We have a baby! A beautiful, funny, adorable, smart, 6 week old baby boy. I can still hardly believe it. For those who know me or who have read my blog this has been quite a journey as I wrote in an update regarding the experiences I had in my high risk pregnancy. Quinn’s due date was December 20th and at 25 weeks I was put on bed rest. Our goal was to make it, at least, to December 5th and we made it to the 4th at 37 weeks and 5 days. Not bad considering the odds.
Before I get into the details of Quinn’s birth, I need to provide a back story. I had many concerns going into labor. After I wrote my last entry I developed hypertension. My blood pressure was consistently high, especially when I would get up and move around. Of course, their concern was preeclampsia. Of all the concerns we had this one scared me the most, well, not as much as when I thought I was going to lose Quinn. I feared having a stroke and being unable to care for Quinn, thereby adding one more responsibility to Calvin’s already heavy load. I feared needing a c-section in order to save my life and that of our baby. I feared not having the stamina to make it through the labor as I had been on my back for 3 months and just walking through the hospital to get to the doctor’s office winded me and left my legs feeling like they could give away at any moment. Given this and the cervical issues and umbilical cord functioning properly, we had a lot on our minds. Imagine what it would be like to have this running through your head when you had nothing to do but lay down and ponder the what ifs. Fortunately I had work, insane amounts of TV, knitting, hanging out with the fuzzies, and just chilling with my baby boy. I could not have done this without the support of family, friends, and the prayers of my church. I must have been on 3 different prayer lists–St. John’s Lutheran, my Aunt Dottie-Dot’s prayer group, and my grandmother in-law’s church prayer group. This left me humbled by the care and concern of so many people who didn’t know me. Specifically a woman at my church who crocheted a prayer shawl.
This shawl, given as a gift at a church baby shower, was my greatest source of comfort through this experience. I kept it with me at all times and it is still with me now. I look at it and immediately feel comforted by its presence. The prayers that went into its creation were intended for my pregnancy and for Quinn’s safe arrival. I saw this as a conduit for all the prayers and well wishes of our concerned friends and family. When I felt fear, I pulled this over my belly and prayed for protection and peace. I am ever grateful to the woman who so thoughtfully and lovingly created this for us, not even really knowing who I am–we’ve met once and only saw each other in passing. Today it hangs above my head, draped over the bed post, ever-present, ever providing the feeling of safety and peace as we navigate through the joy, uncertainty, and anxiety of caring for a newborn as first time parents. As I look at it, I am reminded that all will be okay.
I mentioned in my earlier post that we took a Bradley Method birth class taught by my best friend, Gracie. In this class we learned about the stages of childbirth, how to write a birth plan, relaxation methods, exercises (which I couldn’t practice), and what to look for in terms of unnecessary procedures. I walked away feeling better informed and equipped for Quinn’s birth. This class was also the only time, aside from my doctors visits, that I was out of the house. We were fortunate to attend this class with 5 absolutely hilarious couples. I am grateful for the opportunity I had with them on our journey.
Despite all of this education, as with most knowledge, it’s in the practice that makes a difference. Fortunately, given the experience with my pregnancy, I didn’t expect that the labor would go exactly as the birth class taught me. Good thing too.
Calvin and I don’t lead a boring life. Or perhaps I should say, life with Calvin is never boring. When we found out that I was pregnant, Calvin decided it was time to start restoring our 1920 Queen Anne cottage. Basically, he started nesting. We thought that if we started early that we would be done in time before the baby arrived. Remember the statement in my earlier post–We had a plan. Yeah, we laugh now.
It all began when he started picking at a piece of our wall that was chipped. We always thought that the walls were plaster painted in an effort to cover cracks. For some reason whoever painted the walls thought it would be a great idea to give them a popcorn texture. It was awful. It had to go. It was this one little chip that Calvin started picking, like a scab, that started it all. We discovered salvageable plaster walls under 4 layers of wall paper. Then Calvin ditched the wallpaper removal in favor of tearing out the drop ceiling.
That’s when we hired our contractor to finish the walls and install a new ceiling. We refinanced the house to complete the kitchen and bathroom renovation and had hardwood floors installed. In case you were wondering, I was on bed rest at the time of the floor installation. This is when I practiced my meditation and relaxation–I can’t believe I could actually fall asleep to the sound of compressors and nail guns while I listened to my relaxation app and the Reiki channel on Pandora. I was able to keep calm at a time of great disturbance. These are tools I used during labor.
I give you this back story because that’s why I was in a hotel room on December 4th when I went into labor. We had no plumbing during the bathroom renovation and that just wont do, especially when there is a pregnant lady in the house.
I woke up around 5:00am feeling a slight cramp, but it didn’t last long and I went back to sleep. Calvin had to get up early that day to get to work and I mentioned it to him. He went on about his day. The cramps continued at 7:30 and what was just a slight feeling started to develop a pattern. I walked around, drank some water, and took a shower just to see if they would pass. They didn’t and before I called Calvin to tell him to drop his day, I called our doula, Marva, just to see if there was something to this. The contractions were coming at about 7 minutes apart and lasted about 2 minutes. I told her that I would give her a call when I needed her, thinking that we had time. She told me to go ahead and call Calvin.
I called Calvin around 10:00am and told him that he should drop his day, I’m in labor. So, Calvin’s next task wasn’t to rush over by my side, he had to pack our bags. Yes, that’s right folks, we were unprepared. Aside from a few supplies, our bags were not packed and in the car despite the risk of preterm labor. Marva found this hilarious. In our defense, I’m laid up for 3 months and Calvin works 2 jobs, go figure. I had planned to pack the weekend that I was off bed rest, but Quinn had different plans.
As I’m moaning and breathing, waiting for Calvin to arrive, I hear the cleaning crew in the hallway slowly making their rounds. I wondered if they could hear me and suddenly felt like I was in a movie, but this was my reality…I am in labor in a Best Western hotel.
Calvin arrives and he’s calm, which is exactly what I needed. Before he arrived I texted Marva that I needed her. The contractions were getting intense and closer together. She was going to be at the hotel in an hour. By the time Calvin arrived my contractions were about 30 seconds and about 1-2 minutes apart. They were also nothing like what was described to me in class, with a slow build up, peak, and then descent. It was straight to the peak and coming on strong. He called Marva and we all decided it was time to get to the hospital. We packed up our stuff and headed out the door. Calvin made his mark, literally an X, on the check out sheet as I head outside to the car. Farewell Best Western, you will always be remembered.
Calvin calls Dr. Brabson’s office as we drive out to the interstate and they called the hospital to let them know we were on the way. I’m having contractions all the way down the interstate and it was just as I was coming down the peak of one that Calvin says, “we’re getting pulled over.” Just to let you know, he was only going 75 and if you live in Knoxville you know that is slow compared to the people who make their commute at 80+mph. He pulls over and rolls down the window, sticks his head out and says, “Officer, my wife is in labor.” I’ve just completed a contraction and my hand is to my head. I hear a pause, look to the side and see a burly officer with a gray mustache slowly lean over to look in the car to see if there is any truth to this statement. What he saw must have been convincing because he asked Calvin where we were heading. I thought, how nice, he’s probably going to escort us. Calvin told him Tennova, which was at the next exit and the motorcycle cop told him to get out of here. No escort. Bummer, that would have added a little more excitement to the story.
We arrived at the hospital around 11:30 . Calvin parks right in front of the doors and brings me up to triage. He had to leave to register with the hospital, for the second time, and move the car. I was alone. It was the most alone I had ever felt during this experience, except for the 2 couples that were in there with me. Their presence made me aware that I am still in reality. I kept my eyes closed and kept breathing my slow breaths, but what got me through it were the moans. Ladies, if you are ever in labor keep them low, deep, and strong. That’s the way to do it. If you scream like a banshee, it makes it worse for you and more painful. Keep it primal.
Marva showed up and I was so happy. She got right to work providing her peace and comfort. She showed up just in time because while I’m in triage I’m getting asked all kinds of questions. Something I’m not interested in doing while I’m trying to concentrate and keep relaxed while my muscles are doing things they have never done before. It was while I was in triage that I started saying Hail Mary’s, calling on my Catholic roots to get me through a mother’s pain. This prayer has always been my go to for comfort.
They checked my cervix, of all the things that I could experience in this labor, that was probably the most painful. I didn’t want to do it again. I was measured at 4cm and 80% effaced. Time to get into a room. I thought I was going to be given a wheel chair, but they made me walk. The contractions were coming on quick. Just as I was coming off a contraction a nurse said we could go when I was done. I had one right after to which she said we would have to move quick. So, here I am trying to walk, breathe, and relax as I’m being lead through hallways to get to our room. I had a contraction as I was walking and I didn’t lean up against a wall, I just kept walking, determined to get into the room and bring our son into the world.
We got to the room around 12:15. If you haven’t noticed, this is a fast labor and I’m being checked in during the majority of it with questions that I probably answered 3 times by 3 different nurses. It’s while this is going on and the labor and deliver nurse assigned to us can’t stop talking…loudly, that I realize they need our birth plan. One of the items I request is that I labor in a peaceful environment with little discussion. I’m breathing out in a loud voice while I have the chance, “Please, be quiet!” I had my voice and I was determined to have the birth experience I wanted. Calvin had to leave me to get the birth plan. I could focus now on what needed to be done.
This was a true test of being able to handle a situation with grace and adjust my expectations to fit the changes that inevitably occur. I wanted to labor in water. This is a natural pain reliever as the buoyancy releases pressure and provides warmth for the muscles and body. It never happened. The labor was progressing too quickly. It worked out okay because it turned out my best friend through the labor was a yoga ball the hospital provided. That is where I spent the remainder of 1st stage labor and where I experienced transition. Marva and Calvin both took turns, one in front of me as I draped my arms around them, and one behind me as they massaged my back. Marva spent a great deal of time kneeling in front of me. I hugged her neck, breathed and moaned through the contractions. There was a time that I felt such love for her and wanted to tell her but, I did not. It is the one thing that I regret, not expressing that love for her as she assisted me through my labor, bearing my weight and reminding me to be in a calm place of cool waters.
As I was laboring on the ball, my water broke and the nurse said they needed to check my cervix again, I said no. She told me that they had to know when to get the doctor in to deliver the baby. It wasn’t long that the midwife, Blair, showed up. I was so happy to see her. She stayed with me through my labor, monitoring my blood pressure, and Quinn, all while offering gentle support and encouragement. Blair checked my cervix, I didn’t feel anything, and she gave the go ahead to start pushing.
We moved to the bed, and I labored and pushed on my hands and knees, actually, I hugged the yoga ball while holding Calvin and Marva’s hands. They were my lifeline through this. Calvin was my strength, ever present, stroking my back, offering words of encouragement. Silently with me, protecting us. I remember being so hot and a fan was brought in to keep me cool. Marva put a cool cloth on my head. I gripped their hands and they did not complain. With every contraction Marva whispered words of encouragement, reminding me of the themes that I experienced during my pregnancy that helped me through a difficult time: thankfulness and gratitude. With every contraction she would say, “thankful” to which I would repeat, “thankful.” It was during the most intense contractions when she would say, “grateful” to which I would roar, “graaaatfuuullll!” She knew just what to say, she was so intuitive to me and my experience. When I was pushing, my body in control and I was just following, she would remind me of our son, “Quinn” she would whisper, to which I would repeat, “Quinn.”
I pushed for 1 hour and Quinn was born at 2:59pm.
He weighed 6.14 lbs. and was 21 inches in length. Healthy. Beautiful.
This was the most amazing, loving, beautiful experience I have ever had in my life. It was also fun. I know it must seem strange that labor could be fun, but it was something in the depth of my experience, that as I passed through the Veil I thought, “this is fun.” I was trusting my body, and following it through the most natural thing anyone could ever do, give birth to the life of a child. I can say that I did get the birth that I wanted and despite the labor walk and talking nurse, my experience and care at the hospital was wonderful. It was more than I ever hoped for. I firmly believe that our success was possible by the education through our birth class, the right care provider, our doula, and my supportive husband. I hope that more women get to have that kind of experience.
Now our days are spent bonding with our little boy. Part of the daily discussion includes poopie diapers, rejoicing when we capture boogies, and watching in awe as we see all the developmental changes that Quinn is sharing with us. I spend my maternity leave wearing muslin swaddles as scarfs, wearing our little one, nursing, napping, and just enjoying our time together. Our new normal, though anxious and stressful at times, has been amazing and so beautiful. I continue to remind myself, when things are overwhelming, to continue to carry through with grace and be thankful and grateful for this moment and the moments to come.
To end, here a few photos of our precious little boy, but first, here is a photo of me with my team. The two people who helped me make it happen: Calvin and Marva.
Thank you for helping me bring Quinn into this world. I love you both, so much.
Oh, and the renovation is almost complete.