Saturday, August 5, 2017

Calvin Gardner's Birth Story

We welcomed our fifth baby, Calvin Gardner Murch, on July 26 at 7:12pm. He weighed in at a shocking 10lbs., 15oz. and measured 22 3/4" long!

My contractions started Tuesday morning, the 25th, a little after 6am. All day Tuesday I had contractions every 20-30 minutes and they increased in intensity throughout the day, while staying pretty far apart. I was in touch with my midwife throughout the day and figured things would pick up in the evening and I'd have the baby overnight.

Around 8:00, I had one particularly strong contraction and things seemed to pick up from there. We started setting up the tub and got the kids ready for bed, planning for them to leave with my mother-in-law first thing in the morning if Baby hadn't made his appearance by then.

My sister-in-law who was coming for the birth got to our house around 9. We all hung out for a little bit and then Ben and I went to bed. I had strong contractions throughout the night, but they were all over the place. Some lasted almost 2 minutes, some were only 30 seconds. They were 8 minutes apart and they were 30 minutes apart and everywhere in between.

Finally at 3am, I got in touch with my midwife. I was frustrated because things weren't developing into any consistent pattern, which I knew I needed, but they were moving along enough that I couldn't get much sleep. She suggested doing the stairs for half an hour in case there was a positioning issue that was keeping labor from progressing. I did that and my contractions got closer together. They were 7-8 minutes apart, and just under a minute. I did have a couple contractions that came one on top of the other, so we decided Leslie (my midwife) should go ahead and come. She and Dorcas (the precious assistant who has come to all four of my home births!) and things pretty much stayed as they were for several hours.

When Josephine woke up, we decided to let her nurse and see if that would help with contractions. Nursing her brought on the most intensely painful and long contractions I'd had. The problem was, I couldn't handle holding her and working through them, so I couldn't keep it up. It hurt her feelings when I'd set her down for each contraction.

Some time around 8 or 9, things seemed to fizzle out completely. We decided to spend a couple of hours trying to stimulate contractions but first, Leslie wanted to check me. I was at 4cm and 75% effaced, but she was easily able to stretch me to 6. We discovered the reason for my stop and go labor (and also an explanation for the back labor I'd started experiencing)--Baby was posterior, something we hadn't realized before this point. His head wasn't putting direct pressure on my cervix; it was off center.

For an hour, I took tinctures, used the breast pump, and did the stairs. It accomplished almost nothing. I was feeling really discouraged! We decided the midwife and assistant would leave and I'd just go about my day. They did work on my belly with the rebozo for a little while before they left, hoping to encourage Baby into a good position. I had some stronger and closer contractions afterwords, but still nothing super consistent.

I spent the next couple hours walking around my house and resting. My contractions got really intense, but they were still quite far apart and I didn't feel like I was making much progress. My sister-in-law was in contact with my midwife and she suggested some different laboring positions to help with the back labor, which was becoming really difficult to manage. The change in positions (chest on my bed with my rear end sticking up, if you're curious) helped with the back labor and my contractions got closer together--about 10 minutes apart instead of 20.

She also suggested a chiropractic adjustment and even maybe some acupuncture to see if the baby would get into a better position. My chiropractor is just 2 minutes away from home, so I thought about going in. The thought of having contractions in his office was super unappealing, so I asked Ben to call and see if there was any chance Dr. J. would do a house call for me. He said yes and was here within a few minutes. This was about 4:15. I still can't believe he did that for me and am so, so thankful for his kindness!

He adjusted my lower back, did acupuncture to encourage contractions, and also worked with a couple ligaments on my belly to encourage the little man to turn out of his posterior position.

As soon as Dr. J. left, my contractions picked up. For an hour I walked around the house and up and down the stairs and I had contractions every four to five minutes. Much to my relief, the back labor was significantly better too! I was so encouraged!

And then they stopped.

I was so bummed. I sat down and as soon as I was sitting I realized how exhausted I was. Since I wasn't having contractions anyway, Ben encouraged me to lay down. I fell asleep for 20 minutes.

And I woke up to a contraction that lasted four whole minutes. It was uncomfortable but actually pretty manageable.

Shortly after that, I had another one.

And then another one. And this time I felt like I had to push!

Our midwife wasn't here. The tub wasn't the right temperature. I freaked out a little bit. Ben was totally calm about delivering the baby, and I just knew I desperately wanted to be in the water (which we weren't comfortable with until Leslie was here).

I got in the shower for a little while and then moved to the bed and then just sat in the bathroom. Finally Leslie was here, the tub was the right temperature, and I was able to climb in.

The water was so relaxing. I expected to start pushing right away, but I just wasn't ready so I waited. After several minutes and a few contractions, it was time. I don't remember how many times I pushed, but after a couple pushes, his [BIG] head was born. At this point, Leslie expressed surprise at how large he was and suggested I get into a squat to accommodate his body. I was able to reach down and feel his head while I waited for another contraction. The time in between was so calm and quiet. With the next contraction, I pushed but he didn't come out. Next contraction, I gave a long, hard push and my sweet boy was born into my arms.  Pushing took right about 5 minutes and gratefully I had no tearing even though Calvin was such a big baby.

All-in-all, Calvin's birth was a really good experience. The hardest part of labor didn't last that long and pushing wasn't bad. The most difficult part was being awake for nearly 40 hours straight. I think I needed that 20 minute nap at the end to have the strength to actually get my baby out!

We love our sweet boy and are adjusting pretty well to life as a family of seven. <3