Ryder Storm Arrives!- Tinika Tells Her Story
This is the birth story of my third child. My first son Wyatt was born after my water broke at 38 wks and not knowing what I know now, I went on in to the hospital and allowed them to start me on pitocin after only 4 hours of not contracting. I ended up with a posterior baby, pain medication, an epidural plus three hours of pushing. Needless to say, when the time came for my second son Sawyer, I was determined to do things differently. I switched providers and hospitals, planned a waterbirth, and hired a doula. Mission accomplished. I had an unmedicated waterbirth that was fast and furious. I was a “park and push”…showed up to the hospital at 9 cm and had a baby within 30 minutes. It was empowering and overwhelming, yet scary because everything happened so fast. It scared my husband Shane too. He felt like we “barely made it there.”
When I found out I was pregnant with our third baby, I knew I was going all natural waterbirth again. As I entered the third trimester, I started to become anxious over the position of the baby. I think I just knew that this one was going to give me some trouble for some reason. Every time I had my midwife palpate my tummy, the baby was anything but head down. But I stayed calm and listened to them about how it’s not an issue and babies almost always turn head down. BUT, even if the baby was breech, it was okay too because I could have a vaginal breech birth. And I would do it because that’s just how I roll. 😉
But as the weeks passed, Baby Lloyd v3.0 decided that transverse (sideways) was the most comfy position to lie. And I knew something for certain…babies couldn’t come out sideways! I did it all to try to turn the baby…chiropractor for Webster technique, moxibustion (basically burning some stinky incense that sticks off of your pinky toe), forward leaning inversions off the couch, and lots of reading on the Spinning Babies website about how to encourage optimal fetal positioning. I talked to the baby, I begged the baby, and I cried some. Then at 36 weeks, I had an ultrasound to confirm, and yes, baby was still transverse. I discussed and external cephalic version (ECV) with my backup OB/Perinatologist and while he didn’t think it was 100% necessary (he remained steadfast that labor will often turn a baby into a birthable position), he agreed to do it when I was almost 37 weeks. We had the room at the hospital booked and everything.
The night before, I was online reading about what I could do and a doula on a message board told me about a client that successfully turned a breech baby in the bathtub with the assistance of ice packs behind the baby to encourage the baby to move away from the cold, and in the direction you want. So off to the bath I went…ice pack in hand. I put the ice pack behind the baby’s head and just held it there for a bit and the baby moved slightly away from it. Whoa! Maybe we have a chance! I continued to do this, and with each inch the baby would move, I would push the ice pack down into my belly to kind of form a blockade to keep the babe from going back. It was working! I got the head down near my right hip bone and I felt a lot of pressure on my hip. I felt like we were stuck in that position and I had to stand up. So I stood (not easily), keeping pressure on the ice blockade, and I felt the head slip over my hip and go head down! I started screaming for Shane…We’ve got a head down! It was the strangest experience. I called my midwife first thing in the morning to tell them what happened, and they had me come into the office to determine if baby was head down, and it was! We were able to cancel the ECV at the hospital!
Over the next two weeks, this babe would decide to do some gymnastics though and change positions time and time again. I let go of the stress and just decided it would be fine. And then, it was. From about 39 weeks on, we were head down and stayed that way. Shane’s biggest source of anxiety was making it to the hospital. With Sawyer’s birth, we were only 20 minutes from the hospital, but my midwives were now downtown and 40 miles away! I NEVER ever want to be in transition in the car again like I was with Sawyer, so our plan was to leave at the very first sign of labor. Well, at 39 weeks, I started having some contractions. They were frequent but not intense. Shane was all set to go. I was not. He was freaking out. I was getting stressed. He talked me into getting in the car and starting to head that way. He said we could always come home. It was about 10 pm on a Sunday night and my MIL had to come sit with the kids, so I just wanted to be sure about it. But I wasn’t sure. But I got in the car anyway.
We made it to the highway (about 15 min away) and I told him to pull over. We sat in a hotel parking lot for a while and listened to the radio. They contractions were starting to space out, and I told him to take me home! Shane was glad that we got a practice run at it, but he was still afraid that when the time came, we might have to battle Atlanta’s rush hour traffic all the way to the hospital. My doula assured him that this almost never happens. Generally a mother’s body will wait until it is a “safe” time to labor (ie. other children sleeping) and that is why so many moms go into labor in the middle of the night.
At my checkup that week, they checked me to see if the contractions had made any change to my cervix and yup…I was 4-5 cm!…Which means nothing really except that when labor did start, I didn’t have very far to go, and that we better get there quick! Well, my due date came and went…we had been hoping for an 11-11-11 birth, but nope. Then on the Sunday after my EDD, we took the kids to our favorite place…Poole’s Mill Park to hike around the river and waterfalls. We did this the night before I went into labor with Sawyer (at the exact gestation) and I was feeling good about the timing. We got the kids in bed that night, and I took a long shower and told the baby that I was ready. I got in bed about midnight and drifted off to sleep.
I woke around 3 am with some mild contractions that were coming and going, but this had been happening for weeks now, but I thought maybe this would be it. I actually picked up my cell phone and typed out a text to my BFF Christy that “something’s brewin” but things seemed to stop and I never hit send. I was in a very light dreamy state the next couple of hours, and I woke again at 5:30am with The Doors song “Riders on the Storm” playing over and over in my head. I felt extremely crampy. I knew this was it. I laid there for an hour but couldn’t go back to sleep. At 6:30 I woke Shane and said…baby’s coming today. He had a meeting scheduled that morning and wanted to know what I thought. I told him I was going to take a shower and see. Maybe he could go ahead to the meeting. Things didn’t seem to be moving as quick as last time.
Well, in the shower, I realized that the idea of sending him off to a meeting was crazy! I peeked my head out and said call your family to get someone over here. We need to go to the hospital. Again, I was determined to get there early this time! I got out and called Teresa, my doula, and told her what was going on. I told her was going to get things settled and wake the kids, and I’d call her when we were leaving. She asked me if she should just go ahead, and I told her no. I really wasn’t thinking about the fact that Shane’s worst fears of Atlanta traffic were playing out into reality. I woke Wyatt up by saying “Honey, guess what! The baby’s coming out of my belly.” He shot up in bed and asked “right now?” He was so excited. I got my boys dressed and Shane’s dad arrived here around 7:45 am. I called my parents and woke them up by asking if they felt like having another grandbaby today. I called my midwife and left a message that I was heading downtown.
I was so busy scurrying around that I hadn’t noticed that contractions were definitely regular but they were not super intense yet. Once we got in the car, things picked up. And so did the traffic. We hit GA 400 right at 8am. Could it be worse timing? I was starting to really have to breathe through contractions and I just kept repeating my mantra that “This is normal. Everything is going to be okay.” I think this mantra just made Shane even more anxious because at some point, he decided he was going to live every man’s dream of putting on his flashers and riding down the emergency lane the whole way. I did not mind. We encountered no police or angry drivers.
Once we got on 85, people were a little more grumpy and we did get some honks and maybe a couple rude hand gestures. I was breathing and moaning, and Shane was screaming at the angry commuters that it really was an emergency! My doula called me to check in and she wanted to let me know that she knew she should have left when I first called and that she had somehow gotten on the highway heading north instead of south. She listened to me and I remember her saying “Oh, yes, now THAT sounds like real labor.” At one point she reassured me that if the baby decided it was time, it would be perfectly fine to be born in the car. All I could think about was “NO WAY JOSE—we are making to that tub!”
In all the car-ride craziness, I missed the call-back from my midwife that we could just skip triage and come right up. She was ready for me and would let them know I was coming. I called her back and gushed about how badly I had wanted her again for this baby’s birth. She told me she was on call until 5pm…so as long as I had the baby before then…I cut her off with a laugh and stated “Oh this baby’s definitely coming before then.” We got the Atlanta Medical Center around 9:15 am and went right up and got a room quickly. I was still managing okay, so Shane went to move the car and I changed into my nightgown that I had brought with me. I wanted to labor in style. No hospital gown for me!
Anjli asked me if I wanted to be checked and I was honestly curious, so I said yes. I was a 3! What the heck!?! I had been reading Ina May Gaskin’s books during this pregnancy and she talks about the “sphincter law” that states that stressful situations (like a crazy, emergency lane/lights flashing kind of car ride to the hospital) can actually un-dilate a mother. It’s like the mom’s body saying “whoa—maybe now’s not a good time to pop this kid out.” Well, I think that’s what happened to me. I was a 3. But all of the sudden, I was there, I was safe, Shane came back, my doula arrived, and the magic started happening. BOOM. I was in hard labor.
It was about 10 am. For the next hour, I did my usual labor song and dance. All standing, leaning over the bed, moaning, asking for counter-pressure on my back, no pain meds, no IV, no one bothering me…Just me in labor. It felt so normal. Shane had the Pandora music going. I asked for the Allman Brother’s channel. Shane was so calm. It was so great to see him fully present and not freaking out with anxiety. I started to feel nauseous at some point and I knew this was transition. Man it was going quick now. Around 11 am, I had one contraction after another with no break in between. I looked up at the start of the second one and asked “Didn’t I just do this?” My doula, ever so calmly, answered, “Yes.” The 2nd contraction hit me harder that any of them and I remember thinking I need to get in the tub now.” But once I tried to vocalize this need, all I could get out was “I need help!” Thank goodness for doulas and midwives because it was almost like I was waiting for someone to tell me it was okay to get in the tub. Anjli started filling the tub and Teresa helped me change into my bathing suit top.
Around 11:00 am, my body hit that water and let me tell you, it felt like heaven on Earth. I have never felt anything better. At this point, I must have been completely dilated because my body went into that “rest and be thankful” period for a good 5 minutes before I had another contraction and realized that I was involuntarily pushing. I announced I was pushing a little and Anjli assured me it was okay and just listen to and trust my body (Gosh I love that woman!). I did just that. In between contractions, I would sit back and just look at Shane and listen to the music or the hushed conversation. The lights were off, and it was quiet and peaceful. The room looked out at the Atlanta skyline–What a view! Shane sat on the birth ball next to the tub and held my hand in between contractions. And then my body started pushing—HARD! It was like nothing I’ve ever felt. So much power, so much energy.
I could feel the baby moving down. I leaned forward over the side of the tub for contractions. I wanted things to go slowly this time to prevent any tearing and I did my best to let my body do the work. At some point, there was no holding back. Anjli asked who wanted to catch the baby. I said me! I gave a big push and my water broke at 11:44, and out came the head. I really didn’t have the horrible “ring of fire” that you always hear about, but once the head was out, I felt so relieved. Anjli told me that I could just go ahead and push the baby out now, but I said, “I’m not ready!” It was such a reprieve to have the head out and I was just relishing in it. They all got a chuckle out of me saying I wasn’t ready. I was kneeling and kind of leaning forward at this point. Anjli said she would just help to push the baby forward when it came out so that I could catch my own baby. Deal!
Finally I decided Let’s.Do.This and gave one last push and at 11:45 am on November 14th, with a Rolling Stones song playing on the radio, I pushed my baby out and reached down under the water and lifted my baby straight up. “It’s a boy!” I announced as I leaned back and put him to my chest.
Shane laughed and said, “Really?” He was in shock that we were now the parents of 3 boys! I was elated and on the endorphin birth high that comes after unmedicated birth. We named him Ryder, and we had decided that his middle name would be Haze but I immediately voiced my uncertainty, telling everyone that I had woken up in labor with The Doors song “Riders on the Storm” in my head. And while we took a full day to make it official, I knew without a doubt he would be Ryder Storm. He sat on my chest with these huge blue wide eyes staring up at me and his little hands clasped together as if he were in prayer. He was 7 pounds, 9 oz of perfection…looking right into my eyes. Baby Boy, you touched my soul with that look that day, and I will remember your birth for the rest of my life. Welcome earthside little Ryder Storm, you are loved more than you’ll ever know.