Well I finally had time to write out Finn's birth story. Just so you know, this story is really long. I just couldn't leave out any details because they all mean something to me. If you don't want to read the whole thing, then don't, but here is the story of how we had a baby and I hope you like it.
Before I got pregnant, I had already decided that I wanted a natural labor and birth, with little intervention and no drugs. My mom had four children naturally, two with midwives at a birthing center. Landon's mom also had her children naturally. This was something that Landon also became passionate about when we were talking babies and after I got pregnant. So, in order to prepare, we took a Bradley childbirth class. I would highly recommend this class to anyone who is trying for a natural birth. It focuses on relaxation and having the husband be the wife's coach during labor and not a bystander.
We had a wonderful experience with our instructor and the other couples in the class. The class gave us confidence and helped us know more or less what to expect going into labor.
I had an appointment the monday before my due date, and the midwife was very laid back about going overdue and said I might even be able to go past Thanksgiving if it came to that, but after Thanksgiving, we'd need to talk options. This was encouraging since I didn't want to be pushed into induction or another intervention if the baby looked healthy and there weren't any problems. She said they would do an ultrasound and non stress test at 41 weeks to make sure things were fine.
So, my due date was November 12. That day came and went, and I didn't think too much of it. A lot of first time moms go past their due dates, and many times the due date isn't accurate anyway, so we thought of it more as a guess date. Of course I wanted to meet our baby, but I truly believed that the baby would come when it was time and things shouldn't be rushed along. I busied myself with exercising, working, and getting the house organized. A few days later, I got a call from one of the midwives (there's 4 of them that we saw on a rotation), and she told me they consulted with a backup OB at the hospital who didn't want me to go overdue too long, so they scheduled me for an induction on November 22. She also wanted me to come in the day before the ultrasound to get my membranes stripped. (I'll let you look that one up on google if you're not sure.) :)
I was so floored by all the information that I just mumbled an agreement and "yes I understand" and hung up. Wow, this was not happening the way we had envisioned at all. I talked with Landon that night and we were pretty upset and frustrated. I called our Bradley instructor who gave me a pep talk on asking the questions and finding out all the risks and benefits. She said we were the ones who had to make the decision, and we needed to find out the facts to be informed. So I wrote out a list of questions to ask the midwife when we saw her.
I went in for the appointment so I could have my membranes stripped. It was uncomfortable, but not painful. I was measuring at 1cm but almost fully effaced, and my body was so close to getting ready for this baby to come. The only disappointment is that I wasn't having ANY sort of contractions that I could tell. But at least my body was moving along in small ways.
I grilled the midwife with questions about the risks of low fluid, the risks of induction, other means of induction naturally, and a whole lot more. I think she was a bit taken back, but she answered every question. We were basically told that it was a legal liability for the hospital to let me go past 10 days overdue. I completely understood where they were coming from, but Landon and I weren't satisfied enough to get induced for that reason alone. We asked the midwife why it had to be 10 days and why couldn't we go past that if things looked fine? She couldn't really give me an answer, so she said they would let me know. We left the appointment feeling a bit confused. I was praying so hard that my body would just jump into action and we wouldn't have to deal with any interventions at all. Landon was so amazing through this whole thing! He was calm and encouraging, and told me over and over that things would be fine. Thank goodness for this man!
The next morning, November 19 we went in for the ultrasound and non stress test. The tech was so nice and cheery, but she made a comment that my fluid was really low. We know that sometimes ultrasounds aren't 100% accurate, so I was hoping things were fine anyway. She said everything else looked really good on the scan and the baby looked healthy. The non stress test was boring as heck, but we made it through and baby showed excellent results. I had a few contractions that showed up on the read out, but I couldn't feel them. We were told we'd hear the results of everything in a few days. On our way home, a hospital nurse called me and told me we had to come right back right away, that the midwife needed to speak with me. I hung up and told Landon and cried all the way to the hospital. The nurse sounded so concerned and I wasn't sure what was happening.
We got there and the midwife told us she saw the results, talked with the OB, and they wanted me to come in the next evening for induction because my fluid was so low. Oh my gosh, what was happening?? I asked her if we could ask her some questions, so we went to her office and talked about it. I asked if we could push the induction back by one day since everything else looked so good on the testing. She hesitated, but said it was our decision, so she agreed if we would come in again the next day for another non stress test. Ok, we could do that. She stripped my membranes again and I was still at 1cm, so we went home.
On the way, we stopped at Target and bought an exercise ball for me to bounce on. We went home and watched football and I bounced on that dang ball for 4 hours straight. I wanted to try everything to get things moving. At around 9pm that evening, I felt some very mild contractions that were roughly 6 to 10 minutes apart. I got SO excited because I was finally feeling something. I kept bouncing and drinking water and running to the bathroom. The contractions lasted until about 1am and then stopped.
The next morning, November 20, I woke up early and couldn't sleep, so I told Landon I was going to go walking at this nature preserve I'd been walking at throughout the pregnancy. It was a balmy morning and no one was around at the preserve. It was so quiet and peaceful. My nerves were shot at this point and my emotions were running wild. I was seeing this amazing birth that I had envisioned slipping away. I had asked myself a lot the past few days why we, the ones who were really passionate about a natural birth, were facing induction and interventions, when tons of women who were fine with induction and interventions had spontaneous labor all the time! It wasn't fair, I thought and I was feeling so discouraged. As I walked and jogged in the woods, I just stopped and I bawled. I stood on a bridge and just poured my heart out to God. I was angry and scared...I think that's when I faced everything. After crying and blubbering my thoughts out, I just let it go and stood there. A peace just came over me and a calmness that I hadn't had before. I realized that God was in control, not me, and if things had to happen a different way than I imagined, I was ok with that. I left to go home and get ready for church, and the whole morning was so calm.
When we got to church, I didn't really want to face a lot of people, so we headed straight for the sanctuary. We got seats in the back and were standing around waiting for the service to start, when one of our leaders came up to us. Normally, people ask the polite questions and "how are you doing" and stay on the surface. Not at our church. The people there are genuinely interested in how you are and what's going on in your life. For some reason, this man looked at me and said "are you worried" in a way that wasn't surface. I teared up and told him yes, and explained a bit of what was going on. He looked at us with the most serious face I've ever seen and told us it was ok. He said sometimes we just need to let go and let God be in control. He said so many other things, but that one sentence was enough for me. I knew we were going to be fine and we were going to meet our baby so soon, one way or another. Everyone else we talked to that morning were so encouraging. I left feeling so full and happy.
We headed straight to the hospital after church to get the second non stress test. This one was even better than the last and everything looked really good. The midwife that was there was one of our favorites. She was so positive and encouraging, and said that since things looked fine, we could go with the original induction date of November 22. She stripped my membranes again (geez was I getting tired of this), and said I was at almost 2cm, but everything else was ready to go. She said I might try some castor oil since my body was really primed for delivery, and it might jumpstart things. She also said she wouldn't be surprised if I went into labor that night. Needless to say, we left that appointment feeling really good.
At home, we hung out and rested and some friends came over to give us a few things for the baby. Then, we ordered pizza and watched a movie. I took half the castor oil at 4:45pm and the other half an hour later. We watched more football and just hung out. I started feeling some effects of the castor oil and got a bit crampy, but nothing too exciting. I took a hot bath and tried to relax and take my mind off of everything that had happened. At 8:45pm, I talked with my sister to give an update, then Landon's mom, then my mom. After I hung up with my mom, I really started to feel the effects of the castor oil. I couldn't tell if I was having true contractions, or just cramping from the oil, but they were getting uncomfortable. Soon, I was feeling real contractions, no question. At one point, I literally heard something crack in my lower back, like when you get adjusted at the chiropractor, then immediately after the contractions got intense. Landon was up checking on me and suggested I lay down to relax. We were going to watch Jason Segal on SNL from the night before. We got one minute in, and I told Landon I couldn't watch it, things were too intense. At this point, I think the contractions were about 6 minutes apart and lasting a minute or so. I breathed through them and tried to relax or tried some exercises from class. The thing that helped the most was just lying on my side and breathing. Landon rubbed my back or played with my hair to help me relax.
One thing about labor is that you easily lose track of time. Things went on pretty much like this for the next couple of hours with contractions steadily getting more intense. At 11:30pm I asked Landon to call our Bradley instructor. He did and explained how things were and she said "it sounds like you're going to have a baby!" She just encouraged him to keep doing what he was doing. He then called the midwife on call (who was our favorite one!) and she said things sounded good and to call her when we were headed for the hospital. Around midnight, I was asking Landon if we could leave for the hospital. I was in a lot of pain during the contractions, but still able to focus in between them. Landon started getting our stuff ready while I knelt on the floor during the contractions. We got into the car and left. I kept asking if it was too soon to go to the hospital. We learned that the average first time mom's labor can be anywhere between 15 to 20 hours. Since I was only three hours in, I was worried it was way to soon and geez, how much more intense are these things going to get.
It takes about 40 minutes to drive to the hospital, a little less since it was after midnight. I tried to relax as much as I could through the contractions, but it was really uncomfortable in the car. On the ride, I started shivering before a contraction would hit, then start sweating when they happened. They were pretty uncomfortable, but not unbearable at all.
We got to the ER and Landon asked if I wanted him to drop me off. I said I'd walk since it wasn't that far, so we parked and he grabbed just my bag and we went in. I walked up to the desk and felt awkward saying I was in labor when she asked how she could help me. She looked at me and said "you're in labor?" and I said yes. This made me feel all the more like we were there too soon. Should I have come in screaming or crawling on the floor? Was this real labor? I sat in a wheelchair hunched over until they said we could go up a few minutes later. We started walking and the receptionist asked if I didn't want a wheelchair. I said it was more comfortable to walk. We made it about 10 steps and I asked Landon to get the wheelchair after all. :)
We got up to the birthing center and they put me in a triage room and hooked me up to the monitor. Our midwife came in a few minutes later and was so calm and happy. She checked me and I was at 4cm!! I was so glad since I didn't want to have to leave and come back. I labored in there on my side for awhile...again, I lost total track of time. Landon was awesome. He rubbed my back, encouraged me to breathe through each contraction, and stayed right by me. Baby's heart rate was doing awesome, but the monitors were so annoying. They kept slipping off and losing track of the heart rate and the nurses kept coming in to adjust them. I was too focused to ask them to take them off though. We then got moved to our room, a big beautiful corner room since there was only one other mom there in labor. The contractions were getting more intense and I was shaking really bad in between them. The only position that felt good was lying on my side, so I stayed that way for awhile. By this time, I was starting to moan a bit through the contractions. A friend from church said that if you moan at a really low tone, it helps with contractions. So I moaned like an old man for each one. I didn't care though because it helped with the pain. Landon was rubbing my lower back with a tennis ball which felt really good most of the time. I asked Landon if I could get in the tub, so he went to get a nurse. (That was one thing I liked, the nurses left us alone unless we needed them, so I didn't feel like people were hawk watching me the whole time.) They got the tub ready and helped me to the room. It was more like a jacuzzi than a tub, and it felt amazing as soon as I got in. I rolled around in there and let the jets hit my lower back.
The contractions got super intense when I was in the tub and I was moaning a lot louder now. Landon kept telling me to breathe because I'd start panting if I lost focus. The contractions were now coming one on top of another. At one point, I told him I couldn't do it and I was going to need some pain medicine. In my mind, this was going to last for 10 more hours and get a lot worse, and I knew I couldn't handle the pain. Landon calmly told me no and I was doing so good, and to keep going. By this time, it was probably 3:15 or 3:30am. A little while later, I told Landon I wanted out of the tub and back to the room since I was so hot. He helped out, and I immediately got on my hands and knees because I couldn't stand.
We finally got me into the gown and back to the room. I asked him for an ice pack for my back, so he left to get one. As soon as he was gone, I felt an urge to push! I was freaking out because I thought it was way too soon to push and my body wasn't ready. I yelled for Landon and pushed the call button and told the nurse. Soon everyone came into the room and brought in all the delivery equipment. The midwife checked me and said I was completely dilated and I was going to have a baby!! I was so shocked since it had happened so quickly. I wanted to lay on my side, so I pushed with each contraction and tried to relax in between. The midwife then wanted me to get into a seated position since the baby's head was off center when I was on my side. They helped me up and I had my knees up to my chest and pushed. The midwife was so great at helping me know when to push because I couldn't really feel the contractions at this point. She said I could reach down and feel the baby's head at one point, and I couldn't believe this was happening. She told me to keep pushing and I was going to feel a burning and stinging soon, which I did but it wasn't as horrible as what some people told me it would be. The baby's head came out, and Landon said the midwife grabbed the baby by the neck and helped pull him out with my next push. It was 4:15am, November 21st and I had been pushing for 20 minutes.
They immediately put him on my chest and started rubbing him off. I looked at Landon and asked if it was a boy or a girl, and we both looked down and saw at the same time that we had a son! The nurses suctioned his mouth and he started crying and I started crying. It was the most amazing and awe-filled moment ever. I had just given birth to this baby boy that had been with me for nine months. I can't even describe the feelings I had. Landon cut the cord awhile later, and Finn started nursing like a champ. He was doing so great! The midwife said the cord was wrapped twice around his neck, but he didn't have any problems. I remember awkwardly holding him and asking the nurses if I was doing it right. They were all so amazing and helpful and encouraging. I really appreciated them because they read through our birth plan and stuck to it the whole time.
It was such a fast labor and totally took us by surprise. All in all it was about 7 hours, which I am so thankful for. The pain wasn't as bad as I thought, though it did hurt a lot! It was so worth it to see my precious baby boy at the end. The days building up to this day were so full of emotion and stress, and to have it all work out so perfectly was such a blessing. I wouldn't have had it any other way. We are so blessed to have little Finn Abram in our lives, and I am so blessed to be a mama.