Monday, July 8, 2013

Tate's Birth Story










I had so much fear heading into Tate's birth--fear that it would take 45 hours like my first birth, fear that we would again have to give up hope for a home birth and transfer to the hospital, fear of the pain during and after labor, and fear that I had so much fear that I would make the process that much more difficult for myself. 

I am so relieved and overwhelmed with gratitude that the reality was so far apart from all of my fears. 

Here's the story:

Around 5am on Monday, July 1st, I started to feel low, crampy contractions that were distinctly different from the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been feeling for months. I tried to watch the clock to see if they were coming with any regularity but soon realized that I only felt them when I flipped sides that I was laying on. 

Since my job had officially ended the week before and I had essentially checked off every to-do item (and then some), I decided to take it more slowly that morning. I worked on a few things and then noticed that the contractions were coming more regularly. Once I started timing them, I realized that they were coming every 12 minutes and were lasting for about a minute. 

I picked up Henry at 3pm and we drove to the Soup Peddler to pick up smoothies for the labor. Although I was still able to drive and talk through the contractions, they were more uncomfortable. Once we parked, I sat in the car longer than usual to let a contraction pass, and Henry asked, "What are we doing?"

When we returned home, we headed over to our neighbor's house from about 4-5. By then, the contractions were coming more frequently and were a little more difficult. I could still talk through them, but definitely with a little grimace. I still hadn't told Matt that I was having consistent contractions because I halfway expected them to just stop and resume a few days later.

Once Matt got home and offered to cook dinner, I realized that nothing except a simple quesadilla sounded appealing. Then Matt and Henry took off to purchase Tate's birthday cake from Whole Foods. I noticed that the contractions were easier to handle when I was laying down, yet they slowed down. I didn't know whether I should slow them down and rest through the night to gear up for labor the next day or if I should walk around and try to speed them up. Because of all the fear I felt, my first inclination was to slow them down. But I somehow managed to talk myself into speeding them up and getting it over with as quickly as possible. 

Matt put Henry to bed around his normal 6:30 time. We still weren't sure that the labor was really happening, so we didn't want to infringe upon our friends who volunteered to take Henry quite yet. We also knew that Henry was a sound sleeper and that it might be possible for him to sleep through the whole thing. 

The contractions continued to get closer and closer together. I pushed myself to walk around a lot and stand through them because they were more painful and felt more productive. I worried, however, that I was going to wear myself out, since I was already beginning to feel tired. 

I was still talking between contractions, responding politely to Matt, and reading the midwife handbook about labor, which led me to believe I was still in early labor. Matt kept asking when we should call the midwife. We had been texting her updates throughout the day. Around 9pm, he decided to call her, and she said she would leave her house in the next half hour or so. 

I was regretting our inability to afford a doula this time around because I still thought I was very early in the process. With Henry, I had intense contractions every 5-6 minutes for at least 35 hours without very much dilation at all. I was convinced that the midwife would take one look at me, see that I was still talking and joking, and tell me that she would come back in the morning.

Instead, when she and her apprentice arrived at 10pm, they began setting up for the birth. I continued to stand through my contractions and began vocalizing a bit. I moved to the bathroom to sit on the birthing ball with my head resting on a pillow on the counter. My midwife assured me that sitting wouldn't slow my progress any, even though it felt like sitting on the ball was pushing him back in. 

Although the contractions were intense and difficult, I still thought we were very far away from Tate's arrival. My contractions with Henry were definitely equally intense for much longer, and at the end I needed Pitocin, which intensified the contractions immensely. I still thought I was in early- to mid-labor.

Once the birthing tub was set up in our bedroom, I asked to get in it and to get my dilation checked. I was expecting to be about 4 or 5 centimeters dilated based on what happened with Henry but was instead told that I was 9 centimeters dilated! 

The birthing tub was much smaller than the one we used with Henry, so it was difficult to find a truly comfortable position. With Henry, I was able to kneel and support myself with my arms, with the water reaching all the way to my neck. In this tub, I decided to prop myself up on my left side with my elbow. 

I continued to vocalize loudly through every contraction. Because of all my fear, it was much more difficult to relax through the contractions. I kept telling myself to relax my face, my mouth, my shoulders, and my pelvic area, but I couldn't relax anything. Instead, I focused on the tension in my face, which took my focus away from the tension and pain in other parts of my body. 

Part of why I thought I was so early in the process was that I remained distinctly metacognitive. I never entered a primal state and instead kept thinking about what was happening and then thinking about the fact that I was still thinking about what was happening. I recalled the concept of "breathing out your baby," and felt like I was doing just that. Before I had the urge to push, I could feel Tate descending down the birth canal with each contraction. When it came time to push, I was incredibly motivated by how close we were to the end. My midwife reminded me to channel my vocalization into my pushing, and she suggested that I flip onto my knees and lean against the side. I pushed a couple of times in that position, and his head came out. Once his head was out, I felt like I had summited the peak and that the rest would likely be much easier. Then his body was out and he was somehow in my arms before I knew it. It was 11:42am, and hour and 42 minutes after the midwives arrived.

I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. Our son had arrived safely! I was still alive! None of my fears about the birth came true! It was over! It was fast! I had given birth in the water! Our family was complete!

It was better than I could have imagined. I had somehow managed to give birth to a 10lb. 3 oz. baby with the tiniest of tears, which did not require any suturing. 

We talked with both sets of grandparents via FaceTime while I was still in the tub with sweet Tate on my chest. The midwives cleaned up everything and we were asleep in bed by 2am. Henry slept through the entire thing and woke at 7:20am. He was so excited to learn that his brother had arrived and he was thrilled to eat birthday cake on our bed for breakfast. 

I wasn't attached to any machines or awoken and prodded all night. I got to sleep with my husband and our baby in our own bed. It was incredible.

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34 comments:

montessoriencasa said...

Beautiful story. I'm glad everything went so well. Congratulations!

Sarah said...

Congratulations! What an amazing and inspiring birth story. Thank you for sharing. All the best to you all.

Heather said...

Beautiful story! It gives me much more hope for our baby girl's birth - that we'll have the water birth we were hoping for and didn't get with my son.

Isa said...

Congratulations! And what a wonderful, healing experience. I hope I get some of the same, one day.

Catoctin Mountain Mama said...

So lovely! Congratulations on Tate's safe arrival and you conquering all your fear. Way to go!!! Second Births can be such a delight (I went from 20 hours of Labor with my first to 5 hours with my second). I found my recovery to be so much faster and easier than the first...wishing you the same!

Megan said...

Wow. Your story is amazing. Thank you for sharing!!

Montessor Karla said...

Congratulations!! What a beautiful birth story!

whiningisclosed said...

Congratulations Sara! You are a Momma warrior!

Kate said...

Oh, Sarah, my heart is so happy! What an incredible experience and story. I am so thankful everything went smoothly for you! That picture of Henry and Tate is too much.

Kate said...

*Sara. Dang it! force of habit, my best friend has an "h"

Kamilla said...

Awesome story! Many, many congratulations. I'm so happy for you.

Nduoma said...

Oh Sara! This brought tears to my eyes! So happy for you and your family. Thanks for sharing. It helps to hear positive stories as I wait and prepare.

Unknown said...

What a lovely birth story, thank you for sharing. So happy for you and your beautiful family!

Anne-Marie said...

Congratulations! Glad everything went so smoothly. How delightful for Henry to wake up to a new member of the family.

A. said...

Congrats! So glad it all went well! Thank you for sharing.

Kit Green said...

Oh Sara, how wonderful for you. I'm really moved by your birthing experience; Thank you so much for sharing it! Congratulations to you and your whole family on your extraordinary blessing, Tate.

L said...

Congratulations! Amazing inspiring birth story - thank you for sharing!

Sarah said...

So glad your fears did not come true. Love the picture of Henry's bed head when meeting Tate!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Thanks so much for the words of support, Everyone! It means so much to our family.

I hope all is well with you!

sarahvanloon said...

So, so so happy for you. Rejoicing that it was such a different birth experience for you, and especially so that Tate is happy and healthy, and that you are healthy and well, too! So much joy and love to your whole family. :)

Angela Mae said...

Amazing. :)
xoxoxo

meganj said...

We are all so excited for you and your lovely family! Such an amazing birth story and so very inspiring. Sending lots of hugs.

Irene Tan said...

Congratulations on the beautiful arrival xoxo

Heather P said...

What an amazing birthing story! I particularly like the part about Henry waking up to a little brother and birthday cake!

I feel like our labor stories are very similar less the venue. I was too fearful to seriously think about a home birth, but in retrospect I would have avoided a wild ride to the hospital and being told to lie in a bed strapped with monitors. It was the antithesis of what my body was saying to do. Thankfully my son's birthing was also speedy!

Way to go for trusting yourself and sharing your experience and knowledge with other parents-to-be!

KT My Lady said...

I absolutely loved reading your birth story. Unfortunately I live in a state where home births attended by midwives are illegal, so this won't be an option for me if and when we are pregnant. Makes me so upset that legislators don't see the value of home births for those who choose them.

Ms. Blue Sky said...

Congratulations to your family! What a wonderful birth story and experience.

marlismc said...

congratulations! Thank-you for sharing your beautiful birth with us.

Rebecca said...

This makes me hopeful for our next baby!

Such a lovely story. Congratulations!

cathleen said...

What a wonderful story! Congratulations on Tate's safe arrival and such a positive experience that met your expectations--you brought tears to my eyes! Enjoy getting to know your little Tate!

Kristen said...

Congratulations!!!! I am so happy things went so smoothly and hope the same for myself if we have a second go around because our first ended in the hospital with a c-section and the NICU. Hurray for second chances!!!!! :) Many blessings for your family and new sweet baby. I too very much enjoyed the image of Henry eating birthday cake on your bed for breakfast. I have a hunch he will always remember that :)

xoxoxox
Kristen

V. Wetlaufer said...

Oh, Sara, I'm so happy for you that you had such a wonderful birth experience. Wishing you lots of rest and healing and bonding with your now-complete family of 4.

Kelsey said...

What an amazing birth, I'm so happy that you were able to have a wonderful home birth. I can't believe Henry slept through it! He is quite the sleeper. And what a wonderful surprise in the morning! All the best to the 4 of you.

Lindsay said...

Beautiful!!!

Lindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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