Posted by: Morgan | September 18, 2010

Logan’s birth – As seen from the eyes of his mama

Today is Logan’s very first Saturday. It’s sunny outside, with a few fluffy clouds in a pale blue sky, and iTunes is on random. He’s asleep in my arms, as we both are lulled by ever changing genres of music, and he looks perfect. Caleb and Emma are upstairs, presumably to get her asleep for naptime, but seeing as it’s been almost forty-five minutes I will guess that he fell asleep too. There are bags of farmer’s market vegetables on my table that I’m excited to have cooked and try. Small piles of laundry, doubled gifts to be returned, and miscellaneous baby things are around the house, but I still feel very peaceful. It seems like a good time to remember and write down Logan’s birth story.

It is not a secret that the last few weeks of my pregnancy were emotionally wearing on my patience. This pregnancy’s third trimester was more wearing than my first, probably from a mix of having a toddler and the heat wave we had towards the end of August. By the time I reached 36 weeks (legal gestation to have a home birth) I started feeling antsy. I quickly hurried to get all of my ‘before Logan comes’ list finished and my birthing supplies gathered. Emma had been born at 38 weeks, so I wanted to be ready in case he came early as well. My midwife was also scheduling a week-long vacation with her husband in my 37th week, and I did not want to tempt fate, Murphy’s Law, or my own body into starting labor before I had everything ready. I started thinking ‘today could be the day’, something not very good for my ability to be patient, looking very expectantly at the 38 week mark. I was not physically uncomfortable, but I started getting into a mood I called the ‘grumpy pregnant lady’. I was in tears a few times, and felt like I was pleading with God to bring this pregnancy to a close and my baby into my arms. I tried to think of reasons why I could be thankful I was still pregnant, but very few of the good reasons seemed valid, and I knew that if I wasn’t pregnant the reasons would be better. Several people kept making comments about how I “wasn’t even 38 weeks yet” and that just made me more upset. Mentally I was just done being pregnant.

The “big day”, 38 weeks, arrived at midnight while I was finishing up some things online. I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions, which over the next few hours turned consistent. For the full story of that night, please see my previous post. To sum it up, I ended the day feeling like I had been in seven hours of labor that stopped for no reason whatsoever. I began my day expecting to be holding my baby and went to sleep with a belly and sore back. It ended up being a good thing, though, as God and I had some good conversations (wherein I had to apologize for some things and He reassured me of some things). I was no longer grumpy, but I was just ready to be in the next stage. I could wait to week 42 (after that, I said I would start a never-ending flow of whining), but would just be so happy to have ‘today be the day’. I thought that every morning except for September 11th, which I just knew “was not the day”. We had another false alarm day on the 10th, with me wondering upon waking if my water had broken. Emma went to her Grammy’s and Caleb came home when contractions seemed possibly consistent. We walked the mall, bringing contractions closer and closer. As soon as we got home they slowed, but stayed consistent. That evening my midwife drove out to have a prenatal at my house and give me the test strip to see if there was any amniotic fluid. The test was negative. I remember that I was down, but I don’t think I was angry. It just felt like a long waste of a day, even though I had kept saying throughout the day I wasn’t so sure that this was it.

The weekend came, along with a great Saturday at home with Caleb and Emma, and a beautiful baby shower thrown for me on Sunday afternoon. Our pastor (Caleb’s highschool youth pastor and our long-time friend) encouraged me to start labor in the middle of service, or even just pretend because “wouldn’t that be hilarious?”. I decided at the shower that labor would start at 3:15pm, and was slightly surprised that it didn’t (strange of me, right?). Then I had a great conversation with a friend, where I felt like I had a turning point with my relationship with my body and the labor. I realized I had been in fear that something was wrong with me and that my body wouldn’t start labor without me helping it along. It occurred to me that the thought was against everything I really believe about birthing and that when it was time, I wouldn’t need to help my body along. It would know what to do and would do it regardless of my actions. I remember telling Caleb that night that I wasn’t impatient, but just so excited to meet our baby. He gave me the best kiss ever and we went to sleep, four days before my due date.

The next morning, September 13th, Emma woke up a little after 8am. She wanted to nurse, which we always do in the morning, and snuggled up with me in bed. The nursing started contractions, as it normally did every morning, and I just ignored the cramping while we woke up. A small, fleeting thought jumped through my mind, “It is today.”, and made my heart flutter. I pushed it away. After she and I decided we needed to go downstairs to get some cereal, I expected the cramping to slow down. Not only did it not calm down, but the flow of contractions seemed to become more consistent. I decided against timing them, attempting to let my body do whatever it was that it needed to do, trying to stay out of its way and keep my emotional expectations low. I emailed Caleb telling him that they were consistent, cramp-y, but not intense and not close enough for me to feel I should pay attention to the time. Within a short time of sending that email, the regularity of the cramping made me pull out my cell phone and start jotting down the times that each rush of tension registered to me. I was needing to take a deep breath at the peak of each contraction to stay relaxed, so I sat Emma down to watch ‘Bug’s Life’ while I cleaned up breakfast and the kitchen.

I started feeling settled and peaceful. I was sure this was it, but unwilling to admit that to myself or anyone else.

I called my mom to chat with her before she went to work. A little while into the conversation I had to stop talking during each contraction, so she offered to time them for me. Through the thirty minute conversation they went from being 30 seconds long and 10 minutes apart to lasting around a minute and being spaced 2-4 minutes apart. I told her I needed to call my midwife, Bonnie, and let her know, so we ended the conversation and I dialed my midwife’s number. I let her know the situation. Her grandson was with her that day, so she asked me to let her know if they stayed consistent or if I felt I needed her, while she worked on a back-up plan for where her grandson would be if she needed to come out. I told her not to worry and that it didn’t feel that intense yet. I would call her.

I texted both our production team for the TV show we’re a part of, our birth photographer and several friends who were ready to come attend and assist at the birth.

At this point I lost track of time, as far as my memory of the day goes. The moments became periods of time, filled with specific people and things, but never bordered by time. The next period of time I remember Emma asking me for something from the kitchen and it taking me much longer than it should to retrieve, because of my need to stop fully during each contraction and shut out the world to relax through it. She started getting upset and bothered by my needed concentration on something she could not see, and I realized that, false alarm or not, I needed more support. I called Caleb and asked him to come home. I know it was at least twenty-thirty minutes later that I called my mother-in-law to come get Emma, but it feels like the same period of time, so I really don’t know when I did it. She said she’d be over quickly, and I called my midwife again. Between contractions I told her it was more serious and that, while I wasn’t sure I needed her here now, I would like it if her apprentice would come over. Since my water hadn’t broken yet, I said I was comfortable with an exam, if only to determine if my midwife should come out or not. I did not want exams, but even more so I did not want replay of our false alarm day.

Now the memories start to fade together. Emma was upset, probably because I consistently “ignored” her for over a minute at a time. I couldn’t get her to calm down, so I offered to walk her outside. I thought it would be nice to be outside in labor. It was warm, maybe a little too warm. But she played in the grass and I stood beside the sapling tree that is planted in the grass beside our car. I don’t think we talked at all. After another contraction or two I suddenly couldn’t stand through them on my own. I leaned against the tree, closeing my eyes while I focused on relaxing through each wave of pain. I opened my eyes and saw below me, with her arms wrapped around the tree, my little girl leaning with her mama, helping me through the contractions whether she knew it or not. I smiled. Then it was definitely too warm, so I convinced her to come back inside. Another contraction hit me at the door and I leaned against it, wide open letting the air conditioning out. Right then Grammy and Caleb arrived. I’m not sure what they got or how long it was until Grammy had left with Emma. I don’t even remember where I was in the house.

I know I was standing beside the counter in the kitchen when Nicole, my midwife’s apprentice, arrived. I remember having to wait for a break in contractions for her to be able to check for progress. I remember reminding her not to tell me anything from the exam. As soon as she had finished, another contraction came on, and I relaxed through it, watching her and Caleb whisper together in the kitchen. Both of them jumped on cell phones before the contraction was over, and I heard “Yes, this is it, come on out” several times. I didn’t hear what Nicole told Bonnie. I knew something was happening and I knew that my hair was a greasy disaster. Obviously I needed to be in the shower.

Caleb got a folding chair so I could sit in the hot downpour of water. Wonderfully, the shower not only allowed me to wash my hair, but it was soothing on my back during each contraction. Caleb was helping Nicole get the living room picked up and the birth tub ready, so I would call for him when I felt another coming on. He stood in the shower with me, holding me up completely during each contraction, and then setting me back down on the chair while he went back out to help Nicole get ready. After awhile I realized that the camera crews would be showing up soon. My body wanted to stay in the water, but my vanity told me to get out and brush out my straggly wet hair. I intended on blowing it dry and pulling it back. My body had other intentions and I only got so far as the brushing when I heard “The tub is almost ready” and I could not stop myself from walking out towards it. Caleb had me labor on the birthing ball for a few contractions while they finished filling the tub. Caleb told me I could get into the tub, but I was so relaxed I didn’t move. I remember asking if it would help and being told yes, so I begrudgingly stood up and lurched over to the tub. As soon as my body submerged in the water I felt every ounce of stress leave my body. This is where I was supposed to be in labor, where my body wanted me.

I think Caleb immediately got in with me. I’m really not sure. I remember closing my eyes and floating through contractions. During labor with Emma, I only used the word ‘pain’ to describe the time when she was crowing, but the entire labor was intense. These weren’t as intense, but they hurt:  my legs and back ached with sharp cramps and waves of pain. I remember the door opening and seeing one of Caleb’s closest friends, Brian, walk in. It was at the beginning of the contraction, so I immediately shut my eyes. I remember smiling inside, wondering if at this first moment he was worried about the decision to be at the birth. I believe he began helping Nicole in Caleb’s stead, as Caleb never left my side again, which was wonderful.

I remember hushed voices, doors opening and closing, Caleb’s hand on my arm as I rode out each wave of contraction, breathing deeply at the end of each pain. I remember glancing up and seeing Lynsey, our birth photographer, quietly and quickly set her camera bag down and pull out her camera in one movement. I closed my eyes again for the photo I knew she was about to take, not because a contraction was beginning, but because I felt weird looking directly at the camera. That was the last time during labor I was aware of her. I never saw the camera crew come in or, for that matter, my midwife. She was just suddenly there in my memory, smiling and being calm. At one point Nicole brought in the oxygen tank and began setting it up. I felt scared for that moment, wondering if I should ask if I needed it, but telling myself of course I didn’t and they needed it prepped for later. I calmed down.

At some point, though I do not know how far into the time in the pool this was, I started feeling a lot of pressure. I remember telling Caleb and Nicole I ‘needed to poop’ a lot. I remember thinking that I should use a different phrase, seeing as I was on camera for TV, but that was just what kept coming out. Nicole commented that a pressure like that could mean I was ready to push, and if I wanted she could check me to see if I was dilated enough to. If I was, I could push, and it’d be ok.

That hit me. I may be able to start taking an active role in bringing my baby into the world. I remember whispering that I wasn’t ready yet, that I couldn’t. I think Nicole asked why. And that’s when I started crying. I was scared. Scared of not being able to love him as much as I love Emma. Scared that she wouldn’t be ok when he was here. Scared that things would change and it wouldn’t be right. Scared again that I couldn’t love him and Emma enough. Caleb held me. Nicole comforted me. Bonnie came over and asked why I was crying. She told me it would be ok, that I was a good mom, and that Emma would not even know she’d been an only child in two weeks. A contraction came so I had to calm myself. By the end of it I sniffled a little, but it was ok. I don’t know whether I faced my fear, allowed it to be talked away, or released it just by admitting it.

I also don’t know if that fear was holding back my body, because within the next contraction or two I felt a lot of “pushy” pressure. I remember feeling like I thrashed my body back into Caleb’s, though I’m sure I didn’t based on other’s accounts of this period of time. Nicole asked if I wanted to be checked. I said yes, please. I either wanted to push or go to the bathroom. Something needed to come out and I couldn’t continue contractions with that feeling. She checked and said softly “I don’t want you to push yet, you’re at an 8. We need to wait till you’re fully dilated”. I didn’t mind. I just asked if I could at least go poop, please. They laughed and said yes.

They shuffled me into the bathroom. I remember thinking, as I asked for a towel to wrap around me, that I must not be ready to push because I was still aware of modesty. I didn’t care truly if the camera caught me, but I knew Brian was in the other room and I didn’t want to bother him. Caleb stood with me in the bathroom. As I felt a contraction build up in my body, my hearing suddenly became muffled. I felt like I was in a fog, about to float up above myself in a hazy awareness. The last time I’d felt like this I had practically fainted. I said I was going to faint, that I needed Bonnie. I remember saying it over and over again. I remember screaming her name, calling her in to me. They tell me I never even yelled. She fanned me, and I remember noticing at the time that it was my childbirth student workbook, which was kept up on the top shelf, and wondering why someone had chosen that book of all books to grab for a fan. Funny what you notice in labor and what you don’t.

She wanted me to lie on the floor. I said I couldn’t, but I think really I didn’t want to. We hadn’t cleaned it well in a little while, but it was the bathroom. I think it grossed me out. I leaned against Caleb instead. The next contraction hit. It didn’t build; it tore at me. My body began pushing, completely without my help. I remember tearing my hands and arms around, trying to escape the pain, screaming “I’m pushing! I’m pushing!”. They tell me I was calm, though obviously in transition. Bonnie said she wanted me to move. I asked if I really had to. She said yes, she didn’t want the baby born in the toilet. That made sense to me, so I let them stand me back up and walk into the living room.

The tub was quite warm. At some point, though I’m currently unsure if it was before the trip to the bathroom or after, someone had thought to put ice in the tub. I loved it. I swirled the ice around in the water over my belly and thought nothing was more relaxing in the whole world. I believe getting ice was Brian’s job. Once back from the bathroom, I remember Bonnie mentioning not getting back in the tub because it was so warm. I remember every fiber in my body intent on being in that water. There was nothing in me that would have that baby out of water. Now, looking back, I’m sure I could have birthed out of the water perfectly fine. But at that moment that was all I knew. Also while looking back, I realized that I couldn’t remember if I’d covered up on the way back. Caleb said they did, but I remember that I didn’t care. I was having a baby.

I climbed back in the tub and someone said they needed to check me. I knew they did. I knew I wanted them to because I needed to push, but I did not want to. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted to sink into the water. She checked me and I was fully dilated. She said I could push if I felt the urge with the next contraction, which came swiftly thereafter. I tried to push, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I felt confused. If I’d had a baby before, wouldn’t this part be the same? How could pushing be different? I kept trying, feeling frantic and chaotic. They tell me I appeared serene and completely in tune with my body. I remember everyone talking and snapping that it was too loud. I didn’t want to be aware of anyone else. I told them I was confused and then the second contraction was upon me. I grabbed onto the handles in the birthing tub and tried to push again. It felt painful, confusing, and like my body was fighting me. I was lost and wondering if I could really do it. (Note: After watching the TV episode, I tend to agree with myself. I was snapping and being a complete jerk!)

I think that’s when transition ended for me.

The third contraction came and I suddenly knew what I needed to do. The only way to describe it was that I had been pushing forward and I finally figured out how to push down. I felt the baby move quickly, which shocked me. How was this happening so fast I could feel it? A small break, wherein I think I said “Yes, that did something. That was right”, before the fourth pushing contraction. I knew the baby was low, but I was shocked again when I felt the fire burn of crowning. Something popped and I looked down, seeing the amniotic fluid wash into the pool while someone said “There went your water!”. I was so happy that my water hadn’t broken earlier, but I closed my eyes when someone said “I see his head. He’s crowning”. It was so fast. My mind was a blank. The fifth contraction came and I pushed. The burning feeling was there, and suddenly a realization. I knew that if I pushed he would be born. I also knew I could stop pushing and make it last longer, have more time to be ready. If I ever felt primal during birth, this was the moment. I pushed away the emotional needs and went with what my body knew to do. His head was born. I knew it. I had felt it. But my eyes were still closed and I asked if he was born yet. Someone said no, just his head, but wait, wait, he’s turning. Ok, now you can push. I think it was still the fifth contraction. I pushed and felt him be born. Someone pulled him out of the water and put him on my chest. I instinctively put my hands up to him as he took his first breath and screamed loudly.

Nicole told me to look at my beautiful baby. I said I couldn’t look yet.

I don’t remember her or I saying that, but I was told it happened. It makes sense, because I remember it taking a few moments to register that he’d been born, and to work through the mental preparation I’d expected to be able to do between pushing contractions. I remember he was screaming a lot. I remember smiling and craning my head around to see Caleb and telling him “I love you” over and over again. I remember being aware of the cameras and lots of people, who I hadn’t realized were around, suddenly surrounding me. Lacey, Brian’s wife, had arrived at some point (now that I think about it, I remember her standing near Brian when he poured in the ice), and was beaming. There were cameras, lots of hands doing things, Caleb holding me.

I checked to make sure it was Logan that was born, and not Caelyn. I told everyone. At some point someone said I needed to get out of the tub. This seemed like the most ridiculous suggestion ever, but they were insistent and I complied. My next memory was asking if I could call my mom. I knew she needed to know. She screamed a little and I had to hold the phone out from my ear. After that, the next hour is a blur. At some point I realized I hadn’t breastfed yet. He was a pro and latched on perfectly. Someone said he had a beautiful cord, and Lynsey said she’d taken a photo of it. The placenta was delivered and set beside me in a bowl, since we were waiting for the cord blood to stop pulsing before cutting the cord. We called my mother-in-law to bring Emma back home to meet Logan. I wanted to see her so badly and to hold her.

When they arrived the still and video photographers were ready to capture the moment. I think the house being changed, the lights and camera, and an apparent change in me all struck Emma at once. She wouldn’t come to me and cried when they sat her in my lap. It took everything in me to smile and not cry, pushing the feeling that I had been right when I cried in the pool. I asked the cameras to step back and Caleb to step away with Logan. Finally she snuggled me. It was perfect.

Then I was tired. There was measuring, weighing, examining. There were interviews happening for TV in the back room. Lynsey was saying goodbye. Friends were arriving and slowly leaving. The midwives were finishing paperwork. All I wanted was to be alone with my husband and my baby. Then we were alone.

As I sat with Caleb, talking about the entire experience, I glanced over at the birth tub. It occurred to me, and I said, “So many people have told me personally that a person cannot have a safe birth at home. So many people have also told me that a woman cannot labor and birth without needing, or at least wanting, pain medication. I just did both of those things.”

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Responses

  1. Mesmerizing! I loved every word! Congrats!

  2. Congratulations, Morgan! So Logan was born on the 13th? You really do have a nice, descriptive writing style! It’s fun to read birth stories and note how women experience labor differently. Labor was different for me with Hadassah, too. Again, congratulations and I hope you’re settling into life with 2 well and getting more sleep! Time with your newborn really flies the 2nd time around!

    • Thank you. I enjoyed writing this. Glad you’re doing great with your two little ones

  3. What a beautiful birth story, Morgan!!! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to see the footage. Birth is so amazing. And Yay for birthing at home! 🙂

    • Thanks Sonya. I’m really glad I was able to write it out so soon. It will be interesting to see the footage, and see what actually happened.

  4. […] a reality TV crew rolling at her son’s […]


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