To prove just how behind I am with my life, I started this post introducing my darling daughter over 10 months ago. She herself is now 18 months old, haha! Anyways, I’m back, enjoy!
I am officially back from maternity leave! It was so nice having the break to connect with my beautiful new daughter. So to celebrate I want to share my birth story with you.
Without writing out Patrick’s complete detailed birth story, the birth of my first child in 2010 was what I would consider ideal for a first time mom that doesn’t know any better. I had a perfect pregnancy. I only got sick for about two weeks, only gained 30 lbs, and had great skin and hair. I decided that I wanted a hospital birth. My mom had had 3 cesareans after 30+ hour labors, but my grandmother only had 3 hour labors with vaginal deliveries. I didn’t know what to expect or how good at birth I would be. My husband’s youngest sister also had a very traumatic birth that left her brain-damaged and immobile. He was a bit fearful of birth, as you might expect, so he wanted a hospital birth in case something went wrong. I had a typical “textbook” hospital birth. I labored for about 13 hours, got an epidural, had an episiotomy, and delivered on my back. Overall it was a really positive birth experience, but looking back I realize I had the wrong doctor for me. I had really wanted to attempt a natural birth, and she did not really support that want. She actually scoffed and made an, “I thought you wanted to do this naturally” comment when I asked for an epidural. There were also little negative comments during my prenatal appointments when I asked questions about things like birth bars and laboring in the tub. I found myself tiptoeing around questions, because I anticipated that she would say no to my requests. Pretty much, I had to do birth her way. Being a first time mom, I didn’t know any better. I do not in any way regret having a hospital birth with my first, but if I could do it again I would have found a doctor that jived better with my vision of what I had wanted my labor and delivery to be like. The Pomerado Hospital Staff, however, was incredible! They are 100% responsible for me having a positive hospital birth experience, especially my L&D nurse, Lisa.
Skip ahead two years and here came baby number two! While I have no idea when my son was conceived, I know the exact date with my daughter. I had been training for six months to compete in the World Famous Camp Pendleton Mud Run with my bestie, Kristin. I had wanted to run this 10k mud filled obstacle course ever since I watched my dad run it as a kid, and I had been telling my husband that I would kill him if he got me pregnant before the race. Well, one night of passion in two years, the night before the race, and tada! Pregnant. And this pregnancy wasn’t anything like the walk in the park that my first pregnancy had been. I was sick from 5-14 weeks. Really sick. So sick I ended up in the hospital for a night. Not fun! Again, I didn’t gain much weight (32 lbs) but carried completely different. I was so wide! The baby was always in my right side, from my hip all the way up into my ribs. I was convinced I was carrying a feisty baby since this child was so rough on my body!
She came a few days early, which was probably good considering she turned out to be so big. I was so tired of being pregnant. I hadn’t reached the, “get this baby out! I’m am DONE!”, but I was getting close. Let’s just say we tried the old adage “what puts them in the womb, brings them into the room” and it worked for us with this particular baby 😉 I lost my plug during our little romp and I started having mild but uncomfortable contractions, so I called the on-call midwife at the birth center. She said to go for a walk, and see what happens. So Tim, my husband, called into work and said he would probably not be coming in, and at 10:30am we left to get pizza and walk along the local path near the restaurant afterwards. Turns out this particular pizza place is closed on Mondays (say what?!), so we decided to go to Panera instead. Let’s just say that during the 20 minute drive from the closed pizza place to Panera I went from uncomfortable contractions to having to completely stop talking and focus on breathing contractions. I called my doula and let her know that I was going to skip any laboring at home and go straight to the birth center after we dropped of Patrick at Tim’s parents place. The plan had been for my dad to watch our now 2 year old, but I was in no mood at this point to wait the 45 minutes it would take to wait for him to leave work and meet us. I also called my mom and my sister to let them know that they may need to head over as well. It was probably a good thing we skipped the walking plan, because by the time we finished the half hour drive to the center I had dilated to 7cm!
The midwife on call had a student midwife learning under her, and she pretty much did all the hands on stuff for the rest of my labor and delivery. It was really cool to witness the passing of knowledge from the experienced to the young and enthusiastic. I was completely comfortable with the set up. Through my whole labor and delivery they made me feel confident in my ability to handle this birth. I was really much more nervous about having a baby completely natural, even though this was my second birth. I wondered quite deeply whether or not I would be able to handle the pain. It’s funny though, labor for me was so gradual that by the time I was into the depths of it I had already acclimated.
Doulas are amazing, by the way. Everyone should have one.
I had planned on giving water birth a try, and let me tell you, Best Start is THE place to be if that’s what you want! I had the upper suite, which is completely amazing. The tub room cracked me up though. The tub is ENORMOUS and up on this pedestal, like some alter to birth. Talk about a stage for having a baby! I actually didn’t end up laboring that long in the water. I found that I wanted to feel grounded and the floating of my buoyant pregnant body was not cooperating with that instinct.
My husband even joined me in the water, but he’s not a big guy so he really didn’t give me that much leverage.
While I was in the water, I did get to the point where I wanted to have the urge to push. Not that I had the urge, but I wanted the urge. When my son was born, there was no holding back. There was no talking my body into NOT pushing. It spontaneously pushed my son out, and that was with an epidural! I asked about possibly breaking my water. There was some quiet conversation among the midwives and it was then suggested that I try walking up and down the stairs instead. Riiiiiiight. I was convinced that if I left that room that I would be giving birth in the stairwell. I didn’t learn this till after the fact, but her head was transverse. If a baby’s head is transverse, they can’t be born. If they are sunny side up, they can be born (although it’s supposedly hurts like crazy!). Walking up and down stairs is an excellent way to try and get the baby to turn. I opted to labor on the toilet for awhile. She still wasn’t turning, and I was getting really tired at this point. I was only 6 hours into active labor, but it had been intense. My doula, Cris, had just had another laboring momma 2 days earlier that had the exact same challenge, a transverse baby. They were not able to get that baby to turn, though, and ended in a c-section. She was on high alert because of this, and asked if I could labor on my side in a particular position that gets the baby to turn. So this position involved me lying on my left side on the bed with my left leg straight and my right knee pulled up as high as I could stand it. I then rolled farther to my left. If Tim had not been right there the whole time I would have ended up on the floor. I labored for several contractions and then, yes, I started to poop. Yay. It was sooooo distracting for me to realize what I was doing. I kept apologizing for it, and of course everyone kept telling me it was ok. The top dog midwife even made a comment that I didn’t realize the gravity of till many weeks after her birth, “it’s alright, once we see poo we know this baby will be born vaginally”. Eventually someone put a hot washcloth over by bottom and that really took away the distraction and let me concentrate on the final stages of labor.
So pretty much everything after that point was a blur. I really have no idea how much time I spent pushing, but it felt like 45 minutes or so. I spent some time leaning over the birth ball on the bed while holding Tim’s hands. Every time I had a contraction I would pull on him. I really felt like I needed leverage to get this baby out. I know many women find it more productive to relax into labor, but trying to do that really made me feel strangely panicky. I needed to feel grounded. I needed to flex my muscles with the contractions. I also found out afterwards that I had thrown my sweet husbands back out. Oops. I also found I’m a pretty vocal laborer. I’m not sure what the “professional” term is, but I found myself saying “oooooh” really low and slowly. If I was starting to loose my focus, my voice would go higher and there was always someone there that would start to “ooooh” lowly with me to bring my voice back down. It’s pretty incredible how much that helped!! I ended up on my side again, as I was getting really tired. I was holding Tim’s hands, pulling again with each contraction as I pushed and finally, the ring of fire! But this was the craziest feeling I had ever had. Everyone was telling me to slow down and rest between the contractions. I knew they were trying to help me keep from tearing, but I just couldn’t stop pushing. I wanted this baby OUT! I was really feeling silly about it too, since I didn’t think that it was this hard pushing my son out. I mean, yes, I had an epidural, but I know they turned it off and I felt a lot more than I anticipated. FINALLY her head was born. With my first, once his head was out, he was out. Not so with this one. I had to work a little harder and push a couple more times to get her shoulders out. Finally, she was born! The room was electric and seemed to explode in light and color.
Her very first photograph.
They pulled her onto my stomach and covered her with a receiving blanket. I wanted so badly to pull her higher and kiss her, but her cord was too thick and short. She was high enough to attempt our first latch, though. Her cry was a little wet and soft, so they were rubbing her chest to help clear it. I looked into her face and she just seemed like such an old soul to me. I don’t know why, but even though she was earlier than my first baby, she already seemed very wise to me. Like she was more “done” than he had been. My speculation is that my births were so different, but that’s a post for a different time.
Let me remind you that we don’t find out the sex of our babies. I was so happy I was crying and then suddenly thought to ask, “is it a boy or girl?!” The midwife smiled and said, “I don’t know, why don’t you look?” It makes me cry just typing this memory of getting to shout, “IT’S A GIRL!!!” *cue uncontrollable sobbing* There is literally no greater feeling in the whole world than to find out the sex of your baby after an intense labor. Someone asked me, “What’s her name?” and my response was, “I don’t know, but her middle name is LeAnne. Haha!”
At some point I birthed my placenta, but I don’t really remember it. Tim cut the cord and they covered my body with a warm sheet so that my dad and son could come in to say hi to the new baby. At this point no repair had been done, no stats on the baby that couldn’t be done on my chest had been taken, and she still hadn’t been named. “Poppa” brought in the new big brother and helped him up into bed with us. Patrick was 2 1/2 at the time, and I could see that he was interested in this wet pink thing mom was holding, but didn’t really understand what it was. He was also pretty tired from playing with Poppa all day and was really ready for bed. We gave our sweet boy lots of hugs and kisses and sent him home with Granny and Poppa.
Once they left, time seemed to slow down again as I came off of my crazy birth high. I got to breastfeed her while they repaired a couple superficial tears. My wonderful baby sister, Deborah, went and got me a Smash Burger, which I had never had before. Best. Burger. Of. My. Life. I still hadn’t named her, but I wanted to talk with Tim about it privately before deciding. Deborah went home and they took my baby to the other side of the room to do the normal weight and length stats as well as a few other assessment things. She was 9 lbs 4 oz! Holy Moly! I knew she looked bigger than Patrick, but not almost 2 lbs bigger! Not only that, her head was 14 3/4 inches!! I’m way more proud of that than the 9 lb part, haha! I suddenly didn’t feel so silly about how hard pushing her out had been. I’m also amazed that all I had was superficial tearing, nothing deep tissue. The ladies doing the assessment told me that 10+ lb babies had heads this big. So it turned out she wasn’t uncomfortable to carry because she was feisty, it was because she was huge!
Since her lungs had been wet, and she had been born in the evening, and we had a long ride home, they decided to let us stay over night. Usually with Best Start you can go home a few hours after giving birth. It was really nice though. They had a nice big bed in the room, and both Tim and I could sleep comfortably together with our daughter.
Our daughter! We had a daughter! I had decided on a name if we had had a boy. I think because I “knew” I was having a girl I could commit to a boys name. I wasn’t going to use it anyways, right? If she had been a boy, she would have been named Theodore Baird. But I literally had 10 girls names that I loved! Naming a person is the absolute hardest thing for me. How do you name someone you haven’t met yet? With our son we had two agreed upon boys names and 3 girls names. Since he was a boy, my husband picked. If he had been a girl, I would have picked. Since Tim named Patrick, he told me I got to name this one regardless. Talk about pressure!! Once we were alone, I quietly asked him what he thought about Tabitha. He was surprised that THAT was the one that I wanted. Honestly, I was too. It had definitely been floating around in my brain, but it really was near the bottom of my list. She just LOOKED like a Tabitha! Her middle name we had decided on long before we had children. Our first daughter’s middle name would be LeAnne. His mom’s middle name is Lee, and my mom’s middle name is Anne, so we wanted to combine the two to honor them. So Tim asked her if she wanted to be “Tabitha LeAnne”. She snuffled in her sleep as he played with her hair. Since she didn’t protest we figured she liked it 😉