Josiah James – a birth story

I haven’t gotten around to writing Josiah’s birth story, mostly because I’ve “been there, done that.” Same reason why his 1-month-old date came and went and I didn’t even notice! With Gwen, I captured all those things for her first year and beyond. Now, though I still treasure it the second time around, it’s more of an afterthought because I’m busy and preoccupied. All of the sudden Dan’s and my blank baby books make sense!

Since acquiring (contracting?) rH-sensitivity during my first pregnancy, every pregnancy is destined to be high-risk, and the risk gets greater each time. With Gwendolyn, I began the weekly testing sometime after 28 weeks, whereas with Josiah I started around week 12. That gave me a long time to worry about potential problems, and wonder what we would do if something happened before the baby reached a viable age.

As we got down to the wire, my doctors and I discussed various birth scenarios. My specialist highly recommended doing an amniocentesis at 37 weeks to check for lung maturity, then inducing delivery as soon testing showed he was ready. After having been induced with Gwen, I knew I did not want to experience that kind of labor again – the excruciating contractions one on top of the other with no rest inbetween. Since the risks of waiting were potentially greater than delivering early, I opted to get induced at 37 weeks (the method of which depended on amount of dilation).

I was much chagrined to learn that my only option for inducement was pitocin, as I envisioned a repeat of my last experience. But I decided I would rather just deal with it than put the baby’s health in jeopardy. The next day we celebrated Gwen’s 2nd birthday. I had spent much of the day finishing preparations, cleaning and decorating the cake and so forth. At the end of the day I was pooped, and didn’t really think much of the uncomfortable contractions I was having, since I had felt Braxton-hicks all throughout my pregnancy.

Since the loft couch was the only relatively comfortable place for me to sleep during my pregnancy, I lay down and tried to go to sleep. I was so uncomfortable that, as usual, I didn’t get much rest. As morning approached, I just started to feel… “funny.” The contractions felt a little more “eh,” and I just wasn’t sure. I told Phil I thought I may not last the day (but just wasn’t sure, since I had never gone into labor naturally) and was sorry for potentially ruining the plans we made, since we had talked and talked and talked about delivery options and finally settled on A Plan. I called Jenn – who had gone away for the weekend – and told her she may not be able to be present at the birth after all.

Phil got up and left to work at his parents’ house, and told me to call if anything “happened.” The morning wore on, and things seemed to be progressing, though not necessarily painfully… so I just wasn’t SURE. I called Phil a few times, asking him to time the contractions for me since I’m so bad at that kind of thing and didn’t feel like concentrating on the minutes and getting all worried about it. A few times they seemed to be about 4-5 minutes apart, and Phil finally decided to come home. I wasn’t going to, but to be on the safe side, called my doctor to ask what I should do. Since I was already 4cm dilated, and this was my second pregnancy, she said to come on in. Alrighty!

Mom met us at the hospital to take Gwen off our hands, and we began the admittance process. Once again, I felt like a fraud, since I wasn’t visibly in labor, holding onto walls, screaming for medication, and cursing Phil for “doing this to me.” Hehe. In fact, after Josiah was born, the nurse who did our paperwork and assisted in the delivery room said she didn’t think I would actually have the baby that day because I handled it so well – go me!

Anyhoo… as we were filling out paperwork, I got nervous because the contractions seemed to subside. Greeeeeat, I thought, just what I need. White coat syndrome? I was so worried they would die altogether and I would need the pitocin after all. I had gotten used to being so uncomfortable and in a certain degree of pain during the second half of my pregnancy that the contractions didn’t really seem like a big deal. My midwife decided to rupture the amniotic sac to speed things up; since polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid) was a concern, she had to be careful that the baby’s head remained nice and low. She inserted what looked like a crochet hook, and after a few tugs broke my water – much of which came out in a nice, big, warm gush (I already felt lighter). It’s amazing how soon afterwards my contractions picked up! I decided to sit in the shower – which I could do this time because I wasn’t hooked up to machines! – while Phil sprayed my back with hot water. That really helped, until I started getting lightheaded from all the heat and went back to bed. I didn’t want to just lay there, and found the best position was sitting up straight , legs crossed Indian-style. I kept saying in between contractions, ice water, and lip balm applications, “This isn’t too bad, if it doesn’t get any worse than this, I can handle this…” and my midwife was like “we still have a ways to go.” Thanks for the encouragement!

Now, when you’re in pain, a few minutes can seem like forever. But “soon” I started feeling a bit of pressure, and asked my midwife to check. Almost fully dilated! She said a few more “good contractions” (read: lots of pain) and we’d probably be ready to push. It’s weird to actually look forward to this stage, and once you enter it there is NO TURNING BACK, but it meant the end was near. She had me lay on my side to “ease” things along, and boy – at that point, I really thought I could die.

Josiah was struggling to get out with each contraction, almost doubling the pain, and I was grabbing onto the rails, trying to manage what I was feeling. After a few rounds of this, I lay back for the Main Event. They tell me I only pushed for about seven minutes or so – but here is another example of relativity. Phil said that when I was pushing, the nurses who were holding my legs kept getting kicked away from the bed! So, after seven minutes of feeling near-death and in excruciating pain – no biggie compared to Motherhood, am I right? – out slid Josiah James! I was told that the tidal wave of excess fluid washed the tools off the bed! Once again, I was amazed at how wonderful I felt afterwards, seeing my newborn baby and being entirely relieved that It. Was. Over.

Well… not quite. It took a while for the placenta to be delivered, and since I tore (again), I got more stitches. Only this time – my midwife explained – some of the stitches were on the outside and pain medication wouldn’t be of any use so I got to feel her sewing me up down there! And how is it women keep having babies?

As I finish this up, Josiah nears the 3-month mark. He has been very challenging at times, and I have to remind myself that he’s just a baby, and this is just a phase. Adjusting to Mommy of Two has also been… interesting… and I know (I know, I know, I know…) that one day I will look back and long for these days, sad that my babies have grown. But on the rare occasions when both my children are behaving like angels (or asleep), and Josiah gives me his big, gummy grin, my heart just melts and I know how blessed I am.

Carrying around the excess poundage as a result of two pregnancies (and probably a good deal of overeating) hasn’t done anything for my self-esteem and overall well-being, but I keep telling myself that I’d rather be fat with my two beautiful children. I do, however, tell Phil that there will be a bigger gap between Josiah and #3 (God-willing). *grin*

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