Hattie’s Birth Story
Every time Katie think’s about telling Hattie’s birth story she thinks about the first few seconds of this clip:
It was a cold February night and I was charging on through……Ok, so not really. What actually happened was:
Wednesday — So, you can stay here or go back home and wait. What would you like to do? Sitting in a birthing floor room at 3 in the morning the Midwife on-call put the question to us. Katie’s water had broken late the night before, we had driven down to Burlington but there had not been any substantial progress — at just 3cm dilated we decided to pack up and head back home. It wasn’t Hattie’s time yet.
We began our birth journey with a whole set of “birth wishes” — “plans” are more set in stone, so having a list of wishes let us know and accept that things might not go how were wanted them to but that we would be ok with whatever happened. All that mattered was that our baby get here healthy. In the weeks leading up to the due date, we sat together and formulated the “ideal” way we wanted the birth to proceed. Little did we know that it wouldn’t necessarily be the birth itself that would pose the most stress but countless other of life’s circumstances.
Tuesday: Initial Arrival — In the late afternoon Jon happened to be checking Facebook and saw that two water mains had busted in town. A boil water alert had been in effect since earlier that morning, which meant we had been drinking potentially dirty water. Water was boiled and set to cool. Night routines were begun — teeth brushed, dishes washed, laundry was started — and we headed off to bed. We woke up before midnight to contractions, possible water breaking, and a washing machine that was broken and stuffed with a full-load of wet clothes. As Tuesday ticked into Wednesday and Katie’s contractions increased we decided to head to the hospital to see how she was proceeding.
Wednesday: Actual Arrival — We got home home around 430am and tried to sleep. An hour later Katie was awake, her contractions getting stronger. The Midwife wanted us back at the hospital by 1130a; over the course of the next few hours we kept track of Katie’s ever increasing (but irregular) contractions knowing that we would have to leave for Burlington sooner rather than later. As we set out, her contractions slowed to a stop, which was incredibly frustrating. Back at the hospital for the second time in less than 8 hours we settled into our room, trying to get Katie comfortable and begin to regularize her contractions. We walked; She sat — on a hospital ball and in bed; and by 1p we were urged to choose induction, either with pitocin or misoprostol. It was frustrating, but we did not want to delay things and wind up in a dangerous situation. First Katie wanted to get some food in her so Jon order in. Katie ate. Katie was prepped for her IV. We walked around and hoped for progress.
At 3p the Doc on-call came in, we chatted, and, noticing that Katie started having three contractions every ten minutes we (happily) were told that induction was no longer an option as Katie was definitely progressing. I’ll be back to check on you at 5. By this time Katie’s Mom had shown up. Contractions began to be noticeably stronger, noticeably more frequent, and noticeably more difficult to move through. To help ease things a bit we moved to the tub. Being part fish herself this seemed to really help. By 530p, after a return check from the Doc, Katie was at 6cm and showing signs of good progress. The next few hours were a blur, and while no one told us whether Katie was in transition, judging by the difficulty, pain, and frequency of her contractions there was no doubt she was there: Back rubs; Changing positions; Staying hydrated … then, around 730p Katie hopped back in the tub. She quickly realized two things: One, she felt like pushing; and two, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to push in the tub. Out she came and back to the bed. Katie warriored through forty minutes of pushing, and in the end our little Hattie was born. Katie and Hattie were able to get in over an hour of skin-to-skin time, which was just a truly beautiful thing to watch — it was the end of the beginning and the beginning of all the rest.
(Wednesday night &) Thursday — Katie and Hattie were moved down from the birthing floor to a postpartum room, two floors down. We were told that our room was a single, which meant that Jon could stay over night — we had fretted about the possibility of having to bunk with a roommate (and Jon being forced to sleep in a lounge or leave to a friends house) but our worries never manifested. Just the three of us to share our room. Our first night with Hattie was amazing: difficult and restless, but just as amazing. Suddenly there was this new little being that we were supposed to take care of, and that was at once terrifying and thrilling. The next day was spent being visited by loads of doctors, residents, new nurses, then old nurses; Hattie had tests, her first bath, lots of poops, and lots of time getting to experience this new thing called life. By now we were both thoroughly exhausted, but I’m not sure either of us felt it. There was an excitement — though the feeling of exhaustion was tempered by the opportunity to take a shower. There really are no words for how much a warm shower can stir a small semblance of humanity and alertness.
We had the opportunity to be discharged after 24hrs if we so choose, however we decided that another night in the hospital would let us take advantage of the help from all the nurses and to not rush off into the cold too quickly.
Friday: Going Home — Throughout our entire stay we had eaten food in the room via room service. Katie’s meals were covered but I had to pay for mine. The food service at UVM Medical Center was surprisingly accommodating to vegetarians and vegans. Our final meal was the tofu scramble, which was pretty damn tasty (not only by hospital food standards but by normal standards as well). It was nice to have a warm, filling meal in us before setting about to pack everything on a cart and wheelchair Katie and Hattie down to the lobby.
There was an almost nervous, hesitation in the way we went about things — a self-conscious execution of the simplest activities, which, having done all of them thousands of times before, now seemed completely new. The day was startlingly bright; clouds had vacated the skies leaving only the sun and the biting cold. It was bright and new and open and we were no longer two, we were three.
Some final thoughts — In the end, Katie’s plan for how she wanted the birth to happen went exactly as she wanted: a completely unmedicated, natural birth. There were some complications, but nothing that was ever very serious.
- Until very late in her labor Hattie was “sunny side up” — this isn’t the most optimal way for a baby to come out, and it lead to lots of back pain labor for Katie.
- Also, Hattie was born with a hand next to her face — this again lead to some discomfort for Katie during active labor.
- In the end, both of these complications lead to Hattie being born with noticeable cephalohematomas on either side of her head, the left side being a bit more pronounced. A cephalohematoma is a swelling in-between the skull and the skin and happens in 1-2% of unassisted live births — basically it happens when the baby’s head is squeezed or hits an obstruction during delivery. They will go away, but it can take upwards of a couple months.
Our story — Hattie’s story — is an amazing confluence of positivity. Things went as planned, Hattie came into the world healthy and happy, and we are now getting to know who this little being is going to become. As the blog moves forward (e.g., the LDP Challenge) Hattie-Pattatie aka Nut will be the newest member of our wolf-pack, Arlo now being the big brother.