I just realized I never posted this, better late than never. Finn was born on Friday, March 12, 2010 at 5:26am, weighing 5 pounds, 15 ounces and 19 inches in length. This was written when he was one week old.
I woke up Thursday morning, March 11th, at 3am to some contractions. They weren’t the typical Braxton-Hicks contractions I was periodically having, they were a little stronger. The fact they were stronger and were coming at regular intervals really got my hopes up. I woke Travis up at 5am to tell him that I was having regular contractions that were stronger and that we might be having a baby today. His response, “But we might not.” I still can’t believe he said that, but it does make me laugh. He’s a great husband and in his defense, he was half asleep. I continued trying to sleep yet inside I kept thinking of everything I needed to do before going to the hospital.
Once Taylor (our 3 year old) woke up, we decided to start our day. The contractions stopped around 9am. I was a little bummed, but figured he still had some growing to do (since I have small babies) and it was a good sign my body was preparing for his arrival. I did go ahead and pack my bag that day and made sure everything was ready for whenever I did go into labor. And fortunately my mom had arrived the day before so Taylor was taken care of regardless of when I went into labor, which was one less thing to worry about.
After packing my bag I decided to just relax and have a peaceful day at home. Around 3pm, the contractions started back. And they were even harder and stronger than they were that morning. I learned quickly that the birthing ball and the hip squeeze/sacrum release worked best during these early contractions. Taylor was so cute during these contractions. She had a watch just like mine that she carried around with her and she’d grab it and her bouncy ball and have contractions along side of me on my birthing ball.
I don’t remember exactly when I texted our doula, but I’d say it was around dinner time or just before letting her know that tonight might be the night. I sent Travis to the store to get four items, blueberries and my favorite juice for me, and strawberries and cookie dough for the nurses and staff at the hospital. When he returned I ate one of the two packs of blueberries immediately. Then I baked 24 cookies, washed the strawberries and arranged them all in a container. (Yes, I did this between contractions.) I thought chocolate chip cookies and fresh local strawberries (in case anyone was dieting) would be a nice treat for the kind people that work with laboring women and their families at the birthing center. Plus I wanted to start things off on the right foot with the nursing staff. 🙂 And it turned out to be a great distraction for me while I wasn’t contracting.
Around 8pm we called Addy, our doula, and let her know that we’d like her help. The contractions were getting stronger and we had no doubt that we’d be having a baby soon. She was on her way when we decided that we should probably just head on to the hospital so I could labor in the tub instead of around the house. So we called Addy back and told her to meet us there. Let me tell you, contractions in a vehicle are much worse (probably due to confinement). Addy met us at the door of the hospital and we walked up to the birthing center. I had my cookies in tow and my wallet. (In case they needed my identification.) When we reached the desk, Addy informed the nice ladies that I was in labor and I plopped the cookies and strawberries on the counter and told them I had a little treat for the nice people helping so many families. They were a little crowded that night so I was placed in a small side room and told not to get too comfy yet, that I’d just be getting monitored there and then move to a room where I could set up my birthing tub. I got into the beautiful gown they provided me (why don’t they at least provide cute gowns to the maternity patients?) assuming I would change into my birthing tub clothes once I got settled into a room. I proceeded to get checked. I was dilated to a 3 and 50% effaced. To be honest, I was a little bummed about that. When I went into the hospital with Taylor to be induced, I hadn’t had any contractions and was dilated to a 3 and 50% effaced. So to hear that after all that labor I was exactly where I was without feeling anything before was a little disheartening. But I was there and this was happening, so I focused on what laid ahead. I got hooked up to the monitoring system (which I was prepared to do) to make sure baby would not go into distress if he became stressed. This test should have only lasted about 20-30 minutes. Then I would be able to move around freely and labor however I wanted. I had to labor while being hooked up during this time. The thing that helped me the most during my labor was when Addy put her hand flat against the middle of my back and asked me to breath into her hand. I don’t know if it was the calmness of her voice (she is a yoga instructor, so she has a nice calm voice) or the warmth of her hand, but it helped tremendously. Due to the fact that I kept having to get up to pee every five minutes (literally his head was so low I had to pee EVERY 5 minutes), it took them over an hour to get the monitoring done. After that a nurse came in and checked me, I hadn’t progressed during that hour, still a 3 and 50% effaced so THEY SENT ME HOME!!!! Can you believe that?!? I couldn’t believe it. I was in pain and they were sending me home. I didn’t argue with the nurse, I simply signed the paper releasing me and told her thank you.
The ride home was worse than the ride to the hospital. It didn’t help either that Travis got lost on the way home! I was in the back of the van screaming for him to take me back and give me medicine. (I think this was Travis’ favorite part of my labor, the fact that I kept asking for medicine. Who says that? Medicine.) I even begged him to take me back so they could do the section that everyone wanted me to do. This was the “it’s getting painful and I can still talk” stage of the labor. As you can tell, the car ride was hell.
Finally we made it home. My mom and Taylor decided to get some sleep. Addy went on to her house for a quick nap. And I labored at home with Travis by my side. I have such a wonderful husband!!! The contractions were intense, so I did what Addy suggested, I got in the tub. Both of our tubs are the old clawfoot tubs. They are nice for leaning back and relaxing, but I could not get comfortable during the contractions. I kept wanting to turn onto my stomach, but since the back of the tub is slanted it didn’t work well. And I was too big to lay on my side (didn’t fit with the prego belly). I got easily frustrated and decided to just get out for now.
Since I continued to have to pee so frequently I labored on the toilet for a bit. But that became too painful. When Travis got to the point where he wasn’t sure he could provide much more support, he called Addy and she came over to the house. I was having harder contractions and found my favorite places were our couches. For the remainder of the time, I labored on the two couches. Addy would tell me when it was time to switch sides I was laying on. The couches were perfect since I was able to curl up and relax/sleep when I wasn’t contracting. And when I was contracting I could stretch my legs out and grab a hold of the back of the couch. I literally thought I was going to pull the couch back off a couple of times (but I didn’t).
During this phase I remember Addy calmly telling me, over and over again that I could do it and she didn’t want to hear me say “I can’t”. For the life of me, during each contraction, all I could get out was “I CAN’T!!!” I only remember myself saying “I can” once and Travis said it was a turning point. Not too long after that I remember going to the bathroom, you guessed it, to pee again. I remember Travis telling me it was time to go to the hospital. I actually told him, I think I can stay here a little longer. Addy said it was time and that we needed to go.
We decided that since it was early morning that we’d let my mom and Taylor continue to sleep and call when it was time for them to come up (since we wanted them present for the birth). We also decided to ride to the hospital with Addy in her car so we wouldn’t have a car sitting in the parking garage the entire time we were there. So Travis loaded up her car with all our bags and we started off to the hospital. Did I mention that riding in vehicles while contracting was painful? It is especially painful in New Orleans. The roads here are extremely bumpy. I was laying down trying to relax when all of a sudden I felt the car make a sharp turn, a U-turn. (This is Addy’s favorite part of our labor.) I popped my head up from the backseat and firmly said, “Where are we going?” Travis and Addy looked at each other in panic and Travis told me we were going to the hospital. But I could see the bridges overhead and knew we were heading back toward the house. Turned out Travis had forgotten the water hose. We weren’t far from the house and he decided to turn around because “he didn’t want to be that guy” that forgot the water hose for his wife’s water birth.
Fortunately the hospital is only 15 minutes away. However, during that 15 minute drive, I felt my water break some, ever so slightly. And then my body began pushing on it’s own. All while in the backseat of a small Saturn. Addy kept telling me not to push, whatever I did, not to push. But even though I was not pushing, my body was vibrating during contractions. It was like every muscle in my body contracted together to get him out. We got to the hospital and Travis ran in to get a wheelchair while Addy helped me out of the car. I sat down in the chair and he wheeled me through the doors. There were security guards and a few people sitting just inside the door. I had such a painful contraction as we were going through the doors I screamed the whole time Travis wheeled me past them. You should have seen the look on their faces. Travis got me quickly to the second floor where the birthing center is located.
The security guards downstairs must have called the ladies upstairs because they had the doors open for us and had Travis wheel me right back to that same little side room I was previously in so they could hook me up to make sure he was fine and see how I had progressed. I told the lady (same lady as before, Nurse Timmy) that I couldn’t do this. She held my hand and another lady checked me. She said, she’s a nine and complete. And then immediately said, well and checked again and said, yeah, she’s ready. I looked at Timmy and said, then I can do this. She said, “You’re doing it!” There was no time to fill up the tub for the water birth, we were having this baby now. Travis called my mom to tell her and one of the nurses called my doctor who fortunately only lives a couple blocks away. He hopped on his bike and was there in a couple minutes (didn’t even brush his teeth, that is service when every minute counts!). And they had a “just in case” person in the room in case the baby came out before the doctor arrived. But Dr. du Treil arrived and it was time to push.
I have to stop here to tell you how much we loved Dr. du Treil. He is comfortable with birth, which is very important in this line of work. And what I mean by that is that he trusts a woman’s body knows what it’s doing. (Most of the time, at least.) He respected our desire to have a natural labor and told us to stay home as long as possible. (Guess we followed those instructions!) And he played devil’s advocate with us as to worse case scenarios so we wouldn’t be caught off guard if something did happen unexpectedly. Great doctor! Loved his peacefulness, his humor, we loved him!
OK, back to the story. Addy was on one side of me with a nurse, Travis and Nurse Timmy were on the other side of me. Dr. du Treil, the “just in case” person and another nurse were in front of me. Several others were behind them. Dr. du Treil told me very calmly that the baby’s heart rate was down to 60 and I needed to go ahead and start pushing. I took in a deep breath and pushed, screaming the whole time I was pushing just like in the movies. Addy and Dr. du Treil both immediately told me that I couldn’t scream while pushing. And Travis said he could see the head. This was happening. So I pushed again, this time without screaming. The head came out. (That was my favorite part of labor, seeing that little head.) Then Dr. du Treil said, you have to put your chin down to your chest to get an effective push. So I grabbed a hold of Travis’ ears (don’t ask why, it just felt right) and pushed one last time with my chin to my chest not screaming and out he came. I immediately started thanking everyone in the room and praising what a great job everyone did. Everyone was cracking up. Of course, I did crack some jokes just before the pushing started so I was evidently a fun laborer. So after thanking everyone and telling them all what a great job they did (and there were lots of people in the room, apparently when you come in ready to have a baby and it’s all natural, everyone wants that experience). I told Travis, Addy and Nurse Timmy, We did it!!! It was really fun. An NICU nurse was there among the crowd so she checked him out in the room since his heart rate dropped as I was pushing. Finn was great and she said he never went without oxygen. Apgar score was 9 and 9. Not too shabby.
He was never out of sight and only away from me for a moment. Long enough for Travis to cut the cord and the nurse check his heart rate. She put him in my arms and I began to nurse him. Although I must say I was exhausted at that time. He latched on quickly and I was glad because I was so tired I couldn’t even lift my breast up to his mouth. While he was nursing I delivered the placenta. I didn’t even feel it, the nurse just pulled on the cord and it slipped right out. I got to look at it just as I had requested on my birth plan. Very interesting organ the placenta. Then Dr. du Treil said that I had a small surface tear like a paper cut just inside. And since blood came to the surface when he pressed on it, he had to stitch it up to make sure it didn’t become a greater problem. The “just in case” person gave me a couple stitches while Dr. du Treil observed and I nursed Finn. Then I had to ask Travis to take Finn. My arms were so weak that I was afraid I was going to drop him. My legs were shaking and Nurse Timmy was holding one hand while Addy was holding my other hand. Timmy told me not to worry about the shaking it was normal and I couldn’t control it. And Addy said, that’s right and brushed my hair back. They took great care of me. Just then, my mom and Taylor arrived and got to meet Finn. I hate they didn’t get to see his birth, but they saw him eight minutes after he was born. Taylor sat beside me on the bed and I loved hugging her. She got to see him and then sit in a chair and hold him. It was so cute. I think she wasn’t sure about everything going on. She sat beside me, holding me for a long time. After all the chaos was over I had to pee, again!!! Timmy told me a secret, if I leaned forward while peeing it wouldn’t sting as much. She was right. After lots of nursing, love and pictures, Finn was taken to the nursery for a bath and I was transferred to postpartum care.
I am going to take this moment to praise a couple people. First, Nurse Timmy. She was AWESOME!!!! I loved her. She stayed right beside me the whole time. She knew just what to say, was calm, experienced. I could tell she respected child birth. And she even came back to check on me and thank me for the goodies (cookies and strawberries) after she finished her shift. She was amazing. Second, our doula, Addy. When labor hits she goes into doula mode and I don’t know exactly how she does it, but she miraculously entrusts confidence and guidance with simple instruction in a calm voice to whoever is there helping you. Her presence allowed Travis to be extremely involved in this labor and delivery and allowed me to have the labor and delivery that I wanted to have. That experience is priceless. I don’t know how she does it, but she is remarkably amazing at it, a true blessing. I am so grateful for her guidance, knowledge and passion.
Once I got to my postpartum room my energy levels boosted. I was on cloud nine! I literally felt like I could run a mile at top speed and I don’t even run. I felt so good. I had so much energy and was on top of the world. I took a shower, put on real clothes and then my baby was brought back to me. They wanted me to put him up next to my skin to warm him up (since he got a bath). I did and they came back to check his temp. My body warmth did it and they didn’t have to stick him under the heat lamps (which was all a part of the birth plan).
Our nurse in the postpartum wing had already heard all about how we came in ready to have this baby. Nurses were coming in to meet us. Hilarious that we were the excitement of the day. But as some of the nurses pointed out, it’s really exciting for them to have a woman come in fully dilated and ready to push. They love those exciting moments. (And on a side note, I learned that we delivered before the other women who were filling up all the other labor rooms.)
I was so happy to have done it. And poor Travis was dead to world asleep in the chair beside me. Once we got to our postpartum room Travis fell asleep and stayed asleep. Birthing really wore him out! 😉 Finn stayed sleeping in my bed with me most of the day. He even refused to sleep in the bassinet beside the bed that night. He had to have some form of bodily contact the whole time, so he stayed latched on the whole night. Needless to say, we got him a pacifier the next morning. 😉 I requested an early release for both myself and Finn. Both our doctors said that was fine, so Travis and I ate our celebratory parent lunch the hospital provided for us and we took our littlest doodle bug home.
To summarize our experience: It was fun, exciting, amazing. It might not have gone exactly as we had planned. We didn’t have a water birth, but we did have a natural birth. I didn’t even get an IV! I’m so proud! It was such an amazing experience. I would do it all over again and again. It was hard at the time, in the moment, and my boost of energy didn’t come as quickly after giving birth as I’d thought it would (it’s not instant), but it was such an incredible experience. Hands down the most fun thing I have ever done in my life.
I would love to have Travis, Addy and my mom write down their story of Finn’s birth. They would be so much fun to read. I have to thank my mom for being there when all this happened and taking such good care of Taylor. Not to mention how hard it was for her to hear one of her babies (me) in so much pain and not being able to do anything about it. (She said that was really hard.) I appreciate her support of my birth plan.
And I have the BIGGEST thank you for last, my wonderful husband, Travis. I decided years ago I never wanted another typical hospital birth. I wanted, for myself, to fully trust my body, to experience the onset of labor, to experience water breaking on it’s own, to experience the pains associated with labor, to experience a vaginal birth, to have a birth that I could remember and participate in fully. I didn’t want to be numb to the experience. Travis, supported my every move. He might not have read everything I asked him to, but he listened to what I wanted and listened to why I wanted what I wanted. He met with the doula a couple times before going into labor, he read through all the info from the water birth conference I went to. He fully supported me. And most importantly, when the time came, even when I was asking for medicine, even when he could see I was in a lot of pain, he stuck to the plan. I am so proud of him and so thankful to him. He is the most amazing man in the world and I am reminded daily of how fortunate I am to have him. Thank you love, for supporting me through the birth of our son. You are amazing!
Well, that was the story of Finn’s birth. Hopefully I will get back into the swing of things and update you on: what life was like in NOLA, cloth diapering the second time around, breastfeeding the second time around, working at First Grace, going back to school, buying a house, Taylor going to kindergarten….my list continues and we still have our Christmas trees up!
Peace & Love My Friends, Peace & Love.