Category: Homebirth

When Birth Servants Are Pregnant

By , May 28, 2014 12:17 pm
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Lovingly attending a radiant momma during her pregnancy.

Being a birth servant who is also pregnant can get pretty… complicated.

I am fully confident assuring the families I work with that their normal pregnancy symptoms and feelings are:

  • 100% valid
  • Statistically unlikely to be serious
  • Likely resolved with rest, hydration, nutrition, or a tincture of time

I understand and accept that they are experiencing a real symptom and deserve acknowledgement and validation of their concerns. I also work hard to assist them in creating a plan of action to restore their comfort if at all possible. It is my goal to support and assist them on this empowering part of their pregnancy journey. I truly empathize with their feelings and want to help them feel as joyous, vibrant, and healthy as possible.

So why do I wring my hands in helpless anxiety over every single one of my own (valid, unlikely to be serious, and likely resolvable) pregnancy symptoms?

Fatigue? Oh no! I must be absolutely depleted of all minerals and vitamins! I am probably sucking the marrow out of my very own bones to build a placenta! Gah! 

Nausea? My hormone levels must be completely effed! Surely I have been impregnated with two sets of triplets! Or worse, my liver is so damaged that  it is a a shriveled up old husk turning to dust in my abdomen!

Achy Pelvis?  Ectopic Pregnancy! Miscarriage! Tumors!!!! Placental accreta!

Or even more likely than the worry is the total dismissal accompanied by disrespectful self-talk:

You should toughen up. It’s not like you haven’t done this before.

Buck up and eat some protein.

Oh great. It’s only a few months in and you can’t even practice what you preach. Good luck with the birthing process. 

 

So what gives with all of the pregnancy self-bashing? Why would I be consider myself to be any less worthy of validation and self-care than the other lovely expectant women I see each week?

I am not sure that I have *the* answer, but I think that there is the self-perception as a birth professional that having negative or challenging symptoms somehow means I am failing at pregnancy. Surely if herbal, nutritional, and peaceful gestation advice is sufficient to prescribe for other mommas, then I just must be failing to do it enough myself if I still have any symptoms. As if knowledge were an anecdote to suffering from biological mechanisms within the body.

I belong to a few boards that consist of other birth professionals. Many of us do similar things. Most of us are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are carrying twins or triplets. That our symptoms are absolutely and bizarrely abnormal. We are probably having breech babies. We are certainly measuring way too big and feeling movement way before we should.

As happy as we are to be expecting Seven of Nine (our nickname for this 7th baby in our nine member family!) I want to put this energy out there for myself and for any other birth servants who are doing the same thing as I am: Let’s treat ourselves as enthusiastically, lovingly, and kindly as the families we serve.  I would never measure a mommas belly and exclaim “You are HUGE! It must be triplets!” or sneer at her complaints of fatigue or nausea while accusing her of not trying hard enough. I would never imply that she was not making a big enough effort to *affirmation* her way out of physical symptoms. I would look that momma in the eye, marvel at her beautiful roundness, and declare that she was measuring perfectly to allow her baby to grow. I would advise her to re-frame discomfort as a sign to rest and rejuvenate. I would remind her to surround herself with loving thoughts and to wash her baby’s emerging DNA in radiance.

So, Sisters, if you see me looking a little green around the gills or pushing myself further than I should, would you ask me what I am doing to care for myself?  Have I eaten in the last 7 hours? (I can tell you the answer is of course not) Would you be willing to step into the role of midwife or doula for a few minutes and make sure I am not being too hard on myself? All of these lessons are part of my ongoing and ever-enlightening education as a servant to other families.

 

 

 

Mother Blessings

By , July 9, 2013 12:46 am

A belly cast, flower crown, and blessing necklace...

I am now offering professional Mother Blessing planning and hosting.

I will help expectant mothers (or their friends and family) plan a beautiful and thoughtful Mother Blessing! You will be able to custom-create the perfect blessing ceremony to honor the momma-to-be and the sweet baby she is about to meet.

Previous Mother Blessings have included some of the following:

  • Smudging Ceremony
  • Creation of Prayer Flags
  • Birthing Necklace
  • A fresh Flower Crown for Momma
  • Weaving a Web of Blessings
  • Belly Casting
  • Belly Henna
  • Dancing For Birth with Krista Meyers
  • Signing up for a Meal Train
  • Babymoon Planning

Please contact me to learn more about how I can help you plan the perfect MotherBlessing! Fees will vary depending on location and types of services requested. But I strive to make all things affordable and accessible! Write to me at MotherBlessing@StateoftheHeat.net

Girl Talk Workshops

By , December 6, 2012 4:54 pm

The summer session is scheduled to begin on July 13th 2013. Girl Talk’s goal is to empower, educate, and support 9-17 year old girls as they journey toward womanhood. This 6-week course will cover the biology, the history, the legacy, the commercialization, and the power of the female menstrual cycle while creating community and a safe space. Each class will be $20 or the entire course will be $100 if pre-paid. The fee includes supplies as well as ongoing support long after the course is complete! To register for the class or buy a gift certificate for a young lady in your life, please write to me at GirlTalk@stateoftheheart.n et

This Girl Talk Workshop is the class you WISH you had taken when you were young! Join me for this 6 week course on menstruation;  honoring their femininity; finding their power; discovering traditions from history and other cultures; creating self-empowering rituals; and embracing their authentic selves!
This Girl Talk Workshop will be facilitated by me, Justine Julian! My educational background includes anthropology, sociology, psychology and theatre. My professional training is in parent education,  pregnancy & childbirth support, midwifery, and child development.  My most important training and experience has been spent “in the field” while parenting my own 6 children over the last 24 years (including a fantastic 18 year old daughter who has taught me tons about the complicated and amazing journey into womanhood).
We will also be joined by Kathryn Hamilton who is a Fertility Awareness Method facilitator. She has also studied herbalism with Susun Weed and is a passionate advocate for healthy body image and body awareness for young women in our culture.
****While this workshop will be about very intimate aspects of womanhood, this particular workshop will NOT cover topics like sexual education. All of the material we cover in class will be age appropriate for girls in the 9-17 age range. Additional resources or internet pages may be sent home for YOU to research or share with the student to facilitate further discussion and ongoing learning. Some of these resources MAY incidentally contain more mature subject material.

The Birth of Noah

By , April 19, 2012 8:42 pm

By Kathryn.

Noah was born on February 25, 2012

My husband and I started trying to conceive shortly after getting married. We tried for several years, to no avail. Being very health conscious and into natural healing modalities, we decided to address this challenge by improving our diets & lifestyles, and I started doing regular acupuncture and taking herbs. Slowly but surely I started seeing changes in my cycles, and I felt like I was headed in the right direction. In 2010, we got pregnant twice but both pregnancies ended in miscarriages. It was very difficult emotionally, but deep down I knew that I was getting closer to our goal, my body was almost ready. The second miscarriage in November 2010 was especially difficult, as I went all the way to 13weeks before finding out it was a blighted ovum; there was no baby, just a big empty sac and a placenta. Thankfully I miscarried on my own without needing any kind of intervention. I was rocked to my core afterwards. For the first time, we decided to avoid conceiving for several months afterwards; I didn’t feel that I could deal with anything pregnancy related. In the spring of 2011, we bought 30 acres of land and started on the path of building our dream in the countryside. In May, as we were beginning to move to our new home, we decided to start trying again. That month, Noah was conceived, and my “due date” turned out to be my birthday, February 19th. What a blessing!

Before this baby was ever conceived we knew that we would want to have our baby at home, in the most simple and natural setting possible. I also felt that I would like to have a water birth, as I love swimming and being in water; a waterbirth just seemed like a no brainer to me. I already knew many of the local midwives, and decided to work with a wonderful CNM named Jen. She was the midwife for one of my good friend’s birth almost 3 years ago, and I had been lucky enough to be there to witness a wonderful homebirth. So I already knew what Jen was like and knew I would trust her and feel comfortable with her. As an added bonus, one of my closest friends, Justine, had been apprenticing with Jen for a few months already, so I would be blessed to have them both there at the birth! From the start I felt very confident in my own abilities to give birth naturally and trusted my support team completely.

I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy, felt good the whole time, no major complaints. I spent a lot of time in the wilderness of our land, enjoyed the quiet peacefulness of the countryside and just felt as if everything was finally falling into place in our lives. Winter arrived and surprised us by being incredibly mild. I had been a little concerned about giving birth in a snowstorm, worried that the midwives might have a hard time making it in bad weather, as we live almost 1 hour outside of the city. But the weather remained warm, and snow rarely stayed on the ground for more than a day or two.

Around 37 weeks I started losing little pieces of mucus plug every day. Just after 38 weeks, I started experiencing daily prodromal labor. I would get 3-4 hours of Braxton-Hicks type contractions, mildly uncomfortable, but usually not enough to make me stop whatever I was doing. It would come and go, not regularly, and then slowly vanish. I didn’t mind too much, and Jen reminded me that everyone labored differently and that it sounded like my body was doing some of the work in advance. That sounded good to me! Almost every day I would get a few hours of these mild contractions, and around 40 weeks I started getting a little annoyed with them. Each day I would get hopeful that it would lead to something (especially on my birthday, I would have loved to share a birthday with my baby) but then it would fizzle out.

February 22nd, I woke up feeling “off”. I just didn’t feel like myself. My husband went to work, I was alone all day and felt so irritable for no reason! Everything annoyed me, I couldn’t stand the dog and cats, I felt grumpy and annoyed with the world. That night when my husband came home I had a meltdown, it felt like I had been holding so much in. I cried uncontrollably, feelings started flooding up from within and I realized I had never completely put my last miscarriage behind me. I cried for a while, I just let it all flow out, and talked to my husband about what I was feeling. I felt so much lighter afterward, like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. And later that evening, I suddenly felt as though baby had really shifted and had gotten lower. I noticed a big space at the top of my uterus, just below my ribs. Yes, baby had definitely dropped! I checked my cervix and could tell it was more effaced and dilated than the previous time I had checked. I was very excited, I knew real labor wouldn’t be very far off.

On the morning of February 24th, I called my mom in Canada to give her an update and let her know I was still waiting to give birth. We had a great conversation and she told me she would send me some labor vibes. I was having more prodromal labor while we talked but didn’t think much of it. Around 1pm, I stood up from sitting on the couch and felt a gush in my underwear, so I ran to the bathroom. I thought it was just more mucus, but soon realized more and more kept coming out – my water had broken!! I was very excited and called out to my husband from across the house; he was very excited too! I tried getting back up from the toilet to go about my day but more kept coming out. So I sat on the toilet for what seemed like forever, while fluid dripped out slowly. When I finally got up, I went into the living room and sat on the birthing ball, relaxing with some mild contractions. Suddenly the wind picked up outside and a hail storm came down out of nowhere! It really surprised me! I sat on my birthing ball, watching the hail come down on the land. It was beautiful, the wind was very strong. This sudden change in weather prompted me to look at the weather forecast because as of the day before, the predictions were of mild weather all weekend. But apparently, something had changed because now the weather forecast called for a snowstorm overnight!! Where did that come from? Somehow, deep down, I wasn’t surprised.. this baby would be born in a snowstorm after all!

Around 4pm I started getting a little more uncomfortable as the contractions got more regular. I had my husband fill up the birthing pool that was already set up in the living room, and then he called the midwives to let them know I was officially in labor. I got in the pool at 5:30pm, and the midwives arrived just after 6pm.

I really enjoyed laboring in the pool, it was very relaxing, and most of my labor was totally bearable, mildly uncomfortable, that’s all. I have always had very painful menstrual cramps and comparatively labor didn’t feel so bad, especially since I got a break every 2 or 3 minutes. I had expected to want to be left alone and to feel somewhat self-conscious during labor, but it turned out I really enjoyed having the midwives there, chatting between contractions. My husband and them took such good care of me, and they made sure the pool was nice and warm for me the whole time. I even told them at one point that I should give birth more often because I was really enjoying having 3 people taking care of me and just being 100% present for me.

I spent most of my time in the pool either laying back, or laying on my side. I could tell baby was still right anterior occiput, as he had been for the last several months, and even though I knew that was fine, I also knew that left anterior was a more ideal position for the baby to come down into the birth canal. So with that in mind I laid on my left side and asked the baby to please flip to the other side. A few contractions later, one of the midwives checked the heartbeat and we had to look all the way on the left side of the belly to find it; I felt my belly with both hands and realized the baby had indeed shifted! I was very excited about that.

Around 10pm, shortly after baby shifted to the left, contractions changed a little bit, and got stronger, in what I assume was me hitting transition. I could tell the baby had dropped a bit lower too and that I would be feeling pushy soon and I said so out loud. I was still relaxing and breathing deeply with each contraction when I suddenly felt an incredible wave of pleasure spread throughout my entire body; it very distinctly came up my spine and into my head. It felt so good, what was going on… wait a minute, I was having a powerful full body orgasm! It was such a profound feeling that I started quietly crying. I relaxed through the orgasm, partially in disbelief that it was happening, and as it spread to my extremities I started getting a tingly feeling, especially in my hands, and they started going numb. It was a very odd feeling, like powerful natural anesthesia flooding me. I told my husband and midwives that i was having the most amazing orgasm (I surprised myself in that moment even being comfortable sharing that) and I asked them to please massage my hands; the numbness kept getting stronger and my fingers were starting to curl into my hands and I couldn’t move them anymore, I had no control over it. Getting my hands massaged felt really good though and eventually helped the numbness disappear as the waves of the orgasm also faded away.

I continued to breathe and relax through each contraction and soon realized I was starting to bear down and be more vocal with each wave. I thought, awesome this baby will be out in no time now! But as the contractions came and went, I tried different positions and I started encouraging the pushing feeling. But I could tell it wasn’t working. I would feel down with each wave and could just tell that the baby’s head was not moving. I kept trying and trying for what seemed like an eternity. I was getting frustrated, and was starting to get really tired, I was falling asleep between contractions for a while. In our birth plan, I had asked that the midwifes not do internal exams unless it was necessary. At this point, I had been involuntarily pushing for several hours, so Jen offered to check me to see if baby was indeed ready to join us. I agreed, as I really wanted to know what was going on down there. Jen announced that I was fully dilated and completely effaced. But she commented that she noticed my pubic bone was quite prominent and that it might be more effective for me to try pushing upright/squatting. I could not imagine standing up at that point, I felt like I had little to no energy left, I just wanted to lay in the pool and push the baby out that way. I tried sitting and getting on my knees in the pool but that felt no different.

A relaxed in the pool for a few more contractions, as I prepared myself mentally for the hard work ahead, and I eventually got out of the pool, and went to the bathroom. I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement and that if I did I would be able to push more effectively. But sitting on the toilet was extremely uncomfortable and I soon gave up on that. I came back into the living room and the midwives suggested I try pushing laying on my side. So I laid down on the couch, and Jen held up my right leg to help open up my pelvis. That was unbearably painful and as soon as that first contraction was over I told her, “No way”. She reminded me again that squatting would probably work, that I could stand up and then squat down when the wave started. I gathered all my strength and I eventually stood up. My husband sat down on a chair facing me and as soon as that contraction started rolling in, I squatted down in front of him, leaning into him as he held me. I started to roar like a lioness, I couldn’t help it and it felt so good to just be as loud as I needed to be! And with that first contraction I decided baby was coming out no matter what. I pushed very hard, with every once of strength I had left. The contraction was very intense, and I felt a strong burning sensation; I thought, “Ah this must be the ‘ring of fire’ I had heard about”. Suddenly Justine said, “Kathryn the head is out!” I couldn’t believe it, I reached down and there was a baby head! When I felt his little head, I just couldn’t wait for the next contraction, I kept pushing with all my might, screaming at the top of my lungs, and the rest of his body came out a few seconds later. It was 3:22am.

Justine gently guided him the few inches to the floor with the bare minimum of touching. I was still squatting and couldn’t see him, so I asked if everything was okay, and Justine said, “Take your time, everything is fine, he or she is breathing and is doing just fine”. I was very touched that she did not announce the sex of the baby, as we had asked that either my husband or myself be the ones to announce the sex. I took a few deep breaths, and with some assistance I leaned back and sat down, on the floor with the baby between my legs. There was blood everywhere and the baby was covered in blood, yet he was laying there calmly, silently. I looked at my beautiful baby and saw a penis; “you’re a boy!”, I exclaimed! I couldn’t believe it was a little boy! I had really become convinced that I was carrying a girl, even though my husband had been telling me for weeks that it was a boy. I picked him up onto my chest in complete awe…I was the first person to hold him… and my husband came and sat next to me, crying his eyes out. Our little boy was absolutely perfect.

I went back into the pool with Noah and gently washed off the blood from both of us. He stayed calm the whole time, I think he enjoyed being in the water, as did I. It was calming and I was in a bubble of bliss. His cord remained attached the whole time we were in the pool together. But after about 45 minutes, the placenta had not come out on its own. By that point the cord had stopped pulsing, and my attempts at pushing out the placenta, even while providing some guidance for the cord were unsuccessful. So Ian cut the cord and took Noah for some skin-to-skin daddy time. I tried pushing and pushing, and nothing was budging. Jen suggested that I come out of the pool and squat to push it out. Not again!! Really? I had to go through that again? I reluctantly got out of the pool and Justine felt my abdomen to make sure the placenta was detached and ready to come out. Justine could feel the placenta was waiting right inside; I just had to push it out. I squatted and she guided the cord toward my back to help me feel the right place to push. Ouch! That was more uncomfortable than I would have imagined! Out came the placenta, and it was huge! No wonder it wasn’t easy to push out. Justine examined it and placed it in the fridge, as I had planned to dehydrate it and encapsulate it.

I did end up tearing from the birth and it was bad enough that I needed a few stitches. I was very frustrated about that and I couldn’t help but wonder if I could have breathed the baby down more gently, gone slower and avoided tearing.. but I will never know. Pushing him out in one powerful push was what felt right at the time, and I can’t turn back time.

After getting stitched up in the bedroom, Ian Noah and I snuggled into the bed and I nursed Noah for the first time. He latched on right away like a champ, what an incredible feeling! It felt so right, so natural, having him snuggled against my chest. I was over the moon with love and happiness, and already, the last 12h of laboring and my exhaustion seemed to melt away and none of it mattered anymore; my baby was finally in my arms. We eventually weighed and measured Noah and found out he was a healthy 8lbs 9oz and 21inches! Wow, what a healthy baby boy! I was one proud mama; proud of myself for having just gone through such a powerful and intense experience, and so proud of my beautiful son.

I didn’t sleep that night, I just held Noah next to me in bed, nursed him and looked at him. I was speechless. I was finally a mother.

Think You Can’t Afford the Birth You Want? Think Again!

By , May 27, 2011 3:34 pm

Your Birth Is Worth It!

It saddens me when I hear about yet another family opting out of the birth they want because of lack of insurance coverage or because of misconceptions about what birthing professionals may charge for their services. Here are a few ideas to help you afford the birth that you want!

  • Start saving for your birth, the sooner the better. Trying to conceive? Newly pregnant? Stash away $10 a week into your birth fund. No matter what kind of birth you wind up having, you’ll have a bit of money to work with if you decide to hire a doula or a midwife.
  • Don’t get discouraged until you have actually contacted a midwife or doula and asked them what they charge for their services.  I have not met a birth worker yet who does not offer payment plans, sliding fees, or discounts to those in serious need. Take the leap and call them…you might be surprised at how it all works out!
  • Maybe a midwife has an experienced apprentice who is close to going into her own practice and will discount the birth significantly if you agree to see the apprentice for the majority of your prenatal care.
  • Ask friends and family to skip the useless gifts and cutesie baby items and make a donation to your birth fund instead. The BEST gift anyone can give you is a gentle, non-traumatic birthing experience.
  • Set up a web page for friends and family to follow you on your pregnancy and birth journey and include a PayPal account for donations. Don’t skimp on the belly pics, either! They can donate a little bit at a time if making a large donation is too difficult for them. If your friends and family (let’s say 20 people) donated $5 a week for 10 weeks, you could have $1000 in no time! Ask them if they could give up 1 single cup of coffee every week in order to help your baby get into the world safely!
  • Think of this in bite-sized chunks rather than an expense that you need to cough up all at once.

The care both you and your baby receive before, during, and after your birth should not be left up to chance, red-tape, or policies!

Letter From A Homebirth Hubby

By , March 5, 2011 9:23 pm

Uninterupted Family Time was honored at our homebirth...

My name is David (aka Sir Hubby to many of you), and my wife Justine and I have had two of our three children together at home. We decided to birth at home after having a difficult and traumatic experience in a hospital during the birth of our first child, an experience we vowed never to have again. I should explain that my role in the birth of our first child (in the hospital) was clear to me at the time – I was there to support my wife throughout the birthing process, and provide whatever comfort I could. I was “up to speed” on what to expect and what Justine’s wishes were regarding routine interventions, episiotomy, and pain management during her labor. But despite my best efforts I wasn’t able to prevent the unwarranted interventions which eventually led to a very painful and damaging birth experience both for Justine and for our newborn daughter. Although the experience was overall negative, it didn’t start out that way.  Our hospital birth was going fine while we waited for the doctor to arrive – but when he did, our careful planning and choices went out the window along with any sense of dignity.  The hospital birth did provide a hint of what might be possible if we had been left alone for a few hours more, and if the obstetrician had never walked through the doorway. During our next pregnancy, we were led to homebirth by a lack of alternatives – we tried several providers but found a uniform lack of reverence for the process and a clear intent to deceive us and prey upon our fears.

During our first homebirth experience, I envisioned my role to be supporting her through what we anticipated to be a long and difficult labor, as I had done in the hospital. As her labor progressed and deepened, the anxiety and discomfort that had accompanied our hospital birth never materialized. Our midwives were very helpful, of course, but I wanted to be as supportive as I possibly could be. I gave Justine many massages, applied pressure to her hips and sacrum, fetched glasses of water or damp rags, adjusted the temperature of the birthing pool – but my primary role was being genuinely present with Justine through each contraction and keeping her attitude positive and her spirits high. When labor became intense, especially during transition, I physically supported Justine as necessary and enjoyed the opportunity to provide emotional support, as well. When our second daughter was born, I had the pleasure of being among the first to touch her, instead of being relegated to the corner while others performed their routine and unnecessary procedures on both my wife and our baby. I was involved in every aspect of her care and our family was the center of the experience, not schedules, or tests, or protocols, or staffing concerns, or legal protections.

Birthing at home was an absolute joy for me as a husband and father. We have precious few opportunities to share a moment of such intense emotion and feeling with any human being, let alone sharing it with both wife and child at same moment. Of course, I will never know for certain precisely what it feels like to be a birthing mother, but the experience of being so intimate a part of the birth process has given me a level of understanding that I would not have been able to achieve otherwise. The day of our second daughter’s birth will always be a surreal and profound memory for me; a day when I witnessed and participated in the linking of two generations of my family, when I felt my wife’s power and glimpsed her true self, and when I met this brand new family member for the first time. Homebirth changed my ideas about women and children immeasurably for the better, connected me with a sense of mystery and spirituality that I hadn’t experienced before, and demonstrated viscerally how far from ideal the medical model of childbirth really is. This post was also published at Elephant Journal by the folks at The Normalizing Homebirth Project.

Lazlo’s Birth Story: The Finale

By , January 30, 2011 6:59 pm

9:40 am: Our midwife, Jill, is on her way.  The roads are fairly snowy and she has a 35 minute drive. Our second midwife, Lynn, has to travel double that distance. My waves are coming every 2-3 minutes. I have Sir Hubby get our birth kit and a pile of receiving blankets together while I hastily finish my shower.

I was not necessarily scared of the prospect of having the baby before our midwives arrived.  I would, however, be sad that we wouldn’t have photos of the labor and birth to share when I, inevitably, posted the story to help educate others about the safety and joy of birthing with midwives. The fact that I had the presence of mind to even think that should have tipped me off that our baby may not be arriving imminently. However, I would have never suspected that we were still nearly 12 hours away from having a baby in our arms!

And with no further ado*, I present those 12 hours crammed into a mere 10 minutes…enjoy!

*Well, except for this ado…I find it difficult to share these pics…the birth was beautiful and I don’t have much of a problem with that birthy/lady bits aspect of it. However, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t confess that body image hang-ups are my Achilles heel. Of course, there is also the part of me that adores this worn out, tired ol’ body for being able to create, grow, birth and ultimately feed, five healthy, fully-formed human beings over the last 22 years. I recognize that conflict and try (some days more than others) to reconcile those two versions of myself.

So, back to our regularly scheduled birth…


Lazlo’s Birth Story: Part Ten

By , January 25, 2011 5:38 pm

Other than our Hypnobabies course–which was more about spending time together as a couple– Sir Hubby and I had done very little to prepare for this birth. I didn’t want a birthing pool this time. We had a dozen diapers and a few blankets. What else was there, really? I expected this birth to unfold similarly to my others:

1) a very, very, very long first stage of labor

2) an hour or three of transition

3) gently push the baby out in about 20-30 minutes

4) commence with the marveling at our new baby

I figured that we were still in the first category and had no reason to think otherwise.

At 4:30am on January 6th, I braved the shower once again. I cranked up the volume on my Hypnobabies CD and finally—finally! — had an amazing, relaxing, and blissed-out shower. I felt every steamy moment in the very center of my soul! The combination of having such negative previous experiences and the never-ending supply of hot water equaled the best and longest shower of this entire pregnancy. Perhaps of my life. Once Sir Hubby and I had this bottle of wine. It was the most amazing wine we have ever had. At the time, it did not occur to us to jot down the name of it. Of course, neither of us can recall what vineyard it was from, where we bought it, or even what the bottle looked like. We have been chasing down that bottle of wine for years now. Every new bottle is opened with impossibly high expectations—surely THIS wine will rock our world and end our fruitless quest. We are still looking…ever hopeful. And now, a year later, I am still chasing down that shower. I can only attribute the perfection of that shower to a massive amount of oxytocin release…all of the practice had finally prepared both the baby and I. The right combination of factors had finally kicked in and we were doing this together. Amen. But the shower still eludes me. Sigh.

I was still experiencing waves about every 5-7 minutes, but the length of each contraction was finally starting to pass the 60 second mark. Some were lasting 90 seconds. I was feeling a lot of pressure with each wave and was grateful for my Hypnobabies techniques. I began to suspect that things might be further along than I had thought. I had a light breakfast of yogurt and dried cranberries and vowed to spend some quality time with the other kids before things got crazy.

I began to feel a TON of increased pressure and a marked inability to hold myself up without support during my contractions at around 9:30am. I decided to recreate the shower-bliss from earlier. I popped the CD in, ran the shower, stripped off my robe, got one foot over the side of the tub—- just then, a huge gush of clear water exploded out of me. I felt the baby immediately drop even further into my pelvis (if that was even possible). I called out to Sir Hubby— who was just leaving the bathroom—and then I promptly began to vomit. Transition!

“I think we should call Jill…now,” I managed to sputter. “I’m not sure she is going to get here before this baby does…”

Lazlo’s Birth Story: Part Nine

By , January 25, 2011 4:05 pm

After I was all-cried-out, I figured that taking a shower might help me relax. Surely, I had used up all of my anxiety-producing hormones in the great I’m A Prisoner In My Own Home Drama: 2010 Version. Wow. I wrong. Unfortunately, I had already gotten in and begun the process of shampooing my hair by the time I realized my mistake. All at once, I am yelling for Sir Hubby, have shampoo in my eyes, and feel like I just discovered a psycho killer standing behind me. Opening the door to the bathroom and keeping the shower curtain open seems to help a bit…or maybe Sir Hubby arriving and doing those things helps. Either way, we get my hair rinsed and get me out of there.

After calming down again with a tall glass of ice-water, I wrap up in a robe and begin blowdrying my hair. I convince myself that I might be worn out enough to actually sleep for a few hours. I know that my hormones are so screwed up from lack of sleep and that HAD to have caused such a powerful emotional outburst. I hear Sir Hubby getting the two youngest girls into the bathtub. As soon as my hair is dry, I will put on my Hypnobabies, nurse a freshly-bathed baby T-Bird and drift off to sleep…

POW! A massive contraction rolls through me. The clock says 8:44 pm. Fan. Effing. Tastic. No chance of sleeping now.

I finish drying my hair. WHAM! 8:50pm.

I put on the kettle for tea. BLAM! 8:56pm.

Sir Hubby hands me a sleepy, warm, snuggly T-Bird all ready for nursing and bed. ZAP! 9:02pm.

I have several more very intense waves as I nurse T-Bird and get her to sleep.

Meanwhile…Sir Hubby is programming the phone to help keep track of the frequency and duration of each contraction.

9:22pm. 9:28pm. 9:34pm. 9:40pm. 9:46pm. 9:52pm. 9:58pm. 10:04pm

More bloody show.

10:10pm. 10:16pm. 10:22pm. 10:28pm. 10:34pm. 10:40pm

Bug falls asleep on the floor next to my chair.

The 6 minute apart pattern is holding.

At 1:18am, I put on the “Baby Come Out” CD from our Hypnobabies Library. I am able to relax deeply enough that I fall asleep. A little after 2am, I awaken and feel a surge of renewed energy and enthusiasm. I am going to have our baby soon!

Lazlo’s Birth Story: Part Eight

By , January 25, 2011 3:16 pm

Jan 4th: Never-before seen photo of the incredible undressable belly...

Having 10 hours of 5-7 minute apart contractions— only to have them fade away by bedtime– had left me exhausted and discouraged. I desperately wanted 10 hours of sleep more than I wanted to meet the baby. Around 2am, I finally waddled off to bed (and by bed, I mean that I draped myself over the back of the couch and sighed heavily and repeatedly for several hours). After a fitful night on and off the couch, pacing around, and rocking in the recliner, I noticed some more bloody show around 8am and shortly after that, started having some more contractions.

I did my best to ignore them since they were likely to end in another exhausting day with no real progress. The whole dashed-hope thing was not helping with my anxiety or my crankiness. In the grand tradition of Sir Hubby-ness, he was focusing his energy on creating an elaborate spreadsheet which he hoped would illustrate a correlation between frequency/intensity of contractions with the activities of the children/family. For instance, he hypothesized, my contractions would pick up if the kids were napping and would slow back down when they were fighting.  They would pick up when we watched a movie, but slow down when T-Bird was pestering me for nursie. So, in addition to creating said spreadsheet, he was also attempting to wrangle, bribe and cajole the kids into submission—which was failing on a massive scale. And was probably designed more for the benefit of justifying his spreadsheet than for  facilitating my– alleged– labor. Other than a crankiness-inducing backache, the contractions were not doing much of anything.

I was also at that point in pregnancy where clothes of any type were no longer compatible with actual wearing. Pants and skirts bunched up under my belly and felt like they were bruising me. Dresses rode up until I had 3 yards of fabric jammed under my arm pits.  Wearily yanking down my panties every 17 minutes in order to pee had annihilated the elastic in every pair. I was down to sarongs and bathrobes. Or nothing. Desperate for clothes to wear, I would spend countless minutes staring at the bottom of the drawers, the floor of the closet, and the laundry hampers in the same way that you search, fruitlessly, for a midnight snack.

Around dinner time, my amazing friend and sister-doula, Sarah, invited me for a much needed ladies-night-out. However, I quite literally had nothing to wear. Not in the oh, I-look-awful-in-all-these-outfits kind of way, but in a I-really-can’t-wear-any-of-these-clothes way. I think that is when it hit me: I couldn’t leave the house again until I had this baby. I was trapped. This invoked an anxiety attack of biblical proportions, followed by an hour of sobbing. I topped off the evening with some desperate whining and lolling about à la Scarlett O’Hara.

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