On Thursday, June 6th, I finally lost it emotionally. I had had no signs of labor beginning. I was tired and in pain. I had failed to realize that my mom and Charlotte (who had already been here a week) were driving away the 13th, which meant I couldn't schedule an induction the weekend I was 42 weeks because I needed someone here to stay with Peter if that ended up being the case. An induction could cost us $12-20k, which I knew God would help us pay off, but it still put pressure on me mentally. Even though I had a good midwife visit in which we nailed down my natural/non-natural induction plans, I came home and sobbed.
One natural induction method is to drink a weird mixture of things including castor oil. This was the only method I had refused with Peter, and I was hesitant to try it this time as well. Everyone online said it was absolutely nasty to drink. Many threw it up. But then there were also a ton of women who drank it, woke up in labor within 6 hours, and gave birth within 4. In fact, the drink has an 85% success rate! I was so afraid of the nastiness of it, but my mom and Chris wanted to know why I wouldn't try something that is close to guaranteed to work, especially when I was staring at an induction within days. I finally agreed to try it on Friday night. *cue more tears of fear and pressure*
I bought all the ingredients. They stared at me from the kitchen counter. As with trying to get pregnant, one of your worst enemies when trying to induce labor is stress. Ha. Well, I'm a ball of stress on GOOD days so I decided to distract myself all day. Mom, Charlotte, Peter, and I ate out (National Donut Day ftw) and went thrift shopping all day, having fun together. I did notice I was having light contractions and discharge all day but once again, I wasn't focusing on that. I had a big scary drink ahead of me that night. :P
The three of them got a hotel room for the night "just in case." I blended the drink, grabbed a pack of Peter's Scooby Doo fruit snacks to down after in case the taste made me sick, and sat on the couch watching Julie & Julia while taking cautious sips through a straw. I texted my doula to give her a heads-up that I drank it, and went to bed.
At exactly 2 AM, before I even sat up, I knew I was in labor. I shot out of bed and into the bathroom yelling, "CHRIS!! OH GOD, OH GOD!" (I said God's name a lot during this process, which is something I do during intense moments, and I assure you I say it in the spirit of desperate prayer; not in vain. :P) As I'm sure you know, castor oil can make you need the bathroom in a not-so-pleasant way, as I have now personally experienced. Once I was done, I sat on the edge of my bed and texted my mom and doula to alert them I was in labor.
If you're familiar with birthing stories, this is where everyone questions whether or not to call in one's birth team. ("Maybe this is just early labor." "It might stop soon." "How close together should contractions be exactly??") I told Julie (my doula) I'd have Chris time my contractions for a while before letting her know I needed her to come. Poor Chris downloaded a tracker app, but it was basically pointless because I couldn't even tell him when they were starting and stopping, they were so on top of each other. They were also intense enough that I could no longer hold my phone to text. I was already entering "my zone" at 2:45 where I was almost not aware of my environment at all.
Chris told Julie to come (she lives 20 min. away), and I got in a few inches of warm water in my bathtub while he called the midwife who lives an hour away. The tub ended up being a bad idea which we found out later, but I was excited because when I got out, my water seemed to break a bit. Still kind of unclear on that, but that's what it felt like anyway. I sat on the couch and waited for my team to arrive, while the contractions kept coming and coming and getting more and more intense.
Try natural labor, they said. There will be breaks, they said. Sure, Karen. That's if your labor takes like half a day, not if it's rolling full steam ahead with the end very quickly approaching. I had told Julie I wanted a labor 10 hours or less; that I'd prefer a fast and intense labor to something drawn out. She was like, "Really? You don't know what you're asking for." lol Well, I got my wish. This was one intense ride.
The midwife's assistant showed up first. I think my body let something release once she showed up. While my doula was wonderful to have next to me, just silently supporting as I huffed and puffed through each wave, it's not her job to make sure everything is medically okay. So having Sheila (an RN and CPM) arrive made me feel like, "Okay, here we go." Linda (my midwife) showed up soon after and had Chris start filling the pool. This is when we realized I should not have asked to sit in the tub at all because our water heater ran out when he got only about 8 inches in! It would have to do. During the tiny moments I had between contractions, they got me in there and I instantly started pushing.
This is where it got weird for me. Because I got the Pitocin and epidural with Peter, I had no way to feel him moving down. I could tell when a contraction started but pushing was completely dictated by the hospital staff; not my body. This time, my body took over almost 100%. I got vocal, people. Didn't plan on that, but I literally had zero control over what happened in the next hour in that pool. I was pretty unaware of stuff around me, but I did notice Pandora started playing songs that weren't even on my birth playlist, making me mad. (I've been told I failed to hit shuffle when I turned it on. Ugh. Technology these days. It should've known what I meant!) Julie said, "I love your playlist! So diverse." (aka: "Why in the world do you have Erb's 'Shenandoah' arrangement right next to 'Can't Stop the Feeling'?!") lol Chris was in front of me but for whatever reason I didn't look at him at all during labor. It was enough to know he was there.
I kept leaning over the side of the pool and roaring the baby down with each contraction. I could feel his head! I started to feel him crowning and I knew from all the birth videos on YouTube I had been binging that this was the bridge. This was the gate that would forever separate "before he was born" from "Reach down and grab your baby!" This was when I had to not shrink and hesitate from the pain, but rather push through (literally) and I'd be rewarded with the person I had felt growing and kicking for the past 9 months. I pushed hard. And I will never regret not getting an epidural because being able to feel how to push correctly was absolutely unparalleled. It was controlled and just right.
Matthew Lewis was born into the water at 5:41 AM on Saturday, June 8th. I had been in labor less than 4 hours. I was the newest person to add to the list of successful weird-drink drinkers. ;) The second I held him I knew he was big. He was heavy and had hair! Because he was late, he didn't have much vernix on him which made me happy. (I know I shouldn't think birth stuff is gross, but I'm not huge on that part of newborns.) I held him for a while and then handed him off to Chris so I could get in bed.
I am so glad I have the moment he was weighed recorded on my phone. Linda put him in the funny little cloth scale thing they use, and she had a funny look on her face. She called Chris over to read off the weight, and when we heard 10.5, I said, "Are you kidding me?!" I mean, we all could tell he was big, but I was shocked I had just given birth to a child that huge. I have officially given birth to the heaviest Marsceau grandchild, and since there are 21 of them or something (lost count lol), that's a big deal.
I cannot emphasize enough how awesome home recovery has been for me. To just get right into my own bed afterwards, take a shower in my bathroom, have all my own snacks and things around me, and get naps without people I don't know constantly coming in for no important reasons, was and is simply amazing. There were many reasons I wanted a homebirth, but this one ended up being what made it the most worth it to me! Recovery is going very well. The only bad thing I need to actively work on is getting my diastasis recti under control. I have a 5-finger gap which is NOT good. I'm not supposed to wear my belly binder around meals or when sleeping, and considering that's about all I'm doing these days, it's not super convenient at this point. I had DR with Peter but not this bad, and I'm a little disappointed that it's this advanced despite being ultra-cautious about it during this pregnancy. Oh well.
The big question in my mind leading up to giving birth was wondering what on earth the "most intense physical pain imaginable" would be like. Up to this point, the worst pain I had experienced was getting 11 stitches in my thumb with no effective numbing medication. (You all remember that blog post, right? :P) Well, that remains the most painful experience ever TIED WITH BREASTFEEDING. I would 100% push that 10-pound baby out again 5 times if it meant I could skip the pain that comes with the beginning stages of nursing. Yep, I'm trying to nurse again. And it's actually going way better this time, praise God. I might just make it through. Matthew eats and sleeps well, but his little tummy has been a gurgly mess so we're trying to navigate spit-up, barf, and gas these days. I get super overwhelmed and stressed about stuff, so I am trying to give myself grace with everything, take it one day at a time (sometimes one hour at a time!), and remember that I somehow kept Peter alive at the newborn stage and it just got easier week by week.
A note on his name. I was set on Lewis for most of the pregnancy, but Chris didn't like it. However, because he failed to give me any names he DID like, I just kept saying we'd name him Lewis by default. Near the end though I brought up one of the only other names I had considered: Matthew, and he liked it! Even though right after he was born, Chris gave me the option of naming him Lewis like I wanted, I decided it'd be best to give him the name all three of us liked, so Matthew it is. I do find it ironic though that I'm so adamant about not chaining myself to something like "all Bible names" or "all names that start with T," and now I have two kids with Bible names. :P (Not named after Bible characters, but still.)
As with any story, there could be more and more details shared, but this is already way too long so I will stop there. I'd like to share some very specific answers to prayer though.
I didn't have to be induced.
I didn't go into labor early when I had no help.
God helped me find the birth support I needed shortly after moving.
I didn't throw up or tear.
Matthew was perfectly healthy, and my bleeding was normal.
I was given so many sweet gifts that have really helped in these early days.
Nursing is going way better.
Peter loves being a big brother!
I am still in disbelief that I'm on the other side of it now. I've become that annoying person that can't stop talking about the same thing over and over and over. I keep rehashing it with Mom and Charlotte. Every day I am just so happy and full of thanks. God is so unbelievably good to undeserving me. He gets all the praise and glory!