About midway through this pregnancy we made the decision to have a home birth. It ended up being an awesome choice – no regrets and feel it was the best decision that matched exactly what we wanted. Thankful to have a very low risk pregnancy and a successful labor/delivery in a birthing center with Joanie in Virginia (outside the hospital), I knew that I could handle another drug-free, natural birth.
A home birth did not mean Alan would be the one delivering. I had a midwife and 2 doulas with a back up plan to head to St Vincent hospital in case of any emergency (a 5 min drive). It also did not mean I would be having my baby in my bathtub. Ha. (Those are the 2 most frequently asked questions). I had the option to get a birthing tub brought into our house, but based on my experience chilling in the water during labor #1 (and bringing minimal relief); I opted to just save the bath for some other time.
It also meant that I had no plans to “induce” even if I had gone past the 42 week mark. I trusted my body knew when the timing would be right when baby wanted to arrive. (A healthy pregnancy range is between 38-43 weeks; yet most Drs/women get extremely anxious at any point after 40 weeks and most babies are planned to be induced before 41 weeks; which in my opinion leads to more c-sections and less than fully cooked babies coming into the world). Either way, I’ll hold off on sharing any more opinions and get to the point of this blog – – the day I went into labor and how another human is now part of our family!!
I woke up on Thursday, September 24 feeling ready to take on the world. The day before I had a dramatic drop in energy, and huge increase in appetite. With work responsibilities slowing down and the obvious fact that any day would be the DAY this baby would be here, I happily listened to my body.. sleep, eat, repeat and took a nice fat day off from exercise. It was one of those extremely rare days I had little desire/urge to work out. I took that as sign number 1 the end of pregnancy 2 was near.
This day however, my energy was sky high! At 11:30 a.m. I headed to the backyard to get in a little mix of cardio and weights. My number one cardio activity of choice had recently become the jump rope, which surprised a lot of people thinking about a 40 week pregnant woman “jumping” around. A typical session – jump up to 10 min in a row, do 3-4 other weight activities or a set of a minute burpees; cut down the next interval to 8 min- 6 min-4 min-2 min; varying from 2 styles of jumps- double leg and “running” – sometimes actually going forward and running (went up to the half mile mark and back at Leif a week prior). My body would get a huge cardio workout and the equivalent of the “running” portion was as if I was going 12 min miles with the added challenge on my arms from turning the rope. The double leg jumps then made it more plyometric and giving my calves a good burn.
4 hours before I went into labor, my workout looked like this–During the jump rope portion I was feeling VERY crampy and was pretty excited/confident these cramps were basically the start of the real thing. I only did a total of 10 minutes jump rope broken up as 4 min/2 min intervals in between weights. I had plenty of energy for more, but told myself to chill out knowing I need to “save my energy”. The entire session took me 35 minutes.
A little TMI but labor as you know entitles a baby coming out of your body, so if you’re reading this hopefully you likely have some maturity to know the steps that typically happen before the baby comes out.. Right after the workout headed into the bathroom and happily saw the mucus plug – thank you jump rope -(yes there’s the TMI part and grossest thing I’ll ever say on this blog; well no promises I’m talking about a birth here) but I was like, YEP this is FINALLY happening!!! Stronger Braxton Hicks (pre-labor cramps) were occurring, but nothing that I considered “labor” as I showered and headed out for a massage with my amazing friend Karlee Coffey (highly recommended for athletes in Portland area!)At 3:00 I drove to the high school xc practice and immediately got the suspicion that labor had started. By 3:30 I started my watch to time these “light/semi uncomfortable” but regular contractions and found they were coming between 5-6 minutes. Head coach Rebecca laughed as she found out I was timing what I thought was the start of labor and was like “Go home!” I didn’t argue and headed out. My last minute nesting instincts must have kicked in (which I felt were really lacking the last few months with the amount of other activities/distractions going on) – that I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some last minute items, and by 4:30 as I was checking out – with the intensity amplifying – knew I was going to have a baby by my 41 week date (Friday September 25) – which happened to be within the same day of when I had Joanie! I only underestimated how much faster this labor would progress. My first one lasted 16 hours; I figured it I was lucky I’d go no less than 10.
Once home I was craving a bowl of cereal, so I dominated some Frosted Mini Wheats mixed with Trader Joe’s version of Froot Loops (all natural people!) and a banana. 5:30 Alan returned from practice after picking up Joanie at daycare. I made Joanie some chicken and mac n cheese with peas for dinner and then went on to vacuum the entire house. The timing had increased to less than 3 minutes between contractions, and the pain factor up to a 6 of 10. I basically wasn’t hungry for dinner now and figured I’d have plenty of time for that later to give me energy for the anticipated long night ahead of me. 6 hours into my other labor I remember eating a bagel with peanut butter and jelly, an energy drink and chips.by 7:30 I was hoping Alan could hustle up with helping me get Joanie to bed as the intensity went from a 6 to an 8 when the contractions hit; to the point I had to hide in the other room so Joanie wouldn’t freak out as I braced myself for the 60 seconds of intense pain. I then opted for eating my dinner; and managed to eat a bowl of that mac n cheese and a coconut water in between the contractions. I told Joanie we all had to go to bed early because “mommy needs to get a lot of rest because her tummy hurts and the baby is going to come out by morning”. I got my supplies set and texted the midwife that my contractions were now coming every 2 minutes.
8:00 I was then on the 9 of 10 for pain/twisting a knife in me as I braced myself on the yoga ball/ hurt zone. Alan finished up baths and began books. I told him make sure they were short books because I needed him!!! I called the midwife and told her she should DEFINITELY come now. Joanie was scared as she caught sight of me during the start of a contraction as she wanted a hug and story from me. Wasn’t gonna happen, so Alan knew she needed to be in bed/door closed now. She missed her nap at daycare that day, so was pretty wiped and didn’t argue that it was bed time. Head coach Rebecca had offered to come get Joanie but with this labor conveniently progressing as Joanie was about to crash for 10+ hours, we opted to keep her home.
By 8:30 the team had arrived, Joanie’s door was shut with white noise makers blasting in her room and outside of her door. The pain factor 10 of 10; calling on God to have mercy on all women in labor and forgive my lack of effort for being a slacking Christian. Now with my support team here and Alan ready to give me all the attention needed, I was so in-comprehensive I couldn’t even tell who was who. Last labor, I had been able to listen to music, go for walks, try some squatting, bouncing on the birth ball and just being present with Alan cheering me on. Now less than a minute between intervals, the only thing that I could do was bend over gripping a pillow face down trying not to scream or curse. I was successful on that until about 9:30; then it was just a world of pain and intensity of my body shaking, no “break” between the contractions.
My doula Amanda was able to successfully get the baby’s heart rate ONE time; it would have been virtually impossible for me to be still to get checked on how dilated I was at any point after their late arrival. 9:45 I started to have the strong feeling that I had to go to the bathroom (not number 1)…. I finally got myself to sit on the toilet between contractions, tried to “push”; and instead of going to the bathroom — it was then when my water that broke – which happened to be so convenient! While in the bathroom I took a GU ready to get onto the final stage of labor. 10:16 I headed back to my room- this was it; go time- time to push this baby out. On hands and knees, during next strong contractions I pushed with all of my strength… thinking the sooner you get this over with, the sooner the absolute most uncomfortable/painful part will happen – having a baby pass thru your you-know-what. I had heard in a hypnobirthing class, that some women actually found pleasure when the baby was passing thru. WHAT?! How big was their you-know- what?! It was by far the most unnatural/intensely painful things I have ever experienced on both occasions. In 14 minutes of pushing (10:31), she was here. She looks a lot like Joanie did in her first week (a little old man) ;)
Name: Paula Vivienne (yes some influence from Paula Radcliffe; middle name Alan’s dad’s grandma)
Date: September 24, 2015 (40 weeks, 6 days)
Time of birth: 10:31 p.m. (labor 7 hours)
Weight: 8 lbs, 14 oz (90%)
Height: 21.5 inches (95%)
Head: 14.5 inches (90%)- thanks Alan ;)
*Joanie – 7 lbs 15, 20.5 inches, head 13.5; 41 weeks; labor 16 hours
Pregnancy Weight gain: 25 lbs
Weight loss as of September 25, 2015 (8 hour post labor): 14 lbs
Belly measurement 2 days prior to labor: 35 centimeters (interesting because usually this equals the weeks you are pregnant); both Joanie and her relatively same measurement.
Most surprising for me was how fast I bounced back and lack of wear and tear compared to the first labor experience. I was WRECKED after Joanie’s birth. Hip pain (6 months limiting running) and pubic bone pain (over a year). I could barely walk for up to a week. Immediately after delivering, I could walk around, like nothing had happened. 5 days postpartum I definitely don’t feel like I’m up for running, but doing functional strength exercises and walking I am having no problems! The hardest challenge now has not been my recovery, but baby Paula’s digestive system. Long story short, she has been constantly struggling to digest after every single meal, so its been a long long 3 days since my milk supply has changed and she has been coping to handle it. Any time she is not in an upright/pressed against you position within 3 hours of eating (even then) it is almost guaranteed cramping and crying. Prayers definitely appreciated as it has been painful to watch her struggle. I’ve been looking at diet, and so far going on day 2 of no dairy, no beans (including soy), limited acidic foods, and definitely nothing spicy. The sacrifice of that feels like nothing compared to hearing her cry. On to round 2 of parenting.. wish us luck!