Thursday, March 19, 2015

Luke's Birth

Giving birth is such an amazing experience. And it really hurts.

I had an awesome birth experience this weekend and am one lucky lady because I know (from my own experience and the tales of friends) it could have been so much more intense... or less empowered... or even dangerous, but, instead, it was almost ideal!!

So, just hours after penning my "the problem with having expectations" blog post and as I was mentally preparing myself for what could have been another week of being pregnant, Jacob and I sat down for our nightly ritual of a House of Cards episode Saturday night. As I had nearly every night that week, I began having regular contractions, but this time, instead of being every 10 minutes or more, they ranged from 7-10 minutes. This was just different enough to get me hopeful. For the third time that week, I sat up past when Jacob went to bed to see if anything picked up, but, again, nothing did, and the contractions became less regular.


Still I had my fingers crossed something might happen during the night. I was up a few times, as usual, to pee and I could tell I was still having contractions but it was hard to say how often. I was up for a while at 4:00, but then went back to bed until Cora toddled in at 5:10 and did her usual, which involves snuggling up against my back and reaching out her hand to be held.

I told her I needed to go potty and as I got back in bed I felt a strong contraction. So I lay next to her and got my phone/contraction app out to see if I was having regular contractions. For the next 30 minutes or so, I was having strong contractions about every 6-7 minutes, contractions that reminded me of my early labor with Jack, wrapping around into my back and, hurting all the way around. I was tentatively thrilled as there was nothing more I wanted to do that day than have a baby! I said a prayer and then played around on my phone while I laid there, stumbling upon a birth story, and reading it.

I then quietly got up to see what would happen next. With Cora's birth, getting out of bed quickly accelerated things. I was on my hands and knees during contractions about 45 minutes after getting up. This didn't happen Sunday, but the contractions did pick up pace, starting to come more erratically, and averaging every 3-4 minutes. A little before 6:00, I told Jacob this might actually be labor (which on day seven of such comments actually sounds silly coming out of your mouth). After the second time I said it, he did get up and so did Cora. I rinsed off (no fixing my hair or putting make-up on this time!), got dressed, and put last minute things into my hospital bag. Cora then asked where we were going.  "To the hospital," I said. "I want to come with you" she said. When I told her she'd need to stay home, I got this look:

Someone doesn't like the idea of mom leaving
At 6:20, I woke up my mom to let her know that we thought I might be in labor. I said we were going to go downstairs and wait a bit to see what happened next, but wanted her to keep the kids upstairs. I hugged Cora goodbye to go ahead and get past the separation part (she cried for about 2 minutes and then I heard her recover as she, Jack, and Grammy all climbed back into bed with some books.)

Downstairs, I could recognize that while I was having frequent contractions, it wasn't by any means hard, so I started to wonder if we should actually go to the hospital.  I was having a lot of pressure, so I decided to call to talk to the midwife. She said that since I'd had a fast second labor, why didn't I just come in and get checked. I told Jacob I wanted to wait a little longer, so I walked back and forth downstairs until 7:00, when I gave Jack a quick hug and we left.

A quick drive down Valence to Ochsner Baptist and then I made Jacob walk around the parking garage with me for a few minutes before we went up to the 6th floor triage room (where I'd twice gone this pregnancy for preterm contractions). I was still having contractions every 3-4 minutes. All my morning contractions required me to breathe through them, but were entirely manageable.

7:30, hopeful!  Waiting to get checked
 My cervix remained posterior (i.e. hard to get to) and it took two nurses before they could feel how dilated I was. They said 3-4 cm and suggested that I go and walk for a few hours to see if things progressed. They told me to come back to get rechecked at 9:30, so Jacob and I walked the few blocks to Freret St and grabbed bagels from Humble Bagel and then walked up to Jefferson. My contractions remained every 3 minutes and a few were more intense, but overall I still felt great and was able to walk through them all. Back at the hospital, I made laps for about 30 minutes inside and the contractions kept coming every 3 minutes. They were about 45-60 seconds and peaking for only about 20, so very manageable.

We went back to the triage floor at 9:30 and I was 5 cm! We were told the midwife would be heading in soon and would admit us to the 4th floor Perkins Alternative Birthing Center. I wanted to keep walking until she arrived since I still felt up to it and since it seemed to be working.
Me in window walking laps on the 2nd floor
Back to the 2nd floor and I did about 20 more minutes of walking. Then things started to feel a little stronger and more people were arriving at the hospital, so Jacob and I went up to the empty 4th floor. The birthing center was locked, but I continued walking, barefoot, since there was no one around.

By about 10:40, I'd occasionally have a contraction that made me want to knock on the wall. Sounds odd, but that, for me, was a stronger type of contraction than I'd had before, where it was like there was a need to push the feeling out of me onto something else. Since we'd been waiting a while, Jacob went upstairs to see if he could find someone to let us into the suite. We ended up not getting in until a little after 11, but in the end, I think all the upright time in the morning helped with my quick progression.

The birthing suite was amazing. Large, with a double bed, and best of all, speakers to which Jacob hooked up his computer. (Our music choice was Allison Krause.) My midwife, Cathy, checked me and I was now 7 cm! Surreal! Awesome! This birth couldn't be going better!


Once in the room, things slowed down some. Since I'd been walking for about 3 hours at this point, I decided I just wanted to sit in the bed for a while. My contractions slowed down to every 7-8 minutes and weren't as strong. I realized I hadn't heard from my mom in a while and I got distracted worrying about the kids. I talked to my sister on the phone and she seemed incredulous that I sounded so entirely normal. 

After an hour, I figured I needed to get back up to get things moving again. A little before 1:00, Jacob and I started walking up and down the little private hallway outside the birthing suite. My contractions picked up slightly, to every 5 minutes, and I was having the occasional one that had that strong, body is being taken over by the contraction feeling, so I knocked on some more walls, but still was entirely fine between contractions.

Around 1:30, Jacob got bored of walking.

I sent a few texts at this point, so I obviously was still feeling pretty normal. I talked to my mom and told her to hang around our house until 2:00 since I wasn't sure how slowly things might progress. Jacob's mom had arrived and so it looked like my mom might get to see the birth.

My midwife had earlier suggested to try having some contractions on the toilet if I got to the point of wanting to see things speed up. She said I'd be amazed at what gravity could do. She had suggested sitting there for six contractions. I lasted through one, which I think was the first point all day I called out during a contraction. Since I still had the ability to "choose" the pain, I didn't quite want to choose it yet, so got off the toilet. The midwife, who had gone upstairs to check in a new patient and had ended up delivering her quickly, came back downstairs shortly before 2:00.

She was entirely open to whatever I wanted. I decided I was curious to see if I'd progressed more, so asked her to check me. She checked me at about 1:55 and I was 9 cm! Again, it was like "Are you serious?" I'd gotten to 9cm without any crazy pain. I was feeling so lucky!

My goal was to have a water birth, as well as to save the warm tub for when the most intense contractions were happening. Up to that point in my labor, there hadn't been any need yet for the water. Since it was going to take about 10 minutes to fill up the tub, I asked Cathy to go ahead and do so. I decided to try another contraction on the toilet while the tub was filling up.

I had a pretty strong contraction in the bathroom, so got up again. As I walked back into the room, I was hit with another one. It was the "drop to your hands and knees" contraction that had come on so quickly in Cora's labor and the stage of labor which lasted SO LONG in Jack's labor. I had three of these contractions, pretty close together, as we waited for the tub to fill. Jacob instinctively got down and rubbed my back as I rocked back and forth and it was exactly what I needed to keep things manageable. At this point, I stopped talking and started to turn inward.

I climbed into the tub around 2:15. My mom walked into the room at pretty much that moment. I was worried that my water still hadn't broken, but the midwife assured me it would be fine and would probably pop as I started to push.

I had started shaking when I was on the floor and couldn't stop even in the warm tub. This was probably my transition. For the first contraction in the tub, I wasn't sure how best to deal with it as I was basically in a reclining/seated position. With both Cora's and this labor, I felt unsure about whether I was ready to push or exactly what to do (probably also an effect of transition) but the midwife kept reassuring me to just do what my body told me to and that I could push if I felt I was ready or felt pressure to bear down.

I didn't know what I was feeling, but pushing meant having a baby so I was all for trying it, so on the second contraction in the tub, I tried to bear down. I wasn't sure the best way to do this in the tub, but there were ledges for my feet, so I tried bracing on them. Jacob was right by me, hanging over the edge of the tub, and the midwife was calmly sitting at the foot of the tub just watching. My mom got some great video footage from where she was standing.

Both Jacob and the midwife were telling me I was doing great, so I just kind of focused inwardly and when the contraction would come, I bore down. In past labors, I'd been very resistant when offered a mirror or to feel the head, but I'd told my midwife I wanted to try to be more present with this birth. During one of the early pushes, she encouraged me to reach down and feel the head, and I did. It wasn't out yet, but I could definitely feel how close I was to crowning.

I think I stayed pretty calm until the moment my water burst. I wasn't looking down, so I wasn't quite sure what was happening, but there was a strong sensation that I think surprised me and hurt so I yelled out. From that point on, I felt a little less in control and alternated between full-on yelling and switching back to focused pushing. Also, in the tub, I was having the tendency to bring my knees together, which the midwife kept encouraging me to keep spread open.

Probably only two or so pushes after the water bag burst, I delivered Luke's head. This was one of the least pleasant differences between my "on land" and "in water" birth experiences. With Jack's birth, his body came one easy push after his head and that memory really helped me with staying focused while I was pushing during Cora's birth: at that really intense moment of delivering her head, I knew it was almost over.

Well with Luke, I delivered his head and then the midwife reminded me to wait and that I'd feel him turn on his own. (As most babies are born looking down and then rotate before their bodies come out.) I guess on a baby's own without a doctor's hands manipulating, it takes a little longer, and as I was sort of floating in the water, I started to feel out of control and started to freak out. I think I held it together until the next contraction came, but after pushing with everything I had, he didn't just pop out like Jack and Cora had. So after a full minute of pushing, the contraction ended and I felt a sensation, which to me, seemed like the entire baby GOING BACK IN. In the video my mom took, I showed amazingly quick reflexes for someone birthing a child, and I shot up and reached down, screaming, ""Oh no! Don't go back in! ... Get him OUT!"  Everyone tried to reassure me and encouraged me to just push once more. I did and he was born at 2:39 p.m.

This was then the most awesome difference between my "on land" and "in water" births. Jacob and I reached down and lifted Luke up and I held him on my chest (and in the video, I see myself mouthing an intense "Thank you God"). He was amazingly calm, not really crying, and seemed to be able to slide into this world pretty peacefully. We stayed in the water for a bit and he only gradually cried. We waited until the cord stopped pulsing and then Jacob cut the cord and we moved over to the bed where I delivered the placenta a few minutes later.

Our Baby:

Luke Allen Landry
born Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 2:39 p.m.
weighing 8 lbs, 7 oz, measuring 21.5 inches

His birthday fits nicely with his siblings'. Our 3 children all were born on days, months, and years divisible by three: 12-3-09, 6-9-12, and now 3-15-15. Ironically, Jack and Cora were both born at 38 minutes past the hour. I pay attention to things like this, but with my eyes closed, I missed the :38 mark by one minute :) Oh well, I wouldn't trade this 9.5 hour labor, with its very short 45 minute intense period FOR ANYTHING! I loved being able to anticipate Luke's coming all day, spend the day with Jacob creating our own special memories, and bringing this beautiful, healthy child into the world. I do not take any part of this for granted as I know it can be something you want, pray for, and plan for, but it doesn't always happen. I'm so grateful we got this gift and I am so excited to learn who this child is and how he will change our family.

That being a family of five now :)

 More Pictures of the days following:

Long toes!

No comments: