Monday, January 9, 2012

birth of my daughter

Oh, what a birth.
The arrival of this little one was so much easier than my son's ... I suppose that's pretty typical for a second birth.  My body had done this once before, we weren't as nervous as we were before, and we had a lot of prayers sent our way.  What a difference.

I wasn't scared at all for this birth. Being a doula and having been through a lot of births lately, I felt confident and knew what I wanted. My husband Mark did too; he had recently attended a seminar on adjusting pregnant women, which ended up being as much of a natural childbirth class as it was an adjusting class. He said I could have it in the car if I wanted.

Well, it all began on a lovely Tuesday morning. There went the plug. I immediately began doing laundry, Mark vacuumed the house, and we tidied things up in preparation for her arrival. I then hurried off to my doctor's appointment for some halting news. "You are dilated to a two, but her head has turned sideways. I think you will have a couple more days." Wah-waaah.

So back to the house I went, and we decided to take off to Knott's Berry Farm to get a good walk in for me and some fun for our two year old.
My "braxton hicks" contractions were starting to feel more like those lovely monthly cramps.  Nothing intense, but a change nonetheless.  Still ... I kept that to myself and decided that if labor was coming, it was coming.  I would just go about my business and ignore it until I just couldn't any more.

The rest of the day was spent with Mark consistently asking how I felt, with me consistently shrugging and saying about the same -- although a bit more blood did make an appearance -- and our boy goofing around, playing in the hot tub and enjoying his last few moments as the complete center of attention.

After he was asleep and I had some time to focus on myself, I realized these contractions were feeling different ... but nothing too crazy, so it couldn't be real labor, right? Just in case I phoned my divine friend to warn her to keep her phone on that night, as she might be getting our two year old before the sun came up.

As we layed around, we decided to time them, just out of curiosity. 6-10 minutes apart. But they weren't really intense, so it couldn't be labor ... at least that's what I kept telling myself.  I felt sure that if I went to bed they would slow down or go away, and so we decided to attempt some shut eye. But I needed a couple of things from my wonderful husband beforehand ... an adjustment, and a priesthood blessing. And so he lined me all up between contractions with those magic hands of his and massaged the bajeezes out of my back. And then he gave me the most wonderful blessing I can remember. I am so grateful to be married to such an incredible chiropractic priesthood holder ... I fought a few tears, and then we decided to try to get some rest.

But those contractions kept waking me up. Finally, around 3:30 am I told Mark I just couldn't lie there any more, so I jumped up and he did as well. We went downstairs and watched infomercials while I paced, rocked, and bounced on my birthing ball while Mark timed. They were about every 3-5 minutes apart, and Mark asked what I was waiting for. I explained that I did not want to wake up my friend or our little man, and decided that I could make it till he was up and fed and taken care of. Then we could go.

So almost exactly at six, we heard our son crack open his door and sneak down the stairs. For once, that was perfectly fine with me.

Mark fed him and dressed him while I took a shower to try to relax through a few more contractions. We finished up at about the same time, and all piled into the car. Once at our friends', Mark simply hoisted the entire car seat out with the little man still in it and carried him up to their front door.

I started crying.

Just a little. I guess it really hit me that our last moments of just my boy and me had truly ended. Next time I saw that big-headed sweetheart of mine, I would be forever trying to split my time. He was no longer the sole focus of my attention.

When Mark returned, he seemed a little worried that labor was starting to kill me ... but once I explained the tears he calmly and a logically reminded me how good the whole situation would be for everyone. Of course he was right, but still ... it felt good to cry a little.

And so on we went for our twenty minute drive to the hospital. It wasn't so bad, no screaming or squeezing the crap out of Mark; mostly a lot of deep breathing and grimacing whenever we hit a bump. Before long we were there, and made our trek up to the third floor. I was still able to walk through the contractions, but I was starting to feel a little bit like jello.

The check-in process took some time. I don't think the gal in the office believed I was actually in labor. We filled out the necessary paperwork between contractions. At one point she asked me why I believed I was in labor. "Contractions," I told her, and she just nodded. I secretly wondered if she was right and I was just over-playing it, but that sounded like the worst thing in the world, and I didn't entertain the thought for long.

Our doula Elizabeth met us in the hallway on our way to the room. Having her there, I felt a second wind. I was excited to have her knowledge added to my own, and felt ready to get to work.

Apparently the hospital was quite busy that morning; a dangerously pre-term baby was born, and the fire inspector was on the way. It took about 45 minutes for a nurse to come in and get us all settled. But that was fine with me; my one fear with this labor was that the nurses might make me stay in bed the whole time ... I definitely did not want to be trapped. And so while we waited I paced, squatted, lunged, and did everything I could think of to create space and help that little gal get in the best position to make her entrance smoothly. Mark and Elizabeth were wonderful; always watching me, providing a little conversation and some laughs between contractions, and all sorts of physical support.

Finally two nurses came in, and they were incredible. Right off the bat, I knew I would like them. They were fine with everything I wanted to do. I showed them my birth preferences I had all typed out, and they asked how my doctor felt about them. I told them he said it should be fine, and to show it to them as they would be the ones with me through the labor. They laughed at that, but agreed.

So the nurses said they'd like to keep me on the monitor for a little while to make sure my little one handled the contractions alright, and then checked me.

I was at a seven.

YES. I felt relieved and a little surprised, but didn't have much time to dwell on it as another contraction came on. I decided not to get too excited or to look at the clock much ... just breath through the contractions as they came along. Elizabeth told me she had never seen anyone that far along and so ... with it. It's sure nice to have a doula around to give you a little confidence. 

I braced myself to start losing it as I thought back on my training. But until then, I would just keep breathing. Mark eventually asked me if I wanted to stay lying down or get up. I asked him to get the birthing ball (which is just a big exercise ball to sit on ... creates all sorts of movement in your hips without having to put forth much effort). So off to the car he went, while Elizabeth and I worked through a few more contractions.

Eventually our nurse came back again and hooked me back up to the monitors and checked me. I was at a nine. She had the other nurse notify the doctor, and told us to call her if anything changed; like my water breaking (which it still hadn't) or any crazy pressure.
So I decided to try the bathroom one last time, (empty bladders leave all sorts of space) and that walk to the bathroom about did me in. I didn't stay long before I was up and Mark was holding onto me through some intense contractions. I started shaking and sweating and feeling incredibly flushed ... and decided I needed to make my way back to the bed. That little walk brought on a monster contraction that ended with a hint of that undeniable, all-consuming urge to push. Mark and Elizabeth noticed and weren't surprised one bit when I whispered what I felt, and Mark headed out to the hall to tell our nurses. They all came in just as another contraction came on. Wow. I couldn't believe how hard I wanted to push ... and then suddenly a lot started to happen at once. The nurse began demanding I get on the bed or that baby was going to be born on the floor. My water broke all over myself and Mark as he tried to help me get up into bed. All sorts of nurses came in the room, and lights were turned up. And everyone seemed to be saying one thing: "Don't push!!"
They all had little tips too; "High breaths", "Don't look down," "Keep it short," and so on and so on. I wanted to yell, "You people are CRAZY if you expect me to do that!" But instead I just listened to Mark. He was right by my head whispering, "Just do what you're doing. Keep doing what you want to do, you're doing just right."
Mark later told me he thought it was funny that I just completely ignored the nurses ... but in all honesty I didn't. I did try to stifle the urge to push; but it is impossible! There was no way I could ignore it. I tried some of their breathing suggestions, but they always ended in a grunt. Oops. Suddenly a nurse told me to lie on my side. "It'll be easier on you; hopefully less tearing," and then Mark was saying, "Oh I see her, I see her, she's right there!" Then the nurse again: "Mama, give me your hand. Would you like to feel your baby's head?" And then another contractions, more hollering at me to not push, and more of my light-breath-grunt ridiculousness, and then it just didn't end ... the contraction didn't stop, it got stronger and lighter and stronger and lighter, and then burning ... but that was quickly pushed aside by that larger-than-life urge to push, and then people are exclaiming and then the urge gets stronger and then WHOOSH!
There she is, lying on my thigh. I'm shaking and almost laughing. Mark and the nurse placed her on my lower abdomen, but as they didn't want to cut the cord without the doctor there, and as the cord was wrapped around her little body and the placenta hadn't been delivered yet, that was about as far as she reached. I asked if she was still a girl, and Mark confirmed. I then said, "Oh sweetheart we did it!" And the placenta was delivered and they moved her up closer to me. Mark and I oogled her while the nurses all waited for the doctor to come in before deciding what to do.

Our doctor made his arrival about ten or fifteen minutes after she was born. He stitched me up (just a little tear), had Mark cut the cord, and left. And there we were. Three hours of labor in the hospital. Six minutes of pushing. And it was all over at 10:57 a.m.

She was here. Our newest little member, with all her dark hair and big eyes and olive skin. She wasn't even swollen. I don't think either one of us felt she could be any more perfect.
Welcome to the world, Miss Belen Christine Gunn. We are sure glad you have joined us.

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