Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Birth: Putting Things into Perspective

Family Beginnings
By Lina

Although when I finally sat down to watch "The Business of Being Born" the movie had been removed, I think I beat "the system" and had just about the exact birth I wanted. On Tuesday at about 3am I woke up, partially because of a lightening storm and part for having my first contractions. I wandered edgily around the house, checking the weather channel in the dark and wondering if it were some sort of twisted premonition that maybe our child would be born on a tornado day or something. No, not so. Went back to sleep and had my first conscious contraction. Knew it right away - somehow had the presence of mind to count through it, and also imagined myself walking up a hill and back down (as contractions have peaks, and taper off... where I had [recently] read that, I know not). Guiltily called the midwife on Saby's urgings, and were told by a sleepy sounding Margie to chill at home and did, dutifully counting and timing contractions all morning and afternoon. Saby refused to go on a walk with me (which everyone was suggesting) because i think he imagined a birth on the corner down the block or something... so on his suggestion I did about 20 minutes of a yoga dvd and things really took off from there. I got in the shower under nice hot water, swayed back and forth, and he went downstairs to load the car and called the midwife, and she said we could come in and get checked... I don't think she thought we were very far along, because I was very calm and wasn't making a big deal about the pain. (thank you hypnobirthing and over-dosed pregnancy reading!!) We left for the hospital at 5 pm and when we got there, they checked me and I was 5 centimeters already :D So... we ordered dinner from MVH's awesome catering so we'd have something for later... I ate a few bites of chocolate mousse cake and some grapes, and me, Saby and my doula-friend Tabby all just sort of sat and chatted between contractions... I remember even saying to Tabby, as a contraction ended, that my mind flipped right back to whatever we were gossiping about! I was sitting on a birthing ball or leaning against it on the bed and swaying like a gypsy, which felt better than just standing or sitting. (the two Family Beginnings nurses were very complimentary of my lungi, saying it was just too comfy and convenient. for those who don't know, Lungis are the little "skirt" things that guys in Kerala wear. I was wearing one of Saby's.)

What I couldn't believe and had never read anybody else having was how much pressure and soreness was there in my legs... from the knee up towards my pelvis, that was so sore just generally and I had never expected that. At like 8:30 they checked me again and said I was 9.5 cm dilated and there was a little "lip of a cervix" in the front, so I should do somethings bending over to push the baby against it and then it would be time to push. Pretty quick after that I had an urge to push, which surprised me pleasantly, but not constantly or anything... they were filling up the tub and I was EXCITED to get in. At some point they said "do you mind if we have some students come in to watch? they've never seen a water birth or a natural birth..." So we had an audience but I didn't care, because I didn't open my eyes from about 9 o'clock onwards.

Holy crapoly... I got in, and it was like instant relief. I was making really corny jokes and floating around like a frog or turtle on my stomach, and the midwife and nurse came in and looked at me and said "you know, we tell people to do that and they won't... you're doing exactly the right thing." (yaaay! it felt good! why not!) floated around like that for awhile, and almost felt like I was wasting people's time... so after awhile contractions started coming back a bit more, and I tried pushing.

I asked Tabby to read to me from the Hypnobirthing book about pushing breathing, because it was never really covered in the class and I didn't feel like I was getting enough of a natural urge to know what to do. She read - like a heaven-sent book on tape - in the most beautiful calm voice ever, which provided me stress relief although not really any terribly specific information. I didn't want to get my body out of the beautiful pain-killing water, so I was pushing down between Saby's legs (he was seated on the side of the tub). It wasn't going really well, I think I pushed there for like an hour and a half or so. They wanted me to keep emptying my bladder, and I remember doing it a few times (was drinking lots of water) but apparently not enough. Speaking of water, they did break mine at some point - I couldn't really tell as it didn't hurt or anything, but I gave myself and little baby kudos after hearing the midwife say "ooh, nice clear water." (whoo hooo, no poop inside = non-stressed baby!)

The pushing did not seem like it was going anywhere - I was just trying to do whatever seemed the most natural and efficient to get the baby out at that point, but it was starting to really a.) hurt and b.) be discouraging. I think I got that time-warp sort of thing they talk about, because it seemed like every 5 minutes they were stopping me to check the baby's heart beat, which in turn also freaked me out, because I was afraid they were concerned about it and that was making me more nervous. It had been too high at the beginning (I was holding a warm rice bag to my abdomen for the cramps/contractions, and was throughly reprimanded by nurse Judy), and now it was getting down from there to 120 and all. Still definitely normal I guess, but the difference to me in my mind was shocking and disturbing. Everything seemed like it was going south, although all spectators and involved parties were still very upbeat and encouraging... "you're doing great" etc etc. Although it did suck - I can't think of a better way to describe it - whenever they'd ask me how I was doing, I would smile and give a thumbs up.

To me it seemed sudden, so - SUDDENLY, they said they wanted me to empty my bladder on the toilet. Getting out of the tub was an ordeal. I was pretty much naked - in a soaked tan sleep bra and nothing else - so they wrapped me in towels and blankets, put a pillow on the back of the industrial hospital toilet, and there I sat, dutifully trying my best to pee and, alternately, push. I think I was there with Tabby and Saby in the dark for about 15 minutes, asking for water, and I'm not sure if I ever did pee... but then they said to come to the bed. BUMMER! But bed sounded just a little better than toilet, so off we went... that 7 feet between the loo and the bed were tough. I somehow was heaved into the bed, onto my back, and my legs were neatly folded up so my bum was basically in the air. Then the counting began. How I had watched "Baby Story" and other Discovery Health shows, telling Saby how horrid and crappy that "push... c'mon, 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9..and 10!" scene was for both baby and mom. I couldn't help thinking that if I was holding my breath, then BABY was holding it too... poor thing. And ever since pushing urges had started, all I could imagine was my entire ass turning inside out and spending the rest of my life as a giant hemorrhoid. THAT should have been on the Birth Affirmations CD that I listened too... other than "your cervix is pink and healthy" it should have said "You will push your baby into the world without sustaining any longterm damage to your undercarriage." By the time we were on the bed though, I was past caring... it was "Get Baby Out!" time. I pushed. I held my breath and pushed. I learned at that point that I was not holding my breath enough - I was still letting it out. So damnit, I PUSHED like a mutha.

My eyes were shut for this entire process. At one point, I had what I felt like was a very productive push, and suddenly everyone was gone. Everyone in my line of sight, that is. The nurse and midwife suddenly had run over to the other side of the room! I asked "what happened? Did the baby come out?" I was scared that it had, and something was wrong. But no... they were just getting supplies apparently. The student nurses were still holding my legs and saying sweet things to me. I think Saby had thrown himself under the bed at this point. Soon after I think she crowned, and they asked me to reach down and feel my baby.... it felt like a tomato, all wet and squishy through my distended lady parts, and when they asked me again as her head emerged to touch my baby, I apparently told them "no, I don't want to hurt her." (her? hmmmm). Although I'm sure the events of this paragraph must have taken like 5 minutes, they went by in a flash for me, and the midwife very sternly told me, 'Open your eyes and push that baby towards the ceiling!!" So I did, and suddenly: push, gush, splash, orgasmic squishy feeling of relief and release... and suddenly a very wet, warm, wiggly baby was on my abdomen.

My legs were still up in the air. They didn't come down for another 15 minutes or so, ahhhhhhhhh... but the nurses were still holding them, and best of all, I was holding my baby. Who was a SHE baby. Who was filled "with crap" (said the midwife, meaning lots of mucus) but who had a pretty face and wide, wide open eyes and a big round mouth. She looked at me and I looked at her, while they rubbed both of us down. I could feel the big thick umbilical cord still coming out from between my legs - bizzare-o!! - and attaching us... they were rubbing her back and trying to get her to cough, although she was making nice newborn sounds as far as I was concerned... I guess they wanted a nice lusty cry. It seemed too soon but they took her about 4 feet away to clean her up a bit... measure, wipe, warm, and all... and that's where she proceeded to protest by pooping 3 times on nurse Judy. Meanwhile I was having a fun time getting my abdomen manipulated and delivering the placenta... whooo hooo, what fun! Then came stitches - I had torn a little bit, but apparently not in the terribly predictable areas, so I got a double seam, lucky me. In retrospect, that was the most painful part of the ENTIRE proceedings, because I still had my damn legs in the air after what seemed like 20 full hours. (they had been hurting from about 2pm onwards... the actually having to hold them up and out was just the icing on the horrid cake). Although exhausted, and soon, FREEZING, I felt like a million bucks and was telling jokes and explaining to the nurses how we had called the baby Spampy. Saby was calling across the room to her, "Spampyyy... Spampy!" and her little arm flew up in the air, on the warmer, as if it say, "I'm here, Daddy!"

**Please let me know if you would like to share your birth experience and be apart of my blog series, "Birth: Putting Things Into Perspective" Feel free to contact me via email at 3menandalady06@gmail.com. This will not only give someone the opportunity to have a voice, but to educate someone on their options as a woman and mother.**


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