I was reading several different babies’ birth stories when it occured to me that I have never actually recorded Jack’s birth story. What kind of mother of a first child am I?! No, but really, I just know that details will fade as time goes on, and I really want to have these things recorded. So, this is a post about the birth of Jack Dempsey.
For those of you who don’t know, I was seeing a midwife whom I started with about a third of the way into the pregnancy (after spending most of my pregnancy seeing a group of mediocre midwives at a hospital). My midwife was amazing, for many different reasons, but I am especially thankful that she had me on two specific supplements – alfalfa, which helps to minimize blood loss during labor and after birth (it makes a HUGE difference, trust me!), and a supplement called 5W. I can’t remember all of the ingredients, but I remember that it did have red raspberry leaf and blue (or was it black?) cohosh. Whatever it was, I began taking it at 36 weeks and it worked miracles (caused me to dilate to 4 and efface 90% before I even went into labor).
Around July 2nd, I lost (sorry, guys) my mucus plug. I called my mom that day to inform her, and I could tell she was nervous that I’d be going into labor sometime soon. Now, mind you, my due date wasn’t until July 16th and my midwife had told me that regardless of how dilated I was and whether or not I lost my mucus plug, I could technically go weeks before I went into labor (or not). I gave my mom the same warning, but she had a feeling it wouldn’t be very long. The next day, she told me she had booked a ticket for the following Friday, the 6th. I was relieved, but also somewhat alarmed. “Could I possibly go into labor by then? Am I ready for that?!”
The next couple of days went on with many, many braxton-hicks but they almost always faded by the end of the day. I was starting to get pretty tired of the discomfort. By Thursday evening, I was having fairly persistent contractions, though they were completely irregular. The most I remember about those days is that we walked ALL the time. Any time Ryan wasn’t working, we were walking around the neighborhood or the park. All I wanted to do was walk.
Finally, Friday morning came. I was scheduled for an appointment with my midwife at 8:30 that morning, and along with the appointment came a crazy Houston rainstorm. I made it to her birth center and during the appointment, I explained to her that I had basically been up all night with irregular, but fairly painful, contractions. She then said, “So, are you ready to have this baby then?” And I said, “Yes, definitely! I’m so uncomfortable!” Well, as we were having this conversation she was actually in the middle of examining me, and right after I said “uncomfortable,” I experienced a very unexpected, very STRANGE, very…painful sensation. “WHAT are you DOING?!” I squeezed out. In an oh-so-nonchalant voice, she replied, “Ohh, just doing a little stripping of the membranes..that’s all! I’ll be seeing you tonight or tomorrow morning! Ryan, I want you to take your wife home. Make her a big breakfast, do some “homework,” and let her take a nice, long nap.” (do I need to explain what she meant by homework? Hmm, nope!)
So after that uncomfortable and unexpected experience, we began to drive home in one of the biggest storms I think I’ve ever seen. We had to stop halfway home so that I could use the restroom at a gas station, and apparently I did not look so good because the mini-mart cashier called out to me, “You’re not gonna have that baby in here, are you?”
We finally got home and did what my midwife told us (hmph!). I wasn’t really able to get any rest but I laid on the couch and tried to relax. Ryan had to go to work for a bit so I stayed home and did what I could to wait until my mom arrived that afternoon. Thankfully, our amazing and beautiful and dearly missed friend, Jessica, offered to pick up my mom from the airport so we wouldn’t have to go out in the storm.
By the time my mom arrived, my contractions were getting so strong that I was having to breathe through them. I was so grateful my mom was there, but there was also a tiny bit of doubt that I’d truly go into labor that night. We decided to get out and have some dinner, drop by Whole Foods (where I ate a whole container of pineapple because I heard it might help to promote labor), and then go walk around the mall to see if we could get my contractions to progress. It was all very uncomfortable and very difficult, and what made it worse – by the time we finished walking around at the mall, the contractions were almost gone. I started to get pretty depressed about it – I had thought I was on such a roll! So, we drove home and I finally decided I should rest. I figured I’d go into labor soon enough, and at the time, I was getting very close to exhausted.
I went into my roomaround 8pm and feeling rather dejected, sort of flopped onto my bed. As I flopped, I thought I heard a funny popping sound. I landed on the bed and froze. “What was THAT?” I thought. I kept still, wondering, and suddenly felt warm. Confused, I stood up and realized that the warmth was running down my legs. It took a moment, but I finally realized what was happening – my water broke!
I grabbed a towel, stuffed it between my legs, and ran to the bathroom. As I ran, I yelled to my mom and Ryan, “My water broke! I think my water broke! I need to sit on the toilet!”
As I sat there, Ryan ran to grab my phone so that he could call my midwife. He handed the phone to me. She asked me to make sure the fluid was clear and asked if I was having contractions still/yet. She said to call her when my contractions were around 5 minutes apart, no less than 2. About 20 minutes later, I called her. They were 2 and 3 minutes apart. I was shaking (it felt like shivering), and I was in a LOT of intense pain during each contraction. She sounded a bit alarmed. “Shaking? That means you’re very close. Get in the car and come now.”
We arrived very quickly (we lived about 30 miles from her birth center, but somehow ended up there in about 15 minutes), and upon arrival she checked me to say that I was already 6cm. She began to fill up the tub and I was soon relaxing in it, warm and weightless. Ryan followed and sat behind me in the tub (what a lifesaver he was!). Labor seemed to progress very quickly. I kept alternating between sitting and swaying on all fours, but of course I just couldn’t get comfortable. Eventually I was feeling very sick and ended up vomiting about three times (pineapple and lasagna – ew!). Once I got all that out of my system, my midwife made me drink Coke which actually helps with nausea (keep that tucked away in your brain next time you’re not well, or in labor, and there’s a Coke around! :).
I’d like to say that I’m very grateful because Jessica showed up to the birth center. She stayed in the room with us for a while and quietly slipped out to wait in the other room around the time that I started pushing. I love her. 🙂
I know I progressed into transition very quickly, because in practically no time at all, I remember thinking to myself, “What am I DOING HERE?! I should be at the hospital, where there are lots and lots of drugs!! Why did I EVER want to do this without them? Get me out of here!!” Thankfully, I never said those things out loud because I was way too focused on just breathing through the contractions. Basically I just hummed and prayed and prayed. “Oh God, oh God, help me get through this…” My mom, Ryan, and my midwife all said it sounded like I was singing. I just kept letting out these long, deep “aaahhhhhhh”s as I breathed. It went on like this for a few hours.
Eventually, my midwife informed me that it would be time to push soon. The first few times I did, I felt like I was sort of blacking out. She then told me to grunt as I pushed instead of holding my breath, and it made a HUGE difference. I remember thinking, though, that it was impossible. With each push, I’d say, “I know this has to work but I honestly don’t know HOW it will. It just doesn’t seem physically possible. Can I really do this?!” She kept having me feel his head, though, so I knew it was happening. I just honestly had a hard time believing that Jack was going to fit through such a small space!
Finally, after about an hour and in a crazy jumble of a few moments, Jack was in the water. My midwife quickly put him on my chest and Jack immediately lifted his head and looked at me. It was AMAZING. Ryan was weeping and I was in awe. Jack Dempsey was born at 12:57am on July 7, 2007, weighing 8 lbs, 2.5 oz, and measuring 20 (almost 21) inches long. He was beautiful. He had a fair amount of fuzzy brown hair and he just seemed perfect. My midwife kept the cord attached and in a few minutes asked if I’d be comfortable with moving from the tub to the bed. After I got on the bed, she helped me get Jack latched on (which took a bit of time), and then helped me deliver the placenta. Man, was that funky! Once I got it out, she wrapped it in a towel and sat it next to me, all the while keeping it connected to Jack as well! We asked her why she did this, and she explained that she liked to wait for all the blood to be absorbed into Jack’s body before she cut it. I liked that. It seemed like the right thing to do. 🙂
We spent the next few hours giving my midwife our info while she filled out paperwork as she reclined on the bed with me, my mom, and Jack. When Jack had nursed enough, Ryan took him and got on iChat with his parents so they could see their firstborn grandson. 🙂 I ate some fruit and chicken salad and had some Gatorade, and watched as they dressed Jack in his going home clothes. He was such a peanut – even his newborn clothes seemed huge on him! Then the birth assistant (who had been there to help if my midwife needed anything) prepared a sitz bath, helped me clean up, and got me dressed. We left the birth center by 4:45am and arrived home around 5:15am.
So, overall, my labor lasted about 5 hours (from my water breaking to the delivery) and we left 4 hours after Jack was born (my midwife’s rule was that I had to eat and Jack had to eat. If we acheived this by 4 hours postbirth, we were free to go). I was really grateful to get home. We swaddled Jack up and tried to get some rest, but unfortunately he woke up around 8am…
Oh well, we’ll get sleep someday when we’re old! 🙂