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Mason John McGhee
20 inches long
Mason's birth was an experience I'll never forget. There are aspects of it that are blurry in my head and I've been referring back to Dave to clarify what happened. But for the big or changing moments, those will always be ingrained. We decided at 26 weeks to switch our maternity care to Best Start Birth Center. I had recently gotten out of the Navy and due to insurance reasons, I was finally able to switch to the birth center easily without fighting my previous OB. We started our birthing classes through the center and through them we ultimately ended up meeting our Doula. Donna was our instructor and over the weeks I became very comfortable with her. We decided on getting a Doula almost last minute because Dave's underway schedule became unknown and constantly changing and the last thing I needed to happen was to give birth by myself. Ultimately, it ended up being the greatest decision we could make. She played a huge part in our delivery and I'll always be grateful for that.
Feb 17, 2012 38w2d Early labor starts:
I nested all day on this Friday. Dave found me in the shower scrubbing the walls with head phones on and said, "nesting much?" I just laughed at him and denied it. I had been wanting those walls scrubbed for awhile but just never could work up the energy to do it. Once I had the energy, the house was attacked! Everything was cleaned and I was happy and at peace finally with it. Around 7pm I started having contractions and was able to time them and at first they were about 7 minutes apart at this point. By 10 they were getting closer together and by midnight they were 2 minutes apart. I really thought I was in labor and was all excited and ready to go. On the way to the birth center though my contractions just died out. I was so disappointed. We ended up going to get checked just in case and poor Donna even met us up there. I ended up being 1 cm and 60 percent effaced, not in labor ultimately, and I was so upset at that point that my body and tricked me.
Feb 18 and 19th were very calm days for us. I contracted the whole time but they were sporadic and never would get close together. We had date day that Saturday and Dave took me breakfast, we went and got pedicures, and then went walking around some museums downtown. That night we went to our favorite restaurant for one last meal out and I had my eggplant parmigiana trying to help things along (hey, wishful thinking). Sunday we took the dog for a walk and decided we should really climb the hilly areas. I think the hills is what did it for me. I still had no sign though that labor was imminent and we spent the rest of the evening just laying around. I had contractions about every 7-8 minutes that night but nothing too exciting.
Midnight Feb. 20th:
My water breaks! We had just laid down to go to bed and I shifted into a comfortable position, whoosh, oh crap I think I just peed myself again (this had happened on Thursday night). Luckily though there wasn't really any guessing this time. I called Donna immediately and let her know what had happened and to put her on alert. We agreed I should go ahead and call the midwife since the fluid had color and we just wanted to check and make sure it was normal (fluid was brownish/red). I spoke with the midwife and she said that it didn't sound alarming since it didn't have a greenish color to it so we didn't rush into panic mode. We decided I should come in around noon that day to get checked out if labor hadn't really started up on it's own at that point and decide what to do from there. That wasn't needed! Almost immediately after getting off the phone with her my contractions became two minutes apart. David wanted to nap so I decided to get in the shower to see if I could just hang out in there for awhile. Not a good idea. I couldn't get comfortable and my contractions were really intense very quickly so I knew this was the time we should go in. I called Donna to let her know we'd get to the birth center around 2:30 am and then we started getting the rest of our stuff together. I was still calm at this point and ready to get the show on the road.
We arrive at the birth center around 2:30 am and I'm having to breathe through the contractions at this point and really focus. The midwife examined me and I was 3-4 cm and fully effaced. There was no doubt my water had broken too and I was definitely in labor. She decided not to admit me at that point but to labor for a few hours up in the room and see how I progressed. She told me she would check me again around 5 am to see what progress we had made. My blood pressure was high and my urine sample showed I was spilling some protein so she wanted to keep an eye on that initially as well. So me, Dave, and Donna got settled in the "Penthouse Suite" and began the laboring process. I was having really bad back pains with each contraction and I had to have one of them constantly applying pressure through each one. Donna kept reminding me to snack and drink water but I was so nauseous all I really could do was keep down water. I ate maybe a grape here or there at this point but anything else would have been unmanageable. My Nana showed up around this time and she got settled in the family room area. She was able to nap through the beginning of labor since it was still really early in the morning.
I started originally by laboring on the birth ball which I loved. Being able to sway and move my hips through each contraction was a huge help. I'm not good with times throughout this whole process but at some point Donna suggested we change it up and walk the stairs. This was a slow process but it wasn't too bad. We'd stop with each contraction, I'd breathe through it, then we'd keep going. After doing the stairs twice I believe this is when we decided to move to the shower. I wasn't progressed enough to get in the tub but the shower felt amazing. Dave was able to spray my back and apply pressure through each contraction and it felt wonderful. During breaks in between we'd spray the hot water over my belly to give it some relief as well. I believe I was getting too relaxed at this point and Donna suggested we get out to keep things moving and not stall them. So back to the birth ball for a little while and then Donna suggested doing all fours on the bed to change it up. This is when my back labor really became painful. I don't think I managed to stay in this position for very long because it was so painful but I do remember falling asleep between contractions at this point. I was pretty exhausted at this point and I was in that middle phase of labor where you have no clue of how long labor is going to take. All I was thinking was please Lord don't let this take another 24 hours.
The midwife checked me again around 5 am I believe and I had progressed to 5-6 cm. They were excited about this but I remember being very discouraged. I really thought I had to be further at this point for the pain I had been experiencing but they assured me that this was good news and it was time to officially admit me to the center. I believe at this point is when I did another urine sample and I was no longer spilling proteins but there was ketones in my urine so it was mandatory now that I had to drink lots of water and start eating to avoid an IV. I can't imagine having an IV to worry about while trying to work through each contraction. That would have been annoying. My blood pressure was still high but no longer as worrisome as it was earlier so this was good news. I was praying to avoid a transfer to the hospital so this was good news.
The next time period kind of flew by. I'm not really too sure what happened between 5-8 am other than I know I labored everywhere! We went back to the ball for awhile, I got back in the shower again, I walked around, I did it all. I remember at one point realizing the sun had come up and I thought this was reassuring, time was passing which is what I needed to happen. There was a midwife switch at 8 am and I was happy to see Rachel show up. I had had several appointments with her and was really comfortable with her delivering me. I was checked again at this point and I found out that I was still a 6 but that he had dropped significantly. I was not happy to hear this at all at this point. Donna and Rachel reassured me that him coming down was a huge plus and that in itself was progress. I remember questioning myself in this moment and wondering if I could actually make it all the way through. I think this is the point where David told me to keep breathing and I ended up smacking him in the face. I didn't mean to, it was just reflex at this point. I continued to breathe loudly and moan through each contraction. After each one Donna or David was shoving water in my face or a snack to eat. Altogether I think I only ate one popsicle and one fruit bar but that was work in itself cause I was still fighting the nausea through each surge. Ketones showed up in my urine again and I was given the option to have an IV put in to help or I HAD to eat more. We decided to try more eating and tons of water and in the end it ended up working out okay. At this point, my Doula Donna started making me do different positions to help him move down. She had me on all fours, upside down on the side of the bed, sideways with legs crossed on the bed, anything and everything to help promote his descent and in the correct position lol. I don't know too many women who want to flip upside down at 6 cm, but at that point I was willing to try anything.
Rachel and Donna said I could get into the tub to try to relax my body to help dilate some more. I don't think they normally would have let someone in the tub at 6, but I was doing more harm probably being tensed up than relaxing. This is when things really started to get painful and I wanted to throw in the towel. The water helped tremendously with my back pain and I no longer needed someone constantly putting pressure on it. The bad news though was I was feeling the urge to push too soon. He was sooooo low but I wasn't dilated far enough to push him out. They checked me again and I was at an 8. I really wanted to be at a 10 because the urge to push him was uncontrollable. This part sucked, I'm not going to lie lol. With each contraction, my body shook and pushed uncontrollably and I was coached to blow out to keep my body from pushing. It felt like he was being pushed from my butt hole and I thought I had to take the biggest bowel movement in the world. I didn't know at the time it was him, I just kept saying over and over again about how I need to poop. I actually did end up pooping several times in the tub and poor Dave was even scooping it out lol. I had a nice break between each contraction. I was talking to everyone to keep calm and they were constantly reassuring me over and over again that I was doing great. I didn't though. I remember saying, "No I'm not, I'm a wimp and I want the drugs!" I didn't know how much longer I could take this pain. Having to hold him in with each contraction is a pain I don't think i can describe. I got out of the tub at some point so they could warm the water back up and to let me go to the bathroom. We were hoping maybe I could poop to relieve some of the pressure I was feeling. I remember Dave basically holding me up as I was baring down on Donna's shoulders to keep myself from pushing. I definitely was not able to have a bowel movement and we made our way back to the tub. I was probably making horrible noises and I kept asking if I was too loud. They assured me I wasn't and that no one down stairs could hear me. They probably said this to be nice although I really did focus through each contraction on my noises. I wanted to make sure each promoted dropping and not unproductive noise. I kept each moan and grunt as low and deep as possible to help me. I got back into the tub but I didn't stay there for long. The water was actually too hot for me and I was starting to sweat in the water so we got out. I remember leaning up against the window seal during a contraction while getting out and just thinking I really wish I could run away at this point.
Once out of the tub, they decided to check me again. The idea of laying on the bed was excruciating and I was really dreading it. It took me a moment to get into position because of the contractions but I was finally there. I remember Rachel saying, " You're complete! You can push now!" That was the best news I had heard all day. I was in shock and didn't believe it at that point. They asked if I wanted to get back in the tub to deliver him but at this point I did not care. I would have delivered him anywhere lol! So we stayed on the bed. Dave was behind my head on the bed and I was able to look up at him the entire time to keep focused. I pushed with the next contraction and to my surprise everyone was exclaiming, "there's his head, there's his head!" I was shocked, this may actually be almost over. Pushing felt great honestly. I was scared to do it at first but once it started I did not want to stop. It hurt yes, but it was such a relieving pain that it was ecstasy to me. I pushed a few more times with the next set of contractions and Donna was holding the mirror for me so I could see the progress of his head coming out. With the next contraction though, I was determined he was getting out of there. I closed my eyes, bared down with all I had and never looked up to see him come out. With that push his head was out, with the next came his shoulders and the rest of him. I never really felt the ring of fire but I did feel lots of burning and ripping sensation. Again, all of this was a relief at this point. He was immediately put onto my stomach and one of the nurses was wiping him off. I was still so caught up in the labor it took me a moment to realize to look down to see what was there lol. The first time seeing him though was such a shock. I couldn't believe he was there finally and that he was all mine. Dave was still over me and this point and I remember us having our first moment together looking at him. It was amazing and I would love to relive that moment over and over again.
While he nuzzled around on my chest, I noticed the midwife was having issues delivering my placenta. The cord was becoming unattached so this was concerning. I handed Mason off to Dave to focus on delivering the placenta. This took awhile to get done, it did not want to come out and they couldn't tug on the cord in fear of it detaching. Once it was finally out, the problem was discovered. I don't know how to explain it well since I can't remember what was the name of the problem, but basically the cord was attached to the wrong part of the placenta. It was attached to the membranes which is not a stable placement. I could have lost Mason at any point during the pregnancy and I had no idea. She explained to me his cord could have detached at any point. Another issue that could have come up was if my water would have broke and in the wrong place, I could have had severe bleeding and would have needed an emergency c section to get Mason out. My midwife said had they known, I would have never been allowed to deliver at the birth center and i would have had a scheduled csection for sure since going into labor could have been dangerous. I'm glad I had no clue of this issue since i would have stressed the entire pregnancy but what a miracle Mason really turned out to be. The Naval hospital completely missed this issue. Rachel assured me this issue is rare and should not happen again with another pregnancy, it's a sporadic event. That was good news.
I had one tear that needed stitches. They did Mason's newborn check and I snacked in bed and marveled at my new baby for the next few hours. We started getting our stuff together four hours after birth to head home. I was ready at this point. Mason is doing great to this day and breast feeding is coming along well so far. He's just so precious and handsome to me, I could stare at him all day.
If you made it through all this, you're a trooper lol. I tried to keep it as short as possible but that was difficult to do. It was an intense 11 and a half hours but I got the most amazing gift of all at the end of it.
Congratulations! What a beautiful and amazing story. I'm so glad that you got the birth experience you wanted and that everyone turned out healthy and safe, in spite of the placenta issue. Did the midwives mention what sort of test might have been able to detect the placenta problem? I'm really curious now myself. It's scary to think that something like that can go uncaught.
Thank you to the SSMC makers for my beautiful siggies!