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Archive for January, 2010

Our Birth Story

Blog readers will forgive me for being out of commission the last few weeks.  Adjustment to parenthood is rarely smooth and our adjustment has been no exception.  My precious few free moments I must debate whether I should a) nap, b) shower, c) clean,  d) pay bills, or e) blog.  Usually, I choose a.

Milo’s birth was as “smooth” as possible, though it still hurt like hell.  I had prepared for childbirth as much as I could, taking 2 childbirth classes, including hypnobirthing and months of practicing pre-natal yoga.  Nothing prepares you for the actual pain of childbirth, however.  I knew this intellectually, but was still surprised—shocked, even—at the intensity of the pain.

Our due date was Friday, December 4th.  On Monday, November 30th, I woke up at 2:00am to pee and when I looked in the toilet, I noticed I had passed my mucous plug.  The pregnancy books say that once you pass your mucous plug, labor could start in a few hours or a few weeks.  So I went back to bed.

At around 4:00am, I had what felt like contractions.  They were mild and not very painful, so they could still be pre-labor Braxton-Hicks contractions.  They continued to increase in intensity, though, so around 5:30am, I woke Hubby.

“I’m having contractions,” I said.

“Really?” he said.  “You sure?”

“Pretty sure,” I said.  “They’re starting to hurt.”

Hubby timed the contractions at about 9 minutes apart at that point.  We turned on our hypnobirthing CD and labored in bed.  Hubby massaged my back, which helped the pain a lot.

At 7:00am, we called our doula, Kelly, who hopped in her car and was at our door by 8:00am.  By this time, the contractions were about 5 minutes apart and pretty painful.  However Kelly, who has coached many births and had 3 children of her own, said I was still in early labor because I was fairly lucid between contractions.  Okay, then.

At 8:30am, Hubby called the midwifery practice to let them know I was in labor.  The plan had been to labor at home as long as we could, but at 9:30am the midwife on duty called back and told Hubby they wanted me to come into the hospital sooner rather than later.  I had had high blood pressure at my last prenatal checkup and they wanted to monitor me more closely.  That was okay with me at this point, as I was becoming less and less lucid between contractions.

Kelly told me to visualize the contractions like diving through a wave; instead of bracing against it, swim into the wave and let it wash over you.  This visualization helped a lot.  Contractions are much more painful if you fight them, but if you can accept the pain and relax through the contractions, they are much more bearable.  Visualization and deep breaths helped me through each contraction.

We arrived at the hospital at 10:30am. (The ride to the hospital was mostly a blur, but I remember it seeming to take a really long time!)  The contractions were coming pretty close together at this point.  The nurses were trying to prep me for admission, taking my blood pressure and getting an IV prep into me in case I would need one later on.  They were having difficulty finding a vein for the IV and had to stab me more than once.  This was not at all pleasant.

Around noon, the midwife, Dorice, checked my cervix and I was already 10 centimeters dilated!  This was good news.  I would have been very discouraged if I had been only 4 centimeters along, with my contractions coming so close together and so intense.  I kept thinking, as I breathed through each contraction, I was crazy for wanting a natural birth.  If only I could have a little something to take the edge off.  Like a little pot.  But at this point, I knew there was no turning back.  I was 10 centimeters dilated and getting ready to push my baby into the world.

At this point, Dorice suggested breaking my water, since I was fully dilated.  There were concerns that if the labor continued too long, they might have to give me high blood pressure medication, which might complicate things.  I was already feeling the urge to push, so breaking my water would help the labor along.  I agreed.  And the pushing began.

Pushing was the hardest part for me.  I pushed in several different positions: on my hands and knees, on my side, on the birthing stool, and on my back.  It felt like the baby would never come out.  But the key thing was the coaching I received from Kelly and Dorice: push into the pain.  In other words, make it hurt more. This seems so counterintuitive.  Why would one want to make the pain hurt more?  But this is exactly the point of childbirth labor.

With each contraction—which I could feel because I didn’t have any drugs—I pushed with my body to help push the baby out.  I could rest in between contractions.  It took me a while to figure things out, but once I did, things progressed.  At one point, Dorice could tell the baby was coming down.  Hubby asked how did she know, because they couldn’t see anything at this point.  Dorice said it was because my vocalizations had changed.  At another point (this is Hubby’s favorite part), Dorice said, “Now it’s going to hurt like fire.”  And it did.  It felt like the biggest bowel movement in mankind’s existence.

The plan was for Hubby to help catch the baby, so he sat at the foot of the bed with Dorice and watched the progress.  It was his reactions that helped me know I was doing well.  He could see the baby’s head crowning and would exclaim, “Wow! That’s incredible!”  Hubby is not usually prone to such exclamations, so I knew the baby was making progress.  Everyone told me I was doing well, but I was convinced they were lying.  Hubby was not going to lie to me.  This much I knew.

At 2:43pm, I heard a few burbling cries and Hubby placed a squirmy baby on my abdomen.  “It’s a baby!” he announced.

“It’s a boy!” I said.  He was tiny and perfect.

The baby, alert and blinking, looked up at me.  It was as if he knew me, knew who I was, and knew all about me.   His eyes held infinite wisdom.  Here was my son.

Milo is now 5 weeks old.

Mommy and Milo

By the way, I was 1400 words short of finishing National Novel Writing Month when I went into labor.  So I didn’t finish, but an interesting tidbit: my friend Lillian, who was doing NaNoWriMo with me, had some sixth sense that something was up and called me that day to see if I was okay.  Lillian is a mother of three.  I think she could feel my pain!

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