17 January 2015

birth story

Baby Girl, whom we've decided to call Maya, made it just in time to see the end of 2014. I'm really glad to not be pregnant anymore. And I wanted to account for her existence and the story of her birth on this here blog a bit.

I've been thinking a bit about what a big deal human life is. It's a crazy and intense and risky process to bring a person into the world, and once they're here, it's crazy how inchoate and helpless and completely dependent they are. I feel intensely the significance and potential of this little person's life, and yet it's quite a mystery to me. When I turn that lens on my own life, it doesn't seem to compare. I take my life for granted while being constantly amazed by the newborn I'm responsible for keeping alive. No one needs to care for me around the clock in order for life to be sustained. I'm just alive and sometimes it feels rather unremarkable and aimless. It's kind of a big deal that I'm here, though, still kickin' it.

I planned a home birth and felt pretty confident that it was the best place for me to birth this time, but you know, it was and still is a bit scary. In the event that something crazy does go down and needs a really sudden and drastic response beyond what can be provided with materials at home, it is risky. I think the chances of anything like that happening are pretty remote when you have a good midwife and are healthy/low-risk, but as with anything, you never know.

Now that sufficient time has passed for me to not feel like my experience was mainly just painful and surreal, I can say that I feel really lucky and grateful that this birth went the way it did. It was almost perfect in the sense that it was nearly everything I had hoped for when I thought about birthing at home. 

I went into labor the night before New Year's Eve, but I was in denial about whether I was in labor. Although the contractions felt different from the Braxton-Hicks I had been getting pretty often throughout pregnancy, and they were much more regular, I didn't really believe that my body would go into labor on its own. It was a trial of patience to still be pregnant and wait confidently on my body to do its thing. I haven't historically trusted my body to work all that well, so that was a new thing too. I suppose the denial was helpful for my patience, though. I got into bed that night with pretty painful contractions, the kind I didn't feel like I could lie down during, but as soon as Shep nursed to sleep per his usual, the contractions faded and I surprisingly fell asleep. I slept several hours and woke around the same time the insomnia had been waking me every night previous. Painful-while-lying-down contractions started back in pretty quickly, so I got up to do the dishes. I think by this time I knew I was in labor, but I thought it might be a long way out until I had a baby. 

Things progressed quickly, though. Soon, I was unable to keep doing dishes during contractions and I started doing laps around the house and coming back to the dishes in between. Tim got up to offer support and I told him we should consider calling the midwife around 6 a.m. I had no sense of how close together or long my contractions were, though, so I had Tim time a few. They seemed short to me, but they were lasting around a minute and coming every two to three minutes. When Tim called Rebecca around 6:30, she said "She sounds pretty close; I better come quickly." She got here maybe 20 or 30 minutes later as Tim was prepping the birth pool and I was kneeling over an exercise ball.

Once Rebecca was here and the birth pool was ready, I got in the water and kneeled in there without really changing my position much. The pressure was increasing a lot with my contractions and it was getting pretty tough. I sort of felt myself losing control so I tried to bring it back in and focus on my breathing. That helped a little. I remember that I started pushing and it was sort of a conscious effort, which surprised me. It also surprised me that I had moved through transition so quickly. Rebecca said my water was still intact and commented on how rare it was for a baby to be born "in the caul." I was complaining a lot, though, so she offered to break it for me to help pushing get a little easier. The baby was crowning at this point, and she barely had to do anything to burst my sac. She noted the time (8:11 a.m.), baby's head was born (I remember asking at this point, "Can you just yank the rest of her out?" The answer was no. I think the rest of the body was harder to birth than her head!), and the baby was completely born just 9 minutes later.

It was awesome. Everything went off without a hitch, basically. I tore a little and required two stitches with lidocaine. I screamed a bunch. I had some retained membranes (placenta), which made postpartum recovery the first couple of days a bit touch and go. (It kind of felt like I was in labor throughout the night on the second night, which I guess is only fair since I got to rest and sleep the night before the birth.) It wasn't perfect and it wasn't painless, but baby and I were both healthy. My midwife was amazing. I trusted her completely and I just have such affection for her and the great care she provided me and this little girl. I did not have to go to the hospital or leave the comfort of my own home. (The only disadvantage to this I could see perhaps was not having a maid service.) I did not have to deal with any drugs or side effects. Shep never had to leave. I could walk to the toilet and around the house. Now, a bit more than two weeks later, I feel pretty much back to normal. Overall, I think it was way easier and less painful than my experience in the hospital nearly three years ago. Some people have awesome experiences in the hospital, and I totally respect and appreciate that. But I thought staying home would help me to have a better experience, and I am grateful all worked out so I was able to. My body did its thing, and I had a completely normal and healthy birth. No one checked my cervix, ever, for dilation or effacement. No one told me what to do or when. We just left my body to its own devices, and it worked out. We are so grateful.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Congratulations! What a fantastic birth story. I'm so glad it was what you were hoping and that everything went so well. I hope you're getting enough sleep and that you're all adjusting as a family of four(!) now. :)

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