Clark James Yeoman is born! As many of you already know, he was born at 41 weeks 1 day. That was about 2 weeks after I began complaining about him not being born yet. The end of this pregnancy was rough. I was hot, huge and tired. Everything south of my belly button was achy and hurting, my feet and ankles were swollen and I had to pee every three minutes. I wasn’t sleeping well and the kids were too busy for me to keep up with. I was worried about what would happen with the kids when I did go into labor and until my Mom came to stay with us I was terrified that I’d have to bring the kids to the hospital or bother my friend, who generously offered to baby-sit in such a situation, in the middle of the night. I was also really emotional about this probably being my last baby and for what ever reason, had a little bit of crazy anxiety about dying in childbirth. So… yes, fun all around.
Three days after my 40 week appointment, I had to have an ultrasound and NST (Non-Stress Test) at the hospital. They wanted to check Clark’s status and make sure my fluid levels were still looking good. He sounded perfect on the monitor and was moving around a lot still. My amniotic fluid was fine and there was no reason to induce which was fine by me. After being induced with Truman and having a labor that did not go according to plan, I have never wanted to experience an induction again. I left the hospital confident that I would go into labor on my own in the next day or two. But an entire week went by and I was back at the doctor, six days after my due date and baby was no closer to joining us. One of my midwives swept my membranes and said that if baby didn’t come on his own, we should probably induce on Sunday. She also wanted me to go to the hospital on Friday for another ultrasound and another NST. I left the office near tears, uncomfortable and disappointed.
The next morning, Mike and I went out to breakfast and discussed our options. Sunday was going to be a really terrible day to have our baby. Mike had already begun his two week parental leave since we had been so sure Clark was coming soon. If Clark was born on Sunday, I wouldn’t be out of the hospital until Tuesday and Mike would only have until Wednesday home with us. On top of that, my Mom had to leave by Sunday to return to work, so she wouldn’t be around to watch the kids or see the new baby. I really didn’t want to be induced at all but if it was going to happen anyway, I’d rather sooner than later. We decided to call the midwife and see if we could just come in and be induced the next day. I left a message with the nurse and waited. My midwife Hillary called me back and we discussed my feelings and concerns. She assured me that an induction this time around would not be traumatic like my first one was. I was already dilated, effaced and being my third baby, it should be much shorter and less stressful. We agreed to meet at the hospital the next morning but she offered to sweep membranes again that afternoon just to try one last time to get labor going. I saw her at 1:45 on Tuesday and she swept my membranes for the third time. I had contractions for the rest of the day and that entire evening but they did not get stronger and more regular. By midnight they stopped and I went to sleep.
The next morning, we took the boys to daycare and grabbed breakfast. I was a little nervous but still ready for our baby to join us. We checked in at St. John Hospital in Detroit and went through all of the paperwork with the intake nurse. I was shown to my room which was huge and very nice. At 9:15 am I changed, met the nurse and got an IV started. Hillary arrived and said she thought I may be able to avoid Pitocin. She wanted to break my water and just see how things went. Avoiding Pitocin sounded great to me and also meant I wouldn’t have to have continuous monitoring so I could move more freely.
At 12:48 Hillary broke my water. Not a whole lot came out but I started having contractions right away. I sat on the birthing ball through a few contractions and after the third one I felt a huge gush and the rest of the water spilled all over the floor, the ball, and my nurse’s shoes. We all had a laugh and Hillary recommended that I start walking. Mike and I took a lap around the labor and delivery floor. I had to stop for contractions that were getting more and more intense. After three laps I started getting very hot. The pain was getting difficult to manage quietly and I decided to go to my room. I stood and rocked. I moaned. I tried to breathe. I usually do not like anyone touching me during labor but Hillary squeezed my hips as I contracted and that pressure felt so good I wanted to hug her. She taught Mike how to do the same and he helped me through the next few contractions. I had to pee and while going, I realized that sitting on the toilet felt pretty comfortable, so I decided to hang out there for a little while. After laboring on the toilet for three or four contractions, Hillary appeared before me.
“Annie, you are starting to make sounds like you want to push.” I was shocked. It couldn’t be time to push yet! I hadn’t been in labor that long and things hadn’t gotten to a point where I was in unbearable pain.
“I am?” I asked.
Hillary smiled and nodded. In her quiet and oh-so-soothing voice, she replied, “Yes, you are definitely sounding like that. So. You can deliver in the bed, on your hands and knees, standing… you can even deliver right here in the bathroom. But you cannot deliver the baby on the toilet. So, if you are ready I want you to move off of the toilet.” It was the last thing I wanted to do but I didn’t want to deliver on the toilet either. I decided to move to the bed. I labored on my hands and knees. Contractions were barely a minute apart and I couldn’t get ahead of the pain. I growled. I yelled. I screamed. Hillary asked if I needed to push and I was so shocked that she asked instead of telling me that I could or telling me that I couldn’t, that for a second I wasn’t really sure if I had to push or not! By the next contraction I had my answer. I had to push.
It was like a switch flipped in my brain. I remember it with Grant’s birth, also un-medicated, also intense. It is as if I turn from woman to beast. There is no other time in my life that I have felt so other-worldly. Like I am in a zone where only I and this yet to be met child exist. Where my body, my soul and something deep and primal and… animalistic are working without the help of my conscious mind. I don’t know if all women feel it, but I really hope they do because it is such an incredible, super-human experience.
I pushed and pushed hard. I pushed correctly, effectively and unlike my last two babies who came out in less than 10 pushes. Clark didn’t feel like he was budging at all. I remember looking at my hands on the bed and seeing the veins bulging, wondering for a second if I was going to push the IV needle right out of the back of my hand. I felt like I was getting nowhere, despite all of the encouragement from Mike, Hillary and the nurse. I decided to switch positions and asked to go on my back. As soon as I rolled over, I knew I didn’t want to be there. Mike grabbed my leg and so did the nurse and I felt like they were going to pull me apart. The angle was weird, I couldn’t get any kind of counter pressure and I was angry about it. I asked them to let go and grabbed my own thighs, pushing as hard as I could. Clark’s heart rate started to drop. Hillary had me turn onto my side and keep pushing. She told me I needed to get him out and to push harder than I ever had before. I was so tired but I pushed again and again. I flipped back to my hands and knees and was so hot and sweaty, I ripped my gown off. Unbeknownst to me, completely naked and lost in labor-land, Clark’s heart rate had gone missing, they were placing an internal monitor and they weren’t completely sure if I could push his head out. Hillary had called in backup. Mike told me later about the whispering, the phone call, the rushing in of two doctors and three nurses, the talk of moving fast and making decisions. I heard whispers, but far off. Like whispering in a dream, not quite real and nothing I could concentrate on long enough to grasp what was really happening. And suddenly I knew he was coming. That intense pressure turned to intense burning and for the first time I was completely sure he would arrive. I know there were cheers and I know there was encouragement, but I swear I felt underwater. My body, my spirit, this baby… that was all.
It was 3:12 pm, only 2 hours and 24 minutes after my water broke that I felt his head leave my body, the rest of him following seconds later. Suddenly, his face appeared in front of mine. This big, beautiful, round and purple baby was looking up at me as I crouched over him, shaking and exhausted but more proud of myself than I have ever been. I brought him to my chest and sat back on my heels, Hillary and Mike and our nurse helping me turn over and sit back. The nurses were anxious to listen to him, to check and make sure he was breathing and healthy. He was crying and perfect. I held him until his cord stopped pulsing, Mike cut it and they took him to check him out. I had a few minor tears that needed stitches but felt great. By the time I looked around the room, all of the “extras” had cleared out. I never would have known about all of the scary drama had Mike not told me. Clark returned to my arms in minutes, his Apgar scores were 9, 9. He latched on and nursed. We spent over an hour skin to skin and Mike left to get my parents and the boys. While he was gone, the nurses measured Clark and told me this big round baby was 8 pounds 15 ounces and 21 inches long. I got cleaned up, Clark was swaddled and we were left alone. I snuggled my beautiful third son until his brothers and grandparents came to meet him. Birth. It never gets less miraculous.
(And only 6 months after his arrival I found the time to complete his birth story!)