Here's Ollie's birth. Kind of. Through bullet points.
*This time around I was terrified to go into labor. Terrified. It was all I could think about. My stomach literally churned for a month straight. And no matter what I did, I couldn't get myself out of my head. It wasn't pretty. And the reason I was so sick about it was because I KNEW it was going to hurt, I KNEW there was no getting away from it, I KNEW I wasn't going to get an epidural, and I KNEW I was probably going to yell profanities because WHAT ELSE AM I GOING TO DO??? (note - I only swore once, but it was one word over and over and over again. And I didn't yell it. It was more like a growl.)
*I'm not going to go into all of my reasons for not getting an epidural because everyone has different feelings on the subject and I feel like it's a pretty personal decision. But my big reason that I kept reminding myself through all of my fear is that there are no complications due to natural childbirth. I know a lot of people who have had issues due to the epidural, and I think because of that, I'm a little more scared of the epidural than I am of the pain that comes with natural childbirth. But let me tell you, through the entire labor in the back of my mind I was thinking, "Epidural, epidural, epidural, epidural....." But I'm really grateful I was able to go without it again.
*My labor with Quinn was a full 24 hours. With Max it was 5 hours. I was expecting this one to be quick. I was HOPING this one would be quick. Nope. 13 hours. 13 exhausting hours from 10PM to 11AM. For once I would just like to go into labor during the day. Not start it at night and then labor through the entire night. That was one of the hardest things - I was so so tired. As was Zachary. I think he took AT LEAST 10 naps throughout the labor. And here's where I was the hero - I didn't even mind. In fact, I think it made me feel better to be able to watch him sleep. At one point I just decided I wasn't going to wake him up and let him sleep as long as he could. He slept for an hour. Aren't I such a nice wife?
*One of the things that was freaking me out going into it was knowing what kinds of sounds I was going to make. Because it's inevitable - at some point I'm going to be a little more animal and a little less human. With Quinn I made these horrendous moaning sounds that got louder and louder through the whole labor. With Max I straight-up screamed while pushing. With Oliver I kept pretty quiet till about the last hour and a half. Then all hell broke loose. My midwife had told me that I was to the point where I could have my water broken and then have a baby in my arms in 20 minutes. So I waited until I KNEW I was ready to be done and then went ahead and let her break my water. And then waited. And waited. And waited. NO BABY. So after about an hour I went to a whole different place. I was ANGRY. There's no other way to describe it. And there was nothing anyone could do for me, no position that would help me get through contractions. So when the sounds finally came out of me they weren't scared sounds or painful sounds. They were MAD sounds. Oh, I was so mad. I remember the moment when I decided I wasn't going to try to hold it in anymore. I took a long deep breath in that filled my entire body all the way down to my toes, and then let I it out with the deepest, meanest, angriest roar I could find.
*At that moment I was worried that I had lost control of myself and my labor, but Zach said he saw it as the complete opposite. He said that that roar was the moment when he knew I wasn't messing around anymore. I was owning this labor. I was in control. He said it was one of his favorite moments of the whole labor. Well, that one, and the time a few minutes later when I had a mint in my mouth, I was on my hands and knees, he was rubbing my back, and I got worried that with all this yelling I was going to inhale the mint and choke. So between yells I took the mint out of my mouth and looked around for a trash can. Then, my exact thought was, "Why am I trying to find a trash can???? Why am I trying to be polite?!?! I'm in LABOR!!! And I'm MAD!!!" And I threw the mint as hard as I could across the room and let out another rebel yell. I don't know how Zach didn't lose it at that point. I've never had any desire to film any of my labors, but I would love to have that moment on video. Classic. About an hour after Ollie was born Zach whispered in my ear, "Check it out. They've cleaned this entire room to where you can hardly tell a baby was just born in here. Except that mint is still on the floor!" We laughed and laughed.
*Through the entire labor my contractions never got closer than three minutes. A lot of the time they were as far as 10 minutes apart. It was nice to have such long breaks, but it was also exhausting. It felt like so much waiting. And when you're tired, hungry, and waiting to be twisted from the inside out, the waiting isn't exactly welcomed. There was a span in the middle of the labor that I was able to enjoy the time between contractions. I let Zach sleep and I wrote in my journal for a while. That must have been at about 7 am. I had been awake for 24 hours. I would write for a few minutes, try to keep writing as long into each contraction as I could, and then finally have to put the pen down, rest my head on the bed and breathe through the contraction until it passed. It was interesting to feel so quiet and alone and almost peaceful at that time.
Us enjoying popsicles after a few hours of laboring. Zach: Exhausted. Katie: Exhausted, but faking it a little better than Zach.
*I don't remember a whole lot about pushing this time around. It's all jumbled and mixed up in my memory. What I do remember, and I remember this with all three boys, is that there's a moment while pushing where I feel myself almost leave my body. The pain stops, everything goes a little cloudy and dizzy, and it seems like even though I know my eyes are closed, I can still see what's going on, but from a different angle. I know that sounds weird. I described it to my mom and she said, "I wonder if you died just a little bit." And I admit, that kind of freaked me out. I don't see myself as the kind of person to have an "out of body" experience. But I was reading C. Jane's birth story the other day and she described almost the same thing and talked about feeling like you have to die a little in order to bring new life into the world. I thought that was interesting. So maybe I did die just a little bit.
*I told Zach that the bravest moment through my entire labor was right at the very end, right before Ollie was born. I was pushing and I could feel his head literally right there. He was crowning and on his way out. I knew one more push and he would be here, and that was the moment that my midwife told me to stop pushing and wait for the next contraction. She told me that if I could wait and not push then I wouldn't tear. I tore with both Quinn and Max and knew that it would be a miracle to not tear. So I stopped pushing. And it took everything in my body and soul to keep myself from pushing that baby out. And remember how the contractions stayed fairly far apart?? Yeah. That was intense. No lie, this song was playing through my head the whole time. I'd heard of the ring of fire before, but hadn't felt it with Quinn or Max. Trust me, now I was feeling it. For a good three minutes. And it burns, burns, burns...
*BUT, I didn't tear. Oh my gosh, I didn't tear!!! If it was socially acceptable I would shout it from the rooftops (although, I suppose publishing it on the internet is pretty close to doing just that....). I'm sorry, it's just that I didn't realize how amazing it was until it happened (or rather, didn't happen) to me. The recovery afterwards is amazing! You can walk!! You can sit!! You can sneeze!! You can laugh!! You can pee!!! And it doesn't hurt!!! I didn't realize how much I should be hating the girls who didn't tear until I became one. Wow. Seriously. It's amazing. I felt almost totally normal within hours of him being born.
*Once he was finally born and my midwife put him on my chest all I could do was rub him all over his sweet little body, almost making sure he was real, and say, "I'm done!!! I'm done, I'm done, I'm done!! It's over! I can't believe it's over!! I did it!! Zach, it's over!! I'm so glad it's over!!" I felt selfish saying it then, and I feel selfish typing it now. For crying outloud, our baby was here now! But still, for the first minute or two, all I could do was cry and say was how happy I was that it was finally over. Then came the overwhelming joy of our sweet baby finally being here. And then he peed all over us.
Props to Zach for pulling out the camera within minutes of Ollie being born. This is the first "brand new baby" picture I've ever had. Thank you, Zachary.
*The major benefit of my labor lasting so long: My first meal after labor ended was lunch, NOT breakfast. I was so happy about that. I mean, I love bacon and eggs and all that. That's just not what I want to eat after giving birth. So this time I ordered a huge salad. That sounds lame, but dangit, that was the best salad I've ever had. Zach ordered a cheeseburger and it was good for my soul to watch him eat it and enjoy it so much. I think any woman who's had a baby will tell you that the two best things after having a baby are the first shower you take after, and the first meal. I start looking forward to those two things before I even go into labor.
*Once everything calmed down I started noticing that Zach wasn't feeling well at all. I mean, I knew he was tired, but this was out of the ordinary (which says a lot for a guy who can literally fall asleep anywhere, anytime). We got to our room and he pulled out the bed that they have there for the husbands, and crashed. He slept almost the entire time we were in the hospital. I thought it was funny that I was the one who had just had a baby, but he was clearly not doing well. He started fevering almost immeadiately. His throat was killing him. It was awful. And a little hilarious. I didn't mind him resting and I felt bad that he was so sick. But every time a nurse would come in and see him sleeping and me sitting up in bed with the baby they would sarcastically say, "Aw, did he have a rough night?? Was labor hard for him???" At one point they asked me what my pain level was and if I needed any ibuprofen and I said, "I'm fine, but could I get some for my husband?" They were nice enough to bring him some. And my midwife checked him over and said that there was a lot of strep going around, so she prescribed him some antibiotics. Poor guy.
Papa and Ollie napping in the hospital
Now Oliver has been here for 2 months. He is just the sweetest baby ever. I don't know if it's just the confidence that comes with having a third baby, or if he really is that good of a baby. He naps great, sleeps great at night, nursing has been a breeze compared to the other two boys, and he's always happy when he's awake. It's been so fun having him around. I laugh at myself because whenever I carry him I like to hold him out in front of me, you know, like you carry a kid that's got something gross all over them. But I do it because he's so cute and I just want to look at him. He's finally started smiling. I have to be careful not to talk to him too much in the middle of the night after nursing him because then he'll start grinning and I won't want to put him back to bed. It's a pleasant problem.
Sweet baby Oliver napping on Mama's lapThe boys are COO COO for him. I wake up each day with the goal of protecting Oliver from his brothers well meaning smothering of kisses and cuddles. We have lots of practice sessions of "How to be gentle". But I'm glad they love him. And I'm sure he's going to grow up knowing that his brothers adore him. That's a good thing.
Meeting the brothers
Team Cowan is so happy and lucky to have its newest member.