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This pregnancy was very different for me. The first trimester was very easy, but we had several issues arise later in the pregnancy that, once we discovered the name Asher – which means “Blessed” and “Happy” – we knew it was perfect.
Since our first son was born 41 weeks 2 days and our second was born at 38 weeks exactly, we really didn’t know when to expect this little guy to arrive. I started having regular contractions each evening around 37 weeks, but nothing more frequent than 7 minutes apart, and never painful. I figured my body was just gearing up the for the real thing, but was surprised when my due date actually arrived. My midwives had ordered an ultrasound for that day because I was measuring slightly behind (37 weeks at 40 weeks) and because I hadn’t gained any weight since starting the gestational diabetic diet at 28 weeks. The ultrasound turned out great, and they were guessing he weighed 7 lbs 15 oz.
I had my midwife appointment immediately following the ultrasound. They did an NST, which went fine, and then we discussed stripping my membranes. I had never had that done before, but was considering it since I knew it wouldn’t really do anything if my body wasn’t ready, and I wanted to avoid an induction at all costs. After talking it over with my midwife, I decided to try it. It was pretty uncomfortable, and I started bleeding immediately afterwards, but I knew that didn’t necessarily mean anything. I was surprised that after the sweep, my contractions actually slowed down that night. But they were replaced with a very upset stomach, which kept me going back to the bathroom at least five or six times through the night and the next morning.
Then around 8 a.m. the day after my due date, while on the phone with a friend, I began to have contractions that got my attention. After few that made me stop talking and concentrate, I decided to get off the phone and start timing them. The first one I timed was at 8:32 a.m. The first hour of timing them had a wide range of time in between each one. They were anywhere from 7-14 minutes apart, but there was no doubt that these contractions were different. I had to stop everything I was doing and breathe through many of them, so at 9:30 I called the birth center. The midwife told me to take a shower to see if they slowed down and to call her back afterwards. I called my neighbor and friend to set things up for my older sons just in case this was the real thing, and then called my husband to let him know to stay near his phone too. He said he was going to finish up his work and would head home as soon as I called him back.
I had a few contractions in the shower, and knew they weren’t spacing out, but now coming even closer. I timed a few once I was out of the shower and saw they were now about 5-6 minutes apart. The midwife told me to come in right away, and warned me about watching for pressure and to stop at the nearest hospital if I felt any since the birth center is about an hour from our house. I remember almost laughing at her because I was in such denial that this could actually be labor. My husband pulled in the driveway just as my neighbor was coming over to watch the boys, and we left home around 11:00 a.m. I kept timing the contractions on the way there and they were now 3-4 minutes apart. I had a few that felt like they were piggybacking the ones right before it, but it was hard to tell since I was so uncomfortable in the car. But the instant I got out of the car at the birth center (the last timed contraction was at 11:54 a.m.), the contractions starting coming right on top of each other. I literally had to stop every three steps or so and breathe through another one. I think I had five before I even got to the door of the building. I kept looking at my husband, who was ahead of me on the sidewalk. He kept saying, “Just a few more feet, Cindy.” I think he was getting nervous I’d never make it inside.
Once I made it to the birthing room, the midwives had me lay down on the bed and they waited for yet another contraction to pass so they could check my cervix. I was told I was 9 cm so they immediately hooked me up to the fetal monitor and began filling the tub. They were worried I would deliver before it was full, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. After I got into the water I suddenly began to doubt myself. It was like I’d completely forgotten that I had done this twice before and I knew what to do. I wasn’t saying anything out loud, but inside I was starting to panic a little. Looking back, I think it was because everything was happening so quickly, and the contractions barely gave me time to breathe in between them, but I hated feeling the doubt. During this time, I was on my hands and knees in the tub and my hands began to tingle, so I ended up resting my forehead against the rim and putting my hands outside the water to try to alleviate the tingling.
Just then, my husband put his hand over one of mine and it was like that one touch centered me and brought me back to where I needed to be. I don’t think either of us even knew I needed that touch as much as I did, but that one simple action helped me relax. Almost instantly I felt the urge to push and told the midwives. One of them checked me and confirmed I was fully dilated and told me to push when I was ready. I gave a gentle push to test it out, and the next thing I knew I couldn’t not push. I reminded myself to push him out slowly to avoid tearing and guided his head out with my own hands. But after his head was out, I could feel that his shoulders weren’t coming as easily. Instinctively, I stood, which brought his head out of the water and the midwives warned me not to sit back down. I pretty much yelled at them that it hurt and stop touching me and told them I was going to push him out on the next push. And I did. I’m not sure if it was shoulder dystocia (they never specifically called it that), but I just knew he had to come out immediately. All in all, I only pushed for three minutes, but man were they intense!!! The midwives helped me sit down and gave him to me to hold until the cord stopped pulsing. We were amazed at his full head of dark hair.
Asher Douglas was born at 12:35 (just 40 minutes after arriving at the birth center). He weighed 9 lbs 6 oz and was 20 inches long. He’s absolutely perfect and we are truly blessed and happy to have him in our lives.
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