Andrew's Birth Story
Wednesday October 1, 2003

Pictures from Andrew's birth and first few hours (not particularly graphic)

Around 41 weeks into my pregnancy I was feeling very anxious that I hadn't yet begun labor, and that I would get to 42 weeks and not be able to deliver in the birth center. I had such a positive birth experience there with Owen, I didn't want to deliver in the hospital if I didn't need to.

Starting at the 41-week point my midwives wanted me to have twice-weekly non-stress tests and sonograms to measure the amniotic fluid levels. While I understood their request, it was such a pain to arrange for someone to watch Claire and Owen during the rather long appointments. I had one of these appointments Monday September 29, followed by an appointment with my midwife where we discussed what I could do to get labor going so that I didn't pass the "magic" date of Thursday the 2nd of October.

My midwife suggested many things including eggs scrambled in castor oil, acupuncture, and an herbal labor tincture. That afternoon I decided to try the eggs for lunch. They weren't bad, heavily peppered they tasted like greasy scrambled eggs -- not my idea of a great lunch -- but they were palatable. I had no real effects from this lunch, but around 11 PM I did start having some strong contractions. I went to sleep and unfortunately, after a while, they petered out -- just like all of the episodes of contractions I had had over the past three weeks. The only difference was that I was having some pink and red show with these.

Tuesday I woke up cranky. I had more castor oil eggs for breakfast and I called the acupuncturist, who unfortunately would not be available until Thursday evening, as she was attending a 4-day conference. But she seemed worried about me and asked me to let her know Wednesday morning if I still hadn't started labor, that she would try to do something for me on Wednesday. I then called my midwife, who offered to have me come in to strip my membranes. So off I went… I was dilated to 2 cm and about 60% effaced but my cervix was pretty posterior, so she couldn't strip the membranes very well. The baby was also very high up. We talked some more about getting labor started and this midwife suggested 2 oz of castor oil in 2 oz of orange juice. I left the appointment feeling pretty down, but we went to the mall to walk for a while and I decided while there to take some castor oil in a smoothie. Surprisingly it went down just fine, perhaps the thickness of the smoothie masked the oil. Who knows?

By the time we got home, about an hour and a half later, I was feeling the effects of the castor oil. It is definitely an effective laxative. But that's about all it was doing. I spent a good amount of time that evening crying in the bedroom about how I felt my body was failing me and how maybe I should just stop trying to push it and let things happen in their own time, even if that meant a hospital birth. (I suppose that was a sure sign of impending labor! LOL!)

Around 9:30 PM I did start having contractions, but they weren't anything to write home about. Shortly thereafter though I heard a pop and felt a cranking sensation in my pelvis. I went to the bathroom and when I stood up after wiping, there was a gush of fluid. I let Paul know that I thought my water broke and called the midwife to let her know as well. I was a bit surprised that there wasn't more gushing, or at least leaking, since the baby had been pretty high earlier in the day. I started thinking that it probably wasn't ruptured membranes, and that I would go to bed and just go in to the midwife in the morning to have them check.

I did go to bed, and around 11 I woke Paul up to rub my back during some of the contractions I was having. I had been having contractions nearly every night for weeks though, so the only difference was that I needed a little help through them. I was so exhausted though, that it didn't dawn on me that this might be ''real," instead I just nodded back off to sleep as each contraction ended.

At about 2:30 I realized that I was moaning with the contractions and decided that they were too painful to handle lying down. Paul and I got up, I took a shower, and we decided to call my sister, Teri, to come watch the kids while we went to the birth center. I called her around 3 or 3:30 AM and she must have left shortly thereafter -- she has a pretty long drive to get here, so we wanted to be sure to give her as much notice as we could. I also called two friends, Susan, who was going to come to videotape the birth, and Rebecca, who was going to photograph the birth for us. Susan had a long drive too and I wanted to give her ample time to get there. (Susan made it JUST in time for the birth -- literally -- the baby's head was at least partially out when she got there!)

Sometime after 4 AM I knew we needed to leave, but my sister hadn't arrived yet. I decided we should call my aunt Kelly who lives nearby to watch the kids until Teri got here. Kelly got here quickly and Paul ran out to bring our things to the car. Poor Kelly -- when she arrived I was on my hands and knees leaning on the birth ball and I think I ordered her to push on my back!

We walked out to the car and I remember feeling somewhat surprised that I was feeling OK. The car ride wasn't too bad; I did have many contractions, but it felt like they were spaced further apart than they had been, and the vibrations of riding in the van actually felt good. I felt a little "pushy" and pushed with little grunts to see if it felt better.

We arrived at the birth center at 5:15, Joanne, the midwife checked me -- I was 9 cm dilated and she mentioned that I could push whenever I felt like it. I turned onto my right side and for some reason had my head on the bedside table. The cold hard surface actually felt good, though everyone obviously wondered why my head was there, asked if I wanted to move, and eventually just gave me pillows.

Joanne knew I wanted pictures and when Rebecca arrived she encouraged her to take lots of them. (I'm so thrilled to have captured this birth in photos.)

I was feeling overwhelmed and told everyone that I wanted to go home. Paul told me that we could go home as soon as I had the baby. I tried to keep telling myself that we were going to have a BABY and I kept reassuring myself that labor HAD to be nearly over, and that I would feel fine once this baby was born.

I didn't really feel up to pushing, since the small grunty pushes I was giving didn't seem to help me feel any better, but the baby had other plans, he was coming with or without my help. I remember feeling him move, and I yelled, "The baby is moving!" It was intensely painful to feel him kick during a contraction. Then I felt what I can only describe as what felt like a rock inside of me. I told everyone that the baby was coming, but apparently I wasn't bulging at all. Soon, still without pushing, the baby's head was partially out. The birth assistant was getting a low heartrate on the doppler and the midwife asked me to push the baby's head out -- I gave my first strong push, and his head came all the way out -- WOW what relief! I was surprised to not have felt any "ring of fire" or burning sensation of any sort. Maybe it was because he came out slowly as my body pushed him out and I had ample time to stretch.

As his head came out, so did a gush of meconium-stained fluid. The fluid had been clear the night before, so apparently the baby passed the meconium sometime during labor. Joanne suctioned him on my perineum and then I pushed his shoulders and body out. He was completely wrapped up in the cord -- twice around his neck, and his body was tangled in it. Thankfully it was loose, and the cord was long.

Andrew Joseph Buede was born at 5:40 AM -- 25 minutes after we arrived at the birth center. After several meconium stools and quite a bit of time nursing, he weighed in at 9 pounds 4 ounces -- our smallest baby yet. His head was almost as big as the others were though -- 37 cm. Amazingly I have NO tears at all, and my bottom isn't really swollen either. I haven't had to ice it and my only complaint has been the after-pains and achy belly from the contractions.

Claire and Owen adore him, though I know his presence will certainly take some getting-used to.