Saturday, July 31, 2010
Sadie's Birth - Part III of Sara's Birth Stories
After experiencing the birth center and hospital venues with midwives, I was ready for the full blown home birth experience. I liked Maria's no-nonsense approach to her practice and I felt like with working full time and with two little ones at home, I didn't have the time for or interest in group prenatal visits with other expectant moms. On my first visit, when Maria asked me what I wanted out of my home birth, I told her that I just wanted to be left alone to have my baby. I didn't feel like I had the freedom to just have my baby in the regular hospital setting, but that I would be subject to all the protocols such as their IVs and time lines. She said that it sounded like I was a confident mom and just wanted someone there to provide a safe environment for me to give birth, which was exactly what I wanted.
My early labor was different that the first two. Instead of having regular contractions at regular intervals that felt like period cramps, I had these waves of sensations where my back hurt, my sacrum felt like it was being pulled apart, and I felt like I had to poop. It was the day before my due date and I had no idea if this was early labor or not, but I wasn't about to hang out at work to find out. I would much rather figure it out while walking on the beach with my Mom. (My husband was working as a nurse and was waiting to be relieved before he could head home.)
My Mom met me at my place and we got our flat tidied up for the birth, just in case this was it. My older kids were in school and so after my already scheduled prenatal visit with Maria (where she assured me I wasn't in labor), we headed out for a walk. We only walked a couple of miles, but by then, I was pretty sure that I was in labor as I seemed to be experiencing more intense and more regular contractions. (I hate that word, "contraction," but use it for a lack of a better one. Really, shouldn't we be calling them "expansions" or something less clinical?)
When I went to pick up my daughter from school, I had a pretty intense contraction so I called Maria from the playground to let her know that this was it and I would be having a baby that night. She said it was a great night to have a baby. My daughter was watching her after school film festival and wanted to stay until it was over. I told her that we were going to have a baby soon, which got her immediate attention. She asked me if I was having contractions and when I told her I was she got her stuff together and was happy to come home with me, skipping the end of the film festival.
My Mom, sister, husband, and kids met up at my house and my step-father brought over take-out Chinese food for everyone. I wasn't hungry and was worried I might get sick later if I ate much so I sat down with everyone and just had some chicken broth. I had to stand up and sway back and forth periodically as I could not stay still during contractions any longer. My sister was timing my contractions and they were all over the map from one minute apart to seven minutes apart, but averaging about every three minutes.
I called Maria and she said that she was available to come whenever I needed her. I told her that if I waited until I needed her, she would miss the birth. She suggested that she come over in about 45 minutes and that if I needed her sooner, to just page her and she would come over immediately without calling. I said that sounded good.
Maria arrived around 9:00 p.m. and suggested that I put the kids to bed to decrease the energy level in the house. She said she didn't think I would progress in the current chaotic environment. I was finding it hard to give up my roll managing the household and so I put the kids to bed, periodically having to interrupt our bedtime ritual to stand up and rock back and forth and breath through a contraction. It was about 10 p.m. by the time the kids were asleep and the house was cleaned up and calm.
Maria checked me and said I was 5 cm, but a very soft, stretchy 5 cm so she thought I'd progress quickly. I wanted to get into the tub, but she didn't want things to slow down and asked me to wait so I settled down in my bedroom for active labor with my husband and sister joining me. They were lying on the bed and we talked and laughed interspersed with my breathing and swaying through contractions. We remarked on how my sister had had two kids since she was at my last birth. When Maria came in to check on me next, I remember telling her, "Now I'm having fun," and marveling that I would use the word, "fun" to describe active labor. I also remember Maria asking me if I needed anything to help me through the contractions. I told her no, that I was fine. She then encouraged me by telling me I was doing a good job and my sister piped in with a similar sentiment. Even though I remember doing the same for her when she was in labor, I honestly felt awkward about the compliments. I felt like they were encouraging me for a natural bodily function that I didn't have much control over, like going to the bathroom or something.
Finally, when my sister told me my contractions were about two minutes apart and lasting about a minute long, I told her to ask Maria if I could get into the tub now. "I want to get into the f#*$%&$ tub," I think were my exact words. Maria gave her blessing and I remember being in the tub telling them that I didn't remember birth being quite so exhausting and that maybe it was because I was getting older. After just a few contractions in the tub, my water broke during a contraction and I immediately started pushing. I knew this was it and told Maria that I was going to have her right then. My Mom went to wake up the kids (at that point, I really didn't care whether they were present for the birth, as I was preoccupied, but they had asked to be woken up to see it). Zoe (8 yrs) woke up and came in, but Theo (4yrs) couldn't be roused from sleep.
Maria was instructing me to get into a birthing position and Sadie was born with the next push. I held her in the water as we all welcomed her into the world. She was just perfect and covered with vernix. After a few minutes, Maria suggested we cut the chord and then Maria got excited when she discovered a full knot in the umbilical chord. Somehow Sadie, when in utero had maneuvered herself around and through her umbilical chord and tied a knot in it. Apparently, if the knot gets pulled too tight, the fetus can strangulate so we were lucky. Maria said the knot was extremely rare and was an auspicious sign. She told me that Sadie was a little dare devil and would give us a run for our money. Maria got her camera and took pictures of the knot so we followed suit.
After getting out of the tub and birthing the placenta, my Mom put Zoe back to bed and she and my went home as we settled down for the night. I had such a wonderful birth experience that I was sad that this was my last baby and that I wouldn't be able to experience birth again. Although I had said all throughout my pregnancy that I was getting too old for this and that this was definitely my last time, once Sadie was born, I realized that I could definitely go another round if I had a husband who wanted to (which I don't).
So after experiencing three different natural birth venues, what were the highlights of each?
Birth Center - No clean up required. Good compromise for those who want to stay out of a hospital, but aren't ready to do it at home.
Hospital - No unsupportive comments from concerned relatives. Immediate medical backup ready and waiting if needed.
Home - Can sleep that first night in your own comfortable bed and stay barefoot and in your PJs for the first few days after birth. Don't have to strap your day old baby into a car seat.
Which would I do again? Definitely, the home birth.