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Before I get into the full story of Turtle Boy’s birth, I need to say that it really is true what’s said about each birth being different. Turtle Boy’s birth provided so much healing for me. Turtle Boy’s birth, for me, was truly awesome, awe-inspiring, loving, and a full experience. To date, my experience in life, postpartum, and mothering two children while also being a wife to Hun and my own person has been much easier. I’m sure many thing can be attributed to this difference. One this is for sure, this most recent experience of labor and birth sure helped.
Pregnancy with Turtle Boy was not much different in many ways as it was with Monkey Boy. Though I didn’t blog during our pregnancy with Monkey Boy, I do have many private writings. These two birth experiences had significant differences. I talked a bit about those differences in my various pregnancy updates. Most notably, for me, pregnancy with Turtle Boy almost felt like I imagine some experience their first pregnancy. Nonetheless, in many ways pregnancy is pregnancy in my opinion. Though I’m not talking about pregnancy here, I do think it’s important to note that significant difference.
So, as the weeks wound down, Hun and I’s predictions about when Turtle Boy might arrive were quite false. Meanwhile, Monkey Boy and I had a great time with a very dear couple that agreed to watch over us as we awaited Turtle Boy’s arrival.
I have to say, being away from Hun (link here) all that time was excruciating. There are times in late pregnancy, especially, when I just want to be held. I wanted to be able to really look into Hun’s eyes, especially during some trying moments or days. I wanted to see and physically feel I wasn’t alone in the anticipation. I also wanted to be near him, as we all worked at completing this pregnancy and preparing for labor and birth. Thankfully, I did have many close friends whom I don’t get to see often enough rooting us all on, anticipating labor and birth, and loving me where I was.
I have to admit, as our 38th week completed, I really began to get discouraged. Walking didn’t seem to help much. Eating pineapples didn’t seem to help much. Getting a foot massage/pedicure didn’t seem to help much. Squatting at most opportunities during a Braxton Hicks contraction didn’t seem to help much either. Even the full moon did nothing to send us into labor!
But there was prodromal labor. And if that wasn’t nerve-wrecking, I don’t know what is! Many nights I’d start experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions. On those nights, I’d squat, lifting my large pregnant belly and willing my cervix to continue opening. (I was dilated to a 3/4 at our 37 week visit with our midwife.) Many of those nights, I’d go to bed without any steady contractions.
Yet for 2 weeks, at least 3 or 4 nights a week I’d either go to bed or wake in the night (for yet another bathroom run) with contractions. I’d try timing them for a bit, but their strength didn’t increase much, if any, and their frequency and duration were all over the map. Sometimes consistently a few minutes apart, other times not. By mid-to-late morning, all that contracting would virtually cease to exist. Talk about frustrating!
Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve done so much research (and by research, I mean reading others’ experiences with prodromal labor) leading up to labor as I did in those 2 weeks. I read and re-read and re-read again chapters in Active Birth discussing labor and birth. I’m surprised I can’t recite them from memory right this minute!
As our 40th week appointment approached, I was concerned I might need to consider ‘invasive’ ways to get labor going. I really didn’t want to birth in a hospital and I knew that going past 42 weeks would have me do just that. Besides, I never actually thought I’d go this far in pregnancy, especially not with it being our second pregnancy. Turtle Boy was certainly staying put though, at least up until that point.
My dear friend accompanied Monkey Boy and I to our 40th week visit with our midwife. In fact, my friend drove and we timed (again) the route. Especially as it was a different route than we previously took and a different time of the day. This appointment was later in the afternoon and we wanted to see how the increase in traffic would affect our drive time during labor. Turtle Boy’s heart rate was just as steady and strong as it had been throughout pregnancy.
Our midwife and I discussed the prodromal labor, other key factors to remember once labor did get going, and reviewed my action plans for getting Hun down as soon as possible once labor began. She also checked my cervix again, still nice and ripe, but at least I was at a 5. I asked her to massage my cervix again, which she did, effectively bringing my dilation to a 6 quite quickly. A few minutes after the check was completed, as I expected, there were some minor contractions. We mused about her guess on Turtle Boy’s gender and parted ways with the hope to see each other again soon.
We got back to my friends’ home around 5p, had some Chinese for dinner and prepared to see a group of friends. I felt a few contractions and considered timing them, but they didn’t feel much different than before. They also weren’t as consistent as I wanted. After meeting with our friends around 8:30p and settling in, it really seemed to me that contractions were becoming a bit more steady, so I did begin to time them. At the beginning of what I thought was another Braxton Hicks contraction, I started to squat, except I noticed something was different.
It’s indescribable, but somehow I knew that contraction was different. It also seemed to have a peak, versus the gradual wave I’d been feeling for weeks. I immediately decided that I was probably in labor, but I didn’t want to say anything and risk jinxing myself. Besides, I think I also wanted to keep it to myself for just a bit more.
As I continued feeling these contractions, a friend sitting near me, leaned over and whispered she thought I was in labor. I just looked her in the eye, shook my head yes, and smiled with happy, quiet tears. I also tried sending Hun a text that tonight just might be the night and I’d call in about an hour.
I kept hitting the button to time my contractions, though I’m not sure any of my other friends noticed. After we all were preparing to leave, a few friends stayed behind and played with Monkey Boy a bit more. I unsuccessfully signaled my one friend that tonight might be the night. I was still doing quite well at that point anyway, so we kept playing and talking. As we all piled into the car, I told her I was having contractions. I then called my midwife to let her know I was contracting and these contractions were “it”. I qualified that these contractions were different in that there was a peak. I also called Hun to let him know and said I’d call back in an hour or so.
Once we got back to my friends’ house, she helped me give Monkey Boy a bath. I’d promised him earlier in the day he could have a long bath that night. Meanwhile, labor continued. The intensity increased, and though I wasn’t actively timing them they seemed consistent, with an increase in duration.
After Monkey Boy’s bath, I settled him into bed, lying with him for a bit and calling Hun for goodnight. During this phone call, Hun decided he would start heading our way because as he said, he “knows me and knows I might wait too long to tell him to come”. Admittedly, I knew he was right. It’s quite likely, I would have called Hun after the contractions were even stronger. At that point, I’d likely have had a difficult time talking. At that point, he’d be more concerned about me, thus putting him at risk of being distracted on the drive in getting to us.
Since I’d been feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom, I figured I’d do that before trying to lie down and rest for awhile. As had become the norm, I was sitting in the bathroom for quite awhile. As I was thinking I’d leave the bathroom and just lie down, I heard/felt a ‘pop’ and a gush of water. I knew that was my water breaking. This meant the show was Definitely on the road and it’d only be a matter of time!
I immediately called our midwife and politely informed her I ‘thought’ my water had broken. She, of course, questioned this “thought”. I told her what happened, informed her it was clear, and that contractions had been about 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long for at least an hour. She, of course, said it was time to head to the birthing house and asked where Hun was. Thankfully, he was already on the way!
I found my list of things that needed gathered and taken with us (food, etc.) that weren’t already in the car. I calmly went downstairs and told my friend and her husband my water had broken and we needed to head to the birthing house. They both got into gear with helping to gather things. It was at this point, I was needing to stop and focus on each contraction a bit more. I found that I needed to be relatively still and quiet during a contraction, just concentrating on my breathing. My friends were quite helpful, allowing me to concentrate on being in labor, as they took over packing the car and getting Monkey Boy.
I called Hun on the way, letting him know our approximate eta (12a-ish) at the birthing house. He said he wasn’t far behind and would likely be there about 30minutes or so after we arrived. He, wanted to know how I was doing and said many lovely, loving, and encouraging things. Most of the stoplights cooperated, as the streets were relatively quiet! About halfway to the birthing house, my friend asked if it would be ok if she ran a light. This particular light is rather long and due to the time, there was no traffic. Of course, we ran that light!
During the car ride over, I had a general grasp on the grab handle above my window and mostly sitting on my right hip. During a contraction, I would keep a low moan, as I know the deep vocalizations help the body to remain more relaxed, thus aiding labor. (I’ve read that low vocalizations keep the jaw muscles loose, which correlate to keeping the muscles involved in birth loose as well.) I would also sometimes reach over and hold/squeeze my friend’s hand. She was wonderful about this, supporting and understanding my need to do this, as well as also saying encouraging and loving words to me.
We made it to the birth house, and my midwives immediately came out to greet us and help me into the house. To everyone’s relief, especially my midwives, I hadn’t yet felt pushy. On the way to the birthing space, I stopped for a contraction.
As my water had broken already, I wanted my pants off faster than fast, so they were my first order of business. We called Hun to let him know we’d arrived. He also let us know he wasn’t too far. I remember speaking at first, updating on my progress and how I was feeling, then suddenly not. I distinctly recall hearing sounds of his driving and him speaking or asking how I was doing, but I could no longer answer. At one point, I remember thinking of something to say, but I never said it. My contractions were taking most all of my focus and the in-between space I was using to remain focused, recover from the last contraction, and listen to my body and needs.
During this labor, I really wanted to move more. I had plenty of plans or ideas of what positions I wanted to try during contractions and what I wanted to do between contractions. (This site has a breakdown of some positions, with pictures.)To make it clear, I didn’t do any of it. Shortly after arriving at the birthing house, I wanted to get into a kneeling position (quite like this), but I never did. I remember a delay, something being in the way. Somehow I never actually got into that kneeling position I’d dreamed or and practiced doing.
Nonetheless, I lay on the bed on my side. I’d change sides periodically, I’d labor on the toilet, yet I’d always end up right back in the bed on my side. I was also both hot and cold throughout labor. I would pull a warm blanket up to my chin, even over my head, one minute and the next I’d throw that blanket off so fast. I know this can be normal. I never expected it though, as I didn’t experience it with Monkey Boy’s labor.
At some point, Hun arrived. I remember at the end of a contraction and suddenly Hun was beside me. He held me so tight and tender and gave me many kisses. The warmth, affection, love, and gratitude I had for him in that moment was more than I’d ever felt before (or at least it seemed that way with the heightened senses during labor).
Most of the rest of labor went by in a bit of a blur, at least to me. Throughout labor, I’d alternate between hot and cold, pulling the covers and then throwing them off. At the request of my midwives, I’d get up to labor on the toilet for a bit. Mostly, I just lay there on my side in bed, eyes closed, focusing on my body’s signals. It seems I tend to keep my eyes closed during labor (as I did with Monkey Boy’s birth as well). My midwives are so wonderful and astute. All through labor, they stayed near, kept their voices low, and moved quietly throughout the room. My midwives, trusting in the power of my body, trusting in me to keep them informed of my needs, allowed me to be within myself as Turtle Boy and I worked to bring him earthside!
As a result, I remember very little of the details during labor. I do distinctly recall using my midwife’s beautiful socks as a focal point during many contractions, especially when I labored on the toilet, as well as eating a bit of snack (yogurt I think) when requested. See, when I’m in labor, I tend to forget about any and every thing except focusing on bringing forth baby. In fact, for this labor no one even recalls me requesting water to drink.
As I continued to labor, I would occasionally go into a 3-point position, with my legs and feet on the bed, while my arms gripped the very top of the iron headboard and my middle/abdominal raised off the bed, all while maintaining my side lying position. I even think I caught a few small naps in-between contractions closer to the end. During one particular contraction, I felt the beginnings of the fetal ejection reflex (also known as the maternal-fetal ejection reflex, or expulsive reflex). That particular ejection reflex was small, though I noticed and knew immediately the end was near.
During the next contraction, I felt (and saw) a stronger expulsive reflex. This time, I looked at Hun, who was standing near the bed and asked if he’d seen it. Everyone said encouraging words, though I don’t recall them now. I was quickly checked to ensure there were no cervical lip issues and Turtle Boy’s heartrate was heard. This was uncomfortably painful, as I lay on my back for the checks. Thankfully, my midwives were quick and efficient and I could once again resume my side lying position.
I remember clearly saying the baby was coming soon, as I had a few more expulsive reflex contractions and felt more the need to push. As I lie there with one leg in the air and pulled back a bit, I started pushing. Turtle Boy most definitely was coming, despite his head getting stuck twice! First, around his temple, then again near his chin. I’m not sure why or how this happened, but it did. The most painful part of Turtle Boy’s birth was his head getting stuck, even though my midwives applied counter-pressure. In fact, I distinctly recall yelling, “get the head out!” after the next push didn’t relieve me of the pain.
I was quickly helped into the all fours position, where Turtle Boy emerged after only a few more pushes! It was 4:19am on November 4th, 2015. Turtle Boy was born, Monkey Boy was present for it all. Hun was there beside me, my dear friend was present. Our midwives were there incredible selves. Everyone was fully present in the birth of our second child, also a boy (though a few of us thought we might have a girl).
After being helped into a sitting position, Turtle Boy could be safely passed to me. I, of course, immediately started crying the wonderful tears of joy, accomplishment, and love!
Soon, Turtle Boy latched on, Monkey Boy helped Hun to cut the umbilical cord once it stopped pulsing, the placenta came out, and we were all in awe. Such an accomplishment, such a different birth experience, and so much love surrounding us all. I couldn’t be happier.
After the midwives examined my placenta, Hun, Monkey Boy, and I also took a peek at it. My midwives hadn’t experienced a placenta quite like Turtle Boy’s before, so it was incredibly neat.
After all the placenta examining, my midwives prepared me a placenta smoothie (2 actually), which was oh so tasty. We used coconut water, placenta, and frozen fruit. And then we all had some bean soup!
And just as I finish writing Turtle Boy’s birth story, he wakes up to look at me and talk!