"Giving birth is an ecstatic jubilant adventure not available to males.

It is a woman's crowning creative experience of a lifetime." ~ Dr. John Stevenson

"The Road Less Traveled..." of Parenthood

Following your instincts instead of the crowd

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference."

Robert Frost

Friday, February 27, 2009

Joshua's Home Waterbirth

On August 18, 2003, 1 day before my due date, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and felt like getting up. (Unusual for me, especially since I had stayed up late the night before reading hypnobirthing stories on the internet trying to reassure myself I could do it.) I went for a walk by myself. I remember thinking "I would like to say I walked 2 miles the day the baby was born."Throughout the day I did a lot of little nesting things. One of them was to clean the refrigerator. My 16 year old daughter, Ali, walked in and said, "I don’t think Joshua will care if the fridge is dirty." (The whole family knew we were going to name the baby Joshua.) I said, "Of course he won’t, but I will. Be quiet, I’m nesting."In the afternoon I drove into town to my prenatal appointment with Pam, my midwife. I had 4 or 5 contractions just during the 45 minute drive to Pam’s house. I was so tired. She wrapped my belly with a Japanese style wrap. It felt really good.When we got home I was so tired I couldn’t even stand up to make some dinner. I felt so heavy! My husband, Scott, opened some cans of stew for the rest of the family and warmed up some soup for me. I didn’t feel like eating anything heavy.Around 9:15 p.m. I got ready for bed. My family was out in the family room watching a movie. In the middle of my prayers my mom called. I climbed into bed and talked to her for about 10 minutes. I told her I had been having irregular contractions all day. After I hung up, I put in the Fear Release tape to listen to. After only a few minutes I had a really long, strong contraction. I had to take 3 deep breaths to get through it. Just as it subsided I felt a warm gush of fluid. I jumped up, exclaiming, "Oh no!" I knew what it meant. Labor was truly starting. I was definitely not going to get any sleep! I ran to the bathroom and sat on the toilet and thought of all the things I hadn’t gotten done yet. I called for Scott and told him how frantic I felt about the things that weren’t done and how mad I was at myself for ignoring the promptings of the night before to go to bed early and for being so careless this close to my due date. He was going to be born on his due date! I should have known! I was also a little concerned because the amniotic fluid wasn’t clear. It had a greenish brown tinge to it. Was it meconium? Was the baby in distress? Scott tried to calm me down and told me to stop berating myself. I think he was excited it was finally happening. He brought me the phone to call Pam and Laura (my doula). I sat there for almost a half an hour feeling very indecisive. It was all happening too quickly for my tired, pregnant brain.A friend came over and helped Scott give me a blessing. In it Scott said that everything would go well. That helped calm me down a lot. Pam arrived around 10:45 p.m. and did a cervical check. I was only dilated to 2 cm and my cervix was tilted back. It made it hard for her to check me. She said she thought she felt the cord. Panic filled me. I knew what it meant for the cord to present first–automatic c-section! I began praying fervently and then Pam said, "No, I just feel the head." What a relief!My daughter, Ali, and her best friend, Emily, were in the front room playing soothing songs on their violin and viola. It also helped to calm my nerves. Scott and Ali brought the swimming pool upstairs that I had bought just for the birth and set it up in our bedroom. Scott began filling it and the hose kept popping off the faucet spraying water everywhere in the bathroom. In hindsight it’s kind of funny, but at the time he was totally frustrated. Finally he figured out why–the hose was kinked. As soon as the tub was filled I climbed in. It felt wonderful. Laura, my doula, arrived about that time, around 12:30 a.m.As I labored in the pool, the contractions weren’t too bad. I was smiling in between them. Scott lay down on the bed for a few minutes. He was pretty tired. I was listening to a tape I had borrowed from Laura, called the Birth Guide. I didn’t realize how much it was helping me until it suddenly stopped. I began to feel panicky while Laura and my husband tried to get it working again. (Somehow, baby oil had gotten on it!)During the increasingly strong contractions I began to rest my forehead on the top edge of the pool in a hands and knees position. They had a hard time getting the baby’s heartbeat with the stethoscope because he was kind of sideways with his back to my side. Richelle, a midwife assistant, suggested doing a sideways lunge to get his head to turn because it was transverse. (?) I did that and slowly rocked back and forth. After doing that for a few contractions I rolled over and they got his heartbeat much easier so we figured he had turned into the right position. My cervix was only at a 6 or 7 and still had an anterior cervical lip.Around 2 a.m. the surges got even more intense and I remember saying "I can’t do this again!" When I felt another surge coming I would feel apprehension but I tried to remind myself I could do it. In fact think I muttered out loud a few times, "I can do this." It did seem to help. I was so exhausted as the surges came so strong and close together. I said, "I need a break. But my body won’t let me take a break!" So Pam got the oxygen and held the tube just under my nose for a while. It really did refresh me enough to keep going. When Diane, another midwife assistant, showed up I was too into myself to look up and say hello.When Pam would check me, she would try to get a hold of the cervical lip and hold it back so it could dilate further. She kept saying, "If I can keep a hold on it during a good, long contraction, we can get it out of the way for good. It kept slipping back. So when I had another contraction I was laying back with my head and shoulders on the edge of the tub and Pam was holding the edge of my cervix. It was a long, excruciatingly painful contraction and I couldn’t help moaning through it. I thought it would never end. Finally it was over and Pam said she felt it slip over the baby’s head. She sat back then and figured it would be soon now. I really wasn’t sure where I was at in the process. I was using all my concentration to breathe through each contraction without totally losing control. Pam asked if I felt the urge to push yet and I said, "I think on the next one." They suggested getting into a squatting position. Scott was now sitting down in the water facing me.With the next contraction my body totally took over and he began coming out. I let out a loud cry/moan because the whole physical sensation of him moving through me was so intense. He felt so big I thought I was going to literally split in two. I just couldn’t believe something so big was coming out through my body–it didn’t seem possible he could fit or that I could stretch enough. Finally I felt the head moving past the perineum. Pam said, "Don’t push! Pant!" Scott was saying "Breathe him down." Then he repeated, "Pant!" more loudly than Pam had. Then I responded and began to pant like a dog. :o) Pam was saying something like "Easy does it. Slow down." I panted more slowly and his head slowly eased out. I felt a burning sensation and began saying "It burns! It burns!" Finally the contraction was over. I was so relieved his head was out! I felt nothing for a while and so I took a much needed rest. I could hear Pam saying his head had turned the right way. That was good. After another minute I let out a loud cry again as I pushed his body out. Again it felt like my body was taking over to do what needed to be done. It was quite an odd sensation–as if my body were a separate entity. The physical sensation was so intense that I couldn’t help making that noise. It was so natural and instinctive. The relief as his body slipped out was incredible. He was born at 3:09 a.m. Scott grabbed him and immediately put him up on my chest.It felt absolutely wonderful to hold him. He was so beautiful! I heard Pam say, "He got water" meaning he got some in his mouth. Diane immediately began suctioning his lungs with this skinny little tube. He started to cough and sputter. I was rubbing his back and so were the midwives. I wasn’t worried. I knew he was getting oxygen through the cord. I talked to him, saying, "come on, you can do it, you can breathe, get that stuff up." I told Scott to talk to him and he said, "Hi Joshua. Try to breathe." He seemed to respond to Scott’s voice and let out a couple of wails. They held the oxygen under his nose and continued to suction at intervals.I was in heaven holding him, knowing it was over and I had a beautiful baby boy. He pinked up quickly. I don’t know how long I stayed in the water holding him. Nobody rushed me to get out. I had one contraction but the placenta didn’t come out. I was too engrossed with Joshua to concentrate on pushing it out. His fingers were so long and he had his hands open and seemed to be exploring everything with his hands. At one point, as I supported his head with my opposite hand, my arm was across his chest and he reached with both hands and held onto my arm. It was the neatest thing. Diane said with wonder, "Look at him use his hands!"After the birth, Emily, who had stayed for the whole thing had gone to wake up my 13 year old daughter, Whitney, who had been sleeping on the couch. She came in and sat on the bed. She didn’t say much. I think she was still half asleep. Diane said, "Well, you girls, all I can say is your mother made it look pretty easy."I shook my head, smiling, "It wasn’t easy!" Scott said the cord had stopped pulsating. I didn’t know how long it had been, but I was surprised it had stopped already. Richelle and Pam coached Scott on how to clamp and cut it. Then Scott took Joshua and they helped him wrap him in a big fluffy warm towel. They helped me out of the water so I could deliver the placenta on the bed. I was amazed at how heavy and exhausted I felt once I was out of the water.After I delivered the placenta, I put on my robe and lay back on the pillows that had been set up. Then they brought Joshua back to me and I put him to the breast. He nursed beautifully.When he was done nursing, it was time for Pam and Richelle to examine him. Scott held up the scale while Joshua was suspended in the soft cloth. He weighed 7-14 and was 21 inches long. My biggest baby! His head was 14 inches around. He was so beautiful and healthy-looking. What a miracle!When Scott and I finally climbed into bed with our precious bundle of joy it was around 5:30 a.m. It was a beautiful moment to lay in our own bed with our brand new little son laying between us. I scooped him into the crook of my arm because I wanted to hold him. Scott fell asleep rather quickly but I couldn’t sleep. I marveled that only a few hours ago he had been inside me. Now he was here in my arms breathing, healthy, and absolutely beautiful. It made me so happy I couldn’t fall asleep for over an hour. The only thing marring it were the afterpains. They were constant and incredibly strong. However I was still so happy and excited and grateful. I had my homebirth and everything went well and fast. Really only a 4 hour labor. Heavenly Father blessed me so much. What a journey He guided me on. And He never left me alone. He guided the people, the pregnancy, the labor and delivery. It was such a beautiful, incredible, intense, miraculous experience.At 6:30 a.m., my 6 year old son, Tanner, got up and started to run past our bedroom door but I called to him to come here. As he walked in I said, "Come meet your new little baby brother." He seemed a little surprised and amazed to see a little baby snuggled between Scott and I. When he went to bed the night before I had been pregnant and labor hadn’t really even started. Now he had a new little brother and all of us were safe and sound at home together. It was the best, most wonderful birth experience I could have ever hoped for!

No comments: