In honor of Gideon’s SIXTH birthday tomorrow (Time Flies!), I am sitting down and writing his birth story. Crazily enough, I have never sat down and wrote his story before. Gideon’s story really begins before I was pregnant. We knew before we got married that we desired a large family. We naturally assumed things would happen easily on their own. It was quite discouraging to find that we could not get pregnant. About seven months before we found out we were expecting Gideon, we began seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist for a work up to see what the issue was. We had to go through a series of testing, and what we were told from the RE was that we had “undiagnosable” infertility, and we would never be able to conceive on our own. It was very upsetting news for us. The RE said the good news was we were excellent candidates for an IUI (intrauterine insemination). We prayed on it and decided we wanted to try. So March of 2007 we had our first IUI. It was terrible. I did not conceive, and the RE looked me in the face as I cried and said, “I knew you would not get pregnant. We did the IUI too early.” I was so furious and upset. We decided to try again in April. My cycle was two weeks late, but again we did not conceive. It was super upsetting. The RE told us that she would only give us one more shot with IUI before stating we would have to consider IVF. It was such an emotionally draining period, that we decided we could not emotionally go through the IUI process again. We opted not to do the May cycle, where I was chastised for “wasting” time by the RE. The same month, I realized I had put on 50 pounds in 4 months on the metformin she put me on in January. She thought it would “help”, but by the end of 4 months, I was done. I was terrified that I had gained so much weight rapidly. I talked to her the end of May 2007 to tell her I was stopping the metformin due to the weight gain. She told me if I would not follow her plan for us, then do not expect to get pregnant. I fired her. Summer of 2007 came. I was heavier than I had ever been, spent a lot of money, time, energy, emotions to try and have a baby and it all failed… Needless to say, it was a very hard, devastating summer. My inlaws were seeing this chiropractor where they lived who recently adjusted a woman and she got pregnant. My mother in law said if I would just go see him, she would pay for it. Reluctantly, I went and saw him twice in July 2007. He did not much of our issues, but he did muscle testing and determined my reproductive system was completely out of balance. After two adjustments, I found out I was expecting Gideon on August 21, 2007, giving me a due date of April 30, 2008. My good friend Kelly promptly encouraged me to get in right away to have my progesterone checked. I am so thankful that she pushed me to do that. I called the birth center I planned to use the next day and got in the same day. They drew my labs. I found out I had low progesterone and needed to supplement to keep my levels high enough to maintain the pregnancy. The first trimester went by quickly and in a blur. I was very sick, and very exhausted. Cephas moved in with us on September 8. It was interesting being so exhausted and sick from pregnancy and taking care of this four year old that we are still getting to know. I kept waiting to miscarry. It might sound crazy, but we had so many issues getting pregnant that I was guarding myself from being too excited about the pregnancy. The second trimester was much of the same. It was fun feeling him move, finding out he was a boy, but I kept myself guarded. The third trimester was quite an awakening. My third trimester ended up being quite short from what I expected, as well as the immediate reaction of, “Oh my! I am really having a baby!” I went in for my 32 week appointment on March 2, and found I had grown 5cm in 2 weeks. My midwife seemed concerned about it, and sent me for a third trimester ultrasound. The ultrasound found Gideon to be measuring much bigger than he should, estimating him to be due on April 5, 2008. Keeping in mind, Gideon’s 20 week anatomy scan matched up with my LMP due date of April 30, 2008. Despite all the facts, my midwife changed my due date, causing me to be in a super rush to prepare. The end of the week, I noticed I was having a lot of cramping. Then I realized the cramping also had a lot of tightening with it. Then I realized it was happening every 3-5 minutes. It being my first baby, I had no idea what contractions felt like. My midwife recommended I go to the nearest hospital to be checked and assessed. The monitors showed me contracting every 3-4 minutes, but my dilation was 1cm. The doctor sent me home to take it easy and follow up with my midwife. My 36 week I spent a lot of time contracting. If I rested, they were minimal. If I was up on my feet, my contractions came every 3-5 minutes. At 36.6 (by my “new” due date), I was having contractions that would not go away. I was 2cm dilated, and my midwife decided to give me an injection to stop my labor. It was terrible. It burned and it hurt. She told my husband to get me home and to bed, because the medication would make me very sleepy. Sleepy it did. Things stayed quiet for a couple of days. On Friday, I received the shot. My weekend was quiet. Monday started the cramping and contractions again. I went for a walk that evening and immediately my contractions were every 10 minutes, lasting over a minute long. Within an hour, they were every 5 minutes. By 8pm, the contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes, lasting a minute long. I called my midwife. She encouraged me to hydrate, take a shower and rest and to call her when contractions were every 2-3 minutes, lasting a minute long for three hours! I agreed. My contractions continued, although not very intense. I could talk through them, but they were taking my breath away. I tried to rest, but I had a very hard time with it as I was very anxious and excited for the labor progress to begin. I really wish I would have rested during that time. That was a regret of mine. I called my midwife some time after 1 am on March 18, and she instructed me to take a shower and then come to the birth center. She would meet us there. We lived 45 minutes from the birthing center, so sometime between 230-300 we arrived. My midwife checked me and found me to be 3cm dilated. I was disappointed. I felt like my contractions were what the books said were active labor by how close they were and long they were, but they obviously were not doing much. My midwife swept my membranes, made me some pregnancy tea with some other herbs in it, and encouraged me to walk around the birth center and work on the birth ball while she napped. She was quite pregnant herself during this time as well. At 6 am, my midwife woke up and wanted to check me. I was feeling super tired by this point and wanted to nap. She said I was 4cm… and then the one thing I really did not want to happen happened. My water ruptured. All over the place. She looked at me and said, “Whoops. Sometimes that happens!” I was so upset. The last thing I wanted was my water to be broken early in labor. She stretched and swept on my cervix. And then said I could nap if I wanted. I could no longer nap. The intensity of the contractions rose significantly. They were so hard and intense. The nausea was overwhelming. I sat in the rocking chair trying to relax, and a huge waive of nausea came over me. My midwife brought out peppermint oil and had me smell it to help the nausea. I immediately threw up. I had not expected to throw up in labor. I had attended a couple dozen births before my own, and no one had ever thrown up before. I hoped maybe it was an isolated event. It wasn’t. I threw up, and threw up and threw up. It seriously was the worst part of labor. I asked to get into the birthing pool, but my midwife would not let me. I walked around the birth center, having to get serious and breathe through each contraction, throwing up more often than not. Finally at 8 am she agreed to check me again. 6cm! My midwife finally was going to let me into the birthing pool. I got into the birth pool and relaxed into the water. It felt marvelous. The jets were turned on and it helped the back labor tremendously! Apparently it was a stormy day that day and the power kept going in and out. I was completely unaware, but my husband likes to remind me that I would freak out when the power would go out, causing the jets to stop working. I would beg for someone to turn them back on. As soon as they were back on, I would get back into my labor zone. I soon began to do what I call “labor math.” I encourage women NOT to do labor math in labor. It is not your friend and it will not help you. I had given myself all the “maximum” time limits for each stage of labor and calculated how long I would be in labor before I would have Gideon. I estimated that he would be born around 4pm that day according to the “math.” As 9am rolled around, contractions got more intense. They were stronger, on top of each other. I would mentally think, “why did I want to have him with no pain medicine? This sucks!” and then I would look up at my husband and ask to go to the hospital. My midwife looked at me and reminded me that it seemed like I was moving into transition and it would not be much longer now. I was in such a labor zone. I was so confused by hearing that term. There was no way I was in transition. No way. I had not been in “active” labor long enough to be in transition yet. I continued to labor quietly, occasionally saying things about the pain. The vomiting never got better and continued every few contractions (seriously! It is the worst!). The end of labor is sketchy and scattered in my memory. As 10am rolled around, I must have been acting pushy or said I was feeling pushy. I don’t know. About ten after ten, my midwife checked me in the birthing pool and found me to have just a lip of cervix left and said I could push as long as she held the lip up for me. I was shocked to hear that I could push. That it was time to push. I pushed like crazy. It hurts pretty badly to push with someone’s hand holding back your cervix, in case you are wondering. After two contractions, the cervix was over Gideon’s head and I was pushing on my own. Out of anything, I feared pushing and the burning associated with crowning so much. I continued to run affirmations quietly to myself. Every contraction, I would push hard and long. I wanted to be done. I wanted to hold my baby. Pushing felt incredible. It did not hurt. It felt relieving to push. As I was pushing, I heard my midwife tell Christopher, “Be ready to catch your baby.” However, it was too late. Gideon literally shot out into the birthing pool like a cannon. No one “caught” him. My midwife and husband grabbed him and brought him up from the water. I was helped out of the tub and brought to the bed. I felt completely delirious and strange. They handed me my baby (he was still attached to the placenta), but I felt unsteady and out of my mind. The placenta was birthed and I had a bit of increased bleeding that was managed with the herbal tincture Shepherd’s Purse. Soon his cord was cut and other’s got to hold him. I was still throwing up and not feeling well (seriously! It stinks!). I eventually could drink a little bit of a protein shake and that helped immensely. Gideon Phoenix Stellhorn was born in the water on March 18, 2008 at 10:21am weighing 6.5#, 19.25″ long. His gestational age exam aged him out at 35 weeks (quite appropriate based on my LMP). He did not take well to breastfeeding, and that caused us tremendous amount of issues the first few months of life.
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