ORIGINALLY WRITTEN APRIL 8, 2008
Gideon Isaiah Michael was born April 4 at the Foothills hospital in Calgary, AB at 10:14 pm weighing 8 pounds 9 ounces, measuring 21 inches long. Both Gideon and Judith were born on Friday nights! = )
Things got started with mild cramps Thursday overnight, I noticed them when I got up for my normal night time bathroom breaks, but they weren't bad at all and I slept through them just fine. I didn't think it was labour because when I was out shopping on Thursday I ended up in the bathroom at Value Village for quite a while with diarrhea (lovely, I know), so I thought it was just that again. Then at 6 am I noticed I had quite the bloody show. It continued all morning, and I was having mild, but at least real, contractions.
Every time a contraction came I just praised Jesus because I wanted labour to come so badly. It was so exciting, but I wasn't getting my hopes up because I figured I wouldn't get into "real" labour for a few days. I was going about my life as usual, and starting around noon my contractions got to the point where I had to stop to breathe through them, and I started recording the starting time and duration of each one. But I still thought it was pre-labour because I was totally fine between contractions and spent the day playing with Judith and reading a book. I actually really enjoyed the rise and fall of the rushes and was experiencing the whole "riding a wave on the ocean" thing with each contraction, it was cool!
The contractions never got nearly as bad as they did during Judith's labour, which I believe was due to being at home and not in the hospital. The pain was totally in my back and thighs, I hardly felt anything in my belly at all which was odd and I was kind of waiting for that to pick up too. I leaned forward through the contractions and pushed on my lower back which felt amazing. It would have been so painful if I had to lie on my back on a bed! Moving around a lot helped too.
So I spent most of Friday just eating and drinking for the supposed "long road" ahead, and not paying too much attention to the pain. Dave came home from work around 2:30, I told him to stay and work the rest of his day, but he was certain that I was underestimating myself so he came home. He brought us all Subway for a late lunch! Then he was smart and had a nap. Judith and I joined him, but I couldn't sleep through the contractions. I did nod off for about 10 minutes between contractions once, but when the next one hit I had to quickly sit up and I felt like I was going to puke. So I got up and kept myself busy while they slept.
When Dave got up we watched Star Trek, and then I called the midwives around 6:30 because I thought I finally was in good labour. I started having to moan a bit during the contractions. I figured I was around 4 or 5 cms dilated, because it was about the same pain intensity that I felt in Judith's labour when I was at that point. One midwife showed up (the one that saw me for 80% of my prenatal care, and who was actually the first midwife I met when I went for the orientation session back in August) around 7:15 and checked me, and I was 9.5 cms dilated! I told her I loved her. I still felt great for being that far along. She also checked the baby's heart rate and that's when things stopped being blissful. It was up in the 180's. I told the baby to chill and his heart rate came down to the 160's, but then soon went back up.
The back-up midwife showed up around then, not sure what time it was. I sat on the toilet for a short while, which I had been doing a lot of and it felt good, and then got into the bath tub, hoping I'd be able to push soon. The midwife didn't want to go to the hospital just as much as me so we were hoping that I'd start to push and the baby would come quickly and then we'd not have to go. The bath water felt amazing! If I have another child I am definitely going to try for a water birth because it felt so good, especially on my back. But the baby's heart rate kept going up to the 180's, despite my prayers and efforts to tell him to calm down. I also hadn't felt the urge to push yet even though I was fully dilated (I think the stress of knowing his heart rate made my labour stall, even though I didn't really consciously feel stressed as I knew in my heart everything was fine).
After we waited over an hour and his heart rate didn't come down nor did labour progress, we decided to call an ambulance and go to the hospital in case he needed emergency resuscitation if he passed meconium in the womb, which often happens if the baby is stressed and can cause pneumonia or something I guess. At that point I also had to accept an IV into my arm with antibiotics due to me testing positive for strep b (I declined having the IV put in right away when the midwife came because my waters had not yet broken). The hospital required me to have the IV, and I'd rather my midwife administer it than a nurse at the hospital I didn't know. It was awesome to have the same midwife through all my prenatal care and birth and postnatal care! It's so nice to have someone you know and trust. I am totally sold on midwives and probably could never deal with the standard doctor/hospital care for birth in the future unless for some reason I have some big risk factors.
It was so hard for me to get out of my nice tub, get dressed and then lie down on my back in an ambulance for the bumpy ride to the hospital while in transition (I was shaking and nauseous, but managed to not throw up through it all, despite being in the transition stage for over 2 hours) and still having hard contractions, but overall it wasn't too bad and even the EMS guy couldn't get over how "perky" and talkative I was between contractions knowing I was so far along in my labour. Once we got to the hospital, around 9:30 pm, we got a room right away and didn't have to check in or anything (a perk of having midwives, they called ahead and they have lots of privileges), and of course once we got there the baby's heart rate went back down to normal.
I barely got the heart rate monitor hooked up when I had the urge to push, and with one strong push there was a pop and my waters broke, and his head started emerging right away! The thought of lying down was overwhelming because of the pain, so I got up into a squatting position. I actually ended up with my right knee down on the bed and my left leg out to the side at a right angle. It was kind of an odd position but that's what my body wanted to do. I reached down with my hand and could feel his head already partly out of me! The intensity of the pain was beyond words though! I felt like freaking out, but somehow retained control over everything. I made lots of noise though, as that helped a lot. The urge to push wasn't as overwhelming as I remembered with Judith's birth, I totally controlled when and how hard I pushed, I was able to focus on and follow the midwife's guidance and used my breathing to let him slowly crown and come out without tearing. That doesn't mean it didn't hurt like nothing else I've ever experienced though! I couldn't believe it, it was WAY worse than the pain of pushing Judith out. With Judith I loved the pushing part, it felt really empowering (although my body was in control and did it all, it wasn't necessarily "me"), but this time it was just hard and excruciatingly painful. But in the moment I was able to remain focused on the task at hand, thank God, or I seriously may have lost my mind at that point.
I am really glad I read so many home birth stories and really ate up all the information I could about natural birth over these last few months, and also that I took the Birthing From Within classes, because I was able to keep my focus and stay completely present and in control throughout the entire labour. I am also thankful that the pushing/crowning only took 15 minutes total, from my waters breaking to having him in my arms. I can't believe how fast it went! He was born at 10:14 pm. My first thought was just surprise at how big he was! He was also kind of a purple colour, but the midwives said that was good, and he was screaming his head off so obviously he was breathing great, we didn't suction him or anything. No intervention whatsoever was needed in the end.
I sat back and just held him on my tummy, the umbilical cord was too short to get him to the breast right away. It took 16 minutes to deliver the placenta, which I was kind of nervous about for some reason (I didn't even get to see Judith's placenta, they gave me a shot in the leg after she was born and I delivered it right away and they just took it), but it ended up being the easiest part of the whole thing. After a while I realized I didn't even know if the baby was a boy or girl, since he was on me under a towel, so I checked and announced that we had a boy! We decided to name him Gideon Isaiah Michael. If you put the meanings together, it reads "Great Warrior" "God is salvation" "Who is like God?". Gideon can also mean hewer or feller, and my dad likes that because he loves cutting wood, lol. Michael is also after Dave's dad.
Gideon took to the breast really well at the hospital and nursed for quite a while. The midwife got me some toast with jam and peanut butter with apple juice and it tasted like the best food in the world! I haven't really felt hunger in 9 months, but literally as soon as I gave birth it came back, and I have been one big eating machine ever since! Then I went pee so I could have the IV taken out (I totally hate any kind of needle or IV), had a shower and the midwives did up all their paperwork. Gideon was not a happy camper in the hospital, he screamed basically the whole time we were there. He definitely has good lungs! I got dressed slowly and painfully, my back was SO sore from the labour, and I had a labial hematoma which means my girl parts were bruised and extremely swollen from broken blood vessels under the skin (it looked and felt like I had a mouse between my legs and was very painful). But at least I had no stitches! Dave got Gideon ready to go, and we left the hospital at 1:30 am. It was nice to be able to go home so soon.
I kept saying that the baby would come during a snow storm, just because it has been so nice here since February, and I was right! When we left the hospital it was indeed snowing. My mom came and picked us up, with Judith asleep in the back. When we got in Gideon was still screaming, but Judith took it really well and was trying to console him. For the last few weeks before the birth Judith kept saying "Baby going to come in car seat", and she was right! Maybe she knew all along that he would be born in the hospital. She also knew all along and kept telling us that the baby was a boy. When we got going Gideon fell asleep and then Judith kept telling us to be quiet so the baby could sleep. We got home and spent a little time just adoring Gideon, then we all went to bed and had a great sleep! Gideon didn't wake up at all until the morning.
The next day was a bit rough, I was so sore and Gideon wouldn't latch on at all to feed, but we managed to make it. After Gideon wouldn't eat for 24 hours I finally just pumped and gave him some colostrum in a cup. The midwife came over a couple times to help, and eventually he got it, kind of. I still had to pump sometimes, but I kept offering the breast first and he finally got the hang of it, thankfully. It was interesting to discover through pumping that I have a crazy supply! I could pump 30 ml of colostrum in less than 20 minutes! My milk came in last night, I think I am going to be quite abundant again this time around. At least now we actually have our own place so I can pump and freeze the extra milk in case I need it some time. I'm happy that breastfeeding doesn't hurt nearly as much this time around too. I'm swollen and tender in my crotch, but my nipples are still ok. We had a rough night last night with him not being able to latch due to engorgement, he screamed for hours, but he finally had a good feed and sleep this morning. He's still really colicky today, but at least he's eating.
Overall the birth experience was really good. I kept my head on and was very laid-back through the whole birth and I am so proud of myself! I didn't get my home birth, but it was still totally natural and without intervention in the end so I am very satisfied with it. I can't believe how different it was from Judith's labour! She came early, he came late. She came slowly, with waters breaking first, pitocin augmentation without any pain meds which made for a long, hard labour, but then pushing was great, although long, and crowning wasn't so bad. He came quickly, labour was relatively easy but then the waters broke at the end and pushing and crowning was overwhelming and fast. After Judith was born I was up and about in total euphoria, and told Dave right away that I'd do it again. After Gideon was born I was tired and sore and told Dave I want to wait a while before doing that again, lol. I had a big tear with Judith that took lots of stitches and 10 weeks to heal, but I didn't tear at all with Gideon and I'm almost totally healed up already! That's weird because Judith was only 7 lbs 2 oz and Gideon was 8 lbs 9 oz. I was in a totally different head space with each labour too, last time I was clueless and this time I was in control. My midwife kept telling me that she was amazed at how calm I was through the whole thing, even when we had to transfer, and she was impressed with how well I controlled the pushing and crowning.
So, that's it I guess. I am so happy that I had midwife care, and I totally recommend it. It has also been great to have so much help and support this time around. I like that I can call the midwives 24/7 if I have any problems, and my mom has been great taking care of us here at home. Dave is back at work today, but it was so nice to have him around for the first 3 days after the birth. He did all the diaper changes and burping and just held Gideon all day for me so all I had to do was nurse him and then focus on resting and healing. So here I am 4 days postpartum, and I feel great!