Monday, February 25, 2013

Birth - First Edition

I’ve been wanting to write out my birth stories for a long time now, but have kept putting it off. Some memories of them are starting to fade, so I have decided to finally dive in.

Before we begin, let me say that if birth stories aren’t your jive, you may want to skip over these posts. Although I won’t be sharing every single detail, I will probably be sharing more than you would like to hear. If, however, you’re like me and birth stories are your crack – Proceed!

Ryann’s Reluctant Exodus from My Womb

Let me first say that my pregnancy with Ryann was wonderful. I felt physically amazing and more sure and confident of my body than ever before in my life. I rocked it. I also just worked part-time, which may have been part of that.

I stayed quite active throughout my pregnancy – ran regularly until four months at which point the bouncing belly was just too much for me, took a water aerobics class several times a week until I delivered, walked to and from work at least twice a day. Jared and I were stupidly secure in the belief that my labor would clock in at 8 hours or less. What dear foolish people we were.

Although we were technically okay with needing to do whatever needed to be done in the moment in order to get that little girl out and into our arms, our ideal method was a completely natural birth. No IV, no epidural, no drugs. While I really don’t try not to judge those who go into labor with the immediate intention of seeking out interventions, I truly believe that going all natural is usually best for both mom and babe. Interventions too quickly lead down the road to more interventions which lead down the road to more interventions which lead down the road . . .

I started having regular, time-able contractions the evening of October 28. Every seven minutes until around seven in the morning. My sister and Mom both lived down in New Mexico at this time (Jared and I were up in Washington state) and they were planning on trying to make it for the birth, but their scheduled arrival wasn’t until November 10 since my due date was November 12. However, once these contractions started up I gave them a call and told them that they had better move up the date, Ryann was knocking down the gates (hahaha, that’s kind of gross).

38 weeks pregnant and expecting her any moment.
They moved their travel up by one week. The contractions continued. They started up every evening at seven and petered away at around seven in the morning. Every day for twelve hours, every seven minutes. We had some legitimate concern that Ryann was going to end up a Halloween baby, which is our least favorite holiday by quite a margin. Luckily we kept contracting right on by that.

Mom and Kristin pulled into town the evening of November 3 and no baby had yet appeared. We hung out with my giant contracting belly for a few hours before bed and went to sleep.

Ryann must have been waiting for her pit crew to arrive, because at 1am on November 4 I woke up to some very different contractions. These were coming every four minutes and were actually mildly uncomfortable whereas the ones I had been having for a week (A WEEK) were completely painless, they simply made my stomach as hard as a rock.

I got out of bed, walked around our teeny apartment for a bit, and then decided to go ahead and wake Jared. He does not wake up gently. No matter how quietly or slowly I try to wake him up it ALWAYS end by him snort-jump-shouting awake. You can imagine how this went.

Jared got out of bed, jumped in and out of the tub (we had no shower in our little place), and gathered our hospital bags by the door. We were still thinking that we would have Ryann in our arms well before noon. Oh you poor souls.

The contractions were definitely getting worse, but I was still able to talk through them easily. So we did what any sane couple would do at this point. We sat on the couch and watched Iron Chef episodes. Battle Tuna anyone?

Finally, at about 4am, we decided to head into the hospital. Although I could still talk through the contraction, they were getting quite painful and we were still expecting a quick labor. Once we got to the hospital, they checked me and we found out we were at a measly ‘1, maybe 2 centimeters’. Uh oh.

At this point, we decided to go ahead and go back home. And here is where we truly began our marathon. Back at home the contractions really started to amp up. I tried laying in the tub, on the bed, on my side, on my back, over the couch, walking around. I threw up several times, and so Jared kept trying to feed me bites of mandarin orange and sips of water. All of which I proceeded to spew right back out.

My Mom and sister headed over to our place around 8am. There wasn’t really a whole lot they could do, but I do remember that Kristin offered to clean our flour-doused kitchen cart, something I had been meaning to get to for ages. I’ve gotta say, this is one of my favorite memories from during my labor. As un-clean-freaky as I am, there are certain things that I am a real stickler about, and my kitchen is one of them. Just knowing that cart was getting a thorough cleaning was such a huge upper for me at that point.

In labor with the blessed
kitchen cart in the background.
We had a regularly scheduled OB appointment at 4pm, so we decided we would try to ride it out until then, all the while hoping that we would instead already have had the baby by that point. We didn’t. Just before 4, we loaded up into our cars (Mom and Kristin followed us) and trekked over to our OB’s office, which was luckily right next to the hospital. This is where I got to terrify all of the happy pregnant women in the waiting room, while I moaned and thrashed and groaned. Those poor, poor ladies.

Once they took us back to the exam room and checked me, we found out that those ten hours had progressed us all the way to a 3! I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed and discouraged. At this point our OB recommended that we go ahead and check into the hospital so that I could get an IV, since I was fairly dehydrated by now and it was probably contributing to my slow progress. He also strongly recommended an epidural. I was disappointed, but by this point, I was ready to go for it. Jared did his previously agreed upon duty in trying to get me to wait for a bit longer, but I was ready for some help and gave the team the go ahead to place the epidural as soon as the anesthesiologist was ready.

There isn’t much more terrifying than being told of all the dangers and possible complications of getting an epidural and then being told that you need to hold perfectly still or they might hit your spinal column right in the middle of body-wrenching contractions. It is impossible to hold still. I still don’t know exactly how they got it in, but they did. And sweet, blessed numbness swept over me.

Once the epidural was in, I was able to talk again, to see faces and chat and even chuckle a bit. My blood pressure also dropped (it tends to be quite low to begin with), an oxygen mask was brought out, and everyone was hawkeyeing Ryann’s monitor. Luckily, that’s as far as ‘complications’ from the epidural went for me. I continued to progress, my BP didn’t continue to drop, and Ryann didn’t suffer and ill-effects. I was grudgingly okay with the epidural.

For about 20 minutes I was myself again. And then everything started coming back. I was panicky from dread of those terrible contractions and kept asking the nurses if the epidural was supposed to wear off like it seemed to be doing. They had me hitting the dose button but I couldn’t feel any benefit from it and the contractions quickly came back full force. After the epidural had been in for about an hour and I had been re-moaning for about 40 minutes, they checked me again and I was at a complete 10. Hallelujah! They also noticed that my epidural cord was kinked behind my back, as soon as they straightened it out, my legs were dead again. Thanks guys.

I was prepared for pushing to be exhausting and long. They say that the pushing portion lasts an average of 20 minutes with it frequently stretching well over an hour. Ryann popped out in three contractions. Our OB said that we were some of the most pleasant laborers that he had ever had and that he had never before delivered a baby to the tune of Bob Dylan.

We had a slight scare when just her head was out and our OB said to stop pushing. The umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around her neck twice. He had to work it loose and cut her cord in order for her to actually come out. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with Clif and talking with my midwife that I realized just how lucky we were. If her cord had been wrapped with just a bit less slack, she very well could have hung herself on her way out and there’s no way we would have known what was happening until it was too late.

She was very blue and calm. She just whimpered, didn’t cry. It took a very long time for her to pink up, the whole while she was just looking around. I remember my Mom asking the nurses and doctor over and over if she was okay because she was just so blue. Eventually she did pink up, but it wasn’t until the next day or so that she seemed truly newborn-pink.

Prodromal labor began on October 28. Active labor began at 1am on November 4. Ryann was born 8 days early at 8:41pm on November 4, 2009. She was 6lb 11oz and 19 inches long. 

And our life began.

Look at that glorious hair!
And just for fun - Thai feasts have become somewhat
of a tradition surrounding the births of our children.


  1. Birth stories are my crack for sure. Thanks for hitting me up! :)

  2. Love this. Thanks for recording it and reminding me to do the same. The pictures at the end made me tear up. And want curry.

  3. Love hearing birth stories! Thanks for sharing this :)