Stephen Patrick’s Birth
by Dallas, USA
July 19th 2012 – 4:08pm
8lbs 8oz – 19 in.
We hadn't had rain in months. It was one of the driest summers the area had seen, but that night we had a marvelous thunder storm, complete with plenty of rain. In the back of my mind was the thought that many labors begin during a storm; I think it has something to do with the change in air pressure that can trigger labor. And sure enough I had plenty of contractions through the night.
I was awake much of the night, whether from the contractions or from my mind's inability to slow down I'm not sure. I was cautiously optimistic; this was not the first night I had been visited by plenty of contractions; in fact, I had been having similar contractions for two weeks. I tried to sleep and waited to get excited until the morning. They always disappeared by morning.
And, as anticipated, these ones did too. I woke up the next morning with no contractions and no real sign of labor. I was slightly disappointed, but I was also expecting it. I actually had a rather productive morning despite feeling crampy. Our daughter, Evangeline, and I made no-bake cookies, cleaned a bit and went for a nice walk.
I remember specifically thinking during the walk that at this time (a little after 10am the day before my due date) in my last pregnancy I was in labor and preparing to meet our first baby. I sighed and told Baby “It looks like you're not going to be as prompt as your big sister.” Like always, the bit of physical activity started up my contractions again. I ignored them.
After lunch I put Evie down for her nap and sat down to rest. We had had a busy morning, and I didn't have a ton of energy by this time in the pregnancy. I was playing solitaire on my computer for a while when I noticed that my contractions from earlier were still there… and they weren't going away… and they seemed pretty consistent. Out of curiosity I decided to time my contractions and sure enough, they were each about six minutes apart.
They were still very mild, but the consistency was enough to make me a little excited. I messaged Jake to let him know. I didn't really think I was in labor, but it was fun to think that maybe I was! After messaging my dear husband I got up to go to the bathroom. When I pushed I heard a very audible pop! There was a little bit of clear liquid leaking, but not much. I went back to my computer and googled “Can you hear your water break?” In case you were wondering… you can. That was at about 2:45pm.
I called my midwife to let her know that I thought my water had broken. She confirmed that it did seem plausible, but it may not have completely broken so just to keep her updated. I knew Jake was on his way home from work, so I didn't bother calling him. My contractions had also stopped since my water broke, so it felt like we had some time. At three o'clock Jake came home and I met him at the door smiling. “My water broke!”
“No it didn't,” he said in his I-know-you're-just-trying-to-tease-me voice.
“Yes it did!” I insisted enthusiastically. I didn't have to convince him for long, however. That signature “gush” of the water breaking made itself known about twenty seconds later. We both went into high gear immediately. I went to the bathroom to change, but realized that I was still leaking. So instead of ruining all of my clothes before labor even got underway, I decided to take a shower to relax. We were planning a home birth, so I shouted a few directives at Jake before I hopped in. (Put in a load of laundry, get the birth tub ready, call my mom, etc…)
While in the shower I felt the baby drop onto my pelvis. He had still been really high up, and without any cushioning left, it didn't feel very nice. It also surprised me with how quickly and forcefully it happened. I swiftly finished my shower, and not a moment too soon as my first contraction began. It was a little more intense than I would have liked for a first contraction! I calmed myself with the reminder that in my last labor after we broke my water (several hours into the ordeal…) the contractions picked up noticeably in intensity and sharpness. It was around 3:10pm when the contractions started again.
They were strong enough that I had to stop and focus on each one. In between I was getting dressed, making phone calls and shouting more directions at Jake “Did you start the laundry yet?!?” Evangeline (27 months old) was walking around the house chanting “Mommy's water broke!” I guessed Daddy must have given her that bit of info while I was in the shower. After a contraction I noticed that she looked very anxious.
Evangeline and I have always been close and she is very in tune with me. Sometimes she can tell I feel sick before I even notice I'm not feeling well. She's a very sensitive and compassionate little girl, so I knew I needed to reassure her. We had wanted her at the birth from the beginning, so she had seen some birth videos and we had been preparing her for it. I knelt down and told her that everything was ok and said “We are going to meet baby today!” Her eyes lit up and her anxiety disappeared. She began following me around and watching everything very intently.
After a couple more contractions I knew I needed to stop prepping and start focusing on my labor, so I went to the living room which was set up to be our laboring room. I got a wet washcloth and sprayed some of my aroma therapy on it. It worked wonders during active labor with Evie, so I was expecting at least some of the edge to be taken off of my contractions – but nothing.
I thought maybe I needed more, so I sprayed and sprayed to no avail. I began to feel a slight bit of panic. I turned on my birthing music playlist, and that was relaxing and helped me to focus. When I was settled in I could tell Evie needed something to do to feel like she was helping. I called to Jake to get her a wet cloth as well and she began dabbing my neck with it during each contraction.
I was leaning over the couch for support, but it wasn't long before I began having trouble breathing through my contractions. I called to Jake that I needed him, knowing full well that nothing was ready yet and we had no one else there to help. The midwife, doula, photographer, mom, and everyone else were all on the way, but no one had arrived yet. I tried not to think about those things, I just needed to concentrate on getting through each contraction at this point. I needed the birthing tub, but I was beginning to realize it wouldn't be ready.
I pushed all those things out of my mind and quickly found my “zone”. Because my water had already broken I could feel every move the baby was making on his way down. It was really kind of cool. But the contractions were incredibly difficult. Knowing Evie was there I had to keep it together. I remember saying “oww” during one contraction, and remembering that she knew that meant I was hurt I resolved to use the more useful noises that she knew as “good noises” from the birthing videos.
Her presence was very grounding. She was quite intent on making sure I had a washcloth near my face during each contraction, so she would shove the washcloth in my face and she put it on my back and anywhere else she could get to. Jake was telling her to stop and to leave Mommy alone, but I told him not to! Strangely enough, she was helping. I don't know what it was about her attempts, perhaps just the love I could feel from her, but she was really making the labor so much better for me. Afterwards I nick-named her my “Little Doula”.
After several contractions leaning on Jake, I thought that I was feeling a little pushy. I ignored it thinking perhaps I just wanted to think it was time to push because my labor was so difficult. I wondered if I was just being a wimp having so much difficulty so early on. After a couple contractions came and went, and I still felt pushy, I told Jake. He said “Ok,” trying to be reassuring while dismissing the comment. I wasn't offended; I was dismissing it too!
But it didn't matter, my body was being persistent. During the next contraction I said, much more forcefully, “I really feel like I need to push!!” He asked if he should call Kim; I nodded yes and he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. Our midwife told him not to worry, that it was normal and to just tell me to breathe through my contractions. She said not to push and that she was on her way. I knew she only lived fifteen minutes away, so I was determined to just make it until she arrived.
The thought that I might actually be ready to push still had not crossed my mind. I didn't know why my body was telling me to push, but I figured it couldn't possibly be because I was actually ready to push. I had only been in labor for about 35 minutes at this point. Regardless, the urge to push just became more and more pronounced. My body started pushing on its own. Three or four contractions after the phone call I knew I couldn't help it anymore. I told Jake, “I can't do this anymore!”
I thought perhaps I needed to go to the bathroom and that's why my body felt like it needed to push something out? I wasn't having much time in between contractions, but I needed to do something. So, when my last contraction ended, I got up and walked to the bathroom. I didn't say anything to Jake; I was still in super-focus mode and needed to stay there. Evie followed me, but Jake stayed in the living room, slightly confused.
I sat on the toilet and started pushing. I was thinking to myself that it was quite a large bowel movement, and no wonder I felt like I needed to push! When all of a sudden I realized… that was a head. I felt his head come into the birth canal and immediately stopped pushing. I was still concerned that I was pushing too soon, and I knew I was probably pushing too quickly. I felt down to see where the baby was, and sure enough, he was crowning.
My very next thought was “My baby is not going to be born on the toilet!” I don't know why, but that was just extremely important to me in that moment. I stood up and yelled for Jake, “Come catch the baby!” He ran in as I leaned on the sink for support. He knelt down behind me and said “I can see the face!” Knowing he was there I gave one final push and out the baby came. “He's a boy!!” Jake pronounced and then handed him to me.
The cord was wrapped around his torso, so I untangled him. He didn't like being moved around at all and started crying. That was good, as it seemed to clear out his lungs and we knew he was breathing. Not having a midwife there, that was good to know! Evangeline had done very well up until that point; his crying scared her and she started crying as well.
I sat down on the bathroom floor and brought the baby to my chest and comforted Evie in my other arm. Jake made sure I was ok and ran out of the house to help our midwife carry everything in. He really wanted her to be in there with us! That was the last time I saw him for about an hour after the birth. With all of the adrenaline from catching his son he was doing all sorts of things and couldn't settle down! I remember actually having to call him into the bedroom after a while and ask him if he wanted to come meet his son now.
It all happened so quickly it was hard for either of us to sit and enjoy the moment as we were all still processing what just happened. Our little man was born at 4:08pm after only about an hour of labor. I delivered the placenta in the bathroom and then we moved into the bedroom. The umbilical cord had a true knot in it, which my midwife said was fairly uncommon.
He started nursing right away and continued to nurse for about an hour and a half after he was born! He did cry whenever we moved him for the first couple of hours. He must have been very sore after his speedy trip through the birth canal. His face was also quite bruised and he had broken blood vessels in his eyes. But after those first two hours he calmed down quite a bit and still doesn't cry hardly at all!
Daddy got to weigh him, 8lbs 8oz just like his Mommy was! And Evie got to cut his cord. She loved him from the very beginning and even brought in two cookies to the bedroom, one for her and one for baby! It was super sweet, but we had to explain to her that babies don't eat cookies! The rest of the evening was filled with many phone calls and skype sessions, a very healthy dinner of McDonald's (hey, it's easy!) and enjoying our new family of four.
He was a few hours old when we decided on his name: Stephen Patrick Mueller. Stephen, of course, for the first martyr of the Church. And Patrick not only for St. Patrick, but also for Jake's dear grandmother, Pat, who went to be with the Lord earlier this year. Evangeline fell asleep and Jake, Stephen and I waited up for my mom who flew in that day from Denver. She arrived a little after midnight to meet her new grandson, and then we all promptly fell asleep.