I know there are some of you who are curious about Simon’s birth story and I am eager to share it. Sorry it has taken me so long to get around to it . . . I’m kind of on a new feeding and sleeping (or not sleeping) schedule. But first, an introduction. Having a natural childbirth was really important to me, and I began my preparations early by reading as much as I could about childbirth (if anybody is interested, I’ll make a list of what I read) staying in shape (Micah and I went running the evening before I went into labor), and practicing breathing and relaxation techniques I read about. Even though I felt really prepared, there were still a few things that scared me about labor, like getting into the “bite me” zone, like I did when we were running the marathon, where I would be so annoyed at Micah that I wanted to trip him–even though he didn’t do anything (those thoughts did cross my mind at about mile 17 when we were in Alaska). I was also afraid of being so tired or hungry that I just wouldn’t want to go on. Luckily, neither of those things happened.
Labor started early (at around 2:00) Tuesday morning. I didn’t sleep much, but I didn’t really think I was in labor. I just thought it was prelabor, that the contractions would stop any time and the baby wouldn’t come for a few more days. But I wanted to get as much rest as possible, so I called in tired to work and told Micah I would call him to come home if I needed him. By 10:00 I had some more signs of prelabor and was starting to get excited that this was the real thing. I spent the time sitting on the birth ball and distracting myself in other ways (including blogging about buying our plane tickets . . . ) until Micah came home for lunch at around 1:00. We decided it was best if he stayed at that point, and we started reading The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman, which we got especially to keep me laughing, and which, fortunately, arrived at the post office the day before. It worked really well and while we were timing contractions we read it and laughed and then I would relax and breathe deeply through the contractions and then we would read some more. I had back labor, and although I tried a few positions for moving the baby and easing the pain they didn’t really work, so when the contractions got worse Micah massaged my back through the most intense parts. By 5:00 we decided it was time to get serious about coping techniques, so I took a bath. It really felt great and did so much to help me relax even more. We were planning to go for a walk after I got out of the bath, but I was starting to feel like maybe we should hurry our little selves down to the hospital. So I did my hair and got all prettied while Micah packed up the car (in between contractions, of course). Our landlords were borrowing our laundry facilities as Micah was packing up, and since the washer and dryer are right by our door, they got in on the action, too. Sister Hurst, like a good neighbor/Relief Society President, packed us up some dinner (a lifesaver at 3:00 in the morning) and Brother Hurst came over to help Micah give me a blessing before the long ride down. And then we were on our way.
It was about 8:00 by the time we got to the hospital and it certainly felt good to get out of the car. I kept up the deep breathing and relaxing (especially focusing on keeping my face relaxed), and tried to smile between contractions to remind myself that things were going well (which Jamie suggested). My body was starting to get really tingly, which I hoped meant I was to transition. We checked in and they took us to a room for evaluation, where they left us for like ten minutes. I was shaking pretty badly at this point, partially from the cold, partially because of the strain on my body. I was getting kind of annoyed that they thought they might send me home, even after I told them the contractions were coming every two minutes or so. When they finally did get around to checking me they were surprised (but we weren’t) that I was dilated to an 8, and they got me into a delivery room post haste. Ha! The nurse said I would probably be ready to push in an hour, and after a half hour of monitoring and a few minutes in the bathtub (which didn’t feel nearly as good the second time) I started to feel pushy. This may not make sense to those who have not given birth, but once you start to feel the need to push, it is really hard to not do it. It’s like if you are going to throw up, there is only so long you can procrastinate it before it’s going to happen anyway. I really wanted to push slowly so my body had time to stretch and I wouldn’t tear, so I tried to maintain control as best I could even though my body seemed to have a mind of its own. After about half an hour of pushing the nurse thought she could see the head coming down, so she called Dr. Shimizu who arrived a few minutes later and realized it wasn’t the head, it was the bag of waters, which broke with the next contraction. I was using a squatting bar so gravity would work its magic and help bring the baby down, but after another hour of pushing (or trying to control the pushing) I was pretty well tuckered out and a little bit discouraged. At this point they were monitoring Simon’s heart rate constantly and it was dropping into the 80s during contractions and they were getting really anxious to get him out. They started giving me oxygen for Simon and all of a sudden there were like five people coaching me on my pushing (which I wasn’t very good at, apparently). It wasn’t until Micah told me he thought it was okay if I held my breath through the pushes that I started making progress. There was so much going on in the room and I kind of lost track of what was happening. When Simon finally came out, they found that his cord was around his neck, and he was turned to the side a bit, which is probably why he was having a hard time coming down.
I can’t really describe what it was like to see him for the first time. There was definitely a sense of relief, and I remember thinking that it sure was taking them a long time to bring him to my chest, even though it probably wasn’t more than a second. And even though I just pushed a 7 pound 7 ounce person through my body, I felt great, I had a rush of energy and excitement and happiness and love. Dr. Shimizu stitched me up and all of the hospital people left and the three of us sat and stared at each other for a few hours.
Honestly, the labor was not that bad for me. I felt very much in control, very much like I could handle everything. I felt like I was doing a good job. I could have passed on the two hours of pushing, which started to get really discouraging after I found out the water bag was not his head and I had to push him down a second time. And even though I didn’t get much sleep two nights in a row (or the two nights in the hospital, or the two nights since we’ve come home . . . ) I have felt really good. Tired, obviously, and a little sore and anxious about my stitches, but I have been surprised at how energetic and happy and awake I have been feeling. It was really a great experience and (except for the stitches) turned out to be everything I hoped for and more from my first birthing experience.