having the typical naked baby on my bare chest experience, but the skin contact was terrific. I talked to him as long as I could, telling him how precious he was, how much we loved him. It was the best it could have been under the circumstances. He never went into distress, which was also a huge blessing.

When I was being stitched up, they were unable to remove my uterus to sew it up (which is standard procedure), because it was so distended. Thankfully, this didn’t seem to affect much, just that it took longer than normal. My womb is taking longer to go back to normal size, partially because of having five babies, and partially because of the extra fluid making it grow so big. We are only expecting the best, though.

While this recovery is going to be very difficult compared the other kids, I expect it to go well and I am going to follow all the rules and be very careful. Mike is taking six weeks of leave, which we will have 55% compensation for. We have money in savings to get us through this and are at peace about it. I have to wait six weeks before lifting more than ten pounds, so being alone with all four (the youngest is not quite two) is just not an option. I think it has the potential to be a very good time for our family, especially once we get past the first few weeks when I really can’t do much at all. I am in pain, but have a good pain killer and am not going to be shy about taking it as this is major abdominal surgery I’m recovering from!

While I have a sense of loss at missing natural birth (which I love), I have said many times that if this had happened with any of my other children, it would have been devastating. I guess God just knew I could handle it. My last induction was miserable, but I know now that I can make it through even that form of intervention without pain! It felt like a miracle, even though it ended in the biggest intervention of all. And a side blessing of this is that once you have had an c-section, you cannot be induced. I am trusting God to heal me so thoroughly that I will have no problem having a natural birth that comes in its own timing. We both came to the conclusion seperately that we should pray for healing or even a creative miracle of a new womb, one that shows no signs of c-section, polyhydramnios or even five pregnancies. It is our heart to continue bringing children into the world, and of course, we want that to go as well as possible.

I want to thank all of you who were praying for me through this. It did not end as we had hoped, but Sam and I are healthy and home again. Mike and I got to experience the wonder of a painless labour, even if we never made it to natural delivery this time. What a blessing that I know I can do it – it makes me look forward even more to the next pregnancy and birth. I was told by my doctor that the recommended time between deliveries is eighteen to twenty-four months. Because we do not use any birth control, I was concerned that this might change what was “required” of us to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). It turns out that this is a very typical spacing for us without doing anything to control it. We are trusting that God’s timing is the best kind and we won’t have to change anything in order to have the birth we want next time.

Again, a HUGE thanks to Be In Health, in particular Pastor Henry and Donna and Adrienne Shales for putting together the teaching on childbearing. It has changed things for me for good – I will not go back to my old way of thinking ever again.

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