Baby T-Bird 2008
Thursday March 13th Our Due Date: I woke up in a total funk today. Nobody knows more than I do that due dates are suggestions, not rules. Intellectually I can accept this today. Emotionally, however, this realization sends me over the edge. I did everything right. I ate right. I gained the right amount of weight. I went to all of my prenatal appointments. I took the right vitamins. I believe the right things about birth and babies and parenting. I want to be rewarded for doing things right, dammit. That IS how it works here in America, right? (okay that might be a bit facetious, sorry) I decide to spend the entire day pouting and wallowing in self pity since no one could possibly feel as sorry for me as I feel for me. My cankles are huge. My feet hurt when I bear weight on them. My hands swell when I…well, when I do absolutely anything. This child’s head is literally taking up every bit of available space in my pelvis which leaves room for about ½ teaspoon of pee. The biggest of my big maternity clothes no longer have the capacity to expand over the belly. I have become some monstrous caricature of a pregnant woman: a barefoot, swollen, waddling, nearly naked, puffy faced, screeching like some crazy Medusa-headed Harpe, who will never, ever, ever, go into labor. I will be pregnant forever– or at least long enough to make the skin on my feet explode while they wheel me into the OR for the miracle of my MRSA infested surgical birth. Then I will finally have the c-section which everyone will console me about while not so secretly scolding me for selfishly thinking that I had what it might take to pull off an empowering, healing, society-defying homebirth. Childbirth sucks for a reason, right? How dare I be arrogant enough to think that I could escape what our society has planned for me?
I have my daughter take a picture of my giant, distended, deformed belly to post on my website with some words that make it sound like I am a gracious, reasonable human being who values all human life. Because exposing the real feelings would force people to medicate me, and at this juncture, I might let them.
I vaguely recall some words of wisdom from my midwife…something about when you feel pretty angry and awful about being pregnant that it is just about time to have the baby. I laugh a joyless laugh, then wordlessly and viciously elbow my husband for taking up some of my 3/4 of the bed.
I finally give up my passive aggressive campaign to punish…something undefined…at midnight on the dot and end the 13th on a bitter, bitter note.
Friday March 14th Early Morning:
12:19am. (yes, i mean 19 minutes after I gave in to sleep): Ow! Contraction? Well, that can’t be since I will never go into labor.
12:24am. Another one? That was five minutes. Impossible.
12:29am. Third one. Not a pattern, necessarily. Now the bed is all uncomfortable and David is taking up more than his fair share of the 1/4 allotted to him. I have to get up. Which takes about 3 minutes to execute with all of the huffing and puffing and grunting.
12:34am. Walking around the room I get another one. Four in row is nothing at all and proves even less.
These alleged contractions continue: just uncomfortable enough to keep me shifting position, pacing, and angrily glaring at my sleeping husband, but not enough to convince me that I might be in labor.
3:30am. I run a warm bubble bath and drink a tall glass of water. The contractions continue to intensify. I wrap up in my fuzzy robe and migrate to the recliner and rock until I fall asleep.
4:30am. Ow! I can’t possibly sleep through that. I go to run another bath since that seemed to make me feel better. While the water is running, I attempt to coax a tinkle out (the old slumber party trick?) and instead find a mucous plug. Yikes. As excited as I am to see what is considered to be progress, I am pretty skeeved out by my first glimpse of a mucous plug. It took four babies to finally see one. I could have skipped it. The bath is not nearly as satisfying as the first one was.
7:15am. Called midwife to tell her to forget our 10:00am appointment since I “might” have to call her later for a birth…maybe. I wouldn’t want her to make two trips. I feel like I have jinxed it already by saying anything.
Later That Same Day:
Noon. Well it has been 12 hours and these are not getting any closer together, which means that I am not progressing, which means that I am not in labor. Actually, now that I have bothered to pay attention, they are sort of getting further apart sometimes. 5 minutes becomes 8, and then back to 6, and up to 9, then back to 5. Forget it. I am going to watch movies and rock in the recliner all day because i seem to have an urge to do that and the alternative is to clean my house, which I am not on board with at all. But at least I am definitely NOT in labor. Good to know.
10:51pm. I feel bad for canceling my pre-natal with the midwives and telling them to be on standby. They probably had things to do with their kids, or things to do at all other than hang around waiting for the miracle of my labor to begin…since I know for a fact that I will never go into labor despite having had three previous pregnancies which DID eventually progress to the point of labor, and even childbirth. So I send them an email to rid myself of guilt and to let them off the hook…again.
Subject: So what is up with Justine?
I’m sure this is the question on your minds right now.
The answer is…these contractions hurt like hell and practically leave me on the floor gasping. But they are all over the place. 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 4 minutes, 15 minutes, 3 minutes, 20 minutes…the only constant is that they are consistently about 2 minutes long. They don’t change in intensity depending on what i am doing…but they DO slow down or speed up. I was in the recliner and i was having them every 5 minutes for about 2 hours, then i got up and had 2 at 3 minutes…then they petered out to 7 and 10 minutes when i was walking around and getting a drink.
I’m not at all certain whether or not my water broke…i might have felt a bit of a gush on the potty around 1pm today–but nothing since. Now, after this, the intensity of the discomfort DID increase, but the timing has never established a pattern, so i am really unwilling to cal it “real” When i do have a ctx i feel as though i could push her out if i was willing to do anything that painful and strenuous…i have no desire do that…it just builds an enormous amount of pressure with the ctx. No more bloody show after this mornings gore fest.
So i will give you a call Jill, if it looks like these things establish any kind of a pattern, or if a baby is hanging out of me. We are doing just fine here…going about the normal day, except me raising my finger to indicate no one should talk to me for a minute. Bug holds my hand like a dear mini-doula. She is so sweet. Right now, i want to try to get some rest and maybe have something to eat that is made of chocolate
11:30pm. Having found zero edible things in my house that even came close to being made from anything resembling chocolate, I request that Sir Hubby fetch me some tasty, healthy, nutritious, things from the store. He makes some attempt to wiggle out of it by pointing out that it is almost midnight and that I might be insane, or something along those lines. Well, that is what I hear anyway.
March 15th, 12:45am. After Sir Hubby returns from the store, I am too tired to eat. I decide to run a bath instead.
1:30am. It has been over 24 hours now since I started feeling these “cramps.” This thought creates a sense of panic and despair. Watching Sir Hubby sleep somehow manages to infuriate me to the point of madness. I leave the room and rock in the recliner until the springs squeak and I am seriously risking being the first woman to be charged with Shaken Baby Syndrome pre-natally. These crampy Braxton-Hickes (they are not contractions) are really taking up a significant portion of my resources. However, punishing the chair seems somehow childish and ineffective. I decide that pacing will certainly provide the comfort and satisfaction I crave.
1:32am. Back in the recliner. Pacing sucks.
5:00am. I wake Sir Hubby up to tend to the fire because it is frigid in our house…and I really cannot stand another minute of someone sleeping while I am awake.
5:50am. As a reward for his alpha-male, wood-chopping, Keeper of the Family Hearth actions, I show him the newest discovery in the bathroom. Yet another mucous plug! He remains almost entirely non-plussed. That is odd. He had seemed a bit sad that he had missed the last one. He usually loves it when I share some personal, embarrassing, previously unbeknownst-to-him tidbit about myself. This time, however, he really lacked the kind of enthusiasm I generally like to see in shared bathroom situations. He requests to be allowed to return to bed.
7:00am. So, after an hour of grunting, groaning, tossing, turning, madness I sigh heavily enough to wake the dead (but not my husband) and decide to clean. This is not out of a sense of nesting instinct…that burst of energy came and went a full two weeks ago. No, this is something simpler. I am bored. I am bored with looking at the clock and with consistently finding that the intervals of time do not ever create a pattern.
7:10am. I’ve done some laundry. Which (in our our house) translates into adding soap to the wet, previously washed load that was already abandoned in the washer. After that – I decide that no amount of boredom will really motivate me to clean.
7:40am. I have checked all of my email accounts, read all of the blogs I like to read, and Googled “Signs of labor” which don’t tell me anything that I couldn’t already write an entire novel about. The “crampy sensations in my uterus” are still there. Now however, they have this twinge of new pain I haven’t had before. It feels like a thin rod of burning pain is connecting my cervix to my lower back. (Hey T-Bird get off my tail bone, please?) I have to breathe through them using my Hypnobirthing techniques. It does work to keep me relaxed, but it does not take away the pain. I just makes it more dignified to deal with it.
7:52am. I send the midwives another email :
Well, i did manage to sneak some sleep in between some of this…20 minutes here and 10 minutes here. I do feel better for having some rest, but man, this sure is tough! I guess it is meant to be, otherwise we would have litters and the whole parental investment thing would be worth a whole lot less.
I will keep in contact with you today on and off, just letting you know how things are going. I lost more mucous plug last night…shared my findings with Sir Hubby who was not as impressed as he had hoped he would be by mucous plug. There still is no pattern to these ctx to speak of, which has me very frustrated–and a bit worried. If this is just prodromol stuff, and i’m already struggling, then what might be in store for the real deal? T-Bird has been super quiet thru all of this, which i guess i expected, but also has me poking and prodding her a lot. In a bit of good news though, I busted into my stash of labor food and am loving the dried pineapple chunks! I’m trying to find the positives!
It is wonderful knowing you are available…but that you don’t have to be here necessarily. I would feel like a watched kettle if you were just here sitting around when it doesn’t really feel like a birthing environment quite yet. I think we are still wondering whether or not this is just another false alarm…we are a little gun shy after the previous near birth experience. i feel conflicted about wanting to be assessed so i can “know” something definitive, but I am also very content here in our cocoon…and basically i am off by myself which i really like. All of my labors i have been surrounded by people, and this time i really don’t even want Sir Hubby trying to provide comfort measures. I want to be in a dark room and just cope. I know it is wearing on him though…he feels useless and has taken up a computer project which is now spread all over my house and kinda has me irked since he is devoting energy to that instead of to handling issues with the kids. I will bring it up today instead of fuming from afar about it. Perhaps we just need to get back on the same page and re-connect. I’m sure this is not easy to watch for him.
A thousand heart-felt thank you’s for listening and thinking of me…i’m excited to meet T-Bird, but it still feels surreal that a baby will be here after all of this!
BTW Ctx seem to have picked up while writing this…i’ve had like 5 of them since starting this email.
Okay, i am going to see if i can pee like a normal person…it feels like I constantly have to “get something out of my body” but my body is very unclear about what signals it is sending…it is just a jumbled up bunch of nerve endings sending all kinds of erroneous info ‘cuz evidently my pelvis wasn’t designed for long-term infant cranial storage.
8:10am. A lot more mucous plug…actually, I’m sort of fascinated. i try to envision what must be happening to my body to cause this: my cervix must be doing something, but what?
9:00am. I try to sit on the yoga ball for awhile, but it really makes me more crampy and my back ache has intensified. A warm shower should do the trick. And besides, I need to make myself presentable. It is likely that I will have to reschedule my appointment with the midwives for later today since I needed to see them for my check up and I am not going into “real labor” anytime soon, obviously.
10:00am. I am freshly showered, exfoliated and groomed. I feel presentable and human once again. Sir Hubby has prepared a delicious and nutritious breakfast for me–a Greek omelet, veggie sausage, and orange juice…I feel sick eating it. He takes it personally.
10:40am. We mutually come to the decision to have a fight about it.
11:00am. I am laying in the bed with my elaborately arranged pile of pillows and cushions when Sir Hubby comes in to apologize. Or that is how I hear it anyway.
11:15am. Sir Hubby has given up trying the different massage techniques for relieving my back pain because I am complaining despite his efforts. He asks me to call the midwives. I say, no way am I embarrassing myself by calling them out and hour and half away for a false labor. Decide to take a rest instead.
11:20am. I was so tired that I actually dozed off within 5 minutes only to be ripped from that blissful moment by a gut-busting “crampy uterine sensation.” That is not a nice way to wake up, I had no warning that it was coming. With all the other ones i feel it tightening up before the “rod of pain” moment hit so that I could take the time to use my relaxation techniques.
11:25am. I still haven’t gotten out of bed when another one hits…but the “rod of pain” feels more like a paper towel roll sized rod now.
11:30am. Another one. And I really am using 99% of my resources to deal with the intensity of it. That is 3 in a row at 5 minutes. Well, I already have proof that it means nothing.
Noon. It has now been about 36 hours and nothing has really taken on a regular pattern. We discuss what might be going on. Either we have been in real labor, and if that is the case, then we might be getting closer than we suspect. Or the other scenario is that labor is irregular because there is a complication. We toss around the idea of calling our midwives…but the thought of having them come all the way out here to tell me that I am having some “great warming up contractions” but that “nothing is changing with the cervix” just makes me cringe. I am supposed to know something about childbirth! Being wrong–or worse yet– appearing to be ignorant about what real labor is or isn’t would just be too big of a blow to my already fragile ego at this point. I decide to take another bath and relax while I mull it over.
1:30pm. Sir Hubby takes the kids to the store with him to get some essentials while I pace (of course, I mean waddle) around the house.
2:00pm. When they return, things have gotten intense enough that I decide we need to call the midwives and have them come over to at least check on the baby. The idea of calling them over for the baby, not me, seems to ease my guilt somehow. I’m just a concerned mother, not a hysterically hormonal pregnant lady.
2:15pm. But the house needs to be straightened up before we can have people over. And I wanted the floor under the birthing pool to be vacuumed. And we need to put on the sheets I have set aside for the birth. And we can’t have all that trash on the porch. And did anyone check the mail today?
4:00pm. I finally deem the house acceptable to invite the midwives over.
4:04pm . I take a deep breath in between contractions and dial Jill’s number. This is it. I can’t undo this phone call. Once I say “I think this might be it–maybe we should check on the baby to make sure she is okay?” I can’t take it back. This one phone call will set in motion a chain of events that I am responsible for. She has to make arrangements for her kids, load up her stuff, turn off the casserole she was preparing, reschedule all of the other pregnant women who may actually really need her today, cancel her plans to have a long anticipated romantic date night with her husband…well, I don’t know if she had all that planned or not…but she could have and I am about to make it all come to a screeching halt because “Justine is feeling a little crampy”
4:05pm. How anti-climatic. I got her voice mail.
4:10pm. Of course she calls me right back and reassures me that she has been waiting for my call and I get the impression that she won’t have to cancel her entire life after she gets off the phone. As a matter of fact, she sounds a bit excited. I don’t make it through the whole phone call without a contraction. SIr Hubby finishes up the conversation.
4:13pm. Magically, they are coming about every 3-4 minutes now. Our midwives are an hour and a half away. Perhaps we waited too long to call? I know we talked about what it would be like to birth unassisted, but am I really prepared for it? I can handle laboring on my own…and I know what to do (or not to do) after the birth…but can I handle birth on my own? Well, Sir Hubby is here, I wouldn’t be on my own. I feel better knowing that. I really do think we could do this on our own…but only if we have to.
4:30pm. I enjoy spending time in the baby’s room when I have a contraction. It is bright, open and clean in there. I am not hounded by an obsessive-compulsive desire to straighten up or to rearrange anything while I am in here. It has been newly redecorated and it feels un-lived in as of yet; unoccupied. I know that our baby won’t spend much time in here in practice, but in my current state of mind, I am comforted by the sights and smells of infant-related consumer goods.
5:00pm. Sir Hubby has found the perfect acupressure points on my lower back. I feel more in control of the contractions at this point. I make a mental note that since I called Jill, I feel much better. The “rod of pain” has all but vanished. I feel a tremendous tightening, but very little pain–or even discomfort. Perhaps the acupressure has eliminated my perception of the sensations and has made it easier to cope with? Or perhaps I have finally relaxed and accepted that this is labor?
5:15pm. Jill calls en route for an update. Sir Hubby speaks with her. I’m not really paying attention but am curious about how far away she is. I don’t feel that birth is imminent or anything, but it does feel as if there will be a direct correlation between her arrival and T-Bird’s–almost like her presence will give T-Bird (or me?) permission to fully let go and surrender to this process. Well, duh, why didn’t I call earlier if I believed that? We could have had T-Bird in our arms hours ago if all I needed was permission. Well, the truth is, I just now realized how much I must have been fighting before, because what I am doing now is oddly rewarding and satisfying, not at all scary or full of pain. No, this is right. T-Bird will arrive at the perfect time.
5:30pm. I have unconsciously been using some vocalization during my contractions–making an open mouthed sound like an ahhhh or an ohhhh with my exhalations. I’m aware that I am making the noises, but not making the choice to make them. I feel more and more of my actions are an auto-pilot. There is something very liberating about this process. And it is now crystal clear to those around me when a contraction has begun, so the vocalization also serves to create the ideal environment for me to attain a deeper level of relaxation with every contraction.
5:40pm. Jill has arrived and is setting up her gear…oxygen gets tucked into the corner, the sterile clamps and scissors for the cord go on top of my dresser. I tell her that I am a little “miffed” that my contractions had been so intense and although now they are better since I am trying to work with them and accept that they are moving my baby down, I am nonetheless wishing they would stop. Jill reminds me that I have to go though it to get through it.
5:45pm. Fiona Apple is playing on the “Birth Mix” and Bug is holding my hands while we slow dance to Across the Universe. Jill presents a bouquet of softly colored lolli-pops for me to choose from. I find a white one that looks promising. Yes! A ginger flavored Preggo Pop. Could this be more perfect?
5:50pm. Jill takes my blood pressure (116/74) and listens to T-Bird’s heart tones which are a perfect 140-150 bpm. We then decide to do the first pelvic exam of my entire pregnancy. This is the part where I get very nervous. Not because I have a problem with pelvic exams per se, but because historically, this is the part in my previous labors where my care-provider usually shakes their head and says something like “Well, you are only 2-3cms, 50% effaced, and the baby is still very posterior and up high. You’re going to be here awhile. Perhaps we should go ahead and get some Pitocin started?”
6:00pm. I’m shocked. Jill tells me that I am 6cms, 75% effaced and at zero station! I really cannot believe this. I have been in labor all this time! I called the midwives at just the right time! I didn’t embarrass myself by calling days before I needed them, or insisting that I was in labor when I wasn’t. This realization gives me a great deal of confidence in my ability to read my body’s cues. Confidence. Now, there is a word I haven’t been on familiar terms with in my previous labors. I can feel the hormonal high beginning to spread throughout my body.
6:05pm. I tell Sir Hubby to get the birthing pool filled. It really hits me–I am really going to have this baby!
6:06pm. I instruct Ella to call Nanny Featherbottom–the affectionate nickname we have for our best friend, Kelley, who will be in charge of Bug-wrangling for the birth. Jill gives Jen a call around this time, too. I try not to read too much into that–does it mean that Jill thinks I am close?
6:10pm. I get into the birthing pool even though it is far from full yet. Instantly, the intensity of the contractions recedes by 80%. This, along with relaxation, confidence, and my ginger pop are making labor a pleasant endeavor. I am joking and laughing and talking in between contractions. Already this is shaping up to be a wonderful experience. I thank my lucky stars that I am in my home, surrounded by people I love and trust.
6:20pm. Jill checks on T-Bird with the Doppler again; 136-144 bpm. My contractions are about 2-3 minutes apart…but I hardly feel them at this point. Or at least I hardly register them as painful if I am feeling them. Birthing pools rock.
6:30pm. I am continuing with my vocalizations and they lend a bit of sacredness to the proceedings. We will be having a conversation and I will inhale deeply and slowly–drawing air all the way into by belly. The conversation falls silent and everyone’s focus is with me. On the exhale, I open my throat and allow the air to leave just as slowly as I drew it in. That openness reflects what I hope is going on with my cervix. Sir Hubby is running the warm water over my belly which feels divine and also allows me to envision the muscles of my torso, abdomen and uterus as fluid, soft, and warm. The tension melts and I feel my body’s efforts to move the baby down–centimeters at a time– a feeling that would be imperceptible if I were fighting.
6:50pm. My uterine surges (that word describes them much better at this point than calling them contractions) are 2 minutes apart now. Jill checks on T-Bird again in between them. She is in the 140′s. I have a Fun-Noodle Pool Floatie as an arm and head rest (the wisest $1.50 we have ever spent) to keep me above the water while I allow my legs, hips and lower back to be totally submerged in the warm water. This is heavenly and I feel T-Bird move down, down, down with each and every surge.
7:00pm. Nanny Featherbottom has arrived and is successfully entertaining Bug. I am really impressed with how well our four year old is handling everything. I have to attribute it to the preparation we did beforehand–explaining who would be there for the birth, what kinds of noises she would here, what things would look like. She isn’t a bit surprised at anything that is going on.
7:10pm. It was bound to happen sooner or later since it happened with all of my other labors; nausea. Along with it comes a marked increases in pressure. T-Bird is closer than ever–and the nausea usually means one thing– transition. I’m impressed that Kelley’s first few minutes of witnessing my labor include vomiting. Boy, I bet she can’t wait to do this someday. Nice timing- I’ve managed to turn someone off of homebirth!
7:45pm. Just as Jen arrives, I experience the most incredibly overwhelming sensation. It is a hybrid of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and…ahem…an orgasm? I have been using my vocalizations, my hypnobirthing relaxation techniques, and rotating my hips in the water to move the baby down with each uterine surge. But this sensation is so overwhelming that all of those techniques are out of the window for the duration of the contraction. It is an odd mix of “Oh my god, this is so out of control!” and “Wow, if i simply surrender this would happen without my interference.” Jill tries to check on T-Bird with the Doppler, but she is so much lower than last time that it takes us a few minutes. She is doing just fine in the 130-140 range.
8:15pm. Still in the pool and my focus now is to try to be as relaxed as possible so that my body can do this with as little interference from me as possible. When I am totally able to surrender, I can feel the tiniest shift in T-Bird’s position and I have complete faith that we are doing this! The other thing that is aiding me significantly is the music I have chosen for my Birth Mix. We put it together about 4 weeks ago, and whenever I was practicing my relaxation breathing, or doing trial runs in the birthing pool I would try to listen to it so that the association between relaxation and the music would be firmly implanted in my subconscious. Feist, Sade, Cowboy Junkies, The Innocence Mission, Broken Social Scene, Holly Cole, KD Lang, Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann…these are my birth companions and we are on fairly familiar terms at this point.
8:30pm. I am struggling to find a position that I am comfortable in. Well, comfortable is not accurate. I know that I won’t be entirely comfortable, but I feel as if every position I get into is simply NOT going to work for birthing the baby. I had envisioned using a supported upright position to birth T-Bird so that I could use gravity to bring her down and also have my hands free to catch her–but that doesn’t seem to be working. I try leaning over the side of the tub. No go. On my side. Nope. Some orange juice makes me feel a little better.
8:45pm. Some more vomiting. Orange juice isn’t so great coming back up. I try to see this as a good thing–or as good as one can see vomiting as being, I suppose. I know that this is my body’s way of ridding itself of tension and I welcome the help…however, i do wish there weren’t 5 people watching me hurl into a bowl while I hang over the side of a plastic pool. Afterward, I explain to Kelley and to my 13 year old daughter, that I hope this all doesn’t look too horrid because it really isn’t…I describe the physical sensations that I am having as “commandingly intense“, but not painful. They make some noises about understanding and how well I am doing. We’ll have to wait until they are pregnant someday to see if they are convinced or not.
9:00pm. Things are picking up significantly. I guess the puking really did release some tension. The surges are less than 2 minutes apart and are lasting for 90 seconds. The midwives ask if I would like to try to go pee. Since I have so little time in between contractions, I decide to hop out of the tub to quickly make it to the bathroom and back. Sir Hubby jumps to attention and escorts me…but we don’t make it the 10 feet down the hall before I have another one. I manage to pee, but have a contraction immediately afterwards. I make it back to the doorway to our bedroom for the next one and wrap my arms arms around Sir Hubby’s neck and lean into him for support. I don’t make it back into the pool.
9:08m. I waddle over to the bed to try resting for a few minutes in between contractions. I try a few sitting up on the bed and decide that it is NOT the position I want to be in any more. The midwives suggest laying on my left side. I try one like that and know within 5 seconds that I never want to be in that position ever again! I feel like I am swimming up current…up a waterfall!
9:15pm. I grab every pillow within my reach and make a mountain in the center of the bed to lean into. On my knees, I feel that I am upright enough to allow gravity to assist me, but the pillows give me a place to rest if I need it. Sir Hubby is on my left. Jill is on my right. Jen is facing me. I am aware of their presence and support, but feel as though I am a million miles from this room, from them, from all of this. I hear my vocalizations from far away and they sound like echoes of someone singing. Jill quietly gets the birthing equipment ready.
9:45pm. Jen or Jill checks on T-Bird and she is holding steady in the high 130′s. I feel we are both weathering this process very well. Despite being in the zone, and not feeling very connected with the real world, I am really very upbeat, happy, and excited. I feel myself involuntarily bearing down with the contractions at this point. I have one hand on Sir Hubby’s shoulder, the other on my belly. I ask T-Bird to move down. I tell her it is okay and that we are ready for her. I say these things out loud and as soon as I do, I feel a very significant change in the sensations…a tremendous pressure…my vocalization becomes longer, more drawn out, and changes pitch. We are very close.
9:55pm. I lean into the pillows for a small reprieve, but am drawn upward almost immediately by the next contraction. As soon as I grab onto Sir Hubby’s shoulder, my water breaks. Sir Hubby, who has as much birth knowledge as any doula announces that it is “copious, clear fluid” which means that there is no meconium staining and that our baby is not in any distress. And also verifies that my 20 week sonogram results of “low amniotic fluid” were a complete misdiagnoses. I feel T-Bird slide down with the gush of fluid. The contractions are 1 minute apart. She is almost here!
10:04pm. I hear Feist playing on the Birth Mix. I sense my body gently pushing Mathilda out. I know that I am grabbing on to David’s shoulder fairly hard. But I feel as though I am perfectly still and all is quiet. Like in music videos where the artist is standing perfectly still on a crowded street while life rushes by. Or more appropriately, this is how I imagine very deep meditation must feel. I am perfectly still and calm…in my mind. I am totally focused on this instant and no other.
10:05pm. I reach down and feel T-Bird’s soft head. She has hair. I ask Sir Hubby if he would like to touch our baby. He leans close and presses his face against my cheek while he makes contact with his new daughter for the very first time. All three of us share our first moment as a family.
10:10pm. I am allowing my body and T-Bird decide how quickly things progress. I am in no hurry to endure a perineal tear, instead I let the ebb and flow of my contractions bring her closer and closer. I ask for Ella to come back into the room so she can take the first pictures of her new baby sister. I tell them to wait on telling Bug until T-Bird is actually born in case it gets too intense.
10:12pm. Ella barely gets the camera turned on before Tillie’s head emerges. I was waiting for it to hurt A LOT…but her head just popped out with a tiny bit of burning/stretching sensation. “She’s out!” I exclaim –more surprised than I thought I would be. I look over at Sir Hubby who is crying and smiling at the same time.
10:13pm. One little push and her shoulders and the rest of her body are propelled out at what seems like an incredible speed! I’m grateful that Jill is ready for this likelihood! I suppose I imagined her emerging slowly so that I would have time to help catch her. Jill tells me to reach down and pick up my baby. She is the most incredibly soft thing I have ever had the privilege to touch. She is perfectly pink and is making the tiniest little mewling noises. “You’re a real baby!” I announce–which I am sure petrifies her– what the heck did I think she was going to be? Certainly she must be questioning whether or not I am really the most qualified care-provider for her after hearing such a thing.
10:14pm. Bug comes parading into the room, sees me holding our baby, slaps her own forehead and incredulously asks “Am I dreaming?” Leave it to her to manage to be even more dramatic than the birth of a new life.
After the Birth
10:15pm. Here is where the REAL difference in birth location becomes obvious–and more important than ever. T-Birdis calm and observant while in my arms. We all sing Happy Birthday to her, just as Bug had planned. She is still receiving oxygen and blood from my body since the cord connecting us is attached— there is no rush to sever our connection. There is no rush to provide extra air to her–she is having no trouble breathing, her color is pink and healthy. There is no rush to take her from me to place her under an electric warmer since she is not suffering from blood loss (cutting the cord early denies a small infant precious ounces of blood which may lower their body temperature). She is laying skin-to-skin with me and is nuzzling my breast. Her eyes are wide open–she seems a bit perplexed at this strange new world–but she is not terrified or in pain–just curious. I hope these first few moments set the tone for her entire life.
10:20pm. I look into the video camera that is set up on the tri-pod in the corner of the room and speak these words (7 minutes after giving birth) I’m saying this so that it is on record–I would totally do this again. This was not painful or awful in anyway. There is a world of difference in giving birth at home compared to giving birth in a hospital. I would never do it any other way ever again. Although what I fail to mention was that i was so miserable the last week of my pregnancy that I probably won’t ever have another baby. But instantly, the thought of never makes me sad and I sniff T-Bird’s head…heaven.
10:23pm. Jill checks on the placenta to see if it is ready to come meet the world, as well. I am having a lot of cramps which feel a lot like contractions, which I am whining about. The cord has stopped pulsing and is kind of cold and limp feeling. I am surprised at how “spiral-y” it is. I’ve never gotten to play with the cord from my other births. It feels right to do this…like I just had acrylic nails put on—they feel alien and weird, but oddly like my own all at once. The cord is mine–it is part of me–I created it out of the blood and cells in my body and the nutrients in my food–but it is entirely alien and has no further function at this point. The placenta seems to want to stay in there for a few more minutes. We decide to allow it to remain since I do not want to repeat the traumatic postpartum bleeding experience that I had with Bug from the OB pulling my placenta out before it was fully detached.
10:30pm. T-Bird has latched on to my breast and is nursing like a pro! This definitely increase the uterine cramps. My complaints bring Jill back over to check on it. Both her and Jen press on my tummy to feel the fundus (top of the uterus) which is miraculously right at my navel now. They both agree that the placenta is no longer attached and that it is safe for it to come out. Jill gives the cord a small tug to see if it will come out. It doesn’t. I am wary of pulling on it any more and ask if we can wait a few more minutes. Old fears die hard.
10:40pm. I am anxious for these cramps to end and feel like a real wuss for complaining about them…I did just give birth after all. Jill suggest that I may need to give a little “push” to help it along. I scootch down a bit and give a push…and feel it moving down…crikey! It feels bigger than T-Bird! I push a bit harder and this HUGE thing flops out of me! Holy Placenta! In addition to our daughter, evidently I was also carrying around the world’s most mammoth placenta. It is seriously big…and I’ve seen a few placenta’s in my day. This thing was taking up all of my tummy space and led us to believe that T-Bird was going to be a bit bigger than she is. Instantly, I feel like a new person. My uterus is entirely my own again. My body, although still showing the signs of pregnancy and recent birth, feels almost normal already.
10:42pm. After Jen puts the placenta in a bowl and has a good look at it to determine that it is all intact, Jill decides to take a look at my bits and parts to make sure that they are all intact. No one seems surprised to hear that there has been no tearing, no ripping, and no abrasions. I feel a little bit sore, but already I can tell my recovery will be much more pleasant without rips, tears or stitches.
11:00pm. Sir Hubby gets to hold his new daughter for the first time while Jill escorts me into the bathroom for a shower. I am happy that I hear no cries while I am gone. And I am also very happy with my investment in the all natural, organic, Rosemary-Mint soap i purchased just for this occasion. Both of these things make up for the adult diaper I am wearing…but even that sure beats two giant Kotex precariously shoved into a pair of great big cotton granny panties.
11:10pm. Back in bed…a bed that has fresh sheets on it ala the midwives. Is there anything that they are not awesome at? Sir Hubby makes some sexual innuendos about my industrial-strength panties. The midwives jokingly ask is we are aware of the many benefits of spacing our pregnancies.
11:30pm. My midwives bust out the cheesecake they had brought with them to celebrate my daughters birthday. e. A freaking cheesecake. I challenge anyone to top that. Cheesecake.
Midnight. We are tucked into our clean, warm bed. Belly full of cheesecake. Arms full of new baby. Heart full of love. Our birth music mix plays softly in the background. One last hug and congratulations from the midwives before they return home to their families. We did it. T-Bird is here. Everything was just perfect. She snuggles into me and nurses all night long while I stay awake and marvel at the incredible journey that has brought us to this time, this place, this outcome.