|Faustina's foot while being weighed. photo courtesy of Ginny|
This birth was to be a lot of firsts for us. After being stuck in the hospital for three days before my last baby came for a scheduled delivery, my husband and I were ready for a change of scenery this time around. Despite the fact that I've always wanted to have a natural birth, for my hospital births, somehow I've ended up being hooked up to IV's, pumped full of pitocin, stuck to an obnoxious baby monitor that threatened me with every dip of the baby's heart beat to have this baby or have a c-section that I knew I didn't need and had my cervix checked more often than I cared. That's not natural- not a natural setting, not a natural feeling and just plain uncomfortable. This time I was ready for the "hand's off" approach, even if it meant I couldn't have an epidural. I've always had epidurals even though I tried not to. I would go as long as I could without one, but I would cave at the end when my cervix was going no where and the baby's heart rate was going down.
I'm not going to lie, if it weren't for all my cool friends around here having babies at home, I don't think I would ever think about. Thankfully, they all went through it first and had tons of great advice. Having a baby at home was so different on a few different levels. First, you have get so much ready at home for the baby and midwives. I spent an entire week cleaning and organizing my house. It's never been so clean! Second, there is different level of responsibility the midwives give you vs. the obstetrician. In many ways, I felt more in charge of this birth than ever before. From being in charge of my own charts in the office to making all decisions about the birth, to being responsible for the supplies- surprisingly, I liked it better this way. I don't know if I would have liked it for the first, or even second birth when I didn't know what to expect. But this time, the doctors and nurses weren't having this baby- my husband and I were. The midwives were along for the ride.
Now on to the birth. I started contracting on Tuesday morning at 4:00am. They started off good- about 10 minutes apart. I called my husband who was at work. He was more than happy to come home early. We spent the day preparing for a possible birth that day, but then the contractions slowed way down. We ended up running errands, doing last minute cleaning and driving around to see Christmas lights with the kids. It was a nice way to spend a day before the baby came. I had checked off everything I wanted to get done before the baby came and now I could relax.
I have to say there is something about being mentally prepared to have your baby. With my other births, I've always gone 10 days over- the longest time the obstetricians will let you before being induced. This time, I only went three days over and it was the first time I didn't need an induction. I was surprised it actually happened on it's own this time. I attribute it to being able to mentally welcome the whole birth experience- pain and all. Letting go of the fear and anxiety of child birth was only made possible by all the reading up I did on natural birthing. The reading material led me to believe I could have a good birthing experience by welcoming contractions instead of dreading them. This was mostly true... there's a point, however, that no matter how much relaxing you do, the pain finds you and takes over. It's all good though. Having something to offer up is helpful at this point!
For me, being spiritually prepared is essential for giving birth. I like praying the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary with the meditations from Immaculee's Our Lady of Kibeho. It's the third time I prayed it while in labor and it always gives me the right mind set for making the pain a spiritual offering. This time, I prayed for the conversion of family members. We received word that one person in our family (whom we were unsure of) went to confession two days after the baby was born. I don't know if it's related, but we thanked God for the sign of hope that was given.
Back to the birth...The next morning was Wednesday 12/12/12, the contractions started strong again at 3:30am. This time, they didn't go away as soon as I got up and I was sure this would be the day. We sent the kids off to my friend's house continued to make last minute preparations- finding the perfect music and getting the bedroom ready with the bed sheets put on the right way, so that after the birth, there would be clean sheets ready to go.
When it was about 1:30, the contractions started slowing down again- from 10 minutes apart to 15 minutes apart and they were weakening. We decided to pick up the kids again. The plan was to have dinner at home, put the kids to bed and maybe have the baby the following day. But as soon as the kids got home, things picked up again! My two year old was crawling on me when I had a huge contraction. I yelled for Eric to take the kids away and he brought them to another friend's house.
While he was gone, I called the midwives and told them the labor was picking up and to think about coming down soon. 15 minutes later, I called again and told them they better head down. Things were picking up faster than I thought. That was at 4:00pm and rush hour was at its worst. It would take them at least two hours to get to Fredericksburg from D.C. I prayed they would make it on time.
For the next hour and a half, Eric and I worked through the contractions with Yanni and whatever other cheesy new age music Pandora could find. It's not my typical listening choice, but it was good for relaxing. I laid on the bed on my side with the lights off and Eric massaged my back the entire time. I wouldn't let him leave for a minute. I was working hard to stay in my zen and I knew the minute he left, I would lose it. From all the birthing books and advice we learned, to have a successful natural birth, relaxation is the key. Eric recited some hypno birthing relaxation scripts, which were somewhat useful. I knew I wasn't going to be able to enter any sort of state of hypnosis, but at least I could try to use them to relax. So he talked about rainbow colored mists and opening flowers while putting pressure on my lower back to counteract the pressure from the contractions that were getting stronger and stronger. Now they were only a minute or two apart.
To be continued...