he’s 10 days old today… already the sharp, clear lines of the memories and images of his birth are softening around the edges, taking on the more romantic quality that happens as time moves forward… so, i write.
this pregnancy was different than the others. i was more aware, more comfortable inside my skin this time around. we decided not to go with the home birth practice we had before, and in doing so, took on more personal responsibility for this birth, which we were both ok with. the midwife we hired was very non-interventive, as well as being a terrific friend and fellow birthy person. our visit were long and relaxed, with tea and snacks and trust being shared by all. i wrote on my own chart and was so involved in every aspect of my care – i loved that.
another way this one was different was the way we prepared – with the other two, we were so very unprepared. dd came a week before she was ‘due’, and when i entered into active labor, we were down to our last square of toilet paper… dh had to run to the store while i labored by myself in our bathtub. ds was also a week before dates and though we at least had the birth tub set up, it all felt very sudden, very fast. this time, we are in our own house and i had major nesting. i felt ‘ready’ weeks before i was due. i wasn’t used to this! this waiting thing!
my mom arrived on the 5th, hurrying because she was afraid she wouldn’t make it. she was to be here until the 21st. so she hurried, and then… we waited. every day felt heavy. each day baby wasn’t here was a tic mark off the time she would have afterwards… i began to feel the pressure. i felt so DONE! i would have been content, i think, but i was starting to worry, too… what if my mom wasn’t here for the birth? what if i really WAS going to be pregnant forever? what if?
on saturday, the 16th, i had my regular midwife’s appointment. the baby was very obviously posterior – it was like he disappeared into the recesses of my belly. the pre-labor contractions i had been feeling didn’t feel the same – no pressure, i could easily sleep through them. so she had me get onto all fours and “sifted” the baby out of my pelvis with her rebozo, then had me crawl around to encourage his back to move towards my front. it worked! i immediately felt so different, and that pressure was back – he moved right into a totally central, anterior position.
sometime during the night, i felt him slip posterior again, and i cried. i cried because i was tired, and it was so soon that my mom would have to leave, and i was afraid that if he was in that position he just would never come out.
the next morning, sunday the 17th, i called my midwife in tears and asked if i could come over for her to sift me again. i think i was beginning to panic a little. we arrived and again she sifted me and had me crawl around on her floor, taking long strides like a tiger in the jungle, stalking. baby turned, and i stood up and started to babble about something… and she just listened. she told me i needed to relax, that the stress was not good for the oxytocin i would need to get labor started. she told me to go have some fun, to get a massage, whatever. i knew i had to be ok with the idea that mom may need to go home before baby came… and accepting that was like a weight off my shoulders. (when i left her house, she later told me she turned to her hubby and said “i’ll be getting a call from jen tonight” and laid out her equipment and clothes).
we walked for awhile at a mall and bought a couple of baby things and coffee. we had not yet gotten a carseat, so we went to do that, and i laughed after we bought it and said “there. i can have the baby now, we have a carseat!”
that evening, i called my sister and had her bring her massage table over and give me what would turn out to be my last prenatal massage… i fully relaxed and was present with myself, with the baby, just enjoying being pregnant for a little while longer.
at 2:33 am, the usual waves (contractions) were getting annoying to sleep through. i fumbled around for my ipod and earbuds and began to listen to some of my hypnobabies scripts, which really helped me relax during the waves. after about 45 minutes, i decided to run a bath… i still didn’t know if this was *it*, but i wanted water. i lit some candles and incense, and sat in the tub with the jets on for a bit. i was beginning to get the feeling that these waves were not going to stop – they were still pretty mild, but not stopping. so i woke dh and told him i was going to call the midwife, just to give her a heads up. back into the tub i went – the water felt wonderful. i became more convinced that i was indeed in labor and started to call people – my sisters, my sister in law, my best friend. at first i was chatting away even during the waves, soon they were leaving me a bit breathless and i would ask whoever i was talking to to hold on while i breathed through it.
mom woke up and came in to give me a hug. dh began to fill the birth tub, and brought me my labor necklace – it felt real then. it seemed like only a moment before two of my sisters arrived – labor time is strange that way, you really lose track.
the sun slowly crept into our windows as day began…
music was playing, people were in and out quietly… the waves were stronger now, but between them, i danced. i moved my my hips and body, swaying and circling, sometime bouncing a little, always moving. when i felt a wave coming, i would alert whoever was close by and they would put pressure on my hips or back – the waves very quickly became intense. i wanted the water again – i *needed* the water. so i slipped into the birth pool, melting into the warm water and felt it support my whole body… ah.
i don’t remember how long i rode the waves in the tub. it was all blending together… at some point, i wanted to get out to pee, even though contractions on the toilet felt horrid… after being out of the water for only a few waves, i said “heck no, i need to get back in!” around that time i remember wondering to myself why in the world i though this having a baby thing was a good idea. right before i got back into the tub i leaned on dh and cried… everyone had left the room for a little while to eat breakfast, so it was just the two of us, and i cried. i wanted to be strong, but part of me wondered if it was in me – if i could do this.
my midwife arrived and listened to the baby. she doesn’t do internal exams, so everyone began the quiet, watchful waiting that happens at a home birth as everyone opens up space for the mama to listen to the music of her own labor. it was odd to me, waiting for my body. not being told “you’re complete, you can start pushing!” i vocalized through every contraction… sometimes i sang, sometimes i just made sound, sometimes i would breath “peace. peaeeece”. eventually my songs became more growl-y, something from deep inside. i began to roar a little through the waves. and then – in the middle of a wave, i felt my breath catch inside my throat. and then… a long, long pause. maybe 10 minutes or so. i leaned back and rested, but i knew what it meant. i knew the next contraction would be a pushy one. i knew it.
dh wanted to catch the baby, so my baby sister hopped in the tub with me in case i need support. i had some crazy intense waves that rocked my whole body – i remember frantically asking “what should i do? what should i do?” and my midwife said “whatever feels good” to which i responded “yeah, that would be NOTHING then”… i ended up in the “proposal” stance – one knee down on the bottom of the tub, one up with my foot resting on the bottom. i said “he’s coming… i think he’s coming!” and the pushing consumed my body.
i supported my own perineum – i was the first one to feel his fuzzy little head. i felt so connected with everything. each push i felt not only on the inside, but i felt what it was doing on the outside, how it was moving him down and out. he felt big. i wanted so badly to push slowly, easily, breathing him down… but the waves just took over. my whole being was tingling from the waves and the sensations. at one point just as he was crowning i literally felt like i might pass out – not from pain, necessarily, but from the intensity of it all. i felt like even the room was pulsing. i told dh “get ready” and said to baby “come on baby… we can do this. you and me, kid – we’re doing it”. and with a final rush and push, my beautiful son was thrust into this world.
“it’s a boy!” and tears all around… a human being takes his first breath. i am convinced that every time a baby is born, it has the full attention of all heaven… a new soul. he was born at 9:33 am, 7 hours after the waves woke me up.
the placenta came out in the water and was put into a bowl. the cord was not cut for another 3 hours or so… when i stood up to get out, i felt a little woozy and felt like i was losing my hearing – like someone put cotton in my ears. it passed, but i found out later i was hemorrhaging, i lost about 5 cups of blood. they ran the herbal bath for me, and my midwife said “jen, you need to tell your body to stop bleeding” and shortly after, it did.
he was weighed and measured, 9 lbs, 5 oz, and 21 inches long. my biggest baby! and after only 12 pounds of pregnancy weight gained… instead of the 50 i was accustomed to. then my midwife checked my bottom, that was the first time she looked down there. i had a 2nd degree tear, typical of the way he came out, with his arm next to his head. we decided not to do stitches, but i had to promise to remain in bed with my legs together for two weeks… with nori packs and sitz baths twice a day.
we all settled a bit… cut the cord… ate. eventually the dusk settled and still people were here, supporting us and marveling at this new life. the moms made a birthday cake and we sang – and eventually everyone drifted out and went back home. while we snuggled down together, our first night as a family of five.
See jude’s birth video.