Sunday, December 18, 2011

Between Worlds: A Birth Story, Part 3

When we left me, I was kneeling on the bathroom floor brushing my teeth. I was still needing to find a comfortable position. We tried putting a stack of pillows on the floor so I could kneel leaning forward on the bed, but that didn't work for me either. Kim suggested I get on the bed and lean forward on the birth ball. That position was perfect. I used the ball to help me rock, sometimes back and forth, sometimes side to side. I started saying "peace" out loud during the pressure waves. Kim said that when I had gotten off the birth ball, the waves had suddenly gone from about 6 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart. They also let me know that Lorri was in about 25 minutes away, and Kristin was coming and bringing the assistant, Kelly, who was a nurse. I felt some strange sensations above my pubic bone--I wonder if it was the baby's head rotating or moving down. I suddenly wanted my t-shirt and pajama pants off, so I took them off, and was wearing my swimsuit top (which I had put on under my shirt after my shower that morning) and some mesh panties I found in my birth kit. Then, I sat up on the bed. It seems like a strange choice of position, but it was really comfortable at the time.

My midwife Lorri arrived. She said she would check my vitals before I got in the tub and went to get supplies. I got off the bed to go to the bathroom and then Lorri came back and took my blood pressure and temperature, and listened to the baby’s heartbeat, and all was well. I got in the tub. The tub was big and deep and I loved how I could get into all different positions in it. I took off my headphones and we played Hypnobabies out loud because I didn’t want to accidently get anything wet that wasn’t supposed to get wet. I reminded my team about the video camera, and my husband filmed me in the tub, including one pressure wave, and then went out of the bedroom and filmed the other people in the house The water in the tub was pretty hot, but I like hot water, so I didn’t really mind, until I had a few pressure waves in the tub and got really hot during them. Kim brought me a cold washcloth to put on my neck to keep me cool, but eventually I just had to get out. I think I went to the bathroom again, and then I was leaning on the side of the tub during a wave and I felt the need to yell at the peak of it. Lorri heard this, and came in. I told her I thought I was feeling pushy. She said to just try to let my body do most of the work and only push when I couldn’t help it. She asked if the water was too hot and I said yes, so she and my husband dumped in a few bowlfuls of cold water. I got back in and the temperature was much better.

Kim was filming now, and my husband knelt near the tubKristin and Kelly must have arrived around this time and came into the room and set stuff up. They were behind me and very unobtrusive. I remember turning around to make sure they were there a few times, because I guess knowing they were there was reassuring for me.

I remember reading once that in some tradition somewhere (I can't remember where), the birthing woman is thought to have to travel to the underworld to claim her baby. The beginning of pushing was definitely the most challenging part for me. Feeling that much power moving through my body was overwhelming, and I didn't quite know how to respond to it. At the peaks of the waves, when I couldn’t help pushing, I would vocalize loudly, because that seemed like the best way to release that intensity. I changed positions a lot, and loved the ease of movement in the water. I usually knelt low in the tub or was on all fours between the waves, and often during them, I had to go to a high kneel and throw my arms around my husband. He gave me Hypnobabies cues which helped me relax better. I remember apologizing for getting him wet. At one point, I was on hands and knees and lowered my face so close to the water that my bangs got wet.

Soon, I felt the baby’s head coming down and I said something like, “The baby is coming out! The baby is coming out!” It was almost like I didn't really expect the intense part to actually end, but the baby moving down meant it was definitely going to. Lorri, who was next to the tub on my left, turned to my husband and asked if he wanted to catch his baby, and he must have said he would because she started giving him instructions on how to do it. I switched from kneeling to a deep squat. With the next wave, pushing just happened. I roared, and the head became visible. I remember saying something about how excited I was that we were almost there. As the head crowned, I leaned back, letting my legs float forward in the water and my head rest against the edge of the tub, supporting myself with only my arms and head, while the rest of me floated. With the next wave, the head was out, and with the one after that, I eased the shoulders out, and out came our baby at 8:39 pm!

My husband lifted the baby out of the water, and I sat down in the tub and took my baby into my arms. He looked to see if it was a boy or girl, and exclaimed, “It’s a girl!” I was shocked because I had myslef convinced it was a boy! She gave a small cry and then got quiet and looked around.

My mom brought our two older kids in. It was neat for them to get to meet her so soon after she was born. Our son, who is 21 months, was a little more interested in the water, though, and put his hand in it (someone washed his hands), and he wanted to take his pajamas off and get in, too, but we didn't let him. The cord was short, so I was limited to holding her against me with her head on my chest, just out of the water. Lorri encouraged me to talk to the baby, so I babbled to her about all kinds of things as we waited for the placenta.

I had to push pretty hard to get the placenta out, and the membranes were trailing and full of clots. Then my husband cut the cord and Kristin helped me get out of the water and into the bed with the baby and then the baby had her first nursing. No one but me held her for over an hour after the birth. It was so peaceful and wonderful. When we weighed and measured the baby, she was 6 lbs 11 oz and 20 inches long. And perfect.

I was amazed at how minimal the damage to my body was. I didn’t tear with my second birth either, but this was even better. My vulva wasn’t even swollen and the little bit of soreness I had went away in a few days. I think it was mostly because I did mother-directed pushing this time and because the water acts as a big warm compress.

One of the names we gave our new daughter is shared with my mother-in-law’s sister, who passed away a few days later, in my mother-in-laws arms, soon after she arrived at her bedside. I am struck with the similarities between their transitions, one into, the other out of this world. I am so blessed to have been able to give my daughter a transition into this world that was gentle and loving as well as safe. Perhaps when we come out on the other side, we will be gently lifted into peace and parental love.

End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it . . . White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise. -Gandalf the White, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (film version)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Between Worlds: A Birth Story, Part 2

Thrilled and terrified at the same time, I woke my husband up in a panic and told him I needed his help to handle these waves. I texted my midwife and she said to let her know when they had been consistent for about half an hour, and I texted my doula, Kim and told her that I was ready for her to come. The time stamp on that text is 3:35 pm.

I grabbed the Hypnobabies Birth Partner Guide and opened it to the birth prompts I went to the music on my phone and turned on Easy First Stage. I wanted to get into hypnosis as fast as I could and make this easier. I switched to the relaxation music for a while and we tried the birth prompts, but it wasn't really working for us, so my husband suggested I go back to Easy First Stage since I had found it so helpful in our last birth, and he would just do the "Relax" cue during the waves. I was sitting on the birth ball leaning forward onto our bed. I felt like the ball needed more air in it, so I asked my husband to blow it up for me. It was much more comfortable when it was fully inflated. My doula got there and she timed the waves and gave me encouraging words. My husband brought me some headphones and suggested I try using them to help me focus. At first I said no, but then I decided to try it and he was right, it did help. She and my husband were kind of tag teaming making sure the kids were okay in the other room. I stayed in "OFF" between waves, except to talk or to drink my poweraid. This helped me get deeper faster. For some of the waves, I would switch to "CENTER" and bounce gently on the ball, because it felt better. As I got deeper, I tended to stay in "OFF" and breathe deeply and use my peace cue. It didn't completely relieve the discomfort, but it helped enough that I felt calm, relaxed, and in control. This was Kim's first experience with a Hypnobabies birth. She was very impressed. I finally found my confidence, just in time.

After it had been about half an hour, someone called Kristin to let her know these things were not stopping. She said the other midwife, Lorri, was on her way, and she'd also be coming shortly. I stayed on the birth ball, except to go to the bathroom, which was just a few feet away. Whenever I got up, I would have extra pressure waves that were not as strong. Whenever Kim heard me start breathing deeply, she would write down the time, then come put her hand on my shoulder. My mom called at 5:40 pm. I told her I was in labor. She had been up very early and traveling all day and wanted to go to bed, but I kind of wanted her to come over and take care of the kids, so she said she would come. She came over and that freed up my husband and doula to both stay with me.

At some point, I noticed my legs were starting to feel stiff from sitting in the same position on the ball. I let my support team know that I wanted to change positions. We tried putting pillows on a chair so I could kneel leaning forward onto the bed, but when the next pressure wave started, that wasn't comfortable and I got up and did the slow dance position with my husband. When that one was over, I exclaimed, "Nausea!" my husband asked if I wanted a bucket and I said yes, but then I just walked to the toilet and threw up there. I heard my husband explaining to Kim that in the past, vomiting has been a sign that I was getting very close. They asked me how I felt, and I said I felt better after throwing up. My husband gave me my toothbrush with toothpaste on it and a cup of water so that I could brush my teeth and rinse my mouth out. My team decided to check with the midwives again, to make sure they'd be here soon, since it looked like I was in the transformation phase.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Between Worlds: A Birth Story, Part 1

At about 5:00 am on Wednesday, December 7, I woke up to a leaking sensation. It felt like a period, or rather, it felt just like when I leaked amniotic fluid before my first birth. I got up and put on a pad and laid back down. At about 6:30, I felt a gush. Not a gush like all my fluid was coming out, but a definite gush. I texted my midwives and let them know this, and that I was not having pressure waves yet. I woke up my husband a little while later and told him that my water broke but it could still be a while before the baby came. He said that he would stay home from work. I also texted my mom, who told me she would get a flight for the next morning, thinking that if I had the baby that day, she would be there in time to take care of everything I would need postpartum. My midwife Kristin called and said she would come take my vitals and give me a Doppler so I could keep an eye on the heartbeat. She came by and she also drew some blood because she was planning to do a re-check on my iron level at my appointment on Friday. She instructed me to eat and drink well, to rinse with a hibiclens solution whenever I used the bathroom, and to take my temperature and check the hearttones every hour and just let her know when pressure waves started. She said she thought it would probably be that day.

My husband spent the day cleaning up the house, buying food for after the birth, and doing last minute homebirth set up preparations. I helped a little, but didn't want to wear myself out. Pressure waves started by that evening and were about 10 minutes apart for a while. Around 10:30 pm,still thinking the baby would come that night, I decided to try lying down and listening to Hypnobabies to try to get some rest, or at least get myself into hypnosis. I ended up in and out of sleep all night because they spaced out, but didn't completely stop. I had my ipod on a playlist of Hypnobabies tracks so that it would just keep playing while I slept. I probably would not have gotten any sleep at all that night if I had not had Hypnobabies to listen to. The pressure waves were manageable when I was awake and listening, but when one would hit while I was asleep and I was woken up by it, it was extremely uncomfortable.

I got up around 5:00 and took a shower to see if that might do something, but waves were very far apart, so I ended up going back to sleep for a while. Husband was up around 7:00 am. I was kind of getting frustrated with the waves because they seemed to be far apart but strong when I was lying down, weak and close together when I was standing up, and seemed to almost completely disappear when I was sitting. I told him I was having some fears about being able to handle it because the waves seemed stronger than in my last birth (my theory is that the difference had something to do with my water not breaking until 9 cm plus last time) and I think with them being so far apart, yet so strong, I wasn't able to get deeply into hypnosis like I had with my last birth where waves started consistently 10 minutes apart and gradually got closer and closer together. I also was a little worried that it could still be a long time before active birthing started and I would be exhausted from not getting enough sleep by then. I was conflicted--I wanted birthing waves to come consistently so that I would have energy for the birth, but I also was a little afraid of the birthing waves. I asked my husband to give me a priesthood blessing for strength and comfort and to help me know what to do.

We could tell the kids needed to get out of the house (preschool group had been cancelled both days that week, so they had been home all day most of the week), so my husband took them to the store with him to get some things. It took a while to get them ready and get out of the house, and there were a few other things he needed to take care of. We ended up needing to eat lunch before they could go. Before they left, he was also on the phone with his mom. His mom's adopted sister had recently gone into a coma due to a brain infection and she was given a very small chance of survival. My mother-in-law wanted to go to Tahiti to be with her family during this difficult time, but did not have the funds. We offered to help pay for a plane ticket for her to go. My husband wanted to get out the door with the kids, so he had her talk to me to get our credit card information and she and I had a sweet conversation. There I was, with my birthing in limbo, waiting to bring a new life into this world, while she knew she was waiting for one to leave it. Perhaps my child and his or her great aunt were both delaying their transition. Maybe there is a place between our world and the world of spirits, and they were both there, together?

After I got off the phone, I decided a nap was a good idea (it was early afternoon by this point). I got in bed and listened to Hypnobabies again. I think I did the Fear Clearing track. I knew I needed that. I got some sleep. I woke up and my husband and the kids came home. I decided to try some activity to see if it might kick start things. My husband tried to take a nap himself. I mopped my kitchen floor. Then,I stood in front of the mirror in my kids' bathroom and remembered something I had learned at the Dancing For Birth&trade Training Workshop: asymmetry. Asymmetry of the pelvis can help position the baby and bring it down. The move I started doing wasn't exactly one we learned in the training, though it was sort of similar to the mighty mama (sumo) move--I alternated raising each knee up, quickly, one and then the other, over and over, and then a strong pressure wave came, and a few minutes later, another. They were strong and they weren't stopping. This was it!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Its a Girl!

Baby Girl born at home in the water at 8:39 pm on 12/8/11, 39 hours after my water broke. 6 lbs 11oz, 20 inches.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pregnancy Update: 38 weeks

Yep, still pregnant! I apologize for my absence. I have been busy, and I also haven't had the laptop I usually use, and have been accessing the Internet from either my phone or the iPad, both of which are a little harder to blog from than an actual computer.

The day after Thanksgiving, my husband and I left the kids with my family who were in town at the beautiful cabin my parents rented an hour away from our house so that we could have Thanksgiving with everyone without me having to travel so late in my pregnancy, and we went to my 37 week midwife appointment. We learned that the baby, who had been head down for weeks, had suddenly flipped to transverse lie! This is a pretty unusual thing for a baby to do at this point. My midwife gave me sone suggestions to try to encourage the baby back to head down. I knew there was a small chance that the baby might not turn back before labor, and as I thought about this on the drive home, after a nice lunch at a restaurant with my husband, I felt peace about it. I knew that if I had a cesarean, yes, it would be a challenge for me, but I knew that if it happened, I felt strongly "that all these things shall give [me] experience and shall be for [my] good." (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7). I have gained valuable lessons from each of my children's births, both the good and challenging parts, which I wrote about in last year's Thanksgiving post. I expect to learn from this birth, but have no expectations about what those lessons will be.

The night after my appointment, I put ice above the baby's head and a warm pack above my pubic bone. I felt a whole lot of movement and then felt my belly. I felt a bulge under my ribs, a firm area below it, and what felt like a head in my pelvis. For the next week, I checked often, and it continued to feel the same, and kicks were on the upper right and hand movements near my left hip. My midwife confirmed it today--baby is right occiput anterior!

I am still working on completing preparations for the birth and the baby. Most of the important stuff is done. I finally got the birth tub bleached out and brought into the house. I am starting to look forward to meeting this child face to face, but I may never get to a point where I feel completely ready!