Birth Story Week: Leo's Birth Story

My due date is in 6 days.  I am optimistically dubbing this "Birth Story Week" in the hopes that this 3rd child will debut and I can share all three stories with you all.  So - here is Story #1!

(Leo was due on June 14th, 2008.  However, I insisted to the midwives that, according to my NFP Chart, Leo was due on Wednesday, June 18th, 2008.  Take a wild guess when he arrived!!)

Leo's Birth Story: 
Born June 18th, 2008, 7 lbs, 2 oz and 20 inches long

I was 3 days "overdue" (by the way, the average gestation for a first pregnancy is 40 weeks, 5 days!!) and we took a walk Tuesday night where contractions picked up in frequency (no pain, just pressure).  For some reason, I insisted on getting my hands on some McDonalds french fries.  Normally, that wouldn't have been an issue.  Jason would just go out and get me my fries!  However!  This week there was a water main break in DC that affected the entire outlying area!!  All restaurants were closed as far as 40 miles north of DC due to unsanitary water conditions!!!  After driving around for 2 hours trying to get me my french fry fix, we called it quits and went to the grocery store.  (In retrospect - looking at the picture to the left, looks to me like I had my fill of french fries - IN MY FACE!!)

We then stopped by my moms house to celebrate our 1-year anniversary (June 16th) and I let all the kids feel my belly with each braxton hicks contraction.  And we got cake :)

Jason and my mom.  Don't worry - he rationed beers JUST in case he had to drive later :)

We spent from 10 pm to 11 pm that night timing contractions thinking they would pick up in intensity or frequency.  But as they grew further apart, we both got more and more discouraged.  We called it a night and just went to sleep.

At 1:50 in the morning I woke up with painful contractions and began to time them.  They were 30-45 seconds long so Jason and I took a walk at 3:00 am around our neighborhood to alleviate some of the discomfort.  The contractions stayed at 6-9 minutes apart and were only 30-45 seconds long.  I let Jason go back to bed (after he made me some scrambled eggs!) and labored by myself in the living room while an Oprah rerun was on.  I did fine on my own until about 7:00 am.  I was severely uncomfortable and ready to do something - I just didn't know what.   I woke Jason up and he could tell I was in a world of worry.  We called the midwife and she heard that I was unable to talk during contractions so she asked us to head into the office to get checked and see how I was progressing.  When we arrived at the office at 9:00 am, I was already 6 centimeters!  I had been so frustrated at the brevity of the contractions that I thought for sure we weren't progressing!  That was the good news - then came the bad news:
My midwife Karen let us in on the fact that the water main break in DC had put the hospital in a predicament - The effect was that the hospital was not allowing any water usage: no ice chips, no drinking water, no washing hands, no showers, no jacuzzi tub.  I couldn't believe it!!  I was still talking in between contractions and walking seemed to help the discomfort, so Jason and I delayed going to the hospital in favor of walking around outside.  We went across the street to a High School track and walked it with all the other "morning walkers".  Every few minutes, I would lean on Jason and moan and groan during the contraction.  It was a little embarrassing but they could tell I was in labor and just left us alone :)  But every now and then, when some speed-walkers would pass us, Jason would groan louder than me so I wasn't as embarrassed.  I had to hit him each time because laughing during a contraction REALLY doesn't help!!!  I immediately started to doubt my abilities and asked if Jason would be disappointed if I asked for an epidural.  The possibility of enduring the pain without the warmth of water to alleviate it was so scary at that point.  He kept encouraging me and we just stopped talking about it and took it one contraction at a time. 

Drug-free and still smiling (we haven't hit transition yet...)
We made our way to the hospital at 11:00 am and checked into the room.  Throughout the labor, the baby's heartrate was monitored and he was doing great.  There was no sign that anything was odd or abnormal.  My midwife was amazing!  She kept me moving to labor in different positions which varied things up and that really helped to keep me mentally strong.  Meanwhile, our nurse continually checked on the status of water - no luck.  Jason and I had brought ice so he kept me cooled off with washcloths and stayed by my side throughout.  He was so supportive and encouraging.  I was in pain, but really just needed continual support near me.  I  progressed steadily and hit transition around 3:00 pm or so.  Karen broke my water around 8-9 cms.  I was very fortunate that my contractions still afforded me a break in between.  I had contractions 2-3 minutes apart and always had a moment to breathe and prepare for the next one.  Karen checked me and said I was 10 cms around 4:00 pm.  She said I still had a lip of cervix that wasn't soft enough to move yet.  So I labored through another hour.  I felt the need to bear down, but was instructed not to in case the lip would swell up.  At 5:00 pm she checked and I still needed to wait at least another half hour as the lip was still there.  That was my breaking point.  I just shook my head and said I needed something to change.  So, Karen got hospital approval to use the shower for 1/2 hour while I labored the lip away.  The water felt amazing and I needed the change of scenery.  

Around 5:30, I was ready to push and Karen moved the lip out of the way.  I pushed for about 45 minutes and all of a sudden, Leo popped out sunny-side up!  Turns out, he was occipital posterior and I was experiencing back labor the entire time!  (Karen mentioned that it was a possibility but we were unsure of his position and didn't focus on it.)  Since it was my 1st baby, I just thought the feeling of labor was normal but it was definitely not!  He also had the cord wrapped around his neck 3 times, but it didn't affect us until the end of pushing.  The cord held him back a little but we got through it.  The nurses said that most moms typically opt for a c-section for occipital posterior births or the epidural forces them into getting one because they can't push the baby out strongly enough so I was so glad for our drug-free delivery!!  

The NICU nurse paid us a visit because Leo sounded like a meek cat when we cried.  She stayed with us for a while and forced us to give him a bottle of formula because he failed the APGAR.  You can see how pale he was moments after he was born here:

He quickly pinked up (and passed out!) after nursing though :)

NICU eventually approved us and we were sent to our recovery room.  It was then that I discovered that my mom and niece had been quietly waiting in the hospital since NOON!!!  My poor mother was so nervous that her daughter was having her first baby that she couldn't stay away.  She had to wait 6 1/2 hours to hold her 11th grandchild, but it was worth it :)  And all the rosaries she said for a safe delivery were welcome by me!!
We were very fortunate to have had the 8-week Bradley Method of Husband Coached Childbirth instructions during the pregnancy.  The classes were super informative and even turned Jason into a natural childbirth advocate!  After reading Husband Coached Childbirth, he swore that all he needed was a flashlight and some hot water and he could deliver the baby anytime, anyplace!  The classes were so awesome that I hope to become a Bradley teacher  myself!  Even if you want to get the epidural, I think the classes give the parents important leverage to feel comfortable when labor starts.   

Trouble from Day 1!!

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