Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lucy Enters the World by Gillian Bowley




I’d been having some subtle signs that our baby would come: sleepless nights full of contractions.  Visits from my Dad in my dreams, letting me know we’d all be safe, that we were being looked after as we entered this new phase in our lives.


I had an urge to be together as a family on Sunday.  Instead of going to yoga (sorry, Jane!), I wanted to be with my family, quietly together.  I remembered this feeling from the Sunday before Maia was born, when Brian and I went on a long, winding, hilly walk around our San Francisco.       


So, we visited Hayes Valley Farm for a picnic.  It rained on our way there, but then as the afternoon went on, the sun shone through the clouds and warmed us.  I thought it would be a perfect evening to have a baby, but I didn’t think it would happen quite yet.  


At the farm, we had tacos from the cob oven, sat on our picnic blanket by the live music and watched the kids dig in the dirt.  We had bike-powered smoothies.  Maia learned how to use scissors in the craft tent after she went on a scavenger hunt (and Vanessa saved her from learning about nettles the hard way).


Walking the slightly hilly mile home, I was really dragging.  How much longer would I be carrying this baby?  I was ready to meet her, and I felt tired, tired, tired.  Maia fell asleep in the stroller on the way home, so I got in bed, put on a hypnobirthing audio track, and had an incredibly deep 2 hour sleep.  


Later, we video chatted with Mimi, ate dinner together, and put Maia down.  She’s been having trouble going to sleep on her own, so I sat in the rocking chair until she fell asleep.  I noticed contractions all evening, but I’d been having on and off contractions for so long at that point, I was hesitant to think this was the real thing.  


I went to bed with my hypnobirthing tracks going, and slept until 1 or 2.  I woke with contractions, and labored in bed for a couple of hours, balloon breathing into my contractions, still thinking I might drift off to sleep and wake up to another usual day in the morning.  Around 4, I noticed I was hungry, and decided to get up and eat something and drink a bunch of water while I still could.  At 5, I decided to send an email to ask someone else to bring lunch to Puddle Jumpers on Tuesday since it was our turn.  When Brian and Maia woke at 6, Brian said he could hear me moaning through contractions in the kitchen, and he knew it was on.  This was about the time my mom was boarding a plane in New York to come to San Francisco, as planned.  I decided not to call her about the labor--it was still early and why worry her on her flight?  We called Brian’s folks at 6:30, and they came and got Maia at about 7am.  While we waited, Maia snuggled with Daddy.  She wasn’t sure about Mommy, and said, “Mommy, stop doing that!”  


Steve picked her up, still in her pajamas and I don’t think she’d even had breakfast yet.  Once Maia was safely in the care of her Noni and Nonu, I got back in bed, put on hypnobirthing, and gave Brian instructions for cleaning the house.  I was grateful that he was vacuuming because I could really let go into the contractions and moan through them without anyone hearing!  But when he turned the vacuum off, I didn’t care who heard me, I just did my thing to get through the contractions.  Still, I said to Brian that I thought the contractions were variable and not building, which is what happened during labor with Maia.  I thought we were in this for the long haul.


At about 8:30, Brian sent a text to Vanessa to tell her we were in early labor, and could she please bring smoothie supplies.  He assured her that it was still early and she didn’t need to stay.  At 9, we called Maria to let her know we were in early labor.  We left a message on her machine, but didn’t think it was time to page her yet.  We also didn’t think it was time to contact Hannah, the apprentice midwife who I was so excited to have attend my birth.  (We did eventually text her, and she arrived just in time to help out tremendously in the hours after Lucy was born.)


Before Vanessa arrived, the surges grew so intense that I needed Brian by my side to get through them.  I told him to stop vacuuming and cleaning, that I needed him here now.  After a while of laboring in bed, Brian by my side, headphones attached to my laptop for my hypnobirthing tracks, I asked Brian how far apart and how long the contractions were.  He replied that I had told him not to time contractions during this labor.  I yelled at him that I wanted to know now!  He said he wasn’t sure.  I started to get really antsy and needed to get up and move to the living room.  He wanted to change the sheets on the bed, but I said no way, I needed him next to me.  I labored leaning over the couch, and during these contractions, which were extremely intense, I felt like the baby was moving down.  This scared me a lot.  I was not ready to have the baby, especially because Vanessa wasn’t there yet and we hadn’t even talked to Maria!  So, I started to push my knees together during the contractions, which is NOT what nature intended and really shifted the contractions to an almost unbearable point.  I was uncomfortable, so we went back to the bed.  I tried to listen to the hypno audio tracks but that was not working for me.  I was beyond being able to focus, things were feeling way out of control, and I needed backup!


I was so incredibly relieved when Vanessa arrived at about 9:30.  When she walked in, I said something like “it hurts” or “I’m scared” or “this is hard.”  I said all of those things during my labor, but I can’t remember which I said first.  She said, “yeah, it hurts because you’re having a baby!”  I think that was the moment I realized that this was really happening, and fast!  I was fully in labor and going to have this baby soon.  She and Brian helped through several contractions.  After a few, she asked what else she could do.  We hadn’t changed the sheets yet, so we decided she would make the bed and Brian and I would move to the living room.  After changing the sheets, she asked Brian if we had talked to Maria, and when we told her no, she got right on the phone and called her.  Maria heard me laboring in the background and told Vanessa that she would arrive in 10-15 minutes.


I was so relieved that Maria was on her way!  The contractions were so intense I felt like my tools were just not enough to me get through, and all I could do was hold on as the surges went through me.  One thing I could do was moan, low and deep, as guttural and animalistic as possible.  I did horse lips and the sticking-tongue-out fire breath thingy to encourage my whole body to stay loose.  But I was moaning so much that my throat began to hurt and I was getting hoarse and I wasn’t sure I was doing it right.  At one point, I turned to Vanessa and said, “Do I sound ok?” which I’m sure was a very strange and funny question, but I had all the advice swirling in my head--let go like an animal, deep moans, sex moans...and I couldn’t make sense of it all in the moment.  At some point, Vanessa told me that I looked just like the women in the movie.  She was talking about the Ina May documentary that we’d seen together a few months earlier.  Really?  That was so incredibly reassuring to me.  I had been feeling totally out of control and kind of in shock that labor was progressing so quickly.  But those women had just looked like they were in labor, so it was really reassuring to know that everything was looking normal.


Maria got here at about 10:30, and I was so relieved.  She told me to just do my thing while she set up.  I was still pretty scared and confused that it was all happening so fast, and I told everyone so.  I was still pressing my knees together during the contractions and Maria said, “It’s going to help if you let your knees go wide.”  I replied with something like, “But then I’ll feel like pushing!  This is happening too fast!  I’m not ready!”  It was such a pure truth from me, but looking back it must have seemed pretty funny to everyone else since I was obviously very close to delivering.  I was also confused that my water hadn’t broken yet.  My water broke very early on with Maia, and I couldn’t believe that I could be so close to delivering without my water breaking, but Vanessa told me her water didn’t break until the very end of her labor.


I moved back into the bedroom, and I was shaking uncontrollably.  I felt completely out of control.  Maria suggested that I put the hypnobirthing tracks back on.  I tried that and all I remember is ripping out the headphones soon after.  That wasn’t working anymore.


Maria checked me and I was 6 or 7 cm dilated.  I figured this meant about 6 more hours of labor-- 2 hours for every cm.  That is not how it went with Maia, but for some reason that’s what I thought at that moment, and I was relieved to have a time frame.  Maria asked if I’d like to get in the tub, but we hadn’t set it up yet.  So, she asked Vanessa to start getting the tub ready, but I was asking, “Is there time?  I don’t think there’s time!”  After a few more contractions in bed, my water broke.  Soon after, I felt like pushing.  Maria checked me again and I was 10 cm, and she told me I could push.  She called Vanessa in (no birth tub after all) and I asked her to take pictures.  On the next contraction, I didn’t push, I was just sort of writhing and confused.  For some reason, I couldn’t connect what Maria told me to do with actual pushing.  So, Maria got very close to me and said, “Your baby is almost here.  On your next surge, all you need to do is take a deep breath and push like you’re pooping.”  Oh, I know how to do that!   And sure enough, the greatest feeling in the world, pushing my baby out.  One push, she’s almost here!  Two pushes, she’s crowning!  Reach down and feel your baby’s head!  Three pushes, her head is out!~  I don’t think I pushed again, maybe I did, I just know that Maria told me to reach down, and I did, and I caught my baby and put her on my chest!


Relief, elation, disbelief...a perfect, healthy baby girl resting in my arms.  


Lucy Patricia Cavagnolo was born on May 6, 2013 at 11:12 am on a sunny Monday morning in our bedroom.



My second pregnancy, labor and delivery extended all the things I’d learned the first time around.  To let go of my particular brand of fears by letting people into my life and my experiences.  To be groovy.  To ask for what I need.  To tell the truth, like “it hurts, I’m scared”, or “this is hard.”  That I am not in control, but I can practice how to be present with discomfort.  That I can’t get through the discomfort alone.  That choosing love~ of myself, my family, my friends~ is the most difficult, rewarding choice I can make.


Welcome, Lucy, we love you.

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