17 June 2008

Really Long Self-Indulgent Birth Story!

The home waterbirth of our little Junebug

On Monday evening I had cramping and contractions, only a little more intense than usual. I didn’t think much of it really. We walked about 2 miles with Zoe in the stroller and I had to stop a few times because I felt unable to walk through a few of the rushes. The night was beautiful though. We passed by some rose and lilac bushes and I felt that the scent was extraordinary and heightened in some way. After the walk my belly calmed down somewhat and we put Zoe and ourselves to bed. I couldn’t sleep. I had annoying songs looping in my head and I took some extra herbs to relax. I did some mindless Sudoku puzzles in bed until Jesse asked me to turn off the light around 11pm. Once the darkness settled in around me, I noticed the cramping more than usual. My back was so uncomfortable and tight that I couldn’t find any arrangement of pillows that helped. I eventually fell into a fitful sleep but within an hour or so the cramping and back pain began to wake me up.

At 1am I watched the clock a little and noticed that the rushes were getting regular, around every 7-8 minutes. This had happened before in the past few weeks but I was familiar with the energy of birth and it was time. I couldn’t stay in bed so I told Jesse that I needed him to get up and help me. We had to prepare the spare bedroom so Zoe could sleep in there overnight in case I needed the birth pool in our bedroom before she woke. We busied ourselves with tasks and my rushes increased to every 2-5 minutes apart. They weren’t gentle like early labor though. They felt like strong active labor or even transition contractions, and the additional vice grip to my lower back. I already was getting pretty vocal and frankly fairly crabby about them. I made a deal with Jesse to wait on calling the midwives for another hour, and then he moved Zoe and went back to sleep himself. Right after I heard the bedroom door shut, I called my midwife Elizabeth and gave her a warning. I said I’d call her back in 30 minutes but I only lasted about 10. I called my friend/doula Heather as well and told her to head down. The conversations were probably amusing because when I had a rush, I put the phone down on top of the washing machine which was spinning a load of diapers. I’m sure the spin cycle with my hollering in the background was pretty loud on the other end. While I waited for them I put together some last-minute bags for Zoe in case we needed her to go to our friend’s house. On the way up the stairs at some point, I had two contractions that brought me to my knees and I was really vocal. Jesse came out of the bedroom and said that he would start to set up the tub.

I was not happy about being in labor. I just wasn’t ready yet for some reason. I felt like my hormones weren’t supporting me with the pain coping yet. The rushes felt awful and I yelled and complained about them. I just wanted everything to stop. After trying to find a comfortable place to be in the house, I settled on my side in the bed with a heated rice and lavender pillow on my lower back. I howled through them while Jesse set up the pool in the corner. I noticed myself falling asleep in between the rushes and they began to space out. But when they happened, they were two full minutes long and I felt I had no coping skills. I just begged for them to stop the whole time. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I was really ready to be done being pregnant but maybe not ready to be a mama again. I sobbed quite a bit and felt sorry for myself and didn’t want to go on. Eventually Elizabeth arrived and my rushes were 20-30 minutes apart. She wasn’t sure I was really in labor but I knew I was. I stayed in bed and she went to the loft to rest on the couch. Heather arrived too and comforted me but then left Jesse and I alone to get some sleep in between the contractions. When it became light out, my midwife came in and we decided to have an exam to see if I was dilating at all. I hadn’t had one yet in the pregnancy to check dilation. I was 4cm and nicely thinning out. Elizabeth felt I needed to get up and be active and she and Heather encouraged me to talk about my feelings.

Zoe woke around 7am and had breakfast and entertained the household with her antics. She is in love with Elizabeth and very pleased to show off for her. She dragged a stepstool into the living room and stood on the top step and danced and sang songs. Eventually I got up to sit on the birth ball and checked my computer a bit and choked down some breakfast. My surges got a bit closer but not quite enough yet. Around 9am we called our friend to come get Zoe and Jesse and I walked out to meet her. I managed to walk around the block a bit but got annoyed with the heat and the neighbors who drove by and stared or said “Are you in labor?”

We went back inside and Jesse went to take another rest. I sat on the ball in our bedroom and rested my head on the bed while Heather rubbed my back and I yelled. Around 10:30 Jesse got up and things were getting more active. He talked to me to boost my spirits and my energy. I talked a lot about how I just didn’t want to do labor at the moment, wasn’t ready to be a mama again, but it seemed that talking about it was the thing I needed. It wasn’t long before I felt completely swamped by rushes again and I was begging to get into the sweet water of the birth pool. Around 11:15 my midwife felt that I was active enough to get into the pool. It made such a difference in my back pain. With less gravity I was able to get into positions that made the pain more tolerable. It wasn’t long before I checked myself and felt that the baby’s head was low with a bag of waters in front of it. It was reassuring to feel that the baby was moving down. There was some cervix left in front so I tried some forward-leaning positions to soften up. I still did a lot of complaining about the contractions especially when they were really close together. I just wanted a break and kept hollering about it.

A bit after noon I started feeling a lot of pressure in my bum. I remembered the sensation from Zoe’s birth and I started to get a bit anxious because I pushed for 5-6 hours with her labor. I started to panic a bit thinking I still had a long long time to go. The pressure intensified though and I got really grunty with some of the contractions. My friend noticed that some of my bellowing was turning to growling. I asked Elizabeth to check me, which I hadn’t planned on originally. I just feared that the baby would be in a bad position like Zoe was. She reassured me that the baby was LOA now and I had a nice bag of waters in front of the head. She felt that when it broke we’d be having a baby really quickly. I relaxed and let myself push when I needed to and bellowed through the rest of the surges.

Meanwhile Jesse noticed that there was a neighbor standing in the street on her mobile phone. We were on our second floor so no one could see in, but we had the window open for the breeze and I’m sure the whole neighborhood could hear. She had called 911 and was asking them if she should come inside our house! Jesse yelled out the window that we were okay and I yelled after him “I’m having a baby!” He closed the window after that. In a few more surges I had a really hard push and my bag exploded in the tub. I felt an instant relief from all of the pressure but more pressure built up right behind it followed by the most incredible need to push. The midwife told Jesse that if he wanted to catch the baby, he better hop in the tub right away. Now each surge brought the uncontrollable need to bear down and with the first rush after my water breaking, I began to feel my tissues stretch around the head and the sensation of being really wide open. The next surge brought the hot ring of fire and I tried to fight against the urge to push. My midwife told me to try to think of it as a holy radiant light and to focus my energy right down the column of pain. Somehow that gave me the strength to get through the next surge and I pushed and felt the baby’s head come out at least to the ears. All three of us had a hand on the baby’s head as it moved out into the water. With the next surge I had a great rush of energy and roared my baby’s head all the way out into the water. After a short relief the next surge came and I pushed out the shoulders. Jesse caught the baby under the water and then the midwife helped the baby somersault through the cord which was wrapped around the neck and then around the shoulder like a seatbelt.

As they lifted the baby up to my chest I saw the whole body and yelled “It’s a boy!” I was so elated and riding this huge wave of joy and relief. He immediately had a lot to talk about and yelled his whole story to us as I clutched him to my chest. Jesse and I just stared at him in awe and rubbed his back to help him transition. He was beautiful and perfect. Shortly afterwards I felt more cramping and pushed out the placenta. I felt a lot of pressure still and my midwife suspected I had some big clots I needed to get out so they helped Jesse climb out of the tub with the baby and the placenta. Then my midwife and Heather helped me get to the bed to get more comfortable. The second midwife showed up about 10 minutes after the birth. It was great to see her even though she hadn’t been there to assist. She helped get the baby latched on to nurse and helped Jesse to cut the cord after an hour or so when it had stopped pulsing. After a good nurse he had his newborn exam right next to us on the bed. He was only 8 lbs 11 oz. (after two huge meconium poops) and 21 inches. I was sure he was going to be much bigger than Zoe but he was actually a lot smaller!

Things are going so well. So far he is very mellow compared to Zoe and he only gets mad when he’s hungry. My milk came in around 30 hours after his birth so he’s getting plenty to eat now. He goes from 0 to 60 in about 10 seconds when he’s hungry so we have to catch his very early cues and get him latched on before he gets mad or it’s a battle. He’s a little yellow like most Colorado babies so breastmilk will be the best thing to get that flushed out. All in all I am totally in love and enjoying a much easier recovery this time!

The sad news is that in the midst of all of this my grandpa died. But the coolest thing is that my boy was born right at the same time as my grandpa’s funeral and I know he must have had a hand in that. It has been very healing for the whole family to have new life in the middle of all of the sadness.

We do not yet have a name for our baby! We’ve narrowed it down a bit though and hopefully will come up with something very soon because Junebug just isn’t probably something he’ll want when he’s older!