I knew from the second I got pregnant, this story was going to be dramatically different then my first. I started researching my VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) on the day I had to schedule my csection with Nori.
For starters, I can’t hardly believe we have kidS, as in PLURAL! Yikes. Everything that could have possibly been my nightmare, happened with Nori. From puking for over half the pregnancy, awful back pain, numbness in my legs and hands, to swelling like the michelin man. (It was sexy.) Then her being breech, to a terribly failed attempt at ‘flipping her,’ to a leaking placenta, a csection and finally landing herself a couple days in the NICU receiving bags of blood. A traumatizing birth and pregnancy to say the least. This pregnancy and delivery was textbook.
It’s hard for me not to start back in march, because that’s when my life changed forever. We conceived “Turtle” the same weekend my older sister, Ali, went into the hospital for the very first time. It wasn’t long after that I got a positive pregnancy test and her pathology reports came back positive for cancer. Yep, what I thought was going to be such an exciting moment in my life, ending up being completely darkened by gut wrenching news. I couldn’t even think about my baby, my symptoms, anything but my sister’s fate.
Months were passing and it was if I wasn’t even pregnant. Even 16 Wks of daily vomiting barely reminded me there was a baby in me. So much was going on emotionally I found myself completely neglecting any bonding time. I hate to admit it, but it was the truth. I knew he’d be fine and I told myself, after the first kid, does anyone have time to do all the nesting, reading etc, anyway? I had confidence the 3 of us girls were finally going to experience birth together, as a team. As Ali’s health went up and down my entire pregnancy, I feared she wouldn’t make it to his birth. However, it was such a goal of hers to be there. She always said, “I’m going to make it to his delivery, even if I’m in a wheelchair. It’s the one thing on my bucket list that I have to experience.” When her chemo started working I knew we were golden. She was doing so well she’d actually be able to stand through parts of my labor! Then before I knew it, Ali had passed. When the pneumonia took her out all I could think was, only another few weeks! That was it! Why would God take her now? A FEW WEEKS!! I was 36 Wks pregnant, devastated, and I’d yet to put any energy into our little boy. Nothing prepared to bring this child into the world. No bedroom, no diapers, car seat still in storage, no bags packed for hospital and worst of all no name for him. We only had a nickname big sis gave him at the ultrasound, “Turtle.” Everyone gave me a hard time about it, but seriously between working 12 hr days and crying almost every day of the pregnancy, how the heck did I have time to do anything? Thankfully, we’ve had nothing but time to love on him now. I feel horrible about his pregnancy and basically neglecting the poor child for 9+ mths, but it was my reality and I wish it wasn’t.
Onto the actual story…
Since I started contracting regular from that night, nov. 3, til his birth day, I would pray through Ali. “If He had to take you before, then obviously you’re still going to play a major role in his birth. Please help me through.” Each day for 3 Wks I contracted sometimes 3-5 min apart for hours. Then. They’d. STOP. Tortured by 3 weeks of prodromal labor. The dr told me because of the tragedy I faced with my sis, it was going to happen til the baby was ready to come. He knew there was no stopping my sometimes hours of uncontrollable sobbing, so I just had to deal with it. Great.
330pm on 11.28.11: Dr’s office called to confirm my 39 wk appt. Nurse jokingly asks how I’m feeling and that maybe they’ll hear from me before my appt. I say, “I hope so!!”
5pm: Got a call saying my dad (Poppi) was rushing to the ER in severe pain. Whaaaat?? My other sis, Britt, dropped off Nori on the way to taking mom to the hospital. She walked in on me giving birth to alien slime. Yummy. We both laughed because if you’ve been through pregnancy then you’re really never surprised when things like this happen. TMI? Sorry buddy, one day your wife will go through it and it won’t be a big deal anymore to talk about “discharge,” it happens, get over it.
730pm: Poppi was out of emergency surgery for his ruptured appendix. He was stable and his normal aggravating self to Nonni and all the staff in hospital. (Later we find it had ruptured days before and the infection spread to his blood, ate away at some bowel and he was on a feeding tube for over a week. He was home and doing well 8 days later, but very disappointed he missed his first grandson’s birth.)
8pm: The slime was getting worse. But it wasn’t my water, and I was told by a doula friend that my body was rapidly expelling white blood cells known as pre birth gew. Geeeeewwwwww, fo sho.
10:45: Aunt Dale calls (who was taking big sis nori whenever labor started) and I told her “In and ideal world, my water will break during the night, I’ll labor til morning, notify people when we are going to the hospital during daytime hrs, and the baby is born conveniently after the work day.” (Aunt Ali must have been listening closely here…)
1130pm: Went to bed with the same kind of contractions I’d been having for weeks. I was used to it. I hadn’t slept well the whole pregnancy anyway, what’s another night?
130am: “Moommmy! Mommy! Mommy Paaace!” (for some reason she calls me mommy Pace from her crib) I didn’t feel like dealing with her, I was exhausted but I realized my back was hurting more than normal, I needed to move anyway. I went in and gave her a little TLC then went to the potty, “More gew?!?” Where was my body storing all that?!” Back to bed and couldn’t get comfortable. My side/back/hip pain was stronger. Toss and turn.
2:15am: “Mommy! Mommmmmy Pace!” I knew her agenda was to get in our bed, no dice that night kid. I decided to get on all fours and did some yoga stretches. I couldn’t believe it, my Ideal world took effect: POP. Helllllo hot gush! I didn’t worry, in my mind I knew this was going happen like this weeks ago! I had put a towel under my sheets to prevent a mess. I looked down all proud of myself. Awesome. Towel shifted, and at least half the puddle missed. Fail.
“Adam wake up.” Gave a friendly jostle. “Adam WAKE up!” Gave a friendly punch to the arm. “Adam get the hell up, this is legit!” Meanwhile… “Mommy Pace! Mommmy!” She was relentless and it sounded like she’s reaping havoc in her crib, probably disrobing. I threatened Adam if he didn’t deal with her, he was going to have quite the mess to clean. I couldn’t move without a hot gush. Changed my underwear, shoved in a towel. Fail. Hand towels were about as absorbent as a small bandaid. I was about to make my own diaper out of a bath towel hoping that’d be more effective.
245am: I made it back to bed and was wide awake. I decided to start jotting down this story because I needed to distract myself since I didn’t have anything better to do as I was contracting regularly. Adam and Nori were back to sleep anyway and I was nowhere near being able to sleep. I thought about how much life was about to change. I was about to give birth to the first boy in 13 babies in my mom’s line. My life of pink, nail polish, and tutus will be bulldozed over with trucks, dirt and snakes! A BOY! Eeek!
257: Anxious and aggravated. I moved from all fours to my side because the back pain was subsiding. Holy Niagara falls, why did no one tell me how much liquid I had stored up in my belly? I swear I must have lost 10 lbs by then in just fluid. It was like I hadn’t peed in four days and I had zero control. Crazy. Feeling. A feeling that I was looking forward to though, because I was pissed I didn’t get the chance to feel with Nori. It was pretty exciting when I got to text some people, my water broke! Yay!
315am: To the bathroom where I felt like I’d do the least amount of damage to our house. Some good contractions started. Yippee! It was really happening! After 3 weeks of prodromal labor, I got to have a baby at the end of the contractions! I decided ages ago that I’d be sure to shower before labor was too strong for me not to dry my hair. With my swollen face, the last thing I needed was greasy hair, smelly pits, and smeared mascara.
I sat in the tub texting my friend Brenda who I knew would be awake since she just had a baby the week before. Her sister kept me in the loop with her labor, and I felt it to be comforting to talk to her since she was so freshly out her natural labor. As we talked all my symptoms I realized, holy cow, these contractions are back to back. I laughed and said, maybe it was time to download that contraction app for my iphone! I was at 2-2 ½ min apart. Wow, that was fast. I was nervous about the drive since we were approaching rush hour and we had a good 30 min to Bnorth. At a different time of the day, I would have waited another couple hrs to go because I knew I wasn’t more than 4-5cm by how I was acting. I was in pain but still talking through and walking fine.
530: Aunt arrives and shoved us out the door. The drive to the hospital felt like the baby was going to be ejected when I was jostled side to side. Contractions in the car didn’t really bother me like everyone said they would, but I learned quickly in life, everyone handles pain differently.
6am: Pulled in hospital but didn’t want to get out of the car because the seat warmers in Adam’s car are amazing and I hated moving when I was so comfortable! Triage asked me a bunch of dumb questions that I wanted to be sarcastic with my answers. They were lucky that the contractions were getting stronger and I had to pause before I answered. I was a confirmed 4, put in my heplock in the world’s worst location for a laboring mom: my wrist joint on the top of my hand. What the?! Thankfully another nurse redid it in a much better location later. She rocked.
7: Britt and Kelly joined us. It was very important to me to feel like Ali was with me as well. I needed a constant reminder so I framed the image of Ali holding my belly as a focus pt. Seeing it put my labor in perspective. She was in severe pain for 8 mths around the clock, I could get through a few hrs of this “pain with a purpose.” Suck it the hell up!! In early labor I held the elephant she slept with every single day. It was her reminder to get through each day for her baby, Olivia. For me it was my reminder she was with me. The elephant is a quick flood gate opener for anyone in my family when they see it.
10am: Puke. Puuuuke. I was relieved to know I was puking, that meant I was entering transition, the hardest part of labor. Contract. Ow. Back pain worsening. I knew the baby was posterior a couple weeks before delivery from head toggling. With the onset of labor and the back pain with each contraction it was confirmed he didn’t move. Little jerk! Posterior is the worst kind of labor. Look it up. With every peak of contraction, started more intense back pain. When that started to let up, I was starting another contraction. Neat. Thanks for no breaks for 12 hrs baby boy! The stomach contractions didn’t even hurt compared to the lower back and hip pain.
11ish: I had the urge to pee which made more space for baby to move down. Carefully and slowly we walked there. Ow. Back. Labor. Hurts. The openness of the toilet was glorious with no counter pressure on my butt. I was to the point where I was getting stuck in positions because there was no downtime to move. When I tried, I’d be bent over in another contraction. They were lasting 90sec at 2 min apart, that only gave me 30sec to recover which in turn was the worst part of the back labor. Dr B knew I was progressing well but he could tell the baby was still in a poor position for delivery by how I was laboring (variations of all fours). He reached all up in me and started manually rotating. As I tried to breathe down, he’d twist the baby’s head/shoulders slowly. Not. Enjoyable. For. Mom. After each twist, the baby would slide right back onto my left hip were Adam had his entire body weight pushing against me. He swore I’d be bruised by the amount of pressuring he was applying.
12pm: I hit 9.5 cm but there was a tiny lip of cervix left. (Always happens with posterior presentation because the wrong dang part of the head is trying to get through and it’s not evenly distributing cervical pressure.) This is when I called my son a “little douche” for the first time OUTLOUD. Whoops! Out of nowhere I became so severely relaxed in labor land that I draped over the birthing ball in a squat and hit a lull. Barely awake. I’ll tell ya, whatever natural endorphins were pumping through me were wonderfully soothing. The contractions still hurt bad but I was completely chilaxed. It was hard to even open my eyes. I had never understood when I experienced this with clients how it was possible to rest at 10cm, I totally get it now. An hr long rest period my body gave me to store up energy to push! I don’t remember much, but I do remember Brittany running her fingers through my hair and adam rubbing my back. Ahhhhhh. Thank. You.
1pm: I suddenly snapped to and thought I was about to poop a bowling ball. No joke. Ready or not, I was going to push. Mom, Britt, Adam and Kelly took turns counter pressuring places, holding legs and giving me water. After an hour of rotating about 10 positions I was finally about to reach down and touch my baby’s head as I pushed. I kept thinking Ali must have been hanging onto him by his heels trying desperately not to let go. His head was then crowned for 45 min. FORTY FIVE MINUTES. He was stuck, but Dr B was confident I’d get him out on my own. Dr B is amazing and so confident in the natural birth process he just sat back and let nature take its course. As I made some very interesting low loud moans, I kept telling myself, “my body was desiiiiigned for this!! I’m going to freaking do this!” He calmly reassured me I WAS doing it and I will get him out on my own. The second time I felt his head, it was like an orange. Once I felt that, it was go time. And also the worst pain during the whole day. Adam joked about playing “Master of Puppets” by Metallica when I pushed, but I really could have used it in the moment. I listened to Adam tell me in my ear to “dig deep.” Brittany and mom kept forcing me to breathe in my nose slowly. I can’t explain the BURN of his head crowning for so long but then he turned enough that his head was presenting sideways. Imagine trying to fit a very large oval through a small oval, the wrong way! I thought I was going to tear so bad and somehow I only got a 1st degree. Thanks goodness for the bigillion yogi squats through pregnancy and Dr B pouring hot oil helping me stretch slowly. Soon my support team and the nurse were screaming, “Don’t stop!!! Don’t stop! This IS it, go go you’re done!!” I powered through.
2:51pm on 11.29.11: I lifted my head to see Adam catching/pulling him out of me. The look on daddy’s face was priceless. He was delivering our son and it was so damn cool. Nico Gregory was placed on my chest while I let out a long sigh of relief. He was finally here, healthy and beautiful. I noticed immediately that he had an angel kiss on his left eye. I know it was from Auntie Ali kissing him, wishing him well as she handed him over to his mommy.
I went from ten on the pain chart to zero in a matter of seconds. The natural hormones released in me were so intense it was amazing. I was tired, but I felt normal. I secretly never believed women who told me that, but it’s true. What was even more amazing to me was that I never doubted myself. I never felt anxious like I wouldn’t finish (frustrated during pushing- yes). After a breech baby, a posterior baby, my next delivery will be normal and so easy! Adam and the nurse repeatedly told me they never once questioned my ability either. I had done it with no drugs, exactly how I wanted. It was amazing. I can’t wait to do it again.
When my family came in it was emotional. We, in 3 weeks time, witnessed the circle of life. Very Bittersweet it was.
To see the slideshow done by kelly, scroll below or click HERE to see it. The images below adam and i took the next day.
Day two, Nori was very excited about Nico. She still can’t keep her hands off him, always wants to kiss him.
Nori introducing Poppi to Nico over FaceTime. Technology is pretty awesome in this kind of way. It would have been a perfect Apple commercial! Video chatting from one hospital to the other.
Nori spent the first two nights with Nonni. After our first night home as a family of 4, i rolled over to find this the
next morning. How blessed we are…
Thanks for reading. To all the women out there who have felt inspired and were interested in natural birth, do it. With a combo of educating yourself (see our resource page for more info on that), confidence and will power and a great support team, ANYONE can do it. As long as circumstances allow it, remember women have been doing this for centuries, you can do it too. You’d be amazed by your inner strength.
ps. Thanks again kelly! Totally not to plug our business, but all I can think of right now is how I have these amazing images to share with him in the future. There wasn’t a seingle moment I didn’t need adam’s support, there was no way he could have snapped a single frame. He didn’t even have time to text his family until Nico was born! So much emotion she captured, and I couldn’t be more thankful.