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The Birth of River: A Guest Post

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River’s birth story

I was spending the night at my grandparents’ house on January 16th. It was about 10pm and everyone had gone to bed already. I was laying on the couch when I felt the first contractions.
I started timing them and within two hours, they were 8-10 minutes apart and a minute and a half long (I still have the timer record of it on my phone) and strong. I got excited and called my mom. She came at about 4:30am and they were 5 minutes apart.

At around 6am, the contractions were stronger and 3-4 minutes apart, so I called the birth center (at Ochsner) and let them know I needed one of their tub rooms and would be coming in soon.
The car ride was not fun, but also slowed the contractions down. By the time we arrived, they were back at about 8-10 minutes apart and weaker.
They saw me in triage and I allowed an initial cervical check (I had none throughout pregnancy), and was surprised to be at a 2, 60% effaced. I wasn’t a big fan of the midwife (medwife) who told me “well, if you stay and haven’t progressed within an hour, we’ll end up in a section”.

Needless to say, I went back home (to my grandparents’ house as it was closer). I tried to get some sleep, but the contractions were still coming steadily at 6-7 minutes apart. I had my last midwife appointment scheduled for 1:30 that afternoon, so I decided to go to it anyway.

I asked Bethanie (my midwife) if she would check my cervix as the contractions had gotten stronger. I was at a 4 and 70-80% effaced with a bulging bag.

I knew he was coming soon, but not just yet. I needed to have his car seat installed and I wanted it checked! I messaged Amy (cpst) on Facebook and asked if she would mind checking my install.

She came over and fixed my mistakes for me and we talked about labor and birth all while I breathed through contractions. It felt good to be up and around, even in the cold outside. And I am so very grateful for her advice and help.

Around 5pm, my contractions were stronger and about 4-5 minutes apart. I tried to eat something (grits), but gave up after a few bites. I decided I would bring some snacks with me in case I wanted it later.

At around 6pm, the contractions had gotten even stronger and I knew I wouldn’t want to be in the car if they got any stronger, so we got everything ready to go. I ran in the bathroom (why do we all take pictures in there??) to take one last belly picture before going in. I was 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant and about to meet my prince.

My mom, sister, aunt and I left for Ochsner. I was right about the car. This time, however, the contractions didn’t slow or lessen.

Once there, I allowed the second “initial” and LAST cervical check. I was at a 7 and 90% effaced. I was admitted and went to the room with the huge, wonderful tub. I texted Jade to let her know I was there so she could leave.

The midwife I saw was Bethanie’s student Amy. She was pregnant too. I think that’s what made her so gentle.
I let them do a 15 minute strip of River’s heart tones (he kept running from the monitor as always) and got changed into my dress. We went over my birth plan. I even updated you guys on Facebook for a while. I hooked up my phone to the room’s speakers (awesome) on pandora to listen to music and started filling the tub.
About five minutes after going over my birth plan, an anesthesiologist got lost and knocked on my door offering an epidural.

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I texted Rachael to let her know it was baby time! The contractions came in waves, and were stronger, but still a lot easier than I thought they would be. Letting them roll through me was a little trancing.

Once the tub was full, I got in and immediately was calm. The hot water felt wonderful (I will always be a bath type girl) and I loved the weightless feeling of floating.

I got in and out a few times to try and use the restroom and to keep my contractions from slowing or stalling in the water. At one point, I had to pause halfway in and halfway out of the tub, barely touching the ground for a contraction. That was the worst contraction of them all.

We listened to Norah Jones' station on pandora. I floated and breathed and drank about 4 giant cups of icy water. I had no interest in food. I got so hot in the tub by that point, I had the air down low and was freezing everyone else. I even dumped ice in the tub.

As the time inched closer and closer to midnight, we started wondering if he'd make it on the 17th at all. I had a feeling he wouldn't (I was right).

We talked and laughed and everyone waited as I breathed through contractions to continue the conversation.

Some time around midnight, I started feeling the urge to push. Two contractions after that, it was no longer an urge, but an involuntary thing. After one contraction of pushing on my side (caught me by surprise), I knew I needed to be on my knees.

My mom found a stool or a chair or something (I confess to not paying much attention at that point) and sat by the side of the tub to hold my hand and put cold rags on me (thank you mommy!). Somebody (I think my aunt) went to go find the midwife.

The midwife came in and stood by the tub. I think there was also a nurse there. The contractions were hard and fast and I was zoned in and focused. I think I may have bruised my poor mom's hand.

I vaguely remember someone coming in to ask if I minded Rachael coming into the room. I nodded and don't think I even said hi to her (sorry, Rach!) when she came in.

We were still listening to Norah Jones's station and Etta James' song "At Last" came on. I had been tuning out everything including the music until that point. I listened to it and sang along in my head, feeling excited and nervous and proud, because I could feel his head (through his sac as my water had not broken) and knew he was almost there (at last).

Just a few minutes later, his head was born and with a surprised "oh!" (The only actual word I remember saying while pushing), I turned back off my knees to reach for him.

As I touched his head, I realized my water still had not broken. He was born in the caul, a lucky sweet boy! Another small push and he was out, my angel come to earth at 1:07am on January 18th. I pulled him up to me and Amy reached out to unwrap his cord (triple nuchal).

I pulled him to my chest and was mesmerized instantly. He was so tiny! So perfect. His head was molded and I was surprised to see he had some hair. He stared around with wide eyes and was so silent and calm.

He held my finger as I held him and fell in love. I felt all over him, wanting to memorize each inch. I looked at his tiny fingers and his sweet little eyes. His teeny bum and long legs, his ears (just like mine). I soaked him in and soaked up the rush and happiness of having him the way I wanted to.

I looked around and finally said hi to Rachael. I looked at his cord and felt it (I wish I had at least glanced at it while it was pulsing with blood) and changed out the blankets on us so he wouldn't get cold. Amy commented that his cord was thinner than she'd seen before.

About 45 minutes after he was born, my sister cut his cord (it had stopped pulsing about 10 minutes before). I birthed the placenta a few moments after that.

I let my sister carry him to be weighed and measured quickly while I got out of the tub and got checked (I had a 2nd degree tear that needed stitches). He was 7lbs and 4oz (a full pound less than I was expecting) and 20.5 inches long.
They showed me my placenta, all the veins and the membrane and cord. It was placed in a small bowl with a lid to be taken home with Jade for encapsulation (I HIGHLY recommend it).

His foot prints were done (as well as a second set in his scrap book) and he was brought back to me. Jade helped me latch him and he nursed for the first time and I melted.

Birthing my beautiful little boy was the most amazing day of my life. I am so proud of myself and so blessed to have him. He is everything right in the world and the love of my life. I birthed with love and with strength, without fear.

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