Birth Story of Fox
Updated: Apr 27, 2019
It began around 11pm on Saturday, January 5th. We had spent most of the day walking around The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, and at two days shy of 40 weeks pregnant, my body was quite tired from the long day on my feet. We had gone to bed around 9pm, but woke up two hours later because something had gotten caught in our fan and was making a weird noise. Ryan got up and ended up having to take the fan apart and screw it back together! Finally, with the fan back to normal, we were ready to sleep again. Suddenly, I felt liquid rushing between my legs while I lied in bed. I threw off the covers and turned the light on. “What are you doing?” he asked me. I was in shock, afraid to even move.
“Well. Either I just peed myself or....”
“Or...my water just broke.”
Now, you’d think you would know when one’s water breaks. But it is such a big signal of an imminent life change, that denial really kicked in. I mean, I really didn’t want to be wrong about a thing like that!
We spent the next few minutes delaying excitement and googling (me), and encouraging a call to the midwives (Ryan). I walked around and changed positions to make sure more fluid would drip out and that I wasn’t crazy! We let our Midwives know the development, and then tried to get some sleep. I didn’t sleep a wink, because it felt like I peed myself every 5 minutes and I had to continuously get up to change my pad.
Around 6am the next morning, I finally felt a little tightening sensation in my lower abdomen. My first contraction! I was glad it was finally starting. Almost simultaneously with the start of feeling tightening, our power went out. It was winter and we live a few miles up a mountain, so we had been experiencing a few power outages lately. This was kind of my worst nightmare because our well-house pump went off of the energy...no power, no water! I figured it would come on in a few hours time (it did), and tried not to worry too much about it. I spent the morning doing some last minute chores: cleaning around the house, moving baby things into my room to prep the little one’s sleeping area, moving the rocking chair into the living room, and hanging a gold “Hooray” banner. I could feel the contractions getting stronger, but they were still not very intense. Since I was running around working up a sweat and I hadn’t slept the night before, I called it quits and tried to rest. I bounced on my birth ball and started Friends from the very beginning, which I had picked as my “labour show.”
Once the contractions were more noticeable, I told Ryan I needed to be distracted. We made lactation cookies together, and pumped up with some music and dancing. Once the cookies were done, we played some cards. I would bounce on my birth ball and take a break to breathe through a contraction if I needed too. I was also texting with my close family and friends to keep them updated, and we were timing the contractions too. We started playing charades, and Ryan commented that the the pains were averaging every 5 mins, lasting for about a minute, and had been that way for about an hour. He suggested we call the midwives, since that timing is when you should typically let them know things are progressing. My Midwives and Doula lived an hour away, and we wanted them to have plenty of notice.
I insisted that I was still managing the contractions really well, so I didn’t think we needed to call them. I could tell they were picking up though, and I did my best to let people I was texting know that I would likely stop communicating. We decided to text my Midwives how I was doing, but I commented that they would likely hear from Ryan when my labour advanced further.
Well, what felt like maybe five minutes later, things noticeably changed. I couldn’t concentrate on charades anymore, and had to pace from one end of the house to the other and breathe intentionally to manage what my body was doing. Ryan walked with me some of the time holding my hand, but I mostly wanted to walk alone. I remember him calling to let them know things were picking up, but it was a very casual call. Things seemed to double in intensity and I ran to the sink and threw up. “Call them back,” I urged. Now I knew that it was certainly happening, and people needed to know!
I was completely dialed in to my labour and not talking around 4:30pm. I basically just paced my house while moaning a hundred times over. I kept asking if we could use the birth pool, but my midwives wanted me to wait to allow labour to really establish. (If you get into the pool too early, it can sometimes cause labour to stall). I tried setting the mood by diffusing some peppermint essential oil, which I normally love, but it immediately made me nauseous and smelled horrible to me during labor! Ryan started filling the pool up since it can take a while. It took a long time, and we ran out of hot water. Once the midwife gave the go-ahead that I could get in, there wasn’t enough hot water for me to get in anyway! And I couldn’t use the shower either since the water heater couldn’t keep up. That was probably the worst part of labour, wanting to use hot water and not being able to.
Ryan began boiling water on all four burners on the stove, and eventually I got into the lukewarm tub. I told him to just pour the hot water close enough to me that I would feel it. I stayed in the tub for what felt like a few hours. I just kept moaning, it was the best tool I had to stay on top of the contractions. I threw up once more. Ryan brought me water or gatorade whenever I asked.
My Doula arrived and was able to help hydrate me or fill the pots up with water and bring them over to fill the tub more. Then our Midwives arrived around 6:30pm and checked in with the baby’s heartbeat. I continued to labour in the pool while Ryan grabbed some food and chatted with the Midwives in the living room. I had a Calm Birth Labour Affirmations track playing on the speakers, and I remember asking my doula to turn it on again once it stopped (it was only about a 35 min track) because I could hear the chatting going on in the living room. “Must be nice,” I thought. I was trying not to be resentful that they were having such a nice chat while I labored away in the other room! There were times where the doula or Ryan had tried to massage my lower back in the tub, but it didn’t feel good and I swatted their hands away. I wanted to be massaged on my shoulders, but I didn’t have the energy or focus to explain to them what I wanted. We had the lights nice and dim, and I could hear it storming intensely outside. I heard our two Great Pyrenees dogs starting to romp and play inside, and ryan let them on the porch to run around even though he knew they’d get soaked!
At some point in the tub I started feeling pressure in my bottom. Like I might have to poop. I didn’t think much of it, because it really just felt like I might have to go to the bathroom soon. I felt that was a good sign and that I was making progress. However, I felt that my contractions still had to get closer together, and that things needed to be more intense. The pressure was building really slowly, and I wanted to kick things up a notch.
I called Ryan into the room. “It’s taking a really long time. Why is it taking so long?” I stood up, and he asked if I wanted to do something else to which I agreed. I got out of the tub and went to the toilet to try to pee, but the position wasn’t my favorite to be in. One of my midwives encouraged me to squat. “But it will hurt more.” I said. She agreed but stated that it would move things along, and would ultimately help bring baby here. I knew she was right. I held onto the counter and squatted. The pressure increased. I was still moaning loudly with every wave. Moaning really got me through each one. I recall having an extreme contraction when I had been in the tub, and thinking if I can moan louder than this wave, I’ll make it through it. It worked, and gave me something else to focus my energy and mind on. All those pressure points and labour positions I made my husband learn? Didn’t even use them!
I continued laboring in the bathroom. The midwives were monitoring the baby’s heartbeat often, and one time they tried to listen right when a contraction was coming on. I waved my hands and walked quickly out of the room, resorting to my old coping mechanism of pacing the whole house. I returned to the bathroom to continue laboring. At one point, I leaned on the towel rack, and it snapped right off the wall! I simply turned around to hold onto the counter and finished the contraction out. That was something I knew I would laugh about later.
One of my Midwives offered to do a vaginal exam to let me know how dilated I was, but I didn’t want to do that because I could tell I was close. But, the idea of hearing how close I was still tempted me, so I chose to not answer her. Ryan asked a few minutes later if I had heard what she said, and I nodded but still chose not to answer yes or no to the exam, because I was worried I would say yes. I knew that it wasn’t necessary, and that my body was doing it’s thing, and doing it well.
The pressure was building so that towards the end of each contraction I was pushing. I would occasionally hold out a thumbs up towards my midwives and let them know I was pushing, and was it okay? They were pleased with the intensity and how I was progressing. The second time I asked, one of them mentioned that laying down sideways on the bed could help “melt away the last lip of the cervix.” I heard, but had to really gear myself up to move. I slowly made my way towards the bed, and flopped right on. They put chux pads under me, and all of a sudden it was time. I was pushing.
Ryan held my hand and helped hold one of my legs. I remember my leg cramping which hurt, and my midwife massaged it which brought so much relief! I thanked her profusely during a break and told it felt amazing! I asked my doula to come closer and threw my other leg over her shoulder, which helped keep my hips wide. Pushing was satisfying in a way, because I was channeling the contractions into an action. There was a lot of pressure, and it was hard when a contraction ended because I wanted to just keep pushing to get the pressure (aka the baby) out! At one point one of my midwives could tell I was pushing but not with a contraction, and reminded me to push only with the contractions, to which I replied “I know but IT'S SO MUCH PRESSURE.” I knew that I had to take breaks to conserve my energy though, and to slowly push the baby out so I had time to stretch instead of tear. They asked if I wanted a mirror to see, and I agreed, so on a break I was able to look down to see the sack bulging a little. It looked really weird! I wasn’t able to look other than that, because I closed my eyes to focus.
The pushing stage felt pretty quick (in reality it was about 40 minutes), and I definitely felt some burning when the head was born. I reached down and felt the head, it was squishy! I pushed with all my might after that, and baby was born! My first words were “is he out?” and then there he was on my chest. We had chosen to keep the sex a surprise, and the first thing I did after patting his back to help him breathe was open his legs to see the sex. I looked knowingly at my husband and said, “I told you it was a boy.” I was so, SO happy.
My husband was so sweet and told me how strong and amazing I was. I felt that way too. I really kicked birth’s ass! I also kinda felt like they can cut the next one out, thanks! I understand why women get amnesia about some of the birth process now. I remembered it in a little bit of an intense light the first few days after birth, but now it’s more of a fond memory!
Really, the birth was wonderful. I was able to stay home, and be comfortable. I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t feel like, and no one told me what to do. No IV, no directed pushing, no one questioning my coping mechanisms or how far along I was dilated or anything! It was just a home full of support. I would absolutely do it again. He was born Jan 6th at 10:10pm, 8lbs 1oz.
I snuggled my perfect newborn, we did the breast crawl, he latched onto the breast perfectly. It was amazing.
My husband told me later that the cord was wrapped around Fox’s neck two times! I would have never known. My midwives didn’t panic at all, and he was perfectly healthy. I also noticed his wedding band was missing...he said I was squeezing his hand so hard he had to take it off because it was hurting! Ha!
The hard stuff came after the birth. My placenta didn’t come as quickly as they wanted, and I had a really full bladder which may have been why. I hadn’t peed in hours, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pee after birth. I tried different positions, peppermint oil in the toilet, nothing worked. This led to me needing a catheter. Let me tell ya, after pushing a baby out, you really don’t want anything going up in there. But the longer the placenta is in, the higher the chance of hemorrhage, so it was something we felt was necessary. Luckily, I had wonderful midwives and was in the home birth environment, so we were able to talk it through and move through with it when I was prepared and felt ready. They drained 6 CUPS of pee! Holy moly.
Afterwards, I tried to push the placenta out, but to no avail. After a while, we again talked about my options. One of them suggested she follow the cord with her hand upwards to internally see what was going on. I didn’t like that idea. I really didn’t want her hand going up there, it sounded way too painful! The other mentioned that we could do a shot of pitocin, which causes contractions so the placenta comes out. That sounded much more appealing than the other option, so we went with that. It was emotional for me, because although I was able to have a non-medicalized birth, the afterbirth was turning out to need intervention. But I was still thankful for the support I had, and we went ahead with the shot. I was able to push the placenta out after a few minutes with some effort, and I was so relieved to be done with that.
But there was MORE. Now, I had to be assessed for tears. I was so emotionally spent I was crying. I still had to be poked and prodded? I was really upset. I just wanted to get it over with! Again, I am so thankful to have had gentle midwives who let me know when I would feel their touch, what they were doing, and why. It was definitely sensitive, and burned some, but I was happy that I didn’t need any stitches. Then, it was finally time to just cuddle up with my new baby.
I asked several times to turn the heat down, because it felt like a sauna in the room. I was sweating because of my exertion and due to the heat being turned up for the baby. I ate some leftover breaded chicken and rice, and studied my new baby. We confirmed the name and told the Midwives and Doula. Fox Everett Ericson. Our baby boy! The Midwives cleaned up, and then did the newborn exam. Ryan told me the storm outside was so intense that the puppies were laying in their bed completely soaked and the screen door in front had blown off its hinges!
Finally, we discussed postpartum care and when we would see them next. And then we snuggled, happily ever after, as a family of 3. It was the perfect stormy home birth.
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