*Do I need a disclaimer with a title like that? Obviously, intimate details and NAKED PHOTOS to come. Read Devin's birth story here.*
Dane Burleigh Rideau
To get to the birth, I guess I have to get the beginning fluff out of the way and go wayyyy back to the beginning.
I got a shoulder injury at work in September of 2018, which caused a lot of pain and interruption in my life. I was going to my chiropractor twice a week, a deep tissue massage that was incredibly painful once a week, and working light duty/partial duty restrictions for 24-36 hours per week. Between all of this, I was not sleeping well and tired all.the.time. I would come home from work and just lay on the recliner with a hot pad on my shoulder, needing to rest. Literally any moment I was at home I wanted to be sleeping and resting through the pain of my shoulder. At some point in December I realized that a shoulder injury shouldn’t be this exhausting...right?! Then the next dot connected: I was having terrible vivid dreams/nightmares just like when I was pregnant. And the next: some foods were making me really sick for the past few weeks. And then the last: WHEN WAS MY LAST PERIOD?!
I took a pregnancy test and it was immediately positive. I wasn’t ready to tell Vince yet because I had just started a new position at the hospital literally two days before that required extensive training, he was super overwhelmed with both kids at home and having a mini-breakdown about being a stay at home dad (four years into it…) and I just could not handle his negativity if he was unhappy. So I threw the test away, hid the box in the outside recycling, and ignored it. Not for long, though. He immediately found the box when he brought out the recycling because I apparently didn’t hide it and he called me (don’t remember where I was) and asked me if I was pregnant.
Fortunately he was totally on board with it, and didn’t think it was the end of the world like I did.
To figure out when my last period was actually took a bit of work. I knew the average date I started my period (every 28 days, and recently it’d been starting the Friday around the 20th), but I also knew Vince and I hadn’t “done the deed” for quite some time because of my injury. The final realization was that since I started my weekly massages the beginning of October, I had for sure only had one period because I was only wildly paranoid about dripping blood on the massage table one time. So in general, I had a roundabout time frame of when I got pregnant that gave me an estimated due date at the end of July/beginning of August.
Why was this such a big deal when I could just get an ultrasound? Because I didn’t want any! This was a huge deal to the OB/nurse midwife I saw to get medication for hyperemesis (oh yes, the beast was back), but fortunately not a big deal to the traditional midwife I chose to do my prenatal care with and be there for the delivery. This is its own story that I won’t get into now, but the gist is that I didn’t really know my dates and had a general idea.
The beginning of July, I started having prodromal or “false” labor. Definitely not Braxton-Hicks, but not real either. Just enough to be very uncomfortable and timeable, only to dissipate. This started around 36 weeks so I thought the baby was coming any time. Then the end of July came, and there was still no baby.
Then weeks and weeks passed, with no baby! I went over and over the dates in my head, and even with the last possible date that wasn’t really possible, I was “late”. I wrote about my feelings on it here on IG.
Finally, 4 ½ weeks after I started my maternity leave for work thinking my baby would be here any day, the day arrived where my baby decided to join us Earthside.
Two days prior, I had gotten acupuncture (I had been going 3-4 days a week for weeks at that point) and it kickstarted things. I had a few big contractions while there for a couple hours, but they went away when I got home. That evening around 11pm I started getting some painful ones that were about 10 minutes apart, but I managed to sleep between them. At 3:30am I started having very strong ones that I couldn’t sleep through (same exact time of when I went into labor with Devin!) that were 15-20 minutes apart. Through the early morning they increased to every 10-15 minutes.
I was a nice wife and let Vince sleep that night, knowing he would need his rest if I were in real labor. He got up to get Devin ready for school and I couldn’t stay in bed any longer, so I got up as well. I had been on maternity leave for the entire month previously and every day I slept in until 9 or 10 because I was dealing with nausea at night that was preventing me from getting to sleep at a decent hour. Vince always jokingly asked me, “Is it time?” every time I called him and randomly throughout the day, so when he asked me that morning I said, “YES!” Then he laughed, looked at me, and said, “Wait. Really? Is it really time?” And I laughed and said, “YES!” Mild panic ensued, he finished getting ready to take Dev to school, and he asked if he should have someone else drive her. I assured him it would still be a long time before this baby was here. Val had a visit with his grandma for the weekend so he was gone already.
I called my midwife Valerie at that point, who ended up not being the one I saw during my pregnancy (Maryn with Indie Birth) because she was out of town. Neither one of us planned on me still being pregnant! I let Valerie know the timing of them even though they were still far apart because she lives about an hour and a half away. With this being a second baby, we assumed (haaaaaa) that things would go faster than my first labor of 34.5 hours. I also texted my oldest friend Annika, who happens to be an apprentice with my original midwife and who had been attending my prenatal appointments and planned on being at the birth.
I was still feeling great in between contractions, so I did some gardening, blanched some beet greens for the freezer, and cleaned and prepped some roasted hatch green chilies for the freezer that I had picked up the day before at the farmer’s market. I tidied up a little around the house, ate and drank frequently to stay full in case things ramped up and I couldn’t anymore, and relaxed a lot on the recliner trying to close my eyes while listening to my HypnoBabies soundtracks (Birthing Day Affirmations and Easy First Stage). Vince ran a few errands, had a friend drive him to pick up his truck from the shop, and then did some housework. I also had him set up some of my baby wraps on our upstairs railing so I could pull on it during labor if desired.
When Dev got home around noon, she immediately recognized it as a swing and had fun on that! By the time she got home, contractions had increased in frequency a little bit and were very uncomfortable. I still felt fine between them, but they needed most of my attention during them. For the most part Devin was really good at listening to me when I told her not to talk to me, and that I needed to focus.
My contractions were still pretty inconsistent between 5-8 minutes apart, but consistently getting stronger and longer. My midwife stopped by at some point to check on me and I had none while she was there, ha! We decided that she’d go hangout in town and would call me in a couple hours to see how I felt. As soon as she left, they picked up again. A couple hours later around 5pm, I started having contractions every three minutes and they were lasting a full minute. They continued to stay every two-three minutes or more frequently until the birth 11 HOURS LATER.
The last times I tracked contractions.
This is where I confess that I had one breakdown after another. My midwife and Annika showed up around 8pm and I cried because I was relieved to have someone there who could help me through it. But also, there wasn’t much they could do and I thought I would have more relief than was possible. Yes, they could emotionally support me and help me as best as they could, but they couldn’t take the pain away or slow down my contractions!
I consistently went between my bedroom, the shower, and the living room and found absolutely no relief. The contractions were so strong and close together that I found it really hard to regain my composure between them. I had a couple hours feeling like this with Dev around transition, but this was hours and hours and hours so far and it was so unexpected that I didn’t know how to handle it. There were many times I felt defeated, exhausted, and not capable of giving birth again, which I was not expecting. This led to me saying I wanted to go to the hospital, even if it meant an epidural or C-section because I was DONE and didn’t care. I didn’t care!
I told everyone repeatedly to just take me to the hospital, but luckily Vince wouldn’t let it happen because he knew I didn’t really want to do that (I did! I didn’t care! haha). He kept continuously reguiding me, helping me switch positions, and telling me contractions in the car would be impossible. Things kept happening just in time for me to agree to stay home, though.
I felt nauseous and threw up, making a joke about people throwing up while in transition and that I better have the baby soon. I didn’t.
I asked for a cervical check at some point, and was fully dilated with bulging waters. My water still hadn’t broken, and mentally this was difficult for me. I asked to have my water broken with Dev after being at the same dilation for hours, and I was worried that they wouldn’t break this time and I’d get “stuck” again. I voiced my concern many times about the waters not breaking, and Annika asked me a few questions to work through it in my mind, like if I was afraid I couldn’t do it or if I felt like they needed to be broken again. Instinctively I knew I could still have a baby with the waters intact and that I didn’t need to do anything, but I was still afraid it would make my labor even longer and I was so done. Also, the reason I started to lose my shit during Dev’s labor was because my water was broken and the contractions were much worse and I knew I couldn’t handle more difficult ones this time.
I had a couple heart tone checks and everything was good, so I again agreed to stay home.
While standing up by my dresser insisting on leaving again, my water broke on its own. I said I wasn’t sure if I’d peed or if my water broke, but that I was leaking fluid everywhere. I never felt a big gush, so I think I had a small leak versus a full rupture. This was enough progress to keep me home, thinking that now with the waters broken and being fully dilated I’d have him soon.
But again! No!
I went back and forth again between the bedroom, bathroom and living room still feeling no urge to push despite being fully dilated for quite a while now. Lots of hip squeezes from my midwife and Annika, spoonfuls of honey and sips of water, a hot rice bag (a huge size my grandma sewed me!) and moaning. I did some pushing just to see if anything would happen, but could never get in a comfortable position for my shoulder or back (remember, still injured!).
During the pushing, my dad showed up because I told Vince I was absolutely going to the hospital and he needed to take care of Devin. Then, I could feel Dane’s head (very high inside me still) so I stayed. Seriously, so much back and forth!
My dad went and woke up Dev around 2am thinking I’d deliver soon because my midwife said it’d be any minute, but I laughed and said that I pushed for four hours with Devin and this baby wouldn’t be here any time soon.
I pushed, I cried, I yelled so loud that I have no idea why my neighbors didn’t call the police thinking someone was being tortured, and basically lost my shit for a long time. Oh, speaking of shit, I pooped SO much. All over. With every push, I pooped. And Annika gracefully wiped it up after Devin would say, “There’s more poop! Poop is coming out!”
Finally, Vince insisted that I just go lay in bed. He said I was moving around too much and that I just needed to lay on my back like I did with Devin and be able to support myself. I think he was also just tired of holding my 185 pound body while I screamed in his face. Who knows.
So off to bed we went, and then I had a baby. Yep. Over two hours of pushing elsewhere, and within 20 minutes or so I had a baby in bed.
The head was fully crowning and I had to wait for another contraction, just like with Dev. The head came out and my baby was instantly screaming as soon as lips touched the air. Vince immediately noticed and indicated to the midwife that there was a cord wrapped around the neck, and it was so tight that my midwife couldn’t actually get it over the head and instead had to slide it over their shoulders as I pushed them out. Once the shoulders and hips were out I was like, GIVE ME MY BABY and Vince said they weren’t all the way out and I was like, DON’T CARE, PASS HIM TO ME. I obviously didn’t listen to what Vince actually said, because I definitely thought my baby was fully out. Vince picked them up and the legs came out of me and I said WHAT WAS THAT? So yes, Vince helped deliver the legs and yes it was shocking.
Vince immediately placed our baby on my chest and I didn’t think to see if it was a boy or girl because I just knew he was a boy. He was so covered in vernix, but also so flaky and wrinkly indicating that he was a post-term baby. He was wide-eyed and seemed to be taking everything in. I think Vince asked what the baby was and he looked to tell me it was a boy. I checked and laughed saying, “His balls! They’re so big! Look at his penis!” We stayed snuggled up for a little bit while my midwife gave me some herbs and tinctures and had me drink water. Vince realized no one looked at the time he was born, so we took a guess and looked back at the video recording that Annika had taken on her phone. 4:27am on Saturday, August 24th!
Annika asked if I was ready to deliver my placenta, but I felt like I would just die if I did so I opted to wait a little bit. She could see it bulging out and I could feel it, so I knew it had detached itself and that I wasn’t likely at risk for hemorrhage. Eventually I delivered the placenta and asked Annika to help pull it out because I was so sore. It was a beautiful, healthy and super strong placenta!
After an hour of snuggling and great nursing, I decided to take a quick shower while my midwife was still there because my armpits stank enough that I couldn’t stand myself. We used some sterile string I stole from work to tie off his cord, and Vince and Dev cut the placenta using the same scissors we used for Dev’s birth. We weighed him (7lbs, 8oz - exactly what I predicted!) and measured him (...I can’t remember.). They got some skin on skin time while I showered, then Vince made some food that I never ate because I was too sore and shaky and I just wanted to sleep.
And that was that! 25 hours of labor, which was long but still 9.5 hours shorter than Dev’s. Dane’s labor was WAY harder than Devin’s, though. I’ll post soon about that and how I actually felt about his whole labor other than relief that he was finally here after 42 ½ weeks.
Thank you to Annika for the labor/postbirth photos and birth support, and my midwife Valerie!
So much love for those two amazing birthworkers.