Benjamin’s birth was nothing at all like I expected. I figured having given birth once, I knew what I was in for. Boy was I wrong.
First, I did not expect to go early. Since LP was a week late, I figured that Bae would be at least a few days late. As I said in my “On the Clock” post, I still had lots on my to-do list to do before the baby got here. So when my water broke with the blood on Friday morning it really freaked me out (besides the OMG, blood) part.
To pick up where that post left off, I ate lunch of crackers, cheese, and apple while Darius and I watched stuff on the DVR. Then Namaste, my doula, showed up. Since NOTHING was happening, or if it was it was more like mild braxton-hicks contractions than full contractions, we did the belly henna. It came out so beautifully:
Then Namaste cut my toenails and took the last of the polish off of them. I know that seems like a silly thing, but seriously, it was wonderful. As nothing was really happening (I did have mucus and bloody show and there were bits of light blood every time I wiped, but nothing was really leaking out) and I was getting tired again, I sent her home and took a nap on a towel in the guest room.
When I woke the henna was bugging me, so I pulled it all off. It looked really light, but it’s darkened recently. I was going to pump to try to see if I could get things going, but when I pulled out my pump I discovered that I was missing the membranes, so it wouldn’t work. Then I was pretty sure that my sister (who was flying in), KR, and LP would be arriving with food soon, so I figured I’d wait until after LP was asleep to try things.
They showed up with barbecue and I was having a few mild contractions again but nothing regular. Food was wonderful to eat. Then my sister and Darius put LP to bed. I called the birthing center and let them know that we’d be coming in after LP was asleep because we wanted to see if we could get things started. We headed in around 8:30 or so. When we got there, the only open room was the Ananda room. It was the only room in the center that I really didn’t want to be in. I didn’t like the bright green or the decorations (yes, this in the same room that LP was born in, redecorated).
Talked with Ros, the midwife on duty, and decided to try pumping with the medical grade pump and taking some herbs (not those kind of herbs!) to see if we could kick start some things. The medical grade pump really pulled at my nipples! I read Bae more of the Hobbit to pass the time. Rested on the bed a bunch and then went back to the pump and herbs.
Around 10:30pm I was lying in the bed with some mild contractions and felt a low down pop and a gush. My water had certainly popped this time. Was leaking everywhere. Messaged Namaste to come to the birthing center as the contractions were starting to feel stronger. When she came we found a birthing ball that was a little bit deflated and I started bouncing on that a bit. I also put on Hedwig and the Angry Inch because it was stuck in my head and danced around a bit. Contractions were getting stronger. At 1am I put on my Rocky Horror shirt and made the joke I’d been waiting to make for seven months.
The problem with the being on the clock was I kept checking in with Namaste (Darius had mostly passed out on the bed…good for him) about how far apart things were and how long they were lasting. They were getting to be about 5 minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. Ros said that the baby felt small and that she was sure that when I went into full labor it would happen quickly. But then around 1:30 or 1:45 I got totally exhausted and had to rest. Ros checked me before I went to sleep and I was only at 1cm and 80% effaced. When I feel asleep things totally slowed down, but I do remember a few really painful contractions that would wake me up and then I’d fall back asleep again. I also remember the midwife or the nurse coming in to check my vitals and the baby’s vitals throughout the night. One great thing through all of this was that both of our vitals were perfect the whole time.
I woke up around 4 or 5 am not really able to sleep anymore. Darius and I ate some instant oatmeal. We tried more bouncing and another round with the pump and the herbs, but nothing was really happening. There was a shift change for midwives and now Joanne was the midwife on duty, which was good because Ros looked exhausted. I think there were almost always two if not three rooms full and a few false starts. So busy time at the Birthing Center.
At some point I got exhausted again, so we took the birthing ball over by the bed and I laid my head on a pillow and took a 40 min nap.
At this point it was about 9:30 and nothing was happening, so Joanne made me an apple juice and caster oil drink. One sip and I threw it right back up. After getting it all back up I had a total melt down. Things weren’t happening, everything was wrong, I hated the room I was in, etc. I think I really needed that purge of emotions. I just wish that someone had reached out to touch me at that time, but it’s hard to express that in the moment. So we came up with a new plan. Clean the room of that energy and Jonathan and I would get out of the birthing center for a little while, go to Walgreens for more castor oil (they were out now), and just get a little change of scenery. When we were leaving I noticed that the Barcelona room (the room I liked the best) was being cleaned out. We asked Joanne if we could switch rooms and she said that she would see what she could do.
At Walgreens I had a few small contractions. We got orange juice (which was good because right after we left we got a text asking to pick up OJ), some snacks, a foot air pump (to inflate the ball), and the castor oil. Then we drove around a bit and ended up by a bagel place so we picked up bagel sandwiches for us and Namaste. When we got back to the birthing center, they had switched us to the Barcelona room. So much more my style.
We ate and Joanne gave me an anti-nausea pill. Then a little bit later she brought me a caster oil, OJ, and frozen fruit smoothie in a champagne flute. I wish I’d gotten a picture of it. I started watching Labyrinth on my phone just to have something to distract me.
We paused after I finished the caster oil (got it all down, no problems!) and went for a walk on the nature trail. It was nice to be outside. I was starting to have contractions again and every time they would happen I would hold on to Darius until they passed. We walked to the end of the trail and back and then I put the movie on again.
At some point I remember the castor oil doing it’s trick and having to run to the bathroom. The contractions were starting to pick up, but not too bad. I was sitting on the (now more inflated) ball and watching the movie. I got through the ball scene before they were picking up so much that I couldn’t watch anymore. I’m so thankful that I had Namaste there and that I knew that I liked pulling on things from my last labor. She’d brought this knit woven scarf. Every time a contraction would hit I would grab the center and someone else (Namaste or Darius) would grab the ends and they’d give me resistance to pull against.
Around 1:30 or so things REALLY started picking up in intensity. I don’t have a clear time frame in my head, but soon it really started hurting. I was doing my best to breathe and chant “OM” through each one. I felt them low down in my belly, like it was a smile below where my belly was (whatever those muscles and ligaments are). I was sitting on the birthing ball for a lot of them. I remember having to go to the bathroom and having some contractions on the toilet. I think my one criticism of the birthing center is that they have REALLY high toilets. They need some stools or something for those of us who aren’t six feet tall.
At some point I know we made sure the midwife was there. I remember having some contractions while holding on to Darius. We also tried one on the bed with me over the birthing ball. That one really sucked. The contractions were coming hard and fast really quickly. I remember being in the rocking chair and thinking how I wanted to get away from the pain. I’m pretty sure I told people that my flight response was kicking in. They reminded me to try to stay in my body and to work the pain down and to make low noises. It hurt sooooo badly. I tried to stay with it and breathe and focus on the area where the pain was (the lower belly, that smile area), but I also kept wanting to get away from it. At some point I was sweating like crazy and threw my dress off. After what seemed like forever of fighting/trying not to fight and being in lots of pain, I asked the midwife if I was in transition, because I knew that in transition is when you always think you can’t do this and it’s too much. She said maybe (didn’t want to get my hopes up). I asked to get in the tub and begged her to check me. I have no idea how I made it to the bed. Contractions sitting on the bed really really sucked. She checked me and said I was 100% effaced, 5-6 centimeters dilated, and baby was at 0 station. That made me feel a lot better about things, but everything still hurt and I wanted to escape it.
I got in the tub around 3 pm and it felt really nice. It also surprised me with how big it was. I felt like I couldn’t rest my feet against anything to brace myself and stay upright enough. Then what I thought was 5 minutes later, but was later told it was 15, I felt this immense pressure vaginally and anally. I thought I was going to have a huge poop and that everything was going to just come out of my lower bits. I reached down and felt the top of the baby’s head at my vaginal opening. I started freaking out because I knew I was just 5-6 cm a few minutes (in my mind) ago. I started expressing fear that my cervix was ruined and I was going to tear and everything. Everyone was very reassuring and letting me know that it was time for the baby to come out and that was okay. Every urge to push felt so hard on my anus and the burning was so great. I had a another push or two and a little not with an urge to push push and then another big push (most of those I was fighting a bit because the burning was so great) and his head was out. Then the rest came out in another push and he was placed on my chest at 3:24pm. All in all I pushed for about 5 minutes. Total active labor time was about 2-2.5 hours. Ros was right, when it happened it went fast.
They wanted to get me out of the tub to birth the placenta, but I just couldn’t move. I got the placenta out rather quickly (those pushes didn’t hurt as much) and the cord had stopped pulsing so they cut it. Then someone took the baby and people helped me out of the tub and onto the bed. I was shaking uncontrollably. I was told this was just hormones and was normal. They got me covered with a sheet. The baby was crying like crazy. Darius had him all wrapped up and was bouncing him and being an awesome daddy. The midwife checked me and said that I hadn’t torn at all! My bleeding was on the high side of normal, but with the hemorrhaging I’d had last time they offered me a shot of pitocin in my leg, which I agreed to. They also massaged down my uterus, which sucked, but not as much as a midwife reaching inside to pull out clots.
Darius was spending time calming the baby and talking to him. At some point he asked him about his name. The name he responded to the most was Benjamin Ansel, which was always our first choice. Now everyone in the family has a first name ending in n with a different vowel in front of it. And Ansel is for my grandmother Selma, as they have the same root German name: Anselm.
At some point, I think it may have been while I was still in the tub, we were informed that the placenta was already calcifying, which is crazy since we were only at 38 weeks. Guess it was good he was born when he was!
Benjamin had calmed down enough and I had been tended to enough that at about half an hour post birth we had our first fantastic nursing session. He latched right on and was a champion nurser. Considering how hard of a time I had with Little Prince, this was such a relief.
Less than an hour later we had another great nursing session.
The midwife and the nurses continued to check on me and massage my uterus (OUCH!) and check vitals and all that fun stuff. Darius totally fell in love with the baby.
KR came by and brought us burgers and fries (and a shake for Darius) from P. Terry’s. It tasted amazing.
Eventually Benjamin was weighed and measured. He came in at 6lbs 1.5oz and 19.25″ tall. Weighing less that LP by about 12oz, but taller by 1.25″.
We had my sister bring LP to the birthing center after their dinner to meet Benjamin. Little guy was so excited and also so overtired (it was his bedtime). I’m still glad he got to visit him there.
While LP and my sister were there the midwife let me know that I could leave whenever I was ready. I asked her for a bit more time so that we wouldn’t be getting home while my sister was putting LP to sleep. A mother herself, she totally understood.
A bit after KR and LP and my sister left, I was in the bed with the baby and I felt the after effects of the castor oil….I tried to get the baby to Darius so I could run to the bathroom…but I didn’t even get out of bed in time. So glad I was lying on top of special pads and a bunch of blankets…let’s just say it wasn’t very pretty. And people worry about pooping during labor…. Anyway, I figured that was my cue to go to the bathroom and take a shower.
Taking a shower was a lot harder than I was expecting it to be. I spent most of the time sitting on the shower stool working on catching my breath. The nurse explained that my lungs and inner parts were all shifting back into place and so that’s why it was I was so out of breath.
Eventually I was all clean, Benjamin was in his coming home outfit (complete with the premie sized hat I made him), we’d had our final checks, and all of the discharge paperwork was done. We finally left the birthing center at 10:30pm, at little over 24 hours after we showed up, and 7 hours after Benjamin was born.