Asher Milo Anderson
January 2nd, 2013
8 lb 10 oz
19 & 3/4 inches
14 & 1/2″ head
Obligatory Disclaimer: Yep. Another birth story. More blood. More poop. More vagina’s and stitches. If any of this makes you uncomfortable – feel free to skip this post.
Asher’s birth story really begins nearly a week before he made his sweet presence into our world. Thursday, December 27th, I began having fairly strong and consistent contractions sometime in the evening. This was almost an entire week after I lost my mucus plug (Friday the 22nd). I lost bits and pieces of my plug throughout the week between the Friday and that Thursday and I kept thinking, “alright! Labor is getting close!” remembering that I went into labor the day after losing my plug with Ezekiel. I think I probably texted my midwife (Susie) more times than necessary about my lost plug bits, to the point of her telling me that the mucus plug doesn’t really tell her much and I needn’t text her anymore about it. I felt like a first time mom all over again! So unsure what my body was telling me and false signs of real labor. Especially with this being my second pregnancy, my body was ready to jump back into the labor-groove, far before I was actually really headed into labor.
Friday the 28th (the morning after I had about 4 hours of fairly strong contractions), I had another check up appointment with Susie. I was somewhere between 38-39 weeks along at that point. I told her about the contractions and about how I felt the baby had dropped really low recently. When asked if I wanted to be checked, I told her no, I wasn’t interested in knowing because everyone I knew who got checked always seemed discouraged about only being 1 or 2 centimeters dilated. She asked if she could check me for her own knowledge, since there was such a big gap of time in which I could be due (Dec 31st through Jan 11th). I went ahead and let her and she determined I was 80-90% effaced and 3 cm already. She told me she thought labor would be in the next 2-3 days. Of course, with that bit of info and it being a Friday, I kept my family fairly housebound for the entire weekend. 🙂 (Much to Skyler’s dismay! Sorry honey – skiing just wasn’t looking like a great idea at the time.) We did go out to eat thai food twice that weekend (and I got mine as spicy as I could handle!) as well as took a nice long walk up, all around and down the Mt. Angel Abbey hill. I continued having contractions Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night. Each night I went to bed having steady contractions and I kept thinking I would wake up in real labor; instead it lasted about 4 hours each night and each morning I would wake up with a quiet uterus and bummed out spirits.
Monday and Tuesday there was no action at all. I felt terrible for cooping up my family the whole weekend and having nothing to show for it. Both Skyler and Zeek were feeling antsy to get out. We took Zeek down to the Riverfront Carousel for a ride and to play on the playground. We enjoyed the fresh chilly air as we strolled around the park. As we circled the park, making our way back to the car, we found ourselves stopped at the “Asher Anderson Waterpark
” sign that had originally confirmed our name choice for a future boy. Skyler and I looked at the sign for quite some time, wondering if Asher was tucked safely in my tummy at that very moment, or if it was a baby girl, Ellery. On the way home from the park, we made a quick stop at the grocery store and I went in by myself. Inside, my eyes landed on a box of cookies labeled “Milo”. I smiled, having never seen this brand of cookies before. When I got back out to the car, I told Skyler, “I think we’re having a boy!” and told him about the cookies.
We decided that eve to hang out with Skyler’s family and play our current favorite game (Farkle) to pass time and get out of the house. We ended up staying late and watching a movie, so we put Zeek to bed at their house. At midnight, we packed up to head home (they live only a few minutes away from us) and I had a small urge to just leave Zeek there at his grandparents house, sleeping. Something told me that I should just let him sleep there because tonight JUST MIGHT be the night, and it would sure suck to wake him up so late, only to take him back there in a few hours. Of course, I kept that to myself (since Skyler was mildly irritated with my crying wolf on labor so many times already), and we took him home. Once home, we stayed up a little longer to watch a couple episodes of Boy Meets World together before we finally went to bed about 1 am.
Boom, 4:30 am I suddenly woke up. I was having contractions again but this time they felt much stronger and much more “real” than they had felt any of the nights previously. I laid in bed for another 10 minutes to determine if I should go get my phone and time the contractions or if they were false labor ones again. After several strong contractions in that short amount of time, I knew it was the real thing and I got up to get my phone. I laid back in bed and timed contractions for 30 minutes and tried to rest in between since I’d only had 3.5 hours of sleep at this point. At 5 am, I looked at the contractions recorded and saw that most contractions were consistently 2-2 1/2 minutes apart and about 55 sec. long, except a few of them were only a minute apart. I woke up Skyler and said, “get up! I’m having strong contractions a couple minutes apart. I’m going to go call Susie. You get up and start filling up the tub.” Skyler sleepily rubbed his eyes, murmured something and rolled back over…. “Nope, really, you’ve got to get up. I’m not kidding. I’m in labor.” I got up, went out to the living room and called Susie to let her know what was going on. She told me she would jump in the shower and to time contractions for another 1/2 hour and call her back. I timed until 5:30 and stayed sitting on the couch, laying my head back and trying to relax between contractions. By 5:30, contractions were still consistently 2 minutes apart and 55 seconds long. In this time, Skyler had gotten up (in a half daze), threw on some pajamas, hooked up the hose to the laundry sink and started filling up the 172 gallon birth pool which had already been sitting in the living room for a few days. I told Skyler we should call his mom to come get Zeek but he insisted we let the poor guy just sleep until 7:30 or 8 before we called. I didn’t like that idea because I really didn’t want him around when I was laboring (who can relax with a toddler calling out for mama?!) but I didn’t say anything else about it at that point. I called Susie back and let her know they were still consistent and she said she would be on her way. She lives about 25 minutes away from me and showed up at 6 am.
After Susie arrived, she started setting up all of her medical supplies and rummaged through my birth boxes. The pool was filling slowly and we ran out of hot water so Skyler put a few large canning pots on the stove to boil water in. I labored on my knees, leaning over the couch as well as up against the tub from the outside. We had covered our couch with a picnic tablecloth to protect it from fluids and so I could lay on it after birth. I sat on the couch, laid my head back, closed my eyes and worked on breathing and relaxing through each contraction, praying that the tub would just fill up faster!
At one point, I heard Zeek yelp from his room. I knew he was still sleeping and just hollered out from a dream, but I took that as a sign. “Nope, he’s got to go now,” I thought to myself. I reached over, grabbed my phone and dialed my mother-in-law’s. She answered and sleepily asked, “do I need to come get him?” All I said was “yes, please” and hung up the phone. She arrived a few minutes later (at 6:30) and Skyler got Zeek out of his bed. Ezekiel came over to me as I was sitting on the floor leaning up against the birth pool, and gave me a sweet hug and kiss before he headed out the door with Grandma.
Contractions grew stronger and I moaned with almost each one. Just like Zeek’s birth, I never felt a tightening band across my stomach. My contractions were just intense menstrual-like cramping. I begged someone to please put hot water into the tub so I could get in it. Skyler and Susie’s apprentice Desi began filling the tub with the boiling water. It was a little better than lukewarm, so I hopped in. Skyler and Desi kept working on boiling more water and filling the tub up. The contractions were getting more intense and in my head, I felt a little frustrated with myself that the contractions were so strong from the moment I woke up and didn’t have time to ease into them and relax more. To make myself feel better, I reasoned that if I was going to have to have strong contractions, I might as well wake up with them being intense and just go ahead and get to business and have a baby, rather than dilly dally with mild contractions all day long! 🙂 This mentality seemed to really help me and I was able to focus on my body just doing what it needed to do, however painful it might be, to get my baby born. Susie did a wonderful job of reminding me to take deep breaths through each contraction. Skyler did exactly what I wanted and pulled up a kitchen chair next to the pool so that I could hold his hands and squeeze them with each contraction. I wasn’t as “in my own world” as I was with Zeek’s birth and I kept
thinking that it must mean that I wasn’t as far along in labor stages as
my body felt like it was.
Within 30 minutes of being in the birth pool (around 7:30) and to my great surprise, I started to have my first urge to push. I told Susie that I felt like pushing and she gathered in closer. She kept the handheld doppler up to my belly with each push. I remember thinking how obnoxious that was and it took everything in me to not shove her hand away during each contraction. Skyler kept getting up in between pushes to get more hot water from the stove for the tub. Every time a pushing contraction started up again, I’d holler for him to come back, sit down and let me hold (and squeeze) his hands again. I really didn’t want to tear, so I kept trying to slow down and take my time. I verbalized to the baby after each push – “ok, just go a little slower. Take your time, baby.” I kept hearing my midwife quietly giggle after each time I talked to the baby. It irritated me to no end but I was in no mood to vocalize this. (I later learned that every time I said something, Skyler winked at my midwife as if to say, “oh, my silly wife. Don’t mind her.” This is what was making Susie giggle.)
As with my first birth, I never felt like I needed drugs or couldn’t manage the pain I was in; however, I must’ve made Susie think I was feeling that way with how much I told the baby to slow down, because she asked me twice to reach down and feel and asked me once if I wanted to get a mirror to see. I had no interest in either (and should’ve told her pre-birth), and sternly but politely told her NO and please don’t ask me again…. At least I thought I was being polite. 🙂 It was right around this time that I felt a huge POP with one of my pushes. “Woah, my water just broke!” I told Skyler and Susie. I never knew when my water broke with Ezekiel’s birth, so it was really cool to know for sure that my water broke this time. There was no mistaking it. It was a little painful since it felt like a balloon burst right in my vagina, but that might have been because of the intensity of the push. 🙂
During one point in pushing, I remember hearing a song from my labor music play list and feeling like time paused briefly. It was the only song I remember hearing that whole time I labored, or at least that I paid any attention to. It was “Beautiful Things
” by Gungor – the same song that I played for the pregnancy announcement video
to and has sort of been the “theme song” throughout this pregnancy. Although I know I didn’t outwardly, inwardly I smiled as that song played and I thought of my baby almost being there in my arms.
After about 25 minutes of pushing, I was having a strong contraction, or perhaps a couple on top of each other and gave a few good strong pushes. Immediately after pushing, I felt three really hard kicks inside of me. Whump whump whump! Hard enough to make me go, “oh! Oh! Oh!” with each kick. Susie had the doppler on my stomach at the time and asked me what had just happened. I told her I wasn’t sure exactly but that it felt like the baby was kicking really hard three times. She told me she heard the thumps on the doppler and saw it in my stomach as well. She immediately asked me to sit back in the tub so she could see what was going on. I had been squatting and leaning against the front of the tub while pushing, so I sat back and she quickly told me, “ok Kayla, I’m not sure what’s going on, but let’s get that baby out, ok? Let’s get you out of the tub and onto the couch.”
My birth pool was set up in our living room, maybe 10 steps away from our couch (which was covered in the picnic tablecloth and towels and chucks pads). Desi and Skyler helped me step out of the tall tub and walk over to the couch. Those 10 steps felt like an incredibly far distance to walk with feeling the baby’s head so low. I might as well have been walking with a small cantaloupe between my thighs.
Susie had me get onto the couch and get on all fours. She told me calmly but sternly, “ok Kayla, we need to get your baby out. Push, push push!” I didn’t need to push. I had no contractions, let alone pushing contractions at the moment. But by the seriousness of her tone, I knew she meant business. I knew I NEEDED to get my baby out right then. I let out my “battle cry” and pushed with everything in me. I didn’t feel any pain at that moment even with Susie’s hands partly inside me, working around the baby’s head trying to help work him out. I felt nothing. (Except for the urgency to get my baby out.) I prayed as I “warrior-ed” on and pushed. “God, please protect my baby!”
Suddenly, his whole body was out of me. I felt a huge amount of gushing fluids (and had a quick thought of how thankful I was that my couch was completely covered and protected) as his body came out. Still on my hands and knees, I looked down between my legs. I saw my baby laying there on the couch. I couldn’t see much, except for part of his chest, his head and his little hands which were stretched above his head. He looked purple. Really purple. He wasn’t moving. His eyes were closed. He wasn’t crying. He looked completely lifeless.
I raised my head back up to close my eyes and catch my breath. “Oh my God. It happened. My baby is dead,” I thought. I wasn’t in a panic. I was somehow prepared for this. In the couple of weeks before his birth, I stumbled upon and read a couple of birth stories where the babies passed away either in birth or shortly after. I had mentally prepared then for the possibility of a child of mine not making it through birth. Eyes still closed, I prayed, “God, get us through this.”
I felt Skyler put his hand on the small of my back, lean in and whisper, “honey, the baby opened it’s eyes.” I opened mine and looked back through my legs at my baby and right as I did, I saw him open his mouth and let out a good and healthy cry. Our baby was alive!! In the time that my eyes had been closed, I missed seeing my midwife give my baby a couple of puffs of oxygen.
I smiled wide and asked Skyler, “is it a boy or girl!?”
“It’s Asher,” Skyler told me. Asher Milo. Our little warrior.
We rejoiced over our second son. Over the LIFE that had joined us in the room just moments before. They helped me to sit back and lay down on the couch and Asher was placed on my chest. I held him and marveled over him while Susie checked me out, I birthed the placenta, Susie gave me some numbing shots and some stitches and cleaned me up.
Asher was 8 lb 10 oz and 19 and 3/4 inches long. From the time I woke up with contractions, to the time he was born, only 3 and 1/2 hours had passed. I imagined his birth would be much shorter than his big brother’s but I was still surprised with exactly how quickly it went by. It hardly felt like I “got into” laboring and then it was over before I knew it.
Later I found out that what had happened was that Asher’s cord was prolapsed, which is why he was struggling inside of me as he was being pushed out. The cord wasn’t coming out of me, but it was wrapped up around and in a mass surrounding his right arm and as I pushed, the cord got pinched. His heart rate had dropped to 41 when he showed signs of struggling inside me. Between the time that he struggled while I was still in the tub and the time that he was birthed, only 4-5 minutes had passed (though it felt like an eternity). He was only laying lifeless on the couch for maybe 20 seconds before he got oxygen and was breathing and crying, but time had stopped in my life at that moment. 20 seconds had never felt so long. But he was breathing. He was alive. And well.
We were so thankful for our wonderful midwife and her knowledge and expertise. I missed seeing how Susie revived my son with the oxygen but I know she used her quick thinking and wisdom in the situation from the very moment he shows signs of struggling inside. She knew something wasn’t quite right when she saw the kicks in my belly. She knew we needed to get the baby out and knew that getting me on all fours was the best way to do that. Verbally, she handled it in the best possible way. Her tone was serious enough for me to know that she meant business but wasn’t anything to put me into a panic or make me feel terror about the situation. She was completely competent for the situation.
It’s taken me a while to write this story out and to share it. I’ve thought about it and mulled it over since the day he was born. I know some people thought I was risky and foolish to have home birth, before Asher was born. Now with this story, I can see them pointing their fingers at me going, “see!? Home birth isn’t safe! I knew you that you shouldn’t have a home birth!” While Asher’s birth maybe wasn’t quite as gentle as Ezekiel’s in the manner that he came out, it was still just as safe. I believe firmly that had I been at the hospital, 1. they wouldn’t have caught him struggling any sooner, or seconds sooner if that. 2. I would’ve had an emergency c-section, which would have left him inside me even longer with a low heart rate as they prepped me and rushed me off to surgery. At home birth’s, they are equipped with all the medical supplies as they are in the hospital, with the exception that they obviously can’t perform a surgery. I am just so thankful that we had such an awesome midwife (whom is also a nurse practitioner) who knew exactly how to help me and Asher through the whole thing.
It’s my hope that this birth story doesn’t put any fear in any of you about birth or home birth. Even though it was different than expected, it was still such a beautiful experience. My friend Leah said it best the other day, in regards to her own home birth. She said, “Bringing life
into the world is a mysterious process and the most beautiful moments in
life can’t always be planned or controlled.” I love that. 🙂 Even with a more eventful birth than we anticipated with Asher, we loved it and we will 100% be having another home birth for our next child. And the next. It was the most wonderful experience, truly.
If you have any questions about anything, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message. As you can see, I’m an open book. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed reading Asher’s birth story. I know I’ll enjoy reading it in all the years to come.