Ezra’s Birth Story
My entire pregnancy was really great. I didn’t have any major discomfort or pain besides heartburn in the 3rd trimester. One time I choked on a chunk of pineapple and coughed so hard that I peed on the kitchen floor. Hilarious, right? Emotionally, I was stressed out quite a bit, but not because of pregnancy. Major life change brings that on. The day after Christmas in 2017 I moved from Fargo, ND to Washington state for a guy I’d just me. We got pregnant about a month later. Talk about a whirlwind!
How We Found Out
The day that I found out I was pregnant was February 6, 2018. This was also the day before Kyle’s 33rd birthday. My period was still not due for another 2 days but I thought there might be a chance it wouldn’t come. I was a little worried about it. Okay, a lot worried. I didn’t want to be pregnant. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stay with Kyle or be out in Washington. I thought I had more time in this trial run before making any major life decisions. I was at a point in my life where I could take off and do anything I wanted. Debt free and free-spirited. I had visions of a life of a traveling yogi, jet setting off to where ever my heart desired.
The tell-tale sign that I might be pregnant was that I started to get an aversion to coffee. Kyle had offered me some, as he did every morning, but the smell was very off-putting. I remember this from 2014 when I was pregnant the first time. I couldn’t stand being in my favorite coffee shop, Caribou Coffee, anymore. Unfortunately that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
To ease my mind, Kyle told me to take a test before heading out on a hike up Mt. Walker so I wouldn’t be so anxious. Kyle had purchased a couple tests a few weeks back on the chance that we’d get pregnant. After all, we weren’t being the most careful. So I took a test. There was a very faint double line. Knowing what I know, any hint of a double line means positive, regardless of how faint it is. I ran out to the kitchen, “Kyle look at this!” He looks and doesn’t see anything. “Look closer!” I say. He sees the faint line but is a little skeptical. He says we’ll take another test tomorrow. I can tell he’s somewhat excited, but is holding back.
We set off on our hike. It was far more challenging than it should have been. All I could think and talk about was the possibility that we were going to have a baby. What did this mean? How would it all play out? My mental anxiety made my body so tense that I was sore for days after. I did that hike several times in the future and it was a breeze. I took a test the next morning at about 3:30am because I couldn’t sleep. This time it was for sure positive. Kyle seemed happy. I was in shock for several days trying to wrap my head around what would happen next. What did I want to do? What option did I want to take?
Despite the challenge we knew was to come, we decided together to make us work and have a baby. Together. I already knew he was a great dad, since he had his 5 year old son every other week. I had no worries about that. My anxiety came from
Choosing a Provider and Prenatal Care
First, I got on Washington state insurance. It hadn’t even been a month since I moved. In fact, I still had my apartment in Fargo until April, so I wasn’t even technically a resident of Washington. I also had an advantage because I was not yet working and Washington has great state healthcare options for those with little income. Done!
Next, I started looking at birth location options. I knew I wanted to go the natural route if at all possible. My body was healthy and I felt like I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try. I heard something about birth centers so I looked that up. I found a couple in Seattle and thought it would be great to go with. However, Seattle is still quite a drive away. And then I found Salmonberry Birth Center. The only freestanding birth center on the Washington peninsula, and it was only 25 minutes away from home. I read their entire website. We went in for a consultation. Without looking at other options, I knew midwifery care was the route I wanted to take. We went with it.
Each appointment was chalk full of education and love from the midwives. They truly cared about me and baby’s well-being. They gave me all natural remedies for ailments, whereas doctors would often be quick to prescribe a drug. D-mannose for my early on UTI. Papaya enzyme tablets for the heartburn. Passion flower tincture for anxiety. Therapy for my overwhelm. They did the required tests and spent the majority of each 45 minute visit asking questions and educating us. They took my vitals and we got to listen to baby’s heartbeat each time. Since this was my first and possibly only baby, I did want the ultrasound experience. We were referred to the hospital at about 20 weeks for the anatomy scan. I was so excited but the actual experience was so-so. I really don’t like hospital setting and everyone is all business. We did leave with a few cute sonogram pics. We already knew he was a boy since we did the blood test at our first appointment, about 11 weeks along. We didn’t actually find out until our 15 week appointment because they called while I was on the driving to Fargo to move out of my apartment. We wanted to find out together. The ultrasound easily confirmed the gender. He was a squirmy little one, too.
Hiring a Doula and Getting Educated
Being a first time mom at the birth center, we were required to hire a doula and take natural child birth education classes. A doula is like a birth coach helping the entire way. I did a little research. Again, I interviewed 1 doula and decided to go with her without pursuing other options. We hired her in July. Her name is Kerry Allen and she’s also a Whole Birth Prenatal Yoga teacher with a great sassy personality. Kyle liked her, too. He calls her “DK,” short for Doula Kerry. DK met with us many times throughout the following months. Sometimes I think just to meet and chat and make me feel more comfortable. She was also available via text and phone call any time I needed. Having a doula helped comfort me knowing someone was there to answer any questions or fears.
We also took child birth ed classes with Doula Kerry and Doula Jen Watson. The classes were 6 hours each held on two consecutive Sundays in September. All of it was so informative, and I think really helped teach and prepare Kyle. I’d been reading loads of books to be educated. Kyle not so much. I was so grateful that Kyle came back from work early and was able to attend both classes with me. There were 6 other couples in the class. One of which hired Doula Kerry during the class and went into labor the same day as me. That rarely happens. She had a scheduled C-section for a breech baby. Kerry and Jen work together often and use each other as backup doulas if there are multiple births going on. Since multiple clients went into labor on the same day, I got the pleasure of working with two amazing doulas through labor and delivery.
Books I read during pregnancy:
- Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
- Mama Natural by Genevieve Howland
- The Mindful Mom-to-Be by Lori Bregman
- The Vaccine Friendly Plan by Paul Thomas M.D. and Jennifer Margulis
- I did not get through Birthing from Within by Pam England
Apart from being pregnant, the following events occurred:
- Went through many ups and downs with Kyle
- Had far too many emotional breakdowns
- Drove back and forth to Fargo in April to officially move
- Drove back and forth to Wisconsin in June to lead a 3-week yoga teacher training
- Hiked up and down the winter trail of Mt. Ellinor
- Hiked and camped at Marmot Pass
- Traveled to Puerto Rico in July – a trip that was booked prior to finding out we were pregnant
- Had a wonderful baby shower in Minnesota at my mom’s cabin.
Moving into a New House
We moved to a new house when I was 8 months pregnant. This was a tough transition because it was when Kyle was away at work. I did a LOT of packing, moving, lifting and cleaning at the end of August. I avoided talking to Kyle at this time because I was so cranky and tired.
Kyle’s house I moved into upon arriving to Washington was very isolating. It was very pretty, but lonely. He’d be gone for weeks at a time for work while I was home alone, left to keep busy. I spent a lot of time trying to do online work and building my online presence as a yoga teacher. Getting into a town was at least 30 miles away and I was still yet trying to make friends. I was having a tough time.I mostly prepped and planned from afar to co-lead a 3-week yoga teacher training set for June in Wisconsin. I had a few friends and activities I liked to attend, but it was just a start. I was also starting to stress knowing we’d have to move in December when the owners of the house returned in January. It was only a rental.
The day I attended first, and only, therapy session, Kyle’s mom brought me on a tour of a few potential houses closer to the town of Poulsbo. The therapist basically told me that I needed to express my needs and stand up for myself. I was definitely feeling low at the time. Life felt like it was just happening to me, and I had no control. I still felt like an outsider living in someone else’s world. I wanted to feel empowered and inspired. I wanted to feel like my own person again. That wasn’t how I felt at the time. Knowing that moving was an option helped boost my spirits. We started looking.
Kyle’s mom got me on the Redfin housing app. She recently sold her house and was very much into looking at properties. Two days after my therapy session and looking at those first initial houses, I found the most perfect house. I called to see it right away. I went by myself and met the random realtor who picked up the request. The next day, Kyle’s mom saw it with me. That day Kyle put in an offer on the house, without even seeing it in person. They accepted! Kyle wasn’t back from work until the next day. We went back to the house, for the third time, this time with Kyle next to me. The house was perfect! It was quirky, fun, the structure was great, and it needed a lot of home project TLC. Kyle was actually excited about putting on a tool belt and getting to work. For me, I needed to be closer to town and to feel more supported in a community. This house is 4 miles from the town of Poulsbo, pop 10,800. Only takes 6 minutes to drive from a super great coffee shop. Only 8-10 minutes to get to the cutest little yoga studio.
Kyle officially came home from a long stint of work when I was about 36 weeks pregnant. He had no plans to head out on another work trip until long after baby arrived. I am so grateful that this plan was able to work out so perfectly. He actually ended up taking another position in the company and will start about 3 weeks after baby was born. This switch allows him to work from home more and less travel. Oh, and salary and benefits. There’s pros and cons to it. He does love to travel for work, but family is also so very important. These are critical years in a new family’s life.
Delivery Day Approaches
Being a first time mom, I wasn’t getting my hopes up that I would deliver earlier than my due date, set for Saturday, October 20, 2018. In fact, I thought I’d be quite a bit over. I was measuring a week small since week 28 and he seemed really cozy in my belly. By the time October came around, we had all the necessary things for baby.
On Monday, October 8th, I was asked to sub a yoga + aroma therapy yoga class at White Lotus Yoga. Yes please! I taught a lovely class surrounded by friends and family. I don’t know if that triggered it, but Tuesday morning at 2:51am I woke up to slight cramping in my belly. It’s something I hadn’t felt before and this time it wasn’t gas. I woke up Kyle because I was concerned. I tried to sleep. It was a challenge. I got up and took a shower to try to chill out. When I finally did get up and went to the bathroom, I noticed light pink spotting. This is what they call the “bloody show.” Nothing crazy or scary about it, but again, something I hadn’t seen before. At a reasonable hour, I contacted Doula Kerry to fill her in. I had plans just to go about my day, take a yoga class, and do my thing. She told me that exactly what I should do, and to make sure and take a nap.
On Tuesday during the day, the cramping subsided. I went to a great yoga flow class at White Lotus Yoga, taught by Lang, at 9:30am. I loved the flow and I felt amazing in the movements. I told the others that I think I’m in early labor and they all seemed excited. It was also the day of Olya and Travis’s wedding (the owners of the studio).
After yoga class, I got a donut from Sluy’s Bakery and came home. I got my favorite kind of donut: custard cream filled chocolate. I went home, ate food, took a nap, walked the dog. I did the usual activities. I wasn’t looking forward to the evening because I knew that’s when the discomfort would probably pick up. Doula Kerry’s advice was to drink wine and take a bath. I drank some wine at about 7:00pm and by 7:30pm I was out. I slept in 2-3 hour intervals, waking up occasionally and then really waking up after midnight with consistent contractions. I hopped in the bath again in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
Wednesday became a little more challenging. The slight contractions came back in the night, but still not bad. I started to notice more mucous type discharge, rather than just the pink spotting. I left a message with the midwives to give them a head’s up of the happenings. The time came to get up and look alive. I dressed up cute, put some lipstick on and went about my day. I wasn’t going to make it to prenatal yoga today. I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea. Kyle and I decided to run errands. He wanted me close by at all times. We went to the dump, then into Silverdale to look around at some stores. We walked around Trader Joe’s, Goodwill, Bed Bath & Beyond, Eclectic Furnishings, and Micheal’s. We didn’t buy anything. We were looking for benches or home decor stuff. Just perusing. I would have a contraction here and there, and then “bloop,” something would come out of me. At this point, it was now more mucous-like. This must be the “mucous plug” falling out.
Kyle got a call from Cam (work dude) and decided they needed to meet about his new job. Kyle was more comfortable with me close by, so we went to Edmonds together for the meet up. This involved a 30 minute drive the ferry, a slow walk up the ramp, and a 30 minute ferry ride. We were the last ones to walk on the ferry. Kyle hit his foot, so he couldn’t walk very fast either.
We went to Demitri’s and ate some firecracker shrimp and bacon wrapped dates. When Cam got there to meet with Kyle, I walked up the hill to Starbucks so they could chat about work. There, I wrote Kyle a love note, and journaled a bit. I drank a white chocolate mocha and ate some pumpkin bread. The love note ended up in Kyle’s pocket and I washed clothes the next morning. He never got to read it. We made it back home late that night and snuggled in. I knew I’d be in for another rough night.
I made sure to have some more wine and take a bath before bed. Doula Kerry’s recommendation! T’was lovely. We were feeling a bit snuggly, so Kyle and I enjoyed some intimate time together. That may have really kickstarted labor. I took a shower right after, just to get everything clean. More contractions continued through the night. I timed 54 of them in the early morning hours and they were about 5-7 minutes apart and 30-40 seconds long. They were definitely getting more uncomfortable.
I got up and took a bath again about 5am. Sleep wasn’t coming easy. I called Doula Kerry at 7:00am just to give her and update. We were in constant contact through text and phone calls. At this point, my midwives and a few family members were well aware that things were progressing. Kyle’s mom asked about taking off work and we told her not to. It wasn’t quite time.
Last Prenatal Appointment
We had our regular weekly appointment at the birth center later on Thursday evening at 6:15pm. It was the time they had available and had us scheduled. I thought that we would go and they’d tell me that it’s going to be a while and that everything is fine. Honestly, I think I was scared of being in labor and hoping it wasn’t yet time. I was 38 weeks and 5 days and was having contraction throughout the entire day.
They asked about my discharge. Throughout the day, it had become more watery and less mucous, which they told me might mean my waters had ruptured. I thought that it was just normal discharge or I was peeing myself. They did a pH strip test on the pad I was wearing to test the fluid. If it tested high pH, that means it is amniotic fluid and my water had ruptured. Semen also comes back that way, so they weren’t 100% sure yet. The test strip was blue and quite possibly amniotic fluid. I didn’t even think of my water being broken. I thought it would be obvious if that happened. Other women say they hear a “pop” or there’s more of a constant trickle out.
Midwife Holly asked if I’d like a cervical exam to check things out. Up until this point, I hadn’t yet had one. There was no need and I was in no rush to hurry labor. I thought the exam would be a good idea since I was feeling all sort of things. I sat up and spread my legs. Midwife Amy did the exam. It wasn’t painful, just a little uncomfortable. She found that I was 2 cm dilated and 60% effaced. When I was off the table, a lot of fluid had leaked out. My water was definitely ruptured. They did the pH test again. Hardcore blue.
To double check, they got out the microscope to do the “fern test.” It didn’t’ really work because the microscope sucked, but they assumed I was ruptured and it was nearly go time. The scary part for me is that I couldn’t pinpoint when it had happened. There’s a timeline to how long I can go ruptured without delivering baby. There’s a risk of infection for both me and baby. Some providers say it’s 36 hours. The midwives give it 48 hours. I guessed sometime Wednesday, but changed it to more like Thursday morning. Maybe 6:00 a.m.? I wasn’t sure, but I’d rather give myself more time than less. We left the exam with the instructions to call the next day at 9:00 a.m. for an update.
Laboring at Home
That night I drank some more wine, took another bath and off to bed. Sleep did not come easy. I might have gotten an hour or so, but the contractions were picking up. Morning came and Kyle started getting really worried. Contractions were 3-4 minutes apart, but still only about 25-30 seconds long. It was not comfortable. I was more concerned about Kyle and his anxiety and feeling of helplessness.
On Friday at about 7:30am when I was in the bath, yet again, I called Doula Kerry and told her that Kyle was more comfortable if she came over. She was at the hospital with another client, and was going to send Jen Watson, her backup. A few minutes later, her c-section client was rescheduled, so Kerry got to our house a little before 9:00 a.m., right when I was getting out of the bath. Kyle was sitting with me while I was in the bath, being very worried. Kerry took over helping me through the contractions. She kept giving Kyle jobs to do, too. “Go get this, go get that.” This was good. It allowed him to run around and be productive without having to worry so much how to help me. I called Holly at 9:00 a.m. and told her things were definitely picking up. She came over in a bit to check on me.
I don’t remember much of what happened next. I remember most of the day being in my bedroom working through contractions in different positions. I was in bed for a while. I tried kneeling against the bed. I stood for a bit. I got back in the bath. Everything was ramping up. Doula Kerry had to leave again for the other client and back-up Doula Jen took over. I made it hard on the doulas because I did not like being touched during contractions. I really had to focus inward. That has to be tough for a yoga teacher and a massage therapist trying to help. All I wanted through each contraction was to be holding someone’s hand or leaning against something. Standing felt better than in laying down. But I had to keep switching it up. Each position change ramped up the intensity for the first few contractions. I also made a lot of noise, a lot of moaning. I tried to focus on my breath as well. Big chest breaths and slow blowing exhales out. In between contractions, I really tried to flop and rest. You don’t see the rest too much in movies or clips of labor, but it is so important.
Heading to the Birth Center
Doula Kerry came back in the afternoon, and we decided to pack up for the birth center. I thought I had everything. I had packed my bag about a week prior. Kyle packed the car, We took it in steps. I wore my blue fluffy robe and cozy slippers. We made it down the stairs and had a few more contractions. We went down the outside steps and had another contraction getting into the car. We were in for about a 10 minute drive. I had another contraction while riding in the car, and another one at a stop light. At the stop light I told Kyle that he is NOT to go if the light turns green until after it was over. I remember looking at the cars next to us hoping they wouldn’t stare at me mid-contraction. They didn’t. Luckily the red light lasted until I was just coming down. The next contraction hit when we got to the birth center. Then again as I was getting inside. Midwife Holly and Student Midwife Amywere ready for us. They had the room all set up. We headed in.
The floors were cold and the room didn’t seem as appealing as home. I sorta wished I was back home. I’m glad I brought my robe and cozy quilt for comfort. When I got there, midwife Amy took my vitals and had to monitor baby heartbeat through two contractions as I leaned against the counter. Standing was beginning to feel okay, but it was all very intense. Baby’s heartbeat was great. They also had me lay down for a cervical exam. They didn’t tell me any of the numbers. They say it can make some laboring moms anxious if they don’t feel like they are progressing very fast. It psychs people out and can slow down labor. I think I was making good progress.
Because my water was ruptured, they really wanted to limit cervical exams because of the risk of infection. They also noticed some meconium in my discharge, meaning baby had pooped in the womb. This can be dangerous if they breathe it in. It was “jasmine tea” color, which means pretty low risk and it probably happened a while ago. They still had to ask if I wanted to transfer to the hospital because of this. I thought for a moment. No way. They said the risk of infection goes from 1 in 10 to 2 in 10, so nothing to worry about. Baby sounds great, too. Baby’s heartbeat was perfect through the entire labor. They checked about every 30 minutes after a contraction with a hand doppler.
After all the checks, I got into the big tub. Kyle got in with me. It was sweet relief, mostly for my legs and hips. I knew then that I was going to have a problem with hip and leg fatigue. Everything in my lower body was sore. I did my best to relax between. It was getting more and more challenging as time went on. As it’s meant to do, my body adjusted to match the intensity. I got out of the bath and decided to stand through a few with my fluffy robe. That felt better. Kyle held me much of the time. Then the midwife suggested that I do a side-lying position in bed. I was scared of that, because I knew every position change meant a stronger contraction to get used to. I did it, though, with my leg propped on a peanut ball and my yummy quilt on me. This was tiring. I didn’t like it so much. I decided to switch it up again by standing. I was getting hot. And then cold. My body temp couldn’t regulate very well. My temp was showing a little warm, but it could have been the cold floor vs the air and getting out of the tub. Cold wash cloths went on my forehead and neck. I continued to drink water. I wished I’d brought some gatorade or some sort of electrolyte beverage. No one was at the rest of the birth center, so Kyle and I walked the halls for a few contractions. The midwives up front were eating Korean food. I was not going to head farther that direction. We headed back into the room. I was starting to get really tired. I don’t know when I started throwing up, but that did start happening when I was the bed some time. I remember a point at about 9 or 10pm when Kyle got into bed behind me and I was able to rest. I was SO tired and dwindling. I had doubts that I would make it. My temp was still high so they decided to put an IV in so I could get some liquids. Just some simple saline solution on a drip. I’m so glad that I agreed to the IV. Amy put it in. She said I have great veins. Oh, I know.
With the IV in, Kyle propped up behind me, I was able to rest in between contractions laying up against him. This was magical. My body was beginning to get super shaky, but the shakes stopped when I allowed myself to fully relax. I was starting to get anxiety with how long the process was taking and me being so tired. This relaxing with Kyle behind me was my favorite part of the hard work. I remember falling asleep in between and feeling like I was picking up some energy.
At this time, Doula Kerry had to switch out with Jen again, because of her son’s birthday party. Totally okay. Jen got in and took over. After some rest, we decided that I try sitting on the toilet backwards leaning against the back. The midwives and doula were great at offering suggestions. I’m not sure I would have tried many of them. Some worked better than others. Sitting on the toilet was interesting. My contractions were gearing up even more and I was beginning to feel a little like I had to push. Jen told me to “blow it away.” It was difficult, but I did. My feet were freezing on the floor and actually fell asleep and tingled in that position. It was time to move. We then tried the birth stool. Kyle sat in front of me on a chair and I got on the stool. Again, my feet were freezing. I put some socks on but my legs just weren’t having it. They were so tired. I still felt a slight desire to push. Doula Jen had to keep reminding me to “go low” in my sounds. It was hard, but I did. I would moan a lot. I was still throwing up in between contractions.
I had to move from the stool soon again. It was not comfortable. My feet were freezing and legs giving out. I went back to the bed to side-lying with the peanut ball between my legs. Ouch! But I knew it would be the best to keep progressing.
Kyle’s cheeseburger was in the lobby with his Dad and Dylan. He was out eating. At one point I asked Doula Jen where Kyle was. I had forgotten. She said she’d go and get him, and I said, no, he needs to eat. I felt like I could handle a few more minutes without him. I’m always concerned about his hunger status, and he needs full bars to be the most beneficial to me.
After a few more contractions, they took the IV out since it was done draining into me. Midwife Holly had to ask if I wanted to transfer to the hospital due to possible temperature increase, or something. That part is fuzzy. Maybe they asked because it was the time constraints of me being ruptured. They seemed to be doing all they could to avoid me having to transfer, but protocol insists that they ask and I make the decision myself. I refused yet again, of course. I couldn’t imagine 20-30 minutes in a car and the transition to the hospital. No way, man!
They suggested that I get back into the bath. Okay! But not too hot, I said. I was still struggling with regulating my temperature, although I was feeling loads better than before the IV. Contractions and push time were getting way closer now, but the bath gave my legs and hips a rest. This time, I was totally naked. No more need for modesty or a swim top.
After a few super intense contractions, Midwife Amy came over and asked what my least favorite yoga pose was. I responded that I didn’t know, but maybe warrior poses. She asked what I did in those hard poses. I said, breathe through it. She told me to just breathe through it, just like a hard yoga pose. Kyle was in the bath with me, but I was kinda ignoring him at this point. I had to focus. I’d sit in in the tub between, and then kneel against the side of the tub with the contraction.
Pushing Out a Baby
Soon, I started to feel like pushing. It honestly feels like the pressure to take a really big poop. It’s all in the butt. The midwives guided me through the feelings, telling me that if the urge to push went away or faded towards the end of the contraction, it wasn’t quite time. But once the urge to push doesn’t go away, it’s time. Doula Jen kept telling me to “blow it away.” So I’d blow like I was blowing fluffy dandelions, until I couldn’t any more. The push urge didn’t go away, so I got out of the tub.
I remember being concerned with how I was going to push. Not actually how to push, but where my body would be placed. In the water? On the bed? After I got out of the tub an before I could start pushing, they had to check that my cervix was gone and that I was fully dilated. Midwife Amy checked she said, “You are complete, my dear!” Which means it was go time.
I got on my hands and knees on the bed facing Kyle, who was sitting against the back of the bed. The midwives were at my bottom. Kyle was sitting against the back of the bed and my hands were digging into his thighs. I would rock back and forth and bump into him and moan loudly into his ears. Rest would come and I’d flop onto his shoulder or chest. It was kind of working, but my damn legs were again giving out. Kyle was also taking pictures and videos. When I noticed, I would get upset and tell him to stop. Even though my eyes were closed, I’d say things like, “stop staring at me” and “no touching.”
After a while, the midwives said I should get on my back, but I was scared of that because I’ve heard it’s the worst position to push in. Well, I wasn’t quite on my back. It was sort of a side lying position with Midwife Holly holding a leg up. It had to be my left leg up with me leaning on my right side. Midwife Amy was holding a warm compress against my perineum. Midwife Melanie was called in when the urge to push occurred. She was charting on the computer.
I began to push harder with each on-coming contraction. Each pushing session brought more grunts and screams and vomit. Whoa, what a feeling. Baby’s head was moving down. They asked if I wanted to feel his head. Did I? This sort of scared me. I felt and there was some hair. I tried to switch to the other side and lift the other leg and my body didn’t want that at all. Back to the left leg up. The time to really bear down came on. Oh, and this whole time I was vomiting after each contraction and push. Where did these fluids come from? Some pushes were shorter and less effective. I think I got scared a few times and backed off. The midwives were super encouraging, telling me to give it another push when I wanted to stop.
When the pushing got really intense, I remember feeling the head come out, and then the top of my labia near where I pee started to burn intensely. No tearing! I thought. That was the loudest and highest pitch scream I had the entire night. That was the only time that I would say any of this process was actually painful. They told me to stop and rest to stretch out. Thank God. After that one, I leaned over and vomited dark brown bile-like stuff all over the Kyle and the bed. Doula Jen helped clean that up.
The next contraction, I pushed hard, and kept at it. His head was fully out. His little body slithered out right after. Before I knew it, they were placing his slimy, stinky body on my belly.
At 2:01 a.m. on October 13, 2018, baby boy was born. He had a full head of black hair on his cone-shaped head. Slime covered his upper body and vernix on his lower body. My left hand got a full palm full of vernix. One of the midwives said that it was good and not to wipe it off. He was wiggling and started to make a few sounds while on my chest. No big cries, just some squeaks and grunts.
I was in shock, but at the same time much more awake and alert. The lights seemed all of a sudden brighter. Maybe they were. I didn’t feel a bunch of love or magical emotions like some birth stories speak of. Instead my thoughts were more like, “OMG I’m so glad that’s over.” And “WTF just happened?!” I couldn’t believe all that hard work was finally over.
The midwives were quick about cleaning up the baby mess and mentioned how much he pooped when he came out when he was born. I saw a lot of grossness on the pad they were clearing. I asked if I pooped during pushing. Nope! But the baby sure did. Kyle later mentioned how gross the smell was and how not beautiful that process was. I was too busy in the moment to notice any smells.
Kyle was still in back of me taking a bunch of pictures and videos. I know I will be forever grateful for him doing that. He took some good ones. We got to oggle baby boy for a bit. Midwife Amy was still at my bottom monitoring the cord pulsing. It took a few minutes for it to be done pulsing and fully white. They asked who wanted to cut the cord. I guess that’s sometimes a big deal. We hadn’t talked about it, nor did we really care. They waited several minutes until the cord stopped pulsing, then I cut it! Snip snip. He was free!
Midwife Amy said when I feel cramping that I could push out the placenta. Did I feel cramping? I wasn’t sure. Maybe. I gave a little push about 15 minutes later. It just slithered out. They told me to give one more little cough push. Not sure what that was about, but I did that, too. The later showed us the placenta and all the parts. Neat!
Midwife Amy checked my bottom. I had no significant tears. I had a small bilateral labia split, which just means little scratches up by my labia. That probably happened in that one painful moment during one of those big pushes before they told me to stop. And it wasn’t bad. They call them “skid marks.” Protocol to heal that is to put a little circle pad with witch hazel in between for a few days so they don’t heal together. She also commented on the minimal bleeding that I had endured. Awesome! All this positive talk was making me feel real good.
The midwives stepped out to do all the paperwork and allowed Kyle, baby and I some time to ourselves. Doula Jen said her goodbye and left for home. She was so tired. I was just in awe. What do we do now? I got him to latch on to feed, which was easier than anticipated. We rested. We took some more pictures. I passed him off to Kyle to hold. We had plenty of “OMG” thoughts and conversations.
We took out the blue felt board and started playing with the numbers to fully populate with the pertinent information.
Ezra Scott Hagen, 10-13-2018, 7lb 1oz and 21 in, 2:01 am
In the time preceding our departure, I drank all the water, tried to pee with a little success and listened to loads of instructions from the midwives. How they expect a super tired mama to remember all that information is a mystery. We scheduled the 24 hr and 3 day home visit, as well as the 3 and 6 week exams. They went over a bunch more postpartum information with handouts. They showed me how to use the peri bottle and had a baggy of goodies including pads, herbal sitz bath, iron supplement sample, nipple cream sample, etc. They gave a vitamin K shot to baby; it helps with blood clotting.
At about 5am, three hours after delivery, I got dressed and started packing up our bags. I really didn’t use much of what was in my bag, but I’d rather have it packed that way than the opposite. Prepare for the worst.
One thing I wish I would have had was gatorade or more of a light electrolyte beverage. I had water and they gave me this super sugary juice thing, but it wasn’t great. None it stayed down very long. I’m really glad I had socks and brought my own comfy quilt. I could have opted for a few more pillows and cushions. They had some, but seemingly never enough. My throat was super raw from all the vomiting. I had instructions to get slippery elm lozenges to help with that. I did eat a little after, as was required. They like to see me eat something with protein. I had a few bites of a peanut butter sandwich, some grapes and a clif bar. It all hurt going down but I did my best.
We also got him dressed in his cute panda and bear onesie sleeper and cute little bear hat. Then took a few pics to send out to the world. Kyle brought the bags and things out to the car while the midwives kept chatting with me. Kyle also brought in the car seat so we could pack up the little man. Midwife Holly placed a warmer on the carseat for a few minutes before we packed him up. It’s chilly outside and we want baby to be comfy.
At about 5:30 a.m. we took off for home. Both of us were crazy tired, but it was only a 4 mile drive. I was excited to sleep at home rather than try to rest at the birth center. In hospitals, they keep you two days or more. Why? I don’t know. I love that we got to go home right away. If I ever have a second birth, I’d probably do it at home. I was much more comfortable earlier in the day laboring at home. With how this birth went, I could see me being just fine.
Settling in at Home
At home I was so excited I didn’t want to sleep. Kyle’s sister was over. She woke up and greeted us. She was the first one to hold baby Ezra outside of the birth environment. Kyle also went into Dylan’s room and introduced them for the first time. Kyle’s dad came down the day prior in his camper and was out front. Kyle’s mom was sleeping in her studio above the garage. They would all get to meet the little guy the next morning while I continued to rest. So a few minutes later, we all went to sleep. Baby on the corner of the bed, us next to him. A few hours later, I got up and put in him in the rock n’ play and fell asleep again.
And that’s how it went.
The days the followed were filled with a lot of rest and work to keep a baby attached to me without discomfort. Ezra took to nursing very easily. We had our 24 hr exam with the midwives on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Everything looked great. Doula Kerry came to see us Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. She brought over my placenta pills that she dehydrated and encapsulated. We decided on that service to help prevent PP depression and energy. Some say it works. We’ll see. We had a 3 day postpartum home visit with the Midwives on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Again, all is well. Baby only lost 2% of his bodyweight since birth, which is awesome.
Ezra is the best baby. He is just perfect. He’s only fussy when we change his diaper and use a cold wipe, hence purchasing the wipes warmer. He eats and sleeps amazingly.
The support I’ve received from the midwives, Doula Kerry, Kyle, Kyle’s mom, and everyone has been phenomenal. I feel like we are so well supported. I am able to rest and not worry. I’ve gone through some emotional breakdowns, but in the best way possible. I’ll just start crying and think, “He’s SO perfect.” It must be a new mom thing. I’m still taking it slow, one week PP. It’s been magical.
The weather has been sunny and beautiful. Even staying indoors, this helps my mood and energy in so many ways. I bled minimally, didn’t tear, milk is flowing, and I have the most perfect baby. I can’t express how much gratitude for how perfect everything has been. *Cue more ugly cries.*
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Ashley Hagen is a yoga teacher, Budokon® Sensei, excitable morning person, and brand new mom. She's quite spontaneous and is basically an expert at navigating unexpected life changes. She currently lives on the west coast of Washington with her partner and new son.