A Baby Lion is Born

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.

April 18:

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.

April 22:

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.

April 23:

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 5.29.07 PM

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

April 24th:

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

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 5.32.41 PM

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 MIDWIVESon it (a parody of this)Midwives are the coolest.

And just so you can picture where I gave birth, it was here:

Pretty, right? To the right is the shower / bathroom.

Pretty, right? To the right is the shower / bathroom.

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.”

Gee, thanks.

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.

rafiki-it-is-time

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.

Capt-Lion

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.

me-lion

Four hours later, and we were allowed to go home!

going 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.

nev-1

nev-2

After our nap, Champ came home and got to meet his baby brother.

c-l 1

c-l 2

c-l 3

family

 

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.

champ-lion

 

It has taken me longer to write this blog post than it took me to give birth to my baby.

baby lion

I’m off to cuddle. Hasta la vista!

 

 

How the OB stole birth: a poem

A like-minded friend of mine sent me this link. It is a parody of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It is a quality satire.

Because I respect other bloggers and her post isn’t something you can summarize, I’d like you to read the post in its natural habitat, on her blog. Here is the link: http://www.themidwifenextdoor.com/?p=1341

I am very thankful that my OBs—most of them, anyway, I did meet a grinch in triage who said I wouldn’t have a choice of how to birth, that they would definitely induce me because my water broke. Never listen to scoffers.—Anyway, that most of the OBs and nurses let me give birth without interventions. I think it was mostly because none of them had ever seen a natural childbirth and they wanted to see if I could do it. When I did, they looked surprised, as if they thought that women were not created to give birth.

In the end, they did give me an episiotomy. Because those actually are not regulation at the Naval Hospital, but they still thought I should get one, I went ahead and agreed to it. I blame my less than efficient pushing and position, though—had I been upright, I don’t think I would have needed one. But delivering a baby upright when I hadn’t slept in 24 hours was not particularly feasible. Hopefully next time.

Tips for Mommies to be: Labor

Read about my labor experience here.

Tips on progressing labor naturally:

  • Drink lots of water (even if you are on an IV)
  • Pee EVERY HOUR, because a full bladder slows things down
  • Stay as vertical as possible and use different labor positions. I brought an exercise ball to sit on. Rocking your pelvis will open you up and make you feel better. Change positions every 30 minutes to one hour

Things to remember if you are going to go into labor:

  • Lamaze is the bomb. Take a class or look up breathing techniques online. You don’t have to do the “hee-hee-hoos,” just remember to breathe.
  • Yoga is also awesome. It will teach you how to relax, how to breathe, and how to open up your pelvis and get ready for labor.
  • Don’t go to the hospital until you are having big contractions that are 3 minutes apart (from the start of one to the start of the next), last for a minute, and have been going consistently or increasing for an hour. (3-1-1) Make it 5 mins if there is traffic or you live far away.
  • If your water breaks, they tell you to go in right away, for fear of infection, but you should have time to at least eat something.
  • Eat before you go!! Lots of carbs—you will need the energy. Eat like you are about to run a marathon. Pack snacks. Your partner will need to eat. If the hospital says that you are not supposed to eat while you are in labor, eat when none of the nurses are around. (I take no responsibility if you get into trouble…)
  • Remember to drink water, pee every hour, and change your positions (see above).
  • If you get pain relief, it will only really be effective if it is administered between 5 and 7 cm. If you get to 7 cm without drugs, you can make it to 10.
  • Once you can push, you push through the contractions and it doesn’t hurt as much. LT said I pushed for almost 2 hours, but it didn’t feel like that long.
  • To push correctly, take a deep breath at the beginning of the contraction, tighten your ab muscles, and “bear down” like you are pooping (sounds exciting, right? Haha). Release air slowly as you push if you need to. Follow with another deep breath.
  • The biggest thing to remember is that the pain is temporary, that with every contraction you get closer to the end, and that it will be over soon and you will have your baby!

LABOR Day! (a birth story)

This year I got two Labor Days in one week! Little Champ was born on Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm. He was 6 lbs, 11 oz, and is 18.5 inches long. He is absolutely perfect.

Short story:

The labor went very well! I still needed an IV of antibiotics, but they didn’t need to induce me with pitocin or any other artificial inductive agent, and I did not get an epidural. Champ is completely happy, and we are home now!

The baby we’ve all been waiting for

Long story: It was Hurricane Earl’s fault.

Wednesday night, LT and I are getting ready for bed. He has to get up early in the morning to go for a run with his platoon. I am in bed waiting for him to turn out the light.

“So here’s the plan if my water breaks in the middle of the night,” I said, not meaning any night in particular, and assuming just for conversation’s sake that my water even would break before going into labor. I proceeded to tell him “the plan”—which I can’t even remember now, as well as the plan for if my water broke when he was at work sometime.

He got into bed, and we had a little pillow talk. My husband is entirely funny, and if you know anything about pregnancy, you know that pregnant women have little control of themselves if they laugh or sneeze. I ran to the bathroom, fearing I would pee my pants from laughing. Well, that was a blessing, because my water broke just then, in the bathroom, rather than all over our bed and carpet. It was right about midnight.

“Er, I think my water just broke…” I called out to LT.

>>>skip ahead to both of us going back to bed to try and get some rest before things started happening

>>>and my water really breaking at 1 am, me eating a bowl of Lucky Charms, doing the dishes, and packing everything into the car, all the while having contractions about 4 minutes apart, but ones that were not that painful.

>>>and calling Triage to tell them my water broke…

“No way, really?” The nurse said. I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or was being excited for me because labor was starting. It was neither. “You are the seventh person to call today saying your water broke.”

It was only 2:30 am. I woke up LT and we headed to the hospital. On our way, my contractions finally started up (I wasn’t terribly surprised. For some reason, every time I would drive on that particular road since my 35th week, I always got contractions!).

We got admitted at 3:06. One of the nurses came in and basically said I was going to get Pitocin whether I wanted it or not, because my water had broken, and I needed to deliver in the next 18 hours. I thought that was ridiculous, and when the OB/GYN came in, I asked her if there was any way to avoid getting Pitocin. She said, “Sure. Just tell your cervix to change.”

I was 1-2 cm and 50% effaced. The baby still hadn’t dropped. One nurse put in my IV for the antibiotics (I tested positive for Group B Strep), and thankfully, I took it really well, without passing out. I may have a fear of veins (I get queasy just seeing someone take their own pulse), but thankfully I have big ones, so when I do have to get stuck, the nurses can do it really easily.

>>>fast forward to getting admitted and heading to to a birthing suite

While we made our way to the birthing suite, one of the nurses commented that the barometric change from Hurricane Earl was causing a lot of women’s waters to break. Talk about a natural induction!

The distinctions between the stages of my labor were a little fuzzy, but I was still in early labor for a few hours, as the contractions intensified. LT massaged my back and applied pressure whenever I had a contraction, and that did the trick. That, plus using different, vertical birthing positions and sitting and rocking on my exercise ball.

At around 5 or 6, the active labor started up. I was starting to feel nauseated, and I asked the nurse if there were any side effects to the antibiotics they put me on. She said no, not really. Another nurse came in to check my progress…the “turkey examination,” as I like to call it, because you feel like a turkey getting stuffed when they check you.

It was not good timing. Right as she applied the pressure, I had a contraction. The combination of the two, plus my nausea, did not end happily. (I vomited over the side of the bed. Labor is very glamorous, I assure you.) We didn’t see that nurse again… and she never told us how I was progressing. We called for a nurse asking if there was anything I could take for the nausea. I was willing to be put on anesthesia then, but they gave me a small dose of Stadol instead. Looking up Stadol later, I am surprised they gave it to me, because one of its side effects is nausea…

Anyway, the Stadol isn’t terribly effective pain relief during labor, especially after early labor. It is virtually ineffective once transition starts. And did I mention it gives you hallucinations? Still, it sedated me enough to let me rest between contractions, since I had not slept in almost 24 hours (during my pregnancy, I would sleep after 14 hours of being awake, at most). It also made me just a little loopy for a while. On one trip to the bathroom, I asked LT to grab me a microwaveable plate so I could have popcorn. I remember saying it, and wondering why on earth I said it, since I was not in our kitchen, and I didn’t know why I would need a microwaveable plate to have popcorn…

Transition was short, lasting an hour at the very most. It started at maybe 9 am. The pain relieving effects of the Stadol had worn off, but I was still pretty groggy. It was annoying sometimes, because I would have to shake myself to stay awake enough to concentrate. I do not recommend anyone get Stadol.

Transition was definitely the most painful period. I howled and screamed, and it was good that LT was there to remind me to breathe through the contractions. Even in the contractions, though, I felt like I could get through them, and I howled more as pain prevention than as a reaction to the pain.

I got to 10 cm really fast during the transition. The nurses said I could push at any time. It was about 10:30. Honestly, I didn’t really feel the “need” to push yet, and once I got to 10 cm, the contractions did not hurt as much. I had a handful of them before deciding that I supposed I could begin pushing.

“I think I can push now.”

I was suddenly surrounded by nurses, midwives, and OB/GYNs. I had started by using the squatting bar, so I could stay vertical while pushing, using gravity to my advantage. But I have short arms and legs, and it was hard for me to comfortably use it as such. One of the nurses pulled a sheet around the bar and handed me both ends, so I could pull myself into a crunch every time I pushed. We did that until the baby started to crown. Then the OB/GYN came who was going to catch the baby, and we had to remove the squatting bar, because it was in his face.

I couldn’t reach the stirrups on the bed, so two nurses had to take my feet and hold them up. They didn’t exactly provide an ample amount of resistance, and it was really hard for me to figure out how to push that way, especially since half my brain power was devoted to staying awake (darn that Stadol!)

Finally, I got the hang of pushing, but the baby was stuck. At this hospital, their policy is to not do episiotomies. In my case, though, they decided to do one. Perhaps they feared that I would tear quite a bit. I didn’t feel the incision.

A few more pushes, big ones, and my son was born at 12:33 pm. They put him on my stomach while they wiped him off.

I had imagined this moment—the first moment I saw my child—as being some supernatural, spiritual connection, where the lights would flash, and things would start moving in slow motion, and soft music would be playing.

Not quite. I was half asleep, and all I could think was, “Look! A baby! He’s on my stomach. Where on earth did all that hair come from?”

Then they took him across the room to clean him while the OB/GYN waited to for my placenta to be delivered. That was a very weird experience, and for the sake of you, the reader, I will not go into it.

He was being observed by another, older OB/GYN. They put me on Pitocin then, to get the placenta out faster. Unfortunately for me, they gave me analgesic before the placenta was out, and by the time they started giving me stitches, it had all worn off.

That was much more painful than labor, let me tell you. In labor, you have some control, and you can deal with the contractions. After getting stitched up from my episiotomy with no pain relief, I am sure I would have been able to handle getting shot with an arrow, having it pulled out, and someone dressing my wounds, in the tenth century. Without wine or rum or anything.

But after that was all done, I was ready to go. I had managed to give birth without being artificially induced and (virtually) without pain medication. I felt like an Amazonian warrior woman. My birth experience was extremely empowering. And because I didn’t have drugs or a C-section, my recovery time was incredibly fast. I felt back to my pre-pregnancy self almost immediately, just fatter.

My baby was born at just 37 weeks, but he is absolutely perfect. He is completely healthy, and I thank God for that every day.

I think that the only things I would have liked to have played out differently about my laboring were the IV and my lack of sleep. Hopefully next time, I will have had at least an hour or two of sleep beforehand. Hopefully I won’t have Group B and I can labor in the shower or tub, using hydrotherapy. I’d love to do a home birth someday.

Things that I really appreciated about my labor experience:

  • A healthy baby
  • A supportive, patient husband who gave massages
  • Free health care (yeah, military benefits!)
  • A huge team of doctors and nurses who supported me

Click here for tips on progressing labor naturally and things to remember if you are going to go into labor.

My Birth Plan

Well, here’s my birth plan! I had some fun designing it, if you couldn’t tell.

I am just hoping that I don’t end up having any complications or back labor, resulting in some unfortunate interventions…

My Birth Plan

Click for full-size

 

This is a web-friendly resolution. If you would like to print out a copy for your own birth plan, send me an e-mail! I will forward you a copy.

(And if you want a custom design from me, e-mail me, too! Of course, I do charge a small fee for custom designs. I need to pay for this kid’s cloth diapers, after all!)