We’ve been doing a lot of walking recently. Frederick loves his stroller, Travis loves the exercise, and I love being not in the house. Win-win-win. It’s a great reminder that there are things to do that don’t involve the internet—something I am slow to remember. So I try to take lots of pictures to remind myself. And here’s a cute picture of Frederick. Just because.
Hey look, you guys, I have a baby!He’s kind of the master of facial expressions: He didn’t get here quite as planned, but we had a happy, healthy vaginal birth that ended in a happy, healthy baby. So here’s the story:
At my 38 week appointment with my birthing center midwives, my blood pressure was a little high—nothing too concerning, but definitely something to watch. They called later that week to check up on me and told me to go to Instacare to get a prescription for a rash on my arms. I told them I’d let them know what my blood pressure was.
It was higher. That was when they decided they were not equipped to handle it, and they immediately transferred me back to the hospital. At first I was devastated; I actually went through the five stages of grief, knowing that my birth would not look like what I had been preparing so hard for. The midwife told me to go straight to Labor and Delivery to be monitored. We did so, and since Frederick and I looked okay, they discharged me and sent me home to do a 24 hour urine test.
A few days passed and I didn’t hear anything. I figured everything was okay and they’d call me if something was wrong. I tried to get in contact with several care providers since the transfer had left me doctorless. I eventually went back to the midwifery where I had been the first half of my pregnancy before switching to the birth center, but with a different midwife.
The first time I talked to her was Wednesday afternoon (May 29) and she wanted me to come in right away. She told me that my blood pressure and protein indicated that an induction would be the safest route. Again, I was disappointed; I knew that inductions often lead to many other interventions that I didn’t want. But what I wanted more than anything was for me and Frederick to be healthy.
After a cervical check and stripping my membranes, the midwife looked at me and said, “Let’s have a baby today!” I knew that I had spent 9 months knowing that moment was coming, and I still wasn’t prepared for it! We went to the hospital and started pitocin a few hours later.
The first 9 hours were monotonous. I had to stay in bed hooked up to monitors where if I moved a fraction of an inch, the nurse would have to come in and adjust them. The midwife was dismissive of our birth plan (even though we had a giant poster sized one hanging in the room! haha), and told us that she was just “going to put a big red X through it.” Horrible bedside manner aside, we made sure she knew how closely we wanted to stick to it, medical necessity permitting, and once she actually looked at it, she agreed to almost everything.
The nurses were my saving grace! My night nurse knew how much I hated being stuck in bed and let me take a few extra long bathroom breaks, laughed when I called my bed “the rack” and her the “High Inquisitor,” and even brought me some food that I wasn’t supposed to have.
Even more than the wonderful nurses, I could not have done any of it without Travis. He was a wonderful support, constantly making sure I was as comfortable as possible, reassuring me that I could make it through all my contractions, slowly rubbing my arms, counting me down, helping me relax. He was my rock the entire time. We spent most of the night speaking softly, working through my contractions, and getting ready to meet our son.
At 3 in the morning (9 hours after starting pitocin), things hadn’t progressed at all. The midwife told me she was going to break my water; Travis asked her what would happen if we waited to which she replied angrily, “Well, you don’t want a c-section, do you?” While I wasn’t intimidated by the scare tactic, I did agree to let her break my water and the release of pressure felt great.
The contractions after that did not feel great. I spent the next two hours going through contractions that made me feel lightheaded and dizzy, my whole body shook, and eventually I threw up a few times. When they checked my blood pressure at 5 a.m. they ran to get the midwife because it had spiked to 190/110. I didn’t realize how bad it was at the time, but the midwife told me that I would need anesthesia immediately if I wanted to avoid a stroke. I thought it was another scare tactic, but after I agreed, I’m pretty sure they bumped me ahead of other women because the anesthesiologist was in the room within 10 minutes.
After the epidural, I instantly relaxed and fell asleep. My blood pressure dropped back into a normal range. Within an hour I had dilated 4 cm, and the next hour after that I was completely dilated.
The midwife came in (a different one from the night before) and I began pushing, but it did not go well. The new midwife was not as pushy, but she was very loud and exuberant, which was not the energy I wanted in the room. She was yelling at me to give more, telling me when to push and for how long, getting after me for talking to Travis between contractions, and eventually, I told her that I could not do it anymore. I was hyperventilating between pushes and I could not get enough air to push for as long as she wanted me to. I was exhausted and convinced that I was failing and I couldn’t do it. I was terrified she would tell me that they would take me for a c-section; instead, she told me that she would give me an hour to rest and for the contractions to help move him down.
I was so grateful for this time. I was dreading the time when they would come back in; I knew that I couldn’t do it again. I couldn’t handle the yelling and hyperventilating. So I did the only thing I could think of: a fear release. It was something we practiced over and over again in hypnobirthing—using relaxation and visualization to let go of fear and anxiety. And I was nothing if not fearful and anxious. This fear release, along with the epidural, were the best choices I made during my labor. I pictured what had happened only an hour before: the tension, the yelling, the feeling of defeat and failure, and I let them go. I replaced them with images of calm, centered pushing.
When the time came to push again, I was ready. I asked the nurse to call the midwife at the last possible moment. The nurse was the one who had been there the night before when I had come in. I loved her! I was so excited to see her again and know she would be there when my baby was born. I asked for an oxygen mask which helped immensely. I let her know which position I preferred and that I knew when my contractions were.
The next hour was the most peaceful of my whole labor. It was just me, Travis, and the nurse. We talked and joked quietly in between pushes; I knew exactly when to bear down, and since she let me take control, I pushed for longer and more intensely than I had when I had been ordered to. I could feel Frederick moving down and knew that it wouldn’t be long until I was holding him in my arms.
It was even shorter than I thought. As soon as he crowned, the nurse called for the midwife, thinking it would be another 10-15 minutes before he was out. However, it was at that point that I no longer had a break between wanting to push. I felt the need to keep going and so I did. The nurse noticed what was happening and told the midwife that the baby was coming now! He came out so fast that the nurse caught him just as the midwife was running into the room.
It was perfect timing because while I hadn’t wanted her there for the actual birth (in fact, several of my jokes to the nurse were about her delivering the baby not knowing that that is exactly what would happen), the midwife’s energy was perfect after he was born. She took control, placing him on my belly until the cord stopped pulsing, letting him rest on my chest while I delivered the placenta, and making sure I stayed distracted while she stitched up some small tears.
Frederick was born at 12:31 p.m. on Thursday, May 30 (only 3 days before my due date). He weighed 7 lbs 13 oz, measured 22 inches long, and is completely perfect from head to toe. He is incredibly quiet and doesn’t really cry (more mewing followed by screeching followed by more mewing). He breastfeeds like a champ and makes the best facial expressions, as proven above.
We love him more than anything and can’t wait to see the person he grows into. Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive of us through our infertility, pregnancy, and now birth. It’s wonderful to know how many people already love our son so much. We love you all!
Only a few more weeks before Frederick gets here, and there’s still a lot to be done. I’ve been hoping that I’d get bitten by the nesting bug, but I can’t really justify waiting around much longer. So slowly but surely, I’ve been making my way through my to-do list. Though…remind me again why I thought the 3rd trimester would be a great time to get several DIY furniture projects even though I’ve never done anything like it before? I’m just that awesome, I guess. So intermixed with all the hypnobirthing, practicing surge breathing, and reading up on breastfeeding, I’m also learning about sandpaper grits, low-VOC paint, and sealants. There’s also decorating the nursery, installing the car seat, and finding somewhere to put all. those. books. I could keep going, but then my blog would just look like my to-do list.
All in all though, things are going very well. We have a healthy baby who is putting on the pounds (yeah, it’s definitely him…), and once he gets here, he won’t care if his DIY tree branch drapes are up or if we’ve finished staining the nightstand; he’ll just want to eat and be loved. And we can definitely do that. And let’s be honest, he’s the most important work in progress of all.
About a week ago, my sister-in-law and I were watching her children play in their living room. The 3-year-old put the 1-year-old in a plastic bin and started pushing her around the coffee table to the delight of both. My sister-in-law mentioned that whenever she sees her kids playing, she instantly thinks about what could make it better. “We could get some of those cars so they can push each other in them.” Or when they play with dolls, “Wouldn’t it be great if they had a proper doll crib?”
But then she said something that was totally awesome: “I have to remind myself that they don’t really need that stuff. They have great imaginations. I have to just let them be.”
Kids are so resourceful and imaginative that they can turn one simple thing (like a plastic bin) into a myriad of different things (like a car or a baby crib). If we were to buy both of those things individually, then the child can only use them for that one thing. In Simplicity Parenting, the author calls these “fixed” toys, because they have a single purpose.
This is even more true in the adult world. So many of the things we buy only have one purpose. But you don’t need a banana slicer if you have a knife (though you should totally read the Amazon reviews, because they are hilarious). You don’t need 50 different facial masks if you have a good bar of soap. And you don’t need 500 single-use toys if you let your child use their imagination.
This boils down to the heart of simplicity: don’t buy into the hype of more. Find the few things that work for you, and get rid of the rest. Whenever I find myself “lacking” because I don’t have some convenience or another, I need to remind myself that I’m honestly fine with what I have. I just need to let it be.
I don’t want to say much; I just want to share some recent photos with you. We’ve been doing a lot of living: Easter egg hunts, spending time with family, spending time with each other, celebrating with friends, saying goodbye to friends. My life feels very full. Here are some snapshots from the last few weeks.
Last night was interesting. We got home from running errands to find our power was off. Turns out, there was an electrical pole fire just up the street, and our whole area was without power for the night. I’m not the biggest fan of power outages (probably because I’m terrified of the dark), and it didn’t help that soon our phones and computer died. We didn’t even have a way to check the time, until we remembered the alarm clock buried in a box in our bedroom.
However, we made the best of it. We got out the candles and talked most of the night. It was peaceful, sitting in the candlelight, with the window open to the cool night air. We got ready for bed by candlelight—my genius husband making a candlestick out of a mug—and the power came on sometime during the night.
After getting over my initial it’s-probably-the-zombie-apocalypse fear, I gave a lot of thought to simplicity, something that hasn’t been on my mind as much as it should. Normally, like now, night finds me staring at a computer screen, unable to look away. But sitting in the dark, knowing I couldn’t turn on a machine even if I wanted to, reminded me that I shouldn’t always want to!
Sometimes silence is the best thing you can do for yourself. I wish I didn’t need to be forced to remember that, but hopefully, I’ll remember it better from now on.