Gunnar David Watts
By child #3 you start to think you know what to expect but our third son Gunnar is definitely his own person! Firstborn Olaf's was a 6 hour labor, second-born Luther's was about 4, and I anticipated similar to Luther's. Boy was I wrong... which shouldn't surprise me because the whole pregnancy was so dissimilar that I thought he was a girl till 20 weeks! Yup, this kid has his own agenda!
The midwife stripped my membranes at my request on Tuesday, and it's supposed to work within 48 hours (if it’s going to). Wednesday night I had an hour of good contractions, so of course I cleaned the house to get ready to leave... and they stopped. They started again Thursday morning but again didn't last more than an hour or two. Thursday night at about 6:30pm they started up pretty good, and it turns out that was when labor began. By 10pm I wasn't positive I was in labor but wanted to put in-laws on alert before they went to bed. They kindly came up because (like my previous labors) I anticipated that once contractions were close together it would happen quickly.
So boys were sleeping, childcare was here… and they slowed down. From 6-8 minutes down to 10-20 minutes apart. WHAT!? Well they were still pretty painful so I used the long downtime to get some rest. I stayed in the bedroom in the dark the whole time just laboring laying down. I tried some techniques I had read about in Bradley and Hypnobirthing books, and while both of these helped, let's face it, it's still labor, and it sucks to go through it! Just being honest - ha!
But I was tired. Tired of the contractions not going anywhere mostly. I threw up supper that night and threw up a popsicle I had that morning... vomiting also being a first for me in labor. By 6:30/7am the whole house was up. (And my three year old was elated to see Grandpa and Grandma at his house the moment he woke up!!) I came out to greet them and apologize for calling them for nothing and they got the boys ready to go to their house so we could continue with whatever the day brought without worrying about having the boys around.
As soon as I got out of bed, contractions picked back up to 6-8 minutes. Right after the kids left, I called the midwife and explained. While on the phone, I started having contractions only 3-4 minutes apart. I told her I knew I better leave soon - third baby and the prospect of heavy southbound traffic made it time to go!!
Now I will confess my whining... I was really praying that God would either A) Give me one of those crazy fast births at home or on the road ASAP or B) for some reason have me go to the hospital for an epidural. In fact if traffic was bad I had it in the back of my mind to jut off to Maple Grove Hospital instead. By this time I was in labor 13 hours (which I know to some of you ladies is nothing) but it was already more than my previous two combined! Plus I just had a feeling she'd tell me I was at a 4-5cm and I did not have the patience/energy/anything for more hours of this. The things that kept me going to the birth center was my husband, Sam (because he was driving!), and the fact that I was cognizant enough to realize one should not make big decisions like that when in an altered state of mind like labor, and the fact that the midwives had invested in me and I didn't want to let them down. (And ironically, when I considered the hospital, I thought one downside would be having to spend two days there because I was excited to come home right after the birth... one of the things that almost scared me from choosing the birth center initially!)
God truly blessed us with no traffic, because that could have been awful. We made it by 8:30, just moments before the midwife. She checked me and I was at a 7. I also started shaking... another new thing to me. I know that happens to many women in transition though so I figured that's what was going on. 7 is great, but I also knew it meant the worst lie ahead. And like I said, by this point I was DONE.
There were two midwives there, Jenessa and Rosa... both great. Sam was so helpful too... I loved when he would press on my hips during a contraction... that really helped. I tried the nitrous oxide... they said it could take the edge off and it worked great in the dentist chair but wow, transition labor is no comparison with a filling! So two contractions of that and I was done. They readied the tub but I just didn't want to get in. I labored lying on the bed the whole time. They kept asking me about the tub as it was originally part of my birth plan, but I wasn't feeling it that day. I felt like a cat... all through labor. I just wanted it dark and quiet and I wanted to lay there and pant. I told the midwife that and she said "cool, you can be a cat." (Later I had a friend share with me that picturing yourself as an animal is common in labor – that was interesting!). I was so quiet Sam only knew I was having a contraction because my breathing changed. (For comparison, I basically screamed through Ole's labor and moaned a lot during Luther's... so I'm starting to feel like I'm getting more of a handle on managing this labor thing!)
I started to feel some sort of urge to push, but I also felt like I had to use the restroom. I told the midwives, and they felt it was a good idea to empty my bladder to help with contractions and before I start pushing. I wanted to use the restroom and get everything "out" then come back and push baby out. That was the plan....
I was in the restroom a few minutes when Jenessa came to check on me. I explained I had an urge to push but contractions had stopped. Well we were kind of talking there and all the sudden I heard a gush. My water broke. It was now 9:58am. Jenessa shouted to the main room that the waters ruptured so the others could hear. Rosa came in too and Sam texted our mothers to let them know this little detail, from the main room. (We are not the couple who has an open-door policy on the bathroom!)
Immediately after the waters broke, I felt something happening. Thankfully Jenessa was there because guess what? A baby flew out! I didn't realize baby was going to come out until he was halfway there and there was no stopping it. It all happened so fast but I remember her telling me to quick get up so she could catch him, which I did as best I could. And yes, she got him, before he fell in the toilet! WILD!
The midwives called "Dad, get in here!!" and Sam quickly came, expecting that since my water broke they were quickly going to move me back to bed and needed his help. In the moments that it took him to come in, I was already holding a baby!
I was shocked and so relieved! And feeling pretty guilty Sam missed the whole delivery - all 5 seconds of it!! We had planned on videotaping it but that didn't happen. Sam did snap a few pics right after... but I wish I had a camera, because the look on HIS face was priceless! He told me later that he heard me scream (didn't realize I did) but that it's the same scream I used during pushing with the other two boys, so he wondered what was up. He did not expect me to have a baby in my arms though! None of us did!
Again, praise the LORD for Jenessa and her midwife's intuition to come check on me and to catch him with no indication he was coming. Wow. And to think if he had fell in and hurt himself or got an infection... but it all turned out great and safe and we all had a pretty good laugh many times about his crazy birth! I have heard of that happening, but I didn't think it would happen to me!! I now lovingly refer to this as "my redneck birth story"!
We moved back to the bed where I delivered the placenta and Sam cut the cord. I did tear, not surprising when a baby shoots out that fast! I had to get 10 stitches... boo... but I got to hold my new son the whole time. Sam was out with his family who had arrived in the waiting room. The midwives and I talked, mostly about our favorite show "Call the Midwife!" I also asked them about their background. Rosa studied in Peru and India and I had learned previous that Jenessa studied with an indigenous midwife in the mountains of Guatemala, and apprenticed under the main midwife in "The Business of Being Born." Makes this midwestern-for-life girl feel a little boring. Jenessa and I also discovered we have a mutual friend, so that was a fun connection! I loved getting to know our caregivers and I really loved the midwives’ gentle and joyful spirit as they cared for us… I could tell they were rejoicing over this new life just as we were. What a wonderful environment to welcome our son into!
Baby was weighed and checked out. He was 7lbs 11oz (my smallest baby!) and 19 inches. Perfect 10 APGAR score. Sam said that's the last perfect score he'll get on a test and I gave him the evil eye!
Soon Sam’s parents were coming in with our sons to introduce them to our new family member, Gunnar. It was such a precious moment and they were instantly fascinated and awed by this new tiny person. We had some lunch while visiting, until it was time for the boys to leave for nap and I had a delightful herbal bath and freshened up in the shower. And then it was time to go home! I couldn’t believe how excited I was to be going home right away… and it was wonderful! I felt great (besides the uterine cramps) and we had the kids stay with Grandpa and Grandma overnight so we had a relaxing 24 hours getting to know our new son!
I feel kind of bad this guy started life on a toilet! But then again, life takes us all to very unexpected places, doesn't it? And I do feel bad Sam missed it, although I think I feel worse about that than he does. But I kind of love our story too because it was a very surprise way to enter the world... very fitting for our "surprise" baby! No matter how he arrived or how long it took, I'm so glad he's here.