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Colt's Birth Story
Colt’s birth story begins at the prenatal checkup two nights before I went into labor. After weeks of positioning tricks, the baby’s head was still posterior at 38 weeks. Gail, Clare, and Emme suggested a dose of homeopathic pulsatilla to help the baby rotate. The next day, I noticed some light bleeding, and I spent some time lying belly-down on a swim ring to coax the baby into a better position.
Around 3:00 in the afternoon the following day, I stood up from the computer and whoosh! Down came my water, much to my surprise. I felt no contractions, so that gave my husband, Josh, time to wrap up at work. Calling the midwives, I told them I was fine if someone wanted to stop by later in the evening.
By the time Gail came at about 7:00, I felt a little crampy, and I stood up every now and then to stretch a spasm in my back. Gail palpitated my belly; the baby was well engaged and seemed to have rotated. As I continued to stand and rub my back, Gail remarked that my contractions were steady. I hadn’t even realized those back spasms were contractions. She said we could likely expect some real action in the morning, so our job was to rest. She offered to stay, and we said we would be fine on our own. In fact, Josh asked if it was okay for him to run to Target for a few last-minute items.
As Gail and then Josh headed out around 9:00, I headed into the bathroom. It’s hard to recall the turn of events, but within minutes I had stripped off my clothes, turned off the lights, and started vocalizing. There was tremendous, intense energy coursing through my body, and I instinctually released it with an “ahhhhhh” that rose and fell with the wave. Perhaps I should have been worried about being home alone or labor being so intense so suddenly, but there was no room for such thoughts.
Then before I knew it, Josh burst into the bathroom, back from Target. When he had left twenty minutes earlier, I had been doing nothing more than rubbing my back. Hilarity ensued as he adjusted to my full-blown labor and I adjusted to some company. Within a few minutes, I heard my “ahhhhh” turn into an “nnnnnnn.” I hadn’t been giving any thought to labor stages or progress, but I knew the different vocalization was the urge to push. “Go call Gail!” I said between breaths.
As soon as Josh made the call, he realized we had next to nothing ready for the birth. The plastic liner and old sheets weren’t on the bed, and the birth kit supplies were jammed somewhere in a closet. Off he dashed, on came the lights, and open and close went closets and cupboards. He scurried back to my side whenever my vocalizations climbed, then scurried off again with my crescendo. But after a few contractions, Josh gave up on the prep work and just stayed by my side.
Gail arrived 45 minutes later, but it felt like only a blink. “Oh,” Gail exclaimed as she heard my grunts. “How long have we been pushing?” Josh said I’d been doing it since he called. “Hmm,” she said calmly but with purpose. “We’re going to have a baby soon.” Now Josh really kicked it in gear, getting supplies ready with Gail and then Clare, who arrived minutes later.
Gail helped me move to the bathroom floor, kneeling over the birth ball. The urge to push was in full force now. I pushed with each contraction, grabbing the side of the tub as I bore down, but it felt less productive than the dilation contractions. I remember thinking, “This should be faster.”
After a bit, I moved to the bedroom, where it was more comfortable and roomier. But once on the bed, I wasn’t sure what position to take. I tried a few unsuccessful positions, then Clare suggested I lie on my side, with Josh and Gail supporting my legs. I held Josh’s hand and pushed against him with each contraction. Clare used hot ginger compresses to support my perineum, and the counterpressure and countersensation helped as much psychologically as physically.
I was beginning to feel a pain in my hip, like my leg was at too much of an angle. We did a little repositioning, but I wondered if lying on my side was the best position. They helped me kneel over the ball on the bed. It produced a productive push, but it was much more uncomfortable, so I repositioned once again. As I moved, it was the first and only time I felt the baby’s body within me—a huge, round mass that made me bow-legged.
I settled partly on my side but mostly on my back. I kept thinking how lying on your back is usually the worst position, but my modified version seemed to work. After a few more pushes, Josh exclaimed, “There’s the head—it’s coming!” They had been watching it surge and retreat for quite some time, but it was finally starting to crown. That’s when I felt the aptly named “ring of fire,” which was the only time I ever said “Ow!”
But once the crowning passed, I felt nothing but a blissful, floating sensation. The stinging, the intensity of the contractions, everything was gone. I don’t know if my demeanor changed or if Clare just knew what was happening. “That’s it,” she said. “Breathe your baby out.” And she meant it. All I had to do was breathe through each push.
The baby’s head slowly, slowly emerged, stalling at the eyebrow bones for a few pushes. But once the head started to move again, things happened quickly. Gail and Clare’s hands moved like flashes. Someone said something about a hand and an elbow. I sat up enough to see Josh holding the baby’s head and trunk, but the legs were still inside. He paused, not sure if he was supposed to pull or wait for the next contraction. I think he finally pulled, and there was the baby. He was born at 12:54 AM.
I stared and gaped, my mind spinning. Not only had I actually given birth—at home—but the baby I had been waiting for was right there in front of me. I had always expected to cry at that moment, but the emotion was far beyond tears. Josh said I just exclaimed, “Oh! Oh! Oh!” I remember him saying, “You did it!” which was the most perfect thing he could have said. It was such a triumphant, amazing, proud moment.
Josh asked if I’d like to check whether the baby was a boy or a girl. I was so dazed, he might as well have asked me to explain quantum physics. He checked himself and announced it was indeed a boy, as we had intuitively known all along.
Clare and Gail had Josh cut the cord, which was unusually short. It was very important to get the baby to my belly, because I was hemorrhaging a bit. They vigorously massaged my belly and gave me a Pitocin shot to get it under control. The bleeding was perhaps due to the short cord or perhaps because of the same issue that made pushing take so long: The baby had a compound presentation with nuchal arms, meaning he had been born with both his arms wrapped up by his head. He had had a hand at his chin and an elbow sticking out at his ear. Gail later explained that had he not presented that way, he likely would have been born in the bathroom before she arrived and perhaps even before Josh came home.
I was stunned to be looking at my own baby. He was quiet and calm, and Gail had the oxygen ready for a gentle “blow by” to bring a little more color to his grayish skin. His face looked like a little old man’s, but his body was all limbs—long, skinny legs and arms. It was fitting because we announced that his name was Colt. Gail said he had been born just like a colt, too, with lanky limbs coming right out with his head.
Emme, who’d been helping another family that night, arrived not long after the birth. With Colt skin to skin on my chest, they piled blankets and a heating pad on us, making a toasty little nest. I tried nursing, but it didn’t result in much. Colt’s nose was bent at a wicked angle, perhaps because it had gotten caught—or even broken—on my tailbone. The angle made it hard for him to latch. (As it would turn out, Colt and I took a few weeks and a lot of help from the midwives to finally get nursing down pat.)
Clare asked what I wanted to eat. I had been agonizing that decision the entire pregnancy—with everything from sushi to Chipotle as options to celebrate the birth. But in the middle of the night, my choice literally boiled down to oatmeal. It didn’t sound like much of a celebration at first, but boy, was that oatmeal the most satisfying meal I’ve ever eaten! As I ate, they weighed the baby—seven pounds exactly.
Before the midwives could leave, they needed me to pee. We tried all the tricks, but Gail finally resorted to a catheter after an hour. While I was busy with that, Josh and Colt enjoyed some skin-to-skin time and dozed off together. By about six in the morning, Gail, Clare, and Emme tucked us all into bed and said goodbye with many hugs and kisses. Our new little family slept soundly.