The birth of Landen Drayke
I’ll start by saying I initially refused to have a “due date”. I had an ultrasound in the beginning because I was spotting, and was told at that time that I was 9 weeks and 1 day. I used that date to count down each week of pregnancy, but I never told anyone a due date, and didn’t really set myself up for one. I had sort of figured baby would come after 40 weeks, which would have been around the 11th of June, but I was more looking at expecting baby around the 16th or so.
I woke up at 4:00 am Saturday morning June 5th feeling sort of strange. I had been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions since the previous Monday, when we got home from the LLL Conference. These were not as intense as real labor contractions, but a little stronger than regular BH. I tried timing them, but I kept falling asleep. When I did manage to time them, they were between 8 and 15 minutes apart, but the intensity varied greatly. Sometimes strong, sometimes very weak. I had some wet, mucusy discharge, pink, but still wasn’t sure if it meant anything. I figured even if it was my mucus plug, labor could still be days or weeks away. Finally, around 6:30 am, I woke Darren up and told him something might possibly be starting, but I wasn’t sure. I told him not to be surprised if we had a baby that weekend, but also not to count on it either.
I lay back in bed, trying to get some more sleep, because if this was really it, I knew I would need it. I dozed for a while, half timing these surges, half trying to keep Gunnar’s feet out of my face. I got up around 8:30 and had breakfast, a piece of toast with peanut butter and a cup of coffee. The surges kept up for a few hours, but didn’t seem to get any stronger, and then around 12:00, they just disappeared.
I was a bit disappointed, but decided to try to forget about it and just get things done that needed to be done. We needed stuff from Costco, so Darren and I decided to go and do our weekly shopping. We had to take his truck, which I hate driving in 9 months pregnant, because the van had a flat tire. On the way, I started having a lot more surges, which I attributed to more BH contractions since the shifting of the truck always made me have them.
We were walking around Costco, and they started coming on fairly strong. Again, not unusual for BH contractions, since walking always brought them on as well. But these seemed to be getting more frequent. I took over pushing the cart so I would have something to lean on when necessary. As we were shopping, I had to keep telling Darren that we were only getting the absolute necessities, and to stop him from browsing. We were there for about an hour I think, and I was having surges about every 5 minutes. I sat down while Darren paid, and then we left.
The surges in the truck on the ride home were more comfortable and a little more spaced out, I am sure because I was more comfortable sitting down and being able to concentrate. We thought we were taking the faster way home, but of course hit every red light. I didn’t have a huge sense of urgency to get home, I just felt drawn there.
As soon as we got home, I went to my room and lay down again. Ahhhhhhhh, MUCH BETTER! I took off my street clothes and put on a nightshirt. I went to the bathroom and checked my cervix, and I figured I was about 3cm, and I could feel my water bag and there was more pink mucus. This was 4:00 pm. I told Darren, and he ran to the store get a kiddie pool to set up for me (we live 3 block from Toys R Us). He gets it home, starts filling it with water, and then comes to see how I am. I am starting to really work through the surges now, and I am thinking this is really it. Darren goes into the family room where we decided to put the pool, and there is water everywhere. The damn pool is split up the side, and he has about 75 gallons of water in it, which is now leaking out fast. He and the boys start bailing, and Melisa and Kayla drive to the store for another pool.
By now, it is around 4:30 pm, and the surges are getting more intense. I really wanted to get into water. I was pacing, rocking, kneeling, and trying to find a comfortable position. I start chanting during the surges “I’m okay, it’s okay, I’m fine, I can do it”. This is one of the biggest things that helps me. Saying this to myself over and over was amazing. For the most part, I labored alone, which was nice. No one was talking to me, I wasn’t being distracted, I was able to do whatever I needed/wanted to handle the surges. I wished Darren would have had more time to sit with me, but he was busy getting other things ready.
The girls get back, and Darren starts filling the new pool, but of course now we have no more hot water. They get it filled about 1/3-1/2 way, but it is colder than I want it. I get in anyway, and we wait for the water heater to give us more hot water. Kayla starts heating water on the stove, in the microwave and in the coffee pot! Eventually, they get the pool water to a comfortable temp, and I am in hard labor.
I checked myself once or twice, and could feel the change as my cervix opened, and I was much more dilated than before, but I have no idea how much. My water bag was bulging, and I tried to feel a head behind it, but couldn’t. Darren and I are in the pool together, me leaning my head against his back when I had a surge. My kids were all around, some in the room with us, some watching TV in the livingroom, some just watching. I think now it is around 5:00 pm, maybe a little later. At some point, Kayla called Barb, but I only half remember her telling me about it. I remember Barb coming in, but things are starting to blur. Then she goes into the other room. I am in complete control. Every so often, I feel baby moving, so I know everything is fine.
More surges, more heated water added to the pool. I continue chanting, “I’m okay, I’m fine, I can do it, it’s all right”. I see Gunnar leaning on the side of the pool, making water spill out. All I can say is “Him, him, him”. Then he throws a fit, and I yell for someone to take him out. The baby is coming SOON!!!! I can’t concentrate when he is screaming.
Then I have a contraction that makes me feel like pushing. I reach inside again to see what I feel, and there is my water bag, huge and my cervix is gone. I start telling Darren what I am feeling. I still can’t feel the head. I start pushing with the surges and Darren is on his hands and knees so I can lean over his back, which is very comfortable. I tell Darren how far the bag comes down when I push (right there!) and where it is when I am not pushing (up to the first knuckle of my finger). I push with the next contraction and my water breaks. It startled me, I literally jumped! I look down and see it is clear. I reach inside and feel my baby’s head, the hair, the membrane still over it….and suddenly I am scared. That head has to come out!
I suddenly have flashbacks to the birth of my 4th baby, when I tore badly. I am panicked, I am begging for help. I tell Darren I am scared, I don’t want to tear. Barb comes in, and tells me I am fine. I can do it. My body is perfect. She doesn’t take over, she doesn’t “help” me or interfere, doesn’t touch me at all, she just sits back and watches, confident that I AM fine, that I CAN do it. Darren tells me I am fine, it is okay, I can do it. I am kneeling in front of Darren with my head on his arm or shoulder. He is facing me, holding me up.
Next surge, the baby’s head wants to come out! NO, NO, NO!!!!! I don’t want it to come out! I have my hand on my perineum, Darren’s hand is there too, and now I chant to myself, “Slow, slow, slow, slow Donna!!!!!” The head is coming out, Darren feels it and tells me “It’s crowning! It’s coming out!” The head is finally out! And it honestly didn’t hurt at all. No burning, no ring of fire. It literally felt like it slipped right out. I have never had that feeling before. I reach down, and feel it. Darren can’t see it, but he tells me he feels an ear. I can feel hair, and the face. Darren asks about checking for the cord, but I don’t think it is necessary. I asked him if he can catch in this position, and he says, “Yes”. Then I have another contraction, and I move from kneeling into a lunge by bringing my left leg up, completely without thinking about it, it was simply more comfortable. I reach down to feel my baby come out, and Darren is guiding, as the first shoulder comes out, but the second one doesn’t. I asked him if the baby was stuck. He says “No, but there is something here….there it is! The baby is out!” (Darren later told me it felt as though the shoulder was hung up on some soft tissue, so he just pushed it aside. I have no idea what it was.)
Darren and I start to lift the baby out of the water, then we notice the cord is wrapped around the neck twice, tightly. I can’t lift the baby out of the water, and I can’t loop the cord over the baby’s head. Without a word to each other, or a single thought, we lower baby back down into the water to unwrap the cord. Then we lift baby out, and I hold it closely to me. Baby starts sputtering and crying right away. I keep the body in the water as much as I can. Baby seems to be having a little trouble so I sucked the mouth and nose. I had seen other mothers do it before in videos, but never thought I’d do it. I didn’t think about it, I just did it. It was the most perfectly normal, natural thing for me to do.
We are sitting in the water, me holding baby, Darren right there, holding both of us. No towels are thrown over us, no one is coming at my baby with a suction bulb (both of which happened with the midwife at my other births). Baby is covered in vernix, and I can feel how greasy and slippery it is. Sticky, too. One of the first things I said was “It is so tiny!!! Doesn’t it look tiny?!?!” I look around at the water we are still in, and comment about how there is no blood at all, and I realize I didn’t tear. I shouldn’t be surprised, since I didn’t tear with my last 3 births either, but I am relieved.
I think I decided I wanted to get out after a few minutes, or maybe someone else asked me if I wanted to. I don’t remember. Darren helped me to stand up, and there was a huge gush of blood. It felt like the placenta must have come out then too, but it didn’t. I stepped out of the pool and sat down on the couch, which was right next to where the pool was. I think I might have been bleeding more….I remember telling Kayla to get my Motherwort tincture from my bedroom. I had a dropperful of it, and let me tell you, that stuff is nasty!
As far as finding out the gender, I wish I had looked at the clock to see how long we waited. I asked Darren if he had a guess, and he guessed boy, and he was right. Gunnar was pretty much right next to my side during most, if not all, of this. He was fascinated by the baby. I think after about a half hour, I had my first experience tandem nursing. It was a little awkward, but we managed. Melisa was taking some video and snapping pictures, I think. Kayla was taking pictures left and right…..we ended up with almost 200 from her camera.
The after-birth time was a little more hectic I think. My MIL came over, although I wish she would have waited until the next day. She had issues with us not cutting the cord. J I had thought about a lotus birth, but it was very challenging to keep the placenta bowl from tipping and the cord safe with Gunnar so close all the time. I ended up cutting it after 3 hours, at 9:00pm. It is the first time I have ever cut the cord; Darren has always done it before. After some time, Barb comes in, and I remember her telling me that the family room was clean and laundry started…..I was so relieved, because yes, I was thinking about who was going to clean the blood off the floor and couch! I honestly don’t remember her leaving, but I know we weighed baby before she left, and he was 9lbs 4oz…so much for tiny!
I did not dress Landen until sometime the next day. In my previous births, the mw always did it, and it bothered me. Landen and I slept with constant skin contact for several nights actually. He nursed well from the start, and my milk came in on about the 4th day. Engorgement was minimal, I am sure because Gunnar is still nursing.
That is about it. Each time I read this though, I think of something else I want to add. I welcome any questions, discussion, whatever. Thanks for reading this far.
Pictures can be seen hereLanden's birth