Rueka’s Birth Story
I know this isn’t technically travel related, but since we have the platform I’m gonna use it! This still has to do with our life, and it’s a major life change at that. We have ourselves a new member of the Traveling Tavener’s! Spoiler alert: this baby ended up being a SHE after calling her a he for 10 months. This is the story of how she made her grand entrance and how she has absolutely got us wrapped around her tiny fingers.
5 lbs 6 oz – 19 in long – January 20th – 5:29 am
My original due date for Tiny Tav was January 7th. At my 20 week anatomy scan, the tech told us that baby’s measurements were showing that the due date looked more like January 12th. Since I was already halfway through my pregnancy, all of my progress photos were based off of my original due date. That meant when the 7th came and went, I was definitely feeling ready for this babe to get here. I also want to note here, that we always knew we were going to do a home birth and we also knew we weren’t going to find out the gender of our baby. Two things I’m so glad we decided and kept with. Anyways, back to dates. Our maternity/paternity leaves started on the 6th and we were doing everything we could to get labor going. We tried all the wives tales and recommendations and then the 12th came and went… and nothing happened. Now I am well aware that only 5% of babies come on their due dates, but I was really feeling like I was gonna be in that lucky percentage. But with each passing day I knew it was just wishful thinking. This baby was cozy and staying put for the foreseeable future. My pregnancy was honestly dreamy, I never got morning sickness and never got too uncomfortable, even when I was past both due dates. I was ready to meet our baby but I was overall feeling really good.
Tuesday the 19th rolled around just like all the other days of waiting. We went on a 3 mile walk at our local park and I came home to do my 90 minute Miles circuit. I had been doing that everyday for the past month or so to get baby in the optimal birth position, and I think it really helped. You hold 3 different positions for 30 minutes each and I was just about to start the 3rd position when I felt a little leak like I had peed myself. I ran into the bathroom and sure enough – I kept leaking out liquid into the toilet. That liquid was a mix of brown colored amniotic fluid and bloody show, so I snapped a picture and sent it immediately to my midwife because it wasn’t clear like it should’ve been. I also called my doula (my aunt) who lives in Susanville and told her what the haps was and she confirmed what my midwife speculated as well – they thought there was meconium in my amniotic fluid. Meconium is what lines the inside of a baby’s intestines inside the womb and comes out as baby’s first black, tar like poops. Since I was so overdue, Rueka had pooped in the womb and was at potential to inhale it, which was a major concern. My midwife came over to test that it really was amniotic fluid and check the color and consistency of it. She wanted to keep us pretty monitored since a third of babies can go into serious distress with meconium present. Since my contractions hadn’t started when my water broke, she wanted us to get things going with more of an urgency so we didn’t end up having to go into the hospital. She checked Ru’s heart rate and it was still super strong so she was really confident that we could still rock this home birth. She was gonna come back and check up on us later that evening and left us with a recipe for a castor oil drink to get contractions going. We called all our parents and told them this party was finally started! My dad left his house immediately since he is 3 hours away and the other parents in Reno were on standby. Kenny headed out to get us castor oil and some fuel foods for the night ahead of us. My doula got in from Susanville and when Kenny got back I took the first dose of castor oil and we headed out to walk. We walked for an hour or so until it got too cold and went home for 2 more doses of castor oil. The recipe was a dose every hour for 3 hours, and each dose was 2 oz of oil, 6 oz of orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. From everything I’ve ever heard of castor oil, it is pretty gnarly to get down and it makes you have to poop like crazy. So it was weird when Diane came back to check on me at 6 pm that I hadn’t started contracting at all. Since my water broke at 1:45 that afternoon we were all kinda perplexed that I didn’t start anything substantial yet. I looked back at the recipe after Diane left and realize I had made my drinks with 2 TABLESPOONS instead of ounces. Big Sigh. No wonder I hadn’t progressed much! We made one last dosage with the correct amount of castor oil and that really began the waiting game. From 7-10 we just hung out, I was contracting a little and my diarrhea had definitely picked up but there wasn’t much that was happening. I started sitting on the exercise ball and doing figure eights. My dad, stepmom and sisters had come over for dinner along with my mom. We hung out for a quite a while, just chatting and soaking in the last moments of it just being Kenny and I. I took my last pregnant photo with my sisters and everyone headed home around 11.
I texted Diane around then and told her we were going to try to get some rest but that she should get the tub ready to set up when she got here. We tried to get some sleep but of course – as soon as I laid my head down, my first real contractions started. I tried to ride them out for a while in bed before getting in the shower and letting the hot water wash over me. By the time midnight rolled around I was feeling it and woke Kenny up to tell him I think that things were finally going down. When I had a bought of diarrhea and threw up right after we knew it was time to wake up my aunt. We started timing my contractions and doing a few more rounds of figure eights on the ball. We were supposed to call Diane when my contractions got to be 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long. From midnight to about 2am they were definitely getting more intense. I was in active labor – and I had back labor at that. My contractions radiated through my hips and by the time we called my midwife I was already at 3 minutes apart, although they were still sporadic in timing. They never really had an exact pattern, some were 45 seconds, some were a minute and a half. I felt like I never had any reprieve from the contractions when they really peaked. This was probably the hardest part of my labor. Between 2 and 3:30am things really got going. My doula started a peanut ball circuit with me that I swear helped me have such a quick labor and delivery. We were doing the circuit in our bed and would be in the middle of a conversation when a contraction would come and I would have to focus on my breathing and wait for the contraction to subside. Around 2:30 we also let our birth photographer Meg know that things were getting going and she started heading over. Meg actually beat Diane to our house and things were really peaking when she arrived. Right before she walked in, I had a serious contraction and felt a gush of blood run down both of my legs. I started to panic a little at this point because I really felt the baby’s head drop and I started feeling like I needed to push – and Diane wasn’t here yet. I ripped my pajama bottoms off as Kenny and my doula got the Chux pads to put on the floor for the blood. Kenny answered the door for Meg and she was met with me butt naked working through some more contractions. She started to get things ready on her end and Kenny called Diane to ask if she was close because I felt like I needed to push. You hear it all the time that with a first baby your labor is usually long – but dang we got lucky. I don’t think Diane was expecting me to progress that quickly since we had told her at 11 that nothing was really happening. When she got to our house around 3:30, Kenny helped her bring in all the things to get the birthing tub set up. She came in to check on me and baby and sure enough, she says, “that’s a head! We won’t be needing the tub Kenny.” Pretty much from that moment, my transitional labor really started. I felt so relieved, these contractions were so much less painful and I actually got a little break in between them. I started my pushing standing up, leaning over the peanut ball on my bed, then I would squat when the real oomph behind the push came. I did this for a long time, altogether I pushed for close to 2 hours.
With every push everyone would offer up encouragement about how good that push was and how were getting close, etc. I definitely thought I was closer than I was to being done. We also kept calling poor Rueka a boy during my labor, every time her head poked out a little more someone would say, “He has hair! His head is getting closer!” We were just that convinced! When squatting got to be too much on my legs, I tried getting on all fours for a couple contractions but this wasn’t comfortable so I laid down on my side. This is how I ended up delivering her.
At one point when I thought I was getting close Diane asked if I wanted to feel the baby’s head as it was coming through. I reached down and touched the little wet hair and I yelped that I did not like that feeling! I know for some moms it makes them feel encouraged that they’re so close to meeting their babe, but it made me feel some type of way. I don’t even know what I felt, but I could feel myself stretching and that was a real interesting emotion. I asked Kenny how close is was because at this point her little head was about halfway through my vagina and sitting there in between contractions. They couldn’t come quick enough now! I also asked him to go get my phone so we could turn on my labor playlist. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to put it on sooner but man, it was so great turning on some soothing tunes. I had made two different playlists, one upbeat and one slow. We put the slow playlist on and in between contractions I would sing the lyrics of the song and it helped me focus so much on my breathing and pushing. There’s a few songs on that playlist that makes Kenny and I so emotional now listening to them remembering these moments. What’s crazy is that the exact amount of time that it took the songs to play through was the perfect time for her to come out.
Kenny had been sitting in front of me holding my hands and letting me grip him very hard as my contractions would come. Finally, Diane told him to come over behind me and get ready to pull our baby out! EEK! A few more pushes and out her slippery little body came. As I rolled onto my back, I looked at Kenny in anticipation as the room went quiet waiting for him to tell me who our baby was. He looked her body up and down, smiled a huge smile and exclaimed, IT’S A GIRL! That moment will be one of my favorite memories of all time. We do have some photos of my exact reaction, but they aren’t the most PG! Kenny laid her on my chest as Diane checked the time and denoted her birth time as 5:29 am. We all looked at her in awe as we waited for her umbilical cord to stop pulsing. Once that happened Kenny got to cut her cord and I got ready to push out the placenta. I had a decent amount of blood come out after I pushed Rueka out so Diane gave me a shot of Pitocin to slow my bleeding and kickstart my uterus contracting down. It took one little push to get my placenta out and Diane inspected it and showed us the life-giving organ our babe had grown in. A woman’s body is so incredible!!
Little Ru had quite the lungs on her, along with a lot of poop and blood from her journey. She had no vernix on her since she was so overcooked and her little head was perfectly shaped and full of dark hair. She latched perfectly and as she started to eat a little bit, all I could do was stare at her. I kept repeating to Kenny, “I can’t believe I just did that” and “I can’t believe she’s a girl!” What an absolutely sweet surprise. Diane started to inspect the damage and determined I had a second degree tear and she got to stitching. Even with a local anesthesia, the stitches were the worst part of labor for me.
My sweet photographer Meg sat with me after the stitches to show me some of the photos she got. We both laughed at how fitting that the song that played as Rueka took her first breaths was “Breathe” by Taylor Swift. Diane did all the measurements on our girl and Kenny headed to the kitchen to make some coffee. We said goodbye to Meg and my doula wiped down Rueka’s bloody head. Nitro boy finally got to come in and say hi to mom since we kept our bedroom door closed most of the birth. Unfortunately he didn’t get to be as involved with her birth since we didn’t use the tub, but he did stay right outside the door waiting patiently to meet his sis. By the time morning came, we were all exhausted.
Before Diane and my doula left, we tried to get me outta bed to shower off a bit. I barely made it to my bathroom before almost passing out. I took a few breaths on my toilet, put my mesh undies on and went right back into bed to try again later. The poop and blood could wait to get washed off! We updated our parents and friends that the baby was here, and that we were both healthy and doing good. We didn’t tell anyone what she was until all the grandparents got to come and be surprised in person. Diane and my doula said their goodbyes and left us to rest. We sat in bed with her and for awhile just marveled at her perfect little features. I still can’t believe we got to bring this 5lb 6oz angel into the world. Her birth was everything we wanted it to be, even if we didn’t get to use the tub like we had planned. We went in with an open mind and no expectations on how things were going to go. As long as we ended this birth still at home and with a healthy baby we were happy! We’re so grateful I was so low risk and that we got to have the birth we envisioned with no complications.
She has been our greatest gift thus far in our life. Parenthood has been the most joyful and exhausting adventure, I can’t wait to see all the endeavors we get to take with this little bean.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading about our journey bringing our girl earthside. Welcome to the crew, Rueka Berlin Tavener!
Til next time,