When it came to labor I was excited — not scared or nervous, which is what I imagined I’d feel. I had visualized a very romantic labor. Blue and I wanted to have a natural home birth, and when we moved back to Pagosa we specifically searched for a home that we could envision having a home birth in and raising our son in. We found a beautiful place only a few weeks before Wyatt came into the world.
We chose a midwife that would help guide Wyatt into the world as soon as we came back to Pagosa: Carole Nighswander She delivered my best friend, Ursala’s two children (Wyatt’s Cousins) and when we met her we felt that we had met the perfect match! Carole came by for a home visit to see our place and we talked about the labor; what to expect and what we needed to prepare for. As we sipped tea and she talked about the labor I had a calm ease that washed over me as I was completely relaxed and soothed by her voice and words. Of course I had a visualization of how I aesthetically wanted the birthing process to be set up, and it was very romantic. It included a decorated birthing tub with a white canopy over the tub, candles, essential oils, and new records I’d listen to while bringing Wyatt into the world.
Blue and I spent the next few weeks preparing our house with food, home birth essentials and setting up the birthing tub. I gathered fabrics together to decorate the horse trough and ordered the LP records that I wanted to hear during labor. Morning Records: Harvest Moon by Neil Young, Morning Phase by Beck. Night Records: Creep On Creepin’ On by Timber Timbre, Woman by Rhye.
Wyatt was due Feb 4th, and on Saturday January 24th, a week and half before the due date, we decided to get last minute items and set up for our birthing area just to make sure we were ready (a little birth dress-rehearsal). We must have had a sense about setting everything up because that same night January 24th at 10:10pm my water broke!!! I was so sad that I was still missing fabric to make the canopy and that the records hadn’t arrived, but all else was good to go. I was confused if my water actually broke since I had never experienced it… but after a quick call to Carole it was confirmed that, yes, my water broke and the labor journey had begun! She had told me to try and rest as much as I could because my contractions would start soon and I would not be able to rest once they started. I was so excited that it was difficult relaxing. I put on Wyatts Blessing Beads (each bead was strung on a necklace by beautiful loved ones, each giving him an individual blessing with each bead). I tried to fall asleep watching the Twilight Zone and Blue was so excited that he wanted to stay up and continue to prepare while journaling to Wyatt.
11:39 My first contractions started and from the beginning they were harsh and all over the place so it was difficult to track my progress…
By 4:30 my contractions were pretty heavy and Carole was on her way! Even though Carole had arrived I was still not ready for any progression. I had only dilated 2cm. I was so eager to get Wyatt out into the world and kept asking when we could start to fill up the tub and get in the water! Carol put an IV in me at 8:15 to give me some fluids since I kept vomiting. Something I did not know about labor was that you throw up. Not everyone throws up but, man. I sure did. I vomited several times through the whole labor. Carole also told me to eat mild things but I didn’t want to eat anything because I knew I would just throw it right back up.
At 11:50am I was finally able to get in the water! I was so excited to finally make that transition! The water was so soothing and helped me through each contraction; to just sway, floating in the warm water. The problem with this is being too relaxed and not progressing. Carole was wanting me out of the water, constantly walking or stretching and not getting to comfortable. I was still eager to progress and get Wyatt out into the world asking, “When can I start pushing?!” Carole responded that your body will just automatically start to push, you wont even have to ask, you will just have an urgency to push. I kept having her check my dilation and was ready to get the show on the road. Ursala came by twice during my labor and took these great photos, the first time around 1:00pm. by 2:30 I was able to finally push!
I then pushed for 2 1/2 hours and Carole recommended we go to the hospital because Wyatt was turned posterior and was not turning (meaning his spine was facing my spine and not towards my belly, which is ultimate birthing position). This occurs in 15-30% of labors. When the baby is in a posterior position, the bony part of the head is pressed against the bony part of the pelvis. The pressure of the contractions pushes the head into the pelvis and can cause tremendous back pain. Some women feel the pressure even between contractions. When the baby remains in a posterior position (5.5% of labors), the mother is more likely to experience a longer then average labor (both first and second stages) Because the posterior position puts bone near bone, it is more difficult for the baby to fit into the pelvis. Posterior babies generally require longer labors, and if the baby persists in a posterior position, second stage may be longer than average as well. This can be fatiguing for a woman.
He was not coming out no matter how hard I kept pushing. I was stubborn (typical me) and really wanted to have him born now and here at home, naturally. Plus, the long 1-hour drive to Durango hospital did not sound fun. The other midwife that came to help Carole had agreed that we should stay a little longer and try to have baby Wyatt here at home.
So I pushed and pushed and we tried to turn him several times in between pushing. I completely trusted Carole, asking her constantly for her opinion and advise. “Ok. What should we do next?” She would tell me something crazy and absolutely painful to do and I was like, “Ok lets do it!” I was ready to try what we could to get this boy turned and out into the world! I was in a back bend over pillows and Blue had one of my scarves under my lower back shaking me vigorously as I contracted in a backbend, trying to turn Wyatt over. Carole just got right up there and physically tried turning him. And then another shaken backbend. We were convinced that he turned twice through all of this but then turned back again. The whole time I was pushing I thought to myself the one bit of advise Ursala told me: think of opening while pushing. There are many ways to push and if you have never had a baby its hard to know if your doing it right. Think release and open rather than clench. I was thinking open and would even say it out loud to remind myself, “open”, “free”, “we are ready to meet you Wyatt Grey”! It was hard to understand how to push. Carole would tell me, “Now push here” with her fingers pushing down on a certain part of my birth cannel, to feel where I should be pushing from. She finally had me feel for myself and it wasn’t till then I realized when I placed my own fingers in there and pushed I could feel his little hairy head trying to come trough my pelvis thats when I realized how to push and make it happen.
I tried birthing all over our house except, in my studio and the kitchen, and we tried every crazy position possible. I was relentless, but after 5 1/2 hours of pushing, I understood that we needed to go to the hospital. I hadn’t packed for the hospital as I wasn’t and didn’t want to be prepared to go. Blue quickly got my things and the car ready to leave at 8:00pm while Ursala comforted me as I screamed through my contractions and dressed myself for our journey there. The Midwives got all of their things together and said they would be caravanning behind us to the hospital. Ursala needed to get back home to her children and couldn’t make the drive. I hated the idea of being alone in the back of the car while Blue drove, because I was told not to push through the contractions! Oh my goodness I have never felt a worse pain than holding your body against something it is suppose to do naturally. I was fully giving birth; fully dilated and having constant contractions every 3 or 4 minutes for 1 minute strong all the way to the hospital! I could no longer breathe through these contractions! I had to push, my body wanted me to push! It felt good to push! Wyatt wanted me to push! But I had to hold him in the whole 35 minute drive as we rushed to Durango hospital at top speed with hazard’s flashing. Oh how I screamed in the back seat, gripping anything and everything. I held in the pushing and I held in Wyatt, trying to breath through each contraction. It was awful. The worst car ride of my life.
We made it to the hospital and even though I am so natural and wanted the natural home birth I could not help but think, “Ohhh my goodness, I can not wait for the drugs to take away the harsh contractions I cant push through!” Carole asked if i wanted a wheel chair when we arrived and I stubbornly was like, “No.” As we walked into the hospital I saw the longest hall of my life stretch before me, and suddenly there was a sharp knife-stabbing contraction and that I couldn’t walk through, and it was understood that I needed a wheel chair. Everyone at the hospital was ready and prepared for us since Carole had called ahead and set up the transfer. I wheeled in. It was a quiet slow night and they were all ready. The staff was upset with Carole for waiting so long to bring me in but I wanted to make sure they knew it was me I was the stubborn one that wanted to push for two more hours at home. However, I was screaming in pain and thinking, “When are we gonna get this show on the road get drugs and get my little boy out?!” Blue was great though and made sure they knew this was not our Midwives’ fault but that I was the stubborn one. It was crazy to see the two sides: being with our amazing midwife trying to do a natural home birth, and then transferring to the hospital where they took over. Carole gave them all the info they needed. She said we got a great surgeon that night and that we were lucky! Dr. Pallister was great and she told me, as I screamed, that I would have to have a C-Section. The baby was not only flipped, but his head was tilted and we couldn’t clamp it out with a natural birth, and I was ok with it, I just wanted the pain away and I wanted my precious boy out into the world. I was also told that I had a high fever and baby Wyatt was under stress. I was given fluids. They all talked fast. I signed some papers all while I was in miserable pain, screaming, and not even looking at what I was signing. They asked me to take off my necklace before the operation and I said, “No way!’ Blue explained that they are Wyatt’s blessing beads and needed them with me til we finish this journey together.
>That< fast I was in the operating room getting anesthesia with Wyatt’s blessing beads still on. I had one more contraction and held it in, while the needle was going in. That was the last contraction I felt. My whole body below my shoulders quickly melted and there was no pain. I was laid down, fully coherent, but without feeling a thing. Blue then came in dressed in his blue scrubs and he sat by my head. I started to feel my body be pushed and pulled a little but no pain. I asked, “Ohhh, I feel you moving my body. When are you making the incision?” They responded that it had already been done and within just moments it seemed we heard the most miraculas scream and crying ever! I looked at Blue and tears welled up in my eyes — I started to let it go! Crying, I said to him, “That’s our boy! Thats our baby!” I felt love, joy, and relief all at once. He was here, safe and sound and crying! Oh how the love and joy flowed in me!
They called Blue as soon as he was out and he saw them clean Wyatt up and the nurse carried in the precious soul with Blue for me to see. He looked so small and innocently fresh. I was In Love! Blue left, carrying him to the nursery where they did their quick tests and handed him right back. As he held little Wyatt they asked if he had any family here and he said, “Carole!” Looking at his phone he realized Carole had texted, saying she was waiting out in her car. He texted her to come in and she held baby Wyatt for a few minutes. They stared at him talking and embracing his presence until I was ready to see him, two and a half hours after my surgery. I was left alone on my back waiting for feeling to come back to my body, having an urgency to turn to my side. I was helplessly unable to feel anything except for the extreme pain in my shoulders that was from a uterus infection. They told Blue and Carole that there was a very anxious mother waiting to see her son and we all meet in my room.
I was strong about wanting to breastfeed as soon as I was done with the surgery and the doctor had told Blue I would be too tired to do so. He replied saying, “You don’t know Drie. She will want to do so no matter how tired she is.” I knew before labor that I wanted a natural home birth, but if I couldn’t, I wasn’t gonna be upset because a happy and healthy baby is most important. I also wanted to breastfeed but I might not be able to because there might be problems. Well, now in the hospital, not having a natural home birth, all I could think about was holding little Wyatt and feeding him! I met Blue, Carole and Wyatt in our room and she quickly helped and showed me how to nurse. Even though I felt a little out of it at that point, like it was a dream, he latched on quickly and I felt that I had succeeded and it felt so good to get one out of the two things that I had in my birth plan! He was good at nursing. After he finished nursing I was out of it on painkillers, which I have never really experienced in my life. This weak dream like state. Carole gave Wyatt to Blue and he slept skin to skin on his chest the whole night.
The next morning Blue told me all the crazy problems I had been through in my labor. I was shocked, having no Idea what my body had endured. Wyatt had apparently pooped his first stool, the meconium, in my womb. When they cut me open they the meconium was released into my whole body and I had a huge fever from the infection. So, they re-opend me and cleaned all my organs to make sure everything was clean and good. My bladder, which is usually paper-thin, was 3/4″ from the pressure that the baby was putting on it it during labor. I was also extremely swollen from pushing for 5 hours and weak from not eating for 34 hours and throwing up six times. When the nurse first came in and told me that I was gonna get out of bed and walk to the bathroom a couple of steps away I was like, “Uh, yeah, no problem.” I tried to move and realized how incredibly hard that was to do! I never felt so weak.
No matter how hard my crazy labor was I was able to recover fast. I realized that my pregnancy was so easy so that I had to have a rough labor — it was my right of passage! I also realized that no matter how much I romanticized the labor with candles, records, and birth tub canopies, the real romance was hearing Wyatt’s little cries and screams for the first time; knowing he was here in the world safe and sound, and the love Blue and I shared while we looked into each others’ tear-filled eyes with the same love, joy, and relief!