This post was lost by the Internet, but luckily my sister-in-law's reader had a copy saved.
After my experience with Guinevere's birth, I knew that if I had another baby in Columbus, I wanted a different midwife group. Aleatha, my sister-in-law, and Rachael, a woman in my ward (and whose house we are now renting...it's a small world) both had seen a group of three midwives that they absolutely loved, so I planned to go with them.
Fast forward to December 22, 2011, and I was several days late for my cycle, and strongly suspected that I was pregnant...oh, and just a little thing, I also happened to have an IUD, the copper kind. Avram's whole family was in town for Christmas, and I had been trying to casually pick up a pregnancy test, you know, without tipping it off to the extended family, and since I won't run errands for just one thing, I was failing. That, and I couldn't find it at the dollar store when we were there (yes, I use dollar store pregnancy tests...) Finally I asked Avram to pick it up when he was already going out with Samuel, and he did, which made for a slightly awkward conversation, but regardless, I had the pregnancy test, and since you know that I have a ten month old baby, this next sentence may be lacking in the surprise department, but sure enough, it was positive. I don't know why I worried about not telling family - the second we knew, I told the whole family anyway, which worked out well when several days later we were making dinner, and I was reduced to tears because the mango lassi that I made used a slightly mushy mango, and although it tasted fine, and no one else could tell, I knew that it was mushy, and the imperfection of it all left me bawling in my bedroom while everyone else cleaned up dinner....yeah, so it was a good thing we didn't attempt to keep it a secret, or else they would have concluded that I had just gone crazy.
Anyway, back on track to the birth story, which will come eventually, I toyed with just calling the new midwives immediately, but I thought that it made sense to go back to the people who gave me the IUD first, so we made an appointment for the next day with them. A doctor at the same practice examined me, and sure enough, I was pregnant, and sure enough, there was the IUD, which thankfully was no where near the fetus, so she was able to take it out, which although still left me with a 50% chance of miscarriage, at least meant that I wouldn't have a high risk pregnancy, like would have happened if it had to be left in the whole pregnancy. After the awkward moment where she asked if we wanted to keep the pregnancy (this connects to how I have had a complete change of heart regarding birth control, which I may write down sometime, but you know, you can only be so controversial at a time on the Internet, and as this post deals with natural births and midwives, I'll leave that for another day), we were all set up with a second follow up appointment, to basically see if the fetus stuck around or not.
So here we were on December 23, with a Christmas surprise. Despite the fact that Enoch had a .05% chance of conception, we were both quite calm with it all - we had been talking about trying for another baby soon, and that month had even while at the temple prayed about it. Although we hadn't received any particular feeling while there (and yet we both, independently and at the same time in the Endowment had a strong impression that Avram should become a temple worker. I figure that God already knew we were about to have a baby, so didn't feel like we needed any inspiration in that sector....), we were both basically ready emotionally for another baby, and of course I got quite excited once there was new life on the horizon.
Back in the appointment mill of the the old midwife office, I was concerned that I would let myself just get sucked back into their system, but after that second appointment, where little fetus was just doing great, no spotting at all (and once again, the baby who's currently trying to wake up kind of sucks all the narrative suspense here), I just didn't make the next appointment that the doctor wrote out for me. I hoped that they would assume that I miscarried after all, and never call me and harass me about it. I don't know if my assumption was correct, but they never did call and try and make another appointment, and so that was the end of that office, and on to the new midwives.
I really loved the new midwives - there were three of them, and I felt like they got me, and my situation. Avram taught at BYU in the Summer of 2012, and so the biggest hiccup in the pregnancy came from me spending my seventh through ninth month away from any health care at all. Thankfully I never went into labor, and after a successful two day drive across country, less than two weeks to my due date, I met with the midwives again, and all was well. Sunday morning, six days before my due date, I thought that my water might be leaking. I had thought that often for the last weak (which in retrospect, it may well have been), and so went back and forth on going to Church, or what, but I eventually decided to go, since I had no certain idea. I did wear a pad as a precaution, though.
As we walked in to church, into the chapel, a sister in the ward asked me how I was doing, and if I was ready to be done. I told her that I was ready, but that I was there...but that you never know, I might leave half way through church. Except for in the place of the ellipses, there was a small pause, while I felt my water break. Avram was ahead of me with the kids, so I just walked straight through the chapel and then on to the bathroom, while he meanwhile had no idea what had happened to me. As I went into the bathroom, another sister in the ward asked me if I was ready to be done yet. I ruefully told her with a laugh that I actually had just had my water break, and if she would be willing to see if there was anyone with a pad or something, because I wasn't leaving the stall until I could get something. As an aside here, I love the women of the Gospel - they were all so helpful to me this day, and I felt like part of such a sisterhood. So she went to see, and eventually came back with nothing, and then left again, and she and another sister (This is Susan and Marta, for those who know), and Marta offered me a baby's diaper that they found, which they could cut in half.
Just as an FYI - first, if you're male, I hope that this all doesn't bother you, because I haven't even written about the birth yet, so if you don't like words like pad or water breaking, just click away now - I won't mind. Second, if your water breaks your body continuously makes more water, so you will continue to leak water, which is actually amniotic fluid, until the birth. Despite the fact that there is only an 11% chance of your water breaking before labor, 50% of my pregnancies have ended with my water breaking first.
So, with all this accomplished, I waddled back into Sacrament Meeting, where I admit my thoughts were really distracted, and not focused on the singing, sacrament or messages. We passed a paper note back a couple of rows to a family, the George's, who had offered to take our kids if Samuel and Aleatha were still out of town in Kansas. In the note I told them my water was broken, and would they take the kids after church home with them? They agreed, with a note sent back up. It made me feel like I had returned to junior high, but it was also comforting to know that things were arranged.
I thought to originally stay at church, but after sacrament meeting I ended up calling the midwife, with Rachael's encouragement. The midwife on duty, Cassandra, gave me the deadline of 10:00 pm to come into the hospital, in labor or not, from a 10:00 am water breaking time. I pulled Avram out of Sunday School, and we went walking around near the church for twenty minutes, but I felt great, not a contraction to worry about. Finally I decided that we should go home - I couldn't concentrate on church anyway, and I wanted to get a good meal in, in case I did go into labor. At home it was so quiet without our three kids. We finished cleaning up the house, so that I could come to a sparkling home. I did some kick counts with the baby, since he had always been such a calm baby in utero that often I didn't feel him move for a long time, and with my water broken, I didn't feel him move at all for long stretches. A member, Tim, came over and helped Avram give me a blessing, which I really appreciated. I still didn't go into labor. In the last phone conversation with Cassandra, she suggested trying to start labor with nipple stimulation. I was reluctant to do so...it seemed kind of weird, but as eight pm rolled around I got kind of desperate. I knew I really, really did not want to be induced, and I knew that some kind of induction was hanging over my head.
So I took a shower, as she suggested, and tried the technique - sure enough, I had strong contractions that started, but I didn't think they were real, or would last on their own. Feeling discouraged, and after the fifteen minute time period Cassandra suggested I got out of the shower, and while drying off had another contraction. And while getting dressed, had another contraction. And then while eating a late dinner (homemade Ratatouille, homemade artisan bread, and roast chicken - yum!) I had a few more. And then I knew I was really in labor, and with my quicker labors rather than dragging it out going to the hospital, I began to want to hurry up and get there. We called the midwife, and then my mother called, and then we were out and on our way to St. Ann's. By now the contractions were picking up in intensity, and driving to the hospital was like it always is - unpleasant. We walked slowly to the entrance, having a couple of contractions, and right outside the entrance, I had a killer long contraction - I leaned on Avram and breathed/moaned through it, and meanwhile, tons and tons and TONS of water came out - as in, overflowed the pad I was wearing, ran down my pants, puddled on the sidewalk into a two foot diameter or more. As this was all happening, a couple left the birth center, and walked right by us. A small part of me hoped that they had had children before, but if not, well, that's what you get when you visit maternity sections.
We did the long laborious part of checking in, despite having pre-checked in (and really, what is the point? Why do they ask so many questions while you're in labor?) and they showed us to my room. Thankfully this hospital didn't have a triage room like OSU, so I was in my room to stay, and it had a birthing tub, which was exactly what I wanted. I had worried that with my water breaking I wouldn't be able to have a water birth, but the midwife assured me it would be no problem.
After three labors, I finally feel like I know what really works for me, and my type of labors. My labors are fast, and progress well on their own. So what I need to do most is relax, and let my body do the work. I reclined in the bed, half sitting up, while Avram sat next to me and talked me through each contraction, as I slowly breathed in and out, letting my out breaths go on and on. I concentrated on relaxing all of my body, so that the only thing that was working was the uterus. The triage nurses joked that he was relaxing them - they seemed very comfortable with labor, and natural labor, which was good for me. At some point during labor, I noticed that there was a cross with Jesus on it on the wall (this being a Catholic hospital and all). As I focused on the cross, I thought to myself that Christ has suffered the pains of all mankind, and boy is that a lot of labor. I knew that if he had made it through for everyone, that I could make it through my one, small birth. This thought helped me keep going, and gave my labor a religious tinge I had never thought of before in the actual moment.
I had never tried a birthing ball, so I wanted to try it, so while they were waiting for the midwife to arrive and give the go ahead for me to get into the tub, I laboriously got off the bed, and sat on a ball. Where within one contraction I knew that it wasn't for me. I then tried to just relax on the ball, which wasn't as nearly as pleasant, but by this point the water was filling, and I didn't want to have to get back into bed, and then get right back out again. The midwife, who was now Becky had arrived, and given the all go ahead for the tub, and I got in, and immediately relaxed again. We had arrived at the hospital some time shortly after ten, and by now it was probably around 11 pm. I love laboring in water - I did it with Lydia, and went from 2 centimeters dilated to 8 in an hour and a half. I floated in the water while Avram continued to support me, by giving me ice chips and water. During contractions I submerged my self all in water but my face, and just relaxed into the warmth.
I could tell that I must be moving along, and that they thought I was nearing the end, because people were coming in and out of the room, preparing a bed for the baby, and the midwife came back in and was working with me, but I was also intentionally trying to stay slightly out of it, focusing on one contraction at a time, and not thinking about time passing, or being goal oriented to get to the end. Labor is like nothing else that I've experienced - you have to find the zen in it, and let it carry you, but not like a current that's our of control, but rather some other overwrought metaphor that boils down to you controlling the situation. I had a super long contraction, and after working through it could tell that things were progressing. Around this same time the indigestion/heartburn that had plagued me this whole pregnancy visited again, and I had to sit up to calm my stomach. The change in position affected how well I could zone out during contractions, which is to say that I stopped zoning out at all, and suddenly I wasn't handling them so well anymore. Becky the midwife talked me through them, and as I told her that I couldn't do this any more, and I didn't want to, she became firm with me, and told me, "You are doing it. You're doing it right now." At that moment it was what I needed to hear - someone who knew I could make it through.
With most of my births, I haven't liked the pushing stage - it's been fast and furious, with only small breaks in between contractions instead of large ones. With Guinevere I was still in transition (emotionally, if nothing else), when she was born. This time I was terrified of pushing, because I thought it would be worse than transition, and so I had a hard time getting through transition, because that's where I was at, and getting past that mental block. Soon enough I was almost ready to push, and although I was mentally not quite on top anymore, Becky was right there, encouraging me, and preparing me. When I had my first pushing contraction, I was still unsure about wanting to continue, but it felt so much better than not pushing. I was still in the tub, and Becky had me sitting upright, with pulling my legs up against me. As I pushed in a second contraction, the baby's head started coming out, and Becky told me to keep pushing, that I needed to get him all out in that contraction (because it was partially in water, they always want to make sure you don't have shoulder dystocia or any other complications). I drew on reserves I never knew I had, and pushed and pushed, and out he came. It was an amazing feeling, feeling him come out - I have never been so mentally present for the that moment, and realizing that my body had actually brought forth a baby, that an 8 lb 13 oz baby had come out of me, which the geometry of that equation still confounds me.
I kept exclaiming, "A baby, I had a baby, a boy!" Which felt a lot less inane in the moment, but there are few words that can adequately describe birth, especially when you're the one delivering. Becky quickly cut the cord, because she likes to move Mom and baby out of the tub immediately, and doesn't like them being attached while trying to move in the slippery water. I knew this was coming beforehand, but was alright with the trade off of having a water birth (or rather, water labor, which was what I cared about more) than waiting to cut the umbilical cord. We moved to the bed, and looking back it was like a scene from a horror movie, with red tinged water everywhere, even dripping down the outside of the tub. Thank goodness that was someone else's mess to clean up. They measured him and such, and then I got to hold him and feed him for the next forty minutes or so - the perfect opposite to the last delivery. Also, once they got me to the recovery room, the nurse brought me a toasted bagel with cream cheese, although it was the middle of the night. I scarfed it down.
Enoch Bleys was born at 12:23 am on Monday morning, just missing his grandfather's birthday by 23 minutes, but instead hitting his uncle Neal's birthday. We didn't name him that night, since I wanted to wait until I had some sleep behind me before making that big decision, but named him the next day (and Enoch wasn't even on the long list of name options, but I'm glad we waited to name him until we had some time to think).
In a fun coincidence, Becky was also on duty the next night, when my friend Rachael had her baby boy Marc (Mark?) - at 1:15 the next morning. I got to visit Rachael just hours later, and was her first visitor.
Overall it was such a better labor, and my favorite labor so far that I've had. If this is the last labor I ever have, I'll be happy I ended with it. I felt bad that I lost it during the transition, but at the six week follow up with my Midwife, I told Becky sorry that I hadn't kept calm during transition, and she laughed it off, and said that people routinely struggle with transition, and not to worry about it. I was especially grateful that she spent so much of the labor in the room with me, and knew when to be gentle with me, and when to be firm.