Monday, June 27, 2016

Ammon's Birth Story

Michael wore this outfit when he was a baby
Saturday, June 25th I woke up at 5 AM and couldn't get back to sleep. There were questions to be Googled, cereal to be eaten, and of course: I had to pee. I started to head back to bed at about 6:30 AM. Around 7 I was having crampy contractions that seemed pretty far apart. Still couldn't sleep.

Around 10 AM I decided to take a relaxing bath to see if that would help. It felt nice and I had a few contractions in the tub. Michael made me the most amazing pancakes ever and I scarfed down 9 of them.

I decided I needed to call Grandma so she would be ready to come down here to take care of Quin if labor really got started. I didn't want her to start driving yet in case this was false labor. I was expecting to have this baby after his due date and wake up in the middle of the night in active labor like I did with Quin. I really didn't want to be the pregnant lady that cried wolf or seem dramatic about being in "labor" when I wasn't.

Michael, Quin and I were planning to go for a walk together at noon to see if we could move things along and get labor kicked into gear. However, Quin decided to snuggle himself down for a nap in our bed right before we were going to leave. I decided to go for the walk by myself. I told Michael where I was going and brought my phone to time contractions. I walked to the hospital and back (because there are nice bike paths there, also a bathroom) and was surprised to find that my contractions were coming regularly at 10 minutes apart. I would stop and lean against a tree during contractions. I had to breathe through them and when there was no tree close enough I would put my hands on my hips and rock through the contraction. 

When I got home I decided it was time to call the birth center. They told me to call earlier than they would usually recommend because of GBS and this being my second child. The midwife wanted me to wait until contractions were closer together so I decided to take a nap. When I got upstairs I realized the nursing cover I was working on was still not done so instead of taking a nap I worked on that. I kept timing contractions while I was working. They were 4 to 7 minutes apart and I had to really work through them. I would kneel on the edge of the bed and rock, breathing hard and sweating. I called the midwife back and we decided it was time to go. Michael frantically packed a bag for Quin while I gathered the birth center stuff and made last minute arrangements for Quin to stay the night with Ben and Amanda.

Grandma was on her way to pick Quin up but was still half an hour away. I had Michael leave a note on the door and we dropped Quin off at the next door neighbors. I had a contraction in the garage and a contraction in the driveway. Both times I knelt on the concrete and leaned against the folded stroller/front seat of the car as I worked through them. I had one contraction in the car on the way. It was pretty rough. Michael missed the turn for the birth center (easy to do, the sign is behind a bunch of huge trees) but even with the detour it took less than 7 minutes to get there.

When I arrived I was 4 cm and 80% effaced. started off labor at the birth center kneeling against a recliner. I was already feeling a bit tired but still cheerful and skeptical about whether or not I would be having a baby that day. I laid down in between contractions and even got through a couple of them in bed, which was impossible for me to do during Quin's labor. The midwife, Patricia was a gentle, soft woman who looks a lot like my mom. She was very comforting and supportive. I was still worried that this was false labor. I voiced my concern that I didn't think the baby would be born today and she replied that it looked pretty likely that he would be born today. If not today then certainly tomorrow.

She tried to get an IV started in my right arm to manage group B strep. Apparently I have deceptively beautiful veins. They look easy, but are difficult to get to. She tried to put in the IV in betwetween contractions. I remember after one was over saying "okay, you've got about 3 minutes." The IV ended up going in my left hand. It was really uncomfortable. I could hardly tolderate the cold, numb sensation that crept from my hand up to my elbow and then towards my shoulder. She had to turn the drip down really slow. After 30 minutes Patricia was able to disconnect the IV and "lock" it on my hand. It was still very tender and I was timid about putting pressure on my hand or moving it around.

There was a shift change at 6 PM. Patricia left and Anne arrived. I had really hoped that Anne would be my midwife and happy to hear that she would be there during the night. My contractions were still kind of far apart so Michael and I went for a walk around the birth center. At first I slowly plodded along, gripping Michael's shoulders during contractions and "swinging" from him like a monkey. He would lean forward so I could squeeze myself against his back. It felt great and Michael was so happy to be able to help.  Eventually I had the thought "wait a minute, this is labor! I need to work hard if I want to get labor moving along and have this baby." So instead of carefully stepping around I started marching briskly, firmly holding Michael's hand. That sped things up! At one point I took off my shoes and stood on a large stump in bare feet. I tried to imagine the stump's roots deep in the Earth, so strong and grounded. I tried to imagine myself as the stump, being solidly "rooted" in the Earth and connected to my whole body and nature.

Not sure about being photographed during labor
We were outside for a while. When we went back in my labor was kicking into gear. Contractions were irregular in that I would have a long break and then a bunch of intense ones close together. I wanted to get in the birth tub but Anne suggested we wait because the warm water can sometimes slow things down. Laboring against the recliner didn't feel as good so I got through a few more of them holding onto Michael. I started laboring standing up, leaning over and gripping the wooden foot board of the bed. This became my go-to position. I would either do wide, shallow squats or bury my face in a pillow at the edge of the bed and moan.

When I was 6 cm Anne let me try the water. It felt too hot and wasn't as comfortable as being out of the water. The tub felt too narrow and there wasn't enough room for my legs. I got out and kept trying the foot board method. I knew that there was no way to go over, under, or around the pain of contractions; you gotta go through it. So I tried not to run from the pain. I got curious about it and allowed it to fill my pelvis, knowing that it was opening me up and helping my body push the baby out. I tried visualizing my cervix as a flower that was slowly opening and unfirling, but soon the flower looked like it had been crushed and the petals were falling off. Not a good image. Instead I imagined my torso being a wave that was crashing against the foot board, flowing through the contractions. That really helped. It felt powerful to imagine myself as a body of rushing water beating on the hard wood. I felt strong, strong as a wave, strong as the ocean.

The labor quilt was really helpful. I would grip it during contractions and imagine the love of my friends and family flowing into me. During some contractions I would focus on one square and read the message over and over.

I was getting really eager to feel the urge to push. I tried a few little pushes but it definitely wasn't time yet. I said things like "baby I want to push you out" and "baby come out. I want to see you. I want to hold you." Anne suggested breaking my water to get contractions to come closer together, which would get baby out faster. I refused at first. I really didn't want to artificially rupture the membranes because I was trying to avoid interventions. I knew that breaking the water too early in labor can sometimes bring on labor pain sooner and stronger than your body is ready for and can cause moms to seek pain relief. Ammon's heart rate had been jumping all over for most of the labor (which is a good thing I guess?). But it started to get high and stay high. Anne was concerned about the high heart rate and brought up breaking the water again. She finally convinced me when she said "breaking the water is a tool in our belt for a vaginal birth at the birth center. If his heart rate stays high we would need to monitor it more frequently and we can't do that here. We would have to go the the hospital." After the water broke the contractions did get closer together and that felt more intense. I started getting really agitated, saying "I don't want to do this anymore." "I'm done." "It HUUUURTS." I think someone said something along the lines of "you'll get to see/hold your baby soon" and I snapped back "THERE IS NO BABY."

Something clicked and I knew I had to get in the water. Right after I settled in the urge to push kicked in. The most powerful bodily urge I have ever experienced. I was squatting halfway in the tub and Anne told me to either keep my bottom in the water or out of the water. I lowered myself into a deep squat in the water with legs spread wide. Anne was trying to get me to change my position so she could have better access to the baby but I was done listening to anything or anyone except my body. I followed the urge and pushed hard against the sensation of a hard sphere that had suddenly come into my awareness. It burned but I couldn't stop. It was physically impossible to fight the urge to bear down. I screamed louder than I ever had (well, except maybe during Quin's birth) but they weren't screams of fear or desparation like in Quin's delivery. They were wild animal screams. I heard Anne say one more push to get baby out and I waited for the urge to come and pushed the rest of his body out.

The tub where Ammon was born

The birth suite. Notice the stained glass art on the window of a baby coming out of the womb
It was awesome that I didn't need any pushing coaching for this delivery. So unlike Quin's delivery when I had given up and was just listening to what the midwives were directing me to do. It was all me this time!

Immediately Anne put him on my chest. He was so slimy and slippery! There was so much vernix all over him. I was shocked as I held him, feeling completely clueless about how to hold him. It felt like the first time, and many things have with Ammon. Even though I nursed Quin for 18 months I had a really hard time getting it started with Ammon. Anyway, I couldn't look away from the tiny scrunched face. I sang him "I Know That My Savior Loves Me," a song about the love that Jesus has for each child, including you! Michael caught it on video, but I was naked so I'm not going to post it here. Sorry guys. I had wanted to get a video of the delivery and asked Michael to set it up ahead of time, but when the time came I looked at the screen and said "I don't want to see myself."

Michael cut the cord and Anne drained the tub and helped me get into bed. I left a trail of blood and bloody footprints and Anne made Michael sit down because he was really startled by the blood on the floor. I delivered the placenta with some difficulty and lots of coaching from Anne. A piece got a bit stuck at the end and I had to do lots of really hard, strained pushes to get it out completely. They gave me a shot of pitocin in my leg because I had low platelets and they didn't want me to pass out like I did after Quin's birth. I was eager for Michael to get a chance to hold him but they wanted Ammon to stay skin to skin with me as much as possible.

I look just like my mom in a photo of her right after she gave birth to me! (minus the glasses)
Anne stitched up the few internal tears I had gotten from the delivery. She worked Quickly but it felt like it took forever. After being poked with needles from the IV, pitocin, several pokes from the analgesic used before the stitches, and finally the sutures I was fed up. I told Anne I was done being poked with needles and wanted her to stop. 

I had a lot of difficulty breastfeeding Ammon at first and needed a lot of help and coaching from the nurse. I felt like the IV was in the way of me being able to position Ammon and kept asking them to take it out. They finally did and it hurt like crazy. I hate IVs! I asked for a bassinet or cot for Ammon to sleep in and they said they wanted him to sleep in the bed with me. That made it hard for me to sleep because I didn't want to crush my new baby. I had worked so hard to make him and push him out into the world! Also, I couldn't stop looking at him. I had been awake for so many hours! Michael zonked out on the recliner every chance he could once Ammon was born.

I felt woozy the first few times I got out of bed but pretty soon I was feeling much more like myself. I was anxious to get home once 10:30 AM rolled around. They scheduled us to see an on-call pediatrician at 1:30 on Sunday because Ammon's temperature had been running low and he had slow respirations. They suspected it was a side effect of the anti depressant I had taken during pregnancy but were concerned it could be a group b strep issue. They told us we could go home at noon after paperwork was done and postpartum instructions were given.

By the time we packed up and headed out we only had time to drop off the popsicles at home before going over to the pediatrician's office. She said he looked good and she wasn't worried but she still wanted us to follow up with Ammon's doctor the next day. So we went home and got settled in.

Going home outfit

I had a surprising amount of energy. I tried to sleep but was too excited! I tidied up the whole house and finished the half-done nesting project that was all over the counter. I had been trying to scrub out the kitchen cupboards to get the weird smell out of them and had left all of our pots and pans and kitchen gadgets out. Saturday was supposed to be a big nesting work day to get ready for baby but instead I had the baby!

That night when I got ready for bed I found that I was in Alma chapter 17 for my scripture study. It happened to be the story about the book of Mormon hero, Ammon who baby Ammon is named after. This verse really stood out to me: Alma 17:11: "ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls." I thought it was the perfect verse for a new mom. Be patient with all the trials ahead and do your best to teach your children. Raising children is missionary work and as Jeffrey R. Holland said, motherhood is the work of salvation.

Back to the story: I still couldn't sleep at 9 PM. The postpartum cramps were keeping me awake and I kept remembering things that needed to get done. I finally fell asleep around 11 PM.

Ammon hung out on daddy's lap for a while that evening while Michael was on his computer. Eventually he slept in the pack n play by our bed. He only woke up once the first night at 2 AM and nursed for an hour. Then he didn't nurse again until 10:30 AM. 4 hours after that, still no nursing. The on call nurse at the birth center told me to take off his clothes, turn on the a/c, and hold him skin to skin under a blanket. I had been bundling him in blankets and warm jammies and a hat since he had the low temp at first. She told me he was probably sleeping so much because he was warm and cozy and the cold air would wake him up. I sent Quin and Michael to the park so I could be alone with baby. It worked! He started nursing like crazy and made up for lost time (and calories).

Quin was completely unimpressed by Ammon at their first meeting. I tried to be casual and relaxed about it and didn't force him to acknowledge the baby. After Quin and Michael got home from the park and pet store (to look at the fish) he was much more enthusiastic. When he first saw him Ammon was snuggled up next to me. Quin said "night night, baby." Then he wanted to snuggle with both of us, which was a bit nerve wracking for me and dangerous for Ammon.

Quin held Ammon for a minute but by the time I got the camera out he was done. He seems a bit hesitant and nervous around the baby, which is a good thing! He treats him cautiously and respectfully the way he does animals. 
 Quin really seems to like the baby. When Michael took Ammon downstairs for dinner Quin was really upset and called for him to bring the baby back and put him on the bed. He wasn't done admiring his little brother :) Quin kissed Ammon goodnight before going to bed.

We have had visits from Aunt Rachel, Cousin Daniel, Grandpa Brewster, the next door neighbors who brought us some groceries, a friend in the ward who brought us dinner, and Great Grandma and Grandpa Olsen.

I think we are off to a good start. In order to keep that up I should head to bed now.


  1. Love your positive attitude. So happy it went well and Ammon is a beautiful baby.
    We love you!

  2. Wonderful story, Jessica! Your babies are so precious!

  3. Child birth is so amazing and difficult. You seemed to have done everything just right. I loved hearing your insight into the changeing phases.

  4. Child birth is so amazing and difficult. You seemed to have done everything just right. I loved hearing your insight into the changeing phases.