Callen's Birth

Alex and Newborn Callen

It was Election Day, November 6 2012, and I woke up before my husband and toddler to go vote. I got to the polling location around 6:50 am and got in line to cast my ballot for the president. While standing in line, I noticed some contractions with mild cramps low in my belly, but I attributed them to Braxton-Hicks contractions and went about voting. I drove home to make my family breakfast and get my husband to work. I started noticing the contractions coming extremely consistently. I decided to time them, just to see, and they were about 6 minutes apart and about 30-45 seconds long. They were not very strong though, hardly even uncomfortable, so I sent Matt to work and called a friend to come hang out with me in case things changed very quickly and I needed back up with Liam or getting Matt home from work. We decided to go to another friend’s house for a play date. I was worried it would be a false alarm, since they weren't changing much, but my friend said she felt like I was in early labor and would have a baby by the next day. My friend helped drive me home since I was not the best person to drive at the time, and then she left me to rest.

We ate lunch, Liam and I, and I decided to nap while he did. Thankfully he took a nice long nap, and so did I. My mother in law came over to help me with Liam, since she was going to take him while I gave birth, and let me rest even longer. I was awakened a handful of times by contractions, but I quickly went back to sleep. When Matt got home from work, we all went to grab a quick dinner. I was still having contractions every 5 minutes like clockwork, and they were still about 45 seconds long. I called my midwife to let her know it might be the night, and she told me to call back when things picked up. Matt put Liam to bed and I snuggled down on the couch, watching the election results roll in. By 10pm, it was clear Obama won, and I was still not noticing any changes in my contractions. Annoyed but hopeful, I decided to go to bed and rest as long as possible.

While I took a shower before bed, my contractions kicked into high gear. Suddenly each contraction grabbed my attention and made me focus on it until it passed. I practiced some rhythmic breathing and leaned forward, letting the warm water run over my back. I lingered in the shower, and when I came out, I called Matt into the room to let him know things were really getting started. As soon as a contraction hit, I almost instinctually leaned forward and got into a hands and knees position. Matt put some counter pressure on my back and I vocalized loudly. We moved downstairs, talking and resting in between contractions, and getting on hands and knees during contractions. Matt decided to call the midwife. She arrived around midnight and watched me labor through a few contractions. She asked if should could check me, and I was at 3cm. She listened to fetal heart tones, and asked if she could listen through a contraction. As she listened, I focused on the contraction, relaxing and vocalizing. She asked if she could stay and listen through another one, and I could tell something was wrong by her voice. The next contraction started and this time I stayed quiet to listen. Callen's heart rate was dropping significantly during contractions. He went from around 115 bpm to 50bpm. To my mommy ears, it was quite alarming- and I shouted "is that his heartbeat?!" 

The midwife said yes, and asked her assistant to get oxygen from the car. She placed a mask on me and I started to cry, knowing this was not a good sign. She told me I needed to take deep breaths for my baby, and began discussing what would happen next. They would call an ambulance to take me to the hospital, and when I got there they would rupture my membranes and place an internal fetal monitor on my baby. Then, depending on what happened, I might need to be put under general anesthesia for an emergency c-section. I was trying very hard not to panic, and I was so thankful this midwife was going with me- she actually worked part time at the hospital as a CNM! 

I rode in the ambulance with oxygen on, and on my hands and knees, as that was the position that seemed to be best for Callen's heart rate. When we got to the hospital at 1am, there was a flurry of activity and they ruptured my membranes. Light meconium was present, but nothing too alarming. The OB came and watched a few contractions on the fetal heart rate monitor. Whatever position Callen was in, he must have moved, because his decelerations were considerably less severe. His heart rate dropped from the 110's to the 100's or 90's during contractions, so he was no longer in distress and was tolerating labor quite well! The OB said I could continue to labor and he would come back to check on us.

I was trying to labor naturally, but with a fetal monitor, blood pressure cuff, IV, and blood oxygen sensor on my finger I was completely tied down and confined to my back in the bed. Being unable to move into different positions was extremely frustrating. I felt boxed in and the contractions felt so much more intense in this position! I asked for an epidural, and the nurse said I would need to be checked before I could get one. I was at around 7 cm, so they sent anesthesia to me at 2am. The anesthesiologist was really nice, and said his wife had an attempted home birth and hospital transfer too, and he knew my midwives! He placed my epidural, but my contractions felt like they were on top of each other. He asked if it was working, and I said I could still feel the contractions but it felt like it took the edge off somewhat. He left, and almost immediately the intensity was back- and I could feel everything. 

I had immense pressure in my hips and pubic bone and felt the need to bear down. I got into a sitting position in the bed. My midwives encouraged me to hold my legs back while I pushed to simulate a squat. I did, but was having trouble doing so, so my husband and my midwife helped hold back my legs on each side. As he was crowning, I almost kicked my midwife in the face because the "ring of fire" was upon me, and the pain was unexpected. I hadn't felt that during my first labor. My midwife encouraged me, as she could tell I was afraid of the pain, and she told me to push into the pain. I did, and his head was born. One more push and his body came out too. Callen was born at 2:38am, 8 lbs 6 oz, 20.5 inches long and came out crying lustily. This time, I knew I wanted uninterrupted skin to skin, and he was placed, wet and perfect, on my chest. He stayed there for the first hour, and they didn't move him to weigh or measure him until the first hour was over. He eagerly latched on during that time, and then slept on my chest for a while. He was not taken to the nursery and stayed by my side for the entire hospital stay. I was so thankful that he was born healthy despite the scare we had at home.