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The birth of Alexander Dean was everything I could have hoped for, and more. Labor and delivery went better than I could have planned – I got an almost full night of sleep before waking up on October 17 at 4 am with contractions that I was unable to sleep through. They were somewhat painful, but not incredibly so. I'd gone to bed the night before around 10:30 p.m. and thought I was having some mild contractions that felt more like cramping, but I tried not to get my hopes up since I'd had so many contractions earlier in the week that always ended up going away. So I went to bed, assuming I'd wake up the next morning just like every other morning and go about my day. I was thrilled when I woke up and laid there through several contractions that were very obviously different than anything I'd experienced before. I got up and took a shower, where I found I needed to focus through the peak of each contraction. I found myself staring at my lime green and teal Venus razor in the shower – something about the color made it easy to stare at. When I got out of the shower Jeremy was walking out of the bedroom all sleepy-eyed to take the dogs out. He was shocked to see me coming out of the shower! He didn't even know I'd gotten out of bed. I proudly announced we were having a baby today! I'm still not sure if he believed me at that moment... At this point I started timing my contractions with a contraction timing application on Jeremy's iPod Touch that he'd downloaded for me a few weeks earlier (can I just say what am amazing tool this ended up being?!). My contractions were 2 ½ – 3 minutes apart. I finished packing my bags and then walked around the house for a bit, stopping to sway and rock with each contraction. I did this for a few hours and my contractions stayed 2 ½ – 3 minutes apart, though they got more intense as time went on. I know they say you should go to the hospital when your contractions are 5 minutes apart, but my doctor said to wait until I couldn't speak through a contraction. I never did get to that point while at home, but since my contractions were getting more intense and were so close together, Jeremy and I decided to head to the hospital just in case. We got there a little before 6:30 a.m. The nurse had me change into a gown and then they monitored me for 30 minutes to get a baseline on baby. I'd requested no continuous fetal monitoring, so after that initial check I only had to be monitored for 5 minutes every hour. I'm so glad I opted for this option! I hate the feeling of those monitors strapped around my stomach and it was much easier to labor without them. I also opted out of getting an IV (unless it became necessary), and I'm also glad I didn't have to drag that around with me. When the nurse checked me I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I figured I'd be there most of the day and my guess was that I'd have the baby around early or mid afternoon. Fast forward to 8 a.m., a mere 1 ½ hours after I'd arrived and 4 hours after I'd started getting noticeable contractions, and I was suddenly in a quite a bit of pain with each contraction, but walking and rocking and what-not was enough to get me through them. However, I was still 100% fine in between contractions and was joking around with the nurse and Jer - I even managed to post a few times on Facebook to let people know what was going on! However, during contractions nothing I did was comfortable, but standing was the easiest - so I stayed on my feet and I'd just wrap my arms around Jeremy's neck and rock back and forth. I tried hands-and-knees, the birthing ball, and a ton of other positions and they all made it worse. And don't even get me started on what lying in a bed felt like! Whenever I had to lie down in bed to be hooked up to the fetal monitors I was absolutely miserable! It was only 5 minutes, but it felt like an eternity! At this point I told Jeremy if my labor was going to be like this for another 5+ hours that there's no way I was going to do it without an epidural, but that I was going to wait a little longer and see how dilated I was and we'd take it from there. They hadn't checked me since I got there and I was assuming I'd be a mere 5 or 6 cm at this point. Little did I know I was practically at the end by this point! The nurse came in and checked and and was like "Oh my God you're already 8 cm, I'd better call your doctor!" So at this point I figured I could handle the pain and make it through without meds. Had they told me I was 5 or 6 cm I can guarantee you I would've gotten the epidural. It was intense! But since I'd gone from a 4 to an 8 in 1 1/2 hours I was pretty confident I'd be a 10 pretty soon. Jeremy and I worked through some more contractions while we waited for the doctor and they continued to get a little more intense with each one. My doctor got there a little before 10 a.m. and said she thought if she broke my water that I'd be pushing within minutes. She started to get things ready for that and asked me to lie down on the bed... At that moment I started a contraction, so I asked her to wait a minute. Because I'm all about timing, I suddenly felt a pop inside of me and went "ooh I think my water broke!" right as a ton of water gushed out. Everyone started laughing and Jeremy was like "that was just like from a movie!" This happened at 9:48 a.m. (see, that iPod Touch app came in handy, I know the exact time my water broke since Jeremy hit the “waters broke” button). The doctor checked me again and said I was complete, so she started getting dressed and had the nurses prep my bed so I could start pushing. Usually the doctor would leave for awhile and let the nurses help you push for awhile, but since I had dilated so quickly she thought it best that she stay around, figuring the baby would be here before we knew it. Surprisingly, I chose to deliver the baby on my back with the back of my bed up all the way and my feet on stirrups. I honestly figured I'd choose another position, but at the time this just seemed like the right choice (and I knew I could change my mind at any time if it wasn't working). For the next few contractions the doctor had me push while she performed perianal massage to prevent tearing. It only took a few contractions for her to see that I still had a tiny lip left around one small part my cervix (it had been tucked back before then so she didn't notice), so she had me stop pushing through a number of contractions so that it would go away. I have to say, breathing through a contraction when all I wanted to do was push was probably the hardest part of labor! It finally got to the point where I was pushing uncontrollably at the end of the contractions and there was nothing I could do to stop myself – my doctor said this was normal and perfectly fine. The baby was also obviously ready to come out, as he was kicking off of my ribs with each contraction and moving himself lower and lower without me actually having to do anything... That was probably my favorite part of labor and delivery (aside from my baby being born), it was amazing to feel him moving and working to be born. Finally the doctor decided the little lip wasn't going away, so she decided to just move it out of the way herself whenever I started to push and gave me to go-ahead to start pushing again - it was around 11 a.m. at this point, give or take (I didn't look at the clock). Up until this point I'd only actually pushed a few times, otherwise my body had done most of the work on its own. It felt great to be able to finally push when my next contraction hit! As strange as this sounds, it was actually a relief and less painful than simply laying there trying to breath through it. Delivering my baby was the most primal thing I've ever done – I didn't hold back, I'd decided long ago that I wasn't going to care if anyone could hear what I did or said during this process. I wanted to get the baby out as effectively as possible and I wasn't going to let the fear that someone might hear me get in the way... I probably should have informed Jeremy of this decision, because I don't think he was expecting me to yell, scream, and grunt my way through it. When a contraction hit and I could push, I pushed with everything I had and made a lot of noise doing it – I also squeezed the heck out of Jeremy's hand, leaving a number of nail marks in the process. Luckily I'd just clipped my fingernails the night before, because they were really long! I can only imagine what his hand would have looked like had I not clipped them! Every other contraction or so I could feel the baby really trying to work his way out, so I'd push even harder with those. It's almost like we worked together for him to be born – and it didn't take long! Unfortunately I did end up needing an episiotomy. My doctor knew I didn't want one if we could help it, which is why she did perianal massage throughout the pushing phase, but we decided if I absolutely needed one that it'd be better to get one than tear through to my rectum, which is where she said I was headed if I didn't get one. I hadn't been pushing long when the doctor had me reach down and feel the top of his head, and man was it covered in hair!! I couldn't believe he was already almost here! Shortly after that the doctor told me to open my eyes and see my baby being born, and am I ever glad I did! I know a lot of people just can't, they're too focused on pushing the baby out... But I looked down and instinctively reached down to touch him as the doctor was pulling him out of me. She immediately put him on my stomach and that was without a doubt the most amazing moment of my life! She announced it was a boy and everyone had a good laugh since we'd thought it was a girl up until that point. It wasn't a shock to me, though, it felt as though I'd known all along I was having a boy. There was never a “really?!” moment for me, it was exactly as it was meant to be. Alexander Dean M entered the world at 11:12 a.m. on Saturday, October 17 2009. He had a huge head of dark brown hair and had the umbilical cord wrapped around his wrist once, which didn't surprise me one bit considering how active he'd always been while I was pregnant! He spent the next few hours on my chest so we could bond – our first shot at breastfeeding wasn't a huge success, but neither of us knew what we were doing. I guess I figured the nurse would try and help, but she just us go at it on our own for awhile, which is fine, but I was hoping to get him latched on right away. At least we tried, and we had plenty of skin-to-skin contract. We did much better the next time, though, after he'd been wiped off, wrapped up, and I'd had a few minutes to adjust. Xander's Apgar scores were 8 at one minute after birth and 9 at five minutes after birth. He weighed 6 lb 14 oz and was19 inches long. He has all ten fingers and all ten toes and is absolutely perfect! All in all I had an amazing birth experience. While the later contractions were pretty painful, they didn't last for long and I got through everything medication free, which is exactly what I wanted. I was able to really experience Xander's birth, the good and the bad, and it was truly an amazing experience.
And now some pictures!
Maybe an hour after Xander was born (we have some of immediately after, but he's naked in them and I'd rather not post them online):
Xander at 1 day old:
Xander at 3 days old in his Moby Wrap (which I love):
what a wonderful experience it sounds like you had. i really enjoyed your story. Go Ipod!!! We both have one, but don't use them like we should. If there's a next time for us, I think I'll DL that application.