Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Birth Story of Peregrin Marcus



This is the story of how our third child came into the world. He arrived on Monday, May 5th, 2014...just a few days shy of his due date on the 8th.

PS: This is a long, somewhat detailed/slightly graphic-ish birth story. We all know where babies come from, and where they come out, so you've been warned! No, don't worry - it's nothing THAT bad, but I wrote this mostly for myself, so read if you want!  

The Saturday before, I started to feel a little crampy. Nothing significant, just slightly annoying. It would come and go. I also had an increase of mucus/fluid/discharge - whatever you want to call it. I got excited - but nothing was pink. I knew the increase meant something could happen that night, or not till next year, so on Sunday I texted my midwife just to let her know about it.

Monday brought the same things, as well as a unique mental state that, looking back, should have been a sign that something was going on. They say women feel depressed and "over it" near the end, and that is exactly how my brain was all day. Emotionally I had been fine up until then. It wasn't even the pregnancy I was down about or "over" - so it was just weird for me! I had my weekly visit with my amazing chiropractor in the morning, and we joked that the next time I came in, the baby would be born! (We said this every week though. Haha.)

Ian came home from work at his usual time, and we all ate dinner before he left 20 minutes later for his second job. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I took my crochet outside and worked on my blanket while the kids played. My sister and I had been playing phone tag during the afternoon, but my cell was almost out of minutes. I was bummed I couldn't call her. (Woh woh.) But the sunshine felt good so I looked on the bright side.
My in-laws dropped in for a quick visit, and as they left about 15 minutes later at 5:00pm, I started cleaning up the backyard. The kids had opened up all our seed packets earlier that day (no cukes this year, kids!), and the pieces of paper were annoying me. As I picked them up one by one, I felt warm fluid come out. At first I was like, "Oh that was a lot of mucus..." but then it kept coming. I straightened up and felt it just steadily pouring out! Oh boy...my water broke!
I quickly made my way to the bathroom and expected it to gush out and be over in five minutes. With both previous births, my water broke right as the babies were born in the pools, so this was completely new for me. I had no idea that my water would continue to come out...and out...and not just be over in one gush!
Finally about 15 minutes later, I got the "leaking" controlled and made my way to the phone to call Ian. He and I never communicate via cell phones anymore, but I made him carry his as my due date got closer. So when he saw I was calling, he must've known. His voice was so excited as he answered.
"Hello?"
"Hey, um, you need to come home!" I said happily.
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah! My water broke...and it's still going!"
He was like, "Okay I'm leaving right now." 
Then I called Jen, our midwife, and told her the news. We decided that I would be in touch and talk to her again once contractions started. She said they could start any minute or not for another six hours, so I wanted to just play things by ear.
I finally made my way back outside to the kids and had them come inside. I was ecstatic. I couldn't stay calm or focused. I wanted to do every little thing to get ready for the baby. But first things first: I had to get the kids settled and fed and bathed. They were grubby little messes from playing outside all day! So I put them in the tub. Then I made the premature decision to tell Malley that her sister, Siena, was arriving soon. I also made the over-zealous promise that Malley could stay up until she was born. (I know, I know...)
So they bathed, and I went into insane nesting mode. The bathroom looked spotless. My room became tidied. Ian came home just as the kids were finishing up their bath. He greeted me with a big kiss and said, "Cinco de Baby!" I had no idea when she would be coming, but he'd been saying all along it would be the 5th! I couldn't stop smiling or saying, "I'm so excited! I can't believe she'll be coming soon!"
A little backstory: I had insisted this pregnancy to find out the gender of the baby, so at 19 weeks back in December, we visited our friend who's an OB and he gave us an ultrasound revealing: it's a girl! Siena Martine was the name we picked, and we called her that the next five months.
While I got the kids out of the bath and into fresh clothes, Ian filled up the pool.


We put on a movie for the kids, and Ian made us all dinner. Around that time, I notified my mom and sister, Marie, who would be there at the birth. Just said we'd keep them posted when things started picking up. Finnegan just loved having this big, empty, fun, fishy pool in our dining room. He got a few of his toys and went to play in it. Who needs a movie for entertainment when you have THIS?


I took a shower, put on fresh clothes, continued to deal with my water breaking, and couldn't believe how much softer/squishier my belly felt without all that water in there! I kept poking it. Ian and I continued to go crazy intense and clean the house. It's amazing how much you can get done when you've got a new houseguest arriving. ;)
It was 7:30, and still there were no signs of contractions. Baby was still moving around in there, and every now and then, I'd get a Braxton-Hicks. Malley was one extremely tired little girl when bedtime arrived, so despite my earlier promises, we explained she had to go to bed because we just didn't know when Siena would arrive. I told her my body hadn't started helping the baby move down yet. I told her when Siena started to come, we would go and wake her up.
So for the last time, Ian and I brought both the kids to bed upstairs together. We only do that every once and a while, and it just seemed perfect and somewhat ceremonial to do it together. The kids gave my belly kisses for the last time ever. It was so sweet.

I checked in with Jen and told her nothing was happening - just regular Braxton-Hicks. I then called my sister. She works really early shifts and I knew she would normally be going to bed soon on any other night. So we decided that she would come over now before she got too tired. She was afraid that if she fell asleep and I called her in the middle of the night, she would sleep right through the call.

So around 8:30pm, Ian got us bowls of ice cream, and I sat on my exercise ball while we watched Arrested Development. It was fun, just chilling, and waiting. We didn't know what to expect for the night, so we just did our usual routine. Ian looked at the clock and was like, "Cinco de Baby?" I shook my head, "I really don't think so...but that's okay. May 6th is still a good birthday!"

But around 8:45pm, I felt the first contraction. It was really strong. And sudden. I immediately had to block everything out and breathe through it. Ian looked at me when it was done and asked, "Should I shut this off?" I nodded. No more Arrested Development for us that night.
A few minutes later, Marie arrived. I stood up to say hi and felt the second contraction come on. The kids were still awake at this time, and after yet another contraction passed, I went upstairs to give them hugs and kisses so they would relax and fall asleep. Malley was too funny as she said, "I can't believe Siena's not coming yet...she is a stinker." And then she said, in her matter of fact way, "I mean, what if she's a boy!"
Back story: for some crazy reason, we had decided to warn her now and then during the pregnancy that the ultrasound might have been wrong and that Siena might really be a boy. The reason we did this is because Malley wanted a baby girl more than anything in the world. Like, more than anything in the world. No amount of Princess Sofia or purses full of jewelry or orange tic-tacs competed with this one wish. Malley was one of the reasons we found out the gender (well, okay, I had 90% say just because I wanted to know myself, but it was also nice to be able to tell Malley what to expect). So when she said this right before going to bed, I laughed and said, "Oh don't worry, she's a girl..."
I had prepped myself some remedies, Mag Phos 6x and Arnica 200c, and had started sipping them around every contraction. We had been loosely timing them at 5 mins apart, but at 9:00 we noticed I had actually had three in the last ten minutes. So I was like, "We need to call Jen." So I texted both her and my mom to come over right now...these bad boys were already intense.
Ian called Jen a few minutes later to make sure she got the message, which she hadn't!, so she headed out right away. She lives about 90 minutes away, so I was glad she was getting on the road.

10 minutes later, my mom pulled in. I was sitting, listening to my hypnobirthing track on my iPod, trying to focus in between the strong surges. My mom sat with Ian and I in the living room for a few minutes, and I found myself having to sit not-so-lady-like on the chair because the surges were so low.

Marie had started filling up the birth pool around that time. We hadn't been able to find out adapter for the sink faucet, so she stood there in the kitchen holding the hose so the tub could fill up. I needed to stand then - sitting was not working anymore. But standing also made the surges stronger - I had to take the ear plugs out...I couldn't really focus on my tracks. I quick bopped into the bathroom, hoping to pee in between surges, and I ended up dealing with two of them on my own. The cool thing was I saw pink tinged stuff - yay for dilation!
When I opened the door, Ian saw the look on my face: yet another one was starting, and he came right to me. We hugged during that one, and when it was done we looked at each other like, "Holy crap..." we were both really surprised by how quickly they were happening.

It was apparent the birth pool needed to be filled up more quickly than we thought. Ian started helping by using pots and pans in the tub. When a surge would come, he'd be right by my side, and then he'd go back to quickly filling up the pool. But after a few minutes, I told him, "Ian - have my mom or Marie do that...I need you here." The next two surges were insane - I had to slide my foot away from the other during the last one - it was so crazy low. I also had to make a little noise during it. I realized suddenly: this baby was coming down.
Ian noticed the change and was like, "What do you need, baby?"
I remember time almost stopping just then. "Malley." I said firmly. "Tell them to go get Malley - I need to push."
It was 9:45pm. I faintly remember Ian calling to Mom and Marie. The water stopped, and as Ian helped me into the pool, Marie ran upstairs to wake Malley, then Mom called Jen on the phone. There was a pause in the labor...the warm water felt so amazing, but it was just barely covering my belly. We had just enough to do this! I settled on my knees in the pool and heard Marie try to wake Malley. She came downstairs saying Malley was just out cold - and even after trying again, we accepted that she was in a nice little sleep cycle and this baby wasn't waiting!
I remember telling my mom, "My phone's going to run out of minutes - my cell won't work" so she called Jen on another line. She was very calm as she explained to Jen I was in the pool, ready to push. Jen asked if I wanted her on speaker or if we would call her back. I was not in the talking mood - I was barely in the thinking mood. I waved my hand and was like, "I can't talk...we'll call her back." So after receiving some instructions from Jen, my mom hung up and got down next to the pool with us.

It hadn't occurred to me that we might be doing this "unassisted", without our midwife there. A couple times during the pregnancy, I had asked Ian if he would consider having one. Even though both previous births had been very straightforward, Ian really insisted on having Jen there, because heaven forbid, anything should happen...he just felt so much better having our knowledgeable, trusted midwife there too. So that night, when it was clear we were doing this solo, I was blown away by the way Ian just stepped right up to the plate without any nervousness, hesitation, or worry. He was right next to me, holding my hand and ready. We waited a few moments together, and then it was time to push.


I've read about women saying their bodies took over during birth. With both previous births, I felt like I had some "control" or "say" during this part of the labor. I now know what those women meant though. This time, my body did just take over. Pushing was so powerful, fast, and really strong...and crazy painful. I was pretty loud! When it hurt, everyone knew because I told them. When I felt the head coming down, everyone knew because I told them! Ian was seriously amazing. He was so excited but also very calm, helping me with his words, guiding me through it all, and telling me to breathe down. Apparently, and this makes me laugh looking back, he says I snapped, "I KNOW!" at him when he told me to breathe down. In my mind, I was just agreeing with him - but the experience was so intense, it must have sounded like I was mad at him. Nothing was further from the truth - hearing his words being the ones to help me through this meant the world to me, but I guess the appreciation didn't come out as the most prominent emotion during the experience. :P
With only a couple pushes (that were really INSANE), the head came out. I felt the baby's soft hair and face. Ian was hugging me and also feeling the baby right along with me. There is seriously nothing in the world that can explain that feeling...after months and months of knowing the baby is there, and feeling the baby move inside of you, to finally FEEL the baby beneath your finger tips just is overwhelming...I literally was crying and laughing at the same time.

There was just enough water in the pool for my lower half to be submerged, so I was very careful to remain underneath now that the head was out. It was so cool and strange to feel the head moving a little bit outside of me, and there was a few seconds of pausing before I felt another contraction coming. Ian was so excited and encouraging - and we were so ready to see the baby! It took everything I had to push the baby out, but then the baby was just OUT! I saw the whole body in the water, and despite the excitement and happiness, my Mom had instructions for us to check for the cord first before pulling the baby out of the water. And thankfully we did; even though it wasn't tight at all, the cord was around the neck. So we simply slipped it over the baby's head, and I pulled the baby out into my arms!


We were so happy! It was an amazing moment. The skin was covered in the white, slippery vernix, but I hugged and kissed the baby anyways. But we noticed that the baby was very calm, very quiet. I felt a tinge of worry as I looked at my mom. "She's not really moving..." I said.

"Just talk to her, put her in the water, rub her belly," my mom encouraged. So we did, somewhat quickly and vigorously. I was rubbing her belly when I moved my hand and looked down at her private region - just to make sure...she was...you know, a girl.

Well, guess what.

It was a boy!!!

I was SHOCKED! We couldn't believe it! We had been calling this little baby a GIRL for months! We all laughed and were like, "What!?" I think the extra excitement jarred our movements a bit more, and within seconds, the baby was moving and acting a little annoyed that I was poking him. HIM.

He started to cry. It was so sad and precious.

It was 9:52...and our little son was here!

The next half hour flew by. I stayed in the pool, and we let the baby relax in the water. I felt like I'd been hit by a truck, so I didn't really want to move anywhere just yet. When Jen arrived around 10:30 or so, she immediately jumped in and helped me finish birthing the placenta. Then with Ian, they cut the cord. I was a shaky mess while the wonderful women helped me onto the couch, but with blankets and the baby on my chest, I soon calmed down. Marie kept giving me my remedies to sip, which seemed to help a lot with the overall shock of birth.


My little guy latched on so quickly and nursed that night while he made the sweetest, funniest noises. His face was a little "bruised" from the quick-ness of the birth, but the rest of his body was bright pink and perfect. 

For a while, we all enjoyed the bliss. We still couldn't believe he was a boy, but honestly looking back, we quickly got over it as we started thinking of a name. This actually only took us a few minutes. It's so funny...you can spend days, weeks, months, thinking of a possible name. But when push comes to shove, it's not hypothetical anymore! 

Peregrin Marcus.That's what we chose. 

Peregrin: because it was my first choice this pregnancy before we "found out" it was a girl. It's a saint and a Lord of the Rings character...so it's pretty much perfect.

Marcus: because Ian had been rooting for it because of Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Cicero (stoics...can you tell my husband's a philosopher?) and Marcus Mumford. I would've been Mark had I been a boy all those years ago, and St. Mark is just cool. So again, perfect.

He weighed 10lbs, 6oz, and was 22 inches long. 

Oh yeah! And he had bright blonde/reddish hair! Our little Pippin...the heartbreaker already! ;)

Jen and Marie were fantastic and cleaned up the pool. Then everyone texted pictures and the news to our family. We debated waking Malley up so she could meet her brother, but we eventually decided not to. We had no idea how she'd handle the news, and we didn't want her upset that it was a boy. So after a little longer of just enjoying the baby, everyone went home and it was time for us to sleep. 

What were the kids' reactions when they woke up? 

Well, Malley woke up around 3am and called down, "Did Siena start to come yet?" So Ian went upstairs and told her she could see him since I was awake nursing on the couch anyway. He pre-warned her while they were still upstairs together that Siena was actually a boy. I braced myself for her reaction as she came downstairs toward the couch, but she was beyond adorable. She immediately wanted to hold him, so she got to snuggle with him on the couch, smiling her sweet sleepy smile, and kissing him. She decided on her own to go back to bed very quickly after only a few minutes, and promised us she'd see us in the morning to hold him again.

Ian and I were like, "Woah, what just happened..."

:P



The next morning, Ian was the first one awake with us, so we enjoyed some quiet time before the kids got up. We heard Finn at the top of the stairs, so Ian brought him over to us. He was so shy when he saw Peregrin and I on the couch. He smiled so cutely and eventually wanted to hold him. 


A little while later, Malley woke up and wanted to hold him immediately. So we let her and talked about the night before. She wasn't upset at all that she had slept through the birth - I think all that mattered was that she held him.

I, as the mom, have been given the rare privilege of holding him when it's time to nurse, or when he gets too fussy for Malley to handle, but holding him is the first thing she wants to do in the morning when she wakes up - sometimes she even passes up breakfast if it means getting to snuggle. She is such a little mother to him...they take naps on the couch together and she comforts him when he cries. Finn has caught on and tells him, "I know, baby...I know..." when he's sad. He also says, "It's okay, little guy..."


 The cuteness!!!



Recovery this time has been noticeably more difficult than both previous births combined. There was a lot of limping around the house, bra-less, for that first week. The second week has been much, much better. I still need to take it easy; I definitely notice pain coming back if I try to do too much. Ian literally did everything that first week for us (except nurse or hold the baby...the latter we blame Malley for :P), and I truly believe that's why I'm able to move this week! It was a godsend having him home on vacation. I couldn't have done anything without him and the meals our families brought. I cried a bit the morning he went back to work. 

Now, at 16 days old, Peregrin is still so perfect. SO cuddly and sweet and yells like crazy during a diaper change. I never heard a baby actually say "Waa" before this. Sometimes he cries "Maa" -- and my heart breaks. I still can't get over his hair, which is still a beautiful strawberry blonde. (Naysayers who insist he will only have blonde hair can go stand in the back of the line. No free cars for you.) I can't get past his funny faces or noises in his sleep. I LOVE how he smells. I could smell him all day. 

SO there you have it. If you made it to the end, good for you. Here is a bonus picture of my handsome, sweet little man! 


I'm just so glad to be his mom...he is such a blessing! 


Our first time baby-wearing a couple days ago.