Friday, April 22, 2011

Transitions and a new beginning..

I'm going to start this post with a warning. This is a birth story. If you are the kind of person that doesn't want too much information than don't read this. Okay, you have been warned. ;]


To accurately tell the birth story of my little Grace, I need to start at the beginning of April.

The last two weeks (at least) of March were a flurry of me getting ready for her birth and doing the final nesting things with pre-labor building the whole time on and off.

April 1st I had my little joke on Facebook about us having a boy and got some VERY needed laughs. Well, that night at 1 in the morning I woke up to contractions that were around 10 minutes apart... and they'd been going like that even before I fell asleep. We called the midwife and she came right away with the other midwife that she trades off assisting with. And they immediately started preparing things. Well, when RoseMarie checked me I was only at a 1 and only 50% effaced. NOT far enough along for them to stay, so they left and we went back to sleep. Contractions kept going though and when I woke up in the morning Grace gave a mighty punch and knocked the mucus plug out. This is generally a "first stage labor" type of thing and we all knew that with my other two I dilated slowly at first and went fast at the end, so.. maybe she'd come that night?

... the next night?

................. umm.. the next night?

........................... okay, maybe the night after that?

a WEEK later after contracting on and off (mostly on) pretty good and still losing more bloody mucus each day (mainly after the harder contractions) I had a night with the contractions about 4 minutes apart. The WHOLE night while I tried to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I was more tired than I'd ever been in my entire life and utterly depressed. With my other two the baby broke my water and 12 hours later were born. Grace had been banging inside of me as hard as she could (which hurt) for the whole week and it was pretty clear she wasn't going to be able to break the water (the punches felt just like how Lily and Renna punched when they broke the water, but there was no "pop" following that sharp punch.) I wondered if my body just didn't know how to labor as efficiently without the water broken? I had dreams of putting the girls in the car and driving up to my Mom and Sister-in-law in Washington. Feeling misunderstood by the midwife and alone... and overwhelmed by trying to be a mother to the two that I already had while needing to focus on the next one coming. I felt pressure to have her soon too because Youssef's schedule was so on and off with the odd jobs and hours that he had to do being unemployed and (essentially) working harder than he would if he had a full time job. I felt awful for keeping him from his classes because I needed him to watch the girls so I could rest. Youssef's mom told us she was coming for a visit the next week (a week before my due date) and I felt more pressure to have the baby before she came. I felt like I was going to crack.. emotionally-- and I knew how much emotions play a part in birth. Being depressed and tired can mess up good labor, but.. I couldn't seem to get it together.

So, this was all a week after the midwives came the first time. I talked to RoseMarie on the phone and she suggested castor oil. I was so depressed that anything that sounded like a little hope seemed like a good thing (I'd already taken Raspberry leaf tea and that seemed to encourage contractions pretty good.) Well.. the castor oil was a good idea in theory, but I think I was already so dehydrated from the entire night of contracting while trying to sleep that by the time the oil kicked in (it's a laxative) it just made me more dehydrated and actually knocked out the good contractions that I was having. I drink copious amounts of water while I'm laboring, so it makes sense that being dehydrated (for me) would cause things to go down hill.

Actually though, I was kind of relieved. The effects of the castor oil weren't nearly as bad as I've experienced with having too much corn (for instance) since my body has rejected a lot of corn like food poisoning in the past... And it was a relief after so much labor to have nothing. It felt like Grace had given up (for the most part) on trying to get out too and was just waiting.

All the next week the contractions were back down to the "false labor" feeling kind that I'd had the end of March. This was a great improvement and I finally got some rest and wrote out encouraging things to tell myself (like being my own doula) so that if I got too exhausted again or started to get depressed I could remind myself of the truth and trust God with all of this.

This is what I wrote
--------------

-I'm not broken
-God made me perfectly and he doesn't make mistakes
-I'm not alone, even if I feel alone I know I'm not alone because He will never leave me
-I am in this place for a reason, even if it feels hard now and I don't understand what will happen I know I can trust Him with the future and the present.
-No labor is useless. Even if it feels like I'm not getting anywhere all of this is important and useful.
-the hardest part is right before the new beginning. I will get to hold my baby soon.
-God has always taken care of us and He will take care of Grace and me and our family no matter how or when she comes.
-I can't plan out or try to figure out how it will all work, but I don't need to, because I trust God with it all.

----- and I sang this song a lot----

"It's all about You, Jesus. And all this is for You. For Your glory and Your fame. It's not about me, as if you should do things my way. You alone are God and I surrender to your ways. Jesus, lover of my soul. All consuming fire is in Your gaze. Jesus, I want You to know, I will follow You all my days. For no one else in history is like You. History itself belongs to You. Alpha and Omega you have loved me and I will spend eternity with You--- It's all about You, Jesus. And all this is for You. For Your glory and Your fame. It's not about me, as if you should do things my way. You alone are God and I surrender to your ways...."
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During this week, it felt as if Grace had given up trying to be born. She no longer punched like she was trying to get out, but she did start scratching low down against the membrane sack as if she could dig her way out (also, not comfortable!) When the midwife checked me at that wednesday appointment she said I was at 2 cm and that Grace's head was engaged and in a great position. There was so much gearing up and all that I'm pretty sure my midwife was thinking "any time" just like we were! We did talk about breaking my water though as an option. She never did that before a due date, but was willing to consider it since my mother-in-law was coming that Saturday and everything. I told her that the Raspberry leaf tea seemed to get things going pretty good so she told me to take raspberry leaf capsules. 12 every two hours for two days and on the third day don't take any and the baby should come. Well, I did and the third day was the 15th.. the day before Youssef's mom was going to fly in. The contractions were going well and RoseMarie was planning on coming that late afternoon to check me and maybe break the water. I don't know that I really wanted the water broken, but I really did appreciate that she'd consider it.. somehow it made me feel more understood. Well, as it turned out, RoseMarie's daughter in law was in a car accident and she had to go get her and couldn't come after all (everyone was fine btw)... the contractions felt like they switched over though and were coming more regularly and steady, and almost felt like they weren't going away, but just peaking. I was super tired by this time though and left with the same choice as the week before... should I stay awake and drink water and so on or should I try to go to sleep? I chose the sleep, got dehydrated again since I couldn't drink water while sleeping.. and the contractions dwindled again. BUT my midwife had promised to come on Saturday and I did some exercises and got them going again so that she could break the water if she thought the baby was in a good position. Then she was an hour later because of another thing that came up. Well, by then I was VERY tired AGAIN. (The vicious cycle kept going!) And I laid down for a bit before she showed up. Well, while I was laying on my side Grace moved up out of my pelvis (out of that great birthing position that she'd been in) and by the time the midwife checked me I was at a "loose 2 cm" which was a tiny bit of an improvement.. there was no way she could break the water because the baby was now too high. If she broke it at that point the cord could go under the baby's head and that would be dangerous for birth.

She talked about trying again on Sunday, and I really appreciated her willingness to try and make that happen, but I just came to the conclusion that it wasn't God's timing yet. The main reasons that I'd wanted the water broken the week before weren't there anymore (the biggest one being how much labor I was in the week before and how obvious it was that Grace was trying to break it herself.) Now the only reasons left weren't to do with me or Grace, but because that's what Youssef and his Mom would have liked. I decided to change gears and stop worrying about when Grace would come (a lot of what I HAD been worried about was when my water would break since I'm understandably a little paranoid after it broke with my first baby while we were in Barnes & Noble and I hadn't had any contractions AT ALL before that happened.) My midwife told me though that because I'm so much healthier this pregnancy it makes sense that the baby won't be able to break the water because the sack would be thicker.

SO, after I changed my thinking a bit and stopped fretting or feeling like I was disappointing people, I really enjoyed my mother-in-laws visit. The girls were much happier with someone to play games with and Youssef was encouraged with the support of his mom here. I was happier because everyone's emotions weren't strained (or bored) like they had been the previous two weeks, and we just enjoyed the time! She flew out on Wednesday the 20th.

The contractions never really stopped every day you must understand. I was getting good at ignoring them though and nothing felt as strong as those two other times (all three times were Friday nights) when they were more regular and intense and I thought they could be "real"... so.. last night (Thursday the 21st) and well.. all that afternoon too... there wasn't anything too unusual about the contractions that I was feeling and seeing more bloody mucus because of all that had been going on for the past three weeks. During a few contractions that afternoon I felt Grace moving lower into my pelvis again, but that had happened before too and didn't necessarily mean much. I felt more uncomfortable in general with the usual pregnancy loose hips and tweaked lower back and legs and not being able to walk without waddling because my ligaments were so stretched, but that's pretty normal too at the end. Nearer to bedtime though my low back was cramping more with the contractions (which .. again, had happened before) and while Youssef and I watched a Star Trek Voyager he rubbed my low back. I was noticing that the contractions seemed to be close-ish together. After the show I wondered if we should just try to go to sleep or if I should try to take a bath and relax. I was tired, but taking a bath would conserve energy if they were real and if they weren't real then they'd just quit and we could go to sleep.

I got into our tub around 11 pm and the heat felt SO good on my muscles! The bath tub wasn't quite deep enough but it sufficed, and we watched two more voyagers like that. During the second show I was pretty convinced that the contractions weren't going away and they were getting harder, but I didn't know how long it would be. I'd cried wolf so often this last month that I didn't know if I should ask the midwife to come right then or if I should have her come later. I didn't want her to have to wait around for hours, right? Well, once I started "oooohing" with the contractions Youssef called the midwife again and said it was the real deal. Still, they weren't sure how long it would be and she just told him to time the contractions. I was in transition at that point and was barely able to keep myself from leaping out of the tub or doing anything rash. It was really hard to force myself to relax and let go to just let the contractions do the job. I was barely able to tell Youssef when a contraction would start before it peaked and I couldn't talk through it. The back labor was really what was so hard. Having that be my first cue that a contraction was starting. By the time my uterus caught up with my back it already hurt a lot (I had back labor with Lily as well, in comparison with Renna's and NO back labor I have to say how stinking easy it was laboring with Renna!) By the time we hit the third Voyager show I just broke it to Youssef and told him that I was in transition. I kept telling myself how it was good and how she was coming soon and to relax. I had no idea how that third show ended and when I saw it this morning it was weird how I'd remember watching a few minutes and then the next few minutes of the show would be a total blank (which were the times when I was contracting of course.) It was a little strange to realize in retrospect how totally out of it I was at that point.

It must have been about 2 in the morning when Youssef told the midwife to come as soon as possible, and right about then when I was probably at a 10. I suddenly couldn't lay still and felt the need to be on my knees or squatting or just SOME other position than laying down. The bath wasn't cutting it anymore and Youssef was suddenly trying to be two people at once while he pumped up the birthing pool and filled it while running to me every time I called "back"... which he knew meant I needed him to push on my lower back. I felt like pushing a few times, but just like with the other girls it wasn't overwhelming and I was afraid of pushing because I didn't know how much I'd dilated... after all.. I was only a 2 before 11pm for all I knew at it was only just after 2 in the morning! So, three hours I dilated 8 more cm?

I did poo at that point and could tell the difference between that and the baby coming out (which is a good thing to know so that the baby doesn't end up in the toilet and the poo does.) Note, my water STILL had not broken yet! For the most part during this last half hour I was on my hands and knees while Youssef pushed on my back as I waited to get into the tub. I kept thanking him for helping me because I felt like I'd have flown apart if he wasn't there to push on my back and support me. I was "ooooohing" and shaking and kept wishing the midwife would get here so I could know if it was all right to push or not. I pushed just slightly during the contractions a few times just to relieve the pressure. The birthing pool had just enough water in it for me to get in while it filled up. It felt SO much better to be in the water again even though it wasn't full. After one or two contractions Renna came in asking cheerfully what we were doing. Fortunately, I was in between contractions and was able to speak and told her that the baby was going to come and I was working really hard so the baby could come out and she could sit on the bed and watch. The contractions suddenly sped up again and Youssef had to be behind me to push on my back again. I didn't feel an overwhelming need to push. I felt more like I wanted to push to just end the back-labor contractions! Seriously, "fast labors" do not equal "easy labors" it was insanely intense. I pushed a bit and felt a pop (finally the water had broken) and I told Youssef that it broke, almost immediately after that with about two contractions later and some crazy pushing with me feeling like I'm *this* close again to totally freaking out, I felt her head getting really close to being totally out. With both of the other girls there was definitely more of a sensation of them "coming down" and backing up. With Grace .. there was no "two steps back" ... I made a bit more noise at this point with the oooohing and practically crying as she flew out. Youssef was whispering encouraging things to me the whole time he was behind me pushing on my back.. I don't really remember what he said, but his voice was very comforting. Youssef's phone rang (midwife calling to be let into the gate of our apartments) right about when her head was out and it just took a little bit to get the rest of her free.

He was still behind me pushing on my back and I saw her wiggle-swimming in the water just before I scooped her up and put her on my belly. She didn't cry. Which made me a little nervous since my other girls cried right away. The cord wasn't around her neck either like both my other girls had (I checked that right away of course.) I kept asking her if she was breathing and if she was okay, she barely cried just twice before the midwife came in. Lily woke up and came into our room just after I'd picked up Grace.

Ahhh.. the relief! Going (probably) from 2 cm to the baby born in less than four hours was insane... and for those of you who haven't had kids yet, I should tell you that is NOT normal. I don't have very "normal" labors. Which is a really good reason why it's good that I do the homebirth/midwife thing.

My original reasons were mainly because I abhor hospitals and doctors in general unless there's a dire need for them (like.. I break my arm, or something goes wrong and I need a C-section).. in retrospect I know that for how I labor (and my personality) it's REALLY helpful for me to be at home. Just taking this birth for example with me dilating slowly at first and fast at the end (as with all three actually just not quite THIS extreme) a hospital would be more likely to want to make my labor and dilation match a text book and give me pit. to speed things up. Frankly, I can't imagine how woman can handle that without drugs. I haven't had it before, but I do know it makes labor harder and more intense and from what I've gone through I can NOT imagine being able to handle the contractions being even HARDER than natural ones (that are naturally pretty intense)... In my opinion these women deserve a medal. I'm thinking of some friends of mine who had to deliver in the hospital and be subjected to the procedures and things that made everything more painful... they had to do it though to keep their baby safe. Those women, right there need to be applauded. For the woman that do the hospital thing and it ending up hurting them more in the long run (by being so numb that they hurt themselves from pushing and have weeks of recovery time from all the tearing or having unnecessary C-sections brought on my impatient doctors with a "time limit" on how long a woman can push or whatever) I'm usually just really sad for them that they can't find an easier way.

I've heard some women say how "empowering" natural birth is. I never felt "empowered" personally (though I know some friends who've felt that way.) Personally, I feel very tired afterward, but for me choosing to birth with a midwife is the best way to get the easiest births and to avoid the most pain.

I'm sure some of you might think that Grace would have been easier in a hospital, but frankly, I can't imagine trying to GO anywhere during all that! I probably would have had her in the car or at home anyway, but just not have had a midwife to come afterward (yeah, like calling 911 and having firefighters come after she was born would be gentler? Umm.. no.) My girls wouldn't have been around me to see her right away... I wouldn't have had a water birth or been under the gentle lighting of my own room.

It was all VERY intense, but I am really thankful for how it all went. The midwife said that it was good that Grace wasn't born sooner because she looked *just* on time or maybe only two days early. If Grace had of been able to break my water three weeks ago, then she would have been a premie and perhaps not as healthy. It was also good that it didn't work out for the midwife to break my water just a week before she was born because.. again.. it would have been too early. God knew what plans he had for us and I just needed to get to a place (again and again it seems) to trust Him with all of that.

Oh, right.. and to follow up on the "extras" the placenta was really big for the size of the baby! It was like a huge lily pad (only thicker.. like two inches thick).. maybe about 10 to 11 inches in diameter. Also, the water sack was super thick and strong for how little Grace was. She was just 7lbs and 20 3/4 inches long.. with 13 something inches around her head. Almost exactly what my other two were like! Oh, and I didn't tear! I thought for sure I must have because she flew out SO fast, but nope.. no tearing. So recovering is just a matter of some sore muscles (especially in my low back!) and cramps from my uterus going back down to it's normal size after being bigger than a watermelon. I also kept my record of not bleeding much afterward, which is also super nice. A little more bleeding than with the other two, but the midwife said it still wasn't much for what was "normal." So, yay!The proud Daddy getting to hold his newest daughter about an hour and a half after she was born (he held her sooner then that, but I didn't get a picture till this one.)
The next morning Lily got to hold her new sister!
Then it was Renna's turn!
Ta da! Here we are! All safe and sound and happy. Pretty worn out and doing a lot of resting, but doing very well. :}

Youssef is the MOST tired right now though since he's been doing such a great job of taking care of all his girls! I'm not supposed to go down the stairs till Sunday, so Grace and I have been hanging out in the bedroom. Sleeping when we can and eating lots. Youssef has me text him as my "bell" to ask for things.

3 comments:

Heather said...

Birth story? I was all ears when you said that, hoping it was a good one to gear me up in a positive way! I'm so glad it was a blessing to you in the end. That's wonderful. She's adorable! I'm doing the midwife route too, but giving birth in a birth center because honestly, it's more comfortable than my home. :-)

valerie said...

Rejoicing with you. Our second son, Andrew was born on April 22 with the "bag of waters" intact...... 27 years ago. Midwife-assisted hospital birth; sidelying position....

Lynne' said...

Heather, I didn't know you were expecting! congratulations! I had my first at a birth center and really liked that, especially for the first time since I didn't have to worry about a baby sitter for the other kids or anything. We went through the "Bradly method" on how to deal with contractions and learn about birth and so on and it was VERY helpful. I referred back to my books this time as well and got encouraged again. The key is just to practice relaxing and letting your body do the work and then the contractions are manageable.. also, I can't imagine laboring without being in water.. it's SO helpful.. even just to feel less weight from the baby is amazing. It really helps with relaxing.