Saturday, December 18, 2010

What do you do with the stuff?

When Rene's colleagues learned that we were planning another homebirth, he was approached by a couple of curious females with a question I'm sure many have wondered about.

"So, after the home birth...what do you do with all stuff?"

Meaning, I presume, the placenta etc. I know most people have this image of birth as this huge, messy, bloody ordeal. Really there isn't a whole lot of blood and it's nothing a few chux pads can't contain. Clean up is as easy as this - throw old chux pad in trash, put new chux pad under butt. It's simple really. Water birth is even easier, it's all in the water and you just drain it away. We use a pool liner that you can throw away when used and buy a new one for the next time. :)

Then you are left with a clean house, a lovely new baby and a placenta. Last time we stuck the placenta in the freezer, where it still remains, and we hope to one day plant it under a tree or something. We don't own our house yet, we'll probably hold onto it until then.

But this time, I've been reading about all the wonderful benefits of ingesting your placenta. Yes, I said it. I can't even be bothered listing all the benefits here just now, because I have more important things to do, like snuggle with an amazingly adorable 5 (and a half) day old baby boy. But seriously, google it and read all about how it can help protect against postnatal depression and help with milk supply and so much more.

Many women enjoy the benefits of placenta by slicing off a chunk and putting it in a smoothie. This is especially useful as a quick fix shortly after giving birth, especially if you are having a lot of blood loss. There are also tons of recipes out there including placenta pate, placenta stew and even placenta pizza!

I must admit, I'm not quite *that* crunchy yet. I wasn't ready to go there this time. I know, for shame, huh? But luckily for me I came in contact with a woman who will encapsulate your placenta for you! Which basically involves dehydrating it, grinding it into a powder and then sticking it in little capsules.

Before any of your get cheeky about how I'm a vegetarian and placenta is technically meat, remember that no animal had to die to make my placenta, so keep your wisecracks to yourself thank you very much.

You take a few of the capsules a day and they are like little pills of magic happiness. Seriously, I feel awesome. The first few days after the birth were a bit of a blur, I didn't get much sleep and was crawling through the days. Then baby started to sleep and I started taking these magic pills and I feel AWESOME. I woke up yesterday singing, "I'm walking on sunshine...yeah" and today singing Top Of The World by the Carpenters. Seriously I did.

Local gals, I encourage you to check out Mary Cleveland's page for more info. She is also a doula, a mother and a beautiful person inside and out.

And she also dried up the umbilical cord into a heart. How precious is that?! What a beautiful keepsake. So, I know that one day when Alasdair brings home a fiance and I pull out the heart shaped umbilical cord to show her, she might be a *little* freaked out and might hear horror movie sound effects going off in her head, but it's all good, right?

So that's what we do with the "other stuff". Isn't it awesome?

Monday, December 13, 2010

One more Monkey - whirlwind homebirth story

Our family gained one new member last night. First things first, here are the quick stats:

Baby BOY! Born Dec 12 2010 @11.26pm
9lb 2oz, 22.5 inches long

Name: Alasdair Rennie Burton Docherty

You Brits and Scots don't need me to explain the Alasdair, but you Americans are scratching your heads. It's a good, strong, Scottish name. The Scottish version of Alexander, meaning defender of men. It's popular in the UK and pretty much unheard of in the USA. We went for the Scottish spelling of the name, with a D rather than the English spelling with a T.

It's pronounced like AL-iss-tur
We will still call him Ally as a nickname, which was also his in utero nickname. We chose the in utero nickname weeks before we chose the boy name Alasdair, and it just happened to fit. :)

So here's the story according to how I remember it all.

I woke up on Sunday morning, 41 weeks pregnant and feeling so disappointed to not have had the baby overnight. I was tired from insomnia and had been up from about 4am, tossing and turning and sighing. I had had weeks of prodromal labor, especially at night. I was grumpy all the time, and so extremely fed up and done with being pregnant. I was praying every night that I'd have the baby. I was just plain done.

I got up at 7.30 and went to the bathroom and noticed pink spotting. It wasn't the bloody show, just spotting. I've never had that happen before at the end of pregnancy. I decided to take it as the ray of hope that I so desperately needed that this pregnancy would soon come to a beautiful end. I told Rene and he was notably less excited about it than I was. I didn't have any other signs that labor was impending, but I had hope. And it set me abuzz.

I let the midwife know that I thought we'd have the baby soon because I had spotting. She asked me to keep her posted. As soon as the kids were up and about and the tension of the day began, I realized I would be very unlikely to start labor while the kids were awake. But I hoped and sort of planned to start labor as soon as they were in bed. I really needed the hope and I held onto it for my sanity.

I spent the day moping around wishing my uterus would contract. I tried bouncing on a birth ball, squatting, sitting on the birth stool, dancing around the room with Turtle, trying to bring the baby down and get some action started. I took soaks in the bath, prayed, willed and wished. I had some sporadic contractions here and there, but nothing seemed to want to happen. I was continuing to spot and had some show though, so I remained hopeful and kept my heart set on getting the kids to bed and having a baby.

At one point, when we were writing out Christmas cards, I asked Rene if he'd half fill the birth pool before putting the kids in bed. He looked at me like I was insane. He was concerned that we'd fill it with warm water, then whenever I did go into labor, it would be cold by then. I didn't like that answer very much at all. I became very dejected, felt that Rene had no faith I'd go into labor and in my hormonal state that seemed to me like he just wanted me to be pregnant forever. I told him I very much intended to go into labor when these kids were in bed and I needed him to have faith in me that it would happen, and that I could do it. There were some tense moments and I eventually had a good cry at about 7pmish. It was a tension relieving cry and I think it was necessary. It helped put me in a more peaceful mindset, though I was still intent on going into labor shortly.

At about 9pm Rene took the kids and started to settle them to bed. I began preparing the birth room. I brought in my oil burner lamp and laptop and started some soft music playing. I took some photos of my pregnant silhouette. At about 9.40 I sat on the birth stool with the lights dim and basically waited for labor. Sure enough, some contractions started. Nothing much, but it was something and I was ready to get the show on the road.

I wondered why the kids were taking so long to go to sleep! By about 9.55 I had had maybe 6 contractions, kind of tight but not sore. I went in to see where Rene was and found him sound asleep on the kids bedroom floor. I woke him and was very hormonal and upset. He looked bewildered while I complained to him that him falling asleep in there when I had scheduled myself to go into labor made me feel again like he didn't have faith in me. As I was moaning at him and he was coming to, the midwife called to check up on us. Rene was post processing words I had just been saying like labor and baby and started telling the midwife he was pretty sure I wanted her to come through. I started flailing in the background and so he asked her if he could call her back.

I informed him that I wasn't actually in labor yet. In fact with all the tension the contractions had stopped. I had only had a few. But I really *wanted* to go into labor and I had high hopes. He looked at me like I had 3 heads, but he was determined to show that he did have faith in me, so instead of just calling the midwife to say, um, don't bother she's not in labor, he decided to call and say we were going to monitor progress for 20 to 30 minutes and then call her back again. I was content with that. I wanted to make sure we'd call her early enough because I knew last labor was fast. So I was happy that she was in the know from the very onset.

I didn't have any contractions anymore, because of the tension. But I asked Rene to start filling the pool anyway. And after the fight earlier, he decided to oblige without complaint this time. :) He started filling it and all of a sudden, at about 10.10 - 10.15 I had quite a serious contraction. And then another. I could still talk through them and Rene couldn't tell I was having them, but my hopes soared. I asked him to put on the sterilized bed sheets, and he obliged. He asked if I was having any contractions and I told him I was. And that I planned on having a baby tonight, thank you very much. He got on with his task without complaint. Have I mentioned that he's an awesome man, by the way? None of this would have worked out if he had trusted his brain and used common sense instead of trusting in my words. He chose to have faith in me and it made this a success. <3

At about 10.25 the birth pool had a few inches of water and the contractions were starting to hurt. I asked Rene if he thought I should go ahead and get in. "Sure, why not?" I got in and felt instant relief of pressure and suddenly felt very silly. I had a few minutes without a contraction and thought "I bet I've just ruined my chances of going into labor. I'll relax too much in here. I bet this was just going to be more prodromal. What a fool I've made of myself". Just as I was trying to figure out how we'd get another pool liner for whenever I actually would go into labor, another contraction hit. This one required my full focus and sort of slapped me back into birth mode, so I told Rene to call back the midwife and ask her to come through. Game on. He complied. Have I mentioned he's amazing?

We were still a bit uncertain, especially in between contractions because I felt fine in between. We were talking and laughing and I'd sometimes ask, "do you think we're having a baby tonight?" By now he knew the right answer, "yes, we're having a baby tonight". Good man. He gave me lower back rubs and continued to fill the pool with boiling pots of water and from the hose.

They picked up so fast I really lost track of time. Turns out there wasn't a whole lot of time to even lose track of, it was all just happening so fast. During contractions I heard myself saying, "come on baby, come on baby, I want to meet you" and I visualized my baby's head coming down.

I started to feel nauseous which seemed early. But I took the bowl into the water in case I'd need it. I was really vocalizing through the contractions. At first I was low moaning/humming through them but by now I was opening my mouth wide and sort of saying, "ohhhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhhh" and still sometimes, "come on baby! Yes baby, come on out!"

I was waiting for transition to hit, things were starting to feel crazy and I thought I was in the active stage for sure and was kind of dreading transition coming. We continued to fill the pool, it never got completely filled but we finally got some good depth in it. At about 11.20 I noticed myself pushing a bit with contractions! Which surprised me. I didn't think I had hit transition yet. I worried that I wasn't fully open, but my body was pushing with or without my consent so I decided to trust it and not fight it. I asked Rene to wake Kaya, she hadn't wanted to miss it.

He brought her through and she was like a zombie. She was so tired. I told her she could go back to bed if she wanted. She said she might just lie down on the floor. But when my next contraction hit, I was very loud. More yelling than anything. Not screaming, more like a birth warrior yell. It certainly woke Kaya up! She uttered some encouraging words about how it's hard but it's worth it. I told her I know, it really is worth it and I told her I love her.

This baby took more pushes than my others. Because I had to push a few times for baby to even come low enough. Once I felt the baby was finally down and ready I gave a much more focused push, I couldn't help it. My body just took over. I tried panting, but I couldn't keep it up for long, I had to push more. Rene was um...disposing of extra floaters in the pool (sorry peeps, it's a fact of life and sometimes birth) when I birthed the head. He heard me say, "head's out" and he ran through in a flash. I asked, "is it ok?", because I was wondering about the cord. he told me he hadn't checked, so I put my hand down to check and announced that baby was still in the bag of waters.

It felt very strange, the waters were all inflated around the head like a big, soft, flabby water balloon. I instinctively tried to tear the sac with my fingers, because I wanted to check the cord and feel the head, but I was unsuccessful and then another contraction hit and required my full effort. I was telling myself, "it's almost over, it's almost over" and then sure enough, it was over. At 11.26pm the body slipped out so fast and the relief was instant.

I sat down and pulled my baby out of the water. I guess the sac burst while the rest of the baby was being born because when I pulled him out of the water, the sac slipped off of his body. He cried instantly and was a really good color. He pinked up so fast. I was catching my breath and declaring my love when Kaya asked me to check if we had a brother or a sister. I took an extra moment and then checked, and told her she had another brother! I must admit, I thought it would be a girl. I am *always* wrong about the sex of the baby. Zoe's the only one I ever got right. I was so thrilled though and instantly thought about how good it will be for Turtle to have a brother.

Rene called the midwife to tell her the good news. Kaya went to wake Lana and she came through and met her new brother. I tried to nurse him but he had no idea how to latch on. We had some nice bonding time, put hats on the baby and kept him covered with towels. We announced his name to the kids.

Then I had another horribly sore contraction and I was worried a twin was going to come out! It was very sore. But then out came the placenta, much to my relief! We scooped it into a bowl and Rene helped me out of the pool and into bed. As soon as I layed in bed Rene accidentally dumped the bowl of placenta and blood all over me and the midwife and assistant arrived that very second. So it must have looked pretty messy for them!

Baby latched on better and suckled like a champ. The midwife and assistant checked us over, weighed and measured baby and checked we were all ok.

Kaya cut the cord, and had a bit of trouble holding the scissors. Thankfully the midwife was very patient with her and helped her be nice and careful. Everything was all abuzz and I suddenly felt very bewildered and I guess a little bit in shock. I hadn't debriefed from any of it and the fastness of it all just suddenly hit me. I probably wasn't great for conversation. I had a bit of retained placenta which we managed to get out and everything seems fine with that now. Afterbirth pains are not fun, but in a few days they'll ease off. I'm looking forward to that!

Midwives left, kids went back to bed, Rene snored, Ally slept beautifully and I watched him all night.

I couldn't really sleep. I snoozed as much as I could. The tiredness is hitting me now! I'm going to try to nap. I'm still so full of birth buzz, so full of love, so glad to not be pregnant anymore! I have been blessed with another baby boy. He is so perfect. He has dark hair and is a mix between Rene and I, and a bunch of our kids. He looks like he belongs with us.

It all was shockingly fast and I realized there is a lot of power in setting your mind on something! I had really decided I was going to have this baby and it happened better than I could have dreamed. He has been nursing well, pooping well and sleeping really well. He's a dream and I love him so much. His siblings love him too. Turtle is a little unsure, he refuses to kiss him and seems a little nervous with him, but he doesn't seem jealous or anything. He's just being his usual little darling self, keeping us giggling.

Rene made me a delicious cooked breakfast this morning and it was just what I needed. He's spent the day calling people, cleaning up birth pools and blood etc, tending to kids needs and helping me to the bathroom. He's done some baby snuggling too. He's my hero. I can't express how deeply I appreciate and depend on his patience, forgiveness, support, love, affection and faith in me. This was such a team effort, and he makes me feel so special. I am so blessed.

Check out our adorably handsome new guy!