Sunday, July 22, 2012

Joshua's Birth Story

          Joshua was due on April 17th, 2012 and his birth story begins in March, about a month before he was born. I had been having very strong Braxton-Hicks contractions since around 28 weeks and was taking Calm, a magnesium supplement recommended by my midwife, to prevent pre-term labor. I was told the strong contractions were likely due to my breastfeeding my firstborn, Daniel, and were probably nothing to worry about. Well, about a month before my due date, I suddenly had these contractions 10 minutes or less apart and they seemed stronger than normal. The midwife on call advised me to take extra Calm, a warm bath and to get some rest and call her if anything changed or to call her in the morning if things remained the same. The next morning, everything was the same and she had me come in to be checked. I was 1 cm dilated and partially effaced so she had me go on bed rest for the weekend and had me taking tons of Calm, plus Emergen-C, calcium, and nettle and alfalfa tea. I made it through the weekend and nothing changed so she checked me again. I had made very minimal progress and, by one due date, I was considered to be 37 weeks and full term so I was taken off bed rest. It was now safe for me to deliver and it was legal to have Joshua at the birth center. I resumed my normal activities and became even more active, trying to have fun with Daniel alone before his brother was born.

          Days and weeks went by and I continued to have the contractions, always regular and 10 minutes or less apart. Sometimes they got stronger and closer together, only to spread out or get less intense after an hour or two. At 39 weeks, I was at 2 cm dilated but not very effaced. It was all driving me a little crazy. About a week before my official and latest due date I visited the chiropractor. When he tried to adjust my back, it wasn't moving but something he did in the process must have gotten things started because I then started feeling a lot of pelvic pressure and the baby moved down lower but still no labor.

         My due date came and went with no labor. At 40 weeks and 4 days (Saturday 4/21/12), my parents were preaching at an event and asked my husband, Dan, to help them with the sound equipment. My back was hurting pretty bad that day and I considered not going but went anyway. At the event, which was in Spanish, my parents asked me to translate for the non-Spanish speakers but I didn't feel well enough to stand for such a long time so they had someone else do it. My dad and his friend who is also a preacher announced that they had stood in agreement and that the baby would be born the next day. They said that Sunday afternoon, I'd be in labor and that is exactly what happened.

          Sunday afternoon, around 4pm, we were sitting at home and Daniel fell asleep. I was having back pain and strong contractions and was debating whether I should pack the stuff I'd need for the birth or take a nap. Dan wanted to watch a movie and was about to watch it without me so I decided to watch that instead. When the movie started, Dan commented that my contractions seemed really close together so we decided to time them. I think they were about 5-7 minutes apart at this time. Daniel woke up about 30 minutes into the movie and we decided we should all bathe/shower,eat, and pack our stuff just in case I was really in labor. We alerted the midwife on call as well as my doula and back-up doula. I also made sure to brew my extra strong red raspberry tea to drink throughout the labor.

          My contractions got stronger and Dan started to get impatient about heading to the birth center but I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. Dan took a bath with Daniel while I showered and washed my hair. Then he made us a late lunch and made some sandwiches to take to the birth center and we got to work on packing everything. When, everything was packed, I told Dan I wanted him to get everything to the car and that I wanted to go for a walk and time the contractions to determine whether we should leave yet or not. At this point, Daniel asked for some goldfish crackers and spilled some on the floor. I squatted to help him and felt something pop but thought nothing of it. I walked to my bedroom to get something and then, whoosh, I felt warm fluid run down my legs, my water had broken! It was only enough to wet my pants so I told Dan either my water broke or I just peed myself. A quick look confirmed that it was amniotic fluid stained green with meconium. It was 8:30 pm when my water broke. I changed my pants and put on a pad while Dan packed up the car in a rush and then we headed to the birth center.

          Dan called my parents and asked them to meet us at the birth center and we called his mom to let her know as well. She wanted to be here for the birth and had a flight booked for the next day and was unable to make it. Dan was pretty nervous, thinking I'd have the baby on the side of the road so I had to have his mom talk to him on speaker phone to calm him down on the way there. He even considered taking me to the nearby hospital! The contractions in the car were horrible and with each contraction I felt a gush of fluid. We had forgotten to get pads for the car but, luckily, I grabbed a big blanket on the way out the door and sat on that in the car or our new car would need some serious cleaning. Lucky for me, Daniel slept the whole way there.

          When we arrived at the birth center, a midwife and birth assistant were waiting for me outside.They helped me inside while Dan carried Daniel in. I was pleased to find out that Andrea would be our midwife and Karla our birth assistant again, the same team who was there when Daniel was born. When Andrea checked me, I was 6-7cm dilated and, for some reason, I expected to be further along at this point. It was around 9:30pm or so by then. Daniel woke up and he and Dan hung out while I labored on the ball with a rice sock and Karla massaging my back. The contractions were pretty strong and I was only able to tolerate that for a short while. Karla informed me that the tub was ready for me and I quickly agreed to get in. My doula, Nancy, arrived shortly after that. Then my parents arrived. We realized we had forgotten the sandwiches and some other stuff at home and Daniel needed to eat so we sent him to Walmart with my dad and sister to buy some food.

         I was having so much trouble relaxing during contractions at this point, it was all so intense, much more intense than Daniel's birth. I was so glad Dan was able to come in the tub with me but I still could not relax. To my surprise, I soon felt the urge to push during contractions. I assumed it would take much longer to fully dilate so I held back the first few times. It felt better to push so I decided to follow my body's lead. Andrea decided to check me and determined that I still had a little lip of cervix. She informed me that she'd have to push it back with her fingers while I pushed until the baby's head got past it. That hurt like crazy. I remember I kept telling her not to do it but she said my choices were either that or breathing through the contractions until I dilated all the way. I wanted Joshua to be born already and could not imagine not pushing. It definitely made me feel much better when I felt his head with my hand. I was telling Joshua to come out the whole time and feeling him so close showed me I was making progress and motivated me to push harder.

          I pushed for about an hour and eventually felt an intense burning sensation, Joshua was crowning. I asked that someone bring Daniel in and my mom held him so he could see his brother be born. After a push or two, at 11:41 pm on Sunday April 22nd, 2012, my beautiful baby boy, Joshua, was born in the water. Andrea placed him on my chest and I was so happy. I finally had my baby boy in my arms and my other precious baby was able to see his brother born. Daniel exclaimed "baby!" when he saw his brother and my heart just melted. But all the happiness faded when Joshua would not breathe. For a few minutes he just lay there, limp, pale, and not breathing. I was overcome with fear as the midwife tried to give him oxygen with a tube.I asked my dad to pray for him and don't even remember now if he did or not. It seemed like forever to me but was really only a few minutes and then Joshua began to breathe. It was such a relief to know that my baby was okay! Shortly afterward, I delivered the placenta and Dan cut the cord. I was then helped out of the tub and onto the bed and Joshua nursed like a pro soon after. Andrea discovered that I had a 2nd degree tear that would need stitching up but I would not have to go to the hospital like I did with Daniel.

           Andrea got called in to a home visit so Bea, the owner of the birth center, came to stitch me up and do the newborn exam. I was in shock to find out that Joshua was a whopping 10lbs 3oz and 22.5 inches long! He was in perfect health and very alert. After we were both cleared to go home, we received our discharge instructions, installed the car seat, and went to my parents' house to sleep for a while. My mother in law met us there that afternoon and we headed home to begin our new lives as a family of four. My mother in law stayed with us about 2 weeks and then we stayed at my parents' house for about a month for some extra help. Once home for good, I had a friend come over for play dates and lunch a few times as well to ease the transition. Joshua was a non-stop nurser from day one and barely slept. Like his brother, he was a very alert, active, and intelligent baby. He did not cry much at all. He has since settled down to sleeping longer periods of time at night and having several naps during the day. We had some latch issues at first but, with some help from some lactation counselor friends, we corrected it and we are doing great now. I am so blessed to have such a special little person in my life and I am completely in love with my little Joshua.


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