In this post, I have written, mostly for myself, a detailed account of my second daughter’s birth. Be warned, there’s some nitty gritty stuff (birth is not for the faint hearted!).
Here’s the short version of the birth story.
My labor was 22 hours from the point I was sure I was in labor. I went to a birth center and had my baby naturally in the water on Tuesday, July 14th.
Here is a table with Violet’s birth information and also Kadence’s for comparison.
|Weight||8 lbs 4 oz||7 lbs 7 oz|
|Length||21 in||19 in|
|Head Circumference||13½ in||13¾ in|
|Labor Duration||22 hours||18 hours|
|Days Past Due Date||10 days||8 days|
|Birth Place||Alma Midwifery Birth Center||St. Vincent Hospital|
We are so glad Kadie has a sister, especially since I have all brothers, my mom has all brothers, David has a brother…it’s about time there are some sisters in the family. It’ll be fun to see my girls play together. Kadie already covers her with hugs and kisses.
Here’s the long version of my birth experience.
I woke up Monday morning, July 13th, feeling bummed that I was still pregnant. Kadie was 8 days over her due date, and here I was at day 9. The thought of hanging out in the house yet another day was depressing. So I decided that I wanted to go to the beach.
David had taken an early paternity leave from the previous Friday to help me out with Kadie. When I told him what I wanted to do for the day, he said I was crazy, but hesitantly agreed to take me to the beach. It was risky, but I figured I’d have long enough warning to get back if labor should begin. He figured we’d give birth in the car or a hotel at the beach.
So we packed up and headed to Cannon Beach. On the way there, I felt that my contractions seemed a little different than before. I wasn’t sure if it was labor, so I didn’t say anything to David for fear of him turning around and heading back home. When we arrived at the beach, we parked in the main part of town and headed for the water. I’d forgotten just how far it was to get around that river down to the ocean. Kadie was stopping and pointing at seagulls and dogs, and examining the sand under her feet. When we finally got to the waves, I decided to go the distance to Haystack rock since the tide was out and the tide pools would be a neat experience for Kadie.
David carried Kadie most of the way since her poor little legs were probably too tired for that long of a hike. We enjoyed the star fish, hermit crabs, and other little sea life for a while, then headed back for the car. Man, it was a long walk back! I was moving pretty slow by the time we got back. We ate lunch then drove to the actual Haystack Rock parking lot, and went down near the water to build a sandcastle and get our feet wet. The day was thoroughly enjoyable, and extremely exhausting. I’m so glad we went! It lifted my spirits and took my mind off of waiting along with all my pregnancy discomforts.
Unfortunately, my discomforts increased in the form of leg and hip soreness. By the time we got home, I was having increased contractions as well. But I still wasn’t sure if it was labor. My friend, Heather, who shared almost the same due date as me called me to let me know she was in the hospital, being induced. I felt bad for her since she and her husband were hoping for everything to start and finish naturally. David and I said a prayer for them.
By 10pm, I saw signs of my mucus plug. This, along with more intense contractions, made me think “maybe this is it.” It was encouraging none the least since I had begun to see mucus plug Friday July 10th, and then nothing until this moment on the 13th. Heather and I texted once more; hers was good news that it looked like labor was picking up naturally for them, and mine was suspicions that labor had started for me as well.
We called my dad at midnight on Tuesday, July 14th so he could come stay the night and then take Kadie to my parent’s house in the morning. I slept from 1am to 3am. My contractions were staying from 5 to 8 minutes apart, 1 to 3 minutes long. I knew I could have stayed home for a while longer to labor, but I decided to go in to the birth center before morning rush hour traffic, and so that I wouldn’t let Kadie see me laboring when she woke up. I ate a good sized meal of brown rice, scrambled eggs and peas at 4:30am, then had David pack us up to get to the birth center around 7am.
The Alma birth center is an old house in Portland converted to three birthing rooms with big jacuzzi tubs, big beds, and a homey atmosphere. There are kitchens both upstairs and downstairs, and a doula is assigned to take care of the family after the birth, with cooking meals, and caring for mom and baby. I had three midwives attending my birth: Carrie, a licensed midwife, Corinne, an apprentice, and Kori, a certified nurse midwife.
When we first arrived, my contractions felt stronger and more frequent. Going up the porch steps was quite painful because my hip flexors were incredibly sore from walking 2 to 3 miles on the beach the day before. Man, that was dumb. But if that’s what it took to help labor along, I was thankful it was a fun way to get things going.
As soon as we stepped into the birthing house, a woman cried out in agony. I immediately started balling. I wondered if I’d made a mistake coming here because I didn’t want to hear another woman in that much pain. We got up more stairs to our room and I laid in the bed, crying over and over again as I heard the woman cry out. I listened to my mp3 player, turning it up loud, but I could still hear her, and I couldn’t stop crying and dreading what lay ahead for myself. David and I prayed for the woman, and I was praying even harder that she would have her baby soon. I felt bad for being selfish, but at the same time, I also understood she had every right to be that loud, since I was probably just as loud or louder with Kadie.
Things were getting pretty intense for the woman, and I wished with all my being that I could be anywhere else at that moment. And then it was quiet. David thought she might have had her baby, and one of my midwives came in and confirmed it. I thanked God!
Things got even better when my friend, Jessica, arrived. She arranged for her 4 kids to be watched all day so she could be with me for the birth. It meant so much to me to have her there. Corinne suggested doing some walking to help labor along. I have heard that walking can shorten labor up to 30%. David, Jess, and I went walking around the block, which felt good, so I decided to shoot for the coffee shop 13 blocks away. More walking! Aiyaiyai! Before we headed for the shop, David grabbed his camera and took a picture of the candles that are lit for a laboring mother.
I had to stop for contractions and breathe through them, but once they were over, I could leave “contraction world” and re-enter the nice sunny day, chatting away with one of my dearest friends and my husband. I had held off on drinking too much water and I was glad we made it to the shop before I had to pee too badly. Having a full bladder makes contractions more painful and stressful. We ate a snack and sat to rest for a bit.
On the way back to the birth center, I had to stop for contractions more frequently. Again, I was relieved to hit the bathroom once we made it. I was pretty tired by then, so I got in the jacuzzi to relax. Contractions slowed down and I didn’t quite sleep but was pretty out of it. It may seem gross but I loved that I didn’t have to get up and walk to the bathroom, sitting on the toilet through contractions – that could just lay there drinking, peeing, and resting. I think I raised the creek quite a bit with how long I was in there! I was quite pruny. After a while, I sat up and chatted with Jess and Corinne about their kids. I was hungry so David went out and got NoHo’s Hawaiian food for lunch.
Carrie came in and started talking about me going home since things looked to be going slowly. My other option was to start walking again, or doing stairs to see if things picked up. I didn’t want to go home at this point and so we went walking and I began squatting during contractions. It hurt way more to squat and my cervix opened up through the pain. When we got back to the birth center, the midwives wanted to check dilation just to have more information to go from. I was 5 cm. They said I should be there.
I continued squatting, hanging onto the bed, with David’s hands supporting me under my armpits. I had Jess hold her hands on my shoulders once and her touch was just right to help me relax them as I let things open up more through the contraction. It was very difficult getting down into squat position and then back up, but I stood up and laid on my stomach on pillows on the bed to rest between contractions. It felt good to bend over and lay like that, but then I realized it was probably because it moved the baby back up off the cervix. I was so exhausted from all the hard work, but I decided to stay standing after getting up from squatting, keeping the pressure of the baby down as much as I could. After a few times of doing that, my next contraction was strong enough to break my bag of waters. The time was 4:30 pm.
Putting the intense pain aside, it was a neat sensation to feel my waters burst. I began to cry from happiness that I would be seeing my baby soon. With Kadie, things picked up fast after my water broke in the tub. I felt like my body would do the same for this baby.
I ate some cantalope to revive a bit, then I got back in the tub at this point, and squatted more, concentrating on making each contraction productive at moving the baby down. I started feeling sick, and I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t help but cry out very loudly, and I didn’t have enough breath to continue crying out the length of the contractions. I knew this would be the hardest part, and I hated being in transition with every fiber of my being. I wanted to escape the pain so badly! I held onto David’s hands at the side of the tub, while he kept encouraging me with his words and his presence.
Then the contractions became expulsive and I began to push. The midwives had me shift onto my hands and knees, which was eased by being in water. I pushed hard, and the midwives told me to slow down and breathe slower to get oxygen to my baby. They wanted me to reach down and touch the head and my perineum to help ease it out, but I couldn’t reach while holding myself up, and I have extra nerves and pain down there that it was the last thing I wanted to do. I went against my will to get the head out fast and slowed down since the midwives were telling me to so persistently. Apparently the head was bulging my perineum and Carrie was afraid I would tear badly if I pushed to hard and fast. Kori held my head in her hands because I could barely hold it up by myself anymore.
Finally, the ring of fire was relieved as the head came out! Then something happened that was new for me, I felt the baby twist quite dramatically in me. That hurt too! I was almost too tired to push the shoulders out, but with my last ounce of strength, I did it! After about 10 minutes of pushing, my baby was born at 6:56pm, Tuesday, July 14th. The midwives passed her through my legs and David helped bring my baby up onto my chest. I felt between the legs and was surprised I had a girl! David had tried to feel and thought we had a boy, so he was also surprised when I said it was a girl. We figure he must have touched the cord.
I held Violet to my chest and rubbed her back while a midwife (I don’t know which one since I had only eyes for my baby) rubbed her neck and head, trying to get her to breathe and turn from blue to pink. She let out some coughs and then started to cry. She was finally out! And she was in my arms instead of taken away, having tubes and things poked into her like poor Kadie, who was struggling to breathe with fluid in her lungs. I felt so many things all at once – pain, relief, incredible joy, and utter exhaustion.
I was told to get out of the tub and get on the bed. I stood on very shaky legs, and exclaimed, “She’s so heavy!” I was almost afraid of dropping her because my arms felt weak and numb. Once I was settled in the bed, the placenta came out, the cord was tied off, and David cut it.
The following events were kind of a blur: checking vitals, measuring Violet, Jess holding Violet while David called our parents with the news, David holding Violet who was sucking her thumb, letting Violet root around and start nursing, and Jess telling me it was 8pm and she was heading home to her kids.
I was left to cuddle my new daughter and ponder on who she looks like. She has darker hair and darker skin than Kadie, and she looks so Chinese! I couldn’t believe how round she is, with a double chin! I guess all that ice cream and cheese I ate went straight to her (I got pretty heavy myself). Violet was 8 lbs, 4 oz, 21 inches long, and, as Corinne stated, the part that really matters, her head circumference was 13½ inches.
The rest of the night was full of nursing, getting my aching body (especially my legs! Why did I walk that far on the beach!? I’m an idiot! Hehe!) out of bed to pee a bunch (I forgot that the frequent peeing continues for a while after having the baby, argh!), eating Burgerville Tillamook cheeseburgers (two!), and trying to get to sleep.
Around 10 pm, I got a text from Heather that she had a baby girl around 5:30 pm! She beat me by an hour and a half! We were so happy for them! It was a nice little gift to have her as a pregnancy buddy whose due date was the 5th of July, and mine was the 4th, and to be overdue buddies, to be laboring at the same time, and then to both have girls so close together on the same birthday!
It was midnight before we knew it, and I was beyond wiped out. Our assigned doula, Mara, offered to hold Violet so we could rest and I took her up on it. We got two hours of sleep before Violet was hungry again. What a difference those two hours made! I felt much more able to handle the rest of the night. Mara also cooked breakfast for us, and then a different doula, Amy, came on duty. They both were very nice, and helpful.
Another great thing about the birth center is the midwives come to my home for postpartum appointments, and also care for the baby rather than us needing to see a pediatrician right away.
We were hoping to stay another night, which would mean I’d get a massage the next morning, but another laboring mother arrived, and would most likely labor through the night in the room next to ours. So we went home on Wednesday and had Thursday to relax by ourselves before my parents brought Kadie home on Friday. I cried when I saw Kadie. I missed her. She’s so big now!
Looking back on the events of this birth, I can see how I was stalling most of Tuesday, not wanting to hurt worse and just wanting to rest. When we were threatened with going home, that pushed me to get down to business. Even though giving birth was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life (both times), I was so glad that it went well, I didn’t have to be transferred to a hospital, I only had a 1st degree tear, and my baby is healthy.
This time around, I felt I went through a tougher mental battle, what with the early-on experience of hearing the other woman, and the dread of knowing what was coming. But this time I didn’t have the extra worries of hospital protocols interfering with the natural process of birth, and I didn’t have to get out of the tub in between pushing and book it across the hall to another room for delivery like with Kadie. In reality, everything went very well. I am happy with this birth. Thank God it’s over and she’s out, though!