Since today Orion is 1-month old, I thought this might be a good day to write down his birth story.
Orion was born on Monday the 5th of November. The Thursday prior to his birth, I started to have contractions on and off throughout the day. Since the contractions were neither strong, regular nor progressive, I decided not to tell very many people that I was having contractions, to avoid the every-ten-minutes request for an update. The contractions felt like a mild back pain that ebbed and flowed, so I was fairly certain that I was in for another back labor.
On Monday the 5th I woke up around 8:30am with contractions I could no longer sleep through, and I thought to myself, "Today is the day". As I have attended births for friends of mine, it amazes me how women who have been through childbirth start to know their body better with each subsequent birth experience. I definitely knew that morning that I was going to have a baby that same day. I labored at home all morning, drank plenty of water, and Marcos coached me through relaxing through my contractions. Gigi grew more and more concerned as my contractions intensified, and she often wanted to be by my side, "massaging" my shoulder and back. During intense contractions the last thing I wanted was her in my face distracting me from my focusing, but her concern was sweet and genuine and so I bit my tongue from asking her to give me space. We watched Rio as a family, and folded laundry, and tried to keep moving along in as normal a fashion as possible.
By early afternoon, my contractions were becoming intense. They had been coming 5-1-1 for hours, but had not been strong enough that I felt like they were doing their essential work. By early afternoon, however, I was having to stop for incredible back labor contractions and put my best energy into relaxing through them. I found a fabulous position on our carpeted stairs, with my knees on one step, and my forehead resting on my hands a few steps up. This allowed me to let my belly relax and my back sling down. At some point I told Marcos I was ready to go to the hospital, but he said that we should wait longer, because he did not want to repeat what had happened last time with me going and getting sent home three times to keep laboring outside the hospital. I paged the midwife Stephanie at the hospital, and she said basically the same thing - to wait, to go and take a warm bath, and to come in when I felt like I could no longer make it through the contractions.
At around 3pm I felt like I could no longer make it through my contractions, by 3:30pm we were in triage at the hospital, and by 4pm we were checked in and the anesthesiologist was on her way. I had hoped to go without the epidural this time, but by the time we got to the hospital, I was 6 centimeters dilated, my body had done so much good work, and I was very ready for some relief. The epidural took perfectly, and I was such an epidural junky - as the numb tingling coursed down my legs and the intensity of the contractions softened, I remember raving about epidurals to Marcos and my mom, who had come to support me. It only takes one good intense back labor to be pretty in love with the relief that an epidural provides.
One hour later, Stephanie the midwife came in to check on me, and I asked her if she would increase the epidural dosage since I was starting to feel incredible pressure in my bottom when my body was contracting. She and our nurse said that no, they would not, because I needed to use that pressure to guide my pushing when the time was right. Stephanie checked my progress and I was at an 8. She burst my bag of waters with her long crochet hook tool, and within another half hour or so I was completely dilated and ready to push. It was all happening so quickly! I told Stephanie that I was good at this part of labor, everyone grabbed one of my arms or legs, and in six minutes I pushed out our baby boy! Those six minutes felt like hours because by that point the pressure in my nether regions was so intense that I thought I might not be able to do it, but it was such a thrill and so motivating to see everyone reacting to the baby boy coming. I bore down, grunted through the contraction so that I would not tear, and with Stephanie's capable hands and guidance, baby boy was born quickly and safely. Marcos and I were ecstatic that I had checked into the hospital right at 4pm, and by 6:01pm he was born. The timing was absolutely perfect.
When baby boy was born he was entirely mellow. He didn't so much as make a peep for the first day or so of his life. I was concerned when he came out so silently, but he was alert, showed no signs of distress, and when they put him on my chest, he lifted his head to check out the world. Even at birth he was such a strong boy!
Immediately we called our family to share the good news, and Marcos' mother and sister Elizabeth brought Gigi to meet the baby. She wanted to kiss him, and hug him, and give him high five, so gentle interactions have required some training, but we are just pleased that her feelings towards him were - and continue to be - so positive.
After our experience taking Giovanna home after 24 hours and feeling wholly unprepared to be in charge of a newborn, we decided to take it slow this time, and stay at the hospital as long as we needed to. We were there for two days, and enjoyed visits from our family and friends, ordering food off of the very expansive hospital menu, and recuperating in a place where I had ample access to nurses and lactation consultants. Marcos commuted back and forth between home and the hospital to make sure that he was at home for Giovanna's important night time routines, and he came back to stay with me overnight. It was another very positive experience for us at the UNC hospitals and with the UNC midwives.
And now, one month later, things are settling and we are more grateful than ever to have a healthy, sweet boy in our family. Thanks for joining our family, little Orion!