Posted in Baby, birth story, birthday

My Christmas Miracle: Eli’s Birth Story

This is a birth story. Therefore, it is long. Also, may contain gory birth details. Read and enjoy at your own risk.

Eli’s birth was simply miraculous.

Yeah, yeah. I know. That is such a cliche. Every birth is miraculous, right? Right.

No, but REALLY! My little boy, born on December 23, 2014, had such a beautiful, wonderful, miraculous beginning. Here’s Eli’s birth story….

I was wracked with worry in the months, weeks, and days leading up to Eli’s birth. Being due at Christmas is not fun…at all.

I was worried about who would take care of my kids, the weather, which midwife would be on call at the hospital, and most of all….the unpredictability of natural labor.

WHEN WOULD IT HAPPEN???? (GAHHH!!!!)

“I just hope I can be home for Christmas,” I would tell people after confessing that his due date was December 25.

I really did not want to have a baby on Christmas day.
1. that would make for a sucky Christmas for my 3 older boys.
2. That would make for a sucky birthday for Eli for the rest of his life.

“You know,” Aaron teased me. “This is why people schedule inductions.”

But he knew that I wanted to go into labor on my own. So, all I could do was wait and pray…

…while scrambling to decorate, shop, sew Christmas presents, mail boxes, make and freeze meals, schedule a babysitter every day in the 3 week “labor window”….

…and wait and pray.

So in the middle of all this waiting, praying and gestating, everyone in my family gets the throw-up GI bug. Sweet!!

So my prayers changed to, “Please God! Do not let me get sick!!! That would be the worst thing ever.”

Well, on December 22nd, the day before I went into labor, “the worst thing ever” happened. Yep, mama got the bug. Thankfully, compared to the rest of my family, I didn’t get that sick. Just felt terrible and was in bed all day.

Since I was convinced that I was going to deliver after my due date, my hope and prayer now became, “Please let me get my strength back before I go into labor. ” I mean, all I ate all day on December 22 was 10 salteen crackers and some ginger ale. Not a great foundation for the marathon that is labor.

Well….no such luck. At 2am on December 23, I woke up with a twingy contraction. Since I had been having twingy contractions off and on for about a week, I didn’t think a lot of it. But 6 minutes later, another twingy contraction. Then another.

“Aww, crap.” I thought. Then I took a moment to marvel in the irony of  being two days from my due date and SO OVER BEING PREGNANT, and how I was now not glad that I was in labor.

From 2am-6am, I alternately timed the contractions (about 6-10 minutes apart) and slept–which totally messed up the pattern on my contraction calculator app.

A little before 6, I was getting too uncomfortable to lay in bed anymore. Things were picking up. Aaron came in to say goodbye to me before work (dear, sweet husband was sleeping on the couch to give more room in the bed to me and my 6 pillows).

“Uhh…I’m in labor.” I told him.

“Are you sure?”

“Yep.”

“Ok if I go into work for a while to get everyone settled?”

“Sure.”

Yes, dear readers. My husband went to work. After all, my last labor was 60 hours. For all we knew, this could be the tip of the iceburg.

I decided to take a shower at 6:45. Fifteen minutes and 4 contractions later, I called Aaron: “I need you to come home.”

I texted my doula, Debborah, and let her know that today was the day! She said she was on her way over to my house.

The contractions were getting closer and stronger: 3-5 minutes apart. At 8am, I looked at my babysitting schedule chart to see who agreed to be “on call” for the day. It was my friend Kimberley from church.

Miracle #1: This was a miracle because Kim is my ONLY friend who is not married and doesn’t have any kids. Because my boys had all had the stomach bug in the past few days, I was SO GLAD that we didn’t have to take them over to someone else’s house and potentially expose other kids to our GI nastiness.

Kim and Debbie got to the house a little before 9am.  Kim took Micah, Benji, and Silas to the bedroom and they watched PBS kids and played with toys.

I discovered that if I sat down, I could get a 5-6 minute break in between contractions. If I was walking around, I was having them every 2-3 minutes. And since I had not packed my bag yet (I know, I know! But seriously, I was convinced that I was going to go late!), I was not getting many breaks.

I was handling the contractions well and talking and joking in between but at 10:45, we decided that we should probably go to the hospital if we were going to (try to) avoid the car ride from hell.

I remember having 2-3 contractions from the front door to the car, standing with my hand on the door handle and  saying, “I do NOT want to get in the car.” I remember with my labor with Silas, the car rides were 100% horrible.

Miracle #2: The 15 minute car ride was bearable. I had 4 contractions on the way over but they were not as intense as they had been at the house. Thank God.

I got the royal treatment at the hospital. ie. they wheeled me up in a wheel chair. Why? Basically my contractions told my legs to stop working.

We got to L&D and in between contractions, met the nurse, Katie. I knew I was going to have to be checked soon and I was dreading it.

1. Cervical checks are extremely painful for me.
2. With Silas, I was in labor for 16 hours before we went to the hospital and was only dilated to 2 centimeters.

Well, we got some good news (despite the horrific pain of the check).

Miracle #3: I was dilated to 7 centimeters. WOO HOO!

Also:

Miracle #4: My favorite midwife, Katie (yes, Katie-Nurse and Katie-Midwife) was on call!! Double WOO HOO!

My plan was to labor in the tub so while I did the required 20 minutes on the monitor (while rolling around on the birth ball), Debbie started filling the bathtub (which had jets!) and the nurses started filling the AquaDoula–which is just fancy birth-talk for a big blow up tub.

By this time, I was starting to lose my sense of humor. “Are we almost done with this STUPID MONITORING?” I said.

Finally, I was able to rip off those stupid, plastic monitors and that stupid hospital gown (“One size chokes all!”) and get in the bathtub.

The jets felt amazing on my back, which is where the majority of my pain was during each contraction. The only annoying thing about the bathtub was that, because they were filling the AquaDoula from the shower nozzle, the connection from the nozzle to the hose was loose and  spraying cold water all over my head. I was in THE ZONE though and was only mildly annoyed by this–and also mildly amused by Aaron, Debbie and nurses who were frantically trying to control the icy spray (they did).

By this time in my labor, I lost all concept of time. I stayed in the bathtub for a “while,” until they told me that the AquaDoula was full enough for me to get in.

Out of the water, the contractions were intense. I think I had 2-3 big ones just walking from the bathroom back into the room (like 12 feet).

I really enjoyed the Aqua Doula experience. I had heard that laboring in a big tub was an “amazing” experience. It was a great experience but different than I thought it would be.

Laboring in the water didn’t take away the pain of the contractions (somehow I thought it would?? Dumb. It’s not drugs) but it definitely carried the “weight” of each contraction. This made the labor so much easier to bear.

Also, being in the water gave me a break (3-5 minutes?) in between each contraction, whereas out of the water they were coming one on top of the other. So, in those breaks, I was able to relax.

My midwife, Katie, also came into the room during this time and stayed with me until I gave birth. She was so soothing and encouraging. During each contraction, I reached out for Aaron’s hand and Debbie’s hand and clung, moaned, and breathed (and hollered!) through them. I could hear Debbie murmuring prayers over me, Aaron encouraging me to breathe, and Katie soothing me through each one. In between contractions, Debbie massaged my shoulders, back, and feet with peppermint and lavender essential oils (in fact, I have a very distinct “scent memory” of those oils combined with the tangy smell of the rubber from the pool).

The contractions were getting really strong and I started to feel “pushy.” Then, all of a sudden, WOOSH!

“My water just broke!” I cried. (It was nice that it broke in pool, right?)

Two-three contractions later, I was starting to “OHHHHHH” really loudly and Katie suggested we move from the pool to the bed (since water births aren’t allowed at this hospital).

Oh my word. The worst part of labor was getting out of the pool. I think it was the only time I actually screamed a bit. I had to swing my leg over the pool (it was about 3 feet high) and then a contraction came crashing down on me.

“Ahh! Ok! I am just going to sit here.” I said, straddling the side of the pool. “This feels good.”

The contraction ended and Katie and Aaron practically carried me to the bed. It was propped up and I laid on my right side.

About this time, random-male-resident John enters the room!!! Hi John! I did not expect you nor was I very aware of you but here you are to observe me in all my birthing glory!!

It was gettin’ real, folks.

I was really hollering and really praying: “Jesus! Jesus, help me! Help me!”

I think I must have prayed this a lot because about this point, Katie really sweetly said, “He’s here! He is helping you!”

Aaron told me later that my praying was really cute. He also told me that even though I swore a few times too, no one would have doubted my testimony while giving birth.

“Ok, Brittany! This is where we are going to have to work together.” Katie said with her hot cloths and encouraging words.

“Breathe, Brittany! Breathe!” Aaron said urgently. (He later told me that I was turning a bit purple and he was kind of worried).

I clung to Debbie’s hand as I pushed, hollered, and prayed.

Four, intense, firey pushes and….

“His head is out!”

A pause…one more…and my squalling baby was in my arms, very clean and very slippery.

He was perfect, precious, and loud, all 7 pounds and 10 oz and 20.5 inches of pure glory.

Miracle #5: Elijah Jefferson Meng was born at 1:38, after less than 12 hours of labor. Now THAT was a miracle.

Miracle #6: The side-lying pushing worked. I only had a minor tear…after having a 3rd degree tear with Silas.

(Side Note: Moms everywhere: Don’t you wish that all the discomfort of having a baby was over the minute the baby is born?? Oh my word…the belly “massaging,” stitching, and after-birth contractions are THE WORST!!! Ok, “side note” over).

Katie was great with the after-care. We waited a good-long-time to cut the cord (it was nice and white!) and I nursed Eli while she stitched me up–while John observed! Hi John!!!

Miracle #7:  I got everything on my labor “wish list.” I didn’t even get an IV. The labor went so quickly and so well and so naturally that we had to fill out the check-in paper work after he was born.

Aaron left around 3:30 to go relieve Kim and bring the boys to the hospital to meet their baby brother. It was amazing to get this picture:

I have FOUR SONS!

Miracle #8: I got to go home the next day, on Christmas Eve. So, I got my deepest wish, my Christmas Miracle: To have Eli before Christmas and be home with all my boys on Christmas morning.

Christmas was perfect. The birth was perfect. And Eli Jefferson? Well, he’s pretty perfect too.

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Posted in Baby, birth story, birthday, My Motherhood, VBAC

A Rush of Love: My VBAC Birth Story

I love to read birth stories. I read online birth stories voraciously  while I was pregnant, finding hope and strength in each woman’s experience of bringing her child into the world. I read because I wanted to know what it was like to give birth vaginally because my twins were born via c-section 5 years ago and I really wanted a VBAC this time around.

I especially liked stories where the mom gave birth swiftly, serenely, and without meds. Because that’s the kind of birth I wanted. 
This is not one of those birth stories. 
But that’s ok. I am proud to have it as my birth story. 
Here it is: My 60 hour VBAC. 
I woke up on Monday morning, October 22nd, at 2am with a “different” contraction. Since I had been having strong Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, I wondered if I would know the difference when real labor started.

I did. The contraction hurt and the bh contractions were just “intense.” I was so excited! I was 40 weeks 6 days pregnant and so ready for him to be here. If you want to know how ready, read my bitter blog post about Stupid Labor Induction Ideas

I got up and labored in the living room until sunrise. I walked around, swaying and breathing through the contractions. They came about every 5-7 minutes. I was sure that I would be holding my baby by that afternoon. 
Oct 22nd. (Facebook update) 8am: Silas decided that today will be his birthday! Will update when he is here!!
I called my doula and she came over around 10am. I was smiling and still so happy, laboring on the birth ball. My twins didn’t have school that day (teacher service day) so we called a friend and had them go over and play for the day. 
Aaron, Kate (my doula) and I spent the day laboring through the contractions. A hot bag of rice on my lower back became my best friend. We even took the rice bag on the two walks we took that day.  Kate would hold the rice bag on my back and Aaron would hold my hands. It was a beautiful fall day. (Aaron and Kate got a kick out of our neighbors and drivers rubberneck at me as I stopped and swayed through my contractions). 

Oct 22nd. 2pm: 12 hours into labor. Still at home and working through contractions with my doula and Aaron. Doing well!

Here I am, in between contractions on Oct 22nd. 
I want to say to myself, “Oh honey, you have no idea what a wild ride you are on…”
No baby by mid-afternoon but I was sure that by dinner time I would be holding my sweet Silas. My contractions were getting more intense as the day went on. I starting using low “oh” noises as a labor technique. The contractions were getting anywhere from 3-5 min apart. My goal was to labor at home as long as possible and hopefully get to the hospital when I was 6cm or so, maybe even in transition. 
Aaron was getting worried that I was going to squat and drop the baby at home so around 7pm we decided it was time to go to the hospital.

Oy! laboring in the car is a pain in the….butt? back? uterus? not sure but it sucked! Thankfully we are only about 10-15 min away but it was enough time for me to have 3 contractions on the way there. 

We got to the room and the nurse wanted to check me. I absolutely hate internal exams and even wrote on my birth plan “Wants minimum vaginal checks.” I told her that she could check me as long as she was really gentle but I was sure that I was really far along.

“After all,” I told her, “I’ve been in labor since 2am this  morning.” 

“We’ll see,” she said. And checked. She was not gentle. And that wasn’t even the worst part. 
“It feels like you are about a 2, and 80% effaced.”
I was in total and complete shock. Stunned. Horrified. How could this happen? How could I only be at a 2???? And I had had no further effacement since my doctor’s appointment five days prior. 
The nurse left (rather smugly, I thought) and I had my first emotional breakdown. How could I keep this up? It had been 18 hours already–could I even do this? I wanted the VBAC so badly! 
We stayed at the hospital for another 4 hours, the contractions coming every 5 minutes. My doctor was on call that night and she checked me at 10:30. 
“You’re at a 3, 90% effaced. Do you want to go home? We could give you something to help you sleep.”
After a few anguished glances at Aaron and Kate I decided that yes, I wanted to go home. 
“Ok,” my doctor said. “I’ll write you a prescription for Ambian. Go home, take a hot bath and come back when your contractions are stronger and closer together.”
So we left. Another car ride in labor. 
Kate dropped me off at home and went to spend the night at a friend’s house. Aaron went to get the prescription. My best friend, who was watching my boys for me, wished me luck and left too. Aaron called and said that the pharmacy was running really slowly and he wouldn’t be home for about an hour and a half. I then realized that I didn’t have any support at home. 
I labored in a hot bath alone (had to fill it up twice). It was pretty awful. I prayed,  “Lord, give me strength, give me strength” through every contraction. I prayed Aaron would get home soon. Soon. Soon!
He finally got home around midnight and I took the Ambian (it was a tiny pill) and we laid down on the couch to sleep. 
At 2:30am I woke up in crazy pain, convinced that Greek gods had come into my living room and were dictating the script for each contraction. For Athena’s contraction, I had to labor like this! Dionysis? Do this! Note to self: do not take Ambian while in labor. It makes you a little cray-cray.

The Greek gods left after about two hours but the rest of the night was kind of a blur to me. 

Oct 23. 8am: Going on 30 hours of labor. Hospital sent me home bc I was only at 3 at 10:30 last night. Please pray for strenghth and encouragement for me. Emtional stress is harder than pain right now.
Kate came back over around 8am and Aaron took the boys to school for the day. My contractions were sporatic through out the morning, around 9-10 minutes apart. I was able to doze in between them on the couch for a few hours. We decided to go for another walk (more rubbernecking from car drivers) and then I got serious about rehydrating.

After that the contractions picked up to about 5-7 minutes apart. They were getting more intense but not getting closer together. I had a few crying jags throughout the day, but I finally got my head in gear. The 22nd may not have been his birthday but the 23rd was going to be!!!

Kate had me do all kinds of positioning all afternoon on the 23rd. I did a hands and knees swaying pose (it was adorable. My huge ba-donk-a-donk swaying in the air as I rested on my elbows…) trying to get the baby to move into a better position. She try to manually move him over to the center of my belly because we thought he was posterior (sunny-side up). We tried manual manipulation. We tried ice on one side of my belly and a heat wrap on the other. He moved some, giving us hope but after 2-3 hours of positioning techniques and countless contractions, he seemed to settle right back into his previous position, on my right side, on his side/posterior.

Side note–Two funny memories from the 23rd: 
1. I was doing a lot of side to side swaying during my contractions. During one, I looked up and saw my bird, Luna, swaying side to side too. LOL!
2. The boys came home from school (they were soon picked up and taken to the park by my best friend’s sister) but during an intense contraction I was doing some low “oh” sounds. Benji decided to help me out and make lots of “oh” sounds too. I started laughing, which was kind of painful during a contraction, but I was thankful for my little “labor helper.” 

It was 7pm again, 24 hours since we first went to the hospital. I was over this. I needed to know what was going on, even though the contractions were still 7 minutes apart.

I texted my mom and said, “Going to the hospital again. Not coming home without the baby.”Enter car ride 3 from hell.

We had an awesome nurse this time with a great sense of humor. She checked me.

“You are 3cm, 90% effaced.”

Yep. Same as 24 hours ago.

My doctor was on call again that night. She came in and said, “You are in what we call “Dysfunctional Labor.”

Me: “Ya think?!”

And that is when my birth plan went out the window. I had wanted a low intervention, med-free labor. I didn’t want an epidural or have to be confined to the bed.

But in that moment, I didn’t care. It wasn’t just that I believed that “all that matters is a healthy baby!” That phrase annoyed me so much during my pregnancy. Yes, I did want a healthy baby (and his stats were awesome the whole labor!) but what I wanted mattered too! I DID want my ideal labor and birth experience.

But, I had given it a good try. I had labored over 40 hours without any type of intervention. And nothing was happening. So, we moved on to plan B, C, and D.

And that was ok.

Oct 23. 8pm: 42 hours of labor at home. Went to the hospital again and had not progressed in dialation in 24 hours. Doctor said I was in disfunctional labor. Currently have epidural to let me sleep and pitocin to help me dilate.

Que emotional breakdown 5 (6? 7?) while I got the epidural. Everything I was “losing” hit me in that moment, coupled with my phobia of needles. Thankfully Aaron and the nurse helped keep me from hyperventilating.

With the epidural in, I started to relax. My doctor really wanted me to sleep. I was so keyed up that I couldn’t really fall asleep but I was able to doze. Doctor came in at 2am. I was at 4cm and she broke my water (another thing that was on my birth plan that I didn’t want to happen but hey…whatever!)

Oct 24. 10am: Going on 54 hours. At 8. Epidural is helping me cope.

We were now in day 3. I was only dilating about 1cm every two hours. It was slow going. And the epidural was starting to wear off. I requested two “boosters” of pain relief. Sweet bliss…but they didn’t last for long: one hour for the first and about 30 minutes for the second. Pretty soon all my pain relief was gone and my contractions were moving into the pushing stage.

In all those birth stories I read, this is when those birthing women said “things got intense.”

Um…yes. “Intense” would be “a” word to use. A nice word. A word that doesn’t really describe what it means to be in that stage of labor.

One of my greatest fears about labor was that I would feel out of control, whether that meant I felt like people were “doing things to me” or that I would feel like I couldn’t handle the labor itself. (yes, I know, I am a control freak).

I felt like I was flirting with that out-of-control crazy feeling. Not quite Greek gods crazy but just a little bit…out of control.

I alternative prayed silently “God, help me! Give me strength, give me strength” in the 1-2 minute respite I had in between contractions or repeated out loud “I can do this. I can do this. Damn-it-I-can-do-this!”

The praying and swearing seemed to work pretty well.

I started pushing at hour 59. During that final hour, my husband, doula and two nurses kept telling me I was doing great. All I could think was, “Am I doing anything??? Is it ever going to end?? Oh, God it has to end!!”

I slipped over into the out-of-control. I had my final emotional breakdown. But it was almost over. Through my tears and two gut-wrenching screams, when I thought I had no strength left, I pushed my baby into the world (and the nurse who told me to stop screaming? I kinda wanted to punch her in the face).

Oct 24. 1:52pm: Silas is here!!! Brit and baby are well. Thanks for all the prayers and encouragement. Silas came in at 8-3.

I said and felt so many things in those first moments. My first thought when I saw my son when the doctor held him up?

“He has a little butt!”

Ok, let me explain this weird, first thought. My twins were so tiny when they were born (3 lbs 13 oz and 4 lbs 12 oz) and they were so skinny that they had no fat, no butt cheeks. They were so frail and weak.

But Silas had cheeks.

I got to hold him on my chest right after he was born. And in that moment, I realized that this is what I wanted out of my birth. Not the low-intervention, labor-in-the-tub, no-epidural, push-the-way-I-want-to-push, whatever. I wanted to feel that instant rush of love and connection that I missed when my twins were born via c-section and rushed away to the NICU without even a kiss from their terrified new mother.

But this time, the rush was there. Through tears and exclamations of “Precious baby! Happy Birthday! I am so freakin’ glad that is over!” I fell in love with my son.

Oct. 24. 3pm: Got to have Silas skin to skin for an hour after he was born and he nursed wonderfully. Filled with love. However, I feel like I got hit by a semi….three times.

My labor didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I didn’t get my birth plan.

But I got my moment. My rush of love.

 After 60 hours of labor, I got to meet my precious, wonderful son, Silas Edward Meng.