Robert's Birth Story
My labor actually started at 38 weeks, five days, on Monday, December 1, although at the time I didn't know it. I sent my husband off to work like usual. It was about 5:30 AM when he left, and he was scheduled to stay on the ship overnight and come home after the following workday. I went back to bed, which is where I spent most of the day. I went for a very short walk at around 10 AM, ate, fed the dog and slept until 3 PM.
At this point, I thought something was up because I was having back pain and was uncomfortable, so I called my husband (DH) on the ship and warned him that the time might be coming because I just felt different. He didn't seem phased, and told me later that he didn't think anything was going on. I ate quickly and went back to bed. I only got up one more time before midnight to take the dog out and go to the bathroom, but once midnight hit, I couldn't sleep. I just assumed it was because I had slept so much all day, and the back pain wasn't helping either.
I called my mom in NC at 12:30. She was getting up to go to work. Then I called my grandmother in TX. I told them both that I thought I was in early labor but not to get too excited because it could blow over. Around 2 AM, after watching some early morning TV, trying to do yoga, and having hot tea and a bath, I went to the bathroom and had bloody mucous in the toilet. This is when I knew I was in labor. I anxiously sat around until 2:15 to call DH off the ship because he had to wake up then anyway to stand a watch, so I figured I would let him sleep the extra 15 minutes, then come home. He sounded a little shocked that I had called so early in the morning but quickly arranged to leave and got home by about 2:45.
Of course I had to go into labor on a Monday, and the Barber's Point Commissary is closed on Sundays and Mondays so I was waiting for Tuesday to grocery-shop. So off we went at 3 AM to Safeway in Kapolei for light snacks and juice. My contractions at this point were about seven minutes apart and very obvious, so the checkout guy looked a little nervous about the whole situation.
When we got home, I was tired and thinking I could sleep a little but it was uncomfortable to lay on the couch and the bed, so I laid on the floor for about an hour or two and dozed off and on. I probably would have been able to sleep pretty well but my mother called just as I was falling asleep really well, and I couldn't get back to that point. I was so frustrated with her because I had called her again before I laid down and told her that I was going to sleep but she just wouldn't stop asking questions.
At around 7 AM, I couldn't lie down or sleep anymore, so I went for a walk. I walked around our block, then met up with the neighbor, and she talked to me and paced for about an hour. By around 8:30, I couldn't talk while I walked anymore. So in the house I went.
I tried to do yoga but couldn't focus on the moves, and tried some music but it was irritating me, so by 9:30 I had no sounds, and was just pacing in the house. I also was frustrated because I would get hot then cold, so I ended up walking around with nothing on, carrying a light sheet to wrap up in. At 10:30 I was talking to my grandmother again, and mid-conversation I just gave the phone to DH and walked upstairs to get in the bath tub. That was the last time I talked to anyone except for DH until the baby was born. From about this point on, my contractions were less than five minutes apart and at varying lengths.
I spent a couple of hours dozing off and on in the tub, mostly with back radiating pain. Then I came downstairs to force some food and water. I wasn't hungry at all but knew I needed something. Shortly after eating though, I threw it back up. So I forced some more water and juice, and tried some herbal tea, but everything was so offensive. Even white grape juice had too much taste for me at the time.
I paced some more, leaned over my birthing ball, and was doing some stretching. I was really in a zone—it is so hard to explain to people how I felt at this time. I was uncomfortable, even more exhausted, but felt good about everything.
I hadn't said much of anything (maybe not anything at all) since going to the tub but DH was so attentive. He didn't try to force anything, was there to hold me when I wanted to rest, and would just follow my lead when I put his hands on my back to rub. The first of three times I got a little aggressive with him though was when he went to get the olive oil to massage my back and perineum. We had discussed this before labor, and I thought it might be an option during labor, but as soon as I saw that bottle, I growled, "You better stay away from me with that bottle!"
At 3:30 PM, I felt like I needed to force some more food. I had been drinking water pretty well though. I broke off tiny pieces of a Cliff Bar, and DH got me an iron pill to take also. I forced a few little bites and some water, but it came right back up in the kitchen sink, and my water broke at the same time. To check if it was urine or my water, DH tasted it—I actually used some energy laughing at this one but still didn't say anything.
I was so exhausted at this point, I needed a break, and this was the first and only time I questioned my ability but it only lasted a few minutes. I realized then what transition really felt like. I knew I was getting close to delivering. I still needed a break though so I took less than a spoonful of vodka, which slowed my contractions, which were two to three minutes apart by this time. I went and slept facing backwards on the toilet for about 20 or 30 minutes.
I got up when the contractions were back up to full force, and went to the bathtub. I laid there in a very focused daze. I was internally talking to the baby, telling him it was safe and he could come out now.
When the first tub fill went cool, I made a big mistake by draining the tub to refill it with hot water and ran out of hot water. So DH brought pots of hot water up to refill the tub. From that point on, I would just add hot to the existing water, and it didn't get cool after that. But he worked so hard bringing up water and I had him pouring warm water over my side during my contractions. He did ask once why I wanted him to do this and I just looked at him so he didn't ask again.
Around 5:45 PM, he had been coming and going to check on me, and making sure I was still drinking water. He broke the silence for the first time in a while by asking how long I was going to stay in labor before I wanted to go get checked. That was the wrong thing to ask, although he didn't know I had checked myself a few times and knew that the baby's head was on the way out. I growled at him again, and said I would tell him if I needed to go anywhere. He told me later that he was getting more excited/anxious, not worried, but I didn't care because I didn't want questions at the time.
He left and came back after about 15 minutes to check on me. So I let him, for the first and only time, check me so he could feel the baby's head. I think that made him feel better that things really were happening even though it didn't seem like it. He sat with me for a few minutes but starting tapping his foot on the floor, and I reached over and, as controlled as I could, stopped him, and told him to not come back for a while.
At maybe 7:00 my body started pushing. That is the strangest thing ever. It's like a hiccup—you just can't help it happening. I guess DH was really listening hard because I was grunting a little with the contraction and I guess since it had been so quiet he ran right up. After the second pushing contraction, I had to stand up, my tailbone hurt, and I just couldn't sit anymore.
This part was awesome. It was like a nice break, the pushing contractions weren't right on top of each other like the others had been, and I felt this rush of endorphins. On the third pushing contraction (I hadn't pushed), the water bag came out still with some fluid in it. I couldn't see it, but it was so heavy I thought maybe it was the head.
I reached down and started feeling the bag, and was actually laughing and talking to DH. He was laughing at me because I was shaking the bag and feeling the weight and thickness of it. It was heavier than I thought it would be.
On the fourth pushing contraction, the baby's head was really crowning and almost came out. I still hadn't pushed, and DH was telling how everything looked. Everything looked good with the stretching, and he had dark hair, and was so close to coming out. He went right back in though.
So I rested and only a minute or so later, much sooner than the others had come, I had my final contraction. I wasn't pushing at first but then I thought, "I'm so hungry, he needs to come out," so I pushed, too hard though. I should have eased up and let one more contraction get him out but I pushed through that feeling and tore my labia very slightly, not even enough to get a stitch but I could have avoided it entirely.
He was out, I had him standing up in the tub, and he came out screaming so loud. DH said, "It's a b-, it's a BOY!" He sounded so confused at first because I was so convinced it was a girl, but then the excitement of everything just came out.
The next few minutes were a whirlwind. He handed me the baby, and I laid back down in the tub. I was drying him some, and then heard DH laughing and realized he was in the hall telling my mom it was a boy, and laughing because he was screaming so loud. So I had to remind him that I could use some help with the towels, so he got off the phone and came over.
Baby Robert had pooped all over the towel, so we rinsed him, and got another towel, then he pooped again, so we did it again. Then I realized my tailbone was still hurting so I stood up but didn't want the placenta plopping out with the baby still attached so I squatted over a chux pad in the tub for a couple of minutes and got the placenta out.
Once the placenta was out, I felt good enough to sit so I sat on the toilet while DH cut off some placenta and ran down to make me a smoothie. From the squatting to get the placenta out, I had made my feet go a little numb. That was a really bad feeling for a few minutes but I propped them up and DH got me the smoothie quickly, plus some water, tea and a Cliff bar. I ate and drank so much but it felt so good.
Baby Robert was wrapped up in a clean towel, had nursed a bit, and was cozy with me less than 15 minutes after being born. His birth time was about 7:20 PM. I wish we had the thought to take pictures of the tub—it looked like a crime scene. It wasn't an excessive amount of blood but since I was standing and had sat on the side of the tub after, it was just everywhere.
I hopped in the shower to clean up, and cleaned the tub in the process while Robert snuggled with Daddy. I felt so good, just physically empty, I felt like I needed to hunch over to keep my insides in. But I was suddenly refreshed, and up in the clouds.
One of DH's co-workers and his wife came to visit and bring food around 9 PM. We had cut the umbilical cord about an hour after birth, and mostly cleaned up, since the mess was pretty contained.
By around 10 PM, I had eaten so much and drank so much water, tea, and milk, I felt like I was going to pop. But I rolled up to bed with the baby, and told DH to check on us every now and then if he didn't want to come to bed yet. I probably dozed and rested while staring at the baby for an hour before I could really settle down, and DH was downstairs talking to his best friend and trying to wind down himself.
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