Tuesday, July 13, 2010


OK people, I'm typing one-handed here. anyone bothered by typos and the like can come over and take dictation.

Baby boy has a name. For blog purposes, let's call him Nate.

Nate likes to nurse. all the time. It reminds me of Kali's growth spurts, except that it's not just for a few days. It's constant, and sleep is scarce. I don't remember being this exhausted with Kali, probably because most of the time I wasn't.

We have such a lovely community here... people have been bringing us delicious dinners and generally spoiling us rotten. And between our parents, and the babysitter, and Mr. D's two weeks off work... well, I can just hole up in my bed if I want to. Why is it that I'm too stupid to take full advantage?

I wish I had something witty or entertaining to write, but my brain is too fried for that. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a list of posts I'd like to write sometime:

- reflections on doctor friends and elective cesaerian sections
- gems of parenting wisdom, in-law style
- why I love my midwives
- what do you give the parents who have everything?

OK, Nate's eyes are closed now. Nitey nite.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Birth Story

Why am I awake at 1 a.m. typing up a birth story? Um, can I blame my birth high and all those natural endorphins? My men (one big, one little) and my little girl are all asleep, and here I am. Since I can't sleep I might as well get the story down while I remember. Right?

So we all know that this morning I had general menstrual-type achiness and major pressure. Painful, annoying, but not convincingly labour at all. I hung out at my computer and looked at double stroller reviews on Amazon.

It dawned on me sometime around noon that the achiness was actually coming in waves, and I started to time them. Hmm... six to eight minutes apart. They hurt, but they really only seemed to involve my lower abdomen, so I was unconvinced that these were "real" contractions. I decided I'd take a bath and see what happened... but first I had to round up the bathmats (hanging on the clothesline outside), get the clean towels from the dryer and fold them, and hey, maybe I should wash out the tub and clean up the bathroom just in case...

By the time I was finished with those nesting endeavours, it was 2:15 and the contractions were coming every four minutes. I got in the tub. Did I mention I was home alone?

And then... the contractions slowed way down. Ten minutes. Fifteen. Eleven. Four. Four. Four?!?!?!?! I finally called Mr. December and told him to come home from work. I paged the midwives, who said it still sounded like early labour. They promised to arrive in about an hour.

Mr. December came home, and I promptly sent him out for food - today was supposed to be grocery shopping day. While he was gone, the contractions started getting pretty intense - at the height of each, I'd feel a few moments of nausea. I checked the clock and noted that they were about three minutes apart, lasting 90 to 120 seconds each time.

By the time Mr. D was back, I was starting to swear at the beginning of each contraction. A new mantra came to me: "It's just the baby moving down. It's just the baby. I'm not dying, it's just the baby." Mr. D paged the midwives again and told them things had picked up. Fortunately they were only minutes away.

Around 4 p.m. I got out of the tub and made my way to the bedroom where I fully intended to put the plastic sheets on the bed. Really, I did intend to, but I kept getting interrupted by contractions that took my breath away. I felt like I was overheating, a sensation I remembered vividly from my labour with Kali. I couldn't get cool enough. My midwife fixed that problem by applying a freezie to the back of my neck. A relief in the midst of contractions, and delicious in between! I was also lucky that it was a cool, breezy day. I sat on the birthing ball in front of an open window and found relief in the cold breeze.

Kali and our babysitter chose this moment to return home from an outing. "Get her out of here," I growled at Mr. D. He called my mom, sent Kali and her sitter to the park, and arranged for the pick-up.

By this point, each contraction was pushing me to the brink of despair. I told the midwives I was regretting the whole homebirth-without-access-to-drugs thing. They pointed out gently that it would be too late for drugs even if we were at a hospital. They finally convinced me to lie on my back for one contraction so they could check me. 7-8 centimetres, they said, minus one station. To me it sounded pretty far from complete. They claimed the birth was imminent.

I must have stood or sat for a couple more intense contractions before I straightened up and announced frantically, "I have to pee. I have to have a contraction. I have to pee. Oh, S***!" and ran to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet I had another contraction, and the midwife came to tell me it was time to get off the pot, literally and figuratively.

"Do you want to come back to bed?" she asked.

"NNNNOOOO!!!!" I roared. (Did I mention that I had been literally roaring, mama-bear style, through the really crazy contractions? Yes, roaring, in between seeking reassurance that the intensity was normal and I wasn't dying, it was just the baby moving down. My midwives were amazing, reassuring, fabulously telling me that it was so unbearable because it was happening so quickly. They kept me as calm as humanly possible, even when I was begging for someone to just get a baseball bat and knock me out. But I digress.)

"I need to get in the tub," I announced, "and I want it COLD." Mr. December diligently tested the water, ran some more in as cold as possible, and I got in.

I leaned over the side of the tub. My midwife gently told me I'd have to change position so she could see something, anything. Could I please sit back? "NNNOOO!" Okay, how about just turning a bit?

I turned. On hands and knees, with my forehead resting against the corner of the tub, I roared through a contraction and decided the only way it could possibly feel better was if I pushed. So I did. Once...

"I see the head. Hold on a sec." I felt the ring of fire and tried to slow down, pant, and let some stretching happen. I waited what felt like an eternity but was probably a minute, at most. I pushed again... hard... really hard... and out popped the head. One more push and the body was out, I heard a cry, and I turned around in utter shock. Until that moment, the pain had been so overwhelming that I really was unable to even remember the emerging reality of our baby.

"Here's your baby!"
"No way! Seriously? There was a baby in there? Holy crap!"

It was 5:05 p.m.

I held him to my chest, still in the tub. Someone covered us with a towel and a blanket. The midwife showed me, and I felt, how the umbilical cord was still pulsing. Maybe fifteen minutes passed before we cut the cord, and shortly after that I pushed out the placenta. We hung out for a few more minutes before I felt like leaving the tub. One midwife gently took the baby from me. Mr. December helped me stand up and I insisted on showering off before getting into bed. By this point I was freezing cold and he led me back to bed, teeth chattering, while the midwives turned on the space heater.

The hours after that were so relaxed, by which I mean that there was activity all around me but somehow it felt like calm, peaceful activity. Baby was having some trouble warming up, so we lay skin-to-skin with blankets and a heating pad on top of us. Someone brought me a cup of tea.

As the baby latched on (beautifully) and sucked for all he was worth, the midwives examined me. Intact perineum, a few minor abrasions and "skid marks" internally. No stitches. To say I was pleased would be an understatement.

He was weighed, 7 lbs 15 ozs, and measured, 52 centimetres (about 21 inches?) with a head circumference of 32 centimetres (13 inches?). Sometime around 8 p.m. we finally did the newborn exam. We accepted the vitamin K, declined the antibiotic eye goop.

By 9:00 p.m. the midwives were satisfied that we were both okay. At this point I'd been up to pee and they'd stripped the bed back down to the clean sheets. We got tucked in and given a snack, the grandparents arrived, and the midwives went home.

To say that I'm pleased with how the birth went would be an understatement. It was so lovely to be at home, to decide when and where to get totally naked, to roar without any fear of being heard or shushed, to push when and how I felt like it. I can only imagine what agony the ride to the hospital would have been, and how annoying it might have been to have to pack up and ride home in the car instead of just getting right into my bed. I also mightily appreciate how, when the baby needed warming up, the midwives kept him right on me and did all the warming things around us. I can't imagine having him taken away to lie in a warmer by himself. All in all, it was an amazing birth, an amazing experience, and while I can certainly wait to do it again, I have no doubt that I'll want to do it the same way next time.