Our baby boy finally arrived!
Jude Barrett Cole was born on 2 September (Labor Day!) at 7:35 am. The big guy weighed in at 4.36 kg and 55 cm long. WOAH. Don't even get me started on that fat head! The boy is precious, and we are so in love.
The last few weeks have been very "sink or swim", with us mostly treading water. Shout out to Matthew, the most amazing husband/father/friend in the entire world for keeping our ship afloat. I had a bit of a rough recovery, so Matt was Mr. Mom for the first two weeks. Not only was he my rock during labor, but I don't know how we would have gotten on without him in the first weeks. He continues to amaze me with his dedication to our little family even as he's gone back to work. He truly loves his son.
Many people have asked me for our birth story. Please forgive any grammatical errors as we are working on very little sleep around here :)
Jude Barrett Cole
It all started in the early morning of September 1st. Matt was watching the first Auburn game of the season in the living room where I had been camping out for a couple of weeks due to sleep issues in our bed. A little after the third quarter had started, around 3 am our time, I woke up with what felt like menstrual cramps. Not really knowing their significance, but also not able to fall back asleep, I woke up and finished the game with him. Tigers won J
After the game, around 4:35 am, we decided to call our amazing doula, Tara. She said it sounded like I was going into labor and to try to get as much rest as I could. Matt decided to go ahead and pick up some ice while I rested, and when he got back, as I was unable to really sleep, we both started getting things ready. He set up the birthing pool, cleaned the house, and rearranged our furniture while I got snacks ready for the birthing crew. It was around 9 am by the time we were done, and we checked in with Tara, and called our midwife, Alexa, who had planned to stop by for a checkup. We decided to call Tara later as things progressed as we were laboring together quite well, but we honestly didn’t know what to expect.
Around noon, Alexa showed up. We hadn’t called her to come, but she had a “feeling” and decided to stop by. We are so glad she did, because things were picking up and we didn’t realize I was able to get in the pool already - a very welcome discovery. Matt started filling up the pool, and Alexa got busy adding boiling water from the stove. We called Tara and told her to head our way around 2:00 pm, and asked our birth photographer, Jennifer, to come a half hour later.
By two, the pool was warm enough, and I hobbled in around the time Tara and Jennifer showed up. I cannot express how amazing it felt! Weight was lifted and surges were so much easier to handle. I would camp out in the pool for the next five or so hours, breaking in between for trips to the restroom. As I was in the pool I talked with Jennifer and Matt about what was going on around the world, to know what the headlines would be when Jude was born (I still thought he was going to be born this day!). I remember us talking about Diana Nyad attempting to swim from Havana to Key West for the fifth time. I mentioned something about jellyfish stopping her before, and muttered more than once “damn jellies.” She would later make it to Florida, the very day Jude was born, and exclaim, “Never give up!” What a perfect headline for my baby boy’s birthday.
On one trip back to the pool from the restroom a gorgeous photo was taken of Matt applying pressure to my lower back as I leaned over the tub; one of my favorite photos of the labor. I don’t know what I would have done without my love…
I believe it was around 7:00 pm or so that Alexa and Tara suggested I get out of the pool and rest on the couch for a few hours. Reluctant, though exhausted, Matt helped me to the couch to catch some shuteye in between surges. With every waking surge, Matt held my hand, never leaving my side.
It was midnight or so that I moved to the restroom, unable to catch any more rest. Matt came with me, of course, and I labored there for two or three hours straight by candlelight. By three I felt pressure and told Matt I needed to get in the pool ASAP. Alexa, Tara, and even Jennifer got on it right away, and within the half hour I was back in the tub. This is where things became intense.
I began to feel extreme pressure in my lower back and bottom, and it felt like the baby was going to exit the wrong way, if you know what I mean. I tried different positions in the pool, most of the time holding onto the side while kneeling. Very shortly I felt the urge to push, still not feeling pressure up front. I always thought I would be silent during this process, but nature took over and I complimented every push with a primal scream, which got louder with time. It wasn’t so much I was pushing at this point, but more like surrendering to my body. My water bag hadn’t broken yet, and Alexa came to me and asked me to visualize it popping. She asked Matt and I to speak to my body and say, “Water bag break”, which is something we said with every “push” for an hour and a half or so. Matt said this was very difficult for him because he saw me in such a process for so long, and wanted to see obvious progress.
And so, for what seemed forever, we prayed to my water bag to break. The surges became more and more intense, with three back-to-back and short breaks between. I began to feel pressure in the front, and with one large surge, I felt a pop between my legs. My bag broke! Matt said he cried with relief, and I knew the time was growing closer. I saw the sun begin to rise again and thought, “Damn. It’s been more than a day!” But I didn’t lose my focus, and grew more and more focused on the task at hand.
Tara reminded me about our birthing playlist, composed of songs we wanted the baby to hear first, including a song for a boy or a girl. This playlist would go on for the next two hours or so, but I thought we were minutes away. I kept looking at Tara, exhausted, asking, “This is progress?” She would smile, sometimes tear up, and remind me “yes!” and that we were almost there.
And then the pressure in the front came. This was one of the most challenging parts for me, and I remember coming back to the pool from a restroom break, feeling as if a brick were about to drop out of me. I’ve never felt so heavy! I pushed and pushed, and then pushed some more. Jude’s heart rate was stellar the entire time, never dropping below 120. I’m certain this is why were able to stay at home and not transfer, along with the bag breaking late.
Finally, the head. Alexa said, “go to your baby”, and I thought, "There is no way I can feel his head." But I could! That beautiful squishy little noggin (who am I kidding, it was LARGE) was just about to make its way out. This gave me solace that we surely were almost there. I took Matt’s hand to feel and he couldn’t believe it! A series of pushes later, he was closer! His head would go out, then come back in. This was necessary to prevent tearing, but I felt it went on longer than I would have liked. So frustrating! Alexa kept whispering, “Brittany, go to your baby. Show it the way.” So of course I did. I prayed to the baby to come into the world; we were ready! I was in a near sitting position grabbing Matt’s hands and pulling to provide resistance with each push when I felt the head finally leave my body. This was exhilarating and painful at the same time – my baby was almost out!
His head was out for some time, and Alexa asked me to stand up. The gravity was excruciating yet necessary, and finally Jude was minutes from our world. I had one series of pushes in which I used every muscle in my body to push, and he was one shoulder in, one out. Alexa likes babies to be born without her assistance, but she helped him out and all of the sudden I felt him slide away, into the water and her hands. It was 7:35 am on September 2nd, 2013, and I was finally a mother! I instinctively reached behind to grab my baby and move him to my chest. The cord was too short, so I lifted up my leg and we passed him through. No one even thought to check if he was a boy or a girl – we were just elated to have a baby! I sat in the water and brought him to my chest, as warm towels appeared to cover his precious body.
He was perfect.
Matt and I stared in disbelief. I cried, then laughed, and looked at Matt to find him in tears. This was the first time I had noticed him crying, and I couldn’t stop smiling! We finally looked and saw a penis. A BOY! We were thrilled! I kissed him and kissed him and welcome him the world exclaiming, “Happy birthday, Jude!” And then we heard his song in the background some minutes later – “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”.
Within a couple of minutes I wanted to transfer to the sofa to deliver the placenta and go ahead and nurse as Jude was trying to crawl to my breast, but the cord kept him short. I laid down, my baby on my breast, as Alexa asked Matt to stimulate so I could deliver the placenta. This is something I would have never thought my husband would do, but he didn’t skip a beat. Within minutes, the placenta was born and Jude latched. I was too busy staring at Jude to notice how busy Alexa, Tara, and Matt were. I was bleeding, apparently 1.5 liters escaped, and they were trying to stop it. Alexa quickly cut a couple of pieces of my placenta and put them in my mouth as Matt grabbed the frozen condoms from the freezer made just for this purpose. He then ran to make me a smoothie as voices told me to swallow the placenta, something that was difficult for me to do. Hands appeared with lifesavers that were shoved into my mouth, followed by Gatorade, and finally a delicious smoothie. All the while Alexa had prepared the Pitocin while I was trying to figure out what was going on. I just stared at Jude, then at Matt who looked more shocked than anything. I asked Tara, “Is everything OK?” She kept her resolve, and promised me “yes”, though I think she, too, was a bit nervous.
But it worked, just as promised, before Pitocin had to be administered. The bleeding stopped, and though I was weak, I was fine. Alexa asked if I wanted to transfer to the hospital. I asked what they would do and if she thought it was necessary. She said they would give me an IV and monitor me for a few days, but she could do the same. I didn’t want to transfer, and I trusted her judgment. I truly felt I would be taken better care of at home, not having to deal with the trauma of a transfer. I just kept thinking, “They’ll take my baby away” and I didn’t want anyone touching my son.
I was stable, but weak, and Alexa suggested I hand over Jude to Matt and get some rest while she monitored me. I handed my son to his father, who instinctively grabbed his sweatshirt and swaddled his baby tight. I was out, exhausted from a nearly 30-hour labor and blood loss. But I was never afraid – I received better care at home than I ever would have at a hospital.
Alexa stayed with us until nearly dinnertime, and checked on us again around 9:00 pm. Matt and I were so high on life, and lost in our son’s eyes, that we stayed up and talked, calling family and friends, when we should have been asleep. Nothing could bring us down from the most amazing day of our lives.
Our big boy. While Alexa was working on me, he was handed to Matt. Instinctively, Matt grabbed his Auburn sweatshirt and swaddled our naked babe. The beauty of a home birth...
It's a boy! First - and only - time I've ever seen my love cry.
Freshly swaddled Jude in Papa's arms.
Working through a surge in the final moments.
Stopped in my tracks by a surge. Matt was always there to help.
That's it for now! I'll continue to update as we progress in this beautiful (mad/crazy!) journey.