If you all remember correctly, this baby almost made its appearance in January at just 24 weeks gestation.
But on May 1st, there I was sitting at 40+3, just wondering how all of that drama just months earlier was so....overly dramatized. Doctors have to take every single precaution and I'm thankful for the care I received during that crazy week. But this little baby had given us quite the scare to basically say the joke was on all of us! "Just kidding! See you in May!" All of those weeks of worrying and all of that uncertainty just never had to manifest...thankfully.
After being cleared from high risk after moving, I sought out the care of a group of midwives. I chose this particular group because they deliver in the hospital, which is what I wanted. But I chose midwives because I wanted a more laid back birth experience. All of my other births were pretty chaotic and I just wanted to experience one with less noise, less people, and less stress.
One of the services they provide is a water birth. I have seen pictures of water births and always thought how beautiful the whole experience seemed. Baths in particular are always my go-to when I'm sick or in pain so the idea of laboring in water sounded appealing. I had never labored in even a tub before so I had no idea if it would actually work for me, although I still wanted the opportunity to give it a shot.
I expressed my desire to "maybe try it", but also explained that I have no attachment to any particular birth plan. The midwives asked me to fill out a document in regards to my birth plan and all I wrote was, "Interested in a water birth, but also know how amazing epidurals are. I'm more of a go-with-the-flow kind of a person. We will see what happens". I don't want to get too attached to any kind of plan, even in my everyday life. I work much better when there isn't a huge pressure on any specific decision. Sometimes you have to roll with the punches and during labor, that's my motto.
I woke up the morning of May 1st to get ready for my doctor's appointment. I was three days past my due date and to say I was done is an understatement. I left the house two hours early for my appointment because I was so grumpy with no patience left to handle my other kids let alone myself. I knew my attitude was affecting everyone. Even I was annoyed of myself. I just needed to walk off the bad energy around some of my favorite stores before heading into the office. "Everyone leave mommy alone while mommy gets it together!"
I walked into my appointment with just one goal: please send me to the hospital. Please induce me.
One of my midwives, Sharon, walked in and I just started crying. In my head I thought it would be a little harder to convince her to let me be induced. When you think of midwives, you think of someone who prefers to do things in a more natural way. Which was great in theory when I was 32 weeks pregnant, but I just wanted baby out at this point. I think I mumbled off a bunch of "I'm done", "I can't believe I'm still pregnant", "I just want to be induced", and "please help me". I fully expected her to tell me to wait a few more days until I was 41 weeks.
She stood up, walked towards me, and gave me a hug. She was pretty surprised I still hadn't had the baby yet either. She excused herself to call the hospital and see when I could be sent over there to be induced, assuring me that tomorrow morning would be the latest. The biggest wave of peace came over me as I knew I finally had an end date. She came back in and told me to go grab my bags straight from here and then head to the hospital. It was go time.
We settled into the hospital pretty easily. I had an IV started, but with this birth I chose to deny continuous IV fluids. I know there are pros and cons to doing that, but I had enough confidence in my own self and body to drink enough to keep myself hydrated. I didn't feel as though continuous fluids were necessary here. They still requested to at least start one so that one was already in place in case of an emergency. Again, you never know what can happen so it's best to be prepared in the chance you need access to an IV stat.
I kept my sports bra on, threw on one of my robes, and even kept my sweat pants on. It was more of an "act like this is your room at home and not a hospital room. Do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable" type of vibe. Some people like the hospital gowns but I was pretty over them by this 4th time around. Everyone just let me take the reins on what I wanted instead of telling me what they think I should do. It was a really different experience than I had before.
To induce labor I was given Cytotec. I had been induced before with my first two pregnancies and was given Pitocin for each. It's a tough drug to handle. It makes your contractions really, really intense from the very beginning. With Cytotec, it's an oral medication and works a little bit more slowly and naturally. I never knew about it before and I've learned through this experience that doctors (those with MD behind their name) sort of try to do things as quickly as possible. While midwives on the opposite spectrum want to give your body a chance to do things as naturally as it possibly can. (But this is just my specific experience.)
I started off with one dose of Cytotec and had to wait 4 hours for something to happen. Nothing did, so I was given a double dose and had to wait another 4 hours. This time the contractions started up and by the end of the 4 hours, they were about 5ish minutes apart. We then did another dose. By the end of those 4 hours my contractions were about every 2-3 minutes.
Ana, my midwife in the hospital, suggested I get into the whirlpool tub in the bathroom to see if I would even like the feel of water while laboring. I climbed in and stayed there for about an hour and a half. By this point it was around 1am and the contractions were consistent but they weren't super painful. Ana decided to check me to see where my cervix was. It was the first time I had been checked since the doctor's office 12 hours earlier. I was 6cm and that's sort of the turning point in knowing your contractions are going to really start ramping up and that things are going to start getting real....fast!
I agreed to them blowing up the big blue tub to try a water birth. It took about 30-45 minutes for them to get it all ready and during this time, my contractions were really starting to climb the pain scale. I was walking all around my room, trying to talk my inner voice down that the tub would be ready for us soon. I desperately wanted and needed to get back into that water.
Once it was finally ready, I stepped in and the whole thing felt like one big, warm pillow. The only position I was comfortable in was up on all fours with my head and arms hanging over the tub. Tim sat next to me, giving me fingers to squeeze and rubbing my arms and back as I labored on.
But let's stop for a second and talk about Tim. He's seen me do this three times before. Every time before this, I did your typical hospital birth. The idea of a water birth was SO far off his comfort radar that he was pretty uneasy about the whole thing going into this. He would ask me questions all of the time about why I would even want to do something like that. The whole idea was so foreign and so "wrong" for him. He was just not totally on board with the idea.
But I think in the moment his demeanor towards it totally changed because I was so calm. Every other birth? I've been a hot mess. I've begged for the epidural. I've fought the contractions...hard! I've just turned into a total monster because I didn't know how to handle the pain.
But here in this room? I sat in this blue tub with lavender blasting through the diffuser next to me, battery powered tea light candles all around, the lights all turned off, and everything and everyone were so quiet. It was so calm. You could feel the lack of tension in the room. Everything was peaceful and everyone just waited patiently as my body worked it's way closer to actually delivering a baby.
My contractions would be these powerful sensations followed by two minutes of complete relaxation. It was hard to even imagine getting out and getting the epidural. I really was so comfortable. This wasn't "that bad"...yet.
After about two hours in the tub, I needed something for the pain. I knew going into this that nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, was an option. I asked for them to set it up as my contractions were now way more intense. After a few minutes, Ana handed me the mask and explained that it was all about timing. It takes about 30 seconds to take effect from that first breath, so you have to start BEFORE a contraction is even happening.
It took a few rounds of practice to finally get the timing down. But she was right, if you timed it wrong then you had to endure the most painful part of the contraction and then sort of ride out the "high" til it wears off. Then you take the mask off and breathe normally until you feel the contraction sensation starting up again. It was just timing it right, over and over again.
It doesn't take away the pain I would say, but it takes away your ability to care about the pain. It honestly feels like you get REALLY drunk and loopy. I remember thinking, "I can't believe they give this to a laboring woman when she's surrounded by a body of water". You sort of do lose control for a few seconds every time you take a hit. It's a strange sensation.
I'm not even sure how long I was using the mask before I really did lose control. From my side of things, I was in such a relaxed state that I even went off into dreamland. I don't remember anything during the minute or two I was "out", but when I finally came to, all I could hear was panic in Tim's voice. He was saying my name over and over again, asking me to answer him. I remember waking up and being like, "I'm fine, I was dreaming about octopuses!" Everyone laughed, but I'm sure it was more of a nervous laugh.
But from his point of view and everyone else's, I took too much of the nitrous oxide and started shaking. My knuckles turned white because I was gripping my hands so hard. I was totally out. Which is obviously terrifying since I'm in a tub of water.
Ana took the nitrous oxide away, gave me a few minutes of recouping and then let me have it back. Except this time I was on a more strict regimen of how long I could have it. I was only allowed to do it for so many breaths for the rest of the delivery.
I'm not entirely sure how much longer after this that I finally had the urge to push. I had no concept of time. But when the pushing started, I had some pretty bad regret about not getting that epidural! But at that point I knew it was way too late to turn back. So I did the only thing I knew to do which was, "push as hard as you can as fast as you can so we can get this over with as quickly as possibly".
My water broke just seconds before baby's head came out. Tim said it was like a huge white cloud filled the tub. I honestly thought his head was his whole body and when I realized it wasn't, I cursed so hard in my head. That's JUST his head? What the heck is his whole body going to feel like to push out?! More curse words. More regret. Then I just pushed as hard as I could as sort of a "hail mary" and out he came. I was still on all fours and as soon as he came out, I flipped over as Ana caught him and brought him up to me.
The first words out of my mouth? "Ow, ow, ow!" Hahaha. Followed by, "oh my God, you're actually here! You're real!" He was born at 6:09am.
We didn't even realize he was a boy until about 20 seconds later.
Then everyone helped me out of the tub as I delivered the placenta. I wasn't aware of that part. I didn't realize you get out of the tub so quickly and have the placenta on the bed. This is when my IV finally came in handy as they gave me a little bit of Pitocin to help my uterus contract after the placenta was delivered.
We knew going into this that the name would be Bowie regardless of gender. He's been named for months now but it was so awesome finally meeting him. I laid on the table holding him on my chest while Tim stood next to me. Bowie's oxygen levels struggled for a bit so he was closely monitored by the nurse for quite awhile. In most of those early photos, you can see how purple he is. Poor guy! But they let us all lay there and get to know each other for close to two hours before they even took him to be weighed and measured.
The second round of regret for not getting the epidural came about when they push on your stomach to make sure your uterus is firm. You don't feel that when you have an epidural. But man do you really feel that after a natural birth!
I didn't need any stitches which honestly shocked me. I think the best part about delivering a baby naturally, for me, was the recovery. I was able to walk seconds after he was born. By being able to really feel everything, I didn't just push as hard as I possibly could every time. I haven't been nearly as swollen or sore. For being my biggest baby at 8lbs 4oz, this recovery has been my easiest.
All in all? It really was an amazing experience. Tim even loved it. He loved how everything was all about us. He appreciated that there weren't huge bright lights shining down on my lady bits, making that the first thing the baby experiences. With this way, Bowie's first impression of the real world was straight from water to mom. It was quieter. It was much more calm. He was much more calm. Tim walked away a huge believer in water births. As did I!
Everyone has settled in really well with having a new baby. They all really enjoy holding him and getting to know him. I don't think they understand fully that it's going to take a full year before he can walk and chase them around. But all in all, he was the best missing puzzle piece we were given.
He's so sweet and I have a feeling I'm never going to put him down. It's hard knowing it's our last baby. I guess that's why the babies of the family are always the most spoiled. I totally understand it now!
Thank you all for all of the love and support. It's always so fun sharing our family with you. I really enjoy putting these thoughts to "paper" for others to enjoy, too. It feels like I'm just talking to a bunch of friends when I do! So thank you. Thank you for loving us!