Everett "Rhett" Allan Booker was born on the 4th of July at 1:18 a.m. (yes, there were fireworks) but his actual birth story spans across three days. With the births of both of my children, I have taken the time in the hospital to write out the details of their birth story for one reason: you need to acknowledge the birth experience that you had. I have been very lucky to have two natural, unmedicated births that while grueling, were both uncomplicated and progressed the way I had hoped. I think that whether you are happy with your birth story or not (and maybe even more so with the latter) it's important for your postpartum mental health to comb through those details and acknowledge it all. Then look at your beautiful baby and pat yourself on the back. It's a pretty great prize, right?
WHY DO WE WANT TO READ ABOUT YOUR SON'S BIRTH STORY, BETH?
Because birthing a human being is hard work. Imagine you are passing a kidney stone, you have a broken arm, someone is giving you a root canal, you have a migraine and you are running the Boston Marathon all at once. That's about how hard it is to have a baby (especially without drugs).
DISCLAIMER: This is a detailed story, the squeamish have been warned.
10:30 p.m., we came into the Labor & Delivery triage and I was 4cm dilated (although I was told at my previous appointment that I was 5cm already) and having consistent contractions 5 minutes apart. I was so paranoid that our baby was going to come quickly (since it was the second time around) that I really jumped the gun here. While I was there, I dilated to 5cm but then did not progress past that point so at around 2:30 a.m. on July 3 we were sent home to rest.
I only managed to sleep about 3 hours because sleep is hard when you are having contractions! I continued having contractions all day so to ease my mind, I made an appointment to be seen at Charlotte OB-GYN at 2 p.m. At that point, I was dilated to almost 6cm and was told to be on high alert for the rest of the day in case contractions picked up. I went home, showered, napped, ate dinner and then the contractions got a lot stronger. At around 7 p.m. I decided it was time to go in and at around 7:30 p.m. once I was in Labor & Delivery triage they told me that I was dilated to 6cm and they were going to admit me (I may or may not have done a victory dance).
Based on my last natural birth with Calvin, I plateaued for hours and did not progress for a long time which led to them breaking my water for me and resulted in me being exhausted by the time I was able to push. With that in mind, I decided to have them break my water early on and I am so glad that I did because it helped move things along quickly. They broke my water around 9:30 p.m. and I immediately went to the tub to labor for a long time. At that point I started hearing fireworks go off uptown (because America) so that was pretty cool because we could see them from our room. From the tub, I went back and forth between there and the ball for about 1-1.5 hours and it wasn't too bad (I was watching Jurassic World when I was on the ball and Brandon was rubbing my back to help me through contractions). Nothin' like your husband and Chris Pratt (your other husband) to get you through labor.
Things started to really pick up around 11:30 p.m. and I was 8cm and having horrible back labor. I kept looking at the clock because I honestly wasn't sure if we were going to have our baby on the 3rd or the 4th! Kathy (my midwife) suggested I hold onto the back of the bed and go on my knees (which I was reluctant to do at first, but appreciated the suggestion after I started doing it) and while I did that I inhaled lavender essential oils and really tried to focus on my breathing (thanks, prenatal yoga)
After about 45 minutes of that position I switched to laying on my side where I cried through every contraction, inhaled lavender essential oils and had my nurse Sam hold an ice pack on my back. This was the point where I was 9cm and also started throwing up (transition during labor is always, always a bitch). I was begging for an epidural at this point. I pre-warned my nurse and midwife that I would do this, I also made them promise me they wouldn't give in, no matter how convincing I was. I was also somehow incredibly polite and every time someone would ask me a question or touch me I would either say “no thank you” or “please don’t touch me” (very different from my first birth where I acted like a demon took over my body and I was literally screaming "HELP" and threatening to leave the hospital.
After another 45 minutes on my side I was ready to push. They tried to get me to do it on my side but was not having it so I grabbed onto the squat bar and threw an oxygen mask on and started there. I used an oxygen mask with my first labor (partially because I was exhausted and having an anxiety attack, so this time I requested one in advance). With the squat bar I felt like I didn’t have good control on my pushing so I switched to sitting with them holding my legs.
I pushed for 10 minutes total. First I started crowning, so I immediately pushed again and out came his head, he had the cord very close to his neck. I heard Kathy whisper something about the cord to Brandon. Being me, I assumed the cord was wrapped around his neck so when they told me to push again, I pushed with every ounce of energy I had (serious momma bear mode, I was ready to get that baby out just incase something was wrong). While I did that push, Kathy was able to move the cord out of the way. It took me about 2 more pushes after that to get his shoulders and the rest of him out. He didn't cry right away so I asked “Is he out?!” and when I looked down he was on my belly and I started crying and looked at Brandon and I said, "We finally have our rainbow baby." I don't think there was a dry eye in the room.
Brandon did not get to catch Rhett like he did with Calvin because of the cord, but the great news is Kathy was able to maneuver him so the cord didn’t get wrapped around him and in the process she guided him out so I didn’t tear at all (any woman who has ever given birth will understand how amazing that is). After being out for 20 minutes he already latched on and nursed like a little champ.
Our little family is so blessed by our newest addition and we can't imagine our lives without him. Our sweet rainbow baby is everything we wished for and I am so unbelievably happy that I had such a healthy pregnancy and birth and now we have a beautiful, healthy boy.