Everyone else is at church and Asher is asleep, so I thought I'd better take the chance to write about the big birthday before I forget all the details.
Last Monday morning I woke up a little after 2 am with contractions. With all the labor I'd had over the previous two weeks, this was the first time contractions had actually woken me up. I went to the bathroom and suspected I was leaking a little amniotic fluid. I got out my ipod and started listening to some Hypnobabies and tried to relax. I didn't wake up Jared until about 4:30. He could tell things were different this time. He filled the tub for me and I spent a while in there. It just kept getting more intense and by 7 we were making plans to head to the hospital. At some point I threw up, which definitely made us think this was the real thing.
We got to the hospital by 8:30 and the same midwife, Deb, we saw when were there 2 weeks earlier was on call which we were happy about. When she checked me I was completely effaced and 6 cm dilated. Asher was at about a zero station then. My water also completely gushed out during the exam. There was definitely no going back now! They quickly got me into a room and let me do my thing. I didn't want to go near the bed. Laying down made everything way worse. I spent some time leaning against the sink or I sat on the edge of the chair. I tried kneeling on the bed a bit too, but I don't think I did that for long. They also brought out a birth ball, but I ended up not really liking that.
I think by about noon I was totally in transition and definitely had some "I can't do this" moments. Jared was so great and just kept reassuring me that I could and that I was in transition and it would be over soon. Man, it was hard! I must admit that in the midst of those contractions that were so bad I threw up, I could understand why people get epidurals. I could even fathom why people have elective ceseareans. (Although now that it's over I know I'd rather go through labor than have to recover from that.) But in the moment when it seems like it's never going to end, I definitely had those thoughts.
At some point I had Deb check me and I was almost at a nine. And then pretty soon after that I started feeling pushy and she checked me again and said I could start pushing. I tried a few different positions on the bed and Deb left me to myself again. I was having a hard time feeling how to push at first, so I went on the sat on the toilet which helped. Then the nurse set up the birthing stool which is hard to explain, but it lets you sit in a squat like position similar to sitting on the toilet. I was there when Deb came back in to help me get things going. She really helped me feel where to push and I felt much more productive after that. She suggested I get on the bed and they set up the squat bar.
Let me try to explain how this worked. The squat bar goes over the end of the bed. You can use it to hold onto and squat on the bed, but I didn't like doing that. What they did is wrap a sheet around the top so that I could hold the ends like reigns. Then I put by feet on the sides and pulled the sheet while I pushed. It really helped me feel how to push to have something to pull back on too.
I pushed that way for quite some time and then the nurses or Jared just held my legs while I pushed. It took 3 hours of pushing to get Asher out. I think everyone was surprised it took so long, most especially me, because Asher was already so low in the birth canal when I started. But that head just didn't want to come out. And I was so exhausted. I had only had 2 hours of sleep so I was really running on empty. Between every contraction I just wished I could sleep. They set up a mirror so I could see the progress of his head coming out. That was cool and it helped me to know I was doing something. But man, I was beginning to think he was never going to come out. The one nice thing about the pushing though is that it didn't really hurt. I thought the worst part was trasition. Pushing was just utterly exhausting. But it was definitely better than transition.
Of course, Asher did make his appearance. He started screaming as soon as his head was out. Jared helped pull him out too which was cool. And I think I may have even had a hold of him before he was completely out. I remember trying to lift him but I couldn't because he was slippery. Jared lifted him to my chest. We let the cord stop pulsing before Deb clamped it and Jared cut it. It was cool to feel the cord while it was still attached. Within probably five minutes Deb had me give one push and the placenta came out. I had no idea placentas were so huge! It was amazing. Deb showed us which side was attached to me and how the sac is attached and where Asher was inside it. It was cool.
I tore just barely and Deb put in one little stitch. She said I had very strong tissues. It seems that because it took so long to get him out, everything got to slowly stretch which may have helped. Deb also used tons of minera oil and helped stretch things while I pushed. Getting that big head out was a team effort!
I held Asher for a long time before they weighed him. The poor kid had quite the misshapen head from being in the birth canal so long. It was all bruised too. When they weighed him someone said he was 8 pounds 3 ounces, but it turns out we was actually 8 pounds even and 20 5/8 inches long. The hospital uses grams officially on records and someone just converted it wrong at first. I was so surprised he was 8 pounds though! I did not think I would have a baby that big, especially one born 2 weeks early! Thank goodness he was early. One of the first things I noticed is that he has really big hands with big meaty fingers. He's always getting his hands in the way when he nurses and the first couple of days he really did a number on his face and chest with his fingernails.
Overall, I feel really good about my birth experience. You can never totally plan for a birth or know what to expect. It was certainly harder than I was expecting. During it all and afterward I couldn't even really believe I was doing it. I'm glad that my birth plan said not to offer me drugs because if the nurse had been pushy, I probably would have taken something. I'm so glad that I was able to do it the way I had planned. I'm also really grateful we had a midwife who was so patient and helpful. She was very encouraging. My nurse was great too. And I am really glad that I used the Hypnobabies program. I can't say I had a "pain free" birth the way some Hypnobabies mom do, but I was definitely able to manage it, and I know it was because of all my preparations. Of course, I could not have done it without Jared either. He had so much faith in me and kept me going.
And now we have our sweet little boy. He is a really good baby so far. I just hope his jaudice clears up so that we can enjoy him without the "billi blanket". We saw the pediatrition yesterday morning and his bilirubin levels were still high so we have to keep him in the blanket as much as possible until we go back to the doctor tomorrow. Fortunately he tolerates it pretty well. And other than being yellow, he's very healthy. He nurses really well and is already on his way back up to his birth weight. He is also already smiling. We haven't been able to capture it in a picture yet, but I swear these are real smiles. He will be totally awake and we'll talk and laugh with him and he'll smile. He has a big dimple in his right cheek that is too cute for words. Right now his hair is brown but it looks like it may go blond. His eyebrows and eyelashes are really blond. It's too soon to tell about his eye color but we think they may go brown. They are really dark blue-grey right now. It's fun to see him change each day and speculate about who he looks like. And every time I look at him I am amazed we was really inside me and even more amazed that I got him out!