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Rafe's birth story...

2/13/20 -

I woke up to a few strong surges around 3 am that I had to breathe through. This went on for a few hours having one maybe every 30 minutes or so. I slept in between them and felt relaxed as this has been my norm in the past to have a few days of this before going into labor. My body was working for me. I woke up and started about my day, wrapping up last minute things. Around noon I had another deep surge and then had one every 30-45 minutes or so. The kind I had to really stop and breathe through. Around 3:00 pm I went and laid down thinking if this was early labor I’d like to get things going sooner rather than later. I put a movie on for the kids and laid in bed. At this point I was experiencing surges every 10 minutes or so. This has also happened in the past where I’ve labored for a few hours and then things completely stop for the day so I was expecting them to slowly get further apart and then stop. Around 4:00 pm I called Ben and told him to come home because I was in bed and Benny was jumping all over me while I was contracting making it so much worse than it should have been. I texted my midwives an update as I’d messaged them before letting them know what was happening. Now the surges were coming about every 5-8 minutes apart and were getting stronger and longer. I told them I still wasn’t convinced they wouldn’t stop all together and they told me to touch base with them in 15 minutes. When I did touch base with them the last few had been every 4 minutes or so apart. They told me they likely wouldn’t stop as they’d been progressive and asked if they could come at that time so they could set up quietly. They were en route but I STILL wasn’t convinced. I can only attribute the denial to the lack of three days of prodromal labor I’d had with my previous 3 babies. I didn’t feel mentally ready quite yet. With them on the way and surges now every 4 minutes or so I started to realize this baby was coming. I moved around and tidied up my room in between, excited and eager to meet my baby. I felt calm and relaxed and couldn’t wait to have my baby in my arms so soon.

Texts with midwives. Looking back at my contractions and how close they were and my dialogue with them I think it’s hilarious how in denial I was 😂 but also a peek into what a conversation with a HCP should look like.

My midwives showed up and began setting up. We all chatted quietly and happily while I continued to labor and breathe through intense surges, resting in between. I really focused on sending the breath down to my baby, visualized my body opening and everything relaxing. The contractions started feeling different to me. In the past I’d had intense back labor but these felt different being fully in the belly. It was a new experience and I had to learn to relax and breathe a little differently through them. Not having the back labor made them seem a lot less intense and painful. My midwives thought this was a good sign and that it was looking like I might have a much easier time with this birth than I had in the past. That maybe I wouldn’t have a cervical lip this time. I was hopeful because it felt so different. Around 9 pm things were feeling pretty intense and I was in the thick of transition. I got in the water to labor and felt some relief from that. Normally midwives are more hands off but given my history of cervical lip and being stuck for hours I prefer to have them check me every so often. Turns out I was dilated to a 9 but did have a cervical lip. This made sense as I’d told them I was feeling like my uterus was lifting but something felt trapped like I was trying to dilate but couldn’t. I felt stuck. I tried to continue switching positions and moving my hips through surges to help free my cervix and continued to labor in the water...

Around 1030 I was still feeling stuck so my midwife and I did the doula hula. I was on my hands and knees in the water with her behind me vigorously rotating my hips through contractions. So painful but a great way to reposition the baby to try and get him in a better spot for progression. We had to do this during my labor with Bennet and it worked like a charm but this time I was still left with a stubborn cervical lip. My midwife reached inside me and tried to lift my cervix throughout a few contractions to help free it. We’ve had to do this with every one of my labors and it is excruciating. Like, next level, I have to bite down on something so I don’t break my teeth, painful. Having cervical lips have caused me to labor for many extra hours between all my births now and have honestly been a more traumatic part of my otherwise peaceful birth stories. It’s always been discouraging for me needing this intervention but it has been my story and it’s taken me some time but I’ve accepted it. The other option would be to let me continue to labor in the hopes that it will clear on its own but at some point I’m so tired and so ready to have my baby that I’m willing to do whatever to move things along and get my baby in my arms. After a few attempts it STILL wouldn’t clear, and I needed a break. I was so tired, my face would almost hit the water in between contractions.

My midwives thought I had too many eyes on me so themselves and everyone else left the room and it was just Ben and I. I got out of the water and used the restroom and then labored standing up for a bit leaning on Ben. Then I got in bed and labored through a few contractions on my side. It was during this time I was so exhausted and so discouraged and starting to think maybe I couldn’t do this. I needed it to be over and I knew I was so close. A quick prayer, Lord give me strength. Help me. I asked my midwives to come back in and check me because I was feeling a little bit pushy but not fully there yet. They checked me on the bed and I was about a 9.5 cm, with my water still intact and my cervix trapped. They told me they were going to try and push it back again so I had Ben hand me the closest thing I could bite down on which happened to be a bar of chocolate. I squeezed his hands as hard as I could as I did this. Honestly it hurt so bad. Pretty much unbearable. Excruciating. 20/10. This was one of the only times during any of my labors I can remember where I started to cry and asked them to stop. I just felt like I couldn’t bare it for one more second. I looked at Ben and made him swear to never let me do this ever again. I wanted out, and I remember repeating in my head, “the only way out is through.” It was right then that my midwife barely touched my bag of water and it broke. I immediately felt my already intense contractions intensify even more and I yelled out because it caught me off guard. I felt the baby quickly drop down into the birth canal and I felt the urge to push. I told them to get me in the water ASAP because this baby was coming.

I got in the water and told them to let the girls back in. They almost didn’t make it up the stairs in time. I could have let him out more gently but I was so desperate to have it end and have my baby. I didn’t care if I tore or not, I pushed with the force of 1000 women, with everything I had. I started having leg cramps which was like adding insult to injury; just awful, way worse than the pushing itself. I needed my baby! Two pushes and his head was out and one more and his shoulders and the rest of his body. I looked down at him in the water and slowly brought him up and into my arms, pausing to gather myself. Taking a moment for my mind to enter my body again. Taking a second to realize I’D DONE IT! He was here. This is called the birth pause; a moment when the baby is born where the mother transitions from labor land to the realization that she has her baby in her arms. I felt overwhelming RELIEF. A flood of emotion. Love, empowerment, strength. Even though I knew I could do it there was a moment I almost hadn’t believed it. And here I was. I’d done it. It’s hard to put into words the feeling. Magical, intoxicating, empowering. I sat in the water for 9 minutes before we found out he was a boy. That time was so important for myself but largely for Ben who said in those 9 minutes he fell completely in love and realized it didn’t matter what gender the baby was, he loved him/her so much already. A boy. We were so happy. He was ours and he was here. Born at 1:34 am on Valentine’s Day. I sat in the water for a good 45 minutes before we cut his cord and I jumped in the shower for a quick rinse off before getting stitched up (4 stitches) and tucked in bed. My midwives weighed him and gave him a newborn exam and made sure he was nursing ok before heading out for the night around 4 am. I tried to sleep but couldn’t. Just layed in bed staring at my perfect baby, sobbing, feeling so grateful he was here and in complete awe at what I’d done. Birth is transformative every single time, not only a baby is born but a new mother, stronger and more sure of herself than she was before. I’d do it 1000 times if I could.


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