Sunday, February 7, 2016

4th Natural Birth - Story by Jenny Hardison - The day that Axel was evicted

Axel means "Father of Peace".
But "Peace" was the furthest thing I was feeling that day.
I remember the day, like it was yesterday. My husband came home from work with his usual, "how was your day?" question as he walked through the house tripping over puzzle pieces and blocks scattered across the floor, crunching old crackers under his feet as he navigated his way through the screams of 3 small toddlers excited to see their daddy while bouncing off the walls of our 1500 sq ft home.  
In this particular memory we were standing in the kitchen and I did not answer his question at all.

I just looked at him.


I went to reach into my back pocket, but before I could reach in and pull out the positive pregnancy test he GASPED!
"OH MY GOSH! YOU'RE PREGNANT!" He shouted. "I KNEW IT," he said!. And then he said something like, "I was just thinking four kids wouldn't be so bad."
What? Was he excited about this? Four kids wouldn't be so bad? What was he talking about? How in the world did he know I was pregnant? I didn't even know I was pregnant. I was in pure shock. This dumb little test had two extremely dark lines on it but I was convinced it was a mistake. The test must have been wacky!

Because this whole conversation was wacky! Why were we talking about this anyway?

It was just weeks ago we had celebrated our daughters 3rd birthday and our twins 1st birthday. How could he be excited about another one and how in the world did he already know about this?
I quickly began to think that he must have had something to do with this.
I threw the positive pregnancy test at him as he smiled from ear to ear. I wasn't sure I liked how happy he was about this. And when I accused him of having something to do with this his response was:

"I better have had!"

I should not have been embarrassed, but I was, as I wheeled my 3 itty-bitty's into the store to buy a pregnancy test earlier that day! At least my husbands response was so much better than the check out clerks response! She looked at my cart full of kids and looked at my purchase and asked me if I knew what caused babies.

And for the next 7 months I was in shock and maybe a bit of denial.

You see, I had just gotten down to a size 4! A size 4 people, after having twins! It was a huge accomplishment and back in my running shoes regularly and I was finally feeling that with the twins turning one I was ready to take care of myself again. I had cleaned out my closet of all things "maternity" and the thought of wearing another pair of maternity jeans made me want to gag!

I also had just given all of my baby stuff away in hopes that the twins would grow up faster than they should have.

You see, I loved being pregnant and I loved my babies more than life itself, but mentally I had just checked out of the "baby-stage". I had just finished nursing the twins and I mentally thought I was done. I had a 3 year old and two 1 year olds. How could I have another baby?

Not to mention we had just downsized our house. Two months prior we had moved into a smaller house to save money and here I was pregnant? I had 7 months to wrap my head around being a mom of 4 kids under the age of 4.

That's right, I said 7 months.

This was the shortest pregnancy ever for me.

Not because he was born early. As a matter of fact, he came late. It was the shortest pregnancy for me because when I finally realized I was pregnant this baby already measured larger than two months along.

I didn't really know when my due date was so when they gave me a due date of late January based on his size I took it and went with it.
But let's just go ahead and fast forward to February when this baby still had not been born.
My belly was just as large, if not larger than when I was pregnant with the twins less than two years prior. Someone seriously asked me if I was pregnant with triplets.

Is that even a question people ask? Bypass twins and "Hey, are you pregnant with triplets?"

My doctor was losing patience with me too. He did not want me to go further than a week past my "made up due date". Especially with this baby measuring as big as he was.

But here is the thing...

I really wanted to "go into labor" with this baby on my own. Like I REALLY wanted to. I hadn't asked for this pregnancy, but since he was here and coming I wanted a chance to "go into labor" on my own that I didn't have with my other two births.

I was induced with Pitocin when my first daughter was born because my water had torn and was leaking before labor was even close to starting.

Then with the twins I scheduled to have my water broken so I could get labor moving along. 

So I was determined to go into labor without being induced...
I spent days running up and down our basement stairs with toddlers in my arms for added weight. I bounced endlessly on our exercise ball (also known to some as a birthball) with a toddler on each leg and one clinging to my back as we watch Curious George reruns. 

It was February 2nd and while everyone was tuned into the TV to see if the groundhog saw his shadow and we'd have 6 more weeks of winter, I was only focused on one thing: trying to get this baby out of my womb.  
My husband’s alarm when off that Saturday morning at 5:00am. He planned to wake up and go swimming early before the kids got up.

But I had other plans.

I wanted this baby out weeks ago. And while my husband casually  joked with me that the “baby-getter-outter” was the same as the “baby-getter-inner”, it was no joke to me.

Not today anyway.

And while that "baby getter-in and baby getter-out" had not seemed to work yet I figured I’d try and try again until it did. 

Needless to say he never made it to his swim class and my contractions started almost immediately.

Eventually we got up and took the kids to Costco to stock up on some food for the third week in a row. I'm not kidding when I say that I thought this baby was going to be born three weeks ago! So every week I'd go stock up on groceries and make freezer meals with the anticipation that he was going to be born and then I'd never get to the store again with a new baby and 3 toddlers in tow.

After Costco, we stopped at the bike shop like every mom of three about to burst out a fourth child should do.
The shop owner asked me if I was going to have the baby on his shop floor.

I was not alarmed by his question. In fact at this point I'd gotten completely used to every stranger I ran into asking me some personal or rude question about my pregnancy, my body, my baby, my family, or my business.

I had been asked that very question for the last 4 years. Since I've been pregnant for what felt like an eternity, but actually has only been 4 short years with 4 amazing children!

I knew I made people uncomfortable.

Especially men.

They saw how enormous my belly was. And it was huge. Unnatural looking really. And they couldn't help but stare as my enormous belly got thrown about while I chased three small toddlers. I'm sure all they thought as soon as I lifted one of my 30 lb kids up I might drop a baby out in front of them! And honestly, I wish I would've.

I eventually stopped paying attention to everyone around me unless spoken to.
But one afternoon when we took the kids to the Nature Center, I noticed a man staring at me and the kids. I said to my husband, "we need to get out of here that man is creeping me out. He keeps staring at me and the kids". My husband busted out laughing. He replied with, "have you looked at yourself lately? Everyone stares at you and the kids."
I loved being pregnant. But I was also tired of being pregnant. And I'm certain the world was tired of looking at me pregnant.
I smiled at the shop owner and said “Yes, It is possible considering his due date was last week. But he hasn't fallen out yet so I doubt he's coming now.”

He gave a little laugh and said, “Yeah, after having 3 you probably would know if he was coming.”

The truth is I did know he was coming. I was certain he was coming. I was hiding the intense contractions I was having all day and I hid the one I was having during my conversation with him.
I had not let on to anyone that I had been having intense contractions all day.

We got home and put the kids down for their nap.

And as I sat down to rest for a bit myself I felt my contractions slow down.

It had been 2  days earlier that I woken up with timed contractions minutes apart in the late night. I fell asleep only to wake up four hours later  to absolutely not one contraction. I was in tears that they had stopped and I called my doula right away. She told me that was my body getting ready and it would be any day now.

Her exact words were, "Jenny, no one has been pregnant forever, Axel will come soon". And I found those words so comforting because moments before I was certain I was going to be pregnant forever.
There is this strange pressure from people everywhere when you are pregnant that your baby isn't being born fast enough. My doctor refused to let me go a week past my due date before inducing me. My nurse told me every time I walked in for a check up that I was huge and needed to consider inducing. Friends and family constantly asked when my due date was and when it passed it was like the pressure from them just felt really intense. And then it seemed like people I didn't even know were asking me why I was still pregnant.

"Waiting" for this baby to come on his own was beginning to lose it's appeal as the pressure from all the people around me made me doubt that he ever was going to be born on his own.

But I was determined to go into labor on my own with this one.
As the kids napped, I decided I better not let my contractions slow down. I called for Paul's help as he rarely says no to an opportunity and didn't say no to this one. He didn't exactly say yes either, but without agreeing,  he agreed.  I was serious about getting this baby out today. 
It was now 2:00pm and my contractions were as intense as ever and they were now regular about every 15 minutes. Maybe the baby-getter-outter was actually working. 
I was however, not ready to acknowledge them just yet nor tell anyone about them. After having timed contractions two nights earlier 3 minutes apart that never intensified and dissolved after four hours I was not about to jinx this.

I left the house just after 3:00 to pick up my mom from the airport. I had several contraction now that were getting closer together but again, deep down I was worried they were going to go away so I didn’t want to get anyone excited, including myself. I hid them and ignored them the best I could. When I saw my mom, I lightly joked that "today could be the day" and deep down I was hoping I was right.

I decided I’d run errands with my mom before heading home.  I figured if I kept moving the contractions would keep coming. And it was easier to handle the contractions if I was busy doing other things rather than concentrating on the pain.

I saw a friend as we pulled into the parking lot of Target and we chatted through the car windows and right through a piercing contraction.

Later in Target a ran into my daughters friend and her dad. We chatted and I still wonder to this day if he noticed me squeezing the box of diapers in my hands as I was in the middle of a contraction during our conversation.
When my mom and I finally made it home, all the kids greeted her with pure joy and excitement. They love seeing their grandmother.

I began putting groceries away and started making dinner.

It was close to 5:30 and as I sat the kids down and began to serve their plates, I realized that I wasn't able to hide my contractions any longer.  I grabbed hold of the counter with a hot pan of lasagna in my hand and began to moan only that moan a pregnant lady in labor can do.

My mom and my husband looked right at me and both said, "Are you ok?" And then very dumbfoundly said,  "Are you having a...contraction?"
I think I finally was coming unraveled after an entire day of contractions.

"YES!" I shouted, "That was a contraction!!! I've been having them ALL DAY."

If I could've inserted something like, "you idiots", I would've.

Because something happens when I go into labor. I get sarcastic and a little passive aggressive. I was annoyed no one new I was having full blown contractions, and yet, I had worked so hard to hide them from everyone all day, including myself.

The kids started to get so excited. My mom started to get so excited. And I was just glad it was out in the open now and I was ready to to get this over with.

I knew what to do and was I was ready to do it.

There was no way I could show my mom where everything was so she could hold  down the fort while we headed to the hospital. My contractions were minutes apart and I was in noticeable pain and out of breath. I called our trusty babysitter Emily to come help my mom and then immediately called my doula, Wendy, to let her know this baby was coming.

My doula advised me to stay put and she was on her way to the house to help me time the contractions and labor with me until it was time to head to the hospital.  

My contractions were so intense. They were moments, sometimes seconds apart. I felt like I needed to get to the hospital. right away. So Paul and I got in the car and I called my doula back and told her to meet me at the hospital instead of coming to the house.

I hung up the phone and with out warning I began to cry. Uncontrollably cry.
I cried because I was in so much pain.

I cried because I had been in so much pain all day and was holding it in.

I cried because I had been hiding it from everyone and I finally felt that I could release it.

I cried because I felt free to be in pain and for the first time that day I could show someone else I was in pain.

I cried because I finally let myself know it was OK to be in pain.

I cried because I knew in the next minutes or hours I was going to meet this baby.

I cried in excitement to hold this baby boy in my arms.

I cried because I will never understand the miracle of life.

I cried because I was overwhelmed with the thought of a beautiful baby.

I cried the entire 5 minute drive to the hospital.

Paul foolishly tried to pull the car up to the labor and delivery roundabout at the hospital to drop me off. I gave him that look like you've got to know me better than that. The tears were gone and now I meant business.

I made him drive out to the furthest parking spot he could find so I could walk and carry my own bags figuring the walk would help push the baby down more and keep things moving along. I wanted to walk into the hospital, get checked in, have the nurse look and say, "wow, you're a 10 and he's coming right now!"

But that of course did not happen.

I got checked in and my Doula arrived within minutes with her exercise ball in hand just like the previous two times she was with me for my births. She had her hair ties and headbands and her soothing voice and she right away summoned a nurse to bring me a cup full of crushed ice.

She reminded me to stay focused, keep my moaning tones low as not to scare the baby and she immediately began to rub the wrinkles out of my forehead telling me to relax and let my body to the work.

This was not our first rodeo together. Wendy was my Doula when Lucia was born and when the twins were born.

I give all the credit to her and my doctor and some really amazing nurses for why I was able to have Lucia and the twins natural, unmedicated, vaginal and without an epidural. And I while I was really hoping to accomplish the same thing with baby number 4, I also knew in my heart as long as we all came out on the other end alive and healthy nothing else really mattered.

So without any introductions we both got to work.

I was beyond thrilled when D'Neil walked into my room. I wanted to kiss him. He was my nurse when Lucia was born and he was fabulous. I couldn't have planned it better for him to be working that night and to be assigned to me. 
But then they gave me the discouraging news that my doctor was not on duty that weekend and a different doctor would be filing in for him. My doctor had delivered Lucia and the twins. He knew me and how I labored. He knew my birth plan and I didn't want someone I had never met before delivering my baby.
I wanted to cry.

My doula assured me that she knew the doctor on duty and I had nothing to worry about. I was relieved, but noticeably disappointed.  I began to scheme a way that I could get D'Neil and my Doula to deliver the baby before some unknown doctor I had never met showed up to take over. 
But  just as I began to morn the loss of my doctor not being there a nurse with an angel's halo ring glowing around her head came in and with what sounded to me like an angelic singing voice said sang these words: "they were able to get a hold of your doctor on the phone and even though he is not on duty this weekend he will be here to deliver your baby."

A sigh of relief came over me.

I was now ready. 
Until I felt disappointed again.

I really thought I was going to be 8-10 cm dilated when I arrived after all the intense contractions I had all day and now they were seconds apart.

Nurse D'Neil delivered the disappointing news that I was barely 5 cm and that I'd likely be there for a while. 
But here are the facts:

I checked into the hospital at 6:30pm...


Axel was born at 8:53pm.

So here is what happened in the next two and a half hours.

When I got the news I was barely 5 cm dilated I knew I had some work to do and I wanted this baby out so I was prepared to do whatever had to be done.
I squatted.

I yelled.

I pushed.

I walked.

I laid down.

I cried.

I squatted more.

I walked more.

I pushed more, I yelled more, I creid more.

And I took a lot of deep breaths in between.

I listened to my husband and my doula remind me over and over and over to focus and keep calm and get my composure together.
I told my nurse D'Neil that I was ready to be checked again because I was certain I had progressed.

He looked disappointed as he told me I was only about 8 cm. I felt disappointed too.

But he had a plan. He said, "I might be able to stretch you to a 9 during your next contraction." He shrugged his shoulders and said it in a tone like he knew I would never agree to that.

And well, he looked shocked when I shouted with more enthusiasm than anything to "please, please, please, stretch me to a 9 because I want this baby out."

My next contraction did not bring me to a 9.

It brought me to a 10.

Which also brought great panic in the laboring room.

The nursing staff frantically tried to get my doctor on the phone.

It looked like D'Neil was going to be delivering this baby after all.

The doctor on call wasn't even at the hospital, so they brought in an assistant for D'Neil and everyone began prepping the room for delivery.

A nurse came in and said that my Doctor was on the phone. He was out for an evening jog and as soon as he could get to his car he'd be there. His orders were for me not to push until he got there. 
I hate it when he says that. 
He told me that when Lucia was coming and when Lochman almost fell out of me.

"Whatever you do, don't push until we are ready"

Dumbest words ever.

And honestly, at this point I didn't care if he was there or not. I didn't care who the assistant was or if some new doctor came in to deliver this baby. I didn't care if D'Neil delivered my baby or if the baby just fell out and someone caught him.

I just knew I wanted this baby out. Because he was coming out no matter who was there to deliver him and there was nothing I could do about that or anyone else. 

D'Neil got the stirrups out and kept reminding me not to push while putting my legs up.
In my most sarcastic laboring voice ever I told him someone should put pepper up his nose and tell him not to sneeze. 

But in all honesty, I did try to wait. I tried not to push and I began to think how I had been laboring this whole time and it had not occurred to me until now that my water had not broken. I began to imagine this baby being born completely encased in his amniotic sac. It is very rare, but does happen and is supposed to be a sign of good luck or something.  
And just as these images of my baby being born in his amniotic sac began to fade from my imagination I yelled at D'Neil that I a contraction was coming and I had to push.

D'Neil got on his baby-delivering-gloves  that looked like normal blue gloves, and sat down right in front of the baby's crowning head.

And right at that moment my doctor swung open the door and walked in the room. A nurse opened up a hard shelled case where these oddly superhero-looking-gloves came out of and she put them on him one at a time. They were skin tight and as I watched them go on one finger at a time I began to imagine they had superhero baby birthing powers and the distraction of it all caused my contraction to pause. 
I couldn't think of anything witty to say about his yellow-skin-tight-superhero-gloves so instead I told him that I thought it was nice of him to show up. He did this with my other births, walked in right when the baby was already crowning. So I also mentioned that I thought he should change his name to Nick because it was ridiculous how he always arrived "just in the nick of time".

He laughed, sat down where D'Neil had gotten up from and told me I was now allowed to push whenever I felt the next contraction coming.
I felt it.

I pushed.

And with that one push I felt a massive explosion.

My water broke. It went everywhere. Well, my eyes were shut tight and so I didn't exactly see where it went, but I envisioned someone shaking up a soda can rapidly and then popping it open and I was pretty sure that is what had just occurred. I believe there was amniotic fluid on the ceiling. I squinted my eyes open just enough to see my doctor wiping his cheek.

He laughed and without mentioning the massive explosion he said, "great job, Jenny, the babies head is out! Now I need you to push again to get his shoulders out."

Was he serious? In my previous birthing experiences, I pushed once and when the babies head was out the rest of the baby just slid out...what was he talking about I needed to push again to get the babies shoulders out. He must be crazy.

But sure enough I could see Axel's head resting in the palms of my doctor's superhero yellow gloves.

So I pushed again.  
And again, my doctor said, "Great job Jenny! You got one shoulder out. Now I need you to push again so we can get this babies other shoulder out."
You've got to be kidding! What in the world was happening? Was this baby ever going to come out? I really began to think they were going to have to stuff him back inside and then I was going to be the first person to ever be pregnant forever. He was going to be the groundhog baby who saw his shadow and went back inside for another 6 weeks.

I was almost mad at the baby. But per my doctor's orders, I pushed for a third time. And that is when my doctor guided my hands down under the babies shoulders and let me pull the rest of him out. My doctor let me do this with Lucia also. What an amazing feeling.

Photo Credit to my Doula Wendy Robertson

And in that split second I was so completely overjoyed. It is a feeling that is completely indescribable. I brought my baby up to my chest and kissed him over and over and over and over.

He was perfect. Axel was perfect.  
I looked at this baby covered in blue and red and swollen in the face from being born so quickly and I thought to myself is it really possible to love him so much. And I was overwhelmed knowing this love I felt was just a hint of how much God loves us. 
Photo Credit to Wendy Robertson
I delivered Axel's placenta without much thought or warning because my attention was all on my beautiful baby in my arms. My doctor worked the blood in the umbilical cord toward the baby before directing Paul where to cut it. And while my doctor checked to make sure I didn't need any stitches, I thanked him, made a few jokes about his name and then spent the next two hours holding Axel and feeding him before anyone took him for his vitals.  Those first few hours of his life with the exception of his first weigh in were mine and Paul's alone.  

When they did his "quick" weigh in before I fed him, it wasn't as quick as I wanted.

He was 9lbs and 4 oz. They weighed him twice to be sure, then checked the scale and weighed him a third time. He apparently didn't look like a 9 lb baby so everyone was confused...that was until they measured him. He was 22" long.

The babies nurses they couldn't remember the last time they had a 22" baby born there. Lots of 21" babies and a few that made it close to 21.5" but never a 22" baby that they could remember.

Paul asked our babysitter to stay a little longer so he could bring my mom over to meet Axel. Axel was only minutes old when my mom got to see him. Of course I made her wait a few hours to hold him since I wanted him all to myself.

He was finally here.

My “Father of Peace”.

My Axel Andrew.

The kids came the next morning and spent hours with us.