Peter's birth story - October 2013

The birth story of Peter David
10/07/13, 4:27am MST
Weight: 9lbs, 0oz; Length: 20.5 in.

I had prodromal labor for weeks leading up to Peter's birth, starting around 38 weeks. On two separate days I had contractions that were 30-45 seconds long and coming 10-20 minutes apart, for twelve hours. As soon as I went to bed, they'd stop. As my due date approached, I was getting more and more frustrated. I was huge, uncomfortable, constantly exhausted, and sick of working. (I started working from home full-time at 37 weeks, so thankfully there wasn't a 90-mile round-trip commute on top of it.) 

I was also experiencing bouts of insomnia, to the point where Collin called in sick to work on October 5 because I'd been awake since 3am for the third night in a row, and I was too exhausted to function. He took all the kids out of the house to let me have a day of complete rest; I took a three-hour nap and spent the rest of the day watching episodes of One Born Every Minute on YouTube.

I really didn't want to go to work the next week, so I was trying every natural labor induction method I knew to get things started - sex, walking, evening primrose oil. I also whipped up a batch of Labor-Inducing Cookies and ate about 6 of them. (I normally don't like spicy food but these gingersnaps were delicious - I plan on making them even when I don't need to induce labor.) 

On October 6, we walked to and from church in hopes of getting things going, but nothing happened. Around 4pm, I decided to try what had worked with Violet - castor oil. In fact, I still had the same bottle I'd bought while pregnant with her. I figured if my body wasn't ready, it wouldn't work, but it was worth a try given that it'd worked once before. I mixed a tablespoon with eight ounces of orange juice and a teaspoon of baking soda.

A few hours later, I was losing my mucous plug (a sign, for me, that has always meant baby's arrival within 24 hours) and having steady but weak, painless contractions. I took a warm bath with Epsom salts, and while the contractions kept coming, they weren't getting stronger or closer together. Collin and I discussed bringing the kids over to my brother-in-law's place just in case, but decided against it in case it was another false alarm. (In hindsight, this was the wrong decision.)

We went to bed around midnight, and I fell asleep. I woke up at 3am on the dot, and my first thought was, "Darn it, I guess it was just prodromal labor after all." Then I had a contraction, and it hurt. 

I had another one a few minutes later. It also hurt.

When the third one came around, I woke up Collin and said, "Call Laura [our doula]. I think it's the real thing this time." Originally we told her to come to our house, but we quickly changed our minds and called her back, telling her to meet us at the hospital instead.

The contractions kept coming, and coming, and coming. They were strong, but I was able to manage the pain. I bounced on my birth ball, updated Facebook asking for prayers, and drank the Labor-Ade I'd kept ready in the refrigerator. Collin rushed around as fast as he could, getting our hospital bags and the kids' overnight bags into the van, calling his brother to let him know we were on the way, and getting the sleepy kids loaded into their car seats. We were delayed further because I couldn't find my wallet and insisted on hunting for it before we left. (It was sitting on the couch, of all places -- I must have set it down there and forgotten about it.)

I had a blanket wrapped around me because I was cold, and I kept it around me as I climbed into the van -- actually, I ended up sitting on it. I don't know why I didn't just grab a coat instead, but it ended up being a good thing we had the blanket along. 

We finally set off for my brother-in-law's house, about a mile south of our own, around 3:45am. Contractions were still coming fast and hard, and I was starting to feel anxious about getting to the hospital on time. We were driving south on Highway 303, and I was moaning through a hard contraction, when I heard an audible *pop* -- the closest sound I can think of is when you cluck your tongue against the roof of your mouth. I felt a gush of warm fluid and, horrified, told Collin, "My water just broke!" 

My water had broken on its own in last two labors, and in both cases baby arrived within minutes. (In fact, with Gabriel, my water didn't break until his shoulders were being born.) I texted Laura -- it was 3:53am, according to my phone -- and told her that my water had broken. She asked if I could check it to see if the fluid was clear, and I replied that no, we were still in the van on the way to drop off the kids!

With the next contraction, my body started to push. I had no control over it whatsoever, but I huffed and blowed like crazy to try and stop it. We made it to my brother-in-law's house, and, although my sister-in-law came out to help, it still seemed like hours before they got all the kids and carseats unloaded, plus their overnight bag and Gabriel's travel bed.

Finally we got back on the road, and I told Collin that I was pushing but trying not to, so he had to drive fast. I was actually starting to wonder if we should just pull over and call 911, because my body was pushing with every contraction and I was terrified that I was going to give birth in the van. He was running red lights and, once we got onto the highway, flooring the accelerator. Later he told me that we'd been going 95 miles an hour on the highway. The entire time I was struggling with all my might not to push and praying, "Please, God, don't let me give birth in the car. Please, God, let us get to the hospital!" over and over.

Amazingly, the pain of the contractions wasn't that bad - when I think back on our wild drive, what is most memorable is the terror I felt at the prospect of giving birth on the side of the road with only Collin there. The pain was secondary, and much less memorable.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we made it to the ER, and I saw my doula waiting for us at the door. She had already told the orderlies that I'd be arriving in hard labor, so they had a wheelchair waiting. I somehow managed to get into it, and Laura grabbed the keys to our van and told Collin that she'd park it for us so he could go up with me. (Collin later said that at that moment he would have gladly and gratefully paid someone $500 to park the van for him, so she more than earned her fee with that one action alone!)

As I'd expected, and feared, as we raced by the admitting desk they tried to flag us down and ask questions (so apparently preregistering was, like always, completely pointless). I kept yelling, "I'm pushing! We don't have time for this!" Collin yelled my name and birth date and said, echoing me, "We don't have time for anything else, she's pushing!" The ER orderly - bless the man - ignored them as well and got us into the elevator as fast as he could. Laura again saved the day by stopping at the desk and giving them all the information she could on her way back from parking the van. She had a copy of my birth plan with her which had all the information they needed, thankfully.

We rushed into L&D. I was still chanting my litany of, "I'm pushing! I'm pushing!" so the nurses wisely skipped triage and wheeled me into the closest empty room available. I somehow got undressed from the waist down (but was still wearing my T-shirt and a sports bra) and into the bed in about 30 seconds, with the help of the nurses. I breathed a huge sigh of relief once I was on the bed and said, "Thank you, God, we got to the hospital." 

One of the nurses did a quick exam and said, resignedly, "She's complete and +2 station." (Translation: baby is imminent.)

Laura made it up to our room amazingly quickly, and she'd had the foresight to grab the bottle of Labor-Ade I'd left in the cup holder and bring it up with her. All my panting and blowing to keep from pushing had made my mouth bone-dry, and I was incredibly grateful to have something handy to drink. She also had my birth plan in her hand and made sure the nurses got a copy - and I saw at least one nurse actually reading it as well, which was a relief. Laura also let the nurses know about the baby's clubbed feet so that no one would be surprised by them once s/he was born. 

I am so grateful we decided to to hire a doula, because it was such a relief and a benefit to have someone to run interference with the nurses -- I was too wrapped up in the pain of contractions and the urge to push, and Collin was intent on supporting me.

I was also feeling frustrated, though, because even though we were at the hospital, the nurses were telling me not to push, because my midwife wasn't there yet. As it turned out, she had left the hospital about ten minutes before, so she had to turn around and drive back. The nurses kept asking questions (when was my first contraction, when had my water broken, etc.) and even inserted a heplock -- they wanted to do a full-blown IV with fluids, but luckily both Collin and Laura told them I didn't want that.And they kept telling me not to push, because the midwife was on her way.

I kept thinking, "You people don't understand. My body is pushing, not me. I have no control over it. This baby is coming now whether you like it or not!" 

What actually came out was, "Uhhhhhhh - uhhhhhhhhhhh - I can't stop it!" And now that we were safely at the hospital, I had no desire to stop pushing -- I had fought to stop pushing for the endless journey to the hospital, with the thought that once I got there I could finally stop fighting the sensation. I wanted the baby out so the pain would stop, and so I could finally find out if we had a new son or daughter. The fact that the midwife wasn't there was absolutely inconsequential to me -- I figured there were enough medical professionals around who could handle catching a baby (including Laura, who was a student midwife!).

So, when I felt the urge to push, I pushed. About two pushes later, the baby's head was born. He had a nuchal cord (the cord was around his neck, although not tightly) so the nurses quickly unwrapped the cord and suctioned out his mouth. I pushed again, and delivered the rest of his body. The midwife hadn't arrived, so a nurse named Liz caught him instead. (He wasn't the first baby she'd ever had to catch, either!) He was born at 4:27am, about ten minutes after our arrival and about 90 minutes after my first painful contraction. Collin took a peek between the baby's legs immediately and said, "It's a boy!" I said, first, "Thank you, God!" and then, "His name is Peter."

The nurses ended up cutting the cord after about thirty seconds (despite the fact that my birth plan specified we wanted delayed cutting and clamping) because he wasn't breathing immediately after he came out - they guessed he was a little stunned due to the speed of his birth. (I could empathize.) We did consent to the immediate cutting/clamping once we understood their concerns. His first Apgar score was a 6, which is a tad lower than they like to see. After they cut the cord they took him over to the warmer, rubbed him down, and did a bit more suctioning. He perked up right away and started crying healthily. His second Apgar score was a 9, so he recovered quickly.

They brought him to me about a minute after he was born and laid him on my chest. Oh, he was such a gorgeous boy! My first thought was, "He looks like Gabriel, but with less hair!" He had a stork bite right between his eyebrows, exactly like the one William had when he was born. Collin and Laura commented on how chubby he was -- he had chunky arms, thighs, and cheeks, and adorable rolls of fat on the back of his neck. The minute he was laid on my chest, Peter started rooting for my nipple! I've never had a newborn that enthusiastic about nursing before (and now, three weeks later, he's still a very enthusiastic nurser.) He was ready and raring to nurse, and ate for a good twenty minutes on each side once I got him latched on.

Soon after, the midwife arrived -- minutes too late to catch the baby. She was a bit disappointed to have missed his birth but understood that sometimes you just can't wait. :) She stayed around to help me deliver the placenta (that took a while -- it was probably a good 30 minutes after his birth) and to stitch up my second degree tear.

At one point, Collin and Laura left to turn the van's lights off (she had thought they were the type that turned off on their own, but they need to be turned off manually -- and luckily she asked about this fairly soon after the birth so we didn't have to deal with a dead battery!) and to retrieve our hospital bags. They checked out the front seat while they were there. As it turned out, the blanket I'd been sitting on, as well as my sweatpants, had soaked up all the amniotic fluid so the seat hadn't gotten wet at all! Whew. :)

It was nearly change of shift for the nursing staff by that time, so it was a while before the new nurses came in to introduce themselves and complete the newborn procedures. Peter wasn't weighed until about 3 hours after he was born, but that gave us a nice long stretch of time for bonding. When he was weighed, I couldn't believe the number on the scale - nine pounds exactly! I knew he was chubby but he really hadn't felt that much bigger than my other babies when I pushed him out. He's our biggest baby by 13 ounces (Violet was 8lbs, 3oz at birth).

Amazingly, for the first time ever I did NOT need an IV bag of pitocin afterwards in order to control heavy bleeding! I credit this to the fact that I'd been taking alfalfa supplements since 34 weeks, after reading online that they could help control heavy bleeding. I did some research and spoke to my midwife, both of which confirmed that taking the supplements wouldn't hurt and could help. As it turned out, they did help, significantly. (Specifically, I took two of these each morning.) My postpartum bleeding, both immediately after birth and in the days following, was significantly lighter than it had ever been with any of my previous births. One thing I would change could be to find some alfalfa capsules instead of tablets -- I have a sensitive gag reflex and sometimes taking the tablets was difficult because it tasted like swallowing grass. But they worked out so well that I will definitely use them again with any future pregnancies.

One thing I'd been wondering/worried about was seeing his clubbed feet for the first time. I just wasn't sure how I'd react. Once he was born, however, his feet were the furthest thing from my mind. I was too busy falling in love with my little boy to notice anything else. Once I did see his little feet, though, it wasn't as scary or traumatic as I'd feared. Yes, they were clubbed, but they were a part of him, and that made them beautiful. 

Laura stayed at the hospital with us for several hours, finally leaving around 7am once she was sure we were comfortable and settled. It was several hours before I updated Facebook with the news of his birth, because I wanted to tell certain family members via phone first, and it took a while to get in touch.

The story behind his name: I liked Benedict Francis, after the current and former pope, but Collin was unsure. He's a great admirer of the Pope Emeritus, but we'd already given William the middle name of Joseph as a way to honor him. As a compromise, he proposed the name Peter, which was a nod to the see of Peter and a way to honor both popes. I was iffy, though, because I had a former boss named Peter who had been a nightmare to work for, and told him I'd think about it. 

However, the strangest thing happened. I started seeing the name Peter EVERYWHERE -- in books, magazines, online, etc. It was like God was purposefully putting the name in front of me at every opportunity. We spent some time with Collin's aunt, whose hobby is genealogy, and found out that Peter is actually a family name -- I think Collin's paternal great-grandfather (or maybe great-great-grandfather) was named Peter. 

I was also mulling over using "David" as a first or middle name, as it's my father's name, but didn't think about using it in conjunction with Peter until Collin and I went to Phoenix Comic-Con and met one of my favorite sci-fi authors, Peter David:

When we were in our hotel room, I commented to Collin, "You know, Peter David is actually a really nice-sounding name." He agreed, and we talked it over a few more times before deciding on it definitively a few months later. (Regarding my hesitation with using the same name as Nightmare Boss -- ultimately, I decided that I wasn't going to let some jerk over a thousand miles away, whom I hadn't seen or talked to since 2007, spoil a great name.) It fit, quite nicely, all our naming criteria - saint's name, family connection, and a tangential connection to geekdom.

So, that was Peter's birth. It was a pretty wild ride, but had a very happy ending:

We are so in love with this little guy.
Check out my other blog, The Clubfoot Chronicles, if you want to know how the treatment for his clubbed feet is going.

International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I received an e-mail asking if I would help publicize this campaign on International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and I'm happy to do so. The following is cut and pasted from the email, as my blogging time is limited at the moment. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 officially marks International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a day of remembrance for pregnancy loss and infant death which includes miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or the death of a newborn.  The National Institute of Health estimates 26,000 stillbirths out of the 4 million births per year in the United States, meaning one in every 160 births results in a stillborn.  These statistics can change dramatically with your help!

After learning that Norway had effectively reduced its stillbirth rates by one-third by conducting a public health campaign on kick counting, five Des Moines-area moms who each lost babies to late-term stillbirth or infant death founded a non-profit organization called Healthy Birth Day with the goal of preventing stillbirths and infant deaths through research, education and advocacy.  In 2009, the non-profit launched a statewide public health campaign in Iowa called Count the Kicks to prevent late-term birth complications and stillbirths, urging parents to contact their health care providers immediately if they notice significant changes in their babies’ movements. Scientific studies indicate kick counting (a daily record of a baby’s movements, kicks, rolls, punches, and jabs) during the third trimester is an easy, free and reliable way to monitor a baby’s well-being in addition to regular prenatal visits.  This year, the campaign is going nationwide with the help of Count the Kicks Ambassadors, seven women (Shawn Soumilas for Arizona, Kari Davis for Ohio, Meghan Petty for Tennessee, Karina Bennett for New York & California, Stacey Gripshover for Kentucky, Sapphire Garcia-Glancy for Kansas, and Sarah Firianni of Florida) from across the country who will be spreading the word about the importance of tracking fetal movement during the third trimester of pregnancy. These women will be the feet on the street, connecting with healthcare providers and expecting parents in their communities to spread Count the Kicks' life-saving message, with the ultimate goal of reducing the national stillbirth rate. 

Stillbirth and infant death may be a sensitive subject, but spreading awareness WILL help prevent the loss of more lives.  To join the movement, start by visiting and liking the Count the Kicks Facebook page:

Here is an important message from the Count the Kicks Ambassadors, Mom to Mom:

About Healthy Birth Day: 
Healthy Birth Day is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing stillbirths and infant deaths through education, advocacy and parent support.  Founded in 2003 by five Iowa mothers (Kate Safris, Kerry Biondi-Morlan, Sen. Janet Petersen, Tiffan Yamen, Jan Caruthers) who met after each lost a daughter to stillbirth or infant death,  Healthy Birth Day has helped with getting Iowa’s Stillbirth Registry law enacted (which has brought more than $2 million into Iowa for stillbirth prevention research), created a local parent-to-parent network to reach out to grieving families immediately following their loss of their babies, and launched the “Count the Kicks” public health campaign to help prevent stillbirths.

Tiebreaker is here!

And the winner is.... Team Blue!

Peter David Wahlund
10/7/2013, 4:27am
9lbs 0oz, 20.5 inches

Super short version of the birth story: Holy sh*t.

Short version: woke up to hard contractions at 3am. Water broke in the car. Got to the hospital at 4:15 after dropping off kids. Midwife didn't make it in time so he was delivered by a nurse. 

We're all doing great. :) His feet are definitely clubbed but otherwise he's 100% healthy.

Longer version coming soon!

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