Oliver Friedrich Zimmerman entered the world on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 1:15am. We are in awe of our new little addition and are enjoying lots of snuggle time. Here is the story of his birth. Enjoy!
Oliver’s Birth Story
On Wednesday, September 7, 2011, I was 41 ½ weeks pregnant. I had expected Oliver to arrive around 38 weeks and therefore felt that I was 3 ½ weeks over due rather than just 1 ½ weeks. My mother-in-law, Janet, had been with us for weeks to help with Elijah when the baby came and had to leave on Thursday. I’d been having prodromal labor off and on in the evenings. Contractions would start to pick up and then fizzle off when I went to bed. It was time for this baby to come.
At my midwife’s suggestion and after much research and consideration, I decided to try taking castor oil to help encourage the contractions to continue. I made a smoothie with 1 ounce of castor oil around 10:30am. For those not familiar with castor oil it is a laxative. It basically empties you out and causes your intestines to contract, which in turn, stimulates your uterus to contract. It worked like a charm! Within a few hours my contractions began and were steady. I sat on my labor ball and watched Pixar movies with Elijah during the afternoon, waiting to see if they would continue. At that point contractions were about 5 minutes apart. I was able to take a nap in the afternoon and the contractions did not slow one bit! Hurray!
At about 4:00pm the contractions were intensifying and were about 2-3 minutes apart. I couldn’t sit on the labor ball any longer and had to be on my hands and knees rocking through the contractions. My midwife decided it was time to come over and so the birth prep began. Aaron filled up the birth tub, Elijah and Janet blew up the air mattress. We decided to set up the birth tub in the lower level of our split level home. My bedroom is all the way upstairs so the air mattress would have to suffice for post birth recovery. My plug came out at 4:30pm and then I knew this was happening! I was cautiously optimistic until that point since we’d been there before and had it fizzled. Hurray! I would finally be having this baby!
For the next few hours I stayed on the floor rocking through contractions. Janet took Elijah out. I think they went to the library, walked around downtown, ate dinner, got gelato etc. I was so glad she was here to be with him. Barb, my fabulous midwife and Jackie her assistant arrived and we ordered Jimmy John’s. Random, I know, but it was the only thing that sounded good to me at the time. My contractions slowed a bit when they got here. For some reason, my contractions had a tendency to be midwife shy. So they stayed upstairs and Aaron and I hung out down stairs and they picked back up. Unfortunately, as my contractions intensified so did my back labor. Barb had an amazing heat pack with beans in it. It felt wonderful on my back during each contraction. Somewhere around this time we decided to notify the world, via Facebook, that our baby was finally on the way!
My chiropractor, Dr. Steven came over to adjust me around 7:30pm, yep he’s awesome, he does house calls for mama’s in labor. My friend Kelin showed up too to help out. (I attended her home water birth 6 months ago). Around 8pm I was getting pretty uncomfortable and was definitely in active labor. I asked when I could get in the tub. Barb suggested I take a shower. I probably wouldn’t have opted for the shower on my own but I’m so glad she suggested it. It felt wonderful! Heat does a laboring body good! We have hand held attachment in our shower so I was able to hold the warm water on my belly or back during each contraction. For some reason when I stood up my back labor was reduced, so I alternated between standing and sitting on my labor ball. I remember thinking at this point my contractions were intense but tolerable. I can do this, I kept telling myself. While I knew that 2nd labors typically go much faster, I told myself to be prepared to labor all night since it took Elijah that long to come. At some point during the shower Janet came home and put Elijah to bed. We have a very specific nighttime routine that we always do, at Elijah’s insistence. He takes a bath, reads a book and then we sing 3 songs. The tucking in stage has a very specific pattern too of hugs, kisses, back rub and tucking in. He gets very upset when we alter the routine. This night however, he went straight to bed. No book, no song, just climbed in bed and went to sleep. I couldn’t believe it! I was worried about how it would go since I was probably not going to be able to participate that night. I was comforted knowing he was in bed and was able to let go of that stress.
After about 40 minutes in the shower, the hot water began to run out and they said I could get in the tub. Oh my, it felt lovely to get in the nice warm water, even better than the shower because the warm water completely enveloped my aching belly. I labored in the tub for a while, listening to my hypnobabies CD. It helped me to stay relaxed through each contraction. Kelin and Aaron were the only ones in the room with me most of the time. Kelin did a great job of keeping me hydrated and full of grapes! Barb and Jackie stayed upstairs most of the time. They would come down from time to time to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and check my blood pressure. I alternated between the tub, the toilet and standing for the next few hours.
Eventually I got sick of the hypnobabies CD and couldn’t concentrate on it any more anyway, so we switched to Dave Matthews, my fave. I tried standing through a few contractions holding on to Aaron. Unfortunately, they were much stronger now and standing didn’t reduce the back labor at all. Through every single contraction, no matter where I was, I had to have someone push on my lower back, usually Aaron. He did it the best. Though, standing didn’t reduce the back pain, I really enjoyed having Aaron there to support me. With my arms wrapped around his neck and his hands applying counter pressure to my back, it was like a hug. So when the contraction receded I was hugging my wonderful husband, which is exactly where I wanted to be.
Eventually, I hit transition marked by very intense contractions that were almost on top of each other. While laboring in the bathroom I started to feel the baby making progress. I really wanted to get back in the tub but I was afraid I wouldn’t continue to make progress if I wasn’t in that sitting position. I was conflicted between going to a position that felt better vs. one that was more uncomfortable but that I knew would bring baby faster. I was ready for this to be over so I opted to tough it out and I stayed in the bathroom. I started to feel a slight urge to push but resisted it. I told Barb I felt “pushy” and she said to just follow my body. During Elijah’s birth I felt a slight urge to push, went with it and ended up pushing for 4 ½ hours. I was determined to wait until there was nothing I could do but push. That never really happened. After a few contractions I got back in the tub and the “pushy” feeling continued. So I tried going with it. It felt great, sort of. It only took 1 or 2 pushes before the baby’s head was ready to come out. During this point in Elijah’s birth the crowning part felt great! Because this one happened so fast it was MUCH more intense when he crowned. His shoulders did not want to come out. It took 3 rather intense pushes to get him the rest of the way out. At 1:15am on Thursday, September 8, 2011 Aaron caught him and put him on my chest. It took him a little bit and some scrubbing with towels to wake up but eventually he did.
Once he was breathing well, we looked down to discover that I was wrong in my predictions that it was a girl and that he was in fact a little boy. “Well Hello Oliver” I said.
He nursed a little bit and after a few minutes, the placenta came and I got out of the tub. My body likes to bleed a bit more than normal after birth so it was easier for them to take care of me on the bed. They did a great job of course and before long we were all resting.
Little Oliver weighed in at 8 lbs 15 oz and was 22 ¼ inches long. Based on the newborn exam they determined that he wasn’t quite 39 weeks old. Measuring gestational age from a menstrual cycle isn’t an exact science so it’s possible that I wasn’t as far along as we thought. Either way, he was perfect and we are enjoying every minute. His head was a bit bruised and swollen when he came out. They think he may have been in a face presentation for a while which could explain the prodromal labor and bruising. The bruising went away after the first day and the swelling after a few days. My recovery has been much better than my first birth and with all of the help with family I’ve been able to enjoy lots of snuggle time with my sweet little Oliver.
I am thankful for our families who gave up much of their time to come and help us. My mom who spent two weeks here, one before the birth and one after to help out, as well as many hours on the phone. Janet, who spent several long weeks here helping with Elijah everyday and used up nearly all of her vacation time. I am thankful for our amazing birth team. Barb is a true professional and a fantastic midwife, though each of our prenatal I felt like I was talking to a friend. She drove over an hour each way to our house for many prenatal appointments and one false alarm where she spent the night on the sofa. Kelin was a fabulous doula and having her near gave me strength. She was so strong and calm during the birth of her second child. I focused a lot on that experience to help me get through.
More than anything I am grateful for my husband Aaron. For months, he has been carrying quite a heavy load. Working, cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry, endlessly fetching me things around the house and never once complaining. I can’t imagine a more supportive, considerate, and loving husband than him. I do not have adequate words express my appreciation. I love you my sun and stars. I am a lucky girl.
I thoroughly enjoyed this pregnancy until the last month or so when I was quite ready to see it end and meet my new little baby. It was difficult to imagine loving another child, but just as everyone said it just happens and blows your mind. I’m enjoying getting to know Oliver and love him more and more everyday. To my sweet Oliver, I love you and feel lucky to be your mama.