Friday, December 31, 2004

D-meister Greenleaf; 37 weeks Home Waterbirth w/ Siblings

It took me a year to write this birth story. It was almost as important to my life and worldview as ~G~'s, when I was born into motherhood. D-meister's birth was home-based, filled with family and friends. His momentous arrival was simultaneously mundane, and part of the ritual of waking and sleeping. I loved this entrance.

2.15 PM Contractions began at Super Mall of the Northwest, in Auburn. This became the source of much humor, because being new to the area, we had not been there before. When I saw that there was a Carters Outlet, I got too excited and went right into labor. Thankfully, that morning P-daddy had taken the kids to the park; I had showered and even blew dry my hair. Woowoo.

We all piled in the car to race home, but being new to the area and excited, we went the wrong way on the wrong freeway. We should have gone West on 18, but we ended up going North on 167 towards Seattle. We turned around in Kent, with my contractions still strong and regular. We called midwife around 3.00 pm, as we expected another precipitous labor with this guy. She’d had a birth the night before and had not yet been to sleep. Yikes. This made me feel guilty that I had gone into labor, and a little concerned about whether she would be ok to come. That seems silly to me now, but at that moment
it was a concern for me, like she would tell me “No, you have to have your baby later.”

We made it home and dh started filling the birthing tub AKA fishy pool. Before he even pulled it out, G immediately raced upstairs and got dressed in her bathing suit. She had months ago seen a birth story (at Puget Sound Birth Center in Seattle) where the big sister delivered the baby in his waterbirth. She was adorably determined to be an active participant in welcoming her brother. My contractions began to fade in the hubbub of preparation and as I began to stress out because I’d not cleaned the house that morning. I was, however, very tired of being pregnant, and tired of false labor so I decided to walk them back in force.

This worked, but I didn’t tell dh where I was, and he was annoyed that I disappeared. He peeked out the front door and saw me chatting with a neighbor. I didn’t really want to be talking to the man, as I was in active labor; but I likewise didn’t want to appear rude to our new neighbor of three weeks. I didn’t want to tell him that I was in labor, either, so I settled for sideways pelvic rocking, shifting from foot to foot while I had the biggest grin on my face. He may have found me to be a cheery pregnant woman, but I was just delighting in the fantasy of how he would react if he knew I was going to have a baby RIGHT NOW. Would he run around? Would he be stunned that we weren’t leaving for the hospital? I finally got away from him, and headed up the opposite direction on the street. I had a labor mood swing and didn’t want ANY PEOPLE near me. I began to resent having to be outside in the cold to accomplish this, but I was mindful that I adored my family and didn’t want to hurt their feelings. A neighbor’s white van slowed next to me and I looked up with a scowl. Ah! It was the midwife! She and her daughter (her 13 yo girl Alyssa, here to help occupy the kids) laughed at me because I was glowering so hard. My mood swung back to “JOY, JOY THE BABY’S COMING!” and we all went in for me to be lightly fussed at by my husband for my leaving.

Ann got to business and checked me. I had been closed completely the day or so before, but I was now 4-5 cm, so yay! This was the official confirmation for me that this was it. I called ~A~ and webcammed with *T*. I said “*T*, say hi to Ann the midwife,” as *T* could see the midwife behind me in the room. Then, moments later, *T* wrote “Wait……..why is the MIDWIFE There?” *T* called Danny, so she came online too. They got to see me all giddy. ~A~ called Letijandra. MidwifeAnn called her midwife colleague and we settled in to the boring parts. dh and I watched MidwifeAnn unpack, we met the new midwife person and ~A~ arrived.

Eventually the hard labor began! ~A~ hijacked the camera from dh and got the best pictures we have of any of our births. This freed up dh to be with me completely and created a wonderful record. She was constantly making bawdy jokes and kept me laughing until I was complete, when allllll laughter stopped from me. She provided SERIOUS doula support; It was awesome for me, and for dh. Some favors are unforgettable, and she will always be in our hearts for that night.

I waited to get in tub until 7 cm. I used the birth ball, the birthing chair (from cousin Dennie) and the stairs until that point. The kids were ecstatic then. G was constantly supportive and inexhaustibly exuberant. She proved way beyond 4 yrs of age that night, and this homebirth meant so much to me for her sake. She’s old enough to remember it, and she learned so much. My daughter learned birth firsthand, and learned to be not afraid. She saw her brother from the moment he entered this world, and was involved in the family circle in a conscious way. I was not expecting at ALL to be as comforted by her presence as I was. Another joy there, another birth in my relationship with my daughter.

There was a problem with labor that prevented the precipitous labor we were all expecting: while baby was in proper birth position, my cervix wouldn’t come forward to drop baby into birth canal. My dilation was being hindered because my cervix was pointing toward my back instead of into my vagina. The midwife had to manually pull it forward. After several times of doing this and having the cervix revert to the posterior position, she held it while I pushed (not complete) to force it to be “stuck” in proper position with the baby’s head. This HURTS LIKE HELL. I was tiring now, and she went to break water at 8 cm, but was already breaking. Yay.

I experienced a crisis of confidence when I was finally complete. As with the other two, I couldn’t think to move past the pain. I abruptly left the birth tub and took dh with me to the bathroom. I was very sick of the heat and sweating. Even though I was home, I had many eyes on me and I felt like a fish in a bowl. It wasn’t terrible, but enough to make me want “my honey” alone. In the bathroom, I had pushy contractions and was able to void on the toilet, which greatly relieved me in several ways. I did not want to dirty the birth waters. Emptying out my front and back eased the constant pressure-pain; being with
P-daddy alone allowed me to release the baby to come out.

The warm pool is truly the “aquadural” of birth story legend. My experiences of labor pain within and without had a noticeable difference. I went back to pool and eased baby out three contractions later.

During my crisis of confidence, I kept repeating two mantras, which strike me as quite bizarre in my opinion: “In pain she shall bring forth children (from Genesis)” and “I am utterly alone.” I felt this huge sense of being completely helpless.

The constant pain had terrified me. I’d never felt alone like I did this time and I don’t know why this birth made a difference. I remember wanting my Honey behind me in the pool, but then thinking I’d still be alone. This delivery was all up to me and I knew it. Maybe that’s it; typing this I am realizing that my solitude was feeling like there was no back up. That’s not the case, but outside the hospital setting it felt like it.

The relief I felt when I finally felt the ring of fire completely outweighed the simultaneous terror I had of ripping. I was flooded with JOY and VICTORY and RELIEF. I was literally praying, Thanking God it was over it was over it was over. I reached down, recognizing the signal, and felt his soft tuft of hair. It is the first time I had that. It was a miracle to me, and the being-alone sensation was something I relished then. The change was—only I knew he had arrived. It was a moment, just a moment, of being alone with this infant as he came into the world. I still feel his head in the palm of my hand. I hope I will always retain that sense of touch.

As he crowned and I began to push out his head, I realized I would need help with his shoulders to prevent tearing, and said that much out loud at least. My attendants swear they heard practically nothing I felt that I was ranting and shouting. I said, “I need help with the shoulders,” and MidfwifeAnn leapt up and came over to the pool. ~A~ and dh swear I said only “shoulders.” MidwifeAnn held my perineum for his shoulders to pass, and pushed him forward for me and dh.

D Greenleaf was born into Mom’s hands, brought out of the water into his parents’ waiting arms.
G had fallen asleep during my crisis of confidence. When I said shoulders, SitterAlyssa bodily picked her up and shook her so she would be awake for actual birth. (Another mom-daughter pair in action.) I am eternally grateful for that. N had fallen asleep hours before and he met baby in the morning.

I maintained a COMPLETE internal monologue the entire time and no one could really hear me. When not contracting, I could talk, but otherwise I would just THINK I was saying things. It was really frustrating me, because sometimes I was asking for help-- or thought I was—and not getting it. MidwifeAnn later explained this as quite common, describing the phenomenon as “Moms being in their own place” to do the work. It’s sort of a meditative state and explains why homebirths seem so quiet.

D didn’t nurse right away, but breathed immediately. He seemed to be gaping, which alarmed me but he was just drinking in the air. D didn’t cry until the midwife stimulated his back, and even then stopped quickly. He just lay there against my breast, looking around, taking it all in. We waited for cord to stop pulsing then G cut it—with help from dad. Dad and G held D while Mom delivered placenta. No rips, just some skidding for Mom, and swelling for baby and Mom.

Neighborhood fireworks went on for a while after the midwives left and G had gone to bed. We felt like the world was celebrating with us. Simultaneously, it was just dh and I with our newborn. For the first time I was able to sleep with dh after a birth. For the first time, dh was able to spend the night with his new baby. We felt our family was complete, together, content.

D pooped, peed and nursed the first hours he was out. He slept through the night and I showered the next morning. I was functioning properly in the bathroom within the first 8 hours without pain. That was so shocking to me. SO AWESOME.

He was the perfect baby. Everyone says it was a perfect birth. Reading this, I would agree. But I had to process that; all externals were saying “Yay you!” while I felt my body failed me. I had to reframe my expectations entirely in retrospect; I had expected a painless, precipitous birth as I’d had with N. Now, I feel grateful and “Yay me.” After nine hours of labor, including one hour of pushing, I did not tear and had a water birth in front of crackling fireplace… not a bad birth at all.

D. Greenleaf F.
(AKA Thumper Thomas Apple Lighthouse Mt Rainier the Tax Deduction)
10.55 PM 12/31/04
7 pounds 8 ounces
21.5 inches long
14 inch head

Random funnies:

N got into the birthing tub nude, and Midwife visibly relaxed upon seeing his little intact self. “Oh good! I didn’t want to try to talk you out of circumcising your baby!”

G: “I know you can do it Mommy! I just know you can push the baby out!” alternated with “Are you pushing the baby out yet Mommy?” and “I’m so proud of you, Mommy!” She said this constantly for about three hours, until she fell asleep.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Movers Suck Really Bad

Finally located some of P’s winter clothes today. Movers are colossally stupid, or just generally lazy.

Note to mover: the garage is where the car goes. Games, bed linens, kitchen supplies and leather jackets do not go in the garage. The master bedroom is not where boxes marked “kitchen pans,” “girls room closet,” and “family room stereo” go.

Note to packer: Leather jackets are not tools. Homeschool supplies, when clearly labeled “homeschool,” are not games. Games are not tools. Christmas wrapping paper rolls are not “tall toy items.” Stain stick and Oxiclean are not generic “garage items.”

English is GOOD, particularly when it is your native language. Learn to read it!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Holding Pattern

I remember the discomforts of pregnancy mainly through memory of the words I used to describe it then; not physically. This is a pain in the behind. The visco topper for the mattress has saved me from the balance of the pain I usually experience in my hips and groin, but nothing can protect me from the fatigue. I have this drive to make this house a HOME. I really need it to be, and I have until Christmas Eve which is on Friday, to so it. I want it finished. It’s not hard to do—we planned this move carefully to make it as simple as possible on this end.

But I am

I was in bed for a couple of days with the prodromal labor, which has subsided. I see the midwife tonight (in a couple of hours) and I will see what happens with that. Hopefully the sight of her does not (or do I want it to?) put me into hard labor. I want to meet this little guy. And I want him to let me walk around again!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Crampy and Campy

Also typical of me, my body has decided to out this baby out early. I am 35 weeks 6 days by most counts and the baby wants OUT. The midwife has me on bedrest and I am supposed to drink beer or wine—at least one a day to keep my irritable uterus calmed down. I need to get at least to 36 weeks, preferably 37. Doesn’t feel good and certainly adds to my stress. We still haven’t trimmed the tree. We bought the damn thing—it’s standing in the living room—but it’s just bare. I knew with the move coming when it has that we would sacrifice a lot this year, but my kids WILL have a Christmas.

My online friend *T* stayed on the phone with me for a good two hours while I labored away. Good for me, had to be weird for her! No family here, no friends to come watch the kids. This is such a bizarre place to be socially for us.

Children cuteness: N tells everyone he can about how he has “finawwy seen Mt. Reindeer.” He took a week to get on Pacific Time but he’s there at last. G is having a blast and even she acknowledges that so I am happy with for her part of it. She says Washington is “not scary at all” as she had feared, and that she is enjoying learning all the new things. I have been scouring the children’s periodicals and am overwhelmed with all there is to do here. They definitely won’t want for fun or education!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

And the Fast forward......

Typically of me, the pregnancy and the resulting excitement has occupied me sufficiently that I dumped my journal. 2004 has also shown us the worst hurricane season the Southeast has seen in 20 years. Florida was devastated by three consecutive CAT 4 hurricanes, all of which brushed by Charleston on their way out. We were directly hit with an additional Tropical Storm, which of course is nothing, but having to prepare to evacuate six times in a summer was no fun, especially given my pregnancy and P having to prep his residential care facility house instead of ours. I was by myself and I really hated it.

This summer’s garden was a success too. I had more victories than failures, and I learned a lot about gardening and pacing. Next year that yard will be beautiful. We planted a lot of things that will come back in full force. We also had a rat snake try to make it’s way into the house. I have been around snakes all my life but this one was IN our kitchen and we didn’t know it. One of us closed the side door in time to crush its head but we didn’t find it for a few days. Compounded by the fact that as juveniles, rat snakes and Eastern rattlers look identical, I was completely creeped out. Between that and the hurricanes I was ready to leave Charleston behind.

Since I last wrote, I have discovered that this baby—Thumper—is a boy, due January 17, 2005. More than that, we were planning on having an unassisted homebirth. My ideal fantasy was to have the baby in front of our glorious, crackling fireplace in a birthing tub, accompanied by my husband and my daughter. Thanks in part to a homebirth video we all watched, G is insisting that she even be in the tub with me to help the baby come out.

Typically for my pregnancies, life cannot be that simple. At least this change in plans is not devastating, like a hurricane or a gall bladder surgery. Throughout the summer P and I blanketed certain parts of the country with his resumes. After some intense negotiations, P took a job with CV in Tacoma. So now we live in Pugetopolis and P earns about 25K more a year. And I am 35 weeks pregnant. How’s that for drastic. So I am sitting here typing with many boxes to my right, and sleeping children upstairs.

We flew in on December 3rd, and since then, we have seen the Space Needle, the Woodlands Zoo in Seattle, and Mt. Rainier. We have spent time with my online Mommy friend ~A~ and her family. And we have explored, explored, explored. It’s beautiful here—rainy as hell, true—but beautiful. This transition has been extremely difficult but we planned the heck out of it so I think once we sell our house in Charleston (been on market since October) and get through moving and Christmas expenses, we’ll be much better off and able to enjoy the area thoroughly.

It was nice purging most of our material things, useless or unused, but I really want to get our home in order. We’re renting for a year or so first and I definitely don’t want to spend that time amid boxes. I am pushing to be unpacked before Christmas and definitely before baby arrives.