As with many wonderful stories, Reid’s birth story begins the day before his actual birth day. On December 31st, the final day of 2015 I had finally resided myself to the fact that I would NOT be having a baby in 2015. Sigh. With a due date of December 28th I always knew there was a chance of either year. Then again, I had never made it past my due date with previous pregnancies so all throughout the Christmas season I had been planning on a 2015 baby. Reid had his own plans though. And, as we played Dutch Blitz and Settlers of Catan late into the evening on New Year’s Eve I started to feel the rumblings of what his plan might be.
I took a bath close to midnight and snuggled into bed shortly after. I think I sensed my need for extra rest. Dominic stayed up with Hannah, my sister, and her husband; they were flying back home to Texas early Friday morning and we wanted to soak up every last minute with them. Dominic fell asleep downstairs and by the time he woke up and joined me in bed I had already been awake for 30 minutes second guessing if what I was feeling were contractions or not. It was 5 am on January 1st.
With 30 minutes of contractions charted at 3-4 minutes apart and lasting a minute or so, I decided to take a bath to test their “realness”. With both Jemma and Max my water broke as my first sign of labor so I wasn’t ready to believe Reid was actually on his way. Just contractions mean nothing, right? Dominic believed though and called our midwife to fill her in on my progress. Being GBS+ for the first time, we needed to time things throughout my labor as to allow proper spacing for my two antibiotic doses.
Our birth team gathered, Stacey, my midwife, and her assistants, Kara and Diane. Our birth photographer, Christine arrived as well as a friend, Jennifer, who is pursuing doula work. I labored between our master bedroom and bathroom for most of the morning. What a way to start a new year! Having had a 40 hour labor and a 4 hour one previously, I was really hung up on how long things would be this time. I knew my body really kicked into gear once my water broke, but that still hadn’t happened. It felt like such a waiting game breathing through each contraction, hoping that they were indeed bringing me closer to holding my baby. Jemma popped in and out. She was such a comfort to me and seemed to know exactly how to respond to her laboring mama – holding my hand, leaning in and combing my hair, rubbing my back, and saying the most encouraging things.
Around 10am Dominic, Stacey, and I agreed that a cervical check was a good idea. With that information we could gauge if now was a good time to start my first dose of antibiotics. I prepared myself for a meager “2” rather than hoping for something more and being disappointed. After Stacey’s assessment she declared me a strong “5” with lots of flexibility to be more if she applied the smallest amount of pressure. And, even more promising, Reid was very, very low.
I weathered through my first dose of antibiotics. Stacey’s birth assistant was an IV tech for 15 years and is a super pro at putting them in. She guided Stacey with some helpful tips and my first dose was done in no time.
All throughout the morning and early afternoon of my labor I was cold. We focused a lot on warming me up so my body could relax and continue laboring effectively. I curled up in flannel sheets, had a warm sack, added socks and a robe. It was no wonder I was chilly, January 1st greeted us with a freezing 15 degree low! My mom made Dominic a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch and as he ate beside me in bed, I begged for a bite. A bite turned into a request for my own sandwich and I gobbled down a whole grilled cheese and turkey sandwich mid-labor! Energy boost!
Around 2:20 pm, I dozed off in between contractions and woke to the sensation of my water breaking. That feeling where you immediately question if you peed yourself. But no, it had finally happened! This party was about to get started!
I had had my moments of denial, of stress, of worry, but once my water broke and contractions grew in intensity I hit my wall of despair. I cried. I begged Dominic to make it stop. I lamented over the pain. I wanted a break, a pause to recover. Or better yet, a fast forward button to the post birth bliss. This pretty much says it all …
After walking the upstairs hall and weaving in and out of our bathroom and bedroom, I settled into our an oversized chair we have at the foot of our bed. With Reid’s head so low it felt best to recline some with heat on my back. Dominic sat in front of me and Stacey administered my second dose of antibiotics. Once that wrapped up, waves of pushiness started coming on and off and my contractions seemed to space out. I welcomed the break and visited with Dominic and Stacey in between contractions. Then, one would begin and I’d aim to fall into it with focus, keeping my voice low as it peaked and willing each contraction to progress us forward.
By 4 pm I was actively pushing. Everyone gathered … I think you could tell by my moans that things were happening. I first pushed while reclined on the chair, bearing down and using all my mental energy to visualize my baby moving through me. My little one was coming sooner rather than later, I knew it! I lost some of the pushing feeling and sensed too many people were watching. I said that I needed some people to leave, it was just too hard to keep my focus when I felt like everyone was waiting. All my friends and support (about eight in all) left the room or moved into a more conspicuous space. The pushing feeling returned and I asked for help moving from the chair to my hands and knees.
I was in the home stretch, but felt fearful just the same. There is nothing like anticipating the ring of fire. It’s just the worst! I draped myself over my yoga ball in between contractions and rolled back, bearing down, low to the ground as I pushed with each wave. At one point I remember looking through my legs and seeing my poor midwife with her head parallel to the ground checking my progress as I pushed. Dominic was behind me too with each contraction, ready to catch.
Midway through my pushing sequence I started to feel hysterical and short of breath. It was so overwhelming to me and I just couldn’t cope. Dominic moved from his catching role up towards my head and said some amazing words. I don’t remember what they were, I just remember his face and us locking eyes. And I felt better, empowered, ready to birth my baby.
A few pushes later Reid’s head crowned and within the same minute his body followed. Dominic caught our son and passed him to me through my legs. I think I was in shock that Reid was actually here — born on January 1, 2016 at 4:21 pm. I cradled him in my arms while Dominic helped me into a seated position. My mom and sister brought Jemma and Max in to meet their brother while we waited for my placenta. Reid nursed as I held him close and said hello, welcoming him to his new world and a family that loves his so very much. Once the cord stopped pulsing, Dominic hooked under my arms and raised me into a squat so gravity could help me birth the placenta. It worked like a charm. Dominic cut the cord and Reid and I were officially two, ready to start a new phase of our relationship.
Reid and I moved to bed where my midwife and her team gently cleaned us up while Reid moved into that precious newborn deep sleep. While we snuggled, my friend, Corynn, arrived at the house to gather my placenta. She made me a placenta smoothie, the Frozen Tropical Fruit Smoothie recipe from Code Name: Mama, and gorgeous placenta prints. Loved both! Seriously, with this smoothie recipe do not fear ingesting a small piece of your raw placenta. Between it and the rush of postpartum oxytocin I felt so energized.
Reid had his newborn assessment and like his brother, we discovered he was born was an extra thumb! His is on his right hand though. Reid weighed in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces and was 21 1/2 inches long; middle weight of my three babies, but tallest of them all just as I predicted. At birth he had an Apgar of 9 and he continued to thrive in the hours after his birth. We’re so thankful for a healthy boy, especially in light of the risks of being GBS+.
By 8 pm our midwife and her team were packing up and ready to head home. Reid was doing amazing and they had decided not to suture my tear thanks to a hematoma that appeared post birth. Both our midwife and her assistant felt that stitches would cause more problems than not and my best route of healing would be to spend a few days in bed while being mindful of keeping my knees together.
Before they left we filled out Reid’s birth certificate, finalizing the perfect name for our newest son, Reid Rainier. Reid is a name we liked throughout my pregnancy; short and strong, one he could grow into. Rainier is the extra special part. Being that we are from the Northwest you might think he was named for Mt. Rainier, but no, Reid is actually named for the city of Rainier in Oregon. Rainier is the hometown of Dominic’s dear friend, Nate, who passed away in 2013, and we wanted to name our son in honor of him and all he meant to our family. It is our prayer that Reid will inherit a joy for life and love for the Lord from his heavenly mentor.
Reid, I can hardly believe you’re here! This last week with you in my arms has been near perfection! I’ve loved every minute with you and am overjoyed you are my son. Jemma and Max adore you and Daddy’s eyes sparkle when he swaddles you and holds you close. You are a blessing to our family and this year will be one of our best yet since it began with you! xoxo
Photos c/o the ever so talented LCS Photography. If you poke around her site, you’ll find snaps of my Mama and I’s participation in the Beauty Revealed Project, Max’s birth, our family photos, and my sister’s wedding!