Finch's birth story
On Friday, June 5, 2015, at 9:43 a.m., our handsome son, Finch, was born. This is the story of his birth.
At my appointment on Monday, I was 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced, and had my membranes stripped (they wouldn't let me go past 40 weeks because of my "abnormal placenta" so I wanted to get things going in a more natural way, if possible). I was feeling well, but anxious for labor to begin...
FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2015 (39 WEEKS, 1 DAY)
I woke up feeling menstrual-type cramps in my lower back. This was a little bit unusual because the contractions I'd felt toward the end of my pregnancy usually came on at night as I was falling asleep, not in the middle of the night. I wondered if this could be it! I got up and went to the bathroom and then got back in bed.
After a few strong contractions, I decided to start tracking them using an app. One thing I liked about the app was that after each contraction it asked me to rate the intensity, which helped me mentally process my pain level. I was having two strong ones followed by four milder ones, then repeat.
They were lasting 44-73 seconds each and coming every 5-7 minutes. I was taking deep breaths to get through them but having trouble laying still and I guess I was being loud enough that Eric woke up. I have to say when I read birth stories I always laugh at the woman not waking her husband right away, but I will admit that it's hard to know when to wake them. I didn't want to disturb him if this was nothing! He asked what was going on so I told him, and then I got up to pack up some last-minute hospital items. I wanted to be fully ready to go just in case they picked up or my water broke. But once I was up and moving around, the contractions faded off. This threw me off a bit and I got a little discouraged that it might not be anything.
After an hour of contractions, Eric called the midwives (Justine was on call) to see what we should do. He told her what I was feeling and she confirmed that typically real labor contractions will not go away if you get up and move around, so she suggested I take a bath or lay down to get some rest. I didn't really like this answer (I knew I would feel more comfortable at the hospital), but it was also 4:24 am and I knew that it would be more convenient for my birth team if we could wait a few hours before going to the hospital. I laid back down and sure enough, they picked up again!
We called Justine again to let her know the contractions had picked up and that I would feel more comfortable if we came to the hospital. I was super scared of not getting there in time or having to endure tough contractions in the car. She said that she was at the hospital and to come in.
Eric called Jessica, our babysitter, to come to the house to be with Rooney, who was sound asleep in her bed.
Eric called my sister, who lives 45 minutes away, to let her know what was going on and that I'd like her to be on her way. She was at Rooney's birth and I wanted her there for this one, too. For me it's reassuring to have people in the room who will provide emotional support and advocate for you on your behalf.
Once Jessica arrived and Eric got our car packed, we left for the hospital! I wanted to go in and peek at Rooney before we left, but her door made a noise when I opened it and she moved so I got scared and bailed. I did not want to wake her up!
I don't remember much of the drive to the hospital, except that it was dark and calm outside with little traffic. On the way, I texted our photographer that we were on our way to the hospital and that we would keep her updated. She replied that she was up and would hop in the shower and wait to hear from us.
We got to the hospital and checked in. They had my preregistration on file so we got into triage quickly. I was feeling contractions every 2-7 minutes but they were pretty bearable with just closing my eyes and taking deep breaths. The nurse checked me and I was between 4-5 cm. I said "So is this the real deal?" and she said "Yep! You're not leaving without a baby!" I was so relieved. I texted my coworkers to let them know I would not be coming to work!
(With Rooney I got to the hospital between 5-6 cm so I was a tiny bit discouraged to not be as far this time. I could tell my labor was moving more slowly this time so I was kind of nervous it was going to last all day. Later I realized that this was because my water had not broken like it had with Rooney, which makes things go quicker and feel a bit more intense.)
My sister arrived at the hospital, and soon after we were moved to a delivery room. I was a little bummed that we got a small room that is typically given to recovering c-section moms (at our hospital, for vaginal births you deliver and recover in the same room, so those rooms are bigger, but they were full).
Our friend Mandy arrived with her camera, and I was so relieved because it meant that my entire birth team was assembled!
I got my IV for group B strep (I hate this part, they always miss at least once and this time was no different) and got my hospital bracelets on. I heard Eric ask, "Is this supposed to say her name?" ...they had given me someone else's bracelet!
The nurses change shifts at 7:00 am, so I got a new team of people and let's just say I was really pleased with the changes. :-)
My midwife Susan arrived and checked me and I was 6 cm, 90% effaced and -1 station. I had seen Susan for most of my appointments this pregnancy and was pleased that she was the one on call now (they also switch at 7:00 am). She asked me about my plan for pain medication and I told her I didn't know! Ahh! I was torn because I've done it without any before and knew I could do it - but did I want to? I wondered what it would be like to get an epidural. Susan talked me through the pros and cons and then Eric and I had a quick chat/pep talk and decided to not get it. I think I cried :-) I knew it wouldn't be easy but deep down I didn't want it (I don't do well with medication and wanted to know after the birth that what I was feeling - shakes, headaches, whatever - was normal and not a result of medication.
I felt really aware and present in the moment (unlike Rooney's birth, which went so fast!). I remember looking down at my belly and holding it and thinking how it would be the last time I would ever be pregnant. I decided I wanted some music so I grabbed my phone and turned on my current favorite song, "Rising Sun" by All Sons & Daughters.
There were three other births my midwife (and a student with her named Stephanie, who had striped my membranes earlier in the week) was attending, so for most of the laboring it was just me, Eric, Kari and Mandy in the room. We chatted and laughed between contractions. I asked for a birthing ball but I didn't like it as much as I remembered with Rooney. I preferred to hang onto Eric's shoulders as if we were dancing, or do hands and knees on the bed. In between every contraction I went to the bathroom to empty my bladder.
My contractions were coming every 5-8 minutes at this point. I got an urge that I wanted the personalized blanket that my dear friend Emily had sent us (she was one of two people to correctly guess his name before he was born) to help motivate me and to visualize. Our bags were still in the car so Mandy went to get it, as well as some coffee for Eric. That was the first time she and my sister found out the name!
I was checked again and was at a good 7 cm, 100% effaced and 0 station. My contractions had picked up and were coming every 2-5 minutes. I made a joke to Susan that I'd like to have that epidural now :-) That's the thing with epidurals. You have to decide when you're in the early stages of labor but you need it in the last stage :-) At this point I was most comfortable on my knees, hugging the pillows/back of the bed.
Susan asked Stephanie to stay in the room with us at that point since I was the closest of their patients to delivery. For some reason this really motivated me and I said, "Boom!", which got some laughs.
Eric got a text from Jessica that Rooney had made it to school safely and that she was very excited to meet her brother! This is where i lost it! I just instantly burst into tears thinking about Rooney!
I was checked again and was at 8 cm. So, I was progressing about 1 cm per hour. Two more centimeters to go.
I was feeling very uncomfortable and my moaning and groaning definitely showed that. They decided to break my water at this time. I was excited for this because I knew it would speed things up and I wanted it to be over! I felt a warm gush of fluid but it was not painful or uncomfortable.
I went from 8 to 10 cm very quickly because 11 minutes later I was complete and allowed to push! Those 11 minutes were really painful though as he moved down and put pressure on my pelvis. Counter pressure on my back from the midwives definitely helped me get through transition phase. I remember one time getting completely overwhelmed with the pain. It just overtook me and I ugly cried for a split second before knowing I had to squelch the fear and conquer it. Giving birth is hard work!
After I did a practice push, my midwife told me that he'd be born after just three more pushes! Eric and my sister say I pushed for a total of 2 or 3 contractions, but since I was the only one feeling them, I say it was more like 5 or 6. Still so much shorter than I pushed with Rooney!
The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, so once his head was out they had me stop pushing so they could unwrap it. It was so awesome to feel him coming down and out so much quicker than Rooney did! I labored with my eyes closed most of the time, but Susan encouraged me to look down and it was so amazing and rewarding to see my baby's head for the first time!
After six hours of labor and 12 minutes of pushing, Finch Christianson Williams was born into the world and took his first breath! He was immediately placed on my chest where they suctioned out his mouth and he let out a big cry. "Great are You Lord" was playing in the background.
This is the best part. The reward. A brand new chubby baby on your chest! I was so so so happy and relieved. I heard Susan and Stephanie discussing the umbilical cord clamping and pulsating, and I felt like I was in great hands as that was one of my wishes.
I pushed a few more times to deliver the placenta and then got stitched up - which is NOT fun in case you are wondering. I only had a first-degree tear this time but it was just as bad as getting stitched up with the second-degree tear I had with Roo.
We hung out like this for quite a while. My sister and Eric made phone calls/texts to tell family he was here. Eventually we let the nurse take him to check his weight and length. I was really eager to hear what he weighed. He was in the womb one day longer than Rooney and weighed exactly one ounce more: 8 pounds, 9.2 ounces. Both my kids were born on Friday mornings - Rooney at 9:48 am and Finch at 9:43 am. It was kind of like deja vu!
I'm so incredibly thankful to have had another quick, safe and natural delivery. Both my births couldn't have gone any better and I feel really blessed to be able to say that.
Huge thanks to my birth team: Iowa Methodist Hospital and the UnityPoint Methodist Midwives (Susan and Stephanie), Eric (never left my side!), sister Kari (she kept track of this timeline and held my right leg while I pushed) and photographer Mandy Miller. These photos are such an amazing gift. I cry every time I look at them!