The goal of Hayden's birth was to have a natural (vaginal) non-medicated birth assisted by a midwife. This post is by no means meant to bash doctors, epidurals or inductions because if you have read Leeland's birth story, you know I've been there. But this post is meant to let you know that there are other ways-- natural childbirth is possible, is real, and is WAY more rewarding and fun.
Going into this past week, I was so incredibly excited and anxious about Hayden's upcoming arrival. Those who know me personally know that I am absolutely terrible with surprises so I was driving myself a little mad wondering when he would be here. You also may remember my 37 weeks post where I talked about things coming together for our water birth. I had 2 lovely doulas ready for me to be in labor, the pool and all it entails, and my bags were packed. Just anxiously awaiting the day that I could meet our boy.
On two separate occasions this past week, I had what we'll call "false starts." And I'm not talking Braxton Hicks contractions-- I have been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a long while now. I'm talking false starts in a sense that I had a few real contractions, mild in pain, and then they would stop. It happened twice and it really irked me. They started and I got myself all worked up and excited and they stopped. I say all this to let you know that this past Sunday when the contractions started once again, I honestly was still upset about them stopping before and shrugged them off as another false start.
I woke up with the contractions at first around 630am. I continued to lay in bed and breath through them thinking in my mind that they would stop and I'd be back to sleep in no time. Daniel woke up soon after that and was getting ready to go to the gym like he does every Sunday morning. I told him that I had been having contractions, he asked how many and I replied 7. He asked me how far apart they were and I told him I had no clue. He started to waver about going to the gym. My prior "false starts" were only about 4 or 5 contractions so to him, 7 was a lot. I told him not to worry about it and go to the gym. I insisted that this may not be real labor and that he was getting on my nerves asking too many questions. (Sorry honey, you can't blame me for things I say when I'm in labor.) After Daniel left for the gym, I was still having contractions and was officially awake-- there was no going back to bed. I decided to hop in the shower to distract myself. I remember standing in the shower and feeling Hayden's little tush sticking out on my right side. I rubbed my side and asked him aloud if today was really going to be the day. It was a sweet little moment, and now I know that it was a moment that was shared between us on the last day he was in the womb.
Once I got out of the shower, I continued to assume the contractions would cease soon and just decided I needed to distract myself and work through them. I folded and put away laundry, I picked up around the house, cleaned the kitchen and even made french toast. Finally at around 930am, it started to hit me that this could be the real thing. I wanted to call my doula, but then I was kind of embarassed-- I knew she would ask me how far apart the contractions were and I literally had no idea because I had been playing mind games with myself all morning. I called Daniel at the gym and told him he might want to come on home and that I needed his help to time the contractions. He got home and was 1st amazed that I was standing in the kitchen cooking breakfast while in labor, and he was a little panicked and wanted to rush out to the hospital. I told him we needed to time the contractions before we started to do anything.... and up until this point, Leeland was still asleep so we needed to think about where he was going.
Daniel started to time the contractions which was very confusing to both of us. I was having 1 hard contraction and then I would have 1 or 2 smaller ones and then another hard-- it was a pretty consistent pattern. We assumed we needed to time them all which would've put them about 2 minutes apart, which made Daniel really want to go to the hospital. I still wasn't convinced or ready and decided I wanted to talk to my doula Jessica first and see if she thought that I was ready. I called her on the phone and told her very vaguely about the contractions-- Daniel and I had no clue what we were doing so I feel like she didn't have a lot of information to go on. She called my other doula Bridget who happened to be close by in the area. So Bridget came by to check things out and see how I was doing. She asked about the timing of my contractions and since I really had no idea we started timing them. This time around we only timed the harder ones and skipped the milder ones in between. The harder ones were consistently 5 minutes apart.
She suggested I contact our midwife/OB office and let them know that my contractions were about 5 minutes apart and lasting about 20-30 seconds. I called and the midwife on duty, Virginia, she said that it was up to how I was feeling about coming in. She said that 5 minutes was really good and since this was my 2nd child, she felt that I would be able to discern when I was ready. They were gaining intensity and I knew that if it were up to Daniel we would've been to the hospital a few hours prior, so I told Bridget, let's give it 20 minutes and head out. She called Jessica who happened to be about 20-30 minutes away so we decided we would meet her there at the hospital.
During all of this my in-laws had dropped by on there way out of state, and some friends of ours came by to watch Leeland. Daniel installed Leeland's car seat into their car, and I packed Leeland a "just in case" overnight bag, and packed the last of my toiletries into my suit case for the hospital. We headed out-- the dreaded car ride. Up to this point, I had taken all of my contractions standing, walking and swaying. Sitting hurt and it was hard to cope sitting. In the 11 minute car ride to the hospital, I had 4 hard contractions-- I had white knuckles from gripping the car door handle and I refused to wear a seat belt. Once we got out of the car, I had to fill out some admissions paper work and due to the car ride, I had sort of lost my rythym working through each contraction. Once I felt like I had caught back up, they whisked me away to be checked for admission. Only 1 person could come back with me at this point so Daniel did. Standard hospital procedure was to check for dilation, contractions, and listen to the baby's heart-- standard procedure to verify labor and then have the doctor or midwife decide whether or not to admit you. All well and good standard procedure, except when it is very clear that a woman is in labor. I was annoyed, I didn't want to sit, I didn't want to lay, I wanted to stand and sway and lean over the bed. The poor nurse that was assigned to me for this part was very very kind and didn't seem bothered by me not being very compliant. She set out to find Hayden's heart beat which took FOREVER, mostly because of the position I was standing in made it hard for her. Then she had to unfortunately have me lay down to check for dilation for a minute-- she was very cooperative with me and waited for when I was ready and she checked so quickly that I'm not entirely sure she got a good estimate and she definitely didn't know how effaced I was. She said I was 5cm and insisted I sit in a wheel chair to be taken to a delivery room. I wanted to walk, but she said the wheel chair would be faster and she had noted my rythym and pattern of dealing with the contractions and mentioned that in the hall there was nothing to lean over to cope. Just before I sat down in the wheel chair I felt a couple gushes of fluid. I honestly thought I might had peed myself-- we now of course know that my water had broken.
She was right about the wheel chair being fast. We barreled down the hallway and collected Jessica and Bridget along the way. We got into the room and everyone immediately started setting up our inflatable birth pool-- that's all that was on my mind as the contractions were getting more intense was how great the water was going to feel. I had a nurse on my left asking me all kinds of preliminary questions about allergies and such and I felt a nurse around my waist trying again to find Hayden's heart beat. I was standing hunched over the bed, and when contractions came, I would lean over the bed and sway a little. They were harder and faster, I was sweating more than I ever had in my entire life. Jessica was wiping my face with a cool cloth and both she and Bridget were blurting out little praises and encouragement. I remember saying at least once, "I can't" and they assured me "Yes I can." Someone got me a birthing ball and offered it to me to sit on. All I could remember was the car ride and how sitting hurt so at first I was resistant, but then I sat down and it actually felt really nice. I was still hunched over the bed at this point.
It felt like literally just a moment later I felt a huge amount of pressure and knew that Hayden was coming. I blurted out, "He's coming!" and though I wasn't looking and had no idea what anyone was doing at this point behind me, there was a panic. Daniel says that a nurse stuck her hand behind me at that point, and said, "Yes, the baby's coming!" and then everyone began to run. I was assisted up onto the bed for fear that the baby was going to fall to the floor. I wasn't trying to push but totally felt my body pushing him out on it's own as I was there on all 4's on the bed. I was told that there was a flood of nurses at this point in the room trying to get the delivery table set up and everything prepared because he was coming so fast. My midwife told me that she nearly took out 2 people running down the hallway. All I heard was a voice say, "reach down and touch your baby" and a few moments later, "he's here, you can hold your baby!" I think I may have only physically put in 2 pushes because my body was doing much of the work. I rolled over onto my back and they placed Hayden on my tummy-- his cord was too short to go any higher.
I was in shock and in awe at what had just happened. We had literally just pulled up at the doors of the hospital an hour ago.... we had only been in the actual delivery room like 20 minutes. The pool only had a couple inches of water in it. It was SO crazy. I was on a high-- Hayden was finally here, and what an incredible story of his labor. I DID IT! I had my baby completely naturally!
What an incredible, incredible experience!!
Hayden was here! He picked his own birthday, there was no induction, no needles, not even a standard IV because there was no time. I surprisingly felt really good. No tearing, and really only just a little swelling which is to be expected.
Hayden latched to the breast right away and breast feeding has been pretty awesome and easy in the few days since which is not something that could've been said of my 1st son.
In a lot of ways, I'm still on a high and an adrenaline rush.
It was simply awesome!
Hayden Daniel Kroh
7 pounds, 9 ounces
19 inches long
And a very special thank you to my village who made this possible!