Monday, March 29, 2010

The Birth of Zandra Rose

Zandra Rose was born on Saturday February 13th, 2010 at 8:02 pm and this is our birth story.

The day my water broke, Friday February 12th, I was doing my regular routine as of late; prenatal yoga, lunch, bath, cuddles with my husband Zalman. All activities in service of supporting pregnancy and the natural start of labor as I enjoyed my 39th week of pregnancy. At yoga that morning I was feeling particularly "fuzzy" (as our instructor would say) and decided during my drive home that the roads would be safer without me on them. I was slow behind the wheel and felt slightly stoned - not a great combination for driving. I returned home and told Zalman this after cuddles and he asked if I thought I was going into labor. "I don't know but something is happening", I replied. I figured the baby would let me know when the time was right.

That night Zalman and I had a date planned for a local French eatery and I got all dressed up and we walked over for dinner. We dined on Filet Mignon and chocolate tarts and talked about the upcoming year and the travels we envisioned with our child. I recall the many times my mother spoke of the day I was born - most importantly what she had to eat. Three weeks postdate I had been inspired to enter the world after Mexican food and margaritas. That story always made me chuckle a bit - and I do still love my avocados, chips and salsa! Would red meat and sweets inspire my little one?

After dinner Zalman and I walked home slowly through the hills of our neighborhood. I was a bit spacey and wobbly on my feet, as my funky state of mind continued from earlier in the day. Zalman was very tender with me and slowly guided me home with ease by sharing his balance. We arrived home and I went up to change and settle in. Zalman went down to practice bass and a certain calmness settled into our home. At about 11 pm Zalman came up to our room and started readying himself for bed. Moments later as I lay on my left side in bed I felt a slight release of waters, like a relaxation in my pelvis. I commented to Zalman and he came to my side at once as more water released. So this is what my membranes rupturing would feel like? So gentle and relaxing. We both looked at each other in delight and he carefully followed me to the bathroom, monitoring my trail of waters for color. Brown meant meconium in the amniotic fluid and was a sign that we needed to head to the hospital for support, other colors meant we were in the clear and could proceed with our planned home birth. Our color was clear with slight pink tints....a clever hint for what was yet to come!

As I sat on the toilet and my water continued to release I remember Zalman and I looking at each other with love and excitement. Wow! This is starting. This event we have talked about, learned about, dreamt about. Our waiting has come to an end and the beginning of this relationship is near. With this sign of water flow we get closer to meeting our child.

Around midnight I returned to bed and drank a glass of water, turned on the relaxation CD, and worked to doze into the feeling of mild cramping I was feeling in my uterus and lower back. Zalman called Maria, our midwife, and Kathy, our doula, to inform them of my membranes rupturing. I dozed in and out until about 4:30 am when I started to notice more of a rhythmic pattern to the surges (also known as contractions). For some time I was still able to lay on my side and notice these sensations, which were increasing with frequency and intensity, until I thought to wake Zalman. We lay together, holding one another, timing the surges until I was motivated by intensity to change position.

We approached 9 am in the morning and Zalman had called my parents, his sister, and both the midwife and doula with an update. I lay in a hot bath and listened to music with candles burning. Maria instructed me to get out of the bathtub at this point because using the tub too early in labor can increase the chance of infection. I got out and found my way back to the bed where I lay comfortably and resumed comfort measures to manage the regular surges I was experiencing. They became more regular, nearing every five minutes for a duration of one minute and Zalman called Kathy and asked her to come support the next part of labor.

Time passed and I labored through the surges for hours with the supportive guidance of Zalman and Kathy recommending a new labor position, offering an affirmation, or simply providing a snack. I was feeling the surges in my back as well as my pelvic area and they started coming two at a time at one point. Throughout this time I used various things to help manage the strong sensations and support my steady progression of labor, including breathing relaxation exercises, affirmations to self and from partner, change in labor positions, soothing hot water bottle, cuddles with husband, showering, and music/relaxation.

The various affirmations recited to self and by Zalman helped me move through the most difficult parts of the surges. In particular, sitting in front of the bathroom mirror and looking myself in the eyes while reciting the affirmations out loud increased my comfort. These affirmations included "I am birthing my baby", "Every surge brings my baby closer to me", "My baby and I work together", and "I inhale and open, I exhale and soften. I inhale and get big, I exhale and soften. I inhale and widen, I exhale and surrender". These affirmations which I had recited countless times during the months of preparation for this day helped manage from moment to moment in the surge. My body also was relieved by the opportunity to change position. Zalman and Kathy continued to encourage and remind me to change position to side lining or sitting on the ball or to hands and knees positions. I used each opportunity to move my hips in a circular motion and open my pelvic region. Each posture helped me to manage the sensation of the surge and feel mastery and control of my body. Finally, the music running through our speakers from very early in labor until the birth was Eternal Om. I found the calming rhythm helped me go even more inward in order to birth my baby.

Later in the afternoon, around 5 pm, I was laboring on the toilet when the surges started coming on more intensely than before and every four minutes or less. I could feel the pressure in my bottom and it was the most intense feeling I could imagine. Zalman, Kathy and I decided to call Maria for her to come and check progress.
Maria arrived at about 6 pm and checked my dilation right away. "Your at 10 centimeters" she stated and I was delighted to hear the news. She quickly started to ready the room for the birth and had Sue, our second midwife, called to assist. During the next two hours I labored with strong surges and the support of Zalman, Kathy, Maria and Sue. Maria was frequently checking the baby's health (heartbeat, pressure on head) and my health (blood pressure, etc) during this time and consulting with Sue. I was going more inward with long moaning breaths and an intensified experience of my internal world during surges. When the surge would come I would feel it intensely and then just focus on the affirmation inside my heart, "With each surge I get closer to meeting my baby", "My baby is safe and healthy", "I open, I relax, I surrender". I also kept bringing into my mind the visualization that had been visiting me the past couple weeks. Within this visualization my baby is released from my body and comes to land on my chest. This visualization helped me to imagine the endpoint, the other side of this transition period.

In support of progressing the labor Maria encouraged me to try several different positions during this time. I started laying out on my back, stood up for awhile as I worked to breath the baby down, used the birthing stool to help open the pelvic area, and finally ended up laying on my left side with Sue pushing up and open my right leg. During the transition from position to position I used every opportunity in between surges to move my hips, move my body, move my arms. Ultimately, laying on my left side with my back pressed up against Zalmans chest I was encouraged to continue breathing the baby down with the help of some pushing. "Push into my fingers" Maria said as she pressed downward on my perineum, creating space for the baby. As I did I felt progress. I noticed the movement of the head downward and finally while pushing outside a surge I sensed the head of our baby transcend my pelvic region. I heard Maria say "no cord" and heard the support of those around me to allow the baby to turn as we awaited the shoulders to pass through my pelvis. I felt so open during this time; exposed, vulnerable and strong as the shoulders and remaining body moved through into the outside world. My confidence high as I heard the first cries and saw the bright pink skin of my child as she came to my belly and chest. In the background I remember seeing the beaming faces of Maria and Sue as Maria announced that it was a "very pink, healthy baby". Seconds later as I lay there relishing in the skin to skin contact with my child all I could see and hear was my child.

All other voices were silenced as I tuned into my child for the first moments of life. As I lay there I thought, "well, is it a girl or a boy?". I peeked under the multiple blankets keeping her warm and noticed a cord - "nope, that can't be a penis" I thought and explored further south. A vagina! A girl! "Zandra Rose" I exclaimed into the air in between saying "I did it, I did it!" At 8:02 pm she entered the outside world to join her parents. Zalman made way to cut the cord once the blood had stopped pulsating from the placenta. I lay there with baby on my belly knowing that the final stage was coming, the birth of the placenta. Zalman removed his shirt and enjoyed skin to skin time with our Zandra while I focused on birthing the placenta. I nestled down off the bed onto the birthing stool while Maria and Sue helped me to invite my placenta to release, that it had done it's work and now could be birthed. Its emergence felt soft and easy with some slight cramping. Both midwives helped me back to the bed and Maria massaged my uterus to contract the organ and slow down the normal after birth bleeding. Later Sue showed both Zalman and I my placenta. She explained how phenomenally it worked to grow our precious girl and pointed out the "tree of life" natural artistry which resides on one side of the placenta. I was in awe that this little sac was our baby's home for all those months and that it had done so much for her.

Zandra was taken to the foot of the bed for her newborn check as I rested on the bed. 6 pounds, 13 ounces. Clear lungs, healthy heart. All systems good.

Slowly Kathy and Sue left and the house started settling back down to that time right before my membranes ruptured the night before. Maria left some time later and Zalman and I embraced our child and relaxed into the residual euphoria which engulfed the three of us. This time of wonder with our little girl. Our first gift to her, a gentle birth. Oh Zandra! We are ready to be your parents, we are ready to help you negotiate this outside world, we are ready to love you and parent you for who you are. Thank you for joining our family!

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