Xander Carter and the Journey to the New World!

May 29, 2018 | The Carters | 0 comments

So Alexander Vân Carter decided to grace our lives two weeks early! While there were some debate about his due date (April 27 based on last mensural date vs April 29 due to his size at first prenatal visit), we were just told days before that he was sunny side up (nose towards Vinnie’s pelvis) and because of that position, he most likely will be late.

Well, guess he decided he was done cooking and arrived Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 2:07PM!

This is pretty detailed, but if you would like to hear about Xander’s birth story:

Vinnie’s Perspective | Birth Photos | Stephen’s Perspective

Vinnie’s Perspective

For a first time mom, I was told it could last hours and prepared for that. Try to eat when you can, rest when you can, things like that. Apparently, our little boy was not having that. He was done and over it in less then 9 hours, from beginning to end.

I apparently seemed to have skipped most of stage one of labor. This is usually when you start feeling contractions and it’s the longest stage. However, I didn’t notice anything! I went to bed at 1AM feeling just fine; achy as usual but nothing I haven’t felt the last few months. I had been having Braxton’s Hicks few a week or so but never felt them – just the physical tightening of the uterus (no pain). Guess there is a high pain tolerance in me!

About 5:15AM, I actually felt a contraction. I thought I was finally feeling the Braxton’s Hicks I was told I was having. I let a few continue through on one side and then just rolled over to get into a new sleeping position as it was mentioned shifting usually makes it go away. It didn’t work! So about 5:30AM, I got up since I might as well go pee if I couldn’t get comfortable. Got up next to the bed and whoosh! Just like in the movies: my water breaks.

I wake up Stephen and he call the answering service of the birthing center. They tell us to take our time with everything and just wait out this first part at home. Someone will call us around 8 or so to check up on us and we’ll go from there. We’re like, okay! Early Labor, got it.

About 6:00AM, my contractions were about 45 seconds to 1 minute and barely 2-3 minutes apart. I was thinking this was was not gonna work. So we called back, told them what’s going on, and they tell us to come in.

Good thing I already packed the bags! I knew in my head I wanted as much stuff done by the beginning of April as I could just to mark it off my lists but it’s another to actually NEED it so early! In fact, we were actually set to sign paperwork on a new car this very morning! My current car is 12 years old and over 180K miles on it, so we figured it’s best to use it as a trade in now for the most value possible. Stephen had it all set up so I didn’t have to spend any more time at the dealership then needed. The reason I add this to the story is: we didn’t have the carseat installed! We were wanting to get it in the new car but that didn’t work. So into the trunk the carseat and base went, along with the bags.

As we were prepping to leaving the house, I was so slow moving I was thinking we may not make it to the birthing center; we had to pause every few minutes for a contraction and for me to breath. Stephen said we can go to the hospital instead if I don’t think I can make it, but there won’t be any traffic since it was almost 7AM on a Saturday. Once we got going in the car, I was like, let’s go for it.

So we went! Got there in record time: didn’t hit any lights, traffic or speed bumps. We got to the center with the nurse standing by at the door waiting for us and helps us in.

Now, this why we went this route and I’m glad I decided to try and make it there: the personal touches, the more hands on, and the fact we knew everyone! Like with any birth, you never know when it’s gonna happen and there is always that off chance your doctor won’t even be the one to deliver you! At the birthing center, because of this, each appointment is with a different midwife and nurse. That way, you are at least familiar with whoever happens to be on call when it’s your time.

Anyways, we were walking into the doors at 7:20AM and straight into one of the bedrooms. They have several rooms to choose from, each with a different calming theme. While it is clean and sterile, it’s homey and comforting. I got the mermaid room; fitting as the colors in there are green and blue, like everything else we’ve done (wedding colors, nursery colors…). I slowly walked in there and went straight for the bed; I just wanted to lay down.

You can tell the nurse just started to get the room set up the same way we did things that morning: just grab everything you need and sort through it when you get a moment. Things were in the room, but you know there was no setup yet besides what was needed for my immediate arrival and she can get set up after accessing me.

I’m sure she thought we were just panicking but as I got on the bed and she checked me out, you can hear the surprise in the voice that I was already at 9.5 centimeters! You hear about it in the movies: early stage labor is getting the body ready to 3cm, active labor is to 7cm and transition labor (the final stage) is when you get to the full 10cm. This whole process generally takes 11-19 hours; I’m an over achiever and jumped directly to the final stage in a few short hours.

The rest, I don’t remember much, of course. It was a blur of memories and bits of conversations; I did have a birthing photographer lined up but in the state I was in, I just didn’t want to think. Out of all this, this is my only regret as I think it would’ve been awesome to have these photos.

I do remember being asked to move around into different positions to help Xander along as at first, he got stuck. I think part of it was also, I was tiring out. I never got the putsy-putsy “easy” stage to get food in me or even some decent rest before getting into the hard work of pushing and laboring.

Things I do remember: I was asking for nitrous almost right away; I was having terrible back labor and was wanting some relief. Apparently, (I found out later) nitrous does not work on back pain, but I felt better so it eased something and if it was a placebo effect, I don’t care. Another memory is being able to think but not able to verbally get anything out; this is when my sign language definitely came in handy (get it?)! It did not help no one else in the room knew it, but after a few strangle words, we got a system set up between some basic signs and gestures. They tried to get me to eat so I can get some energy but that was almost impossible; gratefully, I had a Dr. Pepper in my snack bag, so like any true Texan, Dr. P was my saving grace giving me the energy to get through it all.

I also remember asking Stephen to distract me by talking to me (a big shock!) His mind actually went blank and so I did the only thing I knew he would never run out of things to talk about: his D&D games. I didn’t really care what he was saying, I just needed some white noise to help distract me since my brain needs multiple things to actually concentrate on one. I don’t remember much, but I know he was talking about a combo of his current two games, the show he’s watching as well as a future game he wanted to run.

Me asking him to do this continued throughout the whole day; every time I felt my mine wondering, I would say “Talk” and he would just continue on! The whole time rubbing my back (the worst) when he could, my shoulders or legs when I was in different positions where he could not reach. He was so strong the whole time. The joke was with his needle phobia, he may not be able to watch it all or be of any help, but he did it! I remember hearing snippets with the midwife as they talk about different stages, where they want me next, how things are progressing. I’m glad he was able to be a part of it like this since of course, my own memory is so different.

After a few hours of this, you can definitely tell I was tiring. The contractions were not as long, and I was fading in and out more often (if I had time between, I’m sure I would have fallen asleep). They gave me an herbal shot of bitter liquid to try and bring the contractions back so I can get him out. I found out later that they did this because it seemed he was stuck due to me having a smaller pelvis and were afraid if he doesn’t progress any soon, they may have to send me out to a hospital.

I didn’t know this, but I knew I had to get him out soon. Mostly, I didn’t want him to have a cone head! I remember moving from position to position. In the beginning, I was mostly on my left and right sides as I could easily hold the nitrous to my face that way and as I progressed, I was moved from different positions like my back, the birthing chair and my hands and knees. Once I was on the toilet as they wanted to get me to pee so it would free up some space for him! Strangely, I remember that being fairly comfortable for my back!

Towards the end, while I was on the bathing chair, they asked if I wanted a mirror to watch but since I took off my glasses (threw it more accurately) and was in such a haze, I said no. A second thing I kinda regret but I did reach down to feel his head. He was squishy; “I shall call him Squishy, and he shall be mine”

Gravity definitely help me out in that position and most of his head was delivered at this point. They then made me waddle back to the bed though as they were wanting to prevent me from tearing. That part I appreciate; moving again I did not. But I did it and they got out this ski rope accessory to help me finish it out on my back. I would hold onto one end and the nurse held the other. As the contraction happened, the midwife and Stephen held my legs as I bared down to push while pulling on the rope. It was weird but man did it work! It helped me concentrate on where to put the last bit of my energy.

I don’t know how long we were at this, but soon enough, I felt him pretty much slide out of me. It was an odd sensation and not sure how to exactly describe it. I remember asking for my glasses right away after they placed him on my chest. They let him sit there for a bit, but then took him as he wasn’t crying or making any noise. We watched as they worked on him as he was just quietly laying there and not pinking up either. Turned out he swallowed some meconium (baby poop) and this stuff is pretty tar like. The midwife explained it like having a chest cold and that gunk is just there; but for him, he doesn’t know how to use his body yet to be able to cough or cry it up. Took some vigorous simulations, oxygen mask and suctions to get him to pink up but still no cry. While in my head I knew it wasn’t right, their movements were so precise and so steady, that I wasn’t really worried (much).

After some time, they handed him back to me to get him to nurse. He was having trouble and that’s when we found out that he was tongue tied and lip tied. This will make it harder for him to feed, both from the boob and/or from the bottle of we were ever to go that route. So we were given information to meet up with a pediatric dentist as the sooner we got it fixed, the less pain and easier it would be for him.

In the end, I am so glad it worked out this way. Throughout the pregnancy, one of the biggest thing I kept thinking about is if I could really go this way. Can I be strong enough to go this route? I mean, there is modern medicine for a reason right? That thought was really the only thought I had about picking a hospital over the birthing center: the epidural. I know I have a high pain tolerance, but when people talk about labor, they say it’s almost unbearable and they would never want to do without it. When this all started that day, I thought about it. I was like, this gets worst? Can I do it? But there was also a fear that the epidural may not work on me since I’ve been on so many different pain meds over the years for my rheumatoid arthritis. Then I would miss out on having a more low key birth AND no pain meds. So I’m glad we went the route we did. Several of the ladies in our birthing class ended up needing a c-section so it did cross my mind that we may go that route too, just because. Though it turns out, if we had gone to the hospital that morning, I most likely would have had a c-section as most doctors would not wait it out once he was stuck.

The midwife who delivered Xander was actually one of my least favorite ones before because she was so strict during our appointments and just rubbed me weird; I needed more loving I guess. Haha. But man, during it all, I was glad it was her. She was firm but gentle with me at the same time. She made me focus but also knew when to give me a break without asking. She was the perfect balance of my drill sergeant and my cheerleader where I didn’t feel like kicking her. And she was so awesome at including Stephen where she could. She even traded spots with him at once point so he can get a better view and I still got the continuous rub to my back to help counter the contractions.

Thinking back, the whole thing was like a dream but better then I could have imagined; I wish I had more photos to remember it by, but I don’t think this is something I could forget either. I do not think I could have wished for a better experience and am kinda sad to no longer be pregnant. I really enjoyed it, and I’ll really miss being in pregnancy remission, but I’m glad to start this next chapter with my little man.


Birth Photos

Stephen’s Perspective

Alternate title: Xander Carter and the Escape from the Mothership

Saturday, April 14, 2018 @5:30am

It had been a late night for both Vinnie and me. I’d been up till around 1am and I know she was up till midnight. We’d had a long week and only had a few items planned for the weekend. Vinnie already had everything pretty much set up but we were told that Baby Carter (BC) was sunny side up and would most likely be late. He was her first baby after all. Plus, we had tickets to Avengers: Infinity War on the 26th!

I had been sleeping on the couch the majority of the pregnancy. The big U-shaped pillow and sleeping in odd positions combined with allergies meant we’d both sleep better separately. Anyway, Vinnie came out at 5:30ish and woke me and told me she thought her water had broken. We’d gone to a really good class on birthing so I knew this could either be the beginning of a slow labor or possibly a “false” alarm. Either way, we were both calm (like really calm).

I checked out the area by the bed and sure enough there was a lot of water. But it was clear and so that helped break through my “just woke up” fog. We might be in the beginning stages of labor. I went to look at our documentation and hey, there’s no index or table of contents. Nevermind, we’ll call the midwives! They should make a show about that. We talked to the service and they had a midwife call us.

The midwife was calm and we discussed Vinnie’s contractions and breathing. She advised taking it easy, eating and resting till the office opened around 8am. That…was not going to be an option. Over the next hour there was a marked shift in the situation. Vinnie’s contractions became more powerful and frequent. We called the midwife again and told her we might be in second stage labor, knowing full well we’d sound like “those” newbie parents. But by the third call we’d all decided we should get moving and Vinnie was saying we might have to go to St. David’s Hospital which is less than 2 miles away. The midwife agreed to meet us in 45 min at the birthing center.

Vinnie was hitting the “411” numbers by this point…strong, long and frequent contractions. She was in pain and I was massaging her lower back as she was on all 4s on the bed. There was no mistaking that she was in full on labor. I loaded the car in 2 stages. I got our “go” bag in the car with our clothes, supplies, electronics, and snacks. Neither of us had eaten and she wasn’t able to even get a protein shake in her. That came into play later. I also got the car seat and car seat base loaded. Then I came back for Vinnie. I was bouncing between rubbing her lower back and putting things in the car. Thankfully she is so well organized and planned the go bag ahead!

It took 3 contractions to get her into the car. At the end of one we moved from the bed (she and I were already dressed in comfy clothes) to the dining room table. We waited out the next contraction there and then moved to the mud room. We got her shoes on and waited out a second contraction. Once that one was done we moved her into the car and let the next one pass until we got on the road.

During this time, she was saying we needed to go to St. David’s but I asked patiently and repeatedly if she could make the 20ish minute drive to the birthing center. It was not quite 7am on a Saturday morning and there was no traffic. We’d gone through so much to have a natural childbirth and I knew it was important to her. We got on the road and turned onto Leander Rd. I asked one last time and told her the road conditions and that I could speed her there. There were also 3 hospitals on the route. She said she’d try so we headed down i35.

I admit, I did speed a bit and only took it easy on the bumps. Here’s when it really hit me…Vinnie asked me to talk to her to occupy her mind.

My mind went blank. Let that one sink in folks. I was at a loss for words.

She asked me to talk about anything, like my games or Critical Role. So I did. Over the next 7 hours I babbled about Critical Role, the campaigns I was running, games I had planned, and anything I could get to come out. All the while, I was running contingency plans in my head for possible scenarios. But we were calm and holding hands and on our way to expert assistance.

We were about to meet BC! This was not a drill!

Pulling into the parking lot of the ABC center was uncomfortable for Vinnie because of the bumps. But we parked right in front and the midwife that we’d spoken to was waiting for us. We waited out a contraction and got her inside. We were in the nice mermaid room and Vinnie got right on the bed on all 4s and continued to have regular contractions.

The midwife told Vinnie to get on her back so she could check her. I was watching her as her face changed from indulging patience to “you’re at 9.5 centimeters!”. Vinnie had skipped all the putsy putsy slow and “easy” labor and jumped right into second stage. She was really feeling it in her back and she asked for the nitrous. THAT is when I knew how much pain she was in. She can handle a metric ton of pain and discomfort. But this was back labor and a whole other realm.

So no one had eaten, we’d had far less sleep than normal and we’d skipped the stage 1 labor. It was between 7:30 and 8am and our support team for the day arrived:  Roswitha, our midwife, and Meredith, the midwife assisting her. We’d met several of the midwives and knew Ros was their go-to person. She’s originally from Germany and has a cool accent. Her and Meredith came in and talked to us and started taking BC’s readings. They listened to his heart constantly over the next 6 hours to make sure he returned to normal after every contraction or big push.

Because Vinnie had gotten to Stage 2 so quick, her body wasn’t in quite the right configuration to let BC pass through so we had to wait till she hit 10cm and then for BC to shift into position. We found out the little acrobat had flipped and was no longer sunny side up. He. Was. Ready!

I seriously thought that we’d deliver by 10am. It was that fast and intense. Vinnie was staying on her side and back through most of the first 2 hours at the center, particularly her side. My job was to babble and provide my version of nerd flavored white noise, and to massage her back. I used my hands, a hard ball and knuckles to try and provide some relief. I’d remind her to  breathe the nitrous between contractions but it wasn’t helping much We found out later that it was far less of a concentration than the dentist office. Boooo!

Sidebar- Vinnie said we had not called our birthing photographer. I asked her if she wanted me to get her phone and call her but she said no.

Ros helped Vinnie get to 10cm. Wooo! And that’s when the pushing really started. While Vinnie was incredibly uncomfortable because of the back labor, she was amazing to watch. The whole goal was to push with your central core and bear down. Yelling out might be more cathartic but it wasn’t productive. If you are going to go through the contraction, you might as well make it count. That’s so much easier to say when you aren’t the one having the contractions! It took a few tries but then once she got it she was really making progress. Vinnie had her leg on Ros’s thigh and I had the other leg. But when she “got it” we couldn’t feel her pushing us during a contraction because all of the force was down her center line and behind the baby.  

There was a point when progress of BC into position was slowing. We’d tried pushing while she was on her back and side as well as on all 4s. So the midwives suggested we move into the bathroom to see if a change of position would help. That let Vinnie rest just a bit as I sat in front of her and she rested on me. I tried talking to her and kissing her neck and holding her. I had been spooning her and rubbing her back while we were on the bed. The goal was to relieve back pain and increase oxytocin levels. Science!  

The bathroom wasn’t really a winner but it did give her a break. Ros and I had talked briefly about her energy reserves because she hadn’t eaten. We didn’t have peanut butter or honey but we did have a Dr. Pepper which she was drinking along with water. Our fear was that she’d run out of energy. But progress, though slowed, was being made so we decided to give the birthing chair a try.

This thing isn’t really a chair so much as a shell of a curved chair. It gives some support to the legs and still lets gravity try and do it’s thing. I sat behind Vinnie and supported her while she pushed through contractions. The midwives were down in front watching and checking and helping to urge her on.

Sidebar- I was able to coach pretty well even if I am not sure Vinnie heard anything I was saying. We really had paid attention in class and we were doing all the right things. Yay Team Carter!

We eventually moved back to the bed and gave Vinnie a break. Her contractions lessened a bit and she tried resting between them as much as she could. But though pushing and delivering on your back isn’t what they recommend, it was working best. So the midwives brought out the ski rope. It’s a rope with a rubber handle and some pretty fabric on it. But a midwife holds one end and Vinnie grabs the other and pulls while in a contraction. Again, the goal being to bear down into the contraction and move the baby along. That gave us some progress! Vinnie was just astounding! She was clearly in pain but she focused through it and used it to make headway. I’d already seen the baby’s head before this when we were in the birthing chair the first time. But this really moved him along.

We decided to try the birthing chair once more. It was now around 1pm and Vinnie had been at this a while. We still didn’t know how long her reserves would hold out. We got her in the birthing chair and that was really working. Ros asked Vinnie if she wanted a mirror but she said no. She then asked me to trade places with her! I did and watched as, contraction by contraction, BC’s head started pushing forward. I was giving Vinnie the play by play during contractions (whether she heard me or not, it didn’t matter). We went from not being able to really see him to seeing hair on his head! I was able to touch him and so was Vinnie once she reached down. I watched as she worked hard through each contraction. It was incredible and surreal!

BC was coming faster now and his crown was peeking out. Ros and Meredith said that the most productive pushes were when she was on her back in bed so we got her off the chair and she waddled back to the bed. That was really not fun. The next contraction pushed BC’s head halfway out! But Vinnie didn’t have enough of a contraction left to get him the rest of the way so the midwives prepared for the final contraction as we waited. The next contraction his and Ros pulled BC all the way out!

At 2:07pm, Alexander Van Carter had arrived!

Now, that’s not the end because Vinnie was still in pain and Xander had arrived with a surprise. All through the labor all the fluids had been clear. But when he delivered all this black meconium came with him. It surprised everyone but WOW was Ros amazing! The concern was Xander breathing or swallowing the meconium. She was like, “where were you hiding that?”. She moved SO FAST! She was flipping Xander from hand to hand while using the bulb to suck all the icky stuff out of his nose and mouth. It was like watching someone flip flap pizza dough from hand to hand. I know now that they were worried about his swallowing the stuff but they were reassuring and outwardly calm though focused and moving quickly. I watched as Ros and Meredith got him checked out and listened to his breathing. We left the cord attached for 5-10 minutes and then they clamped it and had me cut it.

The midwives really wanted him to cry and he really wasn’t that interested for the first 2 hours. His breathing was clear but crying would solidify the results. During that time though they monitored him and Vinnie delivered the placenta. It was really cool too! It also shows you just how big a wound she had inside. We got a tour of it from Meredith. Basically, it was like showing off Xander’s first apartment.

Vinnie was still in pain after the placenta passed. But Ros and I were chatting while she rested and BAM it was like a scene from Alien and there was blood on Ros and the bed. Vinnie passed a clot and suddenly her back was feeling much better! YAY!

Xander rested on mom and then I changed his first diaper with Ros’s help. By this point he had started to cry…and didn’t stop for like 12 hours. He’d had a tough day! His head hurt and his body hurt and it was bright and loud and cold! And worst of all, no room service! Being born is tough!

Around 10pm we got help from one of the midwife assistance who helped me install the car seat base. Then we…went to Wendy’s and got our first meal of the day and a free Frosty!  

The beginning…