On March 13th at 4:36 in the morning we welcomed Samuel Christopher Larson into our lives. We were delighted to meet him and we can tell he is already quite the fine little fellow. Samuel weighed 6 lbs 15 oz and was a very lengthy 22 inches. Since his birth he has been a fairly agreeable baby and has taken to nursing quite well. My sister has this theory that babies who are born in the middle of the night have their days and nights mixed up. This may be true, though we have only had one night with him. It was a little rougher than our first night with Matthew.
The birth was quite the experience. I had wanted a natural birth without any medication and I was hoping for a water birth. What I got was the hardest day of my life.
I started having contractions on Sunday afternoon and they picked up Sunday night. I didn't sleep that night because I was having regular contractions that were painful enough to keep me awake but not painful enough to send me to the hospital. I was so excited to be so close to the "end." Then Monday morning when I woke up the contractions had subsided in regularity and I was so frustrated. I was also exhausted since I hadn't slept the night before so I tried to sleep. Every time I feel asleep contractions began again and woke me up, and they got progressively more intense throughout the day but were very far apart. I called my midwife and she told me to maybe go in and have my cervix checked. I was going to go in without Tim but then I decided I wanted to go for a run instead. Yes, obsessive. I was hoping it would drive me into labor. So I ran 3 1/2 miles with Chester and felt fine the entire run. Shortly after getting home from the run I realized I was in labor. The contractions picked up immediately after the run and became a lot closer together. I showered, tried to eat, walked around, and called up our babysitters. Tim and I got into the hospital at about 10:00 on Monday night and I was 4 cm when we got there. After 1 hour at the hospital I was 5 cm so they admitted me and called in the midwife. Let the fun begin.
And thus began the hardest 6 hours of my life. I've heard people who have had natural births say it was the hardest thing they have ever done. This is most definitely not an exaggeration. To say that I became hysterical is really not an understatement. The pain was unbearable and I hadn't really prepared for the labor at all. It was like I woke up one day and thought, "I'll try to have a baby without any meds" and figured "no big deal." The regular breathing and focusing on something "outside of the contractions" quickly became, as things progressed, moaning and trying to make it through which later became groaning and praying to God to make the contraction end which then became screaming and saying, "I can't do this anymore" and then finally ended at screaming hysterically and yelling at the midwife to tell me exactly how much longer I was going to have to do this, pleading with her to make it stop, screaming that she needed to cut the baby out, and that she needed to vacuum suction the baby out (at this point she told me I knew too much).
I got in the bathtub and labored in there for probably 1-2 hours. I definitely was not focused on the time. My husband was by my side the entire time and at one point was literally the only one holding me up. After a while the midwife checked my cervix and said I still had some left and that the baby was in the posterior position (this makes labor more painful and also makes it harder for the baby to descend through the pelvis). She suggested I sit up and I'm pretty sure this is when I became unraveled. When I moved the contractions grew in intensity and then she had me go sit on the toilet (a common thing to help the baby descend) and that was pretty much the end of me mentally, when I had to get out of the tub and things picked up even more.
I felt intense pain and pressure but pushing wasn't really helping to move the baby (instead other things were moving...) so they brought me to the bed. They kept saying I wasn't pushing right, that I was screaming too much, and that I needed to push instead of scream. I have said this to several women when I was helping them deliver in my OB rotation. I had no idea what I was saying. This is so much easier said than done and it took probably 30 minutes for me to actually figure out how to do this (and even then I was only 50% successful). In between every contraction I pleaded with the midwife to tell me exactly where the baby was and exactly how much longer this was going to take and how many more pushes I needed. She told me the baby could be born at 4:30. This was at 4:00. 30 minutes seemed like the end of me. I tried to hang in there but I kept saying there was no way I could do this. Everyone told me I had no choice. I knew they were right and that is as powerless as I've ever felt; to be so desperate to stop something and the only way to stop it is to do the very thing I fully believe I cannot. The nurses who knew I was a runner kept telling me, "this is the 26th mile." Yeah, right. This was way harder than any 26th mile or 13th mile or any last mile of any race I've ever done.
But I did it. After 2 hours of pushing (longer than I had to push with Matthew) and only 6 minutes later than the midwife's prediction, Samuel Christopher Larson cried life's first cry.
I was so excited to be done with the labor (and I was shaking uncontrollably) that all I could say while holding my brand new baby was, "it's over. it's over. it's over." I don't even think I announced his name to my mom for like 10 minutes.
I think for 24 hours I suffered post traumatic stress syndrome from an unmedicated child birth. I am immensely glad I did it, both for the quick recovery and also for the sense of accomplishment I feel. We might have another one and if we do, I will probably be foolish enough to do it again. However, for the life of me, I can't tell you why. My birth with Matthew any my friend, epidural, was so much more pleasant but this one was so much more meaningful. And, if I may say so, slightly heroic.
And so, without further ado I introduce you to our little string bean.
Proof that I gave birth in a bathing suit
Proof that I gave birth in a bathing suit