Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Birth Story of James Harrison

I think this story really begins on Thursday, August 22. My friend Heidi Moellmann had come into town two weeks earlier to attend the birth. She was my doula at each of my other births, so it was really nice to have her here for this one as well. Even better than I was expecting, it turned out. We had spent the previous two weeks finishing up birth prep (cleaning and organizing, buying and prepping food, and trying to squeeze in a little bit of of touristy things, since she had never been to New York before). We still hadn't really gotten to see the city, so we decided that Thursday we would head into Manhattan and see some of the sights. We invited our friends Heather and Alberto Cruz to come with us, which was great. It was nice to have a bigger balance of kids to adults. It ended up being 6 kids and 5 adults, which seemed like just barely a good enough ratio.

We rode the train in and got off at Lincoln Center. We had a bit of a break at the LDS Stake Center by the temple, and then walked into Central Park. It started raining, so we didn't spend as much time there as we would have liked. We quickly made our way to FAO Schwartz, and that was one of the funnest parts of the day. It doesn't matter how many times I go, that is just a really cool store. I think it would be fun to explore sometime without kids. Does that sound terrible? Anyway, by the time we were done there, everyone was really tired and ready for food. Unfortunately we couldn't find a place to stop until we had made it to Rockefeller Center, but we stopped at the food court there and everyone got time to just sit and relax. It was while we were eating that I had my first real contraction. It wasn't too hard or long, it just felt different from all the ones I had been having leading up to it. I could tell it was more effective, if that makes sense. Everyone had been asking me how I was feeling all day, and honestly I felt fine. The worst part was how sore my feet got, but that happens every time we go to Manhattan, not just when I'm 9 months pregnant.

We got home and everyone just decompressed for a little while. We had a yummy dinner (cafe rio style pulled pork over rice w/ cilantro lime dressing. We made it in the crockpot that morning, so it was all ready when we got back. Best decision ever!). I knew everyone was going to be completely wiped out from the day, so we decided that Friday would be a pretty chill day. There were one or two errands I needed to run, but aside from that we planned to keep it very low key.

Friday the 23rd was his due date, but I wasn't really expecting him to come then. I had a few more contractions during the night, but nothing that seemed to be really kicking into gear. Ontario was so excited at the thought that I MIGHT be in labor that he woke up at 3:30 am and couldn't go back to sleep. So he got up and did some work and then did some jobs around the house. Heidi and I spent the day working on different things (finally getting my bedroom organized, cleaning, putting the upstairs bathroom together, etc.). I also wanted to run to Costco and buy some fruit and other perishables we were low on. I decided I wanted Ontario to go with me so if I did have contractions, I would have him there to help me through them. I had been having them throughout the day, but once again they weren't THAT hard or consistent. It was definitely still early labor.

When we got back Ontario laid down and fell asleep (no surprise after his early morning) and I couldn't get him to wake up for dinner. However, I would rather have him well rested, so I didn't worry about it too much. Heidi and I fed the boys and then we gave everyone melatonin and put them to bed. The only exception was Gabriel, because he wanted to help me finish my birth collage. He came and helped us with the final prep. Ontario woke up around 8:00 pm and we all worked on getting the room put together. I put up a big collage on the wall across from the bed with pictures, scriptures, photos, and drawings that all helped me focus on what I wanted this birth to be. I had photos of all the boys from when they were first born, pictures of me as a baby, pictures of my mom and grandma, scriptures that have impacted me as I have been preparing, images of Christ, the temple, beautiful landscapes, and anything else that I thought would help me focus. We got done right around 9:00 pm.

Tari strung up big strands of twinkle lights around the room so we could have soft lighting. He and Gabe had also been working on a project of making a masking tape mural on the wall. There is a certain room in our dream house that I would always use for my visualizations, so Ontario created that for me out of masking tape to help me feel like I was really there. It was cute.

We still had a few jobs to do (just final cleaning and organizing in the house) but I really wanted everyone to get a good nights sleep. The contractions were still spotty and didn't seem like anything was happening. We decided to all go to bed, and then when we woke up in the morning we could quickly finish the cleaning, and then go to Wave Hill. I figured walking around would help the contractions get going again, and it seemed like a nice place to finish early labor. If things were picking up we could drop the boys at the Cruz's, and if not at least they would have a place to run around and not mess up the house.

I laid down around 10:00 pm and tried to fall asleep. I was really tired, so I was ready for bed. Ontario laid down with me and we both tried to sleep, but he was still pretty awake from his four hour nap. Finally at 11:00 pm he decided to go downstairs and eat some dinner to see if that would help him fall asleep. However, I couldn't really get comfortable. I was still having contractions occasionally, and they were hard enough that I couldn't really sleep through them. I tried listening to my Hypnobabies deepening script, but I was so sleepy I wasn't able to really get into hypnosis before another contraction would come and be pretty painful. I was trying to relax through them but it wasn't going well.

Around midnight I got up to go to the bathroom. By this time I was feeling really sore, and pretty helpless. I didn't want to be awake all night, since I didn't want to be tired when I went into active labor. I went downstairs and told Ontario that I needed a blessing, and a hypnobabies script, and someone to time the contractions. I wasn't sure how close together they were since I was trying to sleep through them. I just wanted to know if they were contractions that I should keep trying to sleep through, or if I needed to wake up enough to focus on them.

He came upstairs and checked me (I wasn't dilated at all) and then he gave me a blessing. It was wonderful, and helped me feel better about everything. One of the things he said was that it would be a very spiritual birth, for me and the baby. It encouraged me to read my scriptures during the labor. Then we decided to time the contractions. They were ranging anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute long, but they were coming every 2 1/2 minutes, and they were pretty hard. By this time it was around 1:00 am. We decided to call the midwives and give them a heads up. Ontario talked to Anne and told her I wasn't dilated but I was in active labor. Since all of my labors have gotten progressively longer, and I wasn't really dilated, we figured it would still be awhile.

By this time I was feeling pretty helpless. I didn't think I was handling the surges well, and I didn't know if I would be able to keep going at that pace all night. I was still really tired, and I was having a hard time relaxing and not tensing up with the pain. I did keep going to the bathroom and having small bowel movements, and some red mucous, so that gave me hope that things were progressing. After he talked to Anne I decided to sit in the rocking chair facing my collage so I could read the scriptures whenever I got a moment.

Tari started reading me a script. I don't remember which one it was, or what phrase he used, but there was something in it that talked about visualizing opening up. After that whenever I had a surge I would really visualize the baby moving down and pressing on the cervix to open it. I could FEEL how effective that was, and I felt like each pressure wave was really doing something. It made it easier to handle, even though they were still pretty painful. After a little bit I decided I wanted to get in the shower to see if that would help me relax and handle the pain better. Tari woke up Heidi to let her know I was in active labor, and then we went downstairs.

The bathroom in the basement has an extra large shower with a bench and glass door, which is why we went down there. I got in and the water felt nice, but I could not find a comfortable position to be in for the pressure waves. Every time I would have one I would struggle trying to find the best place to be. I ended up doing a lot of squatting.  I told Tari I thought we should call the midwives, so he gave Anne another call and told her to head over. He also called our friend Roxanne who we had invited to be at the birth so she could come over. It was almost 2:00 am at that time. He was going to get in with me, but the shower wasn't as soothing as I had hoped so I decided to get out.

By that time I was starting to feel pushy. I couldn't tell if it was really time to push, or if I was just so tired of being in labor that I was forcing myself to push the baby out before I was ready. I got out of the shower and had a pressure wave. I was planning to go back upstairs, but then I had to go to the bathroom and I had another surge. At that point I realized there was no way I could make it up two flights of stairs. I told Heidi, "Get some chux pads and a towel" and then Ontario helped me get off the toilet into a squatting position. Heidi was back downstairs in a flash with the stuff, and I crouched down with Ontario supporting me. Heidi told me to squat so she would have room to catch the baby, and then I could feel him crowning. I gave one push, and I thought his head came out, but then I could still feel him in the birth canal. Heidi told me he was still in the sack. I looked down and saw the bag of waters lying on teh towel, so that was obviously what I had pushed out first, thinking it was his head. I did another push, but I was careful not to push too fast so I wouldn't tear. Once his face was out Heidi used the towel to rub the sack and clear it off his face. Then he was all the way out and she handed him up to me. I could see some meconium and he wasn't crying a lot right at first. We started rubbing his back with a towel, and then Tari gave him a blessing and commanded him to breathe. Right away he let out a loud cry and he was fine after that. There wasn't a clock in the bathroom, so our best guess is that he was born around 2:10 am on Saturday, August 24th. The crazy thing is that he is our third kid to be born on the 24th! Apparently we like to stick with the one birthday. :)

Heidi and James. We were lucky she was there to catch him!

I sat on the floor for a little while just rubbing his back and trying to get him to nurse, but he wasn't really interested. Roxanne showed up then, and we woke up Gabe so he could come down and see the baby. He had wanted to be be there for the birth, but I think it worked out that he just got to be there immediately afterwards. After a few minutes I felt strong enough to go upstairs. Tari helped me up to our room, and I was able to lay down, which was nice. Right around that time Anne showed up. She was able to deliver the placenta, and she checked to make sure everything was good. I didn't tear at all (yay!) so I didn't need stitches. I also didn't tear with Asher, so I knew that would make recovery much easier! Gabe cut the cord, which I think he found a little more disturbing than he had planned. He had to go take a breather after that, and I don't blame him. I think he liked being able to help though.

Mommy and James

He had started nursing by this time, and Nancy and Kharis, the assistants had arrived. They were able to fill out all the info, and help get everything cleaned up. It was actually quite a tidy birth, I am sure because it was so fast! Gabe got to come help weigh and measure the baby (7 lbs, 7 oz., 19.5 inches long, and his head circumference was 13.5 inches. I was able to go take a shower while they were doing his vitals, and that felt great. I think around 4:30 am everyone took off and we all settled down and went to sleep.

This birth was so different than my previous births. WAY faster, for starters. I was so relieved that it was over so quickly, since I had been feeling so helpless and tired. Looking back I can see that I was in transition, but since I wasn't expecting it to happen so quickly, I couldn't recognize it at the time. Despite being tired and in pain, I wasn't ever scared or worried. When I knew it was time to push, I just felt really peaceful and confident. Heidi told us later that she had a dream where she delivered the baby, exactly like it happened. Obviously Heavenly Father is taking care of us, and had a plan in mind for us the whole time. I feel really happy and blessed with how James's birth went. It certainly wasn't what I was expecting, but I think it was better. I knew I was in a much better place mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have been reading, "The Gift of Giving Life" and it has been so helpful in figuring out what preparation I wanted/needed to do. I think it's one of the main reasons this birth went so well. I wouldn't change anything about it.

Gabe holding James. He loves this baby so much!