Thursday November 20th I went in for a midwife appointment. I took Audrey with me so she could have another opportunity to meet and become familiar with the midwives. She did great. I told Karla (my main midwife) that I was anxious for labor to get going so she offered to check my cervix in hopes of causing some contractions that might put things in gear. I felt a little pressure to have him sooner than later because my mom and Eileen were coming on Saturday the 22nd and could only stay for one week. We all would have been so disappointed to have only an ornery pregnant woman for company all week! When Karla checked I was dilated to 4cm and 30% effaced! That’s certainly progress! Layne was positioned head down but not completely anterior (face down) he was more laying on his side with his spine running along my side between my ribs and hip. He also still had room to move so he would flip 180 degrees often! Karla told me to try spending some time on my hands and knees to get him to lay anterior. We hoped that if his head engaged well with the cervix I would go into labor. That evening I spent a solid hour and a half crawling around on the kitchen floor scrubbing the grout clean. I was actually happy to get that chore done since the dirty grout had been bothering me for several weeks. Plus it felt really good to let gravity pull my heavy belly in a different direction for a while.
Friday morning I lost the mucus plug. More progress! I continued to see blood tinged mucus throughout the weekend. Friday I didn’t have much time to spend on hands and knees. It turned out to be a busy day. Audrey played at a friend’s house while Mitchell and I took Redick and Reid to the farm at Thanksgiving Point and we had some family friends (the Howells) over for dinner that evening.
Saturday mom and Eileen hit the road early and traveled through rain the whole trip! Good thing they made it safe! In the morning I decided that Mitchell and I needed one more date! I hired a babysitter at the last minute and we went out to lunch at Kneaders and took a few family names to the Draper temple to do sealings. The temple workers were so kind and accommodating that it was actually pretty embarrassing. When I walked in the sealing room a friendly sister that was already in the room asked me when my baby was due. When I answered “tomorrow” I think the sealer nearly fainted! He was so sweet and made a HUGE deal about making sure I didn’t walk too far, didn’t lift anything and I was absolutely forbidden from kneeling. When Mitchell and I took our turn to perform the sealings for our family names the sealer insisted on moving a chair up to the altar so I could sit. What a sweet gesture! I actually would have been much more comfortable kneeling rather than sitting awkwardly tilted sideways and leaning forward but there was no arguing, he was so kind. We didn’t stay long at the temple, there was a room full of people wanting to do sealings so we just took our turn and then went home. The rest of the day I relaxed and Eileen was very happy to see that I was still pregnant when she arrived. Now the pressure was on full force to have the baby ANY TIME since Grandma and Auntie were ready and waiting!
Sunday November 23rd, 40 weeks, the due date. There was a light dusting of snow when we woke up. Don’t storms or weather changes bring on labor? On my way to ward council I quickly stopped at my friend Tianna’s house to borrow her Clary Sage essential oil, also known for it’s ability to induce uterine contractions. I tucked it away in my bag but I really, really wanted to apply it immediately! It taunted me all through ward council and the following 3 hours of church! If it wasn’t such a strong scent I probably would have gone ahead with it at church. Not too subtle though, haha. As soon as we got home from church though, off with the dress and on with the oil and comfy yoga pants! I’m slightly hesitant to jump completely on the essential oil bandwagon though I do think that they have their place in a medical arsenal of treatments. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this oil. About 20 minutes after I applied the Clary Sage topically to my belly I began feeling constant cervical pressure. It didn’t build and recede like contractions, it was just constant pressure. That lasted for about an hour and a half. I reapplied and got the same result! The rest of the day I followed a protocol of apply 2 or 3 drops of oil, lean over a yoga ball while Eileen or Mom massaged my back, and feel pressure. I knew I must have been progressing and it wouldn’t be long before I was holding a sweet baby boy!
Monday November 24th, 3:50am. I woke up feeling some painful low cramps. It was enough that I was uncomfortable and couldn’t easily go back to sleep. The cramps seemed to come and then feel better for a while then come again. It was 15 minutes before I thought to time them! I spent the next 50 minutes timing the cramps, average of 6 minutes apart! By 5:00 am they were feeling a little more like contractions than cramps and I was getting excited! I took a shower at 5:00am partly to see if they would subside but more so I could get pretty before I was in full blown labor! Beauty is important at a time like this, Haha! Mitchell got up to see if I was ok and I told him I thought this would turn into labor but there was no need for him to get up at this point. He would need that extra rest later. At 6:00am I called my midwife to let her know I was in early labor and that I would keep her posted. The contractions continued about 6 minutes apart. I also sent a text to the photographer as a heads up. I really thought that this labor would go pretty quick since I had already progressed pretty far and also being my 4th child. I ate an egg sandwich for breakfast and used the quiet morning time to study the scriptures for a while. Audrey came out around 6:30 and was thrilled when I told her “my tummy is squeezing, I think Baby Layne is going to come today!” Soon after, Redick and Reid woke up and Mitchell and I got about the business of feeding the herd. With all of the activity and distraction of the morning routine the contractions slowed and backed off almost completely.
I only had a few sporadic contractions in the next couple of hours before my 9:15am midwife appointment. Mitchell and Audrey came along to the appointment. I was really tired by this time of the morning having been awake since before 4:00am. I remember moving slowly and being tired just climbing the stairs to the reception area. Karla took me back and checked Layne’s position and heart rate. The heart rate was excellent, my vitals great and his position was his normal side lying head down position. Again, she told me to try and spend some time on my hands and knees. When she checked my cervix that morning I was dilated to 5cm and 60% effaced. Still progressing! At this point I knew he was coming sometime before the end of the day but was feeling a little discouraged that the contractions had pretty much stopped. We went home and I got comfortable on the couch and ended up falling asleep for about 2 hours. That was some much needed rest and I was actually grateful for the break in progressing labor. When I woke up I was feeling much more rested and energetic and ready to get things going again! My mom and Eileen helped get us and the kids some lunch and put Redick and Reid down for their nap. At 1:30pm it was looking sunny and warmer out and I wanted to go for a walk and get things going again. Mom, Eileen, Audrey and I headed out. I began having contractions again as soon as we left and they were increasing in intensity. We started just walking close to home but I was feeling pretty good and Audrey wanted to go to a park in the neighborhood that has swings so we went. This park has a walking trail that goes completely around the circumference of the park. While Eileen pushed Audrey on a swing, Mom and I walked once around the trail. While the contractions were increasing in intensity at this point most of them I had been able to continue walking and talking through. At the park I had a couple that were strong enough that I could not continue walking until it passed, I could still talk through them though. Once around the walking path was enough and I directed everyone back home. The whole way home the contractions were about 4.5 minutes apart and increasing in intensity. I had to take it pretty slow going home and had quite a few strong contractions that stopped me in my tracks. Mentally I was struggling knowing when was the right time to call in my birth team. It seemed like labor was moving along but it had also stopped completely earlier too. I didn’t want to call everyone over too early and sit around doing nothing but I also had a feeling that once my water broke labor would pick up and I would go pretty quickly. The whole walk back from the park I was just wishing my water would break so I would know for sure it was go time! We made it back and I laid down on the couch again to rest. I’d only been laying down for about 10 minutes when I needed to get up to use the bathroom. On the walk back to my bathroom from the living room I felt a small gush of fluid, my water broke!
I was so relieved that I didn’t have to wonder when to call anymore! You’d think by the 4th child I’d know what I was doing! The fluid was tinged slightly pink and I changed my wet pants and made some calls. First I called my midwives and told them my water had broken. Hannah (midwife) said she would come right away and Karla would come soon after. Next I called the photographer (Shyan) and told her she could come join the party! In about 20 minutes Hannah and Shyan showed up at nearly the same time.
Hannah came right in and got the birth tub set up and started filling it. Audrey decided Shyan was there to take pictures of her and posed about 30 times with any prop she could get her hands on. When the tub was full Mitchell asked everyone to leave the room and he gave me a priesthood blessing that I would have strength and energy and that Layne would come safely and peacefully. I then climbed in the warm water of the birthing tub. Wow, did that feel great! The warm water was so relaxing and the buoyancy offered relief!
|I absolutely loved having my kids there with me! Audrey was so sweet and considerate.|
|How long is this going to take!?|
|Mitchell was amazing! I definitely could not have done this without him!|
Shyan came in and began taking pictures. By this point the contractions were still about 4-5 minutes apart but strong enough that I would close my eyes and get very still until it passed. Between contractions though, I remember feeling bored. Mitchell was of course in the room and Audrey was playing in the living room and coming in and out. Mitchell brought in our tablet thinking we could watch some funny Studio C sketches in between contractions to alleviate some of the boredom. We watched one then chatted a little bit with Shyan.
Before long though I wasn’t too interested in conversation anymore. As the contractions intensified Mitchell began applying counter pressure to my hips through each one. That was amazingly helpful! After several times leaning over the sides of the tub it was getting hard for him to lean over so he got in the tub with me. That was really nice. He was pretty grossed out at the looks of the water. There was quite a bit of blood in the water along with some unsavory looking “floaties.” He’s my hero though for getting in anyway. When Redick and Reid woke up from their nap they came in to say hi to me. I wasn’t sure how they would react to all of the unfamiliar people and equipment set up but they seemed pretty unphased. I had been pretty adamant all along that R&R would need to be out of the house while I was in labor (unless they were asleep). When they came in though I loved seeing them and asked them to stay for a little while if they wanted to. All 3 of the kids sat on the couch in my room near me for about 30 minutes and were so good! I loved having them all there with me!
When they got restless Eileen took all 3 kids to my neighbor’s house. Audrey knew she was welcome to stay for the birth but she told Eileen she would rather go play and come back to meet Layne after he was born. About the time the kids all left I also got restless. I had been kneeling in the water leaning forward against the sides of the tub the whole time and I needed to move my legs. I decided to get out of the tub for a while, intending to stretch my legs then get back in for the delivery. I needed to use the bathroom too so that’s where I headed first. As I walked in Karla instructed me to not flush because she wanted to see how much I was bleeding. At that point I was told that I was bleeding more than they expected and that they were keeping a close eye on that. I acknowledged the information but it didn’t emotionally penetrate and I wasn’t worried or distracted by knowing. I had complete confidence in my midwife team and their competence.
When I got out of the water I thought I would walk around for a bit to stretch out and then get back in the water. However, right about the time I got out I hit transition in full force! I had to try a bunch of postures to get where I could tolerate the contractions. For a few contractions I leaned forward bracing myself against my bed. Then I laid down on the bed on my right side. Throughout labor the midwives had been monitoring the baby’s heart rate and while I was on my right side Hannah used a doppler to listen to his heart. In the middle of a strong contraction she told me his heart rate had dropped and I needed to turn over to my left side quickly. She might as well have asked me to saw off my own arm! That hurt so bad and I was really mad! If I hadn’t known it was for the safety of my son I would have refused! Once I got to the left side she told me the problem resolved and that alleviated my worry. (I found out after the fact that his heart rate dropped down to 90 BPM at that point.)
I didn’t last long laying down though and I announced that I needed to move. Mitchell and the midwives helped me up and guided me to a U-shaped birth stool that I could sit on. I liked it and stayed there for a while as the intensity of labor really heated up. About this point I started feeling really nauseous. I remember saying out loud numerous times that I felt really sick. When someone held a bowl in front of my face though I pushed it away. I also remember saying over and over “I don’t know where to go.” Now that I’ve thought about it more I realize that I had reached the point in transition that labor is just hard and uncomfortable no matter what you do. There is no magic position that would have made me feel comfortable at that point. At the time I knew it but still sought for relief. In my search for a more comfortable position one of the midwives told me to try leaning forward off of the birth stool and lean on the yoga ball. That didn’t work because the ball was not steady enough. Then Mitchell sat on the ball and I leaned on him but it still wasn’t steady enough. He ditched the ball and knelt down and I leaned on him while *I think* the midwife students (Alison and Nat) applied counter pressure to my hips through the contractions. I was really unaware of who was where and doing what because my eyes were closed the whole time. I always knew right where Mitchell was though. There is something about your husband being by your side during labor. No amount of trust and confidence with my midwives begins to compare to my husband. His was the only voice I heard and the only presence I felt in that intense experience. I remained on hands and knees leaning on Mitchell for quite a while. Waves of nausea came and went but I felt in control and able to remain calm and relaxed. I was never scared or hopeless during this experience. During one intense contraction I found myself grunting and pushing a little. Karla encouraged me to listen to my body and follow it’s cues. I pushed just gently at first and it was exhilarating and so encouraging to know that if I was pushing I was close! At the same time I remember having a moment of realization that I would have to actually push this baby out! Pushing is HARD! There’s a reason it’s called labor!
About this point I moved back up to the birth stool and began to push through most of the contractions. My bed was right behind me and I found that I needed to push against the mattress. Pretty soon it got hard on my arms and Mitchell came behind me and I was able to lean against him. He could then use his legs to give me counter pressure and I felt like he was holding me in his arms. It was so comforting and empowering. The midwives continued to monitor my bleeding and the baby’s heart rate. They used a doppler to check the heart rate about every other contraction. (A few days after the birth I asked Karla for more details about Layne’s heart rate and about the bleeding. She told me that he had the one episode of his rate dropping to 90 BPM but it never went that low again. It seemed that his early decelerations were related to my position and though they continued to monitor him carefully he was never in danger. About the heavier than expected bleeding, it was something they were watching but not a huge concern. Karla told me that the 2 problems co-occuring though did tell her that there must have been some problem with the placenta. After the delivery they did find a 1 inch tear in the placenta.)
Here’s where things got really intense and exciting! When I began to push in earnest I started grunting and making a low moaning sound. It wasn’t something I thought about, it just came out! Then the low moan turned into a low pitched yell (think gladiator war call!) Every time the yells were louder and louder! I was too deep in concentration to think much of it but I was pretty shocked and amused at the sounds coming from me! It was so helpful though! While I was pushing, Nat held a hot washcloth doused with olive oil to my perineum. Her goal was to keep me from tearing, I love her for that! The heat was so helpful in giving me a focal point on exactly where to push and it kept me relaxed and open. This was my favorite part of the whole experience! I felt my baby descend every inch closer to the world! Yes, it was painful but simultaneously miraculous! The yells continued and were so loud I didn’t know I was capable of making such sounds! I keep laughing about that! Layne descended and as he was crowning I needed no coaching from anyone, I was in tune with my body and was able to follow it’s cues. Though he was was crowning and that was painful I breathed through at least a couple of contractions and just let things stretch and rest. At that point someone suggested that I reach down and feel his head or look at him in a mirror. I made it quite clear at that point that I was not interested! Haha! For my concentration’s sake I needed to leave all of that to my imagination later. I could definitely feel that he was crowning, no proof necessary! I felt his head come out and I expected that the rest of him would slip out then too but he didn’t. I said “get him out of me!” to which Karla calmly replied “that’s your job, Honey.” I love her. It wasn’t much more effort and he did slip out and I was holding my beautiful son! In the brief moment after he was delivered and before he was in my arms he sneezed and sighed and then settled calmly in my arms. At this point I was overcome with emotion and sobbed and sobbed. Mitchell was still sitting behind me and he held us both and we marveled at another child brought into the world and into our family!
I don’t know how long we stayed together on the birth stool, several minutes for sure. After I delivered the placenta, Mitchell, Layne and I moved up to sit together on the bed. We marvelled and bonded and just soaked up those first moments. What a special time! Pretty soon I noticed Layne rooting around and moving his lips. I pulled him up to nurse and he latched right on like a champ! No learning curve at all, he wanted food! At that point I realized I was starving too! My mom brought me some food and juice and it was wonderful! Best turkey and ham sandwich and trail mix ever!
As the adrenaline and hunger subsided a bit I became more aware of everything else happening in the room. The midwives were quietly busy cleaning up and removing their equipment. They respected the family bonding time and never interrupted Mitchell and me. They got the whole room cleaned up pretty quickly and efficiently and by the time they were done I was feeling kind of cold and wanted to put some clothes on. I handed Layne to Mitchell and Eileen brought me a shirt and I wrapped up in a blanket on my own bed. Before the midwives left for the night they weighed and measured Layne. Here’s where I got a big shock! 9 pounds even! A mammoth baby! I couldn’t believe it! Nat had kept her word too, I didn’t tear! Mitchell cut the umbilical cord and Hannah and Nat did a thorough newborn exam. All of this happened at the foot of my bed, my new baby was never more than a few feet away from me.
When things were pretty cleaned up and I had a shirt on I really wanted the rest of my kids to come home. Just as soon as the newborn exam was complete I asked Eileen to go next door and get the kids. I just was so anxious to reunite our whole family and have the kids meet their new brother! Audrey came in first and was quiet and gentle but so enthusiastic! She was amazed at how small his ears were and was enamored from the start. Redick and Reid came in next and were so thrilled! They even seemed to understand that the baby they were meeting was Baby Layne that had been in my tummy only a few hours before. That was another magical time as a family. We took some pictures together as a new family of 6 and then Eileen put the kids to bed. The photographer packed up her things as did the midwives and they all left. It was so relaxing and comfortable to be in my own home at that point. The whole experience was just incredible and empowering!