Today Yesterday, now, Atlas had his first birthday, so on this momentous occasion, I will finally share his birth story. (Warning, graphic story and photos ahead.)
Atlas didn’t want to come out. I was kind of hoping he would be early, but after Tycho’s fashionably late entrance I wasn’t exactly surprised when I made it to my due date. And past my due date. No big deal. I was assured by all the midwives at my practice that being my second baby, he would come on his own just fine, don’t worry. So I didn’t. Not too much. I was tired of being pregnant but I wasn’t worried.
Until there we were at my 41 week 1 day appointment. Tuesday the seventh. And my cervix was still the same centimeter and a half dilated it had been for the last month and at that point in my pregnancy with Tycho I was more dilated and I had lost my mucous plug and something was happening. But this time nothing was happening. Non-stress test was perfect, and I was assured that I would go into labor soon. Soon! But if not, call on Saturday morning. Thursday I was officially more pregnant than I had ever been. Friday we went for a late term ultrasound to make sure he was okay in there. The first new pregnancy milestone for me. I was starting to panic.
Saturday morning comes. I’m still not in labor. We have until Monday to get things going, and then I’m 42 weeks and they ship me off to the hospital and no no no no no. So Saturday morning I down a delicious (disgusting) verbena oil/castor oil smoothie. And nothing happens. Nothing. No contractions, certainly, but none of the other highly unpleasant side effects either. Nothing. So that afternoon we try another dose. Some contractions here and there (among other things, ick), but not labor.
Sunday was another NST. He was still textbook perfect in there, besides not wanting to come out. We were down to the wire now. One more day before I risked out of midwifery all together.
On the morning of Monday, October 13th, I was 42 weeks pregnant and still not in labor. So we prepped the house for our birth, called the labor tub to be delivered, assembled our birth team, and made our last ditch effort to make this happen. It ended up being kind of a scheduled homebirth, which actually was kind of great, minus the lead-up. Everything we needed and everyone we wanted there was already present when we got started, so we weren’t panicking trying to get organized while I was already in labor.
My midwife Kyla, (with an assistant and a student midwife) showed up at our house at 9:30 or so. Despite still not having any progressive contractions, when she checked me I was four centimeters dilated. As agreed, she broke my waters. The amniohook is a scary looking tool, but I didn’t feel a thing, save for the amniotic fluid spilling out of me.
We have a couple hours to get labor going before we lose our opportunity for a home birth. The rest of my team had assembled, and it was a beautiful day. Ashley and I walked around my neighborhood to get things moving. She encouraged me to curb walk and do stairs, neither of which I particularly felt like doing. I’m not sure I would have been able to get my labor going without her pushing me.
On our third sidewalk trek of the day my contractions really picked up. I wasn’t sure I was ever really going to make it back to my house, but we did of course. Once we returned it was pretty clear that labor was on and we wouldn’t be leaving again. I labored with the birth ball until the tub was ready.
As with Tycho, laboring in the water was pretty great. I was focused inward, away from the hustle and bustle going on in my house. Kyle was around, and that was enough. My mom got Tycho from his school bus. He watched me labor for a while, then went off for a nap. I was pretty much left alone, as I was doing very well, and the midwife team was keeping an eye on my progress with a mirror, so they let me be as well. After a few hours like this, they told me I could start pushing if I felt like it.
With no cervical checks or updates on its status, I had no idea I was so far along. Labor with Tycho had been a very slow and steady fifteen hours to reach full dilation, and I had been expecting more of the same.
I got out of the tub and they encouraged me to push but I just kept saying “I’m not ready, I’m not ready.” And they told me I was, and while I’m sure my body was raring to go, I so did not feel like I had done enough time to get to that point. I didn’t feel emotionally prepared to meet my baby yet. But he was (finally) ready to meet me.
We tried a few positions, but nothing really felt right, until I asked them to bring out the birth stool. It had been the best place for me in my labor with Tycho, and it felt good again this time around. With Kyle supporting me from behind, we got down to business. Tycho woke up from his nap just as things were picking up and curled up in my mom’s lap a safe distance away to watch.
Pushing was so much easier than it had been the first time around. It helps to be fully dilated, I guess. I still hated it and it still was the very worst part of the whole project, but things went much more quickly with Atlas and I had no tearing and suddenly there he was, right into my arms, and that perfect sweet moment of love and joy and life was mine. Knowing more or less what to expect this time made it so much easier to just take in this very first wonderful moment of his life.
I don’t remember anything really after that beyond just staring at this amazing little person. I know that I got a pitocin injection to prevent the bleeding I had had with Tycho, but I never felt it, and I know that I birthed the placenta, but I don’t recall that, either. They moved me to the couch somehow and everyone cycled through to coo and cry and I don’t remember a thing but him. He nursed well, right away and we were already home and it was perfect.
Photo credit to my amazing best friend/doula/birth photographer, Ashley. She is the best.