Here, almost two years since the birth of our firstborn, Jedediah, and one year since the birth of our second son, Luke, I have finally written down their birth stories.
Jedediah James Horton
Born March 28th, 2013, around 12:30 AM
9lbs 8 oz, 22 inches
A week before my due date I began to get a dozen or more braxton hicks per day. I kept thinking it could be early labor because they were really hard and came every 30 min. or so. However there would be a long break every once in a while that let me know it was just a warm up to the real thing. Jed was transverse most of the pregnancy so I started leaning forward on an exercise ball or on hands and knees to finish a friend's quilt before her wedding. He didn't actually move forwards until labor, he enjoyed his comfy position, obviously.
On my due date the contractions were harder and closer together - even my midwife thought it might be any day... but in the night they would stop. A few (agonizing, frustrating, painful) days later, I started getting more cramping contractions down low - they came usually at night and were enough to wake me up. I was getting discouraged. My ribs hurt constantly, there was no relief from aching and the contractions were relentless. What was wrong with me? This went on for 2 weeks. We were also short on money at the time, after several months of unemployment and job hunting after my husband, Isaac, finished trucking school. With no paid days off at his new job, every day he stayed close he wasn't getting paid. He eventually started working again and just hoped he wouldn't be driving a load to a far away state at the time I went into labor.
One week (well, 5 days) before Jedediah was born, my midwife very lightly stripped my membranes, but still no bloody show or water breaking.
On Tuesday, 41 weeks 3 days, we got an ultrasound to make sure baby was still doing fine. Plenty of amniotic fluid and baby was thriving, but I was so ready to induce and kick into full labor. What I will always remember is my midwife, Maryl, laughing when I asked her when she would try to induce me. Thanks to having caught hundreds of babies (including my four youngest siblings), she was completely relaxed and knew the baby would come when he was ready. Peace flooded me and I felt silly for worrying.
Every morning while we waited, Isaac asked if he should go in to work or not, and I had to say "um, sure, your guess is as good as mine!"
Wednesday morning I woke up with almost timeable contractions. Maybe 10-15 minutes apart. Isaac went to work. Around 10 AM I texted the assistant midwife, Kelsey, saying the contractions really hurt and were closer - but they still occasionally took a break, so I was confused (and embarrassed to inconvenience my midwives if I was just imagining things again). Around 1 pm, my husband was sent home from work early due to them not having another load for that day - and a good thing!
I called Maryl because the contractions made me double over and feel like throwing up... but they were still 6-7 minutes apart and I had been told not to call until they were 4-5 min. Maryl thought it could be early labor (bless her, based on how many previous times I had asked "is this it?") and told me to keep timing and call her and Kelsey when I felt they needed to come.
Isaac and I took a nap, but I was too wired to sleep. Contractions would come every 6 min., then 4, then 7-8... it wasn't super consistent like I'd been told. Around 5 pm I finally called the midwives and they arrived at 7. As they checked baby's heartbeat, my BP, did a stress test, etc, it almost seemed like contractions got lighter and farther apart lol. I was so afraid I had called them in for nothing!
Then they checked my cervix and left the room to discuss it privately. I was like "oh no...". Came back in and wouldn't tell me my dilation, just said I was indeed in labor and that Isaac should get the birth tub filled if I wanted it. We called my friend Sonia to come and she was a huge help throughout the night.
Apparently I was already 7cm dilated and about to start transition! The midwives couldn't believe I appeared to be handling it so well. I spent the next 5 hours in the tub, laughing with Isaac and Sonia in between contractions. I really felt self-conscious that they saw me in pain, but gradually contractions took more and more concentration and I eventually didn't really notice the people near me.
I didn't want to move or leave the tub. Then I started to really dislike people talking around me and the midwives touching my belly every few minutes to hear heartbeat, check how I was doing, etc. I just wanted to be left alone, and didn't feel better in any other position I tried. My favorite was sitting on my hands and knees, leaning forwards.
Probably around 11 PM things REALLY began to hurt so I couldn't stand it. I kept moaning, squeezing Isaac's poor hand to death, saying over and over, "It hurts - I can't do this - HELP ME!!!", sweat pouring off my forehead. Sonia said she had never seen someone in so much pain, I wonder if I scarred her for life lol!
The midwives stayed quietly in the next room during most of this stage, to my chagrin, I was like "WHY AREN'T THEY HELPING ME!!! DON'T THEY HEAR MY MOANING? WHY AREN'T THEY WORRIED!!!"
The one time Maryl did come in when I was panicking, she knelt down one inch from my face, held my hand and talked me through the contraction it in the most calm, powerful voice I had ever heard. It was incredible how much it helped me relax and know she was not worried, that I was doing exactly what she had seen a hundred other first time moms do during transition.
Isaac just stayed right there with me (afterwards he told me it was awful, but to me he looked so calm and strong), I am so grateful he could be there for the birth.
The next hour or so dragged on but I had no sense of time, was only conscious of the rise and fall of pain and the thankfulness for each break in between contractions.
The 'pushing urge' was also gradual. Eventually it felt like my hips were going to explode from the constant pressure and the pain no longer stopped between contractions. I guess I pushed for like 20-30 minutes, I felt his head almost crown, then pop back inside for several tries. At last I had 'something' tangible that let me know I was almost done.
After his head was out, it took a couple pushes for his torso and another for his legs.
Then I turned around and saw the midwives bringing him out of the water. He didn't cry, was just looking around and already trying to hold his head up. I was shocked at his blond fuzz (Isaac and I both have dark brown hair), and asked if he was okay, since he looked like... well... a newborn. I honestly felt nothing, no automatic maternal instincts other than "phew, the little buggar is out, finally!" (I am only half kidding)
My was he slippery to hold!
My main thought was that I was a bad mother because his neck kept flopping and I was having trouble holding him. We sat for a bit, admiring this first look at our much loved and longed for firstborn son :) He had quite the furrowed brow and the midwives kept calling him a 'serious little man' and a 'Swede' due to his fuzzy blonde hair. He even had hairy arms and back, like a little Esau! Isaac got to hold him, how precious is seeing your husband with his little new baby!
All I wanted was to lay horizontal after hours on my knees! So they moved us to the bed. My bottom hurt so bad I was sorry I moved ;)
Ended up slightly tearing in two places, but they decided it wasn't quite bad enough for stiches. I have a feeling I would have gotten physically violent with them if they had tried getting a needle anywhere near that general vicinity. And the after contractions... they hurt worse when you're already sore and beaten up from labor, just sayin' :p
We couldn't get Jedediah to nurse. We eventually had to hand express colostrum and feed with a spoon. Nursing was never easy in the next few months. But that is another story.
While the midwives cleaned up, my mom arrived to meet her first grandchild while Isaac and I collapsed into exhausted sleep... or maybe stupor for me... I don't know if I really slept much that night. I will always remember the surreal calm, mellow feeling that remained with me during all the frustration of getting Jed to nurse. It was weird - I didn't totally bond with him until he was nursing better at around 3 weeks, but other than tears of exhaustion I have never felt so relaxed in my life! (the more you get to know me, the more you will see how UN-mellow I really am, haha ;))
Hormones are crazy things.
The most precious sight of the next day was the baby sleeping on Isaac's chest while they both slept.
Birth and new life is incredible.