A long-y but a goodie.
I posted a video announcing Jude’s birth right here. Music and everything. One can also skip down to the bottom, it’s posted there too.
But if you’re up for the nitty gritty birth details (that’s why you’re here!) then, voila, my friends.
3 things first:
-I was nervous about labor going lightning fast because after birthing 3 children, mamas tend to have a certain muscle memory, we’ll term it ever so kindly.
-I was doubly nervous because after registering at this highly sought-after birthing center, isn’t it just the funniest thing, there are only THREE rooms in the place (but! They-are-planning-to-build-one-more! soon!). Oh goody. I droned on about my excitement over this situation here.
– And finally, I’d just completed a full six days of non-braxton, time-able, real contractions (<<<blogged it, naturally), which kept puttering off and vanishing like a phantom, leaving me zero roses and no pretty singing voice –which had completely exhausted me. Six days.
So by the time Thursday, April 9th showed up, I looked like this:
And two cares I did not give.
The ceremonial going-into-labor-shower&blowdry was 4 days gone, but contractions had increased overnight, along with the bat signal showing up in the wee hours of the morning. I have a history of pushing out a baby within hours of losing a mucus plug, so I might’ve rightly panicked and told Craig it was hospital time. For real this time. (And trust me, I was rolling my own eyes about all of this early labor malarkey because only rookie preggers go to the hospital too soon, right? RIGHT. …)
We got there, that lovely, amazing birthing center, and spent 3 hours putzing about (in one of the prized 3 rooms, and boy were we proud as peacocks to have it). Craig took more phone pictures of me than he ever has in his life, and I let my midwife check me for dilation: a whopping 3.5cm.
The contractions had stole back into their lair, leaving me bristly and non-smiley.
We drove home, pitstopping at Chipotle for dat guacamole because by now I was also hangry. Vainessa stayed in the car while Craig went in to order (for what it’s worth I was wearing torn leggings as pants, a shirt not long enough to cover all that up, and a tank top as a bra. The image of proper feminine dress, I am.), and yikes, a few of these contractions were not very dandy. Not dandy at all.
The closer we got to home, the more intense -albeit still far apart- my contractions became, and I grew more alarmed that we were driving away from the place of birthing. By the time we pulled into the driveway of my parent’s house, I was bracing myself through each contraction. I was so pissed off at their 6 day swaggerings that I didn’t inform Craig, and instead barked at him to help the guac-breath’d buffalo out of the car.
The image of grace and gratitude, I am.
I took a shower, often having to get down on all fours to cope with these wraith-like contractions.
I had enough patience to dress myself in something other than Cinderella garb, but then needed to recoup in bed.
If you’ll remember, we’ve been living with my parents while we house hunt this spring. What you might not know is that Craig, the boys, and I have been sleeping in one room, with our beds pushed together into a megabed (which is precisely how we’ve slept for the past few years no matter where we’ve lived, and it works for us) but of note is the fact that I laid atop Pillow Mountain, writhing ever so pathetically; my long, dark, wet hair pulled over my face like the girl from The Ring, whilst my three children +manchild Craig wrestled giddily around me the entire time.
I don’t know how long I laid there, amidst the giggling feet and knocking heads and shrieky shrieks, but at some point I decided to dry my hair or else I would have to find a scythe and go a’swinging. I got in front of the mirror, blowdryer in hand, and decided it needed to go with me to the car. right now. But then I couldn’t take my next steps and I hit the ground. Real. Bad. Contraction –and then another, right on top of the previous.
As Emmett would say, GUD–BYE, BLOWDRYER!
I muttered to Craig something about the car and teetered out of the house, tossing my big belly in the backseat.
Commence the worst car ride ever. By then, 5pm rush hour traffic had gathered for its daily cluster, and there was not one red light Craig did not catch. 30 minute drive turned to F-O-R-E-V-E-R.
Worst car ride. Ever.
If I’d’ve known that Craig was snapping car selfies with me in the background, keeled over the newly installed carseat, gasping for cool air wishing I could muster the spare brain cells to scream at him for the humid open-window-air whipping my damp, frizzy hair wildly and into my mouth, causing me to gag, I am convinced I would’ve lashed out violently. At some point, the windows got rolled up and the AC saved a half fraction of my life.
Somehow, some.how. I made it into the hospital. I couldn’t walk. The contractions were double peaking and I was hyperventilating. I ended up in a wheelchair and next thing I know I’m lurching myself out of it and into the birthing room I’d pranced about only hours earlier.
Amidst my state of chaos, I was taken aback by what I can only describe as a sacred scene meeting my eyes: a half circle of nurses stood silently and at the ready for my arrival. They remained silent as I lumbered across the room, tearing my pants off.
I stopped just short of the bathroom with another contraction, and leaned against the doorway, my face scrunched in pain. I mentally armed myself for this battle: to be fought by myself and no one else. As understood from my previous births, I expected the nurses to begin bustling about doing absolutely nothing but merely sounding busy, but instead, the warm palm of my midwife met my lower back and she pressed firmly, relieving the pain by miles and miles, and I realized the whole nursing team had already completed their bustling; they were here fully and completely for me.
I opened my eyes as the contraction waned, made it to the toilet, and one of the nurses asked two questions to which I breathed YES: Shall we start the bath? and, Do you need help getting your top off?
Okay all you snide commenters about me leaving my modesty at the door, I did. I did.
You win, you always do.
Into the warm tub, lights dimmed, I went– and Princess Jasmine experienced a whole new world.
By now, Aladdin had joined me from parking the car, and he took up the man-doula position of palm-pressing my back with each contraction.
My nurses remained silent and worked seamlessly– I allowed my eyes to stay closed as I focused inward, and they remained closed for most of my labor. I remember only seeing multiple hands and arms as I was helped while changing positions, given towels, helped in and out of the tub to use the toilet, and given sips of water from a cup. I cannot express enough how grateful I was to feel like they were part of me, totally tuned into what I might need at every moment. It was like I had a meganurse with ESP and 8 arms.
My midwife, Missy, was centering and grounding. She helped me regain control of my breathing and get into various positions to provide relief. She was encouraging at the right times and urged me to try something different with confidence, but not in the false cheerleader way that makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs. Missy had been there, and she was in the pain with me. Only she spoke, while the other nurses whispered quietly but mostly remained silent, monitoring the baby’s heartbeat in a way that I hardly noticed. There was a unanimous presence there of reverence toward the laboring mother and the process of birth that I now remember with absolute awe and appreciation. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
Suddenly, I was pushing. My breathing was controlled, and I was so impressed that I was channelling my energy into pushing in lieu of the crazy my last birth had been.
And then it happened: I realized my fear of the stuck anterior cervical lip was coming true. again.
I was pushing, and the relief I was supposed to experience in that action was eclipsed by a supernatural pain and the baby was not descending. I spent two hours in the water, but the last hour was spent pushing. I knew what was happening and told Missy. She checked me under the water and confirmed that I was stuck at 9cm, my water bag was bulging, and not yet broken. I couldn’t believe this was happening again, and I lost my sense of control as each contraction persisted, more shockingly painful in new ways each time.
In this last hour, I bit Craig two times. Yes, the with-my-teeth kind of bite. Once on the hand, and another time, I don’t know where, other than it was a large area of flesh. I smacked water at him because he wasn’t putting pressure in the exact correct spot on my lower back. I whinnied “DON’T TOUCH ME!” at least once to him. And then suddenly, I reached a weird state of rest. In this state, Craig spoke softly to me, and knowing we still hadn’t decided on the baby’s name, he whispered “Jude’s coming, Carolyn. He’s so close.” My left shoulder angel was like darn right, thats his name. Right shoulder angel was like <3333333
For about a half hour I floated on my back in a twilight state. I remember hearing a terrible thunderstorm railing against the hospital windows as we all waited silently in the dark bathroom. Then a contraction would roar me to life and I couldn’t have stopped pushing if my life depended on it, and nothing could stop the guttural roar that erupted from the depths of my diaphragm.
But no progress.
After that half hour, the contractions picked back up into double-peak mode and I decided it was time for an epidural. I wanted to rest for longer than 5 minute intervals.
I got out of the water to pee, and for the first time, I looked at each nurse, I looked at my midwife, and I looked at my husband in the eyes, and very seriously demanded an epidural.
I know, they told me with pity.
No. I know what I want. I want an epidural. I’ve done the natural thing already, I know what I’m up against right now, and I want an epidural, is what I was thinking. But all I could do was ugly cry the most pathetic, ugliest cry that (ever!) existed and tell them I was dead serious.
It’ll take an hour to get here, we have to draw blood and get your I.V. going, they told me.
BRING IT NOW. I told them.
So they did. As I was sitting on the toilet, someone drew my blood, and then stuck an I.V. in my arm.
I noticed my hands and face were completely numb from hyperventilating –but the epidural had not come, and it would not come. The contractions were still crushing me in waves too deep for escape. There was no pause button.
It was in the third hour that Missy suggested we move out to the bed and try some new positions. I couldn’t handle kneeling on all fours. I couldn’t stand. Gravity was so cruel and harsh after being in the water for 2 hours. I laid on my back, and why on earth was it a relief to lay on my back? I allowed Missy to break my water with her finger and I felt more relief.
Unfortunately, the contractions kept up their A game and Missy was now aiding in stretching my cervix over little Jude’s head. It took her three tries: the pain of cervical stretching while having a contraction is unlike any pain I have ever known.
This pain drove me to what I can only describe as an out of body experience. In complete flight mode, I wanted out. And then I wasn’t in my body anymore save for some lingering force that wouldn’t let me totally exit and leave the pain. Pain isn’t an appropriate word for what I was feeling. It was far more than that.
Someone was holding my legs. Someone was holding my arms. Craig was hovering over my face.
And in a final, unearthly contraction, Missy pulled my cervix over Jude’s head, and finally, finally, finally, he was descending.
I felt I was tearing from top to bottom and I didn’t care, give me that pain any day. Craig was up at my head, kneeling over me as I held his shoulders and gripped the fatty part under his shoulder blades so hard that he would bruise. I clenched my teeth so hard that they would ache for the next three days and I would suffer a pounding headache for the next 7 days which required a narcotic that still didn’t cover it.
Eight times I pushed before a crying baby head emerged.
His umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck …and knotted; something Missy said is rare and usually results in stillbirths.
The top half of me was hanging off the bed when I looked down and saw a head full of dark hair coming to be laid on my chest. I was shocked by his presence, and had a what did we do? moment as I realized there are now 4 Svellinger children.
I held him, catching my breath finally, in the way athletes do after an event –but held him at long last, Jude Benedict.
and here’s the vid: