Sunday, December 3, 2017

Cameron's Birth Story - Part 1

Unmedicated birth is and always will be one of my favorite things I have had the privilege of being able to do. With my first birth, it was so long and painful but empowering and amazing. My second time giving birth was quick, easy, fun, almost entirely painless and super spiritual. This time was... weird. That's really the best way to describe how I felt in the hours, days and weeks following the birth. It just felt weird. It's taken me a little while to process it. I'll go into much more detail about what I actually mean by all of this at the end of this birth story, but for now let's get straight to the good stuff! (Heads up - this is an obnoxiously LONG birth story. Sorry! I didn’t want to leave anything out... you’ve been warned!)

To begin, I want to document a few things that happened leading up to the actual delivery day (and if the words "mucus plug", "cervical check" or "membrane sweep" creep you out you might want to skip these first several paragraphs)...

Thursday, September 14th (17 days before my estimated due date)

I lost the mucus plug. In past pregnancies, there has been a time when I thought I was losing it, but it has never been THIS obvious. With my first 2 babies, the times I thought I was possibly losing the plug happened within a few days of their birth and was a fairly gradual process so this time this event really started messing with me mentally. Even though losing your mucus plug gives ZERO indication of a timeline, based on my previous experiences I started thinking I had less time than I thought. Is this baby going to be 2 and a half weeks early? Would she be arriving over the weekend?? I didn't feel like I had things ready yet! Also, I had been having braxton hicks almost my entire pregnancy, and was at 3 cm dilated. Also this being my 3rd baby and only 18 months since the last time I did this... you can see how the scale really seems to be tipped in one direction. I started feeling pretty stressed out (but I did of course make sure to snap a picture and send it to Ryan bc if I'm dealing with all of this he at least has to look at it haha! Don't worry, I'm keeping that one to myself though ;).)

A few minutes after discovering I had lost the plug.

Thursday, September 21st

1 week after I lost the plug (10 days before my estimated due date), I noticed that baby had dropped significantly and my belly was suddenly looking very skinny from the top down (but popped way farther out). I think this was due to baby spinning slightly to get into birth position maybe?? 

Top view. 

Front view - lower, longer and skinnier. 

Side view. 

Monday, September 25th (5 days before my due date)

Ryan was going in late, coming home early and working from home a lot during the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I needed a lot of help even just getting the kids out of the house to preschool because I almost couldn't do it physically. I really struggled doing much of anything and was pretty much helpless when it came to... well just being alive/doing anything besides laying on the couch. (This is why I knew without a doubt that this baby was going to be bigger than my others. It felt SO different!) So ANYWAY. That day, my aunt came to watch Heidi and Wells so I could have some alone time, but I just couldn't really focus on anything. I felt really stressed out and wasn't really in a place where I was capable of self-care. Ryan ended up leaving work and meeting me for lunch. During lunch, he asked "What's the deal with letting husbands catch the baby in hospitals?" I told him that I'm sure it just depended on the doctor but that it probably happens and then said "WAIT why is that something that you would be interested in doing??" "Well, yeah I think that would be cool!" he said. I really never though about even asking about this in a hospital setting and I certainly didn't think Ryan would come up with this on his own. (Even though birth is kind of a "thing" for him now too hehe!) So we just kind of left that as an idea on the table and thought it would be cool if it happened but realized that chances of having that opportunity were probably not that high.

Later that night I took this picture - the night before what would be my last dr. appt. 

Tuesday, September 26th 

We woke up, dropped the kids off at preschool and Ryan and I went to my 39 week OB appointment. I knew my OB was going to ask me during my cervical check if I wanted a membrane sweep. (A membrane sweep or strip is where the doctor basically runs her fingers between the cervix and amniotic sac to separate the membranes around the baby from the cervix. This causes a release of prostaglandins which can help to kick-start labor.) She had actually asked me the week before during my 38 week appointment if I wanted it done but our birth photographer was out of town and I wasn't sure how I felt about having that done that "early" anyway. I had my membranes swept with Wells (my second baby) the day before my due date and he came the next evening. That time, the membrane sweep was pretty "unnoticeable" aside from the fact that my OB already had her hand up there to check my dilation. 

ANYWAY. This time she asked again if I wanted it done and I said sure. It was much more uncomfortable this time than it was when she did it with Wells. After she did it (it only takes a second or two) she told me I could sit up and I just said, "no thank you"! The cramping was pretty intense and gross feeling and I just needed a few minutes to recover from that. I halfheartedly moved the sheet down to cover myself up a bit, said thank you (to which she enthusiastically replied "Any time!!" haha) and left. It took a few minutes before I felt well enough to sit up but I eventually got up off the table, got dressed and we left. I really wasn't sure how I felt about having that done - even though this was my second time to CHOOSE to have it done. It's really not THAT big of a deal, and they say that it's not really going to do anything if your body isn't ready anyway... but I'm just REALLY not into doing anything to force my baby or my body into doing something it isn't QUITE ready to do. Even when we were getting into the car, I told Ryan that I just wasn't sure how I felt about it, even though it was a choice that I made and knew it was coming. It was a weird feeling. I just want nature to be 100% in charge and I doubted whether or not a membrane sweep was preventing or allowing that to happen. Am I trying to control too much? Anyway, the rest of our day was pretty normal and I honestly can't even remember if I had any braxton hicks or not. The evening was uneventful and we went to bed like normal. 

Last dr. appt! Taken right after the membrane sweep. 3cm dilated.

Wednesday, September 27th

Around 6:30 a.m. - I woke up to pee and got back in bed. Ryan had already decided to work from home that day, mostly just because of my unstable emotional state at this point. (Perhaps he also thought there was a good chance things would start happening sooner rather than later.) He was upstairs working. I started noticing some cramping (which wasn't THAT weird or abnormal) but then I started to realize that there were definitely some periods of discomfort followed by a period of no discomfort. (At this point, it felt VERY menstrual - exactly like light period cramps.) So I decided to start timing...

6:51 a.m. - I timed the first contraction. After about 30 seconds it went away.  I kept laying there playing on my phone and didn't really think TOO much of it yet.

7:02 a.m. - The next contraction started and lasted 30 seconds again.

7:03 a.m. - I texted Ryan and asked him to come lay with me for a few minutes. Once he got into bed I told him I was having some "little baby contractions", they seemed kind of consistent, but I wasn't really quite sure yet.

7:21 a.m. - Another contraction, lasting 30 seconds. (I think there was a good chance that I had had one between 7:03 and 7:21 but I was too distracted or it was light enough where I didn't notice or time it.)

7:35 a.m. - I texted my mom and sister and said "little contractions for the last hour!" (but that they shouldn't get too excited bc maybe I just had to poop. HONESTLY. At this point in pregnancy, that wouldn't have been that weird if that's what it had been haha.) I told them we weren't sounding the alarms or calling anyone else yet but that we would keep timing and keep them posted.

7:41 a.m. - Around this time I got out of bed and contractions became much more obvious. They started feeling stronger and seemed to get closer together (around 3-5 minutes apart or so) but it was still hard to tell for sure because I was pretty uncomfortable between contractions too. This was the point when I felt convinced this was actually labor! I had put on a an adult diaper in case my water broke and we slowly started getting our stuff together. Ryan called both of his parents to come help us with the kids, I got myself ready and threw the things on my "last minute items" list into our hospital bags.

In labor, right after getting out of bed.

Engaged! Looking much different.

7:57 a.m. - I went to the bathroom and noticed some blood and junk (just a small amount - which is normal) but no broken water yet.  I called our birth photographer (from the toilet - hah! Sorry girl!) to let her know this thing was going down. My last labor that she photographed went SO fast, I think she was a little concerned that we weren't leaving right away! Since my water hadn't broken, I really didn't feel any sense of urgency and also I have NO desire to spend all day laboring at the hospital. Laboring in the hospital really sucks honestly. It's not comfortable, people are messing with you, IVs, plastic bracelets, distractions etc. etc. The less time I have to spend there in labor the better! I would much rather wait until the last minute and race over there so that I can labor in a place I feel more comfortable. Anyway, at this point we weren't heading out the door quite yet. I spent the next hour or so laboring around the house, pacing around our downstairs, listening to music on headphones and just enjoying that TODAY we were going to get to meet our girl.

Holding Wells and taking a few minutes between contractions
to soak in him still being the baby!

8:41 a.m. - At this point, we decided to start loading up to head to the other side of town (where the hospital was) but not actually go to the hospital yet. I wasn't quite sure where we would go (Target? Walmart? Grocery store? Somewhere..) but again - because my last birth was so quick, we didn't want to risk things going from 0 to 60 (again) and be caught too far away from the hospital.  My grandma had been in the hospital over there so my mom was in town from California and staying at a family friends house (Shout out JUDY!!) Judy was out of town at the time so it was just my mom there. The house was maybe 5 minutes max from the hospital, so my mom suggested we come there for a bit. I felt like everyone else was feeling a little more rushed than I was, but I was comfortable with the decision to head that way as long as we didn't go straight to the hospital (unless my water broke in the car and things picked up).

Last family of 4 pic!

9:00 a.m. - Left the house and headed to Kingwood! The car ride wasn't anything overly exciting, we were listening to some All Sons & Daughters. I don't recall being overly vocal at this point, other than singing loudly... if I was moaning during contractions it was only a little bit.

Took this as we were backing out of the driveway!
(P.S. If you follow my IG stories you knew it was baby day!)

It felt very weird to have my water still intact! It made me feel like we still had PLENTY of time but I had a hard time feeling like I could allow my body open up fully during contractions. (Usually, my water breaks and then I just kind of let everything open up and whatever comes out comes out - amniotic fluid, pee, whatever. But this made it a little bit harder to relax and open up.) If my water had broken during the car ride, we probably would have just gone straight to the hospital because of the expectation that baby girl would be coming out really quickly after that, but it didn't.

9:45ish - Arrived at Judy's house. Once I got out of the car and inside the house, contractions were about 2.5 minutes apart. The house was super quiet, and it was just Ryan and my mom there. I still had headphones in and was listening to worship music, so whenever I felt a contraction coming I would just turn the volume all the way up, close my eyes and moan or make whatever sound I felt like making. It was really helpful to turn the music up loud and close my eyes during contractions because it allowed me to shut out the rest of the world. I didn't really feel like I was "in the zone" or anything so I'm not sure I would have been able to focus quite as much if I had just been walking around a quiet house randomly moaning loudly.

10:10ish - At this point, Ryan told me my contractions were about 2.5 minutes apart and suggested that we leave for the hospital soon. I didn't REALLY want to go yet, so he suggested we go through 2 more contractions and then go to the hospital and I agreed. 2 contractions later we got in the car and left for the hospital!

Get to the good part in Part 2 HERE!

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