Wow! What a week! So I was torn between sharing just the highlight images of our newest family addition, and giving an in depth play by play of the labor and delivery. Since my toddlers are happily plugged into My Little Pony and our new little man is cozy and spending skin to skin time with his daddy, I think I will attempt a little bit of both!
Some background on my first two deliveries with Tessa and Thyme! Tessa was induced three weeks early (dangerously low amniotic fluid) and so I had a delivery from hell, where I was strapped down to a bed with a thousandy cords sticking out of every possible body part (fetal monitors on the belly and up the hoo-haw, IVs on the arms, so on and so on…) – since I have a pretty intense needle phobia, it was hell. Literally… devil, evil, horrid, suckery. The Pitocin induced contractions were hell. I refused the epidural and ended up – barely – having her naturally, with the assistance of vacuum extraction when I started hyperventilating and passing out and got too weak to push toward the end.
With my second daughter, I had a near perfect delivery experience. I went into labor in the middle of the night, and by the time I realized I was actually in labor, I was already pretty far along with contractions 1 minute apart. We barely made it to the hospital in time. I didn’t have time to sign papers or get checked in – I literally got wheeled in, gave a push and a half, and BOOM! Baby in my arms! No IV, no interventions, no starving me in the hospital or trying to strap me down. Easy, natural and (all things considered), pain free.
So I was a little (okay, a LOT) nervous about how my experience with baby #3 would go. What I knew is that I wanted as natural a birth as possible (think home birth type experience) but in a hospital setting near NICU equipment in the rare event it would be required. I didn’t want to be strapped to a bed, or hooked up to IVs. I wanted to be able to shower and walk around and be as comfortable as possible until it came time to push. I didn’t want needless interventions and medications that might increase my chances of needing a C section. I didn’t want blood drawn before delivery (with my phobia, I did not need the added stress of needles thrown in with pushing a human out my vagina). I wanted to be able to eat and drink to keep up my strength. And once the baby was born I wanted minimal interventions from medical staff – delayed cord clamping, immediate and extended skin to skin, no immediate bath, no eye ointment, no vaccines, no circumcision, etc.
So here’s what happened! I went into labor around 2am in the middle of the night. Contractions were about 10 minutes apart, and I wasn’t even SURE they were contractions, but since I was starting to bleed, I figured it was time to start packing the car for the hospital just in case. Once contractions reached about 5-6 minutes apart, and bleeding got heavier, we headed to the hospital around 3am.
After checking me in, they confirmed I was indeed in labor and at 4 centimeters. I got shown to my room, where I was met by a nurse holding a bazilliondy needles and cords on a tray, where she cheerfully motioned to the bed and said, “Okay, let’s get you all settled into bed!” Uhhhhhhhh, yeah. No.
My wonderful husband immediately handed over my birth plan with my detailed wishes for minimal interventions, and I proceeded to decline every poke, prod, and routine hospital intervention that contributes to our nations ridiculously high cesarean rates. The nurses were great about honoring my requests while making it clear they thought I was crazy, and then they turned the doctor on me, who spent an excessive amount of time repeating himself and not taking no for an answer, demanding I allow them to hook me up to every hospital system in the building. (It got a little ridiculous, my husband even got a bit pissed off with the doctor not taking no for an answer and harassing me while I was in active – and painful – labor. Grrrr!!)
Some of the conversation went a little like this:
Him – “You may not be able to deliver vaginally, and if you aren’t hooked up to an IV, you and your baby could die.”
Me – “I have delivered vaginally twice. I am not opposed to IVs in the event of an emergency, but right I am going to decline the IV and other interventions. When I have an IV in, I have a tendency to have panic attacks and claw at the IV in my arm. I don’t need that while in active labor. So my answer on the IV is no.”
Him – “But you are going to NEED to do an IV. How are you going to receive pain medications?”
Me – “I didn’t do pain medication with my daughters. I don’t need any right now. If I decide I do want some, we can talk about that when the time comes.”
Him – “But what about your epidural? You had one with your other kids, so you know you are going to need one eventually.”
Me – “Actually, NO, I didn’t have an epidural with my other two kids. I WILL NOT be receiving one with this pregnancy.”
Him – “Well, if you decline an IV right now, I need you to acknowledge that you are putting your son and your own life at risk of death.”
Me – “Okay, yeah, sure. In the unlikely event of an emergency I understand it may take an extra 30 seconds to put an IV in if needed. But until and unless an emergency occurs, I am going to decline the intervention.”
Him – “Okay but… you are going to need one. So I need to you to reconsider.”
*repeat the above conversation about a bazillion times… all while I was wincing through painful 2 minute apart contractions*
ANYWAY. After successfully fighting off attempted interventions every 30 minutes, I basically spent the majority of the morning showering and walking through increasingly intense contractions. They never got closer together than 1 minute and 25 seconds before I transitioned to the pushing stages.
Since my daughter Thyme came SO FAST (once I felt like pushing, I pushed and she was out!) I had my husband call the hospital staff in, where everyone sat around my hospital bed and stared at my vagina for about 15 minutes or so. I kept feeling the need to push, and I WOULD.. but nothing was really happening.
They kept urging me to push harder, but I didn’t want to push harder when it just felt like hard pushed would just exhaust me and not really DO anything. It was the weirdest thing, trying to listen to and respond to and trust my body, while simultaneously feeling the pressure to “perform” with the hospital staff waiting around and acting impatient and bored trying to get this baby out of me.
Without going into excruciating detail, eventually the pushing started resulting in progress, and after MANY painful contractions (still 1 minute and 30 seconds apart!) I pushed little mister out.
While I was enjoying immediate skin to skin, the doctor immediately cut the cord – I am sure that while pestering me about needless IVs and medical interventions he didn’t even GLANCE at my birth plan and request for delayed cord clamping. But once Dr. Medicine Happy left the room, the rest of the stay progressed surprisingly well, with attentive medical staff that were sensitive to and respectful of our educated requests and individual preferences and wishes.
Rowan Thomas Freeman was ultimately born at 7:29am on October 22nd, weighing 8 pounds 1 ounce and measuring 21 inches long.
I have been unable to breast feed my daughters (long story, but you can read the details on the why from my previous blog post here) but I had heard that by the third or fourth pregnancy, many women can actually regrow breast tissue that results in a partial supply of breast milk. I noticed that I can produce a couple of drops of breast milk with hand expression this pregnancy, so I have been letting Rowan latch to encourage any additional milk let down. He latches like a champ, and the bonding time is incredible, but as of writing, I am still only producing drops (like 2-3 with hand expression) so I thinking I am ultimately a flavored pacifier at this point. But I will take any little bit of bonding with my little man!
We are blessed to have donor breast milk to get him through the first few months of his life, and I will continue to seek out additional donations for him – praying I can find enough to get him through the first year, like I did with Tessa!
Anyhoo, I am rambling, and this post got way longer than I anticipated (still feeling strangely sleep deprived, even as I have slept most of the time since Rowan was born!) so I will just wrap up by saying, my little guy is amazing, and wonderful, and perfect in EVERY WAY!!!! I love him so much, my heart is filled to bursting! The girls are so excited, and every oooh and ahhhhh from the girls just melts my heart that much more!
God has blessed us beyond measure and I cannot wait to see how our little family will change and grow now that we are a family of FIVE!!! <3 <3