The little man quickly vied for most of my love, time, and energy, and blogging about his birth story was way down on the totem pole. I journaled it out, but never got around to sharing it publicly. Well.. it's been a year.. and it's long overdue. To all of my sweet friends who are currently on a baby-growing journey.. this is for you! I hope it serves to encourage you. A huge thank you to my hubby.. I truly couldn't have done it without him.
I was due October 16. I was huge. I was uncomfortable. I was ready for our little mystery to arrive (we chose not to find out the gender). I was anxious and impatient up until that day, but once my due date arrived, I relaxed. I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel... sometime in the next 2 weeks, our baby would arrive, and I was content with waiting until the little bugger was ready to make his or her appearance.
On Monday, October 17th, my brother gave me a fabulous massage & acupressure treatment, after which I drove to the airport at 3pm and picked up my dear friend Kim, who had flown in from Los Angeles. We bought a ticket a few months in advance with high hopes that she would make it in time to photograph the birth.
That evening, we caught up over dinner, lounged around and took the dogs for a walk. The fall weather had just blown in; it was crisp and foggy and began to rain as we rounded the last turn so we jogged the rest of the way home. We called it a night and went to bed around nine. As usual, Nels was sawing logs within 48 seconds. As usual, I was restless and couldn't sleep. At 11, I got up to use the restroom. While walking back to bed, I realized I was still peeing, which was an odd feeling considering I haven't wet my pants since I was 9 (which was a one time thing... and a story for another day). It took half a minute to realize that I wasn't peeing at all, but that my water had broken. I'd always thought it would be more like a balloon-popping explosion, but this was just a steady dribble which lasted the better part of an hour and was very anti-climactic. I went to the laundry room so as not to wake anyone and called my midwife to let her know my water had broken. She asked if I had any contractions yet, which I had not, and told me to meet her at the birthing center at 4am. I then called my parents in California to let them know, and they immediately bought plane tickets that left at 7 the next morning (and would get them to TX around noon). We were certain they would miss the birth.
No sooner had I hung up (hung up... such a silly phrase for our cell phone generation. No sooner had I end-buttoned) the phone, I had my first contraction. I had done endless research on labor and birth, and was very confident in my knowledge of "early labor", "active labor", and "transition". So much for that.
The first contraction made me drop to the kitchen floor with a holler. I managed to make it to the bathroom and get the shower going before the next one, which followed 3 minutes after the first. I spent the next hour or so getting ready... drying my hair, putting on waterproof mascara, tidying up the bathroom, pausing every 3 minutes to shuffle into my closet, kneel down and bite a t-shirt. In hindsight, the primping seems vain and silly, but it was all I could think to do to distract myself.
At this point, the contractions were about 2 minutes apart, and were lasting for almost a minute.. and they were BAD. I could barely catch my breath in between them, so I finally woke Nels up. The contractions hurt everywhere, but where centered around my back. As each new one would start, Nels would run up behind me and basically 'hold my hips together', as that was the only thing that seemed to help. The dogs were very intrigued, and were following me everywhere and licking my hands during each contraction. At 3:30, we woke up Kim and drove to the birthing center. After 30+ visits to the center, I had the route down to a science, and knew that, if we made every light, it should take 13 minutes. Nels made it in 8. The drive was awful. I tried every position imaginable, yet each of the 4 contractions I had in the car felt like an eternity. When we got to the birthing center, the porch light was on and warm lighting was flooding out the windows into the parking lot. I remember briefly being thrilled that Denton had donned such lovely autumn weather just in time for my birth.. it had now dropped to 60 degrees. My odd choice of attire.. bathing suit, itty bitty dress, yoga pants, weren't exactly the warmest, but I didn't notice.
Betty greeted us as we came in, and bustled around getting supplies ready as Kim tested lighting & Nels lit my "birth candle" and set up the ipod.
Within minutes of arriving, Betty came in to check me. I was an 8. Most everything turned to a blur after that. There was a lot of yelling, some barfing & profanity, and many feeble attempts to find a [more] comfortable position. Shower? Nope. Bed? Nope. Bathtub? Nope. Candle? Blow it out, it's making me nauseous. Pre-planned upbeat "labor playlist"? TURN IT OFFFFFFFF! Wait, NO! Turn it back on to something calmer.
After an hour, Betty checked me again. 9 centimeters! It was 5am, and Betty told me I'd have a baby in my arms by breakfast. Trevor arrived with steaming hot Starbucks for Team Jacobson and set up camp in the kitchen of the birthing center.
Fast forward to breakfastime: Still a 9. Sunlight started streaming in the windows, which made me mad for some reason.
7:00am- Still a 9.
8:00am- Still a 9.
9:00am- Still a 9.
10:00am- Still a 9.
11:00am- Still a 9.
Noon- Still a 9.
At this point, we had tried everything. I had been throwing up a lot and was getting dehydrated, so Betty and the birth assistants tried to get me on an IV. After numerous attempts on both arms, they couldn't get it started; I was too dried out and they had a hard time finding a good vein. I could hardly function by this point, and was passing out cold in between each contraction. I had to get out of the tub, because I would faceplant into the water as each contraction ended. Betty called a pow-wow with Nels in the kitchen, and told them that I was not progressing and that we needed to think about transferring to the hospital. They came and broke the news to me, which I vaguely remember. Throughout the labor, the baby's heartbeat had been fine.. speeding up during each contraction as it should, and very calm in between. This little person was very content in the position they were in, riding each wave like a chill, peace-sign-flashing surfer, while I was being repeatedly bashed into the shoreline like a worthless clump of seaweed. Since the baby was fine, I convinced Betty to let me try for another hour. I was pushing hard with each contraction, determined to get that baby out in the warm cozy birthing center bedroom, just as I'd pictured for the last 9 months. No beeping machines, no fluorescent lights, and where I was allowed to take my baby home to my own familiar bed 2 hours after the birth.
1:00pm- Still a 9, and now the 1 centimeter of my cervix that had not retracted was pinched and swelling from my determined pushing. Nels was worried and exhausted; he had been holding my hips through EVERY contraction. He was also near the brink of insanity after listening to The Postal Service on repeat for 7 hours (he has refused to listen to it ever since).
Betty explained to me that the baby was stuck; He/she were head down as they should be, but instead of facing my spine which allowed the smallest part of their head to come first, they were facing up (called occiput posterior, OP, or "sunny side up").. the largest part of their head coming first. Or in my case, not coming at all.
She said it was time to transfer. I was very upset, and said I would go as long as they wouldn't try to push any meds on me at the hospital. She explained that I needed pitocin to strengthen the contractions to try and get the baby to turn, and that since my already 13+ hours of active/transition labor had sucked the life out of me, the pitocin contractions would cause me to completely pass out, and that I would have to get an epidural as well if I wanted to be conscious for any of the birth.
So... back to the car. That drive, also 8 minutes, can only be described as "weeping and gnashing of teeth". Not my prettiest 8 minutes.. and you won't find any pictures from that drive in the photo album because luckily, there weren't any. I have a brief memory of standing in the hospital parking lot in freezing wind in nothing but a sports bra and my tiny bathing suit cover-up dress and thinking that a couple more wardrobe options in my birth bag would have been a good idea.
Nels wheeled me to the labor and delivery wing. I was angry. They started pitocin immediately, and an epidural shortly after. The contractions were still insane, and I was still blacking out between them so they came and did the epidural again. Somewhere in the middle of the 2 epidurals, they tried to catheterize me with latex tubing, upon which we quickly discovered that I have a raging latex allergy. Uncomfortable, to say the least. The second epidural worked, I guess. The contractions were still hitting me like a train, but the pain was different... dull rather than sharp, and more evenly distributed instead of centered in my back. I think I got a mini nap in there, but don't remember it. My parents had arrived in Denton by now, and came to see me at the hospital.
3:00 pm- Still a 9.
4:00 pm- Still a 9.
5:00 pm- Still a 9.
6:00 pm- Still a 9.
7:00 pm- Still a 9.
8:00 pm- Still a 9.
9:00 pm- Still a 9.
The doctor informed me that the baby was still in the same position, and that if nothing happened by 11pm, he would have to c-section me.
10:00pm- Still a 9.
An hour to go. I asked the nurse to shut off the epidural because I didn't think it was making much of a difference, and that if I did make it before my 11:00 deadline, I wanted to feel everything. I was given strict instructions NOT to push, because I'd already pushed for 3 hours, and the cervix swelling was worsening. So... I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. When the nurses would come in, I'd stop so as not to get caught, but resume as soon as they left the room. All of a sudden, the pain changed.. the pressure moved... something felt different. Nels called the nurse to come in and check me. She was saying something to the effect of "I doubt anything has changed", but quickly re-worded it to, "HEAD!".
Call to the doctor, flood of nurses, change of position, instructions on how to push (REALLY? I'm pretty much a black belt in pushing by now).
A couple count-to-10-blood-vessel-bursting pushes ensued, upon which the nurses asked me to stop pushing because the baby was getting closer but the doctor was not in the room yet. REEEEEEAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLYYYY? I'm sorry, but he's on my clock now.
The doc arrived within minutes, just in time to watch the baby's head crown, and then turn the right way. Little stinker.
One more push.. and walllah...
10:36pm- World, meet Finnymuggins.
The nurses (who were very excited about the surprise factor because apparently it doesn't happen much anymore) yelled out, "it's a boy"... which was slightly unnecessary because we could all SEE that very clearly. Nels was utterly shocked; he had been certain it was girl throughout the entire pregnancy.
The rest was magic. There was a guessing game of Finn's weight, which Nels won right down to the ounce, a turkey sandwich, and a perfect perfect baby. I forgot about the fluorescent lights, the beeping machines, the hospital gown, my lovely "FALL RISK" bracelet. All preconceived ideas of my perfect birth went out the window.. this was my perfect birth. My baby boy was healthy. And pink. And slightly Asian looking. And I loved him.
Finn Isaac Jacobson, 8lbs 70z, 10:36pm Tuesday, October 18th 2011
Happy Birthday, Finn!