On July 4, 2017, Josh and I welcomed our second son, Samuel Owen, into the world. This is the story of his birth.
In hindsight, it all started about 12:30 a.m. I woke up and had to use the bathroom in an urgent way that had me questioning, “Is this a sign of labor, or did I catch a stomach bug?” Lack of contractions made me think it wasn’t labor. A couple hours later I was up again with a similar issue, and I was nauseous.
By morning, I was feeling okay, but still felt off and could barely stomach food. But it was July 4, our house is really close to the parade route, we had a good spot reserved, and family had come over to watch it with us. Charlie could only handle so much parade (it’s a long parade), so I brought him back to our house where I could sit in the shade. When Josh came home, I took a nap. I totally skipped saying goodbye to family because I just really needed a nap.
The nap refreshed me enough to have some food. Both Josh and Charlie were napping, so I took advantage of the quiet house, and reviewed the resources I had gathered for labor on pushing, visualizations, and breathing techniques. The fear of tearing again had been brought forth by The-OB-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named during my non-stress-tests with her (my OB was out on vacation). You might wonder why I’d been having NSTs at 37-38 weeks pregnant. Well, Sam was due July 17, but I turned 35 on July 10, so I was being treated as advanced maternal age. *eye roll*
Side story: The-OB-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named tried to scare me into a c-section, basically. She’s a serious person and was “very concerned” with my decision to go forward with a second vaginal delivery, after the tear I experienced during Charlie’s birth. I did go to her after Charlie’s birth once, for some help with healing tissue. It was just so appalling to me to bring these things up to an 8.5-months pregnant woman who isn’t your patient. Even her nurse was in on it. She remembered me from that appointment after Charlie’s birth, and felt the need to tell me how she had torn like I did with Charlie and didn’t have more kids because she couldn’t risk “going through that again.” Thanks lady. *face palm* Even though I think those comments were totally insensitive, I am glad they forced me to confront my fears and review the information I had gathered.
It also made me decide to add “no coached pushing” to my birth preferences sheet, especially since The-OB-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named was on call on July 4. So I added it to the plan. This ended up being pointless for a few reasons, one of which was that our printer was out ink.
After Charlie’s nap, we played trains on the living room floor. As I was leaning over putting together some tracks, I felt a pop in my lower right abdomen, then a small gush of fluid. I stopped dead in my tracks (heh) and headed to the restroom. I noticed that the fluid was yellow (mucus plug?). I wondered if my water had broke, but didn’t seem to be leaking more fluid. I looked at my watch. 5 p.m. So I headed upstairs for some fresh undergarments, which led to more fluid and this had the distinct pink color of amniotic fluid. Yep, water had definitely broke.
After getting cleaned up, I told Josh what happened and expressed my worry that I hadn’t had any contractions. Of course as I’m saying this, I had my first contraction.
After having a few contractions, I decided it was a good idea to time them. Josh called his mom to come over so she’d be here to take care of Charlie once we were ready to head to the hospital. I texted my doula, Candace, and the friends we had planned to meet for fireworks. “Sorry friends, not going to make it, just went into labor!”
Contractions were about 45-60 seconds long and about 7-9 minutes apart. They slowly got closer together and consistently 1 minute long. I made sure to drink my electrolyte/juice mix or water after each one, to stay hydrated and fueled for the coming work. I also tried to stay upright and walking around. Everyone else had dinner, but I wasn’t hungry. After dinner, I tried to spend some time with Charlie, knowing that I likely wouldn’t see him for a couple days. Contractions slowed during this time. It’s like my body knew to slow down to give me the time I needed to have that time with him and mentally say goodbye to Charlie being my only son. All throughout this, I was texting my doula, who was giving me support and advice. Once Charlie was off to bed (about 8 p.m.), things started to pick up. Contractions steadily increased from being 7 minutes apart, to being 5 minutes apart. I called and talked to The-OB-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, who was okay with my decision to head to the hospital once I felt contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart. Well, contractions very quickly surpassed 5 minutes apart and things got really intense really fast. Josh realized we needed to head to the hospital, partly to avoid any post-fireworks traffic. So away we went.
Let me just say, contractions in the car are the worst. Josh was a bit hyped up, as to be expected, and started heading to the highway a weird way. I was still able to direct him between contractions. We also got to view every surrounding city’s fireworks. Exploding fireworks work amazingly well as a visualization for contractions, especially intense contractions.
We got to the hospital about 9:15-ish. Being July 4, we had to go to the emergency room entrance. I directed Josh to “follow the red signs.” Once there, I was quickly put into a wheelchair. Josh got our stuff, and put the car somewhere, then we were transported to labor and delivery. The nurses there quickly realized my state and we we surpassed triage (do not pass go, do not collect $200) and went straight to a room. Of course, a nurse wanted to check my progress, and when she announced 3 cm I was like “what?!” and mentally was like, “There is no way this intensity is only 3 cm,” quickly followed by, “There’s no way I can do this without an epidural if this is going to be this intense for several more hours.” She noted my cervix was very soft, which was encouraging.
Soon after this, Candace walked in, which immediately put me at ease. Another nurse attempted to put an IV in my arm, but it never got put in, there was no time. The last two contractions I timed, before giving up on timing them, were around 9:30 p.m. lasting a minute-and-a-half, and were 3-and-a-half minutes apart. I ended up hanging on Josh through contractions while he and Candace reminded me to relax, breath, and visualize. I did the best I could, but the intensity made it almost impossible, and I said as much. Josh and Candace reminded me that I could, but I was highly doubting myself. In hindsight, this was probably transition. Soon after, a doctor entered the room.
To my confusion and excitement, it was not The-OB-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, but another doctor from my OB’s practice, Dr. Schell. She said she just happened to be at the hospital and came in to help since the other doctor wasn’t there yet. I was like, “Hi, nice to meet you, okay, my doctor told me about you.” (Reason 2 why editing the birth plan earlier in the day was pointless.) She had me lay back down on the bed so that a more accurate fetal monitor could be put on Sam, a vaginal one, since he was showing some signs of distress. She also decided to check me since I was laying down anyway. Then she gloriously announced that I was completely dilated. So, since getting to the hospital, I had gone from 3 cm to fully dilated. NUTS!
Let me just say that again. In like, I don’t know, 20 minutes (?), I dilated from 3 cm to 10 cm. It was C-R-A-Z-Y.
Then Dr. told me that I needed to get him out quickly because his heart rate was dropping when I had a contraction. This freaked me out because this is what happened with Charlie. I somehow was propped up in the bed and nurses were holding my legs and everyone was talking and telling me I need to push him out, and I just turned and looked at Candace with what I hoped was a “help me, I’m freaked out” look, and she turned to the Dr and just said, “She’s afraid of tearing again, you need to explain this all to her.” This is when the Dr. got everyone to be quiet and directed me to look at her. She told me everything was going to be okay, I was not going to suffer another 4th-degree tear, she was going to coach me through this, and I needed to push him out because his heart tones were going dangerously low, in the 70s. For whatever reason, her doing that, made me trust her. I told Candace it was okay, he needs to come out, so let’s do it this way. The situation called for it. (Reason 3 editing the birth plan was pointless.)
So even though he wasn’t fully engaged in my pelvis, I pushed him down and pushed him out with the coaching of Dr. Schell. I could feel her pushing down on my perineum, stretching it out and scratching Sam’s head between contractions. It took me five pushes to overcome my fear and finally push through the pain to birth his head. The cord was tightly wrapped around his neck. Dr Schell couldn’t get it loose to pull it over his head, so she had to cut it. I said okay to this, even though I had really wanted delayed clamping. The situation called for it. But the fact that Dr. Schell told me it needed to happen, and I said okay before it was cut, made a huge difference in my acceptance of it. With one more push, he was out. Due to the low heart tones, the NICU nurses checked him out before getting him to me, but he was screaming up a storm, so we knew he was fine. It didn’t take long for them to put him on my chest and cover us with a blanket. I just sat there in amazement at the amazing little person who had just come out of my body. I looked down at those blue eyes and said, “Hi, Sam.” It was intense and incredible. We had our magic hour during which Sam searched for and found my breast. He latched on right away.
I did suffer another tear, but only a 2nd-degree this time, so there was some stitching up that needed to happen after I birthed the placenta. Also, because there was no time for an IV, I was given a shot of pitocin in each leg. And at some point my legs were shaking uncontrollably.
After it was all done, and I came out of my amazement fog, Sam was weighed and measured. He was just shy of 7 lb. (by 0.01 oz) and 20.5 inches.
Welcome to the world Samuel Owen Schultz!
Written by Alicia M. Schultz