"CJ" finally made his long-awaited arrival on Tuesday, December 11th at 1:13 PM. As expected, he was a chunky monkey (though not as huge as I predicted), weighing in at 8 lb 6 oz.
Here's how it all went down!
I woke at about 6:30 AM that morning and hopped on the computer to tackle the final online Christmas gift on my list (make a custom collage puzzle for S). I submitted the order at about 7:20 and decided to lie back down for a bit. But I felt a little funny - sort of shaky and cold. I got up, paced around and then started feeling some "waves" - uncomfortable but not exactly painful, and different than Braxton Hicks. I jumped in the shower quickly and the waves continued - every 5 minutes or so and lasting 30-40 seconds each. Yup - this had to be go time! Given how quick my labour with S was, we called Katie (our midwife) and Chris' mom (our backup for S) right away. Katie asked me a few questions and agreed that indeed, it was time to head on down to the hospital. When Chris' mom arrived, S was just waking up so we gave her kisses, told her CJ was coming and hit the road!
On the way down to the hospital, the contractions actually slowed down to about 7-8 minutes apart and continued to be mild which had me concerned this was a false alarm after all. I was actually willing them to get stronger and closer together - how crazy is that? ;) All in all, though, it was definitely a different experience than the drive down while in labour with S, as that one was QUITE uncomfortable! Once we'd parked and began walking, they sped up again but continued to be quite manageable.
Checking into triage, the coolest thing happened - we ran into Beth, our wonderful doula from my last pregnancy, on her way out from another birth! Chris commented that this was definitely a positive omen. I had to agree!
We met up with Katie in triage and, upon checking me, she was pretty flabbergasted. 6-7 cm dilated already! And contractions were still quite mild. I was starting to feel this baby was just gonna drop out of me, virtually pain free. How sweet would that be? :)
We got a private room just after 10 AM and Katie started the paperwork and room prep. I walked around and continued to feel mild contractions about 3-5 minutes apart. At 10:30, Katie put a saline lock in my wrist so they could get an IV going quickly if need be. (I bled pretty heavily following S' birth so this was a precautionary measure.) I was pretty hungry so Chris grabbed me some munchies from the snack room.
At 11:30, Katie checked me again and I was still 6-7 cm so she suggested that they break my water (or, more formally, perform an "Artificial Rupture of Membranes (ARM)") to move things along, once our backup midwife (Janessa) arrived. She was pretty confident our little guy would come very quickly following the procedure, so Chris and I agreed to it. Janessa showed up just before noon. Following a li'l procrastination (according to Chris) by yours truly and an amusing story from Janessa about how another midwife used an "amnihook" to repair an article of clothing (comic relief?) they broke my water. Thankfully the fluid was clear this time! (With S there was meconium present which meant the poor gal had to be whisked off to have her lungs suctioned before we could get our cuddle time. :( )
Following the ARM, my contractions increased in intensity almost immediately. I started trying out different positions to get through them more comfortably - leaning on Chris, kneeling on the bed and crouching over. One of the most manageable positions was leaning forward holding onto the bed rail, so I hung out in this position for quite awhile. Chris and I had discussed capturing a video of the birth itself, but I decided this would be a little too visceral (plus I wanted him to be able to experience it fully without the distraction/responsibility of obtaining the footage). As a "compromise", I allowed him to film a contraction. Notice the clock in the background - 12:40. Recall our little guy arrived at 1:14. That's how quickly things went from here!
During the next 20-25 minutes, contractions got even stronger and a few were very intense, prompting me to utter a few choice phrases about never having anymore children & whatnot. But lemme tell ya - the best piece of knowledge we got from our prenatal class two years ago was that when you feel you can no longer handle things, you can - because baby's THISCLOSE to arriving! Just after 1:00 I felt the urge to push (yay!) and my midwives gave the OK. I got in the hands & knees position which worked fell during S' birth, and went with what felt right to my body. After 2-3 pushes, he began to crown and the midwives instructed me to push more slowly. (Later I learned that if baby comes out too fast, it can actually be problematic as the mucous doesn't have the chance to clear from the lungs properly.) They were also trying to get me into a different position, but I tried and felt like there was literallly no way I could move, so I stayed put! But it was all good as another push or two late and out he came! The minutes afterwards were kind of blurry but apparently they just passed him on through my legs, football-styles and I caught him on the other side! :) He was healthy and vigorous right from the start (9/10 and 10/10 on the 1 and 5 minute APGARs), making lots of little cooing and snuffling noises. I was so happy to get to snuggle our precious little guy right away. And snuggle we certainly did! Chris managed to capture the following mini-video immediately following his birth before Katie made him sit down as he was feeling lightheaded from all the blood. (Yes, indeed - you've been warned! But other than said blood things are PG. :)
Mama was in pretty good shape afterwards too - got a couple shots of pitocin (I believe one in the IV and another in my leg?) and had a 2nd degree tear which they fixed up quickly. The placenta & membranes came 10 minutes after the birth (and looked pretty cool - they gave us a "tour" ;)
Best part? CJ took to nursing like a pro! He latched on within about 45 minutes and spent a good 20-30 minutes on there. Such a relief, especially since we had such challenges last time around! We then enjoyed a nice period of alertness during which he gazed at his mom & pops in wonder with his big, warm, curious eyes. Love!
And then he slept for about 7 hours straight. What a journey he'd had!
My mom came to visit us at the hospital, but all other visits happened at home. Why? 'Cause we were outta there early that evening - just 6 hours after our little man arrived! Another big difference between CJ and S' births - with S, we stayed for over 48 hours, mainly to get nursing support but I was also in rougher shape following her delivery.
And one final key difference? Our decision to go with midwife-based care. Although we were certainly satisfied with the OBGYN-based care we received with S, I have to say that the quality and quantity of care provided by the St. Jacobs Midwives was second to none. From the frequent in-depth prenatal appointments to the full 6-7 hours spent with us for CJ's birth, to the multiple postpartum home checkups, we had a phenomenal experience with Katie and the other midwives we had the fortune of meeting, and would highly recommend the SJM practice to others looking for amazing pregnancy, birth and postpartum care.
Here are a few more photos from the big day!
Ten days in, we continue to fall more in love with our little man, and are beginning to adjust to life as a family of four. More on his early life in another entry - this mama needs to get some sleep!
So how about you? Got a birth story of your own you'd like to share? Feel free to comment on how yours went down, or leave a link to a post!