Today I thought I'd take (another) break from hyperemesis gravidarum and try to post my birth story. Why? Because it's fun!!!! I love birth stories. When I was pregnant I read them compulsively (still do, actually, whenever I can get a minute). Just as a matter of form, here's my favorite site for birth stories:
Anyhow, my birth story. I don't think I'll get very far, as it's almost time for C. to get up, but it's worth a try - I can always do two installments.
I'm also going to write from memory rather than copying my own official birth story - something for which my faithful readership should be extremely grateful, considering that my "official" birth story is something like 15 pages, typed (or more!).
And those who are squeamish about birth stories should feel completely justified in moving on to the next entry and skipping this one. But I'll keep it modest. :)
We had my last prenatal on Monday, June 20, 2006 - my due date. We were worried because Wendi was leaving the country for six weeks that Saturday, and didn't want to have to have another midwife if we were a few days late. Wendi, bless her, wasn't a bit worried, and she was right. I lost my mucous plug the next day, so things were in motion.
(I should mention how I came to choose a midwife - When I got pregnant, we didn't have maternity coverage. In my cherubic innocence I thought that "no maternity coverage" meant that while our insurance wouldn't cover hospital birth, they would cover other services (such as homebirth midwifery). Well, I was wrong - they wouldn't cover any of it. But by that time I'd done enough research and read enough stories that I was hooked!!! I didn't care at that point - I knew I wanted a midwife.)
On Wednesday night I took a firm hold on Joe and told him that we were going to get our to-do list done, as I was tired of putting things off indefinitely. So we hung our clothesline, set up our bassinet, and did several other things. My one and only instance of nesting!!!
Thursday morning I awoke with a start at 4:28 a.m. with the odd dual sensations that (a) I really needed to use the restroom, and (b) I was already doing so! It didn't take me too long to realize that my water had broken. I was nervous and excited! I got up and cleaned like a maniac and then got dressed, being very careful to do my makeup and clothes nicely, since our midwives would be coming over! (Ha! As if that would last!!!)
My contractions immediately made themselves known. I had had rolling Braxton Hicks contractions since my second month of pregnancy, but as soon as my water broke they became much more intense and uncomfortable - labor had started.
When Joe got up, he immediately freaked out and insisted on calling Wendi. After that we had breakfast, and then I headed back to bed. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. and cleaning wildly had been tiring! So I slept lightly, waking up for contractions.
Sometime that morning the toilet decided to overflow, so there I was trying to help Joe clean up a flooded bathroom in between contractions. Rather amusing! We called for emergency maintenance help which, as expected, never came, so the carpet had to dry on its own. We were too busy to fuss with it anyway.
Our doula came over in the early afternoon. Sometime during the afternoon, Wendi came over to check on us. I asked her if I could labor in water, and she said yes, so I immediately headed to the bathroom and stayed there - first in the shower, and then in the bath.
I have to put in a plug here for laboring in water. This may sound weird, but when I got into the tub/shower, labor pain initially vanished. Completely. It was wonderful. Of course it built again from there, but I don't think I could have done it out of water. It is, after all, reputed to reduce labor pain by about 40%, and I highly concur.
Another amusing thing was my total loss of modesty. When I initially got in the tub and Joe asked if our doula could come in to say hi, I was really reluctant. Well, it went downhill from there! By the end of the night I was walking around stark naked in front of everyone and not caring a bit! So funny.
One thing I also learned about myself was that I am loud in labor. Very loud. Think male sea lion during mating season. Or maybe a wounded bull moose. Many women are. I'd read enough birth stories to know this, so I didn't try to fight it (couldn't have, probably, anyway). So I yelled my head off with each contraction! Thankfully, none of our neighbors seemed to notice.
Somewhere during early evening, Joe and Jennie set up the birth pool in our living room and filled it up with warm water. I immediately headed in there, and the relief was once again great. Wendi and her back-up, Sue, arrived about this time. However, I was never actually able to say hi to them. It is true that in labor you do loose a lot of functions you normally have - such as conversation. Your whole body is focused involuntarily on labor, and all extraneous functions cease. Makes sense.
However, after going through childbirth, I realize how important it is to have an advocate with one - an informed husband or doula. A woman is really helpless during a lot of childbirth - she is vulnerable to suggestion and unable to fight for her rights. If I'd been with an unscrupulous caregiver, he/she could have given me pitocin, an episiotomy, whatever they'd cared to, because I wouldn't have noticed and/or been able to stick up for what I wanted.
This last part of labor was not a lot of fun. Everyone just sat around quietly, giving support when needed, while I dealt with things (loudly!). During the worst part I had a massive throwing-up spell, signaling transition (gotta love it!). It was during this time that I broke out in the standard "I can't do this anymore, dang it!!!" lingo. However, I was giggling inwardly at being so stereotypical - breaking out the typical transition phraseology like I'd been reading it from a script!! LOL
Our cat was totally freaking out. She had no idea what was going on - we have some great pics of her going around sniffing everything.
When I would ask "Am I almost finished?", Wendi would wisely say, "Soon!" I'm so glad she didn't tell the truth - I couldn't have handled it. She also told me that the only way she could know for sure was to do a vaginal exam. I refused each time. I knew that I couldn't handle it emotionally if she said something like "2 centimeters!"
When my vocalizations changed from yelling to grunting, Wendi said she'd like to check to see how things were going. She did, and not only were we fully dilated, but Caleb was at a station of +4! Almost there!
I should say that it is one of the proudest points of my pregnancy that the first vaginal exam of my entire pregnancy was an hour before Caleb's birth. Wendi is so, so hands-off (not all midwives are), and I loved that about her. No fuss!!!!
She tried to help me push more effectively in the water, and then after a while suggested I get out. Wendi mentioned later that most primips (first-timers) don't end up giving birth in water, as they tend to find the lack of gravity confusing. I concur!
So we went in the bedroom and pushed in a variety of positions, ending up with seated. I pushed like heck for one or two hours. It hurt like anything!!!! At the very end I just gave up and pushed, because I wanted it to be over more than anything. And Caleb was born!! At 10:35 p.m. - 18 hours of labor. We'd refused prenatal ultrasound, so the first big excitement was finding out that he was a boy!! Joe had desperately wanted a girl, but he immediately fell in love with Caleb and hasn't looked back since.
We'd discovered mid-labor that our video recorder had quit, so our doula only caught the last minute or so on her camera. Big disappointment. Next time we're going to check it before labor starts!
One of my big disappointments was that I (through some odd act of divine intervention) missed out on the birth ecstasy - that "my baby, my baby!!" moment. I was really bummed. I wasn't actually that interested in Caleb. I just wanted to go to sleep! But he was pretty cute, and we spent the next couple of weeks falling in love.
Wendi and Sue and Jennie and Joe took turns cleaning up, getting rid of the birth pool, bathing Caleb, and doing a gentle newborn exam (we refused eye prophylaxis & vitamin K, and delayed newborn tests). I myself had only torn slightly (nothing to worry about), so I went and showered while they changed the sheets (after eating an enormous bowl of strawberries and cottage cheese, I should mention) and then went back to bed. They all left a couple of hours later.
(I should mention that midwives don't forbid eating during labor - in fact, they encourage it - but after breakfast, I hadn't wanted to eat anything. I just drank Gatorade. So I hadn't eaten since about 6 a.m. that morning!)
So that's my birth story! I have a feeling that I'm going to be coming back to my blog every couple of hours today to input little details I've forgotten, but that is the main!