Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Margaret's Birth

*Disclaimer* This is insanely long and talks about birthy type stuff and there's a naked baby and a fat lady in a bathing suit. Proceed with caution.
Three years ago, we had our first homebirth. It was really emotional and maybe just a little too exciting (broken baby arm! Oh noes!) I wrote up that story at the time because I wanted to be able to go back read it, I wanted my daughters to be able to go back and read it, but I also wanted the story to be out there for anyone looking for positive stories about having a homebirth after a C-section, because other peoples' stories have been so helpful to me through all of my pregnancies.
    So here I am again, one week after our second homebirth (4th child) and people are asking to hear the story. The birth of every child is wonderful of course, and in many ways this birth was a "better" one, but I'm afraid that in terms of big emotions, drama, intensity, and entertainment, this one may not live up to the last ;) However,  it's our story, mine and Maggie's, and I hope someday she reads it and knows that the day we met was all at once the most ordinary thing in the world and yet most magical, perfect, mind blowing thing that has ever happened on this earth.

 (Also, obviously I don't keep up with this blog anymore, and I definitely don't live in Germany anymore, but I didn't know where else to put this, because clearly blogging isn't my thing. So.)

   First, let me tell you a thing about all of my babies. They are all late. They are all big. They all come out face up, which is not ideal. Every time I'm in labor, once my water breaks, the hellacious back-labor contractions begin immediately and baby comes a couple hours later. These are facts. This is how it is. None of these facts are necessarily good things, but there is comfort in the knowing. There's some sense of control when you know what to expect. So you can imagine that when my water broke (before I'd had a single contraction) at 2am 10 whole days before Margaret's due date, the ONE day I was hell bent on NOT having her (our 9th wedding anniversary) I was a little bit stunned.
I literally just sat there for a moment going "no. I know I've been complaining for you to come out but this isn't the way we do things around here. You just hold on there missy I am NOT ready for this, I don't care what I said on Facebook."
Deep breath. Then I rallied and said, "Have it your way. Let's do this. It's go time."
   So the whole baby-coming-early-and-on-my-anniversary thing threw me for a loop, but no big deal, this ain't my first rodeo. I know what to do now. Water is broken, it's my fourth kid, she is going to come fast. My midwife Jolene felt confident of this as well, So while normally I would wait as long as possible to call her, I felt like I should not wait. I called her from my bathroom, she was asleep of course, and I said "Hey Jolene. It's Heather. My water broke. Fluid is clear, no cord. I would just go back to bed until contractions start but I think it's going to go fast."
She said, "I think so too. But go back to bed anyway. Call me when you're having them regularly."
  Sigh. I don't like to be watched while I'm in labor, so I certainly didn't want her to come earlier than necessary, especially since she'd be bringing her assistant. I love them both, I trust them completely, but I need to be alone while I'm in labor. Except this time, it was going to go really fast! It was. I promise. I really do.
  Jolene wasn't terribly alarmed, but I was very anxious. I was so much calmer at Beatrice's birth. I woke Daniel and told him my water broke. He said "no it didn't" but after a moment I convinced him that I was quite serious. This also not being his first rodeo, he says, "Ok, well, go back to bed babe."
Now this is starting to get on my nerves. Why is nobody panicking with me? Sure, I believe that birth should be as peaceful and relaxed as possible and I have conditioned my husband and my birth team to be very hands off about it, but just now I had changed my mind and I wanted everyone to panic. No such luck. I started texting my doula friend in Oklahoma who was miraculously awake hoping she'd panic with me. She didn't but she did calm me down. (thanks Hezra)
  After some serious whining I got Daniel to fully wake up and talk to me. I told him it was absolutely essential that we air up the birth tub RIGHT NOW. This is an emergency, dang it. He was very exasperated that I was bothering him so much with this labor nonsense. He said, "Heather, we have all day. You need to rest. This is going to take hours. There's no rush."
   My head dang near exploded at this. I said something along the lines of "what in the HELL do you know about ANYTHING??! I'm about to start having bone crushing contractions and I'm going to want that pool full before that happens!" Yet he persisted with his insane theory and even went as far as to say, "Babe. Let's sleep til 8. At 8 I will air up the tub and get the kids breakfast and clean up around the house and anything else you want me to do. I'll bet baby isn't here til 3 or 4 this afternoon. But you have got to rest. Get. In. Bed."

   Fine. Fine. You're an idiot Daniel. But Fine. I will get in bed. After you air up the tub. SEE? SEE I JUST HAD A CONTRACTION AND IT WAS REALLY STRONG! SEE I TOLD YOU! So he did, all whilst grumbling and rolling his eyes. The thing that is so funny about my obsession with the birth tub is that I had been naysaying the pool the entire pregnancy. I like the idea. I believe in it because I have seen it work for so many people, but I just had a feeling I was going to be very hot and nauseous and wouldn't care for the tub. We were just going to have it there just in case. And Daniel thought it was trendy nonsense from the beginning.
Anyway after we got in bed and he wrapped his arms around me because I was shaking and my teeth were chattering and I told him I was afraid.  And I was confused because labor wasn't starting. Why weren't things picking up? Why was my water broken but no other signs of labor, besides a couple of measly, sporadic contractions? Of course I knew every birth is different and there are a million variations of normal but I was afraid. What if labor never started and I had to go to the hospital? Explaining my fear of hospitals would take a blog post longer than this one, so we won't go there, but let me just say it has nothing to do with trying to prove something, or having a macho birth, or fear of failure or anything like that. I have nothing against doctors or epidurals
  Whoa, rabbit trail. Where were we? Oh yes. We went to sleep. I slept until about 5am. I was too antsy to sleep anymore so I got out of bed and made myself oatmeal. I brewed some pregnancy tea and ate a few dates. I was still anxious, but not panicking anymore, so I swept. I mopped. I wiped down the counters and vacuumed the main floor. None of which really needed to be done. Then I threw up everything I'd eaten in the last ten years. During all this time I was having one or two strong contractions an hour. I felt like the puking was a good sign though. I got pretty excited. Things were going to start picking up now! I waddled upstairs to shower and dress for the day.
   So this is where my birth story goes from boring to ... extra boring. Nothing. Happened. All damn day NOTHING HAPPENED. I continued to have a 1-3 contractions an hour. Strong but nothing to write the midwife about. And in this way, my fourth child was my longest labor by far. I text Jolene to tell her I was concerned and she told me that if nothing was happening by 3pm we could talk about ways to encourage contractions. Until then, rest. But this part was so emotionally and mentally exhausting for me. I went about my day with Daniel and the kids. We snacked a bit and watched Netflix and the kids played outside. Like it was an ordinary day. But to spend so many hours in that state of dread and anticipation for what's coming (um, by this I mean pain) takes a toll on you. I had to try really hard to relax and distract myself. Also Daniel was gloating a little about being right, which may have been the most painful part of this whole story.
  3pm rolled around and suddenly I was having contractions 10ish minutes apart. Uncomfortable, but nothing compared to the ones I've had with my other kids. Maybe this baby wasn't face up?!?! Jolene said she had a couple more appointments then she'd head over. She recommended I have the birth pool filled up by around 4pm. I protested that it was a bit early for that (inconsistent much?) but when she arrived around 4:30 it was about halfway filled up. I was down in the basement suite by myself during all this time while Daniel distracted the kids on the main level. I was just hanging out watching YouTube and texting people. Contractions were consistent but they weren't requiring much of my attention. Jolene arrived and started setting up and fidgeting with things. She was writing things down, mostly just being silent while I wandered around. Her assistant Chelsea came not long after. Now I'm starting to think they've come too early because they were whispering and it was irritating to me and as I wasn't in any serious pain I had suddenly decided we still had hours and hours to go.

Big kids wanted to get in
But first, lemme take a selfie. 2 hours before she was born.
  So I'm sitting there watching them prep and listening to them whisper and again feeling the dread of what I've got left to do. Just like a rock in the pit of your stomach, you know? The worst. Anyway I'm becoming irritable and the contractions are annoying and Chelsea says, "You know, you can get in the pool anytime you want." I told her I'd heard that you shouldn't get in too early because it will slow things down, or the comfort factor will wear off after so much time, so I didn't want to get in til I was further dilated and in more pain. "That's fine too," she said, "But I'll bet you're further along than you think. I think we're getting close to the end."  But I know she's crazy because I'm not suffering yet. Jolene, knowing I usually refuse all cervical checks, offers to check for dilation and at first I adamantly refused because what's the point? They really don't tell you anything and it's super uncomfortable. But then I started to get to that whiny, helpless, pathetic, useless stage of labor that I always get to. The part where I need someone to tell me what to do. I told her this and asked what she thought I should do. She said "I just think if you see that you really are almost done, you will get in the tub and you will feel better and we can finish this."
So I consented. I was further than I thought. I got in the pool. It was heavenly. So for the next hour I reclined in the pool and t he contractions actually got harder and closer together, yay, but between them I was floating in la la land, totally spaced out, almost sleeping. During them I recited prayers and told myself I can endure anything for 60 seconds. But still the worst part was the dread. Because it was going to get worse. I knew it was. These weren't that bad. I was moaning through them a bit, just for the heck of it, but they weren't that bad. In this way, this was by far my easiest labor. Daniel came down and held my hands. The girls came down periodically. I was reluctant to change positions because even when one position starts to suck, changing positions rarely helps, but once you've done it you don't want to risk making it worse. But finally I thought, "I can't sit here forever." so I got on my knees and turned to face the edge of the pool and Daniel was able to hold both my hands. And oh man, it got worse. There's those really bad contractions I was talking about. I told Jolene I wanted to push. She said, "you feel the urge to push?" to which I responded, "No, not at all, but I want this over with." She told me I may as well try it, which kind of blew my mind. "won't I tear my cervix if I'm not dilated fully?" she offered to check me again but said she was very confident I was fine and that my desire to push was probably because I needed to push. So I did. And I could tell it was working because I felt like my hips were being crushed and she was moving down. I was so relieved emotionally because I only pushed a few times with the other kids and they were out. Pushing made everything feel better with Sophie, and was super painful with Bea, but either way, it was FAST. I was almost done. Because I know what to expect, right? It's always the same, right?
Wrong again. I pushed for a million years, a million times and it was by far the absolute most painful of all. So in this way, this was by far my hardest labor. I just couldn't believe you can feel that much pain without shattering, I couldn't find my breath and I was panicking and asking Daniel to help me. Every time a contraction ended and I didn't have baby in my arms I didn't know how I was going to endure another, but they came, and with each push I was sure this HAD to be the last, but it seemed like it never was. I was very, very noisy during this time and I said the F word once, maybe twice. Finally (although it was actually only 45ish minutes of any real pain and in this way was my "shortest" labor) She was born, under the water, facing the proper direction, into Jolene's hands. And that was it. My longest, shortest, easiest, and hardest labor all rolled into one. It's crazy how instant that relief is. I turned around and she handed me the tiniest, slimiest, angriest baby I've ever seen in my life. And then it hit me that I was still in monstrous amounts of pain. I just knew I was injured somehow. I tried to focus on baby and soak up that moment but I was reeling. I was in a really weird mental space for some reason. I kept thinking "is she ok? why is she so tiny? Am I ok? Has someone called my mom? Should I call MeMaw first? Are the big girls scared? she doesn't look like the others. She's so tiny. Why is she so tiny?" I talked to her, I gave her a blessing and kissed her head. Her sisters came running down when they heard her cry.
  We moved immediately into the guest room, we were dried off and apart from delivering the placenta, which sucked immensely, and the "abdominal massage" ... we were both feeling much better. I nearly fell over when the midwife told me she only weighed 6lb 13oz. There was not a scratch on either of us, just some bruising on her face and eyes. I got a good look at her and she showed me her dimples and I fell in love with her and watched her sisters and daddy fall in love with her. I went from being anxious about literally everything involved in bringing a new baby into the family to wondering how I ever lived without her, and how I never noticed that a member of our family was missing. I told Daniel I would die unless I had some pasta right then, so he left to get some takeout Italian while the midwives swiftly cleaned everything up. By the time he got back they were done. They hugged us, left, and then we all watched Father Brown on Netflix and stuffed our faces. It didn't go at all the way I planned or expected, and while I hope to avoid a 17 hour labor in the future, it was absolutely perfect, and we are so very proud and blessed beyond belief to introduce our precious, perfect Margaret Mae to the world.