**Apologies to those who read this already on Facebook. These past eight days have FLOWN by and I’m trying to get back into the swing of blogging by cheating and putting up something I’ve already written elsewhere.**
The birth of My Friday Child, Miles Jacob
Friday, August 21st, 2009
9 pounds, 5.8 ounces, 22 inches long
7 hours active labor, 1 hour of pushing
This birth was such a different experience compared to the birth of my daughter, which was almost 2 years ago. During Miles’s birth, it was not only the birth of my son but also a huge turning point for me on so many levels. It was almost as if by birthing Miles, I birthed a new part of myself as well.
Starting Wednesday night, I was experiencing contractions about every 20 minutes. Sleep was a struggle that night and by Thursday morning, I was in tears when my husband left for work. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with an intense toddler while concentrating through prodromal labor. The whole day was such a struggle for me. I didn’t believe that it was the real deal, even when I started having to close my eyes to focus and change my breathing. Ella (my daughter, almost 2) would simply not stop touching me during contractions and was trying to help me feel better by rubbing my back, playing with my hair or otherwise stimulating my overly sensitive senses. Intellectually, I knew what she was doing was very sweet, loving, and adorable but emotionally I wanted to string her up by her toes from the ceiling fan.
By the time Aaron got home from work, I think he knew this was actual labor and took Ella out for dinner to allow me to go hide in the bathtub. It really surprised me that the water didn’t cause the contractions to stop all together, though they did slow. I decided to lay down on my side in bed and read a book until bed time and that caused them to come closer, stronger, and longer. My mind was in a very strange place. Emotionally, I was still in denial that this was actually labor. Intellectually, I knew I’d be birthing a baby shortly. Finally around 9pm, I called Sherry (my midwife) and she encouraged me to wake Aaron up and call my doula (Julie).
While we waited for Julie to arrive, I labored alone in the living room on the birth ball while Aaron called folks who were standing by to take care of Ella. While she was still home, it was like my brain was split. Half was worried about her, concerned that I’d wake her up, how she would deal with being away from us for a night, etc. The other half was trying desperately take over and focus on birth.
Julie arrived before Ella’s childcare, so she provided counter pressure for my back labor while I leaned against Aaron for support. I think that was my favorite position to labor in – me on the birthing ball, Julie pressing behind me and Aaron sitting in a chair in front of me. However, that was only comfortable for so long and it never worked out to revisit that position the rest of labor.
Our friends who were Ella’s childcare arrived, but they were very aware and in tune to my birthing space in the living room and just waited by the front door for Aaron to get Ella. After her carseat was installed, I suddenly decided that I just couldn’t watch her leave so I high tailed it to my bedroom where it was completely dark and I wouldn’t hear her cry.
Julie followed me in and I suddenly started crying. For a while, I couldn’t figure out exactly WHY I was so devastated. It wasn’t until I heard Ella’s door creak open that it dawned on me. I was so worried about how she would react to having a new sibling, worried about how she was going to feel about being away, worried that my love for her would change, worried that I wouldn’t be able to be the same mama that she needed. My heart was breaking because things were changing in ways that I wouldn’t be able to predict or plan for. I felt that I was abandoning my daughter, who thrives on consistency, at an age where she needs her mama so much.
So I cried. I cried and I cried and I cried. I felt like my heart was ripping.
Aaron came it a little while later and I demanded to know every little nuance, reaction and expression Ella demonstrated. He laid next to me in bed, stroked my hair, and described in the most intimate detail everything that took place. She was angry that he woke her up, excited to see our friends, and was chattering away with lots of emphatic hand motions as they drove away. I was finally able to breath, calm my mind and let the birthing half of my brain take over completely.
I labored at home for about an hour when suddenly there was a very very long contraction that just overwhelmed every single one of my senses. About half way through it, I found myself making a beeline for the bathroom because I was afraid I was going to have a major case of diarrhea. I made it just in time and as the contraction wrapped up, I felt Miles slide very low. I stood up and told Julie that it was time for us to go, even though there was still toilet paper left. She and I laughed together as it had been a bit of a joke that we’d head to the hospital either when the toilet paper ran out (somehow we only had a quarter of a roll of toilet paper in the whole house) or when I felt it was time. Whichever came first.
We beat my midwife to the hospital! I didn’t mind too terribly much because the nurses who were helping us expressed so much pleasure and excitement to be working with Sherry, that I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. Sherry arrived about half way through the 20 minute monitoring strip and assured me that she wasn’t sending me home. I was STILL in doubt that this was actual labor!
When the monitoring was finally finished, I labored a lot on my side in bed due to the excruciating back labor I was experiencing in addition to the traditional abdominal contractions. This allowed me to get the exact pressure and positioning of counter pressure I needed. It was SUCH a new experience for me because in my labor with Ella, I never experienced any discomfort in the abdominal area – it was all back labor. During this time, Sherry asked if she could check me. I agreed but requested that she NOT tell me how much I was dilated or effaced. Later on, after Miles was born, I asked where I was at that point and she said that I was almost completely effaced and at a 7.
After a while, I labored in the bathroom doing a supported squat using the sink and bar rail. In between contractions, I’d lower myself down to sit on the toilet to give my sore wrists a break. It was during this time that I began to have the urge to push. At first, I was so excited because I was expecting it to provide a release from the back pain like it had in Ella’s birth. This time, not so much. If anything at all, it increased the discomfort ten fold.
My first 3 or 4 pushing contractions provided a lot of visual change and were very beneficial in pushing Miles further down. So much so that Sherry brought in the birth kit and was preparing to help me catch Miles. But after that, nothing happened and after a while Sherry suggested that we might want to try a different position. So we tried this and that but nothing seemed to be effective. I also threw up for the second time. I was starting to have serious doubts that I would actually be able to birth Miles vaginally.
During my entire pregnancy, there had been something niggling in the back of my mind. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was and hoped that it would resolve itself. It wasn’t until I began to have doubts of birthing Miles that I realized what that problem was. I thought I had been simply incredibly lucky to have birthed Ella completely naturally. I thought it had been a fluke that we had gotten her past my deformed pubic bone and spinal issues. I asked Sherry if “this was going to work”. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “If I have anything to say about it, it will. You are so strong and are doing so well.”
That gave me the confidence and trust to move past my fears and distrust of my body. I stopped pulling on the side rail up and away from the contractions and began to push into the back pain. We also discovered that I made the most progress when laying on my back and my knees pulled up to my chest. Again, totally backwards from anything you hear in natural birthing communities but it’s what worked with my daughter and it’s what worked with my son as well.
Crowning was the most overwhelming sensation I have ever experienced. His head emerged very slowly and it became evident very quickly that slow and steady was the best way. Even though he was head down, he had both hands curled up by one cheek. My body needed the extra time to stretch and accommodate extra wide circumference without tearing.
Shortly after that, my son was earthside and in my arms.
I feel profoundly changed after experiencing this labor and birth. I feel that something fundamental has shifted in the way I think and feel. I’m not sure how to express this or find the words to assign to it’s description and you know what? I think that’s okay. It’s a good, positive shift and aside from that, no one really has to understand it but me.
Here are the amazing pictures Amanda took. This is the “safe for work” version, no obvious nudity.