Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Birth Story and a Pinterest (fail) Worthy Castle Cake

Happy Birthday John! It's been 7 years, since my most difficult birth (yes..the 3rd baby was harder than the 1st).   He's worth it though!  Happy Birthday John.  We love you!

In honor of his birthday, I decided to share his birth story. 

And show you his "cake". 

Back story: At the time John was born, Ben was working on a small island only accessible by boat or plane and we lived on the mainland above my parents.  So Ben used to come home on weekends and stay on the island during the week.  This caused me quite a bit of stress because I really wanted him there for the birth...but being on an island only accessible by boat or plane made things complicated when you are just waiting around to go into spontaneous labor. Not to mention that in the winter, the boat only took one trip off the island each day. 

Heidi and Greta had been born 10 days we were thinking he would be too.  And he was!!  Elsa however broke the pattern and was born 13 days early.  

Here's his birth story, as written shortly after he was born. Skip if you don't like birth stories or the word cervix.  

I had been *really, really* hoping to go into labor by 6:00 AM on Monday so Ben wouldn't have to go back to Island. The day before, we had decided that if I hadn't gone into labor by then, he would take Mom's car to the 6:30 AM boat and come back on the 2:30 PM boat. Repeat on Thurs, with taking Wed and Tues off.  That's how confident we wer that he would be born early. So, on Mon morning, I hadn't started anything, so he went off to Island as planned. Around 9:00 AM, I started feeling a general crampiness which turned into regular contractions about 10 minutes apart. I still wasn't convinced this was labor, so at 11:00 AM I took Heidi to our scheduled homeschool field trip at Science center. While there, I was still having regular contractions, but didn't say anything to anyone else. Around 12:30, I started thinking it *might* be labor, so I went out the van with Greta and called Doula and Midwife and Ben to alert them that I might be in early labor. 

As time went on I became more and more convinced that I was in labor...both how I was feeling psychologically (like I wanted to retreat from the world and not talk to anyone) and that the contractions were getting more intense. Around 2:30 PM, I went downstairs to work on the gift shop, as I started thinking this was labor and I had 4 orders which had accumulated over the weekend and didn't want to leave them. While downstairs I had Mom time my contractions and it was really hard to tell what a contraction was and what wasn't. They seemed to be right on top of each other and lasting a long time, although they weren't very intense or painful. Ben was due to get off the boat at 3:30, and I needed to make a decision on if he should come home or meet us at the hospital. Since the hospital is about 50 minutes away and we were were approaching rush hour time, we decided to meet Ben in City Near Hospital. Mom drove me up with the girls and while at Meeting Place, we switched cars, so I went in the van with Ben and Mom drove the girls back home. Then we decided to go to the hospital so I called Midwife and Doula and told them we were on the way.

I still wasn't sure if it labor or not and not sure if I wanted Doula there yet, or if we should wait. We got to the hospital and I was about 4-5 cm dilated and maybe 70% effaced. The monitor showed contractions around 6 minutes apart. We decided to stay so I called Doula and she came over. Things kinda died down, but then I started walking and pacing around the room and they picked up some more. In the meantime, I was having a good time just chatting with Ben and Doula and occasionally Midwife when she came in the room to check on us. Things were still progressing kinda slowly and I was starting to feel frustrated. I had Midwife check me again around 8:00 PM and I was up to 6 cm. I continued walking, tried the jacuzzi briefly (but didn't like it, so came out again), I was having regular contractions but they seemed spaced really *far apart* and was getting worried that this would take all night. I really, really, really didn't want to be in labor all night. At that point, I started wanting to be alone and kicked Doula and everyone else out of the room (except Ben). 

Shortly after 10:00 PM I was checked again and I decided I wanted my water broken to speed things up. At that time I was 7 cm, 90% effaced, however baby was still at -2. The problem was that baby wasn't really descending down. I was dilating and effacing, but he stayed high up.

Midwife broke my water and I started pacing again. Gradually things picked up and the contractions got more intense, but were still spaced several minutes apart. However, they were getting more and more painful and I was really having to concentrate on walking and breathing through them. Eventually..around 12:30 AM or so, they started getting really, really intense and painful and right on top of each other. At that point, I knew I was in transition and things were getting close. I also wasn't handling it well. At that point I was at 8 cm and when I heard that I almost cried. I was like "only 8". Ben was applying counter pressure to my back and Doula was massaging my head, and I still felt as though I couldn't handle the contractions. I was also feeling pressure and the urge to push, so I tried pushing. 

Then they put the monitor on me and started seeing some heart decelerations. Even though I was only 8 cm and crowning hadn't occurred, Midwife said it was okay to push and she tried to spread the cervix apart and encourage me to push. I kept intermittently pushing while just groaning in pain and praying to God for it to be all over. I felt like I was in the worst pain I had even been in. Pushing was so exhausting. 

Then I started hearing more soft talk about heart decels and they needed to get the baby out right away, and I was really encouraged to push hard and keep pushing and push through it. I was starting to get really scared with the pain and trying to push and everyone kept telling me that I HAD to push and push and I was the only one who could it. I kept asking them to just take the baby out, as the pain with the contractions was so intense and pushing was so hard. I think I would have happily had a c-section without anaesthetic at that point..just to make the contractions stop. I couldn't even feel crowning and I was told to push and push. They kept telling me to change positions ( I assume to give the baby more oxygen) and then they gave me oxygen while pushing and I kept trying to push. At one point, the decels were down to only 60 bpm for over 2 minutes. Finally, I felt the baby's head start to come and I ended up pushing him out while kneeling on the bed on my hands and knees with my head on the birthing peanut. Feeling the baby slide out was the greatest relief. However, I so tired, I didn't even feel that I had the energy to roll over and see him. 

It's probably a good thing I didn't see him right away as he was very gray when he was born and not pink at all. They worked on him for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, he was crying the entire time they were working on him, so I wasn't worried. He was also having trouble maintaining his temperature so when they finally did put him on me skin to skin under warmed blankets and I was shivering and shaking so they kept warming up blankets to put over us. 

After he was born, and the placenta came out, it was discovered that he had a short umbilical cord which is the reason why he wasn't descending down.  He eventually did of course, but the short cord made it harder, as the cord was being stretched while he descended.  Although technically, I don't think his cord was short enough to qualify as "short cord syndrome" it was just the shortest cord the midwife had ever seen.

Looking back, I am really thankful that I didn't end up with an emergency c-section or vacuum extraction as I knew they were considering making that call. I'm also REALLY thankful he was okay.

After that first shaky start, he was fine.  And we actually went home just 18 hours after he was born.

Overall, it was definitely the most difficult birth I had. My midwife was. wonderful.  The doula..not so much. I was very thankful for the midwife and mostly just super thankful that John was born safe and healthy. The entire pregnancy I had a "feeling" that something was "wrong", and was just waiting for the ball to drop. I am so thankful he is now here safe and sound and healthy, and I attribute that mainly to all the people I know who were praying for us, along with St. Gerald whose medal I wore all through pregnancy and birth.

Note again:  Apparently Elsa also had an umbilical cord that was on the shorter side of normal.  Yet her birth was totally easy and she practically fell out of me.  I think all the walking/pacing while in labor with her made a huge difference. And she was born while I was standing up.  Looking back, hands/knees was probably not the best position for giving birth with a shorter umbilical cord.   

Also, 7 years later, I think we can confidently say that  John seems to have suffered no ill-effects from his difficult birth. 

Yesterday he was the #5 rated 6-year old chess player in ALL of the United States.  

Today he is the #32 rated Chess Player age 7 and Under in all of the United States.

And he won 3rd place in the Indiana State K-3 Chess Championship.

Plus he's super smart in math and is doing fine in reading.  He does have terrible handwriting...but then so do I.  So that's probably just genetic and has nothing to do with any lack of oxygen during birth.

Here's his Pinterest (fail) worthy cake.  He made it himself....with some help from his sisters.

Totally his idea.

Happy Birthday John!

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