Simon Pierce Burton: A Very Unexpected Birth Story

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I didn’t think the birth of our second son would be a “you MUST write everything down to remember just how crazy it was” kinda day. But, it was. It was so much better and SO MUCH WORSE than Porter’s birth.

The story starts on Monday. I went in for a weekly check, and the midwife (someone I hadn’t seen before) told me I wasn’t dilated at all, it appeared I had lots of excess fluid, that baby was very high so my water likely wouldn’t break on it’s own and I definitely wouldn’t dilate with him up that high – basically, she said that it didn’t look like labor was anytime soon. AKA, she ticked me off and discouraged me and made me cry. It was the worst visit ever - I even told her that she was very negative, and I didn’t appreciate it. I mean, the lady told me a story about how a mom with excess fluid had her cord prolapse (a risk – a very small risk – for anyone with excess fluid) and her baby died because she didn’t call 911 and chose to just labor at home after her water broke. Granted, that’s incredibly sad and I would never decide against the orders of my midwife, but come on – can you chose another way besides “scaring me” into following orders? I already knew to call 911 if my water broke and my cord prolapsed… scare tactics aren’t necessary.

Anyway, that was Monday night. We left that appointment and drove straight to our health food market to stock up on two things I knew would help my body prep for labor: red raspberry leaf tea and evening primrose oil. Then we drove to Target, bought an exercise ball and walked around until the mall closed down. After my momentary meltdown about how negative the midwife was, Paul challenged me to prove her wrong. He reminded me that God has this delivery mapped out, so it was time to show her that she didn’t know everything.

I spent late into the night Monday and all day Tuesday on the ball, drinking my tea and downing teaspoons of primrose oil. I was having a lot of crampy contractions during the day on Tuesday, but nothing too crazy. I timed them on an app, and nothing was consistent. They were lasting about 40 seconds, and they were anywhere from 8-10 minutes apart – sometimes I had a spurt where I had a few that were 3-4 minutes apart, but they were less intense. I got a chiropractic adjustment that night, and challenged my chiropractor to send me into labor, please. Tuesday night, Paul and I went to bed around 11pm. We had to be up early the next morning to go in for a fluid check/ultrasound with my midwife.

Just after midnight, I must have adjusted my positioning as I slept… because I woke up to a small but dramatic gush of water. It was VERY obvious what was happening and I was shocked. I still remember the stillness. All I felt/heard/thought about was what I felt to be happening. It was almost eerie; I thought I may be dreaming, but quickly realized that I was very much awake and I was very much making a mess. I leapt out of bed because (priorities) I didn’t want to ruin our new mattress pad and hissed into the darkness: “PAUL. PAUL! I think my water is breaking. My water is breaking.”

He jumped out of bed in confusion, stared at me, and we both stared down at my legs like all of a sudden it was going to be this crazy tidal wave of water that swept us away. Lol. It was the weirdest sensation – he couldn’t see it, but it was happening… a small but constant flow. There was no mistaking it. My water had broken.

Paul started throwing towels for me to stand on, and then went to get his mom so she could help us get out of the house. I was in this weird state of giggling because “I DID IT. DR. DOUG DID IT. EVENING PRIMROSE AND MY BOUNCY BALL AND MY NASTY TEA DID IT AND THAT DUMB MIDWIFE KNOWS NOTHING and crying because “OMG I DIDN’T THINK IT WOULD HAPPEN THAT FAST”. I was just paralyzed. I stood there in my room, on my towels, just soaking it all in (no pun intended). This was it. We were gonna meet the fourth member of our family. And my water had broke, just like I knew it would. I just had a feeling this would be how it happened. So far, everything was exactly how I wanted it to be.

Paul raced around and gathered a few of the things we needed. We called Patti to give her a heads up, I told her I had no sign of cord prolapse and that I could still feel Simon moving, but that we were heading in so he could be monitored, per the request of the midwives.

I was only having small contractions every ten minutes or so, nothing to write home about. It made traveling a bit scary, but we got to the hospital and checked in thru the ER. They brought me up to the room, where my first nurse was named Summer. I was still having really inconsistent contractions, so I told her I was going to go walk after they got an initial check done on me.

Midwife on-call came in my room – Joan – and checked me for progress. I was expecting to be dilated to a big fat zero, since that’s just how I roll. She said she could feel Simon was still really high up, and he would need to come down quite a bit before things really got moving… same thing Nightmare Midwife told me on Monday. I could feel the disappointment creeping into my soul. All these contractions, water breaking… and still no progress?

But then she casually slipped in “but you’re dilated to a 4, so that’s great.”

I literally teared up and told Joan I could kiss her, I was so happy. A FOUR?! FOUR?? I never even dilated to a 2 by myself, after 20+ hours of Pitocin contractions with Porter. This was huge. I was hellbent to walk this baby out and newly motivated by this positive report, so I told them I was going to take some laps around the 14th floor to get things moving.

I also told Paul to lay down and nap - it was 1:30am, and I knew he needed to rest so he would be ready for the delivery as well. I had adrenaline on my side, and he only had lack of caffeine and probably some major anxiety working in his favor. He’s a fixer, so I know he secretly hates labor because there’s nothing he can do but be there for me (even though that is MORE than enough in my eyes). My contractions got a little closer together at this time – about 5-6 minutes – but they were still nothing too bad in intensity. I kept walking through them because it actually helped me manage the discomfort. My midwife found me in the hall and checked-in. I could talk through contractions, so she told me to keep walking.

I walked until they got a little more intense and I had to stop and hold the wall railing until it passed. Eventually, I went back to the room and sat on an exercise ball. All I thought about was Simon dropping into position as I moved on the ball. I visualized it, just like everyone told me to do.

At one point, I got up to go to the bathroom and was hit by a contraction that woke Paul up. I made some pretty desperate noises as I tried to cope, and he recognized that in my voice. I had him help me through 2 or 3 more of those, and then I told him we should probably call Patti to come in because things seemed to be moving along. I didn’t know how soon they would increase in intensity even more, so better to be safe than sorry. I couldn’t imagine moving into active labor without Patti.

She arrived quickly, and my contractions did pick up. We moved into a bigger room with a tub, since I wanted the option to do a water birth if the stars aligned. Patti stepped in to help Paul help me, and I swear… something about Patti’s touch, her massage, her soothing and experienced voice in my ear… I just melted into my labor and felt SO at peace with the pain.

Have I mentioned she’s amazing at what she does?

The midwives changed shifts, and I was thrilled to see that my ORIGINAL MIDWIFE, Christina, was on duty. I hadn’t been able to see her through my pregnancy because her weekly availability was so intense between the hospital and the clinic, but I was praying to get her for my delivery. AND I DID. I was in the middle of too many intense contractions to acknowledge her at first, but Paul made sure I knew she was with me, and I was so grateful that he did.

Paul also ran to grab a coffee and when we came back, he excitedly announced “guess who I ran into?”. Not imagining I would care AT ALL what he was about to tell me, he let me know that he’d run into Marcy – the nurse that absolutely saved my life during my labor with Porter. Luckily, she and I had been Facebook friends over the last two years (yeah, I’m the girl that stalks my nurses and friend requests them on Facebook), so she had us fresh on her mind as our due date neared.

She recognized Paul right away and called out to him. She was just coming on shift, and switched her assignment/schedule so she could be with us. I seriously could have cried, if I wasn’t distracted by my uterus shredding into a million pieces within my body. She is the best thing in the world, and looking back now on the entire process, having her with us for Simon’s birth was completely meant to be… a total act of God.

We also had an amazing nurse named Ali, and an assisting midwife named Sheryl – all of them were wonderful. I just can’t say enough – if you’re delivering at a hospital, I seriously pray you get nurses that treat you like their best friend. It makes the process SO much better. Nurses in general who love their job and honestly care for their patients: your job is so important and we LOVE that you love what you do. You are worth your weight in gold and I hope you know how valuable you are.

Love this photo of my mom and dad
My support.
I labored on the exercise ball for the longest time, until the contractions got so intense that I needed to do something else. Patti told me I could go in the tub, so I did. Shockingly, the water didn’t help me like it helped me last time. I don’t know why… maybe I should have gotten in sooner or something, but the pain relief wasn’t as obvious to me. Paul got in with me, and he was dying – the water was HOT, per my request, and I’m pretty sure he thought he was going to melt away. I got out shortly after. Everything was just blurring together.

I decided in my head that I needed an epidural, and I remember the moment vividly. The pain was horrendous, and I just couldn't... get in front of it. If that makes sense? I felt like every contraction was just beating me over the head. Forget natural labor, I can’t do it anymore. Truth be told, this was all mental and I needed to just deal with it. Everyone was shouting encouragement at me, which sort of made it worse. Mainly, because I knew it was true. I could do it. I could go somewhere else in my mind, push past the pain, and DO THIS. Right?

Patti said: “but Corianne, what if you’re at a 9 or a 10 and it’s time to push? THEN would you want an epidural?” I said I didn’t know, but I did know one thing: I felt absolutely NO urge to push, and that freaked me out. I remember the transition with Porter so well, even with an epidural. I could feel so much pressure that my ONLY option to survive was to push the baby out… there was no other option, it was just second nature; primal.

They checked me at this point, and much to my surprise… I was nearly a 10. Through the pain and tears, I saw a tiny light… I had done it. Naturally. I was a 10… so why wasn’t it time to push? Why wasn’t that primal instinct taking over? Where was the undeniable pressure?

Turns out, there was one section of my cervix, again, that wasn’t dilating enough, so I was technically only a 9.5, but they could help me with that part… that wasn’t the bad news. The bad news was, Simon was still very high – he wasn’t coming down as he should have been, and his heart rate was all over the place now. I knew something wasn’t right.

I still had no urge to push. They told me to push anyway, but it’s so hard to explain – I couldn’t push beyond the pain. I just wanted to escape this sharp, intense pain so I could concentrate on pushing. I wanted to enjoy this experience and bring him into a calm(er) environment. I began begging for an epidural. I couldn’t think clearly, and I definitely couldn’t rationalize what I wanted. I couldn’t keep surviving through these crazy contractions if that urge to push wasn’t coming up SOON. And they couldn’t tell me it would happen soon, because they had no idea why he wasn’t dropping into place. Lots of guesses, but no one knew for certain. I felt like everyone had more to say to me, but just wouldn’t say it.

I kept saying: “I just want to enjoy this process. I just want to feel the urge to push. I can’t push right now – I literally don’t have the intense pressure that I felt last time. Why? WHY?”

Patti and Christina agreed that an epidural would allow me time to just relax and “labor down” – to see if my contractions could push Simon into place and bring on the urge to push. They got it to me quickly, and soon – I was resting. I stared to feel some contractions that came with pressure, so I was getting excited. I agreed to start pushing against that pressure, even though it wasn’t nearly the intensity I was expecting and remembering, so we did. For two hours.

They checked me again, and he had dropped a bit – but there was still something holding him back. I tried to understand, and they were so kind and patient with me – they wouldn’t give me any for sure answers, especially when I asked: “is anything happening? Are all these contractions doing ANYTHING?” Can you feel him moving when I push? I think they knew this wasn’t looking good, but they remained optimistic for my benefit. At this point, though, I needed the truth, not optimism. And I could tell that all they were giving me were broad, open-ended answers so as not to let me be disappointed if they were wrong. Bless their hearts.

Simon’s heart rate kept dropping drastically, so I had to keep switching positions – even with my epidural, I was able to do this. It was the perfect epidural… I was able to move around and feel things, but the sharpness of my contractions had been dulled. I was able to get on my hands and knees and push, and then used a towel and a bar to pull myself up and push that way. I pushed on my side, I pushed leaning over the bed, I pushed squatting… it was insane. I got checked again, and no change. Still a 10, still had a baby camping out way up there and not descending into the birth canal at all. I knew what was coming.

The head of surgery came in to watch a few of my contractions, and to watch Simon on the monitor… she informed me kindly that if things kept up this way, we would have to do a c-section to get him out. SOMETHING was holding him back, and something was causing his heart rate to drop – it was very likely that it was even something with his cord positioning – maybe even from the excess fluid I had during my pregnancy, he had it compressed up by his head, or wrapped around his neck.

Then, meconium started appearing in the water that was still coming out of me (yes, still). They didn’t seem too alarmed until it was coming out thicker and darker. As the decision was being made about whether to do a c-section, the meconium got thicker and darker – almost as if on queue - and it made our next step apparent.

We were having a c-section.

I cried and cried. Mainly because part of me felt like a failure, but also because I was ok with a c-section and I was disappointed in my acceptance. Does that even make sense? Where was my “women are made for this/we can do anything/I am women so hear me roar” mentality? Was I really that weak to be… relieved?... that I wouldn’t have to make an effort anymore?

But, truth be told - the thought had crossed my mind somewhere toward the end of my two hours of pushing with no progress and my baby’s heart rate dropping down so low… I just wanted him out safely, even if that meant major surgery. I had no energy left. I was a shaking, sweaty mess.

I had a few moments alone with Paul thanks to Patti’s suggestion, and I cried to him about how I was ok with a c-section. He is from a family of strong women – they’ve all had water births, all unmedicated - and they weren’t easy labors. I was with my sister in law for her daughter’s birth, and I heard/saw the desperation and panic that I had been feeling. So, why wasn’t I strong enough to keep going? I had hoped Paul wasn’t disappointed with me and my inability to do this not only not without drugs, but now not vaginally either. It’s such a complex range of emotions that a woman goes through during labor, and especially in the face of a c-section… I can attest to this now. 

Paul assured me that he didn’t and couldn’t ever think any less of me, of us – that I was the strongest woman he knows, and that he knew it was time for this route and I was making the ultimate sacrifice to bring our baby into the world. Which made me cry even more. I’ll say it a million times over, but I am so thankful and grateful for the man I married.

One of my favorite memories in the whole world is when it was time to move into the OR, Patti suggested a family prayer before we began. So, we all gathered together, and Paul began praying – he broke down immediately and couldn’t speak, which killed me – but thankfully, Maggie stepped up and said “I got this.” And she prayed the most intense, emotional, strong and steadfast prayer I’d ever heard. I’m so thankful for the amazing women in my life. I felt completely covered and supported as I moved in to the operating room. My anxious and emotional self was ready for this new and terrifying experience.

I’ve heard a lot of stories about c-sections, but experiencing one was mind blowing – and I kind of enjoyed it. Christina and Sheryl were in the room, as well as Marcy and Ali – and Paul and Patti. I felt like I had the best entourage with me through an unfamiliar experience, I was sort of excited to be doing this with them.

I was numbed, and felt absolutely nothing except for pressure. People told me what was happening as it was happening, and I was amazed at modern medicine at this point and time. I wish I could tell you everything that happened, but it was a blur. Everyone was working together smoothly; I remember they “introduced” themselves at the start of the c-section, and then it began right after...


Corianne’s recollection of the OR trip is a little foggy (this is Paul, by the way), so I think its time that I jump in. One of the scarier things to hear is the words “c-section” or “major surgery”, when you’re standing there in a very vulnerable time in your life. It was tempting to allow fear and doubt to take over. Luckily, through out the entire day we had continually talked to God, read verses of His promises and listened to worship music. So, I proceeded to walk confidently behind the bed that not only carried my incredibly strong and brave wife, but also my unborn second son. When we stepped into the OR it was like stepping into a well-choreographed dance routine. Everyone knew their cues.

They instantly got to work as we got into the room. Hooking up IV’s and tubes and sensors and more tubes and monitors until Corianne looked more superhuman then that of a woman getting ready to give birth. They started administering the drugs and Corianne’s face went from one of fear and anxiety to one of peace and comfort. She looked beautiful; angelic almost. While me… I felt like a complete and utter disaster. Nerves and fear were constantly trying to force their way in as the mind monsters are working double time to knock me off track.

The doctors and nurses all introduced themselves and their position and away they went. Corianne’s face didn’t change much except for when she felt some slight tugging and pulling. She quickly asked Patti what was happening and Patti’s response was calm and soothing as she said “they’re preparing the way for your boy.” Corianne quickly returned to her calm, smiling, peaceful, angelic self.
And then just like that I hear Patti ask, “Paul do you want to see the baby come out?” to which I quickly responded, “No, I don’t think I’d be able to handle that.” So, I continued on talking to my wife in her ear. Reminding her to think about tomorrow when all of this is over and we are in the room relaxing with our newest addition. (Sidenote: one of our favorite memories from having Porter was the next day in the hospital when it was just the three of us and it was quiet and peaceful).

A couple of minutes passed and I hear the Doctor say something like “it’s time” and just like that I was standing and watching Simon as he was pulled out of Corianne’s body. It was incredible; truly amazing. They were all impressed with how his cord was wrapped around him, and Marcy stated that’s why his heart rate would drop so dramatically when C would push. Within seconds the doctor passed Simon off to the NICU nurse, which was right to my left. Patti said “Paul, go talk to your new boy, he needs to hear your voice.” And like that I was saying hi and talking to my new son as the nurse began to work on him.

The NICU nurse told me that what she was going to have to do would look like she was being rough, and could be hard to watch. She explained that she was going to have to push a tube down his throat to suction out all of the meconium from his lungs. She was matter of fact when she said: “We don’t want to hear him cry until the tube has been pulled” to which I proceeded to tell Simon not to cry. He was already an obedient listener, because he didn’t. The NICU nurse started suctioning and pulling everything out and then pulled out the tube and the most incredible sound to hear is the sound of your son making noise for the first time. Simon instantly started singing (ok, maybe it was screaming - but it was the sweetest scream)

The nurse cleaned him off a bit and wrapped him in a blanket and then thrust him into my hands. Finally. I forgot what an overwhelming feeling it is to hold your child for the first time. Instantly, the world stopped moving and it was just Simon and I in the room. He was perfect. He was Porter’s twin. He coo’d and made faces at me while fighting to try and open his eyes under the bright lights of the operating room. He had all ten fingers, all ten toes, and a wiener – he was IN FACT a boy. He was complete and healthy and alive!

"DO’s the work email done enough something…” mumbled jibberish brings me out of my distracted state. C is asking me about something and not making any sense at all. She is super-loopy and hilarious.

One of the more memorable moments for me was taking Simon to C and placing him right next to her face. She started talking to him and he turned his head into her and knew immediately that mommy was right next to him. It was such a special moment only, and I was savoring every second… only to be interrupted by C frantically asking if he had both eyeballs. She was hilarious and had the entire OR laughing. (Sure wish she was like that in real life…. #itsajokepeople #imfunny ← Inside joke)

As they are getting the placenta and the chord, C started that she couldn’t swallow and she started to panic a bit, so they administered a different drug to basically knock her out… and knock her out it did. Within what seemed like one second of her getting the drug she was snoring and finally getting some much needed and well-deserved rest. So, what did I do? I went back to Simon. We sang Jesus Loves Me and continued our conversation from earlier.

I received a tap on my shoulder and the NICU nurse told me that I would hold Simon and we would be transferred to our room. So, off we went to B6. I was floating. My son in my arms and my wife perfectly ok (well maybe not fully perfect, but healthy and ok) by my side. I got into the room first, with Simon in my hands and Patti and the NICU nurse right behind me. I laid Simon in the cage-thingy and the NICU nurse started taking vitals and going through all that normal stuff. He weighed a solid 8lbs, 50z (we’d been taking bets during the surgery on how big he would be – I don’t remember who won, but he wasn’t as big as Corianne guessed he would be).
All I could think about at that moment was getting to my father in law to tell him that his first-born and his second grandson are all ok. I raced to the waiting room and was greeted by him with open arms. I was so thankful that he was there, along with my mother in law and my mom and sisters. I told them that all was good and everyone was healthy. After that I ran back to the room and C had arrived, she was still coming out of her loopy-ness and trying to put all the pieces of the last hour together. I was just glad to have my whole family together.

Ok, back to C!


That night, my family brought Porter to meet his brother, and it was the moment I had been waiting for for 10 months. He was nervous and a little startled by all the IVs on me, although I tried to reassure him that it was “just like Doc McStuffins” (he didn’t buy it). He was so proud to meet his baby brother, though. He begged to hold him, and kissed him on the forehead a billion times.

We were moved to recovery, and I was up and walking as soon as they would let me – everyone was impressed by well I was “recovering”. The hardest part about recovering from a c-section, by far, is not being able to hold my oldest son. YOU try explaining to a two year old that mommy can’t pick him up. I’m trying to take it easy, but man is it hard with a big, blue-eyed toddler asking: “mommy hold you?” with his arms outstretched. I maaay have cheated once or twice (a day).

Other random notes I want to remember:
  • I freaking love the nurses on the 12th floor – they were all amazing. Pon and Annie were my favorite duo.
  • Apple juice over ice… all day every day. Nurse Annie knew my order whenever she asked me if she could get me anything.
  • It’s impossible to rest in recovery when they are coming into your room every couple hours. Holy moly. At one point, I had a janitor, a photographer, and a lactation consultant back to back in my room at like 7am. I just wanted to rest! Haha
  • My incision is incredible – you literally can’t even see it. It’s stitched from the inside, and is a serious work of art.
Right now, it will be 3 weeks tomorrow that Simon's been with us, and I can honestly say it feels like so much longer. He is so precious, and we feel so incredibly blessed to be a family of four. Porter adores his brother, and has been such a joy to spend time with - we sneak away when we can, just the two of us, for granola bars in mommy and daddy's bed or a quick walk down the street to see the horses and donkeys, and he is a happy camper. If he's feeling jealous or overwhelmed, he doesn't show it. He's such a strong, proud, happy boy - our "gatekeeper" for sure.

If it's possible, bringing a new family member into the world has completely blown my love for my firstborn and my husband SKY high. I have this enormous sense of pride when I look at Simon, because I feel like I - like we - did something so incredibly right. We've set the table for him, prepared a place, and brought him into a home overflowing with love and eager to welcome him home, and there's nothing more fulfilling than that.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, I cried! I love that birth stories are never quite what you expect or maybe even want, but always end up just so perfect... These pictures are beautiful and I'm so happy for your sweet family!