It all started on Saturday morning, April 30, at 8:30 AM on Brett’s 32nd birthday. I went to the bathroom and had a little bit of an “interesting” morning pee. I got a little excited, and got back into bed, and started to ask Brett, all chipper like, what he wanted to do his birthday. His response was “You’re not even letting me sleep in on my birthday!”, so, I decided to go back to sleep. I woke up again around 10AM, and went to the bathroom…again…..and well, this time, it was a lot more “interesting”… and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep now.
We went out and got ourselves sandwiches from Sam’s To Go, and as we ate lunch, we read online that even though certain things had happened already, it could still be a week or more before I went into labor. We got in our minds that we should just go about our day and decided to go take a walk on the beach. At Hendry’s Beach, we walked further than I had the other day, and just enjoyed the gorgeous weather and SB. When we got home, we visited with Dave & Dayna for a bit at the house as they were in town for a meeting. I chatted with Dayna about not really being able to know when I went into labor and if I would be able to tell. The one thing she said that stuck in my head was that it would just feel different.
After they took off, we still had quite a bit of Brett’s birthday left, and so he thought that he’d like to go play some golf. I thought it was a great idea, so a quick trip to Blenders for a smoothie, and off to the municipal course we went. As soon as we got into the truck, at 4:12 PM, I thought that I felt something “different”. I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions for months now, but with each new one that came now, there was a cramping with it, and that was, well, different. It wasn’t painful yet, or anything that I needed to focus on, but they were happening, and they happened all the time that we were on the course.
Brett shot a 39, only 3 over par, on the front 9. He’d had a bunch of 40s but was excited to get into the 30s finally. The best he’s ever done and on his birthday to boot! I brought the camera with us, it was the perfect distraction, and we had a nice time enjoying the views, the sunshine and the course.
Afterwards, since the contractions seemed to keep coming, although, still not anything where I had to focus on them, we went to Vons to get some last minute things. We picked up a few items to have around the house for when the midwives were there to snack on, and also a few ingredients for dinner.When we got home, we started on the list of things that we’d intentionally left for us to do when we knew we were starting labor. We picked up, started dinner, Brett dug a hole in the yard, and I showered and shaved my legs. That was most important, of course!
During dinner, around 9-ish, the contractions were coming a little harder, to where I had to stop eating, get up from the table, and get on all fours to do hip circles. There wasn’t any consistency to them. They were 4 minutes, 12 minutes, 7 minutes, etc, apart. And at that point, it was even a little hard to tell when one was starting or stopping.
As they continued, Brett got the tub blown up, and we started on all the other things we needed to get done. He made the beds with the plastic liners, and then the other sheets, as I blow dried, curled my hair and put on makeup. Brett also started to shave his “playoff” beard and we posted that on Facebook. At this time, we were still having fun, taking silly pictures of me….the last belly shot, and some of Brett’s progression to becoming clean shaven again.
We made a few phone calls and sent a few text messages around 11PM to let family and close friends know that labor had started. We asked for prayers, which we were definitely going to need through the night ahead of us.
It got to be midnight, and we were finally convinced that this was real labor, so Brett made a call to one of the midwives, Laurel. When he told her that it started around 9, and it had only been about 3 hours, she asked us to start a track record of the contractions and call her back in about an hour to let her know. So, starting at 12:07 AM, we tracked, and at 12:48 AM, Brett sent Laurel the record we had kept.
My contracts were about 3 minutes apart, lasting from about 40 seconds to a minute and a half at this point. I was still fixing my hair, and having to stop, lean over the counter, and do hip circles during the contractions. It was a great distraction as they started to get a little worse.
By the time Laurel showed up at 1:15AM, the contractions were getting even more intense, and I already had my hair in a ponytail. (So much for trying to look pretty through labor and for our new baby – ha!) I had moved to our bed, to see if laying down would help with what I was feeling, and I started the moaning. The midwives and our natural birth class, talked a lot about moaning through the contractions to help with the pain, and so I tried it. I wouldn’t say that it took the pain away, but gave me something to concentrate on besides the hurt. I remember thinking to myself that I wouldn’t be a moaner, that I would feel silly, but yeah, that went out the window, I was trying it…and it helped. So, I moaned through them. I was a little concerned that our neighbors would hear me, but then again, I didn’t really care about that too much.
Just keep thinking that you’re going from a 1 to a 2.
It’s hard work going from 1 to 2.
When Laurel got there, she checked me, and asked me if I wanted to know. I didn’t, because I knew that it really didn’t matter – there was no formula to what was going to happen. Brett kept telling me, “Just keep thinking that you’re going from a 1 to a 2. It’s hard work going from 1 to 2.” So that is what I did. There were no clocks in our room, so I had no idea what time it was, or how long things had been going on either. That was on purpose as well. Knowing how long things had been happening wasn’t going to make things move any faster for me, so it was nice not to know. Over the next few hours, the contractions progressed, and I moved from the bed, to sitting on the toilet facing backwards, to a few other positions that I can’t truly recall. I went between being so cold that my whole body was shaking, where I’d just say “cold” and Brett would cover me with a blanket or towel, to being so hot that I was burning up, and sweating, to where I’d mutter “hot”, and he’d take them off.
If I was in the hospital, I soooo would have taken the drugs by now.
There was a point during these hours while Annemarie was sitting on the toilet that she said a couple of pretty funny things. She first said to me… “I don’t know why anyone would choose to do this.” She was referring primarily to the general idea of having a baby… not necessarily at home or without drugs. She was in a state of ever growing pain with each contraction causing more pain than the previous one, so I can understand why she would question willingly suffering through it. The next funny thing that she said was… “If I was in the hospital, I soooo would have taken the drugs by now.” I chuckled at this because I always give her a hard time about her threshold for pain… and knew that it was probably only going to get worse.
At some point, Alissa (birth assistant) and Alice (other midwife) showed up, and they all attended to me (and Brett) in the most wonderful and supportive way. Shortly after Alice got there, my contractions were coming on so strong, that I wasn’t really getting a break between them, and I was just constantly moaning. I was holding my belly really low and putting pressure on my tailbone. I carried most of the labor pains in my lower back and tailbone, and so I was doing whatever I could to try to minimize the pain. Laurel checked me again, and I was at 8 cm (which I still didn’t ask to know). I went from 2 cm to 8 cm pretty darn quick, which means that I was getting tuckered out, and fast. They decided it was time for me to get into the birthing tub.
Before I got in, however, since I had tested positive for GBS, I had to get the antibiotics going. I had been nervous about the needle and heplock, but at this point, I honestly didn’t even care, and it didn’t bother me one bit. They got it in, and had to hang the bag from the closet door as it first got started. Laurel then got it all taped off so I was able to have my hand back, and put it wherever I needed, and in the water too.
At first, I wasn’t able to relax and enjoy the water. I tried to get into a duck walk position, to try to help the baby down, but was difficult for me to relax the muscles in my legs to try and get into a comfortable sitting position. The tub was pretty deep, and I also wasn’t able to find a way to use the side of the tub to hold myself up. I, begrudingly, flipped over a bit, and got into a floating position on my back. Brett was outside the tub, behind me, supporting my arms which allowed me to rest my head on the side of the tub and float. The water slowed down the labor a bit, to where I was able to get some time to breath between contractions, and actually fall asleep too. They talked about that in our birth class but didn’t see how it would be possible. Well, it was. I did it when I was in the tub, and also had a little bit earlier too while I was laboring on the toilet. Granted, they were very short, 20 second naps, but they were wonderful. 🙂
You’ve got to be kidding me?!
It’s already morning!!
As I was getting in the tub, I heard one of the midwives say “She’s going to have this baby in the tub”, so I really thought that might happen. I still didn’t ask anything about where I was with regards to dialiation, or for them to confirm what I had heard. Then things changed. At the end of the contractions, my body was starting to push. Totally involuntarily, I wasn’t doing it, but my body knew it needed to. Since I still didn’t know how far along I was, I had to ask if it was okay for me to be doing this, and I was told that I should just listen to my body. So, the pushing mildly started while I was in the tub. Turns out that I was in there for about 2 hours, and then it was decided that I should get out and get into another position. Time had passed so quickly that I had no idea it’d been that long! I got out, and we headed to the bathroom. When I got in there, the light was peeking through the window, and my first words were “You’ve got to be kidding me?! It’s already morning!!”. It was about 6AM at this point, and the sun had totally come up. It was bright everywhere, which just seemed strange.
After getting out of the tub, I was dried off with much help and there was no way that I was putting anything else on. So, I was stark naked and honestly didn’t care…AT ALL. Another shocker for me. Any remaining modesty went out the window. I tried to do some walking and leaning on Brett to contract some standing up, but it was just too painful.
By now, my body was pushing. It was painful alright, and I didn’t like it. I had no idea what was in store for me with the pushing business either. Turns out that the baby was still high, and when I started to push, he got caught behind a lip in my cervix. So, I was pushing against that for about more than an hour before the midwives helped get it out of the way. We tried pushing in many different positions on the bed. I was on my side while everyone was holding one of my legs, bent at the knees, up, and that didn’t feel good. They were trying to tell me where to push, and it was tricky to understand how to do that. After about another hour, my water finally broke, and while that was a little bit of relief, it didn’t take away any of the pain. For some time, I was laying on my back, holding my own ankles, and pulling against them to push. Finally, we settled into the last position, where Brett was behind me, I was leaning into him, and I was partly on my side. I had my arms behind me, wrapped around Brett, using him to help push, and he was helping keep my head forward. My instict had been to throw my head back when I was pushing, but he kept it where it needed to be. The pushing happened for so long, that at one point, Brett fell asleep. I heard the change in his breathing pattern, and said “Brett, wake up!”, to bring him back to the action.
Hey… she got to sleep in the tub while I was literally supporting the upper half of her body for about 30-45 minutes. Then she leaned on me with her whole body weight for a while while she contracted standing up. Can’t a brother sleep for like 2 minutes in between contractions when he gets a chance to lay down? 😀
It was difficult for me to get the “right” push, and then get as many of them in during each contraction. It was much lower than I thought it was supposed to be….honestly, it felt like I had the biggest turd stuck and I was pushing as hard as I possibly could to get it out. Well, this was one stubborn turd I’d say. I finally figured out how to push the right way, and I pushed with everything I had. I got the breathing down, but that meant that I was holding my breath for 10 seconds, pushing so hard that my eyes were literally bulging out of my sockets, my neck was bulging, and I was turning purple. Brett kept telling me to breathe. I tried to squeeze in 3 to 4 pushes with each contraction as I was determined to get the baby out. I was still trying to moan, but every once in a while, it would transgress right up to a scream. Yeah, it was the worst pain I’d ever felt….actually, I had no concept of pain before….so this was pretty bad. I felt the burning, and asked for the midwives to “help get him out”. I would have given anything for them to just reach in there, grab his head and get him out with us….but they assured me that the only way he was coming out was by my pushing. They took care of me with warm compresses, and oil, which provided a little bit of relief.
I believe her actual phrase was “Just take him out! Take him out!” For me this was definitely a worrisome time… because I felt rather helpless. Annemarie was working really hard and the strain was very visible and real. She would not breathe and push for so long that I knew it couldn’t be good for her or the baby. I had to keep reminding her that she needed the oxygen and so did the baby… so please take a deep breath in between pushes.
He was crowning at this point, and Brett kept telling me that I was doing so good, with a constant stream of encouragement, to keep going. They offered to let me touch his head, but I didn’t want to know how much I still had to go, so I just kept on doing what I was doing. It started to feel like he was getting to where he needed to be, and they were all telling me to just keep pushing. Finally, after 3.5+ hours of pushing, I felt his head pop out. Oh my gosh, what an accomplishment and relief…..but there was still more. On the next push, I pushed so hard to get his shoulders out and then he slipped the rest of the way out.
Burke Ander Bollman was born at 10:27AM on May 1, 2011. He weighed 7 pounds 15 ounces and measured 21 inches long. He has blue eyes and blond hair, just like his daddy.
I just laid there, not saying a word, I was completely at peace. Our baby was here. Brett was obviously more alert, and so he watched, and got a little nervous, as they quickly pulled the baby off to our side. The cord was wrapped pretty tightly around his neck, and there was a lot of meconium that came out after him too. I didn’t hear anything, but I wasn’t worried. Instead of waiting for him to do it on his own, Laurel leaned over and puffed a few breaths into our new baby. Alice listened for his heart beat, and then he cried. Oh, his beautiful baby cry. So sweet.
True to her word… Annemarie never gasped that she “couldn’t do it.” She had just accomplished something so amazing to me and I was in awe. There were many times during the process that I had been working hard at praying, but that seemed to be the much easier task of the two. It’s a very vulnerable time of life for a husband and expecting father and I was constantly reminding myself that God loves my wife and son more than I do. Something I think I’ll come to rely on much more throughout my life.
The umbilical cord was pretty short, so he didn’t reach all the way up to my chest, but they laid him on my stomach within moments of the birth. With each one of his movements, I could feel that he was still attached to me. He was so incredibly sweet. I was just in awe of what had just happened. His head was totally purple, and very pointy. I couldn’t really get a good look at him just yet. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing, and around 10:43AM, Brett cut it. A few minutes later, the placenta was delivered.
Alissa asked me what I wanted to eat. Near the end, when I was pushing, with each push, my stomach was making so much noise because I wasn’t able to eat anything during labor, and I was starving. I could have, and it was actually encouraged, but I just didn’t feel like it. I did drink a TON of water, and unfortunately, I couldn’t pee… so my poor bladder was so full near the end. Alissa brought, and fed me, watermelon, bread with apple honey butter, string cheese and some tea. Oh, it was so tasty! Turns out that another client of the midwives was in labor at the same time, already pushing, so Alice took off to tend to her.
Laurel stayed with us for a little bit longer to give me 7 stitches, and shared with us some of what to expect in the next 24 hours. Around 1PM, she went to help Alice with the other birth, and then it was just me, Brett and Burke. Alone with a newborn less than 3 hours after he was born. Sweet victory with the most beautiful prize in the end.
I fell in love with Brett all over again as I watched him so quickly turn into the most perfect Daddy to our little baby.
We did it. We were so grateful to have the birth that we wanted. We know that God’s hand was in everything throughout our pregnancy, labor and delivery. He took the most wonderful care of all three of us, and now Burke, the greatest gift that we could ever receive, is here. Our family of three is perfect.
Thank you to everyone that prayed for us. Family, church brothers and sisters, friends… your love, support, and prayers for us mean more than we can begin to express. We are on cloud nine with our little boy. Our hearts are full beyond what could ever be imagined.
We can’t wait to introduce you all to Burke!!