Thursday, November 3, 2011

Full Moon Baby by Audrey Haller

Marcello was born on a full moon, ten days before he was due. I started having very cramp-y Braxton Hicks contractions around 3am. My partner Josh heard me fussing and woke up around 4am. I still didn't think it was labor but josh thought it might be, I was convinced the baby would be late because I had read that so many first time mothers are late. As the feelings continued and intensified I realized Josh was right, this was labor. We stayed in bed till it got to intense to just lie still. I walked around the room some and went to the bathroom, but mostly rocked back and forth on my knees at the foot of the bed, my arms around Josh's waist, leaning my head on his chest during contractions and in between resting my head on his thigh. We moaned low together and labored together. I tried to relax into the contractions, to let them open me as fast as possible, to bring me my baby, to surrender to what was happening at every second as much as I could. I also kept thinking, "my body knows how to do this, let it happen. I am going to get huge, sooo big, open right up so my baby can come out easy."

Josh called Maria around 6am to tell her we were in labour, she said things sounded good, call back when it gets further along.  Josh and I moved back and forth from the floor to the foot of the bed, changing positions between contractions. When things got a little more intense, Josh called my mom, and we asked her to come over. Thinking she'd have a full day of hanging around during labor, my mom packed a bag with clothes book which it turned out she never needed... it's a bit of a joke now. Upon arriving she came right in to our bedroom and joined us on the floor rocking and moaning, massaged my back and legs, put socks on my feet and a heating pad on my lower back. Around this time Josh realized that we never got the final birth tub / sink hose connection so as to be able to fill our tub. So, we dutifully sent my dad on an early morning hardware store run. By the time he arrived with the connection and filled the tub I was fully dilated.

My contractions intensified quickly: between each I threw up a little until there was nothing left to throw up. I remember thinking, "I don't think I can do this for nineteen hours." I thought I would have a long labor because so many first time mothers do. That was certainly not the case for me! We decided we should call maria again---by now my contractions were four minutes apart, two back to back---and she said she would be right over. When Maria arrived I was deeply involved in laboring, my whole world was laboring. I could tell things were going on but it didn't really matter: only laboring mattered. You hear women report that birth felt like they were in another world, or high, but to me it felt like I was extremely here, very of this world, of this moment, like an animal. I was here on this earth to do one thing: get this baby out! Like a wave passing through me, a tsunami, it seemed unstoppable, the only thing to do was to surrender and ride the wave.

My mother always said to me that the body in labor won't give you more then you can handle. It was true---the pain got intense but it was never more then I could handle. While pregnant I read a lot of birth stories and thought a lot about my paternal grandmother, who, back in Ireland, had seven children, all home births. "If she could do it seven times," I thought, "I can do it once!"

As soon as Maria checked me she said I was fully dilated and if I wanted to, I could push. I didn't know what I wanted. I got in the tub for a while, which was very relaxing, yet still I had a limited desire to push. After one intense pushing effort Maria said, "That's great pushing! Now next time try to do it twice as hard for three times as long!" I remember thinking, "Is she crazy?! that's impossible!" But I tried. I tried pushing on the birthing stool. I tried pushing laying down on my side, which I hated. I yelled out, "I have to move!" Josh suggested we get back to our original position at the foot of the bed. That sounded right. Then I knew I was ready to Get This Thing Out!! I got loud and the pushing got serious! The baby began to crown, which was intense, it hurt, I could feel it stretching. Maria asked if I could wait and let it stretch, which I did, and was really glad about later: I didn't have any tearing or have to get stitches.

At 1:41PM, eleven or so hours after waking, Marcello was born at the foot of our bed, into his fathers hand's, a slippery little being from another world! I was on my knees, elbows on the bed; Josh caught him from between my legs and passed him through my legs up to my chest. I remember Josh calling out, so excited, "It's a boy!!"

Our baby was here! We both, baby and I, had worked hard to get him out, we were tired and I was hungry. Maria weighed and tested Marcello, made sure that I was all good, and then Marcello, Josh and I snuggled into bed altogether, a little family for the first time.

Reflecting on my home birth, two aspects seem most special to me: the intimate beginning stages of laboring with my partner Josh; and with Marcello finally in my arms, being able to lie in bed, the three of us enjoying the afterglow.

No comments: