In honor of Mark’s first birthday, I’m sharing his birth story with you. It’s very long so my feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t read the whole thing! It’s so long, in fact, that I’ve broken it up into four parts. Here’s part one, part two, and part three.
(I’ve written this as a letter to Mark.)
After having the classic “doubting moment’ (a la Bradley Method), the midwife asked me to lay down on the bed so that she could check to see how dilated I was. And hallelujah, the number she announced was TEN!! (That, my boy, meant that finally, we knew that we were going to see you soon!) My water still hadn’t broken. Throughout the day, Lucille had offered several times to break my water for me to try to speed the process along but I always refused. (I didn’t want the contractions to get out of control for me). Later, one of my friends who is also a midwife told me that refusing was the best thing I could have done because it allowed you to move back into the right position before I had to push you out.
But at this point, I was ready to push so Lucille asked me to push down with my next contraction at a place where she was putting pressure. That’s all it took – a gigantic gush of water came out of me!! (I didn’t get to experience this with your sister because I was in the tub when it happened.) That happened at 10:10. When my water broke, pretty immediately the midwives (another midwife was there to observe) could see your head and they could tell that you were a big boy. Later, they told me that they were worried that you were going to have a hard time coming out so they starting helping me by stretching my perineum. This, my boy, did not feel good!
Almost immediately after my water broke, I started pushing. For the first push, I was lying on my back (from when the midwife was checking my dilation). It was the strangest thing – I didn’t know how to push. I knew I wanted to but it felt all wrong. When I said, “This feels weird,” they told me to flip over to my side. So I did and that changed everything! I was on my left side so the nurse held up my right leg and I started pushing!! Your head came out in two pushes and three pushes later so did your body! At 10:23, you were born, all 9 pounds, 4 ounces of you. You actually came out more easily than Ellie, who was 33% smaller than you when she was born. (So those midwives were wrong!) Just because you were big didn’t mean it was hard for me to push you out! For a few seconds after you came out, all I could think was, “It’s OVER. I don’t have to do this anymore.” But then I wanted you – give me my baby!!! And they did!
Five days after you were born, I wrote a lot more about why you came out so slowly. You just weren’t in the best position for most of the day and that’s why I had to work so hard to get you out. But do you know the crazy thing? Even though your labor lasted for 18 hours and even though you came ten days later than Ellie did (meaning I was pregnant for 10 days longer), I healed more quickly with you than with Ellie! I guess my body just knew what to do to heal quickly!
After you were born and I got to hold you for a few minutes, I handed you to Baba for some skin-to-skin bonding time so the midwives could help me deliver the placenta. I was so tired that I was having a hard time getting it out. So they had me squat (on the bed) and it came right out! That only took a few minutes so 10:30 is when I was officially considered “done” with labor. While they were stitching one very small tear for me, you started trying to nurse on Baba’s chest! He didn’t like that very much! So as soon as we could, I took you back and you started nursing. You wanted to nurse constantly for the first few hours after you were born. That good nursing pattern continued once we got home and you and I have had a great, easy nursing relationship ever since, thankfully!
The birth center has a rule that the mama and baby have to stay for at least four hours after the end of labor and should not leave until bothy baby and mama have eaten and cleaned up. (Well, the cleaned-up part is mostly for the mama. You didn’t need a bath!) When Ellie was born, it took us more like 7 hours to feel like we were ready to leave the birth center. With you, I was ready in three! For some reason, they didn’t start the 4-hour clock until 11:00 pm. So we just had to sit around until 3:00 am before they would let us go home. The nurse told us we could sleep there and then go home in the morning but Baba still felt great and said that he would like us to go home. That was fine with me too.
So we drove home and thankfully you slept the whole way. When we got home, we crashed in bed for a few hours. When I woke up, I called Yiayia and asked her to bring Ellie back. I hadn’t seen her in 24 hours, which was the longest I’d ever been away from her. I was really anxious to be back together with her again. So Ellie came home from Yiayia’s house and she was so excited to meet you for the first time!
In the months since you’ve been born, here are the three things that I’ve told people many times over:
- We had our “second baby” labor with Ellie and our “first baby” labor with you! We clearly had to earn our “natural child birth” badge for real and delivering you was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked for anything.
- I never could have made it through that long hard day without your amazing Baba. Getting you out was definitely a team effort and a team accomplishment.
- We were so grateful that we delivered at Special Beginnings rather than in a hospital. With such a long, slow labor, we almost certainly would have been pressured by the labor clock, by offers of pitocin, and by threats of “failure to progress, so you need a C-section.” There was nothing wrong with the way you and I labored together – it just took a long time! And we will always be grateful that we were given the time that it took to deliver you.
We’re so glad you’re in our family now, Mark. We can’t imagine life without you! We love you so very, very much.