*Disclaimer: While the photos on this post are tasteful and not graphic, it IS a birth story. Male readers may wish to skip the details. :)
While this was a pretty uneventful pregnancy, I struggled from the very beginning with fear.
Fear that I would miscarry.
Fear that my baby would die in the womb.
And towards the end of the pregnancy, fear that he would die during the birth.
I distinctly remember the first time I gave my precious baby back to the Lord. I KNEW He was in control, no matter the outcome, but I found myself having to repetitively rest in His wisdom.
I think part of the fear came from just being SO very excited to experience pregnancy, birth, and a nursing newborn again. It seemed too good to be true so I thought perhaps it WAS too good to be true.
Regardless, as I neared the end of the pregnancy, I talked with my midwife about some of my fears. I have a history of big babies (largest one was 10 lbs, 12 oz) and I also tend to not go into labor on my own without a little "nudge". I was worried that I would go past my due date and have a huge baby (more of that fear, I guess).
I experienced real contractions for the first time at 38 weeks. I knew I was in "early" labor, but didn't want to get to the hospital at the END of labor, when I can't walk. LOL
I was dilated to 4cm, having good contractions, but baby was in a posterior position, which the midwife checked several times, and she wasn't comfortable intervening at all because of the position of his head. "Funny angle", she called it.
I trust her, so I went home with strong contractions, went to bed, and woke up with nothing.
Disappointing to say the least. :) The next week was very uncomfortable for me. It was as if the early labor had triggered hormones in my body and I was grumpy and miserable. :) I was in a lot of discomfort and started to feel like the baby was getting big (my guess was 9 lbs) and that he needed to come pretty SOON.
At my 39 week visit, the midwife spent quite a bit of time checking baby's position again. She felt like he might be in a better position than the week before (little did we know!). She said if I started having regular contractions again, to call her and come in.
The next day I started having very mild contractions around 5 pm. They kept coming, though, and I was so hopeful that baby would come soon. I called the midwife and she said to come in whenever I wanted to.
I got to the hospital around 7, and she came to check me around 8. I was having contractions, but they were so mild that I was worried I was still at a 4 and would be sent home AGAIN.
Nope, not heading home. I was 7 cm! The midwife was able to break my water but said baby was still pretty high.
I changed into my nightgown, called Lauren (my photographer and sweet sister) to come to the hospital, and started walking the baby down. I LOVE to walk during my labors. There's just something about the distraction of walking, swaying, leaning, moving that helps me relax.
Here I am at 9 pm, still comfortable and enjoying having Ellie's company. This was her first birth experience and she did AMAZING.
Every time I walked in or out of the room, I had to stop and touch the baby warmer. Just reminding myself that there would be a baby in there soon helped me stay focused.
From 9 pm to midnight, I mostly just walked the halls. The contractions were manageable and except for lower back pain, I felt GREAT. I was enjoying the fact that I was so far along and yet so very comfortable---but as the night wore on, I started to think, "Why am I not feeling this baby move down? Why is this still so easy?"
Brent, Ellie, Lauren, and the midwife kept my mind off of those worries for the most part. We talked, laughed, walked, laughed, squatted, and laughed some more. :) I felt such peace and joy at having these special people joining in the birth of my son.
Those of you who know my husband, know that he is a funny guy. :) Here he is, mocking me, with Ellie's help. I realize some women wouldn't want any joking during their labor, but Brent is very sensitive as to when/where/how to joke or STOP. At this point, it was a lovely distraction for me. :)
Around midnight, I started getting tired. The contractions didn't seem to be getting much stronger or closer together.....the midwife thought I might be the first woman to birth a baby in the hallway :), but I knew he wasn't moving down the way he should.
Brent suggested I get checked, but I was nervous that I hadn't made any progress, so I kept saying NO.
Finally, I agreed to a cervical check.
I was complete.
But the midwife checked me for a L-O-N-G time. I could tell his little head was still pretty high. She finally said, "He's still posterior. And his head is turned in a very unusual way." I wanted to know WHAT this meant and HOW to fix it. She calmly suggested some new positioning to try to bring him down.
I'm so thankful now that she didn't tell me what she REALLY was thinking----that this baby may not descend and we may be headed for a C-section. I would have panicked and not been able to think straight if SHE had seemed stressed. She had such a quiet, calm demeanor and she passed on that calmness to me.
First I tried sitting backwards on the toilet. Very painful, but I was looking to my midwife for direction. "Just a few contractions like this." she encouraged me. I was starting to quietly vocalize to stay on top of the contractions at this point.
It was 1 am.
For the next hour, I tried several positions in an attempt to bring the baby down so I could push.
I prefer to NOT be on the hospital bed at all, unless I'm pushing a baby out :), because it is just SO uncomfortable to not be able to move. So when the midwife suggested I try lying on my side in the bed, I was thinking, "Um, no. How about I go labor in the TUB instead?"
But I knew she was right. On my side I went.
The pain skyrocketed. After just a few contractions in this oh-so-painful position, I said, "Oh! I feel him coming down!"
I rolled over and she checked me again. She was still very calm---but not very reassuring that it was indeed time to push. (I know now that she was still worried, but again, she didn't show that to me at the time.)
It was around 2 am at this point, and I was on my back and in immense pain because of that fact.
I didn't know if I should get up and walk or if it was time to push.
Then the room filled with all of the "you're about to have a baby" staff. I could see everything being prepared, yet with the midwife seeming unsure, I was nervous.
"Oh, I think you're all lying to me and he's not coming soon." I wimpered.
The midwife kept saying, "Let's take it slow and let your body do the work."
And I was thinking, "YOU take it slow. I'm ready to be done." :) (I kept that comment to myself though.)
I pushed for 17 minutes. Slowly I felt him slide down. My last two births, I pushed them out with 2 pushes, so it felt like this was taking forever.
"Careful, slowly, let everything stretch." the midwife encouraged me. When she could see part of his head, she said, "OH, he's completely bald. Not a bit of hair!"
We had no idea that it was his FOREHEAD presenting. Normally, babies are born facing DOWN, with their backs against their mama's tummy. Occiput posterior babies are facing up, with their spine against mama's spine. (Hence the back pain.)
This baby was face up AND coming forehead first. The back/top of the head is the most moldable and usually the presenting part, and the majority of forehead presenting babies are not able to be birthed vaginally. A fact I'm glad I didn't know at the time. :)
I still felt him coming down, though, and I asked (begged?) her---"Can I just push him out now??"
Gently, (and extremely painfully, I might add) his head came out.
I gave another push, expecting the ripple feeling of the shoulders and body, but nothing moved. If anything, it felt like his head went back IN a little, instead of coming OUT when I pushed. I looked up at the midwife and she was calmly saying, "Call NOW."
The red cord, the emergency cord, the "I hope we never have to pull that cord because something BAD is happening if we do" cord---was pulled.
They dropped the bed down completely flat.
I had been watching the birth in a mirror, and I instantly KNEW.
He was stuck.
Shoulder dystocia is the fancy description of a baby that gets his shoulder wedged in the pelvic bone. Because his head is already out of the womb, his cord is compressed (and in this case, wrapped around him as well) and he immediately begins to lose oxygen. He can't take a breath, but the cord can't supply him with oxygen either.
The midwife told me later that they have THREE MINUTES to birth a SD baby before they are at risk of brain damage or death.
The seconds felt like HOURS. All those fears I had experienced during the pregnancy flooded my heart and I thought to myself, "He's dying. My baby is dying. I have to push him out NOW."
They put my legs in the air to open the pelvis, and the nurse pushed down on my stomach while the midwife reached inside me and released my baby's arm.
I closed my eyes and pushed with everything I had.
And when I opened my eyes, he was laying on my chest.
"Is he okay? Is he okay?" I kept repeating it. I looked at everyone in the room for reassurance.
The midwife smiled and said, "Stop looking at ME and look at your BABY!" :)
He was perfect. Blue at first, and bruised, but perfectly formed in the image of GOD.
I turned to Brent and whispered, "I thought he was going to die."
"I know." he answered. "But he didn't. And he's here. And you did amazing."
Then I realized that Ellie, my sweet Ellie, had been in the room the whole time. I vaguely remember her backing into the corner when the midwife called for help.
"Are you okay?" I asked her.
"Oh, Mommy, I was so scared!" She began to cry a little, then reached out and touched her brother's hand.
"Me too." I whispered. "But he's here and he's okay now."
"I did it. It's over. That was terrifying. He's alive." These were the thoughts that kept running through my head.
After a couple of minutes, I looked down at my baby and I was instantly and gloriously in love. :)
This is my favorite picture from the birth. It captures all of the emotions perfectly.
I birthed the placenta, and the midwife quietly said, "Your placenta looks old, like it was starting to deteriorate. It's a good thing you had this baby NOW."
My mind thought for a minute, how different the outcome could have been, had I gone another week or two.....he would have been bigger and.....oh, I can't think about that.
Instead, I'm overwhelmingly THANKFUL.
For my husband, who supported me so gently and completely.
For my sister, who not only encouraged me, but also took such beautiful pictures to document the birth.
For my daughter, who got to experience the wonder and glory of a newborn's birth.
And for my midwife, who, with her quick thinking and calm personality, saved my baby's life.
Welcome to the Bergey Bunch, Titus Alexander. All 8 lbs, 13.6 ounces of you.
Ah, yes---I forgot to mention---he does indeed have HAIR. Gorgeous, soft, wispy blonde hair.
Just not on his forehead. :)
To read Lauren's view of the labor and birth (and to see lots and lots of awesome photograpy!), click HERE.