Everything was different this time, still beautiful, still empowering, supported, magical, and transcendental, but so very different in its own way from my first birth story. Another reminder not to compare one experience to another, or one child to another, they are each totally their own people, with their own stories, and their own experiences, different in their own beautiful ways.
At my 39 week check up I was already 50% effaced and 3cm dilated. At my 40 week check up I was already 60% effaced and 4cm dilated. The midwife told me the options that I could opt for to naturally speed things along (herbs, strip my membranes etc...) which I declined as I still had 2 more weeks to stay at the birth center (after 42 weeks I would need to transfer to birth at a hospital). She told me that pre-labor was already done. First time around all of that 2 weeks of effacing and beginning dilation was all at once within 12 hours, then 12 hours after that I had my daughter. This time my body was easing into birth.
On and off for those two weeks, and into my 40th week I had some contractions, starting on Tuesday Feb 21st, I thought it was going to be go time (the day after my 40th week appointment). I told Jason, this is what I felt with Jocelyn, we are having a baby tonight! And he signed out of work and started his 3 week paternity leave right then and there (the last week he had been working from home waiting for this moment). After counting contractions 18 minutes apart for pretty much all day, I went to bed at 8, laid down and they pretty much stopped so I let go of being impatient and tried to rest my body.
The next day I pumped, we bought red raspberry leaf tea, I bounced on the yoga ball, I walked every morning with my mom around our block. Jason and I took advantage of the time we had together, with Jocelyn in school before new baby and went out to lunch together, at taco deli, and the next day bouldin creek cafe, the next day at kabobalicious. I ate a ghost pepper. Still nothing. A day later I ate ANOTHER ghost pepper, and nothing happened (looks like baby boy takes after his daddy's high tolerance for spicy foods and was unfazed). On Friday I sat out by our pool with my mom and meditated in the nice sunshine and cool breeze while she swam. Finally after letting go of all expectations, I headed to my last Saturday yoga class at the day before 41 weeks, breathing in surrender and breathing out fear, and knowing baby would come soon enough. Saturday we all went to lunch at Asia Cafe, my mom and Joss with me and Jason. I was SO hungry and I don't remember eating this much towards the very end of pregnancy with Jocelyn. I had green beans and kung po, and these really delicious sweet pea greens that we love to get there, with white rice and iced tea. We all left with very full bellies.
I woke up Sunday more tired than I can ever remember being. I woke up and pretty much as soon as my mom and Jason were able to wake up and take care of Jocelyn I went straight back to bed (around 11am) and slept HARD for several hours. It was the new moon, a solar eclipse (referred to as a "Ring of Fire" and coincidentally also on Johnny Cash's birthday 2/26) and the weather forecast had predicted thunder and lighting. All indications pointed to perfect time for baby's arrival. That feeling of being so tired made me think to myself, this is my body's way of getting ready to use all of my strength - inner strength, mental strength, everything I've got. Sunday night was the Oscars, and after putting Jocelyn down to bed, I laid in bed and was restless. Earlier mom had given Joss her bath and Joss had a major meltdown while in there not wanting to get out, so I went in to help her calm down from a VERY loud and very strong emotional tantrum that I sat there with her and let her breathe through her strong feelings and felt that it was another indication of our family's soon to be new arrival. Jocelyn's own way of intuiting the changes to come and letting go of all her own fears and uneasy feelings and crying it all out. After she let go of all those feelings, I helped her out of the bath and we snuggled up in her towel and I braided her hair. I helped put her to bed, with Jason, and then after Joss went to sleep really easily, I went to my own bed to lay down. But I was so restless. I had been feeling contractions on and off for the last couple weeks, and didn't want to get my hopes up. Especially with everyone asking me if baby had come yet, and wanting myself to finally have the baby and already feeling sensitive and impatient but I was just too restless so I got up and my mom and Jason were downstairs watching the awards show together, and I sat on the yoga ball with them.
I decided that maybe I should time my contractions again to see where they were at, and I noticed that they were coming every 2 minutes. The midwives had advised that I call in once they were 5-7 minutes apart with my second child, and so Jason said YOU SHOULD CALL THEM. I said, we can wait and see what happens, because when we had called before and went in with Joss they had sent us back home once, and when we went back in they were so strong I couldn't talk or stand. Not like this time, where I could walk and stand and talk. My stomach felt like a ball of concrete, flexing super hard through each contraction, a sensation of menstrual cramps hugging my belly around my sides like with Joss, but I felt more in control, and less fearful of them this time. Finally after about 30 minutes of them being continuously 2 minutes apart I called and they told me to head into the birth center. Jason grabbed the food bag so we'd have snacks and my ice water, and our birth bags had already been in the car for the last few weeks, so I changed my clothes into a loose dress to labor in (out of an old pair of Jason's boxers), hugged my mom and grabbed a couple towels to sit on in case my water broke in the car. The whole time wondering if this was really happening, or if it was a false start like last Tuesday, and if we would be sent home after we got there. As we drove over I realized, Hey! Today I'm exactly 41 weeks!
We got to the birth center at 10:30pm and had to wait in the car a couple minutes for the on-call midwife to open up. As soon as Jason saw the lights go on inside, he helped me out of the car and my water broke. Glad I brought the towels to sit on. Samantha met us at the door and brought us in, I told her, "either i just peed my pants or my water just broke," and she said, "good thing you're wearing dark leggings you can't see it!" Haha, I got into the Ananda room and we had the whole birth center to ourselves. No one else was there. Christine (student midwife from centering) and Sam (on call midwife) were the only ones there with me and Jason, it felt quiet, and private and calm and peaceful. He started my playlist and essential oil diffuser (lavender and stress away), hung my labor necklace on a hook on the wall in full sight from the tub and bed, dimmed all of the lights and started the birth tub with nice warm water. They checked me and I was 80% effaced but very soft, and 6cm dilated. All vitals for me and baby strong. I sat on the birth ball with Jason while the tub filled, and my waters consistently would leak with each contraction. I was very centered and calm and was able to do yogic breathing, and yoga poses, deep squats, and prayer hands. I felt total surrender, and was quiet and calm and super aware of everything. I enjoyed the playlist and loved all the great additions I added as suggestions from my friends after asking on facebook for strong female vocalists (since my original list was all beta band, washed out, beach house, stevie wonder, miike snow, tv on the radio, david bowie and male dominated).
My contractions progressed, and I continued to enjoy laboring in the tub, and on the ball, trying to stay moving around to keep things moving forward. Christine came in and asked if I wanted her to give me a guided meditation, and I said okay. She had me picture myself on a surf board, with a large hole in it so my belly would fit comfortably, while I pictured myself floating over the warm waves getting closer to a beautiful island with a baby basinet that has a beautiful muslin blanket blowing in the wind. She asked me to imagine what color my surf board was, if there was anything on the surf board, words or patterns (it turns out, surprisingly my surfboard was white with hot pink racing stripes - I'm not a "pink" person, but my daughter is, so I guess she was helping fuel my strength and meditation). All the support that was given was all offered only for my approval, giving me the option to shake my head no, to stop the meditation, or say if I didn't like anything happening to leave me alone, or be quiet. I felt totally in control, and respected, my body and my choices trusted, but also totally supported. Even all the vitals that were taken, were taken around my position, I didn't have to change what I was doing so they could check my belly or pulse, I kept doing what I needed to do and they accommodated and adapted to my position and needs. It was a wonderful, supported, women-centered and a totally empowered experience start to finish.
I kept doing yoga. Jason was a great support, and since we had the place to ourselves they said we could walk around if we wanted to. So I walked with Jason to the kitchen to refill my ice water and looked at the photos on the wall of all the baby pictures in the hallway, which looked like a lot of the midwives home photos. We returned to our room, and I remember being cold and asking for the heat to be turned up (twice - unlike with Joss when I felt too hot and only wanted colder water, colder air). The room finally got warm enough and soon there after I lost my modestly and wasn't interested in wearing anything or being concerned with being naked in front of anyone (signaling that baby would be coming soon). In between contractions Jason and I were joking, and talking, and it just felt so tranquil and I felt so aware and present, and comfortable and well, normal. Lots of eye contact and conversation, humor and joking together. In between contractions I felt enough time to relax and recharge, and knew to take advantage of that. Jason and I mostly were there together on our own, they came in every 30 minutes to get my and baby's vitals, but other than that we were by ourselves in the privacy of our room and just listened to music and had our space together. I liked putting the jets on in the tub, and the lights in the water. It was really relaxing.
At about 2am we saw some flashes of light in our window and I got really excited, "The thunder and lightning is here!" And I felt so grounded and spiritual, continuing to breathe through my contractions, trying to channel all of the power of the lighting and the storm into my body for strength. Focusing on moving the energy down my body to sit down into the contractions with yoga squats, and use Ina May's "horse lips" breathing to get through the peaks of sensation, and feeling super Earth mama, storm powers, full on hippy strength and spiritual awareness. Haha, FULL ON. Jason went back to refill my ice water again, and when he came back told me that he asked Sam and Christine if the storm was here because we saw lightning through the blinds in our room. They told him, "No that was just the garbage truck," and when he came back to our room and told me that, I lost all control and started laughing as hard as I could remember ever laughing. I laughed so hard that it brought on stronger contractions, and I laughed through them, full belly laughs. I was laughing SO HARD. Jason told me, you better quiet down or they will think you've totally lost it in here. And soon enough Christine cracked open our door to peak in and said, "This IS laughter, right? Everything okay in here?" And I was cracking up and said yes, we're just laughing, everything's okay. It was so damn funny, she closed the door and let us have our privacy again, and I told Jason, my doula is the garbage man! My most spiritual experience is brought to me courtesy of the trash man. Laughing so damn hard.
Later Christine came back to check me and asked me why I was laughing, I told her and I started laughing again, really laughing hard, and I said that our baby's spirit animal is a raccoon, [more uncontrollable laughter] or she suggested a bear (since she's from Canada and that's who used to riffle through her trash up there). We laughed some more and contractions continued to increase. The bowl of ice water and cold compresses came into our room for my forehead and back of my neck (heavenly). Which also signaled to me that I was getting closer, since that was when I was working through active labor with Joss, and they had the cold compresses for me. Since I had been cold in the room and wanted the heat turned up I wasn't sure if the compresses would feel good, but they did. Jason kept them rotating through to stay cold on my skin, and kept me hydrated with my ice water.
Time at this point gets a little squirrelly for me, but I'm guessing around 3am I was heading into transition when the contractions were getting so strong I could no longer power through them silently with just horse lips but started vocalizing and screaming my way through them. At that point Christine wasn't the only one in there checking on me, but also Sam, and the midwife assistant Georgina (who they told me would be there towards the end when baby would arrive). Christine asked me to share why I was laughing earlier with Sam, so I did and again started laughing again, so uncontrollably through my super strong contractions that I had been screaming through just a couple minutes ago. HAHA laughing through birth! I never would have imagined.
I was holding onto Jason's hands REALLY tight at this point, and was switching from facing him holding hands crossed in front of me, to turning in the tub to lean back into him with my hands over of my head holding onto his hands. They asked if I wanted to be checked to see if that would help me along to know my progress, and I said yes. I was 90+% effaced, and 9+cm dilated. After a few more strong contractions, and me telling Jason that I was done, and that I don't think I could do it, and asking him, if he wanted to go ahead and take over for me from here on out (signaling, transition and baby was coming soon, and that I still had a sense of humor), Sam calmly told me I could do it, and I looked at Jason and he told me I've done this, I can do it again, I'm doing it, and I felt confident and recharged, and nodded my head at Jason and tried to visualize continuing to sit down into my contractions and not run away and up and out and away from them. Then "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac came on and it gave me more strength (Thank you Stevie Nicks!) Christine told me to make guttural vocalizations, to get low in my belly and growl, and I had no idea how to do this, I was mostly screaming, and trying to growl and think of a Bear, Jackson's spirit animal tearing through trash cans, and powering me through. Sam told me, "Its not long now, you'll meet your son soon." And I told her sarcastically, "Yeah, not soon enough." HAHA. My humor this birth! So different from last time.
At that point I said I felt like I needed to push and they told me to listen to my body, if that's what my body wants to do then do it. I braced my feet on the handles in the tub, grabbed a handle in my left hand, and Jason's hand in my right and let the contractions build and pushed down as hard as I could, I remember seeing Sam look in the water, and gesture to Christine to come closer and look, Christine told me I could reach down and touch my baby's hair if I wanted to. "Lots of hair!" They all exclaimed. They reminded me to keep my knees open, and to push DOWN, it was hard, and he was partway through, and it burned and I felt a lot of pressure, but they told me "yes, there is a strong sensation, don't run from it," and to let it build. I said I needed a break, and meditated into that strong feeling, and then knew there was only one way to get through this, and that is down and out. Then three pushes later and Jackson was out and up on my chest. I DID IT! It was such a relief to finally have him on the outside up on my chest. I told Jason, "Papa, meet your son!" Jason asked me quickly, do you want a picture? I said, YES! and he grabbed our camera and took some of the most beautiful pictures of the first minutes of Jackson's life on the outside. Born at 4:40am. 6 hours after we arrived at the birth center. I told Jason to text my mom that he arrived! Later they told me that I pushed for only 7 minutes and he was born! I told them, I knew it was only 3 pushes maybe 4, but it felt like an hour. 7 minutes! Definitely much quicker with the second baby. Wow!
My placenta stayed inside, and they had me stand up and go lay on the bed with Jax on my chest and still attached. They gave me a shot to help loosen my placenta to deliver it, and after all my blood stopped pulsing through the cord, they had me cough and push the placenta out. They clamped the cord, and asked Jason if he wanted to cut it, he said no again like with Joss (its kinda hebbie jebbie haha especially for us vegans), but they asked if I wanted to, and I said yes this time, so I did, which was kind of cool. Then they inspected my placenta and all was intact and looked great. They asked if I wanted to see it and I did and they showed it to me. Not quite as big as Joss's three pounder, but I would say it was at least 2 1/2 lbs. I had them prepare it to be processed and encapsulated (which was a new service they offer that they didn't before with Joss). I ended up getting 143 pills (a full jar) out of it, and think its awesome that they offer vegan gel caps so I've been taking them this time around. Pretty awesome.
Anyway, after that, I needed to get 3 (or 4?) stitches, it was the same area that I had been stitched last time that tore naturally, but before it was 9+ stitches, so this time much easier. They said that when he started to crown, they put their hand around to see if there was cord around his neck (there wasn't), but when they did that he shot out one of his hands like he was doing a superman pose to come out into the world. Christine said as soon as he did that she knew I would tear a little bit, pushing his head and an arm, but I did it and it wasn't so bad. My little super man.
We rested on the bed, Jason napped a little bit, and Jackson immediately latched and took to nursing like an old pro. He was pretty vocal for the first 30+ minutes, and even came up out of the water crying, so they didn't have to use the squeezy bulb to clear his mouth/throat or anything like we did with Joss. We laid on the bed for a while in privacy, and they continued to come in every so often to get our vitals and check on us. They said that since we've birthed there before we could leave in 4 hours, rather than 6 this time as long as all vitals were normal and strong. We thought that we would have Joss and my mom come to the center to meet him there, but decided we would have Joss go to school, and we would go home and let her meet him after school so we could get settled into bed and not disrupt her schedule either (as per previous advice of her school and teachers and for less chaos all around).
The midwife team came back for the baby exam and we got his vitals, weight, measurements, and he received a K vitamin shot and had his foot prints put on our keep sake birth certificate, baby book, and a small canvas that we had people decorate at my birthday party/baby shower that we will also have Joss and family continue to decorate with hand and finger prints in colorful ink. They asked me to guess how big he would be, and I said about the same or less than big sis. Turned out, he weighed 9lbs 13oz, was 23 1/2 inches long, with a 14 1/2 inch head, and 14 inch chest circumference (bigger than sis, 9lbs 9oz, 22 1/2 inches long). Little big man! Born exactly like big sister, on 41 weeks and 1 day. I supposed if I were to have a 3rd, I will be prepared to go into labor on 41 weeks, and deliver 41 weeks and 1 day! That's just how long I bake them in my tummy. And of course a full head of dark blonde hair, and blue eyes. I wonder if they will change to be brown like daddy and big sis, or if they will stay light and be like mine? Either way he is very very cute, and such a little snuggle bear.
My phone had been playing my birth playlist on shuffle the whole time and only had 1% battery left after his newborn exam, so I called my mom and asked if Joss was awake yet (it was 7:30 she wasn't yet), and I told her that we will be home in an hour or two, and to let Joss know that she has a little brother and she will get to met him after school, and asked my mom if she could drop her off like a normal school day. My phone then died, but I realized that Jocelyn's nap mat was with us in the Subaru and I needed to be sure my mom was okay driving Jason's truck. I called her on Jason's phone, making sure that my mom was comfortable driving Jason's truck to drop her off, and she was so we were all good. By then Jocelyn was awake so I asked to talk to her and told her the exciting news and she was really excited! My mom said that she told her when she first woke up and they did a little dance downstairs and got really excited to meet him soon after school.
By 8:30am we were dressed and ready to go home. I had completed all of his social security paperwork, and birth certificate forms, and we made sure everything was all bagged back up into our labor bags to take home with us. The postpartum team had a shift change at 8am, and the two new gals gave me a review of checkout procedures, which all came back to me from when I checked out with Joss 3+ years ago. They also showed me how to check my own vitals and baby's for the next few days before we came back in for a 3 day wellness exam again. They took one last round of vitals of us, then released us right at 8:45/9am. We came home and my mom was there to greet us and see new baby, as I got back up into bed and started my week long bedrest as per the midwives (1st week in bed, 2nd week on bed, 3rd week around bed). My mom thankfully decided to reschedule her physical therapy session for later in the week (which was scheduled for 1pm that day), since Jason was very tired and didn't feel like he would be up to driving her there and was able to rest at home with me and baby instead after our long night.
Then after school, Grandma picked up Jocelyn and brought her home to meet new baby brother. She was so sweet, and gentle with him, and washed her hands first and sang to him. And in true Jocelyn form, she told me randomly when she was holding him, "When the great ship sank 2 lives were lost." I asked her, when was this? and she told me, "When the great ship sank." So maybe Jackson was on the titanic when it sank in a past life? Sometimes I'm not sure what Jocelyn sees and hears, but she is definitely connected to the spirit world and I just have to listen to what she says and wonder where it comes from. I took some really sweet photos of them together, and a little video and my heart melts to see them both together. So sweet and gentle together, and loving, and my two beautiful babies.
In the meantime, its now day 5 and I'm healing well, still some discomforts, and AABC no longer does 3 day postpartum home visits, so we had to go in, they rescheduled last minute for me to go in on Wed, instead of Thurs, on day 2, and everything was great, all healing and vitals perfect. Unfortunately though for Joss, that Tuesday night she threw up in her bed, and had diarrhea and thew up some more. I finally woke up my mom to help, and so grateful that my mom was here to help with Joss. Joss ended up sleeping in my mom's room with her, and we kept her home from school Wed, Thurs. and Friday to recover from the stomach bug. When we were at the birth center Wednesday, they however didn't have my placenta capsules ready (since originally they scheduled me to come in thurs), so told us we had to go back to pick them up the next day, and later that night also texted me saying they forgot to take one of the tests for blood oxygenation and I would have to go back again with baby (not just send Jason to get my pills). So I loaded back up on Day 3 again and went in again Thurs, Ox blood test was all perfect (100% on foot, 98% on hand). Yesterday, Day 4 we had our first meal train sign up bring us some food, Keryn, Bailey, and Jamie stopped by and Joss luckily had some fun running around outside with Bailey, since she's been home from school all week and cooped up. More throw up yesterday, some fever, and stomach bug issues... Keryn was okay with them playing together outside, and Joss was so happy to have someone her size to play with, while I sat outside by the pool with Keryn with our baby boys (hard to believe Jamie is already 8 months).
There was a moth, a small butterfly, a cricket, and a lady bug in the pool that Joss and Bailey pointed out and I saw they were all still alive so I helped fish them out to save them, and Jax mostly slept their whole visit. Today, day 5, Saturday we have been home all day, and by the end of the day Jackson's cord fell off! Cute little belly button! Luckily I don't have anything that I need to get out of bed for, since the last three days had a lot of activity for me, when I should be staying in bed, and all of the activity made me start bleeding some more, though aside from that my healing is all going much smoother than the first time. Relaxing a few more days before I can be more mobile and self-sufficient. 2 more weeks with my mom here, though she's been sick the last couple days, so hopefully she can feel better soon. Joss luckily seems to be better today, and we are planning on having her head back to school Monday.
So here we are, new baby boy, family of four, and so grateful to have grandma's help here especially this past week with Joss being so sick. Today its raining, and my new bookclub book arrived in the mail that I'm going to read while I nurse (A Man Called Ove). Its hard to believe its only been / already been 5 days... motherhood is a total time warp! Surrounded with love, chaos, cuddles, smiles, tears, laughter, fun, challenges, music, and heart-warming full body emotion of gratitude and happiness.
Welcome Baby Jax!