I realize that I still haven't shared Ethan's birth story. I have to dig that one out of my journal vault. In the meantime, I've been so frustrated with myself for not finishing hand-journaling Connor's birth story when I suddenly realized today that I can type a whole lot faster than I can handwrite. And, since I DO have two little ones now, I'd like to save myself some time and share what an incredible experience I had birthing Connor.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
The day started like any normal day, though the night before (Friday), we met our upstairs neighbor, Helen, who is an RN and acupuncturist. She was planning to come over Saturday morning to practice acupuncture to induce labor, since I had been having false labor off and on for a few days. But, just before we went to bed, Helen and her mother (a Chinese doctor) came back to ask if they could check my radial pulses. I'm still not sure exactly what they were checking for, but Helen felt one radial pulse while her mother felt the other. After 5 whole minutes, they switched sides. Helen's mother explained that she didn't think my pulse was strong enough to support my body going into labor. Well, a bit selfishly, I am so pleased Connor was born on this very evening. I WAS strong enough to bring him into the world!
I took Ethan for a walk to Kirsten's Starbucks store. We got there around 12:15 and all walked together to Parkway Park. I played with Ethan on the slide (his favorite - it is built into the hillside), the bouncing motorcycles, and the climbing rope structure. I only felt a little achy, but I had no contractions until about 2:30PM (about an hour after we finished our walk). I did not want to chart contractions again until I knew it was the "real deal", as I had charted a whole 12 hours worth on Thursday night (staying up through the night to try to get them moving faster by being active). Kirsten called the salon for which she had purchased a Groupon haircut and was able to make an appointment for us for that afternoon at 4:45. We left Ethan with Cameron and brought some returns with us to Target. I had had a few contractions just before we left the house, but I started getting pretty uncomfortable in the car, even holding the passenger handle of Kirsten's car through some of them. I went into Target with Kirsten and breathed through some pretty uncomfortable contractions. We got back in the car and got on the freeway toward Los Gatos. We didn't even make it to Highway 17 before I told Kirsten I was not going to be able to sit through an appointment - we needed to go home.
When we got home, I texted my midwife, telling her my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart (they started this way). She called me right back, saying she was at a postpartum home visit, but that she wanted to come check on me, as contractions were really close. Then, I started dinner. I toasted some Israeli CousCous and chopped all the veggies for a CousCous salad. The cooking went a little like this: Pour oil in pan. Heat oil. Stop to breathe through contraction. Pour in CousCous. Stir for 2 minutes. Breathe through contraction. Stir some more. Contraction. Chop tomato. Contraction. Chop cucumber. Contraction. Chop red onion. Contraction. Chop olives. Go in Ethan's room to hold onto bunkbed and BREATHE. Start thinking about mixing dressing ingredients. Another bunkbed contraction. After that one, I asked Kirsten to finish the dressing for the salad. I took the stability/birthing ball into Ethan's room and bounced during the breaks, getting onto my knees for contractions and holding onto his dresser. I had charted all these contractions on my phone, so when Hope (my midwife) arrived at 5:40, I had a record to show her. She had told me to call her immediately if I started to moan through contractions. Saturday night is crazy around here, and she had a heck of time trying to park.
Shortly after Hope arrived, Cameron set up and started filling the birth tub in our bedroom. It didn't take very long. Hope checked the temperature of the water and we ended up having to cool it a bit. They both offered for me to get int the water, but because of my experience during Ethan's labor (19 hours total, probably a lot of it because I sat on my butt in the water all day and didn't move much), I didn't want to get in until the end. I asked Hope how long she expected labor to take, considering the contractions I'd already been through. "2 hours?" I asked her. She responded with big eyes and told me "Definitely within the next 2 hours." So, since the water sounded nice, I agreed to get in to try to rest my back. After a few contractions in the tub, my friend Laura came by to watch Ethan so Kirsten and Cameron could focus on me.
Funny story: Kirsten was here to be my doula (she moved here and lived with us for a month, working at Starbucks Part-Time, but letting them know she'd be taking the day off when I went into labor). But, I ended up not really needing anything from her. I thought, given my labor with Ethan that I would need a lot of emotional and mental support. And, though he has helped me tremendously through two labors before, I kind of wanted nothing to do with Cameron. He tells me I was rude and didn't want to talk to him. I feel bad about it now, but I was really in my element and nature was just taking its course.
Anyway, Laura arrived. She asked if she could come see me in the bedroom and I definitely wanted to see her! We had a full conversation in between contractions. I was still feeling so great. For the breaks, I would lean my back against the birth tub (which was up against a wall on that side) and lay back like it was my own personal recliner. Then, when contractions came, I would excuse myself from our conversation and lean over the opposite edge of the tub, letting my weight kind of fall into the cushion and gripping the outside of the tub. After a few like that, I just stayed there and went into my own little world. I didn't come back to the conversation (and I figure she knew after a few minutes that we wouldn't be talking again for a bit!). I took little sips of water that Hope handed me, but other than that, I didn't do anything until the pushing stage.
With Ethan, I probably didn't push as long as I should have. I wanted him out and I was incredibly uncomfortable at that point. But, with Connor, I wasn't nearly as uncomfortable. Perhaps since I was following my body's urges and instincts this time, I "just knew" when it was time to push, instead of reacting out of fear and uncertainty. Anyhow, I had a total of 3 real pushing contractions. I felt like I was pushing for quite a few more than that, but the midwives told me that I actually only displayed the signs of pushing for three. The first one accomplished getting him to a point where I could feel his head and his hair with my fingers. The second one, I pushed his head out. Hope held a mirror underwater for me and I got to see his face. I knew immediately he was a boy - he had manly features like Ethan did as a baby. On the third contraction, I pushed his shoulders out and the rest of him slipped into my hands. I pulled him up out of the water onto my chest at 7:27PM and leaned back into my comfortable spot. Cameron had Ethan all undressed and plopped him into the water almost right away. Ethan looked terrified - he had never really looked scared like that before and hasn't since. I thought maybe he didn't want to be there, but he came right over and wanted to console Connor from all the crying he was doing. Connor was absolutely covered in vernix (the white protective layer) and probably looked like an alien to Ethan. But, when Ethan came over, he patted Connor on the head and said, "Baby".
Ethan was so young the whole time I was pregnant and didn't really understand that concept until a few weeks before, when he would point to my belly and say "Baby!" I thought it might take him a bit to realize that I didn't have a baby there anymore once I had given birth, but because he was there for that transition, he hasn't seemed to have that problem at all. Ethan mostly ignores Connor until it's time to go somewhere or nurse, then he's right there to help with all the fussing and crying. He likes to try to help put Connor's socks or hat on, give Connor a blanket, or cover his face with a burp rag. And, I'm getting quite adept at 'Tandem Nursing'. I had planned to continue nursing Ethan after Connor was born, but I didn't really picture doing it simultaneously!
Connor's transition to this world was smooth until about 3 hours into his life. He developed a little cyanosis around the mouth (blue/dusky color) that would decrease with blow-by oxygen, but then return, decrease with one positive pressure breath (the mask), but then return. After about an hour or so of watching him and debating whether to take him in to be seen at a NICU, we made the decision to go get a second opinion. All Connor's other signs were good, but the color was of concern to Hope and to us. Cameron, Hope, and I spent about 2.5-3 hours at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center with Connor. He checked out fine and we all went home at 3AM. Almost immediately after leaving the hospital, Connor started choking on his own secretions in the carseat. Cameron pulled over and I took Connor out and patted his back as he was face-down. He subsequently coughed up more secretions over the next 24 hours and greatly improved after all the fluid was out of his lungs. The story goes that I pushed him out all too fast and didn't give him the "squeeze" he needed coming through the birth canal.
So, after 5 hours of near-pleasurable labor, I would do it all over again. Hopefully, a few more times! I took 2 days of bed rest at Hope's suggestion and 2 more of my own version of modified bed rest. My body healed completely within a week and a half. At 2 weeks, I started working out again. At 3 weeks, I started the Insanity workouts at home. It's crazy to me how different things are this time around, and I'm thankful, because I have these two precious boys to care for. We all love our Connor very much. Adaptation to 2 kids has been great. I feel our family is complete with him. We wish we had more time with just the four of us, but Cameron's school and studies keep him pretty busy. We're looking forward to Spring Break and some fun California adventures this year!