Meconium happens

Wednesday, May 16 – Your due date! You were 40 weeks old.

Tuesday, May 22 – My mucous plug released!

Wednesday, May 23 – You are 41 weeks old. I had some spotting, my cervix was 80% effaced and 1 cm dilated.

Friday, May 25 – My cervix was between 1-2 cm dilated. Heidi, our midwife, could feel your head right up against my cervix.

Saturday, May 26 – I had slight cramping throughout the day and more mucous discharge. Papa and I walked to the Blue Chair Café for supper. During supper, I still had some more cramping. On the walk home, the cramping got a bit more intense, where I had to slow down my walking and I stopped listening to Papa’s stories. When we got home at about 8:30 pm, I went to the bathroom and my water broke! We noticed that there was meconium in the fluid, so we called Heidi to discuss our options. We decided it would be best to go to the hospital for the birth, as per the recommendation when there is meconium, and so we got busy packing our bags. It was pretty exciting to know that you were coming very soon! We also decided to see if labour would start on its own over night. We finally went to bed at about 1:00 am.

Sunday, May 27 - I slept until 7:00 am, got up and showered, and papa and I went for a walk to see if we could get labour started. By noon, I had some minor cramping, but nothing too intense. So we decided to take the lemon verbena “cocktail” that Heidi left for us (lemon verbena, castor oil, almond butter, fruit juice), which is a natural induction method. Mitzi, our doula, came to the house to mix up the cocktail with me. At the same time, Papa left to go to the studio to record a DVD with his drumming group, Adje. I went to bed to nap and wait for the cocktail to do its magic! I rested but couldn’t sleep from about 1:00 to 2:00 pm, but finally fell asleep around 2:00 pm until 3:15 pm, when I woke up with more cramping. I called Heidi for her to come over and give me my first dose of antibiotics (because I tested positive for Group B Strep – antibiotics prevents infection to the baby). I also called Papa to let him know that I was up and had some cramping. Papa said the recording would probably be done in about 1 to 1.5 hours, but to call him the minute I wanted him to come home.

By 3:30 pm, the cramping became more intense and closer together, to the point where I could actually time the contractions – they were 2-3 minutes apart! I was leaning over the stove/oven just breathing, watching the clock, and writing down the times for each contraction. Around 3:45pm, I called Papa again and told him he needed to come home right away! Everyone at the studio was super excited for us and wished Papa good luck when he left. Papa was so excited and anxious to get home that he broke the automatic window buttons in the car! It was really hot out that day and he pushed so hard on the buttons to get the windows to roll down that the entire piece of plastic pushed through the armrest!

Papa showed up around 4:00 pm, right before Heidi showed up. Papa called Mitzi to let her know what was going on, and Mitzi asked if she should come over, and Papa said that he wasn’t sure. So Mitzi said that most women will get to a point where they say definitely “yes, come over!” Well, about 5 minutes later, I told Papa to call Mitzi to come over. He called Mitzi and he told her that it was “the official call.” The cramping was getting more intense, so intense that I threw up quite a few times! Papa was great and made sure I had something to throw up in! I kept saying that I didn’t know how I was going to ride in the car to the hospital. At that point, Heidi and Papa agreed that it was time to get to the hospital! After Heidi finished giving me the first dose of antibiotics, we headed over to the hospital just before 5:00 pm. Papa and I went in our car, and we followed Heidi in her truck. Mitzi went to the hospital ahead of us to meet us there. The car ride was a bit intense – every bump in the road felt way worse than it probably was. I think I had my eyes closed for the majority of the ride to the hospital, only opening my eyes once we arrived at the hospital. Papa pulled up to the entrance and Mitzi was waiting for us there. I got out of the car and a security guard asked us if we wanted a wheelchair. Papa said, “She’s not sick, she’s just pregnant!” (We always talked about how silly it is that hospital staff treat pregnant women like they are sick when in reality they are doing something natural and normal.) Although Papa had good intentions with his statement, I was thinking in my head “Are you crazy? I can’t walk right now! I need the wheelchair!” But I walked into the hospital with Mitzi and Papa’s help anyway, and then Heidi got me the wheelchair to take me up to our birthing room – thank goodness!!! I wasn’t walking very fast at that point! I was grateful to sit down and close my eyes again…

We made it into the elevator, up some unknown number of floors, and out into the maternity ward, down the hall, and into our birthing room – we had the last room at the end of the hall. The room was spacious, with a fairly large bathroom, and lots of space for the birthing pool. Mitzi started setting up the pool. I’m not sure what Papa and I did – probably continued dealing with each contraction as it came! My sense of time at this point was starting to blur…

I remember asking Papa to get my bathing suit top for the birthing pool, but then ultimately getting into the tub with my nursing bra. Apparently Mitzi saw Papa getting my bathing suit top and asked him with attitude, “Is that a bathing suit?” Papa said “Yes, she asked me to get it for her.” Mitzi gave Papa a bit of a look and rolled her eyes, meaning “Don’t you dare give her that silly bathing suit top!” I remember getting into the pool and that the warmth of the water was a wonderful relief to me! I laboured in the pool in various positions – on my hands and knees; leaning forward over the tub; squatting; leaning back on a cloth (rebozo) held by Papa, Mitzi, and/or Heidi; and on a birthing stool.

Mitzi and Heidi emptied the pool a few times, trying to warm it up with new hot water and also cleaning it up from the meconium and poop! When they asked me to get out of the pool, I thought they were crazy!!! I couldn’t wrap my head around how to take that first step to get out of the pool, let alone labour outside of the pool! Interestingly, though, I had longer breaks between each contraction when I was outside the pool as opposed to in it. At that point, I really appreciated the longer breaks! The first time I had to get out of the tub, I went into the bathroom to sit on the toilet, but couldn’t bring myself to actually sit down. I ended up hanging off Papa’s shoulders – it was so nice to be able to hang on him like that. Apparently I grabbed him on one occasion and caught him completely off guard, so much so that he almost fell over! On another occasion, I bit Papa on the shoulder and he said “Okay, no more biting please!”

Another time we were in the bathroom, I was sitting on the toilet, and I heard Heidi say “Amy, this is the obstetrician on call” and I sensed people just outside the bathroom door. I opened my eyes and the obstetrician said “Hi Amy, I’m so-and-so” (because my water had been broken for 24 hours at that point in time, Heidi had to consult with an OB). I remember thinking at the time, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t care who you are!” And I closed my eyes again and went back to labouring.

Back in the birthing pool, there was a lot of pressure in my right hip area, and ultimately my right hip and leg went numb. I kept trying to stretch out my leg to get some circulation back into my leg, but then I was getting the urge to push at the same time, and so I was fighting these two conflicting urges – one urge to stretch out my leg complete straight and another urge to bring both legs under me and double over and push! Getting that first urge to push completely threw me off! What an instinctual, animal-like sensation! It was completely uncontrollable … it’s so amazing what your body is able to do! And that it knows exactly what to do!

At one point in the pool, after pushing for a little while, I remember thinking that your head must be close to coming out. I asked Heidi if the head was out yet, and she checked me, and I remember being able to feel her hands inside of me – that was my first indication that my thoughts about how far along I was did not correspond to what was actually happening! It made me wonder how much longer it was going to take! But I never thought that I couldn’t do it, or that I had to give up….I just kept asking where the head was….over and over…”Where is the head? Where is the head? Is the head out? Is the head out yet?” Knowing that was my indicator of progress!!!

After pushing in the birthing pool for a while, first on my hands and knees, then leaning back against the edge of the pool, and lastly on the birthing stool, Heidi asked me to get out of the pool to push on my back on the hospital bed. I remember thinking to myself, “Are you crazy? You want me to get out of the pool? And you want me to lay on my back? On the hospital bed? Isn’t that the worst pushing position ever?” But I just listened to everything Heidi suggested and slowly made my way out of the pool. Papa had to support me a lot because my right leg was completely numb. I don’t know how I eventually got to the bed, but somehow it happened with the support of Papa, Mitzi, Heidi, and our back-up midwife, Barb.

On the bed, my back was supported in a reclined position and Mitzi and Barb each held one of my legs. Heidi was at my bum, monitoring the progress of each contraction and push. Everytime there was a contraction, everyone encouraged me to work with the contraction and push as long and hard as I could. Time here was a blur. All I remember was needed water during the breaks, and Papa, like he did all throughout the day and night, was right there to give me my water through a straw. If I didn’t get the water, I felt like I was going to throw up! Sometimes, Papa was right there with the water, but my eyes were closed so I couldn’t see where the straw was, and I would continue saying “Water! Water! Water!” until Papa put the straw in my mouth. After pushing for a while with Barb and Mitzi holding my legs, someone suggested putting the squat bar at the end of the bed and attaching a rebozo (piece of cloth) to the top of the bar. I put my legs on the squat bar and pulled on the rebozo with each contraction! Talk about a full- body work out! That was SO TIRING! I was pushing with my legs and stomach muscles, while pulling on the rebozo to pull myself up and crunch myself forward. Holy moly!

Papa was watching the whole thing happen, and was able to see your head slowly come out with each contraction and push. He couldn’t believe how my whole bottom area would bulge with each contraction and push. Slowly, VERY SLOWLY, your head came out little by little. At one point, Papa wondered, “Where is the face? Why is the head so long?” because all he was seeing was more head and hair, more head and hair, and more head and hair!!! At another point in time, someone asked me if I wanted to feel the head. I didn’t know what to think or say, so Barb took my hand and put it on your head – well, oh my goodness! Your head was so soft and hairy! I just pulled my hand away and kept focusing on pushing with each contraction! Finally, everyone told me that on the next push, Heidi was going to tell me to stop pushing and I had to change my breathing pattern to “ha, ha, ha”….so I figured that this meant that the head was already out and this last push was to get the body out. So, this push was definitely what people call “the ring of fire” as the rest of your head came out! I had thought your head was already out, but NO, now I understood what it felt like to have the head come out! Wow! It was the only time during the entire labour that I thought to myself “ouch!” With one more contraction and push, your body slid right out! What an amazing sensation to feel your body slide out of me! Feeling your body slide out of me made me realize that you were bigger than I thought! Instantly, you were put on my belly. I remember you were so warm and slippery. I couldn’t believe what just happened and that there was a little person on my belly! And you were breathing!!! We didn’t need to call the NICU!!! Yippee!!! You cried a bit and were spitting up the mucous and meconium from your lungs….you were so strong! Your heartbeat was so strong and constant throughout the whole labour, and the to top it all off, you came out breathing all on your own!! Even with all that meconium!!! We were so happy and relieved that everything turned out perfectly!

After staring at you, touching you, and telling you it was okay for some unknown period of time, Papa looked at me and asked me if I had checked to see if it was a boy or girl. I hadn’t yet, so I looked, and you were a BOY!!! I knew it!!! I looked at Papa and said, “See? I knew. We just knew.” I had had a feeling that your were a boy right from the beginning!  We kept looking at you and looking at each other in amazement! We couldn’t believe we just had a baby! What an amazing experience. It was totally unreal. Surreal. Magical. Miracle.

Welcome to the world … Louis Lliam Martin-LeBlanc! xoxo

After you were born, I birthed the placenta shortly thereafter. What a magnificent organ! It was your food and oxygen supply for 9 months! Amazing. Heidi packed it up with her so she could give it to the acupuncturist to dehydrate and make placenta pills. I took these pills for 6 weeks after you were born to help with hormone changes, iron levels, milk production, and the prevention of postpartum depression. Again, what an amazing organ!

And what a great team we were! You came out safely and I only ended up with one stitch! We worked really well together!!! Papa was really proud of us – he didn’t doubt for a second that we couldn’t do it! xoxo

While Heidi and Barb completed paper work, we stared at you, touched you, and worked together to start breastfeeding. You showed some interest by licking and doing some light sucking. We could tell you were getting some colostrum because you would lick your lips and stick out your tongue. Mitzi gave us some tips on what to do….so we just hung out and admired you!

Papa had packed up a bunch of food for everyone to eat, so we all celebrated with some crackers and cheese! It was great to eat something after the 9 hours of active labour! After an hour or so, maybe longer, Heidi checked you out to make sure everything was okay. It was at this time that Heidi weighed you and asked everyone for their guesses. Both Mitzi and Heidi guessed 8 lb 8 oz and I thought they were crazy for even suggesting such a thing! There was no way that you could have been that big!!! But they were right!!! They guessed your exact weight! Amazing. I still can’t believe that my body was able to birth such a baby – it’s so amazing what our bodies did together!!!

We finally started getting ready to go home. Mitzi helped me get dressed and go to the bathroom. What a relief to go to the bathroom! Wow. But holy, was I ever swollen!!! Papa put some clothes on you, but the sleepers we brought were too small for you! I had packed the sleepers that were for “newborns/7lbs”! Ha! Papa made it work and then Heidi bundled you up in your receiving blanket. Then Mitzi and Papa put your in your car seat! We were ready to go home!

We were home with you in our bedroom about 3 hours after you were born. You were sleeping, but we didn’t go to bed until 5:00am. I had a shower and I think we ate some more food. By the time we were ready for bed, you woke up wanting to cuddle. So I held you and you slept on me until about 7:30am, and then Papa took you and you slept on him until about 9:00am. Then we started calling family to tell them about your arrival!

What an amazing experience! Everything went so well!!! We would not have changed a thing!!! We love you Louis Lliam!! You are so precious to us….