Jan 5, 2017

Cohen Bozley Ray: A birth story

Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was convinced my midwives had miscalculated my due date by at least a few weeks. I felt huge and uncomfortable for months leading up to my due date and I started having intense contractions beginning around 32 weeks. Either this baby was coming early or there were a few of them in there- I just knew it. And although they assured me I wasn't having twins and that our baby boy was growing normally, each time I went in for an appointment my midwives emphasized how important it was that I rest my body and try to eliminate stress so I didn't go into labor too early.

Fast forward to July 21st where I sat on the couch of my midwife's office, crying because I was still pregnant on my due date. I was swollen and achy. I was exhausted from carrying around all that extra weight while chasing a toddler all day. I wanted to lie on my back again. I wanted my boy to come and I couldn't figure out why he wasn't budging. After handing me an entire box of tissues, my midwife checked me. I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She reassured me that effacement was a better indicator of my body's readiness to begin labor than dilation, so I was in good shape. She stripped my membranes at my request, told me to call if there was any action, and I was on my way.

My contractions strengthened throughout that day but remained inconsistent. We went for a long walk when Keane got home from work in hopes that it might speed things along. He rubbed my ankles and I chugged Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. I went to bed panicking over the idea of going another two weeks with this baby inside of me.

The following day, Liv and I ran some errands to keep busy. We played at the park, cooked dinner and went for another walk. This time, I lunged my way around the neighborhood. I could definitely feel things moving in the right direction but my contractions were still manageable and inconsistent.

Later that evening, Keane put Liv to bed while I lay on the couch catching up on Orange is the New Black. I glanced at the clock when I began noticing a few contractions that had come back-to-back. It was 9:02 pm. I told Keane this might be it and he suggested I call the midwife and take a hot shower. I called our birth center at 9:15 and let them know my contractions were coming about 5 minutes apart. My midwife asked if I felt like coming in but I told her I'd rather stay and labor at home for a while since things were still very manageable. I'd call her with an update when things progressed.

By 9:30pm I could no longer speak through my contractions. I was on all fours, rocking and moaning, attempting to catch my breath. When Keane came inside from packing up the car, he panicked at the sight of me. He immediately called the midwife and told her we were on our way. During that time, Keane's mom came over to stay with Liv while we went and had this baby.

I made my short walk to the car, stopping twice for contractions. I was getting no break between them and the thought having to make the 20 minute drive to the birth center was daunting. Keane helped me get buckled and began backing out of the driveway. Another contraction came and I begged for him to stop the car so I could get out and work through it. It felt torturous to be strapped into the seat. He sped out of our neighborhood, refusing to stop. "We just need to get there!" he said. I could tell he didn't want to be delivering his baby on the side of the road. Each time I felt a contraction coming, I lifted myself up and did my best to move through it. The weight of my body against the seat was excruciating and that was the only way I could find any sort of relief. 

I tried my best to focus on other sensations around me like the wind in my face and the beat of the music while waiting for the next wave to hit. At one point I opened my eyes long enough to notice a man stopped at the same red light as us. Both of our windows were down and his jaw was on the floor as he watched me have a contraction. I gave him a little nod like, "everything's Ok," and we were off again.

We arrived at the birth center and Shaunti, our midwife, came to greet us. I had two more contractions while getting out of the car, at which point I heard her call the nurse on the phone and say, "Kelly's here and I don't think it will be long. Please head over now." Although I felt like I was progressing quickly, I refused to get too excited. My labor with Liv had been 24 hours of marathon-like physical exertion. I was prepared for the long haul time time around too.

After some coaxing, we got settled in our birthing room. The tub was filling up and Shaunti offered to check my progress. My fear after experiencing such a long labor with Liv was that if I was checked too early and discovered I hadn't progressed much, my confidence would be shaken. I decided it was better not to know. My other insecurity was that getting into the tub might slow my labor down like it had during Liv's birth. With a bit of a chuckle, Shaunti reassured me that wouldn't be the case this time. I labored about 15 minutes around the birthing room, having what seemed like a mere moment's break before the next contraction came. I spent the majority of my contractions hanging around Keane's neck during Liv's labor, but these contractions had intensified so quickly that no single position felt comfortable or effective. I decided to get into the tub.

Two contractions went by and every fiber of my body constricted. I told Keane I felt like I was going to be sick so he held a bowl to my mouth while I slowly swayed and tried to focus on my breath. I felt the need to bear down on the third contraction and felt a pop. With news that my water had broken, Shaunti, Abree (the student midwife) and Chandra (the nurse) gathered around me. They listened to our boy's heartbeat intermittently which remained good and strong. Shaunti placed a mirror under me to watch for his head. A few more contractions and some strong pushes later, out came our little boy. It was 11:13pm, just two hours after the whole thing began.

I pulled our baby out of the water and onto my chest, in utter disbelief by how quickly he made his entrance. It all felt like a dream- like it was happening to someone else.
I couldn't believe it was over! I felt energized, alert and so elated. 

Our babe had a hard time getting his color and taking strong breaths right after he came out, so Shaunti and Chandra vigorously rubbed his back and played with his limbs a bit to "wake him up." After almost a minute of stimulation, he pinked up and let out a good cry. We all took a collective sigh of relieve, although Shaunti assured us that his reaction was pretty common for babies born in the water and also because he came out so fast.

Shortly after his birth, we moved from the tub to our bed and did immediate skin-to-skin with him. Keane and I studied every part of him, from his perfectly round head to his huge feet! I stroked his face and I wept over my new baby boy for whom I had worked so hard to bring into this world. 

We settled on the name we had been considering for months: Cohen Bozley Ray. It was most fitting for such a strong and handsome boy. 

Born at 11:13pm on July 22, 2015,
Cohen Bozley weighed 7 lbs 15 oz and was 21.5 inches long.
Our big boy!

We left the birth center about 5 hours after Cohen was born and headed home to snuggle and recover in our own bed. Because my labor began after Liv went to bed the night before, and we were home while she was still sleeping, she was quite surprised to discover her new baby brother in our bed when she woke up that morning. Her reaction to Cohen was absolutely precious. She was tender and loving and asked if she could "lay on him very, very gently." :) The video of their first meeting is something I will cherish forever. 

Our boy has blessed our lives in ways we could never have expected. I didn't know how my heart could stretch any bigger than it already had for his big sister, but the love we feel for Cohen was instantaneous and unconditional. We are elated to have him safe at home with us and our family of four feels so complete!

Always and Forever, Coco. 
Always and Forever.

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