Oh Simeon, what a birth story indeed.
I can now for sure say I have had the most different births imaginable. They say every pregnancy is different and every birth is different. I can attest to that. Levi's was the unexpected, two weeks early, breech C section. Aria's was the hard fought for, three day, intense labor, two hours of pushing and crazy tearing VBAC. Simeon's was, well … perfect. Honestly, I look back on the whole thing and I would not change it. That's the first time I can say that about one of my births. I don't even care that he was a week late anymore. If that's what it took to have an amazing, natural delivery, I'll take it.
After Aria's epic birth I was kind of nervous about having another child naturally again. It was so long and dramatic, so many twists and turns and it was incredibly painful. However, I like to try to live and learn. What I learned from her birth is to rest. Go back to bed and try to relax even when you don't want to. Eat, even when you don't feel like it or you're not really that hungry. Save your energy for the intense contractions at the end and the pushing. When you're in early labor, don't focus on the contractions, focus on relaxing. The baby will come, you just have to relax and let your body do it's work.
I think Aria's birth took so long and was so traumatic because by the end of it all I had no energy to even push her out. I hadn't really slept in three nights, I didn't feed myself well either, thinking I was always just about to push a baby out.
These last weeks of pregnancy have been a huge mind game. You have this date that your baby is "supposed" to come on. You have a Dr measuring you ever week and telling you that you're not dilated or you're measuring big. Everyone else is asking when you're gonna have your baby. But really the worst part is just BEING pregnant. Everything is difficult. You have to pee all the time, even when your bladder is empty, movement is difficult, bending over is impossible, sleeping is terrible, there are no comfortable positions to be in. On top of that your emotions are on the brink. Anything can set you off crying, it's like you're this big ball of hormones walking around, trying to function.
All of this is motivation... to go through the most painful thing you can experience. So that you can have the most amazing gift ever created.
Onto the birth story.
On Simeon's due date I still had no progress. That's the last thing you want to hear. You're body is not opening up, something is wrong with you. That's how it feels at least. Each day I would wake up and wonder, would contractions start today? Each day feels like an entirely new pregnancy. I tried everyone's suggestions to induce, none of it worked. Labor just had to come on it's own.
It really helped one night to talk to my friend and doula Katie. She helped me with all this mind gaming and told me that when he is ready, he will come out. I can't force anything. It so helped me just release the whole situation.
As it turned out that the next day the contractions started. It's interesting because you're so excited to finally experience real labor, the stuff you have been waiting for that will end this whole thing and bring this beautiful baby into your arms. However, I remember feeling those first contractions and thinking, Oh dear, am I really going to do this? Can I handle this? The good thing is that you start to get used to them. I kept moving and trying to stay busy. The kids were a great distraction, playing with them, doing the laundry and just keeping busy around the house in general.
Ben had had a weird night at work the evening before and had gone to bed at 2 so he was going to work late. At one point he saw me leaning on the counter and asked what I was doing.
Me: "Oh, just breathing, trying to relax into a contraction."
Ben: "Oh, okay."
Me: "Don't get your hopes up, we are probably not going to have a baby today."
Ben: "Yeah, probably not today."
He went off to work around 9 and I stayed home with the kids. I had contractions maybe about every 15 minutes, but they were nothing I couldn't function through.
After lunch me and the kids went on a walk. Partially to wear out the kids for naps and partially to see if they would help with labor. I asked Levi if he wanted to go for a walk and he said "yeah! I want baby Simeon to come!"
That afternoon the kids napped at the same time (woot!) and I was able to lay down. I listened to a CD called Earth Mama Angel Baby VBAC Preparation. It's basically a woman talking you through contractions with soft music in the background. I highly recommend something like that for dealing with contractions. They helped me relax and remember that the pain is a good thing. She talks through a lot of visualization and relaxation techniques.
When I got up from the nap I found I had lost part of my mucus plug. I thought, okay, this could happen soon. I was still having contractions about every ten minutes. My mother in law texted me and asked if we had dinner plans. I was so thankful I didn't have to cook dinner that night! This is how the Lord really provided, I asked her if they could keep the kids that night just in case something did happen in the middle of the night, that way we wouldn't have to worry about them and just be able to go to the hospital if we needed.
I had let my friend Katie know that I lost my mucus plug and I had been contracting all day. She was so encouraging and excited. She was probably more hopeful than I was that I would have a baby soon. The encouragement was just what I needed.
Ben got home from work and we went on to his parents house. He asked me how many contractions I'd had that day, had it been five or so? I realized then how little I had communicated about my labor. I had had them all day, sometimes 10, 20 or 30 minutes apart. I had just been trying to deny it all day. I told him that I was probably in early labor. We thought that since his parents were taking the kids that we would go see a movie. He wanted to go see the Hobbit and it would start at eight.
We had dinner with Ben's parents and it was great. There were a few times during contractions that I would pause and just be kind of quiet, I would apologize and Ben's dad was like, I know what you were doing. I was thankful they were so understanding.
We put the kids down and headed off. In the car I was just thinking, I don't know if I want to go see a movie while contracting like this, I don't want to wear myself out with staying up late, especially if I might have a baby tomorrow, it would probably be best to just go home and rest. I asked Ben if he was okay with seeing it a different time. He was pretty tired from his prior evening of sleep, so we went home.
I took an Ambien around 8, Ben read from our book to me and I got into Deep Knee Chest Position (It's where you get on your knees and chest with your butt in the air, they say to do it with a posterior baby for 20 minutes or a few good contractions) just in case Simeon was still posterior. I thought maybe I had been having some back labor and I wanted to see if I could turn him. Aria was posterior for about two days of my labor with her. That's one reason why it took so long.
Then we got into bed. I put on my visualization CD and slept as best I could.
At this point, for those readers who have not experienced a contraction, I will try to explain it, because it is like no other pain I have ever experienced in my life. It's this pain that comes from deep inside your pelvis and moves slowly up your body and completely takes over. Almost as though your body was trying to split itself open, one wave at a time. That's not even a very good explanation… what am I talking about?
On with the story.
I woke up around 10 pm and was pretty hungry. I fixed myself a bowl of cheerios and thought, maybe I should time these contractions. They seemed to be coming a lot more frequently and for a longer period of time. With Aria I made the mistake of over-timing my contractions. It was like watching a pot trying to boil. I think it kept me from truly resting during labor. But at this point with Simeon I thought it would be helpful to know their frequency.
So, I downloaded a free contraction timer and started timing them. They were about 2 1/2 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds or so. I still didn't think I needed to go to the hospital because with Aria I had contractions like that a day before I birthed her. So, I went back to bed and laid down. I thought, I just need to lay down and maybe these will slow down. It was getting harder to relax during the contractions and taking all of my energy to focus through them.
Then I felt a pop.
When your water breaks, it kind of feels like a water balloon gave out inside of you. I got up just to make sure and went to the bathroom. Yep, I was leaking fluid.
I called Katie and told her my water broke. Thankfully she was still awake, studying for midwifery school. It was around 11 pm. She asked what the fluid looked like. I told her it was kind of greenish. She said, "You need to go to the hospital. Do you want me to come to your house first or just meet me there?" I told her I would meet her there. She was like, "Oh my gosh Jody, wait, you're totally contracting right now aren't you?! You're gonna have a baby! I'm so excited!" You have to know Katie in order to understand the way words just roll out of her mouth in her enthusiasm, the more excited she is, the faster they come. It was so encouraging to hear her voice and her excitement, I finally thought, I'm gonna have a baby soon! It might have been the first time I had allowed myself to believe that I was close to having a baby.
And then hard labor really hit. I went in and woke up Ben. I told him my water broke and we needed to go to the hospital. All I remember is him asking me if I needed to take a shower or if there was anything I needed to do before we left. At this point contractions were so intense I could not stand up on my own during them. I was on my hands and knees focusing and telling him I think we needed to leave. At that point remembered I could moan through the pain and that helped.
The mercy was that I had a few breaks between these intense contractions in the 15 minutes it took us to leave the house. I could pick myself up, put on my shoes and head down the hallway. Then I would have a contraction and get down on the floor. When the contraction was finished I would pick myself up again and get my coat on. I would have another contraction and lean against the wall, it would end and then we made our way to the car.
I put on my headphones and listened to relaxing music on the drive there. I was simply trying not to lose it in the midst of the intensity.
Katie was waiting for us with a wheelchair. Had it not been for her I would not have made it into the hospital. I don't think any of us knew how close I was to delivery. I was quietly trying to survive contractions. Even I didn't think I was minutes away from delivery. Honestly, there were no thoughts going through my head except to breathe.
We got to the labor and delivery front desk and they handed me a clipboard to fill out. I remember thinking, can't someone else fill this out for me? Do I really have to do this right now? But I honestly couldn't talk very well or think very well, so I filled it out. Like a champion. You gotta love hospitals. In their defense, I don't think Ben or Katie had any idea how far along I was, otherwise they probably would have filled out the paperwork for me. Katie said I was just quietly breathing and concentrating.
They wheeled me in and Katie very gently said, "Okay Jody, let's get out of the wheelchair, get your gown on and get into bed, do you want to go to the bathroom first?" I think she had picked up that my contractions were taking all of my energy to focus through. I couldn't think and didn't answer, but I contracted and then felt the urge to push. So I pushed, still in the wheelchair, still fully dressed.
Katie looked at the nurses and announced, "She's pushing!"
Someone asked, "How much is she dilated? Is she ready?"
Katie said, "I don't know, she still has her pants on!"
Somehow we got my clothes off, gown on and I got into bed. Katie checked me and told me I was fully dilated. "She's ready!" She announced.
They called the Dr. They didn't have time to put an IV in me or monitor me, I was ready to just push this baby out.
I remember laying on my side, contracting and thinking, I really want to get on my hands and knees. For no other reason than I had heard that's the position you have to least amount of tearing. I know, it sounds crazy and undignified, but really, is there a dignified way to push a baby out? No. There is not.
Ben asked me if I needed anything and I said, "I want to get on my hands and knees, can you help me?" He and Katie helped me onto my hands and knees and then I just started pushing with all that I had. I'm just gonna be honest, I wasn't quiet then. I was terrified. It is a scary moment to push a baby out naturally. You know it is going to be painful and you just want to run away. But you can't. You cannot run away from your own body. The only reason you decide to push is because that's the only way all of this madness can end. It's the culminating point of the pregnancy, the labor, all of that pain. It comes to the climax and you just make the decision to push so that you can end it and see your beautiful, hard-earned baby.
They said the Dr came in looking like he had just woken up with his hair all disheveled. I think by the time he got to me Simeon's head was already out. I honestly had no idea of his presence, all I knew is that I had to get this over with. Katie coached me through the pushing. I knew to wait for Simeon to turn before I pushed his shoulders out. It might have taken me five minutes. I can't remember, it just happened.
And then Simeon was there.
And the pain was over.
They took him and cleaned him off. He didn't start crying immediately, plus his heart rate had been so low on the monitors, they needed to aspirate him and make sure he was okay. I laid down on the bed and they put him on me and covered us in a warm blanket.
I can't believe I just did that.
And there he was, perfect and beautiful.
Ben and I looked at each other like, what just happened?
Katie was totally pumped, I had just pushed a baby out in a matter of minutes, like a warrior or something. It was ridiculous.
Thank You Lord, for this precious baby. Thank You for the miracle of birth, the holiness of bringing a human being into this world. Lord, thank You for sustaining me through the pain and difficulty. I can honestly say, "I cried out to the Lord and He delivered me from all my fears" Ps 34:4. I was so afraid of a long delivery, so afraid of tearing and being at the hospital for a long time and being monitored constantly. The Lord kept me from all of that. He answered every prayer about this birth. Lord, thank You. You are my Sustainer and my Deliverer. Thank You.
Notes: Simeon was 8 lbs 7 oz 21 inches long and his head was 14 1/4
I did tear just a little bit and required a stitch or two.