August Everett’s birth story
My husband Rob and I had been trying to add a second child to our family for quite a while. Due to a known chromosomal abnormality, we had experienced 5 miscarriages over the course of 2.5 years in the attempt to make our 3.5 year-old Iris a big sister. I fully expected that I would lose this baby early on, but when I first saw the heart beating via ultrasound at my 6 week appointment, I sent all of the love that I could to that tiny baby. ‘I love you, I love you, please stay with us.’ My doctor hugged me before I left, and I walked away thinking maybe this was really going to work. In March, we had the Panorama blood test done, which screens the maternal blood for the common trisomies. When my doctor called to tell me that the results were all normal, he asked if I wanted to know the sex of the baby. Of course! I started sobbing when he told me it was a boy. Gus, otherwise known as August, was eagerly anticipated as my pregnancy progressed.
I was due the 2nd of August, and since I was carrying big, I thought I would have him early. But he had other plans! On the 4th of August, I decided I wanted to try and get him out, so I tried using a breast pump to induce contractions. To my surprise, it worked! I had contractions that were not too bad that lasted for at least 15 minutes after I stopped the breast pump. At some point, they fizzled out and I decided maybe it wasn’t meant to be, and that I’d try later. That night, Rob and I sat down to watch Fringe on Netflix while drinking Sonic milkshakes. I decided to try and use the breast pump again to see what might happen- and shockingly enough, at the peak of a particularly intense contraction, my water broke! I felt the gush and jumped off the bed (I think my exact words to Rob were, “Shit! My water broke!”). I immediately checked and made sure there was no cord and that the fluid was clear, but I was gushing- a lot!
I texted my doula, Candace, and she advised me to do some pelvic rocks to encourage good positioning. I did this for a while over a chux pad, then got out my doppler and checked on the heart rate. Thankfully Gus was very active and had a great heart rate (130’s), so I knew I didn’t need to rush into the hospital. Candace told me to try and get some rest while I could, and that labor was going to come on its own soon. That night the contractions were very sporadic- I woke up some and would moan a little, but then went back to sleep. In the morning, the contractions were gone, but I was still leaking a lot of fluid.
My sister in-law Melissa was staying with us during this time, so she thankfully took Iris for the day. Candace came over and gave me some essential oil soaked cotton balls to keep smelling and set me up with a chiropractor who could adjust me, since my regular chiropractor was out of town. She told me that almost all women whose water broke went into labor within 72 hours. Rob and I went to the chiropractor and he adjusted me, then did accupressure for about 30 minutes. Owwwwww! I got to practice my labor breathing because the pressure points were very intense. I should also mention that I leaked a lot of amniotic fluid all over his chiropractic table. Oops! On the way home, I started having more regular contractions, but that didn’t stop us from picking up lunch at Chick Fil-a!
We spent the rest of the day napping, visiting with Melissa and Iris, and taking walks. I used the breast pump some, but contractions always seemed to die out after 15 minutes or so. That night, the contractions picked up again, and we watched a Netflix show, Longmire. I started becoming annoyed during contractions when anyone was talking, or if the TV was still playing, so I asked Rob to hit pause whenever I felt a contraction coming on. That should have been my first clue that things were starting to pick up. Rob was amazing and spent each contraction gently rubbing my back or talking me through it. I sat on our yoga ball and breathed/vocalized through the contractions and Melissa would just sit there, amazed by the process. Since she does not have children, she had not experienced labor or even seen anyone in labor in real life! She told me later that she was just in awe of the whole process. :-) Love her!
Rob and I decided to go to bed and get some more rest, since contractions were still 7-10 minutes or so apart. I slept for an hour or so, but then the contractions intensified and I couldn’t sleep anymore. I was vocalizing quite a bit and was feeling angry that he was sleeping peacefully through the contractions! :-) At 11:30, I texted Candace and told her that contractions weren’t getting any closer together, but they were longer and more intense- she assured me that it was fine- my body was doing what it needed to do to open my cervix. Most contractions were 1.5-2 minutes apart at this point, and I told her I was ready for her to come over.
Candace got here at 12:15 and I was able to chat with her some between contractions, but things quickly intensified and I only felt good when I was leaning forward on the yoga ball or the edge of our bed. By 2:00, I was ready to go to the hospital, but I was worried because I couldn’t sit down at all- it was too painful. Candace suggested that I lean the seat back in the van and get on all fours, if I was comfortable having my seatbelt off. No problem!
The car ride was really intense- I didn’t remember it being this difficult when I had Iris! I counted 4 contractions during that time, and it was only a 15 minute drive! When we got to the hospital, I refused the wheelchair and walked up with Rob while Candace parked our van. I was already in the zone where I didn’t want to talk much, and the triage nurse who admitted us irritated me with all of her questions. “So what’s going on tonight? What brings you here?” Rob replied rather sharply, “She’s having a baby!”. I was examined and found to be 6 cm dilated- the same place I’d been when I came in for Iris’s birth. They told me they had called my doctor and that he was on his way.
Bless the beautiful soul who started my bath before I even got to my room at 3:00 am. I could hear the water running and I was so eager to jump in there. But they wanted to get several contractions on the monitor before I could get in the tub. After getting my information on the monitor, I undressed to my sports bra and got in the tub. Ahhhh... it felt heavenly. I told Rob and Candace how wonderful it felt. I was so relaxed. And then the contractions started coming faster. It became harder and harder to stay relaxed, since the tub was small and I couldn’t change my position frequently. Rob was an excellent partner and coach, encouraging me and telling me what a good job I was doing. Candace propped up some lavender essential oil on the side of the tub for me to smell.
My doctor stopped in to say hi, but stayed out of the bathroom. He asked if my water had broken yet. “Yes...” I replied, hoping I wasn’t going to be reprimanded for coming in so late. “When did your water break?” he asked. “At 10:00 yesterday,” I replied, not realizing it was already 4-something in the morning. That seemed to satisfy him as he didn’t realize that my water had been broken for over 30 hours. My intention here was not to deceive anyone, I was simply close to transition and could not think very clearly. I did not correct him when he said my water hadn’t been broken very long, though.
My vocalizing became loud, and Candace stepped in here and helped me breathe more effectively. She gave me a “ha, ha, ho” pattern and breathed with me for several contractions. That was the thing I needed to relax and focus during transition. She encouraged me to bear down at the end of my breathing pattern, if it felt good. And it did! I was starting to push, right there in the tub, so at 4:00, they suggested that I move to the bed. I was happy to move on and meet my son!
Once I was in the bed, I laid on my left side. The monitor was put on my belly and I was pushing with the contractions. I can’t explain it, but the pushing felt good! I hadn’t experienced this with Iris’s birth, but I was very proud that my body was pushing on its own. I pushed some in a semi-seated position, but I was anxious in that pose because that was how I had torn so badly giving birth to Iris. Candace and Rob helped me roll to my right side and I kept pushing and breathing in the pattern that was working. I looked at the clock in front of me at one point- it was 4:20. Time was crawling at that moment, and yet I was “in the zone”- I felt alive and so powerful. When the nurse ran out of the room, I knew that I was getting somewhere with my pushing. My doctor came in and started talking to the nurses and warning them that there could be a shoulder dystocia since I was having a big baby. Candace stopped him and said that my birth plan asked that there be no tugging/pulling on the baby if there was a shoulder dystocia, that I’d like to try hands/knees position in that event. He very quickly told her that wasn’t going to happen, and that he wasn’t trained in a hands and knees birth. Candace persisted and said that if I was comfortable on my hands and knees, couldn’t we just try it? He relented and Candace made sure I had heard that I could try pushing on my hands and knees if we needed it. I clarified, “But we don’t have a shoulder dystocia, right? This is just in case that happens?” Yes, this was just in case. I continued pushing and it wasn’t long before they could see the head descending. I asked, “Is there hair?” and Rob answered yes. I put my hand down and felt the wrinkled scalp with hair- so very amazing!
The pushing became very intense as I started feeling the head descend- so intense and burning. Candace told me this was the point at which I needed to wait, and just cough the baby out (no pushing). Another few minutes passed and the pain was at its peak. I was loud and roaring by this point, and I remember Rob telling me that the head was out (I did not look, I was too much “in the zone”). After that, I pushed again and his body was out, warm and slippery and on my chest.
At 4:39, he was out! Gus’s high-pitched scream was all I could hear, and I was transfixed by his sweet little face, his tiny perfect nose and open mouth. I could not stop smiling! This was my son! I had waited for this moment for so long! Rob stood next to me, tears in his eyes, and I was so proud of us for waiting for our perfect, healthy son.
After 10 minutes, the cord was cut and we waited for the placenta to come out. I know that my birth plan said no pulling or tugging on the cord whatsoever, but my doctor was definitely tugging on the cord. I finally had the urge to push again and I pushed the placenta out. Unfortunately, I was gushing blood and my doctor asked if they could give me pitocin to get my uterus to clamp down and stop bleeding. I consented, and the nurse massaged my uterus vigorously, but I kept bleeding and my doctor told me he needed to reach in and retrieve the pieces that were left in there. After he retrieved them with his hand (with my screaming- yikes!), he told me he needed to use forceps to get more clots and pieces of placenta out. Sigh. This was the most difficult part of the birth. I had my beautiful son on my chest and I was trying to stifle my screams, but this HURT like a mother. After some more chunks were retrieved, the nurse kept massaging me, over and over, for at least an hour. I was not allowed to sit up, and I was still losing blood. They gave me more pitocin and methargine, to stop the bleeding and bring my blood pressure up. I lost 1400 cc’s of blood throughout the birth, which is quite a bit. This entire time, Candace was at my side, holding my baby to my breast and helping him latch on so that he could get colostrum and so that my uterus would contract back down. I am eternally grateful to her for her help with our first breastfeeding session!
They weighed and measured Gus at this point, and he was 9 pounds, 6 ounces, 21 inches! Holy moly! I gave birth to a giant. :-) I was all smiles, even as I couldn’t sit up and was woozy from the incredible loss of blood.
Thinking back on the pregnancy, I am so grateful to Rob, for not giving up with me and continuing to try to have a healthy baby throughout the years of miscarriages. We considered other options to complete our family, but ultimately he had faith, with me, that our next baby was around the corner. He was there by my side for everything throughout labor and the birth of our son, and I couldn’t be more proud of my strong, supportive partner. We are so very happy to finally meet our second child. Welcome to our family, Gus.