*Owen, A Birth Story*

Our birth story with Owen is very different from Marin's, and that's how we hoped it would be.  I pray in my heart that my daughter will understand that in no way does Owen's birth experience marginalize her as a part of our family...we wouldn't want our family without her!!

Owen, right from the start has been different.  Things with him have just been...early (excluding his delivery).  I knew before the tests were positive that I was pregnant.  I could *feel* it..and I wasted 4 tests knowing it was too early, but needing that external validation, I took them anyway.  Finally, at 5 weeks along, my test showed the faintest of lines...I was certainly pregnant, although I had known for 2 weeks myself.

I even felt Owen move before I thought it even possible to feel a tiny little fetus.  At 12 weeks, I woke up one morning and stretched in bed...I almost think I scared him awake from his slumber because I literally felt him "leap" in my womb (are you loving the biblical phraseology?).  That's the only word used to describe what I felt.  At 14 weeks, I found a midwife in our new city and I had an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and I asked the tech if she could see anything....she said the baby looked pretty boy-ish to her.  And at our 20 week ultrasound, she proved to be right.

I knew with this baby, I wanted our delivery to be different.  I wanted it to be mine and my husbands.  I wanted to do the right thing for my baby and keep him as far away from anaesthetics as possible so he could enter this world free of a chemical shroud.  I wanted to feel every last bit of delivery, the precipice and culmination of a miraculous pregnancy.  I wanted to run the marathon and feel like I truly deserved the medal at the end of the race....and not feel cheated.

So we prepared.  We purchased a few books online (which I'll post about later) and I threw myself into preparation.  Preparing my body and mind for the race I was going to run at the end of 9 long months.  I increased my protein intake to make sure baby was getting enough to grow into a "blue ribbon baby".  I exercised as much as was possible with a 2 year old and a 22 hour a week job and a full time YW calling (yes...I've been there!).  I did my delivery exercises and my husband would text me each day asking if I was doing them.  We read every night from our book and I would take it to work with me and read and re-read and read again, just to be sure I got everything ingrained into my memory.  I quizzed my husband and he took notes and prepared.  We made a birthplan.  We were *stalwart*.  We were ready to succeed.

And at 38 weeks, I was 2 cm and 75% effaced.  We knew from the first time around that this meant nothing.  So we waited, and walked.  I had a few days with some very strong Braxton Hicks which eventually tapered into nothing.  So we kept waiting, and I got sick.  I developed a pretty severe cough, and I mean ....hacking cough.  As I was driving Marin to her doctors appt for the same cough, I had a coughing spell and popped a tendon in my ribs.  I could scarcely move and froze up and my eyes welled with tears.  My husband came and rescued me and we went to the ER, even though I knew they couldn't do anything.  The one piece of advice the doctor gave me was that Motrin was safe to take as I was full term (since it causes cervical dilatation).  The reason I tell you this is because at 39 weeks and 2 days, I was suddenly beyond concerned that I wouldn't be able to perform.  I could scarce blow my nose without searing pain in my side.  My fear was quelled when I realized that bearing down from the other end didn't have any effect on my side at all. 

We set a date to bless the baby and my due date came and went.  My mother was flying in and we did not have a baby!  My 40 week checkup showed me at 4cm and 80% effaced.  My body was ready.  I told the midwife we would like to have my water broken, and scheduled to be at the hospital in 2 days at 7am.  We arrived with birth plan in hand, prepared to be firm on our wishes, and firm we were.  No IV's.  No fetal heart monitoring.  No internal exams unless requested.  No drugs. 

The nurses were very respectful.  My midwife was unable to be there that morning due to the snow, but she showed up at 12:30 after I ate lunch and broke my water...5 times.  Nothing came out!  She kept pushing the baby's head up to be sure he wasn't blocking it, and still nothing.  It worried me a little, and I consented to a brief EFM (electronic fetal monitor) to be sure all was well and then it was OFF.  We then started nipple stimulation to release oxytocin and would do a round of stimulation until I had a *minor* contraction and then take two laps around the hallway.  We did this for 2 hours, until 2:30.  And then...labor HIT.

I was sitting up in bed and BOOM...start the timer, and lay me down, labor was here.  My body is very sensitive to the release of oxytocin, so I threw up all of my lunch.  Kris closed to blinds and I lay in the position we had practiced and waited for the next contraction.  It came and every nerve in my body wanted to fight.  Fight and fight and fight.  I will be completely honest.  It was at that point, that I wasn't sure if I could do it.  I knew I had to keep trying and try something new...try a different position.  I needed to pee, so we waddled into the restroom.  As I sat on the toilet, I felt another contraction coming, and I knew from my preparation that a contraction will hurt even worse if you clench your muscles, so I let it go.  I let my muscles in my pelvic floor go completely loose, like I was trying to pee, and I leaned back into the cold curvature of the toilet, rested my head on a ceramic tile ledge and my arms on the handicapped supports and toned.  I toned along with my contraction.

This was my magical combination.  This was going to be my key to success.  The ability to release my muscles while sitting on a toilet is something I've been trained to do since the age of 2, and I knew I could do that...and you what?  My contraction was....bearable!  It felt much better to contract this way and hurt MUCH less than clenching my body.  I had my head pressed against a tile ledge and I rolled my head back and forth, feeling it press into my scalp...it took a little focus away from my pelvis and allowed me to move somewhat during the contraction which was vital for me.  During a contraction, there is so much energy happening inside your body, I needed a way to release it, so rolling my head helped tremendously.  As did toning.  Sounding a voice along with the contraction.  Not moaning IN pain.  Totally different.  I am a vocal birther (I've learned), and like I said, with so much energy being put into a contraction, I needed to voice to let some of that energy out.  I thought it was weird at first, and I was hoping to be a graceful and silent birther, but then I realized...to heck with that!  It's only me and my husband in this room and he LOVES me and he does...not...care.  So I toned away.

In between contractions, I would stand and put my forehead on the wall and move my hips side to side until another contraction came and I would resume my position on the toilet and tone away.  I needed to break up the sitting and get a little circulation back into my cheeks!  After 2ish hours, I allowed to nurse to check me.  6cm.  This was good news.  I was making progress!  That meant I was doing something right.  I knew my contractions were at their peak intensity and weren't getting any 'worse'.  I also knew they were getting longer and closer together, but I knew I could handle the intensity, so while my husband timed me, I kept laboring. 

I was starting to feel some back discomfort, so I knew it was time for the tub.  My midwife told me, when you feel like it's time for an epidural...get into the bath-tub!  So I turned the jets on and labored for about 30 minutes in the tub.  Truth be told, it wasn't my favorite spot...I couldn't get a jet to position where I wanted it on my back, and the back pain was getting more prominent, so I got back out to labor on my happy toilet. 

And then I saw my midwife.  She sat in the room through a few contractions and I thought..."Why is she here?!  It's way too early!".  She said to me "I think you're ready to push.".  I was almost incredulous!  No way I was ready to push, I was just at a 6 only half an hour ago!  "Are you sure?"  I asked her as I got up from the toilet.  She watched me walk out of the bathroom, half squatting as I walked and chuckled "Yes, you're ready.".  She wanted me to sit on the birthing chair for a few contractions to help bring the baby's head down into the canal and I requested to deliver in the bed.

Delivery time was here.  I pushed and it felt sooooo good.  I can't tell you how good it felt to push.  My body knew what needed to be done and I braced my hands on my thighs instead of curling up and pushed.  Honestly, it really did feel just like having a big bowel movement.  And your contractions for delivery are MUCH different than they are for labor.  The only discomfort I felt was the stretching.  Ooooh, the stretching.  This was when I really did yelp a bit, it *burned*, but I will say, it was wonderful when the midwife put a nice hot washcloth down there, it really helped quite a bit.  I remember the burning and wanting that part to end, so I told myself, "Just push and get it over with!", so I would push and it felt so good to push and then I would feel the burn of the stretching.  I kept saying, "It burns, it burns, it burns, it burns!", and my husband said, "You're doing great honey, almost there!".  That didn't help me.  The nurse looked at me and said "I know it burns honey, I know it does!".  I was validated.  That was what I needed, so a few more pushes, and the head was out....sweet relief!

As I pushed my final few pushes to deliver our son, I could feel his legs pushing inside of me to help his own way out...and then he was here.  He was on my chest and crying and I flopped my head back onto the pillow and caught my breath.  I had done it!!!  I had reached my goal.

Owen Kristoffer Lyman joined our family on February 16th 2011 at 5:54 pm after just three hours of labor and 24 minutes of pushing.  At 8 pounds 5 ounces and 21 inches long, he was chubby and beautiful and pink with a lusty cry and HUNGRY. 

I experienced the most amazing oxytocin high after his birth, it is almost indescribable, but only feels like what I can imagine being on drugs would feel like.  Soaring above life with my brand new miracle and a feeling that I've conquered the world.  I didn't have that with my first delivery.  I felt amazing after Owen's delivery and was walking within 35 minutes, and absolutely starved.  I ate my husband's two snickers bars while I waited for my dinner tray to come up, and devoured all of that and asked for more! 

We couldn't have been more fulfilled with this delivery and while it was hard work (labor=hard work....huh.), it was 110% worth it.  My body and mind are amazing, capable cohesive units that can accomplish anything.  I will never choose to have a birth any other way in the future, I'm hooked! 

Please read my Natural Chilbirth tab for specifics on how we prepped and what we did, and tips etc.