This little dude totally surprised us coming 10 days before his due date! We felt like such dopes because Ryan and I both thought he would be a September baby. I even marked in my planner that I thought he would come September 6th!! Apparently he was done cooking and ready for the world!
One of the highlights of his birth for me was that I accomplished Gideon's labor 100% natural with no medications. I am SO proud of this! It was my goal and something we worked very hard to achieve with classes, practice, and determination. Don't listen to nay-sayers, if you want a natural birth you can have one...I cannot recommend natural labor enough!
So his story...
Around 2:00 a.m. on the 19th I woke up to some very mild contractions but I dismissed it as a Braxton Hicks and went back to sleep easily. About an hour later I was up with the same feeling but again could get back to sleep. This happened every hour until about 6:00 a.m. when I became a little more uncomfortable and decided to get in a bath.
I lost my mucus plug right before I got in, waddled into our bedroom to tell a sleepy Ryan (who I assured I was ok to be alone), and then climbed into the bath. Contractions were a smidge closer together but I honestly just thought it was false labor.
Ryan woke up and got me some breakfast and offered many times to stay home with me that morning. I assured him it was probably false labor (ha!) and that I would take it easy that morning. He left and I went back to bed, waking up to contractions that were 10-15 minutes apart so I could time them.
Maybe it's because we still had so much time before our due date, but I still thought this wasn't the real deal. I vacuumed the floors, did a little laundry and napped throughout the morning I just didn't want to be that first time mom that rushed to the hospital because a contraction hit.
I had a routine 38-39 week appointment with my midwives that day anyway at 1:00 so I thought I would just let them check me out in a few hours. Better than calling and having to go in earlier anyway. Around 10:30 I did text Ryan to tell him my contractions were about 14 minutes apart but still mild to moderate in intensity. That being said, I didn't think I should drive myself so he happily took off work to get me.
In the time it took him to get home I had a very random (and Holy Spirit inspired!) thought to get our hospital stuff together...juuuuust in case. Just a mama-to-be instinct I suppose. I gathered our suitcase, last minute items, the carseat, and important documents. I put them all by the door so Ryan could load them up thinking what a waste it was to load all this just to unload it back at home in a few hours. HA!
Ryan picked me up and when he got home I was laboring on our birthing ball. That definitely felt best. He loaded us up and I was still alert enough to ask for some Chick Fil A for lunch! Contractions were still 12-14 minutes apart so I was doing great.
Something about the car though really kick-started labor and in the first few minutes in that car my contractions went from 12-14 to 3-5 minutes apart FAST. It was brutal. Ryan stayed so calm and got us to the hospital safely while I moaned my way through each wave.
We got to the midwives office in a totally different state than when we had left the house! I was chatting and wanting a fried chicken sandwich just 20 minutes earlier. Now I was holding onto a door frame moaning and swaying through a contraction.
Labor progression was a fast process from me and I swiftly moved from one stage to the next.
We got checked in at the office after many stares and questions if I was ok. My midwife came into the exam room and immediately smiled and said, "You have the labor look about you!" haha She checked me after I reluctantly agreed (again, didn't want to hear that I was like 2 cm just to get sent home) but she SHOCKED us and told us I was 5 cm and 100% effaced.
Well, alright then.
From the midwives office, Ryan wheeled me back down the car and we took the (painful) 2 minute drive over to the main hospital entrance across the street. We skipped triage and headed straight to our labor and delivery room where Nell, our L & D nurse, met us. She was one of the best parts of our experience. So calm, so reassuring, so incredibly flexible to our needs. The woman kneeled for HOURS next to me on the hard floor to monitor the baby's heart rate instead of making me get into bed and strapping the monitor on me...which would have been way easier for her. So grateful for a flexible nurse who supported our birth plan. Once we were in the room, Nell did have to hook me up to the monitor for 20 minutes of continuous monitoring which was required to assure baby's heart rate. That was rough because I had to just sit on the bed and it made for more painful contractions.
After establishing that baby was healthy and not in distress, I got up because I had to vomit so I proceeded to fill up 3 barf bags and all the while my sweet husband and Nell just took care of me.
After that I wanted the tub right away! Ryan had been in communication with our doula Danielle, and my mom and they both met us at the hospital shortly after we checked in. Danielle (oh my, this woman absolutely rocked our birth. I cannot brag on her enough) ran my bath with lavender oil which was perfect. Ryan got in with me and I just labored over the side of the tub. It really helped me to make low breath sounds and moaning sounds so I did that while Ryan massaged me in between contractions.
Eventually I wanted out of the water and onto the birthing ball. I'm not sure when but somehow I ended up totally naked and was just walking around like that ha! No modesty at all which of course no one cared about. I went back and forth between so hot and chills so while I swayed on the ball, leaning over the bed someone would put warm blankets on me and I would throw them off when I got hot and then they would replace them when I started shivering. Quite the cycle!
When I was on the ball I was in transition and this was definitely the hardest part. I had a 10 minute stretch of contractions at one point with no break. Um, no thank you. I was later told by Ryan that he could actually see the bones in my pelvis opening up and widening from behind me. WOW! I breathed through it, made those low noises, and let Deirdre and Ryan coach me. It was so hard but I made it through!
Ryan was AMAZING in labor. My husband knows me and he said it was like a game just trying to learn what helped me minute by minute in labor. He sat behind me while I was on the ball and massaged, touched, coached, and was just there. I was very anxious if I couldn't see him so he had to stay with me all the time. He only left me 4 times total in labor to pee. While I was on the ball swaying my water broke all over him, just soaking his jeans. He said I christened him!
Once my water broke they wanted to recheck me and I was 7-8 cm. My birth team worked very hard to get me in a comfortable position in the bed. Of course nothing is terribly comfortable but everyone was so committed to having me comfy and then they worked around me. Deirdre, my midwife, was incredible! This woman brought me so much calm and strength. She held my hand and used pressure points to help with the pain. She would just hold eye contact with me and then nod when a contraction was coming so I knew. We had some telepathic communication happening I think :)
Ryan tells me she would come into the room, stand back, assess, and then with all the confidence in the world step into this silent authoritative action. She was so amazing and exactly what I personally needed in a midwife.
I knew things were getting real when they started setting up a sterile table with instruments, basins, and all the medical supplies you need to get a baby birthed! I ended up on my back at 9+ cm to start pushing with Ryan holding one leg and Danielle holding the other. My mom supported my head while I pulled my legs back towards me with each push. I never thought I would push on my back but it really did work best for me and the baby. Now lets talk about my mom! She was a huge blessing on our birth team. She was our communication person with the outside world, kept Ryan and I hydrated, brought me warm blankets, and helped us in so many ways. She was so important to have in the room for this birth!
The final part of this labor was pushing for about 2 hours which was the most empowering and productive part so far in this process. Deidre really coached me through "the good push" as she called it and helped me know exactly what to do. Eventually, Gideon, was crowning but with every push he would just get sucked right back up. Deidre gave me a lot of time to push without suggesting intervention but finally told me if she gave me an episiotomy that she thought the next push would bring our little one into the world.
I was terrified.
I started crying and just told Danielle how scared I was of the pain and the recovery. She brought me back down and assured me, coaching me through the Bradley method of using B.R.A.I.N (how to evaluate medical decisions in birth). I agreed and after some numbing medication, Deirdre did her work and Gideon's head was out with the next push!
My amazing, involved husband had wanted to catch our baby so Deirdre coached him, moved out of the way and Ryan hooked his thumbs under the litttle guy's arm pits and pulled our son into the world! WOW!!! Gideon was facing me and Ryan goes, "He's slippery! I can't see what it is!" So I pulled the legs apart and proudly announced to our birth team and all the nurses in the room that we had a son!
He immediately went on me for skin to skin time. He cried a big healthy cry, was pink and so aware. He got a score of 9 on the Apgar scale! One of the reasons I so highly recommend natural labor is because Gid came out alert and strong. He amazed us with his neck strength, rooting, and eye contact. He was very, very alert. While Deidre sewed me up we just stared at and kissed our little man. At this time they also ran a bag of Pitocin into me because I had already lost 500 mL of blood and they need it to stop ASAP. Apparently red heads bleed more but they had anticipated this and got everything under control quickly. They ran that into my IV while they "massaged" aka pounded on my uterus to get it contracting to stop the bleeding. Ouch.
We celebrated and rejoiced and were in awe of all that happened. We never could have imagined that we would have our son in our arms that night. After the excitement settled, Danielle helped me get Gideon to latch and he nursed like a champion. The nurse gave him his immunizations and measured/weight him etc. Then it was Ryan's turn to cuddle his new son and, like his dad told him, Ryan is the epitome of a proud papa :) Just totally in love with his son and so proud.
My parents came that night to meet Gideon and brought us cheeseburgers, fries, and chocolate milk because I was starving. While everyone swooned over Gid, I chowed down and rested.
Eventually we needed to move over to the Mom/Baby unit so our new nurse after shift change helped me get ready. Again, natural labor = strong recovery. I was able to stand independently even after all that blood loss and use the bathroom. I dressed, got into a wheelchair and was handed my little baby burrito so we could head out.
We checked into our Mom/Baby room and met another one of our favorite nurses, Mayna. This woman was so wonderful. She gave us the low down and took amazing care of all of us. We settled in for the night. I nursed Gideon while Ryan took a shower and then we went back and forth between cuddling, nursing, dozing, and processing what just happened!
And that is essentially Gideon's debut into the world! I know there are parts I don't remember or wasn't aware enough to remember. But I love his story. It was perfection. The most important parts were our Bradley method classes, having a doula/midwife delivery team, a strong birth team, and going in with the goal of all natural.
We love you Gideon! We praise God you made it into this world safely and without complication and that we have a wonderful birth story to remember.