Francis Bruce's birth was an epic win. epic. EP-IC. the night he was born I felt amazing. and nope, no epidural to be found. here's the story.
Sunday night, Mother's Day night, I'd felt...different. just off, a little crabby (ok a lot crabby), tired, and heavy. just plain done. Charlie and I had gotten into it the week before, and we still weren't completely through it, and Lydia had gotten on my last nerve...it was just one of those weeks I'd just as soon try to forget. my friend Brynn was staying with us, which brought much joy to me because I was very happy to have her company and that she'd be helping us out with baby's birth. so when I went to bed Sunday night, I tried to focus on the positive and ready myself to bring baby into a little happier of a home. I spent a little time with the breast pump that night just to see if anything happened, but all that came of it was a drop of colostrum and a wasted 15 minutes...or so I thought.
when my water broke Monday morning at quarter to six I was flabbergasted, and instantly became the happiest woman in the world. gone were the annoyances with my husband and daughter, gone were the stresses of the week past. I hopped out of bed, ran into the bathroom, and giggled as I felt baby shift. to be honest I smelled the amniotic fluid and became teary--it smelled like new baby, and I knew that very soon we'd meet the little one I'd carried so well and healthfully. after a nice long shower we had a powerhouse breakfast of farm fresh eggs with cheese, toast, and fruit salad, then left Lydia with my mom and headed down to Luverne. I want to remember Charlie hurrying me along--he was remembering how fast my labor with Lydia went after they broke my water, but I reminded him that going from 0-10 is more of a process than a 9 to 10...and at this point I hadn't had more than a few contractions after my water broke earlier that morning! we reminisced and laughed on our way down to Luverne as the rain started to fall...it would turn out to be chilly, breezy, and drizzly all day.
because I tested positive for GBS, we opted to labor longer at the hospital and receive the recommended dosage of antibiotics, which was a dose every 4 hours, intravenously, for 15 minutes at a time until baby was born. knowing the statistics and risks involved with refusing them, it was a no-brainer, and at no point in my labor did I feel offended by the heplock in my wrist for easy access. there weren't any limitations on laboring, which was wonderful. when we arrived at the hospital they checked me in, hooked me up, checked me, and I think I was between a 2-3. we had the nurse bring in the birth ball, got out the essential oils and rebozo, and got to work! Brynn made fun of, I mean, motivated Charlie and I throughout some different movements with the birth ball and rebozo, and the mood remained light and happy throughout the morning.
however, the contractions became more steady and painful as we moved into the afternoon, so we switched to walking when the more passive earlier work of massage, bouncing on the ball, and squats with the rebozo just wasn't cutting it anymore. we walked. and walked. and walked, darn near putting on eight miles that afternoon (I later joked that my hammies hurt worse than my bottom!). we walked outside and inside, in the healing garden and down the halls, the contractions getting stronger and stronger. I remember just powering through them, breathing through them, and using the walking as a means to count steps and get through the surges. Brynn and Charlie walked with me, carrying my water and offering massive motivation and conversation when the time between contractions allowed. I was staying super hydrated thanks to the efforts of my husband and bestie, and every time I went to the bathroom I'd have a titanic contraction, moving baby closer and closer to us!
when we stopped walking around 5ish to get checked, have another dose of antibiotics, and have some fetal monitoring, they couldn't read my contractions as well or find his heartbeat as consistently (nothing was wrong, he'd just moved in a way that prevented our hearing him) so we decided to get into bed so I could rest and position myself well to hear how he was doing. I was nervous that the progress that I'd worked so hard for that day would stall out with getting into bed, but we were surprised and happy to find that I dilated just fine without beating laps around the hospital! hot dog! I should mention that throughout the day I felt so clear and in control, and fearless. just fearless. I had faith, my lover, my best friend, and an awesome hospital team rallying with me...it was feeling like a blessed day despite the pain. I heard everything, saw everything, and never once panicked. it was like night and day compared to Lydia's birth!
I progressed nicely through the evening. the contractions became stronger and closer together, my hands gripped Charlie's a little tighter, and the pain became all-consuming but manageable at the same time. I still felt in control, and mindful of everything going on in my body and around me. I remember Charlie encouraging me to take deep breaths--he was watching the fetal monitor and saw how my holding my breath in some contractions was affecting baby. I remember the nurses having me turn on my side to remove one lip on my cervix, then the other. I remember those being the most painful moments of labor, becoming fully dilated and ready to push. I remember accidentally shrieking during a couple of contractions (I truly was doing well at just moaning or exhaling loudly through them) and a reassuring rub on my thigh from a sweet nurse. and I laughed when Dr. Crabtree, at 10:45pm, said, "Let's see where we're at around 11:30" when the nurses asked him about my next dose of antibiotics. I thought to myself, there was no way in hell I was still going to be pregnant at 11:30! A few minutes later I was pronounced fully dilated and ready to push!
Dr. Crabtree readied the room with the nurses and coached me on pushing--the first couple didn't do much, so we repositioned surprisingly so I was laid back a little bit further. I remember the room suddenly filling with people: other nurses and staff, my mom, Brynn, Charlie...it was a little blurry at that point but when we started pushing again, I became so clear. I heard Dr. Crabtree say after my second set, "Let's have a baby, Katie! Come on!", and I gritted my teeth, and pushed through another set. The room just buzzed and I heard a few people say, "Katie, reach down! Reach down!" I took my hand off the squat bar long enough to reach down and feel a slippery, warm, fuzzy head exiting my body--I began to cry, bore down, and gave birth to our son at 11:00 on the nose after just a few minutes of pushing. Dr. Crabtree said, "You have a good looking boy here, guys!" and immediately placed Francis on my chest. I had to laugh and cringe watching our birth video later--I was making all sorts of high pitched cooing noises with Francis' cries. I asked Dr. Crabtree if I tore and after a quick examination said, "Nothing more than a paper cut," which I attribute greatly to his doing perineum massage and just plain dumb luck. after they checked Francis over and cleaned up our room, the hospital staff bid us adieu, my mom and Brynn left for the night after snuggling the new babe, and Charlie and I were left to revel in being new parents all over again.
I'll write another post on Francis' night and first few days, mainly because I want to remember how much more confident and relaxed I felt enjoying our new son. when Lydia entered the world it was into a world of Mom worrying like all get out about breastfeeding and having a ton of pain from a significant tear, and both Mom and Dad being exhausted from being so scared throughout the labor process. I was up and showering a half hour after Francis was born, with no pain and a giddiness that was so so sweet. his birth was transformative, empowering, and just plain amazing. we accomplished our goals. we had an epic birth and a healthy baby--everything worked out perfectly. we felt so blessed drifting off to sleep that night, baby tucked in safe and sound with me. more later on the adventure of feeding a lazy little boy and coming home to one excited little girl :)