We began this fourth pregnancy with an Obstetrician but ended up switching to a Midwife at 34 weeks (to be clear, I did like our OB). Although I had healthy births in the hospital with all three of my other children, I was anxious about going into the hospital again. I have always felt that women are treated like cattle there. You are forced through their system and there's nothing much you can do about it. I didn't want to be hooked up to the monitor for 20 minutes of every hour, thus restricting my movement. I wanted to have real support, not a nurse looking at the Electronic Fetal Monitor instead of me. I didn't want to have drugs pushed at me. I didn't want the baby taken away from me right after birth even to be wiped up. I wanted Terry to be able to cut the cord (something they always say they'll allow but somehow never do). There are so many other reasons I don't like the hospital experience. So when we heard that the OB that delivered our firstborn (bad experience) was the back-up for our new OB, we researched our options and discovered that it was possible to switch care to our lovely Midwife Jeanne and have a water birth. So that's what we did, even though we had to drive 40 minutes, our insurance was a pain in the neck and we were worried my labor might be too fast to reach the birth center in time.
The ultrasound dates for baby Ezra were consistently May 30. And not to be picky or anything, but 266 days after conceiving was actually May 31 (since I knew exactly when we conceived). And our insurance deductible was scheduled to reset June 1. So we had been praying for quite some time that God would bring this baby "early" (all of our previous children had been late) so we wouldn't have to pay our deductible twice.
I had also been dealing with a fair amount of anxiety about going through labor again. I had some pretty vivid memories of the pain of childbirth that I wasn't eager to experience again. Jeanne was very encouraging here regarding how much the water birth would help. Having never done it before though, I was still scared.
So on May 30 we headed to our 40 week appointment with Jeanne at the birth center. She stripped my membranes and sent us walking. Though I did have considerable pressure and some contractions, they were not the real strong ones that accompany labor. After two miles, we went back to the birth center where Jeanne stripped again and gave me orders to walk some more.
|walking in Whitewood where the birth center is located|
From there we went to the ranch where Terry's folks were watching the kids. I walked. And walked some more. And walked some more! I walked three more miles at the ranch. That night we were both exhausted. We went to bed early and slept hard. We had my mom sleep over just in case anything happened during the night.
|4 wheeler ride at the ranch with daddy|
The following morning (May 31) I woke at 5am with a full bladder. When I laid back down after a trip to the bathroom I had a couple light contractions with enough force to get me wondering if something was happening. Then I had a genuine labor contraction and I woke Terry. He took a shower and I laid there freaking out inside. I was so scared! I didn't want to go through labor again even though I was thankful and cognizant that the timing was perfect - it was my actual "due date" and exactly one day before our insurance reset. I got up and started getting ready. Terry called Jeanne who told us to head to the birth center. Then I realized that the contractions were like 10 minutes apart and perhaps we shouldn't go yet. We had breakfast, though I couldn't eat much because I was so nervous. I called Jeanne and told her how far apart the contractions were and she insisted we get on the road because of my history of fast labors (Evie's birth was only 2 hours start to finish and Samuel's birth was 3 hours. Noah's was 4-5 hours.). So we headed out the door. Samuel was up and I went in and kissed him good bye and he went back to sleep.
On the way to the birth center, I had only a few minor contractions. I was so incredibly filled with fear and anxiety. Then I got a text from a friend at church that said, "'The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.' Deuteronomy 31:8" Instant tears. That was exactly what I needed to hear and it was like God spoke it right to my heart. Then we looked out the window and saw a very beautiful rainbow and I was reminded of another promise the Lord made and of His faithfulness. You'd think I would have stopped being afraid after all of this, but I couldn't!
We arrived at the birth center at 730am and Jeanne and the nurses could tell I was upset. I was on the verge of tears. They were so reassuring though! They said exactly what I needed to hear and I knew I was in good hands. I was glad we had come when Jeanne said to because I felt safe and protected. My fears finally abated a little.
Jeanne said I should walk to increase the frequency of the contractions so that's what I did for a bit. The contractions were still like 8-10 minutes apart. I was perplexed. Usually when I go into labor, it's like wham-bam-we're-in-a-hurry contractions and I can hardly catch my breath (hence the anxiety). So we opted to get some natural pitocin (oxytocin) going with the pump. We did that for a half hour and my contractions went down to 2 minutes apart. Of course, once I got off the pump, they slowed down to like 5-6 minutes apart.
It was so strange having contractions so far apart. I was used to contractions every 2 or 3 minutes from the onset of labor. This time I was just walking around the birth center waiting to have another contraction, hoping that I would move along and not be there all day. Another thing was that I needed to be in pretty established active labor to get into the warm water tub. I really wanted that tub. So I walked and Terry recorded the contractions in his phone. We talked to the nurses. Terry read news stories from his phone. I didn't realize it at the time, but he was feeling very sick that day. Poor guy.
Finally, at like 11am, we decided that I was established enough to get into the tub. It was a nice feeling being in there. I had a contraction right away, and initially, I didn't think that it felt all that different in the water verses all the contractions I had been having up to that point. After only a few minutes I had to get out and pee though. With the regaining of full gravity on my body, I was all too ready to get back in that tub. Something about the water really does help. I didn't even realize how much it helped until a few days later. After looking at the contractions Terry recorded, they were so short - only like 30 to 45 seconds long. To me they seemed longer and further apart. I thought I was getting no where.
Terry or Jeanne would rub my back while I had a contraction and it was so helpful. The way I dealt with the contractions was deep controlled breathing. For me, if I tense up, freak out or get really loud, it gets worse and I can't deal with the pain. I wish I had known how to do that for my first two births!
While I was in the tub, it seemed like the contractions were so far apart and were not strong enough for me to be nearing the end of labor. However, I was wrong. Jeanne was able to tell how I was progressing based on my reports of pain and pressure in my back. After she checked me, she reported that I was complete and ready to push. I said, "Really? Are you sure?" I didn't feel like I had gone through the dreaded transition phase at all. I remember the out of control painful contractions I had at transition with my other births and it was that memory that had me so afraid. What I realized after talking to Jeanne was that I had not been feeling the full force of the contractions due to the water - or "aqua-dural" as another nurse put it. The contractions I was experiencing were probably longer than I could feel but due to the water, I only felt the most intense part of the contraction. And even that part was do-able.
So before I knew it Jeanne was coaching me through pushing. The water didn't change that from hurting pretty bad. But it was only like four contractions long before Ezra was out and I didn't tear at all! After about three pushes, Jeanne instructed me to feel the babies head and I was so surprised his head was already out. On the next contraction I pushed him out and caught him myself, bringing him up out of the water immediately. Talk about amazing.
I was so surprised and overwhelmed and relieved and overjoyed. I did it!
He perked up and cried right away. They don't breathe until their face hits the air so there wasn't a risk of him drowning. They go from water to water to air. It's a very relaxed entry into the world. Plus, the nurses didn't whisk him away immediately and clean him up. I got to hold him first. My baby!
Terry said it was the best experience for him too. Jeanne and the nurses worked around him and let him have a good view. He'd never seen any of our kids' births so clearly before. He definitely teared up.
Terry got to cut the cord and hold Ezra after that.
After I got out of the tub, I got to nurse Ezra right away. Then Jeanne took him to weigh him and do the other tests. He was 7 pounds and 12 ounces and 20.5 inches long.
He lost the swollen post-birth face so quickly!
All done being picked on and ready for snuggling.
Jeanne is holding Ezra, Erica is in the green and my nursing school classmate Chelsea is on the right. These ladies were wonderful. When it seemed like my labor was progressing kind of slowly, all three circled up around me and prayed for me. They were so supportive and encouraging. Frankly, I felt spoiled! They made my last birth experience a dream come true. It was everything I wanted.
I'm looking quite pale in this photo because I must have lost more blood than my other births. I nearly passed out in the shower! After some IV fluids I was all better. And then we were ready to go home (that's how she does it there).
Ezra's first ride in the car seat.
Pulling out from the Birth Center we could see that Jeanne was already announcing Ezra's birth.