**Disclaimer** This is a birth story, that means you're about to read the whole story about me giving birth. I realize that sounds redundant, but I just want to make sure that if you're a guy who really doesn't want to hear the details or are maybe kind of squeamish, that you maybe shouldn't continue. I also have photos with the story, I won't be posting any graphic ones of course, but still, be expecting beautiful photos. Oh yeah, and it's loooong. Like, the longest post you've ever read. Enjoy! **
And a quick note about the photography. All images are copyright of Candice Mullins at WV Doula and Birth Photography. Candice is a local photographer here in the Charleston, WV area. She did an AMAZING job and I highly recommend her. Look her up on Facebook at WV Doula and Birth Photography!!
I was due on September 11. As expected, that day came and went with no excitement. As Cadie had waited till 41 weeks and 4 days, I fully expected to hit at least 41 weeks. On Sunday September 14th I was 3 days over and started having some contractions that were much more frequent than the ones I'd been having. Matt's mom was here visiting for the weekend and I started to think she might get lucky and be here for the birth. The contractions were more frequent but not really falling into a pattern. Also they were closer together when I was sitting and farther apart when up and walking so I knew they weren't "real" contractions. I talked to Angy (my midwife) to let her know what was going on and she just told me to rest and let them know if anything changed. I also knew that at any time they could turn into real labor. Since we hadn't yet purchased a hose to fill up the birth tub I sent Matt out to get one just in case we needed it. I didn't want to wake up at 3am in full blown labor and not be able to fill up the tub. However, the contractions petered out and the night passed peacefully enough.
The next day, Monday September 15th passed in much the same way. Dropped Victor at school then we had a play group in the morning at our friend Ashley's house. While we were there the contractions started picking up again. These felt stronger than the ones yesterday, but I tried to just ignore them. I didn't want to pay too much attention to them and make myself more tired. After we got home I started to time them and talked to Angy on the phone again to tell her they felt stronger than previously, etc. Again I just tried to rest and not pay them TOO much attention. All day they came and went and came and went till the evening when they petered out again. Frustrated at this point I was determined to ignore them if they started up again as long as I possibly could.
Tuesday Sept 16th dawned nice and early. I took Victor to school and spent the morning cleaning for a bit and then laying on the couch as much as I could. I did get to lay down and rest while Cadie took a nap so that was really nice. At 2pm we loaded up in the van to go get Victor from school. I couldn't stand the thought of going home and spending the rest of the evening trying to ignore the contractions so I called my friend Jessica. They were picking up Isaiah from school too and were headed up to Target. I invited myself along so we could meet up.
At Target the kids had a blast playing together and running around (within limits of course). I was having contractions but was again determined to not pay them any attention. I went to the bathroom to pee 3 times while we were there, lol, Jessica and I kept laughing about it! We spent a couple of hours there walking around so I got some good exercise and I think it's what helped my body decide it was really time. We got home around 6ish I think and made dinner for everyone. Matt got home around 7 (his normal) and we ate dinner. Kids got put to bed and around this time I started timing the contractions again. This time I was getting a clear pattern. While sitting down they were a bit further apart 7-8 minutes, while standing and walking around they were 4-5 minutes apart. I knew it was still really early if it was real labor, but it was 11pm by this time so I called Angy to let her know to expect me sometime soon.
We decided to go to bed so we could get some rest in case we had to get up in the middle of the night. I laid down and put in my headphones to listen to my hypnobirthing birth affirmations track. This is the only thing from Hypnobirthing that really helped me, it was just nice and relaxing to listen to and helped me fall asleep. Around 3am or so I started to kind of wake up a bit, I could feel the contractions more. Around 330 I couldn't sleep through them anymore and decided to just get up and start getting things ready. Walking around downstairs made them much stronger and closer together, about every 3-4 minutes and 1 minute long. By 345 or 4am I decided I needed to call Angy and get her headed my direction. We talked for a bit and I had several contractions on the phone, and Angy agreed that it was time and she would gather her things and head my way. I also called Samantha, my doula, to let her know it was time. Ironically she was just finishing another birth! Her only other client (also a friend of ours) who was due a few weeks after me had just given birth as well. At this point I went upstairs and woke Matt up to tell him I needed help and everyone was on the way. At around 5am I called Candice (my photographer) to tell her it was time.
So around 530 everyone was assembled and... my contractions started to space out. I wonder if it partly had something to do with the fact that I now had an audience. I was sitting on the birth ball in the living room leaning over a chair and thinking "oh man, I really hope that wasn't false labor and now I have the whole team here..." Angy checked me so we could see where we were at. 4cms. and she had to reach back pretty far to find my cervix so we were all thinking it could be awhile.
I kept having contractions that were way more intense than before, just spaced out longer. Samantha was pushing on my back with each one to counter pressure the pain I was having. Between contractions I shifted to the couch so I could lay down between them. I also started to get nauseous and made myself eat some saltine crackers to try and make it go away.
Laying down on the couch between contractions.
I was leaning on a chair during the contractions and trying really hard to keep a grip. They were awful!! And having them spaced further apart actually made it harder because I couldn't get into "laborland". Each one felt like a Mack truck running me over and over.
Victor had woken up by this time and was eager to help. He was so excited that the baby was coming!
Samantha pushing on my back during a contraction.
Daddy was setting up the birth pool by this time and Victor was being a big helper.
The dining room where we had everything set up. There was a sheet hanging over the window where we had pinned all the birth affirmations to it from my Blessingway. You can't see it but my candles were all lit next to the tub.
About 630am Angy came over and said that it seemed like I was having a lot of back labor and that I might want to try some contractions down on my hands and knees to try and change baby's position. I immedately complied because I was basically willing to try anything.
So I dropped down to my elbows and knees for a contraction.
And then a second one.
I decided I needed to pee at this point so hauled myself up and into the bathroom hoping to get there before another one hit. I made it! Then ended up staying in the kitchen just leaning over the counter.
For one contraction...
A 3rd one...
And a 4th. Cadie was awake by this time too. During this last contraction I started to feel a push at the peak of it and I knew it was time to get in the tub. I remembered the feeling from Cadie's labor. My body just completely takes over and I have no control over pushing, it's a total body reflex. I was SOO just wanting it to be over! I just kept thinking, "I'm never doing this again!"
So at 7am I got in tub.
Samantha was pouring the hot water on my back and Victor was checking on me.
He was so sweet....
And this is one of my favorites. He wanted to help so much, he was giving me kisses <3
~So now my body is pushing with every contraction and I'm feeling like a trapped wild animal. I was not in laborland at all and very aware of everything. I was trying to rest between them, but it was rough.
Angy checking on baby's heartbeat
Another contraction with Samantha. I was reaching my hands out to grab on anything I could because it was so intense...
I was feeling really rough, it was SOOO intense. My whole body was just convulsing with each contraction.
I think this one is just before I started yelling, "she's coming!" One huge push and I felt my water break. I felt my body push down and there was a slight "pop" feeling and I felt all the water gushing out and my body squeezed... Out of nowhere I was like, "holy shit, she's really coming out, RIGHT NOW." As her head crowned I had a split second where I thought, "Oh she's smaller than the other two..." Weird thing to think AS a baby is coming out of your body, but I just could tell she felt smaller. Then I didn't think anyone believed me that she was coming, because the way I was leaning over the side of the tub I just kept thinking no one would be able to see her. As she was crowning Angy asked if it was hurting I said yes! because, duh. She told me to put my hands down and hold her. I put my hand down over her head as she was coming out (kind of amazing feeling by the way..). Then I kept yelling, "someone get her! please catch her!" Angy told me to catch her but I didn't think that I could with the way I was kneeling. One more horrendous push and out she slipped! It was 7:18am, just 18 minutes after getting in the tub and about 2 hours after only being at 4cms. I turned around while Angy held her, got my leg over the cord and sat down on my butt in the water.
Immediately after I had her in my arms. I kept saying, "Thank you, thank you!" I was so glad it was over and she was out.
Again, just thinking "oh I'm never doing this again, I'm so glad it's over..."
I LOVE this picture! Cadie was so excited!!!
Daddy holding Cadie so she could get a better view
The kids were sitting right next to the tub watching when she was born. We hadn't really planned it, but then nobody expected her to come so quickly either. I am really glad they got to see her be born and be a huge part of the experience. Victor was freaking out he was so excited, lol! He thought it was so cool!
And because it happened SO fast, Kathryn just missed it! She was bummed when she walked in and realized it had already happened.
Checking on baby and making sure she is ok. When my water broke just before she crowned they could tell that there was meconium in it because it was all yellowy green. They suctioned her mouth out several times and we rubbed her back to get her crying real good. Her heartbeat was good and she was just fine.
Relief! So glad it is over.
Snuggling together before getting out of the tub.
"Thank you baby for coming out of me.."
Her breathing was a little bit irregular so we took my shirt off and laid her directly skin to skin. It was really lovely to have her so close and calm. Nothing was too worrisome, just doing the best we could to make sure. If it had been more serious we would have gone to the hospital to have her checked with no hesitation, but as long as she was on my chest she was totally fine.
Cadie was dying to hold her!!
Our new family, all together for the first time <3
Even though she missed the birth she was SO happy for us! And a HUGE help afterwards. A midwife's job doesn't stop when baby is born, they do all the postnatal care as well.
Then it was time to get out. I handed baby over to the midwife and I was getting out of the tub, Matt got to hold her for the first time. SO sweet :)
Angy checking on baby while Daddy has her. Angy is so amazing, just her presence is enough to calm me down. She is so patient, and warm. I couldn't have asked for a better team!!
Cadie and Victor got to see her up close. They were both so excited!!
Kathryn helped me get upstairs where I got straight into the shower to rinse off. Then she helped me over to the bed and tucked me in.
Nursing baby!! She still didn't have a name at the time, lol. Can I just tell you again how wonderful it is to be able to lay down in your own bed after birth? SOO much easier and more relaxing for me.
Kathryn doing the newborn exam, right in my own bed :) Checking her reflexes. This was after Kathryn checked me over to make sure I didn't need anything. I didn't even tear, just a tiny spot that would heal perfectly on its own.
Nice healthy baby
8lbs 4oz. My littlest baby! and 20.75 inches. Her head was only 13.75 inches! I was definitely right when I said she was smaller.
We called her Baby Bug for 5 days till we finally named her. Penelope Lynn Meyers. My little penny-penny. Born on Sept 17 at 40 weeks and 6 days.
Finally all the exams were done and we were deemed healthy. Her breathing was still just a bit fast, but she was starting to pink up after laying directly on my chest. They recommended I stay with her skin to skin as much as possible. Sometimes when babies are born so fast they have trouble adjusting. She had a mild case of this, I think they called it TTN. They kept a close watch on her to make sure she didn't need any extra attention and stayed with me for several hours after birth. Although quite frankly that is normal anyway.
After this we just got to rest. Lay in our own bed, and nurse, and rest. Matt took care of the kids downstairs while we rested. I can not highlight enough how much I love this standard of care. These women, Angy, Kathryn, Samantha, and Candice, all genuinely cared about me so much and wanted to help in anyway they could. I HIGHLY recommend any of these women for anyone. Angy came back that night to check on Penny and I again. And the next day. We talked and texted every day multiple times. Honestly, they checked on me so much that I can even remember how many times they came over during the next few weeks. Yes that's right, WEEKS, not days. Samantha stopped by to check on me too and spent a couple hours with us, just talking and getting me anything I needed. I tell you again, these women are amazing and everyone deserves care like this!