Sunday, July 19, 2009
I'm not quite sure how to begin Thomas's birth story. I'll begin by saying that in a million years, I never would have imagined his birth like this.
But also, in a million years, I would never change a thing.
I woke up early Friday morning with some cramping and very light bloody show, but I'd had some a week prior that amounted to nothing. Beth was determined to send me into labor, so we set up pedicure appointments for 1 that afternoon, with Beth explaining to the girl that she had to put me into labor. She worked on my Spleen 6 pressure point, and I felt some contractions afterward, but nothing major. I went to my midwife appointment after the pedicure, and my cervix was still so posterior that she had to reach up to my throat. I'm not joking. However, after feeling around my tonsils, she said I was 2-3cm and 70% effaced. I knew that didn't necessarily mean anything, but it was good progress, so I felt positive. On the drive home, I felt a couple more contractions, but they were still 10-15 minutes apart. I called my doula at about 5:30 to update her and let her know that I was contracting some, but they were very, very mild. She told me to call her back at 8 and let her know how things were going and to eat a good dinner, just in case. At that time, I started timing contractions, just out of curiosity. They were ten minutes apart and less than a minute in duration. I ate dinner, watched Thomas the Train with Luke, then gave Luke his bath and got him ready for bed. My contractions were still ten minutes apart and while they were definitely noticeable, they still felt like they could fizzle. At 9, I called my doula, and she said she wanted me to do 30 minutes of knee to chest on the floor, with pelvic rocks during contractions. After that, she wanted me to get in the bath for 30 minutes, then climb into bed and try to get some rest. She said if it was real labor, it'd relax me and enable me to sleep a bit before real, active labor hit, and if it wasn't real labor, it'd put a stop so I could rest. I followed her instructions and from 9-10, I did pelvic rocks and the bath. From 10-11, I slept in between contractions. They were still 10 minutes apart. When I'd have a contraction, I'd get up and walk through it, as they were still that manageable. They were starting to hurt more, but mostly, I was feeling pressure. Since the baby was still so posterior earlier in the day, I assumed what I was feeling was hopefully movement to an anterior position. At this point, I knew I was in labor, but I didn't see myself having a baby until the next morning, like around 7 or 8. My labor with Luke was all natural but long (24 hours from the time my water broke), and while I felt this one might be shorter, I was thinking around 12 hours of active labor, which would be half of what I had with him.
I should note also that my midwife always says to call her when contractions hit 3-5 minutes apart OR when your water breaks. I kept waiting for my contractions to get closer together, but they stayed at 10 minutes apart with hardly any bloody show, so I didn't think I had a whole lot of progress going on yet. At 11, I got up and filled up the bathtub, thinking I'd get in there again and relax. I went and got some water, checked my email, and did a few other things with contractions still ten minutes apart. At 11:40, I was hit with a hard contraction that felt like my pelvis was splitting. Four minutes later, I had another. At this point, I checked, and while the bloody show was still VERY light, it was redder. I called my doula at 11:48, and she said she'd leave and meet me at the hospital. I woke up Shane and called my midwife's emergency number, then called my mom to tell her to head over to watch Luke. At 11:53, I spoke to the on call midwife, who asked me a few questions, then said to come in. I hung up the phone with her and sent an email to my girls at 11:55 saying I was in labor. I hit send, started to type up one more email, and was hit with such a hard, fierce contraction that I went right to my hands and knees. In the midst of it, I started to bear down and felt something between my legs. I don't know what went through my head at this time, but I automatically reached down and felt.
This is the part where I wish I could say that I kept it together, but what I felt was not what I expected. I expected either nothing or a head. What I felt was like a water balloon, and I knew it was not a head, and my hand came up covered in blood. I started screaming for Shane, who was downstairs putting in his contacts. I asked him what he saw, and he said it was something, but it wasn't a head. I panicked. I yelled at him to call 911, then looked up as Luke appeared at the top of the stairs saying, MAMA!? I said, Mommy's okay!! Then jumped up and started to head downstairs, my goal to get to the bathroom. Shane was on the phone with 911. I made it four steps down to the landing, when I was hit with another powerful contraction. I gripped the railing, looked down, and saw his head, at which point it hit me that my water hadn't broken, so what I felt first had to be the amniotic sac. If I'd seen a head first, I wouldn't have told Shane to call 911, but I was just so freaked out by what could have been coming out of me. I dropped into a squat, and his head came out the rest of the way. Luke was in the kitchen, peering down the stairs with tears in his eyes, so in the midst of this all, I was assuring him that everything was okay. I cupped my hands around the baby's head and his body corkscrewed out of me and into my hands without pushing any more at 12:02AM on July 18th. The sac was still intact (yes, he was born in the caul, and I think that is the coolest thing EVER), so I used my thumbnail to slit the sac open, at which point the fluid broke all over my legs. I peeked between his legs and shouted up to Shane that it was a boy, then told Luke that he had a new baby brother. I brought him up to my chest, rubbed his back and said,
"C'mon baby, cry for mama," and he gave me a loud cry. He was the cleanest baby I have ever seen because he was inside the completely clear amniotic fluid the entire time. Shane was still on the phone with 911. The dispatcher told him to tie off the cord with string, and hilariously, I completely forgot that my birth plan included not clamping the cord until it stopped pulsing. Interestingly, Shane was so nervous that he tied the twine so loosely that it didn't do anything, so by the time any one even got around to cutting the cord, it was pretty limp and white.
At this point, we heard a knock on the door, and it was a volunteer firefighter who lives around the corner and jumped in his truck when he heard the dispatch. I should mention that this poor guy had to be younger than me and looked like he was vaguely wondering what the hell he walked into. I was still holding Thomas tight to me, Luke was peering from the top of the stairs, and Shane was answering the questions the kid was asking. Next thing I knew, I looked up and there were five firefighters standing in my kitchen staring down at me. Did I mention that I was completely naked? Oh yeah. Next, two female EMTs came in, and I swear, choirs of angels sang at this point. One immediately shouted for someone to get me a blanket, while the other asked for a clean dry towel for the baby. They talked to me and helped me rub him to get him to pink up, even asking me right away if I was going to breastfeed. I told them yes, and they said great, because I could get started in the ambulance. I held tight to Thomas this entire time, and Shane was holding Luke in the kitchen while talking to him about his new baby brother. The EMTs asked if I could walk up to the kitchen to get on the stretcher, and I said, Uhh, I just gave birth to a baby on the stairs, I think I can handle this. I carried Thomas up the stairs with me (still completely naked save for a small blanket) and climbed on the stretcher. They got me a gown and found a little hat for Thomas, but let me lay him skin to skin with me before covering us up with warm blankets. They wheeled us outside, at which point, I realized that there were more fire fighters in the front yard and that both the ambulance and the firetruck had the lights going. They put me in the ambulance, and shortly after, my parents pulled up, both freaked out at the scene. My parents got on the ambulance with Shane and Luke to look at Thomas. Luke looked at Thomas's toes and said, "Baby has piggies!" My parents, Luke, and Shane all went to go inside to get their things and follow us as the ambulance left. Again, let me say that these two female EMTs were like angels. The one in the back with me helped me get Thomas into a position where I could nurse him, though he mostly just played with my nipple. She massaged my uterus (placenta still hadn't delivered) whenever I'd complain of cramps, and when I said, "So uhh, this doesn't happen very often, does it?" She laughed and said, "No, not so much."
We got to the hospital and they took me in through the ambulance bay, which meant that my doula and the midwife on call stayed in the ER waiting for me to come in, thinking I was coming in in labor. I was situated upstairs with Thomas for ten minutes before they got there, as they didn't realize I was upstairs until Shane and my parents came walking into the ER. My doula ran over and gave me a hug and a kiss and said she couldn't believe it and joked that she warned me how quickly second labors can turn. I delivered the placenta and started nursing Thomas while the midwife stitched up a second degree tear, exactly how I tore with Luke. I was worried that with the sheer speed of things, I would've torn worse, but it wasn't bad at all. My wonderful, amazing doula fed me bites of a chicken sandwich and it all started to sink in. Shortly after, Beth called, and I filled her in on the whole story so she could tell everyone that this email, sent at 1:41, was not a joke:
"Its a boy, you guys. He was born on the stairs before we could even leave. No I'm not kidding!! Someone call Beth in case she's still on standby. We are at the hospital now."
There's more, so much more, but this is already so long. Suffice to say, everyone at the hospital knew our story within a few hours, and in the past 36 hours, I've told it more times than I can even remember, but the truth is, I like telling it. It was wild and crazy and a little bit scary at times and our first birth photos were taken with my iPhone because obviously Beth didn't make it and hello, who thinks to grab a camera? Still, it's so special to me. This was how Thomas John came into the world, and I wouldn't have had him any other way.
July 18th, 12:02AM (the 911 dispatcher had this on the transcript as the time that Shane told her the baby was out)
20 inches long