Sorry it's so ridiculously long, especially considering how fast the actual birth went. Guess I got kinda wordy!
My due date (Thursday, May 17th) came and went, as usual. I walked a 5k race that Saturday and just tried to keep busy. Monday I moped around a lot but Tuesday I went grocery shopping, mowed the grass, and cleaned up a bit around the house. Wednesday I went to the gym and walked a mile then ellipticaled a mile. After that I took the girls to a park then when we got home the 3 of us spent an hour splashing, relaxing, and playing in the kiddie pool in the backyard. It sounds silly but I don’t usually get in there with them, so this was a special time for all of us and they kept saying how much fun they were having on a special day, yada yada yada.
That evening I had contractions (the ‘real’ kind, that go down low) about 12-15 minutes apart for several hours. Right before I went to sleep, I talked to my mom (in Denver) on the phone and we tried to decide if she should fly in Friday or Saturday. She surprised me by buying a ticket to fly in on Thursday (the next day) because she just had a feeling she’d miss it if she waited. So when I woke up around a couple hours later around 12:20am, I was pretty bummed when I realized the contractions had stopped. I got up to the bathroom and then laid in bed thinking about the next day.
The baby started moving like crazy which caused a contraction. I was slightly annoyed and just breathing through it when suddenly I felt a pop and a gush. I woke Zach, told him my water had just broke and asked him to grab me some towels, then I checked the clock – 12:58am. I got cleaned up (hooray for clear amniotic fluid!) then we called the midwife just to let her know what was going on. She said we’d just plan on keeping my regular 41 weeks appointment for the next day unless she heard from us again sooner. So I drank some EmergenC, chugged some water, and went back to bed. I worried the random contractions would hurt more without that cushion of fluid but they felt the same. I didn’t sleep a whole lot because I was sort of pumped up, plus every time the kid moved or I had a contraction, fluid would gush out of me. I’d forgotten how that felt – I am NOT a fan!
(My water broke before labor with Lolli, also. The difference was, my fluid wasn’t clear – lots of meconium, and we were having a hospital birth. Long story short, labor hadn’t started by hour 30 so Dr. Soper started Pitocin. I couldn’t handle the sudden onset of horrific contractions and got an epidural. Still had a vaginal birth so it wasn’t a terrible experience but I did have a few moments of anxiety when my water broke first with this labor. I’d been empowered by Poppy’s birth, though, and I trusted my body to eventually go into labor this time and was content to wait it out).
The next morning Zach decided to stay home from work to drive me to Lynda’s and the airport to pick up my mom. It seems sort of silly since I wasn’t even in labor yet, but I was worried it might hit me fast and I’d be stranded on the highway with 2 kids, unable to drive through the contractions. We spent the morning cleaning up the house (and my puddles) then went to Lynda’s. I felt like a fool wearing regular undies with a pad, plus mesh undies and a giant maternity pad over that, but I couldn’t very well walk around in public holding a towel between my legs the way I had been at home. We talked about precautions (monitoring my temp, staying hydrated, EmergenC 3 times a day, not inserting anything into my vagina) and time frames. Lynda said as long as my temps stayed normal and the baby was moving well, she wouldn’t walk to discuss the use of herbs/castor oil/nipple stimulation until Saturday afternoon, unless it was just because *I* wanted to. Baby’s heart rate was 138, I was measuring 40cm and my BP was 120/78.
So we went about the rest of our day: Orange Leaf, airport, then home for the evening. I felt a final big gush of fluid as we got home around 4:15pm on Thursday (so 15 hours after my membranes ruptured) and after that I had no more leaking, which left me feeling slightly paranoid. Regardless, baby was moving well and I got good sleep that night. Friday morning I woke up a little irritated that the 24 hour mark had come and gone but I felt encouraged that I was now having lots of gunk (clear or pink-tinged mucus). Mom and I dropped the girls off at school then stopped by Sarah’s house to have her feel baby’s position. Ever since my water broke, my belly had felt/looked sort of deflated and more squishable, although it stayed round. She could definitely feel pockets of fluid and suggested that the reason I’d stopped gushing was the forebag slipping down to cover the tear. Made sense to me and the midwife apprentice concurred via text message. I was just happy not to have to wear my diaper. Zach and I went to Rustic Gardens for some mini golf. He beat me by 4 strokes but I had a couple contractions while we were out on the course so I was feeling optimistic.
After that it was Qdoba and Target with Zach & Mom, then he went disc golfing while we picked the girls up from school. I called Sarah and asked her if she could come check me (the only vaginal exam I had during the entire pregnancy/labor!) so I’d have some sort of idea of my “starting point” before labor began. She just happens to keep sterile gloves on hand at all times and was happy to pop by! She declared me 2cm, 80%, and very soft – she was able to stretch me to 3. So once again I was feeling irritated (more than 36 hours after my water broke and I had to assume I’d made pretty much NO progress from the random contractions) and I just knew I was never going to go into labor. I had a good crying spell then decided I needed Zach to come home NOW and that I needed Mom & the girls to go away for the night. I felt terrible asking my mom to go spend the night somewhere else after she’d flown all the way here to spend time with us, but I just really felt like I needed some alone time with Zach. (Looking back, obviously this was the start of my labor so I wish someone had talked me into letting mom and the girls come back here to sleep for the night so they wouldn’t miss anything, but I probably would have been hard to convince at this point.)
Thankfully mom understood. We all ate dinner together (during which I had a few contractions) then they headed over to Gma’s. I stripped down to nothing and sat on a towel on the birth ball while Zach and I watched Just In Time. My contractions started to get more consistent, coming every 6-11 minutes. Then my lower back started to ache, which was a relief - when one is 41 weeks, 1 day pregnant and has had ruptured membranes for well over 36 hours, feeling pain and discomfort is actually quite a happy thing!
For the most part I was breathing and rolling my hips through each contraction without much fuss but every now and then one would take my breath away and leave me squirming in pain. I think it had something to do with the baby moving during a contraction. It was something I’d not felt in either of my other labors and it sucked. Zach and I worked out a system where I’d say, “Ok.” at the beginning on a contraction and he’d pause the movie and kneel in front of me so I could lean on him if I needed to, or just hold his hand. This allowed me to relax more completely. Then I’d get up and pee (always hoping to find some bloody show but only finding the same clear/pink mucus each time) before reclaiming my spot on the birth ball to watch the movie and wait for the next one.
After the movie we went for a walk to see if it would bring the contractions closer together. It did not, and I felt too “watched” to relax because it was still light outside and people were sitting in their garages. I definitely prefer to labor without a strange audience. When we got back home I laid down on the couch and snoozed between contractions while Zach watched another movie. Some contractions I could just breathe through but some had me springing up off the couch and lunging for Zach’s support. But somehow I fell quickly back to sleep after each one.
At some point we moved to the bedroom but the routine stayed the same throughout the entire night. Zach slept with his hand outstretched so I could reach it if I needed it, but I tried not to bug him as I breathed, moaned, shrieked, rocked, writhed and relaxed through contractions that came every 9-11 minutes without fail. I have no idea how or why, but I had no trouble falling back to sleep between each contraction, even the horrendous baby-moving-around ones that had me panicking and running for the bathroom (they were making me pee).
When 6am rolled around, I decided I’d had enough rest and it was time to get the show on the road. I got up and settled in on the birth ball again while Zach watched some show about Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks (I wanted to kill him). The contractions went back to averaging 8 minutes apart – maybe a bit longer and stronger but definitely not getting much closer together. Between 6:30 and 7, I decided I’d like to call over Shannon (the birth assistant/midwife apprentice) to come check my cervix and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. I knew a prolapsed cord was a slight risk since my labor began with my membranes already ruptured, so I wanted the reassurance of hearing the heartbeat stay strong throughout a contraction. Zach summoned her but told her she’d likely be going back home since I was still in early labor with spaced out contractions. He also texted the family to let them know I was still having contractions but it was looking to be a very long day.
I remember telling him I felt like such a loser because here I was, with contractions 8 minutes apart, daydreaming about going to the hospital for some Pitocin and an epidural. Even though that thought process is usually a sure sign of transition, it never really occurred to me that I could be so far along in my labor since I’d just spent 8 hours sort of sleeping and my contractions were still so spaced out. I wondered what I was doing wrong that was making coping with them so difficult. I figured it was a combination of my water being broken and not having done Hypnobabies this time. I was anticipating a long day of laboring ahead and was feeling rather grumpy about that.
Around the same time, I decided I hated the birth ball and was going to get in the tub, even if it was early labor and I’d slow everything down. I’d been holding off on it since it seemed sort of like an infection risk to be in there very long before the birth, but that no longer mattered to me at this point. I remember thinking “Go ahead and infect me, birth tub, I DO NOT CARE!”
I skipped a contraction when I first got in the tub and thought maybe I’d stopped labor altogether. Which was fine with me, I’d just wait it out and start over again later. But then a contraction came, then another shortly thereafter. I wasn’t even watching the clock at this point so I can’t say for sure but Zach said they got closer together and I got a lot louder (I suspect some of these were spontaneous pushing noises that got cut off by me yelling – questioning the universe and my body about why this was hurting so freakin’ bad when I’d been asleep just over an hour earlier). I needed the water in the tub to be higher so he hooked up the hose to the hot water spout and pumped some in. Then I was too warm and asked for some cold water. He spent what seemed like hours trying to get the hose connected to the cold water. I was so mad because all I needed was for him to dump in some buckets of cold water, but he was determined to hook up that damn hose. By this time I needed him to do counter-pressure on my back during each contraction to help with the pain, so I was getting pretty hysterical that he kept leaving the room. After flooding the laundry room, admitting defeat, and carrying in buckets of cold water, he decided to call over Sarah so he could have another set of hands around.
At some point in the tub my body started feeling pushy and kind of like my vagina was doing the fish lips thing I remember from just before Poppy’s birth. This pissed me off even more. I was sure there was NO WAY I was even close to fully dilated (I was guessing 5-6, and thought even that might have been a bit optimistic since the contractions had been so spaced out). So then I tried “hee hee hoo” breathing and horse lips and screaming cuss words during contractions to try to avoid pushing. The only result of that was Zach making fun of me, so I told him we better call Lynda (the midwife) to come. As soon as he hung up with her, he texted the family/birth attendants and told them it would probably be ok to head on over, but that there was no rush. The time was 7:36am.
I’m not exactly sure what happened in the next 5 minutes, but at 7:41am Zach texted my mom saying simply, “Hurry!” because it was becoming apparent that the birth wasn’t going to be as delayed as I’d anticipated and I really really wanted her, Lolli & Poppy to be there when the baby was born.
But that just wasn’t meant to be. During my next contraction, I found myself pushing full-stop. I was on my knees, leaning my elbows and head on the side of the birth tub. I reached down and, sure enough, there was a head between my legs. Oops!
I told Zach I could feel the head so he hopped in the tub behind me (or maybe he’d already been in there to push on my back; I can’t remember). I remember thinking something along the lines of, “Well shit, looks like we’re birthing this baby on our own. SHIT!” Maybe I said it aloud, because I remember him saying something like, “It’s ok. People used to do this in fields all the time.” To which I know I responded, “SHUT UP!” then proceeded to push out my baby’s head. I remember briefly giving a thought to the fact that Zach has no idea how to support a perineum and hoping I didn’t tear horribly. After the head was out, I told him he’d need to feel for a cord around the neck. He said he couldn’t feel anything which reassured me, but later when I asked him, it became clear that he didn’t really check as thoroughly as I’d assumed he did. Thankfully it was a non-issue.
We heard the front door open and Zach calmly hollered, “Help! Help! Help!” and in walked Shannon. Woohoo! I remember saying, “We’ve got a head.” I’m not sure exactly sure how much time passed but I don’t think it was long until I felt another urge to push, so I did and the rest of the baby’s body oozed out into Zach’s hands at 7:49am. Zach told me later that for all the whooping and hollering I did during labor, I was actually completely silent during pushing. It was definitely my favorite part of this labor (probably because I spent the rest of my labor either sleeping or being pissed off and in denial of it really being productive labor).
Shannon helped him untangle the cord which was wrapped across 1 shoulder. As they were doing this, they both said the word, “he” and my ears picked right up on it. I looked over my shoulder and was like, “Um, did you guys say he?” and Zach said he was pretty sure. So I snuck a peek and yup – we had ourselves a baby boy! Zach and I were both completely stunned. He’d stared at the screen closely during our routine diagnostic ultrasound and was convinced he would have seen a penis if one had been present, so in his mind, the baby was 100% girl. I knew the ultrasound wouldn’t have showed us the answer since the tech never focused on the right area, but my pregnancy had been no different than my others, so I just assumed it was a girl, since nothing indicated otherwise.
I had to do some sort of weird leg lift so they could pass the baby to me without tugging on the cord or sticking him back underwater. Once I had him in my arms I was able to settle comfortably and lean back against the wall of the tub. The baby started searching for my nipple immediately, which always amazes me. I had expected to feel hyper and sort of amped up like I had after both Lolli & Poppy’s births, but instead I just felt happy and stunned, but not other-worldly at all.
It wasn’t long before we heard the front door again and in walked Sarah. It was fun watching her reaction and I was so glad she got there when she did to start snapping pictures, but I remember feeling apologetic for her having missed the birth. (I did a LOT of apologizing that day as the family and birth attendants all trickled in during that first hour of our baby’s life.) Shannon and Sarah helped me move out of the tub and over onto the bed where I nursed the baby and waited for the placenta to come. I’d forgotten how big those feel. It doesn’t really hurt, but it’s scary to feel things stretching again so soon after birthing a baby. Shannon checked our vitals frequently and all was normal.
At some point, my mom, grandma and the girls arrived. We let the girls in the bedroom first so they could meet their baby brother. They were super sweet with him! Lolli was very interested in how he was still attached to the cord and placenta but Poppy got a bit freaked out by the blood. I have no idea of the order of arrival but my dad, Zach’s parents, my grandpa, Rod, Lynda (the midwife), Tonya and Jaime all came to welcome the baby.
I still wasn’t 100% sure on a name for the baby but Lolli had insisted all along that it was a boy and we’d name him Orion, so we just went with it and named him Orion Zane Pucillo, but he goes by Ozzie.
Once Lynda arrived, we were able to clamp and cut the cord. Zach did the honors since Dr. Soper cut Lolli’s and I cut Poppy’s. Lynda and Shannon checked my perineum and found a clean 1st degree tear. She offered me the option of a stitch, derma-bond, or just keeping my knees together. I chose the last option because it seemed the simplest and least painful (it’s been 8 days since his birth as I type this and I feel great down there so I think it was the right choice). Then it was time for Ozzie’s big weigh-in. He tipped the scale at 9lbs 4oz and measured 22.5 inches with a 13.75 inch head. As he was on the scale, my dad came in to “take a picture of his balls – gotta have proof.” Ha!
I got up and showered then headed out to the living room to introduce Ozzie to everyone. Several people helped Zach get the tub cleaned and taken down and Tonya and Jaime were busy in the kitchen making peri tea and birthday cake. I kept telling everyone how sorry I was that they’d all missed the birth. At some point it dawned on me that there is no video of Ozzie entering this world and that made my heart hurt pretty bad. I treasure the birth videos of Lolli and Poppy so much. It still makes me tear up to think about it. But pretty much nothing went according to plan for this birth since it caught us so off guard. The only 2 things on my birth plan that were accomplished were having a water birth and Zach cutting the cord. I’d wanted lots of pictures and video during labor and the birth, I’d wanted mom and Lolli and Poppy all to get to see the baby be born, I’d wanted to catch the baby myself, etc. Oh well. Maybe next time (I’m kidding, Zach! Sort of. I do really really really enjoy giving birth, despite handling it like a maniac, very much unlike those calm and quiet water births I see on YouTube).
This was a very strange labor. I’d been hoping for lots of advance notice before the baby was born, and I got it – my water broke 55 hours before Ozzie was born! But the waiting around for labor to start wasn’t really very fun. And I never really enjoyed my labor or welcomed my “birthing time” because of the odd way it presented itself. I’m still baffled at how easily I feel back to sleep between each contraction during the night – who does that?!? I kept waiting for the bloody show that had preempted both Lolli and Poppy’s birth but it never came. I certainly wasn’t wishing to come within 60 seconds of an unassisted birth – we’d planned on it being a big gathering with all our family gathered in the living room to hear the first cries, with both the midwife and the apprentice in attendance plus both photographers snapping pics. I’ll always be a little mad at myself for not catching on sooner to how fast the pushing stage was going to start and finish, but I guess that’s what I get for having such a number-oriented brain and being a clock-watcher. Still, I’m proud of Zach for not freaking out about having to “catch” Ozzie’s head without anyone there to supervise or assist. He’s a pretty amazing birth partner!
Ozzie is a very content baby. He sleeps a ton but is nursing well. He was 9lbs 4oz at birth on Saturday (41w 2d). He hadn’t passed any meconium in utero or at birth so he did a ton of pooping in his first 24 hours! My milk came in Monday morning (I noticed the first dribble spill out his mouth around 45 hours after his birth) and that afternoon he weighed 8lbs 12oz. His cord fell off on Thursday (the girls were so happy he finally has a belly button!) and on Friday at the pediatrician he weighed 9lbs 1oz. He’s off to a great start and our family of 5 couldn’t be happier!