Can't believe our baby is one month old today! I finally got around to writing his story...
August Henry Gerhart Kober, born October 2, 2009 at 4:11pm
8 lbs, 11 oz; 21 cm
On Thursday, Oct 1 I went out to dinner with Julie and Delight after work (10 Mercer in Queen Anne; lobster risotto and a great chocolate dessert). After dinner I stopped by Thriftway for some odds and ends and got home around 8:30. John was watching the national parks PBS series on TV. I sat down to watch it with him but had trouble focusing on the show.
Around 10pm I wrote in my journal that I was having period-like cramps, and that they were the most regular/intense they’ve been. I’d had Braxton hicks contractions in the days before, so I knew what they felt like. I went to bed, but woke up at 11:30 because of the contractions – not painful, but noticeable and uncomfortable. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t.
Around 1am I got out of bed and got cozy on the couch. Made some tea and ate a nectarine. John was sick and had taken Nyquil, so I didn’t want to wake him up yet – I knew things could take a while.
I started timing the contractions, using the sheet Penny gave us in class. But I quickly found it too difficult to deal with the iPhone stopwatch, sheet, and calculating the intervals. Then I remembered the web site Penny told us about, contractionmaster.com – very grateful for that. Made it much easier, just had to click the button to start/stop, and it does all the math for you. My contractions were about 4.5 mins a part and lasted for 30-45 seconds.
At 3am (6am eastern time) I called mom and dad in Raleigh. Mom had planned to fly out to Seattle on my due date, Oct 5. I told them things were happening, and that she might want to change her flight. Of course she got right on it and said she’d be there as soon as she could. I wanted her to be able to witness the birth of her first grandchild.
John was awake at this point. We called Cheryl, our doula, at 5am. She got to our house around 7:30. It was a cool, drizzly morning. I have great memories of laboring at home – cozy, safe, supported. The news was on, but John turned it off and put music on. I remember three songs distinctly – Until I Die and The Story by Brandi Carlile, and Rexroth’s Daughter by Greg Brown. Cheryl said I should eat something – I think I had some apple date crunch bread and some lemon sorbet.
Cheryl had all the tricks to make me more comfortable. She anticipated what I needed. The pillowcase of dry rice that she microwaved and used as a hot pad – I remember the smell of jasmine rice. The hot rocks heated up in the crock pot. The rebozo used for counter pressure on my hips. I sat on the exercise ball and we took a walk around the block. We wore John’s big raincoats and walked slowly, saw the neighbors getting ready to leave for work, walking their dogs. I threw up in the grass, hoping nobody noticed. Cheryl said it’s great to throw up – spurs things along, helps with dilation.
I took a shower – the hot water felt wonderful, relaxing. John brought the dogs to Barb and Sierra’s house. I threw up again. We called the birth center answering service and told them we’d be coming in. Getting ready to go, I felt faint and had to lie down on the dining room floor. I noticed the dog hair and dust and thought, we were going to clean the house this weekend, oh well.
As we were leaving the house, we saw JoAnn on her porch across the street. She’d had her baby just 5 days before. She waved, and I tried to wave in the middle of a big contraction. Cheryl followed us in her car to the birth center. The ride was tough. It was hard being strapped in to the front seat, not being able to move. Cheryl had given me the heated rice bag for my belly, and a red ball that I leaned against for my lower back. They helped, but I was very uncomfortable. My phone beeped and there was a text from Cheryl, “hang in there.” I closed my eyes and all of a sudden we were crossing Lake Washington. Closed my eyes, opened them and we were on 405. Actually got there faster than I thought.
So relieved to get to the birth center (around 11am). Got into the tub pretty quickly, warm water felt wonderful. Kneeled on towels, leaning over the side. I was in that position for so long that my arms fell asleep and my hands felt tingly.
Heike was our midwife. Two students were there, Sarah and Grace. They checked my blood pressure regularly, took my temperature, and listened to the baby’s heartbeat (which made me anxious every time – please, make everything be normal and ok). I had to get the quick IV antibiotics for Strep B, but that wasn’t a big deal.
I felt pretty confident the whole time, never thinking “I can’t do this”. I think it helped that I was 7-8 cm dilated when we got to the birth center, so I knew I was already pretty far along. Not sure how I would have felt if I was only 3 or 4.
I’m pretty sure John and mom talked when I was 7-8 cm and mom was at the Denver airport.
In the tub, they put cool washcloths soaked in ice water on my back. That was great – most of the pain and discomfort was in my lower back, and the coolness was a great counterpoint to the warm bath. They gave me water from my water bottle, and I sucked on Mamba candies I just happened to throw into our bag. The sweet/sour was perfect.
I threw up pretty violently 3-4 more times, and drew praise from everyone. It’s funny what people get excited about. They were all so encouraging, telling me I was so strong, doing great, etc. Good to hear, it kept me going.
By the time mom landed in Seattle I think I was at 9cm. Around then, things seemed to slow down a little. The contractions spaced out and I had more time to rest. I think I even fell asleep or blacked out for a couple seconds in between.
I started pushing in the tub, but wasn’t sure how to do it at first. The contractions were so strong and hard, they left me pretty out of breath – so I wanted to breathe out as I pushed. But Cheryl said to hold my breath and send it down to the baby. So I’d breathe in, push, breathe out. I’d do this three times during a contraction. They said the baby rocks up and down with each push, and on the third push it stays down, so that’s the push that really matters.
I got out of the tub to switch positions and keep things moving. Sat on the ball for a short time, felt good to rock. I thought, and then repeated the words ‘let it go’ to help me relax. After the ball I got on the birth stool. Cheryl said that was the most intense position but I was ready and all for it, I wanted to have this baby.
At 4pm my mom arrived. She made it just in time.
Pushing really hurt but I knew the harder I pushed the sooner it would be done. My water hadn’t broken so they popped it. The head was visible and I felt burning when he crowned. His hands were up by his head, and Grace the student tried to push them back but wasn’t successful.
Once the head was out the rest happened quickly. The most amazing thing was feeling the rush of his whole body coming down. Like a river in flood and I was the canyon, with rocks and trees and mud hurtling through me. Creative and destructive at the same time. And then he was here, purple gray and bloody and crying. I was wearing a purple t-shirt and lifted it up so we could be skin to skin. John was sitting behind me. He cut the cord and the placenta came out.
And then I felt dizzy and lightheaded – passed August to John and then passed out. Next thing I know I’m on the bed and Heike is waving smelling salts under my nose. I think I freaked them out – luckily my mom was there to tell them I have a history of fainting, nothing to worry about.
I ended up needing stitches because his hands were up by his head. We joked that he put his hands up to slow things down to give his grandma time to get there. August was born with quite a bump on his head - a hematoma. During labor his head must have been pushing against one of my bones -- which might account for the ache I felt in my lower back. The bump wasn't serious though, and ended up going away after 3 weeks.
I feel so grateful that I was able to have the birth I hoped for. It was an incredible, transformational day and we couldn't be more in love with our baby boy.