The Birth of Ezra
A little over 12 hours ago we welcomed our first baby into the world. It was a bit of a whirlwind so I want to write down what I can remember before I forget it all entirely.
Okay, well now it has been 36 hours since Ezra’s arrival. Babies! SO needy.
Some stats on our little guy: born at 6:12 AM, Tuesday June 30, 2015. He came into this world at 9 pounds, 2 oz and a length of 22 inches long.
At 11:30 AM on Monday after getting up from a nap I noticed I was leaking a little fluid. I had been getting rather whiney about going beyond my guess date so I was really happy that this signaled labor could be starting (and that I could call out sick from work). That little fluid quickly turned into a lot of fluid and I just as quickly turned from excited to annoyed; I was so ready to let this baby out!
I texted Jack that I thought my water had broken. I told him he didn’t need to come home right away but I think he was relieved to be getting out of work that day too. After about two hours of continuous trickling I was sure this had to be amniotic fluid so I paged the on-call midwife. Rachel called me back and agreed that it sounded like my water had broken and labor should start on its own within 24 hours.
Jack prepared snacks and packed up the car with what we thought were the essentials. We tried to chillax at home before the contractions really started but I was too antsy. By 11:00 pm I was feeling menstrual like cramping but nothing strong or regular.
It was a beautiful and brisk summer night so we decided to take the dogs for a long walk. On the way home I had to pause a few times during the peak of a contraction. Finally, something was happening! I texted Rachel to give her an update and got into the bathtub. Jack brought me a wine-spritzer. We had read this could help you relax and allow the cervix to dilate. Even though I knew the baby was “fully- cooked” I still totally felt guilty about having a drink.
I started to feel more surges and tried to focus on relaxing to open up and let my baby out. I tried to visualize the flowers in our yard that are just buds when we leave for work and completely in bloom by the time we come back home. I’m much more complex than a flower so if it can open that quickly, I could too.
If that all sounds a little woo-woo it’s because I had studied Hypnobabies. Plus I just had my first drink in nine months, I was probably buzzed.
I started to time my contractions and by 3:00 AM they were coming between 3 and 4 minutes apart so I called Rachel with the update. She said during our conversation I still sounded pretty comfortable so it was probably safe to stay at home longer. I knew if I went to the birth center too early I would become discouraged so I didn’t question her on this.
At 4:00 AM I started to vomit which felt significant (we read all the birth stories in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth) so I had Jack text Rachel. He accidentally texted my mom instead! Early labor can last hours or even days so we were not planning to tell anyone about the start of my labor but luckily she was asleep.
Update, the latter part of this story was written one week after birth, you get busy ;)
I stayed in our tub at home until I felt like I had to poop. We don’t do that in front of each other so at this point I kicked Jack out of the bathroom. (He had been sleeping on the floor next to the tub just in case I needed something. Yes, he is the best.) I got up to go but nothing happened so I got back into the bathtub. Then it happened again, and again, and again. Things were intense and I felt something very hard just a few inches inside of my body. It suddenly made sense how the midwives could be so certain when they said, “yep, that’s a head!” at some of my previous appointments.
I contemplated just asking Rachel to come to our house because I couldn’t imagine anything separating me and my beloved bathtub but ultimately decided a home-birth was probably not something you should ask for on a whim.
I called Rachel and told her it feels like I have to go to the bathroom every time I’m having a contraction. She said she would meet us at the birth center in twenty minutes.
At the birth center
Slow Jack was behind the wheel so it’s hard to say how long it took us to make the mere two mile drive but we arrived at the birth center around 5:00 AM and met our baby at 6:12 AM. Laboring in the car was absolutely miserable.
Once we had parked I ditched Jack at the car and walked inside as fast as I could. Rachel met us at the door, (it doesn’t take much for a non-laboring person to catch up with you). We went to the birth room and Rachel checked my progress. She said I was completely dilated and it was okay now to start pushing with the contractions. Again, it felt like I had to go to the bathroom. Not yet convinced that this was just a labor sensation I went into the bathroom, sitting down to rest between contractions. She encouraged me to push but I wouldn’t, I hated how everything felt outside of the bathtub.
When their large soaker tub was warm and full I got in and felt immediate relief. Now I knew I would have no problem delivering this baby. I assumed a hands and knees position and started to push with what I thought was all the strength I had. You will hear pushing is like pooping but it’s not, it’s like puking. Remember that you preggos reading this. From a mirror cleverly placed under the water I could see the head of our baby. I remember being really impressed with my grooming, and really excited about how close we were to meeting our child.
Pushing sucks, just do it
I could feel the baby moving back up as I rested between pushes. I knew this is by-design to let the tissues stretch but it felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps back. I got a cramp in my right calf followed almost immediately by a cramp in my left. I flipped around and two of the birth
angelsassistants massaged my calves and gave me orange juice.
(I think usually you just get one birth attendant + your midwife but I’m high maintenance and had three)
Feeling better I moved back to my original position and started pushing with a new energy. The pressure was so intense I didn’t think I could sustain it any longer. But I kept telling myself that this push could be the last and decided I better get my shit together to make that true. Before I realized what had happened I heard someone ask me if I could pick up the baby. You read that correctly, no one caught the baby. Whoops.
I was so confused but I looked into the bloody water and saw a big gray blob at the bottom of the tub. I started to pull it up quickly but was cautioned by the birth attendants to be gentle so the cord could be moved out of the way. I turned the baby over underwater and saw that we had a boy! I would never say it out loud but I had been hoping for a boy. I pulled him onto my chest and waited for the wild crying you see in the movies.
When this didn’t happen I panicked a
littlelot. I truly thought our baby was dead. But then he opened his big gray eyes and just stared at me like he was a little pissed I woke him up from such a blissful dream.
We (the baby and I, not Jack, never Jack, eww gross!) got out of the tub to deliver the placenta. I could hear fluid raining onto the ground, I don’t know if this was water coming off of me from the bathtub or blood coming out of me. Jack opted out of the offer to cut the cord and I don’t blame him. There was literally blood everywhere at this point. The tub water looked black, the floor appeared as if someone had mopped it with a bucket of blood, even the walls and birth assistants were splattered. It literally looked like a scene from Saw.
I was given two injections, pitocin and methergine, to help control the bleeding. One of the nurses started an IV to restore some of the fluid volume I had lost.
We stayed at the birth center for about 5 hours after delivery. I felt pretty restored but was still in disbelief they were sending us home with a baby. We called our family to tell them the baby was a boy and we named him Ezra but no one freaking answered their phone. Slow Jack drove us all home extra slowly, stopping at Kowalski’s for some food. We had been encouraged to take a long family-nap as newborns usually have a sleepy period a few hours after birth before hopping on an every few hour feeding schedule. Of course, I didn’t sleep. I had a new baby to worry about!
We had done hours of skin-to-skin after birth and attempted many times to breastfeed but it wasn’t going great. Actually it hadn’t happened at all. Super worried our child would starve, we gave him some formula that first night. I’m sure it amounted to a few drops but I had mixed feelings about it. I felt a lot of pressure to do what was best for our baby, exclusively breastfeed, and was worried this action might compromise that.
Finally we all slept.
The next morning two nurses came to check on me and the babe. I didn’t dare tell them about the formula incident. We passed our check up and I wouldn’t be seen again for 6 weeks as long as everything was going well.
We were planning a two week lying-in period. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s a time when mom and baby spend all day every day skin-to-skin in or around the bed. Mom gets up to shower or use the bathroom and that’s about it. Food is brought in, chores are done by someone else (Jack), and visitors are supposed to limit their stay or pitch in if they want to see the baby.
My family was having none of that. The true lying-in lasted four days.
Written much, much later.
Breastfeeding was still not going great, and I could not sleep even when the baby slept. I felt like I was bleeding more than I should but between the on-call midwives, the internet, and my instincts I was getting mixed answers. The conversations would go like this, “oh did you go up stairs? yeah, you’re probably just doing too much activity. You need to take it easy.” and so the bed rest continued.
Ezra was not nursing well but I had been instructed to nurse him every 2 hours so I did. Alarms were set, babies were woken. I spent hours googling, checking temperatures, gently pressing on fontanelles looking for signs of dehydration.
I was having intrusive thoughts. Irrational at best, terrifying and dangerous at worst.
I made a call to someone local specializing in postpartum depression and left a voicemail. When she called back she said she was retiring and wouldn’t be able to see me. She wished me the best of luck and said she would recommend a colleague. That was a step too many for me at the time.
I was a bit of a wreck.
And I was still bleeding.
The placenta strikes back
Around the two week postpartum mark I couldn’t take being at home any longer. It was time to get out of the house, bedrest be damned. So we went to Costco.
Costco on a Saturday, what a glorious time. The morning and the drive had gone okay but truly I felt like life was happening out of my body, I was operating in slow-motion and everything else was happening in hyper-speed. The sounds in the store became almost mute, like I was hearing everything underwater, and I needed to sit down. Jack waited in line for some photos to be printed while I waited on a large suede sectional with the baby. I said we had to go home.
At home I went to the bathroom and saw something between my legs. Oh no, I thought, it’s happening again. I was certain I was going to hemorrhage and die on my toilet this day. I made Jack call the midwife and insisted we be seen. It was a pleasant summer day and you could tell on the phone she was reluctant to meet with us.
Again I laid on the bed in the room where our child had entered this world two weeks prior, that time deliriously happy, this time afraid for my life. I think her words were, “oh my” as she used a ring forceps to guide the retained tissue out of my uterus. The chunk of pink meaty tissue was quite large, a decent sized petit fillet. She mumbled, “well I’m glad you came in” and gave us a witchy remedy of garlic, iron, and other vitamins to pick up at the health food store before sending us on our way.
And that was it.
Finally, I was no longer pregnant. The bleeding stopped. The scary thoughts went away. We were not out of the woods yet, it was over a year before I was truly recovered (you can read about my struggle with postpartum depression here ). But I didn’t die on the toilet.
So will I do it all again?
Probably, but with an epidural.