Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cyprus' Birth Story

This is a birth story. It's long, because my labor was long, and it's got some gross details. Consider yourself warned!

Driving home from my 39 week midwife appointment Friday, 9/20, I received an awesome text from a good college friend:
S: "This might be abrupt and to the point, but are you really going to eat the placenta?"
me: "More or less."
S: "Well, which is it? More or less?"
me: "Lol have you been talking to Dalton?"
me: "They put it in pills, so not like a steak."
S: "Like vitamins"
me: "Yes"
S: "So when are you going to pop? Soon?"
me: "Tonight?"

Thursday 9/19 was the big harvest full moon. I caught a glimpse of the moon rise the night before, and didn't want to miss it in its full glory on Thursday. I texted the hubby that morning "walk tonight? Full moon might kick me into labor." "Sure." He wrote back. I got home from work Thursday, and the hubby had made dinner. We ate and hung out watching tv for a bit. My mom called, and I spoke with her, she was calling frequently to see if I was in labor yet, and if she should book her plane ticket up for after the birth. She also liked to keep me updated on the family guesses for birthday. She asked Dave for his bet on the day, and him not being into that sort of thing at all, shrugged his shoulders. I relayed to her that he didn't care. She made him pick a day, so he said "the 22nd." When I hung up with my mom, it was a little after 7pm, and I knew we had to get out walking so we could see the rise from the eastern horizon. We gathered up the dog, and I waddled my way out the door to a beautiful fall evening. It was nearly all the way dark, and as we turned left down the block, we were struck with a huge moon rising. It was amazing. We walked (slowly) in the moonlight for a few blocks before returning home.

When I got home, I got ready for bed and fell asleep fast. I woke up in the middle of the night to go pee, and when I rolled over to get out of bed, I felt a trickle of fluid leaving me. Dismissing it, because, well, for the past 10 months my body has been doing things that I don't recognize, or that aren't usual, so I went pee and returned to bed noting the time (2 am), thinking simply, "if that was my water, I'd be having contractions." I wasn't having any contractions.

I woke up on Friday 9/20 and got ready for work as usual. I still had a "trickly" feeling going on, but again- in pregnancy I don't know what is "normal" and what isn't. I decided against paging my midwife to ask since I had an appointment at 5:00pm later that day anyway, and shot an email to my doula when I got to work. My doula had just sent me a PDF on "labor stages" so I wrote back to her what was going on, and that I had an appointment at 5:00pm, should I page sooner? She said it would be fine to wait as long as I didn't start having regular contractions. At that point, I still had no "signs" of early labor- no show, only a few braxton hicks here and there. I was however starting to believe that my water was broken. I worked a normal day, bounced on my yoga ball, we had catered BBQ at work (my favorite!!!) and on the inkling that I might not be returning on Monday, I made sure to finish up all the last little loose ends and bring home anything I might need.

I left work and drove to my midwife appointment. Traffic was miserable. Fridays are usually bad, but this was exceptional. I arrived a few minutes late to my appointment. I sat down on the couch in the exam room, and said "I think my water might be broken, but I'm not sure." This got the attention of both the midwives in the office, and before I knew it, I was being poked and prodded. The test for amniotic fluid is a little archaic, but pretty awesome too. Basically, they take a sample of the fluid (same way they do a pap smear) and put some of the fluid onto a glass slide. The slide has to dry completely, and then examined under a microscope for "ferning" so it takes about 10 minutes. I asked about the test strips they make, but my midwife said they were really inaccurate.

So, as we waited for the slide to dry, I got my blood pressure taken, pulse taken, and questions about any contractions. We also talked about various scenarios that could take place in the next few hours- days. First off, if it was aminiotic fluid, they give me 3 days to start labor on my own before they have to induce. Since it had already been over half a day since I noticed the fluid, I felt like I was running out of time. I did not want to be induced! Next thing is that my blood pressure was coming back on the high end. My entire pregnancy, things had been good, and now, higher numbers were making my midwife nervous. She sampled my pee for protein and told me warning signs for pre-eclempsia. At that time, the other midwife returned stating it was amniotic fluid, and we were now counting down. They decided to do a non-stress test to check on baby, so I was hooked up to monitors for 20 minutes while they did that. Test came back great. Another shot at taking my BP, and things had improved slightly. My midwife said that I needed to go home and rest, and come back tomorrow (Saturday 9/21) for another non-stress test and BP check, unless I went into labor over night.

I texted a few friends and the hubby about what was going on. I told the hubby to stay at work that night, because nothing was happening yet. I just kept thinking "is this it? Am I going to go into labor soon?" I went to bed at 8pm, somehow I was able to quiet my brain enough to get a restful sleep until I had to wake up to pee. Upon using the rest room, I wiped and was greeted with the notorious "show." I went back to sleep since I still wasn't having contractions, but I knew I was going to be in labor soon. I woke up wide awake at 5:30am, and feeling super rested and energized, I decided to get out of bed. I felt my first contraction at 6am, and began timing them. When I had determined that I was contracting about every 15 minutes, I texted my mom and told her that it was finally an acceptable time to book her flight up. "What's going on?" She wrote back. I responded simply "labor, duh." A little while later, the hubby woke up and I told him what was going on. He made the call into work, and thus began his one week off of work. I showered, got ready, and we headed to the midwife for my 10 am non-stress test and more BP readings.

The hubby and I arrived at the midwives office, and I told her all my good news- contractions had finally began and I was seeing "show". She was excited by this news, took my blood pressure which turned out to be great, and then hooked me up to the non-stress test. Baby's heart beat looked great, and a few of my contractions were showing up on the ticker tape. She watched me through my contractions and said "I'll be seeing you later today." We left her office to get some food in me and rest at home. Immediately upon leaving her office, it felt as though my contractions kicked into over drive. Being in the car on the way home, every bump in the road was cursed. We arrived home around 11:30am, and Dave made breakfast. Almost immediately after eating, my contractions became distracting to the point where I needed Dave to apply counter pressure to my lower back, or squeeze my hips. He was great. It was at that moment I began to get a glimpse of what I was in for, and these were only the 30 second ramp-up contractions. I still had a ways to go before I was allowed to go to the birth center, and even farther before the dreaded "transition."
Working as a team, we were managing the contractions as they came. In between contractions, Dave would be tidying up, or putting together last minute snacks for the birth center. He would drop whatever he was doing and come push on my back when I started to moan. Timing contractions with an iPhone app is a joke. I mean, really? You have to press a button when they start, and then again when they stop, and that's fine if your phone doesn't sleep in between, let alone having the presence of mind to remember to hit start or stop!  At one point I decided I wanted to try a contraction on all fours, leaning over my headboard to see if that was more manageable. I got into bed on my hands and knees, and as a contraction hit, I felt a crazy feeling, then a warm gush. I jumped up yelled "aaahhh" and ran to the bathroom. The contraction must have moved the baby to allow a gush of water and other stuff to come out. I felt like things were progressing, so I had the hubby page the midwife. It was around 1:30p at this time. When she called back, she listened to me go through a contraction, and I told her they were about 3 minutes apart, but only lasting 30 seconds. She suggested I call my Doula over, and labor with her until contractions reached a full minute, with similar spacing.

Hubby called our Doula, and she arrived at the house at 2:30p. It was a beautiful sunny fall day. We had our back doors open, and I was just sitting on the end of the couch, facing the outside with the fresh air and sunshine blowing in. Maria, our Doula is amazing. She brought a TENS unit with her, and immediately put it on my back to help me get through the contractions, and to give Dave a little break. The TENS unit immediately relaxed/distracted me perfectly through contractions. For the next 3 hours, I worked through contractions with the hubby, and guidance from Maria. She was timing contractions, and when they got to be about 45 seconds long, 3 minutes apart, we paged the midwife to see if we could head to the birth center. The only thing I wanted to do was jump into the giant tub and soak.

The three of us (Maria, hubby, and myself) arrived at the birth center before my midwife. Since the birth center is unstaffed, we had no way of getting inside.   I couldn't stand sitting in the car, contractions were sucking big time at this point- they were all consuming.   I was slowly slipping into my own world just to cope and keep a rhythym.   After about 20 minutes in the parking lot (seemed MUCH longer) I had to use the restroom so bad.   By some crazy miracle, an intern for the birth center showed up to get some stuff done, and was able to let us in. My only focus was on restroom. She asked me what birthing suite I wanted, and I somehow coherently (but probably not nicely) told her to ask the hubby to pick. Once I emerged from the bathroom, I was greeted to the site of my midwife and the hubby leading us to what would be our birth suite for the next 13 hours.

The room was the size of a large bedroom. It was decorated somewhat modern, with beige walls, a king size platform bed, low couches, and lots of great light. I saw the tub, and asked "can I get in?" "Let's get you checked out first, while we fill the tub" my midwife said. I laid on the bed and she was happy to find that I was 6cm and proclaimed that my cervix was amazing. I guess that meant it was doing whatever it was supposed to be doing. Once she was done, I practically ripped off the rest of my clothes (all modesty was gone at this point, and if you know me, that says A LOT) and dove head first into the tub. OMG- it was amazing. Exactly what I hoped it would be. I got comfortable, and let the contractions come as they pleased. I didn't fight anything and slipped into my head. I knew I was making crazy moaning noises, these served a few purposes for me- allowed me to announce when I was having a contraction, distracted me with the sounds, kept a rhythym going, and because I didn't know what else to do. Maria and the hubby sat by my side at the edge of the tub for hours while I went through transition. Transition was nothing at all what I thought it would be like. I expected to get sick like many women do. I expected to have vocalizations of not being able to do it. Instead, I was entirely inside myself. Unaware of time, or anything outside of my body. I do remember after about 3 hours of me being in the tub, my midwife wanting to check to see if I was fully dialated yet. She was able to check me in the tub, and found that I was 9.5cm. This surprised her because she hadn't seen me make any pushing moves/sounds. She said I was too relaxed, and that I would need to try a new position to dialate the rest of the way and start pushing. I believe it was around 10pm at this point. 

Here is where things got nuts. I got out of the tub and onto a birth stool. I did not like the birth stool like I thought I would. It was not relaxing for me, and I felt like it would hinder the baby from coming out. While on the birth stool, they did a baby heart rate check with the doppler and found that the heart rate was a little low for what they liked. They asked me to move to the bed and lay on my side. I got up and layed on the bed. The midwife checked me again and found that my cervix had vanished, it was time to push. Except, I wasn't feeling pushy.  At all.  She suggested on the next contraction, I direct my push towards where she was putting pressure inside me. I did that, and was met with a lot of praise. "Excellent, you just moved your baby down a bunch. We need to keep this up." The assisting midwife held my right leg and bent it at the hip as much as it would go, and my Doula had the left side. The hubby was laying on the bed next to me feeding me water between pushes, and keeping a wet wash cloth on my forehead. I was sweating like crazy. I hated the pushing. Once again, something that surprised me about this experience. I thought I would love pushing, as I could feel the progress and something different than contractions. This was not the case. Mostly because I was under the impression that at some point my body would just take over, and do its thing. Rather, I had to initiate every push, and even though they were incredibly effective, I was laying down and did not have the aid of gravity to secure my progress. Every baby heart rate check was good, so they really wanted me to stay on my side. My legs were restless, this was not how I wanted to be pushing! One of my main reasons for choosing midwife care is because I wanted to be mobile in labor. I wanted to stand, squat, be on all fours, whatever felt best. I finally worked up the energy to leave my head and ask if I could move positions. They suggested I get on all fours and hang onto the headboard. I had a few pushes in that position, and again, I was met with a dropping heart rate, and pushes that weren't as effective, defying gravity. I heard mumblings of "maybe short cord?" and "contractions are not long enough".  I caught a glimpse of the clock and realize Saturday had come and gone, it was now Sunday 9/22. 
I just focused on the sweating, and the annoyance from every 15 minute BP checks, and every 10 min baby heart rate checks. I was exhausted and just wanted my body to take over. This went on for 6 hours. The hubby was in and out of sleep while I was struggling in my head to remember why I thought this would be a good idea. It wasn't painful, it was just mentally exhausting. I kept hearing they could see the baby's head and that I was so close. There finally reached a time when the baby's head was very low and visible at all times, the midwife said to me "you've been pushing for 6 hours. You need to get this baby out, or we need to transfer to a hospital." I could feel a baby coming out of my vagina. There was no way I was moving anywhere. The midwife suggested we move back to the birth stool to use gravity to get the baby to crown, and ultimately, out. The midwife informed me that once the head was out, I might have problems with the shoulders, and if that was the case, they would move me to all fours again to get the shoulders out (Gaskin manuever). That nearly destroyed my spirit. Since the baby took/was taking so long to descend, I had plenty of time to stretch out and get used to each new phase of pain. The body is an amazing thing. My midwife commented that she would be very surprised if I tore at all. That made me feel good. I moved to the birth stool again, and Dave was behind me supporting me so I could lean back and hold onto his legs. Things moved very quickly once on the birth stool.

I kept feeling more and more burning/stretching to the point where I kept thinking "how is this baby not crowning yet?!" Finally I heard my midwife announce his crown, and then not very much later, his head was out. I thought there would be massive relief after the head, but it was only slightly better. The next thing I knew, the entire birth team was instructing me to push like mad, don't stop, keep with it...and then I felt the biggest relief/rush of my life. I knew exactly what had just happened, and I looked down to see a mix of blue baby, red blood, A LOT of blood, and big testicles hanging out. "Its a booooyyyy" I exclaimed. I felt the hubby relax and begin to cry with raw emotion over the whole experience. I'm sure some of the tears were pure joy for a baby boy. He really wanted a boy (what guy doesn't?). I was on cloud nine. I immediately stood up and made my way to the bed where I laid down and baby boy was handed to me. He had the biggest cone head I'd ever seen, but his eyes were wide open looking at me. He was warm and the softest thing I'd ever felt. He smelled incredible- better than puppy paws, and was seriously amazing, all encompassing, distracting, and I couldn't stop staring at him. I did it! I thought. I really did it. I can't believe I just did it. With the hubby laying next to me, we spent the next 20 minutes fawning over our new baby, trying to decide what to name him, counting his fingers and toes, and just in total bliss. The midwives commented on what a big baby he was.  I had no concept of that, I just knew I loved him.  They were guessing at least 9 lbs.  I couldn't stop thinking about how lucky I was. How much I love my husband, and this new little thing that I just met. I mean, everyone says their babies are perfect immediately upon birth, but really, how can that be true?  It is. Some evolutionary shit or something, but it's true.

I still had some work to do, I needed to deliver the placenta, and get baby boy to latch on. I was a little nervous about the placenta, because I could already feel things swelling up, and all my pushing muscles were so exhausted.   I was also informed that I would need a few stitches because of the quickness he came out once I was on the birth stool.  My midwife instructed me that when I felt a cramp, to give just a slight push. She said "you'll love it, don't worry." I felt a twinge in my uterus and every so slightly pushed. Next came the second best feeling of relief I'd felt that day. Out came a giant slimy placenta and tons more fluid. It felt really similar to when I was home and had that random gush during a contraction. My midwife was right. Next, Maria worked with me to get baby boy to latch on. The hubby and I were still working on names.
With baby boy latched on and sucking away, we went over the list of names on the hubby's iPod.  Jacob?  The hubby said, "he looks like a Jacob?"  I liked the name, but wasn't totally sold on it.  Then he listed off Cyprus.  "Oh, I like that, can you look up the meaning real quick?"  The hubby did, but I already knew that was his name.  I had also told the hubby that if we had a boy, I wanted his middle name to be a tribute to my dad's brother, Theodore.  So there we had it.  Cyprus Theodore.  The hubby was busy making the text announcements to friends and family while the worst part of labor began for me- the stitch up.  Yowww.  Getting lidocaine shots in your hooha after just delivering a large baby is not the best thing.  Further more, getting stitched up for what seems like an eternity is not cool either.  Eventually the lidocaine kicked in and things were better, but man, that was enough for me to decide I'll only be doing this once!  The only thing I could think about next was getting cleaned up.  My midwife suggested I get back into the bath, and take Cyprus with me.  Yes!  Best idea ever. Taking our first bath together and getting cleaned up was yet another experience I will never forget.  Cyprus loved the bath, and I loved getting all the birth goo washed away.  I couldn't believe how great I felt.  Except starving.  I was sooooo hungry.  I just wanted to get home with my family, eat something, and go to sleep. 
Cyprus still needed to go through his newborn evaluation, get his vitamin K shot, get weighed, measured, etc.  He weighed in at 9lbs, 9oz (holy crap!  My first birth was a 9.5lb baby?!?!  Guess they were right all along) and measured an impressive 22 inches.  The hubby was beaming and so proud the whole time.  He got Cyprus dressed up in going home clothes, we finished everything up with the midwife, and set to head out.  We struggled a little getting him into the carseat, we should have brought the manual.  Ha, dad figured it out like a champ after a few minutes.  Away we went, 4 hours after Cyprus hit the floor we were on our way home.  I got everything I wanted out of my birth.  Every. Single. Thing. 


  1. Congratulations Mom! It sounds like an amazing adventure. I'm no where near having a baby so reading the play by play is amazing to me. Congrats to the happy family.

  2. Congrats!!! So cute and good for you for hanging in there and pushing. So proud.

    My baby turns 13 this September. That's what I told myself- only once. :) Wishing I could bottle sleep and send it your way. Enjoy this special time.

  3. Congrats!!! If your like me you get stupid and forget the pain and have another. LOL He is adorable and I hope that you blog your life with him growing up. We get to live it with you and then you will have a journal as well.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! My man and I are planning on starting a family soon, so I've appreciated the frank way you've been blogging about your experiences. I'm glad the birth process turned out the way you wanted and Cyprus is such a well-suited and unique name. Congrats!

  5. Tears! Congratulations Mom!!!

  6. Congratulations! He is beautiful and what a great name!

  7. Congratulations!! He is gorgeous!