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Finn’s Birth Story

2015 April 9
by Becky

FinnBirthAnnouncement

It’s been over 5 months an I’ve yet to jot down the happenings on the morning Finn was born.

I guess I’ve been letting it all sink in, retelling the tale to friends and family, and slowly realizing I’m starting to forget little details. Sure they aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of healthy babies, but they make up what is Finn’s birth story.

Whatever it is, it’s a short story. Because when Finn decided he was ready to be born…he was. Fast.

Don’t worry though, I’ll drag out the less-than-three-hour event for at least 2000 words.

It all began at 11:45pm on Monday, October 27th, my 39th week of pregnancy.

39weeks

I was fast asleep after a quiet week night. We had put Ethan to bed, made dinner, watched some TV, and headed to bed where I read my book for a bit before konking out. It was at 11:45pm that I felt what can only be considered at “punch to the gut”…but from the inside. It didn’t hurt, but woke me up. I headed for the bathroom, figuring it would be the first of 15+ night-time wake-ups. But this time it was different and I knew instantly my water broke. I actually got the chills, anticipation starting to go into overdrive.

I say I “knew”, but I was doubtful. I wasn’t having contractions and the fluid loss wasn’t anything dramatic. Just enough to be out of the ordinary. Almost an exact flash-back to the night Ethan announced his impending arrival. Since everything else was normal, I did what I’d discussed with my doula and tried to go back to sleep.

Oh, hold the phone, did I mention my DOULA??? Yes, I hired a doula. This was something I remember scoffing at last time around. “Why would I hire someone to do what my husband can do? Crazy!!” Well, it turns out husbands make great birth coaches but women who have attended like 1000 births are waaaaay better. And since I was choosing a completely natural birth this time (instead of being surprised by one), I wanted all the support I could get. My doula, Julie, and I spent my final trimester prepping me, which mostly consisted of her answering my incessant questions. She in turn asked me questions likely to come up at the birth, things she could help answer when I was in the thick of labor and not thinking straight. While I had a funny feeling things would go really fast like last time, I of course couldn’t count on it and wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it through hours upon hours of unmedicated labor without a doula.

Why did I want to do things au natural? Because I knew deep down it would go faster. I knew I could handle the pain because I’d done it before and remembered how much I appreciated feeling everything. But I especially remembered how AMAZING I felt after that last push that brought Ethan into the world. Talk about an adrenaline rush! I was on top of the world, ready to experience everything about my baby. I wanted that same feeling with Finn.

My biggest concern? Other than the whole prematurity thing (which was a distant memory after 34 weeks), I was kind of terrified I’d blow past my due date and start getting induction pressure. I asked Julie a million questions about natural inductions and over due babies. Having her guidance in the last trimester was key for keeping my mind at ease.

So, back to my water breaking.

I climbed back in bed and lay down for a minute, wondering what would happen next, still not totally convinced what happened had really happened. And that’s when I had my first contraction. It didn’t hurt at all, it just felt different. More of an internal squeeze than the dozens of Braxton Hicks contractions I’d been having for months.

I yell-whispered to a snoring Stu, “Honey! Don’t wake up, but I’m 99% sure my water just broke and I’m having real contractions…at least I think they are real. The don’t hurt. Maybe we should alert a few people about watching Ethan in case this is happening.”

He snarfled a sleepy agreement (he was so ultra calm through the entire birth…nerves of steel that one), so I pinged a few friends/family to give them a heads up, not getting many responses at now midnight. I honestly just felt bad bothering people so late at night! Figuring it was going to be hours of laboring at home, I waited on calling the doctor, but did call Julie. She said to try to relax and get some sleep if possible, she was ready to come over anytime.

Stu went back to sleep and I tried to lay down again. After another contraction, I was up. I couldn’t sleep. I headed downstairs to pace, drink water, watch recorded episodes of The Daily Show, and jot down the times of my still-painless contractions. When almost an hour had passed, I tallied up my markings to find my contractions were consistently 4 to 6 minutes apart.

ContractionChart

If I hadn’t been writing them down, I wouldn’t have believed how steadily they were coming. I headed back upstairs to give Stu an update, texted Julie to head over, and made a couple calls about Ethan watch duties. I also called my doctor, who told me to head to the hospital. I asked if I could hang out a little longer, the contractions were not at all painful and didn’t really feel any stronger. She said yes, but only another hour.

“Well I can’t lay down, I’m taking a shower!” I announced as Stu gave me a questioning look and sleepily started getting dressed. I turned on the water right as a contraction hit. This one caught my breath and Stu saw it on my face. He firmly announced, “We’re going to the hospital, NOW.”

In total agreement, I blankly stared at my closet for a few minutes before pulling on yoga pants and a t-shirt. Stu texted Julie to meet us at the hospital while I grabbed our camera and my Kindle—everything else was already packed in the car. It may sound over-the-top, but having a bag ready and waiting in the trunk was a huge weight off our shoulders! (And it was a very fun part of the baby-prep process, plus was handy when I spent a night in pre-term labor at 31 weeks.)

My uncle arrived, surprisingly bright-eyed, for Ethan-watch duty in record time, a little after 2am. I remember calling him and being SO excited when he picked up at the crazy-early morning hour, but really can’t remember when exactly we made that call. Whatever, Ethan was covered. A quick “Good Luck!” and a hug from him and we were in the car for the very short drive to Barnes Jewish Hospital. My contractions on the ride weren’t anything earth shattering, but I wasn’t very comfortable either, more excited than anything. Until I saw the parking garage. As we pulled down the ramp I told Stu, “I’m feeling pushy.”

Just writing this the feelings are flooding back…those butterflies are right back in my stomach.

It was my plan all along to make the walk through the parking garage, up the escalator, across the bridge, and up the elevator to the Pregnancy Assessment Center. Anything I could do to really stir everything up one last time to make sure baby arrived quickly. So as soon as we parked in the (thankfully) empty lot I leapt out of the car and started walking, leaving Stu to grab the bag. I waddled and puffed my way past other late night hospital visitors, hearing things like, “Whoa, she’s gonna have a baby any second!” in my wake. I entered an elevator full of visitor-pass clad family and couldn’t help but ask “Is everyone ready to catch?” to break the palpable tension as they nervously watched me huff through ever-increasing contractions.

I still wasn’t in pain, it was all just getting more and more uncomfortable. I was dreading that first cervix check. I had declined checks at my doc appointments ever since the 31 week scare, so I had no idea what the dilation situation (hey, that would be a great band name) was before going into labor. Was I now 5cm? 6cm?

PLEASE, I thought, PLEASE let me be at least 4!!

I walked into the assessment center between contractions, calm and totally fine, and announced myself. The place was completely dead. They asked for some info and were handing me a urine sample cup as I was hit with a HUGE contraction. I impatiently bellowed “I need to push, NOW.”

Stu made the mistake at this point of asking, for the 12th time in a row, “Are you ok?” to which I responded, in classic cinema-quality laboring mama style, “If you are going to ask me if I’m OK every time I have a contraction, I’m gonna go completely crazy.” I didn’t see, but Stu said the nurses were amused.

I was pointed to a room, told to put on a gown. Not part of my plan, I had comfy birth clothes (a tank and old skirt—for comfort, not cuteness) all ready in my bag. But things were going really fast and my bag was still in the hallway, so I succumbed to the gigantic, itchy, uncomfortable gown and laid in the bed. A minute later, a resident rolled in with an ultrasound machine and said she was going to check me. At this point all staff we’d encountered were clearly assuming I was overreacting, it was written on their faces. But between contractions, the doc did her check and quickly called out the door, “She’s at an 8, we need to go NOW.”

SWEET!!!

I may have let out an “I knew it!!” or something of the like but was rocked by an enormously painful contraction while trying to squeak out answers over the phone to the seemingly random admitting questions being asked of me. The phone hit the cradle and we were moving down the hall. We ran into Julie halfway to the delivery room and she joined our baby brigade. Between contractions I felt great. Laughing even. During, OMG. I had probably four big contractions while laying on my back and they were, by far, the worst. My plan was to labor standing up or least be able to move to get more comfortable but I was immobilized by the gurney zooming through double doors, things were a blur.

We got to the delivery room two minutes later and a contraction hit. Letting out deep moans was my only coping mechanism as all eyes watched and waited for it to end. Someone checked me (like that was necessary) and announced I was “Complete”. Two minutes from an 8 to a 10. One nurse asked, one time, if I wanted an epidural. Stu dug out our birth plan as I did what I’d practiced in my head for months. I answered, “No drugs.”

Had I faltered, I seriously doubt there would have been time.

In the calm between contractions, I had to get to the delivery bed. Julie suggested I crawl over onto my hands and knees and I did, which turned out to be the least flattering but most comfortable way I ever imagined having a baby. I also felt like I was on fire, it was so hot, so flung my hospital gown across the room. All class, all the time folks.

The lights were kept low, and though there must have been at least seven people in the room, everyone was quiet—weirdly calm. I may have had one more contraction before they sort of just stopped…and it was time to push. I’ll honestly take the pushing over the contracting any day.

Julie quietly made suggestions, provided counter-pressure to my pushes, and tried to stay out of the residents’ way—my doctor wasn’t there yet—as I followed what felt right, steadily helping Finn work his way out. Stu was by my side. A nurse fumbled with a fetal heart rate monitor at my waist because she thought the heart rate sounded slow, but no one seemed too concerned.

It was only a handful of minutes, maybe 15, before the final push. Julie told me to look down, he was coming! The push felt so long, like Finn had feet instead of inches to travel, and I watched him practically fall into the resident’s hands and be placed on the bed. Six pounds and eleven ounces of sweet perfection. As I looked down it didn’t occur to me there was no noise, Finn hadn’t made a sound. He was purple and pudgy and a few seconds after birth, and some suctioning, he let out short bursts of angry yells. Another few seconds and I was holding him.

FinnBirthStory-FirstLook

For nine months I’d dreamt of this moment and this time it happened just as planned. No one took our baby away. He laid on my chest and turned pink and made sleepy little whimpers. I looked in his beautiful eyes and touched his tiny fingers. Pet his head covered in soft brown hair.

He was incredible.

FinnAndMomFirstPic

Within 30 minutes I tried to feed him for the first time, shocked when he latched on. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing, in disbelief that it all went so fast. We didn’t even think to put a diaper on him for at least an hour, I couldn’t consider letting him go.

Though I’ve made this story go on way too long, the delivery took only 20 minutes. Finn was born at 2:54am, just three short hours from the moment my water broke. Lightening. Fast.

After a while the floor pediatrician begged to steal him for just a minute to check his respiratory function—since he hadn’t made much noise at birth they wanted to give him a once over—and I relented. I needed a restroom break anyway and was out of bed within an hour of giving birth, feeling sore but otherwise incredible. Stu accompanied Finn to the warming table for the check up and when he spoke, Finn turned his head toward Stu. “He knows your voice!” exclaimed the pediatrician to Stu’s totally delight. After a few daddy snuggles Finn was back in my arms for the short trip up to recovery.

FinnCheck

I felt like a million bucks, ready to start changing diapers and feeding the babe. We stared at Finn and I guzzled water for a couple hours before Stu left to get the Peanut. Ethan had woken around 6:30am to find my uncle waiting. He knew exactly what was going on, asking, “Did the baby come?!” We’d talked about this scenario more than a few times. By 8am he was meeting his brother and by three the next day we were all home together.

EthanMeetsFinn3

While in the hospital, I made phone calls and told the story over and over to our family and friends. We had a few visitors, which I loved. Finn roomed in with me and spent most of the night curled up on my chest or nursing while I dozed. We waited as long as possible to give him a bath or do any vaccinations. All these things were included in our birth plan but are now standard practice at Barnes Jewish, making our requests for as little intervention as possible a breeze.

Nursing was so much easier this time, Finn pretty much knew what to do and it all came back to me quickly. That said, it took less than 12 hours for me to feel 99% sure he was tongue-tied, just like his brother. Things got so painful on my left side that I was running for the pump when we got home. I limped through the first week with a shield, trying all advice from my doula to cope, until we could see Dr. Grawey for a snip. The second that membrane was cut, Finn’s latch was a hundred times better. Within a day the shield was history and he’s been sailing ever since.

We couldn’t quite believe how amazing everything was. The doctors, nurses, our doula, everything. It was all just perfect. Finn was eating and sleeping and cuddling. We were relaxing and smiling and laughing. Our pediatrician stopped by the hospital twice and both times exclaimed, “This is a totally different baby. Easier, right?!?”

FinnPic1

These chubby cheeks were texted to our friends and family in the wee hours of the morning. It was in this picture, taken just hours after birth, that we noticed his smashed nose—we were sort of worried, but it straightened out about a week later.

Having a baby in the dark, early morning is overwhelmingly peaceful. We we didn’t want to wake anyone therefore we made no phone calls and no one was waiting in the wings to visit. We had a few hours of whispery quiet time to stare at our tiny dude.

I wouldn’t change Ethan’s birth story, it was his unique way of being born. But experiencing a less dramatic birth with Finn was truly like payback for all the stress of the NICU. Fun, exciting, and SO much easier. Better than we ever expected. Our only tears were of sheer joy.

Maybe the best part was getting to share so much of the experience with Ethan. He was so involved and excited during my pregnancy, we were so happy nothing stood in the way of him getting to know his baby brother just hours after birth.

So that’s it! All happy memories but of course I’ve of course teared up with each read-through of this account. But the TMI is over—I solemnly promise to never mention my cervix again!

If you want more info about why I chose natural birth, how I prepared, my doula, or more details about tongue tie, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’m no expert but I’m always happy to share my experiences.

 

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