Cora's Birth Story

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— A.S. 2011

A moment later Amy and my mom arrived. They had missed everything by minutes. Cora was born at 2:32am, on Tuesday, July 19th, after (we’ll call it) 24 hours of early labor, just under two hours of active labor/transition and 8 minutes of pushing.

We could tell by the molding on Cora’s head that she had been asynclitic in my pelvis for a while, and thought that was what had caused all that early labor. We think flipping around in the pool might have helped her get loose and into a better position for birth.

Amy had come to take pictures, and she was able to capture lots of great postpartum moments – this was the most important to me anyway. Julie went to wake up Henry (this was his request – for Miss Julie to wake him up if the baby came while he was sleeping). My mom and Henry cut the cord together and Henry helped Angela weigh his little sister. I called my sister at 3:00am to tell her she had a niece. Emmett woke up around 5:00am and got to meet his baby sister too.

I feel like this was my most intense birth. The active labor/transition actually seemed shorter than Emmett’s birth, even though it was a little longer. It was oddly not surprising to me that Cora was a girl. It felt odd to think of having a girl, but not odd that she is a girl. We had Cora’s name picked out for over six years, before we were even ever pregnant with Henry. It seemed surreal to be actually calling a person that! Now we are thrilled. I joked with Rick that he got everything he wanted in this birth – to help me, hands-on, during labor (during Henry’s it broke my concentration to have him touch me), to catch the baby, and to have a little girl.  

Rick was able to catch her and even got to feel her head still inside the amniotic sac before it broke. He told me it was a girl, and they helped me turn over and handed her to me.

Jen got to our house at about 1:40am and had called Julie and Angela while on her way. She set up her things and helped Rick continue to set up the tub. She called my mom and Amy to come down too. Angela arrived and really helped me catch my breath with the contractions. Jen listened to the baby’s heart during a contraction and then they helped me up off the bed and spread a shower curtain and another sheet over the bed.

Jen told me I could get back on the bed when ever I was ready. I could feel the urge to push coming, so I took off my underwear and got on my hands and knees on the bed for two more contractions. Jen tried to take my blood pressure, but I pulled the cuff off – it was too distracting. It felt good to vocalize through the contractions, and I really worked to make it low sounds, not high sounds, even though I kind of felt like crawling out of my skin. This worked out to be a great position because Rick really wanted to catch the baby, and this was the first time I didn’t grab him to be next to my face.

I announced that I wanted to push and looked up as Julie walked in. Julie has a really calm presence, and it helped me to see her. Julie checked the birth tub and asked if they should keep filling it. I told her no, and she shut off the water. I kept pushing and vocalizing through the contractions. They were very intense, but letting the sound out felt better. I could feel the baby moving down quickly, and I could also feel that I had to poop. I told Jen, to warn her, and she said it was the baby, but it was some poop after all. In between that contraction and the next I “laughed” that she lied to me (it didn’t sound like laughing, as I wasn’t really in a place to laugh, but I felt like laughing in my head). She said it was ok and that I was just making room for the baby to come.

The next contraction was really intense and I was almost surprised to hear myself roaring! Part of my brain was telling me to control the pushing, not to push too hard or I would tear, but a bigger, more primitive part of my brain was ignoring that reason and just pushing as hard as I could – I wanted the baby out and it felt good to push, and that part of me couldn’t care less about tearing! Jen told me to take it easier on the next contraction… to breathe and not push so hard. I forced that primitive part of my brain to the back because I knew she was right. I felt the baby’s head be born. Jen told me not to push and to breathe, and to lift my left leg up – she had to move the baby’s arm. That hurt a bit (ok, quite a bit). I told her I couldn’t (because this put all my weight on my right hip – the one that had been hurting). She told me I could do it, and I did, and then the baby’s arm was free and she came out with hardly a push and a huge gush of water.

I told Rick that I didn’t think I could keep doing this, and then I instantly felt (emotional) relief, as I realized with those words I was almost done.

Then I had one very long contraction that made me swear, squirm and sit up. It was very hard to breathe through and I could not relax. All my muscles were shaking and before I could even catch my breath there was another contraction. Rick jumped up to call Jen. I wasn’t sure he should, since I just thought this was a one-off, the first really intense one. But he called her anyway and told her to come. He told her the contractions were more intense, right on top of each other, a minute long and two minutes apart. I listened to what he told her and thought, “Why is he exaggerating? He’s lying to her to get her to come!” I asked him why he lied when he got off the phone, and he sort of just shrugged and then before he answered I was having another really intense contraction. He rubbed my back and a tried to get me to breathe, but I couldn’t.

I was still shaking all over and I could not even relax between the contractions. They were right on top of each other. They were longer than a minute and less than two minutes apart – at least it seemed that way. I told Rick I felt like I was getting hit by a freight train. I thought about the email I sent before we went to bed, and exclaimed out loud, “What did I ask for!?” Rick laughed as he ran around getting the birth tub set up and still trying to rub my back through contractions.

The contractions were so intense that it took all my concentration to breathe. It felt better when Rick stroked down my back, but it was nearly impossible for me to tell him this because I couldn’t talk during the contractions and I only had a few moments in between them to catch my breath. During one contraction he started to put some counter pressure on my lower back and it hurt even more so I smacked his hand away.  I felt bad, but I couldn’t say anything, so I just wanted to get the message across to not do that. He did great being patient with me and figuring out what I wanted.

A little after 1:00am, Rick woke up and rubbed my back through a couple contractions. I told him they were about the same, but right after that they suddenly got more intense. He said they seemed more intense too.

In the morning, Rick called his boss to let him know he wasn’t coming in and I called my mom to have her take Henry and Emmett to the museum for the morning. The contractions were still the same, but we thought/hoped that once things changed, labor would probably go quickly as it had with Emmett.

I labored all day with no real change in the contractions, staying in touch with Jen periodically. We went outside and did a little gardening. The contractions stopped, and I was getting pretty frustrated. We decided to go to the pool – it sounded good to just swim around and take the pressure off of my hip for a while.

My mom stayed with the boys and Rick and I went to the pool. It was really nice to swim around, and we had a fun time just playing in the water. We swam some laps and did some flips and generally had a great time just splashing around. I had a few big contractions in the water, but nothing much more than that.

It was about dinner time and my contractions hadn’t started back up. My mom went home and we had dinner and then put the boys to bed. Before we went to bed, I emailed all the women who had come to my blessingway, asking them to please pray that things would get moving. I was pretty exhausted from staying up all night two nights in a row with this early labor. It was also just plain frustrating, and I had not experienced this with either of my previous labors.

Around 12:30am on Tuesday morning I woke up with more contractions that felt about the same as before. I stayed in bed and tried to sleep through the contractions. 

Saturday night, July 16th, I started getting contractions that were between 50 seconds to a minute and 20 seconds long and five to seven minutes apart. They started around 8:00pm and around 9:30 we decided to call Jen and to start filling the birth tub. The contractions stayed the same, but they were really not progressing much, but we wanted to be safe since Emmett’s labor went so fast. Jen suggested we go for a walk, and Rick and I walked around two blocks looking at neighborhood gardens and having contractions at 11:00 at night.

When we got back, Jen suggested that I get in the shower and try to relax and see if the contraction would get any more consistent or stronger. After my shower, I relaxed a bit and was able to sleep even though my hip was still hurting a lot (as it had been for a couple weeks prior to labor starting). Around 3:00am the contractions just stopped though. They had been strong enough to keep me awake the whole night, but hadn’t really progressed into anything.

Sunday was a normal day with no real contractions. The birth tub was still half filled and got cool, so we decided to empty it. We went to bed as normal but I woke up with contractions around 12:30am Monday morning, with the same sort of contractions. A little longer than a minute and still 5-7 minutes apart. We called Jen again to let her know, but she did not come over yet. 

We were up the whole night, trying to sleep in between contractions, and relax through them. They were not very intense, but they were enough to keep me awake.

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