You may be saying, "but, Nicole - you gave up time for yourself when you decided to stay at home", and to that there is some truth. However, I'm finding that in order to be a better mother, I need to carve out some time each week for me. I told myself that I was going to be better about writing, and I probably start a couple of blog posts a week in my head never to get them on the actual computer. I'm really hoping that will change as I get into more of a groove here at home.
Since baby is currently napping (which means he'll probably wake up at some point during this post...because that's just life, right?!) I've decided to write the post I get asked about the most: Abner's birth story.
With this pregnancy we decided to do things a bit different as it related to our back up plan. When I was pregnant with Olive we used the back up OB that the midwives at our center practice with. That OB was great, but we wanted someone closer to home and I preferred someone that I could continue to use as an OB/primary care provider after the birth of this baby. My midwife made a couple of calls as the provider I had my heart set on wasn't currently accepting new patients. I'm so thankful that she was able to take us on as it made me feel 100% confident in the plan we had in place.
I was due on December 12th, but I knew in the back of my mind that as much as I trusted all of my providers, the closer I got to my due date (actually going over my due date) the higher the chance was that this baby could also aspirate on meconium. I'd love to tell you that all of my trust was in God, but I'm human - and if there were things I could do here on earth to make my heart and mind rest a bit, I was going to explore all of my options.
When we met with the OB at our consultation we discussed what my options would be as we approached my due date. We had decided that we would consider having my membranes swept (or sometimes referred to as a stripping of membranes) and if that didn't work, we would induce a week before my due date. I felt comfortable with this plan at the time and continued on with the pregnancy.
As the weeks passed, my appointments were going well as were our non-stress tests. Beginning at week 36 I started to go to the OB twice a week to get hooked up to a monitor that would measure baby's heart rate and check if there were any contractions. The goal was to get baby to move around and increase heart rate a certain amount of times within a 30-45 minute time frame. In addition to these non-stress tests I was also seeing my midwife each week. I'm so thankful for an employer who understood and allowed me to leave the office 3 times per week to make sure our baby was getting the best care possible!
Week 38 approached and I knew we had discussed inducing around week 39 if I wasn't progressing. I wasn't entirely comfortable with that anymore, as I really did want to deliver at the birthing center. I had talked with my midwife - I was about 3 cm dilated for roughly a week and we both felt comfortable waiting and doing the membrane sweep at week 39 instead. We scheduled that procedure for Sunday, December 6th.
That morning my husband and I packed a bag and headed to the birthing center. I was roughly 4 cm dilated at that point and was 39 weeks and 1 day along. The process of having your membranes swept consists of your provider taking their fingertips and running them along your cervix - really just loosening the bag of waters (which is suctioned to the cervix) and releasing that suction. If your body is ready, labor typically begins within 24-48 hours - but there is no guarantee as we all know babies come when they are good and ready!
It helped that at that time I was now at 4 cm and having some minor contractions. I felt comfortable that we weren't doing anything unnatural and just trying to encourage my body to move along. She performed the procedure and told my husband and I to get up and get moving. We planned a day of lunch and walking around a local outdoor area (thank goodness for a mild December!). A few hours later we returned to the birthing center for her to do the procedure again - at that point I was already to 5 cm! Contractions were also getting stronger, but nothing super consistent. We had hoped we'd be checking into the center, but baby was holding on a little longer. After a long day we went home and I was in bed by 830pm.
I woke around 130 in the morning wide awake - no contractions, just couldn't sleep (probably since I had gone to bed so early the night before). I laid in bed checking my phone - email, Facebook, Instagram - anything I could do to stay awake. Around 3am I decided I should probably put the phone away and try to get a little more rest since I had to work that day (I had been working from home but still needed to be logged in by 8am). I plugged my phone back in, rolled over and felt a sneeze coming on. I sneezed as quietly as I could, not to wake my husband, and then I felt it - a pretty strong contraction. I got comfy and shut my eyes to fall back asleep - 8 minutes later - another contraction. This went on for the next two hours - every 7-8 minutes I had a contraction. At 5am I thought I should get up, log in, check some emails and wrap things up - these contractions were different. I knew baby was coming!
Throughout all of this I was very calm - my emotions had been in check. I was confident in our plan and was certain we were bringing home a baby. I figured I would stay on my feet and check my email to let gravity do it's work. From 5-6am I stayed online and while my contractions got closer together, they were no longer as strong. I laid down and they started back up, but by 7am all contractions had stopped. STOPPED!
I started climbing the stairs two-by-two, bouncing on the exercise ball, doing laps around the kitchen - clearly the baby didn't get the memo: I was expecting him TODAY!
I called my midwife and she assured me that labor was in process and I should actually be resting because I was probably going to need my energy! I had a chiropractic appointment already scheduled that day and since she was in the same office, she agreed to have me come in so she could check baby's heart tones and help me continue to feel confident. I continued to check email (but did cancel my conference call as I was certain that me groaning to a customer wasn't good for business!)
By the time my appointment came I was having contractions again. I saw my chiropractor, was adjusted and then stopped in to get baby checked out. Everything sounded great with him and I was advised to go back home and rest. We were to have a prenatal group class that night and I told my midwife we'd be attending that class as I wanted to keep my day going as normal as I could.
My husband and I stopped at the grocery store on our way home to grab a couple of things and randomly I would stop in the aisle, hold my belly, breathe through a contraction and then move on. They were stronger, but still very inconsistent. After the store we went home, I set my out-of-office and laid down on the couch. Throughout my "nap" my breathing must have changed because my husband asked me if my contractions were strong - he felt that he could hear it in the way I was responding to them, and he was right - laying down definitely brought them back, harder and more frequently. I had only been lying down for about an hour and they were roughly 3-5 minutes apart. I called my midwife and told her that we were going to be heading to class early so she could check me again. By 430pm my contractions had gone from 3-5 minutes apart to 1-2 minutes apart - we needed to leave NOW. But of course, I ran around the house - grabbing things and stalling. By 5pm we were finally in the car - just in time for rush hour traffic.
The birthing center is about 25 minutes away from our house but that day it took a little longer - thankfully nothing too crazy. By 545 we had arrived and parked. I wasn't prepared for what I saw when I walked in.
At the reception desk were the receptionist, all three midwives that were present for Olive's birth, a traveling midwife who was visiting and one of the students who I have known since my pregnancy with Olive. They were all there - waiting for me - with tears in their eyes they welcomed me in. It was too much. All of the emotions came over me and I broke down. I was going to have a baby...again. But first, another contraction.
Lord, be with us. Be with the midwives watching over us and caring for us. Be with our son and aid him through this birth. If it be your will, Lord, grant us a healthy, breathing baby.
There are three birthing suites in the center, and weeks before we had decided not to deliver in the room that Olive had been born in. We wanted a different experience and one that would set this baby's story apart from his sister's. We got settled into the Sophia Suite and after an initial evaluation I got into the tub to labor. I kept trying to see if I could feel baby's head, and I could, but in my mind I still felt as though I had a while before he would be here. My husband was trying to keep our family informed while helping me to stay as comfortable as I could. I kept changing positions (as best I could in the water), doing anything I could to keep things moving. This labor was already much different than my labor with Olive, as with her I just wanted to sit and not move. I had forgotten how intense labor was, but I told myself I was going to power through because I wanted this baby OUT!
My midwives were getting ready to leave us to labor, but told us to page them when I felt like pushing. I remember laughing to myself and telling my husband (after they left the room) that I was no where near ready to push. Why did everyone think this baby was coming so quickly? I asked one of them if she would do me a favor. After Olive died we had gifted her a picture of Olive's feet so she could keep her close to her in her office. I knew that picture was in the birthing center and I asked her if she would bring it to our suite. She set it on a table right next to the tub.
With each contraction I remembered how much I hated this part and then decided that I was going to start to bear down a little. I didn't feel like I had to push but thought there wasn't any harm in trying to get baby moving a little further down the birth canal, right? Once I started to bear down my body took over and went into full fledged pushing.
I pushed for about 10 minutes and then the midwives returned with a cart for delivery. I STILL was not convinced that I was having this baby so soon (maybe since I had been up since 130am? I must have been out of it!) My water broke around this time and someone exclaimed, "it's all clear!" to give me reassurance that there was no meconium in the waters. What a relief! After about 15 more minutes of pushing one midwife exclaimed that she could see the head.
Yep, no one had to tell me that baby was crowning - at that moment I clearly remembered that feeling. The burning sensation I was feeling was awful, but I wasn't going to stop now....I kept pushing as hard as I could. And then his head was out. I have never wanted that next contraction to come as fast as I did then. They put a mirror in the tub so I could watch him come out and with the next push - he was here! My midwife grabbed him, brought him out of the water and laid that SCREAMING baby on my chest. He was born at 745pm - exactly two hours after we had arrived at the center.
Our midwives were crying, my husband was crying and I was crying, but more importantly our baby was crying - a sound we had never heard before. It was the most amazing sound we'd ever heard! We stayed in the tub for awhile and after about 20 minutes I was able to cut his cord, my husband took over holding baby and I got out of the tub to get cleaned up and get into bed.
By 830 pm we were all nestled into bed and were able to call and text some family with the news. We still hadn't decided on a name yet either. We thought we had a name chosen, but then a week before he was born, my husband came up with Abner. It was a name that I hadn't thought of, but between both names I was leaning more towards Abner (I think he was too). I had some very specific reasons why I liked the name, which I'll explain a later post. Thankfully we were on the same page, and we settled on Abner for sure. We also knew we wanted to honor Olive by using Oliver as a middle name.
Abner (Abe) Oliver was born on Monday, December 7th. He was 8 pounds, 6 ounces (bigger than his sister!) and 22 inches long (2 inches longer than Olive as well!) He was perfect and we were in love.
*Fun fact: my great-grandmother and I delivered both of our babies on the same exact dates! Both of our firstborns were born on July 29th - 74 years after she had my grandfather, Olive was born. Our second babies were born on December 7th - 72 years after she had my great uncle, Abner was born.*