This is the birth story of Matthias, our 4th child born to us. Please be aware there are details that may “gross someone out”. They are not gory or meant to be gross, but it IS a birth story. Read at your own “risk”. ;)
On Friday morning, September 21, at 40 weeks, 2 days, I started having contractions that were different than the prodromal-type labor/Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having on and off for the last few weeks. They were about 10 minutes apart & since I felt like things went pretty quickly for my 3rd child’s birth, I went ahead and let my midwife, doula, & photographer know that “today is the day”. I had my husband start filling up the birth tub so it would be ready in plenty of time for laboring in as well. As soon as I made the calls, I put on the TENS unit for some pain relief. I didn’t have any painful contractions for the next hour. I actually thought I didn’t have any contractions but my midwife, upon hearing I was wearing the TENS unit, believed I was just not feeling them because it was working so well. I kept taking it off & would get one randomly & it hurt, so I figured she was probably right & left it on since it was “bringing such relief”. It turns out I wasn’t having contractions consistently anymore. My parents were at my house watching the kids, and my midwife, photographer, & doula had arrived and were there as well. My husband was finished with the tub & I felt like a watched pot. I was very frustrated because I wasn’t having contractions anymore.
My husband & I decided to take a walk since taking a walk w/my doula earlier had made my contractions pick up. While we were walking, my contractions were every 4-5 minutes, and even though they hurt, I could walk through them. They continued while we had lunch and as I walked back to our house. As soon as I got home, they completely stopped again. My thoughts were, “My contractions are only coming when I’m outside! I can’t have this baby outside!”
My midwife gave me a few options. 1. They could all stay & let me continue to labor (and I in turn would feel like a watched pot that was wasting their time). 2. They could leave & I could call when I was in full-blown labor again (and I would feel guilty for making them come back that night if things did pick up AND I would also have to “be prepared” for my labor to go quickly & them not make it in time for the birth). or 3. I could labor another hour or so & wait to make the decision until then. We chose number 3.
My husband & I went back up to our room alone & as I was trying to labor (meaning, nothing was happening except me crying), we decided to send everyone home & not even wait the full hour. So we went back downstairs & told everyone to leave. My parents even took the kids home with them so it’d be peaceful & quiet to allow my body to totally relax & not have to take care of anything. I fully expected to labor that night but since nothing was happening even after they left, I had to figure out what was stressing me out & get rid of those stressors the best I could.
The stressors were as follows: I had told my Facebook friends I was in labor & felt pressured by them, so I told them it had stopped so I was “off the hook”. I was worried about my kids & my mom being there or not & stressed about what to do, so I texted my mom & she told me not to stress; it was okay if she wasn’t there & if we did happen to call them in time, it was fine. I was also stressed about the photographer being there in time & also about wasting her time & gas money again, so I texted her & said I didn’t think I wanted her there & that I was sorry. She was very understanding. With all that taken care of, all I had to do was talk to myself to prepare myself for if the baby came while I was alone with Chris & also remind myself this was a labor & not a miscarriage (I was crying because of thinking of my miscarriage of our daughter last year). I felt I knew what to do IF labor happened quickly, & I was able to calm myself about the miscarriage situation, so we were all set. I expected to go into labor that night. Yet, nothing.
The next morning, my parents went ahead & brought the kids over & headed to their meeting. I told myself I wasn’t having a baby for another week or so & planned on having a family day with my husband & kids. Telling myself this mentally let me off the hook for “getting it started” or feeling guilty or pressured again. We started getting dressed & ready to go. As I was getting ready, I was hit with a sharp contraction all of a sudden. Huh. That was strong. And odd. I tried to ignore it & continued to get ready. Then I was hit with another one. Only 3 minutes later. Hmmm. “Well, let’s keep getting ready,” I thought. Then another 3 minutes later. I had to stand at the counter & sway to get through these already. I finally told Chris, “I don’t think I can go anywhere…” I couldn’t imagine riding in the car & then walking around a mall or something while trying to breathe & sway through these. Let alone trying to wrangle kids! Ha! So we called my parents to come watch the kids. I called my midwife & she said she’d wrap up the appointment she was having & come right over (she was an hour away). I called my doula but couldn’t get ahold of her on her cell, home, or her husband’s number. I called her son, who was so nice, & he called her. He got ahold of her right away (still don’t know why my call didn’t go through) & she left her other son’s ballgame to come.
By the time my birth team arrived, I was still contracting every 3-4 minutes, with them lasting 45-75 seconds, and I knew I was in real labor finally. I didn’t let anyone know, and after awhile I put my phone down, & just started concentrating through them. The birth tub water needed topped off with hot water (it ended up not quite being hot enough for my liking, but it worked), so my husband worked on that. We played my music & it was soothing. I remember my doula kept getting up to see who sung some of the songs & it was always Sara Groves. We both love her voice & her songs have wonderful lyrics. It was very peaceful to have the music on.
When I started having consistent contractions, it was around 9:15am. Around 1:45-2:00 I got in the birth tub. I was done. I was so ready to have this baby. It hurt worse than I remembered. I had dealt with anxiety for most of my pregnancy before God healed me in July, but toward the end of labor when transition hit, the anxiety briefly returned. I kept wondering if the baby would “fit” or if he would get stuck. I felt like I needed to squat to give him more room, but I couldn’t really picture myself doing this on my own. So I lifted up one leg in a squat & stayed on my other knee. I held my belly during each contraction at this point, because rubbing & putting pressure on it helped. When I would get tired of this position, I would switch legs to where I was half-squatting the other way. I kept doing this until I was ready to push.
I remember seeing my midwife knitting & thinking, “Does she know I am done? Does she know I’m going to push soon? Does she think I’m not that close? Is it going to be that much longer?!” I later found out that she was watching for cues from my doula, who is training to be a midwife & was handling it very well. They made a good team & I think my doula got some new experiences in as well. I finally started “feeling pushy” as they call it. My midwife got up & ready, and my doula was snapping pictures & helping in the ways she needed to. (I still don’t see how she did it all! She’s great!) I was even pushing when I wasn’t getting an urge because even though I looked extremely calm on the outside, I was inwardly panicking. I was seriously afraid of him getting stuck at this point & was just telling myself, “I have to get him out. Now.” This was the first labor where I was crying in transition. I was so ready for it to be over. After 17 minutes of pushing, his head came out. It felt different than my other births, though. Like he was in an odd position or something. I kept stroking his head, and it helped so much to feel his squishy hair. My midwife said, “Wait for him to turn before pushing again.” And then just a few seconds later said, “Okay, you can push again if you want to, but only if you want.” And boy did I want to. I gave a good push again and – whew! – he was out! After a total of 19 minutes of pushing & a little over 6 hours of active labor, Matthias Oliver Chowdhury was born at 3:29pm on September 22, 2012. We weighed him a little later (after 3 meconium poops & 1-2 breastfeeding sessions, which probably evened it out) & he weighed in at 10 lbs 12 oz. & was 21 inches long.
I would later find out the reason it felt “different” when his head was out was because the cord was wrapped around his neck 2 times, around his shoulder once, and under the other arm once. His right arm was also pinned up across his chest with his hand under his chin. My midwife had told me to wait so he could turn, but then upon realizing he had come through in the position he was “supposed to” turn, I could go ahead and push. He was also born “in the caul”, which means his amniotic sac was still over his head. It had broken at the back of his neck as he was coming out, but his head was still covered. He also had a bit of meconium staining but my midwife was quick to reassure me he was okay & it didn’t require attention other than wiping it off. He immediately breathed & cried a little later & I knew he was fine.
My doula went to go grab my mom & the kids & I heard them running up the stairs. They all looked at the baby & I announced the name to them. My 2 year old was tired & kinda grumpy & maybe even scared, so he didn’t want to touch him yet but I think the other 2 did. Then, all of a sudden, my face went numb & started twitching & I got scared. I managed to get out, “uh… uh… I don’t feel so good…” My doula got my midwife’s attention since she hadn’t heard me call for her & my mom saw the look on my face & quickly ushered my kids back downstairs. I felt really lightheaded & my face twitching was scaring me. I couldn’t keep my right eye open. I wanted someone to take Matthias so I wouldn’t drop him, but I couldn’t verbalize anything. They managed to get me out of the tub so they could help me deliver the placenta & try to stop my bleeding (there was a lot of blood in the tub).
Once out of the tub & lying on the futon, I started feeling a little better. I rested there a bit with the baby & I think that’s when I delivered the placenta. They eventually helped me move to my bed but I was still not feeling fantastic. After a couple hours I was told I had to go try to use the bathroom. I got up, with the help of my midwife & my husband, but after 1-2 steps, I collapsed and said “no. no.” I couldn’t walk. I was about to pass out & had to have ammonia
(smelling salts) at my nose. That stuff stinks.
They got me back to my bed & my midwife gave me a homeopathic remedy called Shepherd’s Purse
. It tastes like dirt & is “spicy/hot”. I had to hold it under my tongue for 10 seconds then swallow. That was nasty. After that, she had to check my uterus because I was still bleeding a lot. It was not where it needed to be so she had to massage it pretty firmly. That hurt like crazy
. As she was massaging it, 2 huge
clots came out. As she kept massaging it, the uterus went down in size to where it needed to be & my bleeding became a trickle, like it should be. She gave me Shepherd’s Purse again later (I almost refused, but she told me I was very close to going to the hospital, and she was right, so I took it). I was able to get up shortly after & walk to the bathroom with a little assistance from my husband & from then on it got better & better.
I am so thankful for my husband, my midwife, my doula, my parents, and everyone who was so willing to work with me & understand my needs at the time. God is good and I am so blessed to have my 4 children here on earth.