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roo’s debut

September 4, 2013
Insomnia.  It’s my new thing.  It’s not my 10-week-old daughter keeping me up (she’s, thankfully, mostly doing what mommy message boards call STTN – sleeping through the night).  Tonight, my sleeplessness is prompting me to record Ruth’s birth story. I love reading and hearing birth stories. I truly believe that birth matters, that is, that how babies come into the world, is important.  This is how my Ruthie-Roo joined us.
I was due June 17. Knowing that Father’s Day was June 16, I bought Curtis two cards: an expectant dad card and a first Father’s Day card.  I hid them away until I knew which one would be applicable.
A few notes: As I discussed before, we had planned a natural, unmedicated, intervention-free birth outside of a hospital, attended by a midwife.  The baby’s gender was unknown. Fair warning: I’ll spare the gorier TMI details (mucous plug, tearing, etc) but this is a birth story so words like cervix will be used.
I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions on Wednesday, June 12, then Thursday they became painful and frequent, but still random. Friday the contractions really picked up and I started timing.  We went to a movie (we saw “This is the End” and indeed, the end was near). Contractions got to about ten minutes apart and were really strong, then they just stopped.  Completely.  Then Saturday they started again.  It took forever for them to speed up so I was breathing through them all day.  Right after midnight, I was in bed, awake with a contraction and my waters broke.  Luckily, I had invested in a waterproof liner for the bed, just in case.  My instructions were to call my midwives if my waters broke or if my contractions were five minutes apart.  At that point, they were about eight.  So we called, and the midwife on call, BJ, said to call her back when we hit a five minute interval but that she’d see us soon.  I labored at home awhile, sleeping a few minutes at a time between contractions. At about 4:30 we called her back and we were on our way in, finally.  I was super exhausted already from the lack of sleep that comes with having contractions for two days but it was time for Baby to come.

We got to the birth center and BJ pulled up right behind us and we got settled in, and her doula, Mitte came in.  For some reason, the car ride in and all the activity seemed to stall my contractions, so they spaced out again.  When BJ checked me I was only at four centimeters.  We did everything possible to get the contractions coming closer together and stronger.  Mitte had me in every possible position.  Some things worked better than others.  They made me walk the stairs over and over, I bounced on the ball, I got on all fours, I stood and rocked.  Hours and hours later, my contractions were still sporadic, and when I got checked I was only at five cm.  So we weren’t making much progress, even though Ruthie had dropped significantly.  I got in the tub for only a short while because it slowed my contractions down.  Bummer because it felt so nice. Apparently my body just didn’t know how to really work itself up to delivery.  It was doing stuff, but not progressing.  Luckily, my temperature, blood pressure, and the baby’s heartbeat all were stable, so there was no reason to be worried.

I was getting frustrated at this point, because I had been contracting for days and I was so, so tired.  My abdomen was incredibly sore from the extensive workout it had been getting (my contractions were all in my lower belly).  I sipped my Laborade (coconut water + pineapple juice) and soldiered on.  At this point, BJ said she wanted to try a homeopathic treatment to try to get things going.  So every 15 minutes Mitte was dumping little herbal capsules under my tongue.  It did help, but I was still not progressing enough.  I stalled at six cm.

BJ said she wanted to try a procedure.  She would have me wait for a strong contraction, she’d have me push, and she’d try to manually open my cervix.  This sounds like it’s not a walk in the park, and it was not.   We had to do about five or six contractions’ worth.  It was so weird pushing before it was actually time to push.  She was able to get me from six to nine.  An hour and a half later it was time to push for real.

I pushed her down to where she was almost crowning.  I worried I didn’t have it in me to finish.  BJ said I’m an efficient pusher (must have been the gallons of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea I drank in that last trimester) and it would go quickly if I did my best work.  I pushed.  Then I freaked out.  It was a cycle:  I got my head in the game to push, then when that contraction was over, I got a little hysterical.  I cried, I hyperventilated, then I calmed myself down and did it all over again.  I was never so hot in my entire life.  Curtis was handing me washcloths soaked in ice water.  Her head came half way out, and then I felt it pull back in and turn.  I lost it.  I was yelling, “What was that? What happened?”  And BJ reminded me sometimes babies take two steps forward and one step back and that it was fine.  It just was not okay with me after all that work that she’d be going backwards.  But then I got her whole head out with the next push and they commented about her hair.  I was thinking I still had at least a half hour of pushing ahead, but with my next pushes at 7:07 pm, BJ said, “Reach down and get your baby,” and my mom was in tears and I looked down and there she was, and I caught her myself.  And she was a girl.  And she was just the most beautiful thing ever.

The first picture

The first picture

My dad and stepmom were there in the waiting room for most of the day and I found out later they could listen to us on a baby monitor so they heard a lot of her being born.  Another thing I found out later is that BJ had called her backup OB and told him she’d probably be transferring me over.  So I probably would’ve ended up in surgery.  But all the prayer paid off and I did finally progress enough, with a lot of herbs and BJ’s magic torture procedure, we did it.

I wasn’t allowed to leave until I peed and I ate.  My stepmom made an In-n-Out run.  I hadn’t eaten more than half a handful of trail mix in two days (I was allowed to eat but I had absolutely no appetite during labor) so that hamburger was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Ruth had her first meal too, then weighed in at 7 pounds, 4.5 oz.  Apgar of nine. Stork bite on the back of her neck. Really big feet. Rosy and sweet. We were home less than four hours after she was born.

 It was the most incredible experience, and even though my labor was long and somewhat difficult, I would never choose to have a baby any other way, with any drugs or interventions.  I felt everything and I did it all myself, with lots of prayer and through God giving me strength.  It’s just so empowering and so life-changing to know what you’re capable of and to know you did something the very hard way because it was best for someone else.  I really believe conception, pregnancy, labor and delivery were all designed perfectly and the less we mess with those processes, the better we are.  Even going through it unmedicated, and it lasting so long, I wouldn’t rate the pain as a 10 on a scale of 1-10.  It’s not the most painful thing I’ve ever done, but it is the best thing.
I threw away the “expectant dad card” and Curtis got the “first Father’s Day” card that night, the day his daughter was born, on Father’s Day.
Dad and his still swollen and bloody newborn daughter

Dad, and his still swollen and somewhat bloody newborn daughter, in love

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