Jessie has a lovely little blog showcasing her gorgeous family and all their adventures over at Two Kids in Tow. I implore you to go over and check it out. It was an honor to be able to capture these fleeting moments of her and her family, though I was a minute or two shy of snapping some images of the actual birth, the aftermath was incredible to witness. As I walked in the door I was greeted by her doula and I quickly readied myself and camera to grab some pictures of her husband and young son, Luke ( who had been reduced to a little adorable puddle of tears I might add ). Sweetest thing ever to see him reacting this way to witnessing the power and strength of what his mother had just accomplished; bringing his baby brother earthside. Jack's birth story is so much better told by her words, so without further ado. . .
Jack’s birth story began on Thursday, March 10, two full days before he arrived.
My husband, Andy, three year old son, Luke, and I started the morning with a visit to my midwife’s office. My standard urine tests and vitals came back perfectly, as they had all along, and we decided to start some homeopathics to see if my body was ready to start moving. Christie gave me a short shopping list and sent us on our way.
Ten long days beyond his estimated due date, the time had come for our scheduled ultrasound to make sure everything was well. After buying some homeopathics and tinctures, we drove to Denver for our appointment.
The ultrasound went well in general. Jack was still thriving and although the placenta was starting to show its age, it was still in good shape. The concerning finding, however, was the low amount of amniotic fluid. The OB told us to go in for a non-stress test that afternoon to double check on Jack and gently but seriously said that Jack needed to come soon.
I called Christie on the drive back to Colorado Springs and we agreed to meet back at her office for a quick vaginal exam and a game plan before my NST. She found me at 2 centimeters open, but 60% effaced. We decided it was best to go ahead and head to the hospital for the NST. Christie agreed to meet us there in a little over an hour.
As we drove home, I tried my very best to stay out of my head and not imagine the worst. We ran in the house and Andy got Luke a quick snack while I packed a just-in-case hospital bag. I burst into tears as I quickly threw random things into a small duffle bag, alarming Luke and sending him to tears as well. I hugged him tight before we climbed back into the car and off we went again.
Christie was waiting for us outside of the gift shop at the hospital. We went into Labor and Delivery and quickly got set up in triage. I was hooked up to the machines and we were left to wait. Luke sat with Andy on the floor and played games on the iPad while Christie and I chatted back and forth. Her calm presence helped my nerves tremendously.
Before long, the OB on staff came in to talk to us. In the short five minutes I’d been on the machine, Jack had shown everyone that he was doing just fine. The OB said she was happy to see how responsive he was and asked what our plans were. Christie explained that we were going to try our best to get Jack moving over the weekend, and if he still hadn’t been born, we'd head back for another ultrasound and NST on Monday. The OB smiled and said her son was 13 days “overdue” and wished us the best of luck. I stayed on the monitor for another 15 minutes, then we were discharged and sent home.
Christie and I decided it was time for the “big guns.” She told me to continue with the homeopathics for the next two days and go ahead with step two of our plan: herbal tinctures.
Friday morning found me still pregnant with no real signs of impending labor. Andy took the day off to support me and to be close in case I went into labor since we were actively trying to kick things off. After taking the last dose of tinctures, we slowly cleaned the house and took Luke for a long, slow walk around the neighborhood.
The day came and went like all the others. After we finished dinner, we drove to Natural Grocers and Target to buy the next day’s “big guns”: castor oil capsules and an electric breast pump.
We went to bed and I reread a few birth stories in my Ina May book and on the Birth Without Fear blog, then looked up natural induction using castor oil pills - which was a bad idea - then anxiously turned off my phone and tried to go to sleep. All night long I pleaded with Jack to come, hoping I'd wake up to contractions in the middle of the night (no such luck).
I woke up early on Saturday, a little anxious but ready to get things rolling. I checked in with Christie and my doula, Bea, and went ahead with the plan to have a good breakfast and start the first dose of castor oil. I had one or two “real” contractions on the couch holding Luke while Andy cooked breakfast for us, giving me hope that my boy would be coming soon.
I took the three doses of castor oil pills over the course of a few hours and started nipple stimulation using my trusty breast pump. After a few rounds of 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off the pump, contractions started coming more regularly. I checked in with Christie in between each pumping session and she was very happy with my progress. After four hours of pumping on and off, contractions were coming strongly about every 15 minutes or so.
Andy and Luke ran to the store for a few last minute groceries during my third pumping session. I finished up with the pump at 12:15pm, got in the shower, and sent him a text about 30 minutes later telling him things were picking up and asking him to hurry home.
The boys waltzed in shortly after I'd sent my text. Luke played with toys around the house while Andy and I tidied up, folded laundry, made up our bed, and worked through contractions.
They were coming on reliably about 7-10 minutes apart and I was able to work through them without much help at first. I paced our hallway through each contraction, stopping to curl over the counter in the kitchen at each peak. Around 2:00pm, I double checked with Bea to see when to call her over - when my contractions were four minutes apart, lasting for one minute, for an hour - and I told her I'd keep her in the loop. I also sent our birth photographer, Brezi, a text to let her know my progress.
A mere 20 minutes later, I needed more support from Andy through each contraction. He followed me around the house and squeezed my hips or pushed on my low back through the peaks as I swayed and tried to keep my body loose and relaxed. Although we hadn't been timing them precisely, we both noticed the pace pick up and we decided to start using the contraction timing app on Andy’s phone. To our surprise, they were now 3-4 minutes apart and lasting about a full minute. We timed a couple more and then decided to call Christie to give her the heads up since she lived the furthest away (45 minutes up the pass).
I talked to Christie through a few contractions and she said she was going to start packing up her things. She agreed to call Bea to send her our way.
From this point, things got a little blurry for me. Andy and I switched phones so I could focus on my contractions and he could keep our birth team in the loop and notify our families and closest friends that it was go time. Luke came and went, offering me water and some of his fruit snacks when he was nearby.
I had a few intense contractions back to back just before Bea arrived at our house around 3:45pm. She watched me work through a few contractions at the kitchen counter and suggested I move to the living room and kneel in front of the couch, as my legs were shaking at the peaks. My contractions backed off a little bit, which I was disappointed about at first, but I decided to take full advantage of the longer breaks in between by resting with my face buried into the couch. Bea told Christy that my labor had slowed a bit, so Christie decided to stop for gas and give me some space.
It felt good to kneel hunched over the couch. With each contraction, I sat up and reached my body as straight as I could to let the contraction channel straight through. It was intense and I moaned “Please! Please! Please!” in between breaths at the peak of each contraction. I felt nauseous, so Bea put a tissue with peppermint oil next to me on the couch and the nausea passed quickly.
While I was buried face first in the couch, the doula circle’s intern, Jessica, tiptoed in, arriving about 15 minutes after Bea. She greeted me gently and began getting the birth pool inflated.
The contractions kept coming and with each one I shot up out of the couch and called out “Andy! Andy! Andy!” as he sat next to me. Bea held a hot pad against my back and told me I was doing great.
Through each powerful contraction, all I wanted was Christie to be there to check on Jack to make sure he was hanging in there. A short 15 minutes after Jessica arrived, around 4:15pm, Christie walked in.
Christie rubbed my back and asked if I was still having fun (a joke we had going, since I told her I wanted this birth to be as fun and as light as possible), to which I roared, “YES!” She patted me on the shoulder and took a round of vitals and checked Jack’s heartbeat. Everything was great.
That was all I needed. I knew my boy was hanging in tight with me through this fast and furious labor. And just like that, my body took off again.
My contractions came powerfully one right after another. I called out “Andy! Andy! Andy!” in between loud moans, grabbing at his legs as he sat next to me on the couch. We locked eyes through each contraction and at one point the power of it overcame him and he emotionally said, “You're gonna make me cry!”
The commotion in the living room drew Luke in. He was somewhat alarmed at the noise, and went back and forth between trying to comfort me with hugs and needing to be comforted with hugs from Andy. In the brief seconds between contractions, we told him I was okay and that I was working hard to “push the baby out” (a phrase very familiar to him, as he'd asked me to “push the baby out” for weeks and weeks prior).
All of the sudden, I felt Jack drop and I was overwhelmed by the need to push. “I can't be feeling this already!” I thought to myself over and over again. My contractions got more and more pushy with each one, and I began to roar with each push.
Christie, Bea, and Jessica realized I was pushing by the change in my voice. “She’s pushing!” Christie said. “I’M PUSHING!” I roared back. They quickly laid out chuck pads underneath me as my mucus plug fell out and my water broke. In an instant my pants were off and it was time to push Jack out.
I moved with my instincts through each push, still on my knees in front of the couch, my face buried in my husband and son. Both Andy and Luke were crying and I heard Andy sigh, “Oh, it's beautiful!” With each push, I still couldn't believe I was pushing already. Didn’t I still have hours to go?
Jack quickly made his way down and with one big push and a mighty roar, out came his head. I took a few breaths and with an even bigger push and an even mightier roar, the rest of him was born. With Bea’s help, I reached down and lifted him to my chest. It was 4:45pm.
I laughed and said “I can't believe he's here! I can't believe we have TWO!” as I hugged my slippery, warm baby to my belly. Andy pointed to Jack and told Luke that he was his new baby brother. Luke stopped crying and eyed his new brother skeptically.
Brezi, our photographer, and Christie’s assistant, Sarah, arrived minutes later and congratulated me as I sat on my knees on the floor of my living room, holding my brand new boy.
Within minutes, I pushed out the placenta, and then I handed Jack to his daddy so I could move to bed. Christie and Sarah helped me to my feet and guided me to my bed in the next room. Andy placed Jack back on my chest once I was settled and Luke crawled up next to me to check out his new brother. We cuddled up as a family and spent a few minutes alone getting to know each other as our birth team watched over us and our photographer quietly captured our first moments as a family of four.
We got acquainted and then Jack spent some skin to skin time with Andy while Christie and Sarah checked me and then helped me get cleaned up. After I was back in bed, Bea brought me a plate loaded with Gouda cheese, strawberries, chocolate, and a yogurt (which Luke promptly swiped). Jack went back on my chest and latched right on to my breast. I laughed and ate and basked in the euphoria of such a wonderful experience.
Some time later, Christie did the newborn exam in our room. Jack weighed in at 8 pounds even, measured 21.5 inches long, and had a 14-inch round head. Luke ran in and out of the room, occasionally swiping a strawberry and climbing on Andy as he sat on the edge of our bed.
Andy’s cousin and her husband, Sarah and Matt, who we'd texted with the news earlier brought by my first real post-birth meal: a smorgasbord of my favorite sushi rolls!
A few hours after Jack’s birth, and following all of the necessary exams and support, our birth attendants left one by one. I got a giant hug from each person in our birth team, and I was overwhelmed at how loved and cared for I’d felt on this important day.
At last, Andy, Luke, Jack, and I were left on our own in our home. We snuggled together in bed and stared at each other, exhausted but deeply grateful for such a life-changing day.