A Sweet Birth

V, you were such an easy mama to work with prenatally. You had no real questions, no pressing concerns. It helped that you worked in the childbirth field yourself and that you came to the event with a wealth of knowledge and trust of the process.

Late in the evening before, you let me know that you were having some cramping that was rather rhythmic and that you would let me know if things changed. Early the next a.m., you called to let me know that it was about time for me to head over to you.

When I arrived, you looked very much in the early/early active labor phase. You were definitely working hard, and your face would pink up with every pressing on your cervix.

You relayed that, after we hung up last night, your husband and you had gone for a bike ride to dinner with a friend, then went home to simply hang out and let things happen as they would. It made me smile to envision you riding your bike in the dusk of the day, coasting during contractions.

Your husband made a smoothie and we talked about your progress. You were around a 3 (husband had checked you about an hour earlier) and your baby was still bobbing high. I asked when the last time you had been outside was. It was the night before. So, we got our shoes on and headed outside in the crisp early morning air.

As we began our trek around the lake, you remarked about the people who were out running, biking, and playing in the morning cool. Some women who passed us would give me secretive thumbs up, while the men stared worriedly.

One man stopped to ask if you needed help and expressed his concern that you were having a baby. Your husband replied that you weren't having a baby but that we were working toward that goal.

With every contraction, you would lean forward, either against the fence along the trail, or against your husbands strong waiting arms, and one of us would give your hips a nice squeeze. I could feel the intensity picking up in your face, your ligaments, and especially your eyes.

As we continued our walk, you both talked about how your son would love the ducks, and we laughed about the man's kind concern. It was a beautiful morning and I took a deep breath, noticing a nearby spider's web, glistening with the mornings dew, and a perfect creamy pink nautilus shell lying in the grass. I plucked up the shell and put it in my pocket, a reminder of the great things I knew were coming for you during the day.

Once we got back home, you asked to be checked again. And I watched as your husband lovingly eased you back against the pillows of your bed. You relaxed into his touch and he leaned forward to nuzzle your neck and whisper something to you that only you could hear. You smiled gently and he checked your dilation. You were 3-4cm and thinning beautifully, turning anterior. Your baby was still bobbing high.

At this point, you decided to go for a swim in the pool. So we three donned bathing suites and stepped out into the early morning sunshine. It was barely peeking over the tree line and the sight was serene and joyful. As you frog swam from end to end, I and your husband would alternate pressing on your hips during birthing waves. You smiled, you cried and I knew your heart was coming in line with your cervix perfectly.

You quickly became chilled, though, and wanted to warm up in a bath inside. At this point, you had around 2-3 minutes between contractions that would last about 45 seconds. I hoped that the bath would warm you to relax enough that they would space slightly and become longer.

As I got out of my wet suit and into dry clothes, I heard you and your husband snuggling in the tub. I walked by to see you in an embrace, your eyes closed, a slightly smile on your lips, and his hands gently caressing your belly. The air literally shimmered with the love in that room.

I busied myself around the house, giving you two time alone, but soon heard the water draining. Your husband emerged from the bathroom to announce that you had 'become a cavewoman', shutting yourself in your closet.

A good sign.

I joined you in your closet to see you sitting on a towel, sun-kissed and belly-ripe. I sat nearby, and we talked about how you were feeling. They were more intense, sharper, and taking your breath away. You wanted close, and dark, and quiet. You were moving through your birthing time perfectly.

Your husband served us espresso and quinoa and beet salad in the closet, and there the three of us had brunch while you decided what you wanted to do next.

Once more, you wanted to be checked. Your towel was showing crimson streaks and we knew you were making progress. Once more your husband nuzzled you lovingly and gently checked your cervix. Baby was low, you were a good stretchy 4, and nearly completely thinned out. You were ready to head into the hospital.

While your husband started the car and brought your bags out, I helped you to get ready. We talked in gentle, quiet tones. I knew your heart was speaking to you. At one point, your tears fell freely and I asked what was going on inside.

This is the last time we leave the house as two... 

Your heart mourned and delighted, simultaneously, that you were moving beyond lovers into lovers and parents. I promised that, when your husband came in for you, I would go to my car and wait.

When he returned to gather you for the car, I left the two of you sitting on your stairs, talking in hushed tones, holding one another.

Shortly after, you made your way to your car and we drove together to the hospital. It took awhile to get situated in your room, but, when you were comfortable, the nurse found you to be 4-5 and 90%.

You were happy, and you were tired. As we continued to work through your labor in the hospital setting, you both worked together to regain the intimacy felt at your home. You used the ball, walked the room, and sat on the toilet. Your labor quickly picked up again, and this time it was pressing down with a strong purpose.

You knew, prior to starting your labor, that you would want the epidural at some point. You were beginning to wonder if you would need it soon. Your contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and were lasting a minute each.

We talked about when you might not want it. In the end, you chose to be checked and, if you were in transition or greater than 7cm, you were going to forgo the epidural. You were a stretchy 6-7cm and completely thinned out, and you wanted to rest.

The anesthesiologist worked quickly and soon you were resting in bed. Your husband turned on some light jazz music and I recommended you try to get a little sleep as I didn't think you would be laboring very long.

Although you tried to sleep, you were too excited and, instead, you laid on your side and we chatted. As we noticed your contractions were spacing out, and we knew you were hoping to birth with your own hormones, I gave you a foot massage, working on pressure points to stimulate your labor.

Like magic, they became closer together again, but with a triplet pattern beginning to emerge. In order to encourage baby not to move into a posterior position, you sat upright, hugging the ball, and ate a granola bar while grinning from ear to ear. Your labor pattern returned to normal and we enjoyed the music, smiled and laughed.

Your husband's friend came in to deliver pizza shortly afterward and we dined, while you reported some pressure in your bottom. The room was nice and dark, the mood was light, and you were moving your baby down.

When his friend left, we worked on another foot massage and you moved from side to side to help baby move down while also trying to even out a left-heavy epidural. The massage didn't seem to be picking up your again-slowly spacing contractions, so instead, you curled around your belly and began rubbing it, talking to your son, and singing to him.

Magic again! Your contractions came closer and your nurse announced you were 8-9cm. As the pressure became stronger, your doctor came in to talk with you. Your husband expressed interest in catching your son and so he gowned up in preparation.

Soon you were feeling enough pressure to push, and we got the squat bar in place for you. You brought yourself up into a modified squat and began bringing your son down in earnest. As the room gathered your doctor, nurse, and nursery nurse, you alternated between a modified squat with the squat bar and the classic position.

Your husband provided you with counterpressure and perineal massage, and soon you were watching your son in the mirror as his head moved through your body and into view.

His head was born slowly and gently, and your husband made everyone laugh when he twisted his son's hair into two little horns. Once his head was out, he began the slow rotation to move his shoulders out. And, as he slipped from your body, you and your husband both let out an ecstatic yell!

Immediately, your husband threw his scrub-top off and drew your son against his own chest, skin-to-skin. You put your head back on the pillow and smiled lovingly at the sight! You were cleaned up, and soon holding your son against your own chest. As his cord stopped pulsing, your husband clamped and cut it, and you snuggled your son even closer to your heart.

After your husband helped you to deliver your placenta, your son went to the warmer to be weighed and measured. 8 lbs 11 oz, 21 inches long.

We cleaned you up, got you tucked into a clean bed, and immediately afterward, your son was back in your arms, where he latched onto your breast with gusto and began nursing in earnest. Your husband climbed into bed with the two of you and, as a family, you discovered one another.

32 hours after your birthing time began, I quietly made my exit, leaving a newly born family nestled in the love and safety of one anothers arms.


tara said...

Such a beautiful story, exquisitely written so that I felt right there watching.

An extra special 2 thumbs up for a positive hospital birth story that seemlessly blended traditional birthing (squatting) with more conventional methods (hospital and epidural). We need to hear of more experiences like this one.

Angela said...

I agree with Tara. This is a beautiful birth story, very positive.


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