Grant’s Birth Story

40 weeks, 6 days, Tuesday.  Matt and I are at the Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear, starring Stacey Leach when I first start having contractions.  The show started at 7:30pm and by 8pm I’d started having contractions that were mildly annoying.  They continued on and off throughout the show and into the night but they didn’t progress into anything despite my big hopes to the contrary.  

41 weeks, 1 day, Wednesday.   We had a visit from the midwives for a non-stress test (NST) which showed that baby was happy and doing just fine in there.  We had discussed the possibility of membrane sweeping or evening primrose oil to bring on labor, but an exam showed that things were already getting going–I was 1cm dilated and 80% effaced and baby was at 0 station–so we decided to continue to let nature take it’s course.  Matt was working from home that day and we were both hopeful that we would need to tear him away from his projects at some point but it would seem that he got a decent amount of work done.  Other than a walk for the dog and a trip to the movie store, the night passed without event.  

41 weeks, 2 days, Thursday.  Matt worked from home again and it was a good thing this time.  Contractions started taking up more of my notice though the real action started happening around 9pm.  We broke out the and were keeping tight watch on the clock.    At about 1am Matt called Mairi (one of our midwives) to let her know that my contractions had progressed to lasting one minute or more with about 5 minutes between them.  I was in favor of making the call but was surprised to hear that they wanted to come check things out.  Both Mairi and Erin came over and started setting up which was exciting but kind of scary at the same time.  They listened to baby who continued to be quite content and they coached me on breathing through my contractions.  Matt was a rock and would rub me and breathe with me.  By about 5 am it was clear that things were slowing down.  Mairi and Erin left with promises to check back in later in the day.

41 weeks, 3 days, Friday.  Matt and I got a little bit of rest in the morning then he took Driver for his walk.  We spent some of the morning in the basement, me bouncing on the birthing ball, and it was during this time that I had a real bloody show.  As I hadn’t been anticipating that it would be frank blood, I called Mairi for assurance that I wasn’t having some horrific complication.  She was comforting and assured me that all sounded just as it should.  She was on her was to check on me anyway which made me feel much better.  She arrived at our home about 15 minutes later and saw that all was well.  She encouraged me to do some side-facing stair climbing for 30 minutes, which I did but did not much enjoy.  It seemed that the contractions were building and I would alternate having them side-lying in bed, in the tub, or anywhere else that I happened to find myself.  They seemed to be getting more regular but then they would slow down again. 

At around 5pm we discussed what to do.  Things seemed to have stalled again and it appeared more and more likely that we could be spending another night laboring without result.  We formulated a plan:  I would rest now (which I did in the tub), eat something, then at around 7 start some castor oil, and follow with membrane stripping and nipple stimulation around 9 when my contractions usually start to kick in on their own.  Matt ran out to the store to buy the only thing that even seemed remotely appealing:  ice cream.  I enjoyed the most lovely sundae while letting the contractions come and go in the tub. 

Around 7 I got out and started discussing the castor oil with the midwives, my contractions getting stronger all the while on their own.  It would seem that the mere discussion of the castor oil cocktail (orange juice, castor oil, and vodka) was enough to scare baby out of their on his own.  The contractions kept rolling and intensifying and seemed to have moved from my belly into my pelvis with increased pressure.  Lying in bed with Matt to help soothe me and help me relax while the contractions came on, it seemed that things were progressing.  The midwives said simply that we were waiting for my water to break or for me to feel the urge to push. 

Well during a contraction, we both heard a loud “pop” and I felt my water break.  Explode is more like it.  It went everywhere!  And there was no mistaking what had happened.  My first concern was the color of the fluid and I was relieved to hear that it was clear.  I got up to the shower to clean up and work through the next few contractions and it was while I was in the shower that I learned what it meant to have the “urge” to push.  I wasn’t doing any pushing, my body was.  Mairi checked me and I was dilated only to 8. 

She told me not to try to push but to go with my body.  Well I wasn’t trying but those pushes came anyway.  I wanted to get out of the shower and move back to the bed so that’s what we did.  Pushing time.   I first tried a hands and knees approach.  Pushing was by far, the most painful part of labor.  My contractions had been nothing compared to this.  And it only seemed to intensify as baby moved down and out.  Eventually my hamstrings were exhausted in this position and so I moved to sitting with knees back and up while resting on Matt.  Well, there was really no resting, but he was there and my body was reclined upon his.  I remember having a hard time getting my knees back but that Matt and the midwives helped with that.  It’s all kind of surreal.  I remember pushing and breathing, putting my chin down, trying to get three pushes or so with each contraction, letting some contractions go.  Erin told me that baby had to get under my pubic bone.  Seeing a scrunched head covered with milky vernix in the mirror.  Touching baby’s head as it emerged.  Ring of fire, I’m on fire, oh my god it’s burning.  I remember all of that.  Then there was the amazing part when baby was right there.  All of a sudden.  The head pushed out, shoulders delivered, slimy body slides out followed by slinky cord.  Baby in my arms.  It’s a boy.  I was the first one who looked.  I remember that moment.  I was kind of nervous.  It was amazing.  And that was it.  Matt and I cried, kissed and cried.  Held our little bundle of joy, just looking at him.  Drinking him in.   
He was born at 12:43 am on Saturday, July 4, 2009.  Fireworks have nothing on the excitement this boy gave to us!

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