26 April 2010

Lucy's Birth Story, or Rookie Mistakes

Today is Lucy's first birthday. I can't believe it. A year?? It's been a year since I had my giant tummy? A year since I started breastfeeding? A year since the last time I slept a night without a baby on or next to me? Doesn't seem possible.

So, in honor of this momentous occasion, I thought I'd maybe, oh I don't know, write her birth story down. Yeah. I haven't yet. This is it. I've told it to people, and I've e-mailed parts of it to various friends, but here, for your reading pleasure, is the whole thing. Finally.

Labor started in earnest late on a Saturday night, about 10 pm. I decided to try to go to bed anyway and call the midwives in the morning. Not so much. I was so excited and the surges were coming so frequently that I couldn't sleep. At 1 or 2 I got up and started timing my surges so I could call the midwives in an hour. By 3 or so we were at the midwives' place. (They call it the "birthing cottage", I usually call it the "birthing center" for brevity and so I don't confuse people, but really, it's a two-bedroom house that the midwives converted to their offices. So I feel like I really had a home birth, even though it wasn't at my home.)

Rookie Mistake #1: We left for the birth center too soon. Next time, I plan to do a true home birth, so this shouldn't be an issue. But if for any reason I have to birth my future children outside my house, I'm gonna wait longer to leave.

The next 18 hours are a blur of sleeping between surges, sitting on the birth ball, watching Arrested Development on the laptop, getting my dilation checked, throwing up twice (so weird, because I managed to not throw up through 3 months of morning sickness), listening to Indelible Grace music, breathing, breathing, and breathing. I learned later that Norman had eight cups of coffee over the course of this day. Yikes.

Rookie Mistake #2: I didn't eat or drink enough while I was in labor. I packed plenty of good stuff: larabars, homemade chicken broth, bananas. But next time, I'm going to pack raw honey and make myself eat it by the spoonful every now and then.

At some point toward the end I got in the bathtub for like an hour. Sooooo good. And that brings us to Rookie Mistake #3: I didn't even consider a water birth. I figured I would hate it. I'm not really a water person. I have an intense fear of drowning, I don't like taking baths, it sounded really messy... I just thought it wasn't for me. Next time, I'll definitely consider it. That bath was aaaawesooome.

Round about 9:30 or 10 pm, I decided that I really, really needed to evacuate my bowels. Now, I knew what that meant, and Norman was like, "Umm... Are you sure?" seeing as he didn't really want me giving birth on the toilet. Sitting on the toilet felt very comfortable, so I asked the midwives if they had a birthing stool I could labor on. Yep, it was out in the shed, so one of them got it and set it up on the floor of the kitchen. At this point we had to decide whether to have the midwife break my water or to wait longer. We decided it was about time, so I had her do it. No big deal.

Now at this point, I need to say something. If you are pregnant right now with your first (::cough::Jenny::cough::), you should stop reading. You can read the rest after you give birth. I think it's important to tell Lucy's and my story, and to let people know about out-of-hospital births. But I also think it's important to limit what you hear about other births until you experience your own. So, ladies, please humor me and wait until you're holding your own Babby in your arms before reading further.

OK, are the rest of you still with me? Here we go. Norman and I took a Hypnobirthing class to prepare for Lucy's birth. Hypnobirthing says that you can, with practice, relax yourself so much that the labor process will not hurt. At all. And I've seen the videos -- it works. I mean, these women are like in this coma, and then out comes a baby, and there's no screaming from anyone. Very peaceful. This was my goal. I was going to "breath my baby down", as they say in Hypnobirthing. The midwife, bless her, knew I wanted to do this, but after taking a look at what we had to work with said, "Jessie, you're going to have to push." I had some sort of "pelvic ridge" in the way of Lucy's head. Oops. That might explain (genetically speaking) why I got stuck coming out of my mother and she had a c-section.

Rookie Mistake #4: I didn't see a chiropractor while I was pregnant. I think, due to my surges being pretty hard on my lower back, and that pelvic ridge I just mentioned, next time, I'll be sure to see a chiropractor who has experience working with pregnant women.

So I've got a midwife with her hand up me, pushing that ridge out of the way. I'm on the birthing stool, on the kitchen floor, basically on my back, because the midwife decided I needed to be tilted back so she could help me. There's a thunderstorm outside, so they turned off the lights and lit a bunch of candles, just in case the power went out. Norman's... somewhere close, getting his hand squeezed all to hell (sorry, Norman!). At some point the lead midwife, Yvonne, was standing on his leg. So I'm pushing, pushing, pushing, and it's hard work. I'm pretty sure at one point I decided I would just give up. Yvonne wasn't having any of that. She told me she could see Lucy's head -- that if I'd brought a bow to put on her, it would have stayed in her hair. She made me feel Lucy's head, which I certainly did not want to do. Yvonne was very insistent.

Well eventually after some more pushing, I felt a blinding, popping type of pain, and then there was all this squirming, and I knew I'd done it. But Yvonne said, "Jessie. Keep pushing. Now." Oh. OK, I guess I can do that. No big deal. And then there was a baby on my chest. I kept saying "Oh my God" even though I knew I shouldn't, but ya know what? I think I meant it. And then Yvonne said, "Jessie, you need to push some more. Right now." What? Oh, OK. I can do that. No big deal. I mean, here's a baby! Then Yvonne said, "I'm giving you Pitocin. Sorry." (I had said that I didn't want Pitocin, either to start labor or to facilitate the birth of the placenta. That's why she was apologizing.) Then she's got her hand up me, again, pulling stuff out. Then more Pitocin. Hmm. OK. But look, this baby's trying to eat! Awwww!

Well, people, it turns out that when she told me to keep pushing after everything got all squirmy, that was because the cord was wrapped around Lucy's neck. Twice. And when she told me to keep pushing after I already had Lucy on my chest, that was because the cord had separated from the placenta, and the placenta had to come out NOW because I was hemorrhaging. Of course, I didn't know any of this at the time, and I felt fine (plenty of hormones coursing through my veins!). And she gave me two shots of Pitocin to contract my uterus to stop the bleeding. (She totally just stuck the needle in my thigh both times -- did I mention that?) Oh, and I tore.

Lucy's on record as having been born at 10:35 pm, Sunday, April 26th, 2009.

The next 4 hours are a blur of being naked, holding the baby, trying to nurse, remembering to take some photos, having the baby weighed and looked over, getting meconium all over everything and not even noticing or caring, waiting for the certified nurse midwife to come stitch me up, getting stitched up and barely noticing or caring, and calling a few people.

Rookie Mistake #5: I didn't bring a hat for Babby to go home in. I mean, we brought these that came in the birth kit. But the two of them got icky pretty quick (we don't bathe our babies after they come out -- just a quick wipe with a soft towel). Luckily the midwives had some handmade hats on hand that someone had given them. Oops. No one told me they need hats! Next time, maybe I'll buy some cute hats on Etsy.

At this point it was 2 am, so the midwives left the house to us and told us how to lock up when we left in the morning.

[It is very weird to put a tiny baby in a carseat.]

Rookie Mistake #6: We put the news of her birth on Facebook before we had called everyone. And by "everyone" I mean my grandma. She found out from an extended family member who has Facebook before she heard it from us, and she got really upset. Next time, I'm thinking we'll notify my family members when I go into labor, and let them know that they wouldn't be hearing from us for at least 48 hours.

Now, after we got home, I have no idea what happened. Really. I lost all concept of time, and all I remember is the food that people from church brought us over the next two weeks. Special shout-out to Sandy Dolan, whose totally homemade, whole wheat, organic turkey casserole; coconut raisin nut chocolate fudge; and wide assortment of herbal tea bags I will never, ever forget as long as I live. Hers was the first of the mercy meals, and it was exactly what a nursing, recovering mommy needed. Thanks, Sandy.

Rookie Mistake #7: I had no concept of what recovery would be like. No one warned me of just how much... ahem, fluid... I would lose in the week after giving birth or just how sore I would be down there. Next time, I'll soak cloth pads in a lavender oil/witch hazel mix and freeze them. Ahhhh... That's sounds heavenly. (Thanks, Mothering Magazine, for the tip!)

So that's about it. After that just comes all the sitting, nursing, not sleeping, freaking out, diaper changing, stump cleaning, etc, etc.


Brigid said...

Happy birthday to Lucy! Thanks for sharing your story. I really do think I want to go the midwife/home birth route when the time comes, so I love reading about others' experiences. The end result is a truly adorable baby. ;)

Heather said...

Awww, isnt is just amazing? I know I personally have this feeling now of "hey, I gave BIRTH people...I can do anything."
I think its important not to scare new moms-to-be, but also let them know that things will usually go in unexpected ways. There is no way to know what will go on, and not be disappointed if it doesnt go as you imagined. Because honestly, as dramatic as it all is at the time, it becomes a hazy blur after a while. That's probably why women even consider having another one ;)

Jessie said...

Yes, one of the few things I remember about the week after she was born is laying down to take a nap a few days in, and realizing all the sudden -- "Hey! I gave birth! Without drugs! I am so awesome!!!" That will carry me through a lot in life, I think.

Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing, Jessie! It's great to hear your story (Lucy's story!).

I love Yvonne. Love, love, love her. :)

meggo said...

Tearing up through this whole story. Thanks for sharing, Jessie. I love you and your babby. And Norman. ;)

Beth said...

Thanks for the story! I know you warned me not to read the whole thing, I'm pregnant with my first, but I am an information hound right now. I'm considering a natural and/or home birth, so I'm trying to get all the different perspectives I can.