Titus John Hamell's Birth Story
April 20, 2012 - the day Bryan had joked he didn't want Titus to be born on because it is national pot smoking day and Hitler's birthday. Well, he jinxed it.
April 19, 2012. I slept in (as always) ran some errands, got my hair cut nicely at the salon, drove up to my sister-in-law's house, hung out with her for a while, and made a funny video "Walk it out" of me dancing on her treadmill. Little did I know I'd be going into labor that evening. Guess the dance worked! Here's the video: http://youtu.be/Y3NfvQpQYCI
So Bryan and I decided to have dinner at TX Roadhouse (one of our favorites which we frequent and are friends with two of the managers - John and Nikki).
It was 8:15 PM and we were eating our food (rolls, Caesar salad & chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes which I'd later be meeting again...) when I felt like I couldn't sit anymore and needed to stand. I'd regularly been having those shocks of pain to the cervix indicating either that Titus was pressing up against it or that it was softening (or both) for weeks, so I was used to the feeling of needing to change positions (I favored the birth ball most in times like these). So I made an effort to get out of the booth and as I'm scooting suddenly I feel a pop and a gush of warm fluid. I knew instantly my water had broken. I probably had a look on my face like I'd seen a ghost. Bryan said, "What?" and I said, "Umm my water just broke!" He wasn't sure if I was serious at first but quickly realized it was true. I started to shake and cry and kept repeating "I can't believe this!" He went to find John and ask for towels. The sweet people at the table across from us was concerned for me but excited they'd just witnessed someone's water break. Bryan came back quickly followed by John and our server who was wearing rubber gloves! She said, "Hi Mindi, I'm Stephanie and I'm your server and I'm also an EMT, believe it or not." John was smiling huge and talking to Bryan. So we mopped me up as best as possible and started walking me out. I left a trail of water the whole way and everyone in the restaurant parted like the red sea and cheered for us. Then Nikki caught wind of the event and cut in on Stephanie saying, "I got her I got her, this is my girl, I've been waiting for this!" She walked me the rest of the way and helped me up into the truck. All the while I'm still gushing. We put two white towels down on the seat but I still soaked his seat, and we saw pink - evidence that my bloody show was making its appearance too. Oh, and we didn't have to pay for dinner. :) I couldn't believe I was part of the 20% of women who have spontaneous rupture of membranes like in all the movies and tv shows! I didn't expect it. In fact, I'd prepared Bryan that it was very unlikely.
On the drive I started calling and texting my birth team and parents and family and friends. I rejoiced to find out God had answered my prayers and given me the exact birth team I longed for. They were who was on call! I was told to go home and rest, it could be a few hours before labor starts, even days. But of course I'm excited and we start getting things together at home. Bryan kicked it into high gear vacuuming and going to the store for snacks, and surprising me with a bouquet of sunflowers (swoon!). He went to work prepping everything while I tried to lay down and rest. But soon I figured out laying down was the last thing my body wanted to do. So I was up on the birth ball and leaning against the wall asking for Bryan to apply counter pressure very quickly upon arrival at home. I didn't think what I was feeling were contractions. It was all in my back! My contractions counter app was telling me they were 30 seconds long with 3 minutes in between on average. If these were labor contractions stuff was happening fast! When I realized these weren't just mild rumblings of pre labor anymore because I was calling for counter pressure every time, I called my doula Heather and my midwife Gail, and Heather and the midwife's assistant Nikki showed up about 30 minutes later. At some point I found myself throwing up dinner in the toilet early on in labor. Oh hi there Caesar salad! Yuck.
Bryan got to work blowing up the birthing pool, manually with his mouth (crazy guy) and Heather became counter pressure queen. I was moaning through the contractions already. When Nikki arrived she checked me at a 3. When Gail arrived about an hour later she checked me at an 5. I was progressing fast and hard. Especially for a first time mom! I remember being coached to keep my voice tone low to work Titus down in my body and how motherly and intuitive Gail was. So comforting. She cuddled me and whispered in my ear. She and Heather prayed over me. Bryan did too and read scripture out loud to me. We had worship music on. My birth team was awesome. Gail knew just how to coach me through the pain to keep me on top of my contractions and not let me panic. There were a few times I remember feeling like I was about to lose control, but she knew just what to say and do to help bring me back down. I cried out to God in my heart the whole time and only once out loud. I labored in the birth pool and really enjoyed it for about 4 hours and then moved to the bed. I was on my hands and knees probably 95% of the time until Gail asked me to switch it up to my sides to see if that would help get the rest of my cervix out of the way. My knees were quite bruised by the end.
Labor took a turn and I was stuck in transition with my body involuntarily and uncontrollably pushing for somewhere between 4 and 6 hours. I got really swollen and formed a hematoma. At that point because of the risk of it rupturing Gail made the call that I needed to transfer to the hospital.
After 11 hours laboring at home we started the drive to St. Anthony Hospital at 7:20 AM on April 20th. This is during morning traffic y'all. I was on my hands and knees in the back seat with Gail sitting next to me (behind me) holding in my hematoma with one hand and applying counter pressure on my back with the other. Tavia (my friend and birth photographer) was in the passenger seat and Bryan drove. Heather and Nikki followed behind. Bryan scooted down the emergency lane past traffic on the highway and got us downtown to the hospital in 20 minutes. I didn't know how much time had passed because my contractions were now piggy backing on top of each other and breathing through the pushing urges was feeling outrageously impossible. I kept hitting my head up against the window and at one point Gail asked if I wanted a towel there to pad it and I said no. For some reason I liked it. Probably because it was distracting from the labor pain.
We arrived to the hospital and I was contracting hard. I refused to get in a wheelchair and walked for what seemed like forever to get to the room. There was no way I was going to be able to manage those contractions in a wheel chair. We got in the room and everything immediately changed to hospital mode. I got in the gown and on the bed, was checked and found to be complete, and immediately moved to my hands and knees. They tried to keep me on my back and it just wasn't happening. So they put my IV in upside down and blood gushed everywhere. I'm usually a huge hater of needles but this time I just didn't care. They had me sign things and get my fingerprints through the contractions (I don't even know how I managed to do that) and after it was done they made me move to my left side and were holding up my right leg. It seemed like there were a bajillion nurses and voices talking to me and around me. All I remember is Gail still coaching me through the pain gently and calming close to my ear and then all the sudden being told I could start to push. Bryan had apparently kicked off his shoes, stood on the bed, and was applying counter pressure ridiculously hard to my back and yet I was still asking for more. He's my hero.
So I started to push. They put oxygen on me and kept asking me to take deep breaths for my baby, so I would. Then they asked me to bear down and really push hard with each contraction with my chin pushed down to my chest. One nurse started counting and I wanted to punch her. "Don't count at me lady!" I was thinking. "I've been doing this for hours! I'll get this baby out!"
The nurse holding my right leg up was doing so in a way that was causing my knee to push inward yet she kept saying I needed to relax my legs. I thought I was but apparently not doing it right. So Bryan said, "What do you need her to do? Push her knee out?" and the nurse said "Yes" so he said, "OK baby, you need to push your knees out like a squat." He said the room went silent and my leg went into the correct relaxed position as soon as he said it. He was my champion. The hospital staff was either impressed or maybe even offended, we're not sure, but he made it happen and I am so glad he knew what words would translate to me.
After that it only took 2 more pushes and Titus's head was out. Before his head came out I got to reach down twice and feel him crowning. I felt hair and got overwhelmed with emotion. I was about to meet my son!
So Titus's head was out and he had the cord wrapped around his neck once and was blue (I didn't find out about the cord until much later in the day). Which is actually pretty common. They slipped the cord off and then his shoulders turned and his body didn't want to come out. This is when I remember one nurse almost panicking. I didn't know about the cord or why she was freaking out but I just kept listening to the rational people telling me what to do. We got him out just fine and he started crying on his own. It was 8:49 AM. We had to cut his cord before it stopped pulsing (Bryan cut it) so that they could take him for just a second to make sure he'd breathe and get his pink color back. He did. And amazingly they gave him right back to me. All grimy and not having been weighed or anything. Praise Jesus.
I was so happy to have him with me immediately. We had skin to skin and we put him down on my abdomen so he could do the breast crawl. He did so well he passed my breasts! He was beautiful and totally alert even though he was in a bit of shock from being in the birth canal so long. I saw his beautiful eyeballs within the first few minutes. He looked at me like he knew. "I'm your son, mommy. I'm here now."
I tore 3rd degree. Dr. Willis (who delivered Titus because Dr. Ryan was in surgery) stitched me up while Titus did the breast crawl. Thankfully my hematoma didn't cause a bleed out and it didn't look like it needed to be drained and stitched.
So 12 1/2 hours of back labor wasn't in my plan. Titus had been head down and back out to my front for months (the best position) so I was a back laboring anomaly. Being stuck in the hardest part of labor (transition) for hours wasn't in my plan. Forming a hematoma and having to transfer to the hospital wasn't in my plan. Birthing on my side and tearing 3rd degree wasn't in my plan. But I still got my unmedicated vaginal birth. The hospital staff knew to not even mention an epidural. (I was complete at my arrival anyway.) They gave me my son as immediately as they could and were patient with us to not get all of their paperwork and things done right away. It was almost 2 hours before I let them take him to weigh and measure and get cleaned off. He weighed in at a perfect 6 lbs 8 ounces and measured 20 1/2 inches long. And they were so sweet and accommodating to allow me to request baking soda from the cafeteria to clean him off with rather than their soap. Those things made me really happy. And knowing I truly did need hospital care and that I was where I needed to be and that Gail knew the right calls to make was comforting. I was happy my whole birth team stayed with me through it all, being my rocks and calm voices of comfort and reason. I was happy about how amazing my husband was. We made a great team. His wrists were so sore from all the counter pressure. I'm sure Heather's and Gail's were too. And even Tavia jumped in to help a few times!
I am so blessed to have this beautiful baby boy. Despite my "dream birth" not having happened, God's plan is better than mine and he's definitely teaching me something through it. Maybe compassion, maybe being able to sympathize, maybe stretching and challenging me beyond what I ever thought possible. I am so grateful.
Titus John Hamell was worth everything. I'd do it all again. He is the fruit of my labor. He is a miracle.
Thank you God for holding me up. I couldn't have done it without You, my Fortress and Strength.
As I wrote out this whole story, Titus has been sleeping contently against me. Wesley is snuggled up sleeping across my lap. Bryan is cooking us breakfast. I am enjoying our last day together before he goes back to work. Counting my blessings. Counting them twice.