Nants ingonyama bagithi, Baba, sithi uhm ingonyama
(“Here comes a lion, Father, Oh yes, it’s a lion”)
In three words?
It was fast.
leading up to the birth
My idea was to live tweet the birth on Twitter. Nearly all of the tweets, however, were leading up to his birth day, because once we got to the birth center, I didn’t have time do do anything but labor this kid into the world! So block quotes below are from my Twitter account, @bewilderedmom.
Little Champ was born at 37 weeks on the dot, right as I had somehow predicted (Read his birth story here). I had the bags packed for him at around 35 weeks. With Lion, I figured I’d have some time after my water broke (if it did) to pack my bags, so I dawdled getting everything together.
I started having contractions before the 37 week mark, like I did with Champ.
The Captain and I were married during a blizzard. Champ was born during a hurricane. Today, even though it’s April, we are experiencing a snowstorm. Baby Lion, you don’t have to keep up the tradition. At least wait until tomorrow, please. Today you’d still be considered a preemie!
On the morning of April 20th (37 weeks + 1 day), a day on which I really didn’t want my child to be born, I had a ton of contractions in one hour, so I attempted to chug a gallon of water to see if they were real labor pangs or false labor. I do not recommend this. Just so you know, that’s a crapload of water. I got about 2/3 through before vomiting. Fun fact: throwing up pure water through the mouth and nose is really uncomfortable, yet leaves one feeling surprisingly clean afterward. Anyway, after that morning, Captain and I had our bags packed and ready.
April 21st through the 24th, I had more and more early labor signs, like bloody show and lightening (when the baby drops). I didn’t experience these signs with Champ, so I felt like a ticking bomb over those few days. I knew I could go into labor at any time. April 23rd I did a complete overhaul in our bedroom, hoping that deep cleaning would speed up the process. I spent the 24th recovering.
Dear #babylion, there’s still snow on the ground today, but this weekend will be sunny & in the 60s! You won’t want to miss it, kid. #hint
ANOTHER winter storm tonight? Fine. #babylion, you can stay put until Wednesday.
Barometric pressure drop broke my friend’s water today in CO. Broke mine in NC in 2010. It’s starting to fall fast here in MN… #babylion
Thought Winter Storm Zeus might pack a bigger punch and break my water, but instead it seems to be just poking Minnesota in the ribs, repetitively, while laughing.
Captain has confirmed what my bladder had me suspecting– #babylion has dropped. Any time now, kid!
“In subsequent pregnancies, lightening does not generally occur until just before labor begins.” #YoureKillinMeSmalls #babylion
Ow! You know #babylion, I don’t really want you to come right now. I want a nap and ice cream and pie. Let’s wait until tomorrow, okay?
April 25th. Forecast: 53 and sunny. Anniversary of Robinson Crusoe, Ella Fitzgerald’s b-day. A good day on which to be born, son. #babylion #hint
the big day
I had been up from 2 am to 3:30ish with carpal tunnel pains, so I wasn’t in a deep sleep at 4:30 when I rolled over in bed and found myself in a puddle. Got up as quickly as my hippopotamus body would allow, and by the time I’d waddled into the bathroom, I had left a stream of water trailing behind me, and my contractions were already on top of each other, not terribly strong, but coming every five minutes. I called my doula, Laura, and then paged the midwife on call. The midwife got back to me just before 5 am and asked if I could meet her at the birth center at 6 am. I called my grandmother to come watch Champ.
I toweled up the river in my bedroom and woke up Captain. He took a shower and I scrubbed some dishes while waiting for my grandmother to come, then I downed some oatmeal and a banana (recommended to me by my doula as a good breakfast, easy to digest in case I got nauseous).
By the time my grandmother came over, I was already bouncing through the contractions on the balls of my feet, unable to talk (or think straight) through them. Captain installed Champ’s car seat in her van, and we headed off to the birth center. I had the Captain call Laura and ask if she could pick up an egg McMuffin for him, since he hadn’t eaten. She said she’d grab one on the way. Doulas are the best!
When we turned onto the road leading to the birth center, I pointed out how foggy it was. Then we smelled the smoke. And as we got closer, and the smoke cleared, we saw the lights of fire engines. It appeared that the hospital was on fire. Thankfully the birth center was on the other side of the street. Later we found out it was a grease fire at a chicken restaurant next door to the hospital.
We got to the birth center at 6:07 am. My midwife, Mary-Signe, was wearing a red t-shirt that said “START SEEING MIDWIVES” on it (a parody of this). Midwives are the coolest.
And just so you can picture where I gave birth, it was here:
I mentioned nausea to Mary-Signe and she handed me a barf bag. Respectful women, don’t read this: [It looked like an elephant condom.] I was determined NOT to throw up in that thing.
A moment later Laura had arrived, with Captain’s breakfast. I told her I was feeling pretty nauseated, and that I had eaten a banana and oatmeal for breakfast.
“Oh, yeah, I totally threw that up when I was in labor,” she said. “I couldn’t eat bananas or oatmeal for months. I just recommended it because it’s easy to throw up.”
I asked if I could take a shower, knowing that would help me to feel less nauseous and also help a bit with the contractions. Laura already had to apply counter-pressure a couple times to my lower back before I could even get the request out.
Sure! Of course! Do whatever you want! It’s your labor! These were the kind of answers I got. This is why an out-of-hospital birth is so glorious. I abandoned my modesty more quickly than I figured I would—that old lady nightgown I brought never left the bag—and stripped down to get under the hot water. Several times I called Laura in to apply more counter-pressure, as I clung to the bar in the shower. I’m so thankful I had a doula at my birth. When I couldn’t communicate more than a word at a time, all I had to do was call out her name, and she’d be there, pressing on my back until I got through the contraction. Don’t get me wrong, Captain was a WONDERFUL birth coach during Champ’s labor, and his counter-pressure was the only pain relief I needed during that hospital birth, but it was nice having a female doula, one who had given birth herself and intuitively knew what I needed. It also freed the Captain up to eat his breakfast. When I came out of the shower, he was sitting on the couch reading a fat historical novel. Apparently he thought we’d be staying longer than I did.
The shower relieved my nausea, but it didn’t relieve the contractions, which were nonstop at this point. I flopped onto the bed and had contraction after contraction—I couldn’t even change position they came so fast, I just lay there like some giant pregnant leviathan.
“Did you want to do a water birth?” asked the midwife in training after checking my progress (“Five to six and, oh! Stretchy! Good!”).
After another contraction I responded, hair in my face, “Kinda, yeah! Now I do!”
She started the water and I rolled over onto my stomach, then got onto my hands and knees, rocking and wailing through the contractions. Apparently I was making quite a bit of noise, because I heard Mary-Signe’s voice, far off, saying,
“It sounds like you’re pushing. Caitlin, are you pushing?”
“Er…Can I push?” At the hospital with Champ, I had to wait and wait until the OB said I could push.
“Do you feel like pushing?”
“I feel like I need to poop.” Translation: Why yes, I do feel the sensation that I should begin pushing. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t just say yes. Labor is glamorous, people.
Laura tells me that she and the midwives looked at each other and nodded knowingly.
I got into the tub. Oh, who knows what time it was at that point. Captain got in with me. First I tried hanging over the edge of the tub, but I had nothing to hold on to. So Captain put out his arms. He’s a very strong, very attractive man, and his arms are big and steady. Still, though he could hold me stable, I didn’t like holding to him off on one side, and I just wasn’t feeling that position. So I turned over to the other side, where there was a bar, grabbed on to the bar, and squatted so I could more easily bear down.
I pushed once or twice, long and hard, roaring through each one. I pushed each time until I physically couldn’t push any more, then stopped to rest for a second, and breathe.
“Can you feel the head?”
I really didn’t want to reach down there to feel around, but I did, and could touch just the top. After the third long push, I could tell he had crowned by what some refer to as “the ring of fire.” If you’ve ever torn a muscle, it’s kind of like that. It’s when all the stretching occurs. After that push, I definitely whimpered a bit. Captain says that sound was much more difficult to listen to than all the war cries I had been making before. And now that I consider that during that push is likely when I tore, I feel a little bit better about whimpering and not going full-on Amazonian War Princess.
The midwives were chattering and I could tell we were almost there. Especially when Mary-Signe repeated to me to stay low and keep the baby under water until his whole body was out. I also knew that the most painful part was over. One more push and the head was out. Stay down, stay low. I was determined to get the baby out in one last push. Then I’d be done. One more.
Somebody caught him and I sat down in the water so they could hand him to me. The water was disgusting now, but he was there, and he was out of the water on my chest, and he was breathing.
It was 7:21 am. He was still attached to the umbilical cord, and I could feel it stretching out of me, attached to him. So weird. Then they clamped the cord, Captain cut it while I looked away (didn’t want to see the squirting, thanks so much), and I just sat holding my newborn baby until I delivered the placenta. I never saw the placenta during Champ’s hospital birth, so I took a look this time. Placenta is Latin for “flat cake,” I believe, and yeah, it looks like a cross between a lung, a steak, and a pancake.
So, Lion was born. He weighed 8 lbs, 2 oz, which none of us could believe because he is so tiny, he doesn’t look like he could weigh more than 7 pounds, and Champ was only 6 lb 11 oz. Nineteen inches long, half an inch longer than his big brother.
The rest is a bit of a blur. Mary-Signe took the baby so I could get out of the tub, I got tucked into the bed and handed Lion to cuddle with. Captain took a couple pictures before I realized, I could really use some eye liner and a comb. Then Lion and I took an herbal bath, both to clean off and to soothe our bodies.
Four hours later, and we were allowed to go home!
It was a beautiful spring day—the first day of spring we’d had yet in Minnesota, land of eternal winters.
Champ was at Nonna’s house so we could take a nap after getting home (that’s why the birth center lets you go home—so you can take a long nap after birth, uninterrupted by nurses constantly checking your vitals. You take your vitals yourself when you wake up).
So Neville got to meet him first. When he saw that there was a baby in the car seat, he FREAKED OUT, and jumped into Captain’s lap and just shook for a while. Then he got really excited, and he hasn’t stopped being excited and wanting to give the baby kisses. He does not leave Lion’s side, and gives me a look whenever I leave Lion in his bassinet to go pee. Captain says he feels like Mr. Darling from Peter Pan, and that Neville is like a miniature Nurse.
After our nap, Champ came home and got to meet his baby brother.
And that’s our family of four!
Champ is very curious and eager to help with Lion. (Sometimes a bit too eager.) It’s very sweet and melts my momma heart.
It has taken me longer to write this blog post than it took me to give birth to my baby.
I’m off to cuddle. Hasta la vista!