Alexander Ross Barr was born at 3:31 am on July 4th, 2012.
8lbs 8ozs 21 inches long.
This is his story…
I had been saying for months that I thought Alex might come early. Of course, I know better than to take my “intuition” too seriously. Afterall, I was pretty sure Aidan would be a girl. :)
Braxton Hicks contractions started about a month before my due date. Nothing too serious, and mostly related to exertion on my part, but still different that the other two pregnancies. With both Aidan and Cora, when labor began it never ended.
At 38 weeks, I went to see the chiropractor and wouldn’t you know it? Getting aligned made the contractions all but stop! So without any reason to continue to have “early vibes,” I set out to be patient until my due date. Both Aidan and Cora were born the day *after* their due dates.
Because we hoped to have Alex at a birth center (read why here), the wait was pretty stress-free. I had her check me a few days before my due date and I was effaced, but only dilated to 1cm. Those BH contractions hadn’t done too much!
My due date (July 2nd) rolled around and I was hopeful that things would get started. July 2nd is Stephen Lawhead’s birthday and I thought it would be a very cool day for Alex to share. I had some contractions – even some regular ones – but the sun went down and I went to bed without much happening.
Wouldn’t you know it? At 1am on July 3rd (they day after his due date), I woke up to painful contractions. At 4:30am I started blogging the play by play of labor. And as soon as I woke everyone up and got geared up for the real action to begin, things started slowing down!
I took a nap, drank some RRL tea, walked around, called my mom to start traveling from Wichita, and hoped hoped hoped things would get going. At about 10am my contractions were still pretty weak, but we (read: Rob) were afraid that this labor might just be different and I might be progressing anyhow, so we made the 15 minute trek to the birth center to get checked (something about Rob not wanting to catch Alex in our living room, haha!).
My wonderful mommy friend Cheryl met us at the center and swapped vehicles with us so that we could fit all of our kiddos in the same one. My older two went with her older two for an all-day play date, and we went into the birth center.
I am so thankful that we were able to hang out at the birth center to ease Rob’s mind. My midwife gave me some tips for turning Alex out of the posterior (sunny side up) position he was sitting in to try and get things moving, and we sat/paced around the lobby for about an hour.
My mom arrived from Wichita around noon and after a while we decided that my contractions weren’t going to speed up anytime soon (still coming about 10 minutes apart), so we went out to lunch.
You should have seen the people staring at us at the BBQ place we went. The older women looked at me knowingly and the men moved out of my way. lol! Lots of people asked if I was going to have the baby soon, and when I informed them that I was technically in labor their eyes got as big as saucers! I ate the spiciest thing I could find and had a few good contractions, but still nothing regular.
Back at the birth center my patient midwives gave me the option of staying there or going home to rest. I’ll admit that I was frustrated at the thought of going home. My contractions just weren’t as intense or regular as they were with the other two pregnancies though, so at about 2pm we left the center.
At home we all (me, rob, and my mom) decided to take naps and showers. My contractions were regular enough that I couldn’t really sleep, but not enough to justify waking everyone else up. Just before bedtime we decided to have our “big kids” come home and spend some time with grandma. At 10pm, I drank some chamomile tea and decided to try and get some sleep.
Unlike my last labor, the tea did nothing to help me relax. In fact, lying down and turning out the lights was exactly what I needed to get back into the “zone.” My contractions became significantly more painful. I tried to wait them out, but by midnight they were so strong I felt like I was almost in transition!
I felt terrible calling my midwife again when I knew she’d probably just gotten to sleep, but this time I knew things weren’t going to back off again. She was so patient and understanding – told me to give her 15 minutes to get back to the birth center.
My mom heard the change in my voice from the other room as I talked on the phone with my midwife. She came out and suggested that she just stay with the kids to let them sleep rather than us having to call our friend back to get them. I was very thankful for the stress that took off of me, even though I know mom wanted to be there for his birth.
Back at the birth center, I told them I was pretty sure I was going into transition. They filled the birth tub and I asked them to check my progress. I told Rob that if I wasn’t more than a 4 I was going to cry.
I was 4cm. Of course.
They told me to wait a few contractions before getting into the tub. After just a couple I think they could tell it was the real thing, and they let me get in. The tub I used was the one pictured below and to the right, but I labored in the room shown on the left – I took these photos from the birth center’s website.
Up to this point I’d said that I would try the water and would stay in if it felt right, but I wasn’t married to the idea of a water birth. As soon as I got in I knew I wasn’t moving, The warmth of the water made me feel protected somehow, and the added buoyancy helped take the pressure off in between contractions.
I had my laptop with me at the center and asked Rob to pull up my YouTube birth playlist and get it going. I hadn’t tried listening to music with the other two labors, and now I wish I had. In between contractions the music was soothing and reassuring. I couldn’t hear a thing while contracting; my whole body retreated into itself and I focused on not tensing up too much. But it never failed, as soon as the contraction was over, the words of the songs I chose always had just the right thing to say.
“You are my hiding place
You fill my broken heart with songs
Songs of deliverance
You sing of how the weak are strong”
“He leads me beside quiet waters,
that wash over me
Though I will walk in the shadow
His rod and his staff comfort me”
Thou my soul’s Shelter,
Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward,
O Power of my power.”
I stopped timing contractions after I got in the birth tub. I remember thinking though, that time was passing awfully slowly as I looked at the clock every few contractions. In the fog that is the last stages of labor, each contraction feels like an eternity, but I’d look up and see that only a few minutes had passed. Rather than being discouraged, I was very pleased to realize that the contractions were coming quickly and regularly.
This time around when I felt the urge to push, I tried my best to imagine my body doing the work for me. I relaxed as much as possible and mentally dropped into each contraction. The water was a huge help with this, and so was Rob. I held onto his hands and he lifted me just enough as I pulled slightly that my bottom came off of the tub and I was able to float and relax all of the muscles “down there.”
When I could finally feel Alex trying to crown, I helped a bit with the pushing. He retreated several times. That is always the most discouraging part. The pain is intense and you know you are so close – but it’s the part that always has me wanting to throw in the towel and wait to gather my strength to try again another day. Of course, it’s also the point of no return. I think God might have had His hand in that design. ;)
At one point we heard fireworks outside (WHY was someone up at that hour??) and it reminded me that it was the 4th of July! Another holiday baby! Alex wasn’t going to let Aidan have all the fun with his Valentine’s birthday! I looked at the clock around 3:15 and said a little prayer. I really wanted to have Alex by 3:30. I told myself I just had to hold on until 3:30.
At last he crowned enough that he wasn’t going back in and I asked if I could take a break. Having him a little bit out actually made the pain a lot less – the nerves must have just been fried, lol! I waited for another contraction with my cervix tight around his eyebrows, and when it came a minute or two later, I pushed lightly and brought my transverse abdominal muscles (read the book Maternal Fitness, for reals!) in, and out he came!!
His cord was wrapped around his neck once and down his back. Plus, it was very short, just like Aidan’s! I had to stand up quickly to let the midwives unravel him and then we were back in the water. He coughed a bit like it had irritated his throat, but he was BRIGHT RED from the moment he came out, so there was no worry about oxygen deprivation! And that hair!! He had so much of it!!
After a few minutes I moved to the bed (we all wanted to be on guard for excessive bleeding) and asked what time he was born. 3:31. :D
I could tell right away that I hadn’t torn, or at least not badly. The pain was gone as soon as he was out and it was lovely! Both of my midwives were supporting my perineum and the rest of my bottom as he came out, and I know that helped a ton. The water probably did it’s wonders as well. AND Alex’s head was a bit smaller than either of the other two! I asked Rob right away if he seemed smaller than them. He weighed the same, but his head made a big difference!
On the bed, Alex nursed and we waited for the placenta. It seemed like it didn’t want to come out. For the first time in a labor, I had after-contractions (not fun!) and eventually with just a little traction, I birthed the complete placenta. My midwife exclaimed that it was a “FAT placenta!!” No wonder I was so huge! :) It was nearly the size of another baby! And healthy, too, praise God! We clamped and cut the cord.
And here’s where being in the birth center made all the difference… as soon we could determine that my bleeding was fine and baby was fine, the midwives left the room! They told us to “snuggle” and we’d do the other stuff later!! So I nursed Alex on the bed under a warm blanket with Rob sitting next to me and my music playing. It was wonderful!
After a while they came back in and checked me over more thoroughly, then weighed Alex. Rob went to take a nap in the other room, and I decided I needed to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t go (grr!), and when I stood up from the toilet I got the all-too-familiar-at-this-point feeling that I would pass out. I calmly told one of the midwives that I needed to lean on her, and when the feeling passed, I went back to the bed. I hate that feeling! And I worried that I wouldn’t recover well and we’d have to transfer.
I decided to try and nap, and the midwives went into the lobby to try and rest as well. My mind was going 100mph so I couldn’t sleep, but after an hour or so I felt more steady. Rob came in around 6:30am and we decided to start calling people to tell them the good news.
When our phone calls were over, I decided to make one more go at the bathroom trip. I was successful (yay!) AND I didn’t feel faint! Wohoo!! The midwives let us know that we were good to go whenever we wanted to, so at about 8am we headed home. just a little over 5 hours after his birth, I was snuggling with Alexander on my very own couch with my other two children around me. So blessed!
I guess you could say this labor was 26 hours long (Aidan’s was 41 non-stop, and Cora’s 15) with most of it being pretty slow going. However, the active part of it was really only about 4 hours! I’m thankful for still having plenty of energy left at the end to sit and enjoy this adorable firecracker. :)