born@home - Ari's birth story
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|Sat, 07-14-2007 - 2:02pm|
Warning -- this is long!!
I woke up the morning of July 6 at 2:30 in the morning with contractions. I laid in bed for a while hoping this was the real thing, as I'd had a couple of false starts already. At 3:30 I went to the bathroom and had some bloody show â€“ I told David I thought we'd have a baby today! Between about 4:00 and 4:30 the contractions got a little stronger. I called Larissa (my good friend and doula) and gave her a heads up. Then David and I decided to try to rest a bit before calling the midwife. I fell asleep around 5:30 and woke up at 8:00, disappointed and wondering where my contractions went.
We got the kids up and off to my parents house and I puttered around the house for a while. I continued to have mild contractions and more bloody show. I wasn't so sure anymore if this was the day because the contractions weren't picking up in intensity, duration, or frequency. I took another nap around noon, then David and I went for a walk. I continued to have mild contractions, but again, no change. David and I went to run a couple errands. While we were out, the contractions started to become a little more intense. By about 4:30 or 5:00, I started to have a few contractions that I couldn't talk through, and the car ride home from our errands was really uncomfortable for me.
When we came home, I called the midwife to give her a heads up. When I described what was going on, she said she thought she'd better come over. I didn't expect that â€“ after a few false starts, I kept thinking this could all turn out to be nothing. I called Larissa back and told her that the midwife was coming over, so she decided to come over as well. Then I called Katy (a good friend who was also going to attend the birth) and told her she probably should get ready and come over, too. Everyone would be here around 7:00 p.m. The midwife had been at a birth the night before, so she was planning to come to our house and sleep until things got more active. David took a bag of clothes over to my parents' house for Eli and Nathan.
Larissa arrived, then the midwife, then Katy. At this point I was having contractions that I had to stop and breathe through, but it wasn't too hard yet. The midwife asked if I wanted to be checked, and I declined, because I didn't want to be disappointed if it was a low number. So she went to sleep in the guest room and asked Larissa to get her up when I was getting closer to delivery. The way our midwife handles pregnancy and childbirth is just awesome. She didn't feel the need to â€œmanageâ€ what was happening. She didn't have any need to know herself how dilated I was. She trusted that my body was doing what it needed to do to birth my baby, and having that trusting presence there gave me a lot of confidence and a sense of calm about the birth. I was enjoying chatting with Katy and Larissa in between contractions and the mood was light. It was so relaxing being in my home and knowing that there was no wondering about when it would be time to go to the hospital. I felt like I was having a few girlfriends over to hang out, not having a baby!
My contractions were getting more intense, but were still relatively short at 40 seconds long. Larissa had me do some exercises to ensure that the baby was in a good position to see if that would cause the contractions to become a little more productive. We had a good laugh while I was doing the exercises because I looked like I was warming up for sumo wrestling. By about 8:30 or 9:00, the contractions were coming closer together and I had a lot of back pain with each one. David and Larissa were taking turns putting pressure on my lower back and hips during contractions. Katy was continuing to help keep the mood light in between contractions.
At 9:30 we moved upstairs and gave the midwife an update. The midwife started getting the bedroom ready for delivery. I experimented with a variety of positions to get through the contractions: sitting in a chair, sitting on the birth ball, standing by the bed leaning on the birth ball, hands and knees on the bed, etc. By about 10:00 I started moaning during each contraction. They were getting really intense, very painful. I continued to try different positions, standing and leaning into David (as if we were slow dancing), hands and knees on the bed (leaning on a stack of pillows). We still were making light small talk between contractions, which was so great â€“ probably the best thing about having Katy there was that she helped me laugh during the breaks.
The birth assistant arrived around 10:30. The contractions continued to get more intense and last longer. I was moaning each time I exhaled to get through them. During each contraction, I got so much encouragement from the women, and felt them touching me, my back, my arm, my leg. It was so different from getting through contractions in a hospital room. I felt like everyone who was there was so supportive, so caring, and so loving, it really made the time as I approached delivery so positive and safe.
By 11:25, I was very much in the throes of transition. There were a few contractions that reduced me to tears, as they were so intense and I did not know how much longer I could cope. Everyone assured me that I was almost there. I asked to be checked at that point, and learned I was at 9 cm with a bulging bag of water. I knew I was close, but I was also running out of steam. I stood up and leaned into David and pretty quickly started feeling like I needed to push. I got back in the bed and while I was on hands and knees my water broke. I tried pushing like that, but I wasn't really comfortable, so I ended up in kind of a side-lying position leaning into Larissa while pushing.
I pushed for only about 15 minutes, but it really felt like much longer. And it hurt! More than I remember with Eli and Nathan. I kept looking at the midwife for reassurance, asking her if the baby was really coming down. She assured me he was, just nice and slow. The birth assistant and the midwife were applying warm compresses to my perineum between pushes and the midwife listened to the baby's heartbeat once during the pushing stage (only the second time during the entire labor that she had a listen). They were also putting cold washcloths on my forehead. The head finally came out and the midwife and the birth assistant got the cord out from around his neck. The birth assistant eased his shoulders out and all of a sudden the baby was up on my belly! He was slippery and wrinkly, and absolutely beautiful! I was exhausted and elated at the same time. It was 11:52 p.m. -- Ari was born just 8 minutes shy of his due date.
Ari promptly pooped all over me, so we spent some time getting him and me cleaned up. The birth assistant continued getting him clean and dry while he rested on my belly. They left the cord alone until it had stopped pulsing so the baby got all that blood into his body before it was cut. I delivered the placenta and then David cut the cord at 12:09 a.m. The midwife and the birth assistant checked me for tears â€“ I had none! Soon after, Ari nursed for the first time. He's a strong sucker! I rested for a few minutes in the bed while the midwife prepared and herb bath for me.
The birth assistant helped me to the bathtub, and while I soaked, Katy fed me root beer and cookies. I think Katy and I took our relationship to a new level at that point â€“ as I sat naked in a bloody bathtub while she put cookies in my mouth! The bath was fantastic, really soothed my skin that was so tender after the delivery. Larissa helped me out of the tub, even wiping the blood off my legs â€“ again taking our relationship to a new level!!
The birth assistant and David started the newborn exam while I bathed and got cleaned up. Ari weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces and was 21 inches long. He was healthy and perfect. The dressed and diapered him, and as the crew started to head home for the night, I settled into my own bed with my new baby.
In the days after the birth, I have thought quite a bit about how I came to homebirth, of all that was going on as I entered my third trimester â€“ the practice of midwives who had attended my two previous births and whose care I was still under was closing, the birth center that was going to be my â€œPlan Bâ€ had announced that it was also closing, and I was waitlisted at another area birth center that also did homebirths. I had no idea what this birth was going to be like, who my care provider would be, and I was very stressed out! I believe so strongly in the midwifery model of care that I did not want to settle for an OB-attended hospital birth. David and I met with three independent midwives â€“ though after meeting with the midwife we ultimately chose to work with, I didn't feel like I needed to meet anyone else! I knew she was the one for me. She has several years of experience, having attended some several hundred births, and she has such a calm presence, an optimism and a belief that things will turn out for the best. She is prepared to deal with emergencies, but she has a strong trust in the birthing process, in a woman's ability to deliver her baby. And now being on the other side of this birth, I really believe this is how I was meant to have this baby â€“ it was not my first choice, not even my second or third, but as other doors were closed to me, this wonderful opportunity presented itself, and I would never dream of having a baby any other way.
This was such a powerful experience â€“ I am a week postpartum, and I still can't talk about the birth without crying. I understand now for the first time that women have this amazing ability to nurture and love and care for each other, to lift each other up and help each other believe in ourselves. I wish that as mothers women exhibited those traits more often â€“ it saddens me how judgmental mothers are of each other. During my birth, I felt safe and protected and loved, I felt like it was totally okay to be in this most vulnerable position and so reliant on my team â€“ the midwife, the birth assistant, David, Larissa, and Katy. I couldn't have done it without them.