I’ll start with the TL;DR version – he’s here! Isaac (Ike) Michael arrived safely on Monday, June 18th (38w4d) at 3:23 am, weighing six pounds and ten ounces (so much for those ultrasound estimates!), 18 inches long. Things are still a bit of a blur, so I’ll get what I can down of his birth story, but it may need edited for clarity or accuracy once I get my doula’s version of the timeline, etc.
I went into labor on Sunday morning/early afternoon. Crampy contractions starting around 10 am. I immediately went into denial. Chugged water, took a bath, lied on my left side hoping it’d stop or at least slow significantly and let me nap, but none of that worked. By the time we started actually timing them, they were about five minutes apart and around a minute long – clearly the real deal, but I was far from admitting that yet. We labored at home until early evening, finally heading to the hospital when I figured I couldn’t stand to have too many of the now fairly strong contractions in the car, and we asked our doula to just meet us there instead of at the house. But I was still pretty terrified I’d get to triage and they’d say I was barely dilated, go home, you silly first time mom, you have no idea how far you have to go with this. But no, when they checked they said five to six! They were still cleaning our room in the birth center, so they sent us to walk the halls for a half an hour or so. After what felt like a century, our room was ready and they began filling the tub. It felt SOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOD to get into that hot water. For anyone who’d like to even attempt to avoid medication for all or part of labor and/or birth, I cannot recommend hydrotherapy highly enough. Amazing how much that helped me relax at that point. But being in a good, established active labor, it didn’t slow things down too much either. Not that they were really going too fast anyway.
I labored in the tub for quite a while. I should mention here that he had not rotated to an anterior position, so while I was coping with the contractions, I was leaning on Mike heavily for counter-pressure for every one – we’d started that early on at home. Everyone kept asking if it was back labor, and I’m sure my answer wasn’t too helpful: the sensation seemed like it was all in the front, but the counter-pressure was absolutely necessary for coping (so maybe it was back labor? I’ve nothing to compare it to). Finally around midnight the midwife and nurses asked if I wanted to get out and be checked. I said yes, and to my relief, they said I was at nine centimeters. I think that while I was being checked the nurse rotated the little man. Not fun, but glad she did it, as pushing was plenty hard enough – cannot imagine trying to push a posterior baby out med-free. At that point my water also broke. They had me try a couple pushes on my side but I eventually got back in the tub. Labored for a bit more until I actually felt the urge to push. I lost complete track of time at that point. I don’t know how long I pushed, but I know it was a while. I can’t even really describe…it was the craziest (and yet the most normal, natural) thing I’ve ever been able to convince myself I could do. He finally came out squalling and red (thankfully – I was so scared of a quiet bluish baby, even knowing that can be a sometimes normal way for a waterbirthed baby to appear at first), and I held him until the cord stopped pulsing. Mike cut it, they took the baby to clean him up a bit and helped us out of the tub (yes, Mike was in with me for the pushing part). My placenta didn’t want to vacate. That sucked. Like, no, I don’t want to push anymore, this is ridiculous. They got him latched as best as he would do at that point, but it didn’t do the trick either. They ended up giving me a shot of pitocin, and finally, eventually, it detached. They said it was small, which, again, I’ve no basis of comparison, and that there were some calcifications (normal? Dunno, didn’t really care at that point). I did not keep it to plant, encapsulate, etc. I don’t totally discount what’s been posited about potential great side effects from consuming one’s placenta, but I’m not quite crunchy enough to pay someone a significant chunk of change to fix it up for me. Amazingly (to me, anyway), I didn’t tear – woohoo, no stitches! The midwife said there was one tiny superficial thing that didn’t call for a stitch. Again, can’t recommend the water enough – I’m still salty at my first OB who was all, “you know, babies have actually drowned.” I mean, technically true, I’d guess, but it’s just so sad that someone so educated would be so ignorant about such a thing. But really, even the pediatrician that came to see Ike this morning asked, “so did you have one of those water births?” and when I said yes she said, “you crazy woman, you.” I didn’t hold back my scoff. I mean…COME ON. I’m not saying it’s easy or for everyone, but I am not going to talk shit about epidurals or anything else – to each their own, one hundred percent.
We should go home later this morning or early this afternoon. He’s doing great so far, and I am feeling shockingly good – haven’t even taken an ibuprofen yet (though I certainly may, the soreness is not limited to the obvious, thanks to all the serious counter-pressure I required for every contraction until the pushing ones!). Sleep has been sparse at best, but I am not complaining (yet).
Sigh. So, while I really could have used those four days off work to clear some remaining clutter around the house, ’twas not to be, and ’tis now of little consequence. If all’s well that ends well, well, we are off to a good start for what’s to come!