"God Bless America!" Gabe's Birth Story
Monday, January 19
9:15AM – I go to what I was hoping was my last appointment with my chiropractor to make sure my pelvis and SI are aligned.
10AM – 39 Week checkup with Dr. Wolansky. I am already 3cm dilated, 70% effaced, and the baby was at -1 station. Since my cervix is favorable and we anticipated another big baby, we decide to strip my membranes and do castor oil to try and nudge the “little” guy out. I proceed to have sporadic contractions but nothing regular.
Tuesday, January 20
I ask John out for a hot lunch date for spicy Indian food. I figured it would be our last chance to eat a meal at a restaurant sans children. I get the spicy Lamb Josh “medium plus” spiciness – which is like a 3 on the 5 point spicy scale at Milan. It was yummy and we try to stick to non-baby-kiddo conversation topics.
My contractions start up again but are irregular.
At 10pm, I call my doula Sarah because at this point I DON’T want to go into labor in the middle of the night (ha!). She recommends a warm bath and half a glass of wine to slow down or maybe even stop the contractions but warns me that if the contractions pick up, I’m in legit labor and there’s no stopping it. I relax in the bath and the contractions almost disappear entirely, but as soon as I crawl into bed at 11pm, the contractions pick up and are consistently 60 seconds long and 5 minutes apart. After tossing and turning for an hour, I move to the living room so I don’t bother John. I’m in denial that I’m in labor. I relax as much as possible, feigning sleep, and hoping I might eventually actually fall asleep but the contractions are pretty strong. I feel it in my low back. From the beginning (11pm), I also have a pretty constant urge to pee and poo but when I go to the bathroom, I feel a lot of pressure and not much comes out.
Wednesday, January 21
1AM - There’s a new moon and I start to feel pretty lonely in the dark night wondering if this is the real deal labor or not. I check facebook and Sean had just posted a picture of himself consuming 50 Chicken McNuggets in honor of his birthday so I figure he’s awake.
1:30AM Sean and I have an entertaining text message conversation. He’s the first to find out I’m in labor and he teases me that I sound so casual that I might sneeze the baby out. I don’t think the contractions are that strong but they are regular enough I can’t ignore them and strong enough that I can’t sleep.
2AM – I consult with Sarah our doula and we decide to give it a few more hours. She wants me to call her and Dr. Wolansky if they pick up in frequency or strength.
3AM – The contractions have been regular for 4 hours and I decide it’s time to wake John (who had gone to sleep at 11). I wake him by telling him to shower and chug a red bull because it’s go time.
3:30-4:30AM – John coaches me through contractions and times them for me – they stay consistent.
4:30AM – I tell John to shut up because I think I am tired enough to fall asleep. We both nap for 45 minutes!
5:15AM – A contraction wakes me up. They are still 1 minute long but they are now 4 minutes apart. We talk about calling the doctor but I want to stay at home so we can be here when Quincy wakes up at 6. I still don’t think my contractions are that strong.
6AM – John gets Quincy up while I call the doctor and doula. As soon as I tell Dr. Wolansky that I feel pressure on my bottom, he says he’ll meet us at the entrance to L&D. I tell him that we still have to call our neighbor to watch our son and that we probably won’t leave for another 20 minutes. (I’m not in a hurry because I still don’t think my contractions are that serious.)
6-7AM – Flurry of action as John packs the car, we call Amber and get her situated with Q, and Sarah shows up at our house. I’m able to chat and play with Q between and even during contractions (see! My contractions were not that serious).
7AM – I sob as we leave Q and head to Martha Jefferson hospital. He knows something is up and I mourn the loss of his single child status for us both. I have 4 contractions on the bumpy 12 minute car ride. John does a great job distracting me as these were the most uncomfortable contractions yet.
7:15AM – We arrive at the hospital and debate checking in because I’m still so chatty and perky in between and during contractions. Did we arrive too soon? I feel bad that we are leaving Wolansky hanging so we check in.
7:30 AM Dr. Wolansky checks me and I’m 8 centimeters dilated, fully effaced, and the baby is at zero station.
I am in shock.
Dr. Wolansky says the pressure is because of a bubble of amniotic fluid below the baby’s head and he recommends we break the waters. I hesitate because we had just gotten to the hospital. I was not mentally prepared for this. But we decide to do it. I ask for a barf bag because I remember that my water breaking was really intense with Q. I never use said barf bag. I transition almost immediately. I start to feel panicky and I ask John if everything is ok. He says “Everything is awesome.” And I ask him to sing the song by that name from the Lego movie. He sings “everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!” Things get blurry from here on out. I see Wolansky hanging out in the corner of the room watching and I realize he thinks I’m going to have this baby soon. After 3 or 4 contractions, he asks to check me again.
7:50am I crawl up on all fours and refuse to turn around but when Wolansky checks me like that, it hurts so I ask John to crawl up behind me on the bed, and I turn around. Wolansky checks me and looks up to say, “Let’s have this baby. Time to push.”
Again, I’m in shock.
I’m not mentally prepared for this. I say, “I want stronger contractions!” The nurse looks at me like I’m crazy – later she tells me that in 25 years she had never heard a woman ask for stronger contractions. I wanted more power to push with - like a surfer waiting for just the right wave to ride!
Other things I say during pushing that make everyone laugh:
“Fudge” and “God Bless America”... I never cursed!
After 4 or 5 contractions pushing in the traditional, semi-reclined, edge of bed position with John behind me, I ask for the birthing bar to be attached to the bed so I can squat. They raise the bed about 4 feet high and remove the end of the bed. There are footholds for my feet and the birth bar to hold onto but otherwise I’m floating precariously 4 feet in the air.
As I edge to the end of the bed to squat, I start to say the Lord’s prayer but am interrupted by a contraction during which Lincoln crowned. I remember screaming/grunting fiercely and writhing back and forth. During the second contraction, I remember biting down on the birthing bar and worrying I would bite off the foam padding. Mid-contraction, Dr. Wolansky gets my attention and coaches me to push in a more controlled manner.
Gabriel Lincoln was born with this second contraction at 8:23am on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 after 9 hours of labor.
This is the first picture I took of him right after he was born before we even cut the cord (yay delayed cord clamping!). He was SUCH a chunk!
He was pink and healthy and cried within a minute. He had a full head of spiky black hair and we all thought he had to be less than 9 pounds but we were wrong! He weighed in at a hefty 10 pounds 7 ounces and had 8 and 9 Apgar scores – healthy as a horse and nearly as large as one! Love at first sight!
Amazingly, I did not tear and thus didn't need stitches or any serious painkillers. Thank you Bradley Method!
First picture as a family of four. Taken January 22, 2015