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Johanna's pregnancy journal

Birth Story ~ December 15, 2000
~ Meet Caleb Thomas

On December 14, I went to bed having contractions. Since I had been having the same thing for two weeks, I didn't think anything about it. I just went to sleep. At 3am, the contractions started waking me up. Again, I had done this MANY times in the last two weeks, so I forced myself back to sleep and ignored them. At 4:30, I woke up again and didn't feel that great. But, again, I refused to believe there was anything to it. As I said, I had been doing this for two weeks. At 5am, there was no ignoring the signs. I woke up with a bout of diarrhea and my entire body was aching. Apparently, I was tensing up whenever I had contractions in my sleep and that was causing me to feel really crummy. At 5:30am, I finally woke Tom up. I began to realize that this might be the real thing, and I was definitely not going to be able to get back to sleep. At 6am, we made the call to Mom.

We figured that we would wait to call my sister-in-law until Mom checked me to see if this was finally the real thing or just another false alarm. Well, after everything we have been through, Mom came flying as fast as she could from her house. She really expected me to go quickly. When she got there, I was 5cm and 80% effaced with the baby moved down more and the bag of waters bulging in front of his head. So, it looked like things were really moving in the right direction this time.

I would like to say that this delivery was as quick and easy as the last two were. I would like to say I felt no pain, just as I didn't in the last two deliveries. But, I would be lying if I said that. I do expect that I will forget the pain, and I do believe it was worth every bit of that pain, but it was hard work and it was painful. Things moved very slowly from the onset. It took several hours just to get from 5cm to 6cm. By late morning, I was stressed, so Tom and I took a shower. Things progressed better after that point for awhile. Then, they slowed down again. I was tired, so I took a nap and Tom was supposed to watch me and prepare me for contractions while I slept. Blissfully, while I was sleeping, the contractions slowed to 8 minutes apart (or perhaps longer, I am not sure). I did get a good 45 minutes of sleep, and awoke in the early stage of transition. At that point, I was 8cm. Mom said since I was a multipara, I could push whenever I felt the urge, and not to worry about my dilation.

The only really good thing about the three hours I spent in transition was that almost all the way through it, the contractions continued to come about 3-4 minutes apart. That way, despite the pain I was experiencing, I did get time to rest between them. It wasn't until the very end that they started coming so close together that I didn't get a chance to rest between them. Of course, when that happened, I lost my cool. I lost my concentration, and began to scream through a couple of contractions. I knew that screaming would only make me tense and make the contractions more painful, but some of those contractions were so hard and painful, that I really couldn't do my breathing through them. So, I screamed instead. Mercifully, by that time, we finally hit pushing stage.

Dumb me, I figured everything would be fine once I could push. Well, why wouldn't I think that? With both of the other births, the baby was out within two pushes, and it felt great to push. I have to admit, the first 15 minutes of pushing felt great this time. But, by the time an hour approached, things didn't feel so great anymore. My back felt like it was on fire, and it wasn't recovering from the contractions. My pelvis felt like it was being ripped into pieces, and nothing was helping that pain. For my back, Tom kept using counterpressure and rice in a wool sock that we heated in the microwave. By the time an hour of pushing approached, I had given up on pushing. Instead, I was simply breathing through the contractions. We tried several different positions. On my hands and knees was the only one that made any difference in the pain. However, that position kept the baby from moving down at all. Squatting moved the baby the best, but it also hurt the most. We finally settled on sitting upright in the bed, with Tom and several pillows behind me to support my back, where most of the pain was coming from.

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However, once we got in that position, I quit pushing at all. Instead, I was just curling around my uterus in the contractions. I finally asked Mom to call an ambulance. I just didn't feel that I had anything more to give to this birth. Every time I pushed, I not only had excruciating pain, I started to pass out. I think that sensation really scared me, and may have been the biggest reason I tried to quit. Thankfully, I can say that Mom and Tom did a great job of supporting me at that point, my lowest point in the entire labor. First, mom manually ruptured my membranes, which still had not ruptured on their own. This brought the baby's head down to apply really good direct pressure on the cervix. Then, they both told me that they simply would NOT call an ambulance unless I tried to push through the next couple of contractions. They reminded me that all a hospital would do was demand I push, and that I needed to give it just one more shot. Finally, they got me mad enough, I pushed with everything I had. In just two pushes, I felt the baby crown. That was all I needed to remotivate myself to get back into working for this baby.

It took about 6 pushes to get that head out, a new experience for me. It should have taken just a tad longer, and I knew it. However, I was tired and wanted to be done. I knew that pushing too quickly would risk a tear, but I pushed that baby out anyway! I felt that old familiar POP as the head made its way into the world. Unlike the other babies, I had to push several times to get the baby's shoulders out. But, that wasn't really a big deal after everything I had already been through. So, out popped a baby, and laying right in front of me was my SON. He was so big, and so incredibly beautiful.

Caleb Thomas was born at exactly 4:30 pm on December 15, 2000. He weighed 8 pounds and 4 ounces at birth and was 22 inches long. His apgars were 9 and 9. I suffered one small and very superficial tear that didn't even require a single stitch. Caleb is a champion nurser (not to mention a marathon nurser). Daddy is so proud, and big sister is literally gloating. And, best of all, we never had to leave our home after all. Instead, we spent our first night sleeping in the living room by the light of the Christmas tree and marveling at what we went through. And, I have new perspective on birthing big babies. All I can say is, I am so sorry for anyone who ever has to deliver a baby bigger than my little guy! I would not want to be in their shoes. But, you know what, I probably will be some day, because every bit of the experience was worth it to have this little guy in my arms now, and I will most definitely do it again before I am old and gray!

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