Here's my logs from both Ivy and Shaw's birth.
- Feb 26th, felt weird at night
- Feb 27th, “crampy” AM
- Noon, Caleb comes home. Officially on leave. Contractions start soon after arrival, inconsistent though with her leaning on counter, a few moans. Light lunch. pacing. squatting. Set up pool, called pool rental for better liner. Should have done a dry run, but it worked out.
- 3pm. short walk around the block, with contractions every 5 or so minutes, for 20 or so seconds. A few heavy ones.
- 4:30. Midwife check in. Laura feel is ok for now, no need to come. Midwife says call when over 30 seconds, heavier, and under 7 min apart. Or anytime we feel the need for her. Abby arrives, Laura’s informal Douala and friend this time. Bland veggie Thai noodles and soup ordered by Laura’s demand. Moaning starting with a few contractions, but not consistent. light meal.
- 5:30 called midwife in. Active labor starts. Mary Lawlor, and her assistant, Alex Holding arrive. This makes four folks.
- Laura settles in kneeling like with Shaw, but this time holding the edge of our bed. This make my even easier job, much easier, since I can sit or lie on our king bed, while I do Laura’s preferred job for me of always being in front of her, with an arm for her to capture, try and strangle, and use to rub her face very hard while in a contraction. She’s push, rambling, complaining about pain and suffering, asking questions, pooping, peeing, bleeding, and pushing...pushing, in that birth way that is so strangely driven from something out of her control. We’re both along for the ride. The moaning is the key information, as it has been escalating since noon, steadily. Water through a straw, she wants the lights off, so candles are lit for us to to. Lights come on every few contractions for midwives to check heart beat, blood pressure.
- 8:22 water breaks in this position, clean-up follows with fresh “Chux” pads, or under pads, our birth kit towels, etc.
- 8:44 baby born. Wow! She nurses immediately, in a way with her face burried and being very still, that convinced me she was suffocating. Apparently, a key skill babies have from the moment of birth, is that they can breath while their mouth and nose is full mashed into an engorged breast, because she did. I did ask to make sure though. I cut the cord after a few minutes to let the goodies in it get pulled into the baby for nutricion.
- Placenta next after longer than last time
- Pain and suffering for Laura. 3 ibuprofen is dosed, the first medicine in the process. Clean up, checks by midwives, getting comfy, new bedding. The cord has a little bloody episode, it’s fixed with a clamp.
- 9ish. Baby weighed, 9lbs 2oz...OMG. 11oz heavier then Shaw...not expected by anyone. Baby health check. Try to pee, she almost drops while being escorted to bathroom, too dizzy, sits on toilet, no pee. Back to bed. “Pee of the century” happens later.
- The strange Vernix that covered the baby is disappearing...smooth skin undernearth. She’s a natural nurser. Have hardly seen her face.
- I’m instructed to cook her a good meal so she’s not weak in the AM. 3 eggs, spinach, and her favorite ham. Eaten. Tea.
- Change sheets and pad, again, move into sleeping positions. I do a few emails and texts, she sleeps. I join her and Ivy. Heat turned up and house locked down for a warm safe night in wintery Vermont.
April 28th,Caleb: Pre labor snuck up on me, but Laura knew at morning Yoga "something was happening". Laura: Those lower ab cramps were back with a vengeance by mid-afternoon. Kam stopped into the porch and witnessed me "having a moment." I still wasn't ready to get psyched because I knew from Anji that they could go on for another week. I don't remember the sequence of events well, but I felt like I wasn't able to get anything done, including make lasagna. I finally gave up after cooking the pasta halfway. Then I went to bed and waited for Caleb to finish making it and bring it to me. But...She felt more strong pushes every hour, then more often, until about 11pm when she was in bed moaning every 5 or 6 minutes with contractions around a minute. I felt during the afternoon that she was just getting ready to maybe go into labor. Then it hit me when she started long, loud hummms and moans and chants of "I'm relaxed, I can do this, I want this, I'm relaxed, i'm open, open, it's Okay, the baby will come, hummmmm, hummmmmmmm, hummmmmmmmmm". We called the Doula, Libby who was here about 11pm.
April 29thBy 3 am the moaning and loud with contractions that were a minute or two long, every 2 to 3 minutes, for half an hour. I had taken an hour nap 1am-2pm. Libby sat with Laura who liked all fours and then finally in bed on her side. Laura would go limp between contractions and sleep sometimes for 5 minutes. Laura says: "I had heard that the laboring mom should "rest" or even SLEEP between contractions, but thought, "I'll believe that when I see it." Well, it truly does happen. I felt like I would put my head down and no sooner would be up again omming. No idea that five whole minutes would have passed." We were nervous that Libby wasn't in charge of calling of midwife and instead asking us if we wanted to call her. How would we know? But she was on it when it was time and said to call.
Anji and Lucina arrived at 3am. Laura was full in the ommmmmm zone.
They checked in on my smart phone contraction timer logs. They checked in with Laura, watching her and asking her questions. They disappeared and let Libby and I continue to help Laura. We set up the tub. The shower thing didn't fit, and I cursed myself for not testing it early, despite being told it would fit the shower. I used the sink, which we had tested, and prayed silently that it would have enough pressure to push water up the stairs. It did! We filled the tub. Laura got in and for 1.5hrs slipped in and out of the world. She ate a little Yogurt, continued her sipping water with a straw, had some honey, and Ensure we had lying about, even though it was strawberry cream flavor and sucked. Great to have the Ensure! Used it for days after for calories with no chewing, something Laura was insistent on.
Then the bathroom and pushing labor. Lunging in the door frame. Screaming in my face. Crying. No drugs though, not even a peep from her to have any meds or make it stop. She was in a "bring it on" mood mostly. Anji had a mirror and was watching every contraction. Then it was obviously getting long after two hours of all fours on our thick wrestling style stretching mat. We moved into the bedroom. She couldn't make it on the bed and had a lot of pushes on the edge of the bed, forcing Anji with a mirror almost under the bed. I could see the mirror. It was intense. The head and hair were there, then gone, then there, then gone, then a little more then gone. On the bed, back down, the midwives insisted. Laura had hated this position from the get go, or the idea of it with no leverage and being "squishy" and would not do it, but it worked for a while. But it seemed to fade then. Then the midwives got noticeably agitated and Anji said "OK Laura, you've got to push and get this baby out. I'm going to tell you what to do, and you're going to do it." and she would flip Laura on all fours, and then back on her back, and see what worked. The Olive oil came out. The fingers reached inside and pulled. Then a moment and Anji said "episiotomy" to Lucinda. A little sewing scissors came out and snipped. Blood.
Anji decided Laura needed support on her back so the ladies moved her to our oak wood floor. She pushed and there was suddenly a baby crying. Anji surprised me by telling me to quickly say hello so it hears and sees me too, not just Laura. I went down to Laura. Shaw was amazingly alien, looking, smelling, shaped. Laura was spent, but radiant too. When I finally sat back up, my hands were like a horror movie!
Cleaning up and going to bed was a blur.
April 30th, CalebIt was definitely a life changing event for us. And a life creating one for Shaw. For me, witnessing that much pain, physical intensity (to the breaking point and beyond) blood, gore and exhaustion, while at the very same time knowing it was welcomed, purposeful, and as natural as can be, was one of the more humanizing events of my life. Shaw is sleeping and not crying much. So far he's pooping, which is key because it means he's nursing effectively (even if we can't tell at the time). Laura made it to the porch today for 2 minutes before back to bed. We're feeling very supported by family and friends.
May 1st:Laura two days later, worried about a burp, but worried that she's too worried: "I don't want you to choke on your own spit up, is that so wrong?
You laugh, but I'm trying to find in this damn book where it says how to keep him alive at night. Are all my fears unfounded since I can't find them here?"