Friday, January 18, 2013

his arrival

it only seems appropriate that my 100th post should bring us back to the beginning...

it all began on a sultry evening in july, 2011. july 2nd, to be precise. i had been placed on bed rest after consistently high blood pressure results, and i'd been...leaking...all day. being new at all this pregnancy hoopla, i wasn't quite sure what it was and was unable to reach my midwife. i wasn't ALL that concerned because it was three weeks ahead of schedule - he couldn't have possibly been coming now...right?


as it turned out, it was a saturday night, and the fireworks were being set off across town. we'd been invited to a little soiree, but since my bed rest was putting a damper on that, we decided to make some fireworks of our own.

ahem. (really hoping chad never reads this).

knowing perfectly well that sex can induce labor, we fell into our own dreamworlds and drifted off.

i awoke at about three in the morning for my customary bathroom run and noticed yet more leakage, made a mental note to call my midwife again in the morning, and went back to bed.

at about five am, i awoke with a strange sensation that i hadn't felt for...oh...about 37 weeks? it felt suspiciously like menstrual cramps, but i couldn't possibly have been getting my period because my uterus was...well...occupied.

for the next hour and a half or so, i drifted in and out of consciousness, wakening only long enough to notice that these crampy waves were happening at regular intervals, but they were so mild and i was so comfy and sleepy that it wasn't until about 6:30 that i finally nudged chad and told him it might be time.

first thing he said?

"oh, ok. i'll vacuum and walk the dog".

this made perfect sense to him, of course. the plan was to have a home birth and he wanted to make sure the house was clean for the baby (and the company), and obviously, the dog needed to do her business, whether or not i was in labor.

in the meantime, i'm still pretty comfortable, subtle waves happening every five minutes or so, but i still wasn't sure if it was false labor, if it was braxton-hicks contractions...etc etc etc. chad grabs the phone and hands it to me, and i consult our contact list that's been stuck to our fridge for months - first person to call: our midwife. her cell sends me directly to her voicemail.
second person to call: our doula. she picks up on the second ring, even though i'm sure she was dead to the world just before i called. without a directive from the midwife (home birth, hospital birth, somewhere in between), we weren't sure what the plan was, but as she was still mia, we were in a bit of a pickle.
third person to call: my midwife's partner, who i've never met. she lives far enough away that we figured we wouldn't need her at the birth - a midwife and a doula would be plenty, and she had a client of her own who was due around the same time, so sticking close to home was the best solution for her. long story short - she was able to get a message to our midwife's husband, and she gave us a call.
in that call, it was decided that we would make the trip over to the mainland and give home birth at our midwife's house a whirl - we figured it was a "best-of-both-worlds" situation - home birth, but close enough to a hospital so that if something went wrong, we'd be safer than on an island.
then, that was undecided after her hearing about my leakage overnight, and my continued high blood pressure rates. the hospital it is.

 by this point, it was obvious that we needed to get moving - the  next ferry was going to leave in about half an hour and we should really be on it. luckily, it was at that moment that my sister arrived, having been told the news, and helped get all our junk together to bring to the hospital. man, there was a lot of junk.

it was about this time that i finally sat up for the first time...and WOAH. things started to change tout de suite. all of a sudden that magical gravity reared its ugly (and i mean ugly!) head and i was in L-A-B-O-R.

by the time we got to the boat landing, ready to get on the 8:45 ferry, the contractions were coming about 2-3 minutes apart - meaning from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next. i know because i was clutching my watch like it was going to leap out of my hand and do a little jig on the deck of the ferry boat. i'm pretty sure chad was 100% sure that he was going to have to deliver our baby in the middle of penobscot bay and gave me many, many chances to change my mind and fly over instead. i was in no fit state to be changing my mind, though, and on to the boat we drove.

to the sounds of npr's morning line up (ah, nothing like some deep breathing and a good ol' pukefest to the dulcet tones of click & clack), we rode across the bay for the next 75 minutes, and to be honest, it was probably the best thing that could have happened. i was able to get some good laboring in before we got to the hospital, we called all concerned folks once our cell phone started working, chad and i got to spend some one-on-one time together, and by the time we got to the hospital, and our doula, hope, met us (and pried the timex out of my hand), i was about 7 cm. dialated.

of the fears i had about a hospital birth, right up there were being offered drugs i didn't want, making me lie on my back through the labor, and forcing me into a c-section. i am happy to report that absolutely none of these things happened. there was some unpleasantness associated with getting an iv in my arm (my chosen laboring position of "on all fours" was not conducive to them getting a teeny needle in my vein), but i understood that i'd lost some fluids and it's important to keep hydrated.

the craziest part about labor is how completely present but how utterly in my own world i was. there were times i couldn't even answer simple questions, but i think it kept me from feeling the full brunt of the labor paints. i was definitely in what they call "labor land". don't get me wrong...i was definitely feeling - shall we say - "sensations" (hahahahahaha), but i truly think that being in that state helped make things more bearable. there was not a time when i thought "i can't do this".

*OK - just want to jump in here and say that i had a pretty freaking awesome labor - i mean, it only went on from about 8:15am-1:45pm, so who knows how i would have handled some sort of epic 30 hour delivery. i am NOT trying to be a big fat show-off and be all like "i'm such a badass" - i very well might have been begging for drugs in another situation.*

throughout the labor, i knew that i wanted to give the birthing tub a whirl, but for some reason was unable to express that, so i was uber-grateful when one of the nurses asked if i wanted to try the tub and i could eke out a "yes". i think they were relieved because i kept saying "no" when they made offers or suggestions, so this time they sprang into action and i'm pretty sure it took about 2.2 seconds for the tub to fill up. the water and buoyancy was a HUGE relief to me, as well as the warmth, and i think that's when things really got going. i'm not sure of the timeline, but i'm pretty sure that it was less than an hour from the time that i got in the tub to the time finn was born.

i wasn't expecting it that soon, though because i hadn't noticed going through "transition", when things get really crazy, and i didn't *feel* like pushing, so when they suggested i give it a try, i was a bit at a loss, not really knowing what to do and knowing that when i did try, there was a super loss-of-control sort of sensation that i didn't know if i was ready for.

luckily, through all of this, hope kept offering me juice, and i literally think that's what made all the difference - if i was a poet, i would write an ode to cranberry/orange juice. it was icy cold and delicious and gave me that little smidge more energy that i needed. oh, cranberry/orange juice, how i love thee.

man, some of the noises i heard coming from myself during that last 45 minutes would have terrified me the day before, but in the moment, they were exactly what i needed to hear. my midwife and doula kept encouraging me to release the tension in my muscles (jaw, toes, etc) and focus on lowering the tone of my sounds, all the while maintaining a heavy pressure on my sacrum. the combination of all of these really helped me focus on the job at hand, and i think after about five pushes, finn was out and in my arms.

it's impossible to describe those first few moments of seeing a brand new life - a life that you already know so well but that you're somehow meeting for the first time. how those eyes seem to take everything in at once, how completely otherworldly he seemed and how completely perfectly formed every part of him was. we sat that way for a while, just gazing at each other - i don't even really remember him crying, though i'm sure he must have. i wasn't even sure he was a "he" until someone reminded me to check. we didn't even have a girls name ready, so i guess we knew all along that finn was finn. who else could he be?

all those other reasons i was nervous about a hospital birth dissipated immediately. we delayed the clamping of his umbilical cord until it was done doing its job. when i moved from the tub to the hospital bed, finn was placed against my chest, where he bobbed and weaved a bit before he got latched on. he was not out of our arms for a moment for the first few hours, even to be weighed, and was never bathed at the hospital at all, allowing the vernix that he was born with to absorb into his skin.

it was perfect - exactly as i had imagined it. but with an added bonus - room service :)

so. that's my story.

after an experience like that, how could we NOT choose to go back to pen bay for the birth of our second child? i am so excited to work with these health professionals, this compassionate, understanding group of individuals who absolutely restored my faith in the medical establishment from a machine to a place of soothing comfort. i am so grateful and so humbled by the birthing profession and can only imagine watching the miracle every day.

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