My Birth Story

Birth story of King Squishy

I’ve heard it said that one of the first signs of labor can be a sudden loss of weight. When I stepped on the scale Sunday night the 30th of October and found I had lost two pounds I decided not to even consider that the change in weight could be a sign of impending labor as I still had weeks to go before meeting my baby. My estimated due date was sometime between November 5th and November 9th, so when I woke up Monday morning, October 31st to a long but restless night’s sleep, I didn’t think the menstrual like cramps I was having could be anything more than the Braxton Hicks contractions my midwife had been inquiring if I had been experiencing for the past few weeks. It seemed to me that most women I had talked to had had many “false alarms” and I did not want to be one of them (perhaps my perfectionist nature coming out).

So, with many signs that I might be in labor, I denied them all and went to work with my husband David at 11 am that morning. We both work in the same office but for different departments at the Seminary where we are students. Luckily, we had decided to let ourselves sleep in that morning so despite having a restless night’s sleep I was still feeling pretty good. When we got to work, there were a lot of projects to be done. Luckily the one that I started on required me to have a large work space which meant I needed to work in the basement where David’s work space just so happened to be. This meant that when I started to doubt my prediction that these were just practice contractions, David was near me to help time the contractions, and offer support as I needed it.

As we began timing the contractions, I must admit, I was still in denial. After all, this was my first labor, which meant my baby probably wouldn’t come until at least a week after his due date. Interestingly enough, that morning I spoke with my friend and mother of two, Dawn on the phone for awhile and during that conversation she specifically asked if I had noticed any signs of labor. Of course I said no, but I wonder if her own mother’s intuition could hear it in my voice, when even I couldn’t admit what was happening. At around 1:30 pm, I gave up on work as the contractions were becoming more uncomfortable, although I still did not really believe I was in labor.
We went home and called our midwife Tricia. I described what was happening and she said that she believed that I was in labor and encouraged me to either get some rest or do something to pass the time. Two thoughts went through my head at this time; one, there is no food in the house and two, since I’m not really in labor, I might as well go to the grocery store.

We had plans to go grocery shopping the next day but since I might be in labor, we better do it now. Being the stubborn woman I am, I decided I would rather go to a grocery store farther away (15 minute drive), instead of the grocery store only five minutes away, because I did not want to run into anyone I knew while I might be in labor.
As David and I got ready to go to the grocery store, I decided I had better put a super heavy pad on and put a Depends in my purse-after all the stories of water breaking I had heard, I knew I had better be prepared (I hope you’re getting the gist that I like to control my life by now). While at the grocery store I would say I managed fairly well. I did have to stop as I felt a contraction coming on and then when I felt it fading away I would hurry onto the next task, feeling the urgency to get out of the store.  As I was beginning to really not be able to handle the contractions with a straight face, we finally finished our shopping trip. I wanted to stop by one other store real quick though, as I really wanted some dark chocolate covered raisins for my after labor treat. I was no longer feeling up to going into the store, so I sent David in and waited in the car.
While I waited and experienced a couple more contractions, I began to talk with King Squishy.  “We need to work together,” I told him, “we are going to do great.” Maybe I was starting to believe that I would really be meeting my baby boy soon.

When we got home, I lied down and we timed the contractions again. They were coming about 4 and a half minutes apart but were only about 40 seconds long. We called Tricia, our midwife and she said she would come over. While we waited for Tricia, Daddy (I think this marks a transition point-no longer referring to my husband as David, but as Daddy) went running throughout the house to get everything ready for delivery. He had to move the bed and furniture in our bedroom so we had room for the birthing tub. We also changed the sheets and put on the plastic cover. Unfortunately because we did all this prep work, David never really got dinner (he regretted this dearly at 1:30 in the morning). However we had various foods that we got at the grocery store for munching-like fruit and crackers, so we all munched on those things. Unfortunately for me, I got to enjoy my munchies twice as right before Tricia arrived, I threw up.
Tricia arrived at about 5:30 pm. She said that she thought active labor officially started at 5 pm when I had spoken with her on the phone. At that point in time King Squishy was still positioned with his back to my back known officially as posterior position. Since this is the main cause of back labor, (something you want to avoid like the plague) I spent some time in a hands and knees position to encourage him to move. I was not experiencing the pain of back labor at this point in time though, which was a miracle, so I hear.
God must have a sense of humor because my labor never seemed to be quite predictable, which does not jive well with my ability to control my situation. Since Tricia was unsure about where my labor was by watching and listening to me she asked to check me. I was 3 cm and completely effaced. I must admit this was exciting and encouraging to me. I was not aware that women with their first labor often efface completely before dilating. I thought the two progressed simultaneously all the time, so I felt quite accomplished to have one complete.
    Unfortunately though, Tricia said the contractions I was having were not long enough for how close together they were and for how far along in labor I was. So, Tricia gave me two homeopaths-one to make contractions further apart and the other to make them stronger and more effective or otherwise known as longer. “You are going to love me for this,” Tricia jokingly stated. I continued the hands and knees position while David and Tricia went upstairs to set up the birthing tub and fill it up. Soon after that Tricia said I should get in. The birthing pool felt so relaxing. I still did a lot of hands and knees to encourage him to turn over. Tricia encouraged me to try some other positions as well and I tried laying on my side and having David hold me during contractions so I could let my body float without having to worry about drowning. Tricia left us for awhile and I just kept riding the contractions. I had heard it said that that was the best way to cope with labor. Just ride the contractions. Finally I was beginning to understand what that meant. As each one comes you just take that one as it is and don’t think ahead. Then you take the time in between as best as you can allowing yourself to relax, not dwelling on the next contraction to come but just being in the present.
A little later, in between contractions David quizzed me, asking me if I knew what time it was. I guessed about 7 pm, but it was actually 10 pm. They tell you time in labor moves at a different speed and it is so true. Despite the fact that you are supposed to be going through one of the most painful experiences of your life (that’s certainly up for debate however), time seems to fly. After being in labor five hours, my denial had turned more to disbelief. It’s hard enough to prepare for a baby to come into your life and change everything in ways you couldn’t dream of, but it is even more unreal when that moment you first meet your baby actually comes.
At this point in time, labor seemed to really start picking up. I started to get weary of the contractions and said that I really wanted to admit that I was done, but I was so afraid to do so, because I knew that if I said it, it probably wouldn't be true. Finally, I told Tricia and David, I was done and tired and ready to have this baby. Every book I had read told me that when I arrived to this admission, it meant I was almost there.
Soon, I threw up. Since this usually indicates transition (when your body finishes dilating from 9 to 10 centimeters right before you push), it seemed like a great sign. Remember how I mentioned that my labor was not exactly textbook. Well...since it seemed like I was at transition, Tricia told me that my water would probably break soon and I would feel like wanting to push. I continued to have contractions for awhile but neither of those things happened. So, Tricia asked to check me again and I was at 7 and a half centimeters. Luckily, or unluckily for me, I did not hear Tricia say how far along I was. Apparently, she did as David heard it, but I thought she chose not to tell me to protect my resolve. Thinking she was holding out on me worried me and made me think I had barely progressed. I thought for sure I must only be at around 5 centimeters even though I had been in active labor for over six hours.
Later, I found out that right around this time, David was considering offering me $200 as a present for pushing our baby out. Even though we could only afford $200, David decided it seemed an insulting amount of work I was putting into this effort and thus never offered it to me. And while, I know to most of you it does seem like a petty amount of money, to me it felt like a huge gesture of love. My husband is not a cheapskate but he values his budget and keeping us on track financially (he’s a Dave Ramsey fan). So, for him to think he could find that much extra money in the budget (also note, we were both working on our Master’s Degrees and had very little money) was such a kind gesture.
Throughout my labor thus far David and I had exchanged comments about not being thrilled about the idea of King Squishy's birthday being Halloween (which is the day that I went into labor on). It wasn’t that we hated Halloween, but it seemed like such an ugly day to be born on. David didn’t want to wish a longer labor on me though, so his was a half hearted wish. When we finally reached midnight, David proceeded to tell me it was time to have the baby.
Since my labor had seemed to be progressing a little slower than Tricia thought it should, she  told me to stay out of the water for awhile and encouraged me to try some standing and squatting positions in order to use gravity to help progress further. I really hated being out of the tub and hated the “sitting on the toilet position” during contractions the most.The toilet seemed to multiply the intensity of each contraction. This was a really difficult part of my labor. I was tired and much less comfortable being in these positions. David later recounted that he started crying, seeing me in so much pain but he did not want to let on and upset me more so he tried to hide it from me. I however remember hearing it in his voice.
    By this point I desperately wanted to lay down but hesitated to mention this desire thinking Tricia would suggest against it. Much to my relief, she replied that laying on my left side for awhile would be a great idea. So, Tricia and David helped me lay on the bed with a pillow in between my legs. I had prepared for birth with Hypnobirthing but had not really listened to the CD’s until this point. Truly, I do not even remember hearing them during labor, but I remember them being put on. It must have helped though because I started falling asleep in between contractions. I remember waking after a contraction, thinking, how in the world am I falling asleep in between these things!

Contractions were pretty intense now and so David would press my hips or one hip and my back during each contraction. Each one would come like two waves, first a longer more intense contraction, followed by a more mild one. As I felt each one rise and ebb, I was comforted each time I made it through the stronger one, knowing that even the lighter contraction was a relief in comparison. And then I would get a full break to sleep a little more.
The contractions were so strong I really wanted to reenter the birthing tub. Strategically, I made the move between contractions. Then, while I rode out each contraction again in the tub, David would lean over the pool to push on my hips and back during contractions. I was in a hands and knees position with my hands and head leaning against the side of the pool. At this point in time all I could do was just ride the contractions and concentrate on them. They were tough and I was definitely thinking I wanted relief and I appreciated the time in between them greatly.
A little before 2 am, I started to feel a little urge to push during contractions and so I had David call Tricia up. Since David had not had much of a dinner, after she came up he got so hungry that he went downstairs to get a little food. Tricia took over pushing on my hips and back. David came back up soon (although I later found out he was gone almost a half hour-I thought it was only five minutes) and then I was ready to push. Pushing is a feeling that I cannot completely express. It is definitely comparable to feeling the need to poop but it’s so much more.   It is like you are horribly constipated and are pushing with all your might to get it out without regard to injuring yourself. Yet in this situation, you know you won’t hurt yourself so you just give it everything you have. The intensity of each push is like when you see a cartoon character get shocked and their hands and feet flail out uncontrollably and they shake like an earthquake just went through their body . You just have to do it with your entire body, concentrated into that one area and that one task.
This situation was a time where too much reading isn’t always a good thing. I had read so many birth stories that the pushing phase was a nice relief from the rest of labor because the woman got to work with the contractions at that point. So, when I first started pushing I was very hopeful. “I thought this was supposed to feel better!” I exclaimed to all present. Tricia replied, “I never said it would feel good.” As I got into the pushing more, it did not feel as bad as at first. I guess I got into it. While in each contraction I felt like I could not even take a break from pushing. At this point in time my water still had not broken so Tricia checked me in between contractions (while I was still in the tub). While she was checking me I felt a pop-I immediately thought she had broken my water but she later indicated she was unsure whether her hand helped break my water or if it was just coincidence.
During this whole time David tried to be encouraging saying that it would only take a couple more pushes.  I knew however that the average pushing time for a first time mom was two hours so while I appreciated his cheerleading, I knew it wasn’t true. While those statements were only sad attempts, David truly was encouraging when he reminded me we were almost to my favorite part of every birth story, where Mommy meets her baby. That helped keep me going-not that I had a choice
However at this point, I was told he was starting to crown.  Tricia told me I needed to gently push him out and take smaller pushes. “I can’t do that!” I yelled. When a contraction came it was so hard to take a break. Quickly, I figured out that if I took a breath quickly in the middle of a contraction it helped me slow the pushing down.
During this time, David was getting in the birth tub as he was going to deliver King Squishy. Tricia was instructing David to support my perineum with each push. So, when David started feeling King Squishy's head during contractions, he told us each time. During one contraction he felt his head and said-”he’s got hair!”, which I replied with, “he has hair!” Oh! the little things are the most amazing when it comes to a baby.
When he finally crowned I definitely felt the ring of fire everyone describes. I had been scared of this but it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Soon after Tricia told me that King Squishy had turned and I couldn’t believe his head was already out. I did not realize I had made it that far and it was so encouraging to hear this! I had to keep focusing on pushing now though so I didn’t think of it again. I think I only had to push twice more and he was out. I barely remember those pushes.
Then he was out and I leaned back on David behind me and held King Squishy to my chest. I still remember feeling disbelief that I had had a baby at this point in time. I was in such shock. I just had to laugh. It was truly a joyful laugh. I was so excited I had my baby, and so relieved that it was over. It was truly incredible to have him. David wept too when we first heard King Squishy cry out to us- it was wonderful.

Stay tuned as the last portion of the story is published tomorrow, including a special surprise! 

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