Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Birth Day Story
This isn't intended for everyone. If you don't want the details of a birth story, please skip this post! It is good for my memory, however, because I forget all of this. It is good for me to think about it and recognize the Lord's hand and to know that He sustains us through all things. Please forgive errors; I'll probably need to correct and edit this again. I've worked on this post for several days now but have been unable to complete it to my satisfaction... so I'm going to post and then change it if I find time/energy!
Friday I woke early with a migraine headache and contractions. Even though I got up and took a shower, I felt terrible. My body was shaking and I vomited. B and I weren't sure if the pain of the headache was causing the distress, or if the contractions were contributing (which would indicate that I really was in labor). He called the midwife (Leslie), who came over and gave me the best migraine headache care I've ever received. Another friend took the children, and I was able to rest in the dark with heating pads and ice packs, peppermint, and advil in my system. By about 10 a.m. I was feeling much relieved and B and I took a walk. At that point we decided that I would try to take it easy for the rest of the day, but that labor didn't seem imminent. (I was about 4 cm dilated at this time and 50% effaced and the baby was at 0 station; this was nearly identical to what I had been 10 days prior.) I went to the chiropractor that afternoon, hoping that would help alleviate the remaining migraine. I had been twice in the last month or so and was hoping that the adjustments would be beneficial for labor, too. (She said she thought the baby would be born in 3 days- Monday.) T and I took a nap together before B and the other kids got home from the friend's.
Interestingly, all the neighbors had noticed the midwife's Volvo at our house in the morning and must have been watching the proceedings. I think four of them called us later that day "just to check in." One was setting up for a yardsale the next day and I went over to visit with her. It was nice to sit outside in the cool of the evening and rest in her lawn chair. Next door we had new neighbors moving in. It felt busy on our quiet little street, and I realized that our homebirth was also a bit of a neighborhood birth this time.
Saturday was gorgeous here, and very warm (80s). Even though the whole day stretched before me (we hadn't made plans for this particular day!), I was restless. L and I went to the downtown farmer's market at 7:30 and picked up a few things. B and O did the yard work. I swept the steps and the walk, but felt myself running low on steam. A neighbor stopped to chat and I wished I had somewhere to sit. Spent some time in the kitchen, using leftovers to make soup for lunch that we ate outside, and preparing pizza dough for dinner. I thought about making more food to put in the fridge, but my back was aching a lot and I noticed contractions; I didn't feel much like standing around in the kitchen. (It was disappointing to me that my back would ache so much just the day after the chiropractor. Friday was the best my back had felt in awhile and Saturday was much worse.)
T and I pruned the Crepe Myrtles out front. While we were working on the trees, a neighbor came over to chat. He commented that we reminded him of Little House on the Prairie; that I was going to be outside working right up until the baby would be born. We laughed, especially because I was on hands and knees getting dirty and sweaty, yet even then I felt my energy waning. . . and the trimmings were left in the grass.
B was gone for several hours that afternoon, mostly during the children's rest. He went to give plasma, which we knew would be about a 2 hour affair. As the 2 hour mark came and passed, I found myself restless again, wanting only to sit and drink water, and the kids were missing Daddy. I noted several stronger contractions and my back was still aching. When B arrived home I kidded him that he shouldn't have been unreachable by phone for so long when I was past our due date.
The rest of the day passed pretty much the same way: I was tired and feeling heavy and restless. We visited friends briefly in their home, which was a pleasant diversion from the normal Saturday house chores (that I wasn't doing well!). My friend promised me that "the baby WILL come" and I told her that is exactly what my midwife says.
After dinner I sat with the children on the couch, with a heating pad for my back. I had asked B if he would show us some old home videos of the kids when they were very young. (Another pleasant distraction for me!) My neighbor came over to ask me some questions about homeschooling; she also wondered how I was feeling. I told her I just couldn't see feeling like this for three more days, that all day I had felt different than I remembered feeling during other pregnancies. Surely, I must be nearing the end (I thought!).
Once the children were in bed, B and I looked at each other and wondered aloud what we should do. I had been sitting at the computer and halfheartedly noting contractions during the time that he was tucking kids in. I told him they were about 8-10 minutes apart. He wasn't very concerned, but nothing sounded good to me. I closed the computer and decided that I would take a shower and go to bed. B remained downstairs.
I continued having contractions and back pain while I prepared for the shower. "Ow," I would say aloud. This continued while I was in the shower, which is when B came upstairs to check on me. I heard him climbing the stairs and O leaned out of his bunk, opened his bedroom door, and informed B, "Mom is having lots of contractions, Dad."
B stood in the bathroom, listening to me and timing a few contractions. "I think you should call Leslie," I said.
"They are still about eight minutes apart," he said. "You're like clockwork."
"Well, I think you should call her," I persisted. "They don't hurt like this unless I'm going to have a baby." At this time, I had finished showering but was still in the water, leaning over and saying "ow" through contractions. He called Leslie (the midwife) and my friend Katy, who was coming as support and also learning midwifery assistance.
Katy came a few minutes later (she only lives a few blocks away). I had gotten out of the shower, put on a tank top, and asked B to brush my hair so I would feel more presentable, but nothing more. I was still in the bathroom, leaning against the sink during contractions, cracking jokes and chatting with B and Katy in between pains. Leslie arrived and listened to the baby; things sounded great.
Everything that happened next is a blur to me. I know Leslie's assistant arrived and helped to set up all the birthing supplies. I know my friend and doula, Laurie, arrived. I was encouraged by Katy and Laurie's gentle words. B was faithfully applying pressure to my low back through each contraction. I remember saying to B, "Did I ever tell you that I hate this part?" (speaking of the contractions with back pain) and I also remember saying, "There isn't much of a break now." As the contractions came wave upon wave, I wanted to sit on the toilet (typical of all my births). Instead, I tried the birthing chair. I liked the handles and it was fine for awhile (I have no concept of time then), but then I felt like I didn't want anything near my bottom and I asked again for the toilet. Leslie suggested I try hands and knees instead. "Sure; nothing is comfortable!" I said.
Once I was on hands and knees I felt it was all I could do to breathe and work through the contractions. I was moaning (and counting the seconds in my head!)and trying to think opening, relaxing thoughts. My body started pushing while hands pressed my back, and applied hot compresses to my belly and perineum. I wanted to watch, but felt like my eyes closed to the pain and to focus my strength and energy. No one told me to push, no one ever checked my dilation; labor simply took over. I remember Leslie telling me that the baby was crowning and asking me to "blow. Eeek your baby out." I looked, but couldn't see well. There were wonderful sounds of triumph as his head emerged and I felt the quick flip of his body following. . . .
And there are no words. I lack words for that moment. The joy. . . the exhilaration, the exhaustion, the elation. . .
Miles was born at 10:31 p.m., 35 minutes after the midwife arrived. (I heard later that she had whispered to everyone, "This could go fast.") The amniotic sack was still intact when his head emerged; Leslie broke it. Everything was amazing; he was wonderfully perfect. Smaller than I imagined he would be. He had a loud, lusty cry right from the beginning, which caused me to think of the children, sleeping in their beds. I wondered if any of them had woken, but they hadn't. Placenta was delivered in the bathroom, then Leslie gave me three little stitches in our bed (after an episiotomy with O, I've torn in the same place with every birth). The midwife and all of the women did their amazing work, taking care of everything quietly and efficiently. I had motherwort and chlorophyll and arnica and was cleaned up and settled. They all left by 1 a.m. and B and I tucked Miles into a laundry basket and all went to bed. L woke shortly after that (when we were still awake) to use the bathroom. B called her in and she peeked into the basket. We had several quiet, wonderful minutes with her enjoying Miles; it was so very precious.
Everyone slept until nearly 7 a.m. on Sunday. As the boys woke, we called them in to look in the basket. I will never forget the way their eyes lit up with surprise and delight; it was exactly like the wonder of Christmas. And it felt it to me, too. Wonderful, unbelievable, miraculous. The beginning of something new and deliciously special. Too much to take in. Too much to adequately celebrate. And we praised the Lord. And I'm leaning on Him and praising Him still.