The set up to my birth story is a lot of back story from my pregnancy. The birth-y stuff starts at the “***”
This pregnancy was full of new and worrisome things. In my first trimester, I experienced heavy bleeding from a subchorionic hemorrhage and was certain that I would experience my third miscarriage soon. From weeks 5-12, I took a progesterone supplement to support the pregnancy. I had a routine checkup with my midwife Shannon at 9 weeks and 5 days and was so sure we would be able to hear a heartbeat. I needed to hear a heartbeat, but my midwife searched and searched and we couldn’t hear anything. She was set to leave on vacation for a couple weeks in just a few days, and I was desperate to know my baby was well and growing. I stopped by the night before she left. She searched and searched again. After several minutes, which felt like forever, I remember feeling disappointed, sad, and anxious that we couldn’t hear it. I said something dejectedly about trying again when she comes back and a half-hearted “thanks for trying”, when we heard that beautiful galloping sound. I wept. We cried together as we laughed about me saying “he” was OK. I knew he would be another boy.
While still worried something would go wrong because of the bleeding, my hcg levels went up and my belly grew. Rapidly. Causing very intense round ligament pain; enough that at 12 weeks 4 days, I visited the ER for possible ectopic pregnancy. The ultrasound showed a healing SCH and a healthy baby, right where it was supposed to be.
In the next 2 weeks, I experienced difficulty/inability to urinate due to my growing uterus pressing on the bladder/urethra, and visited the ER again to have my first experience with a catheter. After a couple weeks and few more catheters, my uterus grew more, and everything was fine in the bathroom department.
At 17 weeks, we moved, and I experienced either contractions for a couple days or completely threw out my back and stomach muscles with all the packing and lifting. I visited the ER again, but they didn’t even hook me up to monitors to check if the cramping I was having in my belly and back were contractions or not. I was told that it was too early for them to do anything for the baby if I was contracting, so my only course of action was to rest and hydrate. They did an ultrasound to check on baby, and we discovered he was in fact a HE! The ultrasound tech turned a blind eye as we snapped a few pictures of the screen as proof for Daddy.
At 21 weeks, I was hanging pictures in the new house, stood on something I shouldn’t have, and fell, hurting my ribs. Back to the ER to check on the baby and see if I’d broken my ribs. Baby was fine and my rib didn’t feel broken.
2 weeks later, I began feeling out of breath, even while sitting. One more trip to the ER, since they’d told me that within 2 weeks of the rib contusion that it was possible to develop a collapsed lung, and that I should return to the ER if I experienced shortness of breath. They did an X-ray, which we’d avoided the first time because of the pregnancy. No collapsed lung, but I did have a UTI. I was given a breathing treatment and sent home with a rescue inhaler and an antibiotic. One of which I was allergic to and developed a painful rash on my lips.
Over the next 2 months, I continued to experience bouts of breathlessness, and visited a Family Practitioner several times. A spirometry test revealed I had asthma. I was given prescriptions for allergy meds, asthma meds, and breathing treatments. I felt that this only mildly helped. After one day of having an intense attack of breathlessness that the asthma meds didn’t help, I visited the ER one last time. They checked for blood clots in the lungs and legs, since I was already doing breathing treatments, allergy meds, and asthma meds, but found nothing to explain the feeling of shortness of breath. The doctor informed me that because I was doing all the treatments they would do, my blood pressure was fine, and my heart rate, while elevated, was within normal levels that I would just have to “deal with it” for another 10 weeks. I followed up with the family practitioner once more and he wanted me to try anxiety medication. I didn’t feel this was my issue, but was willing to explore all options if it meant I could breathe well. This didn’t help with the shortness of breath, so I discontinued after a few days. As the weeks went on, I still had some amount of shortness of breath.
*** And now for the labor-y stuff: At 36w1d I began having some cramping down low, but this wasn’t unexpected. I also had cramping at 36 weeks with my 3rd son. At 36w2d, my husband and I went out for a date. At dinner, I began having some contractions that felt tighter than my usual braxton hicks contractions, about every 10 minutes. They continued throughout dinner and on the way to the movies to see the new Star Wars movie. I joked with my husband that if I were really in labor that we would have to hashtag the labor #darthrevan #theforceawakens, since the name we chose for our son was Revan, a Sith in the Star Wars novels. At about 7:30pm, the contractions picked up in intensity, became 3-5 minutes lasting for 45 seconds. At 8:30pm, the contractions still continued, I could feel pressure in my back, and I couldn’t sit in my seat. I texted my midwife, and informed a very sad husband that we may need to leave soon. I didn’t feel like it was quite time, but something was definitely happening. After not so successfully attempting to check myself for cervical dilation in a public restroom, we popped in for a quick check at my midwife’s house when the movie was over. I was 1cm/20%/-3.
Prodromal labor like that night came and went for the next 3 weeks. Sometimes several times during the day, I would have contractions of varying intensities, intervals, and durations. Some bouts would be very regular for hours, and I would contemplate calling my midwife, and then the contractions would either ease in intensity or space out. I began to feel weary from all the contractions, and a bit anxious that I wouldn’t know when I was in labor and would fail to call my midwife to come in time. With my third birth, my mental reaction to the birth really affected how I experienced it, so this pregnancy I had spent a long time reminding myself that this labor and birth would not be what I expected, it would be as it was, and I would have to accept that, but the on-going prodromal labor was making it difficult to keep a clear mind.
Tuesday, Jan 5, I had my midwife appointment. I was 38w6d. In the past few weeks, I had be exhaustingly waiting for 39 weeks to roll around, so I could request a membrane sweep. I had a couple calm, quiet days with no prodromal labor, and I was feeling patient. My other 3 boys had come within a few days of 40 weeks, so I figured I had another week to go. I was prepared to wait. That night I had 2 hours of regular, strong contractions that fizzled out to nothing.
The following day, January 6, 39 weeks, was filled with contractions, ranging from 2-25 minutes apart, sometimes regular, sometimes not, of varying lengths and intensities. I couldn’t take it mentally. I cried. I texted Shannon that afternoon asking if and when I could come for a membrane sweep. I went to Shannon’s house with my mom that evening. I was 3/50%/-2. I was glad to hear all the contractions were doing something. The sweep was painful, and Shannon could feel my waters bulging. Shannon asked if I wanted to take the birth pool home. I had been feeling uneasy about using the sunken in tub at my new house anyways, so agreed. I went home and had a few hours of strong, regular contractions 2-3 minutes apart, lasting for a minute. My mom, sister, and grandma came over to support me. I was sure I was having a baby that night. Around midnight, just as I thought I should call Shannon, they began to space out. 3-5 minutes apart, then 7-10 minutes apart, then 20. We all decided to rest.
At 6am, January 7, I thanked everyone for the slumber party, my sister headed off to work, and my mom, grandma, and I went to breakfast. I had good contractions about every 10 minutes. We dropped my grandma off at home and headed to Shannon’s around 9am for another sweep and some herbal tea to hopefully keep the contractions going. After the sweep, I was 4/50%/-2. We went to Lowe’s to get a hose and connector to fill the birth pool. I contracted while we were there, every 5-10 minutes.
At 11am, I had an appointment with my doula, Angela, just to meet before my birth, but now with the sweep and contractions, we did hip circles, rebozo shaking on my belly, and then left to walk. We stopped at Walgreen’s for allergy meds for my doula (we have two cats), then walked Target. I was contracting firmly and regularly every 3-5 minutes, with the intensity picking up. I began to be uncomfortable trying to walk and talk through the contractions and irritated that I wasn’t in labor but was uncomfortable and tired, getting snippy with my mom asking if I was still timing my contractions and how were they. At 1pm, on the way out, I just started crying with my contractions and told my mom and Angela I just wanted to go home.
I retreated to the bathroom for a good cry, wondering why couldn’t I just go into real labor already. I was exhausted, mentally and physically. I called my husband, he said he couldn’t get off work until 4. I cried some more. Then sat on my birth ball in my room alone to knit some pants for Revan I had wanted to finish before he was born. Time from here on out eluded me. A few contractions and I was being overcome by them, I couldn’t knit through them, and I cried. My mom and Angela were quietly bustling around setting up the birth pool. After just a few more contractions, sitting there in my room by myself, I realized that I was, and had been in labor for awhile, and I needed Shannon right now. All of a sudden, I remember vaguely hearing my mom saying a few minutes before that she and Angela called Shannon to come over. I ask her to verify.
Shannon arrived at 1:45, to me furiously knitting and eating a couple Kit Kat bars (my consolation prize for walking Target while contracting), worried my husband Corey was going to miss the birth, worried that labor would stop again, worried that I wasn’t going to finished these dang pants. I cried some more. Shannon asked how I felt, and I unloaded all my burdens. She assured me that I was in labor and would be having my baby that day most likely. Someone called Corey to come now.
My midwife’s assistant Hunter arrived around 2:30pm as the team continued to prep for my birth. My husband arrived sometime too, I can’t remember if it was before or after Hunter. I was so relieved to see him. I melted into his embrace and cried. Now, I could have a baby.
I changed into my traditional birthing dress–I’ve worn it now for all 4 of my home births–and got into the birth pool. This was about 2:45pm. I found that I was not as comfortable in the birth pool as I had been in my tub at my old house, but the warm water felt good and familiar. I tried sitting, kneeling on the seat in the pool, squatting, kneeling on the ground of the pool. I couldn’t find a position that gave me relief. I wished I could lean over my husband’s knees like in my old tub, but holding his hands was going to have to do. I kept reminding myself to relax and let it happen. This was Revan’s birth. It was different, and hard, but that’s how it was supposed to be. The more I submitted and let it happen, the sooner I would be holding him. I found after a while that kneeling upright where my bottom didn’t touch my heels and on my toes was better than just kneeling. I rested between contractions, laying my head on the side of the pool . I wished someone would squeeze my back or something. I was feeling so much pressure in my lower back. Shannon must have sensed it and asked if I’d like counter pressure. I didn’t like being touched, but it relieved some pressure, which I liked. Angela took over at some point with some tennis balls, providing counter pressure when I would move into my contraction pose.
Around 3:30, the contractions became coming in groups. I would contract hard and intense with lots of pressure in my back and down low, then the pressure in my back and down low would let up while the contraction in my uterus would only release some, then would increase to intense again with pressure in my back. I chanted, “come out baby. Come out,” over and over in my head. I was completely in my birthing world. Big contraction, sit up, grab Corey’s arms, someone touching me, small contraction, big contraction again, rest. Over and over. Shannon checked the heartbeat. Big contraction, sit up, grab Corey’s arms, someone touching me, small contraction, big contraction again, rest.
The contractions were getting stronger, and the pressure was building. My uterus was semi-pushing. 3:57pm my water broke. I was pushing. “He’s coming!” He was coming fast. I couldn’t slow it down. I put pressure on my perineum to help support his head as he came out. Shannon reminded me to breathe slower. 4:02pm I felt the ring of fire. My skin was splitting. I tried to breathe slower and not push, to let my perineum stretch slower. He was coming anyways. I chanted in my mind, “relax. Let it happen. He’s coming. Come out, baby.” I birthed his head into my hands. I felt so much relief. His body wasn’t coming. It felt stuck. Shannon helped turn him, while asking me to push. I couldn’t. It hurt. He finally rotated the right way as Shannon helped him out, and I yelled.
4:03pm he was here! I brought him up out of the water to my chest while exclaiming how that hurt more than the head. He was here! My baby! We did it! My fourth boy, and fourth home birth! He was so small, with dark hair, covered in vernix, and had the longest fingers and toes. He kept blinking as he stared at me. He wasn’t crying, just looking, and blinking. He came so fast that he still had some fluid in his lungs that Shannon had to suction out deeply. I just held him and rubbed his cheesy skin as we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. About 35 minutes later, my husband cut the cord. I handed the baby to him so I could try to birth the placenta. He finally let out a good cry. I had no luck in the birth pool or on the toilet trying to get the placenta out. I laid in bed and it finally came out. Everything looked good. No tears. After getting cleaned up, we rested in the bed as he nursed and nursed.
After nursing, his breathing sounded great, and he was measured and weighed. We all though he would weigh 7pounds, except Hunter who guessed 8. He was 8lb 2oz and 20.5inches long. My dad brought my older 3 boys over to meet him. My second son Axton was ecstatic. I will always remember him yelling, as is his normal volume, “He’s here? Revan is here?! I didn’t know Revan was here!” We took some pictures of all the boys. My family met Revan and left with my older boys. Revan and I rested in bed all day. I was content.
After 3 weeks of prodromal labor, 3 hours of active labor, and 6 minutes of pushing, Revan Oliver Krattli was born into my arms, youngest of four boys, on 1/7/2016, weighing 8lb2oz, and measuring 20.5″.