Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cole's Birth Story

In labor, 38 weeks 5 days
In the weeks leading up to Cole's birth, I was experiencing stronger emotions than I had prior to Noah's birth. I was more excited because I knew exactly how amazing it feels to give birth and meet your baby. On the other hand, I was more nervous because I also knew how challenging the experience (particularly transition) would be. This time around was also different because I tested positive for Group B Strep, which meant that I needed antibiotics at least four hours prior to birth, so I had to get to the hospital quickly when labor started. With Noah, I only had three hours of tough contractions so I was concerned that I wouldn't make it in time. I had also been having moderately painful but sporadic contractions daily since the day before Thanksgiving, so I was concerned that I wouldn't recognize when early labor started.

On December 23rd I went in for an appointment with my midwife. Up until this point, I hadn't had my cervix checked because I feel like the information you gain from it is typically useless. You can be dilated to a one and have the baby that day or hang out at a four for weeks, so why get yourself all worked up about it? That day though I caved because I was struggling mentally with having painful contractions for almost a month with no baby and I was hoping that she would tell me that I had dilated and it would make me feel better about everything I had been going through for almost a month. So while she was checking me, I said "I'm worried that my body has been doing all of this work and I'm going to be dilated to, like, a one, so if that's the case just don't tell me". She said "Well you're definitely not a one" and I responded, "WHAT?!?! I'm not even a one yet???" and she said, "Oh no you're way more dilated than a one" and it turns out I was dilated to five centimeters and 75% effaced! I cannot explain the feeling of relief knowing that all of those contractions were worth it and I was already half way there. When I told my mom this she was like, "Shouldn't you be in the hospital or something?!" Ha! Anyway, that night I continued to  have contractions and I could feel him on my pelvic bone which was a new and uncomfortable experience.

On Christmas Eve, Josh's family was getting together for breakfast so we got ready and as we were getting ready to leave, I threw up, which I hadn't done since my first trimester, so I opted to stay home. I decided to work since I had things I needed to do before the baby was born and I continued to have contractions, but I had one that was much more intense than what I was used to and after it was over I thought, is this it? Should I go to the hospital? We need to make sure we get those antibiotics, but I don't want to go in if it's not the real thing. What should I do? And then, my water broke, so I didn't even have to think or stress about whether or not it was time. That was around 10:45. I was so nervous about getting the antibiotics far enough in advance that I started shaking uncontrollably while I threw a few things into my hospital bag. I called Josh and told him my water broke and thankfully he was on his way home from his parents house. He got there within 10 minutes and we were off.  We listened to some Sam Smith on the way there to help me calm down (am I the only one absolutely obsessed with his voice?) and my parents met us at the hospital to take Noah.

Want to know how to get speedy service in L & D triage? Tell them it's your second baby, you're 5 centimeters dilated, 75% effaced, Group B Strep positive, and your water has broken. Those nurses were moving quickly! Once we were settled in a room and got the antibiotics started at 12:30, I started to feel more relaxed. I was having minor contractions about 10 minutes apart at this point and we didn't want to do anything to get them going yet because we wanted to make it to the 4 hour mark for the antibiotics, so we just hung out in the room. During early labor with Noah, I was calling people and watching Prison Break and talking to the nurses and then when the tough contractions started, it caught me off guard because I wasn't really in the right mindset. So, this time, I knew I wanted to keep it chill from the beginning, so we kept the lights low and I listened to music while Josh watched TV. I made a pretty extensive labor playlist but I just ended up listening to the same three songs over and over again: an acoustic version of Nirvana by Sam Smith, Lonely Hour by Sam Smith, All This Time by One Republic and a cover of Higher Love by Jake Barker. How's that for random? At 3:30, 3 hours after the antibiotics, we started walking the halls to get things moving along and contractions increased in intensity and were about 5 minutes apart. Something that I wrote down at the beginning of labor and that I returned to between contractions was the quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine". What a fantastic reminder to have throughout labor and life!

At probably around 5:45, contractions were really close together and super intense and I got in the tub and all of the sudden I had a glorious 2 or 3 minute break, followed by the most intense contraction thus far and increased pressure. With Noah, I started to feel the urge to push in the bathtub and I don't think the nurse thought I was fully dilated yet, so we kind of ignored it until it was too intense to ignore and he was almost born in the bathtub. So, when I felt that pressure I asked Josh to get my midwife just so the same thing didn't happen again. For the first time since my water broke, I was checked and at 7 or 8 centimeters. I told her I was hoping to have been closer and she said, "You can go from where you're at now to fully dilated in just a few contractions", which really helped me to stay positive. On a side note, I had read in the book Birth Partner about a study that found that the pain of contractions reaches its highest point at 7-8 centimeters and then just continues at that level until dilation is complete. The only thing that becomes more difficult is that the contractions are longer. So, when I knew I was a 7 or 8, I kept reminding myself that this was as painful as it was going to get, so all I needed to do was what I was already doing and it would get us to the end. Something that was totally different than with Noah was how I felt between contractions at this point. I would have to really work and vocalize through contractions, but in between I just sat cross-legged on the bed and was totally zen. My head would just drop and I felt like I was high. I think this is because we kept it chill from the beginning and I think that helped my body to get and stay in that super relaxed, hormone-filled state. Also, Josh was fantastic support. I felt like he was totally in tune with the experience and was saying and doing all of the right things. One thing I noticed this time that I had forgotten about my labor with Noah was never wanting to change positions. I don't know why that was, because it always helped. I think I was just afraid of changing positions and having the pain get worse.
Just as the midwife had said, I went from 7-8 to fully dilated in probably 4 contractions and I pushed for 10 minutes and he was born at 6:14, 8 pounds 6 ounces, 20 inches long.  So, in the end it was about 7.5 hours from the time my water broke until he was born and about 2.5 hours of real labor.  He came out a little purple and not crying, which made me feel totally panicked, but he pinked up and started crying within 20 seconds or so (but it felt like an eternity). I couldn't believe how much he weighed because Noah was only 7 pounds! He is just the sweetest, most mellow baby and my mom is thrilled that they share a birthday. He hardly ever cries and he brings such a calming presence to our family (which is exactly what we needed). He is such a blessing and I'm so so so grateful for another positive birth experience and healthy baby.

Some similarities between Cole and Noah's births: both were born on a Wednesday, both labors were approximately the same amount of time between when my water broke and when they were born and hard/real labor was about about the same amount of time. One awesome similarity is that we hung out with our friends Nick and Amanda the night before both births. They're our lucky charm, I guess!

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