Phoenix's Birth Story
Hey, everyone! I have shared some of my son Phoenix Leon's birth story on Instagram, but I wanted to write everything out for those of you who want all the details. I need to do it while it's still fresh in my head (and this little guy is sleeping soundly in his baby swing)!
THIS IS GONNA BE LONG.
November 16th, the day after my birthday, was pretty groggy at first; Collin and I stayed up late watching Harry Potter the night before and chatting in bed about when our new baby would arrive. Phoenix's estimated due date was November 5th and I had basically gone through every human emotion possible. By the time my birthday hit, my emotions had pretty much leveled out.
Since I was past 41 weeks, I had a biophysical profile done on the 14th to check on the baby -- everything was perfect. We decided induction was our best bet if the baby didn't come by Thanksgiving, as I had my entire family coming to stay to meet the new baby! I anticipated I would already have a 2+ week-old by then. Wrong!
Anyway, back to November 16th. That morning, I did my usual routine of waking, eating oatmeal, and taking my dogs on a half-mile walk. Once I returned home, I decided now would be as good of a time as any to give both of my dogs baths (if you have two dogs you'll know that this is no small task, and one of my girls weighs 50 pounds!). After that, I loaded up the bath mats and towels into the washing machine and began folding the dryer stuff. I moved the clothes into our bedroom where I noticed the closet needed to be cleaned out (I know, serious nesting urges!).
My clothes were soaked from washing the dogs so I stripped down to just my sports bra and started going through every drawer and every nook while in malasana, or the yogi birth squat. I kept visualizing that my baby's head HAD to be right there -- like, within touching distance. Collin got home from work and laughed at my naked self, squatting over our folded clothes.
I finally showered once he left around 1PM, and then went back to closet duty, clothed this time. Another hour passed and I started feeling serious poop cramps. It was distracting me and I figured maybe Phoenix was just positioned oddly. Eventually, it became undeniable, so I got up to use the bathroom. Once I returned, the cramps weren't gone! In fact, they felt distinctly like period cramps. It was mild, yet rather distinctive, and then it vanished (this was around 2:45).
That cycle kept happening, and I used the bathroom several times just to be sure. I called Collin and told him I thought I was in labor but that he shouldn't come home until five. He was excited! Finally! However, I had been having on and off prelabor signs for weeks and nothing had happened -- so I tried not to get my hopes up.
I decided to start timing the contractions with an app on my phone and to continue cleaning the house, stopping to lean on countertops when a contraction would hit. Did I mention they started 3 minutes apart and 45 seconds long?! I was instructed to call my midwife when they were 4 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute for at least an hour -- so I was kind of confused as to what to do!
At 4:30, I texted my midwife and told her what was happening and she let me know that when I could no longer talk through contractions, she would come. The contractions were stabbing my in the pelvis and my lower back at this point, but they weren't too intense.
At 5:45, I couldn't talk through the contractions, so I texted her again. She said she'd be over in 30 minutes, and rolled up around 6:30. Collin put up the dogs and I remember getting so nervous. What if this was a false alarm and she's already wearing scrubs and I'm wasting her time?!
When she came in I kept thinking about how we learned in birth class that moms tend to act more dramatic when their birth team comes to check on them -- so I decided to act chill. I know it sounds crazy now, but I was almost 42 weeks and I felt like the girl who cried birth at this point.
Celesta, my midwife, came in really quietly (I made a playlist but could NOT listen to it) and just sat by my side through a couple contractions. Once they passed, she mentioned that since these were so close together for so long, they may not be that effective but that she would check my cervix. I was 4 cm and almost fully effaced, so she announced that this was the real deal! She offered to leave and let me labor for a while and that she would be back soon.
I was excited but also kind of nervous. None of the tactics or positions I planned on using were working for me! counter-pressure on my back?! HELL NO. Collin literally could do nothing, so he went to the grocery store -- lol! It was the only way he could really be useful to me in the moment.
For the first three hours of my labor, I had to stand and rock side-to-side. By the time my midwife arrived, I was down on the ground leaning on a birth ball, and that seemed to work out alright. I continued moving around when I had a break in between contractions, and standing while draping my upper body over the back of the couch was the best thing!
I don't know for sure what time Celesta returned, as I swore off clocks after she left (I highly recommend this). She took mine and Phoenix's vitals through contractions and told me her assistant would be there soon.
Looking back, I don't fully remember what happened next because things became so incredibly intense for me. I was not coping well internally, even though everyone claims I handled everything so well! She checked me and I was at a six and fully effaced. I was so relieved! She told Collin to start filling up the tub while I tried to labor on the bed (that was HELL).
My mom lives 4 hours away and I asked Celesta if it was time to call her to get there for the delivery. She said probably not just yet, that she would wait a few more hours. I could have cried! I was so ready to be done, but with first time moms, it's usually a centimeter an hour or longer.
I think she left us alone at that point, once the tub was full. I think we were in there for a few hours, honestly, but I can't be sure. The only position that worked for me was sitting at the edge of our bed with my feet dangling and Collin by my side. The contractions were making me so exhausted at that point, and I consciously decided to be silent and breathe through them. In between, I began dozing off! Collin was thinking maybe they were lightening up, and he even asked me at one point. I told him absolutely not but that making sounds made me anxious. Apparently, this is when I was in transition. Silently!
Eventually, I told him to go get Celesta because I wanted in the tub. I told her I didn't want the water to slow things down and she assured me that it wouldn't. I think my silent weird laboring was a red flag that it was go time at that point!
They helped me in the tub and as soon as I got in, I could tell I was about to have a contraction. I had avoided being on my back for contractions up until that point, and holy shit. That first contraction in the water ripped through me and felt completely different than the hundreds previously. I told Celesta that I didn't think I felt pushy, I just felt him move down maybe. I stayed on my back for two more contractions and then she checked me. I was at an 8 and the baby's head was RIGHT THERE! I could tell how low he was because her past checks felt so so high up. Celesta told Collin to text my mom.
That check threw me into a god-awful contraction, and I was kind of panicking. I told them I needed them to keep me calm. In between contractions I was asking them is this normal, am I okay, guys, can I do this, and my favorite, help me!
I flipped over onto hands and knees after that contraction, with my butt dipped a little bit into a child's-pose position to keep me covered in water. Within seconds, I had an insanely intense contraction, I felt my water bag break and my body pushed. Okay, this is not the urge to push, I asked Celesta afterward. This is my body PUSHING out this baby without me doing anything! I remember I yelled, OMG my body just pushed I did not do that omg omg!
I was so beyond freaked out and not ready to push yet! Celesta checked me and I was fully dilated -- ready to push! I mean, obviously. It was happening whether I was ready or not! I should mention that the baby's heartrate was being monitored between almost every push. It was actually really distracting because everytime Celesta would reach between my legs to put the doppler on him, my body would do a Kegel and kind of suck the baby back in (or I was convinced he was being sucked back in, they claim he wasn't going anywhere).
With every contraction following that one, my body pushed. They told me to push with my body's pushes, but those forced pushes were so puny in comparison. I can only liken the sensation of your body pushing your baby out without your effort to that of throwing up. You know, when you're leaning over the toilet and your body heaves, and then doubles down and heaves again bringing tears to your eyes and vomit up your nose.
That is what pushing was like -- completely uncontrollable!
She told me he was kind of crowning and told me to reach down and touch his head. I said no no no that will just freak me out. Another contraction came and holy shit. The ring of fire everyone talks about around your perineum? Yeah, no. I felt it up around my clitoris and that firey, stretchy, burning sensation is still haunting me! I definitely screamed through that entire push and had to let them know afterward that my urethra was just ripped off.
After that, my midwife told me these little pushes are great to which I wailed, LITTLE PUSHES?!!! IS HE NOT CROWNING?! He's not even close to being out! She told me the size of a clementine orange was about the amount of head she could see. In my head I panicked. I had been pushing forever it seemed like! I couldn't do this for another minute.
She then encouraged me to feel his head again, and so I obliged and completely freaked out by the feeling of his hair. The next contraction, my body doubled down and shot that baby out. I felt his head and shoulders and feet all slide out at once! It was incredible scary and relieving and unbelievable. Celesta told me to reach down and grab my baby!
I rolled over on my back somehow, no memory of it other than trying not to rip the cord out of my body, and held my little baby. WHAT THE CRAP JUST HAPPENED?! HE'S SO TINY!!!! was all I had to say about it.
Phoenix was born at 12:26AM on Friday, November 17, 2017 weighing 7 pounds and 1 oz.
His entrance was so peaceful, he hardly cried when he was on my chest — just a few coughs and coos and plenty of cuddles. We didn’t even cry! We were shocked. He flew out! Shortly after, I had to deliver my placenta which was a little harder than I anticipated. Celesta assisted me by pushing on my tummy and encouraging me to push it out when I had those final contractions. I did not feel it really!
They moved me to the bed where the cuddles ensued and eventually they needed me to get up to try and pee. I couldn’t, but my bleeding had also not settled down so they gave me a shot of pitocin to help my uterus contract. In the meantime, Phoenix received his evaluation, vitamin K and Apgar scoring. Eventually, I made my way back to the bed and they needed to examine me for tears.
That was definitely the worst part of my entire labor/delivery. They had to wipe out clots that began to dry and determine what was a clot and what was a tear. I tried really hard not to kick my Midwife, but it definitely happened! I was also crying and squeezing my pillows, partially dying from the raw pain of people digging around my newly postpartum vagina and also just plain terrified of vaginal stitches.
They determined that I had a few first degree tears that could heal on their own (notably the one by my clitoris), and a deeper internal tear on the left side of my vagina that would need stitching. My perineum and all of my external bits were 100% in tact! Crazy.
The shots to numb the spot did not bother me, but I was absolutely terrified. It took about an hour to stitch me up while Collin got some quality skin to skin time with the baby. My mom also arrived when I was getting stitched up (did I mention it was 4AM at this point??) and she had to wait in my living room. Once they finished up, I was able to pee and waddle back to the bed for Mom to meet Phoenix.
My birth team hung around until about 5AM and cleaned up the house. We fell asleep together shortly after, and awoke with our beautiful baby RIGHT THERE just a few hours later.
Eleven days in and I’m healing really well! I still haven’t taken the baby on a walk or done any time of Kegels (as is common after vaginal delivery), but at least I can poop just as efficiently as ever and my other tears are healing!
For more updates as we go, stay tuned to my Instagram account and keep checking back here for more blog posts!