Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Birth of Baby Oliver

This is a rather long story, so if you'd rather not read all of the details, you may skip to the bottom for the pictures. Here are the main details for those interested:

I woke up with a contraction around 2:15 am.
Wasn't sure if I was really contracting or not yet.
Woke up Jeff around 2:30am.
Called Nancy, my midwife, right after.
Called Nancy about an hour later, contractions were getting worse and only about 2-3 minutes apart.
Nancy arrived at just before 5 am.
Baby was born at 5:27am.
Jeff's grateful Nancy arrived when she did (as am I… not because I didn't think Jeff would be able deliver the baby, but because Nancy was able to help me to focus and it really helped me to manage the final half hour of labor before Oliver was born- like that last thirty minutes was actually easier than the 30 minutes prior to Nancy's arrival).
His name is Oliver Moses. Oliver comes from the Olive tree. To extend an olive branch is to make an offering of peace. Sweet, right? Sweeter still is that Jeff's name means "peace". Moses is from the bible. It is also a prominent family name on my maternal grandmother's side. She'd always hoped someone would name their son Moses. We knew it would make her happy to give that as a middle name to Oliver. And it has a nice ring to it. And it fits with our other kids' names (they each have family names and biblical names).
He weighed 8lbs. 12 oz. and was 21 inches long.

After having Caleb at a birthing center (which has since closed, unfortunately) and then having Adelaide at the hospital with a midwife, we decided to have a home birth this time. We thought about this long and hard, but really the decision came pretty easily. We had considered having a home birth with Caleb because, if you're a regular reader of my blog, you might remember that my OB when I was pregnant with Caleb was not very willing to even let me have him naturally and told me that I was not a good fit for her. So I had to scramble to find another alternative. I called the midwives at VCU, but they weren't accepting anymore births for June, unfortunately. I also called Nancy, a home birth midwife (whom we had the privilege of having at Oliver's birth), but my schedule didn't work out very well between work and school and the available hours/location. Plus, Jeff wasn't really keen on the idea of having a home birth yet. Finally, a friend (thanks Layla!) told me about Dr. Diaz and her newly opened birth center. I went there, fell in love with Dr. Diaz and Dr. Carpenter and Jessica, the midwife. So we considered a home birth briefly then, but as I just mentioned, Jeff wasn't too thrilled about the idea yet- this was our first, after all. But the birth center turned out to be great and we had a very positive experience there.

When I became pregnant with Adelaide, the birth center wasn't an option, so I had to search for other alternatives and decided to try out the midwives at St. Francis and boy am I glad I did. I immediately felt comfortable there. Even the receptionists were wonderful. They were entertained my by little one-year old boy. The nurses all loved him and I was so grateful that they didn't mind that he came to all of my appointments and that they treated us all so well. I got to meet all of the midwives, but most of my appointments were with Jennifer and she got to be the one to deliver sweet Adelaide. It was perfect.

This time, especially since moving, we knew we couldn't go to St. Francis since it would be over an hour drive there from our new house (where as it was 10 minutes before). I loved the idea of delivering at home and not having to leave my family for the cold environment in the hospital. I loved that I could stay with my family as I recovered from the birth and that my two little children would get to meet and bond with the new baby right away. We also didn't have maternity coverage with our insurance. And I really just felt like a home birth would be the best option for us. I had wanted a home birth before and it didn't work out that we could do one then, but this time, all the stars aligned and it seemed like this would be perfect for us. I had heard wonderful things about Nancy. In fact, Jeff's aunt delivered most of her children at home with the aid of Nancy. And I also have a couple of friends who delivered their babies at home with Nancy. So, I called her up and we chatted for a bit on the phone and decided to meet and it was a go from there. The kids warmed right up to her because they liked playing with her cool toys and she gave them lollipops on our visits. She spoke to them kindly and tried to make sure that they were comfortable in her environment.  Right away from our first actual meeting, I knew this was the right choice. I never once felt uncomfortable or nervous, really. She answered all of my questions and not once did she make me feel ignorant for any comments I made or any questions that I might have had. She seemed to respect me as a mother and as a person, which was important to me. And I respected her for her service, her knowledge and her time.

So fast forward to the time near due. As my due date approached, I felt like I was never going to have this baby. He just seemed so comfortable inside, all the while I was becoming more and more uncomfortable. I don't really like to be "checked" before I'm in labor and my previous midwives have respected that. However, this time, since I live kind of far from Nancy, she wanted to check me at 38 weeks. I was dilated 1 cm and was about 50% effaced. She had mentioned before that a lot of woman can have what is called a precipitous labor (or a fast labor) when they have more children and that this could possibly be a quick labor for me. However, at this appointment, she thought that maybe this would be a regular labor, after all, 8-12 hours long, sort of following after the same pattern as my previous two labors.

Week 39, still no signs of labor. Still chugging along as I had been, but at this appointment, she gave me some things to help my body get ready for labor- primrose oil and 5-w that she asked me to take.

Week 40: Still no real signs of labor. Everything looked good. Blood pressure was great. Weight gain fine. Baby sounded great.  No concerns about my health or the baby's health.

Week 41: Still no baby! The night before my appt, I was starting to feel a bit discouraged, only because I was eager to meet my little guy, it had been a week since he was due and it was getting more and more uncomfortable. At  my appt., she listened to the baby, moved him around a bit to make sure he was doing well and we were getting some positive accelerations. He sounded great, his accelerations were great. He was positioned head down and was quite low. She said that I definitely looked more ready to give birth this week, whereas last week, I didn't look ready to give birth. I had gained a significant amount of weight this past week, which concerned me, but didn't concern Nancy, too much. She reminded me that I should still watch what I eat, however. My blood pressure was great, there was a little fluid retention, but not much. So she decided to check me. I was 3-4 cm. dilated and more effaced, but still she expected a longer labor. She set an appt. for the following Monday (5 days later), but said she expected to see me before then.

Well, that night, I ate a bunch of homemade chocolate chip cookies for dinner. I wasn't really hungry for real food, but I can't ever turn down cookies. Ha. I was tired and went to bed at a pretty decent time.  Caleb, woke up sometime in the night and Jeff went and got in bed with him and ended up falling asleep. I was awakened at about 2:15 am with my first contraction. I had no idea if it was a real contraction or not. (I failed to mention that a week and a half prior, I had some mild contractions in the middle of the night as well- expected them to turn into something, but they never did). I stayed in bed for awhile, laying there, waiting to decide if I was really in labor or not. Finally at about 2:30, I decided that I must be at the start of labor, I had tried to pay attention to how close the contractions were and they were between 3 and 4 minutes apart. I went into Caleb's room. Whistled and called Jeff's name (Jeff and I often whistle to each other to get each other's attention.) And just said, "I think it's go time." His response, "Seriously?" I said it was and he got up while I went downstairs to call Nancy. I called Nancy and we talked for a bit. I had one contraction while on the phone with her but was so amped up that I don't think she noticed, but then she did notice the second one, which was amazing to me, because there was only a subtle change in my voice. She told me that I probably have plenty of time, to try and get some sleep, if I can, and then to call her back in an hour unless the contractions get less than 3 minutes apart. I decided to do some cleaning. I thought, if I'm really in labor and this baby is coming then I can't have my house a wreck. Jeff assured me he'd clean, but I insisted. Well, the contractions started to get worse quickly. Jeff timed them for me and they were all 3 minutes apart or less. He encouraged me to call Nancy back. I told him that instead, I'd rest and maybe they'd get better. We also sent a text to my grandparents to let them know that things were happening. And I let my sisters know and Jeff let his siblings and parents know as well. Well, I rested on the sofa and watched a little tv, but the contractions didn't really get better and stayed at about 2-3 minutes apart. Jeff encouraged me to call Nancy, but I said I'd just call her at 3:30, when the hour was up- it was fast approaching anyway. Finally 3:30 came, I called Nancy, told her the contractions were closer together and getting more intense and she said she'd be on her way.

Jeff gave me a priesthood blessing and then I rested a bit more on the couch, then decided to go upstairs and clean up the mess that the kids made earlier in the day. They had thrown clothes all over my bedroom floor earlier that day while I had been in the shower and I just didn't have time or motivation to clean it up earlier. While I was cleaning, I told Jeff that if this was going to be like this for the next 8 hours that I didn't think I'd be able to handle it. It was getting worse, very quickly and I really didn't know how I'd be able to make it for so many hours. I finished with the clothes and Jeff suggested that I take a shower- that maybe that would help. It did.. a bit anyway. I let the hot water run over my back, which I had done at the beginning of both previous labors. After my shower, Jeff got the floor and bed ready with the vinyl shower curtains and sheets. He grabbed the towels from the closet  (everything else was already gathered in our birth box). Caleb woke up soon after I woke up Jeff and so he was also going back and forth between Caleb and me trying to quiet Caleb and trying to make sure I was comfortable. I watched the clock, but not to pay attention to the contractions and how close apart they were, rather I began to wonder when Nancy would arrive. Jeff called my grandparents and told them that they could come anytime. By 4:30, Jeff had brought Caleb into our room and made a pallet on the floor for him on the other side of the room. By this time, the pain had gotten so intense that I didn't know how to handle it. (Jeff, looking at the labor chart that Nancy had given us, said that he thought I was in the transition stage. I told him there was no way I was in transition already. I had only just started. Turns out he was right.) There was contraction after contraction. Just as one was waning, another would begin or sometimes it felt that there was no end at all. I was blowing  through my lips, I tried grunting and biting a pillow as I moaned. I cried to Jeff that this was so painful that I didn't understand why this was so much more painful than the other two. Nothing seemed to help. I did have Jeff kiss me during one contraction and that actually did help for that one. :) That was mostly out of curiosity's sake. I'm sure Caleb was so confused by the noises that I was making. Jeff took him downstairs and put on PBS for him after awhile. Then, finally, Jeff's looking out the window and sees that Nancy is here. He goes to help her with her things and she asks how I'm doing. Jeff told her that I said that this was the most painful of all of my births. She came upstairs and went right to work. I was in the middle of a contraction, leaned up against the bed, on my knees,  when she came in. She let me work through that contraction, then had me sit up, legs crossed and had me focus. She immediately got me to focus and helped me to breathe to work through the contractions. She had me stare into Jeff's eyes. She asked me where it hurt the most. I told her I didn't know, my back, I suppose. She had a listen to the baby who sounded great and then she checked me. I was at a 9. Jeff and I were stunned and relieved. I couldn't believe that I was already a 9, I didn't expect that at all. At this point, it had only been just over 2.5 hours since labor started. The baby was also posterior so she rotated him  a bit, which was painful but helped relieve some of the back pain. We worked through a couple more contractions.  The baby moved as I contracted a couple of times and that was soooo uncomfortable. She asked me if I had wanted to get in the tub. Originally, I did, but at this point, I didn't want to move, so I said, no… but it turns out, we never would have made it anyway. She made sure everything was set up for me, thanked Jeff for getting everything ready. We were only missing a bowl for the placenta and a pot for warm compresses. He gathered those things. She set up the birthing stool. Soon, she told me it was time to sit on the stool. My left foot was numb, so Nancy first massaged it for me as I worked through a couple more contractions. Then, I got onto the stool, Jeff got behind me to support me and I continued to have some of the most intense contractions. I said I couldn't do this anymore. Nancy told me I was doing it. She reminded me to breathe and she breathed with me. Hwoo hwhoo hwoooo… that last hwooo was deeper and she reminded me that the baby was coming down. Then it was time to push. I gave one good push and my water broke! Then a couple more pushes and his head was right there. My feet were resting on Nancy's thighs as she sat in front of me, as I pushed the baby out, my feet burned- they felt like they were on fire. Nancy dropped my feet from her thighs to get into a better position. She told Jeff to feel down and grab the baby's head. He palmed the baby's head and I continued to push, the baby continued to come out. Jeff exclaimed, "He's coming, DeAnna. He's right there" both as reassurance to me and because it was exciting. Nancy grabbed a picture. Jeff said, "He's slipping!" Nancy put down the camera, told Jeff he was fine and I pushed again and out came that sweet boy. She brought him to my chest. I couldn't believe he was here. I just kept exclaiming, "my baby! my baby!" I was elated. We all were. It was such an amazing and beautiful experience. I couldn't believe he was here. He was born in just two minutes after my water broke, just three hours after I started having contractions. It was fast and painful but beautiful and amazing! Absolutely amazing. And I wouldn't change the experience at all.

Oliver Moses was born at 5:27 am on a beautiful Thursday morning (Feb 12th).

I held him on my chest for a few minutes. I pushed out the placenta and Nancy gave me a shot of Pitocin to help with bleeding. Then she had us get on the bed. She checked us out briefly and then let us rest for awhile while she cleaned up. I tried nursing Oliver, but he wasn't quite ready at first- but it didn't take long before he was ready. Jeff went and got Caleb so he could meet his new baby brother. Caleb was a little hesitant at first, but quickly warmed up to him. After about an hour, as the sun was coming up, Nancy had Jeff cut the umbilical cord and then she weighed him and measured him and checked him out again. He was a whopping 8lbs. 12 oz. and 21 inches long. We couldn't believe how big he was, especially since I had measured small for much of my pregnancy and I was certainly smaller with him than I was with the other two, yet he was my biggest baby. Adelaide woke up while Nancy was taking care of Oliver. Jeff brought her into the room. She, too, was a bit hesitant at first, but just like Caleb, warmed up to him pretty quickly.

My grandparents arrived while we were still nursing, my grandfather, not knowing how long it would be, left. My grandmother stayed to help with the kids. Nancy drew an herb bath for me, which was fabulous! Jeff took Oliver down to see my grandmother.

I enjoyed the bath for awhile. I have no idea how long I was in there. Eventually,  Nancy asked if I was ready to get out, I said I was. I got out and then got into the shower to rinse off. After my shower, I immediately felt faint. Nancy checked my pulse and assured me that it was probably from the hot temperatures, but not from loss of blood and that I just needed to rest for a moment and I'd be fine. She also had me drink plenty and eat a protein bar (at some point). My grandmother made me chipped beef and toast (it was my one request).

I lay in bed with my perfect, beautiful Oliver and Nancy continued to clean up and pack up. We took a few photos and then she bid her farewells (about 3.5 hours after she arrived). My grandmother brought me up breakfast in bed. And everyone came up while we enjoyed this new sweet spirt that (finally) joined our little family. And then, then we looked out of the window and it was snowing. It was this magical, romantic moment. Me, surrounded my my beautiful family, my sweet new baby and the snow after an amazing birth. Perfect.

Now for some photos (and if you've made it this far, I'm quite impressed):
P.S. Thanks to Nancy for taking many of the photos of the birth. :)

Forgive me. I'm in the hardest part of my labor.

Not too sure.

Getting closer.
Finally feeling alright.

My big boy. 

Watching Nancy examine Oliver. 

2 days old.
Opening your eyes, even on day two is so hard. 

3 days old

Edited to add pictures from when he was four days old… I wondered why I didn't have any and remembered that it was because my amazing and talented friend, Erin came (from 2 hours away) to take photos of this little guy. Here are some that she took. (Thanks so much Erin!!!)

5 days old

6 days old and I'm in love with his wrinkles. 

7 days old. 

 So there's the first week of this little guy's life. Don't worry, I've already stopped taking photos every day… it's now more like every other day. :)