Thursday, May 28, 2015

Finn Ryan's Birth Story

I have been on such a high since Finn's birth! I want to remember every little detail and have been so eager to write it down.  But at the same time, I feel like I'm still processing it all... all the feels!  I'm going to try and capture this incredible day to the best of my postpartum, hormonal abilities!  There will be lots of details, including surely a bit of TMI for some.  But if you love a good birth story, then settle in!  Here is how our little Finn Ryan came into the world.

Saturday May 2nd, my due date, came & passed with absolutely no signs of labor.  I was fine with this and ready to trust my body, my baby, and that they both would be in perfect harmony.  On Sunday I lost my mucus plug and was hopeful that labor was not too far off.  That night I started to have contractions.  Having already had one baby, I knew the familiar feeling and was instantly excited! However, they were relatively mild & infrequent.  By Monday morning they had stopped completely.  I knew that I needed to stay relaxed and continue to be patient, so I went about my normal routine and headed to forest school with Liam.  This day we were exploring a big new park with friends.  I was hopeful that all the walking might trigger my contractions to start up again, but they didn't. After a couple hours exploring the park, we ventured back home to wait and see what the rest of the day might bring.

That afternoon I decided to treat myself to an induction or "labor stimulation" massage at my local prenatal massage place.  Even if it didn't work, I needed something to help me relax and get refocused on the upcoming birth.  Lucky for me, contractions started up again on Monday night.  More intense & more frequent than the night before, but still by no means active labor.  I woke up feeling quite defeated.  It was appearing to me that I was bound to experience another long prodromal labor, and the whole process was starting to feel just like how Liam's birth began.  I spent some time chatting with my doula (Jessica) who assured me this was not and will not be like Liam's birth.  This time I was far more prepared; I was more knowledgable of what prodromal labor was and knew enough to relax and wait it out.  One thing she said which really stuck with me was that "Liam prepared [me] for this birth." She said to have Conor remind me of this through the day and to spend time with Liam to make me feel that support and preparedness for what lie ahead.  Such powerful words at just the right moment!  It brought on some tears and helped me to recenter myself.

While things were still moving along slowly, it became more and more apparent to us that I would probably be having a baby sometime that day, Tuesday, on Cinco de Mayo!  It was interesting to me that it would be the exact same gestation at which Liam was born (3 days past my official due date). Liam was curious about what was happening each time I had a contraction. He was having a hard time not being able to snuggle me constantly, so my mom took him to the library for a little adventure while I focused on my labor.  At 10am my contractions were about 8 minutes apart & moderate in pain level.  Conor & I walked around our neighborhood a bit, and then cozied up on the couch to watch an episode of Mad Men.  I relaxed by showering & curling my hair (had to take care of the important things, obviously).  Still, things were not really progressing all that quickly. It was hard to stay optimistic about this birth with the memory of a long and difficult labor with Liam still so vivid in my mind.

Around noon, my mom returned home with Liam and we all had a lite lunch together.  At this point, things seemed to change in an instant.  I could barely finish my granola before needing to go lie down.  I was no longer able to handle contractions as calmly & gracefully as I felt I could before.  The intensity was increasing, but not so much the frequency, so we continued to wait and see how things would progress.  After lunch, Liam went down for a nap, and I crawled into bed myself.  Conor finished up some work emails as I tried to mentally prepare myself for what I thought would surely be hours & hours of labor to come.  At 2:15pm, I sent out a message to all my friends from my blessingway to light their candles.  This was the last text I sent; active labor had officially begun!  Conor then pulled out my envelope of birth affirmations (my favorites are italicized throughout this post) to help give me things to focus on.  In between contractions, he would read an affirmation to me and then have me repeat it back.  This was incredibly motivating, supportive, & such a bonding experience for us during this special time.  

When Liam woke up from his nap, my mom & Conor were hoping he would get to spend some time with me, but I knew that I couldn't handle it.  I wasn't able to be present & be his mom like I normally am.  It was a tough feeling to wrap my head around, especially with my thoughts so focused elsewhere.  I asked my mom to keep Liam out of the bedroom and instead take him on another adventure.  They headed off to Jamba Juice, and I relaxed a bit knowing that he would perfectly happy having a little date with his Nana! 

Note:  I was in my own little world during active labor, so some of the details I simply don't remember.  The actual timeline itself is pretty fuzzy for me.  Conor has helped to fill in the gaps a bit, along with various phone calls & texts to help out with the timeline.
 
Conor was in constant contact with Jessica, updating her on my progress.  She suggested he get me into the bath to see if my contractions would stay consistent or not.  Around 3:30 that afternoon I was in our tub which really helped relieve some of the more uncomfortable pressure that I was feeling.  Conor was tracking my contractions but not sharing those stats with me, as he and Jessica just wanted me to focus on my body and what it was telling me.  While in the tub (around 3:30-4pm), Conor's notes showed that my contractions were roughly 4 minutes apart and lasting well over a minute.  He asked if I wanted Jessica to come, to which I quickly replied yes!  I was immediately anxious for her to arrive and bring the extra support & guidance that Conor and I wanted to help us welcome Finn. Conor made the call, and Jessica started heading our way! While still in the tub, I started to be somewhat vocal through my contractions; trying to keep focused on low tones & a calm body.  I would slowly say "low", or "down", or "out" with each & every contraction. This was a technique Jessica had shared with me to keep my body relaxed and from tensing up with the pain and pressure.  I was completely surprised at how vocal I was, since it wasn't something I had expected prior to this birth.
   
I see myself handing everything beautifully.

Around 4pm I got out of the tub, but immediately had a contraction from all that movement and collapsed right onto our bed.  When the contractions had started to really come on strong earlier, I would move to my hands & knees and Conor would apply counter pressure to my hips to help me through them.  However, in bed after the bath, his weight on the mattress seemed to make me so uncomfortable.  I needed his help, but couldn't handle him being in the bed so I kept asking him to stop and leave me alone. This was really not easy for Conor.  He immediately knew he had to get me out of bed to where he could support me again.  Here and there I was starting to have a contraction so intense that it made me feel out of control of my body.  Those were the hardest.  Conor felt helpless, so he kept encouraging me to get up and find a new position.  He was also encouraging me to get dressed, knowing at some point soon, perhaps very soon, we would be headed to the hospital.  I was adamant about not putting on clothes or moving.  Conor insisted, sensing that I was in another place at the moment, and somehow managed to throw a bralette and black sundress over my head, and eventually helped me step out of bed.  Again, the movements triggered another strong contraction and I dropped down to my hands and knees on the bedroom floor.

The power & strength of my contractions cannot be stronger than me, because it is me.

I continued my labor on all fours, as this seemed to be the most comfortable position.  Conor would give me a hip squeeze during a contraction, and I would lay down on my side, trying to rest in-between.  I was waiting for Jessica and hoping she would be arriving soon... Unfortunately, things really started escalating about the same time rush hour does through SLC and that meant traffic for Jessica on her drive to our house.  I started feeling like I really needed to use the bathroom, but I couldn't even imagine trying to get myself there.  The next two contractions my body just naturally started pushing, and I became even more vocal in the process.  I quickly realized that the "feeling" of needing to "go" that I had was actually the baby, and my body telling me it was time.  And....  I.  Was.  Pushing!  At home!
  
There goes all fear I hold about giving birth.  The birth will be perfect.
There goes all fear I hold about healing.  I will heal beautifully.
There goes all fear I hold about not being a good mother.   I will be enough.

Two more contractions and my water broke around 4:20pm (about 2.5 hours into active labor). This was quite a surprise to Conor and I!  We both heard a pretty loud *pop* right as a contraction was ramping up, & I felt like a big ball had just shot out!  Conor informed me that my water had just broke...  to which I rather humorously thought & said "Yeah... I know it did!" At this point, I couldn't even fathom getting in a car and driving to the hospital.  In my mind, I was not thinking beyond that current moment, then that very next moment, etc.  The hospital wasn't even on my radar.  I suddenly felt totally fine with an unassisted home birth, if that's what needed to happen.  However Conor, knowing that I was seriously pushing, immediately started scrambling to get all of our things together. We both expected that we would have had plenty of time during labor to gather our bags and the last few items we wanted with us at the hospital: those clothes we left out of our go-bags in case we wanted them before the hospital, some snacks from home to fuel me through the labor, those motivational items we wanted in our delivery room to help us through the tough and more emotional moments, all the little "last minute" things we were sure we would have time to pull together... But it was just the two of us, alone in the house, and I had progressed so quickly that he had no time to even leave my side.  My contractions were now coming so fast with absolutely no relief in between. I needed him there with me when they came on, and if he wasn't close I called to him to let him know to come back.  Just before 5:30pm, Jessica was only 5 minutes away, and I wasn't holding back; I was pushing with every single contraction.  Conor kept trying to tell me that "we are not pushing at home" and to breathe the baby down instead, but that was nearly impossible. I was in laborland and just letting my body birth the way that it needed to.

I am calm.  I am safe.  I am relaxed.

As we both anxiously waited for Jessica to arrive and assess our escalating situation, Conor kept trying to encourage me up off the floor so we could make some progress towards the car.  After protesting through numerous contractions, I finally just got up and made it to our kitchen counter.  My legs were weak and knees were shaking uncontrollably, later learning this was an effect of all the adrenaline pulsing through my body.  This was by far one of the crazier feelings I had through this whole labor experience!  Conor even held my knees stable a couple of times, seeing that I was struggling with that lack of control.  Jessica arrived at 5:25pm and immediately noticed how hard I was pushing. "Oh yeah... she's pushing!" she confirmed to Conor as she walked, right while I was in the middle of a tough contraction.  She quickly peeked under my dress and noticed that I was already bulging.  Baby was coming.  I remember her kissing my shoulder (or maybe cheek, or maybe both) and giving me the assurance that I needed.  I was ready.  My body was ready.  Finn was ready.  My team was ready.  It was finally time!  I really didn't want to get in the car (I was worried I would literally be sitting on Finn's head, which in some way, I guess I was), but I knew that going to our hospital would still be best as that was what we had planned and prepared for all along.

I made a baby that is the perfect size for my body.

Everything began to happen even more quickly; Conor barely had time to let anyone in our families know that we were headed for the hospital.  He tried to make a few very quick calls during the drive, but I would quickly cut him off, not wanting anyone to hear me "roar" in the background!  He did also very briefly get in touch with my mom, since initially my hope was that she would be able to drop Liam off with the neighbors or a friend and join us for the birth.  Conor had let her know when my water broke, but she didn't make it back to the house before we left for the hospital.  So instead of being another birth support for me, my mom continued her so very important role as Nana and stayed back with Liam.  While I wish this had gone a bit differently, it wasn't even on my mind during any portion of this active labor, and I am sure that was probably for the best!

I am strong enough. I am enough.

We had about a 12 minute drive to the hospital that was absolutely miserable; I don't think I opened my eyes the entire time.  I kept pushing with each contraction, even through Conor's constant coaching me to breathe.  During the drive, he updated me on where we were, and how many more stoplights, left turns, or right turns before we would arrive.  Jessica was following closely behind in her car and called the hospital for us to let them know we were coming in hot!  We pulled in right up front (about 5:50pm), and I had a contraction the second I got out of the car.  I was loud, and I didn't care one bit.  We told a nurse who greeted us in passing near the front doors that I did not want a wheelchair (still didn't want to sit on Finn's head). Later, Conor and Jessica said she gave us a bit of a "is she for real?!" look; probably thinking there was no way I would choose to walk in that state over getting wheeled to my room.  I had contraction after contraction while slowly shuffling my way to the delivery room.  My delivery nurses were already in there when I arrived, followed shortly thereafter by my midwife; all staff was quickly in place and ready for delivery.


As I climbed into the bed, the nurses said they wanted to get the baby's heart rate as well as do a cervical check to "see how dilated you are".  Well, they took one quick look and Finn's head was already presenting; no cervical check needed!  It still seems incredible to me to have made it through my entire pregnancy & labor with absolutely no cervical checks.  My body knew what it was doing, and I was trusting it every step of the way.  Everything felt so natural; exactly what I wanted.  Initially, I had hoped for a water birth, but we knew the tub took about 45 minutes to fill up and given how quickly things progressed for me, this was obviously not going to be an option.  This wasn't on our minds at all though as we knew how close we were to meeting Finn. At this point, my legs felt so weak and shaky that I laid back in the hospital bed instead of opting for a birthing stool or birthing bar.  My midwife was quite present yet very hands off...so the perfect midwife!  She simply stayed close, monitored me and Finn's head through each contraction, and told me that I should push when I felt like he and I were ready to. 
 
I deserve this wonderful birth.

At this point, I was starting to get some relief between contractions again, which was much needed for the pushing that ensued.  The pushing at the hospital was immediately different than all the pushing before we arrived.  Initially I was just pushing because my body felt the urge; later I was pushing to actually birth my baby.  It was just different mentally and physically for me.  Much harder pushing for a much stronger purpose!  But the feeling was absolutely incredible.  This was part of the experience that I really missed with Liam's birth given the exhaustion, epidural, and just the sheer pace and irregularity of the whole experience.  This time I was in control; I knew my body was going to own this! Quite the amazing contrast the more I reflect on it.


I asked for a mirror and would try to peek at Finn's head now & then, but I mostly kept my eyes closed through this time.  About 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital, my midwife told me that I could probably have Finn out with the next couple of pushes if I wanted.  That was the extra motivation I needed!  She then told me to try and be quiet and do the next few pushes with no sound. Instead of my roar, I put all of my energy into the push.  Finn's head had been making good progress with each push, but between each contraction he would "retreat" back as my body relaxed. It was so depressing when this happened.  I would cry out "No Finn!  Don't go back in!"  Then after one contraction, my midwife excitedly told me that Finn's head was staying out to which I replied   "That's because I am holding him there!".  I knew Finn was just moments away from being placed on my chest!   Conor encouragingly told me "Let's go mama-bear!" remembering this as a motivating description of myself that I shared with him in the weeks leading up to the birth.  A few strong pushes later at 6:16pm (after only 4 hours of active labor!), Conor himself, with a little help from the midwife, guided our sweet Finn Ryan out into his hands and into the world!  He was here!!!  Everyone in the room instantly commented on how BIG he was as Conor brought him right up to me on my chest.

Finn Ryan Keenan
9 lbs 10 oz
22 inches


The feeling was truly amazing.  The whole experience was.  Finn was finally in my arms and crying his little heart out!  I loved him so much already.  I felt that wave of hormones hit me!  I was on an absolute high!  And this may sound self absorbed, but I felt beautiful! Looking back at those few pictures from that first moment with Finn, I can just see how much I was glowing with pride.  This was exactly what I wanted.  All of it.  It all went so perfectly!  As I was taking in all the sights, smells, & touches of my newborn, my midwife told me that I didn't need any "repairs"!  Seriously?!  I just birthed this big baby boy and didn't have any tearing?!  Conor and I both were amazed and recognized that the patience that our whole team had in letting Finn finally come out when he and my body wanted him to was likely the reason for such a great outcome. Especially with us fully expecting at least some damage after nearly the opposite with Liam.  I kept telling myself that my body made the most perfect sized baby for me.  I knew in that instant that my body, just like so many other mothers around the world, was a capable & incredible thing!  Finn's birth was empowering; I had never felt stronger.  It was also very much the healing experience that I had been waiting so long for.  With Liam I had felt cheated out of what I knew I had wanted... this time I was able to let my body do what it was truly meant to do and how it was meant to do it.  It was natural, amazing, & wonderful!  I was so full of pride and awe.


One thing I feel that is still a bit understated from my and Finn's story is the insurmountable amount of support that I received from Conor, Jessica, & my mom.  I never could have made it through this journey without them.  Conor was such a dedicated & strong birth partner.  I felt so fortunate to have him by my side every step of the way.  I love how much he understood me & supported me in my desire for a natural birth.  And while Jessica may have only been physically with us for less than an hour of my very fast labor, she was still a crucial part of my support team.  She instilled in me all of the confidence and wisdom I needed going into the birth.  She calmly talked me down when I was getting frustrated in the early stages.  She was a constant for me.  I had so much trust in her!  She prepared me for the experience long before labor even began.  It was a special moment to have her too next to me right when our new baby boy arrived and the time thereafter.  That moment bonded us together far more than you could ever imagine.  Four months ago she was just a stranger; now she is family.  Lately, I have been jealous of all the new pregnant women who get to start their journey with her!  And my sweet mom...  She was there in those early stages.  She was the perfect sounding board for some of my fears.  She was the warm hand on my back & the comfort that only your mother can provide.  But mostly importantly she took care of my first little boy, my Liam.  I never would have been able to focus completely on Finn, had she not been the one to be there keeping Liam safe for us.  I have full & complete trust in her and that was so enabling in all those critical moments!  She loves him as fiercely as any grandmother can, and she cares for him just as I do as his mother.  My mom was there for every need that our family had that afternoon and for that I am so very grateful!

So that is how we met our perfect Finn Ryan Keenan!  There is so much more to share about my natural birth experience, doula experience, recovery, & big brother's first meeting of Finn, but I will end here and save those moments for later posts. I am sure I could write about this forever & forever.  Conor & I can't stop talking about it with each other.  I'm always eager to share my story with anyone who cares to listen. Perhaps, as before, there will be a few out there who will find some inspiration in my experiences that will help them in their own journey. I can only hope that these words will help to motivate and empower in that way, even if just a little.

32 comments :

  1. "I felt beaitiful." My favorite! Yes, mama! Designed for power, strength, peace, and beauty all at once!!!! What an exquisite story! And so crazy and and cool that active labor was only 4 hours.

    Also--amazing about your body knowing your gestational clock!!! I believe in that! Our bodies KNOW! My mom has all three of us at the EXACT same gestational age. What a testament to our bodies!

    xxxx

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  2. Wow! It's amazing what our bodies can do! And that's great that your mom was there to watch Liam. Giving you the ability to really focus on the birth. I am so happy you got the birth you wanted!

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  3. So happy for you! It is so empowering. Glad you were able to experience it!

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  4. This is amazing!! So inspiring, I hope that I can have a natural birth like that one day, sounds like you let your body do what it is naturally supposed to and it worked out perfectly for you! I really hope that joe can be a strong birthing partner like Conor clearly was for you, so amazing!!!!!!!! Been waiting for this post!

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  5. LOVED this! Our bodies are just seriously amazing. I'm so so so glad that everything went just the way you wanted it and now baby Finn is here, yay!

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  6. You are so strong and awesome, mama! I absolutely loved this in depth look at not only the birth process but your emotions and mindset as well. If anyone was nervous or curious about birth this post is so positive and real I'm almost sure it would help others realize that this is what we are meant to do. I truly hope to have a great birth like this next time around :) XO Chelsea play. wash. rinse. repeat.

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    1. Thank you for your genuine comments Chelsea! I loved being about the share this story! And I too hope you get to have a wonderful experience!!!

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  7. Tears in my eyes while reading this! I am so happy for you and so glad you got the birth experience that you wanted! You are an amazing mommy to both your boys! Congrats girl, you did it!

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  8. Love love love this birth story. Seriously you are amazing :) Glad that everything went smoothly and I love the part where you say, "I felt beautiful"... I remember seeing that first picture of you and Finn and thinking "OMG she looks amazing"... you were literally glowing. I'ms o happy things worked out for you! XO

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    1. Aww thanks Tawnya! I almost deleted that part from my story, but decided to keep it in & I'm so glad that I did!

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  9. This was such a beautiful story! I teared up! You are such a beautiful Mama!

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    1. Thanks Stephanie!!! I absolutely loved sharing it!

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  10. Awesome awesome!! I am soooo happy for you. Such a special story that you shared so beautifully. It sounds like you and Conor especially make a great team. Congratulations again!! :) I can't imagine riding in the car during those final stages of labor..!!

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  11. Such a beautiful story! I'm so glad everything went as you wanted and now you can just ENJOY having Finn here! Yay!

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  12. Such a perfect and beautiful story. Well done, mama!

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    1. Thanks Beth! All this sweet comments have made sharing the experience even more special!

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  13. I have tears of joy coming down my face after reading this, we all knew how important a natural birth was for you and I'm over-the-moon happy everything went so smooth for you! What an amazing support team you had surrounding you too! You are one beautiful, Momma! Xo, Stephanie

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  14. Such a beautiful birth story. I loved reading it and how wonderful it was to be surrounded by all the right people. You were strong, you were prepared, and it all worked perfectly. Congrats again on getting the birth you really wanted.

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  15. Such a beautiful story! You are one strong mama and birthed a beautiful baby boy!

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  16. I'm so happy for you that it was just as you hoped it would go. Looking back on my (unplanned) natural birth I wish I could have read your story first and then maybe I would have embraced it and enjoyed (?!) it more. I totally remember the shaking legs...I think my whole body was convulsing at some point during labor. There's something so exhilarating about birth and reading other people's stories makes me want to do it all over again!

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    1. I think that natural birth is a completely different experience if it's not something you had planned for or wanted! Maybe if you have another, you will be able to fully enjoy the process more!

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  17. I loved reading your story! It's so full of emotion. I especially like how you incorporated your affirmations.

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    1. Thanks Jessica! The affirmations were my favorite!

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  18. This is such a powerful and amazing birth story! I'm so happy that you were able to have the birth that you wanted and that things went so well! You are an amazing, strong mama! Thank you for sharing Finn's birth story with us!

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  19. Loved reading this, Laura! So glad that your birth went as you'd hoped. I am in awe that you were able to birth a 9 pound (almost 10 pound) baby naturally with no "repair work." Just shows what the body is capable of if we can let it do it's job! Hope all is well with little Finn and your precious family - am loving all the photos of the handsome guys in your life on IG!

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  20. WOW, Laura, you are complete rockstar. I am so, so, so glad you were able to have the natural birth you wanted and that you felt all the feels good and bad. The fact that you felt beautiful after is amazing, you were so glowing! Your support system sounds amazing and I'm glad everyone was able to lift you up when you needed it! Congrats, again!

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  21. Just getting caught up on this. WOW. You are amazing! This is such a wonderful, beautiful, inspiring, empowering birth story! You rocked it, mama! Love.

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  22. What an amazing story. You're such a strong woman! I had really been looking forward to reading this and it was just perfect ❤️ Congratulations on your little man!

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    1. Well thank you Whitney! I hope that you may be able to have a similar experience if you decide to have any more children!

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  23. This was truly inspiring. I'm so proud of you mama-bear! You did such an incredible job and you give me hope I can do the same :)

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    1. Thanks Valerie! You CAN do the same; your body was meant for this! You just need to prepare yourself!

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  24. LOVE (!!!!) that you felt beautiful after giving birth! I couldn't agree more with that description! Beautiful & empowered! I'm so beyond thrilled you were able to achieve what your body was capable of all along. Your support team did a fabulous job of encouraging you in just the right ways. I'm so proud of you!

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