It has taken me a bit longer to get to blog about Bruce’s birth. I hardly get to the computer these days. But here it is: the birth story of our third child.
As I did with Violet’s story, the short version is that the labor was about 12 hours. The pushing stage was 5 minutes. I had a natural birth at Alma Midwifery Birth Center. It was another water birth, and it went very well. My midwife said the birth was “amazing.” Bruce was born on his actual due date, December 11th, 2011 at 3:23am, weighed 8lbs 6oz, 20 inches long, with a head circumference of 14 1/2 inches. He looked a lot like Kadie did as a newborn. We were very pleased to have a son!
The long version (be warned, it’s the nitty-gritty, detailed version) goes something like this:
I started losing my mucus plug on Wednesday, December 7th. There were lots of uterine activity. I kept wondering, “Is this it? Is this labor?” Then I’d chide myself, “If I have to ask myself ‘is this labor?’ then it’s not labor. I’ll know when I’m in labor!” But still, the mental side of waiting was just as exhausting as all the weird aches and pains.
Thursday, the 8th, I was having more acid reflux again, and feeling kicks in my butt from the inside, and pressure up in my tummy. It was the second night in a row of having to sleep in the recliner after having a break from that nightly routine. Most of my last trimester, my baby’s head was pushing up into my stomach. I had gone to the pool and did hand stands, which made baby turn head down for a few days, but this baby was sure active and did whatever he or she (we didn’t know the sex yet) wanted. The midwives were worried, but I wasn’t letting myself get too stressed out about it until the week of my due date.
I was scared baby’s head was up again. I was scared that labor would start soon, as I was 3 days away from my due date, and I’d have to try to push out a breech baby at home. I wouldn’t be allowed at the birth center if baby was breech, and if I went to the hospital, they’d automatically do a C-section. I live close to a hospital, and I prayerfully decided that I’d rather try to deliver breech rather than just give up to the knife without trying first. I even thought about paying my neighbors to go stay in a hotel if I were to attempt a home breech birth. Thankfully the ultrasound showed baby’s head down. Thanks Lord! Thanks baby! This knowledge help me relax. I could allow myself to go into labor now.
It amazed me at how strong “Bruce Lee’s” kung fu punches were “in the basement” to make me think they were his kicks. It must have been his famous one-inch punch. As I told many people, I’d be surprised if we had a girl, but I still wasn’t completely sure. I thought my first two were going to be boys.
We took Kadie and Violet to David’s parents’ house on Friday, December 9th as a trial run of staying the night. I was counting on the baby being late because Kadie was 8 days over and Vi was 10 days. But I thought to myself, if I could actually go into labor on my due date weekend, I’d like the kids to be elsewhere so I could actually relax and allow myself to go into labor instead of being too busy taking care of everyone. Well, that night I was having even more uterine activity. I had “the grip” (a very hard belly) almost constantly. I had to tell David to walk a bit slower, and I had to stop and catch my breath when shopping at New Seasons on the way home.
Saturday, December 10th, at 4am, I felt a small gush of liquid when I got up to pee. I woke again to pee at 6am and I was all wet. Kori, my CNM, and I suspected it was amniotic fluid leaking. I started cramping—not consistently, but I knew “this was it”—labor was starting.
“Sorry, Whitney, I’m not waiting for you,” I thought. She was part of our birth team and hoped I wouldn’t go into labor while she was out of town on our due date weekend.
I got up at 6am and started cooking food for the labor and stay at the birth center since I have special dietary needs. I made waffles, beef and chicken jok, cut up veggie sticks, and made a container of mangos and kiwi in pineapple juice. I had started drinking Recharge (electrolyte juice) a couple days earlier, and continued drinking on Saturday, along with tea and water. I kept drinking and drinking and peeing and peeing… and drinking and peeing some more.
I was preparing myself for a strenuous athletic event and wanted all the energy I could get, so I made “pond juice” (veggie juice). I had a spinach salad with salmon and drank nutrient-dense soup I had made from beef bones and veggies. All of this was to hopefully help my platelet count remain high, and help my anemia with iron, since tests had showed some concern for those issues.
By the afternoon, I was pretty tired, so I took nap. I didn’t really “sleep” sleep, but rested in between slowed-down contractions. I was a little disappointed that labor basically stopped, but I knew I had a ways to go and felt like my body needed to rest.
When I got up from my nap, contractions picked up again. I had timed them on David’s iPod for a bit that day, but nothing seemed consistent, so I gave up keeping track. We went to Chipotle to eat dinner and I was having to stop and breathe through contractions. We were going to pick up a few more groceries, but decided to head home instead. We watched my “comfort” movie, Pride and Prejudice (the Matthew Macfadyen version), while I continued to breathe through increasingly intense contractions. I was very tired after the movie so we went to bed.
I hadn’t seen any more fluid or mucus plug all day, so I was tempted to fear that I would have to keep contracting like this for several days more. It was getting very difficult.
I didn’t sleep, but got deep rest between hard contractions every half hour or so. I started praying through them, thanking God for and meditating on a different attribute of God through each contraction. Some of my focus points were God’s blessings, joy, hope, peace, the Holy Spirit, comfort, power, and strength.
By midnight, I felt I should eat again, so I got up and toasted a waffle. I went to the bathroom and saw deep red blood. It was time to go in. Contractions became much closer and harder. I woke David and told him we needed to go. By then I couldn’t just breathe through them, I had to use my voice and felt things were moving down. David had only slept for 2 hours and was quite out of it. He sort of stumbled around collecting his gear.
When we were on the phone with Kori, I had “the turning point contraction” that made me cry uncontrollably and shake. It was the shift into very intense labor that was bringing tremendous downward pressure. I urged David that we had to go now. I told him I hoped the baby wouldn’t come while we were still driving, but to be careful of ice. He did very well, going the speed limit the whole way, which is a contrast from his usual Lead-foot Lim driving.
We got to Alma at 1:30am on Sunday, December 11th. My birth team Kori, Corinne, and an intern named Angela, were on the curb waiting for me. They walked me up the steps to the front door of the house, which was locked. Somebody opened it for us and I waited out another strong contraction before finishing going into the room and into the big tub. I used my voice fully again, and squatted until my feet were numb. I shifted positions, and continued to feel my tailbone shifting out painfully as baby moved down with contractions. I felt a stretching as my bag of waters bulged out. I was so close to the edge of pushing, but I felt like I couldn’t bear down very well in the water. I was a little too buoyant. Eventually I asked David to hold my shoulders down. I was able to relax between the slowed-down contractions and felt very exhausted. I felt like I couldn’t keep doing this. A couple of times I said, “I don’t want to do this.”
Kori said, “But you can do this. You are the only one who can. You are doing it.”
I asked David to tie my hair back, and he gave me sips of Recharge. I was feeling nauseated and so the midwives gave me something homeopathic to put under my tongue.
I told my baby “I love you,” and I told David I loved him. He was holding my hand steady through each contraction and kissing my head lovingly between contractions. Just the feeling of his hand firmly, yet gently holding mine was a great comfort and strength. It was reassuring to have him be there with me through it all, even though I did not want to be there inside my body at all.
I asked God for help. I asked him to help me be brave. I psyched myself up to push my contraction over the edge into the pushing stage. I was so close. But just I couldn’t do it. Another contraction or so went by until I could muster up the courage to push it harder again. The bag bulged out so painfully stretching me out again, yet I was denied. “Come on already!” I said.
Corinne, who was quietly sitting in the corner, could tell I was frustrated and asked me “What do you need?”
“I need my bag to break.” She said to try little grunty pushes. I did so on the next one and, sure enough, my bag broke and I immediately went into pushing very forcefully. I felt baby go down and start to crown. This was the worst pain I’ve felt in my life! For the third time! The stretching burning was unbearable but I held him there with all my might, not wanting the baby to slide back up, prolonging the agony. I then took two big breaths and pushed the head out. The next push was terribly painful too, but the shoulders and body came out as the midwives, probably Kori, caught the baby behind me, telling me to squat back down into the water so she could guide it under and through my legs. I didn’t realize I had partially stood up. I lowered myself into the tub, reached down and pulled my baby up onto my chest.
I held my baby tight. My eyes were closed and I just held my sweet baby to my chest and breathed. That’s all I could do. After a while, one of the midwives asked if I was going to find out what it was. It was exciting for them to find out too, since it’s not as common these days to wait until the birth. I held my baby out and said, “It’s a boy… I have a son.” I looked at David. The joy in his moist eyes and the smile on his face made me cry. Such great happiness and love were holding us tightly together.
There is more to this story, but I fear another 3 months will go by before I have the chance to tell it. So for now, I will post this as part 1, with part 2 on the way.