Sunday, March 3, 2013

Carlin's (long) Birth Story

Carlin Delano Nipper
7lb, 4oz, 20 1/4 inches long

Saturday, January 26th was like any other day to us. I was tired from barely sleeping due to my huge and growing belly and dealing with sporadic contractions that had lasted a ...full week by then. But as usual, wanted to continue to get ready for baby Carlin b/c even though he was not due until Feb 12th, we knew he could come any day. I started my morning nesting.. vacuuming, folding his clothes, putting up his pack n plays... when at 11am I had a contraction that was seemingly stronger than usual, but didn't think much of it. Then 11:10, another, then about 7 minutes later, another. When contractions are false, there's usually something you can do to make them stop. I walked, drank some water, laid on my side., took a shower.. they kept coming. I notified my midwife of them and also that we were heading out the door to attend my baby shower. She said "Of course you are!". LOL And said to contact her after the contractions progress. We went to the baby shower; at this point it is 1pm. 

As soon as we arrived, I realized that my contractions were now 5 minutes apart and lasting for about a minute long. Rule of thumb is for this to take place for an hour to determine if it is real labor, known as 5-1-1. ( 5 min long, lasting for a minute, for an hour long.) Contraction after contraction took place, each growing stronger, as I opened my gifts, laughed and visited in between them. This was determined by everyone present that it was definitely the most interesting baby shower any of us had been too. Some were worried, but most were laughing, and sometimes the room would go silent when a big one came and everyone would talk me through them. But by the end, an hour later, we were all but rolling on the floor giggling b/c I would have a painful contraction and then be so grateful for the gift I had just opened right afterward. It went from one extreme to the other repeatedly until we were all delirious. A little after 2pm I knew we needed to go. We rushed home, grabbed my bags that had been packed for a month, called the midwife, called my friends on call who wanted to be present and help with Abigail, and hit the road. 

By now they are 3-4 min apart, and Paul is letting me squeeze his hand while he uses the song times on a CD to time them for me, but with the volume down. (worked perfectly!). At one point I realized I had to pee (we're on our way to Vancouver) so he stopped at a gas station in Ridgefield and I proceeded to run inside, during a contraction, begging for the restroom. You should have seen that girl's face. haha I would have peed on her floor at that point. My bladder was seconds away from bursting so I 'm glad she answered fast even in her moment of shock. 

My friend Diana was ahead of us and met us at the hotel where we needed to pay for a room really quick so that she and Abigail would have somewhere to stay that night. We planned on booking at the Shilo Inn b/c they have full kitchens, etc. that make it seem a bit more "homey" and comfortable for Abigail. Paul didn't have his credit card so I waddled in with him with mine, full blown contractions happening in the lobby. The man was so kind, we got a discount for the room b/c I was in labor! (Shilo Inn off 134th exit in Vancouver - THANK YOU!). 

We finally made it to the hospital and into our room with the built-in birthing tub for my planned water birth that we had looked forward to this entire time. My midwife, Patty from Pacific Midwifery, was so wonderful. Very soft spoken, immediately dimmed the lights and to my relief, notified us that I was already 6cmm and had managed to labor mostly out of the hospital on my own. I cried tears of relief, and felt a little empowered to make it through the rest of the labor. 

As soon as I lowered into the tub... "Ahhhhhhhh...." parted my lips and a calming wave of energy washed over my body. I realized now, after making fun of what they called Water Birth in our child birth classes, "Auquadural".. it is really "aaaaaaaahquadural", b/c of the immediate feeling of Ahhh.. LOL Water.. what an amazingly healing element. Felt right at home. Each contraction came 3-4 min apart, but with Paul sitting in front of me holding my hands, Diana and my midwife sitting beside the tub, and with my sweet, precious daughter Abigail offering me calm, loving words of encouragement as she poured water over my back, washed my face with a rag, rub my cheeks with her hands.... my contractions seemed further apart than they were and were so much more tolerable. 

A couple hours went by, my friend Ann arrived with toys for Abigail and now my moans were getting deeper and longer. The world outside myself was a blur as I focused internally, completely submitting to the pain, staying relaxed and using my loving husband as my focal point.

My midwife asked if I wanted her to break my water. I thought for a moment... knowing that it could still be a while, and although everyone around me said I was handling the pain of labor more beautifully and gracefully than what they are used to witnessing... I honestly knew in my heart that I just wanted to hold my baby. I just wanted to be done and hold my little man. She broke my water at my request and my pain immediately went from about a 10 to a 15 in seconds flat. (they always ask what your pain is between a 1 and a 10). She then asked if I was pushing my baby out based on my guttural moans. 

When I said No, she checked and said I was at 9cmm, and at that time she wanted to check the baby's heartbeat just to make sure all is well since he is now deep into the birth canal. For several minutes, she and a nurse fight to find his little heartbeat, and b/c what they kept hearing was a beat between the 90's and 100, they couldn't tell if it was his heartbeat or mine that they found, so they asked that I briefly get out of the tub so they could determine baby's heartbeat. It is then I realized that there are oddly no breaks between contractions.

For some reason, the pain was ongoing and felt intolerable. I no longer felt in control or peaceful as I did only moments before. On the bed, after a few scary minutes of not finding his heartbeat, she found it... and was not happy. My back faced her as I faced the back of the bed, mumbling how I don't think I could do this... please get this baby out... the pain wasn't breaking... something felt wrong. At one point I was backing down off the bed and in my mind, just wanted to run out of the room and go home. LOL I didn't want to do it anymore. 

Everything had changed so quickly. My friends Ann and Diana, my midwife and the nurses, and my husband all shouted out words of encouragement. My midwife had me turn around; she looked me square in the eye and said "We need this baby out NOW. You have to get this baby out, Amanda, RIGHT NOW." My body was tired, my mind had become my enemy and I knew that I could not birth in the tub as I had long dreamed. I knew that my peaceful birthing experience where I was in full control, and my baby would gently float into my arms... was over. But I knew that his life was up to me. I had to save his life and get him into this world as quickly as possible. 

Patty told me that the reason my pain was constant and the contractions seemed never ending was b/c his little forehead was stuck on the lip of my cervix, preventing it from dilating to a full 10cmm, which is what it must be to push him out. At this point.. I must remind you.. I am doing this entire labor DRUG FREE. This is important to know, b/c from this moment forward, just when I thought I was in the most pain possible... these next several minutes would prove me wrong. 

After ordering the nurses to give me an emergency dose of something to help my cervix dilate and relax more (at which time I was stabbed in the thigh with a huge needle of medication that would do the trick) Patty had to pop the lip of my cervix off his head with her fingers... OMFG, OUCH. And I immediately started pushing. Patty kept instructing me.. Keep your legs wide open, Amanda. You have to push with your chin to your chest.. Keep pushing. With all that was taking place, focusing my mind on doing just one thing was a feat, but all 3 of the commands were a bit difficult to master, so a nurse held my leg, my husband held my chin to my chest and held my other leg while he coached me and encouraged me, telling me “it is almost over, our baby is almost here.” 

With this being such an urgent need to get this baby out, I felt a doctor cut an episiotomy, which was followed by me belting out a blood curdling scream, which I was later told could be heard from the end of the hall even with the door to my room shut. (Diana had taken Abigail out of the room long before this time.) It seemed like forever, and found myself looking down at my midwife Patty... She locked eyes with me for what felt like eternity, telling me when to push and that I needed to get this baby out NOW. I remember thinking this is the greatest woman ever... With her locking eyes with me, the rest of the room, which was now full of about 20 or so doctors due to my urgent need to deliver all of a sudden, had faded away. 

It was me, her, and my husband’s loving voice right in my ear as tears streamed down his face. I pushed and his head emerged. Paul cried harder saying "He's here baby, he's here... keep going.. he's here baby, keep going, you can do this baby." I pushed and pushed and half his body came out when my body said it was done and I stopped pushing, only to be revived by tons of voices in the room shouting “NO!! You're not done!! Keep pushing!!!” LOL In my mind I'm like, "really?!" I didn't know it but Carlin had his umbilical cord wrapped over his shoulder, under his arm, and down around his ankle, and Patty had a doctor in there who had placed a vacuum on his head as well as electrodes to better monitor him in his descent down the birth canal. I gave a final push and our baby boy was born at 6:18pm... 7lbs, 4oz and 20 1/4 inches long. 

He was immediately carried over to an incubator as Paul gave me a quick kiss and followed him to the other side of the room to be by his side. After all that pain... I found myself smiling and staring at our little man across the room, as well as my husband’s sweet face as we both cried and cried and cried. Carlin's little hand already clutching his daddy's finger in his very first minutes of life. 

It was brought to my attention that I had lost and was continuing to lose more than twice the blood one should lose during giving birth. Nurses pushed on my stomach and would manually contract my uterus for a good 30 minutes at this time b/c it was not doing it on its own, a doctor would stitch up my episiotomy, my husband was still across the room with our baby boy, Abigail and Diana was behind a curtain to where they could only see Carlin and Daddy and not mommy, and Ann, who immediately rushed to my side when daddy went to be with Carlin, was standing beside me squeezing my hand tightly as we both cried together, and she then informed me that I scared her to death and that I am never doing this again...LOL To which I agreed.

The reality of what I had just been through.. what I had just accomplished, with absolutely zero pain medication, was beginning to sink in, and would continue to do so for the rest of the night and following days. The feeling of.. 'I cannot believe I just did that. I cannot believe I just made it through that, and the feeling of 'there is nothing I cannot do'.. all of that was a lot to take in. I cried b/c it hurt. I cried b/c, despite the excruciating pain, I did it. I FREAKIN JUST DID THAT. I cried b/c I was immediately thankful, rather than sad, that... NO, I didn't get my water birth. But what I did get was more of an empowerment than I could have ever expected or imagined. More of an experience that would have so much more of an impact on me for the rest of my life than I could have ever planned for. 

Here I was in exhaustion and tears, looking around the room in complete awe of the moment, completely in the Present, completely thankful for all that I see.. All that had taken place. Everyone made the right decisions at the right time to guarantee that myself and my baby boy are safe and alive in the end, my two close friends were present and I knew that we could not have done this without them, my midwife was my strength as she remained calm and focused in the midst of urgency and emergency, and my husband.... my best friend.. my loving husband who was my center the entire time. 

I love you, Paul. You are my center, my core, my consistent sturdy ground in all that we do and all that we are in our lives. You are the man who I know, from your actions throughout our day to day, loves me as if I am you and you are me. And after this sweetheart... after this experience, and just when I thought I could not be more certain, I have never been more sure of all of this. There is nothing I cannot do with you by my side. Thank you. Thank you for loving me as you do. Thank you for fighting for us when we were at our most fragile state, not letting our love die, not letting anything come between us. Thank you for all that you are and for the Man that you are on the inside, that you probably never thought you could be before we met. 

Most of this experience was caught on video as I instructed Ann to film even the most graphic scenes, but.. after my blood curdling scream from the episiotomy, she was instructed to shut the camera off. Ann being Ann of course, turned it back on at one time, but was immediately told to turn it back off again... LOL Mainly due to liability on the hospitals part, I'm sure. So, baby Carlin’s birth was not caught on camera. But, that's ok. The memory will be forever vivid in our brains and hearts. After this, when all was calm, Paul then told me and anyone who could hear him that when I had Abigail, he thought I was the shit but he still thought he could take me. After witnessing this though... he said that he has nothing on me and would never claim he could take me. LOL I'm not afraid to say it.. I am the SHIT. That shit hurt!!!!!!! LOL :) And it was all in the past the moment I laid eyes on my newborn son. 

Giving life and being a mother... there is nothing greater in this world that a woman has the pleasure of being, and I will never take that for granted. And I wear that badge proudly. Our son was finally placed in my arms… I cried like a baby and, despite it all, I’d do it all over again if I had to. There is nothing.. NOTHING in this world, comparable to the feeling of holding your child, meeting your child, for the very first time. Mommy and Daddy loves you, Carlin, more than you will ever know until you one day have children of your own. Welcome to this world. We will try, have tried, and will continue to fight to make this world a better place for you. That is our promise. ♥

<3 MHM


  1. Awe, this was written so beautifully. Congrats on your precious baby boy :) My toddler is sitting here shouting "Bebe Bebe" ... he loves the pictures as much as I do. You have a beautiful family.

  2. Awesome birth story!!! Riveting! I tried to find a link to my youngest son's birth story which is very very similar and harrowing.....but different. I couldn't find it!!! Dang!