The Birth of Stephen Glenn Lewis

Friday night is "Craft Night" in the Andrea household: we have my sister and brother-in-law, and my brother, over for dinner, and then go upstairs and work on various projects (and sometimes just play games). Last Friday was no exception, and we played "Star Wars" monopoly until 2 in the morning. If only we had known...

I woke up at 7 on Saturday morning, having to pee (as usual). And then I noticed the mucus plug as I got up. Oh my God, I thought, while I tried to reassure myself that lots of women lose the plug and then walk around for weeks before going into labour. I woke up David anyway, though, and shortly thereafter, started feeling mild contractions, maybe 30 seconds long and 10-15 minutes apart. Bad timing, wee one! Not only was Cilia, my midwife, going away for the weekend for a conference, my mother had several speaking engagements for that Saturday! However, we paged Cilia anyway, as well as the backup midwife, just to let them know that things were in the works. Mom said she would be over around 2, and Cilia started back to New Hampshire from her 4-hour drive to New York!

Things went pretty slowly all day, with contractions going from 10 minutes apart to 4 minutes and then back to 10. We decided to go for a walk, and went to the health food store, where no one noticed I was in labour, and when David got hungry, to a local cafe, where the proprietress did notice and wished us luck - she was very interested in our homebirth plans. The walk got my contractions to about 4 minutes apart again, and they were pretty steady by the time we got home. However, we walked in the door to find not only Cilia, my mother and sister, but also the backup midwife, her assistant, and her 11-year-old daughter! I was in an irregular pattern to begin with, but this did nothing to help... soon my contractions pretty much faded out completely.

We went upstairs to hide from the crowd, and Cilia checked my blood pressure and wee one's heart rate; the latter was fine, though my bp had been spiking high since about week 32. She suggested that I rest for a while, and sent the others away -- she also went home and told us to call if anything changed. Well, I wasn't really in the mood to nap (silly me), and we had wanted to make a plaster cast of my belly once I started to show, but had put it off, thinking we had plenty of time. Ha. So Robyn (my sister), David and I jumped in the car and went to the craft supply store to pick up the plaster wrap and such. I think it was around 3:30 then.

We got home and started doing the cast, and my mom arrived shortly thereafter, much amused and perplexed by the proceedings. The cast took about 30 minutes to do, and I think it turned out pretty neat -- I haven't actually seen it dry, just when we took it off me.. Will post pictures to the website when I have a chance. Things were still going slowly, so my brother and brother-in-law came over for dinner that night (we got subs from a local place) and hung around until later (maybe 9-ish?) when we decided it was probably time to go to bed. I could only keep the contractions going by moving around a lot, and was starting to get tired.

I didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night, either; I'd have about 30 minutes of sleep before being woken up by another stronger contraction, then a couple more maybe 5 minutes apart. That kept up all night, so I don't think I got more than 3 hours of sleep total. Sunday was a lot like Saturday -- hurry up and wait. We tried to keep things moving with me climbing stairs, etc. but were not making my progress. Cilia came by around 3 pm to check my cervix -- at least the contractions had been doing some good, as I was 5-6 cm dialated and somewhat effaced. (The internal was really not that bad -- I think she must have an excellent technique.)

That was encouraging, but contractions were still very irregular -- they'd get closer and more intense, and then back off again. Mom said all three of her labours were a lot like that; she went 48 hours (in the same pattern) with me. We gave up trying to keep things going after talking to Cilia again at around 10 pm. By that time, we were all pretty exhausted, and just wanted a good night's sleep.

I slept fairly well from 11 until 2 am... and then things kicked into serious mode! When I woke up at 2, I thought at first I was in for more of the same, but it was not to be. Contractions got very strong, very quickly, and it soon became apparent that this was "it". We called Cilia at 2:30 and she was there by 2:50. An internal revealed that I was in fact in transition, at about 9 cm and quite well effaced, so we did the best we could to ride out the increasingly uncomfortable (not yet *painful*) contractions. They got stronger and longer, and closer, and at 4:30, she suggested that I might try pushing.

You can see pictures of the birth support Cilia uses on her website (which I made) at I think it really did make a big difference in pushing; I was uncomfortable everywhere, of course, but much less so on the chair. Not to mention the positive effects of gravity :) I don't really know what was more painful: contractions during transition, or the actual pushing. I pushed for about 80 minutes, probably less effectively than I could be, and then Cilia said I could feel his head if I reached down.

The videotape best captures the sense of "Wow!" that I felt; I immediately had a concrete goal to reach for, and changed pushing appropriately. After that it was only about 8 minutes until he was born... 8 very, very intense minutes! It stung rather a lot when his head crowned, but after that, he slipped out very easily, and started crying right away!

Stephen Glenn (for my mother's late father) Lewis (for David's father's father) Andrea was born at 6:08 am, with Apgars of 10 and 10. We were all surprised by how small he was -- just 6 pounds, 2 ounces. It appears his cord was much smaller than normal, so although the placenta was a good size, he was getting a bit less than he otherwise might have. He is perfectly healthy, though, and already seems to be gaining back a few of the ounces he lost in the days after birth. He really is a good baby, despite some nighttime fussiness the last couple of days. He will cry pretty unconsolably for an hour, then finally quiet down... but those are rough hours! I think it may just be gas, but I sure hope it passes soon! Otherwise, he is great -- he is such a little pro at latching on and breastfeeding! He seems to love nursing, and I do too; haven't had any soreness yet, despite having him attached for many, many hours at a stretch. We are grateful to my mother, who stayed with us and took care of me until Wednesday, and helped fill up the freezer, along with my mother in law, who took over from Wednesday afternoon until Thursday. I am nervous about being on our own now, but hopefully everything will go all right. Please pardon any typos; Stephen is nursing, so I am typing left-handed! And many thanks to all who have sent congratulations; if you already have children, I'm sure you'll understand if I don't reply in person to everyone! I will (or David will) put some pictures on the website soon... but now it's naptime for this sleep-deprived new Mom!

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