Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the best gift

Once we got in the car things really seemed to get going. Of course we were almost out of gas. Of course my contractions got more intense. The one I had as we were leaving the subdivision had me whining like MiniMe, pushing my feet against the dashboard, calling out to The Huz. I listened to my hypnobabies tracks on his iphone as The Huz drove up I-75 at 90 miles an hour.

I realized no one had called Christina, the midwife, to let her know I was on my way up there at this point. When I called her I couldn't really talk at first because a contraction hit as soon as she answered. I got through that, told her what was happening & she asked us to come to the birth center before we checked in to the hotel. We had to wait for a while because Christina was seeing another patient. I was okay, leaning over things, bending over at the waist through contractions, which were slightly less than 10 minutes apart at this point, but some were closer to 5 minutes. I don't remember much about the exam except that I was dilated to 3 cm, 90% effaced, & the baby was at 0 station. All signs pointing to baby coming soon. We had to go to the hardware store to get a coupler to run a hose from the faucet to the birthing tub & Cheryl was having a hard time finding a birthing tub for me. I had procrastinated, not gotten one myself, & had asked her to take care of that for me. Now she was having a hard time doing that.

When we got to the hotel we were disappointed. I had done a lot of research to find a hotel with 2 separate bedrooms so that my mom & MiniMe could be there comfortably, as well as a kitchen. The space was huge, but not as clean as we would have liked & awkward in ways like the toilet was too close to the wall.

Biggie left for about 15 minutes to get us some food. I hadn't eaten very much at all & had thrown the nachos up in the middle of the night. Even so, I couldn't really eat more than three bites. I don't know if it was excitement, fear, dread, or any combination of the three, but I just couldn't eat. Even though I was most scared of running out of energy, it was like my body didn't care about being reasonable. I guess this could be called Lesson #1 in Go with The Flow. No matter how much I thought I needed something, my body had ideas of its own.

I remember I was sitting on the sofa near the window when Cheryl got there. She came & hugged me before she brought in her things. We were excited, but not as excited as I had thought we would be. I remember that I had told myself to prepare for waiting a long time before she got there because I would have a long labor. I didn't feel like we had been waiting very long. Honestly, everything was just going along so smoothly. Yes, I had been having regular contractions for almost 24 hours, now but they were more than tolerable. I had actual breaks between the contractions where I could walk & talk & pee & just be fine. The difference between this labor, my labor, & the labor that was forced upon MiniMe & I was about the size of the Grand Canyon. I could do this labor, in fact, I was. & it was at this point that I really realized that I was. My mom came in with MiniMe around this time & I hugged her goodnight. They went upstairs for stories & ticklies without incident.

Cheryl kind of took over for Biggie at this point when I had contractions. When one came, she knew, & she got to applying the counter-pressure in my lower back quickly. While her hands weren't as strong as his, she had brought a sock filled with rice that I wish I had spoke out about, that it was more helpful so she would have used it more. She suggested I move to her birthing ball & I sat on it while leaning over the arm of one of the sofas. I remember talking to her while I was sitting there, as if it were just another day, & I wasn't pausing from time to time for a contraction. Things seemed so normal. I didn't think about how things were going, how quickly things were going, because I felt like I was going to jinx myself. In the split seconds that Biggie called attention to how regular & close together my contractions were, I acknowledged it briefly, but with caution. It wasn't that I had a sense that something was going to go wrong; not at all. I just felt like things were going so well that if I said so somebody else would correct me, saying something like, "Oh, but your contractions are only (fill in the blank) this long," or "Yeah, but I really don't think you're going to have this baby tonight." When I look back on it now I can articulate that I somehow didn't feel like I could have a normal birth experience because I was so afraid I couldn't.

At some point when I was sitting on the birthing ball I got up to go to the bathroom & had blood, bright red blood, coming out of me. I was alarmed & called Cheryl to the bathroom. She said it was normal. I had to ask her a few times to repeat that it was. I went back to the ball, still having what I felt were good breaks between the contractions, but the contractions were becoming more commanding, more authoritative. Biggie & Cheryl asked me if I thought the should start getting the birthing tub ready & I said yes. Cheryl had not been able to find a tub for me but had instead borrowed the back-up one from the birth center. When they were almost done filling it I had gotten up to go to the bathroom again. After I got up from the toilet, another contraction hit. I leaned over the sink waiting for someone to come help with the counter-pressure, & I felt a pop that I knew was my water breaking. Cheryl came in & confirmed that it was & that there was no meconium staining. Biggie didn't believe that was what it was because there wasn't a lot of fluid. Both Cheryl & I explained that because the baby was so low her head was acting like a cork, keeping most of the fluid behind her in the uterus.

I got right in the tub after that & the contraction I had almost immediately was absolutely devastating. I couldn't move, it was so crushing. I was scared. I thought when I got in the tub things would calm down a little bit like they had that morning. It was the exact opposite experience. I crawled over to the side of the tub & clutched Cheryl's hands. I remember begging her to make Christina be there. She assured me she was on her way. When a contraction would come she would remind me to "breathe for the baby" which I knew I needed to do, but I still found annoying. I was going to tell her it's hard to breathe when you're trying to keep from biting off your own tongue, but she was pretty pregnant herself at that point & I didn't think it was appropriate. Biggie asked me if I wanted him to get in the tub with me & I gave him a resounding yes, as if it was the stupidest thing he'd asked me in days. The tub felt so big, & I so unsteady, I felt like I had to hang on to the side or when a contraction came I might just drown. I remember at one point that Cheryl was on the phone with Christina. I was starting to get panicky that I was going to have the baby or something was going to go wrong before Christina could get there. I was mad. It seemed like years I was waiting for her to get there!

When Christina finally got there the first thing she did was check the baby's heartbeat. I haven't remembered to ask her about this, but when she first tried to find it, it seemed to me it wasn't there. It seemed like she then tried lower & got it, the precious sound, but like it was much lower in my abdomen then she had expected. It was there, nonetheless, & it reminded me that I was going to meet our younger daughter very soon. At that moment I felt a glimpse of this girl's personality. I felt that she, like her older sister, was going to be a force. I felt her preservearance & strength. Her beauty.

The contractions had now become at least four times bigger than myself. Not the pain, but the shear force of the contractions was terrifying me. I vocalized my fear & everyone reassured me. When Christina had first got there I realized my body was pushing the baby out on its own, but I had been scared to release myself to the power. Now I couldn't hold anything back. It was almost mechanical, electrical. I asked Christina to check that I was actually fully dilated; that there wasn't any bit of my cervix in the way, & I think she kind-of laughed at me. She did reach down there & told me that there wasn't anything there but the baby's head. She encouraged me to reach down & feel for myself, but I was too scared to. I felt like if I didn't have myself in the right position when a contraction hit I would collapse, doing something like fall into the water or out of the tub or just something completely ridiculous but completely reasonable to me. I wanted to tell Christina how ridiculous she was, maybe I did, but I know I did panic at this point. I knew I was going to tear & I was trying keep it from happening. At the same time, I didn't feel like I could endure very many more contractions. All of the planner & obsessive parts of me were freaking out: "You can't push- you'll tear!" "You have to push; you're going to run out of strength!" Polar opposite, classic gemini thoughts running around my skull, waving their hands in the air like they were keeping bats from getting in their hair. Finally it occured to me that I didn't have very much say over pushing or not because my body was pushing the baby out & that it didn't seem to care very much that I might tear & that her head was the biggest part of her body & after that, it was all but over. So I relented. I just let her come & the force was so humbling, I was truly beside myself that my body was so amazing.

Biggie caught her & I had to be told she was out. She came so fast & so powerfully that I didn't even know until I heard her sharp cries. I turned around, sat on my butt & they handed her to me. It didn't seem real. It was so normal & so strange at the same time. But she is here: Miss Violet Caroline. Seven pounds, nineteen & one quarter inches. At 9:45pm on November 12, 6 days before her due date. Only THREE hours of hard labor, with really no pushing on my part but for maybe two contractions. I did tear enough that we had to go to the hospital, which is a story in itself, but I'll post this & let it be for now. I'm sorry it took me so long.


Erykah said...

Congratulations! That was an amazing birth story!

Chase said...

I found your story and descriptions to be very much like my 2nd birth, the reluctance to acknowlege labor progressing (lest it go away) and the mechanical powerful feeling of the baby coming down. I described it as feeling like an elevator slamming between floors. The midwife telling me I should feel the baby's head, because I couldn't believe he was actually coming! The 'I don't want to tear' resistance , and then realizing the futility of trying to hold my body back. Once I let go, let my baby and body work it out, and I was powerless over nature. It was wonderful!! And, yet , I felt so empowered by the whole experience. Thanks for sharing!

Mimi said...

Oh! What a wonderful story, with elements of .. sad? I'm so glad you could reclaim your birth experience, that you got to have that new relationship with your labouring body.

But most of all, I'm so happy for your new baby, this beautiful, amazing addition to your family.

Congratulations to you all. How wonderful.

tiff(threeringcircus) said...

OH my! COngratulations!!! You are my hero. Truly.