Baby #2 Birth Story
Lively was born 1/21/18 at 9:48 am. She was born during a planned home water birth under midwife Galyn Lacewell’s care.
Prodromal labor started about 2 weeks before the birth day, really ramping up about a week prior. Around 7 pm every night, contractions would start, gaining in intensity throughout the night and preventing sleep. The contractions would taper off around 7 or 8 am. Prodromal labor is exhausting, yielding little sleep and also causing you to doubt your own body. When it first starts, you think “Awesome! It’s almost baby time!” You might tell your spouse or friends that you think things will happen today or tomorrow. And then nothing happens. You begin to distrust all the supposed signs of labor - nausea, evacuation of the bowels, energy or lack thereof, and of course, you distrust your contractions.
On the night of 1/20/18, I decided I had had enough. I was about to be 41 weeks and completely exhausted (and not very fun to be around) from the lack of sleep. I decided I was going to will this baby into the world. After I put my son (17 months) to bed, I refused to go to sleep. I wanted those “fake” contractions to turn into the real thing. I bounced on the labor ball. I got out my birth kit. I moved the laundry over. I did all those things I was waiting to do until I was in labor. I informed my husband of my intentions around midnight and he went to sleep on the couch so I could be alone.
Around 2 am, I had stronger contractions than I’ve had thus far and got into the tub for an hour and a half. Nothing more was happening and I felt defeated. I went to pee and saw the tiniest sliver of pink-tinged mucus and thought, “okay, we’re getting somewhere!” Contractions started to get more frequent and intense. Got out my TENS machine, which was awesome and a wonderful distraction during contractions. I highly recommend using one. An added bonus was that the machine worked in 15 minute cycles. At the end of every cycle, I would hydrate and use the toilet. I spent the next two hours laboring over our bathroom sink, swaying my hips during contractions and eventually occasionally vomiting. I wanted to labor alone and my husband slept while he could.
At 4:13 am, when I started mooing through contractions, I texted my midwife Galyn that today was the day. I woke my husband and my mom up and told them. Galyn arrived around 5 am. When she checked in with me, I started crying. Apparently I just needed her to arrive to go into transition.
I got in the tub around 7 am, as my feet were in a lot of pain from standing at the sink so long. Galyn sat quietly on the floor and we chatted occasionally. I didn’t want anyone else there. At first, I laid back and just rested. I drifted off for a few 20 second intervals and at one point had a vivid dream about spinach fettuccine. The brain does strange things when exhausted.
Contractions continued to intensify and sometimes Galyn would reach over and hold my hand. Mostly, she was just a quiet, calm presence who knew I did best with a hands-off approach. At 7:30 am, I started feeling pressure in my bottom. When checked at 7:59 am, I was 7 centimeters dilated, 90% effaced and -1 station. Galyn needed to slightly reposition baby’s head, as she was coming in a little off center. This helped ensure a smoother descent for baby. Throughout active labor, the baby’s fetal heart rate was checked via doppler and she sounded great. In the later stage of labor, she reminded me to take long, deep breaths after contractions to help the baby recover.
8:56 am - I started bearing down with contractions, but not full force. I trusted my body to tell me how much to push.
9:04 am - 9 centimeters dilated, 90% effaced, 0 station. I continued labor the baby down with gentle pushes. My midwife wanted to ensure I wasn’t giving it my all, since I wasn’t fully dilated, and told me what I was doing was great.
9:22 am - I told Galyn I felt something shift during a contraction. She got up off the floor, checked my bathwater, and confirmed that my waters had broken (they were clear, which was great).
Around this time I grabbed a hand towel and would pull on both ends while contracting. For some reason, that was so much more helpful than holding on to the side of the tub. I would occasionally reach down and check how far baby’s head was from exiting the world. It kept feeling so high up, but I know in reality she was close!
9:42 am - I felt a burning sensation and reported to my midwife that “Oh, yeah, there’s the ring of fire” or something similar. She asked, “Are you crowning?” I confirmed. She told me I needed reach around (or through my legs) and hold the baby’s head while applying counter pressure to my perineum to avoid tearing (I was on my knees holding onto the side of the tub). She also asked if I wanted my husband, mom, and son to come in for the birth. I said yes. I really appreciated that she asked that and didn’t assume I was ready to be watched like a campfire. She texted them in the living room and my family immediately came in, my son in my mom’s arms. My dog came in as I was letting out otherworldly sounds, sniffing me and checking if I was okay. My husband’s dog was locked out of the bathroom (he’s a bit of a spaz) and was howling in response to my obvious pain.
I followed my midwife’s instructions as the baby’s head made it about halfway out. I remember being surprised at how much that perineum was stretching, thinking how impossible that seemed. I was pushing with all my might and after the contraction subsided she started slipping back in and I pleaded with her “No, no, don’t go back inside!” My midwife reminded me to keep applying pressure to keep her in place and wait for the next contraction.
I waited for the next contraction and when pushed even harder than before. I was still supporting my perineum and continued to be amazed and worried at just how thin it was now. Surely it would split open! Her head made it out and I don’t even know if I was having contractions anymore. But I was determined to get her out and kept bearing down. She seemed stuck and I was worried she would slip back in. I looked at my midwife and asked if she could pull her out. She got up and told me I would have to lean back for her to help me. That was just not an option for me in that moment and I must have waved her off and tried to gently pull her earthside. Eventually, her “sticky” shoulders passed and the rest of her slipped out. She was born at 9:48 am.
I shifted onto one knee and went to pull her up. The midwife had to stop me and ask to hold her for a moment - her cord was wrapped crossways around her shoulder (if I remember correctly) and she needed to be unwound to safely pull her up. She was quickly given back to me and began making noises. We sat down in the water as I thanked her for making noises so quickly. I also commented “Holy shit my perineum. Holy shit my perineum.” My son was a rockstar - he just watched the whole time, fascinated by the noises and the activity in the room. He was also eating a Hawaiian roll while watching the big event, too. I’m so glad he was there to see his sister born.
The cord stopped pulsing 21 minutes after birth and I got to cut the cord myself at 10:09 am. The student midwife checked if my placenta was ready to be delivered and it arrived at 10:10 am. Baby’s one minute and five minute APGAR scores were 9. We all looked at her and wondered over her dark, thick hair (her dad has fabulous hair) and how *giant* she was. We talked about how happy we were that she arrived (finally). I drank apple ginger juice and my mom brought in some cookies she had baked the day before. I was ¾ of the way through my first cookie when my son walked up to me and signed “more?” That’s his sign for “I see food and I want it.” How could I resist giving it to him? A kid deserves his first cookie on the day of his sister’s birth! Rest assured, someone handed me more cookies. About 10 minutes later, I noticed she had a severe tongue and lip tie, mentioned it to the birth team, and made a mental note that I would need to call the pediatric dentist the next day.
We drained the tub. My husband had to reach into the tub to pull out all the blood clots that were stopping up the drain. Gross, but he did really well with it. A fresh bath was drawn and a pot of steeped after-birth healing herbs was added. Baby and I relaxed in the tub until about 11:00 am (45 minutes). The midwife checked the damage while I was in the tub and I was elated to find out that I only had “road rash,” and nothing needed to be glued or stitched. I checked my behind and found I hadn’t gained any new hemorrhoids. This was such welcome news after the terrible recovery from my first birth. The whole family also got a tub-side tour of the placenta, which I was looking forward to. It’s such an amazing organ! Eventually, I handed baby to her dad and took a shower (I needed to wash my hair more than anything in that moment).
From the shower, another student midwife helped me dry off and put on my wonderful adult diaper (so comfortable!). I finally got to put on the soft robe I hadn’t worn in weeks, as I wanted it to be clean for just this moment. We moved to my bed, where baby and I had our immediate postpartum exams. My blood pressure, temperature, et cetera were fine. Baby’s vitals were great, too.
Baby Girl was 9 lbs 13 oz, 22.5 inches long, 14.5 inch head circumference, and 15.5 chest circumference. She was bigger than any of us anticipated.
The birth team tidied things up and started the laundry. Galyn gave discharge instructions and eventually everyone left. My husband, daughter, and I took some time to relax in bed and my mom and son kept busy in the other part of the house. We eventually named her the next day - Lively Grey. I had seen the name “Lively” on a report and really liked it. After reviewing a list of possibilities, my husband really liked “Lively,” too. So that was an easy choice. We had to figure out a middle name and settled on “Grey.” We really liked how it was the opposite of “Lively.” People have so many sides to their personalities and are often full of contradictions. We wanted to give her a first name to live up to and a middle name to remind her that no matter what, be yourself and feel your feels. You do you!