Monday, May 3, 2010
As a mom of 3 little ones..and even more so now that i am a doula..people tell me their birth stories and I love each one. Even when the list of interventions is longer than my arm and the mis-information the doctors gave makes me want to rip my eyes out..it's still uniquely her story..the day she birthed her baby.
Lately I've been thinking about my second birth...my daughter is 2 and a half and I've given little thought to certain aspects of her birth. But as a doula I've been learning more and more and am amazed at how many 'dangerous' and 'life threatening' things happened and yet..it never occurred to me at the time. I so deeply trusted birth. Lately I've been humbled a bit when thinking of her birth and had to wonder..was I just *lucky*?
My baby girl presented with a nuchal hand...making pushing very painful..not to mention the fact that she was a healthy 9pounds 4oz's to boot. I had heavy bleeding right after delivery so my desires to bond with my baby in the warm waters of her birth and nurse..were dashed in the reality of needing to assess how much blood I was losing.
The room was filled with family and I was busy bonding with my new little one and snugging with my 19 month old as well. All the while my midwives were quietly busy changing my chux pads, pushing on my fundus, taking my vitals, asking me if I felt *dizzy*...and I took no notice. I was just nursing away...laughing..and eating my Jack in the box. Time was passing and the placenta was not coming..my midwives quiet busyness was quickly giving way to quiet concern as I continued to bleed heavily. I was informed I was going to get a shot of Pitocin in my leg. Sure..ok I said. I trusted my midwives and knew there must be a reason and never missed a beat. More chux pads were changed and again not knowing why but I was handed a pill and instructed to swallow it...Methergine. Again..Sure ok..
Everyone was asked to leave the room and at a time when I didn't want to EVER push anything out of my vagina again I was being urged to push as hard as I could. My belly was mush..my legs were shaking..I didn't feel like anything was happening. And yet the placenta did come..but not all of it. I was instructed to get on my, jello, knees while they inspected the trailing membranes and strategized about getting them to come out. The rest is a blur..but sooner or later I was back in the bed..baby in arms.
Next as we examined the placenta it is discovered I had a velamentos insertion (http://www.vasaprevia.org/vasaprevia/velamentous.html). I believe it was explained to me what it was and I discovered it was a really *rare* condition. One of the midwives was a student so she took pictures of it to share with her class. My bleeding continued and at this point they talked with me about the fact that I was losing a lot of blood..faces were serious. I did NOT want to go to the hospital..I was exhausted and desperate to crawl into my own bed with my new baby. So my daugther was born at 10 minutes before 11pm and we eventually went home around 3:30am once my bleeding was satisfactory.
I continued to take the Methergine the next day to help my uterus to clamp down and as was hoped for, I passed a colossal clot into the toilet the next evening. Let's talk about passing the clot shall we? If you've had a vaginal birth your care provider probably told you to *call* if you pass anything larger than a small orange. Well, I sat down to pee and did not so much feel the clot slip out but *heard* the splash and thought, Uh Oh..that sounded BIG. Not wanting to alarm anyone (my husband and mother in law were in the living room) I went into the kitchen and rummaged around for the appropriate utensil to fish it out. What is the appropriate utensil you might wonder..I wondered the same thing and finally settled on a soup ladle. I returned to the scene of what now looked like a murder..with blood smeared all over the toilet seat..filling the toilet bowl..down my legs..you get the picture. B.A.D.
Ok, so ladle goes in...and the large pear/small pineapple size clot comes up. Alarmed at it's size..many things went through my mind at lightning speed..*unborn twin? my uterus? do I have only minutes to live?* you know..that kind of thing. So feeling sure I might die I call my midwife and explain what has happened. To my horror (relief?) she is overjoyed and excited. WHAT??? And instructs me to place the clot in a bag and they will be out to dissect it tomorrow. Only while this call is taking place in my bathroom, my living room has now filled with well wishers wanting to see the baby. The guest list included: My Aunt and Uncle from Canada, the youth pastor and his wife from upstairs, our church pastor and his wife...and also my husband and his mother. awesome. So I place clot in requested bag and not knowing what else to do with it I shove it in the right crisper drawer of my refrigerator.
Now ready for my close up I go out to meet the well wishers and say out of the side of my mouth to my husband, Whatever you do.. DO.NOT.OPEN.THE.CRISPER.DRAWER. Of course he responds immediately with, Why? I say, just DON'T! and he asks, Why again and if you are a wife you know exactly the look I gave him in front of company that implied he would SEVERELY regret asking me again and hate his life later if he did. So he did not press me a third time.
Ok, so the MW's come out for the home visit and with extreme excitement they don blue gloves and a scalpel and cut apart the clot I gave birth too the previous day. Here the cause of my continued bleeding is discovered as retained membranes inside the clot. Those membranes secreted just enough hormone to tell my uterus there was still a baby inside and to keep sending blood. Alas..the bleeding was done..total blood loss including Colossal Clot = 1780cc's. Lay men's terms: 1/3 of my total blood supply. Another fact a post partum hemmoraghe is considered to be 500cc's or more...um...ya.
Ok..that's the story..here's the review. First of all I am eternally grateful to my midwives for being so incredibly skilled at what they do and that they managed my hemorrhage amazingly. Obviously..I didn't die and have had another beautiful birth with them. What I appreciated is that though they were *concerned* they did their job without causing unnecessary drama. So that when I remember that birth I just recall having ample time to hold and bond with my baby, visit with family, and just enjoy myself. What if I had been in a hospital? How would it have been different?
And now the placenta...
I was recently at a playgroup of all first time mama's with babies ranging in age from 4 months to 1 year. Inevitably the conversation always turns to birth and so it did this day also. A young mother was encouraged to tell her story of how her and her baby are lucky to be alive. I internally take the Lord's name in vain and wait for my tongue to begin bleeding. I won't get into all the details but the story ends that after her healthy baby is csectioned out it comes to light that she had a velamentous insertion which all the medical staff gathered around to see, b/c as I mentioned before it is extremely rare. So it is at this time that the doctor informs the mother that 'its a good thing we didn't have you do a vaginal birth because your baby would have bled to death and died.'
And so since the day 4 months prior that the doctor had said that, this mother really believed that csection saved her baby's life. Also I guarantee you that as many times as she had told that story NO ONE she told had ever encountered this themselves..until *that* day. When I calmly said...Oh, I had a velamentous insertion with my 2nd daughter. I think I almost heard the internal gears grind to a halt and her face froze looking at me. I shrugged my shoulders like it was no big deal and said, Ya..she was 9#4oz..I had her in the water..it was fine. I responded this way because of how my midwives handled my birth by choosing to focus on the joy of a new baby and the celebration of a mother having had a great birth instead of focusing on what *could* have happened. Anyways, I hadn't given her velamentous insertion detail another thought since that day. The new mom looked me dead in the eye and cautiously asked me, Do
you think I could've had a vaginal birth?
Everything in me wanted to scream from the rooftops, YES! YES! YES! but because I am a birth professional working within a tight knit community I must weigh my answers carefully at all times. Personal agendas and Rants are for Facebook Status updates..not playgroups full of first time mom's. So after a moment I answered saying only this, 'I think doctor's make things seem a lot more scary than they really are at times.' And this seemed to appease her but I could see her begin to question her *life saving* c section.
Ok, so I left that playgroup shortly after that interaction, with an extreme headache and a bleeding tongue (metaphorically) and enraged by what I had heard. All the way to Sonic Burger, where I planned to *treat* myself after hearing about all these csections and cytotec induced births, I raged in my car about, WHY WOULD A DOCTOR SAY THAT? WHY WOULD THEY TELL HER WHILE SHE IS CELEBRATING HER BABY THAT HER BABY COULD'VE DIED? WHY?WHY?WHY? No one told me that Samantha could've died...wait..
could she have died?
So I make a call to an awesome local midwife who is like a textbook or birth wikipedia or something. I barely even said Hi before raging into the phone, Tell me everything you know about velamentous insertion..are there risks? Is it dangerous??..she sighed and says, Ah yes the elusive velamentous insertion and vasa previa. She then explained vasa previa to me. And as rare as velamentous insertion is in the first place the fact of vasa previa is even MORE rare.rare.rare. Like that mom took a bigger risk putting her new baby in the car to drive her home than she would've had risked having a vaginal birth. Also I should note that velamentous insertion is not detected on ultrasound but only discovered after delivery of the placenta. So...in the event of vasa previa you wouldn't know it was a risk factor and it wouldnt matter much where you were (at home or hospital) chances are you wouldn't get to the baby in time to save it..a sad fact.
So I thank my midwives for treating birth as it is normal and for treating me like a woman who was in her high harvest day. Because for two and a half years I've retold Sam's birth as a peaceful, powerful experience..where I also bled...a.LOT. but that is SUCH a side note to the actual labor and birth that brought her to us. But now I guess I can say, My baby and I are lucky to be alive after I had a MASSIVE post partum hemmoraghe losing 1/3 of my blood supply and the baby could've bled to death and died via vasa previa from her undiagnosed velamentous insertion. Thank GOD we were in a hospital and everyone is still alive..oh..wait..:)
But in all seriousness after learning about vasa previa I did feel a little bit ill after thinking I *could've* lost my baby but then the truth of the matter is a thousand other things *could've* happened but DIDN'T happen and my daughter is a happy, healthy 2 year old. And really what would've been the point of within an hour of birthing my baby if my midwife had looked at me and informed me of the rare complication that *could've* killed my baby? How would that have impacted the *memory* of her birth..forever? Instead they skillfully, respectfully,and safely cared for me and honored my memory of birth and that is such a gift. A gift I try to be highly aware of when attending other mom's in their births in how I can protect *their* memory of their own birth.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
For the second day in row I have laid down to take a nap while my 3 precious babies sleep. I have been nursing a growing boy every hour at night for the last few nights and have been crashing come afternoon. Only as hard as I try to allow sleep to overtake me it's never before I think about one precious baby boy born a few days ago who might go under the knife next week. He had a beautiful, peaceful birth and is right now trusting of his world and environment...maybe snuggled with his mama nursing and warm, percieving the world through the love, safety, and comfort that is surrounding him. However, if I can't get the good research to his parents quick enough...they might hand that precious baby over to a doctor to have his arms and legs strapped to a board...surrounded by doctors and nurses strangers to this tiny baby..who will then proceed to clamp..pull..stretch..tear apart and cut up his penis...HIS PENIS the most sensitive thing on his whole little body...while his helpless, terrified screams fill the room. I just can't fathom it...my stomach begings to ache, i tear up, and my pulse quickens and find that I just can't sleep. So today in order to relieve a little of the anxiety I am posting about it. Occassionaly when the nauseau and sadness about circumcision overwhelms me, which is often, I hold my son close and am slightly satiated in knowing that I was able to spare this one, MY precious son. But my heart still breaks in two for all the others...in my work as a doula I always ask if they know what they are having and when the answer is a boy, in a very non biased and casual way place a reasearch packet w/ dvd's (from peaceful parenting) on the table and encourage them to read through that first before making a decision. That as a doula it's part of my role to give informational support and with that conclude the visit. Each time I've done this even fathers who were dead set on cutting their sons before the research practically wept in relief that they didn't go forward with cutting their sons after becoming educated about it. One even struggles now with anger towards his own parents for allowing it to happen to him.
Every doula has a line when working with families..where they set a boundary and can not work with a family. You spend time on it in doula training to find out if you have that line and what it might be..for some doulas it's smoking..they won't work with a mom who won't quit smoking. I have had a smoking mama...I was stll able to give her great care and support her through her labor. For other's it's epidurals they won't work with a mamaa who is scheduling an epidural. I've worked with several and have been able to help those mom's avoid other interventions including csection because of their having a doula...I was able to add a lot of value in that way and I am proud to have helped them. But THIS..this one is my line..if I have a family that plnas to cut their son and AFTER reading the research STILL wants to move forward to cut their sweet baby..I will refer that family to another doula. It's my line..hard, fast and inflexible. To help a baby have a peaceful, natural birth only to have his parents hand him over a few days after life to a doctor to have the above described experience..is so contradictive to what I do.
I have long felt that circumcision was mutiltaion of a baby...but since birthing my first son my heart is softened in a new way about it. Now I weep...WEEP..for babies that get cut and look at my son and can't imagine doing it. And I know that MOST mom's do not want to do this to their babies but feel it's is 'dads decision' b/c ...well i don't know why. It's still YOUR baby that you grew inside your body and whom YOU pushed out and who you nurture at your breast...who you are hardwired on very primal levels to protect at all costs...it cannot come naturally to hand your son over.
Jakob was hospitalized at two months old for a UTI...and b/c his little veins were so small and delicate they had to send us down to Children's hospital to place a PICC line in his arm. (after 12 failed attempts to stab him and many, MANY blown veins later). After a lengthy conversation with the anestheseologist (sp?) where Josh and I asked many questions about the procedure and about the things that were 'necessary' etc. I had to hand my brand new baby to this stranger. I'll never forget it and weep even as I write this, all wrapped up and sweetly sleeping in a blanket I gave over my son and the doctor looked in my eyes and said very compassionately, "Sweet baby, yes?" And I nodded and dropped down into the chair and wept openly as I watched her disapear around a corner with my baby. And this for a procedure that would not harm my son or alter him for life or cause post traumatic stress and a bevy of other horrible side effects. And after I had composed myself enough to walk to the waiting room my husband attempted to make me laugh. He suceeded and then feeling I was ok he stepped outside to make some phone calls. However, I sat 25 feet away from the door the doctor disapeared through with my son..this door opened up to a short corridor with 3 other doors..Jakob was inside one of those rooms. As it turned out many staff used this door to come and go..and while Josh was outside the door swung open and I could hear my son screaming. I began to cry so hard..2 more times the door openend and I heard Jakob cry. I had never experienced as a mother such a visceral and primal reaction to my newborn's crying. I had never had a baby in trauma before..in a hospital..my girls cried b/c they were hungry or tired but this was different. Now granted he was probably crying b/c they were putting cold iodine on the place where the line would go..or perhaps from the quick sting of the shot with the numbing medicine or b/c they had to strap down one of his arms...but his cries were terrified and I was unable to go to him and comfort him. I remember kicking the ground and yelling out loud, COME ON!! in anger. Earlier in Bellingham during the 7 hour ordeal to try to find a vein and including one spinal tap (AWFUL) I had been able to be with him..to lean over him and nurse him while they poked him over and over..to provide him with myself. But now he was where I could not get to him and it was the most maddening of helplessness a mother could ever experience. Now, all of this was out of my control in the sense that he had an infection that was ravaging his body and left unchecked would cause him to turn septic and die. This was necessary. Circumcision is NOT necessary.
Josh returned to find me a sobbing mess in my chair so he quickly grabbed my arm and made me walk away..to go upstairs and walk. I knew it was necessary and that Jakob would be ok and we waited for our pager to go off. Once they paged us it was still an agonizing amount of time before they brought me my baby. I was pacing in and out of the waiting room like a tiger and making the nurse nervous. I was a mama bear now not to be messed with, I wanted my baby. Micheal Odent talks about the oxytocin release between mother and baby that is remarkable...and when I saw the nurses aid FIANLLY come around the corner with my son wrapped in a heated blanket...every fiber of my being, my heart, my soul, my SKIN cried out for that baby. And the relief that flooded my body was intense as I clutched him tightly to my chest and buried my face in his neck. Upon smelling me my son who had been sleeping began to cry loudly as if needing to tell me all about it. Without hesitation I bared my breast and put him to it right there in the hallway and my tears of release splashed onto his little head as he hungrily nursed. It had been over five hours since he had last been nursed due to having to go under anesthesia...I walked all the many hallways and elevators back to our room with him breastfeeding all the while. A nurse asked me if I wanted a blanket to cover up and I said, NOPE. It was over..finally...the line was placed and then we just waited to hear which antibiotics he would recieve (this would take two more days in the hospital) but the trauma of poking my son and handing him off to strangers was over. Once back in our room and night had fallen I remember holding him and crying and apologizing for all that had happened to him and telling him it was all over. I had such anxiety for having this amazingly peaceful home birth with him with a purpose of protecting him from unnecssary trauma and then two weeks later he had just undergone more trauma and more needle pokes than a whole years worth of vaccinations (which we aren't planning on doing). I just felt so bad about it for him..and felt that for a short time it changed his peaceful disposition...maybe it was discomfort from the line but I am mostly sure it was him working through what he had just experienced..so far outside his previous frame for relating to the world.
And it is that ordeal that I think about and remember the way him and I both felt and again, cannot imagine handing him to someone to do purposeful harm to him when I had a choice to leave him pefect, whole just as he was at birth. Mind boggling. But I digress...I just know that for every baby born male to people I know (for now that is what I have the time and energy to dedicate having 3 small kiddos of my own) I will fight to educate their parents..I will advocate for those babies right to their WHOLE bodies.
From The Star Thrower by anthropologist and writer, Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"
The young man paused, looked up, and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they will die."
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."
WEBSITEs COURTSEY OF PEACEFUL PARENTING http://www.drmomma.org
Monday, November 9, 2009
As the evening of September 27th wore on I grumpily resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to meet my baby that day. Josh and I put the girls to bed and settled in to watch a mindless movie on our new free HBO. Around 10:30pm I decided to try what I tell all my clients to try..which is simply, “What gets the baby in, gets the baby out.”*wink*
Less than an hour later I began having Braxton Hick’s contractions. Josh decided to head to our complex gym and work out as we were both filled with a restless energy. I began to pace the living room and I noticed that these BH contractions were coming regularly at about 5 minutes apart. But they were neither painful nor progressing so I knew they were not changing my cervix…or were they?
When Josh got out of the shower I suggested we go for a walk outside. It was a beautiful clear night and the air was amazingly crisp,I breathed deeply. Comfortable in my favorite
Anyways, the contractions stayed consistent at 5 minutes apart but again not in any way were they becoming painful. So I told him if they weren’t painful in the next hour we would just go to bed and either I would wake up with painful contractions or I would wake up to another day of being pregnant.
It was about 1AM when we got into bed and I fell quickly into a dreamless sleep….
A few hours later I woke up out of a sound sleep and thought to myself, Why in the world am I awake right now? And at that moment I experienced the very slightest of a Braxton Hicks contraction and felt a trickle between my legs and before I could even wonder what it was, that trickle became a WHOOOSH of amiontic fluid gushing between my legs. I was in awe as I lay there and felt the warmth pour out of me. I smiled in the darkness…didn’t we just talk about this? Quickly I reached over and shook Josh’s sleeping form next to me, “Josh…my water just broke.” To which he sleepily acknowledged with a grunt and seemingly was going back to sleep…and then it hit him…and he jumped straight up. This was when my doula training kicked in and I began firing instructions at Josh, “ I need to know what time it is right now..I have to check the color..amount..odor!!” And I rushed into the bathroom to do all that and call my midwife.
Our youngest daughter sleeps on the floor next to our bed and occasionally Grace wakes up and crawls into bed with her. This was one of those nights unbeknownst to us so all the commotion woke both girls up. Josh was running around trying to remember all the things we had talked about prenatally that I would need him to do one of which was, FILL THE TUB. But the girls were upset and confused so he had to tend to them while I talked to Eloisa in the bathroom.
I was sitting on the toilet and as I answered Eloisa’s questions my legs began to shake uncontrollably and my stomach quivered. You know how it is when you are nervous or really anxious and you just can’t stop shaking. Thoughts flooded my head about how the birth I had been so impatient to begin was now imminent. I allowed fear to creep in about pain and other things as I sat there feeling overwhelmed. My water had broken but I had yet to have a contraction. She asked me if I felt baby movement..but the baby hadn't moved..oh no, I thought. I began pushing and jiggling my belly, Jakob..you ok in there? I reached down to check to make sure there was no cord between my legs (prolapse) all the things I had learned in my doula training dominating my actions. Which I was grateful for and thought was comical in the moment.
However, I became fearful that my painless contractions from earlier were going to just all of a sudden become unbearable with ruptured membranes. And yet 15 minutes after my water broke I had a contraction that was no more painful then earlier when Josh and I had been walking. I began to calm down and was able to slow my own breathing and gradually my legs relaxed. Eloisa said she was worried about me (probably because I sounded so worried) and offered to come over and help us set up. I quickly and gratefully accepted her offer and was finally able to relax deeply knowing that she was on her way. I got off the phone and made my way into the living room. The girls were settled back into their own beds and sleeping soundly. I walked over to the glider rocker and sat down to watch my husband’s erratic attempts to fill the tub as he was also very nervous.
He connected the hose and made his way over to the tub to begin filling it and I began to make requests and suggestions as politely as possible.
Josh, honey. You should put the tarp down under the tub first.
Josh, honey could you get me my robe?
Josh, could you light my candles please?
Honey? Could you turn on my play list?
Josh, start boiling the water for warming the tub..
Can you cover the tub with a blanket..
Josh. Can you bring me my recharge..
Finally around 4AM the tub was filling, the candles were lit and filling the air with the delicious aroma of Harvest Pumpkin Spice Cake, worship music played softly in the background, and I took a deep breath. My home birth had begun and I was deeply content.
Contractions continued to come about every 5 minutes as before but without pain. I simply grabbed the edge of the birth tub and rocked in the rocking chair during each one. Rhythm and Ritual are so important for a laboring mom and as a doula I always look for them as most times they show up on their own but are immensely helpful for mom and coping.This was to be my rhythm AND ritual until I got into the tub..the same action...the same breathing...every rush. Being able to know what was going to happen every time and being able to lose myself into the rush by rocking was amazing.
I asked for the phone and began calling my photographer and good friend and birth support, Heather. Everyone was on their way.. Eloisa had just arrived and was busy unpacking all her things. The tub was full and covered with a blanket to keep the heat in until we needed it. Excitement was growing inside me with each gentle rush as I imagined meeting my son in the warm waters of the tub. Eloisa and I hugged warmly and then she set about getting our vitals. She listened to baby’s heart beat and kissed my belly, smiling widely, as she was as excited as me to meet this baby. Baby and I both looked and sounded good…it was wonderful.
Sitting in my chair I surveyed my home in candle light, my best friend and midwife charting away with her legs crossed, my husband sitting in a chair next to me rubbing my back, it couldn’t have been more perfect.
Shortly after Eloisa arrived Heather walked in smelling of the wind and outside and I was thrilled she could make it. Heather had never attended a birth let alone a home birth. It took her less than 20 minutes to gather herself and find her place in the rhythm of my labor. We chatted and laughed in between contractions as I continued to just hold the edge of the birth tub and rock, rock, rock right through each rush.
Sandi, our birth photographer, showed up in a whirl of camera bags and curls around 5am. She told us about how Orion’s Belt was shining brilliantly that morning of Jak’s birth. It was a good birth omen we decided…
I continued to labor painlessly, breathing deeply, and continuing to rock through them..literally. There was laughter and smiles in between them until around 6am or so I decided I was ready for the tub. I exhaled deeply with bliss as the warm water enveloped my laboring belly. It felt amazing. And the effect on my labor was significant as Sandi noted that after getting into the tub I experienced two contractions in 4 minutes! Needless to say things ‘picked up’ pretty fast. As the rushes came on top of each other I still wouldn’t describe what I was feeling as pain..as this was my 3rd labor I was familiar with what labor ‘pain’ was and would describe my other two labors as painful. But this was simply intense, embracing my baby into this world is what I thought about.
I was surprised that I hadn't had to tone or cope yet(movement,position changes etc) but was able to simply breathe through them. I repeated this phrase in my mind during each rush, “Thank you Jesus! Strong and gentle all the way to pushing…Thank you Jesus! Strong and gentle all the way to pushing”. I was deep down afraid of my contractions becoming more painful, afraid not in the way that I couldn't do it if they became painful but in the way that I was thoroughly enjoying my gentle labor as it was. I was sure if they stayed the way they were I could labor for HOURS that way until it was time to push. And in a way it probably was a plea to the Lord to allow my labor to continue this way. On some level I was hoping that all the heart and soul I had poured into the laboring women I had attended would somehow be measured back to me in my own labor, silly I know but I was hopeful. :) The mood of my labor continued to be light, bursting with joy and I somehow managed to keep my sense of humor throughout.
I did ask my husband to kneel in front of me so I could lean on him and connect to the strength he provided. It was a wonderful, intimate moment that was missing in all our previous birthing experiences together and I thank God that I was able to be vulnerable enough with this birth to invite others in for support. It is one of the biggest factors I believe why I experienced this beautiful orgasmic birth.
At one point I moved from being on my knees to sitting back on my bottom because I felt like I was hyperventilating. I mentioned to the midwives that my hands, arms and legs were tingling. I recalled this sensation with Samantha’s birth shortly before transition and pushing. Without hesitation all the women in the room, both midwives and Heather, surrounded the birth tub and reached into the water and began rubbing my hands and arms while Heather rubbed my head. Silently they began to simply tend to me in my labor; I just closed my eyes and surrendered to the absolute love they offered me. Josh was in awe of what was happening and remembers just moving out of the way, sitting back and watching me have this amazing moment with these women whom I adored. He recalls it as, Beautiful.
I then delegated out some jobs because that’s the doula in me. I told/asked Heather to sit in the chair and be in charge of offering me drinks and for Josh to sit next to me and be in charge of the cool cloth. I was in labor I can order people around right? He just smiled and moved into this position happily, apparently he was about to hand the cup to Heather before I asked. He had been taking good notes while I attended all those births during my pregnancy.
Back up on my knees I began to worry that since I wasn’t really having any pain that perhaps my cervix wasn’t changing and this was going to drag on forever. I reached down to check myself and for the first time felt the membranes hanging out. They felt amazing.. they were the softest thing I have ever felt.. you would think they would feel slimy but surprisingly they feel just like silk. I giggled out loud as I realized what I was feeling. My baby boy is wrapped in silk right now, I thought and smiled. Josh asked why I was giggling and so I invited him to reach into the tub and feel them, which he happily obliged.
I changed position again in the tub as the intensity mounted I felt the need to GRAB something..and squeeze. I had Josh sit in a chair in front of me so I could hold his legs and rest my head in between. As I entered transition Josh was smart enough after ONE contraction to put a towel across his lap and have me grab that instead rather then lose hair, skin, or muscle.
I began to feel a burning at the top of my pelvic bone which was SO familiar to how Sam felt coming down the canal. It was at this time, since I felt that birth was imminent, that I decided to ask Eloisa to check me for the first time. She maneuvered herself around, as I was in an awkward position for a check, and as her fingers went in I expected her to just ‘run’ right into my son’s head. Much to my disappointment her fingers went WAY up and were searching around. My heart sank at this point even though I possess the birth knowledge and experience to know that labor can change in an instant I began to doubt how far I was. The time was now 7:15am and I had been laboring for only 3 hours. Eloisa informed me, gently, that I had no cervix left in the back but a lot left in the front and that I was probably at a five. She had only BEGUN to utter the word ‘five’ she got maybe got as far as “fuh” when the next contraction hit and it HURT. And let me tell you why….
The entire time I was laboring I was deeply content. I was at home where I wanted to be, surrounded by people I loved and trusted that I had hand selected for this day, I was confident in my ability to birth, I was thrilled to be meeting my son, I was praising God with EVERY rush… and the moment Eloisa said the word, five, FEAR was introduced for the first time in my labor and with it, pain. I buried my head in Josh’s lap and threw my leg back to push against the tub wall behind me and a low toning came out of my mouth. And I felt my son begin to descend as if he knew I was afraid and wanted to reassure me. I had to re focus and quickly. I found a spot on the floor and many women can relate I think to finding a ‘spot’ to stare at during transition. I began to repeat this mantra in my head, “I can do anything for one minute. I can do anything for one minute.” Over and over since rushes usually last around a minute..this helped me IMMENSELY through the next..ummm…4 minutes before I birthed.
2 rushes after being checked my body began to bear down and I got quiet. My support thought I wasn’t breathing and began reminding me to breathe. Which I obliged by taking a small breath and continuing to push. None of them knew I was pushing since Eloisa had said I was only 5 cm I didn’t want them to tell me it wasn’t time to push. Even though my midwives would never say that to a mom…I was afraid in a little kid getting caught kind of way. The next rush I felt his head begin to crown and I felt a unique kind of panic and I heard this little whiny voice come out of me and say, “Eloisa?! HEAD!!: Now what I really wanted was for her to apply counter pressure but that’s what came out. She quickly dived under my arm to check me and sure enough I had almost crowned during that contraction.
Now this is always my favorite part of any birth I attend.. the moment when the baby’s head is at the perineum and birth is imminent. The air crackles with electricity and excitement but mom is not aware because she is so focused on her job. But all the support people are exchanging happy smiles and knowing looks with each other and slapping high fives. (well maybe not high fives)while the care providers busy themselves warming the blankets, readying the hats, etc. And it’s so much easier to encourage a tired or frightened mama when her baby is RIGHT there. So awesome.
Well, my moment was no different and is captured wonderfully in this picture where everyone is smiling but me because they know baby is almost here..and so do I but I still have to push him out.
I always want to slow down pushing and achieved it with my 2nd birth but with my son I just wanted him out. So as the next contraction rushed him DOWN towards the waiting world it made me push UP like I could somehow ESCAPE the feeling of his head coming out. My midwife lovingly reminded me to keep my bottom in the water.
Breathlessly I replied, “Oh..Sorry!!” because I knew (from a friend’s experience) that if his head came out and his face touched air I would have to get out to deliver him. No thanks. It was then that I had a pep talk with myself and once Eloisa said, ‘Baby’s head is out.” I knew it was only one more push until I could have him i
Oh that feeling….that amazing indescribable feeling of when your baby is released from your body. It’s incredible, much better than any orgasm, the knowledge that the pain is over and your angel is here…all processing at the same time. I love it.
However, Jakob was all tangled up in his cord so there was some momentary frustration followed by discussion on logistics of how to free him as I waited for someone to GIVE ME MY BABY. His chord was tightly around his neck…his waist.. across his chest..it was a mess. However, with all hands in as it were they were able to turn him to unwrap him and I had him in my arms.
This was the moment.. the moment I want over and over and over again..that I can’t get enough of.. that first moment when you meet your baby. I clutched his warm, vernixy precious body to my chest, amazed that he was here and he was beautiful. I noticed he took a few moments to decide that breathing was a good idea but I wasn’t worried. I just cried and looked at him then hugged him… looked at him…hugged him and cried some more. (and double checked his equipment) Someone threw open the curtain in front of me and brilliant sunshine flooded the room as I held my son for the first time, I’ll never forget it.
Within moments both my beautiful daughters were at my side meeting their brother through sleep filled eyes. I couldn’t believe it.. I had given birth at home, without pain, surrounded by love and filled with the deep belief that I could do it..9 pounds 6oz and 23 inches long! I then held my son out in front of me allowing him to float in the warm waters of the birth tub. An ordinary miracle had happened… in my living room @ 7:22am in the morning.. He sputtered a few cries, enough to make us all happy, then began peacefully taking in his surroundings. Meanwhile my left leg was being propped up outside the birth tub and I was getting a shot of Pitocin to ensure that I didn’t hemorrhage like last time. Only a very brief interruption to my blissful birthing moment.
I moved to the couch and this is always my other favorite/awkward moment of walking with a baby connected to a cord between your legs. Odd feeling. I settled onto the couch and while talking to one of the midwives my son wiggled into nursing position, latched on and began to nurse on his own in true Jack Newman, Baby Led Nursing style. Go Son!! I was both surprised and delighted as it didn’t look like we were bound for any initial breastfeeding ‘issues’ as it were.
Eloisa hugged me and let me know she was so proud of me, again, as this was the 3rd birth of mine she had attended and the 2nd baby she had caught. She is so incredibly special to me and my family…
It was so fun to watch my midwives who have become friends…admire my son while giving him excellent care at the same time.
After his initial check Eloisa helped my children become acquainted with their new brother exploring his tiny toes and hands. I was on top of the world.
I could hardly wait to be done with the business of delivering the placenta so I could get into my own bed and get down to business snuggling my son. Much belly pressing ensued...ARGH...the cord was cut and then I was able to head to the bedroom. Heather had remembered her job from our prenatal meeting and had made the bed up with the birth linens and I slipped between the sheets with my little bundle. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply his new baby smell. I was in love. The belly pressing continued in the bedroom which always makes me want to punch my dear friend in the face but I know every time it's necessary. Still...unpleasant.
Once they had decided I wasn't bleeding to death and no repairs were needed, Josh and I took some time alone to admire ours and God's amazing creation. We didn't talk much..just stared in disbelief as usual that the one who had been kicking us from the inside was now on the outside. It never ceases to be a miracle. I marveled at his length and suppressed the urge to flip him upside down to figure out HOW IN THE WORLD THIS GIANT BABY HAD FIT INSIDE ME..
It was at this time that my parents had just arrived to meet their first grandson. I heard a sob catch in my mom's throat as she laid eyes on Jakob for the first time. It's always magical when the grandparents meet the next generation.
I quickly set about delegating more important tasks after my parents had some time with the baby...important things like sending my Dad to Jack in the Box to get me a cheese burger, sending my husband into the kitchen to pour the meade, and accepting a gracious offer for a Starbuck's latte from Heather.
Exhausted but happy I sat by and watched each of my little girls take a turn holding him.check out all his parts, and covering him with kisses. Afterwards I got 'clearance' to take a shower and get dressed which felt AMAZING. In fact often when talking about my excitement about home birth this was what I would talk about...being able to give birth, get in my own bed and take a shower after.
I wandered into the living room, baby in arms, and was greeted with the smells of bacon cooking and the sight of midwives laughing and playing with their babies after all the husbands had dropped them off. It was an absolute celebration of new life in full swing. Even though I had just eaten a #5 from Jack in the Box I hungrily accepted the plate of Eggs Benedict and Bacon when it was handed to me..and did I eat it all? Yes I did.
We ate, we laughed, babies were kissed, toddlers were tickled, and songs were sang. (Oh, and Facebook was undoubtedly updated).This was without question one of the happiest, most memorable days of our lives...
Welcome Jakob Asher, blessed and happy are we to have received you first in our hearts and now into our arms. May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His countenance to shine up on you all the days of your life....