Birth Story of Stephen Michael Hudak III
Stephen Michael Hudak III was born at 10:39pm on Thursday, July 17th, 2014. He weighed 10 pounds, 10 ounces and was 22.75 inches long. Here is his birth story :)
After coming home from my 40.5 week appointment with the midwives (I was 3cm dilated, 75% effaced and got a good stretch and sweep) I tried to eat some lunch- all I managed was some red raspberry leaf tea and an avocado. I had Stephen pick up some Rice and Spice but when I smelled it when I came home that was a total no go. Chamein and Phil headed into Alexandria, and I headed upstairs to finish my last 2 episodes of House, MD and hopefully take a nap. I was tired and had been up Wednesday night every hour with contractions. It was about 1/1:30 in the afternoon. My intentions for napping were great, however baby had different plans. I attempted to stay distracted with House, and made it through about half an episode. I was taking pauses to go to the bathroom and the pain in my back was getting more consistent. I took a hot shower, hoping that would ease my back pain and relax me (but not slow labor). The shower felt great- but the contractions kept coming. At this point I was not timing anything- I was just in the moment. I was able to get dressed and found a spot kneeling next to the bed to breathe through contractions. Even though I was not timing them I think contractions were about 5-10 minutes apart. I was surprised at how much life sucked during the contraction- took all my focus- and then once it was over I was back to being a normal person. I made sure to drink my tea and water during this time. One of the number one reasons for transport is maternal exhaustion- I had to make sure that wouldn't happen to me! At 3pm I text Stephen to come home- I needed his support. Odin had done a great job being there for me- he was calm and gave me space while staying near me. Stephen came home about 3:30 and at 4 I looked at him and said "I think I'm in labor and we should call the midwife." (We knew it would take both the midwife, Jennifer, and the birth assistant, Lori, a bit to come down as it was rush hour and they were coming from Northern VA and Maryland.)
Once Stephen came home I knew I could go more into myself and he would be able to take care of other things. He recorded contractions, got me drinks and a snack, and coordinated with the birth team. Contractions were about 2 minutes apart, I moved from the floor to the bed on a pile of pillows- which slowed my contractions down. My attempt at lunch came back up- but at least my system had to be clean now. I continued to labor- I really wanted back counter pressure on my sacrum during contractions. Jennifer gave us the go-ahead to fill up the birth tub. Water is a tricky thing- you don't want to slow or speed up before your body is ready and you want to have it as a last resort. During this hour or so on the bed everyone on the birth team had arrived. I could hear everyone come in, they all were very quiet and respectful of my space and my focus; although I tried to keep it real and humorous- I didn't want to get too bogged down in the contractions. I kept my eyes closed through 95% of my labor- I needed the inner focus and not to worry about what was going on around me.
Laboring in the tub
As soon as the birth team arrived I moved from the bedroom to the office where I had set up the birth tub. The distance between the two rooms is less than 100 feet, but when you are contracting it felt like a mile. I attempted walking but a contraction took me down to my knees, and after that I just crawled over to the tub. At this point I remember thinking to myself how much being in labor is similar to drunk Kate- crawling on the floor because its too difficult (too high) to walk; being in the shower/tub is calming; and knowing what I want and demanding it (thankfully my amazing birth team didn't see it as demanding- I wasn't mean about it :)
Getting in the tub felt amazing! I was able to float and relax, but still the back labor got me- I wanted counter pressure! Meagan (my doula) sat beside me while I was in the tub and would breathe with me- this really helped me focus on deep toned breathing through the contractions. I was a vocal laboring woman- and I didn't care- primal instincts truly took over. As Ina May Gaskin says "Let your monkey do it!"
Meagan breathing with me
The one down side of the tub was that when I would lean over the edge my arms would go numb. Odin came up when I was in the tub- he was able to check on me and say hi before being sent to the basement for the rest of the night. When I was in the tub I started to feel the need to push (I had no idea if I was fully dilated- I hadn't been checked yet) and I had felt "leaking". In the tub I also had my "I can't do it moment"- as soon as I uttered the words a chorus of "yes you can" came from my birth team. I knew as I said the words that yes, I could do it, but the words still came out of my mouth. I pushed some in the tub before Jennifer suggested moving to the toilet. May seems strange to some, but I knew this was often suggested as the toilet is a natural place for us to bear down (push) and gravity would be on our side.
I moved to the toilet- I remember feeling as if there were 100 hands there to help me dry off and make it the 20 feet to the bathroom. My birth team was truly amazing. I felt more of a need to push on the toilet- and at one point I was completely ok with delivering my baby on the toilet. Pushing a baby is so different than anything else you do- you have to curl your body around the baby- something you don't know how to do until you've done it right. My monkey had taken over at this point- I was able to still hear my birth team offering me advice and take that from them to be more productive. After some time of pushing Jennifer asked if I would be ok being checked- she wanted to see where everything was- if I was really ready to be pushing and what baby's position was. Once I was on the bed to be checked I had a contraction- and it felt good to be on the bed. We have a Tempurpedic mattress and it gave me just the right amount of counter pressure. At 7:55 pm Jennifer checked me- and as she did I felt a gush- a huge gush. "So, I accidentally broke your water, no really it was an accident. I know they would say that in the hospital but it really was an accident." "Also you aren't quite fully dilated yet." (I didn't want to know numbers- later I would find out that I was only 6cm when she checked me). At this point baby was also ascynclitic, meaning his head was turned in my pelvis and he needed to straighten his head so he could come down the birth canal.
At this point Chamein had come back and she was ready to adjust and pin me to help get baby to turn his head. This part sucked. I was on my hands and knees over a ball- with needles in my back (I had no idea how many at the time- I had 10 needles or so) and Chamein was providing pressure on my back. At each contraction I had to go into a deep squat while she pushed on my back. This was one of the most painful parts of my labor. When I was able to roll forward during the rest I felt as if I was able to push him down my stomach using the ball. All throughout my labor everyone was great about getting me drink and offering me food. I didn't really want any food- I was belching a lot and had a couple of times where I was thankful for the bucket at the ready but the bucket remained empty. I had asked for some tea- and Chamein came up with some tea. I don't know what voodoo she did to that tea but I swear after every sip I had a contraction! In a way it was reassuring- I knew that sipping from the pink straw meant a contraction was happening- and at the same time I cursed her.
After getting baby's head turned I moved to sitting on the ball. While sitting on the ball I had a gush of bloody show- and I remember thinking to myself that I had just sprayed the whole front of the bed- but didn't care. At this point we moved- from ball to squatting to toilet back to bed. At some point during this I remember Jennifer saying "its ok Im a human diva cup" as she was cupping her hands to catch bloody show- not exactly sure when this happened- just a snippet I remember from the night. Yet again on the toilet I came to accept having the baby on the toilet- at least it would have been a unique story....
Laboring on the toilet- drawing strength from Stephen
Finally we moved back to the bed- I was ready to push. I was sitting on the edge of the bed (sideways from how you would normally lay). Stephen sat behind me and Meagan and Chamein each held a leg. I remember them being worried I would fall off the bed as I was right on the edge "then don't let me fall" I said! Stephen did a great job holding his breath so I had a firm support behind me. I was determined in the phase- ready to make this baby arrive. I had to be told to take a breath and rest. Thankfully my birth team worked with my natural urges and baby helped to stretch me out. I was also able to reach down twice and feel his head coming out- once just the top and the second time I was able to actually put my hand around the top of his head- about 3 inches worth of his head. This gave me so much motivation and really helped progress my pushing.
I pushed for about an hour before delivering our baby boy- at one point my hip was hiked up with a pillow. The shakes they tell you about- real and unlike anything else you can experience. We had hoped for Stephen to help guide our son from my body into the world, so I flipped onto my hands and knees with a bunch of pillows to support me (no I did not want the ball- pillows were much much softer). This position was not fun, still having back labor. The cool part about this position was feeling him come back into my body after leaning back during a contraction and pushing. One of the strangest feeling, yet the most relief ever. I wasn't happy in this position and I was ready to welcome our baby into this world. I moved back to a semi-reclining position with Stephen behind me and one leg held up- it took a bit of pushing as he inched his way into the world- first head, then one shoulder, then the other, then nipple line, then hips then finally sliding the rest of the way out. I just had to keep pushing- I remember thinking "aren't I done pushing him yet?" Even Meagan got excited as he crowned and had his shoulders out- but it would take another 'hot minute' as she would say for him to be placed on my belly. While Stephen wasn't able to help deliver the baby I was able to reach down and feel him as I was pushing- an incredible and surreal feeling.
As the midwives put him on my belly it was all a bit of a blur- so many thoughts run through your head- mostly I can remember a feeling of accomplishment- "holy cow I just had a baby- and now I have him to take care of" and feeling a sense of relief and relaxation as labor was over. I held my slippery son on my belly (his cord wasn't long enough for him to come up to chest) and again 100 hands seemed to do all things necessary to make us comfortable. I reached down and felt his cord pulsing- incredible would be the best way to describe what you feel. The cord is so thick and the beat is so strong- amazing that this helped my baby grow for 9 months. I had Stephen reach down and feel it- he was a little unsure but I think one day he will be grateful for the experience. At this point it was time to stand to deliver the placenta- a little tricky to move from behind Stephen to standing- I had to hold baby, turn and stand up. Thankfully one of the birth team helped hold baby so that he didn't fall and I was able to stand. Delivering the placenta was not difficult as some women relate- I really just felt a small cramp (contraction) and it plopped out (one of the birth team caught it and it was placed in a plastic tub to be encapsulated). Had you told me before birth that delivering the placenta would be the equivalent of your vagina vomiting I would have thought you were nuts. Now I can tell you that is exactly what it feels like! His cord pulsed for about 20 minutes (after birth, including placenta delivery) before it stopped and was clamped.
Jennifer and Stephen cutting the cord
Once he was clamped and the cord cut by Stephen it was time for the first latch. We tried a few positions before finding the football hold to work best for us. He nursed and then was able to bond in Stephen's arms. Seeing your husband hold your child makes you fall in love with him 100 times over.
During this whole immediate postpartum time I felt a sense of accomplishment, pride, joy and an immense, indescribable love for my new family. I also had a huge gratitude for everyone there with me. Everyone in the room was so happy for us- love filled the space. I am so thankful that our son was welcomed into the world with such good energy- he is a blessed boy. After some time together as a family I had to shower (just a quick rinse to make sure I wouldn't pass out standing up and to try and pee) and to clean up the mess that was going on in the nether regions. Thankfully I didn't have any major tears- just some "labial skid marks" as they are called- just abrasions. The shower felt great- just rinsing off gave me another burst of energy.
10 pounds 10 ounces is a lot to hold up!
Baby was content and it was time to find out just how big he was! After getting all of his measurements, a few pictures with our amazing birth team and instructions for the night we said our thank yous and goodnights and we were left to start our journey as parents.....
Our birth team- Jennifer, Stephen(s), me, Meagan, Lori
We even got Jeni to come out from behind the camera :)
Overall looking back I am beyond pleased with how my birth story went. I am sure there are details that I am missing. I am thankful to have had Jeni there to capture the birth- seeing photos is so different from being in the moment and inside myself. Watching how my belly changed and the emotions on my face truly speaks to the nature of birth. I was a little disappointed that I was not able to use the tub more- or to deliver in the water- but I was able to listen to my body and my baby and do what worked best for us- and that was my main goal. I am still glad I had the tub to labor in! I would also say that even though I said "I can't do this" I never felt the need to give up, or to want any sort of pain relief after the tub. Really even though the back labor sucked, I would say that birth wasn't that bad. I can also say that having needles and someone experienced in adjusting during labor helped me immensely!
As we have talked to different family members a few of them have asked jokingly "Are you ready for the next baby" or some question along those lines- and the answer is yes. Maybe not tomorrow- but even with the memory of labor fresh in my mind I would do it again in a heartbeat (ok let the skid marks heal first) if it meant feeling the amount of love in my heart I feel now. <3
To my husband- thank you for being my support, my strength, my sense of calm and reassurance throughout my labor. You were there for me during the entire labor, you even sacrificed a certain afternoon tradition for me ;) Your love for me and our baby is so evident as I look at the pictures from his birth- and I felt that love during my labor. I am so grateful for you and your love for me. I love you <3
To my son- Stephen Michael Hudak III- bringing you into this world is one of the best things I have ever done and if on my deathbed I am asked what my top 10 accomplishments were in life you will always be at the top of that list. I love you more than you will understand until you have your own child. Forever and ever, your mama~