- Christi Stoltzfus
The Arrival of Killian James
October 2nd would be a day to remember; the day we started the long journey towards meeting our newest child. I woke at 4:30 to some mild contractions. Thinking it was only more prodromal labor, I went back to bed to rest. Soon, I realized that this felt a bit different and decided to time them. When Troy's alarm went off for work at 5:30, I told him he might need to stay home today! We were excited, nervous, and anxious to meet our little one. We tried to take it easy, let David rest as long as possible, and have a nice breakfast as a family. By 10am, it was getting harder to simply ignore them anymore and contractions required more effort to breathe through. Timing them, still, and conversing via messenger with our doulas, we decided it was time to call the midwife. Hearing our frequency and duration of contractions, she told us to go ahead and come in. Elated, we packed the car, informed the doulas, and hit the road!
Upon arrival, we met Sarah, the midwife, and Abby, the student midwife. We were shown to the Willow Room and got ready for our first check. 3-4 cm and 70% effaced. Baby was -2 station. We had work to do! We broke out the birth ball, walked around, settled David in with toys, books, and baby signing time. Troy and the doulas had such an amazing rhythm of predicting David's needs and meeting them as a team that I was able to focus more on my work with occasional cuddle breaks with David! Over the course of the day and evening, we had more checks showing little to no progress. We tried homeopathy, nipple stimulation with a pump, various positioning techniques, and even castor oil to try to get things to rev up and get the progression going but nothing worked long term. With broken hearts, we agreed to therapeutic rest which would either stop labor or prove it to be true. After several hours of rest, we woke to very few contractions that were back to only mild annoyances, again. It was time to go home. Empty handed.
At home, contractions continued off and on. Just annoying twinges, at this point, each one reminded me that I didn't have my baby in my arms. I was determined to rest and be prepared for "the real stuff". Sunday, the 4th, arrived and brought more regular contractions again. These felt even stronger than before and became more regular occurrences. I tried to rest, thinking they'd just stop again. Resting didn't help. Was this it? Were we finally doing this thing?! We timed them, discussed with our doulas, and ultimately called the midwife. We were told to come in! Off we went again! The midwife, Suzanne, was busy catching another bundle so we settled into the mural room and I focused on walking and moving about while Troy got David settled in. Things started feeling even more intense so Troy asked the doulas to come. Suzanne arrived to complete a check and we were disheartened to hear 4-5 cm, zero station, 70% effaced. Nothing had changed. Then, Suzanne made a discovery. She could feel baby's head applied to the cervix but couldn't feel any sutures... Baby was turned wrong... A quick belly mapping confirmed it: baby was OP, sunny side up. The doulas arrived and, after brainstorming solutions with the midwife, we got to work.
After hours of walking stairs, doing rebozo sifts, lunges, lift/tucks during contractions, cat/cow exercises, inversions, and Lord knows what else, I got to rest while working on a Miles circuit. Midwife Bonnie arrived around 3am and asked to check me for progress. A very seasoned veteran, having caught 1600 babies over the years, she quickly determined that I was back to only 4 cm, baby moved backward to -2 station, and 70% effaced. Baby was still sunny side up. With broken hearts and empty arms, we packed up to, once again, return home.
Monday morning, we saw our chiropractor for some Webster technique. Troy was placed on "baby watch" for work and was able to work from home, allowing him to use his breaks between reports to help me with more maneuvers to help encourage baby to turn. David was a huge help with the rebozo; always modeling for me how to position myself on it! Contractions continued but never picked up. We went back to the chiropractor on Wednesday for another Webster treatment. We continued our inversions and exercises. We waited, growing increasingly impatient, for our child to arrive.
Thursday came and there was no change. Despair was beginning to set in and I cried more than I smiled that day. We decided that it would be good for me to take a nap with David, so I did. I woke, abruptly, at 4pm to a contraction. Despairing, again, that it was more of the same, I got up to use the bathroom. I didn't make it around the bed before another hit, with powerful intensity, taking my breath away. I told Troy something was different but couldn't put words to it. Within 15 minutes, intensity and frequency had picked up so much that we were conversing with doulas and Troy was already talking about packing the car! He called the birth center, only to receive grief from the midwife on call, Sarah. Since we didn't have an hour of timing down, our history of stalling this time, and we didn't allow her to bully us into interventions on a previous visit, she argued with Troy about coming in. Meanwhile, I can't be still and each contraction has me growling, moaning, and dancing about. I finally heard Troy tell her that something was different. "She's moving differently, you can hear that she sounds different. This is different this time!" Shortly after, we hit the road for the hour drive to the birth center.
Our doula, Charish, called during the drive to hear my contractions and help gauge if she and Christi needed to come now or wait. Troy tried talking to her over my moaning during a contraction and ultimately gave up until I could control my breathing again. We discussed the contractions briefly before another hit that had me trying to rip the "oh shit bar" off the car! She quickly wrapped up the conversation with the announcement that she was calling Christi and they would meet us there! We worried the whole way to the birth center about having to face Sarah but, upon arrival around 7pm, I contracted as soon as we hit the front door. I threw my water and phone to the floor as I grabbed for the bench, growling and rocking. Sarah rushed to my side, rubbing my back, and exclaimed "wow... This sounds much better!" When the contraction waned, we were taken back to the willow room for a check. The student midwife, Abby, completed the check and announced that we were 5cm, zero station, and 70% effaced. We rejoiced at that small bit of progress and were left to labor. For the third time, Troy set up the room, prepared the crockpot to make our first post-baby meal, and got David settled in. For the third time, we prayed that this was the day we would meet our child...
At around 8pm, Sarah returned to do some belly mapping to check on baby's position. We were still OP. She recommended Pulsatilla, a homeopathic remedy known to help turn OP baby's, and we agreed. Then, it was back to our old exercises: lunges, cat/cow, and rebozo work. Midwife Lori came to announce the start of her shift around 8:30 and started filling the birth tub just to ensure that we didn't miss out on a water birth because of an empty tub!
At 10:40, Lori came to check on us and ask, based on how frenzied my movements had become, how vocal I was becoming with each new contraction, and the fact that I was beginning to feel pressure, if we wanted to be checked early or wait until 11pm. Troy asked for the full 20 minutes, in the hopes that that time would give us what was needed to turn the baby. She agreed.
At 11pm, Lori returned. Upon completing the check, she proudly announced that we were 7cm and 100% effaced! We were invited to transition into the tub to labor! I burst into tears of joy! This really was it! The warm water felt so amazing on my tired muscles but the frenzied, primal nature of my movements continued, forcing the team to drain some water from the tub as I was getting everyone wet! Troy checked on a sleeping David and quickly took his place in front of me to help brace me during contractions. The nurse began setting up the necessary implements for the birth. I began feeling a need to push and Lori told me to push gently if I felt the need. At 11:26pm, I pushed and felt a pop. I began shouting "POP!" "POP!" Only to yell moments later that I couldn't stop pushing... 3 seconds after my water broke, I delivered our child's head! Lori carefully instructed me to keep my bottom under water and to wait for the next contraction to deliver the rest of our baby. I reached down and felt soft, silky hair in the water. The next contraction came at 11:28pm and helped me deliver our child into the world. Lori instructed me to reach down into the water and lift our baby up into my arms. Laying back in the tub, I saw tears in Troy's eyes and looked down on a perfect little face resting on my chest. Lori quickly removed the cord from around baby's neck and covered him with a towel. I finally blubbered, asking Troy what baby's gender was and, through tears, he announced "it's a boy! It's our Killian..." We both cried as we relaxed into the knowledge that we had brought another little boy safely into the world.
Lori was concerned that his temperature was too low so, after a short 3-4 minutes, Christi cut the cord and he was taken to the warmer across the room for evaluation with Troy on their heels. The girls helped me out of the tub and into bed where I quickly delivered the placenta and received a shot of pitocin for above average bleeding. Killian was brought back to rest on my chest and Troy began the frenzy of informing close family. As I was getting Killian latched for the first time, David woke and Troy scooped him up to place him on the bed beside me. Words simply cannot describe the joyful smile on David's face as he saw his baby brother for the first time.
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