Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Little Fox's Birth Story

Please note, this is a personal post, so if you're here just for the vintage you can skip over this one.

Time flies after you've had a baby. Newborns take up so much time and energy. So I wanted to record his story before I forgot too many of the details.

Christopher James Fox Jasper was born on September 24th, 2015 at 9:13 PM, after 24 hours of labor. He weighed 9 pounds and 3 ounces at birth, with a 14.25" head AND a 14" chest. He came out 22 inches long, with long fingers and toes that like to curl. He had a nice light head of brown hair and stormy sea blue eyes. But that's the end result, and to tell the whole story we have to start at the beginning.

The night of the 22nd I had a terrible night's sleep. I didn't get to sleep until after midnight (though that wasn't that unusual, Little Fox loved to wake up at 11 PM and jig around and get hiccups) and after I did finally fall asleep, it was fitful. I was overheated despite the AC running full tilt, and every time I woke I had the suffragette song from Mary Poppins stuck in my head on repeat. If I tried to sleep on my right side I had terrible indigestion that nothing could fix. Then I finally passed out around 5 AM and slept until 9 or so in relative peace.

Fast forward to the night of the 23rd, and I was ready to have Little Fox on the outside, not the inside. His first due date had come and gone and I was tired of being pregnant. We decided to try to get him out the same way he made it in - sex. (And this might be TMI but semen has the highest count of natural prostaglandins perfect for starting cervix thinning - basically the natural equivalent to PIT which they use to induce labor in the hospital) On previous occasions, I had gotten sporadic contractions afterwards lasting anywhere from 3 to 4 hours. This time, they came on quickly afterwards and after 2 hours of relatively regular contractions I decided to start timing. Early labor can take hours, or even days, and I wasn't supposed to really call the midwife until contractions were 5 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds each. So I timed and timed until 2 AM, unable to rest in between for anxiety and excitement. Finally at 2 AM I got up and called the midwife to let her know that early labor was beginning and that if it didn't subside I could be in labor soon. She alerted her assistants and they developed a plan in case it was real labor - then she told me to call back when they hit a certain interval or when my water broke. One hour later, my water broke.

I had just woken Aj to tell him that it might have worked! I might be in labor! And if that was the case he might need to set up the birthing pool soon. We had decided to do a home birth, because the idea of recovering in my own bed, in the comfort of my own home was perfect. And I didn't like all of the hospital interventions, or pressure put on women to speed things up and not be in labor too long. And I hated the idea of not instantly holding my little one. And I didn't think lying on my back to give birth sounded like a good idea - why not let gravity help? Plus we wanted to try water birth, since I was going to do natural child birth with no pain medications.

So there was no packing into the car and heading off to the hospital, but I called the midwife and let her know my water had broken and she said they were going to be on their way to our house. She arrived at 4 AM and shortly thereafter I was checked by one of the assistants for dilation and effacement status. She said I was 6 cm dilated and almost fully effaced, and the baby was at 0 in my pelvis (3 is when they start to pop out!) I was so pleased! It had been somewhat painful but nothing unbearable and labor was looking like it was going to be a decent length but nothing too long. Unfortunately, and heartbreakingly, the assistant mistook how far effaced I was and it wasn't until hours and hours later that they checked again and the midwife said I still had a ways to go. This was devastating.

Time basically lost all meaning as Aj helped me through contractions, holding my hand, feeding me bits of food and water and juice. When 4 PM rolled around I started to break down. I hadn't slept since my fitful night of sleep on the 22nd. I hadn't eaten anything but tiny bits since dinner on the 23rd, and my legs were getting weak from walking and squatting, trying to move the baby along. I just remember hugging Aj and saying "I'm so, so tired."

Onward the night went. Around 7 PM he was finally in place to begin pushing. I pushed for 2 hours, moving from the couch to the floor, and trying a couple of different positions. Aj held my head and hand, and fed me water or crushed ice.

As the contractions really started to come on hard and beyond intense, and the baby's head was close to crowning, his heart rate plummeted. The umbilical cord had dropped down and gotten wrapped around his neck, cutting off oxygen supply. I had read this birth story from a fellow vintage shop owner and the same thing had happened to her. Somehow this helped me. I knew what had to be done. I was afraid to lose him. When the midwife told me she needed him out and I had to push with everything I had, I gave it every ounce of strength in me, but I still couldn't get him all the way out fast enough. She performed an episiotomy and told Aj urgently that we had to change positions and that I needed to get into a squat. My fear rose and I tried to comply as best I could. As he was trying to lift me a contraction came on so hard and huge I couldn't do anything but bear into it and try to get my little man out. Poor Aj had a bad foothold and struggled but kept me up despite my putting everything into bearing down. Finally, finally the baby popped out with an assist from gravity and they put Little Fox immediately into my arms and covered us up.

His heart rate rose quickly, though his breathing stayed elevated and he was alert and red and screaming and wonderful. I just remember thanking the universe that we were both alive, and OK. We made it through.

After such an insane, long labor with so little rest and food, my body was exhausted. My legs trembled, and I couldn't really move. Aj held Little Fox and sat next to me while I rested. I laid there for what I think was hours, trying to stay awake and alert and to eat a little and look at my baby, and my husband. I started getting worried about feeding Little Fox, and was moved to the couch to try to breast feed. We got only a few drops. My body was just too tired.

We decided that a trip to the hospital to get stitched up and ensure that I was not loosing too much blood was in order. So at 2 AM I was loaded into an ambulance, and taken to the hospital where they stitched me up. The nurse helped me use a nipple shield to feed Little Fox and he slept soundly. He was a very good baby through everything. We left the hospital at 6:30 AM. We made it home and Aj helped me into bed, and I slept a few hours before Little Fox started to cry for hunger.

Those first days were beyond hard. I couldn't even move. My arms were bruised from the blood test and hydration IV and weak from the hours of labor. My hip was bruised from hours of pushing on the floor. My neck was weak from straining into my pushes. It strained and hurt when I coughed or sneezed or blew my nose. I could barely hold Little Fox to feed him. Aj looked ragged and exhausted but took amazing care of me.

On day 3 in the morning we had a well visit with the midwife. The baby had already lost 9% of his birth weight, right at the limit of acceptable. My milk was FINALLY starting to come in and I felt like we could turn this corner and I was feeling better each day. Later that morning Aj took our little one to the pediatrician for his hepatitis B shot and another wellness checkup while I slept. He came back right as I was waking from my nap and I got the news that, though Little Fox was healthy in all other ways, he'd developed jaundice and the best thing to do for him was to feed him. He told me that they had fed him a little bottle of formula supplement and that he had absolutely guzzled it. This was devastating to me, and made me feel inadequate, and hurt my heart that my little one had been so hungry.

We had to go back the next day for another blood test to see if his bilirubin went down and his jaundice was disappearing. Now I know that jaundice happens to a huge number of newborns, but between our trouble getting a good latch due to poor positioning, my weak muscles, my large breasts and my (apparently I never knew?) flat nipples, I felt discouraged. But I knew that we needed to push through. I spent hours online looking for tips on breastfeeding. How to tell if they were actually getting anything. Good positions for latch with bigger breasts. How to breastfeed with flat nipples. Anything to help.

I pumped after he fed, and then we bottle fed him that. We gave him another supplemental formula bottle and we just kept feeding on demand. Learning together. The next day we went back and did another bilirubin test and it rose but just by one point. However he had gained 5 oz back overnight! So I knew he was getting enough food. We decided to keep nursing and feeding and do one more test. If it came back any higher we were going to have to do phototherapy treatment, which I didn't want to have to put him through. Today we went for that test and finally we are over the jaundice. It's on the decline and together we have learned how to nurse effectively. He's a hungry, hungry boy.

So there we stand. It wasn't an easy, run of the mill birth like I had hoped. If I had had the baby in the hospital it almost definitely would have been a C section birth. And the 3 days after his birth were probably some of the emotionally toughest days of my life. But here we are on day 5, happy and well fed and together and healthy and alive and there is nothing I've ever been more grateful for.


  1. "Women, don’t ever apologize for your behavior or choices during birth. When you OWN your experience and take pride in your journey, you help other women do the same thing. No matter how you did it, you just brought a human being into the world! The world should be kneeling at your feet.” – Lauralyn Curtis

    We are happy you and AJ have a healthy and beautiful baby boy and we will be praying for you all. May the Lord bless and keep you all and may this baby be a joy to you both. Blessings!

    A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. (John 16:21 NIV)

    We can't wait to meet our Great Nephew!
    Love, Terri & Frank

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