Monday, February 01, 2010

Squeak's water birth

This is how I started Bird's birth story, and I think it still applies with some minor edits:

I'm reminded more and more that this space, though shared with many, is still first and foremost a personal journal. So as I begin this journey through becoming the mother of two, I'll most likely drone on and on. Don't feel badly to skip some posts, come back later, or even just skim. I'm going to just record it all for the record.

For the record, for my record, the very long birth story about about a not so long birth.

It was noon on a Saturday. The day before my due date. I realized that I had forgotten to get a baby book for Squeak, and I had library books to return (which are still in my car at this moment), so we loaded up the family and headed to Borders with plans to go by the library after that.

I'm walking through the bookstore, mumbling to myself that they are always moving things around when I became uncomfortably aware that my water had broken. A quick escape to the bathroom and a couple of curses at my unpreparedness confirmed it for me. I came out with a sheepish grin on my face, and Kevin didn't even have to ask.

"You're kidding me," he said.

He wanted to bolt and started rounding up Lovely and Bird. I wanted to buy the dang baby book I had come for, and I did. It's not the most wonderful baby book in the world, but at least he has one. Maybe he was just waiting on me to buy him one before he came.

We grabbed some lunch at a drive thru and headed for the house. I called the midwife and my doula to let them know that my water had broken, but that I didn't have any contractions. It was just like Bird's beginning except that I wasn't freaked out by it, and I didn't have a jackass OB telling me that it was a worst case scenario to have no contractions and have my water broken.

I made a list of things to encourage labor to get on with it. The midwife had suggestions and so did Julie, our doula. I sent Kevin to Whole Foods to get me some more raspberry leaf tea and a king cake. The king cake didn't have anything to do with labor, but it was awfully yummy. I sat on the birthing ball and bounced. I walked steps. We did some other things that are none of yo' beezwax.

By 7:00 or so, there was still nothing, and the midwife started talking castor oil. I really didn't want to go there, but I was willing. She gave me until the morning to do it because she wanted me to get a good night's sleep.

Julie paid lip service to the good night's sleep as well, but confided in us that she had taken a nap in preparation because she knew that as soon as I lay down to go to sleep, the contractions would start. She showed us some acupressure points, and told us to call her when contractions were coming 10 minutes apart for an hour.

From that point on, it was like whatever was suggested, my body took as a command. I went to bed around 10:30 and wasn't there 5 minutes before I had a contraction. By 12:30, we were calling the midwife to let her know they had been 10 minutes apart for a little over an hour. She said to call back when they were 5 minutes apart for an hour. The very next one came at five minutes, lasted for 2 minutes, and an hour after the first call, Kevin was making the second call while jumping into his blue jeans.

Meanwhile, I was changing the sheets for our neighbor, Cyndi, who was coming over to stay so we wouldn't have to wake the kids in the middle of the night. I did forget to leave out a clean towel for her, but I think I can get a pass on that.

I gathered up our meal for after labor, a Trader Joe's Moroccan chicken dinner, some juices, bananas, and the bags I had packed three weeks ago, and we hit the road.

Halfway to the Birth Center, the contractions had me gripping the door handle so hard I thought I might pull it off. They were way different than the ones at home. When we arrived, we parked in the back where I thought we were supposed to, and couldn't get in the building. After a phone call and a few more contractions, I finally just started beating on the door. Turns out, we could have just walked around to the front.

When we got inside, I tried laying down on the bed again to get some rest. Lee Ann, the midwife on call, checked me and declared (once again) that I had a lovely pelvis, which is nice to hear when you are aware that it is about to have to squeeze out a small watermelon. She also declared me to be pretty well effaced and about 3 cm. I was disappointed in the 3 cm, and assumed that we had a hella long road ahead of us. Lee Ann went to take a nap, because I think she assumed the same thing.

It was a little after 3:00 AM at this point.

By 3:27, I was standing up and having trouble focusing through contractions that were coming about 3 minutes apart and giving me just enough time to vomit in between them.

By 3:31, I was trying with all my might to subliminally will Kevin to put me in the car, take me to UNC and get me a freaking epidural.

It was best for me to quit watching the clock at this point. So I did.

The fear though, was that it was going to be like this for another 10 hours. I figured that 3 cm and my dang marathon labor with Bird were indicators that Squeak wasn't going to pop out for a good long time. I didn't think I could do what we were doing for much longer.

Julie kept saying to take it one contraction at a time. I heard her. I tried to heed it. I'm not sure how successful I was, but it was the only way to make it.

Some time before 5:00 AM, I asked to be checked again. Jewel, the midwife who was on nurse shift for the night, presented a brilliant diversion of the tub. I agreed to get in the tub. I needed to get off my feet, and I couldn't sit or lay down, so the tub seemed like a great plan to me. Much better than the plan I had concocted of getting checked, finding out I was only 4 cm, and running for my life towards the nearest medical intervention.

They started running the water in the tub, and it was like someone had put headphones over my ears and turned up the volume to eleven. It was so loud, and I couldn't keep to a low moan during contractions because I wanted to drown out that sound. I don't know why it was so awful, but it was. Finally, the tub was ready. I've seen women be all prepared and leave on their bras or a swim top or something. I just stripped completely naked and got in, trying to beat the next contraction.

As soon as I got in the water, my body gave me a five minute break. I slept soundly for five minutes. I only know it was five minutes because that's what they told me. It felt like an hour. That sleep was broken by a manageable contraction, which was then followed by the most freaked out I have ever been in my life.

I don't know how I came up with the scenario in my mind, but even though I knew I was going to be allowed to push naturally and with the rhythm within my own body, for some reason, I still thought that they were going to tell me when to start doing that.

Um, no.

The second tub contraction, I found myself pushing with all my might. The shadowing nurse jumped up and ran to get Lee Ann. She had just asked me if I was feeling some pressure, and I didn't answer her. I was trying to figure out what I was feeling when WHAM! Pushing.

All of the sudden I didn't feel the contractions anymore, but I knew when I should be pushing. I could feel his head almost immediately. Kevin grabbed one leg, giving me resistance to push against, while some of the other team members grabbed the other. I kept pushing and not getting him out until Lee Ann told me that there was a drop in his heart rate and I had to get it done.

At some point, Kevin thought it would be a good idea to document this water birth with a flashing camera. All he got was a blurry picture of me flipping him off and telling him to, "Cut it the f*** out!" Nice of me. I also remember screaming at anyone in earshot to "Take. Him. OUT!" because I was certain that there was plenty for them to grab and just pull. Crazy, I know.

Time was morphing. I thought for sure I was pushing forever, but really it was only about 15 minutes before I finally felt Squeak's head make it through. It was quickly followed by a chunky little body which before I could sigh with relief, was placed on my chest.

While the cord was pulsing, the team tried to get Squeak to cry. I'm not sure if there was tension or worry, because I was just soaking in the warmth and squishiness of my new son. But they kept at it until Squeak finally let out one good "WAH!" and then was quiet and content again.

After the placenta was delivered (which by the way, is really messy to do in the tub), I passed the little guy over to his daddy, who was ready for skin to skin (I love that man) with his new son.

I got out of the tub and dried off. Walked to the bed and sat down, watching my big man and little man bond. The midwife checked me out and declared me tear-free. Not a single stitch was needed, which amazed me since it felt like my vagina was turning inside out and being ripped apart.

We nursed. We rested a little bit. I got hungry, and NOT for Moroccan chicken. After all, it was morning. Kevin went out and got us breakfast.

The thing is, all of this post delivery stuff - I'm telling it like it's mundane. But it was the unknown bonus to Squeak's non-medicated entry into this world. I was knocked out from Bird's birth. Stayed in the hospital for two more nights and then took another week at home to be able to move around painlessly.

I was totally ready to go home about five hours after Squeak was born. It was awesome. Bird barely knew we were gone. He just had a lovely morning playdate with his BFF, Pippi, and then we were home with his baby brother.

I think the biggest difference in the whole experience is that I surrounded myself with people I trusted and put myself in an environment where I felt safe. I didn't go into the experience feeling like I would have to fight for simple things like being allowed to eat or drink if I was hungry. I was confident and had visualized the experience over and over again as positive and successful.

The whole thing was as close to perfect as I could have hoped for, except for the end result, which is far more perfect than I ever dreamed.

Welcome to the world, Little Squeak.