We are please to announce Joseph Anthony Lauer!
Born at 37 weeks 2 days--early like his siblings!
6 pounds, 5 ounces (my tiniest peanut yet!)
20 inches long
My dear, birthy girlfriends are already asking me to hear my labor story. I will post a short and public version here.
My fear with this labor was that I'd have another persistent posterior baby like Margaret, who had been anterior for weeks and turned posterior during labor. There is a reason that the excellent website Spinning Babies has an entire, lengthy, and technical page on What To Do in a Posterior Labor. I'd be interested to see statistics, but I'll say that a lot of posterior babies end up delivered by Cesarean section and labeled cephalopelvic disproportion or failure to progress or fetal distress (because the doctors tried to encourage a malpositioned baby into active labor with a Pitocin-and-epidural combination).
This baby was anterior in all his previous checks as well. I knew on Sunday while we enjoyed a wonderful and rare family visit with Chris' aunt who is a nun that my body was kicking into gear, but I kept that information quiet. At bedtime, I let Chris know that I was trying to ignore all the contractions and other visible clues, but thought this was going to be it.
I woke up and was sure today was the day. I contacted my midwife and doula to give them an early heads-up that they'd be coming over later in the day. My body was gearing up in a way that for me had previously meant I'd have a baby within hours.
And then things stalled out.
My midwife wanted to test whether I had any emotional reasons not to go into labor, so she gave me homework to (1) have fun and distract myself outside of the house, children forbidden to go with me, (2) go for a walk, (3) take a lovely shower, and (4) sleep. Let me note that I highly recommend a weekday matinee by oneself to see Les Miserables: when one has sung that particular musical score approximately 17,000 times in one's lifetime and then gets to sit in a theatre with only three other people sitting far, far away, one can hum and sing to one's heart's content! This is good because it turns out certain people (moi) would not have been able to resist the impulse to sing, an ordinarily rude and irritating behavior in a public theatre!
I got a few winks of sleep, then spent much of the night awake, my body quietly laboring. I wasn't in active labor, but showing various signs and contracting every five minutes, which tires a girl out after, you know, days.
Labor would kick on, labor would kick off. On, off, on, off. My husband was extremely helpful during these days, doing almost all the domestic care of the house and being super relaxed and encouraging about, "this is just how this baby is going to be born, it's okay, be glad you're at home and can do it this way." My friends E--- and R--- were my birthy girlfriend team, encouraging, advising, and accepting my rollercoaster of emotions for days.
At bedtime, I felt very angry and I decided I simply wouldn't have a baby. Besides, it was likely a cruel hoax that there even was a baby inside there all these months. I was done with this whole thing.
And then an unmistakable sign that I'd be having a baby that night! I called my midwife and doula again and said they'd be coming over very soon. Rejoicing!
Chris and I settled down to watch a TV show in hopes of distracting me to rest while I still could. But immediately my body moved into gear, I couldn't concentrate on the show, and I needed my team there, so we called them back only about a half hour later.
The cavalry arrived, all equipment was set up, it was a scene of great excitement. I labored. The midwife, her assistant, and Chris got needed rest to be big helpers when they would be required. The doula stayed awake with me throughout. (Ladies: hire a doula, they are not the same as our beloved midwives. I can't say enough to hire a doula!)
And then at 1:30 a.m., labor halted. Frankly, I had expected, based on earlier labor, that the baby would have arrived by midnight: why was I still laboring? Why stalling again?
All suspicions for days had been that this stop-start labor was caused by a positional issue.
By morning after my second night of basically no sleep, the midwife examined me and had to deliver crushing news: the baby had flipped posterior, he hadn't been engaging this entire time, making the contractions ineffectual, and I wasn't dilated. NOT DILATED AFTER TWO-AND-A-HALF DAYS.
We performed various medical tests as would have been done in a hospital setting to confirm that Baby and I were both totally physically healthy. Laboring for a couple of days doesn't mean necessarily that either party is in trouble--just exhausted! So my midwife and the team packed up and went home, telling me to rest, that nobody stayed pregnant forever. The speech was really much more compassionate and encouraging than that, but I didn't feel encouraged.
My midwife had instructed Chris to get the children out of the house so I could truly rest, so another friend of mine K---- generously opened her home to them, where they camped for the morning. I rested and might have slept for an hour, but I also cooked breakfast, cleaned dishes, and washed two loads of laundry. As soon as the midwife had left, my contractions had resumed every five minutes, but I was angrily ignoring them, considering them ineffectual anyway.
My birthy girlfriends and the Atlanta chapter of International Cesarean Awareness Network came to my aid at this point. They reminded me not just to rest, but to flip that baby!!!
Chris came home at 11:30 a.m., and got the children settled with lunch and naps. Then we set to work! The first task we did to flip the baby was the Rebozo technique around 12:30, as seen in this totally sanitary, fully clothed, hospital-setting video. Then I spent some time in some other positions I'd been doing for days but clearly hadn't flipped the baby earlier--so we think the Rebozo was the trick. I had intended Chris to run an errand for me right after doing the Rebozo, but within minutes, my labor anxiety kicked in (a Bradley emotional sign post) and I told him, "No, stay home."
Margaret woke from her nap, so Chris was busy keeping her out of my hair. I told him I was going to try to watch some TV for distraction (while these every-five-minutes contractions continued as they had been for the last five hours). I lasted just a few minutes when the funny and enjoyable show became disdainful and bothersome to me (emotional signpost!). The contractions were becoming very difficult. I couldn't time them anymore, so I called Chris via cell phone downstairs and asked him to come up and time contractions for me. He brought up Margaret and set her up in the corner watching Winnie the Pooh.
It was now about 1:30. In the time it took Chris to walk up the stairs, I told him that I needed my doula back, so call her now. He was simultaneously trying to download an iPhone app to time contractions while calling the doula and monitoring the toddler. By the time he got back from that call, I was starting to panic (emotional signpost!). I asked him to call the midwife and tell her to come.
I was fully in transition because sweet baby boy had finally flipped anterior, he could make those contractions effective, and my body was ready. The midwife had said it frequently happens that way when the baby finally flips, and I'd heard various anecdotal stories from friends confirming the same.
Around 1:45, I believe, was when, in between contractions, I was giving him reminders about what he needed to do in case of an unintended unassisted home birth (i.e., when Daddy delivers the baby!). He was trying to reach our dear friend to come get Margaret for us, but couldn't, so Chris woke up John (6 years old) and told him that we needed him to be a super hero and to babysit Margaret really, really well in the other room: keep her happy, keep her busy. And he did! He was such a big boy!
The midwife arrived at 2:15, by which time I'd been purposefully delaying birthing this baby. The doula's grown daughter arrived to babysit soon thereafter, so she took on all three now-awake children. (I love that my children like other adults so much, so even though a total stranger just walked into our house, they delightedly introduced themselves and I could hear them giggling madly at their games with her in the background of my hearing.) The doula did not make it in time, it all went so fast.
And Baby Boy was born at 3:00! He was perfect, he was in the anterior position, ultimately it was the easiest conclusion to labor I'd ever had. (But the prior three days were the emotionally hardest and physically tiring I'd ever had.)
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Okay, so my public birth story wasn't that short. But this is short compared to the private birth story I'll write with all the personal details!
Watching Margaret was so darling: she was utterly animated and immediately launched into chattering about "baby! baby boy! blue blanket! blue hat! baby has ears, baby has nose," etc.
Amazing how personalities shine through so early: Amidst the commotion of introducing the new baby, Mary began singing and performing to the crowd, in hopes of diverting attention to her own sparkly self.
We're all looking at the baby and she's still performing!
John is seriously so much in love with his new baby brother.