As I did almost three years ago after little Alice was born, I'm going to tell the story of Kate's birth. I think it's fun to read birth stories, and I like sharing them too. Warning: If you can't handle reading about body things, like if the word "placenta" throws you off, you may not want to read. Or you should just read it and accept that this is how life on earth begins.
Summary: 11ish hours of early labor, 6ish hours of active labor, 0ish minutes of active pushing, no medication, perfect health for both mother and baby, decently fast recovery. I couldn't ask for more!
Kate's due date was April 11 (a Tuesday). I was pretty confident that she would come late, though hoping she wouldn't be as late as her older sister, who was 9 days after the due date. I never had the midwives check for dilation or anything because I didn't want that to create any undue expectations on my part, so I really had no idea how things were looking come the week of April 11.
On Sunday, two days before the due date, I was at church and felt like I had to tell everyone, "Yes, I'm due on Tuesday, but you'll probably still see me here next week." I just didn't want to have to deal with the disappointment of a "late" baby ("You're still here? She's not born yet? Are you getting induced soon?"). I really did think Baby Kate would wait until the next weekend (Easter weekend) to be born, perhaps partly because that would be extraordinarily convenient, since my parents would have just arrived and could stay with Alice.
On Monday morning, however, my perspective changed. I woke up around 5 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. Probably around 6:30 or 7, I realized that I probably had been awoken by the periodic tightening in my abdomen. I know that labor can have lots of false starts, so I didn't get too excited, but before Ryan went to school, I casually mentioned the remote possibility of being in early labor. He decided to work from home that morning (since Alice and I had planned to be out anyway), and then to either go to his campus meeting in the afternoon, or to stay home and Skype in.
Now, I should mention that my only concern about this pending birth was an exceedingly fast labor. Alice came pretty quickly for a first-time baby. (In hindsight I was in early labor for about 8 hours and then active labor for about 8 hours, but I just didn't realize it was really active labor, and I didn't call the midwives and go to the hospital until the contractions were quite strong and my water had broken. She was born about 3 hours after we got to the hospital, and this surprised everyone.) So, we wanted to have all our ducks in a row so that Alice could have a place to go and we'd be at the hospital before Baby Kate showed up. My midwife had especially emphasized that if my water breaks, I need to get to the hospital ASAP.
Anyway, in the late morning Alice and I went to a park where we met up with some friends and ate a picnic lunch. It was a beautiful day, Alice loved playing in the dirt with friends, and I enjoyed sitting in the sun and talking with friends. I was still feeling those periodic contractions, some stronger than others. I was confident, however, that things were not changing quickly, and I told Ryan to go ahead to campus for his afternoon meeting.
Around 1:30 we went home and had our quiet time. I thought that I should probably rest just in case tonight was the big night. Alice and I watched a Planet Earth episode, and I got a little nap. I had some errands to run at Target, and I really wanted to go, but was starting to feel hesitant. Though I felt it was important to go about my normal life and not just sit around waiting for active labor, I was worried about my water breaking at the store or something crazy happening. I did feel like the contractions were somewhat stronger than they had been that morning.
I nixed the Target idea. Instead, Alice and I played in the backyard. We played soccer, chalk, and leopards. While we were back there, I thought that perhaps I should time my contractions. I did this for a while and found that they were pretty consistently stronger, about 45 seconds, and about 7-8 minutes apart. I decided to find a place for Alice to spend the night, because we'd probably need to go to the hospital sometime during the night.
I texted Ryan and told him the contraction timing, and I told him that I was making arrangements for Alice, and he left campus immediately--much faster than I expected. In fact, his adviser, whom he was meeting with when I texted, drove him home. This response, though it seemed over the top to me at the time, was probably appropriate because I was in the beginning of active labor (which I again realized better in hindsight). While usually people are told to go to the hospital when they're 1-minute contractions 5 minutes apart, because of my fast previous labor, the midwife had told me to call earlier. So, I called in and told them I'd be coming in about an hour.
Our lovely friends who agreed to watch Alice were planning to have her come right before bed time, around 8. But, as the contractions got even stronger, I asked if she could come around 6 instead. I made pancakes so we could have a quick dinner, Ryan got home, and we pulled together our bags and all the other stuff we wanted to take to the hospital, yoga ball and all.
Earlier in the day, I had thought to take a picture of my pregnant belly. That's on the left. On the right is my pregnant belly during a contraction, soon before we left for the hospital. Fascinating, no?
|Not contracting uterus|
At the time we dropped Alice off, contractions were definitely uncomfortable. but I was still able to play it cool--not even Ryan could tell when one was happening. We got to the hospital triage area and around 8 pm the midwife came in to check on me. I was so happy to see that Pamela and Sunny, the midwife and student I had seen for almost all my appointments, were the ones on labor and delivery duty that night.
I was dilated to 7 cm and 90% effaced. Clearly I was in labor. The midwives said that it was a busy night in labor and delivery (it was a full moon after all!), but I got bumped to the front of the "line" for getting a room.
Soon after, we were walked up to the labor and delivery floor. I got settled in my room and got poked a lot, including a missed IV attempt that led to a massive bruise that is finally fading 3 weeks later.
The nurses said that I was the calmest 7-cm-dilated person they'd ever seen. I'm convinced that attitude and being calm is what helps my body open up and everything go quickly and well. Ryan and I first watched some Studio C (BYUtv comedy), and that was okay until the contractions got stronger and I had to focus more. My instinct was to stay upright, whether sitting on the yoga ball or standing. I liked that we were mostly left alone with the lights low.
The contractions kept getting stronger, and I really had to focus on relaxing. I kept realizing parts of me that were tensing up, which slows things down. It was very difficult. A few times I just wanted to start crying because I didn't know what else to do, but I didn't cry. I just kept breathing. The nurse put a towel on the floor and said that she was pretty sure my water would break all over the floor soon. Around 10 pm I realized that one reason I was tense was that I needed to urinate. I went to the bathroom to pee. As I sat there, I felt another contraction coming on and dreaded facing it alone. Suddenly, a gush of water went into the toilet; it took me a few seconds before I realized that my water had broken. I left the bathroom to get back to Ryan so he could help hold me up, and I made some sort of groan that indicated I was feeling the need to push.
The midwife and Ryan helped me get to the bed, where I said I wanted to be in a kneeling position, which was how I delivered Alice and the only position I could think of at the moment. I was suddenly so hot and sweaty that I asked for cold rags. With the next contraction, the full-on pushing urge was there. I was burning, but trying not to push because I wanted to push slower so I wouldn't tear. I didn't exactly feel in control of what was happening, but I thought I was not pushing. But then I heard Sunny say, "Just one more little push." and I thought, "No, I'm not pushing yet." But then I heard a cry and realized that I guess I had been pushing because a baby was coming out. Kate was born! It was 10:10 pm on April 10, the night before her due date.
They handed the gooey, slippery baby to me as I got turned around. Her cord was pretty short, and was still attached to the placenta, which was still in me, so it was all kind of awkward. There was a lot of blood everywhere and I felt like a sweaty mess, but it doesn't matter when, what?!?, a person was just born! Little Katrina Rose was beautiful, and she was indeed a girl (we always have to be sure and check, you know). First impressions: what long fingernails! And what long toes!
|I love her little cry-face!|
I still had to deliver the placenta and then get a few stitches for a small tear. During all this, Kate nursed for her first time. I got to hold her for a long time--perhaps an hour--until the pediatric nurse came and measured her. 7 lbs., 4 oz., and 20 inches.
|Ryan was excited she was already so interested in holding medical implements, beginning with her cord clamp|
|The midwife, midwife student, and nurse who helped with labor and delivery. They were all so wonderful!|
There's of course more I can say, but I'm going to summarize from there. In short, the hospital stay was lovely, like a little vacation. Alice came to visit the next morning and it was the sweetest thing to witness. We left the hospital on Wednesday morning, and on Friday morning my parents flew in.
|"Hi, baby Kate! I'm your big sister!"|
Just a few concluding thoughts on birth. It's a beautiful thing. It's the only way people get to Earth, and it's amazing to be at the gateway of life. Choosing an unmedicated birth is an empowering experience. I love feeling like I know what's going on in my body, and that the birth is up to me and my ability to relax and concentration. Since our bodies know what they're doing, birth is more of a mental exercise more than a physical labor. "Pain" is largely about attitude, and it's not something to be afraid of--it's part of life. Of course, everyone has different bodies, different situations, and different experiences, but thus is my insight based on my experience.
Delivering a child during the Easter season is especially a good reminder of my Savior and Deliverer, Jesus Christ, who experienced every pain of all forms. The sweat, water, and blood are important reminders to me of Him, and I'm grateful to know I have His support as well as the constant support of my husband, other family, and friends in this challenging journey of parenthood.
More hospital photos
|First time in car seat|
|Picking Alice up on the way home from the hospital|
|Alice is always interested in helping baby Kate!|
|Her long toes!|
|Blankets and burp cloths made by my sister Evie, and Kate's quilt made by my Mom|
|I made Alice this baby carrier. Yes, be impressed, because it was a pain.|
|Again, our helper!|
|Falling asleep smiles|
|She found her thumb all by herself|
|My parents were so helpful with Alice . . .|
|. . . and with getting some things done around the house!|
|Alice quickly caught on to "nursing" her own baby|
Family Easter Photos
|Saturday egg hunt in the back yard|
|"This one is NOT an egg."|
|Alice LOVED coloring eggs! She's been asking about when she can do it again.|