WARNING: This post will be a little graphic for those of you who hate blood and body parts and details of all of that combined, you might want to just move on along to the next post. But for those of you that appreciate the beauty of labor, by all means, read along as I write down my story to remember for years to come!
I’m a crunchy, labor loving, all natural, crazy as hell kind of mom.
Or at least that’s how people look at me when I tell them that I want to have natural labors, much less that I actually enjoy it. I’m totally not alone in this sentiment though, there are more women around you than you think who have had un-medicated labors and love them! I have always been a little overly interested in obstetrics. I remember sitting on the floor in my mom’s office-now this was before I was old enough to know how to use Google- looking through her World Book Encyclopedia’s “L” book, my second most frequented book, falling only behind the “P” book. What was I studying? Labor and Pregnancy. I spent a few weeks one summer in high school shadowing doctors for a medical program that I took part in, and my OB days were like vacation. I swear it was a high. I watched a good family friend deliver her baby boy when I was just a Junior in high school, and my first 100 in nursing school was on my first Labor and Delivery test. I read online medical journals outlining new protocols and procedures for obstetrics and pretty much every single one of my 15 continuing education hours to keep up my nursing license every year revolves around newborns and pregnancy. Call me a freak, I know, but I just always thought that it was SO COOL. I mean, a baby grows in your body, and then your body decides that the baby is grown, so it goes through a series of steps to literally expell the baby from your body, and your body just knows what to do. This is literally an innate ability that God gave specifically to women. There was no way I was letting this experience pass me by without at least TRYING to take in every single bit of it.
Notice my enunciation of the word “try“. My entire pregnancy with Hattie, I prepared myself for a natural labor-mentally and physically. We took a childbirth class, I read my Bradley book, I watched 100+ videos on natural childbirth, watched The Business of Being Born, read way too many forums written by moms who took the natural labor step and shared their experience, but I still would tell people when they asked that I hoped to have a natural labor. I wanted to allow the option of a more western medicine form of birth to still have access to my labor table so that if something were to happen, because lets face it, labor is completely unpredictable even in the best circumstances, I wouldn’t be completely disappointed in myself for “failing”. Enter Hattie’s labor. It was the most beautiful and empowering experience I have ever had. 4 hours from water breaking to delivery, no episiotomy, no tears, no screaming, not an unimaginable amount of pain, and I felt totally connected with my body and in control. I absolutely loved it. Fast forward to pregnancy number two, and the same mindset stayed with me, “Don’t be let down should something happen, it will all work out in the end“, but deep down, I wanted that natural labor high again. I wanted my husband to look at me with so much pride and feel, in that moment, as if I couldn’t have done a more amazing thing for him. I wanted to feel my body signaling me to move my hips a certain way, and push to a certain point, and let off at others. I wanted to feel the baby’s head crowning and the exhilaration that comes with that final push as your baby enters the world. But this baby was going to be bigger. My doctor said so, and my stomach’s circumference said so too. My weight gain was the same, 25 pounds, but I just knew in my bones that I wouldn’t be dealing with the same little 6 pound 8 oz tiny package that I did in round one, and that frightened me. I was scared to tear and scared to recover from a tear. I felt like all of my swelling and recovery pain had subsided around 3 weeks postpartum with Hattie, and I was terrified to chase a toddler while recovering from a 2nd degree laceration or worse. Lots of women do it, I know, I just didn’t want to. I didn’t want my beautiful visions of labor and delivery to be changed forever-and for the worse. I wanted my childbirth utopia to remain. I don’t like change, I don’t like it at all. I prayed and I asked friends to pray, and I just set my mind to positive, because that was all that I could do.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Hattie and I spent the day running errands to take care of our very last minute details. I needed to get a pecan tree at the local nursery for my father in law’s Christmas gift, pick up one of Ben’s gifts, wash my car, stock the fridge, wrap my last two gifts, and spend some quality time with Hattie and Ben. The ladies at the nursery even asked when my baby was coming. “Anytime now” I said. “It could be tonight”! They laughed, but I didn’t. I had a feeling. I felt maybe 3 contractions that day. Nothing too strong, but I had felt a few contractions about 7 minutes apart for about an hour the night before, so I figured I would be waxing and waning over the next few days.
9 PM I posted this picture on Instagram with the caption “Yes, I’m still pregnant”.
10PM: Ben fell asleep in Hattie’s bed after prayers and stories and I spent the quiet time in our bedroom rearranging my hospital bags and sending silly pictures and texts to my good friend, Amanda, who had birthed her own baby just the week before. I laid down trying to get some rest, and that’s when those suckers got down to business. I knew that this was it, but I was scared to say so and drive 45 minutes to the hospital and wake up our family for a false alarm, so I waited. I timed my contractions for the next couple of hours, trying to rest in between. They started to get mild, but I just laid on my side, with my leg hiked up over my bumpnest, breathing through each one like Dr.Bradley had instructed. I got up every 15 minutes or so to pee about 1 oz, and because I felt a lot of pressure in my derrière, if you know what I mean. I started to pass a little bloody mucous, so I knew my babe was moving down. I finally went and told Ben that he may want to shower because we might have to head to the hospital soon. He told me that he was ready! Oh, how I wish excitement was contagious. I was a little nervous as he loaded up our bags, but I was ready too. My water broke at home with Hattie, and that was my sign that labor was imminent and we needed to get to the hospital. I was a little thrown that my water hadn’t broken yet, but my contractions were 5-7 minutes apart, so at my discretion, we headed to hospital.
1:03 AM: I texted my brother’s girlfriend, Fefe, to head our way since she would be staying with Hattie, and alerted my mother and mother in law that we would be leaving soon. They all rumbled out of their beds scurrying to dress and head our way for the big event.
1:30: We got on I-10 and headed to Lafayette, Ben prayed for us as we drove, which was pretty much his last attempt at asking God to please not require him to deliver a baby roadside.
2:15: We walked through 5 miles of hospital loaded down with my assortment of pillows and labor bags and finally made it to the OB ward. I was greeted by two nurses that I knew both from nursing school and pageants, so I instantly felt relived. They led me to a room, gave me my gown, and were back to check me soon after. My water still hadn’t broken, and I was only at 5 cm, whereas I thought I would be further along, so I was a little discouraged, worrying that I would spend hours in labor in a hospital bed.
2:30-4:30: Everything kind of melds together at this point, but I laid in bed on my side with my leg propped up on a pillow, breathing through contractions, audibly at this point as they intensified, and thinking happy thoughts! I remember being cold, and having Ben cover me with another blanket and my pea coat. I then started my series of getting up and heading to the bathroom. This freaked Ben out terribly, because it was around this time that my pushing urge began to creep up. I was on the toilet the first time and mentioned it to Ben, who mentioned it to the nurse, who told him it was the baby, so he was a little dramatic, begging me to get back on the bed. I gently informed him that it was 15 feet away, and he could carry me there if need be before the baby actually was delivered. Men…
Speaking of men. My husband is great when it comes to labor. He doesn’t seem the least bit grossed out, he fully supports my decisions, and he actually appreciates the beauty of how intricately a woman’s body was designed to carry, birth, and sustain a child. He will help me bath, situate my pads, wipe blood from the floor and he handles bodily fluids like a pro, but God bless him, he is not a soothing person. The Bradley Method is deemed “Husband Coached Childbirth”, and the husband is encouraged to whisper in his wife’s ear as she labors helping to calm her, rubbing her belly and back, never leaving her side. Lord. Help. Me. His voice is as deep as the Grand Canyon, and his rather large hands couldn’t even spell the word gentle. I love having him there with me, but if he spends some time in the waiting room visiting with our Dads and my little brother, that’s just fine with me. I’m more of an “alienate yourself and labor alone” kind of person. I need to concentrate fully if I’m going to stay relaxed during contractions, which is the only way I can handle natural labor. Tensing up during a contraction is like hell on wheels. Okay, not that bad, but I don’t want to spend hours feeling that kind of pain. So I relax. My mom plays the soothing role when needed. She spent a little time telling me that I was doing so good, and holding my hand. I was thankful to have her there.
^This would be an example of “not relaxing during a contraction”
At around 4:45 I started to actually attempt to not push-which also hurts like hell on wheels-but I knew that I wasn’t completely dilated yet, so I tried to hold off on pushing. Our bodies are like teenagers on a mission though. It could care less what you tell it to do, it’s going to do what it wants. I would hold off on pushing until about the last 10 seconds of each contraction, and then nature took over. I went on and on like this for a few minutes, and then got up again to go to the bathroom-I’m sure everyone wanted to kill me at this point. And I’m also sure my husband was certain I would walk out of the bathroom with a hand hanging out of me. I finally climbed back into bed, wrapping myself in the toco monitor’s cords while doing so. I then got onto my hands and knees so that they could unwrap me and while in this position went through a pretty intense contraction. I just leaned forward and laid my head on the pillow and then decided that this was pretty comfortable, so for the next 5 minutes or so, I just labored like that! I fervently apologized to everyone for shooting my rump into the air and for sitting in this weird position. My nurse reassured me that she’d seen it all, but I like to be as normal as possible and this didn’t feel normal to me. It just felt less painful-momentarily. Somewhere around this time I ripped off my hospital gown-I take it I was hot…it was also accumulating a lot of blood. Ben kindly asked if I wanted a sports bra followed by a giggling comment that sounded a little something like, “You’re just so naked” 🙂 the saying is true…a laboring woman has absolutely no shame! It was at this point that I felt the need to push intensifying. I reached down and felt a head moving down during the contraction and told my mom to go and get the nurse. My doctor, whom I nanny-ed for all throughout college and is like family, walked in at this point and I mentioned needing to push bad to him. He agreed and it was at this point that we set up the stirrups and got down to business. My bag of waters was still intact at this point mind you, so I’m awfully glad that I didn’t sit at home waiting for it to break. My doc actually pointed out to everyone in the room how cool it was to see the waters protruding every time I pushed. I guess I maybe pushed for about 10 minutes? Maybe a little less, maybe a little more. I remember feeling a lot more pressure in my booty than I did with Hattie, this pressure actually continued for days following labor. Pushing is such a relief when you are laboring naturally though, and for me it’s like a competition with yourself to see just how hard you can bear down! I love talking to everyone between pushing because you really do have a moment of complete relaxation during this time-plus everyone is really entertained that you can make jokes with them, and then lean forward and push through a contraction, and afterwards lay back and continue visiting. The fun begins here 🙂
5:15 A.M.: I asked my doc how much longer I would have to push, he said it could be up to 15 minutes. I pretty much mentally said “hell no” and pushed even harder at this point. Soon after, I felt that burn that could only accompany a tiny little head, and out it came! I reached down and said “Is that my baby?” while grabbing at the head and almost pulling. “Do you want to get it?” my doc asked. “Yes! I said as I started pulling. He told me to wait a moment while he got a shoulder out, and then he gave me the reigns. At this point I grabbed under his little arms and pushed my final push while simultaneously pulling him out and towards me.
5:20 A.M.: It was amazing to pull him onto my chest and watch his tiny little perfect face turn into the cutest grimace you ever did see. I didn’t even think to check and see what his gender was, but one of our moms chimed up and asked “What is it?” and I heard Ben proudly say “It’s a boy!” I didn’t even have to turn around to hear that smile painted across his face. I spent some time adoring him, and then handed him off to the baby nurse so that she could do her thing. Meanwhile my doctor started to work on delivering the placenta and my postpartum shakes began. Do you guys get those? They’re crazy! My teeth chatter and my body jolts around and I feel so out of control!
The nurses announced his weight as 8 pounds, which was a huge surprise to us all, and my doctor just laughed and said that he couldn’t tell me how big he thought the baby was really going to be, I panicked when I though it would be 7 pounds! The next thing out of my mouth was, “Did I tear!” I just knew I had to have, but upon examination, he announced that I hadn’t! He asked if he could throw one stitch on the very edge of my cervix just to bind the edges back at the most stretched point so that it could heal easier and quicker. I didn’t even feel it, it was so superficial, so I was beyond thankful for that! You know what that means…..bring on more babies!
As quickly as we could, we brought my dad, my little brother, and Ben’s dad into the room. Ben was holding our bundle and announced to the men that we had a boy. That brought sounds of excitement from each of them, but then Ben revealed that his name was Todd Anthony Wilson Landry. My father’s name is Anthony (Tony) and Ben’s dad’s name is Todd, so having our son’s first name contain both of theirs was such an honor-for us- and also for them. Ben’s middle name is Wilson, and was named so since that was his mother’s maiden name. Everyone in the room was in awe of the beauty of that moment. Ben and I had chosen that name when we were only engaged, but would never tell anyone, so they were all excited to finally know the surprise! And even more excited that it was such a strong family name, encompassing all sides and generations of our families.
Soon after all of the normal fanfare took place, I was able to nurse the hungry little mister and start to get to know him. I was so exhausted at this point seeing as I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, and my adrenaline was slowly wearing off. We rested for the majority of the day, but I never slept. We had a few visitors come and go, and our parents drifted back home to take care of Hattie and they all had Christmas Eve services at their churches. It was surreal once it was just Ben, and the baby and I alone in our room. Like most new moms, I couldn’t believe that he was finally here! Our doc helped convince the pediatrician on call that we were competent and healthy enough to leave that night, and so 15 hours after his birth, we left the hospital to bring big sister one of the best Christmas presents she will ever get.
I cannot even express how grateful I was for all of my friends and families prayers over the course of that day and the days leading up to it. I had another fantastic labor experience, and I know that God was with us the entire time. He gave our nurses and my doctor competence, patience, sincerity, and joy. That is how I will always remember the day of Todd Anthony’s birth. A day of joy. So much joy, everywhere.
All around the world people were celebrating the birth of a small little boy sent by God to his earthly family, and meanwhile, we were admiring ours.