Sunday, July 13, 2014

Welcoming Baby Logan: My Birth Story

He's here! Our newest little man joined our family on Monday morning, most unexpectedly. When Will was born, he was eight days overdue, and I had to be induced after having contractions for twelve hours that weren't progressing anywhere. The labor was long and difficult. This time, it was a completely different story.

Disclaimer: I'm always fascinated to hear other people's birth stories. The whole process of growing and birthing a baby is an incredible miracle, and I'm in awe of the varied stories I hear about how people welcome their babies into the world. If you're not, you probably ought to stop reading now, just look at the cute picture of Logan, and go back to whatever other exciting links you can find on Facebook. :)

I went to bed Sunday night feeling pretty good, especially considering that I was nine months pregnant and we'd had a busy week of family reunion activities. I’d been having more and more contractions over the past week, and I even thought at one point that they were turning into the real deal...on the Fourth of July...but they had slowed down, and Sunday had been pretty normal. We went to bed about 10:30, and I was looking forward to having the next few days with my mom in town to get things ready for the baby. 

Apparently, he was impatient to get here.

At 1:00 a.m. I woke up and had that groggy, surreal moment where I realized that my water had broken. I got out of bed, woke up Graham (after two tries), and my adrenaline kicked in, realizing that this was really happening. I wasn’t really having contractions though, so I was worried that I would have to be induced to get labor going. I knew they wouldn’t let me sit around too long waiting for contractions to start on their own because I had tested positive for the Group B Strep bacteria, so I prayed that contractions would start soon. 

The next hour was a quiet, busy time. I called my mom to ask her to come up and stay with Will. Then I called the hospital to verify that they wanted me to come in as soon as possible, even though I wasn’t really having contractions yet. They said yes, so we tip-toed around the house packing bags for the hospital, tried to get everything together that my mom would need to take care of Will in the morning, and headed off to the hospital 40 minutes later when my mom arrived. By then, I had started having contractions, and although they weren’t strong, they were consistent and seemed to be getting stronger. 

We got checked in at the hospital, they confirmed that my water had broken, and said that I was dilated to a 4 and 90% effaced. I felt moderate, consistent contractions about 4 minutes apart at this point, so I was feeling good about the direction things were heading. I just tried to mentally prepare myself for the long process that labor can be. My plan had been to have the baby without medication, and I had been reading about and practicing strategies to help me relax (In fact, Graham and I had just discussed before bed that night some ideas of things he could do to help out during the labor process). My biggest goal was to focus on relaxing everything in my body around the baby, getting out of my own way, and letting my body run the show. I was feeling confident for a while in doing this. I sat in the bed for awhile, waiting for them to monitor the baby, and put in the IV that would deliver antibiotics to lower the risk of infection to the baby because of the Group B Strep. I was a little annoyed to be stuck in bed, but I was feeling calm overall. The nurse said she had called my midwife and that she would be here in a while. Because I had just arrived, she was going to “catch another wink” and then come up.

After a bit, the contractions started feeling stronger, and I started to get shaky. It was frustrating to me, because the shaking was uncontrollable, and I couldn’t relax the rest of my body when it was shaking so much. I remembered the shaking from my first labor, but I didn’t remember it happening until much later in the process. It was discouraging to feel like I was losing my focus and control over relaxing so early in the process. (I realize now that I was actually already beginning transition and just didn’t know it.) I told Graham that I wanted to get in the tub, since that had been the most helpful thing during my first labor. I did, and the warm water immediately helped calm the shaking...for awhile.

I was just starting to wonder where the midwife was and when she was going to come, when all of the sudden I started experiencing some really intense contractions. I couldn’t relax through them, I couldn’t find a position to help, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I was out of strategies. Graham supported me as I tried to cope, but I suddenly had the urge to push. Surprised, I reached down, and I realized that I could feel the baby’s head. I told Graham, who scrambled to call the nurse while I tried not to push.

Only a few seconds later, she arrived with several other nurses and checked me, declared me “complete/complete” and calmly (and quickly) talked me through her plan. She expressed that she would rather not deliver the baby in the tub (I agreed), and suggested that after the next contraction she and Graham would help me up and over to the bed where I’d be able to deliver. They did, and as soon as I was there, she gave me the okay to push. It only took one push to get his head out, and one more to get the shoulders. The rest of his body came, and I felt SUCH relief. Oh my, did I feel better. It was 4:51 a.m., less than three hours after we arrived at the hospital.

The nurse laid him on my chest almost immediately, and I got to hold him while Graham cut the cord. They took him across the room briefly to weigh him and dry him off, then brought him back quickly for me to hold again. He weighed 7 lbs. 15 oz. and was 21 inches long. So, not as big as his brother, but still a good, healthy size. He has lots of dark hair and looks a lot like Will as a newborn. 

A few minutes later the midwife arrived. I was almost giddy with relief and joy at being able to hold my new baby as she took care of finishing things up. As she was working, I was joking with her about how her two o’clock appointment (me) was going to be cancelling that day. I think because the labor was so fast (albeit intense), I wasn’t as exhausted as I was with Will. Especially because the pushing was so brief. 

It was a night and day different experience, and continued to be so for the remainder of the hospital stay. My recovery has gone SO much more smoothly this time, nursing has been so much better (though it still takes some practice and getting used to again), and it was mostly just wonderful to have a healthy little boy with whom I could snuggle in my hospital bed instead of having to go down to the NICU every three hours to feed. It was a much more relaxed experience.

(Will discovered very quickly that the hospital has really good snacks in the fridge.)

Now we're just trying to get used to being in the newborn stage again and figuring out what the new normal is for our little family of four. We're all having to adjust a little bit, but we love Logan (especially Will, who is obsessed with giving him hugs, burping him, and giving him toys to play with). Here's to another chapter in our adventure as a family!

Here are a couple more pictures of my beautiful boy!

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