Matthew’s Birth Story

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It was Friday, April 17, 2015. I had stayed up late making a pennant banner for the nursery and had then gone to bed around midnight. At 1:30am, I woke up feeling like I needed to use the bathroom very badly. As I got out of bed, my water broke. “Seriously?? I’ve only had 1.5 hours of sleep!” I wasn’t sure at first because it was just a little bit, and nothing more came out in the toilet. I decided to assume it wasn’t and just go back to bed since I was really really tired, but as I climbed back into bed there was more water and then the shaking started. At that point I knew for sure that my water had broken because when my water broke at the beginning of labor with Alex I’d had that same, uncontrollable shaking. I wrapped up in the covers and tried to get the shaking to stop, but I couldn’t. I was shaking the entire bed and was afraid I’d wake up Dennis and Alex. (Alex was sleeping in our bed that night because Dennis had painted his room the evening before.) I decided I should at least send a text to our midwife, Angela, to let her know what was happening, but I was shaking so much that I could barely type the words! Shortly after I sent the text, she called me. I answered the phone, trying to speak quietly. She told me to just try to get some sleep and to call her when my labor started. She said most women go into labor within 24 hours of their water breaking. As I was about to hang up the phone, Dennis woke up. “Huh, what’s going on? Who are you talking to?” he asked. “Babe, my water broke. I was talking to Angela.” I explained. “WHAT???!!!” he nearly shouted. “Honey, calm down.” I laughed.

I had expected contractions to start right away since that’s the way it happened with my first labor. After 40 minutes, the shaking finally stopped, but contractions still hadn’t started. FINALLY I had a contraction, just a little one. I tried to go back to sleep, having weak, irregular contractions. I think it took me 3 full hours to go back to sleep, and I could hear Dennis’ regular breathing as he slept. “How can he be so calm??” I was so excited, anxious, on high alert. I stayed in bed the rest of the night and most of the next morning, waking up every once in awhile when I had a stronger contraction, but they were never consistent and it was very frustrating. I ate a bit of food and checked in with Angela a couple of times. She kept telling me to try to rest while I could. I tried, but I wasn’t really sleeping and labor wasn’t really starting.

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Finally, at 11:30 am, I decided that I’d had enough of being in bed. I wanted to have this baby already!! I got out of bed and got dressed for the day. I even put on makeup! Almost immediately my contractions got stronger, and some of them were longer. I started using a contraction timer as soon as I got out of bed so that I could periodically send Angela screen shots of what was going on. I began walking around the house, outside in the yard, trying to stay moving as much as possible. During contractions I felt like I wanted to stay standing, but to lean slightly forward against a wall and move my hips from side to side. For a long time all I needed to do to handle the contraction was to take deep breaths. Although the contractions never really became consistent as far as duration or frequency, I could tell that labor was progressing when they began to feel more intense and I needed to begin vocalizing during them.

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At one point Angela called and talked to me. She asked if I thought I was in active labor yet. I said I didn’t know. She asked if I could talk during a contraction, and I told her that I certainly didn’t want to. I know that I felt a little bit “out of it” starting shortly after I got out of bed, and that feeling steadily intensified over time. I tried to keep myself in labor land and just let the rest of the world float by me. It was interesting to me to note that any interruptions, like the phone call from Angela, would noticeably disrupt the flow of my labor. I’d have an extra long break between contractions, or I’d have a rather weak contraction next. I was aware of Dennis and my mom shushing Alex a few times saying, “Be quiet or you’ll bother Mommy”, but I honestly didn’t really notice any of his noise or care. It all just felt like it was far in the distance because I was so focused on the task of labor.

My chart says that I was in active labor by 1:00PM. Sometime around then contractions got rather intense and I needed very much to lean on Dennis or a wall and sway until each one was over. I stayed very calm and relaxed between them, drinking protein shake and coconut water to keep myself hydrated. I also made sure to use the bathroom frequently, remembering how I waited too long in my labor with Alex and then had to have a catheter. I was texting a couple of my friends frequently during much of my labor, giving them a play by play. That was fun.

At one point, I found myself in the nursery, sitting on the exercise ball in between contractions and then standing up to lean on the wall during them. I sent a screen shot to Angela showing that my contractions were coming as close as 3 minutes, and she texted back that she and Cassidy were just leaving Portland and were on their way to our house. I was glad and felt like I was ready for them to be there. As soon as I knew that they’d driven up, I stopped timing contractions, stopped texting, and put my phone down. It was about 2:30PM. From there on out things noticeably ramped up and I really got down to business. Our midwives came in, took my vitals, and set up their things. My labor took a pause for a bit, but the nursery felt serene and cool and sort of away from the busyness, so I was able to stay focused. I remember starting to make some pretty loud moaning noises during contractions, and feeling very uncomfortable if I found myself sitting during one. Pretty soon Dennis asked our midwives if it was time to fill the bath and they said yes. I was relieved and really anticipated getting into it.

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I got into the bath and insisted that Dennis give me my bikini top so I could actually show the pictures to people this time. I sat sort of reclining on my side at first. Dennis asked me questions a few times, like did I want music and did I want my candle lit. I was a woman of rather few words by then, so I basically just said “No, I just want to get this baby out!”. He brought me protein shake and coconut water to drink, and I think I did a great job staying hydrated. Our midwives had asked if I wanted hands on me for support, and I said no. I knew too much touching would make me feel hot and claustrophobic. I did, however, anticipate Dennis’ hand on my shoulder or back during each contraction. It seemed like he almost always made it there when he heard another one starting, and that support of just knowing he was there was perfect. It was exactly what I needed. Nothing more, nothing less. Our third midwife arrived not long after I got into the tub, a fact I was only vaguely aware of.

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Alex was in the bathroom with Dennis some of the time when I was laboring in the tub. I was getting pretty loud by then, involuntarily, and he got scared and cried a few times. I’d talked with him beforehand about the noises and stuff, so I just reassured him between contractions that I was ok and that the noises helped me feel better and were helping to get the baby out. He really did very well, I thought.

At one point I knew I must be in transition. I had such a strong feeling of just wanting the whole thing to be over, and each contraction was extremely intense. I was reaching the peak of what I felt I could handle. I knew that probably meant I was at transition, but it just felt like it lasted so long. I remember reading my labor inspirations that I had in little frames beside the tub a lot during this time, especially the ones about fear and trusting God, because I did feel afraid and not at all sure how I was going to get this baby out. My experience of not being able to push Alex out prevented me from feeling completely confident, but there was nothing I could do but keep going and trust that everything would work out. I finally shifted positions so that I was kneeling in the tub and leaning against the side. That really opened up my pelvis and made that contraction very intense, but it must have been just the thing to get my through transition because it seemed like the very next contraction was when my body just began to push. My noises changed abruptly from a moan to a huge grunt, and my midwives could tell that I’d begun to push. It was 4:13PM.

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Pushing was crazy. Immediately I could tell how different it was from pushing with Alex’s birth. I felt my baby move down. There was no denying it. It was exhilarating and scary all at the same time. And I couldn’t stop it. Again my noises scared Alex, and I told him between contractions that it was “just like pushing out a really big poop!”. The things we say while we’re in labor….. I had been facing the part of the tub that was open to the rest of the room, and they had me move so that my bottom was facing that way instead. It was so tough to move. I mean, I felt glued to one spot and position, but I was able to do it. I wondered where my mom was, and wanted to tell someone to make sure she was there so she didn’t miss the birth, but I couldn’t talk. By then I was panting out loud between each contraction. It was the most intense thing I had ever felt in my life and it consumed my existence. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was hard work.

From there on out it was just a series of fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime moments one right after the other. The first was when Dennis said something and Angela replied with, “Oh, this baby’s coming OUT!” I heard him say “Really??” with so much joy and emotion and she replied “OH yeah!” I was ecstatic! The next grand moment came when someone suggested I see if I could feel my baby with my hand. I put a hand between my legs and WOAH! I COULD FEEL SOOOO MUCH OF MY BABY’S HEAD! It felt soft and squishy and then I realized that I was feeling a bunch of hair floating around in the warm water. Let me tell you, THAT was extremely motivating, and I pushed with even more energy than before. Each time I pushed I could feel my baby move down, and when each push ended the baby would move back up a little bit, but each time the baby was a little further down and a little further down. Finally my perineum really began to bulge, and Angela urged me to go slowly to let my tissues stretch. I was able to support my tissues, both in front and back, with my own hands as the baby came down into a full crown. It did burn, that famed “ring of fire” that always sounds so scary when veteran birthers recount their adventures. It didn’t last for long, though, because with one GRAND contraction I pushed my baby’s head out INTO MY OWN HANDS! Let me tell you, that was another fantastic moment and one of the greatest of my life! Angela told me to still go slowly and wait for another contraction before pushing again, but that contraction came the very next minute, and I pushed my baby’s body out into the warm water!!!

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I flipped over, the baby was passed between legs and up to my chest, and there was my prize. Best. Moment. Ever. I couldn’t believe it! And that’s about all I could say, over and over: “Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe it! Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it!” I’d had my home water birth, something I’d been dreaming of doing for almost a decade, something that I’d been unable to have with Alex’s birth, something I’d been scared might not happen this time, BUT IT HAD! I loved that Alex was right there to see his little brother born. I’ll never forget looking up at him and seeing the look of shock and wonder on his face! And yes, my mother had found her way into the room in time. And of course Dennis was right there, helping to lift our baby out of the water to take his first breath of air. Everyone was there, and it was perfection.

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I checked between the baby’s legs- A BOY!!! Matthew David was his name and he was born at 4:49PM after just 36 minutes of pushing! He was breathing right away, but we had to rub him a little to get a really hearty cry and get him to pink up. I hadn’t been able to tolerate having the water very warm while pushing, so we moved us out of the tub right away so we could get Matthew dry and warm. As soon as I sat down on the bed I felt a gush of blood as my placenta detached. I pushed it out easily, about 5 minutes after Matthew had been born! My bleeding was minimal. No hemorrhaging this time, thank you, God!

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The hours following Matthew’s birth were full of a unique joy. It took me days to wrap my mind around what had happened! I did have a 2nd degree tear along my former episiotomy line, but it was really clean and straightforward and my midwives were able to stitch it up just fine. The procedure really didn’t hurt at all, and everything healed up very well. I didn’t even having burning the first time I peed! I did have very bad after pains as my uterus shrank back down to size, but that is to be expected with 2nd babies. Matthew latched and breastfed within 30 minutes of birth, which was such a relief to me!

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The whole labor and birth was so beautiful and natural, easy as births go, and felt so completely healing after the traumatic experience of Alex’s birth. Both of my birth stories are unique, but this one restored my faith in my body and in the birth process. I’ve never felt so strong and victorious in my life, and our little Matthew is a blessing. He has already brought so much joy to our family, and I can’t wait for all that the future holds.

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Special thanks to my mother for most of the pictures taken during and after Matthew’s birth. It happened so quickly and we were so focused on the task at hand that we only got a handful with our camera.

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Pregnancy Photos: 35 Weeks!

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Pregnancy Photos: 32 Weeks

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Birth Inspiration

I heard this verse in church today and it caught my attention, and then this evening it was in my devotional reading:

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picture source: thebottomofabottle.wordpress.com

I think I’ll add it to my existing birth inspirations.  It may seem like a strange choice of verses to want to remember during childbirth, but after some of the intense experiences and emotions both during and after Alex’s birth, it makes sense to me.  Although I’m anticipating a much smoother delivery this time, I do want to remember that, no matter where this birth takes us, God will give us the strength to deal with it.

I had my birth inspirations printed out and around the house during the last weeks of my first pregnancy, but I didn’t really notice or focus on them while in labor.  I don’t know if that will change or not this time, but I’ll probably set them out a couple weeks early again to begin getting myself into a mindset of trust and peace.  I really want to feel as little fear going into this birth as I did the first time, but I’m struggling with just how to get there.  I may be a little more realistic now, knowing firsthand that all of my best plans don’t ensure perfection, but I don’t want previous experience to rob me of the faith that my body was made to do this, that my baby innately knows how to be born, and that God ultimately has His hand over the whole process.

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I trust my body.  I trust my baby.  I trust my God.

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My mind and body can handle a labor of any kind.

Knowing that your body is made for birthing is the first step to allowing your mind to relax.

Cloth Diapering Update: What Real Life Experience Has Taught Me

I think it’s about time that I wrote an update to my original posts about cloth diapering.  I love it when I get a chance to talk to people about cloth diapers, especially someone who’s just beginning to consider cloth or is just starting to delve into the world of cloth diapers.  It always brings me right back to the time when I was pregnant with Alex and trying to make sense of all the options and advice out there.  It can be confusing, overwhelming, and daunting!  No, cloth diapering is nothing new (our grandmothers all did it, after all), but, unlike our grandmothers, we have a lot more choices now.  Cloth diapering is more convenient than ever, but the decisions are more difficult.

While I was pregnant the first time, I wrote a post detailing exactly what diapers we purchased to begin with before Alex was born, including prices, pictures, and where we bought them.  At the end there is a summary of the different types of cloth diapers, because that was really confusing for me at first.

Now, here is a short update on what I’ve learned since actually using cloth diapers for two years.  Our original stash was a good one, but there are just a few things we’ve learned along the way:

Types of Diapers-

  1. We really love using prefolds and I would absolutely recommend them as your primary diaper.  P.S. We quit using Snapis a long time ago.  We simply tri-fold them and lay them in the cover.  Snapis might still be nice for really little babies, but once Alex got a little bigger tri-folding was the way to go.  I’ll let you know if we use snapis again with the new baby.

    a size 2 prefold, before initial stripping

    a size 2 prefold, before initial stripping

  2. We have accumulated a few different brands of all-in-ones, but didn’t find them as reliable as the good old prefold and cover.  They are more likely to leak & aren’t as versatile.  They are easier, though, especially for grandparents or babysitters.
  3. We DO love pocket diapers, specifically several Kawaii pockets which we have gotten for free with our orders from Kelly’s Closet.  They’re easy to use, a little more trim than a prefold, and they keep the wetness off of baby’s skin.  Downsides: no double gussets for extra poo insurance, they aren’t made of that nice organic cotton like our prefolds, and you have to wash the whole thing after one use.

    a couple of our Kawaii brand pockets

       a couple of our Kawaii brand pockets

Sizes of Diapers and Covers-

  1. You can get by with using one-size diapers and covers, but I would recommend getting some that come in at least a couple of different sizes.  The one-size diapers can be really bulky on a tiny baby, even after they’ve left the newborn stage.  Another option is to just use disposables for the first couple of weeks until your baby grows into the one-size diapers a little more, but if one of your reasons for cloth diapering includes protecting your baby from the chemicals in sposies, that may not appeal to you. Alex was 8 pounds at birth, so if he was swallowed up in a one-size diaper, a 5 or 6 pound baby would be even more so.  Buying 2 sizes of prefolds and covers wasn’t a huge expense (and we didn’t have to buy the second size right away), but I recognize that if you’re going with pockets or all-in-ones as your main diaper then it’s going to get a little more expensive.  See my post about our beginning stash to compare prices.

    a package of size 2 prefolds

            a package of size 2 prefolds

Number of Diapers

  1. Although the number of prefolds we started out with (24) would have been ok if that was all we could afford, we did end up with another dozen or so to safeguard against running out.  You should estimate that your newborn is going to use at least 12-18 diapers a day at first, so if you only want to wash diapers every other day….. well, you can do the math.
  2. We started out with 6 covers and I think we now have at least 10.  If your baby doesn’t poop as often as ours you will maybe be ok with 6, but certainly no fewer than that!  Once a cover has been pooped in, you pretty much need to wash it.

Types of Covers

  1. We have answered the big velcro vs. snaps question for ourselves.  Definitely snaps.  Takes a little more time to fasten but lasts longer and looks better after a few months of use.
  2. We have tried a few different types of covers and our favorites, hands down, are Thirsties Duo Wrap covers.  We love the gussets for keeping everything in where it should be!  They come in 2 sizes.

    Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover photo source: kellyscloset.com

    Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover
    photo source: kellyscloset.com

Washing Cloth Diapers-

I also wrote a post before Alex was born about washing diapers, and not much has changed, but here are some points to recap:

  1. My husband actually, somehow, became the diaper-washer in our house, something I am A-ok with! He faithfully soaks them every other night, turns on the washer on when he wakes up in the morning, and usually puts them in the dryer before he leaves for work.
  2. We have always used a dry pail in the nursery (with a step-lever lid), and it’s totally the way to go.  We put a big wet bag inside, and then just pull the whole thing out when it’s time to wash.

    Kangarooz Pail Liner photo source: kellyscloset.com

    Kangarooz Pail Liner
    photo source: kellyscloset.com

  3. We still use and are happy with Charlie’s Soap (we actually use it for all of our laundry now), we use baking soda and vinegar for odor control, and we use a bit of peroxide to disinfect.  When we need to strip our diapers, we just wash them with some blue dawn and then give them lots and lot of rinses.
  4. We give our prefolds, pockets, all-in-ones, covers, and wet bags the same wash treatment, but we let our covers and wet bags air dry to prolong their life.  The covers dry very quickly on top of the dryer or hung on the laundry room shelf.  Every once in awhile we pop them into the dryer to make sure the PUL stays properly sealed.
  5. The sun is still our favorite way to get rid of stains, although (confession time) we’ve been super lazy about sunning them recently.  I’ve been thinking about where to put up a clothesline, however, so we can get back to that, especially once we’re dealing with those super stainy breastfed poops again…… in only a couple more months!!!!

I hope the things I’ve learned will be helpful to you.  I always welcome questions on things I might not have mentioned.  Happy cloth diapering!!!!

29 Weeks Pregnant

Not in focus (bla), but I love that Alex is in this one with me!  :)

Not in focus (bla), but I love that Alex is in this one with me! 🙂

26 Weeks: Comparing Pregnancies 1 and 2

Left: 26 weeks pregnant with baby #2 Right: 26 weeks pregnant with Alex

Left: 26 weeks pregnant with baby #2
Right: 26 weeks pregnant with Alex

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