[In honor of Waylon's birthday, I thought I'd finally get around to posting his birth story, which was written down just a few weeks after he was born but has been sitting lonely on my computer. Maybe I'll eventually get around to posting Georgia's.]
I'll see if I can keep this slightly shorter than the multiple entries it took me to convey June's birth. Everyone's first question has been whether we got to the hospital sooner this time around, and if there was any drama. Joe is particularly happy to report that no, there was no chance of a highway birth this time around. Here's how it all went down.
I had been in nesting mode for weeks, but looking back on it now, there was a notable surge leading up to my labor. Around 11:00 p.m. on the night of Saturday August 6th, Joe and I got in a small argument about when enough should be considered enough, so I finished wrapping Georgia's birthday presents but agreed that, in the interest of getting some sleep, building tomato stakes for our container garden could wait until a different day. Yes, I was saying that with a straight face. We went to bed.
Around 1:45 a.m., I awoke and nudged Joe to ask him to turn on the lamp because I felt something wet and didn't know what it was. Sure enough, my water had broken. I stood up to a drip and quickly waddled my way into the bathroom in time for a large gush. As with the start of each of my labors, my brain then immediately froze, and in this case apparently got flushed right along with the amniotic fluid. Honestly, it's amazing to me (given that this was our third time around) how much I suddenly couldn't remember anything about what we were supposed to do or when. Both of us were a little confused and panicked since this was the opposite of how the prior labors had started. I wasn't yet having contractions, and never before had my water breaking been the first sign of labor. I think this sequence of events made Joe even more paranoid about getting to the hospital (I didn't know that was possible!), since during June's birth my water breaking occurred just minutes before her arrival. We called the on-call midwife for advice and were told to go back to bed, and that if active labor hadn't started on its own within 12 hours, we'd need to head to the hospital to kick-start it with pitocin due to an increasing risk of infection. That wasn't an ideal outcome in my mind, but there was nothing we could do but wait to see what would happen.
Before going back to bed, we figured we should probably pack a hospital bag, something that hadn't yet risen to the top of my extensive to-do list. I had put off packing, thinking it would be a good way to pass the time during early labor, but that was probably a mistake since packing became tricky in the midst of my labor-induced total brain freeze. I fumbled around my closet kind of mentally freaking out and not recalling very well what on earth we might need. After throwing the essentials in a duffel, we attempted to get some sleep, but it wasn't meant to be. First off, my mind was racing just knowing that we were about to have a baby. Second, within 45 minutes, I started having regular contractions that were no big deal but were rapidly becoming increasingly painful.
Called midwife for further advice. Called my sister to come over to sleep at our house with the girls assuming we'd need to leave for the hospital soon-ish. Called our doula (not the same one as last time), but found out she was at another birth and would therefore call in a back-up doula for us. Um, okay, whatever.
Increasing pain + near car birth last time + water already having broken + paranoid husband = we decided to leave for the hospital. We arrived at OB triage around 6:45 a.m. (Our doula (not the back-up) met us there, because apparently the other labor she had been attending had stalled out, but that is neither here nor there.)
My intent was basically the same as last time, to go as long as I could without the drugs, having an all natural childbirth if possible. Except it wasn't the same as last time in a number of ways. I guess you could say that I had the confidence of knowing I could do it, because I had done it before. But I also had the feeling of having crossed that item off of my life list, so to speak. June's birth was an amazing experience that I'll always treasure, but I knew from the outset that I wasn't nearly as mentally committed to going for natural childbirth this time as I was then. And if there's one thing I've learned, it's that above all the whole thing requires a lot of mental stamina. I also felt like some of the reasons that I had been going for a drug-free birth with June in the first place no longer worried me so much. Specifically, I was less concerned about getting sent down the "domino effect" path of increasing medical interventions, simply because this was the third time my body was going through childbirth, so I felt pretty sure that once labor commenced it would continue to progress with or without an epidural.
So, yes, I happily got an epidural this time around, and truth be told, I think I kind of knew I would from the outset, for the reasons noted above. Unlike with Georgia's birth, where I ended up in quite a bit of pain despite having an epidural, and narrowly avoided foreceps and a C-section, during Waylon's birth the epidural worked like a charm, exactly as advertised.
But I think I've kind of jumped to the finish line. Let's back up to triage. I was at 4.5 centimeters and got sent to a room. The next couple of hours are a bit of a blur, but I remember the following: trying to go to the bathroom but finding it really painful to get up and down, getting in the shower hoping that would make the pain of contractions more tolerable, getting secretly annoyed with the doula because I didn't feel like she was doing much of anything, laboring in the middle of the room while leaning on Joe with my arms around his shoulders (actually, the bulk of my labor went down this way), getting nauseated and throwing up, asking them to check my progress, finding out I was at about 5.5 cm, feeling like throwing in the towel and getting the epidural. Then it was suggested that I should try the tub to see if it would help. I had envisioned more of a pool, whereas this thing looked like a cross between a bathtub and a hotel luggage cart. Oh, how I wish I could say it helped even one little bit, but I found that damn tub to be about as comfortable as climbing into a tiny canoe on shore - no room to turn, kneel, or float. I think I stayed in for only two contractions before declaring it a worthwhile but failed experiment. And so it was that at that point I asked them to call the anesthesiologist.
Of course, that's part of the problem of guessing when you might want the drugs. If you're like me, you basically wait until you REALLY want them immediately before requesting any, but then it's another 20 minutes until anyone arrives to do anything, and another 15 or so after that to complete the procedure. In retrospect, it seems silly to complain about 35 more minutes of discomfort in the grand scheme of things, but during that 35 minutes you believe time has stopped and that you might die. Having the epidural inserted was the most difficult part of Waylon's birth for me. First off, they make you sit on the edge of the hospital bed when sitting is the most excruciating position for contractions. Second, they make your labor support leave the room, so I had no Joe to lean on. Third, you have to be very still. The nurse was amazing, though, holding my hands through each contraction, talking me through them, helping me to not fidget or writhe. And then, boom! No more pain. I could go on and on about the amazing aspects of natural childbirth, but there is also something A-MAZING about suddenly not feeling the pain anymore. In that moment, it is blissfully awesome.
I rested, and Joe waited. By this point, he was starting to get a little hungry and announced, "I'll just wait until the midwife comes to check your progress and then go grab something to eat." Okay, good plan. But apparently Waylon wasn't waiting for a lunch break. The midwife waltzed in, checked me, and to our surprise revealed that after a little less than two hours of laboring with the epidural, I was complete, at a plus two station, and ready to push. Suddenly Joe's sandwich was back-burnered as the midwife said, "I see hair. Let's have a baby!" They got me re-situated in the bed, I pushed exactly one and a half times, and Waylon was out. The midwife exclaimed, "It's a boy!", set the baby on my chest, and Joe and I both burst into happy tears. We were floored, for all the usual reasons of the surreality of bringing an extra human into the world, but also because less than five minutes earlier we'd been casually sitting around thinking about the cafeteria.
In the immediate aftermath of cutting the cord, checking vitals, and all that jazz, someone said, "Does he have a name?" I looked at Joe and asked, "Is he a Waylon Albert, or an Albert Waylon?" Without hesitation, Joe declared he was a Waylon. But just so you know, that subject was discussed extensively for weeks, and our little guy could just have easily been an "Al" had Joe's mood been different that morning.
So, there you have it! Joe unabashedly ranks Waylon's birth as his favorite, and I can understand why. It did not have the negativity or difficulty of Georgia's birth, or the drama of June's. However, I do find it funny when he describes it as "easy." Apparently he has blocked out my moaning and throwing up, but I have not forgotten those parts. The truth is, whether by surgery, with drugs, without drugs, in a hospital, a car, or a bathroom, there really is no easy way to get a baby out, and every birth is different. And in my opinion, beautiful. I know most people do not get half the kick that I do out of hearing birth stories, though, so thanks for indulging me this one.
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