Saturday, September 08, 2007

Announcing Jonathan "Graham" Antonius Parker

If you read all the comments you might have noticed that Sharon recommended eating some eggplant parmesan. She sent me a link to a recipe from a restaurant that guarantees to get labor going. I was ready to have this baby and willing to try anything. I had been having lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions and knew that my body was probably ready to kick into gear. I didn't want to go through all the work to make the meal so we went out to dinner on Sunday night.

We had a lovely dinner at a place called Bravo!. The boys were soooo well behaved and we had a great waiter. Ewan was feeling very snuggly with me and wanted to sit right next to me all night at dinner. Normally he wants to sit next to daddy. Maybe he was picking up on some motherly hormones about to go off or something.

I went to bed around 11 and woke up at 12:30 with a fairly strong contraction. Normally, contractions had been waking me up at night when I had to pee but I didn't feel like getting up since I had just gone to bed. I went back to sleep and at 1:30 I woke up with another strong contraction. That time I decided to pee so I could get back to sleep but I did notice that the contraction was much stronger than what I had been waking up to previous nights. I thought that something might be up especially when my bladder wasn't very full. I laid back down and waited to see if another contraction would present itself. Sure enough, 7 minutes later it did. Hmmm...I thought...could this be it? 7 minutes later another one came and something told me that this was labor beginning and it would probably go fast. I woke up Jon and told him I was having some strong contractions. 5 minutes later another one came. He said he thought we should pack up. The part of me that thought it would be a fast labor wanted to agree but the other part of me that didn't want to wake up the midwives and go to the birth center too soon wanted to wait. My husband said he thought we should get ready to go. As soon as we got up my contractions were 3 minutes apart and moving along quickly. I was already pausing during the contractions and not wanting to talk. I don't think my contractions ever were longer than 30-45 seconds. How nice was that?! I decided it was a good thing we were getting ready to go.

We woke up Ewan as we were on our way out the door since he wanted to come to the birth. We left the house at 3:15 This was my first labor where I wanted to really be upright instead of laying down. I used the birth ball to lean on while we were at home and at the birth center.

As we were driving in the car I started feeling pushy and was about ready to jump out of the car and walk to the birth center since sitting down was miserable. Every contraction in the car was so much more painful than when I was at home able to stand up and sway or lean on the birth ball. At one point I said, "I WANT OUT of this car!!!" Jon decided to pick up the pace in the car and (cautiously) ran a few red lights. I kept imagining getting pulled over by the police and yelling at them to let me get to the birth center. Ewan was very chatty in the backseat with me. I told him that I may not be very talkative during a contraction but he kept the mood light and I welcomed that.

We got to to the birth center at 3:45 and got settled in. The nurse, Gretchen, checked Graham's heartbeat which sounded great. My favorite midwife, Anne, was on call and I was thrilled! If you remember from my birth plan I wanted to enjoy the wonderful jacuzzi bathtub for labor. Before getting in the tub she asked to do an initial exam. I was already 9ish centimeters. I thought briefly about going ahead and breaking my waters but on Anne's recommendation decided to enjoy the tub first and to get used to being in the birth center environment. I relaxed in the tub for a bit and then started to feel like pushing a little. It felt really good to have warm water poured over my belly while I was in the tub. I got out of the tub and asked Anne to break my water. When she broke it she said I still had a little lip left on my cervix and was going to try to move it out of the way when I felt like pushing next. We were all pleasantly surprised that the water was clear since he was already a week late. Apparently it is pretty common for meconium (baby's first poop) to be present when babies are late. It makes for one less complication--especially later. This was my first birth where I had that overwhelming urge to push early on after being complete.

After getting out of the tub I got on the bed on my knees and leaned over the birth ball. As I felt like pushing I did. At one point I said to Anne, "I'm afraid I'm going to fart on you!". Everyone laughed and she said, "Please do!". I had to say it out loud otherwise I would have kept thinking it and it would have gotten on my nerves. After a few contractions that way I decided to sit up in the bed and lean back against Jon. I knew that this baby was probably bigger than Ewan (9lb 6oz) and I could tell it was taking more work to get this baby down. I was thinking that he was going to be a 10 pounder.

For me, labor has always been the easier part of birth. Second stage is more challenging for me both physically and psychologically. It is more challenging physically because I know the "ring of fire" is coming and it is a very uncomfortable feeling for me Having your skin stretched, even though it is only minutes long is quite the challenge--for me. That is what makes it psychologically difficult for me--to welcome the burning and to work with my body during that process. For some women other parts of birth are more challenging but that is most difficult for me.

I took my time to get the head out-it felt like years to me and I was the most vocal this time letting out grunts and little sobs to work through the pain and work with the contraction. It was awesome to feel his head moving down and to touch his head while it was emerging. Ewan, my oldest son, was watching me push out the head and decided after seeing a little blood that he wanted to go upstairs and watch a movie. Up until this point he was around and in and out of the room excited about everything going on. I was a little sad but wanted Ewan to feel the freedom to do what felt right to him. I think it ended up being a good thing.

I don't remember how it came up before I started pushing but Anne had mentioned something about how flipping over on hands and knees is helpful when the shoulders get stuck. I can't remember if she was just being informative or if she mentioned it because we all agreed that this baby was probably bigger than Ewan.

After Graham's head came out it was obvious after a few pushes that his shoulders were stuck. Anne said calmly, but urgently to get on my hands and knees so I flipped over and pushed with all my might. Flipping over or moving really, when a baby's head is between your legs is quite the feeling! Anne hopped on the bed and pulled and pulled while I pushed and pushed to get that shoulder out from under the pubic bone. It was 2.5 minutes after his head came out that the rest of his body came out at 5:10am. There was not really any time for waiting to cut the cord. She immediately cut the cord and took him to the table to rub him down. Thankfully his heart never stopped beating but it did take him a minute to breathe. As she was rubbing him down she told Jon to start praying. It was a fairly intense 4 minutes after the head came out. We were all thankful when he started crying and it looked like his collar bone was not broken.

Interestingly, when I had been imagining this birth--listening to my intuition--shoulder dystocia kept coming to my mind. I think that perhaps it was the Lord preparing me because when she was pulling him I was very calm and peaceful even though I knew the outcome could be grave. Graham's Psalm was Psalm 121 and I knew that God was not going to let any harm come to him. I knew that He was watching over his coming and going.

After he started crying I finally got to hold my little boy and spend some time bonding with him. His precious little face was bruised but he was beautiful to me! We were taking bets on how big he was. Anne kept saying she thought he might beat her record of 11lb6oz but he didn't look that big to me. Sure enough when we finally put him on the scale he was 11lbs 12.5 oz and 23" long. Labor was from 1:30am to 5:10am start to finish. She said he was the biggest baby born in that birth center!

I couldn't believe that I had an almost 12 pound baby and was sooooo thankful that I was in the birth center surrounded by people who believe in birth. If I had to go to that non-stress test on Tuesday I am not sure that I would have passed to have the baby in the birth center. If they guestimated the baby to be as big as he was the doctors who back up the midwives at the center would not have cleared me to birth at the center and probably would have been talking to me about having a c-section.

The other thing that amazes me is that that I only had a couple of skid marks (minor abrasions) and didn't need any stitches at all! I think taking my time to push out the head helped but also I couldn't believe that I didn't tear when the midwife was pulling with all her might with my pushes while I was on my hands and knees. What a blessing to not have stitches! I tore with both Ewan and Isaac so I was completely amazed. My symphysis pubis is pretty tender and sore so I will be taking more of the Ligaplex to get that working better. I got a chiropractic adjustment that will hopefully help. It hurts like the dickens in my pubic bone when I stand up or move my legs in certain positions. I think that it separated some and that is why it is so sore. Hopefully the Ligaplex will help repair the cartilage.

As they were working on Graham I felt the placenta detach and it was sitting at the base of my perineum. I was ready for it to be removed. I didn't want to stand up to let it fall out because I was pretty sure I wanted active management of 3rd stage (birth of the placenta). I wasn't sure what my blood count was going into labor and I didn't want to lose too much blood this time and end up with a transfusion again like I did with Ewan's birth. With the size of Graham I think Anne would have recommended it anyway because women who birth extra large babies are more at risk for post partum hem0rrhage. Active management includes massaging the fundus (top of the uterus) and getting a shot of pitocin to help the uterus contract and the blood vessels to close where the placenta was detached. Normally breastfeeding is enough to get the job done but I thought the benefits outweighed the risks in this case.

Ewan came back down after his movie was over and was so into his brother. I was so happy that he was there even though he chose to go upstairs during the birth. I think being able to come and see the baby on his own time table was good for him. I think it was good that he was not in the room during the critical time of getting the baby out. He would have noted the tension and I don't want him to remember birth that way.

I don't know if it is an age thing but Ewan is much more connected to Graham than Isaac is. I think Isaac may be working out some jealousy issues.

So, I don't know if the eggplant Parmesan was coincidence or not but I guess it wouldn't hurt to add to your list of natural ways to get labor to come.

We all are doing well and enjoying our time together. This was my first birth center birth and I loved it!

An update to how we are doing: Breastfeeding is going well. We had to get his frenulum under his tongue clipped so he could nurse better. It is apparently a very strong genetic factor because all 3 boys have needed it done. Graham is starting to gain his weight back and it is looking like there won't be any breastfeeding issues! Praise the Lord!!!!! Even though this birth was more traumatic than the others it has felt like an easier transition than the other two boys. So far Graham is not very fussy and does a good job at night. He is sweet in every way and I am enjoying him so very much!

How We Chose His Name:
Jonathan-Gift of God; God told me in prayer his name was to be Jonathan
Graham-We liked the name and he has a super cool cousin named Graeme (British spelling)
Antonius-Named after St. Anthony (more on why later)


Patty said...

yay!! i'm so glad everything turned out good. BIG BABY!!! andy was 9lb 2oz and they say this one is bigger (5lb 10oz at 33 weeks), but i don't know about almost 12lbs!! we'll see. you worked hard!! congrats a ton to all of you guys!! : )

Marie said...

Congratulations & Welcome Graham!
what a blessing and how inspiring your birth story is. I can't believe your baby was almost 12 lbs! Amazing. Simply amazing what our bodies can do. Thank God everything went as well as it did and you are adjusting well.

auntjay said...

Congratulations (again)!!! He is beautiful and so is his mommy! We loved seeing you all on the webcam but can't wait to meet Graham in person. The girls are so excited about having a new baby cousin.... although their daddy has them referring to him as "Big Tex" now instead of "baby Tex". We are glad you are all doing well. Thank you for keeping us posted. Love and kisses to all! Aunt Jay.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy for all of you, what a gift from God and may He continue to poor out his blessings upon you and your family. Graham (BIG JON!) looks beautiful. I am praying for you guys always. We miss you guys.
Kim Demaree

Darlene said...

What a beautiful story and family. You are an AWESOME women!!Look forward to more pictures. Love and miss you guys TONS.

Anonymous said...

Such sweet pictures. He IS beautiful. So are you--I love the first picture of you holding him. Miriam saw what I was looking at and wouldn't leave until she saw ALL the pictures of "Baby Graham!" She loves that Ewan and Isaac have a baby brother like she does.

Oh--was looking up Antonius and saw in my baby name book it also means "priceless." Fitting, I think. :-) God is so good.
Love you all, Monica

The Herd said...

You are amazing!!! That is soooo awesome that you did it! Graham is soooooo big!! I hoooped and hollared when I read his weight and John said "what?" from the other room where he was watching his Aggie game! You even got his attention in an Aggie football game!! We are so impressed. Thank the Lord for His protection of you and Baby Graham!! Congrats and way to go, girl!!!

Dawn said...

Congratulations! We are happy for you and are in awe of his size! What an amazing story.

Tina said...

Hey! I didn't say this to you when I talked with you but I really like the picture of the three boys! :) The way you described Isaac is just the way his face looks huh? It's as if to say - "ok, if you say so." Ewan suddenly seems more grown up.

What is the "ring of fire" and what are the "stages" of birth?

Sharon M said...

I'm still recovering from the shock of you giving birth (naturally) to such a big baby... I told my doc about it and she was AMAZED too! So, she passes on her congrats as well :-)

You guys look great. I bet Isaac is having a little trouble with the new baby, but he'll be OK. Chris (my bro) and I are 2 1/2 years apart and although we had the sibling rivalry thing going on for a while, we get along the best now that we're older.

Anonymous said...

OH. My. God never ceases to amaze me with what He gets us through. When I read about the contractions and natural birth of Jonathan, all I can say is you are one awesome woman. And how thankful I am God asked me to give Him my ability to bear a child because I could not have handled it well. How Sovereign He is.

Can you email me offline so I can get your address. We would like to send something to celebrate. Is there anything I can ship from Sprouts or Whole Foods or anything you can't get there for you?


Amanda said...

Congratulations!! Graham is beautiful. :) I am SO HAPPY that you were able to have a natural delivery! What an answer for everyone's prayer! God is so good. Almost twelve pounds - that is a miracle! Thanks for sharing your story. I couldn't wait to read it. :o)

amelia said...

The "ring of fire" is when the skin around the vagina stretches as the baby's head comes out. I kind of liken it to putting your fingers in your mouth and stretching your cheeks--except WAY more intense than that.

The stages of birth are:

1st stage-When the uterus contracts and causes the cervix to open and thin out. This allows the baby to descend into the birth canal.

2nd stage-Pushing the baby out.

3rd stage-Birth of the placenta

Kelsey said...

I cannot believe how big he is! Oh, and his hair! What a cool color! Congratulations Amelia.... you did an awesome job... I'm so glad that God prepared you the way he did and that everything turned out well.
What an amazing birth story!

Kelly said...

What an awesome story! Thank you for sharing all the details. What a beautiful baby! Can't wait to meet him

Navelgazing Midwife said...

Thanks for asking me to read your story. I would love to talk to the midwife because hearing it from the mom's perspective is always a little (lot!) different than the care provider's. She might still not be sleeping at night from the birth experience. It sounds, however, that she stayed calm, which is good.

Why, I wonder, didn't she bag & mask the baby. Why did she just keep rubbing him up? A baby in secondary apnea will not EVER revive with just stimulation, but *requires* resuscitation. We *never* assume a baby is in primary apnea (the stimulation phase), but *always* assume a baby is in secondary apnea - and we are ALL taught to assume that because stimulating a baby wastes unnecessary seconds when the baby is in secondary apnea.

I also want to let you know that you did not have active management of 3rd stage. You had a natural 3rd stage with a shot of pit that was probably warranted with a shoulder dystocia baby. Your placenta had already let go, so that was okay... and great.

Active management is pit before as the anterior shoulder is born or right as the baby is born and controlled cord traction of the placenta... when the placenta is *still attached*. NOT -lifting the placenta out-... that is not active management AT ALL. I lift placentas out of vaginas all the time and would be horrified if someone felt I was actively managing their 3rd stage. Most women don't want to stand up to let their placentas plop out. They'd much rather lie there and nurse their babies and let me grab the placenta and lift it the last bit from the tilt of the swoop of the vagina... it isn't pulling it off anything or harming anyone.

Does that help explain things? I hope so.

What an amazing birth! You are THE WOMAN!!!!

And skid marks... YOU GO GIRL!

amelia said...

Navelgazer-She did put oxygen over his face--I must have left that part out.

Thanks for the clarification on active management of 3rd stage. I wasn't aware of the difference--I just thought it was considered active management if you got the shot of pit. Birth junkie though I am--I still have a lot to learn!

I know that Anne called the nurse later that morning to check on me and was crying because the birth was so traumatic for her. She did stay very calm but I imagine that it was probably like having a car accident--you get the shakes after the fact.

Thanks for reading my story!

Kelly said...

So happy for you all! I echo all the other comments on his "stature" (smile). You certainly are THE WOMAN! I know you're enjoying your boys, but I'll pray extra hard for the rest you'll need. Congrats again