A Birth Story- With Poop
So....I know a lot of women worry about pooping in labor. In class I just tell everybody to accept that they will even though not everybody does. I get many birth stories, and I think that most people edit out this "pooping" from their birth stories, (I sure did.) But I wanted to share this birth. It is a great one with lots of detail, and I love that the mom is open about this aspect of birth. Yes, women poop in labor sometimes.
The Braxton Hicks started pretty early on in my pregnancy, but for a long while, I wasn’t even sure that they were Braxton Hicks. They felt like the baby was trying to push out of my belly like The Hulk, and my stomach would get hard and square, as if four limbs were pushing outward at the same time. As the weeks went on, these would occasionally become more intense.
Then, they felt like a small child was swinging their entire weight off my belly; tremendous downward pressure, along with the square belly. A couple of friends saw me when these were happening and told me that my eyes would glaze over as if I left the room momentarily. The late afternoon hours and dinnertime often included some of these woozy, hard-bellied moments. The baby was moving very low in my pelvis. At the 37 week appointment, I was measuring 2 weeks less than I had the week before. The midwife felt above my pelvic bone and said, “this is neck,” meaning the baby’s entire head was already in my pelvis.
Apart from that, I had no signs of things “getting moving” until just before Thanksgiving. My 39th week was pretty sleepless. I would have one minor contraction at some point in the night, and then I would lie awake hoping that more would come. They never did! On the Monday night before Thanksgiving, I woke with small contractions three or four times.
The next morning, I had some mucous plug with a slight tinge of pink. I was really hoping this would get things started because my parents were driving up the following day. No dice. My parents arrived on Wednesday. On Thanksgiving night, 4 more contractions woke me up. Friday morning, I had more mucous plug with a bright red spot. Nothing more on Friday or Saturday. I am now one week late and my family was headed home. Both sad and stressed out.
I took a bath that evening and had a mini-breakdown. I was very worried about going as late as my mom and sister had with multiple children: 3 weeks! I wasn’t sure that I could handle 2 more weeks of baby growing in my belly. Kev kept me company. He did as many acupressure points as he could find on the Internet. He left to go put Kendall to bed and I headed up to our bedroom.
When he came back, we “hung out” for additional labor starting activities. At 10:30pm, my mom called to say they had made it home safe. I watched the news up until the weather report and then fell fast asleep around 11:20pm. Ten minutes later, I woke up with a sharp contraction pain in my lower belly. Then, WHOOSH. I hollered for Kevin.
My water broke in a BIG WAY. He ran and got 4 towels. Even after 4 towels were drenched, I was sitting in a 2 inch puddle on our bed. The $40 waterproof mattress cover I got at Sears 4 years ago saved our Tempurpedic. Kev ran to our linen closet for more towels; he lined a path from our bed to our bathroom. And I went into the shower.
At this point, Kev called our midwife to let her know that my water broke, but I wasn’t having any contractions yet. They didn’t start for about 30 minutes. When they started, they were what I would categorize as “not bad”. I definitely noticed them, but they weren’t unbearable. However, they were CLOSE together.
They started out being 3 minutes apart. Zero to 60 in a few minutes. Kev called the midwife back after about 3 of these. Since I categorized them as mild, and I had been having so many Braxton Hicks, she said to call her back with a status in one hour. Kev grabbed a notepad and our bedroom alarm clock and started tracking my times. We headed down to our “birth suite” in the basement. It was 12:15am.
Once we were in the basement bathroom and I had on my tankini top from Kendall’s birth, things really started to take off. The contractions were starting to get intense. I had to grab the door frame of the bathroom. I filled the bathtub to the same level that I was “allowed” to labor with Kendall at the birth center and hopped in. I was sitting straight up with my knees out and my hands directly behind me on these arm rests that descend into our soaker tub.
I started having to do my low hum noise through the contractions. Kev went to get my yoga pelvic swing. He hooked it to the two eye hooks we installed in the beams above the soaker tub; we had removed the dropped ceiling tile to access the best supports. When he got that hung, he continued diligently recording times; the contractions were 3-3.5 minutes apart. I would push down on my hands to raise my bottom slightly and imagine my uterus pushing the baby down at the same time.
It reminded me of something my college dance company’s choreographer told us: “push down to go up, and push up to go down”. She was talking about plies and jumps. To get the highest jump, you need a deep plie -> push down to go up. I was doing the reverse: to get the baby down, I needed to push up. And MAN did I do a LOT of tricep presses.
By 1:10am, Kev was ready to call the midwives back. He gave her the update and she asked if I could talk through the contractions. He said, “definitely not” and I heard her say, “I’m on the way!” and hung up quickly. Kev continued to track for several contractions until I pointed out that he could probably stop now as I was definitely in labor. He said it made him feel like he was doing something, but he did put the Sharpie down!
It was around this time that I needed his help anyway. I needed his hands on my hips for counter-pressure. We tried having him sit on the back of the tub, but that wasn’t working. He ended up kneeling by the soaker tub, leaning his whole upper body across the 8 inch lip, and putting his hands on my hips. We tried a couple of different hand positions until he hit the spot that helped the most. At one point, he was adjusting his hands DURING a contraction and I might have gotten a bit snippy. Ow. [Apparently, the hand position I chose was excruciating to his left hand. He said he had to meditate to keep it still during contractions for the remaining 3 hours! Luckily, he got a few breaks…]
During the downtime between contractions, Kev would sit on Kendall’s step-stool and we mostly stayed quiet. He did try to convince me that we should call our friend Britt. I told him to set an alarm on his phone for 6am because Kendall normally doesn’t get up before then. Why bother Britt if we don’t have to? He set the alarm. It was 1:30am.
The next 30 minutes got interesting. The contractions got more intense. My humming got a little louder. I had to visualize my uterus squeezing the baby out like a tube of toothpaste. Then, I had to use the bathroom. BAD. I filled the toilet. Not exaggerating. I’m not sure how there was anything left in my colon. [There was. Yes, this is foreshadowing.]
On the way back in to the tub, I thought… “Why not try some other positions? See how they feel?” The first one I tried was standing next to the tub, leaning over on it. No, definitely not working. Then, I got in the tub again, but turned over on hands and knees. Yowser, definitely NOT working. I ended up back on my bottom, pushing off the arm rests. Suddenly, I got this really queasy feeling. I told Kev I was going to vomit.
Keep in mind, there was only a few minutes between contractions at this point. Kev quickly hands me a trashcan (with stuff still in it) and I threw up a few times. I hand it back to him and without thinking, he dumps the whole thing in our toilet!! Then, realizing what he just did, he starts fishing out the items. With his hands!
I am about to have another contraction and I’m yelling at him to wash his hands IMMEDIATELY so that he can get the counter-pressure back on my hips. He makes it half way into the contraction. I was less than pleased, and I’m pretty sure I swatted his hands off because it was worse to add them after the fact. But, then it was over and we were back in business with our routine.
About this time, Kev starts begging me to call Britt. It was about 1:55am at this point, and he tells me that sometimes Kendall wakes up around 2am. He’s worried about it. I let him call. Apparently, Britt was lying in bed awake because she “had a weird feeling” that something was going on. She answered before one ring! Britt heads over and we ask her to crawl in Kendall’s trundle bed in case she wakes up. At around 2:15am, we hear our door open and walking. The footsteps go upstairs, so we know it’s Britt.
At 2:30am, the first of the midwives arrives. She comes over and touches my arm gently. Then, she starts to fill the tub more. Oh yeah! I’m not under hospital policy! The water can go up over my belly! At some point, she asks me gently if I want to try standing up or hands and knees. We let her know that we tried those already and I didn’t enjoy them. She said that I should keep doing what was comfortable and made one additional suggestion that I pull back on my knees.
I yanked my feet up more towards my bum and then continued to do my tricep presses off the arm rests. I asked her if the baby would come down this way? And she said that the baby most definitely would come down that way. I was doing great. During this time, around 3am, the other two midwives arrive. One of them peeks in and turns out the light. Ooo, that is nice. Why didn’t we think of that?
She also asks if the pelvic swing is some sort of horse device. We had to explain that it’s for yoga! I hear them setting up items in the other room, but they are extremely quiet. Kev and I are still debating on who arrived 2nd and who arrived 3rd -> they didn’t talk and were so respectful! It was like they weren’t even there. The only reason I knew that the third midwife was there is because she came in to check the baby on Doppler once or twice.
We were clicking along. The contractions were getting REALLY painful. I kept whining pathetically during my rest time, saying that I missed my bag of waters. With Kendall’s delivery, my water didn’t break until I was 10 centimeters. It is a big difference having that cushion! With this delivery, I could literally feel body parts moving downward.
The contractions seemed to vary in intensity with the big, hard ones being the ones where I felt the downward movement of baby parts. In a way, it was consolation for the pain to feel the progress! I would do my best to hum, make horsy noises, shake my lips – anything to keep my face relaxed and my brain concentrating on something other than the squeeze.
Then… Kev’s cell phone rang. He jumped up to get it, but I was PISSED. He was petrified that it would be his brother (on West Coast time) and that I would fly out there and murder him. But, it was a wrong number. Still, that next contraction was incredibly painful. Note to self: in your best interest NOT to get pissed during childbirth. HA! [Funny sidebar: the wrong number had apparently called when I was in the shower at midnight, too. And then again later at 6am. It was some drunk guy trying to reach his mother. He called AGAIN on Monday, when he wasn’t drunk, and my husband got to chew him out for interrupting my labor. PAH!]
During this period, the midwives told Kev that if he wanted a break, they could do the counter-pressure for a while, but he declined. It would have been more frustrating for him to watch me in pain if he couldn’t help me. Even if that meant his left hand would go numb! It was now 3:30am. Things were about to get interesting.
The contractions were so intense that in the middle of my deep, chesty hum, I found the need to make “that” face – the one a toddler makes in the corner of a room before denying having to go potty. The midwives immediately picked up on it and told me that if I needed to bear down, that I should go ahead and do it. From here on out, I had to bear down at some point during every contraction. The sensation was just overwhelming.
At the same time, I didn’t feel like I was at the point of pushing. With Kendall, my transition was just back-to-back-to-back contractions. With these contractions, I felt like I was still getting a decent break in between. The contractions themselves were long and brutal, but I had rest time. I voiced my concern that I didn’t feel I was getting close and they REALLY hurt. The midwives told me that with contractions this intense, that I was definitely getting close and that I was doing fantastic.
They said to take one at a time. I said, “I think I want to get checked, but at the same time I don’t.” I wanted to know… but if it was bad news, I didn’t want to know. One of the midwives went to go grab some surgical gloves. This was the FIRST time that any of the midwives had seen my vagina and/or examined my cervix. Cervical checks will tell them nothing about when I will go into birth or how fast I will dilate once I’m in labor, so why bother? It only serves to either make the mom feel anxious or get her hopes up. The midwife let me know that I was fully dilated and a +2. I asked her if that meant I had a lot more to go? She said that crowning is a +4, so no, I’m almost there!
And then, it happened. I had a DOOZY of a contraction with this CRAZY urge to push down as hard as I could. And my colon complied. Yes, I made poop soup in the soaker tub. The midwives and Kev started scrambling. He’s running upstairs for my pasta strainer (ACK!) I am yelling, “This is gross! This is gross! Just drain it!” The midwives are scooping out and draining. There is a lot of poop. The contractions are still coming and without the water, they are just miserable.
I am moaning, groaning, screeching like a wild animal. Shaking my face and blowing bubbles like I’m doing my own Exorcist movie. I am still having to bear down with each contraction, so I’m intermittently yelling, “There’s more poop! There’s more poop!” So, they aren’t refilling the tub. At some point, I had Kev tell them how to get the shower nozzle down and they are spraying out the tub, spraying my bottom, spraying everywhere. I look over and Kev is using Clorox wipes in the tub I’m sitting in. I tell him loudly to stop since going from sitting in poop to sitting in bleach does not sound all that appealing. The midwives get everything sprayed down and they refill the tub. I am still having crazy and long contractions, but at least the water is back!
After several more long ones, I hear one midwife come back into the bathroom. She tells me that I need to stand up and grab my pelvic swing. I say, “No, no, no, no, no, no, noooooo”. She says, “You are going to get this baby out soon. You have to stand up. Say yes to this.” She didn’t really mean “say yes”. She meant “believe you can”.
And it hit me that she was totally right. If there are two more inches and then hard tub underneath me, this baby can’t come out where I am. So, I stand up, whining the whole time. They want me to grab the swing with my arms, but I know that I have been doing tricep presses for the last 4 hours and I have no arm strength left. Instead I go in front of the swing, so that it is running across my upper back and then loops under my armpits.
And I hang. I hang from my shoulder blades and bear down with every contraction. The midwives are saying, “That’s great! Good job!” The sensation to bear down is getting even more pronounced. I found myself swinging my feet out of the tub and onto the rim, so that my toes were touching the wall of the shower. I am hanging there with my feet up on the shower wall, pushing the baby out with all my might. It kind of resembled the stirrup pose you see in the hospital, except turned 90 degrees upright so that gravity was helping!
The midwives start saying, “PERFECT!” I feel one of them come up behind me and put counter-pressure on my perineum. I hear another one telling Kevin where to put his hands. I am bearing down like you wouldn’t believe with each contraction. I hear the third midwife tell me to let my body lead, to go slow. And I try. I try so hard to go slow, but I am so ready to be done! I just can’t! I can’t go slow. I push as hard as I can for as long as it feels like I should. And then I feel the baby’s head coming out. The baby is on its way out. I DID IT. I am so relieved. It is 4:25am. The baby is born!
I put my feet back down in the tub. I stop hanging from the pelvic swing. The midwives help me back into a lying down position in the warm water. Kev, who is holding our baby, told me that he had to kneel by the toilet to “follow me” down, since the cord was so short. The midwives wipe the baby down (more on this later).
They help me lift my left leg and pass the cord underneath so that they can place the baby on my chest. It is right THEN that I see the testicles and penis coming in front of me. I say, “It’s GRAYSON!” I look at Kev. He is bawling. He is also saying, “I can’t believe it’s a boy. I can’t believe we have a son.” He looks like he’s in shock! Grayson is placed on my chest and he’s making the most adorable little coo noises. He doesn’t cry. The cord is really short and it is kind of pulling up on my vagina. I tell the midwives that my bottom hurts. They go get a towel and put it in the tub under my bottom. We all wait for the cord to stop pulsing.
While we are waiting, one midwife starts explaining that he came out with his forehead first. It is swollen and bruised. Kind of like Frankenstein! He was also sunny-side up. She takes some pictures of us lying there. Intermittently, the other midwives are doing Apgar stuff on the baby (right on my chest the whole time). We also chat about cleaning up the baby -> he came out covered in vernix. Really thick vernix! Kev said ½ inch in some places.
The midwives said that all his other signs pointed to being a “fully-baked,” on-time baby, but the vernix was really unusual for a full-termer. I guess he was trying to keep his skin from pruning up in all that water I had for him. I stay in the tub for 45 minutes! The cord pulses for that long. Finally, Kev gets to cut the cord and I get to stand up. I am covered in vernix. The tub is covered in vernix. The midwives want to clean me up, so one climbs on the tub to remove the pelvic swing. And then they start showering me down again. And start wiping down the tub.
I am not dripping that much blood, so I think I am in-the-clear on tearing. But the midwife tells me, cautiously, that she is going to check my lady parts when we get all clean. They grab a pad to hold between my legs and we make the walk around to my fold-out couch bed, aka post-partum headquarters. The news is not so good… stitches for me! I get local, but it is still ouchy. UGH, the pressure on my sore bits. I really can’t stand the stitching up part.
Both kids required 5 or so - Kendall’s were deeper and more dramatic with the blood loss, while Grayson’s were all at the edge and barely any bleeding. While they are working, Grayson and I are getting started on our latch technique.
He was clearly used to sucking his little fist because he keeps trying to get at it. He tries to latch and looks as if he’s thinking, “What is THIS thing? It’s not hard like my fist! Where’s my fist?” But once he gets a good deep latch, he starts sucking away. It took him about 8 hours before he was like, “Oh yes. This, this nipple thing, it IS the thing I want! Not my fist!”
When everything is all done in the nether regions, the midwives helped me get dressed and comfy. Then, they do some more checks on Grayson, including taking his weight. They were shocked when it said 10 pounds, 10 ounces! They had delivered another 10.5 pound boy earlier in the week who was built totally different. He was a little chubster, while Grayson is not that chubby at all. [My dad said, “You’re not a watermelon!”] Grayson just has a really long and strong body and tiny little legs.
At this point, it is around 6am. Britt didn’t have to come over after all! The midwives stay for another 45 minutes or so. They clean up, throw laundry in, help me go to the bathroom, and clear out all the trash/supplies. Britt wanders down a little after I am cleaned up and gets to see the little guy and give everyone hugs. The midwives head home and we chat for a while.
At 7:30am, Kev heads up to get Kendall. Britt waits in the door of our post-partum headquarters with both my camera and our flip video. Kendall is totally confused. As far as she knows, she went to bed and woke up. She knows nothing about the in between and hasn’t even see any midwives. She just sees Ms. Brittany standing in her basement with a camera. Her look in these pictures is priceless.
She tentatively comes into the room. And then it hits her what has happened. She is so excited. She comes scampering into the room to meet her baby. Britt takes a bunch of pictures of our little family and then heads home to her family. Kev sends his regrets to Bob that he won’t make the flag football play-off game at 10am. HA! And that is our birth story. We couldn’t be happier.