Leading up to the birth of our second born I felt more practically prepared. I think because our first born Cashel Rock came 8 days early, and because I was not fully prepared I took “getting ready” and my “nesting urges” more seriously this time. My hope was to feel more prepared when BIRTHday did arrive. I also felt more pressed to be organized since we already have a little one and needed to make arrangements for him.
Cashel Rock was born just 18 months before Camper Phog arrived, but it was amazing how “unknown” birth and labor felt. I just kept reminding myself that every birth is different, to not expect it to be the same, and to be as prepared as I could be. Funny right? There is so much with birth that cannot be anticipated, namely when it will occur. Plus, with both my boys there were unexpected medical occurrences.
I think I was surprised at how similar the births were. As a jumping off point – they really were very similar.
Saturday, March 1, I felt a bit under the weather and decided to lay low at home. I ran a few errands and then stayed at home with Cashel while he napped and my husband then took his turn to get a few things done out of the house. Not much sounded good to eat and by the time evening rolled around we decided we could muster a bit of energy and went to hang out at my parents house for a bit.
I spent most of the evening watching birth videos on my phone, using earphones so as not to disturb everyone else with the “noise” of it all. 🙂
At one point, as it was getting later, I even found myself standing in their hallway swaying from side to side watching a video. Laughable now as I was probably in some form of early labor. I know my parents and husband thought I was a bit crazy. It did occur to me that the day of Cashel’s birth I had felt lousy and that swaying from side to side is often a strategy to stay comfortable during early labor. (insert chortle here).
We left late – about midnight – after watching movies and me trying to get comfortable all evening. At home we put Cashel back down and headed right to bed.
2:30am rolled around and boy did I awake suddenly and felt very uncomfortable. I headed to the bathroom, then tried to lay back down again. It quickly became apparent that I wasn’t going to get comfortable and that this might be it. I woke Ben and immediately said, I think this could be it. Call my sister. My sister had just arrived home on Friday from a business trip – although my doctor and videographer were out of town – this fact was really what made it “okay” for me to go into labor any time. She missed the birth of Cashel and really wanted to be in attendance for this one.
Ben looked at me quizzically – like, “are you sure I should wake your sister up at 2:30am?” and I assured him that I thought this was it. I headed to the tub and spent the next hour sitting in the water, then on the toilet (sorry for the TMI) and back into the tub. The water was the ONLY place I could get comfortable and I quickly identified that contractions were happening quickly and I was feeling a lot of it in my back. YUCK!
While I focused on staying relaxed and breathing through the contractions Ben grabbed my three 3×5 notecards and set to work. One was for the “final things to pack” into our bags (things that we needed in our daily life until that moment). Another card was “who to call” to come get Cashel at various times of the day – on the reverse side was his schedule so Ben could pass the card off to whomever was watching him. The third card was a list of people to call and their phone numbers to let them know we were in labor. He took this job very seriously and got it done well. Even remembering a few things, from our first labor, that I forgot.
Insert here that the one thing we both forgot was to make arrangement for our dog. Thankfully my parents thought of that one!
My friend’s husband came and picked up Cashel in our second mini van. Yes, we now own two minivans, and my dear friend Heather was even awake nursing her own wee one when Ben called. She asked if she should come when done with nursing or if she should send her husband Dave right then. I knew we didn’t have long and that Dave should just come right away. Bless his heart he was there in a flash and got a strained “thank you” yelled at him from the tub after he yelled “Congrats Alex” up to me! As soon as Cashel was off Ben had loaded the car, helped me get dressed and off we went. All this time he was entering contractions into his phone when I yelled “starting” and “stopping” from my position in the bath tub. Looking back this really is an unnecessary step for me as they come on, and they come on quick. Lasting 30-60seconds and on average about a minute apart as soon as I start having them. This time I was able to identify the start and stop of contractions whereas with Cashel I really couldn’t. I just counted “peaks of pain” as I labeled them – I did this so I could tell them how many contractions I had experienced during the 15 minute drive to the hospital.
We loaded the car, I buckled up, and prayed for a quick drive. (I wonder what was going through Ben’s mind at this point!)
When we arrived at the hospital I walked in and the security guard offered me a wheel chair. He asked for our id’s and started checking us in. During this short time I experienced two contractions and had to get out of the wheel chair to get even a bit more comfortable. The charge nurse came to get me and immediately assessed that I need not go to a triage room. (This was true with Cashel’s birth too). They just checked me right into a delivery room.
Bless my husband’s heart as he set to work trying to fulfill my requests. I had asked him for a few things – hoping they could be different then last time. I had thought I might go without drugs, wanted to use the bath tub at the hospital, and wanted to have my head upright during delivery (as I was almost completely flat during my delivery with Cashel – and later learned this can cause more tearing, plus it also made it very hard for me to see Cashel when he was laid on my chest after delivery).
In hopes of using the tub to get comfortable, I had stressed this desire in the car and again when we were alone in the bathroom at the hospital, Ben started running the water himself. He is a good man! I knew if I could get in the tub I could finish the birth without an epidural, but that if I couldn’t relieve some of the back labor then I would ask for an epidural.
The next part of delivery went much faster then I can depict in a writeup. I heard Ben running the bath, the nurse said she had to check my cervix before I could get in, and I knew that if she checked she wasn’t going to let me get in the tub. At our hospital they will not deliver in water so if you are too far along you can’t get in. At that point I knew I’d be asking for an epidural.
She checked me and I was 8cm dilated. No tub for me. My request for an epidural was placed and I let them know they would have to work fast as my boy was coming soon. I asked her what needed to happen before I could get the epidural in place and she told me I needed fluid. I responded with, “well then lets get that going quick.” Another nurse came in and set to work. Contractions were very close and very strong. This was when my parents arrived and prepared to get setup with cameras. Ben was trying to show my Dad how to use the camera (another thing we should have covered before the birth) but at this point I needed a hand to squeeze.
Ben reported that I squeezed harder and made more low groaning this time around. I maintain that this was because of back labor and because I got the epidural later in the birthing process.
Within a few minutes they reported I had enough fluids and they were just waiting for the anesthesiologist. My sister and her husband arrived about then and they too joined us in the room. All got situated and ready to do their “jobs.”
My sister is a Seattle based photographer (weddings and lifestyle photography mostly) and this would be her first live birth to see and also to photograph. (disclaimer: she has no intention of being a birth photographer). 🙂 I squeezed her hand a few times while Ben tried to help my Dad and also my Mom’s.
Poor Ben and ladies, I know I was focusing my energy on squeezing and they were the recipients of that channeled energy. Then it was back to Ben’s hand as Tonie got into position for photos. At this point they checked my cervix again and I was “complete” and ready for delivery. This means fully dilated and fully effaced – ready to deliver. It was then that the anesthesiologist arrived and set to work.
This was the hardest most painful part as I had to rotate to my side and curl up – not a comfortable birthing position – right as the urge to push came on. He eventually got it in place (for me it seemed like an eternity – but I’m sure it was fairly quick) and the hospitalist (hospital doctor) got into position. Right at that time the doctor on call (for my doctor’s office) arrived.
Dr. B approached me, introduced herself, and shook my hand. Epidural wasn’t quite kicked in as the anesthesiologist said “it won’t kick in for a few more contractions.” I remember thanking him and thinking if it takes that long I won’t have any reprieve as this baby is coming, and he’s coming now! Just as I felt another urge to push the doctor sat down and asked me how she could help. This was the best thing she could have said. I told her I had a lot of tearing in my first delivery and wanted to avoid that, and the stitches/healing process, if I could. She took that request very seriously and I attribute my success in that area to her coaching.
Epidural relaxed me, a contraction occurred and I gave one good push. Everyone in the room exclaimed they could see his head and Dr. B told me to go easy on the next push so as not to tear. She counted and had me give two gentle pushes, then one more aggressive push – I don’t feel like really it was much “pushing” just allowing my body to do it’s thing and Camper arrived.
This all took just 1 hour!
We arrived at 4:06am in the parking lot and Camper was born weighing 7lbs 2 oz and 19.5 inches at 5:05am. Just 2 contractions and a couple pushes and he was here.
It was overwhelming.
This next part is the part you can’t anticipate. It was very clear that Camper had not taken a big breath and had spent so little time in the birth canal – he was having trouble with fluid on the lungs. They only laid him on my chest momentarily before they had Ben cut the cord and took him to the nursery bed next to me.
I was so relieved at first to be done I didn’t fully understand what was going on. Dr. B helped me deliver the placenta and then I realized that something was awry. My heart and mind yearned to be holding Camper and have Ben near me. Instead Ben was with Camper watching all that was going on. I began to get emotional realizing I wasn’t getting to hold him, do skin to skin. and really couldn’t even see what was going on. I had the nurse put the bed rail down and that helped me be able to see some of the happenings.
They worked to get the fluid out of his lungs for some time and then decided he had to go to the nursery. This was really hard.
I needed to be told what was going on. Thankfully there was a nurse who could sense my need and my rising emotion, before they took him to the nursery she brought him to the bedside and let me snuggle him.
Then she took some extra time to explain what they would need to do and answer my questions. She told me that worst case scenario if he couldn’t start breathing stronger on his own – then he couldn’t suck to nurse and would need a feeding tube. Best case scenario he would recovery quickly on his own and join us in our room within a few hours.
I sent Ben (and his family followed from the waiting room) to go to the nursery and to “stay with him.” My parents also followed leaving my sister and I in the quiet delivery room for a few minutes on our own. This was a very stark moment for me. All the noise, hustle and bustle, and my new baby – all left at the same time.
Thankfully my sister sensed that and talked with me until my parents returned. Then we prayed together for Camper and this brought a peace.
A short time later Ben called to give me an update and he was doing MUCH better. They didn’t think he’d need a feeding tube and thought maybe he might be able to join us in our recovery room in a few hours.
I got to go visit him in the nursery before on our way to recovery and then by 9:00am he had joined us. For those few hours, in the nursery, people were allowed to visit him one at a time (at first only Ben could hold him and then later others could too). This meant many people had a quiet moment to meet Camper – and in the end it too was very special in its own way. We also gave him his first “bath” – wiping him down and washing his hair in the sink there in the nursery just before he came back to the room with us.
In the room he had a room full of visitors (who all helped create this fingerprint artwork for his nursery) and later the BIG moment of introducing the brothers. I will write a bit more on that later but WOW! A wild ride. Whether it was postpartum pre eclampsia with Cashel or a stay in the nursery for Camper, both my boys have given me something unexpected as a part of their stories.
I am a blessed wife.
A blessed mother.
And a grateful follower-of-Christ.
We are a family of four and I am honored to co-parent with my darling husband and to raise and release these two beautiful boys.