Early Thursday morning of October 30th, I was not sleeping well due to Lochlan joining us in bed (he’s not exactly a restful sleeper) so I moved to his room to sleep in his bed. My instincts were telling me that I needed this rest. Sure enough, at 4 in the morning, I woke up to a contraction. It wasn’t as painful as I remembered my first contraction with Lochlan was. That one was so painful that I had to grip Nick’s shoulder until it passed. This one, I could breathe through it. Now that more than two weeks has passed since that morning, details on the hours after the first contraction are pretty fuzzy. I do remember going back to sleep and waking up again around 8 AM because I was determined to make sure that labor became consistent by taking herbs given to me the day before by my midwife (first dosage was at 8 AM).
I took six dropperfuls of Black Cohash every 30 minutes and 10 drops of Cottonroot (I’m not sure if this is the right name…???) every 15 minutes, both mixed in water and NOT tasty at all. Contractions continued to be inconsistent; waxing and waning every few hours. We called the midwife to let her know I was having contractions and to inquire whether I should continue the herbs or not. She said that it sounded like I was going into labor on my own and that I didn’t have to continue the herbs. I emailed Regan to let her know I was in labor and called Mom before she went to work to let her know that labor has begun and would call her back before she left work to see how things were progressing.
It was decided (by me) that Nick was not to go to work because I wanted to labor without having to worry or care for Lochlan and did not like the idea of Nick being 30 minutes away. I would not be going to my ASL II Lab that afternoon either; my TA would sub for me. The three of us watched the movie E.T. recently borrowed from the library. Since I had not slept well the night before, I fell asleep on and off during the movie. Around noon, I called Mom to let her know that contractions have slowed down which meant we were more likely going to have a Halloween baby. I was to call my step-dad if things progressed faster and he would call Mom at work.
After lunch, I was exhausted and went up to bed to nap. I ended up napping for three hours, nary a contraction (that I felt anyway). Frustrated with not knowing if I was really in labor or not, I got up to bake two loaves of banana bread since we had frozen bananas we needed to use up and I needed a “laboring project” to keep me moving on my feet. I began taking the herbs again as well. Nick went to the local market with Lochlan to buy food for the weekend. After the loaves were done, I sat on the futon to watch another movie from the library. All the while, Nick was cleaning up the house and making pizza dough for dinner later on while Lochlan played around me. Contractions were becoming more regular and stronger. Like my last labor, I didn’t like being touched while having a contraction-it made it seem more painful. I had to tell Lochlan not to touch me and if he didn’t listen, Nick had to pull him off of me because it was just unbearable. Lochlan was sweet, though, by telling me when I had a contraction that he was sorry and that it was okay. What a very empathetic little boy we have! To reassure him, I said, yes, I was okay and that I was in labor, which meant that the baby was going to be born soon. He seemed nonplussed that his life was about to completely change.
Around 5 PM, near the end of the movie I was watching, I couldn’t bear lying down on the futon while having a contraction anymore. I told Nick to open up the hot tub cover so I could get in since the birthing tub wasn’t clean and ready to use. Luckily, the water in the hot tub was still warm because Lochlan and Nick had just used it. I stripped off my clothes, not caring that it was still a little light out meaning the neighbors could see me and climbed into the tub. Little did I know, I would end up laboring in the tub for three hours. Thank goodness we had it this time around! Laboring in the cold, hard bathtub as I did with Lochlan while waiting for the birthing tub to fill up was not something I wanted to go through again. The hot tub really helped me get through each contraction. Throughout my labor, I used the same mantra as I had during my labor with Lochlan: Oooooopen, ooooopen, ooooopen… I visualized my cervix as a flower opening. In fact, just a week before, I had drawn a flower opening and a baby’s head crowning in the center. The picture I drew was what I visualized as I was saying the mantra.
Since Nick was too busy getting dinner ready and taking care of Lochlan, there was no one to time my contractions. My water had not broken yet so I figured we had plenty of time. I continued to labor in the tub on my hands and knees and sat on the edge of one of the seats between contractions. It was a beautiful starry cool night and I enjoyed gazing up at the stars between contractions while rubbing my belly, wondering about the new little person about to join our family. There was one point when I was looking through our sliding doors, watching Lochlan watch a movie. He was licking the movie box all the way around and around and around. I screamed for Nick’s attention, Lochlan’s attention, threw a soft hot tub thing at the doors but neither Lochlan or Nick turned to me. It was so frustrating because I was laboring and did not want to get out of the warm water! But in the end, I had to. I opened the sliding door and yelled at Lochlan to put that movie box down! Nick finally noticed me and took the movie away from Lochlan which caused him to burst into tears. Normally, I wouldn’t care what he was doing but I was thinking of all the GERMS on that movie borrowed from our local library! I could not ignore that behavior which was out of character for Lochlan to do anyway.
I told Nick to call Mom to come over and watch Lochlan so that he could get the birthing tub cleaned and filled with hot water. This was around 7 o’clock, maybe earlier. Remember, I was outside and had no access to a clock. Mom arrived after eating her dinner, about 30 minutes later. She timed my contractions, which were about 5 minutes apart but one minute or longer. I even had a two-minute long contraction at one point! It didn’t feel that long to me because I was so focused on my breathing and my mantra. Breathing on the surface of the water and feeling sprays of it on my lips was soothing although the filter bubbles were annoying me. They could not be turned off unless we turned off the power for the hot tub. That was not a feasible idea since I wanted the water to stay warm. I kept thinking how ANNOYING the filter bubbles were until I remembered reading Carl Jones’s Mind Over Labor book that if anything was distracting or annoying (usually noises), to accept it and be aware of it instead of thinking how annoying it was or wishing it would go away or ignoring it. So I accepted the filter bubbles and the irritation I felt immediately went away. I could focus better on getting through my contractions. Mind over labor, indeed!
Mom convinced us to call the midwife because of the contractions being one minute to two minutes long. I wasn’t sure because I thought contractions had to be 2-3 minutes apart AND one minute long before we had to call. It turned out that the midwife said the contractions only had to be one minute long. So they were on their way over.
I continued to labor in the hot tub while Nick cleaned the birthing tub (the very same 150 gallon Rubbermaid horse trough I birthed Lochlan in). Mom got Lochlan dressed in his pajamas and put him to bed. Shortly after, about an hour after Nick called them (8:45-ish?), the midwives Peggy and Lissa arrived and began setting up their equipment. Peggy opened the sliding door to ask how I was doing. All I could do was give her a thumbs-up signal. When the birthing tub was ready and the temperature was right, Nick came out to wrap me in a towel and lead me inside. I climbed in the tub and it wasn’t the same as the hot tub…I wanted to add more water but that request wasn’t granted. My contractions were getting much stronger that I started making louder noises, even some growling. I preferred to hang on the side of the tub while on my knees during a contraction, like I did in the hot tub. When it passed, I would sit back down in the tub. The midwife monitored the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler, which can be used in water (something I had not realized until this birth). My mom seemed uncomfortable with my noises and decided to go upstairs to wait until it was time to push. Meanwhile, Nick was busy setting up the video camcorder and taking pictures. The flash was going off and I told Nick to turn it off because it was annoying and the pictures don’t usually come out good with the flash on.
Not even 5 minutes later, I felt like I had to poop. I wasn’t sure if it was the urge to push or not because it felt completely different from the feeling of having to push that I had with Lochlan (he basically pushed his way out on his own and shot through the water like an underwater torpedo). So I reached down to feel how far up the birth canal the baby was. It turned out the head was RIGHT THERE! I was perplexed because my water had not broken yet (I was waiting and waiting for that to happen)-I could feel the placenta film covering the baby’s head. I informed the midwife what was going on and asked her to get my mom and Lochlan. Then I told Nick to contact Regan and let her know she can watch the birth on videophone. However, she was at a party and had to rush home to get to a videophone. Mom came back down with Lochlan in her arms.
I was still on my knees with my arms hanging over the sides of the tub when the midwife and mom urged me to squat in the same position as I had with Lochlan’s birth, using the moldings at the bottom of tub as footholds. I did so and began to push. It was MUCH harder to push this time around. Nick was taking pictures so I told him to put it down and get ready to catch the baby. Mom was kneeling by the tub with Lochlan in her lap. Right now, I can’t remember if I was aware of “the ring of fire” as the baby’s head crowned or not but once I got the baby’s head out, I thought I was done so I asked where the baby was. Mom and the midwife informed me that the baby was still inside but the head was out. I waited for the next contraction to help me push the baby out but the lull between contractions felt like forever. The midwife said to push anyway, without the contraction. That was really hard to do. I could feel the shoulders coming out, unlike my experience with Lochlan.
Later I found out that the midwife had broken my water, which I did not feel at all or even feel the water gushing out. I also found out that Peggy helped pull the baby out while Nick assisted. Then at 9:32 PM, the baby was born and brought up to lie against my chest. The first thing I noticed was the baby’s ears being folded over. I pointed it out to Mom and she said my ears were just like that when I was born. The midwives bundled it in receiving blankets and a hat. I was so thrilled the baby had arrived so quickly! Looking back, it is amazing how women have the ability to switch from pain to euphoria when the baby has made its entrance in the world.
Holding the baby, I could feel what the sex was and declared, “Oh, I know what it is!” Unfolding the blankets, I told Lochlan to see if the baby was a girl or a boy. He seemed too stunned to speak so I explained to him that it was a boy. Nick was in complete shock that we had another boy! All along, he thought the baby was going to be a girl. He was thinking about all the trouble that he and brother got into and now with two boys of his own, it’s karma. As for me, I knew the baby was going to be a boy. “Kalle,” I whispered. Without even fully seeing his face, there was no doubt about it. The name fit perfectly. We stayed in the tub for a few minutes. Peggy remarked that the umbilical cord was beautiful-thick and twisty. I looked down and saw that she was right; it reminded me of the old-fashioned telephone cord. I also saw that Kalle was completely covered in vernix, a sticky substance that covers the baby’s skin in the womb; it was very thick and gunky. Lochlan did not have vernix or perhaps it was washed off easily when he was born in the water. Already, everything was different between the two births I experienced. Amazingly, Kalle looked a lot like Lochlan although he did not have Lochlan’s dark blue eyes at birth. Instead, his eyes are a mixture of brown and dark green.
After more than 4 hours of being in water, I was ready to get out. The midwife and Nick offered to take Kalle while I got out but I didn’t want to let him go. I got up from the tub holding Kalle with assistance from Nick and sat down on the futon. By then, Regan had arrived home and called us on videophone. Even though she missed the birth by minutes, it was reassuring to have her there, someone to focus on me, talk to me since everyone else was busy with something or someone. Regan immediately noticed the difference between a medicated and non-medicated birth: I was alert and very aware of what was happening. There was no fog obscuring my awareness.
As Regan and I chatted, the midwives checked Kalle’s heartbeat while I continued to hold him and then they helped me get on the birthing stool set up in front of the futon to birth the placenta. The worst part of both birth experiences was the kneading of my stomach to help the placenta release itself. The feeling was extremely uncomfortable and painful, even. Nevertheless, I offered Kalle the breast and he immediately took it! It amazed me because Lochlan was not interested in it until a good 20 minutes after birth. I got through the kneading part while nursing Kalle and birthed the placenta. Then I got back on the futon to rest. I told Mom to get the old sheet under the changing table to cover me with so that the blood wouldn’t scare Lochlan. I had lost a LOT of blood with him and required a shot to clot my blood but this time around, it was not more than normal.
Nick wanted to put Lochlan back to bed but I told him not to because I wanted Lochlan to see the baby even though he was very sleepy. Lochlan sat next to me on the futon and we looked over the baby together. At one point, I realized that Kalle pooped in the blankets! Peggy said he would need a bath so Nick got a tub-thingy we had to use as a baby bathtub (we always bathed with Lochlan as a baby as a way to keep his body warm and also warm milk is always available when with me ☺). I chatted with Regan while the midwives bathed Kalle and Nick took pictures as well as helped with the bathing. It was so weird being separated from my baby even though I could see him.
Once he was bathed, the midwives brought out a sling attached to a scale to weigh Kalle. Lighting was poor but with a flashlight, they determined that he was 7 pounds and 14 ounces, just 7 ounces heavier than Lochlan at birth. Kalle was getting cold so they put a diaper on him and brought him to me in blankets for skin to skin contact and nursing. His first outfit was in the dryer to warm it up before putting it on him. The midwives wanted to check me over more closely for tears and any abnormalities so I said goodbye to Regan and laid down on the futon. Peggy checked me over and said that I had two very tiny tears but did not need stitches at all (with Lochlan, I had none). I told her that I wasn’t surprised about the tears because pushing was much harder this time around.
Peggy asked if I was ready to take a shower or eat but I told her that I wanted to lie down for a bit as I was having abdominal pain. Food was repulsive to me. I had read in the Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz that afterbirth pains are usually worst with second births and on. They sure were not kidding! I inquired about the outfit being ready and it turned out everyone forgot the dryer was running. So the outfit was brought out and Nick dressed Kalle. It turned out to be a tad bit too short for our 21 ½” long boy! The outfit was a Zutano Itsy-Bitsy outfit; I had wanted the baby to FIT in its first outfit but that clearly backfired. Nevertheless, Kalle was brought back to me on the futon. Lochlan joined us. It was nice lying down with my two boys. Reality hit me: TWO boys. Boy, oh boy, we are in for some fun times! ☺ My favorite moment was when Lochlan noticed that Kalle was signing ‘T’ and copied him for a picture.
After napping for a short time with the boys, I was ready for my shower. By this time, Mom decided to leave as it was getting late and she had to work the next day. Kalle slept in the red bouncer chair the whole time I was in the shower. The shower was refreshing although it was weird looking at and feeling my empty sack of a stomach. After getting dressed in the clothes I actually remembered to pack in the birthing kit (unlike last time which resulted in a mad scramble for my clothes by Mom and Nick and their choices were not what I wanted but I only had myself to blame ☺), I had a bowl of cereal while the midwives packed up their equipment and left. Not long after, I threw up some of the cereal. That was strange for me to experience because I had felt perfectly fine until after the birth, the nausea hit me. Nothing like that happened during Lochlan’s birth. Since it was really late (close to 1 AM), Nick wanted to get to bed but I wanted to announce the birth on our blog to get it over with as well as have people wake up to a nice surprise. ☺ Once that was completed, it was off to bed as a family of four…