Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Martin Wilhelm's birth story

Edited edition for male readers or others who want "just the facts, ma'am":

Martin Wilhelm was born on June 24th, 2013 at 7:29 a.m, weighing 7lb. 8oz. He's adorable and a voracious eater.

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Longer version:

(If you just want the birth story and not pregnancy ramblings, start reading a few paragraphs further down.)

This pregnancy was SO different than previous ones. Beginning with not getting a strong positive pregnancy test until several days later in my cycle than normal for me, fluctuating hormones that had never "normalized" from my miscarriage 6 months previous, and a marked difference in morning sickness and exhaustion (much less debilitating than with Hans and Gretchen!).

An early ultrasound supported my intuition and observation that I had ovulated later than the "usual" 14 days post-LMP (explaining the delayed positive pregnancy test!) - approximately 6 days later, in fact - and I adjusted my due date mentally from June 7 to June 13th. (My care provider in CT wouldn't "officially" accept the due date change, despite the evidence, but said it would be "taken into account" - not sure what that means!) I then settled into the first trimester with all its wonders and worries, especially with my previous 2 miscarriages. Despite the hormonal fluctuations and the lighter morning sickness, we made it into the second trimester. In retrospect, I suspect at least part (if not all) of the lighter morning sickness and tiredness was due to eliminating wheat and sugar from my diet some months previous. I've found too many carbs to contribute to my own morning sickness, and eliminating wheat and sugar (both intolerances for me) probably kept my blood sugar more stable. Merely a theory, but I've read similar stories from others.

At the beginning of the second trimester we moved from CT to TX, and I began looking for a new care provider. The idea of a homebirth had always been in the back of my mind for a future birth, but I'd never pursued it previous to now for a few reasons. But when the birth center in TX that I'd planned to use announced its closing the month we moved there, and when we opted to join Samaritan Ministries rather than sign up for the group insurance offered by Adrian's new job, a homebirth sounded like a very viable option. Adrian was supportive of the idea if I found a qualified midwife who satisfactorily answered my long list of interview questions :-D. I ended up interviewing 3 midwives and chose one about 20 minutes from me who had a vast wealth of experience and knowledge. I told Adrian after interviewing all 3, "My birth could go smoothly, in which case any of the three would be fine," (they were all basically qualified, as well as nice people), "but if something went wrong, Alice is the one I'd want to be there!"

My midwife Alice ended up being a wonderful resource for this pregnancy. The debilitating hip and lower back pain I'd experienced in the third trimester of Hans' and Gretchen' pregnancy was almost non-existent this time! (If I did something dumb with my posture, over-exerted myself, or took a long car trip, I suffered some, but it was temporary, not pervasive like before.) I'd thought it had all stemmed from a tail bone injury I'd sustained when I was 12, and while I'm sure that injury contributed to my previous pain, Alice helped me pinpoint a calcium deficiency, and found me a highly-absorable supplement that absorbs like a food and doesn't carry the risks of calcification that many calcium supplements do. (I highly recommend Vita-Mist Cal-Mag!) I also was much more conscious to be more careful with my posture, opted to squat instead of bend to pick things up (good for birth prep anyway), etc. This pregnancy, when I groaned as I rolled over in bed, I told Adrian that unlike previous pregnancies, I'm not groaning because of pain; it's just difficult work to turn a beached whale :-D.

This was also the first pregnancy where I didn't have to use a chiropractor for alignment and relief. And Martin behaved and stayed head down, unlike transverse-Hans and breech-Gretchen, both whom flipped head down before delivery, but only after giving me some angst :-). I had had misalignment that seemed to contribute to my uterus hanging abnormally, and my chiropractor used the Webster Technique to balance it properly. Didn't need that this time!

Hans' birth was 4 days before his due date and Gretchen's was 4 days "late," so I'd anticipated not going really early for this birth, but also not having a super-late baby. Ha! My due date passed, then Hans' birthday 5 days later (he'd really hoped for a birthday-mate!), then the one-week mark. . . I was beginning to wonder when this baby would show up! And I was very grateful that my midwife here had accepted my ultrasound due date of June 13th as more accurate, instead of the original LMP-based June 7th date, and that she wasn't trigger-happy on induction unless there was good cause. I was also thankful that my energy levels remained manageable (once I started using Floravital + B12 at 36 weeks) and I wasn't in great discomfort - going so many days late with previous pregnancies would have been much harder!

I had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions the week after my due date, the baby was very low, cervix thin, but no labor. I did several long walks in air-conditioned stores with either Adrian or my dad (my parents had driven from Georgia and waited. . . and waited. . . with us.)  Finally, 11 days after my due date (17, by LMP!), I woke up about 2:30 a.m. with some contractions that felt slightly more real than the Braxton Hicks I'd experienced. But they weren't strong or regular. so after using the bathroom I fell back asleep in bed for another hour, waking again at 3:30. A few more contractions, but still nothing definite. I slept and woke again at 4:30, after a strange dream in which I'd been in labor, the cord had prolapsed, but then I got hands-and-knees and the baby was out in one push, born in the caul. (An impossible scenario, for the record.)

This time when I woke up (at 4:30), I decided to stay up and see if these contractions got stronger or more regular. At 5am I woke Adrian and asked him to make me breakfast (scrambled eggs and green beans), so I'd have a good protein-rich meal behind me in case labor sped up. I sat down to start eating breakfast around 5:30, finishing around 6:00. By the end of the meal I was having to pause every few bites to breathe through contractions. They were coming at irregular intervals, but probably every 3 minutes was the average. Some lighter, some a bit more intense. Adrian had called Alice, who said she was going to grab coffee and head our way as she "didn't trust me" ;-).

After eating I headed to the bedroom and found to my surprise that the toilet was NOT the most comfortable place to labor for me this time around, unlike Hans' and Gretchen's labors :-). It was an okay position, but I really didn't want to be upright this time (didn't like the additional force of gravity while dealing with forces of contractions), instead preferring a side-lying position on the bed, which I HATED in active labor in times past. But I was actually able to relax with each contraction in this position this time. My parents started getting the kids ready to head out for breakfast and a mall walk. They left around 6:45 and Alice got to our place around 7:00.

Alice asked me some questions between contractions, checked Martin's heartrate during a contraction to make sure he was handling them well, and started getting out some birth supplies. I spent about 10 minutes making it through some contractions and a bathroom run, so she could finally check me. 7cm. Adrian started filling the pool, which didn't take long. I planned to move to the pool after my next contraction, but then I had three contractions right on top of each other without spacing between - no time to get out of bed between - then when I started to get out of bed after that string of three, I was caught by yet another contraction; my waters broke and I had that sudden urge to push, which I resisted. Um. Yeah, I did not waltz down the hall to the pool at that point ;-). Basically I had the option to be literally carried down the hall to the pool by Adrian and Alice, or birth in our bedroom, and while I have always appreciated the ease of positioning for pushing in the tub, I opted to stay put ;-). I could barely move, so I asked them to push me from my perched-on-edge-of-bed position backwards onto my back, then they rotated me onto the bed. It's not easy to move one's self when your baby's head is descending with every contraction :-D.

I did not have to exert one ounce of effort towards pushing Martin out. It was a strange experience. Basically I just tried NOT to exert any additional effort (but I didn't fight it), and my body pushed him with each contraction. A few contractions and his head was out, staring up at Alice and Adrian and looking around. Alice told me not to push for a second while she slipped a cord loop from around his neck (not that I was pushing anyway!), then his body slid out at 7:29 am. My land baby!

Adrian announced it was a boy (we hadn't known the gender during pregnancy) - Martin Wilhelm Keister - and Alice grabbed the nearest clean-looking towel (after checking with us to confirm) to wrap him in, as most of the birth supplies, including towels and blankets, were still down the hall :-). After delivering the placenta and nursing, and such, Alice took his measurements. 7lb. 8 oz., 20 3/4" long, 14 1/4" head. And a bundle of sweetness :-). He has been a good nurser and was drunk with happiness when my milk came in last night (about 36 hours after birth). Nothing like those contented newborn gurgles after eating :-).

I had tested positive for Group B Strep for this pregnancy, and had used Hibiclens washes thrice daily for over a month, which had reduced the growth but not eradicated it (this protocol eradicates it for the vast majority of my midwife's clients, but it didn't quite do that with me - probably due to a compromised gut/deeper issues). Because of my history of long-term digestive issues with antibiotics (still recuperating from the IV abx given me in Gretchen's labor in 2010 and Hans' in 2008) and also my relatively-short previous labors (general protocol is two rounds of antibiotics, 4 hours apart - didn't manage to make it to the second dose with either Hans or Gretchen), we did not opt for antibiotics. GBS is primarily a concern for preemies (my 11-day late baby was not that!), children of smokers (again, not a concern for us!) or in the case of prolonged rupture of membranes (18-24 hours). My waters broke at 10 cm and Martin was born 5-10 minutes later. Perfect scenario. If I'd planned a hospital birth, I might have barely made it to the hospital (or birthed on the way!), but there is no way one round of abx would have been delivered, let alone the "required" two doses. (With Gretchen, from time of ordering the first round to all of the round being delivered by IV through my bloodstream was about an hour.)

Hans and Gretchen LOVE their new brother ("my new baby," as Gretchen calls him) and are eager to hold him and verbally soothe him when he cries. He's a pretty calm baby so far, easy to soothe, and looks just like his older brother looked at birth. Hilariously similar, in fact! We are enjoying this fleeting time and soaking up the cuddles. We praise God for this blessing from Him.