I love reading birth stories, and as I prepared for my own labor, I found them incredibly reassuring and empowering. If all of these women could get through this, so could I. In that spirit, I want to share Andrick’s birth story. If you’re squeamish or not into the idea of natural childbirth, please skip this post.
Andrick tricked us several times before he decided he was ready to come into the world. Every day of the week leading up to his birth, I had false starts. The contractions would start to be pretty regular, but when I went to sleep they’d disappear. On Wednesday night, my water broke, but still nothing happened. Considering how many mental scenarios I’d played out during my pregnancy when thinking about my water breaking, this was rather anti-climactic. I was just sitting at the table and felt a little liquid drop out of me. We went to bed to try and get a good night’s sleep and expected we’d be up sometime in the night. But by the next morning, it was still just a trickle of fluid and no contractions. I went in to the birth center on Thursday afternoon to be checked for signs of an infection and also for a non-stress test on the baby. Everything looked fine. I started worrying that I would end up in the hospital with a pitocin induction and was very fortunate to be with midwives who gave baby and me time to do our thing.
So at 5 am on Friday, April 27th, Andy fixed me a huge bowl of ice cream with 2 ounces of castor oil mixed in. It took about 45 minutes to get it down, during which we watched an episode of Will & Grace and reflected on the weirdness of how the day was beginning. The midwife had said the castor oil would cause diarrhea within 1-3 hours, and then 6-12 hours later I should be in labor. At 6:30 am, I was lying in bed, having a contraction of similar strength to the false starts I’d been feeling all week. Right around the contraction’s peak, I suddenly felt like the baby had punched me in the cervix. It was different from anything I’d felt before, and another contraction started right after it. I got up and went to the bathroom and ended up sitting on the toilet, thinking the diarrhea was starting. One of the nurses later told me this was probably the baby’s head dropping.
From here, things ramped up very quickly. I found myself in the throes of extremely strong contractions that wrapped all around my front, back, and hips. I still wasn’t sure if this was labor of the effects of the castor oil, but I could only be on my hands and knees through each contraction, and then I’d jump back up on the toilet. At some point, Andy joined me in the bathroom, and I’d hold on to him and moan through each contraction. Eventually we started timing the contractions. They were averaging a minute in length and coming about 2 minutes apart. Sometimes they were right on top of each other with no break in between. I started to think the midwife was going to have to come to our house to catch the baby, because there was no way I could make it to the birth center. The contractions were too intense, and I couldn’t do anything other than be on my hands and knees during them. I now know I was in transition during this time.
My stepmom, Maureen, and Andy had talked to the midwife on call a couple of times, and when Maureen told her that the contractions were 2 minutes apart, she said that we needed to get there right away. Maureen came into the bathroom and took charge. Somehow they got me up and dressed, and we made it downstairs. I had another contraction in the dining room, and then got out to the car. I rode on my hands and knees in the back seat. Every contraction was even harder in the moving car because all of the muscles that could hold my body up were trying to push the baby out.
We were maybe halfway to the birth center when I started feeling the urge to push. I could actually feel the top of my uterus pushing down on the baby. I certainly didn’t want to have the baby in the car, but there was nothing else to do. I allowed myself to do a little pushing through those contractions, thinking that someone else would take care of whatever happened as a consequence. But we got there just in time, around 8:30 am, and I barreled into my room and onto the bed for the next contraction. Sarah, the midwife who was attending the birth, watched me through the contraction and told me I was ready to push. Despite having felt that urge, I didn’t believe her. How could this be it?! I heard lots of people bustling around the room, getting things ready for baby to come out.
Since I was on hands and knees on the bed, they brought a birth ball for me to lean on and allow gravity to help pull the baby down. There was a towel on the ball that I must’ve been rubbing my chin on, because I had a terrible brush burn there after the birth. Andy was in front of me and I wrapped my arms around him to hold myself up. I was still screaming through each contraction. Sarah told me to try not to scream and direct that energy inside to help push the baby down. That was frustrating, but it did help me to make my pushes stronger. The pushing was a little different than I thought it would be. I would feel the contraction coming on and had to ride through it until it peaked, then as it came back down I would push. I simply couldn’t push through the peaks. I tried giving two pushes with each contraction, and Sarah asked me to try to get three in.
After a while, she said I wasn’t making progress and wanted me to change positions. She told me to lie on my side, which I really didn’t want to do, but got into position. As soon as the contraction started, I flipped right back up onto hands and knees. I just couldn’t lie down through these contractions. We decided to try squatting at the foot of the bed. Andy was on the bed holding me up, and I was squatting and pushing. This felt more powerful—I could spread my pelvis and really push. When my legs started to get tired, pads for my knees appeared out of nowhere. I could feel the baby moving down the birth canal, and that gave me even more motivation because I knew my ordeal was almost over. I felt the burning as the baby’s head crowned, and I started to feel the urge to push even when I wasn’t feeling a contraction. I have no idea if these were a different kind of contraction or if I just wasn’t feeling them anymore.
Sarah told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head. I was surprised how squishy it was. With one or two more pushes, the baby came out into my arms, and I pulled him up with Sarah’s help. And there he was, all purple and all boy. Andy was weeping, and I told him to look as I pointed at between the baby’s legs. Andy announced, “It’s a boy!” And then baby started to pee all over my leg, which just cracked me up. It turned out I had pushed for about an hour, although it didn’t quite feel that long. I would’ve guessed about 20 minutes, not because it went quickly, but because I didn’t know I could have done it for a whole hour.
I asked Andy about the baby’s name, and we decided he was going to be Andrick. Sarah helped me off the floor and onto the bed, and Andrick was in my arms as I pushed out the placenta. I received a shot of pitocin in the leg to help control the bleeding from my uterus, and Sarah stitched up a second-degree tear while Andrick and I snuggled. Then we got settled into bed and our new little family snuggled and started breastfeeding. Andy and I were in absolute awe of our little man. I couldn’t believe he had actually come out of me, and I’d had the drug-free, out of hospital labor that we’d planned. It all seemed surreal. I’ve heard a lot of women say that you forget the pain of labor the moment you see your little one. I think, for me, I just realized that some primal instinct took over to get this baby birthed.
The week leading up to Andrick’s birth was frustrating and scary at times as we didn’t know when I’d go into labor. Also, the three-hour labor was extremely scary, not knowing what was happening and whether we’d make it to the birth center. Looking back though, it was perfect. I had obviously made a lot of progress through those false starts and managed to be well-rested for the hardest part. I have no doubt that God was watching over us and had a plan for little Andrick.