I haven’t been on the computer much these last few weeks because our handsome little man has been keeping me busy! Gabriel Joseph was born on May 12th, at 5:22am. We named him after Marc’s father, Joseph Gabriel (which we planned even before we knew we were having a boy) and it just so happens, they share the same birthday as well! Gabriel also decided to make his appearance the day before mother’s day (the day before I was due), so it was an extra special weekend.
Gabriel is currently asleep, snuggled onto my chest; the perfect spot to give lots of baby kisses. We are absolutely in love with him and think he is the sweetest thing ever. He is quite alert, even in the beginning, but he has been quite kind in the sleep department at night. In fact, there has only been 2 sleep-deprived nights, and that was a result of food I ate that didn’t sit well with him (broccoli the first time and Chinese food the second time). He sleeps 2.5-4 hour stretches at night, and usually goes to sleep easily after being changed and fed. We feel truly blessed!
Now onto our birth story, which is not sugar coated, may be a little TMI for some, but it’s the honest truth (click the “more” link under the picture to continue reading)
The birth wasn’t exactly what I expected (although, I didn’t have much expectations), but we are happy and healthy and I don’t think there was anything we would have done different or could have done different to change things. We had planned for a non-medicated, natural birth, but it didn’t go 100% as planned. We had taken Bradley classes in preparation. I already knew much of the information taught in the class, but I think the best things the class offered was teaching relaxation.
For about a week prior to birth, I had various pre-labor symptoms; I was crampy, I had several “clean-out” sessions, my sinuses started bothering me and I had more discharge (lots of watery discharge and some mucus-plug like discharge as well).
Thursday, the 10th, I woke up and actually felt that “today is the day” but kept it to myself. I cleaned the house, painted my nails, shaved my legs, etc. Marc suggested that we go out and eat instead of cook dinner, so we enjoyed going out for Chinese and then going for a walk. Even though we are usually in bed by 10 because of Marc’s work schedule, he wanted to see the late showing of The Avengers, which was fine by me, and was a good distraction.
Throughout the movie I had consistent contractions, which were painless, and felt like tightening on the top of my uterus.
But by the time we got home and in bed, everything had stopped and I thought to myself “I guess today wasn’t the day!”
The next morning I was woken up at 7am with what I thought was a stomach-ache. I tried to get some more sleep, but finally I just got up and went to the bathroom and noticed lots of bloody show. Contractions continued about 7-15 minutes apart, not horribly painful, but certainly much different from anything I had felt before. These contractions hurt, but they were completely bearable.
At about 9:30am, Marc got home from work. We decided to get ready and go grocery shopping and pickup some lunch. I had to breath through the contractions, but they were still very manageable. We got home around 12pm and my cousin, who is also our doula, came around to do my belly cast. I continued having contractions (although I had stopped paying attention to whether they were consistent or not) and she thought that maybe it was just false labor. She left around 1:30 and we went for a short walk. I had to stop walking and concentrate when I had a contraction, but again, they weren’t terrible.
We continued to labor at home and I continued to have “bloody show” every time I used the restroom. Contractions were getting 3.5-4 minutes apart and lasting about 45-60 seconds long. I had to concentrate, but I was completely fine chatting and laughing between them. My cousin suggested we go to the hospital since they had been that consistent for about an hour. We got to the hospital about 7pm and after checking in and getting examined, we found that I was actually 8cm! We were completely shocked. I was getting ready to be told I was only at a 3!
My cousin (our doula) got there around 8:30. Contractions were picking up and becoming more painful, but they were still very manageable. We tried some different positions, but I found that standing and swaying with Marc or on the birth ball in the shower is what worked best for me. To be honest, the IV needle was by far, the most painful thing I had experienced yet, being examined, coming in second.
At around 12pm, things were getting very painful and I had the midwife check my progress – still just 9 cm with bags intact. I continued to be stuck in that stage for several hours. This was very painful and hard to manage. Some contractions were easier to manage than others, but overall I felt very discouraged. It was like being stuck in transitions for 3-4 hours. I had my waters broken at 2am and after initially being turned down for any medications (I still did not want an epidural, as they really freak me out, but I did ask if there was something I could have to take the edge off), I gladly accepted a half dose of Fentanyl (I have no regrets about this, even if pushing would have been a little shorter without it, no way to really tell). This made me quite drowsy and didn’t do much for pain, but it gave me some rest and spread them out enough for me to catch my breath. I was also given an IV of fluid between having my water broken and getting the dose of meds, to make sure I wasn’t dehydrated, which can slow progress.
A little after 4am I started pushing in a sitting up position. Pushing was not fun for me. Once I started concentrating on trying to push, it felt like the contractions had stopped! I also really did not like the feeling of the baby stretching everything (ouch!). After pushing for about an hour or so (time really does blur), Gabriel Joseph was born at 5:22am, 7 pounds, 8 ounces.
Marc was a great coach and our birth team at the hospital was hands off and supportive and everything we did was our decision. Marc was able to help catch the baby as well, and we enjoyed several hours of a very alert new little baby, all to ourselves. At about 8:30 we walked over to our post-partum recovery room and by the time we ate, attempted to nurse (not always so easy!) and cleaned up, we only managed about an hour nap before family came to visit. And you really don’t get much rest when the nurses check on you and the baby every couple of hours. Luckily we were discharged the next day (I do like the adjustable bed, though).
Today Marc brought up a funny point; when trying to concentrate through some of the stronger contractions, I actually felt better rubbing HIS arms! Funny how things work that way. Honestly, up until 8cm, it was pretty easy! I thought the hep lock (for an IV, just in case) was more painful than most of the contractions. Oh, and the nurse “massaging” my uterus afterwards is pretty bad as well.
The more gory details (which I share to be honest and open in case those who are pregnant actually want to know what may happen, and that even someone, like myself, who regards natural birth in very high-esteem, can still view a birth that’s not all rainbows and sunshine).
For me, those last few hours were horrible! I particularly thought pushing was pretty bad. Recovery is okay (amazed, but not surprised how sore my back/arms were from using them to help push). I had a second degree tear. I was absolutely terrified when the midwife brought out that huge needle, but I actually hardly felt it at all!
I also got bruised/abrasions on one side of my inner labia – which swelled and got huge. The swelling may be the worse part, although who knows what is really going on down there. I certainly don’t want to look/concentrate on it too much. My best friends are a peri bottle and dermaplast spray!
Immediately after the birth (and during) I was seriously reconsidering my desire to have any more children, but my friend once told me something that is so true: birth is like running a marathon. When you are in the middle of it, you are thinking “why the heck am I doing this?!” Immediately afterwards, you swear you will never do it again, and then after a little bit of time you are proud of yourself and willing to experience it again.