Ruby Ana’s Birth story
39.5 weeks gestation
4:55 am; 8 pounds, 3 oz; 21.5 inches long
Wednesday, October 25th 2012
Written at 2:15pm
For starters, it is 9 hours after I gave birth and I am simply reeling with energy. I did not sleep a wink last night but I feel like a zillion dollars; like a puppy that just cannot sit still. The after baby high is the best thing in the world! I am just so happy to share this story. I type it as my new little baby lays on my chest; her little face shining up at me. Truly, life does NOT get better than this!
Ruby is my third child. Both of my other
labors and deliveries were unmedicated and natural
and have given me an AMAZING respect for the potential of the human body when
surrounded by the right support and training. Both of my other births were in
the hospital with midwives and though they were wonderful experiences; I craved
more intimacy and freedom so I elected to go to a birthcenter
instead. I’m SOOOO happy that I did!
My other babies came at 39 weeks, and 39 weeks +1 day. Both labors were about 2 hours and forty minutes of hard crazy contractions before the baby came. I cherish my birthing experiences with both of my prior births closer in my heart than most anything. They changed me forever as a human being, a woman, and a mother and I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of our third child to see what the day would bring! But the 39 week mark passed, so did the 39 +1. Still no baby! 39 +2 was a Tuesday night…
Around midnight, I started to experience
what I thought could have been labor contractions. They HURT, and in all the
right places that would normally tell me “these aren’t a joke, they could be
the real thing”. But with this birth being my third, I was pretty committed to
only going to the birthcenter one time (both other
births I went at either one or four times only to be sent home not in real
labor). I definitely wanted to hold out and make sure that they were the real
thing before getting all riled up about them. They started around midnight and
lasted until 4am or so before I decided to take a bath to either make them go
away or allow the contractions to prove to me that they were for real. Those
contractions totally fizzled and died in the bath, so I was ticked at my wasted
efforts that night and wound up only getting about 2 hours of sleep. Blurg!
It was not a wasted night however. I woke up the next day pretty positive that the following night would be baby night. I called my mother in law and asked if there was any way she could come stay with us as soon as possible. She said she could be here the following morning at the earliest and I said that sounded good to me! One less thing to worry about J My husband worked from home and I went about my normal day. I took Addie to preschool, then went to my scheduled midwife appointment. I was excited in my hopes to be told I was at a big 5 or so (the week before I was at a 4+). Unfortunately, I hadn’t progressed at all from the week before. Yarg! That whole night of work only amounted to being a bit more effaced, but no real progress aside from that. I wasn’t really giddy about the news, but it is what it is. “Babies come when babies come” I told myself.
I came home and used the hour and twenty minute window between the appointment and Addie’s soccer practice to take a nap. It wasn’t long enough, but I took what I could get. Soccer practice came and went, then I went home and made a yummy dinner of rice and BBQ chicken (Sam did the BBQing). This brings us up to about 7:30pm. I talked with Sam a bit and told him that I thought the baby would come that night and I had a plan. I’d go on a walk and we’d ummm, do some other things to see if we could get some wheels turning in babyland. I thought that perhaps my walk might jumpstart stuff though, so before I left I took a shower, blew my hair dry, re-applied some makeup, then helped put Addie to bed before I left for my walk at 8:30. It was dark, cool, recently rainy, and quite nice overall. I walked for about 25 minutes while listening to the Hobbit on audio and I felt a LOT of pressure and movement/action going on but nothing that was really contractions by any means. I returned home and went up upstairs to find my husband.
My mother in law had called earlier to let us know that she swapped things around and could be here tonight instead! The wonderful woman showed up at 10:40 or so, just as Sam and I were watching an episode of “chopped” on the food network. We watched TV together and chatted until midnight, during which time I felt lots of deep deep pains that made me squirm and wriggle, but I did my best to keep it to myself and enjoy my company.
I gotta kind of admit at this point that I am a person that does not show vulnerability well; especially if it’s something physical. The combination of needing to feel in control and also not wanting to submit to weakness is something that is just part of me. So when it comes to labor, I go to great lengths to not even admit to myself how badly things HURT. I just do all I can to play it off like “I’m fine, I’ve got it under control” until I really have no other choice but to break down. So I chatted through the evening with my husband and his mom, but also kind of had to notify them that I was indeed in the early stages of what was probably labor; despite the fact that we were chatting rather nonchalantly the whole time. Since they’re my support team, I wanted them to be informed but I still felt no need to make a big dramatic deal about it all. Plus, I only hurt DURING contractions. I felt amazing and happy as could be when I was in the lull between pains.
We went to bed at 12:20. Sam fell straight asleep and I knew I was just going to lay there and work through contractions for a long while. They had finally started to be exactly that; REAL, timeable, predictable, painful, deep contractions. They were every 4-5 minutes and now that I couldn’t just chat and distract myself anymore, I had to really pull focus inwardly to stay calm through each one. I just did a lot of self-visualization of being a flower… using each contraction to open up more. I just focused on that aspect of what was happening vs. the pain.
Around 1, I had a half hour where the cx just kind of went weird. They didn’t hurt as bad, and they weren’t as regular. I got TICKED! I was absolutely NOT about to lose another night to pointless contractions. Seriously, not cool. I became kind of paranoid from this point on that it wasn’t the real thing and I was going to wind up very disappointed.
Luckily, at 1:45, the contractions picked right back up and were heavy. I spent the next hour in bed making sure that they were increasing in intensity each time and were being predictable; as these were my requirements I’d set for myself before I’d call the midwife. The thing about labor for me is that I am SO happy and zippy chipper in the lull between contractions. So for three minutes, I feel fabulous and unbeatable, but then for the next minute… I get thrown down pretty hard and really have to focus and consider if there are ways to get out of what is happening to me. But once the pain passes, I go right back to thinking “oh no, this isn’t so bad, I can do this”.
So at 2am, things had progressed to the point that I got up out of bed and decided it was time to put our “baby time” things in the car and get ready. I put some clothes on, woke up sam, fixed my makeup (something I wish I would have considered at my previous two births), and called the midwife fully expecting to leave for the birth center immediately. So I started chatting with my midwife and telling her that it was baby time for me and I was ready to go. She was surprised at my chipper candor and started to ask deeper, expansive questions about how I was feeling, what my contractions were like, and my pain level. I knew for 100% sure at this point that I was in labor and was going to have the baby that night, but I did a poor job of relaying that information I think. I informed her that they hurt really very bad and I knew they were labor contractions... but the fact that I could passively say, “in fact I’m having one right now!” to her in a normal voice really didn't convey the level of pain I was in or the seriousness of my level of contractions. But what am I supposed to do? Cry about it? I'm not a crier. I am a talker :)
Anyway, so she really wasn't too convinced that we were in an immediate need to get to the birthcenter ASAP. She was like, “but you’re talking through it and you really don’t sound stressed or too burdened. Are you sure you want to come in right now? If you do then we’ll make it happen! But if you want to labor at home more first, that might be more comfortable for you.”
This threw me back. She was right that I hadn't taken a bath yet at home to try to see if the contractions would subside on their own. Though I knew I was in real labor, I thought that perhaps I might as well take a bath at home to see how the contractions would respond. She was right, I could talk through my contractions easily at that point in time, so I probably did have a while to go yet. Granted, talking is a defense mechanism I was using to distract myself from the pain… but still—if she wasn’t convinced; I was no longer convinced. We decided I'd take a bath at home first, then call her back to let her know how I was progressing. So that was our plan.
I got in the bath at 3am and stayed there until 3:45. This was a very intense time. I no longer had anyone to jabber at to play off my pain. Plus, it was getting to the point that I wouldn’t have really been able to anyway. I had to go to my happy place. My birthy voodoo brain place where I do nothing but focus on relaxing and letting the pain wash over me gently instead of letting it kick my butt. I'm pretty sure this is when most people get epidurals; it was real, true, gripping pain and if I didn't stay focused--it would conquer me. Unlike the night before, this bath barely dented the pain I was feeling or the strength and consistency of the contractions. I used a phone app to time them and they were ALL 55-65 seconds long and there was 2 minutes and thirty seconds between contractions to rest.
At 3:45, I got out of the tub and went to tell sam that it was go time. That cute husband had fallen back asleep on the bed in some strange slumpy position that suggested he had sat down and simply fallen over dead asleep. He looked so peaceful there, I decided not to bother him until I had to. I called my midwife back and told her it was DEFINITELY game time and she suggested that we meet at the birthcenter at 4:45. At this point in time, that meant I’d have 20 more minutes at home, then 25 minutes to get to the birthcenter. I figured that sounded reasonable enough so I agreed.
I was all by myself in a dark, sleepy house. I went downstairs and just sat on the couch and decided to do the rest of my focusing and contractioning there so I wouldn’t bother sleeping sam or my kids upstairs. Between contractions, it was very peaceful. Honestly, times like those are ones that only mothers understand. Alone, on a couch in the middle of the night… the rest of the world asleep and unaware of what is happening inside of you. I just sat in the dark, surrounded by glowing Halloween decorations, and started to get really intimidated by what was about to happen. I knew I was in for it. It was going to hurt BAD. Not just a little bad, but super really uber duper kick my ass bad. I knew this because I had done it twice before. Am I strong enough to overcome it?! YES! But does that mean it doesn’t hurt in seemingly insurmountable ways? Oh goodness yes it does and it was about to happen to me. There was no turning back now. It was at this time I got scared and needy for the first time. Luckily, it was 4:10am pacific time, which meant it was 7:10am East Coast time, where my sister jen is on a work trip in Connecticut. I texted her phone to see if she was up, AND SHE WAS! So I called her, listened to the dialtone, she answered, and I simply said “Jen, this is going to hurt”. She laughed and said “yes it is Lori, but YOU of all people, can do it.”
Jen is the most recent member of my family to have a baby and she accomplished this feat by doing it as a planned home waterbirth. She and I are natural birth junkies and I knew that if anyone could help talk me through it, she could. We chatted for 15 minutes and it was just so nice. I could just barely make it through my contractions, but the conversation was keeping me distracted just well enough that I was able to keep it together and not break down. I looked at the clock and it was now 4:20… time to drive to the birthcenter to make it there by 4:45 to meet the midwife.
I thanked Jen for the chat and felt boosted by her last “GO ROCK YOUR BIRTH!”I hung up the phone, stood up, walked down the hallway… and BAM. I was nearly knocked over by how bad everything hurt. No amount of birthing voodoo could make it go away. This was just too intense. In a small, defeated voice, I said up the stairs into the darkness to my supposed sleeping Sam, “It’s time to go now”.
I was amazed that he heard my little broken voice despite the fact he had been recently asleep. I was just SO happy to hear an immediate response. I don’t think I could have made it up the stairs to retrieve him otherwise.
He walked downstairs, took one good look at me, patted my shoulder, then we walked through the door out of our house together holding hands. We walked to the car, I sputtered something about being in intense “I’m going to die”pain, and I fumbled into my seat.
The next 18 minutes were insanity. The moment I got into the car, I went into TOP birthing gear. I dropped my voice low low low, moaned out long OOOOOOO sounds, and started to rock back and forth. We had recently gone to Hawaii on a fantastic "before the new baby comes" vacation so I transported myself back to that setting. I imagined myself in Hawaii, playing in the ocean. My baby is floating in a basket 5 feet in front of me but I’m being BOMBARDED by huge waves. I told myself that if I let them hit me, they will knock me on my ass and take my baby further away. But if I could just dip UNDER the wave, then I could remain where I was and even use the undertow to take me closer to my floating baby. There were moments in each contraction that I felt myself slip and get hit by the wave again, but if I just focused and envisioned further… I physically saw myself diving back under the wave and coming out strong and sound on the other side. I had only moments of respite before the next wave hit.
Five of these episodes passed. I was later informed by Sam that these contractions came 5, 4, 3, and 2 minutes apart during our drive to bellevue… until there was no break at all in between the last loooong contraction. This contraction ended at exactly 4:45 as we pulled into the parking lot.
We got there and I kind of flipped out. It looked like my midwife wasn’t there yet! Oh no, oh no. I don’t think I can last in the car waiting without losing my focus and running for the hills. We drove the other side of the building to see if we could get in that way but saw that it was no use. I really started to panic then, but as we pulled around back to the front—my midwife met us in the parking lot. It turns out that the side door goes straight into the birthing suite, and we had been looking at the locked front door used during the day for office visits.
A chorus of angels could not have been more welcome than seeing my midwife at that very moment! I bolted out of the car, NEEDING my birthing tub. I was sure I had an hour or two of horrific transition contractions to endure and I needed my tub to see me through! I jumped out of the car and tried to say a happy and nice “Hi Andrea! Definitely baby time!” to my midwife as I waddle/ran toward the door of the open birthing suite which was 15 feet away. 10 steps away from my car, my water broke and GUSHED in a huge pop mid stride. I notified my midwife and she smiled and said, “Great! You’re definitely almost there!”
5 more steps brought me to the threshold of the birthing suite. I cannot describe what happened to me in that moment that I crossed the threshold. Something overtook me. I had no idea what. I did not think I was about to give birth, but I KNEW that I needed to get in that tub ASAP. My midwife kept asking, “so what do you need? You look intense, where should we start? What can I do for you? How do you feel?” I simply turned to her and said, without filtering it in my head first “I’m just going to birth the baby now”.
I barely finished saying this phrase when I turned around, RIPPED off my shirt, skirt, and panties, and started fumbling toward the bath. I realized I still had my shoes on and would fall if I tried to take them off without sitting down. So I went to sit down on the side of the tub and ummm… my “sitter downer” felt crazy weird. Baby time weird, one would say. That’s the first time I realized that I might be close to actual pushing and delivery. Until this point in time, I thought I had more labor ahead of me and I just needed to get in the tub to make it not hurt so bad!
I gave up on my socks, there was no time to remove them. I just flung my feet and body into the tub with one sock fully on and one exactly half off and I got onto my knees. My midwife kept asking me questions, I remember her voice echoing far away in my head “Are you okay? What do you need? How do you feel?!” She was standing about 10 feet away near the door ushering Sam into the room. I couldn’t answer her questions! I wanted to, but simply couldn’t. I put my hands between my legs to find that there was indeed a huge bulge down there. I asked my brain if I should push it out and my brain said “YES!”, so I did. Out came a head just with a twitch of my hips. It was at this point I realized what was actually happening and I wanted to tell my midwife but I didn’t have the voice to do it. Instead, I decided I’d just have to show her what I was doing. I heard her say one last time “are you okay?” and the next thing I know, I am pulling the rest of Ruby out of me and raising her in out of the water to my chest and I proudly announce to my midwife, “I feel great!”.
Within a minute and 15 seconds of entering the birth suite, Ruby Ana Burkman was born. My midwife hadn’t even had the chance to touch me yet. I simply ran into the room, yelled “I’m going to birth this baby now”, tore my clothes off, jumped into the tub, and pulled a baby out of me. Everyone else in the room just stood there dumbstruck for a moment as we all realized what had just happened. Sam’s experience up to this point is a funny one. He saw me bolt out of the car at full speed, so he did his job of getting the bags out of the car and started to follow me in. During his 15 foot walk to the door, he heard a loud splash. He entered the door and the attending midwife in training told him “Don’t be worried, but your wife is having the baby right now”. Then the acting midwife asked me “are you okay?” and Sam looked at me as I brought a baby up out of the water to my chest and declared “I feel great!”. Sam just stood there holding our bags staring at me as I found him with my eyes. “Look!!! She’s here!” I called out beaming. Then I quickly followed with, “Oh my goodness, we need pics of her! Get the camera!”
I just sat in the tub holding and fawning over Ruby for the next hour or so. No one took her from me at all. They just checked our vitals right there, asked me questions, looked her over, but really… Ruby and I just cuddled and bonded. She nursed right away and we were both comfy in the bath. For the first 5 minutes after she was born, the water was clear and clean. Then within a matter of moments it turned BRIGHT red. I know blood is normally gross or whatever, but it was really beautiful to me. I was just sitting in this sea of crimson. Seriously, I was just awestruck at how pretty it all looked. I gazed into my baby girl’s eyes the first time and the name I had been thinking we’d name her (Indiana was my fav) did not fit her little face. Instead, I went with Sam’s leading favorite name that we had discussed: RUBY. She just looked 100% like a Ruby in that moment and I knew that that would be her forever name and it was perfect.
I have no idea how long I stayed in the tub looking at or nursing/cuddling Ruby. An hour? Maybe it was only 20 minutes in reality. I don’t know but it seemed like a really long time. Then the midwife asked Sam to come cut the cord, which he did without a problem. He then took off his shirt for some skin on skin time with his new daughter while I climbed out of the tub and hopped into the warmed bed.
I was inspected on the bed and found to be in perfect condition. Not a single tear at all, I’m not even swollen in any way. It is as if nothing ever happened aside from the need for a pad. My uterus contracted right up and everything was as it should be.
Ruby also checked out in perfect health. She was having a really hard time clearing her nose of gunk to breath well through it, but all of her vitals were perfect in spite of her being snuffly. It took about 2 hours before her nose figured out how to breath just right on its own, and after that we were 100% in the clear! We just talked and took pictures and discussed the crazy night and laughed. I put on her “going home” outfit, which is the same one Addie came home from the hospital in, and then I took more pictures—because that’s just what I do.
At 10am or so, we packed up our things and headed out! Can I just say how WONDERFUL it is to be home already?! I just love it. Our midwife will come to our house and attend us here and it is such a dream. The perfect way to end the perfect birth.
Addie and Simon were SOOOO cute when they saw Ruby for the first time. We recorded the whole thing and took pictures. Honestly, my heart is just so full of love and gratitude right now. How I have been deemed lucky enough for a life and family so full of blessings and love; I simply will never understand. I love God and Jesus with my whole heart and am just so grateful for the experiences they give us in which we grow so close to them.