Jude's Birth Story

So I had a kid this weekend. His name is Jude and he is pretty cute. If you aren't into birth and birth-y details, you'll probably want to stop at the picture (or just skip all the words and go directly to the pictures and cute sibling stuff at the bottom). If you keep reading, you have been warned.

To back up, this pregnancy has not been easy. It hasn't been my hardest, that was Norah because my hyperemesis with her was just brutal. This time I started meds earlier and took a more aggressive approach to them and it really paid off. And although my sample size of 4 is not huge, my two boy pregnancies have been easier than my two girl ones and I don't find out the gender ahead of time so there isn't a bias in that.

So the hyperemesis was not as extreme and this was the first pregnancy that I didn't lose weight (I normally lose about 10 lbs before that reverses and I start to eat/gain again). But  I was on meds much longer than normal, all the way to 25 weeks plus progesterone shots to 30 weeks and bi-weekly blood draws to check my thryoid and progesterone levels. Then the nausea and sporadic vomiting came back at about 35 weeks. So by week 39, I was done with being pregnant. And measuring very large. Large = uncomfortable.

Then prodromal labor started 8 days before my due date. This was new to this pregnancy. Because my labors are so short, mild contractions even down to 10 minutes apart did not convince me "this was it" and we didn't have any real false alarms but they were annoying. And persistent. Persistently annoying - for days. Sometimes every hour, sometimes every 15 minutes. Sometimes intense. Sometimes barely anything. But there - all the time. Luckily with just one night's exception, I could sleep through them. The next Thursday (2 days until due date) was my midwife appointment. With her office being 45 minutes away, I wasn't comfortable driving myself but Craig took the afternoon off. I saw my midwives and vented a bit but they encouraged me. My fundal height was 45cm (40cm would be average) but everything was good, baby was healthy and besides the standard end-of-labor woes, my body was doing well. I also had a chiropractic adjustment in the same office. We went home, all had naps and then had a family evening walking around Target buying a few school supplies and then eating at Chik-fil-a. Tax-free weekend was coming up and Craig thought maybe we should wait on the school supplies but was wise enough not to insist on us coming back later once I said I wanted them then.

Friday I called in some more friends for moral support. Play dates had been my saving grace the past week as sitting at home wishing I wasn't pregnant is not really good for ones attitude. So Neighbor J came down and the kids played together all morning while we chatted. That night Craig made us some homemade pizza and we had another Star Wars family movie night. It's been so much fun to watch them with the kids as they see them for the first time. We just happened to have enough ice cream and hot fudge for a couple of ice cream sundays but not enough for everyone in the family so I had planned on making them once the kids were in bed but later on, I didn't feel like them so I went with something healthier. That should have tipped me off. I never DON'T feel like ice cream.  But Craig and I watched some Doctor Who together and I went to bed around 10:30.

A little after midnight on my due date of August 4th, I woke up and had a contraction. It wasn't bad, nothing different than the past week but I had a feeling and Craig might have too because when I went to the bathroom, he asked me if I was okay even though I've been getting up at least once a night to pee for the past month. I told him I was just going to pee but when I saw some bloody show, I wasn't quite so sure that would be all. I had another at 12:20 (which was actually the first time I looked at the clock), woke him up and told him to start timing them. Another contraction later and I knew it was real but I was getting very anxious just lying in bed in the dark waiting for them so I told Craig we should start doing the birth pool just to take my mind off of it. But when I got out to the living room I realized that even between contractions, which were still only every 10 minutes apart, that my belly felt very tight and uncomfortable while I was standing up so I laid down on the couch and watched him.

This was going to be my first water birth. Or at least water labor. I still wasn't sure if I wanted to deliver in the water. But I had somehow convinced myself that this labor would be my longest and I wanted to have the water as a back up pain relief option. And just to say I tried it I guess. I don't think it ended up being worth it for us but it did keep us occupied during the first stage :-)

Also as part of that longer labor worry, I had been reading up about hypnobirthing. I didn't read anything official, just birth blogs and vlogs. But I had been practicing saying the same phrases during each of the harder prodromal contractions and I was hoping to add that to my laboring repertoire. Before Lucy's birth Craig and I took a Bradley class and I do highly recommend them but my laboring had always put me very much "in a zone" and I need total silence and darkness and just to be left alone. This time, I wanted to be a little more present if possible. And since I always like to pep myself up with positive birth stories, I had read a few "no pain labor" stories were they talk about how they felt pressure but not pain and while I certainly liked that idea, I also kinda scoffed. I mean, you can call it whatever you want but it's still gonna hurt.

So I took over the phone app contraction calculator. At 1:11, I also called the midwife and stupidly said not to come yet but I wanted to let her know things had started. She half listened to me and got up and got things ready but just didn't start driving yet. She was wise. But this was the only time I had been able to call the midwife, normally I'm too in my zone and Craig has to do that. But this time between contractions, I was really alert and fine in our semi-lit living room and whenever a contraction started, I started my sayings. It was basically a prayer asking God to be with me and be my rod and my staff (something I hadn't practiced but had seen on pinterest earlier that day that really stuck with me. I mean, it's a popular psalm for a reason!) and thanking him for this blessing and for ordaining this day to be our baby's birthday. And asking for help/thanking him for bringing His peace to me so that I could not be afraid and allow my body to do what it needed. I wasn't reciting a memorized prayer but I used the same phrases each time. AND IT TOTALLY WORKED. I honestly can say I didn't feel any pain during first stage labor at all (FIRST stage. Second stage was a whole different ballgame). Yes, lots of pressure but no pain. It was crazy. Craig didn't even always know when I was having a contraction because I was just lying on the couch the whole time (I did flip from my right side to my left once or twice but never left couch) but he always found out quickly because I shushed him pretty quickly.

I've always struggled with prayer. I've done small group studies and read books and I do value a consistent prayer time but I would never say prayer was a strong thing for me. But I think even more than the no pain part, my memories of praying during this labor and my feeling like God was so close to me and listening will be one of the things I most remember.

And about 1:40 he called the midwives back and told them to come. At 2:20 the tub was ready so I got in. My contractions were about 1:15 seconds long and every 3 minutes but I felt like I probably had a long ways to go because I was still so alert and feeling fine and no pain yet. In fact, after the first contraction in the water, Craig took a picture of me laboring in the tub. It didn't turn out because lights were too low but I am smiling and I remember thinking "Oh, my Bradley book wouldn't even want me leaving for hospital yet if I can still smile). Well, that Bradley book would have been wrong!

I had three contraction in the tub and on the last one I felt pushy but didn't want to tell Craig that because I thought I was wrong.  Then I felt a lot of pressure and my water broke. I was a little curious beforehand how I would know if my water broke in the tub but it was very obvious. Like someone burst a water balloon inside of me, no real mistaking it. Then I felt like I really had to push but the midwives were not here yet and I was not comfortable birthing in the tub without them. So I frantically called Craig and I got out of the tub.

(Side note: We normally stop timing contractions once they get intense and C gets busy but since I was doing it, I kept going until I got in tub. So I know that between the app contractions plus the two before and 3 after. I had exactly 29 contractions before I started pushing. Not that it means anything but I think its neat to know)

This was the first pain of the night. And it was extreme. It was so hard to climb out and I needed to push but I was standing there and it was slippery and I was clinging to Craig. Finally we managed it and he put down towels so I could be on my hands and knees. Craig told me midwives were about 10 minutes away and I think we were both wondering if we'd be doing this alone - again.

This is where it always gets hard for me because, with the exception of Jonah's birth, I don't feel the urge to push until I've pushed for a while and baby is lower. My contractions pretty much stopped and while some of the birth books tell you to use this time to rest and regain strength before pushing but I'm only (kinda-sorta) comfortable on my hands and knees and I can't rest there. I remembering telling Craig I couldn't do this and he was like "oh, are you in transition?" and I snapped back something along the lines of  "No, I'm past that already. I just don't want to push without the urge to and its annoying" but probably more agitated and less understandable. I never really did have a classic transition phase where my first stage contractions were super close together or I felt overwhelmed emotionally speaking which is really cool. But pushing is not cool I hate pushing. But I also know it won't go away if I wait so I just forced myself to push anyway. Midwives arrive in a few minutes (2:50ish?) and start setting up and encouraging me.

This is where the true glory of a midwife comes in. I don't like a lot of hands-on help, especially during first stage and I can't really verbally communicate anything, but my midwives always seem to know when I do and don't need that and offer it accordingly. And I think Craig can pick up on that too. He starts rubbing my arms and encouraging me. They get me a few sips of water. Every time they check on baby with doppler and I hear the heartbeat I get a renewed sense of energy because I want to meet this kid and be done with all this laboring. Finally I start to feel the urge to push more and the ring of fire coming. The head is out and then - another sticky shoulder. Last time with Norah's sticky shoulder, they helped me put my leg up real quick and with just a little bit of help from the midwife, she slid right out. This time, no such luck. We tried one leg up, we tried the other. I'm pushing with all I have but baby doesn't seem to be moving. I have no idea how long it was but probably 2-3 minutes. It felt like an hour.

And then he was here! And a boy. We hadn't found out the gender in advance but that now makes my record 4/4 at correctly anticipating what we'll get. This time, I was more guarded at saying it out loud because 1) little pitchers have big ears. I have never really understood that expression despite my mom using it all the time but I didn't want the kids to think it was going to be one way and be upset if it wasn't and 2) I knew I really wanted a boy and was worried I only thought it was a boy because I wanted a boy and I didn't want to be disappointed. I'm pretty sure if we had a girl I would changed my opinion in about 1.5 seconds and never looked back but I did really want this little guy to be -a  guy.  Anyway, back to the story.

So at 3:11, Jude Norman enters the world and he is perfect.  We get onto bed and cuddle. Kids wake up and come out to meet him. Later on Lucy tells me she had a dream I was screaming :-) She also tells me Norah woke up but she told her a story so she would stay in bed and they fell back asleep until Jonah woke up and needed to pee and then they all heard a baby crying so they came out. Lucy got to cut the cord and the midwife shows them the placenta and the remaining sack and explains it all. This first "golden hour" is one of the moments I visualized during labor too because it's honestly one of my favorite times of my whole life. Everyone just happily rejoicing and moving about but I'm just sitting there, on an hormonal high, holding this new person I love so much.

I nurse for a while but I did tear so Craig does some skin to skin while they fix me up. Kids go back to bed around 4am and Norah tells me that she "covered her head and her baby duke (lovey) with a blanket because she didn't want to see all the noise. The midwives and baby were too noisy". Around 6, we've all eaten and I'm back in bed nursing the baby and the kids wake up again. All that is left is to check this baby boy out. Craig, the three midwives and I all make our weight guessing. Mine was 9lbs2oz the week before he was born and I stick with it. The midwives are all up in the 9s but higher than me. I've already told Craig he looks like a little football player. But we are still all shocked when he ends up 10lbs6oz! Norah was my second biggest baby at 8lbs8oz which is not too shabby either but still quite a bit smaller. All his measurements are just big (14.5 in chest!)  Then the midwives head out and our new lives as a family of 6 begin!

My one and only attempt to put newborn clothes on him. Craig's to-do list for the next day had one more item than expected: switch out newborn clothes for the next size up. 

Ah, 0-3 months sleeper. That's better. 

Norah's a fan. Maybe a little too much of a fan at times but she loves to tell me about the baby but keeps forgetting his name and mostly uses the pronoun "her" even though she knows he's a boy so we have a lot of these conversations. 

Norah: Her is such a cute baby. What is her name again?
Me: HIS name is Jude.
Norah: I love our wonderful newborn Jude. Her has tiny ears. Her has tiny sounds. But that belly button is dis-gusting. 

Jude: Cries (this happens a lot. He's not the happiest baby I've ever had)
Norah: Looks at Craig
Craig: Is baby Jude crying?
Norah with a matter of fact look: Crying is how babies talk.

An often cranky Jude means we don't have many sibling photos yet but hopefully we will soon. 

Norah: What is dat baby's name?
Me: Jude. 
Norah: Baby Jude is not in your tummy. He just popped out yesterday while I was sleeping.
Me: Yeah, sorta. 
Norah: Pokes my stomach then rubs it. Now your tummy is soft. So so soft. No baby inside. So so very soft. 

Lucy: I don't think your belly looks like you just had a baby at all.
Me: Gives her hug (thinks: You're my new favorite child :-)

Lucy loves that they were both born on their due dates and that he has slightly darker hair like she does. Jonah is so excited to have a brother. That night when Craig prayed, he thanked God for Jude being a healthy baby and Jonah added "and that he's a brother." Norah just thinks he's the perfect baby doll toy she's ever had. They are all being great helpers and fetching my snacks and water and things I need but when I called Craig and asked him to bring me Jude from the baby swing, I heard a "I can do it!" and tiny feet running and let's just say we'll be keeping a sharp eye on the newest big sister around here.