Some crazy version of spring with 80° heat and everyone outside in bikinis has descended upon Seattle so I’m declaring it officially time to say good-bye to winter and that whole pregnancy thing. The child-growing-inside-me-incident knocked me out of all the advantages of living in the Pacific Northwest during the rainy season – specifically, winter sports. Pregnant women sledding, skiing and ice skating are not looked upon favorably by other participants or bystanders and I kind of figured that even if I did manage to expunge my body of its temporary tenant before the snow melted in the mountains, there was no way the wideness that was my pregnant ass was going to fit into my ski pants.
Anabelle, however, finally reached that almost optimal winter sport fun age where the joy of speed and snow mostly outweigh the pain involved in being cold. With the exception of the occasional finger freeze or snowball in the face, she took to all the winter fun like a champ. Henric was also tips down into the snow season participating in a weekly downhill ski team through his work and enjoying in the occasional “board” meeting on the mountain with his colleagues.
I did eventually get to get into the action a little bit. Jannik made his arrival on February 7th and when my parents came to visit three weeks later, I felt like I felt great enough to give the slopes a good run myself. Much to my surprise, the initial baby-falling-out-weight-dump was enough to allow me to slide my ski pants up, just not enough to let me zip or button them. No matter, the sun was shining and I felt good and, who’s really checking out a 30-something, mother-of-two busting out of her ski pants and unable to zip up her jacket? Apparently someone. Three guys told me they liked my sunglasses. Eat that, 47 pounds of root beer float on my backside.
I made it up the mountain and had some nice slow runs before I took a small tumble and was awkwardly reminded by my lady parts that I had had a baby just three weeks earlier and maybe wasn’t supposed to be plummeting down a mountain on six foot long sticks.
(This is Part III of III parts about Jannik’s birth. Check out Part I here and Part II here).
I curse flagrantly in high stress situations. It may be my fatal flaw. I’m really working on it but it’s hard and when you’re sitting on a toilet and you reach your hand down to your vagina and feel a baby’s head, there’s really just one thing to say: Oh Shit.
Which I shouted very loudly, followed quickly with “Henric get in here and f*cking catch this baby – it’s coming.” With that, I stood up and took a half step away from the toilet as Henric ran into the bathroom and at 12:04am, February 7th, 2013, a baby literally dropped out of me. I’m serious – no pushing, no people yelling “you can do it” / “breathe” / “one more big push” – he just fell out. Henric and I caught the baby together ala Bradley videos of Latin American squatting natives and I sat down on the bathroom floor with my new baby boy.
It was insane.
The baby quickly let out two little wails and settled down on my stomach. Jayme was on the phone with the midwife, shouting “the baby’s here! Oh my God, she just had the baby!” and all I could think was “Praise the Lord.” There is no way I could have continued laboring in that intense pain. From first contraction to birth, my labor lasted two hours and four minutes. Having had the stress test that evening, I know I wasn’t having contractions earlier, validating for me, the real intensity of the pain, most likely tied to how rapidly my junk had expanded to get the baby out.
Ten minutes later, Sally arrived for the end of the show and let me cut the umbilical cord. We hung out on the bathroom floor until the baby started nursing and within an hour of delivering, I was able to stand up and move into my own bed. Why a homebirth totally rocks: you get to get in your own bed with your own stuff and your own food and never have to leave your house or have all those people bothering you or keeping you up all night. With Jayme and Henric there to take care of everything, I got to spend the next five days in bed, just concentrating on the baby and my body. Totally awesome and definitely why I felt so great so quickly afterwards.
Sally stayed for several hours after the birth but by 3am, we were all in our respective beds and settling into our new life. Reflection on the whole experience for me is totally surreal. The thing that surprises me the most is how absolutely not scary it was as it was happening. Leading up to the birth, I had plenty of fears and doubts about everything that could go wrong with a homebirth. Henric and I had a lot of conversations about the consequences to our relationship and home life if things went wrong. I watched countless birthing videos and read a lot of negative critiques of homebirthing.
In the end, we stood by our decision but still, there were lingering doubts and fears going into childbirth, no matter where we were doing it. When the baby came, though, and the midwife wasn’t there and it was just Henric, Jayme and I, there was never a moment of fear or doubt for me. It felt like the most natural thing in the world. Sitting there on the bathroom floor, in a pool of fluid that had been festering in my stomach for the last nine months, holding my new baby with his umbilical cord still up in my stuff, was totally surreal and amazing.
(And anyways, I probably would’ve ended up having a home birth planned or not. Or a baby in a car. Because whose baby just falls out two hours and four minutes after the first contractions begin? And I’m pretty sure neither my car or health insurance policy covers auto detailing…)
Jannik Matthias Anders Goss Jentz born February 7th, 2013 at 12:04am, 8lbs 5oz, 21 inches long.
(The five names thing is a whole other conversation about three day postpartum hormones, my husband’s declaration that this is the last baby, and the result of two very long contrasting lists of possible baby names).
(Part II of Jannik’s three-part birth story. Catch Part I, here)
Nashville starts at 10pm and my labor began with the opening credits. Suddenly I felt very uncomfortable and unable to sit down. I pulled out the yoga ball and tried to sit and kneel on it but an overwhelming discomfort was totally messing with my tv viewing. By 10:30, when Jayme announced she was heading to bed (apparently watching Hayden Panettiere sing country-pop was as awesome as I thought), I was pretty sure it was game time.
I made it through Nashville but by the time it was over I was in so much pain I couldn’t speak through the contractions. At 11:00, I called my midwife, Sally, to tell her I was in labor. She offered to come right over but I told her to wait, I had only been having contractions for an hour. Yes, things were super painful, much more painful than they had ever been with Anabelle, but still, an hour in and I’m going to have the midwife come? That’s like those people that go to the hospital with Braxton-Hicks. I’m not one of those people – I am a birthing champion.
Sally suggested I get in the shower to help relieve some of the pain. The thirty minutes in that shower with hot water beating down on my back was my day of reckoning. Leading up to Anabelle’s birth, we had taken twelve weeks of Bradley birthing classes. I went into that birthing process prepared. Ready for the 48 hour labor. Ready to doubt myself, ready to hit that moment in transition where I would think I couldn’t do this. Through seven hours of labor, though, that moment never came. It was tough, it was painful but I never thought I couldn’t make it and I never doubted myself. We showed up at the hospital and I was already at 10 and pushing.
This time, I’m an hour in and I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. I called Henric into the shower and told him he needed to pray and lay hands on me. (For real, I told my German Lutheran husband it was time for hand laying). After 30 minutes in the shower, I moved back into our “birthing room” (aka office). For the next 15 minutes I gave myself a pep talk while Henric held a hot water bottle on my lower back and ice pads on my neck. I reminded myself that I ran a marathon. It sucked and lasted a lot longer than an hour and a half. There was rain and wind and chafing. I can do this. Then my other self would say, “There’s an easier way – it’s called a hospital. This is super stupid and painful. I already proved I’m a birthing champion once. There isn’t even a medal for this.”
By 11:45 I told Henric it was time to call Sally back and tell her to get here – now. A few minutes later, I headed to the bathroom to sit on the toilet, hoping it would relieve some of the pressure. Henric called Sally and came into the bathroom just as my water broke. When my water broke with Anabelle, I was sitting on our bed, on Henric’s lap. For the following two hours, I sloshed amniotic fluid throughout the house and made such a mess that Henric rushed home from the hospital after the delivery to do a pre-cleaning before the cleaning lady showed up for her regular visit. Breaking over the toilet is so much more convenient.
Once my water broke, I felt an immediate release of pressure – physically and emotionally. I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. This baby was going to come out. Within a couple of hours, the baby would be born, I thought. I can do this.
Henric stepped out of the bathroom and two minutes later, still sitting on the toilet, I felt a sudden pressure in my nether regions. I moved my hand down to my vagina and felt the baby’s head coming out.
(This is Part I of III about Jannik’s birth. Catch Part II, here)
Week 38 of pregnancy was killer. Anabelle was born during week 38 so I was expecting the baby to come any day now. Then Anabelle and Henric got sick over the weekend, both with fevers and nastiness. By the following Tuesday, they were feeling better but I had developed a sinus and ear infection. A trip to the doctor provided some relief with the news that with an at-term baby, I could pretty much ingest any drugs I wanted. Loaded with decongestant, nasal spray and cough drops, I spent the rest of the week balancing rest and Anabelle – all the while reversing my “get this baby out” mantra into “please don’t let me have this baby feeling this crappy.”
We watched a LOT of television. Way beyond the usual one-show-a-day rule. The only relief was that through the sinus headache and pain from coughing, I suddenly no longer felt any of the aches of pregnancy in my hips or back. My chiropractor claims this is totally normal. The mind can only process so much pain so, above a certain threshold, we quit perceiving lower-level pain. This made me consider praying to go into labor because I would either get relief from the head and cough-ache or not feel the pain of labor because of the explosion in my head…
When my sister Jayme arrived on Friday, it was total elation. My sinuses were draining and my newfound addiction to nasal spray was working miracles. I had a nasty, hacking cough but now there was someone to help! We spent the weekend brunching with friends, skiing (me watching, them doing) and hosting a Super Bowl party.
By the time Monday rolled around with my week 39 appointment, my calendar was cleared and I was ready to have the baby. The baby, though, was not ready to be had. The force of all my coughing was helping to move him south (apparently he wasn’t happy about all the hacking tremors and was attempting to exit) but the canal locks were not opening. I was a total of 0 dilated.
Wednesday arrived and Jayme and I spent the morning getting manicures and pedicures and the afternoon chasing Anabelle around Greenlake on her bike. By late afternoon I started getting antsy because I hadn’t felt the baby move all day. Two hours of various positions and trying out every internet trick to get him to move, I still couldn’t feel him and I was getting nervous. I called our midwife and headed over to her house for a stress test.
Within a couple of minutes, it was clear the baby was fine and moving normally. Apparently all the coughing, combined with the massive stomach stretching had caused my abdominal muscles to go numb. He was moving, I just couldn’t feel it anymore. This also explained why it miraculously wasn’t hurting in my stomach anymore every time I coughed.
Once back home I ate supper and settled in to watch bad tv for the evening. When labor started with Anabelle, I was at a David Sedaris reading, listening to him make fun of the special privileges pregnant women think they should be afforded for a disability they inflict upon themselves. I pride myself on sitting through the whole show and driving through my contractions 30 minutes home alone. I like being able to say I went into labor at a David Sedaris show; someone I respect, admire and thoroughly enjoy reading.
My labor this time started while watching Nashville.
We are just days away from the expulsion of He-Who-Has-Not-Been-Named and things are getting uncomfortable. After two weeks of subsisting primarily on ice cream and root beer, my body has decided to no longer tolerate dairy and there are just all kinds of tummy and esophagus-burning unpleasantness that has me convinced it’s time to get the baby out.
Monday we hit a full 37 weeks and our official “you may now have the baby” day meaning I was all ready to start the baby-inducing walk/sex/spice fest but a trip to the midwife with Henric put a damper on my extracurricular activities. She says the baby’s going to come when he comes and anything I do to speed things along is just going to mean a longer labor. That’s not something any of us wants so looks like dairy’s out for the near future, along with sleeping comfortably and movement that’s not accompanied with grunts, sighs and moans.
A 35 week ultrasound gave us the opportunity to get a closer look at who we’ll be greeting soon. Apparently he’s going to be huge (well over 9lbs) and the ultrasound technician said we should name him “Magnus” based on the circumference of his head alone. Hours of internet research later, though, I’ve come down from the panic ladder and convinced myself that my body would not betray me by producing a child I can not push out of my babychute.
We spent the weekend going over our homebirth prep checklist, unpacking old baby supplies and marveling over how small everything seems (insert general “I’ll believe it when I see it” disbelief about whether or not his bottom will seriously fit into those tiny stage one diapers) while discovering how unprepared we are for the impending arrival. Half the bassinet/cosleeper was lost in the move and for me “nesting” has resulted in an inability to make decisions so we’ll be using some kind of modified laundry basket as a baby bed until I find the perfect solution that meets all the requirements of my unrealistic, idealistic vision for where this baby should sleep.
I was feeling kind of down about my current physical state because I just don’t remember being this uncomfortable last time around. Most likely I’ve either purged it from my mind or I was working full time last time around and didn’t have the luxury of time to think about being uncomfortable. Then I started looking at some of the pictures we took this weekend and comparing them to some from nine days before Anabelle was born. I’m convinced that I looked much fatter then so everything’s going to be fine.