Monday, January 12, 2015

Birth Story Part 1

I've been enthralled with stories of birth for the last few years especially.  So this post is my way of adding to the wealth of experience that surrounds us. It is my fear that I might offend someone who had a different experience than myself or a different philosophy of birth but please know that isn't my intent. You should also know that my own birth was traumatic- born in heart failure with a significant and often fatal heart disease that followed me until my late teenage years. This shaped me in so many ways but in two very specific ways regarding birth-

  • 1- I can remember my mom asking the doctor at each yearly appointment what my prognosis was for one day having kids of my own. As a young girl the question embarrassed me and as a young woman it scared me- the doctor wasn't sure.
  • 2- Physical activity was always limited. This was really great for getting out of gym class but it also meant no competitive sports and the strict order that I was to stop exercising the moment I became out of breath. I was not allowed to push my body to its limits. 
So I entered this pregnancy with immense gratitude that my body was able to make and sustain life after being so unsure that I'd ever get the chance. I also came to the table with the baggage (fear and insecurity) left behind by half a lifetime's worth of physical limitations. 

It was probably this cocktail of wonder and trepidation that inspired my desire to really truly know birth in the deepest possible way. I wanted an un-medicated, peaceful, positive birth for myself and my son. I wanted to celebrate the miracle rather than fear it- to trust my Creator and the gift I was given, to push myself beyond insecurity and know the strength and power inside of myself. It wasn't about being a "hero" as one rude, male doctor assumed - it was about becoming...becoming a new, fuller me.  

So I did something I had almost never done in my life... 
I chose to believe my body could do something incredible, challenging, 
pushed to the limits amazing. 

November 8th-
A beautiful and brisk Saturday, I met up with my dear friend Marna and her son Holden. In typical Marna fashion in lieu of brunch we walked the town with its adorable shops and brick paths...for 2 hours. She shared with me her recent journey into motherhood and I cuddled Holden in my arms. It was so refreshing to be with one of the women I admire and trust the most. I laugh now because Marna and I only see each other a few times a year but shes always somehow with me when the big events happen in my life. I sent her this text not 24 hours later ...

We parted ways and I headed home with an intense determination to finish a few items on my before baby to do list. My sister in law happened to be in the area and dropped by to visit while I decoupaged the heck out of a cardboard letter E for the nursery. We talked about babies and birth and our hopes and fears. Looking back it was perfect timing for me to articulate my birth plan (since it never actually got written). I voiced my desire for a natural birth and my confidence to try it. She asked me what it felt like to be just 3 weeks away from the big day and I told her that I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas- just anxiously waiting for it to be time. Little did I know I was only 15 hours away from my greatest gift. 

Later that night, Mike got home from work and I made a quick dinner and gave him a foot rub to thank him for all the work he would be doing that night on the nursery (*so I suppose it was more of a bribe) and I was back to tackling my list- painting the back staircase. As I painted awkwardly on my hands and knees belly very much in the way, the discomfort grew. I assumed that I was dehydrated from my walk and the way I was scrunched on the stairs. About 3/4 of the way down I stopped to catch my breath. Mike told me to stop but I was hell bent on finishing. I was trying to tell him that  could finish but a wave of pain took my breath away. Once it passed I painted another step...and another until I found myself needing to hold onto the railing in between steps and breaths. Slight nausea kicked in and I surrendered the paint brush and crawled to the tub. The normally comforting water did nothing for me but I was convinced that it wasn't labor. Just the day before at my weekly exam I told the doctor that I thought I had a few contractions but she laughed at me- and told me that I would know when I was in labor. So, since I didn't know I diagnosed myself with dehydration but because dehydration can cause early labor I called the on-call doctor who agreed with me. She half-heartedly told me to call back if the pain came every 5 minutes. Mike took out his cell phone and started timing and sure enough every 5 minutes a wave would hit. IT felt like pressure- intense cramping but still not what I expected labor to feel like.

Mike turned into the new dad to be that you see in the movies- the one who panics when labor starts. He started throwing things into bags and running from room to room. Meanwhile I kept calm, convinced it was a false alarm and in a few hours we'd be home from the hospital. The drive to the hospital felt much longer than usual- even in the traffic free, quiet hours of the night. 

The woman at the front desk struggled to find me in the computer system and I struggled not to wet myself with each wave of pain. Since I was convinced they would laugh at me and send me home I waited what felt like 20 minutes with a forced smile on my face before they whisked me back, dressed me in a hospital gown and awkward socks and hooked me up to a machine. The doctors checked my progress and casually mentioned that I was 4cm dilated and 100% effaced and that I was doing a great job. I was still clueless. People came in and out and then made mention of an IV and getting moved so I asked, "I'm staying?" They politely laughed at me- "honey you are having a baby...and soon." Christmas was coming early!!

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