Thursday, 22 October 2009

Dorian's birth

Well it will probably take a few days to get this finished, but I'm finally starting on Dori's birth story. :)

I don't even know where to begin? Things so smoothly moved along that it's hard to call any point a starting point. A week before I started labor I lost my mucus plug. I'd been downing red raspberry leaf tea and doing evening primrose oil nightly for a few weeks. I was gently getting to know my cervix during that time, and was so pleased when I started to feel changes down there. The mucus plug and then the bloody show the following night really excited me, not because it meant labor was terribly close but because I had never had signs like these with Ray.

I battled a few days between anxiety over when things would start, and how much I was doing (and not doing) to help things along. My body gave me gentle reminders, on days when I was not very active I would have the most show and practice labor, the following day if all was quiet and I tried taking walks and upping my activity things stayed quiet. After a few days fighting my brain and reminding myself that labor would come with NO HELP from me, I settled down and relaxed. If my body didn't seem to be getting "busy", I would take it as a day of rest and relax.

As the week progressed I continued having show, and noting my cervix feeling more and more open. He was still spinning, changing positions and figuring out where he wanted to be for the big show. I did pretty well not getting impatient, being thankful that every cm gained quietly was less time to spend on the hard stuff.

Oct 13th I had my 40 week midwife appointment. Everything was normal, I was still measuring quite small at 35cm. I refused a cervix check, being satisfied with my own findings for the time being. (Of course La Shel was not pushy at all, simply offered as a matter of course) After that my mom, Ray and I headed up to a baby supply store up in Vista that I knew had cloth diapers. I wanted to paw over some in real life so I had a better idea of what I was looking at online. On the drive home I had a couple contractions but nothing terribly noteworthy. Had some lunch at home and then I headed out for a nice long walk. Came home and had a good nap. The contractions continued that evening, and my mom and I went for another walk and enjoyed the halloween decorations going up all over the neighborhood.

Shanna called and asked that if anything was progressing at all she be notified, as she was planning on driving to Long Beach in the morning and had a strong feeling if she went she'd only have to turn right around and drive down to us. I slept fitfully that night, waking up to 2-3 painful contractions an hour. I got up for a bit at 3am as I was pretty uncomfortable in bed, and after a bit of milling about called Shanna wondering when she might prefer to leave to avoid traffic, and promising to keep her updated. I went back to bed, but again sleep was pretty crappy past the first hour. In the morning Anthony headed to work, and I went ahead and asked Shanna to come down and join us. I knew it wasn't moving fast, but I felt like it was moving.

We enjoyed a fairly quiet day, the contractions staying roughly 10 minutes apart for most of the day and nothing I could not easily breathe through. Could still talk and walk with them, although it was not preferred! I took a walk with Shanna in the afternoon, and then retreated upstairs for a shower and a nap as I was feeling a bit like a watched pot with all the family here and not too much action to report. Again I got about an hour of sleep before contractions returned. After dinner I went for another walk with my mom, and then we settled in for some TV and mostly girl talk. I continued having slightly more intense contractions and we went to bed well after midnight. Again, I got an hour or two of decent sleep before being in bed was just unbearable.

I came down and wandered in the dark a bit, as Shanna was asleep on the couch. After a while I woke her, wanting to clear out some of the bigger toys in preparation for the birth pool/air mattress being set up in the living room. Unsure of what to do with myself (I definitely wasn't ready to drag people out of bed and set the pool up) I headed up to shower again. I decided I may as well make a last attempt at sleep. I saw Anthony off to work after showering, and then laid down. This time I only lasted about an hour and a half laying down (switching sides after each contraction because it seemed to put an extra 10-15 mins in between them if I didn't stay in one position too long) before they just got too uncomfortable in bed. I would rub furiously at my lower back trying to give myself some counterpressure and moan a bit, not fun at all. So up I got.

Anthony had scheduled his leave to begin at the end of the workday on the 15th, and figuring he'd be out of work the next two weeks any way and there would be no other false alarms (if this ended up one), so I went ahead and called him home around 9am. He had joked about how he was so excited about this drive home, because he planned on speeding recklessly and using the "my wife is having a baby!" excuse on any cops if he got stopped. I pointed out that around here that may not go over so well, as we have alot of military and mexicans and what do we do but have babies? *laugh* And you know, I wanted my children to still have a father post-birth. He kept it to a meandering 100mph. (Or so he claims...)

I called La Shel after that and let her know things were progressing. I had a good contraction for her on the phone, in case there was any doubt left in me if this was "it" or not. We were planning on setting up the pool in the next hour or two and she asked that I call her back then, unless I felt I wanted them there sooner.

As we ticked down to about 5 minutes between contractions I hopped in the pool. (This being around 11am the morning of the 15th) I was still handling things rather well, they definitely got my attention but I was still alright on my own for the next hour, ooooooo'ing and ohhhhhh'ing and ahhhhh'ing my way through, swaying my hips or thrusting them. Each one seemed to have 5-6 short peaks rather than one big one, a bit of a pulsing sensation. I thought of laboring with Ray, just barely into active labor and having minute long pit contractions with about 15-20 seconds of lesser pain, but not NO pain in between, and being told that I just "have a fast contraction pattern". My ass! Here I was well into labor and still having a few minutes of peace between each one, able to relax, talk, laugh, and just feel pretty darn normal.

I checked myself at some point in the pool and felt Dori's head just beneath a gooshy layer of amniotic sac. It was very cool, and so encouraging. Around 12:30-1pm I had my mom call the midwives, as the time between contractions was shortening to 2-3 minutes and I was needing to clutch onto someone in the midst of them. Shanna, Anthony, my mom all took turns. I think this is around the time I asked that Ray be put to bed for his nap.

La Shel and Jamin arrived at 1:30pm, and things went pretty quick from there. I was pretty vocal with each contraction at this point. La Shel checked me in the pool and found I was a stretchy 7cm. Not sure of the station but lord knows the child was DOWN there. I was also getting a liiiittle bit pushy at this point. The midwives wanted me out of the pool for a bit to get fresh water put in and because they prefer moms not stay in the water too long (and had told me this before the birth although I can't remember when, but I'm sure they did) as things progressed a bit faster being mobile. So out I went and I was not too thrilled by it, but I had also thought I was a little further into transition and so moving things along a little sounded good too. I said I wanted to try sitting on the toilet so we slooowly made our way to the bathroom, me clutching onto Shanna's back and having 2-3 contractions just to get the ten steps there.

Anthony came into the bathroom briefly to see what was up, and Shanna tried to step away and let him have some time with me but I knew he was starting to get a little distressed by my noise and all the commotion. Just as she stepped out a contraction started I all but pushed him away and managed to say, "No, Shanna!" and made a grab for her. So she came back and Anthony took off to grab Ray, who was wakened by all the yelling I'm sure. (If he'd even slept at all, I don't know how long he was up there.) My "ohhhh"s and "ahhhh"s had become "AHHHHHH"s and "OHHHHHH"s, although I did manage to keep the tone lower (sometimes with suggestion from my support people) to avoid any screaming. I wanted off the toilet so we decided on the birth ball in the hall near the kitchen. It felt pretty good but it became pretty clear I was pushing with contractions here so La Shel asked that I move to the bed quick to get checked before I started pushing in earnest.

Again, this took a couple of contractions, but we made it and found I was complete! Only 20 minutes after the midwives arrived at 7cm. (Which I'd like to think would account for all the bellowing, thank you very much.) At some point in here Anthony had taken Ray for a walk up to the park. He'd tried bringing him downstairs and Ray wanted to come see me, but every time I started yelling he would get scared and hide his face in dads shoulder.

So I digress, they checked me and immediately grabbed an amnio hook and started talking about breaking my water. I closed my legs up quick, able only to say "nooooooo!". Jamin got down in front of me and explained quickly that the bag of water was really bulging and might be making the urge to push stronger at this point. She said also that I could push against the bag quite a while but it may slow down the baby coming. So I agreed and they broke it right away. (I love it, communication, respect of my wishes, it's wonderful stuff and really how hard was that? To explain it to me quickly? For all that I was in labor land I was still able to process her words, make a decision, and even remember it all.)

So the pushing begins! The pool had been emptied but was by no means full again. For a few minutes (entirely to appease my desire to get back in the pool and not in preparation for it actually becoming a reality) my mom continued filling the pool so I could get back in for the birth. I tried hands and knees but kept squatting back with every push, sitting on the babies head is not the best way to get him out! I was not terribly comfortable anyways. So I tried side-lying, and that's what we stuck with. They tried to keep me pushing slowly to avoid tearing too badly, but it was SO hard. I'm a pretty strong pusher anyhow and my body was taking no prisoners, I was pushing whether I wanted to or not and there was no half-assing it. I could either not push (very hard, lots of "blowing out the candle") or push like the dickens. So we went back and forth, go ahead and push, then wait hold it right there wait wait stretch stretch and then relax. Up until the last push or two that birthed him he turtled right back in there between contractions. I thought before hand that having that happen would really really discourage me but in the moment it was kind of a relief.

I was able to look down with a mirror and see his fuzzy head, and feel the squished up patch of skin that was emerging. Just a moment later (and wow, did pushing ever hurt. HOOOOLLLYYYYYY CRAP guys, that burning/stinging SUCKS) and his head was out, it was so cool feeling his shoulders pop down into the heads previous location, and I must say alot more comfortable. Another small push (same contraction) and his shoulders came easy, and La Shel told me to reach down and grab my baby. Some of the sweetest words I have ever heard in my life. So I reached down and grabbed him, although they had to slow me down because his legs were still in there! One last little "umph" and he slid out, and my mom leant a hand as I brought him to my chest. There really are no words for how amazing it was in that moment. I could live there in my head quite happily. :)

He gave a couple little squawks but really didn't cry much at all. The cord was once around his chest, which I know scared my poor Shanna a bit but it wasn't compressed or tight at all. There was ALOT of cord, and the placenta came flying out hot on Dorian's heels. A smaller chunk had seperated from it, and that took a little bit of pushing/coughing to come out, but out it came. The next 20-30 mins I just lay there holding onto my boy. Just a few minutes after the birth Anthony returned from the park with Ray, their timing could not have been more perfect.

(For those wondering Anthony and I both knew and accepted that while he was comfortable with our birth plans, he was not keen on being present as he gets pretty distressed. He ended up being around for almost the whole labor, and he was so supportive and loving and relaxed it was just fantastic. The whole environment was 100% better for him, not just me.)

So at 2:25pm, weighing in at 8lbs 8oz and 21 3/4" long. After 2 days of gentle labor at home, roughly 6-8 hours of that being active labor, and one hour of crazy omg transition/pushing, I gave birth to my baby boy right here in my living room, on an air mattress. As some of you may recall I ended up with two tentatived due dates, one Oct 5th, by a 16 week dating ultrasound and fundal measurement that seemed supportive of that date, and Oct 12th, by last menstrual period. Towards the end of the pregnancy I decided for my sanity to go by the later date of the 12th. Well Dorian was born without a speck of vernix, loooooong fingernails, and very pruny hands and feet. La Shel marked him down as gestating 41 weeks 3 days, which I agree with. I do bake them long, but it was nice not feeling like the days were just dragging on and on, counting and worrying as I got later and later. He came right at the perfect time, when he was ready, with no coaxing at all. :)

Monday, 12 October 2009

My Apology to the Universe

I had one of those awesome awkward moments tonight, when I completely and utterly embarassed myself. Thank you mama, for inadvertently pointing out how hard I fell on my face not so very long ago. (And I mean that honestly, it was something I'd not thought of in a long while or how much I've changed since then.) Barb was witness to my uncomfortable side-stepping and back-tracking as I awkwardly tried to make myself look like a little less of a dumbass, it probably didn't work so well. Lol.

Anyways, enough with being cryptic. At dinner tonight when I mentioned an old friend of mine (and I've mentioned her on here numerous times I'm sad to say, my neighbor in Spain that had her baby a week after we had Ray) that, looking back, I'm surprised stayed friends with us. We were all reasonably close, as couples go, had quite a bit in common as we all liked to play World of Warcraft, weren't really big on the local social scene (lots of bar-hopping), ended up having our first children around the same time. But man, in secret we were so harsh on them. We talked alot of shit, that I'm really not proud of. Compared ourselves to them frequently over all kinds of things, and getting pregnant just made it worse.

I see now that we were starting at such opposite ends of the spectrum just to begin with. On top of being, DUH, totally different people in different circumstances, everything was different from the start. We got pregnant on purpose. They went off birth control, but were surprised. I was super thrilled, she was unsure how to feel at the start, in spite of being my elder by a few years. I had a breezy, chipper first trimester that involved an obscene amount of food consumption and sleep, she could barely keep food down and didn't want to leave the house. And it just went downhill from there. Once I got over my initial fears of learning about birth I started devouring all the information I could get my hands on. She reluctantly borrowed Dr Sears The Birth Book from me much later in the pregnancy, but did end up reading it and feeling a bit better about what was to come.

I never really thought before tonight about how much she's taught me about myself, and oh it has not been pretty. I never really embraced our differences, I stuck my nose up privately and consulted my Bad Mother measuring stick. It really strikes hard when I consider how I held her up to my Bad Birth measuring stick. Her birth was my first chance to use it, and I did. I see now even before I realized I was at all unhappy with my own birth, I was sneering at hers. Back then, by george she'd had it EASY. She'd been induced (gah, "just like me!" again!) and had quickly progressed. By quickly I mean it didn't take two days. She'd gone in for a normal appointment on an empty stomach, was found to have low fluid and rushed off to be induced. After laboring (and starving) all day, she got the same half-assed epidural I did the week before, and before they even had time to fix it (as they had for me) she was pushing. Or rather, the nurse was pushing with her, on the top of her belly. Her little girl was born vaginally but still had a bit of fluid in her lungs. Something happened postpartum with bleeding or the placenta, I'm not sure, but the poor woman was so weak she could scarcely hold her baby until they got home. Little girl spent days hacking up fluid with an IV splinted in her arm.

Before tonight I'd not thought about her birth in, well, a very long time. I wonder now that I ever saw that as easy or better for ANYone. I wonder what awful, callous things I said to her when I was lost in my own confusion and hurt in the following months. I know some of the awful things I thought of her, as I shared them on here and with other friends/family. (Not so much about her birth, I think, but her parenting in general got sized up frequently as we really had no other new parents in our circle of friends to splash our judgement upon)

Please don't take it wrong here, I cannot blame the shitty friendship I offered her on my birth experience, as I know we were doing it long before Ray came into our lives. I'm starting to think it's no wonder they preferred to hang around on base (rather than go explore Spain) with people like us offering our companionship.

To take this in a slightly different direction now, I'm getting a handle on my pride. I don't think I fully understood how darned full of myself I was. (And AM, as long as I'm attempting honesty here) I thought, before my first ICAN meeting a few months ago, that I was doing pretty darn good on my path to recovering emotionally from the birth. At the beginning of this year I had a wake up call on my attitude that lead to me being able to be happy for another woman for her birth. To empathize with her over things not going as she'd planned, even though for ME it would seem like an ideal birth, I could understand that for her it wasn't. That HER experience of it was what mattered, and not my very biased judgement of it.

Then I went to ICAN. And look at me! Look at how well I'm recovering! Look at how at peace I am! I could barely get through a cliffs notes version of Rays story without breaking down. Insert screeching tire sounds here! What was all this emotion still hanging around about? My pride plodded on though, oh it was just being able to talk about it openly. Yes that was it. I'm not still harboring bitterness and negativity, right? His birth brought me to where I am today! I LIKE it here!

Last month I went to the BOLD Red Tent Event (which is fantastic, mind you). I didn't share. I heard stories similar to mine, and not. I laughed, I cried, I fought with myself about whether or not I would share. I knew it would probably be a good idea. I didn't do it. After it was over, I talked to a few ladies I knew, and jokingly said that maybe I'd share at the October event, when I had a story worth sharing.

Worth sharing.

I'm crying even typing it out. Because my god, even with all the negativity, it IS worth sharing, right? But quietly, at that event, my measuring stick came back out, and it was held against myself. I even got into a bit of a spat on facebook recently over this very thing, and didn't even realize it was the very same thing, because I was applying it to myself. We hear so often in birth culture about women educating themselves as though it will cure all birth ills in our society, and that has come around to bite me. Because I felt (and still feel, I suppose) that I really did. Sure, I didn't know everything, but I thought I'd read a whole damn lot. Enough to know that what I agreed to was a Bad Idea. How could I possibly share when I'm still so ashamed of the choices I made?

I talked about it again with Shanna recently, and she told me that maybe I need to forgive myself already. This honestly surprised me, and I see now that it shouldn't have. Another of my ICAN friends mentioned how she believes she needed her first birth to go the way it did so that she could let go the choke hold on control and running the show that she had. I just realized...that's me too. I don't really blame the hospital staff/doctors, for the most part they were very nice, and did the best they could within the scope of what they know to do. It's ME that I hold a flame over. Because I knew SO much, right? But then I wonder if I'd really, truly known better, maybe I wouldn't have made all the same decisions I did.

Can I ever let it go? How do I walk the line between acknowledging the part I played in his birth, and chalking up alot of mistakes to naivete? Where does self-awareness end and overblown pride begin? *laughs* Can those two co-exist at all? Does it make me feel better somehow to grasp at that little dangling string of control, to say that I really had a say in all that went on? To pretend that I was truly given a choice at every turn? Is this some kind of fucked up coping mechanism?

How do I forgive myself? I really, really don't know where to begin. But I'd like to.

Edit: Aha! Entitlement. I think that's alot of what it came down to. I felt that somehow, because I knew more, I was entitled to better. Not to be confused with just being deserving of better to begin with, because we ALL are. Analogy time. One woman spends months and months researching a product she wants to buy. She finally settles on a store online, buys it, and everything goes to hell. The company ships the wrong item, loses her order invoice and won't take a return or refund her money. Another woman buys the same item, minus the research, and has the same issues in receiving it. Because she didn't do all that self-educating, is she more deserving of being screwed over, lied to, or otherwise taken advantage of?


And yes, there are many reasons, GOOD reasons, I agreed to do things the way I did. And I know this, I'm just working on accepting it. Off to bed with me. :)