It has been three months since my second son, Tyson was born and I’m really just now getting around to processing his and my birth story. I include myself in the process because I know that I’ve come out of it a different woman. I’m more focused and self aware than I was just a few months ago. Its been such a journey processing our process as mother and son as I was 42+4 wks pregnant when he was born. My pregnancy was extremely trying and exhausting from the start. I was far more sick and tired this time than I was with my first born. Plus, I had a 2yr old to maintain and a business and home to run. It was quite the challenge, but as I think of it, I truly believe that there’s something that God wanted me to see in myself that I did not see before. Perhaps, there was something that he wanted me to see in my son that I otherwise may not have seen. He’s still really young, so I can’t really put my finger on it, but so far he has marched to the beat of his own drum even more so than his older brother.
My guess date was November 26, 2017. About two weeks prior to that date, I started showing signs that Tyson would be born around 38wks. Which I pretty much expected since Cannon was born at 39 +5 wks and I’d read and heard so many accounts of second babies coming earlier than the first. However, the week passed and I was still pregnant. During week 39, my husband and I decided to have our home deep cleaned, so we asked his parents to keep Cannon for a couple of days. The day our cleaning company came over, I surged every 7mins the ENTIRE day. We were so sure that Tyson would arrive at any point, especially since I’d started losing my mucus plug! I tried to relax all day and spent much of it lying down and listening to Hypnobabies. Welp, the surges stopped at around 8:30pm.
The Saturday of week 40, I decided that I needed a day to myself. I did a little light shopping and ended up with one hell of a back ache. I mean, I could hardly drive myself home. I even had to end a phone call with my mom to focus on the road. When I got about 5 minutes from home, I called Keenan and asked him to start a warm bath for me. While in the bath, I called my doula and she told me that this could be “it” or it could just be practice. She said to me “No matter what, it is all progress.” “Sweets”, she said, “You need to surrender. Whatever is holding you back, you need to let that go. Your son is ready, but are you?” I thought, “THE HELL YOU SAY! I AM DAMN READY! I’VE BEEN SICK THIS ENTIRE PREGNANCY AND I’M TIRED.” Nonetheless, by the end of the day, I was going to bed pregnant. Again.
Later that week, I was stirred awake from intense surges. It was at least an hour before I decided to wake Keenan to let him know what was happening. I told him that I would take a warm bath to see if that would progress or stop anything before we called our midwife. The bath didn’t stop the surges and we thought that birth was surely on the horizon at that point! Things were picking up, my surges were getting closer together, so we walked a few laps around our house (this helped tremendously during Cannon’s birth). All of a sudden, the cramping and surges STOPPED! They f*#%ing STOPPED! I was crushed and felt completely deflated. We went to bed and decided we would bring Cannon home the next day.
We spent our weekends walking our neighborhood, finding acupressure points, praying, wondering what he would look like, and trying everything under the sun to get him out. I had lost yet another chunk of mucus plug along with my hope that this baby was ever going to be born. Once we hit 41 weeks, our practice suggested we come in for a non stress test to be sure that Tyson was still doing well. We went in for the test and spoke with the doctor. He assured us that our son was doing well and told us that 43wks was when he would insist on induction and any time before then would be our choice. We elected to wait it out as long as possible because induction without medical justification goes against my heart and my desires for my birth.
At 42+3, I called one of the midwives to let her know that I thought I was leaking water. She called the office and had them fit me in for an appointment. At that point, I was ready for a membrane sweep and curious if all of this prodromal labor had at least yielded some dilation. As luck would have it, the practice had just added two new midwives and the two I knew and trusted were not in the office that day. Needless to say, I ended up passing on the membrane sweep and cervical check. Later that afternoon, I asked my sister if she would come over the next day and go with Cannon and me to the grocery store. Thankfully, she was free to do so.
The morning of the grocery store trip, I was exhausted and completely over it. A friend of mine had asked how I was doing and wanted to encourage me. She let me know that induction wasn’t a horrible experience for her (she’d had 4 induced births) and to warn me against the use castor oil to induce. While in conversation with her I realized (and told her) that because it took so long to get pregnant with Cannon and after experiencing the loss of two pregnancies, birth is my redemption. Its my opportunity to say to God “I trust you and what you’ve given me the gift to do. I will do it your way, Lord.” Birth is my redemption.
Keenan called me to give me some excellent news about his job and all I could do is cry about my fear of induction and how close we were to 43 weeks. I felt terrible because I was so miserable that I couldn’t even allow my husband to be excited and live in his moment. I quickly apologized to him and congratulated him on a job well done and encouraged him to continue the good work. He assured me that it was ok and I was entitled to my feelings and that he loved me.
Anyway, as my sister, Cannon and I were headed to the grocery store, I started feeling those back pains that I had at week 40. I said to my sister “This baby wants me to be positioned a certain way all of the time and he will let me know when he doesn’t like how I’m sitting. My back is killing me!” Once we got out of the car and I was standing, the pain subsided and I went on to grocery shop. I started feeling surges that felt “real”, but I didn’t get too excited because well, a month of prodromal labor. With each surge, I would sway back and fourth and once or twice, my sister would freak out and say “YOU BETTER NOT HAVE THAT BABY RIGHT NOW!” Or she would ask “DO WE NEED TO GET TO THE HOSPITAL?!” I laughed each time and told her, that this just might be it.
Once we got home, I started feeling real surges pretty close together. I put away our groceries and froze and labeled all of the meat I purchased. In the midst of that the surges became more intense and about five minutes apart, so I called the practice, then my husband. I told him that I wasn’t sure if this was another false alarm or if it was real, but if the surges got closer together, I would call him back. At that point, I was hardly able to talk during surges, so I knew this was it, but I wasn’t sure how far I had dilated or how much longer it would be before I really needed to head to the hospital. Still, I wanted my husband to stay at work until I called him back. I called my mother in law to let her know I wanted her to come get Cannon and that my sister would stay behind with him if I had to head to the hospital. I started repacking his bag to stay over with his grandparents and told my sister to call my mom. As I was doing all of this, Keenan called to see how it was going and I could hardly talk, but I was managing the surges. He told me he was not far from home as he’d decided to leave work anyway.
When he walked in the door, I was lunging up the stairs to take a shower. I stopped midway to sway and squat my way through a surge. The look on my husbands face was of concern and worry, but I wasn’t worried. I told him to calm down and that I was just fine, but wanted to take a shower. I asked him to time the surges and I jumped in the shower. The shower felt amazing and helped a ton with the surges (unlike with Cannon’s birth) as I swayed, squatted and groaned through each one. Keenan called the practice again and told them that we were going to head to the hospital soon because the surges were so close together, they weren’t even worth timing. I was still in the shower, but I began my birthing ritual of crying out my gratitude to God for this beautiful opportunity to serve Him. I was holding steadfast to each and every moment as I wanted to be sure to remember every single detail. I was also calling out things to my husband to be sure we had packed in Cannon’s bag and our hospital bag. We had packed weeks before, but I was practically living out of the hospital bag at that point. “Babe”, he said, “We need to go!”
I wanted to secretly have a home birth, so I was in no rush. I got out of the shower and put on a dress and no underwear just in case the baby made his way out in the car; like one of the midwives suggested. I had about six more surges before I finally made it to the car. I stopped a few times and was thrown onto my knees by my body. I groaned through those surges as Cannon rubbed my back and asked what I was doing and said “It’s ok, Mommy. You’re ok!” My sister had all but fallen apart, but I was more than ok at that point. In between surges, I gave a briefing on what the order of operations were going to be. I had her call my mom & daddy to let them know we were headed to the hospital and that my mother in law was going to come by to get Cannon. I even made time to text a few people and let them know it was time.
We got in the car and headed to the hospital. It seems like things got more intense once we got on the road. I sat in the back seat, so that I could have room to do whatever I needed to do to get through the surges. As we were leaving the neighborhood, Keenan hit a bump in the road and that seemed to intensify the surge I was having at the time. (Three months later, he’s still trying to make it over that bump smoothly.) I decided to turn on Hypnobabies, so I could tune out and go inward to get through. With each surge, I held on to the back of the front seat and went as deep into a squat as I could. Once in a while, I opened my eyes to see where we were and once we got two blocks away from the hospital, I felt relief. I must note, though, that the road that the hospital is on is terribly paved and once we were a block away, I told my husband to slow down because I couldn’t take another damn bump!
Thankfully, we were familiar with the process to get to L&D since Cannon was born at the same hospital just two years ago. We parked our car in the emergency zone, and Keenan got an attendee to get me a wheel chair. I looked at the time. 4:50pm. Immediately someone took us up to L&D. She was a nice lady, but asked far too many questions, like “What are you having?” and “Is this your first?” I should have known then that I was in true active birth because I told her to stop asking us questions and just get us on the elevator to where we needed to be.
Once we made it to triage, the nurse that was taking care of us put us in a room and checked my cervix. I was 6cm dilated and oh so grateful. I, once again, thanked God. I didn’t know how much longer I could go at this point. This had gone from 0-6 in no time. I had expected that I would have time to gather myself and enjoy my birth like I had with Cannon. Not the case. This thing was fast a furious and I wasn’t ready for that.
I felt nauseous and told the nurse I needed to throw up, so she gave me a bag just in time. Once I was done, she told me that puking probably helped me dilate even more. She also assured me that I was handling and getting through the surges really well. She was really smart, she didn’t ask a lot of unnecessary questions and was comforting and encouraging. She called the doctor (he was on call that day, not the midwives) and assured us that he would be there soon.
The doctor was there in no time and checked me again, I was at 7cm at that point and he told the nurse to get me in a birthing room and to get my tub ready. As she wheeled me down the hall, I heard some youngsters talking and one complaining about the dad of the girl who was in labor having his baby. I wanted to curse his ass out. I was annoyed and wanted him to know that it wasn’t the time to start drama, that the girl giving birth to his baby needed him to be present. Both him and her father needed to grow the hell up. However, a surge came up and the only sounds I could make were non verbal.
My mom, sister and aunt had arrived by the time we got to the L&D room and Keenan realized that he needed to move the car. I knew he was my source of strength and support, so I begged him not to be gone too long. He promised he would be right back and he was. My family was watching in amazement adding commentary with each surge. Naturally, I asked them to leave.
Once we were settled in, the doctor came into the L&D room and urged me to let him break my water. Well, I had made the decision that I wanted my water to break on its own since it was manually done with my first birth. I really wanted to trust my body even more this time. With that in mind, I asked the doctor for some time to think it over; he said “sure” and left the room. At that point, my surges started feeling different. They were intense, but they also felt like a horrible UTI. I couldn’t tell if I needed to pee or not, so I asked Keenan to help me to the bathroom. I straddled the toilet backwards and sure enough, my water broke. I cried and thanked God, once again. I told Keenan that He was answering my prayers.
We had a nurse in the room checking my vitals at the time and she called the doctor in to let him know that my water had broken. On the way back to the bed, I had another surge and I fell to the floor on my knees. Once I got up and back to the bed, the doctor came in and checked my cervix. I was 9cm. I looked at the time. 5:40pm. He told me that I had a cervical lip and he wanted to move it over, so that I could start pushing. I had the same thing with Cannon and pushing lasted for a few hours. That had me petrified, so I wanted to be able to do as I had been asked.
At this point the surges were so intense and close together, it was hard to lay there and comply. The doctor wanted me to lie there through a surge and hold my breath while he moved the cervical lip. My body wanted me to be on all fours. Period. I tried a few times to do as he requested, but my body was forcing me to do something else. My legs would close every time a surge came and I would be thrown into the all fours position yet again. He saw that I needed to be on all fours and asked for an exercise ball. I surged a while longer groaning and growling with each surge. Leaning over the ball, wanting any kind of relief. I honestly thought I would end up going against all I wanted and getting the epidural.
The doctor tried once again to move my cervical lip, and during a surge, my body literally flipped me out of the bed onto the floor on all fours. The nurse literally caught me before I hit the floor too hard as the bed had been raised to help the doctor see my cervix. He got frustrated and told me that my cervix would swell and we would be there a long time and I would be in pain the entire time if I didn’t comply with his request. Keenan urged me and pleaded with me to give the doctor’s way another try. I cried and said I would try, but I needed fentanyl to get through it. I’d told myself that I wouldn’t get this drug again because I was convinced that I didn’t really need it after I had given birth to Cannon. But this was different. I was truly in agony and couldn’t see the light. The doctor didn’t seem to think that fentanyl was a great idea, but I insisted on getting it. What else was I to do? I had not had this experience with Cannon’s birth and I really wanted not to be in agony for hours as the doctor suggested.
The nurse and Keenan helped me back onto he bed. I surged and surged and one more surge sent me to my knees on the floor again. I snatched off my gown and screamed for the doctor to help me. He said very arrogantly “I tried to help you, you wouldn’t do what I told you.” I screamed for the drugs once again and once again, my husband and the nurse helped me get back into bed. I looked at the time. 6:23pm. At that point, my mom had made her way back in to check on me.
Once I was back in bed, I asked the doctor to put pressure on my perineum muscle and he refused, so I did it myself. He was mortified and said “Mom, what are you doing?” I responded “I asked you to help me, and you didn’t, so I’m doing it myself.” This helped, but not for long. Again, I screamed for the meds, so I could do as the doctor wanted and move the cervical lip. And again, my body threw me on the floor onto all fours. A nurse came in to ask the doctor a question and I told her to leave if she had anymore questions.
Finally, a nurse came in with the fentanyl and I heard the other nurse call and tell the other staff that I would start pushing soon.
I was still on all fours and surging. As I crawled around on the floor trying to get to a place where the nurse could do my IV, I felt the baby trying to come out, but I stopped it. I held him in out of fear. I told my husband “I’m going to try to calm down. I know I need to, so I can get this baby out.” Another surge came and I tried to groan and not scream because I knew I needed to keep cool. I remember looking down and being damn near under the bed and seeing that my husband was still in his dressy work pants and shoes. Once that surge was over, the nurse tried to put an IV in my arm and failed. Blood was everywhere. She mumbled “Shit. Shit. Shit.” She cleaned the blood, removed the port and tried another spot. I was still surging and asking for relief. She finally got the second port in and injected the fentanyl into the IV. I thought YES, now I can go with what the doctor wants and I can get this baby out! I heard someone chattering in the background. Once I again, I told them to stop talking or leave. The doctor excused himself to go use the restroom. *I later found out that the doctor and my mom where the two talking in the background. He told my mom that I was out of control.*
The port was in wrong once again and I never felt the fentanyl kick in. I kept asking “Why don’t I feel it!?” I was still on all fours when that familiar back pain came rushing through again. This time it was worse than ever and I screamed “MY BAAAAACK!” The IV nurse knew what was happening and said “she’s having back labor” and showed my husband how to apply counter pressure on my back. I thanked her so much because that relieved me unlike anything else at that point. Another surge came and I told my husband to put pressure on my back. It seemed like he wasn’t doing it hard enough and I said to him “HARDER KEENAN. YOU CANNOT HURT ME!” He assured me that he was giving it his all, but still no relief. However, I felt the ring of fire. I surrendered because I knew that Tyson was crowning and I yelled “He’s coming ouuuuut!” My husband said, “No babe, that’s not the baby, you are pooping, but its ok. Just let go.”
I looked down, and Tyson’s head and arms came flopping out. I had not even pushed. Keenan held his head in his hands as begged for him to pull Tyson out, but the nurses told him not too. I looked down again and saw the cord around his neck and meconium and blood on the floor. I freaked out. One more surge and Tyson was out. Still, I had not pushed. I looked at the time. 7:03pm.
Tyson had yet to start crying and I asked why. The doctor walked in at the exact moment I started screaming for someone to help my baby. Keenan panicked and all but threatened the doctor. He screamed “DO SOMETHING TO HELP MY BABY!” and the doctor cut his cord. He still had not begin to cry. I was still screaming and crying to hear my baby cry. I was still on all fours with my back turned, but I heard the chatter of several nurses in the room. I heard one say “I need a suction.” I heard her ask more than once, and I screamed “WHY DOES SHE HAVE TO KEEP ASKING FOR THAT? GIVE HER SOMETHING TO HELP MY BABY!” Less than a second later, I heard his cry and I bawled like a baby with relief.
The doctor came over and told me that he and the nurses were going to help me into the bed, so he could examine me. He did the examination to check for any tears and fortunately there weren’t any. I asked if Tyson had ingested any of the meconium and the nurses assured me he had not and that he was perfect. They put him in my arms and I looked at the time. 7:10pm. Immediately, Tyson nursed like a champ and the staff respected my wishes for the golden hour. During that time, the doctor apologized for his behavior during our birth and suggested that he had underserved our family. We accepted his apology and he left the room. Once our golden hour was over, Tyson was weighed in at 6lb 2.9 oz and 20in. Only .9oz larger than his older brother.
The practice we used is run by a doctor that is well know for his ability to attend and facilitate unusual, otherwise healthy births. While I prefer a midwife, I was initially comfortable with the doctor because he was so comforting when we went to him for a second opinion during my pregnancy with Cannon as well as our miscarriage. After this experience, I realize that his expertise lies within the realm of special case births (his staff agrees) and that my birth should not have been attended by him. Not only that, the rest of our hospital stay was less than stellar and has led us to decide that our next birth will not be at a hospital.
On a positive note, woven into all of that anguish, I got the birth I wanted. I had told Keenan several times over the course of my pregnancy that I didn’t want to do coached pushing this time, that I wanted to allow Tyson to birth himself (aka Fetal Ejection Reflex) and that I wanted my water to break on its own. I had prayed for those things. I had not known to pray for the gumption to surrender. If I had only trusted my body and surrendered earlier, Tyson would have been born about 30 minutes earlier than he was and I would not have allowed the doctor to bully me into the fear that led me to request narcotics.
Above all, I not only gave birth to Tyson, I gave birth to myself and in many ways my husband. I know its sound insane, but we are both different people now. We are both far more confident in ourselves and our love for one another than we were before this day. We have Tyson Judah Neal to thank for that.
*No photography for this birth. We asked our friend to be on call for us, but this happened so fast that we were not able to get her to the hospital in time. Our doula was not present nor did we ever get a tub for water birth for the same reasons*