Today Riley is 3 months old. Three wonderful months have flown by and I have loved staring into his little blue eyes, holding his tiny, precious hands, smelling his sweet little head, nursing him for both nourishment and comfort and I smile every time I watch Michael kiss his brother, talk to him or try to teach him how to do something. It is just lovely.
Riley James Hull was born November 27th at 11:47pm. It was a surprisingly fast birth and I am so thankful for this amazing experience. Here is Riley's birth story:
Before I was even pregnant with Riley, I knew I wanted a natural, non-hospital birth. We even went to the birthing center before I was pregnant to meet the midwives and talk with them about what births were like there. I knew right away that this was where I wanted to have my baby. I felt like I was at home with these women - I felt like I was a part of their family.
|This was taken the day before I had Riley!|
My "due date" for Riley was November 25th. That day came and went and...nothing. I wasn't having any contractions, other than some mild Braxton Hicks and overall, I was still feeling really good. I went in to my midwifes office on the morning of November 27th. My midwife asked me if I was having any contractions. I told her that I wasn't really having anything consistent and that my contractions were coming every 15-30 min and that they were hardly noticeable. I wasn't even sure if they were anything more than Braxton Hicks. She talked with us about some natural ways to bring on labor and then she wanted to check me to see how far dilated I was. Suddenly, she had a surprised look on her face and said, "You're 6, maybe even 7 cm dilated! You don't need to do any of those things I just mentioned to bring on labor!" I was in shock! How could I already be more than half-way dilated?! I started feeling giddy and excited! My midwife was certain that we would be having our baby that day or the next.
Since we lived about an hour away from the midwives office, the midwives were concerned about us driving back home. They had a quick "midwife huddle" and decided that it would be best if we stayed in the area for the night and into the next day. (Thankfully I have an aunt that lived 15 min away!) They also wanted me to start wearing a constricting band around my stomach, since they could tell that there was so much room for our little baby to move up out of the pelvic area. They wanted to make sure that he was head down and engaged in the pelvic area. We dashed home to grab some overnight things, we kissed Michael (who had his Gramma to watch him! Yay!) and told him that he would be meeting his baby brother soon!
We got to my aunt's house and I was just too excited to relax! I decided to put on my belly band once we got there to get baby ready! We were so blessed to be able to spend time with my aunt and so thankful for her opening up her home to us. We were enjoying dinner with her, when I started to notice that my contractions were picking up and seemed to be getting stronger. I kept timing them and during dinner they went from 30 minutes apart, to 15 minutes, to 9 to 7 to 5 and then they fluctuated between 5-3 minutes apart and they were getting strong! I kept staring at my phone while hubby and my aunt were talking - 5 minutes? 3 minutes? Is this for real?
I quietly mentioned to my hubby that my contractions were starting to get really strong and that they were only 3-5 minutes apart. I was starting to feel uncomfortable and I couldn't really sit anymore. Walking was best and when contractions came, I would lean over the counter and rock back and forth. I asked hubby if he thought we should call my doula and midwife or not, because you know, I didn't want to bother them if it was a false alarm! Haha! Hubby assured me that this was not a false alarm! He said that since I was almost 7cm dilated at our morning appointment and not feeling any contractions, that by now, he was sure that it was time to start making phone calls! He was so sweet to call the doula and the midwife for me and let them know that this was happening!
We got to the midwifes office about 8:45pm and my contractions were coming pretty quickly, but I could still talk through them as I rocked back and forth. The midwife and her 2 assistants and hubby and I were chatting and laughing and getting things ready. Pretty quickly I started feeling like things were getting more serious and I asked if I could sit on the birthing ball. I sat in front of the bed and leaned toward hubby and rocked back and forth, while hubby rubbed my back. By this point, I was definitely concentrating on my breathing! Hubby put on some music through the iPod dock and we were rocking, breathing, swaying and focused. All of a sudden, I knew I had to throw up. I thought, "This is it! This is the transition!" I told hubby, "I have to throw up" and then, I turned to the toilet in the room and did just that. Lovely, I know, but I felt so much better afterwards. Our doula was perfect - she just kept bringing me coconut water and getting whatever we needed. It was so reassuring to know that we had a steady, constant person there to help us in whatever way we needed her.
I had gone back to the birthing ball and was swaying back and forth on it, when all of a sudden, it felt like my whole body was on alert and every nerve and fiber of my being told my brain, "It's time to push!" I was so amazed! I know people have said that you just know when it is time to push, but I wasn't really sure how that would play out. It was such a strong force! I just knew! This is it - this baby is coming! I told hubby, "I feel like pushing...NOW!" He and my midwife helped get me onto the bed. My midwife reassured me that everything was going perfectly and whenever I felt like pushing, I could go ahead and push. She also asked if I wanted to get in the tub, since I had talked to her before about having a water birth. I told her, if we have time for that, I would love to try it! Her assistants quickly started filling the tub. I tried pushing a few times as I felt my body contracting. I kept asking my midwife if I was doing everything ok. She reassured me that I was doing great and however I felt like pushing, was just fine.
Soon the tub was full and the midwife and one of the assistants helped me over. Just as I got off the bed, my water broke! I exclaimed,"I'm so sorry!" They laughed and said that I had nothing to be sorry about! I can't help myself- I don't like feeling like I've made more work for someone or inconvenienced them. The tub was nice. It felt awkward to find just the right spot though. I just wasn't sure where the best position would be. I finally settled into a semi-squatting position and was facing the corner where hubby was sitting. He was sitting on the back edge of the tub with his feet in the water. I would hold onto his legs for support as I was pushing and he kept rubbing my back. At first I felt like I should sit a certain way and that how I was sitting wasn't "the right way". I had a hard time getting away from how I thought things were "supposed to be". I finally realized that my body was doing just what it needed to do and if that was squatting in the tub, facing my husband, then that was what I needed. I knew he could support me and be strong for me, I knew that no matter what happened, he would love me. I think that he was definitely a constant source of strength and love for me, so facing him was the natural response from my body.
Feeling everything was so different than my first birth with little Michael! I had an epidural and didn't feel a thing. I just pushed when the nurses told me to push. So, in some ways, although I had already had a baby, it was almost like having my first baby. It seemed like even though I had watched a bazillion videos of natural births and read so many of the stories from Ina May Gaskin, it was still such a new and unique experience to me. At the same time I was in awe, I also felt a sense of shock at how I could really feel little Riley moving into the birth canal. It was unbelievable and painful - definitely more intense and painful than I was expecting. It seemed like I could feel him move forward as I was pushing and then feel him move right back when the contraction was over. I almost felt like it was: one step forward, two steps back. Was this baby ever coming out!?
At this point, I was just in communion/conversation with God. I'm not saying I was having a long, drawn out conversation, it was more that I was calling out and expressing feelings. This was painful and hard. It hurt. It hurt more than I thought it would. Everything had started happening so fast that I felt like I couldn't catch my breath or have a chance to rest. I prayed for rest and I prayed for strength. I prayed that Riley would be born quickly! I am so thankful that I felt that God could understand my feelings and pain and it was like we were having a conversation, even though there were no words uttered.
One thing I was worried about before I went into labor was making sound. I had seen so many videos of women moaning through contractions. I had felt really self conscious about doing that. So, I really appreciated that during our Bradley Method class, that our teacher encouraged us to watch so many birth videos, so that I could become more comfortable with making sounds during labor. It really helped me and when it came time to push, I didn't think twice about making any sounds. I definitely think that it helped put some extra "oomph" in force into my pushes.
It seemed like over an hour had gone by when my midwife finally told me that Riley's head was right there. She said that if I wanted to, I could reach down and touch his head. I never thought I would do that (heck, if you had asked me if I would have had a water birth 3 years ago I would have thought you were crazy!), but I reached down and I felt his soft, sweet little head! Oh my gosh! It gave me that extra boost I needed! I felt excitement and determination well up inside me and I knew I could do it! About the same time, I also felt Riley kicking! Oh my gosh, I couldn't believe it! I looked down at my belly and said, "Riley, stop kicking mama! I'm doing my best!" Haha! I pushed and pushed as hard as I could and he was out! My midwife guided him toward me and I was able to pull Riley up and out of the water and hold him! Oh wow! I was exhausted, but the pain and all that hard work just faded away. I just had tunnel vision for my new little boy. Hubby got into the tub with me (with his clothes on!) and we held Riley together. He was so calm! He didn't even cry for a few minutes. My sweet little Riley was born at 11:47pm on November 27th after 45 minutes of pushing.
A few minutes went by, when I heard something that pulled me back to reality. I heard our midwife tell my hubby that they needed to move me out of the tub to the bed. I knew that they had told us that they would only ask that if there was something they were concerned about. The midwife and her assistants helped me to the bed and got me, little Riley and hubby all settled, warmed and dry.
My midwife let us know that we could relax and that I should try to nurse Riley when he seemed interested. She also mentioned that there was more bleeding than they liked to see. They checked to see if I had torn, but I only had a slight tear...or more of a "rug-burn" as my midwife called it. Riley had his hand up by his face...so that just added a bit extra that had to fit on the way out. (Riley actually still loves to put his hand up by his head) It seemed that I had started to hemorrhage (possibly because my placenta came out almost immediately after Riley was born,?). The midwife and her assistants did an amazing job of being calm and letting us just be and enjoy Riley. After a bit, they gave me a shot of pitocin and a little bit later, they decided to start me on a saline drip to get some fluids back in. I was worried that I would have to be transferred to the hospital! That was the last thing I wanted! I was so thankful for the midwifes sense of calm. It helped me to relax and know that they had everything under control. Eventually, the bleeding did stop, but by then I was so lightheaded that I ended up needing more IV's of saline. My doula kept bringing coconut water and protein and fruit snacks - it was so nice to be taken care of!
Riley nursed and I couldn't have been happier! We even took a nap together and got time to ourselves to just enjoy our newest little boy! Finally, about an hour and a half after Riley was born, hubby got to cut the umbilical cord. I am so, so, so glad that we got to wait until the cord was done pulsing and all the blood transferred to Riley! Hubby went with little Riley and the midwife as he got measured and weighed. He was 8lbs 15 oz. and he was 21" long! I was in shock! I had an almost 9lb baby! Woah!
We got to rest and recover until we were ready. About 4:00am, I was able to get up and walk around. I was feeling so much better and we were ready to go home. We were packed up into our car, gave hugs to the midwife and assistants and we headed home. We were home and in our own bed by 5:30 in the morning. It was amazing! I loved going home to my own bed! It was so restful and in the morning, we got to have little Michael come in to meet his new baby brother! It was so special and wonderful! I stayed in bed for 2 days and after that, I started getting up and about and recovery actually went along pretty quickly!
Riley's birth was amazing. It was so much more intense (and painful) than I thought it was going to be. I went from not feeling anything to being in transition and feeling every single moment that Riley moved down the birth canal and made his way out into the world. It was hard work. I am so thankful for the experience and hubby and I already know that we would do it again this way. We loved the midwifes and the care that they gave us. We loved giving birth to Riley in a tub at the birthing center. It was an amazing way to connect with my little boy. It feels empowering and it was beautiful. We have truly been blessed with a happy, healthy little boy!