Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sasha's water broke at 11:30 pm on Thursday night while we were laying in bed... she heard and felt a "pop". We got up and she moved to the shower, where we looked at each other incredulously. It's not happening, is it? Within an hour the dull aches turned into intense contractions. Her mom, a former midwife who had arrived earlier that evening from Iowa, and I put hot wash clothes on her back for a couple of hours as the rushes strengthened. We hurried around getting ready in between... I ran around like a maniac trying to sort out the tub and everything else. It was happening so fast.
By about 2:00 am, Sasha laid down on the floor in the living room, moaning "open" through rushes and falling asleep in between. I laid next to her and, along with friends, comforted her as we fell in and out of sleep. When she stood up near 5:30, happy to see the first signs of sunlight, she was nearly fully dilated. Realizing she was farther along in labor than anticipated, we called our midwife, Maria Iorillo, who was incredible. She arrived shortly after to find us in the birth tub. Several intense, thrilling, overwhelming pushes later, a posterior head emerged... that was a surprise. The shoulders and body quickly followed. I pulled our baby up to Sasha's chest and we snuggled. What an amazing feeling. We soon found that she was a she and I cut the cord.
Finley and Sasha are both healthy and we're deeply enjoying our first days together.
Monday, May 23, 2011
As I sit here staring at this little human that was in my belly just seven days ago, it is hard to believe this all really happened. I am blown away by my homebirth experience and am so proud to have had a successful birth in my own home surrounded by the people I love most.
Our birth story, for me, starts earlier than most I think because somehow I just knew it was coming. Tuesday April 19th I was 38.5 weeks into my pregnancy, I started seeing a little bloody discharge and having period like cramps that had started days prior to that all of which excited me but I knew that it could still take weeks before I met my little one. The following day I had my appointment with Maria, I arrived early and so I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood, something I hadn’t been doing due to all of my pubic bone pain throughout the pregnancy but I was determined to meet my baby as soon as possible. Maria and I discussed the discharge with no alarm except Maria did say that she wasn’t sure if the baby is going to wait until my Mom got here on the 25th, so that also excited me. I then got my chiropractic adjustment from Kristine and was on my merry way. When I got home the discharge and cramps continued to increase but no rhythm to the cramps just noticeable and annoying. At around 9pm when I was about to lay down for bed I got up to pee and noticed a brighter and larger amount of blood when I wiped which alarmed me so I called Maria. She let me know that it still sounded like mucous plug to her and I should try to sleep because I might be woken up in the middle of the night with contractions. So now I am really excited and falling asleep felt like it would be impossible, it was like the first day of school all over again. At 10pm I felt a noticeable change in the cramps they were not tightening across the top of my belly but down low and slightly more intense. I eventually fell asleep around 11pm only to wake up at 1am with more of the same cramps. I laid in bed until 3:30am trying to fall back to sleep but I started to become hungry. I got up to eat which shifted something because then I felt them a little stronger and more frequent, every 3-5 minutes lasting about 30 seconds in length. I decided around 4am to text my doula Stacy Vogan and give her the update. She recommended I take a bath and try to relax. I decided the bathtub was too filthy so I scrubbed it clean then decided I was too hot to take a bath so I went and tried to lay down some more. Around 5am my still sleeping husband, Walid, woke up to his alarm and I told him to call in to work because my labor had definitely begun. My surprised and half asleep husband said “babe! Why didn’t tell me last night” I explained I wanted him to sleep as long as he could. We continued to lie in bed and relax, I got another hour of sleep from 7am-8am and woke up starving, I had the most insane craving for McDonalds breakfast so I sent my husband out. After he returned and my best friend Bianca came over I left the bed and tried to watch a funny movie to distract myself. That lasted about a half hour before I decided all the chatter of the movie was annoying me so I had them shut it off. At some point during this time I managed to shower and shave my legs but I cannot recall the time. My friend Susanne had also arrived, she was my photographer and as much as I was feeling like I didn’t want an audience I knew I wanted documentation. We also set up Skype so that my Mom can feel present.
At around 10am we started timing contractions they were coming every 4-5 minutes and lasting 45 seconds. I would let them know it was coming then my husband would rush over and squeeze my hips and I would try to breath. At that point I really thought I needed my doula, I was feeling slightly inadequate and was needing more support. My doula arrived to the house around 1pm and as soon as I saw her I burst into tears, partly so relieved to see her and partly just from the pain and exhaustion.
She was wonderful, reminding me of all that we have practiced and what I already knew I could do. Taking deep breaths and as Stacy would say “going deep” with my moaning. I was also feeling hungry and having zero desire to eat anything that I had to chew. Bianca made me a protein smoothie and we continued to labor. Shortly after that I decided to get into the birthing tub.
The tub was amazing, I felt lighter and calmer. My husband got in with me and pushed on my hips with every contraction, he was so wonderful, reliable and completely supportive. Maria arrived around 2pm we think. My contractions at that point were feeling very intense, I would feel it coming, it would last about one minute to a minute and a half, then as it subsided another one would come up right behind it without a break but only lasting about 20-30 seconds and then I would get my much needed break. My moans were surprisingly louder than I had expected them to be.
I am typically a very quiet person and expected a lovely silent homebirth as I had seen in so many homebirth videos, not so in my case and I was later told I sounded sort of like a lamb. I also remember clearly saying the words “no” and “ouchy” and I only cursed a few times (also surprising). What’s even more interesting about that is that I once read somewhere that research had shown newborns have the same intonation as their mothers when they cry and I swear some of the sounds she makes were the exact sounds I made while I birthed her.
We were still waiting on my antibiotics to come via courier, since I had tested positive for GBS, once they arrived around 4pm we then needed to warm them up a bit. Around 5pm they were ready to go I had to leave my warm and cozy tub, which felt impossible. I could hardly walk at that point and made it about 10 steps before I felt another contraction coming. It was then that I saw a slight gush of water coming down my legs with a little bit of blood. I remember being confused if my water had broke or if I was still just wet from the tub but it continued to come and then I could care less as the contraction came on stronger. I bent over a table and called for the hip squeeze again and so we decided to do the antibiotics right there. I would sit on the exercise ball in between contractions to rest but I had to remain on that antibiotic and at that table for an hour.
After we were done with the antibiotics I felt very aware of the audience in my home and had an intense need to be alone with my husband so we went and begun laboring in our bedroom with the door closed. Every now and then Maria would pop in to check the baby’s heart rate, my blood pressure or my dilation; baby was always strong and steady. I sort of dreaded when Maria came in the room only because it meant a check of some sort or more antibiotics and my contractions felt so insane that I thought I couldn’t bare anything else. After laboring on the bed for awhile Maria checked my dilation again and I was only at 7 and feeling like there was no way that could be possible after all this work. She suggested we try sitting on the toilet as a different position to help things along and so we did. The contractions got worse on the toilet, stronger and longer. They also made me feel like I needed to push, push what I am not sure, what it really felt like was that I badly needed to poop. I would bare down on my husband’s hips and hold on until they passed, I was not liking the toilet at all so we moved back to the bed. Eventually I wanted to try the tub again in hopes that I would be getting close to pushing and we could birth there. At some point someone said I might be ready to push in a couple hours….I remember feeling very aware of time and knowing that these contractions were coming every 30-45 seconds apart from each other it seemed just daunting that I will be doing this for a couple more hours at the least. After we were in the tub for awhile Maria checked the baby’s heart rate again and she said that the heart beat was decelerating so I may need to leave the tub. She suggested I shift to my side and see if baby likes that better and thankfully she did, heart rate regulated and all was well. Eventually, we needed to do antibiotics again so we needed to leave the tub. Walking was near impossible and it took my husband and my doula to get me back to the bedroom contracting along the way. We labored there for what we think was about 45 minutes to an hour then Maria gave me a check again and said that I was at about 9 ½ and there was just a little bit left, then she said “I think you can start pushing and the pushing will clear that space”, she also said that she was calling her second midwife and she left the room. My doula Stacy said “did you hear what she said”, and I said “yeah, she’s leaving me” and she said “no she gave you the green light to start pushing”, for some reason I thought that the second midwife was coming to replace Maria. Maria then came and asked me if I wanted to make my way back to the tub for birthing. I had always wanted to birth in the tub but I just could not imagine making my way back across the house. So the pushing began right there in my bedroom. It felt amazing to try to get rid of that rectal pressure, although it was as if I got it out half way and it would be sucked back in..…highly dissatisfying. At one point I felt that my husband, who I was leaning on, had fallen asleep (which in retrospect I cannot imagine how because my moaning had definitely increased). I tried pushing on my back, pushing on all fours then Maria said “I have the birthing stool if you want to try that”. Again, feeling like I didn’t want to move anymore I also was willing to do anything to meet my baby. I decided to go for it, with my husband behind me supportive as ever and after just a couple pushes Maria checked the baby’s heart rate again and said “so Krissi, it’s probably best he baby come out as soon as possible” and I remember feeling an animalistic instinct to push and keep pushing like never before and then I heard “ok, there’s the head” which surprised me because I didn’t feel that happen but with the next push I felt an incredible burn and on Friday April 22nd at 3:10am there she was on my belly.
I looked at her in complete amazement. She was so alert and just fantastic, she needed a little oxygen but throughout the whole process I never worried about her and had complete faith in Maria and my baby.
I can’t describe how happy I was to meet her and in complete denial that I actually pulled it off. I felt alarmingly refreshed and energetic and I was home in my bed with someone so perfect. We stayed up for the next 3-4 hours before falling asleep for about 3 hours and awake again with excitement. I am still in disbelief and as any one of my friends would tell you, I have a very low tolerance for pain but my determination and a little bit of stubborn (or as Maria wouId call it tenacity), I did it, without a single thought of an epidural, we did together, a perfect rhythm between baby and mama and an incredible birthing team. I am so thankful for Maria and Stacy and my amazing homebirth experience; I loved every moment of it and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
by Gillian Bowley
My family is together in our bedroom on the second daybreak of our daughter’s life. Daddy is holding Maia in bed, and Cindy Lou is looking on at the strange scene from her doggie bed in the corner. And I am in awe of the many blessings we have received as we brought Maia into this world. I don’t want to forget a thing about her birth.
After the birth, our midwife Maria said eloquently, “In a hospital, they are focused on a healthy baby and a healthy mama. And we midwives are focused on that, too, but we add healthy process. Because most of the time, without a healthy process, you don’t have a healthy baby or a healthy mama.”
Our process began on Sunday, April 17. Brian and I spent the day quietly together. Things had been feeling hectic and separate and impatient for me. I felt like the baby might be coming soon, but I needed to connect. We went on an urban hike, letting the location of bakeries determine our route. We walked a hilly course of about 6 miles around the city, stopping at bakeries along the way. Sesame tofu salad at Mission Pie, vanilla wafers at Dianda’s, a strawberry tartlet at Destination Bakery in Glen Park, a chocolate chip cookie at Noe Valley bakery, and then back home to Sharon Street. I was totally exhausted, but not feeling any closer to labor. I went to bed with the same feeling I’d had for a couple of weeks: ”Maybe tonight…?”
That night, at 3am, I woke up from what felt like regular surges, but I let Brian sleep. A note about “contractions.” I wasn’t sure what I was feeling, since the sensation was similar to the menstrual cramp achiness that I’d been having for weeks. And really, the contractions I experienced during labor, whether light or profoundly deep, were more like surges of energy. I know the biological explanation of contractions, but to me it was a life force surge. I wish I could say that this helped to ground me or center me during my labor. It did not. It’s more in retrospect that I understand my experience of surges.
Around 4am I decided to do some timing, and sure enough these surges were about 10 minutes apart and lasted 30 seconds each. Brian’s alarm rang at 6am, and I let him know that we were going to have our baby soon. I was incredibly excited and curious.
We decided to keep our 8am appointment with our midwife Maria rather than call her. I must explain about Maria. The more we have learned and experienced about pregnancy, birth, and babies, the more in awe I become at Maria’s incredible depth of knowledge and skill in caring for mamas and babies in a deeply caring, spiritual, and individualized way. She took incredibly good care of my family, but more to come on that subject.
To get to Maria’s office, we took the J-Church muni train. I had a couple of surges on the train, but was able to breathe through them and sway my hips in the seat. When we arrived I excitedly announced that I was in labor. She checked my vitals and sent us home, advising us to go about our business and have a regular day, though I couldn’t imagine how to do that. I was really excited about being in labor, and I was so curious to find out what would come next. We went to a café, stopped by a market for some supplies, and instead of waiting for the train home, we walked the quick mile through a foggy Dolores Park. Things felt perfect.
My mom came over to our house at around 10:00, and we decided that she and Brian were going to take Cindy Lou out for a walk while I rested. Just before they left, I had a surge, so I stood up and leaned over on the table, and, Pop!, my water broke. The sound and sensation of the pop were so surprising that I yelped and cracked up. I could not stop laughing, which of course pushed out more liquid, which made me laugh harder. Brian and Mom decided to skip the walk. I was having a great time! I called a dear friend in Virginia, and was still able to talk reasonably through my contractions. I sent a few text messages about my water breaking, and got some encouraging responses back. This was really happening. My baby would be born on Monday April 18th—full moon, foggy San Francisco, Passover—perfect.
Around noon, the surges intensified and I had to move and moan through them. The work was starting. Brian stood by me and helped me through each one as we moved through the house. We worked on the exercise ball next to the bed, on the toilet, over the couch. Brian timed the contractions, and while it was clear they were building, I knew we weren’t anywhere near the 4-1-1 mark: contractions 4 minutes apart, one minute duration, for at least an hour. My mom and Brian were really eager to contact Maria, so at 1pm Brian called to give her an update and let her know that my water broke. She was excited and encouraged us to keep going and call her back when we reached the 4-1-1 mark.
My surges built to about 3 minutes apart, but were a bit inconsistent, as occasionally I’d have a 5 or 6-minute interval. They were also short at 35-45 seconds. They were, however, consistently strong: I had to moan and move through them. I got impatient around 5 or 6, and at 6:30pm (still Monday) Brian called Maria to report our progress. Even though we hadn’t gotten to 4-1-1, she decided to come over.
I was relieved when Maria arrived at about 7pm, because I felt like I’d been working hard to get labor moving by trying all sorts of positions, movements and moaning. I was getting tired and I was curious to know how dilated I was, and how close I was to having our baby! She checked me, and we learned that I was 3 ½ centimeters dilated. This was pretty discouraging to me, and was definitely a low moment. I’d felt so prepared for many things, but I didn’t know anything about bringing labor on. I’d just assumed it would happen naturally. I was tired and out of ideas. We all needed a break. Brian’s parents brought food over, and my mom and Brian ate while Maria set up. I was not at all interested in eating, although I was hungry. I managed to eat a banana.
The night is a bit of a blur. It was a long night, but we continued to try everything: positions, walking, bouncing, swaying, atmosphere (music, candles), herbal drinks, and homeopathic remedies. I called on my many mantras to help me: My body and my baby know what to do; My body is opening like a flower; KNOW; TRUST; and meditation techniques and yogic breathing and positions (juicy hips) to open, open, open. I talked to my baby, and told him or her that it was time, it was ok to come. I asked him or her what I needed to do.
At about 3am, the 24 hour mark, Maria suggested I get in the tub for a change of pace. My surges were very intense at this point, but the timing continued to be variable. I was getting really tired, so the tub idea sounded great to me. Being in the tub gave immediate relief to my tired, sore body. Brian sat by and timed my contractions. I was surprised by the power of the surges I had while in the tub. They gripped my body, and I floated around to find positions and moans that would help move the energy through my body, and most importantly help the baby move down. Some of these surges were long: about a minute and a half or longer. The energy gripping my body was unbearable to me, but I stayed in the tub because I thought that maybe these contractions would take me to the next level of labor. Still, it was hard work, and I told Brian I didn’t know if I could do it. I felt despair: fear, hunger, exhaustion, and no baby in sight. When would this end? Brian was encouraging and loving and he is the reason why I was able to keep going.
In the morning, 12 hours after my first internal exam, Maria wanted to check my dilation. So, at about 7am on Tuesday, I was eager to see how much I progressed. I was 5 cm dilated. What??? All that work, all night long, and I had only opened 1 1/2cm? What was happening here? We talked a lot about what could be holding me back, and what I could do to progress in my labor. But first, Maria suggested this would be a good time to take a break so that I could build my strength up to keep going. This sounded great to me. We found a place for me to rest in a rocking chair, because when I lay down in bed, the contractions were too intense for resting. In the rocking chair, I was able to rest for about 3 hours. My contractions were coming every 6-10 minutes, and they were between 30-40 seconds, and they felt strong. I had to moan and move through them. I also had to train myself to stay in the chair when they were done. I had the urge to walk around, and especially to go to the bathroom, but I knew I didn’t actually need to go, and that giving in to the urge to move around would not give me rest.
The resting was extremely helpful, and I was ready to ramp things up. Come on active labor, let’s move this baby! We had exhausted all homeopathic and herbal remedies; they just didn’t seem to be working. We had a new plan: castor oil! I would use the laxative to contract my intestines in the hope that it would encourage my uterus. Yes, this would work. I took the castor oil, continued to rest, and waited for the oil to work its magic.
At some point close to lunchtime, Maria noticed that the baby’s heart rate was decelerating during contractions, which is normal during active labor. But I was no where near active labor. Baby heart rate decelerations during early labor are reason for concern. The castor oil needed to work.
I’ve lost track of time, but maybe around 1pm the castor oil kicked in. I was re-energized: I had rested and I felt like this would do the trick. I got back into positions and tried new ones, but still no progress. It was clear after all the castor oil moved through me that it did not do the trick. I still felt it was possible for these contractions to build to active labor, so when Maria suggested acupuncture, I was very excited because I knew my body responds well to acupuncture treatments. We quickly found an acupuncturist, Linda, who was able to see me in 45 minutes, at 3:15. At 36 hours of labor, we piled into Maria’s car and drove a mile down Church Street to see Linda. Before we got there, Maria asked, “What do you think?” I replied, “I think I’m going to get this treatment, it’s going to put me into active labor, and we’re going to have a baby by the end of the day.” I was still smiling.
The drive was bizarre: I felt like I was watching a movie, or watching someone else’s dream. The block and a half walk from the car to the office felt long, and I had a contraction along the way. Linda treated me as I sat on a stool and was face-down on a large pile of pillows. The treatment had an immediate effect, and it was not only due to the cupping and needles. Linda encouraged me to call on my guides, to talk to my baby, and she asked what was blocking me. I thought for a long while, and I said that I thought that the baby needed my permission. When she asked me what I meant, I said I didn’t know. Brian was in the room and he said, Yes, the baby needs my permission too! It was deeply emotional, and I literally felt the baby move down as some of this emotional energy was cleared. Linda and Maria left me and Brian alone together in the room. I was still being treated, but Brian and I talked to each other and our baby, and made a plan for when we got back to the house.
I haven’t written many details about Brian’s involvement, but he was right next to me every second of this process. He waited for my cues, he rubbed, pushed, pressed, and supported my body, or when I decided I did NOT want that, he stopped. He whispered encouraging, loving words, and he timed my contractions while supporting me through them. When we returned from the acupuncturist, with me deeper in contractions, we went into the “labor cave” (our bedroom), and sat together. There were new rules: I did not want to hear any chatting in the house, and Brian and I would not chat. We would sit in meditation, and I would do everything I could think of to progress labor. The acupuncture moved the baby and deepened the surges, and I believed that focusing more on the labor would get us to the active labor part.
Brian timed my contractions in the cave. Over an hour or so, there was no change. Maria continued to check the baby’s heart rate during these contractions. The deceleration was still there. No change in either baby or mama. Maria did an internal exam around 5:30. I had been laboring for about 38 hours, and she told me that I was 5 ½ cm dilated. I knew what was coming. It was time to consider transport to the hospital.
Oh, the deepness of the disappointment I felt at this moment. How could this be happening? What was wrong with me? What was wrong with my body, with my baby? What else could I do? I did not want to transport, but I know that if I stayed at home, there was the real possibility that my labor would not progress quickly enough and we would put the baby in danger, not to mention the fact that I was so exhausted that if I labored for another whole night, I might not have the energy to push at the end.
I turned to Brian. He was so strong. We talked about the cards exercise from our childbirth class. We’d had 6 cards, and on each card we wrote a wish for our birth. On the back of each card, we wrote the opposite of that wish, for example: short, productive labor on one side had long, slow labor written on the back. Our instructor Jane had us lay them out, and one by one, we chose a card to turn over. It was a very useful exercise in which we had to ask ourselves which aspects of our birth were we willing to give up, and what might happen if we had to give them up? It was clear that it was time to turn over the have birth at home card so that we wouldn’t have to compromise the others, especially healthy mama, healthy baby.
Tears came, certainly, but I felt that this decision was just the next step on our journey together. The three of us, and my mom as silent backup, had worked together to consider each step of my labor. I felt very confident with the plan: we were going to Kaiser to get, as Maria put it, “a whiff of pitocin” (labor-inducing drug), have the baby, and then get out of there AMA (against medical advice). It was just the next step in my homebirth.
Upon arrival at Kaiser’s labor & delivery floor, Maria found a nurse who is her client! She was going off duty at that time, but she set up with a nurse, Juliana, who was very respectful of my priorities and preferences. Juliana was on our team, and was incredibly patient, kind and encouraging. Perhaps most important, she communicated with the rest of the staff my preferences, and reminded them often how I wanted it done.
As I was getting set up, I looked at Maria and laughed. What else could I do but give in and laugh? I just couldn’t believe that after all we had done, all the months of thoughtful preparation and the hours and hours of labor, here I was in a beeping hospital room, surrounded by blue caps and masks, and hooked up to monitors and IVs. But for some reason, I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t disappointed. I guess I knew this was what it was going to take for me to meet my baby, and I was so ready.
Maria was right: all I need was a whiff of pitocin, administered at about 9pm, and I felt like I was pushing the baby out from the first contraction. The OB had checked me upon arrival, and I was 6cm, but I felt like this baby was coming soon. The surges were gripping, but it was a great feeling: finally, progress! This baby was coming. I didn’t have time to get used to this new level of contractions, and I felt a little confused by the rush. My body was shocked and holding against the surges, but Maria reminded me to moan deep and low, and to relax my legs and bottom, which I kept gripping. I knelt facing the back of the hospital bed, and as each contraction came, first I threw my hips against Brian, and then I figured out how to hold on to the back of the hospital bed and squat. I felt like I was pushing at the end of my surges. I heard Juliana say, that sounds like pushing! I didn’t know if I should do that yet, but Maria told me to just go with whatever was happening, and Juliana was very encouraging and told me to “do my thing.”
I know that I was in active labor for 3 hours, but it seemed about 40 minutes. Towards the end the OB came in and shouted, “wait, wait you’re having a baby!” I was too deep in labor to actually laugh at this, but I knew it was totally absurd. She insisted that I labor on my back: what a vision! I was confused at this point, not having my wits about me to protest. Maria helped get me into a position, and I started pushing. WOW, the incredible power that I felt. It was amazing. This baby was coming. But still, that laughter in the back of my head: was I really lying down on my back with a bunch of OBs in scrubs yelling “Push, PUSH!?” Yes, that is how the last few minutes of my homebirth went. And suddenly, I looked down, and there was my baby’s beautiful, perfect head, screaming. What an incredible sight. I continued to push, and just a few minutes later my husband placed our baby on my chest, and let me know that we had a girl.
I am unable to describe the bliss, gratitude, and wonder that filled those moments. I was aware of some activity around me, but mostly it was just me and my baby, my husband Brian elated by my side. In the next moment, I looked at Maria, and her face had the same look of excitement that I felt. It was like were we silently saying to each other, what an awesome birth!
And so, Maia Ambry Cavagnolo was born at a Kaiser homebirth at 12:14am on Wednesday, April 20, 2011.
Healthy mama, healthy baby, and I would add: very healthy process.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Perhaps word has already reached you that I am now a daddy. But I thought you might want to see a photo and some stats for the record. Maia Ambry Cavagnolo was born on 20 April 2011 at 12:14am. She weighed in at 5lbs 8oz and was 19" long. Gillian's contractions started at around 3am on 18 April and ramped up throughout the day.
Plan A was to have the baby at home. So after some breakfast and a walk we got comfortable and the contractions started setting in. Gillian's mom came over to help out, and our awesome midwife Maria joined the party at about 7pm that evening. Gillian labored through the night like a rock star (or perhaps a miner?), but contractions weren't coming as close as we needed them. Over the course of the next day we tried all of the midwife tricks for stepping the labor up a notch, but we just continued to cruise. Finally, we decided to head to the hospital for some pitocin, everybody's favorite labor-inducing hormone, in order to finish the job before complete exhaustion set in. Also, the baby's heart rate was dipping with each contraction. While this is not completely abnormal in the late stages of labor, it's an unsettling sign in the early stages. So off we went to Kaiser for Plan B.
At Kaiser, a client of Maria's was one of the nurses on duty! She was just about to get off work to go on maternity leave. But she hooked us up with Juliana, a friend of hers who was completely down with the home birth track and who has earned a special thank-you note for her awesomeness. After getting the pitocin dripping, Gillian's contractions got pretty strong pretty quick. She did a fantastic job! It was not long before it came time to push. With a bit of coaching from Maria, and some experiments with position, the zeroth birthday was imminent. I glanced at the clock between each contraction, waiting with anticipation to see if my baby would be born on boring-old April 19th, or famous 4/20. Gillian, was not watching the clock. She was digging deep during contractions, and then fending off the pesky interventions of the young and impatient resident OB. After about 3 or 4 solid pushes, out popped the baby! One of my important ceremonial duties was to announce the sex of the baby. "It's a girl, right?", I said. Needing some assurance because everybody was convinced she would be a boy for some reason. Hooray! We all celebrated.
We spent the night at the hospital, SUPER exhausted. After my parents came by to meet the baby, I crashed so hard that I can't even report on what happened until the next day. I don't even remember whether I slept on the bed or on the floor. I can only imagine how exhausted Gillian was. The next day at around 5pm, after a bunch of tests, we managed to escape from the hospital to come home for Maia's first family dinner. We've spent the last few days learning all sorts of stuff about feeding, pooping, cleaning, and sleeping. I'll spare you those details:)