Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Long Overdue Birth Story

Hi all,

I know everyone who followed this blog has been sitting at home twiddling their thumbs since Halloween of 2012 waiting anxiously for my next post...

Maybe life gets a little hectic when you have your 3rd child, but I just have had so much joy in my heart for my sweet children. Jason is a remarkable soul. For those of you who don't know, Jason Mitchell Lewis is my third child. He was born October 20, 2013. A recent period of searching and pondering in my life has led me to have a renewed commitment to do some of the very important things I know I should be doing. One of those things is keeping records of my family.

Poor little Jason, third child, has not had any blog posts yet. Not that blog posts are the only way to keep a record, but I do love how shareable they are as opposed to private journals. I am typing this on my iPad, so I'll come back and add some photos of him when I get on the other computer today.

On to the birth story...

Since it has been so long since Jason's birth, I had my midwife mail me my birth records to help jog the memory of the timing of things. Some interesting info on my pregnancy with Jason: He was a surprise baby. We weren't trying to conceive, but we also weren't using a very reliable method of birth control. We were just avoiding the 7 days surrounding when we figured I was ovulating; I had very regular periods and figured that was reasonably safe. Before I missed my period and took a pregnancy test, I had a craving one morning to eat waffles with melted cheese on top, and syrup on top of that. Most of you are probably thinking, "Ew!", but my dad actually eats pancakes or waffles like this quite often. I learned it from him. He grew up on a farm. We'll blame it on that. Hahah! A few days after I wanted the cheesy waffle, I told Kevin I wasn't feeling very well and he told me, "I bet you're pregnant."

"No way! I better not be!" I remembered responding.  We had two kids at the time, Ginny and Mikey, who were testing my patience on a regular basis. They were 15 months and almost 3 years, respectively. Ginny had been a fairly easy baby, but she was just gaining mobility and getting into all kinds of things, and I was overwhelmed a lot of the time. She also was showing her personality a lot more with increased communication and increased volume. My sweet daughter's personality is so far from my own, and it took quite a long while for me to catch on to the lessons God had in store for me by sending me such a spunky child. I can say happily that I have found a lot more techniques to strengthen my relationship with her and I respect and love our personality differences now, rather than dread them. All of my children teach me so much! I am so grateful for the opportunity to be their mother. But anyway, back to Jason. I get sidetracked easily. SQUIRREL!

It was very difficult for me to emotionally accept the pregnancy. Especially in my first trimester, I was very sick every day. Caring for my challenging 2 little ones while feeling queasy all day long, and getting out of breath after climbing 3 stairs was NOT FUN. I cried a lot. I admit, sadly, that I heard the adversary try to tell me how easy it would be if I ended the pregnancy. Abortion is so rampant in our society and unfortunately made so available, it's almost as if it's another form of birth control to a lot of people. Oh, you got pregnant and you weren't ready? No biggie. Take this pill and poof! all is well. Of course, I would never abort a pregnancy, and any of you who know me know that. But that was a testimony to me that there is opposition in all things. There was a very real temptation there, which I know did not come from my own brain or belief system. I am thankful for the lesson of faith I was taught as I carried the baby that I thought I wasn't ready for. Giving up is always easier, but in the long run, you miss out on the joys that are in store for those who follow God's will and God's timing.

My first 2 kids were born on Saturdays. I thought it would be cool if Jason was too. He was a little different in that I went into labor well before my due date with him, and he was born on a Sunday. Mikey and Ginny were both born within 1-2 days of their due dates. Jason was born when I was 38 weeks and 2 days, so almost 2 weeks "early", but still full-term.

On the Friday evening before I went into labor, I went to Gold's Gym with my husband. I had been having Braxton-Hicks (pre-labor warm up) contractions for a few days and I wanted to go work out for some reason. My husband had never taken a body pump class before, and I had done it several times, including during my 2nd and 3rd trimesters. For those of you not familiar with Gold's Gym's classes, body pump is a group weight lifting class. You choose your own weights and use an aerobic step. Then you work out all the major muscle groups, with multiple repetitions, following the instructor and following the beat of some really loud (sometimes annoying to me) music.

Kevin and I took the body pump class and I think he overestimated the weights he should be using... classic mistake for a first-timer... and he had to step out early because he tweaked his back. I finished out the class while he did an exercise bike, I think, and we went home.

The next morning, Saturday, I started to have some contractions, maybe 15-30 minutes apart. Thank you, body pump! Haha. I love how we try to attribute something like a long workout to getting labor started. Nobody ever knows what makes it start. In my experience, it starts when your body is ready for it to start and you can't force it. But I do like to say that I did a body pump class two days before my baby was born!

My contractions were very sporadic all day Saturday and into the evening they started to get stronger. I couldn't fall asleep when it was time for bed, so I got into a warm bath instead. I have hypnobirthing music I like to listen to in early labor, to keep me calm and relaxed. I had my headphones in and sat quietly in a candlelit bath for a while. I then did the same thing I had done with Ginny's pregnancy: checked my own cervix. Yes, folks, that's right. And I was only about 3 cm, and 60% effaced. I could tell Jason was still head down, like he had been for weeks. I may have also attempted to strip my membranes (shh! don't tell) since my bag of water was still intact. I got out of the tub after that and had some very strong contractions that I couldn't breathe through, in other words, I became vocal. I decided to summon the midwife. Meanwhile, Kevin was snoring away in bed. I'm sorry, but when I'm laboring to bring a child into the world, I don't want all of my support people to be slumbering away. Gospel parallels, anyone?

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered the greatest suffering of all, the atonement, in order to bring the gift of life to all mankind. While he suffered, his apostles slept outside the Garden. Now, I am not comparing myself to the Savior. But, I do believe there are myriad gospel lessons in childbirth. There are scriptures which speak of women in "travail" and the lessons we are to learn from them/ourselves. Here's an interesting one from Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 3:  "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."  I see a lot of parallels, but I'll let you look into those on your own, if you want to. :)

Anyway, I woke up Kevin. My midwife arrived around 10 PM. Yes, Kevin was in bed early! He was up with me after that, and assuming the role of labor supporter, which I had trained him to do. He timed my contractions for me every now and then, and stayed by my side, and mostly just said encouraging words like, "You're doing great. Good breathing." I'm thankful to have such a good and supportive husband. I did fail to mention, in case someone is reading this who doesn't know me or my other birth stories, I do natural births in my own home with a midwife. I myself am a Certified Nurse Midwife, but haven't been practicing since my oldest was about 6 months old. Anyway, support of loving people as well as support from your midwife or provider is key in achieving a successful birth anywhere, I think. All 3 of mine have been fantastic experiences, thanks largely to those key people that I surrounded myself with.

At 11 PM, after I had been having stronger contractions, but still 4-7 mins apart, my midwife encouraged me to lie down and try to get some rest. I went to my bed and lay on my right side. The next contraction that came was a whopper. I moaned quite loudly, and deeply. For some reason, the right side-lying position was incredibly painful; I could feel the contractions all through my pelvis, wrapping around my back and up my abdomen. No other position caused me to feel the contractions this strongly! My midwife checked me at that point and said I was 2.5-3 cms dilated, and that my cervix was very soft. That was NOT what I wanted to hear. I wanted to really get things moving. My birth with Ginny had progressed from early labor to active labor quite quickly. This early labor seemed to have been dragging along all day. Granted, it wasn't intense until the evening hours, around the time I called my midwife. And now that I was lying on my right side in bed, I was thinking, "Holy cow! If this is what the rest of my contractions are going to feel like, I don't think I can wait several more hours to deliver this baby!" Hearing my cervix had effaced, but not dilated much, was pretty disheartening at that point to me.

I decided to get out of bed because there was no way I was going to fall asleep. I went to my bathroom and began to labor with a birth ball. I was on my knees, resting my upper body against the ball, and swaying and rocking during contractions. Kevin sat on the tub surround next to me as I knelt on the bathroom floor (we have a fairly open bathroom, with lots of floor space). Since I had lain in bed for those few minutes, my contractions really kicked it up a notch in intensity and frequency. They were every 2-3 minutes now, consistently. Kevin let me know that. He was there with my iPhone using the contraction timer app. :) I was encouraged by the fact that things were feeling so much more intense, because that usually meant I was progressing and would have a baby soon.

Even though I didn't want to lie on my right side again, I knew that that was the position that somehow seemed to be the most effective. This was a big internal struggle for me. I wanted to save myself from the pain, the intense full-body experience of those very strong contractions. Yet, I wanted to hurry the process to be able to have enough strength to get through it, as well as to have the reward of holding my baby in my arms sooner! I have told some friends about this experience since: sometimes the challenges we face in life, or the opportunities to bring us the most growth, progression, and eventual reward, are the very challenges that are most painful and difficult to accept. I think our loving Father in Heaven knows best how to change us, how to bless us with unsurpassed joy, and that often times the way He does it is through testing us and proving us with very difficult, uncomfortable trials. If we have the courage to humbly submit to those challenges and trials (for me, to lie on my right side in labor!), we can speed up the process to change ourselves, allowing God to work through us, to bring to pass the end results, which are true joy and peace, and rest. So, I did it. I put my trust in the birth process. I put my trust in my body, and in God. I lay on my right side and boy, did it hurt for a while, but not long afterward, I got the urge to push. I became nauseated, and threw up a few times, which was a signal to me that my cervix had opened significantly. My midwife's notes said I was "feeling pushy" at 12:56 AM. So my cervix had gone from 3 cms to completely dilated between 11 PM and 1 AM, two hours. After she checked me again at 1 AM, I was completely dilated with a bulging bag of water. My water broke spontaneously on the next contraction. I got a rush of energy and excitement because I knew the birth was right around the corner...

At 1:06, I got on my side again to push. Jason's head crowned on the next contraction. He was born at 1:09. I had my husband film the birth this time... honestly because I thought, "I'm going to watch this and remember how hard it is, whenever I get the idea that I want another baby." A birth video as birth control? Haha. But I'm glad we have the video. And no, I haven't gone back to watch it yet. I think I still remember it vividly enough, now, over a year later!

Jason had a full head of dark hair. I remember Kevin saying he thought it was strange at first, to see a black head coming out; Jason's hair looked black as it was wet. Our other two babies had been mostly bald, or with light hair. He was placed on my chest and I remember the first words out of my mouth were, "I love you!" I was so euphoric and relieved! Jason had a little trouble clearing his lungs and getting a strong cry, so my midwife gave him some blow-by oxygen for a minute or two and he pinked right up. By 1:15 he was pink and breathing well. At 1:22 I delivered the placenta. Interestingly, the placenta was much smaller than it had been with my other two. It was only about the size of my hand, if you drew a circle around my palm and outstretched fingers. It was a complete placenta, but small, and I wonder if that may have influenced his earlier birth. I had very minimal bleeding after the birth (less than 3/4 cup), and I showered with the help of my midwife and was in bed and nursing Jason by 1:36. I felt amazing! It was pretty great to have felt the dread of thinking, "this could take all night" after that check my midwife did at 11 PM, to having a baby in my arms and no more labor by 1:09 AM. I was able to get some good sleep with my husband and baby. Kevin's parents were in town and they were able to take our two toddlers to spend the night at Kevin's brother's house in Fruita, a nearby city. The kids were happy to meet their new baby brother the next morning.

Here are his stats and a few pictures now:

Jason Mitchell Lewis
Born October 20, 2013
Weighing 7 lbs, 2 oz. 19 1/4 inches long
In the Lewis home
Brenda Ramler, Registered Midwife, and Sarah, birth assistant in attendance

Me in early labor, shortly after Brenda arrived.

Seconds after Jason was born

Do I look relieved?

He had a good cry going there ^

One happy momma

Daddy cutting the cord

Brenda doing the newborn exam

Look at that sweet little face!

Food, grape juice. Yum.

One hilarious thing about Jason. BIGGEST newborn meconium poop I've ever seen!

The blanket still looked like this even after being washed. 

Mikey, Ginny, and Jason meeting for the first time the next morning

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On his blessing day, almost a month later

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