Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The noob - birth story

This was me on Sunday Morning, July 22nd . 42 weeks pregnant. The plan was to head through to hospital the following day for a non-stress test and possibly be induced. If not induced on Monday then Wednesday at the latest.

This was my longest pregnancy ever. I am used to going past the EDD but not this far past. It was very challenging to say the least. I didn't have a very positive mentality about it all, I was downright miserable to be honest. I've always been vocal about my principals, "Baby chooses their birthdate, patience is important, let them cook, you don't have to *do* anything to usher in the labor just as you needn't *do* anything to make the baby grow eye lashes or fingers or to encourage their heart to start beating. Trust the process. Wait for the perfect timing."

But then I was 42 weeks pregnant and miserable, so I showed my principals where they could shove it and I did every old wive's tale in the book to try to encourage this wee lamb to come meet us. I prayed and cried and journalled and talked to the baby and strongly felt that the baby wanted to come out. They were ready. I wondered what was holding it back and it was difficult to not become anxious.

Sunday as a last ditched effort I decided to try some black cohosh. I've been cautious about it in the past and didn't think it's something I'd ever try. But I tried. I took one dose every hour for four hours and we went out to walk around some shops. I had a couple of tightenings but nothing significant. After I took the last dose and we came home and nothing was happening I began to feel very discouraged. There were no tricks left to try. We had done it all. My body must just be broken. I was very down.

Rene kept the kids out of my hair and let me have some time to try to find some zen space (or at least that's the delicate way of saying, "why don't you stay in a different room so we don't have to be brought down by your mysery and your terrible mood"). I laid around in the hammock for a while, which was lovely despite the 100+ degree weather. I listened to the birds sing and felt the hot breeze on my skin and prayed. And found some peace.

About 4pm I went for a nap. But I was feeling a bit crampy and couldn't get comfortable. I thought I might have a UTI coming on because I kept feeling like I had to pee, but I couldn't. And of course I kept up some hope at the back of my mind that it was a sign of impending labor. But then I thought *everything* was a sign, because I was so desperate for it to be true. Then somewhere around 5pm, or just before it I got a decent contraction. It only lasted about 15-20 seconds but it demanded my attention. A few minutes later and I got another one, still short but uncomfortable. When the next one hit, I found myself thinking, "I'd love to get in the pool for some relief" and I got excited. Surely that means this is labor?

I decided to tell Rene, and ask him to fill the pool. I remembered last time it had been hard to convince him to fill it when it didn't look like I was in labor at all, so I chose my words carefully, "Rene, I'm in labor. Can you fill the pool?". He had been determined to believe me this time so he went straight into prepared script mode with a, "yup" and immediately started filling it. I hadn't been prepared for him to believe me...I had only had a few contractions and they were really short, but they did hurt...but I felt fine in between. I felt really stupid suddenly like I was calling a false alarm. But I went with it anyway.

A few minutes past 5pm and the pool was starting to fill and I got in and was still completely comfortable and smiling.

A contraction hit and I gently moaned through it, and it sounded like I was having a great time. I felt silly for vocalizing. I felt like I was really playing this whole thing up out of desperation to not be pregnant anymore. Another contraction and I breathed through it. Still very short. 20 seconds or so. I'm hoping they pick up and this is really it. I'm hoping they'll get stronger. Next one that hits was a good 'en! And I was THRILLED. I started crying and sobbing, saying, "this is really happening! I'm really going to have a baby! I can't believe it! I'm so happy". And as I sobbed, I could feel the baby moving down lower. And that was the end of "easy" labor.

Maybe 5.15 or 5.20 ish and I was slapped with a real, serious contraction and I couldn't help it. I yelled. Rene calls it the "birth warrior cry" but I watched back the video and I look like a huge wallrus wailing at the top of its lungs. It was not pretty or feminine like all these lovely hypobirthing videos. It was all of a sudden severe. It was sheer power and pain blasting through me and I just repeated the words, "surrender, surrender" in my head, and I did surrender. I didn't care how I looked or sounded, I just did what my body needed. Which was to yell like a giant wallrus. Rene reminded me at one point to keep my tone low, which I tried, and it helped, but was too much effort to sustain. I wasn't screaming, just hollering. In between contractions I was still nice. I asked Rene to rush through at one point to make sure the kids know that I'm ok, these sounds are normal. He reported back that they were totally unphased and in fact Ally was entertaining them by copying me. They care so much.

I hadn't had time to build up endorphins and I felt everything. I was dilating super fast and it was really insane. I guess this was transition hitting, though it's hard to tell, because it really had just gone from mild to crazy as though it were an on off switch. But I heard myself saying, "I can't do this" and hoped that meant it would be over soon. And when Rene would try to reassure me, I shooshed him, and silently felt guilty, but also realized maybe it was a sign I was in transition and an end was in sight. I was reminding myself to surrender, working hard to maintain awkard positions to keep my bottom in the water because the pool wasn't filled to minimum yet, and telling myself there would probably just be a few more contractions to get through. And I was right.

5.50 and I felt my body pushing, I felt the baby descend and I told Rene, "it's coming". He ran through to get the kids if they wanted to watch and by the time they ran down the hall and into the room the head was crowning. I was leaning back and facing them so they saw the whole shebang from the action end of it. All five kids were in there. The water broke and there was meconium in it. We were too busy to worry about it. The room was suddenly a circus with kids everywhere making comments and whooping and whatnot. I wasn't vocalizing anymore, just silently surrendering to the fetal ejection reflex and telling myself over and over that it would be done soon, I'd get to hold her soon, my work was almost complete. The kids were giddy, and were all shouting, "You can do it, Mummy. You can do it!"

The contraction ended and the head was out, though I didn't feel that relief I usually feel when the head has been born. I tried to feel with my hand what was going on, but couldn't tell. I tried to just soak up the break and regain strength for when the next contraction would hit. Which wasn't a very long break at all. I felt the shoulders popping out one at a time in graphic detail (man I wish I had some endorphins to make it a foggy memory!) and then the body slipped out easily at 5.55pm. Rene had just put his hands down to check for cord and keep baby in the water when the baby happened to come skooshing out into his ready hands. He lifted the slippery giant onto my belly and I could hear the kids cheering and asking, "it is a boy or a girl?!". I looked down and said, "Hi baby, hi baby girl!" and the room erupted with happy exclamation.

I felt amazing! I was so happy to meet this baby. I was on cloud nine and it hasn't really warn off yet. I was SO glad this was over, and I looked at her and said, "I did it!". I felt like nothing could ever stop me, there must be nothing I couldn't face. Such an empowering feeling.

She was alert, but too content to bother to cry at first, but was still getting good blood through the cord. I swapped her around from arm to arm, trying her in different positions and after maybe a minute she let out a beautiful cry and pinked up right away. We noticed she had a knot in her cord and thanked God for keeping her safe. She found her thumb and started sucking it before her placenta had even been born. She's a pro.

Meet Ashlynn Victoria. 11 lb 1oz of deliciousness.
She belongs in our family. She's fit right in. We are all so in love. She has the sweetest, easiest temperament and is so snuggly and lovable. I don't know how we ever could have lived without her. She is amazing.

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