Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The belated Birth Story of Electra
I'll preface this by saying that I'd been having off and on prodromal labor for a week or so, which is pretty normal for me. Because of various emotional journeys during her pregnancy, including the pregnancy itself being a surprise, I felt like I was on a crash course of processing all the change in too short a period of time.
I knew beforehand I'd "go over" my estimated due date, mostly just because emotionally, I didn't feel ready enough. My third birth was a beautiful but drawn-out homebirth, and I'd experienced a really intense pushing phase in the water, a baby that was so focused on staring at mama that she forgot to breathe (and needed mild resuscitation), and a retained bit of placenta that had needed to be manually retrieved.
Two nights before labor started, I felt like a burning ball of energy; I literally felt like I was 100 degrees, but the thermometer told me I was "normal". My body felt FULL of energy, as if I were about to be the source of a nuclear meltdown, and I panicked. I started crying, and then sobbing, finally realizing that my heart and body were letting go of fear and apprehension. I breathed-it was almost as if I were going through emotional labor two days early. I started having a few earnest contractions, but a phone call (full of insensitive questions and suggestions) shut things down pretty quickly. Let that be a lesson to you, my sisters. If you're pregnant, unplug your phone and avoid those that shut your energy down. If you're a supporter, ask yourself: "Is what I'm about to say kind/thoughtful/necessary/uplifting?"
Thursday morning (41 weeks!), dh announced that he was taking our three girls boating for the day, to get them out of my hair, so I'd have time to relax and visit my MW in a leisurely way. The sheer bliss I felt when he offered this told me it was exactly what my soul and the baby's needed. SPACE.
My doula brain said, "If this were a client, I'd be getting excited about now...it's always when they let go and have no one around..." But, of course, that would never apply to me. I was going to be pregnant forever.
I took a bath, watched a movie, ate a snack, and headed out to do errands. In the car, the song "A Thousand Years" came on, and I started flowing with love and oxytocin and talking to my baby...whatever I needed to be, whatever I needed to do; this wasn't about me anymore, or how tired or desperate I was. Whenever and however that sweet person needed to enter the world, I considered myself a vessel. I was filled with insane LOVE. The force of it surprised me. I could feel the baby feeling loved, too. It encouraged my heart.
MW confirmed that nothing exciting was going on. :lol I started driving home, content, and feeling that it was coming SOON, when contractions started. Ho-hum. Whatever. :lol
When I got home, I relaxed and did a little laundry until Daddy and the girls got there. I mentioned that I'd been contracting. Things picked up. I shut myself into the bedroom, feeling like being alone. Nothing I couldn't talk through, but I felt the instinct to burrow into a sunlit room and breathe.
Around dinner time, things felt a little more organized, but not "for sure". I called my MW and told her, "Head's up...it's probably nothing, and we're going out to eat Mexican food. I'll call back in an hour and a half or so". She agreed it was a good plan, and we went out. I contracted and ate chicken soup and tittered with my funny family, getting up to go to the bathroom periodically.
Back at home, I was glad I'd called for help to come get the girls. It was obvious that I was in early labor, and I couldn't handle anyone needing anything from me. With the house quiet around 9:30pm, Barefoot Man and I watched Portlandia with me blowing through contractions, until the show stopped being funny any more. (This seems to be a pattern for my labors!)
We moved back to the bedroom, where I continued to breathe through contractions, and dh kept my rice sock heated for me and brought me drinks. Around 10pm, my MW arrived, and suggested I hop in the shower to see whether labor slowed or sped up. A niggling suspicion told me that I'd use up all the hot water and it might not have time to refill before I needed the birth pool, but since I was only an hour into "real labor", I agreed a shower sounded lovely. :heart
I started unearthly sounding in the shower..."mmmmMMMMmmmmm. ohhhhhhhhh. mmmmMMMmmmmm", and must have sounded convincing, because when I got out of the shower, the birth tub had been completely blown up and was ready for filling. (Dh asked if he could snap a few photos over the curtain, and I'm SO glad he did!) Inside the shower, I felt the baby turning down into my pelvis, and started an internal mantra of "I'm ready baby. Come as soon as you're ready. I'm ready-I'm open to bringing you earthside, love." I could feel the baby speaking to me and responding in a cooperative way. This was very different from anything I'd ever felt/thought in labor before, but I could feel the endorphins and oxytocin flowing, and it felt oddly nice. I decided to go with it, and let birth be a cooperative effort. She was such a little soul-talking, even during her birth!
When I got out of the shower, I never did put clothes back on. I didn't want to be touched or talked to or bothered in any way for the next 30-40 minutes! I could feel the baby slipping down, inch by inch, I could feel my cervix giving way, and could sense a pressure not dissimilar to orgasm (I know, I know, I lack a better description! ) during rushes. I was surprised at how *tired* I felt already, surprised at the early intensity, surprised at how easily my body was giving way to birth...and suddenly decided I needed to take a nap!
I started muttering, "I need to lay down; fill the pool-you need to go boil some water! I'm going to go to sleep for a while!" At that point, I was contracting every 1.5 min or so. (I'm not sure how I thought I was getting a nap! Remembering it with my lucid mind makes me giggle with affection for my cute, irrational birthing animal-self. ) Then, a STRONG rush hit, and I yelled, "Somebody press HARD on my tailbone, NOW!!" Dh was there, and literally leaning into my back as hard as he could with me yelling, "Harder!! Press harder!" (I didn't realize it, but I was complete and she was descending into the birth canal at that point.) Again, my doula brain knows this too well, but we operate from a completely different place while bringing babies earthside.
I tottered from the foot of the bed where I'd been leaning on the birth ball to the side, ready to take my nap, when another rush hit me, and again I yelled for pressure on my back, when, "POP!!!" My water gushed into the floor with a fury. I felt eyes widen with a flicker of fleeting horror, as I realized that nap wasn't going to happen. My jaw dropped, and baby descended SO quickly and hit my pelvic floor very quickly, making my knees wobble with pressure, and I panicked. In one hospital birth and two water births at home, my water had never broken until a few minutes before the baby arrived, and I liked my cushion of water during labor. I braced for hours of misery.
My mw said, "Get up on the bed, honey! Climb onto the bed, sweetie." At that point, my brain completely went dumb for a minute or two. I couldn't for the life of me understand what she was saying, why she was saying it or how I'd accomplish such a feat. I just stood there dumbly, as if english weren't my native tongue, because, for the moment, it really wasn't. (What I didn't see was dh motioning "should I fill the pool?" and my MW mouthing, "The baby is here. NOW!!")
I whimper-yelled hysterically, "I don't know how to do this!! *grrrrrrunt* What do I do?! I don't have my pool! Somebody tell me what to DO!!", as I waved my hands in the arm in front of my face.
At that point, somehow, I magically landed on the bed on my hands and knees. (I later learned that my MW grabbed me under my armpits and Barefoot Man grabbed my hips and they hoisted me onto the bed...color me impressed! :lol :heart) And then, I *did* know what to do. I knew that grunting feeling.
For some inexplicable reason, I yelled, "Sorry, guys, I'm pretty sure I"m going to poop! >.<*GRUUUUUUUNT*" My MW laughed and said, "That's no poop; that's your BABY!" My brain and emotions were miles behind this information. My WHAT? I'm pushing??
And, again, my mantra of, "Come on, baby...I'm ready when you are" came back to me, and I decided, "Okey doke..here we go!" As if I had a choice! :lol The urge to push, as always, was a force that will not accept no for an answer. The urge to push will have it's way. :heart So, like we all do, because it feels good, because it means the promise of relief, because we have no choice..I pushed through the fear. I was vaguely aware of my fingers digging into the sheets as I grunted and blew instinctively *puff puff puff puff* (with my mw saying, "That's it, thatta girl, blow through and bring 'im down slow...") and more grunting.
What I wasn't ready for, and nearly laughed out loud when I realized it, was that the baby was *crowning* on push #2. I made a comical face into the mattress. I was grunting and crying and laughing all at once. I was pushing on land! On the BED! On all fours! And my tub was 1/4 full and still filling, and the ring of fire was a-burning! Whose birth WAS this?
Two seconds and a slithering, slick, warm little body later, I found out whose; our smallest, gorgeous fourth daughter! My MW put her in my arms, and I promise it wasn't my birth-addled brain; the child smiled at me from the crook of my right arm. :lol :happytears I started laughing to myself. I couldn't believe it was over, couldn't believe I'd just had exactly the birth I'd always been terrified of, couldn't believe how *easy* it had been, and couldn't believe the tiny pink gal who was practically chatting me up already with her facial expressions. #gigglemelthappytears
I did end up with some clotting and bleeding, but some meds and belly binding set that right again (though it did leave me a little sore in the belly from the kneading, and very tired).
Little Electra, 8lbs 3oz, 20 inches-our smallest little one yet...after a 9lb 22" 14.5cm head #3, she seemed so tiny! Our hearts are blessed. I feel like I won the love lottery.