Ryan (my first) was born at 36 weeks and 6 days gestation, so I was anticipating Tyler coming somewhat early, too. Apparently he had other plans. I made it to 37 weeks. Then 38 weeks. Then 39 weeks. And so many people kept asking me if I was ready. I'd say, "Yes, I'm ready, but I'm not impatient." I almost felt like I should be impatient, since I'd made it further along than I ever thought I would, but I was just fine with him picking his own birthday. The one thing I could say was that I definitely felt bigger and heavier and more tired than I ever did with Ryan, but I LOVE being pregnant, so it was okay with me. By about 37 weeks it seems like most women are "just done" and want their babies to come on out, already. I think I might be the weird one. I love holding my baby closer than I will ever hold him again in my life. I love feeling the shifts and movements inside my belly. I love being literally physically connected to another little tiny life. I marvel at my body's ability to so perfectly form and grow and protect my child.
On Wednesday, July 14th, I started to feel "just done." I was 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant, and starting to wonder when Tyler was going to decide he was ready to come out. I was a little disappointed in myself that I was feeling this way, but as I gave Ryan a bath that evening, I asked him if he was ready to meet his baby brother. He said yes, so I told him to tell Tyler to come out! "Come out Mama's belly, Tyler! I love you, Tyler! I want to meet you, Tyler!" We both repeated these things to Tyler a few times, telling him how much we love him and want to meet him and can't wait to see his sweet little face, and that he can come out whenever he's ready. I felt a little conflicted, because although I was definitely ready to meet him, still a part of me was not quite ready to be done with the pregnancy. I'm a bit selfish in that I like being the only one who can touch him, feel him, hold onto him in a way that nobody else can, and I wasn't totally ready to let go.
The next morning, I woke up having to pee. It was 5:43am, 2 minutes before Colby's alarm clock was supposed to go off to wake him up for work. I contemplated just laying in bed until he woke up, too, but decided to just go. On the way to the bathroom, I lost bladder control and thought, "Wow, I didn't realize I had to go that badly!" I got to the toilet, sat down, took my shorts off and went pee. As soon as I stood up, I felt a little more come out of me and thought, "geez!" So I sat back down. And stood up again. More came out. I sat back down. Colby's alarm went off. "Honey...? I think my water might have broken... but I'm not sure. So go ahead and get in the shower and start getting ready for work. I'll let you know." He had just barely undressed and hadn't even turned on the shower yet when I figured out that it was definitely NOT still pee coming out of me. I stood up and watched some of the fluid pour out. Yellow. Meconium. Hmmm... no contractions yet, but before Colby got in the shower, he pulled up his contraction timer application on his phone and handed it to me.
I called my midwife, who didn't answer, and then called my mom, who lives the furthest away. I told her my water had broken and to come immediately. Then I called Trish, my doula, and told her that my water had broken and that there was meconium. She asked what Mary's (my midwife) protocol for that was, and I said I didn't know exactly but that I was pretty sure it was fine. She asked if I was having any contractions and I said, "not yet." Recalling my 4 hour first labor, she asked if she had time to take a shower. "I don't know." She said she'd be right over. After we hung up I started feeling contractions, and I put Colby's timer to use. Three minutes apart. One minute long. The adrenaline ran through me as I realized, "This is it!!" and I started to shake. I then called my midwife, who again didn't answer, so I got to work calling all the other people who were supposed to come and help out. I called my midwife again, and still got no answer. I called her assistant, Pita (who also happens to be her daughter), and told her that I couldn't get ahold of her mom, but that my water had broken, there was meconium, and just 25 minutes into labor, I was already having minute-long contractions that were three minutes apart. She asked about the color, listened to me breathe through a contraction, and said she'd gather her things together and be on her way.
I was still sitting on the toilet and getting tired of it, so I asked Colby to get me a towel. I shoved it between my legs and got up. I told him to get the tub out and start filling it, and I changed into my labor outfit: a black sleep/nursing bra and a black skirt. We took a picture of me, my "last belly picture," got out the video camera and filmed for a few minutes, mostly just talking about being in labor and acting a little silly, when suddenly my contractions got pretty intense. I was caught pretty off-guard; the first two hours of my labor with Ryan were easy-peasy, super light contractions that I hardly noticed. These were not going to be cake.
Julia and Trish were the first to arrive. I was still pacing around the house at that point, but I finally grabbed a chux pad, threw it down on the floor, knelt on it and leaned over my birth ball. Trish sat down next to me and Colby continued getting things set up. At 6:34, I posted a picture on facebook of the tub starting to fill. Ten minutes later, I posted this as my status: "It's time. Don't call or text. I'll update."
I put my phone down and Colby came back to me and started giving me a back rub while I breathed my way through each contraction. Bethann and Alicia showed up, and my mom arrived quickly after. Soon I couldn't just breathe through the contractions, and I started to vocalize through them by letting out a low moan. Colby asked me if I wanted to get in the tub, and I said not yet. I really wanted to hold out until I felt like I couldn't handle NOT being in the tub any longer. As his hands moved down my back during a contraction, I told him to STOP right where he was and just push hard, harder, HARDER! The counter pressure felt amazing.
Trish suggested that he get his shorts on so he would be ready to get into the tub with me whenever I wanted him. I wondered what he'd say. Last we had talked, he wasn't sure whether he'd want to get in, and was a little grossed out by the idea of everything that would end up with us in the water after the birth, so I was a little surprised when he got them and went into the bathroom to change without hesitation. A few minutes later, he asked me again if I wanted to get into the tub. I opened my eyes, looked up at the others and asked, "Is it really going to help that much?" Of the five other women, three have had water births. They quickly encouraged me to get into the tub. "I would never do it any other way," seemed to be the unanimous agreement between them. I gave in. Trish shooed everyone but Colby and I out of the room so I could have some privacy while I took my skirt off and climbed in.
For a little while, Colby stayed outside the tub, rubbing my back and applying counter pressure. Just after 7am, Ryan woke up and came to see what all the commotion was about. I was so thankful that my mom was there and could devote her attention to him, because he would've been way too much of a distraction for me if she wasn't. She told him that Mama was going to have baby Tyler soon, and took him to the living room to read one of his favorite books, "I'm a Big Brother!"
My vocalizing started to go from low register grunts and growls and roars to high-pitched, tense screaming, and then I heard Trish's voice in my ear, helping me get back in control. At that point I didn't want to wait anymore and decided to help my body along. I started really pushing hard, but I was still roaring through it and losing a lot of energy through that, so Mary and Pita reminded me to "keep your noise in your chest and push with your belly," so I started holding my breath while I pushed and I felt like it was a lot more productive.
I could feel the sweat dripping down my forehead and I was so thankful when Trish grabbed a cool wet washcloth and wiped my face. I also decided to get up on both feet into more of a squat because I didn't feel like I was making much progress in the position I was in. Mary kept asking me if I could feel him moving down and I just kept saying, "I don't know." I felt so discouraged. Why couldn't I feel him coming down already? A small, irrational part of me started to doubt that I could do this and I wondered if he was stuck. I started crying. "I can't do this anymore!" Mary and Trish reminded me that everything was normal and working perfectly. Everyone kept telling me how great I was doing, and that I was almost done and Tyler would be here soon.
Mary checked again and held her fingers up in front of my face, showing me how far in his head was. About an inch, maybe a little more. "He's right there," she said, "reach down and feel." I did and there it was! I so needed the strength that gave me, he was so very, very close to being here! I tried a few more pushes in that position but didn't really make much progress. Mary thought that I might be able to push more effectively in a different position, so she suggested I lean back against Colby and try that. It didn't sound like something I wanted to do at the time but I knew it couldn't hurt to try. I leaned back against him and sunk into his arms. It felt so warm, loving, comforting, and relaxing.
I tried a couple of pushes in that position. Finally I could feel him moving down, and soon I felt the burning and stinging, the "ring of fire." I don't really remember being able to feel so much during Ryan's birth, even though it was unmedicated, so this was a totally new experience for me. One thing that I found helpful during his birth, though, was the nurse putting her fingers on my perineum and telling me to push against them. I didn't think I'd want anybody touching me during Tyler's birth, but Mary did the same thing and again I found it so, so helpful. It gave me a physical focus point where I didn't feel I had one before.
After a few contractions, Mary and Pita handed me a towel and told me to pull on it with the next contraction. This was what I needed. In the next couple of pushes, he started to crown, and Mary told me to ease up and just let him come out slowly. It was SO hard to not just give it my all and shove him out, but I really wanted to avoid tearing so I backed off and tried to just breathe him out. One more push and his head emerged. Mary told me to reach down and touch it. There are absolutely no words to describe this moment.
Mary felt for a cord and then told me to go ahead and finish pushing him out with the next contraction, and I said, "But I don't have a contraction!" No sooner had Mary said, "It's okay," I was having another one and pushing again. And then he was here.
It was 8:42am. Three hours almost to the minute from the time I had woken up and realized my water was broken. Trish picked Ryan up and showed him his new baby brother. He wanted to get in so bad! I asked if they could bail some water out and help him get undressed so he could get in, too. He was so excited to finally be allowed in the "bath" with Mama, Daddy, and now baby Tyler, who he gave lots of kisses. After a few minutes, Trish helped him back out and took him to have a REAL bath and get cleaned up. Colby and I stayed in the tub a while longer just holding Tyler and looking at him. I let him sniff around and see if he was interested in nursing, and he made a half-hearted attempt at latching on, but really just wanted to cuddle.
Pita felt the cord and said it had stopped pulsing, so she clamped it and gave Colby the scissors to cut the cord. I can't remember if I birthed the placenta before or after this, but I was surprised at how quickly it detached. Ryan's took 30 minutes so I was expecting to wait a while, but I think it was only about 10 minutes before Mary told me it was ready and to push it out. We spent a few more minutes in the tub, but it wasn't too long before Tyler started to complain a little bit about the water temperature, which had cooled down some, so we decided to get out. I handed Tyler over to Mary, and Trish and Colby helped me to the shower to get cleaned up. Colby got in with me and helped me out of my bra and helped me lay down in the tub, because I was EXHAUSTED and didn't feel like standing at all. Tyler was brought back to us for some more skin to skin contact in the shower, and Julia left to pick up breakfast for everyone. McDonalds! Haha.
As soon as I was out of the shower, Mary checked me out and Colby helped me into a clean nightgown. Even with the slow pushing at the end and being in the water, I still tore, but when we finally weighed and measured Tyler, I wasn't surprised!
He weighed 8lbs, 9oz, and was 22.5 inches long with a 14.5 inch head! He's my big boy, two full pounds bigger than Ryan was and almost two inches longer. His head is half an inch bigger, too. Luckily, though, Mary said my tear doesn't need any stitches and will heal just fine on its own. We all settled into bed and ate our breakfast. Ryan was so excited to sit with us and just look at Tyler and give him kisses. I'm so amazed at how much Tyler looks like Ryan did when he was a newborn! He's got less hair and more of a square shaped face, but other than that, I'm sure I would mistake pictures of them for each other.
So now we're a family of four and are definitely making adjustments. Ryan is still excited about baby brother Tyler, but he's definitely a little jealous. Colby was able to stay home with us the first four days, and now my mom is helping out for a few days, too. Trish, my doula, is also a post partum doula and will be spending some time with us, too. Plus, I have some pretty great friends who have come over and helped out by bringing meals or groceries and doing whatever needs to be done, making sure I stay in bed recovering! Thanks to all of you, you know who you are. :-)