Thursday, February 9, 2012

Riggs' Birth Story

I was really hoping that Riggs would be born before Christmas; just one week before his due date, and we could share our first Christmas as a little family. Yet I knew that he would come when he was ready, and that the longer he stayed in (within reason) the better. Then Christmas came and went, and I thought he would at least come by his due date (the 31st of December). He would be our little tax deduction, and I was so ready to meet the little being that had been growing inside me for so long. Then his due date came and went, and I hoped that he would come before my little sister went back to college on the 9th, and my grandpa went back home to Michigan on the 10th.

Unfortunately both those days came and went as well, and I started to fall apart.  I was 41 weeks pregnant and getting closer everyday to being too overdue to have him at the birth center.  But that wasn't even what was really bothering me. I was so ready to see him, and was having emotional breakdowns nearly every day that I couldn't really explain. One minute I'd be fine, just going about my day know he'd come eventually, then the next moment I'd be crying. I had a midwife appointment on Monday and managed to keep it together during the beginning of the appointment, until about the time Laura checked me and told me there'd been no significant progress.

I started crying then, and did not stop for about 30 minutes. Laura was amazing, she talked through everything with me and listened to my concerns. I'm always such a planner, and I realized then that I just wanted to have an end date in mind. After talking things through, we decided that I would come back on Wednesday and we would make a final decision then.

Wednesday came around and I was actually excited for the appointment.  I saw a different midwife this time, Felicity. She checked me, and I had actually made some progress! I was about 4 centimeters dilated and 70% effaced, so she was able to strip my membranes. This gave me a little hope that I would go into labor on my own, but at the same time, a small part of me had already resigned myself to thinking I would have to be induced. I was 41 weeks and 4 days pregnant, only 3 days until the dreaded 42 weeks.

We talked about the upcoming deadline and I (emotionally and somewhat rashly) decided I would like to be induced as soon as possible with pitocin (which meant I would have to be at the hospital). I waited around while Barbara and Trina talked about their schedule and called Alaska Regional to see if they had space for me. I know my face fell visibly when Barbara told me there was no space on Thursday, that they already had the maximum amount of inductions planned for Thursday, and I would have to wait until Friday at the earliest.

Now I know that was a blessing in disguise, and I am so thankful I hadn't been able to go through with my emotionally decided plan that went against what I wanted deep in my heart. As I was about to leave the office, Barbara told me she had a plan for me. She wanted me to go home and get a good nights sleep, then come in around 8am to try some more natural induction techniques at the birth center. If that didn't work, they would send me off to the hospital to be medically induced.

I remember breathing a loud sigh of relief and quickly agreeing to that plan.  I left the birth center with a big smile on my face. My mom and I went to a shopping center to walk around per the midwives' suggestion, and I felt so much better know that tomorrow I would have a baby for sure! When Steve got home from work, we went out to dinner to enjoy the evening together as just a couple. It was so nice and I was finally relaxed and completely at peace. We got everything in the car that we would need for bringing baby home and going through labor. I got enough food ready for a few meals, assuming we would be there for lunch and dinner at least - I didn't want Steve to get hungry and run out of energy.

We finally went to bed around 10:45, and we were both asleep by 11pm. I woke up to pee around 11:55 and then got back in bed. About five minutes later, I had a contraction that made me sit up in bed - I looked at the clock and it was 12 midnight. I thought it might have just been a bad gas pain, so I laid back down. Then five minutes later, another. This time I couldn't stay in bed through it, and had to stand up and lean against the wall. They were hard and painful!  Everything I've ever read says you'll know when you're actually in labor, and man did I know!

I left the room to deal with the contractions and let Steve sleep a little longer. I thought it would be at least twelve hours, and more likely the next day before I actually had him. But after three more contractions, I decided I had to wake Steve up so he could warm up the car and call the midwives. At this point I wasn't handling the contractions very well. I was crying during them and trying to get away from where I was feeling the pain. I thought that these were just "early contractions" and that they were going to get much worse.

Luckily all of our things were already together and either in the car or by the front door. Unluckily, there was a winter weather advisory for 12" of snow during the night. It had already snowed about two inches and was still coming down heavily. Steve called the midwives, and he talked to Laura. She asked to talk to me, probably to gauge my contractions, and after hearing me go through one, she told us she'd meet us there as soon as she could get there.

It was about 1am when we called her, and she thought she could be there by 2am. These two hours from when I had my first contraction to when we got to the birth center felt more like 20 minutes to me, I was in another mindset completely and was not as aware of time as I usually am. Steve texted my mom to let her know we were heading over. She asked if she should head over then or wait until we got settled in. Luckily I told her to head over then, if she would have waited she could have missed him being born completely!

The car ride was probably the worst part of labor.  I still wasn't handling contractions well, I was resisting them and feeling pretty panicky. At this point they were two minutes apart and lasting about 50 to 70 seconds. Never in my life has one minute felt so long. I felt so bad for Steve, having to be stuck in a small car next to this loud, panicky woman who had replaced his wife. He handled it so well, and was so patient and comforting, just what I needed.

We got to the birth center first, followed closely by Laura. My mom got there about 15 minutes later, and by then I was in the exam room where Laura wanted to check me. I was 5 centimeters and 98% effaced and still a bit panicky. Laura was amazing, and calmed me down almost completely, softly giving me advice and support about how to better handle the contractions.

I undressed quickly and got into the shower, where I stayed for about 45 minutes, with my mom right by my side timing my contractions and encouraging me. I was still loud during some of the contractions, but was not panicking at all and was now focused on the task at hand. After a while, I decided I "hated" the shower and got out as quickly as I could, wanting instead to try the bath. Laura wanted to check me again to make sure I was favorable for getting in the tub. I was a 6-7 and 100% effaced, but she said baby's head was tilted a bit to one side, he wasn't quite in the right position. Because of this she positioned me on my side on the bed with one leg bent to get him to straighten out. During this time,  about 30 minutes or so, I felt my contractions changing and him moving down into the birth canal.

She checked me again and I was 8-9 and he had straightened out completely, so she gave me the go ahead to get into the tub.  I wasn't in the tub very long before I realized that I "hated" that too.  I just couldn't get into a good position, I felt like I was floating around when I needed to concentrate.  My contractions were almost completely different now and I was feeling the urge to push.  Laura was so amazing, she could tell this just by my face and body language.  She checked me while I was in the tub, and I had just a little cervical lip left, which she held back while I pushed through a contraction.  At that point I was complete and ready to push.  I tried pushing a few times in the tub, but it just wasn't working, so we moved to the bedroom again.

I laid in the bed on my back, with my mom holding one leg back for me and Steve holding the other. At first, I claimed I "hated" pushing.  I didn't feel like I was making any progress, and didn't acknowledge at that point that I was truly having a baby.  Laura encouraged me to reach down and feel his head, and I was so surprised to actually be able to feel what felt more like a soft, damp peach to me.  I became more determined at this point and really pushed well through each contraction.  After about 20 minutes I felt that I was losing focus and that it was taking too long.  Laura looked me in the eye and told me he would be out within 15 minutes if I kept up with such strong pushes.  That was all I needed to hear, even though a part of me still didn't believe it.

Laura's birth assistant, Casey, had arrived by this point and they were both amazing, keeping warm, damp washcloths and warm oil on my perineum to help it stretch rather than tear.  My sac of waters was still intact at this point, and Laura thought he might be born in them (known as being born in the caul).  But the next contraction I had, I felt a 'pop', and Laura told me they had just broken.  He was crowning at this point, so there was no gush of fluids.  Laura told me to grunt slowly through this contraction, so that his head would be born slowly and in a more controlled manner.  This might sound strange, but it felt so good to feel the pressure, because I knew in a moment (or matter of seconds) there would be sweet relief.  I never really felt the "ring of fire" that I had heard other women describe.  The next second I felt relief when his head was completely out, his shoulders and rest of his body sliding out easily with another push.  It felt so good!  They placed him on my belly and I reached down to touch him, still not believing it was my baby.

But it was my baby, and I was so glad to finally have him!  I tried to pull him up to me, but Laura reminded me he was still attached and that they were waiting for the cord to stop pulsing.  Steve was so happy and was snapping pictures as my mom cut his cord.  Neither of us were really crying, although there were definitely tears in both our eyes.  It was just such a happy moment, and I felt that I'd never stop smiling.  Riggs had begun crying the second he was born, and it was such a welcome sound, but he quieted down quickly when I snuggled him close to my chest.  After I had birthed the placenta, about five minutes later, I got into a more comfortable position in the bed and tried breastfeeding him.  He latched on right away, looking up at me with the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen.  This is when the crying started - both Steve and I were overcome with emotion during these quiet moments.  It is indescribable how we felt, to finally have this little miracle in our arms.

Riggs had been born with his right hand in a fist up by his right eye, so I had torn a little and had to have three stitches.  Even with the small tear, Laura was still very happy with how things went, and said I wouldn't have torn at all if his hand had not been there.  We got to go home about three hours after he was born, which was also such a relief - I was so ready to be back in my own space.

He was born at 5:10am, five hours after the first contraction.  It was such a whirlwind, but I was so happy with how everything went, I couldn't have a imagined a better situation.  My contractions never got worse, so my fear had been for nothing.  It actually almost felt like they got better, and pushing, although a lot of work, was actually a much better feeling than just contractions alone.  Riggs William was 9lbs 4oz and 21 1/2 inches - just perfect.  We love him so much and loved our birth experience too.


  1. Beautiful labor and story! I teared up reading it!

  2. That was amazing, I definitely cried. Cannot wait to meet this little guy. I love you!

  3. Great birth story - thanks for sharing!

  4. thank you :) you guys all get "props" for reading the whole thing lol

  5. I loved reading this! What a beautiful story. TFS!

  6. A long wait with a fairly quick delivery across one very early morning span, with beautiful results...

  7. Whitney, that was such a fabulous birth! Go mama! You did a fantastic job and such a quick labour. We went to a birth centre too so I could relate to how you went from the shower, to the bath, to the bed... it is so good to have all those options isn't it?!

  8. Riggs is off to a great start. He arrives amidst a snow storm to two amazing parents. He one lucky boy, true joy.

  9. Thank you for letting me part of this fabulous birth. Love you!

  10. Right when you think they'll never come on their own... such a test of faith and patience, right?! Thanks for sharing your experience. I love birth stories--and Riggs was no exception. Definitely makes me look even more forward to experiencing the birth center. Congratulations on such a sweet little boy!

  11. Oh wow! Thanks for sharing.... I love reading *good* birth stories...

  12. Oh Whitney! This is so amazingly amazing <3. I cannot believe how grown up we are, and you are.

  13. I am so glad I read your story!
    Every other story involves heavy meds. I am trying so hard to stay a natural course.

  14. What a perfect birth story. I'm happy everything went so well for you. My first was 9lbs 4oz and 22 inches also! He too had a hand up next to his face. Haha. However, I tore on the inside somehow and bled a lot, but was stitched up by the doctor. How lucky you were to have such supportive midwives! And how brave you were to do it all naturally. Honestly, I'm scared to death to push my big babies out without an epidural--scared of the intense pressure and pain. You are amazing.

  15. Thank you Jessie! How funny that our babies were so similar! :)

    Any woman who pushes out a 9 lbs baby is a hero in my book! But I do want to encourage you to maybe just try it without the epidural? I think you'd be surprised at how strong you are! I never really got to the point of wanting it. I just wanted someone else to push the baby out for me. Ha I was so tired and it was hard work!!