Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to San Francisco Births: Mila Arrives!

I absolutely loved being pregnant.  I have never felt so beautiful.  Feeling my baby dance inside of me was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
I felt so blessed to have the support of such an incredible community. Midwives, doulas, Waldorf teachers, yoga teachers, open minded friends...
all surrounding me with encouragement, faith, and priceless advice.  But, no one is able to tell you what your birth experience will be like.  Not even guess.
But, it seemed that everyone around me was experiencing 3 day labors and was at least a week overdue.   Cesar and I were prepared for the long haul. 
I was due on the 4th of July.  The anniversary of our first date, five years earlier.  The night of July 2, I was glowing:) I felt so full of energy and spent the evening with a close friend.  We were making plans to go to the farmer's market early the next morning.  I came home and fell asleep.
At 5:30 a.m., the feeling of warm tea being poured between my thighs woke me up.  The water just kept flowing.  I did not move, but whispered to Cesar, "Love, I need a towel."  He seemed completely confused by my request.  I think he thought I was dreaming.  "Really, Love, there is a lot of water coming out!"
"OH!"  I put the towel between my legs and waddled to the bathroom.  I sat on the toilet and listened to the dripping of the fluid. After a minute or so, I checked the color and smell.  Seemed fine.  I could hear the voices of both Maria and my doula, Jamae, telling me to go back to sleep.
I snuggled up to Cesar but could not stop giggling.  The water was still dribbling and I was wide awake.  Cesar had to leave for work at 6:15 a.m.  We knew that he had two weeks paid off when the baby arrived, but figured that nothing would really happen until the evening.  We decided that he would go and I would call if I needed him.
I kissed him goodbye and began to strip the bed.  I felt happy, calm, and excited to prepare the house for my sweet baby.
I started down to the laundry room and suddenly had to grip the railing.  Whoa.  I have never even experienced a menstrual cramp,so this was fascinating.
The contraction lasted about 30 seconds, so I assumed an hour or so would pass before the next one arrived.  I put the sheets into the washer and began pouring in the soap when another contraction came.  I remember saying to myself, Maybe they are just cramps because so much water came out.  Uh, yeah, it's called labor.  Haha.
I made it back up the steps and called Maria to let her know things had started.  It was only 6:30 a.m. so I decided to wait to call Jamae.  I went back to my household chores, pausing about every 7 minutes to meet a new contraction.  By 7:30 a.m.  I called Jamae and told her how the morning had gone.  She seemed a bit in disbelief and told me she would come make us breakfast and take a look at me.  When she arrived I was trying to get the attachment for the hose onto the kitchen sink but the intense pain in my lower back had control over the skill of my fingers.  I kept dropping it in the sink and was getting frustrated.  Jamae was laughing, politely, at me and told me to back away from the sink and come into the living room to relax.  By this point my back was killing me.  It was as if the contractions lived there and every few minutes would vibrate around my lower torso and meet at my navel.  All of the advice we were given in our birthing class seemed irrelevant.  I wanted to let go.  I wanted to practice my release and meditation skills.  I did not remember anyone talking about back labor.
By 8:30 a.m. Jamae was paging Maria and calling Cesar.  Without noticing, I had lost myself.  Even writing this, my memory is foggy.  I remember Jamae saying, "Wow, I think this baby is coming before lunch. I have to make some phone calls!"  I was trying everything to escape my back.  The birthing ball, the chair, the bed, the couch, walking, leaning...nothing helped.  I was crawling along the floor watching her fill up every large pot in my kitchen with water and place them on the stove to boil.
"Don't worry," she said, "you will be able to get in the tub really soon!"  I was confused.  "I thought I could not get in until the end?"
She looked at me with wide open eyes, "This is the end! You sped through the beginning and the middle!"
I am not sure how much time passed as I wandered the house in attempt to find a comfortable tone in which to moan.  I always assumed I would be too embarrassed to make any noise.  But, the low OM vibration was the only thing that gave any relief. 
I had reminded myself every day while I was pregnant not to fight the pain.  Surprisingly, it worked.  Every part of me wanted to give in to it.  The hardest part was dealing with my physical existence.  How do I explain that?  I wanted to fall completely into the pain and let it bring my child to me.  But, I had to stay conscious enough to work with my body and place myself into different positions.  One thing that I realized later, must have helped so much, was that I was rarely asked any questions.  I was never forced up into my mind, but allowed to stay in my meditative state.
When I was finally allowed to lie down into the 100 degree water, it felt like heaven.  Now I know why they call it the midwives' epidural.
It was not only the heat in my back, but the buoyancy of my body and sides of the tub embracing me.  I felt safe and held.
I was not aware, but Maria was at the hospital at another birth and was worried she may not make it on time.  So, she asked Sue to come right away.
I remember feeling someone's presence and opening my eyes to see her looking at me with a sweet smile.  She simply said, "Hi Christina, it is so good to see you like this." 
She checked the baby's heart rate and assured me that I was doing great. She added such a lovely energy to our space.
Another mystery amount of time passed as I floated and moaned to cooperate with the work of my body.
The next thing I know, Maria is there asking me to turn around so she can check me.  As soon as I looked at her and felt her touch me, a deeper part of me was able to relax. It was not that I was waiting for her, but remember thinking, now that she is here, everything will be fine;)  She has an incredible inner strength and way of making you feel completely safe and supported. 
I was fully open with just a bit of a swollen cervical lip.  She moved it aside and the baby's head slipped passed.  Moving right along.
Cesar told me later that he had never ridden his bike so hard.  It usually takes him an hour to get home and I think he made it in 40 minutes.
Hmmm... I never asked him why he did not take a cab!;) 
Because all of the windows were open, when he arrived he could hear me moaning loudly.  It scared him a little and he ran inside to see everyone here and a ton of supplies and emergency equipment. He thought something had terribly gone wrong and just stood there in shock. 
Maria smiled at him and asked him if he wanted to jump in.  He changed his clothes, got in the tub, and began rubbing me in a way that was never taught.
Instincts are a beautiful thing.  He said it took him a few minutes to not feel completely worthless.  I was sweating, moaning, and pushing so hard and he just wanted to help me.  At some point I voiced my urge to go number 2 and Maria suggested that I come out and sit on the birthing stool.
When I opened my eyes and looked at that hard wooden stool covered with pads, it looked so scary.  Not one part of me wanted to leave the tub.
But, I figured it was not purely for her entertainment and so I did.  My body felt so heavy and the pain so intense.  I do not think I lasted very long before tipping forward onto my hands and knees.  My urge to use the restroom increased and I asked to sit on the toilet.  The second I landed on the seat I had my "best" contraction.  Every tiny muscle I was holding released at that point. I could feel the baby coming down.  I was squeezing the life out of my husband and telling him to get me back into the tub.  The walk seemed like miles.  But, I was so relieved to be back in the water.
After pushing for a while longer, I asked Maria, "Where is she??"  "Reach in and find out.:)"  she said. I put my fingers inside myself and I could feel her tiny head and tons of hair! 
Everyone kept reminding me that I was doing great and that the baby was moving down with each contraction.  Her heart continued to beat at a healthy rate and she was working hard with me.  I think I pushed for another 20 minutes when I heard Cesar say, "I can see her head!"  When she began to crown I could feel the ring of fire that everyone warned me about.  For a couple of my friends, this was the worst part of labor.  For me, it was a welcomed distraction from the excruciating pain in my back.  It was 11:30 a.m. when I was suddenly handed my baby.  I cannot explain at all what it felt like for her body to come out.  I truly feel like I was drugged.  Nature is brilliant that way.  I am sure if I could remember, I would never have another baby;)
But, I remember distinctly the second I held her and saw her face for the first time.
This was profound for many reasons.  Throughout my pregnancy, some part of my ego held onto this fantasy that the moment I looked into her eyes, I would see a part of myself.  That I would recognize her as "mine".
This could not be further from the truth.  I held this precious being in my hands, and realized she was not mine.  She is a child of God and it is my responsibility to help her on her own destiny.  I am so blessed to have been chosen by her and I remind myself of that every day.

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