Birth Story-Sweet Jellybean
Sweet Jellybean: Our Rainbow Baby
I have set my rainbow in the clouds and it shall be a sign, a colorful sign.
Based on Genesis 9:13
It would be a while until we knew we were ready for another baby. All the questions came pouring in at first. Will the baby be like our first? Will it be a boy or a girl? What will it be like with two kiddos? But the very first question, hidden from everyone was, will this one stay? So, when I found out I was pregnant AGAIN, it was not a surprise, but it was a whirlwind of happiness, prayer and sadness met with so much excitement. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to us!
Elijah was so excited when we told him he was going to be a big brother! “I’m a big brother. There’s a baby in mama’s tummy.” He said it so precisely, just like he does. He would begin to rub my tummy and kiss the baby every day. We started preparing him with books and baby dolls for what was to come. We warned him about the crying, how mama feeds the baby and how we must be very gentle around the baby. He trusted us and accepted everything we said. We knew that the hard part for him would be sharing HIS mama and daddy.
I was sick every day for the first 15 weeks and was unable to play and do all the things he was used to doing with me. I felt so guilty for letting him watch TV while I napped on the couch. If you know me, you know that I DO NOT NAP. The moment I became a mom, I lost the ability to rest during the day. It is probably that lingering part of anxiety that never really lets up. My postpartum journey was a doozy! (more to come on that subject)
We called our baby Jellybean because we didn’t know the gender. We didn’t want to find out with our first baby, but this time around we decided to learn the gender at our 20 week scan. I am just going to say it…I was hopeful for a girl this time. I would be happy with whomever we were so blessed to have, BUT a girl would have been great! I had such a different pregnancy and all the old wives tales predicted girl. The day of the scan came, and we were so excited to find out. We got the news…BOY! Healthy, perfect baby BOY! And from that moment on we were parents to two little gentlemen! It was time to prepare for life as a #BoyMom! 😊
Planning for the arrival of our first born was challenging since we decided not to find out the gender. Now that we knew this time, we really went all out and nested for our baby Ian. We choose a theme for the nursery, gave it a fresh coat of paint, bought him a few cute clothes and started his own stuffy collection. We were ready…except that we hadn’t started preparing for birth. The first time around was not exactly what we desired so this time we knew we had to prepare for anything and everything. We found our Birth Boot Camp workbook and thoroughly refreshed what we learned. We decided that we wanted to dive deep into relaxation and visualization, so we found hypnobirthing. We were certain we wanted a Doula this time to help remind us of coping strategies and labor positions. One thing we were also very certain of was that we were doing this in a hospital, but with Midwives. A request that proved to be difficult within Sheboygan County. We traveled over an hour away to Oshkosh so we could deliver with Nurse Midwives IN the hospital. We drove an hour to every appointment. Yes, WE. Jeremy came to almost every single appointment! He was just as dedicated to this as I was. I feel very strongly about having the father or your partner be the major component to your birth support team as he knows you the best!
We were fortunate enough to have my in-laws in Appleton, only 25 minutes away from the hospital. So, it was settled, we were to leave our house the moment I knew I was in labor and head to Appleton to labor down (A.K.A. loudly breathe through contractions while everyone watched the packer game 😉 We’ll get to that part soon). We would call our Doula and head to the hospital once contractions were 4 minutes apart lasting 1 minute for at least 1 hour, standard way to measure progression of labor, though not always reliable. Of course, if the contractions were too strong for me to handle, we would just go in and manage it however it made sense. I am not against having an epidural, spinal or pain meds during labor. Labor hurts and it is HARD…it’s LABOR! However, this time I wanted to give it my all for an unmedicated birth. I should say, there was doubt in our minds whether we would make it to the hospital in time. With it being an hour and half to Appleton to drop off Elijah and then 25 minutes back to Oshkosh, we were nervous. We made a backup plan to stay in Sheboygan and had a friend set up to watch our son. We finally felt prepared. The family was a little nervous about us laboring at home, but we had great education and confidence that all would work out well even if this baby were to be born on the road.
It was 3pm on Wednesday September 4th. I was standing in the kitchen and BOOM! My water broke and splashed all over the floor and 20 minutes later I was on the toilet and had the baby in front of 2 toddlers, a 9 year old and 13 year old! The end!
HA! The media LOVES to depict labor as this insanely fast process at the most inconvenient time possible. REAL LABOR is usually a slow process that can take days from start to finish. As some of you know, Ian’s birthday is the 6th of September. This story starts 2 days earlier. I’ll let you know now that there was no suffering during this time. Contractions take time to gain momentum and strength to open your cervix. I was very comfortable for a long time with mild cramping that I would just close my eyes and breath through. Some women have fast labor or very intense labor from the beginning, but that isn’t as common as you may think. Most of the time, it happens nice and slow.
It was Wednesday, September 4th at 3pm when I felt my first “labor” contraction and I did have a boat load of kids at my house that day so, thank goodness labor was nice and “easy” for a good long time. We waited until 7pm to decide we were going to Appleton for the night. We packed up our things and headed to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It just so happened that we had an appointment with our Midwife the next day. We got settled in and tried to go to sleep. BTW, sleeping in labor is weird! I started falling asleep and would have a strange dream of rolling or waves or a sensation of being very uncomfortable just to wake up and realize I’m having another contraction. I woke up a lot during the night. I didn’t time them out but would check the clock from time to time. 20 minutes apart, 45 minutes the next time I checked, a couple hours of good sleep. The next day we went in for our appointment and decided to get a cervical check to see if the contractions I was feeling were making progress softening or opening my cervix. I was 3 cm dilated. I knew that getting “checked” wouldn’t make any difference to when the baby would come, but it would make me feel better to connect the level of contractions and comfortability I was experiencing to how dilated I was. This level changes from person to person and pregnancy to pregnancy so please don’t use it as a standard.
I decided to get a membrane sweep which is a gentle form of induction and will only work if you are ready to go into labor. This procedure involves a slight removal of tissue surrounding the amniotic sac that sometimes triggers hormones to release in order to start labor. All forms of induction should be carefully considered and discussed with you care provider. We would know if it was working within 24 hours. Well, it was about 3pm on the 5th and contractions had picked up…A LOT! It worked! I was convinced I was going to have the baby that day! They kept getting stronger and stronger but were still very spread out; 12 minutes, 15 minutes, 8 minutes, 5minutes, 8 minutes. We were on the phone with our doula a lot throughout the day and into the evening trying to decide when she should come and when we should go to the hospital. We decided to keep waiting for a little while longer.
Ah, football…..I told Jeremy months and months prior that IF I go into labor during the first game of the season he had better not watch that dang game and help me birth this baby. It JUST SO HAPPENED that September the 5th was the first game of the season and there I am, in labor on the living room floor at his parent’s house breathing aaaaaand breathing. The contractions were uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Nothing I couldn’t breathe LOUDLY though while the game was playing in the background. Everyone was hanging out and having a great time listening to me breathe…LOUDLY and DEEPLY. Sometimes letting out a very good MOOOOOOO. Jeremy asked over and over if I was okay and if it was okay that he was watching the game. Since I was still able to cope it was totally fine for all of us to enjoy one last packer game together. The hard part was about to begin.
Dearest Ian, your daddy thanks you for staying in long enough to let him watch the first Packer game of the season. Cheers for more to come! ❤
It was about 10:30 when I had 3 contractions within 5 minutes and it was then we decided to go to the hospital. The doula was on her way from Sheboygan, but we figured it would be awhile before we could get there, get checked in and get in the tub. That’s exactly what happened! We checked in around 11 pm, got another cervical check to see what progress I made (6 cm) and into the tub for some relaxing water therapy. The water was so warm and so nice! Even though the contractions were now picking up since I was now in active labor, I was still able to breathe through them. Once our doula got there it was so much better! She helped me remember my breaths and affirmations and kept everything nice and calm. Jeremy rubbed my back and gave me kisses to help diffuse the uncomfortable surges. I stayed in the tub for quite some time and then wanted to get out to get some movement in.
Baby needed to drop a bit lower and I had to dilate a bit more before it was time to push so, we walked. We walked and squatted and swayed and did the captain morgan and walked some more. I was feeling incredibly uncomfortable now. I was not feeling great anymore. No more smiling, no more laughing, just lots of deep and slow breaths. Each contraction that came I would stop what I was doing and try to relax my body as much as possible. I would hang on Jeremy and our doula and JUST. LET. GO. What I learned from Birth Boot Camp and Hypnobirthing was that your body, IF relaxed, will open and open at its own pace. You need to stop trying to control this natural process and let your body take over. The pain is intense, but it isn’t what you are trying to focus on. You focus on breathing out the surges and in relaxation. Sink deeper and deeper into your body during each contraction.
The more you let yourself float in midair, the more your body will respond by opening your cervix and letting baby out.
There was a time that both my husband and Doula told me I was crying and wanted to quit. I remember this moment in the hallway very clearly. I was just hanging on my Doula, doing the captain morgan, swaying, mooing and I just wanted to go back to bed and be done. It was a GET THE BABY OUT NOW, kind of situation. Have ya been there? Do ya know what I’m talkin’ about? Yup, THAT moment! Though I was screaming this in my head, I was very quiet on the outside. They said after that moment when I expressed that I couldn’t do it, they both told me how strong I was and that I COULD do it and I WILL do it. I really wish I had pictures of this next part because, damn, I feel like a serious BA! With the next step, I forced myself forward and I took a deep breath in and blew out hard. And then another and another until I was at my door. My husband said it was crazy strength and still calls me She Hulk…I’m super proud of THAT moment…if you can’t already tell 😊
It is going to happen fast after this point, Y’all.
My legs were starting to get really tired so, I got into bed and tried to relax. I got checked one more time, then the midwife broke my water upon request and said I was almost there…words you absolutely HATE in labor! Almost there?….like NO we are almost there on a road trip! WE ARE ALMOST THERE better mean we are driving into DISNEY WORLD! It was meant to be encouraging, but in my vulnerable state it meant I still had more to do. What else was she supposed to say though? 😉
Anyhow, everyone suggested I change positions because the contractions were sooo strong at this point, but I refused to do anything other than grip my husband and move from side to side. I was getting close to losing it. Nothing was helping, I was so hot and started to panic a little. Speaking of panic, are you ready for a twist? It was getting intense in that room and he hadn’t left my side in hours. The nurses, midwife and doula were all around me and my husband right on the side clutching my hand firmly. I remember him asking for a chair to sit on and I immediately exclaimed, “don’t leave me!” The midwife gave him a chair and he knew right then that he actually needed to lay down. WEEELLLLLLLL on the way to the couch he passed out and landed face first on the floor. I heard his head hit the ground and instantly focused on him and not the baby ripping through my body! The alarms were going off and 3 nurses came rushing in. My midwife diverted her attention to Jeremy to make sure he was okay. THANK THE LORD HE WAS OKAY! The next thing that happened was pretty funny! He came to about 10 seconds later and the first thing he said, in the most high pitch voice he had, “OH, HI!” to the midwife staring him in the face. I laughed, which did not help.
Him falling over like that scared the hell out of me! I couldn’t see him and couldn’t help him and just hoped he was okay. It is so true what Ina May Gaskin says about sphincter law. When you are afraid during labor, your body shuts down! I swear my labor was less intense. It gave me the ability to step out of myself for a moment. It ramped back up both in speed and strength! The midwife pulled me back into focus by pressing on my forehead very intensely just as Ian was starting to crown. I could feel his head! I could feel my body involuntarily ejecting the baby! It was THE MOST intense feeling I have ever had! It was pressure like you wouldn’t believe, but not as much pain as you would think. The feeling of him being expelled from my body instead of ME trying to PUSH him out was such a transformation from my first experience of “you’re not doing it right” “push with your butt, not your legs”, meanwhile I couldn’t feel what was happening and I had no instinct to rely on. Just direction from someone outside my body. THIS TIME WAS PROFOUNDLY DIFFERENT!!!!
This is the part where deep relaxation is your friend!!! Practicing controlled breathing is your friend!!! You must get out of your mind and into your body in a way that feels more…natural than anything I’ve ever felt before. My body told me when it was time to let the baby out. There was no holding my breath, there was no, “push, push, push, push, push…relax”, there was just me swinging my legs wide open and letting Ian be born! The pressure was extreme, but an absolutely magnificent feeling!! And once he was out there was complete relief! I reached to grab him and someone helped me lift him to my chest. In that moment I was changed! In that moment, I knew I had ACTUALLY DONE IT!!!! I birthed my baby without the use of any interventions or medications! I have read for years about the experience and Ina May, you are SPOT ON! Birthing my baby unmedicated was a dream I wanted to fulfill back in 2016 and was unable to then, but I achieved it that day! I was so very proud of myself for reaching my goals and charging through which, at one point, I didn’t think I could do.
Let me get this one thing straight about my first birth….I NEEDED to be in the hospital instead of the birth center I had planned. I NEEDED to have the induction. I NEEDED the epidural the first time because Eli was breech and that was the only way I could deliver him without a Cesarean. Here’s the full story if you missed it. The other point I want to be NOTICEABLY clear on is that IT IS OKAY to give birth in whatever way YOU want. It isn’t my place to judge anyone who wants to or already decided to have an induction or Cesarean. If that’s your jam then you do it girl! It just wasn’t my desire. It doesn’t mean that I am any more of a mother or woman. You really don’t get a medal after an unmedicated birth and I don’t go around gloating about it….except for this blog because I’m proud of myself. I’m proud I accomplished something I wanted so bad for so long! You should be proud of however you had your baby because it is a major accomplishment and YOU DID IT!
Ian’s birth was so redemptive and beautiful, everything we wanted and we worked hard for it! A night and day difference from my first birth. Recovery was so much better too. There was not as much pain or bleeding or irritability and I felt good. If I ever have another child I will most definitely replicate my experience, but next time, at home 😉