The Birth Story of Asa Everett Robert

What a grand entrance our sweet son made on May 20, 2016 at 6:43 p.m. For those of you who really don’t want all of the details, here is the short version: My labor was fast, and we have been recovering well. The end.

You should stop reading now if you don’t want to hear more about birth body fluids and the process of a second baby coming into the world. However, if you, like me, are super passionate about normalizing the power of the female body to give birth, please read ahead.

Asa1

Asa’s first morning

This time around, my body definitely responded differently to labor than the first time. I experienced prodromal labor right at 37 weeks for about four hours, and then my body did nothing else contraction wise for 2.5 weeks. We were working pretty hard to try and get labor going naturally, as a gestational diabetes diagnosis puts more pressure on having an on-time baby (see my previous post). So starting around week 36, I started chiropractic aimed specifically at aligning my hips, pelvis, sacrum, etc. and continued that bi-weekly until the end of the pregnancy. Beginning week 37, I started working with an acupuncturist in town who has a lot of experience with labor and postpartum support. She put me on black currant oil, and a Chinese medicine herbal concoction for lowering blood sugar, as well as calcium. At home I was already taking magnesium, a Wish Garden tincture for uterus toning and of course iron and my pre-natals. Between all of these appointments and all of the Boulder Women’s Care appointments… There were a lot of appointments. I also had quite a routine of essential oils going (see my pregnancy, labor and postpartum oil report below).

And who knows what actually worked (Matt and I laughed often that maybe these were all placebo effect practices), but I did finally go into labor, and not too early or too late in the game. On the Wednesday of week 39 for me, a few contractions began in the morning, and then completely stopped. The next morning, contractions started again, but slowed down. I had my regular 39 week appointment and no stress test scheduled for that day. When the midwife checked me, my body was dilated to a two. We opted to have her strip my membranes (which actually… was not as bad as I thought of a procedure… there really was no stripping involved, just some movement and jiggling of the cervix). The midwife said that this procedure opened me to a dilation of 3 and that maybe we would have a baby that night. A little bit of labor did start for me that evening, but by 11p.m. it all stopped again. All of these stops and starts started discouraging me and were so new to me. The contractions weren’t really that painful, and we kept walking and walking. Wednesday and Thursday nights we walked around Lake McIntosh by our house, and Elle kicked dandelions and we watched the fish jump, trying anything to get the baby moving out of me. I felt so discouraged. Matt told me “hey, let’s get some sleep and then we will have a baby tomorrow.” I definitely didn’t feel as optimistic, and besides, he wasn’t the one who still had to carry a baby, but we all did sleep straight through the night. 

Friday morning, May 20: Around 8:30 a.m. contractions started up a bit again. I clearly remember coming down to the living room we share with the whole house and sitting cross-legged on the floor, playing “little people” with Elleanna. Contractions would come and I would close my eyes and breathe through and relax (much different than laboring with Matt alone in the middle of the night in total calm and quiet as we did with our first). It was difficult to explain to Elleanna why I couldn’t get up and get her juice to drink that morning very often. I did a few dishes. And then we decided to take a walk at Target. We slowly shuffled through most of the store, starting with the dollar section and then the movie section. We looked at pillows. We looked at toddler shoes. Around 11:30 a.m., we made it to the yogurt aisle and “pop!”. I told Matt “I am peeing… but I can’t stop it…Oh, maybe my water just broke!” Luckily I was wearing a pad already, so the scene definitely wasn’t a dramatic movie rendition of a gushing river spilling all over the greek yogurt, and no clean out call was dispatched. So we shuffled to the front, made a few random purchases, and loaded into the car. I called Boulder Women’s Care and our doula Sarah Mills of Birth Mojo Boulder. Even though my contractions weren’t rolling like a freight train yet, Matt and I decided to go and labor at the hospital. We ate some Wendy’s. I laid down and Matt took a quick shower, and then we loaded up for the commute to Boulder Foothills Community Hospital.

We checked in around 2:30 p.m. The front desk lady asked me if I was in labor; she said my face wasn’t contorted in pain like most of her check-ins. I was ambivalent too. Just like my first labor, my early contractions never landed on a consistent pattern. So we checked into our labor room, and chatted with the nurse. We got our diffuser set up and started diffusing lavender. I kicked off my flip flops. We turned on my peaceful laboring playlist. And the midwife told me I was dialated to a 6. After they hooked me up to the monitor (and I declined the IV cap placement), my mom and I started walking the halls of the hospital. Then, the real gushing began. I had lots of greenish-brown liquid come out, and I just couldn’t stop it. The nurse and the midwife became more concerned, as this color of liquid is a sign of meconium staining. Sometimes, meconium passing can indicate stress for the baby, and also he was not cooperating with the monitoring situation. So, the midwife strongly suggested we try an internal monitor. I was horrified – I had visions of them drilling a probe into the skull of my not-even-born-yet son. However, the midwife explained to me that there would be no skull drilling; in fact, it would be more like an EKG probe. We consulted with Sarah, and she pointed out that really, considering all of the risk factors for an internal monitor, we had already crossed those bridges (like my water had already broken, and also they were already wanting continuous monitoring). So I laid there and cried as they inserted the monitor. It is so hard to make those decisions when you are in the heart of labor. At this point, the midwife also announced to me “You haven’t progressed. We are on a timeline now and you need to get this show on the road.” Wow, did I ever feel even more discouraged. Every time I had attempted to get into a laboring rhythm, they kept wanting to interrupt me with poking and staying still. So I finally shuffled to the bathroom, and then my “bloody show” arrived… as well as unending waves of contractions. This was about 5 p.m.

At this point, I think it took me about an hour to walk the 20 feet back to my bed. The contractions seriously wouldn’t let up at all. Halfway back to the bed, I ended up on a nursing stool. They checked my blood sugar. And then they began the painful process of inserting and IV cap while I was in hard labor (a dumb mistake on my part… I really should have let them put that in at the beginning when I was still smiling and making jokes), as the midwife wanted to give me an IV drip to make sure my blood sugar didn’t crash. And then Sarah and the midwife told me I had to keep changing positions every 15 minutes. So, I hung onto Matt and labored. And I got into the bed and onto my stomach to labor. I was on all fours. Matt stepped out for 15 minutes to eat some Chipotle my parents had brought him, and during that time I definitely transitioned. The waves of fear crashing over my heart felt impossible to handle. All I could think about was how I was “stuck” at a dilation of 6, and if the contractions needed to continue like this to get me to a 10, there was no way I could do any of this at all. But, at 6:30, the midwife looked at me and said “where do you want to have your baby?”

So we sat the bed up and she dropped the bottom part down so I was in an assisted squatting position of sorts. And then I held my legs back and pushed with all of my might… three times… and Asa Everett Robert was born at 6:43 p.m. He arrived into this world weighing 7 pounds 10 ounces, and measuring at 20.5 inches in length, and a head circumference of 14 inches. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck three times, but he was fighting and crying and breathing in life even with that cord impedance. The midwife expertly freed him, and he only had to have one minute of oxygen, and then he was on my chest. And the first thing he did? He pooped on me. And I started shaking from the crazy hormonal shift that happened in my body. The relief I felt was astronomical. Even though that labor was much shorter than my first, the intensity of it brought me to the brink of what I thought I could handle.

I’m thankful for God’s protection of me and my son. We both kept passing each test at the hospital with flying colors. I only tore to a first degree tear this time, and so recovery has been much better. Asa already makes us laugh so much. In fact, a few hours after birth in the recovery room, as he was laying next to me, his eyes flew open and he made the loudest grunt… and, of course, pooped. My mom and I started laughing so hard. He continues to grunt like that sometimes when he poops. Asa seems more content these first 11 days than Elleanna was, so I am hoping that means my milk has come in very well this time (we have his weight check today… I am sure my next blog post will be about breastfeeding 2.0).

Wow, can I just say, I am happy to have this sweet baby boy on the outside and not on the inside anymore? Even if he won’t let us put him down at all, ever? I’m treasuring these days, because I know soon he will be up and running and tumbling with his sister and cousins, and he won’t need to rock for hours on my chest anymore. For now, I’m letting time reorganize into whatever it needs to be. Who needs to live in reality anyway?

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Pregnancy / Labor / Postpartum Oil and Herbs  Log (I use DoTerra Oils)*:

  • All throughout pregnancy, I used a blend of geranium, ginger, eucalyptus and frankincense on my lower back followed by a hot rag for 20 minutes every night… followed by a back rub by my husband. Seriously, this was the primary was I could get my body to relax enough to sleep.
  • Starting week 38, I applied a blend of clary sage, ginger, lavender, basil, cypress and geranium to my feet / ankles as many times as I could think about it through the course of the day.
  • During labor, my mom applied basil, geranium and frankincense to my lower back several times, all oils to help labor progress and relieve stress, trauma and pain
  • After labor, and for several days, I had Matt apply helichrysum to my feet, an oil that aids in stopping bleeding.
  • To support breastfeeding, I have been applying basil to my breasts (not the nipple area), and I have also been taking fennel internally. Both of these oils help support milk production.

WishGarden Herbs:

  • For pregnancy, I took WishGarden’s pregnancy safe sleep herbs when needed for a restless night
  • Beginning week 37, I used their uterus toning blend for the last month of pregnancy
  • Post-partum, I really loved their AfterEase for after birth pain. My best friend Vicki advised that I drop this blend directly under my tongue when nursing those first few days, and it really did help me.
  • I have also been taking their Goat’s Milk Rue and Post-labor hormone balancing tincture twice a day… and I have also been taking my encapsulated placenta two times a day!  

*I was not paid by DoTerra or WishGarden to post about these products

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Waiting for Baby Love #2: Introspection Overdue

Exactly 3 years ago today, I started this blog. I definitely fell off the wagon this last year in recording our family adventures, but I find myself wanting to connect again as we prepare to welcome Baby Love #2.

This pregnancy started off as a bit of a surprise for us. And of course, I had signed up for one of my most intense semesters yet last fall; I took on a new teaching role leading the lecture for a big 125-person writing class at CSU, and I was in three graduate-level classes that all required a lot of reading and research, as well as teaching my usual class at Front Range Community College. When October hit, I was nauseous, sleep deprived and just exhausted from driving up to Fort Collins five days a week. We were also navigating big changes in Matt’s life. IBM laid him off in May of 2015, and we decided to try an entirely new direction; he now works as an administrator at our church in Boulder. In October, we also found out that our baby is a boy! We were actually shocked. I don’t know why, but for some reason, we figured that we would have all of the girls.

For the spring semester I finally was able to strip back my Ph.D. schedule to prepare for the end of my pregnancy (and my due date of May 22, 2016). From January to March… all three of us had cold after cold, and allergies. Week 26, Matt went with me to Washington D.C. for my birthday and so that I could present at the APPE ethics conference. We had such a good time, and it was a good little pre-baby get-away. Week 29 came, and we found out that I have gestational diabetes with this pregnancy. So many fears hit me. After my pregnancy and natural birth with Elleanna, we were entering a new world of potential risks (and subsequent meddling by doctors). So I started a new way of eating (thankfully this all coincided with spring break, so I had a week at home to re-think my eating and food prep game plan!). We started learning what foods spike my blood sugar, and what I can handle. I started weighing and counting carbs… and pricking my fingers four times a day to check my levels. My fear levels have ebbed and flowed throughout this entire process, like when the doctor decided I needed to start insulin shots at night because we couldn’t get my fasting levels to come down, which subsequently also meant that my OBGYN wanted me to start coming in two times a week to monitor the baby’s heart rate. Also at one point, the doctor thought I might have pre-eclampsia, but in the end I was cleared from that diagnosis.

Above left to right: Week 26, Week 29

The fear factor of this pregnancy was such a new experience for me. With Elleanna, I passed every hurdle with flying colors and everyone left me along until I went into labor. This time, there’s been more measuring and poking, recording and scheduling. I’m also seeing a chiropractor who specializes in pelvis / pregnancy work, and an acupuncturist who has me drinking all sorts of teas and also tells me that this coming Friday, we will “aggressively” do a session to get the baby out. And if I don’t go into labor by my due date, we will have to face an induction. This week, as I keep waiting for brother to make his grand entrance, and my due date gets closer, I’m trying really hard to rest in the space between aching pregnancy back and an impending newborn tornado. I need to be patient for but ready at a moment’s notice to jump into those impending “rushes” indicative of ushering in a new life. So, Rhema, relax, but also be ready to work really really hard when baby decides it is time, or the pitocin does.

Above from left to right: Weeks 32, 34 and 37

Yep, a second pregnancy has been totally different for me than the first pregnancy. Sometimes I feel guilty that I haven’t had as much time to sit and day dream about baby love #2, as I am squatting up and down to potty train baby love #1 (ahem, big girl, as she will pretty much literally only let us call her “big girl” these days).

Oh Elleanna. She actually has been a lot of fun and really good about this whole pregnancy process. And she seems to talk like she understands the impending life tornado about to hit our house, but I am not sure any of us really do. Since I have had so many extra appointments this pregnancy, she has come to a lot of them. She currently believes that brother is “black and white” from all of the ultrasounds she has watched, and we talk a lot about what a heart beat is. She often comes up to me with a notepad and a pencil, asking me questions and taking notes about what we can do about my blood sugar. She also slips off her crocs when I slip off my shoes to take my bi-weekly weight at the doctor’s office. And, if you are ever bored and have a toddler, try to explain why sometimes we adults have to pee in a cup and give the doctor the pee… I dare you. Her favorite doctor day is Monday, when she comes with me to one of the “No Stress Test” heart monitoring sessions. This time is mainly her favorite because for the last 6 weeks, we pop in the office VHS copy of “Lady and the Tramp” on their amazing VHS/small screen set up as I kick back and monitor the baby’s heart heart for 20 minutes – 1.5 hours (depending on his level of stubbornness). We also walk different pathways to the doctor’s office each time, which is located at Boulder Foothills Community Hospital. Sometimes we take the lilac route, and go look at all of the statues. Other times we take the inside walkway with the cool blown glass art on the ceiling. And Elleanna has become quite the expert at pushing elevator buttons, with a few near misses of pressing the emergency button… yeah.

So until next time, I will surely have a birth story to share. For now, I wait in the forever purgatory of the last days of pregnancy.

Above, from left to right: Weeks 38 and 39