This is a long time coming, but I've wanted to post and share Anthony's birth story for a while - it just took me a bit to get it down on paper.
Agh, this birth! It’s been such a crazy build up to the birth – busy work, job hunt, new job, resigning my job, moving across the world – that I have registered that I’m pregnant, but I really feel like I barely got to think about the birth until we were in Michigan for a week (then I gave birth a week and half later). Whoa!
So much has this birth been on the backburner, that I really don’t feel like we got to think about how/where we were birthing and we just defaulted to an unassisted homebirth with good hospital backup. Don’t get me wrong – I have been so excited to meet Anthony, but the birth itself was another thing entirely. So that’s the set up – not a lot of reflection or preparation about the fact that I was going to labor and birth once again. I just had to wing it… which, when labor takes so much stamina, as my puttery and longish labors usually do, was not the ideal set up. I felt like I was not bringing my ‘A-game’!! J
I woke up on Thursday, August 2 in labor at about 5am. I was in early phase labor all day until 4 or 4:30pm. I always have this long early labor phase, and I’ve always wished it were shorter. It’s tiresome to wait for active labor to start, and by the time I get there, I’m already taxed. I spent the day going for walks, taking ‘naps’ (i.e. laying down and not sleeping through contractions J), eating as much healthy good food as possible, and playing with my kids. DH and I also did a run for bagels and popsicles – two things I was randomly craving during that time. One highlight was saying the rosary with DH at the park while we walked laps and the kids played with grandma ‘Mimi’. Another was when I was lying down with DS1 prior to his nap, and he took my face in his hands after we had talked about the fact that the baby was coming and said, “Mommy, you’re going to be very brave.” That gave me strength when indeed, I did need to be very brave!
By about 4pm though, my contractions were getting more serious, and I retreated to the room that we’d set up for the birth on the 1st floor of my in-law’s house. One very special thing about the birthplace was that this had been the room that ‘Mima’ (Mimi’s mom) had lived in until her death at age 90, just a year and a half prior. So, it was special to us that we’d be bringing new life into that space, a space where a very beloved grandmother had spent much of her time in the last years of her life.
I labored and labored, handling contractions well, while DH alternated between helping me cope and helping to make sure the kids were settled with activities and dinner, etc. Mimi took them to McDonalds for ice cream after dinner to distract them from the louder and louder sounds of their Mommy coming out of the bedroom. They went to bed without any trouble by 8:30pm and by that time, my labor was very, very serious.
Time is a little blurry for me, but I know that at some point (maybe around 8:30pm or so), I checked my cervix, and I was appalled to find I was only 4ish cm. I had been feeling like I was in transition – hard and heavy contractions and throwing up! And indeed I was, but apparently, I dilate all at once and not until my body is good and ready. At that point I needed a respite from the pain and I needed to relax my body in order to open up, so I spent about an hour laboring in a warm tub. It was such a blessing and a much-needed time of rest from the intensity, but DH wouldn’t let me stay in there forever, telling me that it was slowing me down. He was right, but it was hard to comply when the tub felt so good.
He helped me out of the tub and onto the bed, where I was determined to end this. I asked him for cold packs to put behind my back, and propped myself on all the pillows. My contractions came hard and heavy, and although I knew I must be nearing the end, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I dug into whatever mental and physical reserves I had left, and focused all my being on staying completely relaxed through each contraction. It worked, because DH, while lying next to me, thought that I wasn’t even having contractions – and believe me, these were the strongest contractions I’d had.
After a while of this, we decided to check my cervix again. I felt just a little bit of cervix (like a lip), and at that point we were uncertain if I should push against it or not. However, that question was answered for me as my contractions turned into monstrosities. NOT pushing became utterly impossible. So, I had my answer, and declared (more likely hollered) to DH that I would now commence pushing. He was worried, and asked me to hold off for a bit if at all possible. After writhing through two more of those utter monstrosities, I CRIED OUT to him that I HAD to push and began pushing, like it or not. He quickly got set up for delivery and checked the baby’s heartbeat (and had been throughout the labor) and it was just fine. I was pushing and DH was very encouraging, although still a little worried, I could tell.
I pushed through a few contractions, making progress. DH checked for the baby’s heartbeat and all was well. The time between contractions was growing very short, and finally DH didn’t have the time to catch the baby’s heartbeat before the next contraction began. That set off something in me, and I decided that the baby would be born NOW. So, I pushed with all my might and Anthony’s head was out. DH smiled and let me know that Anthony was looking around and blinking J. I pushed again with the next contraction and our sweet son was born at 11:05pm! I’m pretty sure I pushed for about 10-15 minutes at most.
He started wailing immediately, which put us both at ease. I drew him up to my chest and thanked God for his healthy and safe passage to us. I also, as always, thanked God that labor was over. Anthony stopped crying and was very alert and just perfect. He wanted to nurse immediately, and didn’t stop nursing for an hour and a half! I kept waiting for him to be done so that I could clean up, but he wouldn’t hear of it. We took nursing breaks to clean up a bit (he pooped on me right after he was born – thanks a lot, little buddy J!) and clamp his cord. His Mimi and Granddad got to meet him right away, another very special part of being here for the birth.
We finally settled down around 2am for some sleep, but for me, sleep did not come. I kept vigil and watched Anthony breathe until the alarm went off to feed him once again. As each of my children enter the world, I feel more and more aware of the fragility of life.
The kids were elated to meet Anthony in the morning at around 7am, and we spent some beautiful and really special time together as a family of five. And life has gone on, all the fuller now that Anthony is a part of it. He is now two weeks old, and is the most relaxed baby we’ve ever had. He hardly fusses, sleeps well, and is just a sweet little guy. He’s kind of a marvel and we’re all in awe and in love.
Edited by Lizbiz - 8/18/12 at 3:54am