great story huey! thanks for posting so quick! you actually inspired me to finally write satchel's birth story. i also thought it would be a nice way to celebrate mother's day. dh has been great today--he is changing all of the diapers and is totally entertaining the baby while i do this.
anyways--here goes. warning, it is LONG, but hey, i was in labor for 36 hours! hope you like it:
Mother’s Day 2002
Well I think it is only fitting that I write down Satchel’s birth story today. Hard to believe that he has been here for three weeks. It feels like forever ago that I actually gave birth to him and I can hardly remember what things were like before he arrived.
A little prologue: Satchel’s due date was May 7th, but I was really convinced that I was going to have an Aries, so I had “picked” the weekend of April 20th to go into labor. All signs had pointed to us having a boy and we had referred to my belly as Satchel for months, but I thought that if the baby was an Aries, surely it would be a girl–our little Keiko. Friday the 19th I woke up feeling very mucous-y. I didn’t see my mucous plug or anything, but I felt like “something” was happening. I got up as usual and went to work and I was actually excited because I knew that my friends at work were throwing me a “surprise” baby shower. The shower was great–lots of good food and way more gifts than I ever expected. Everyone kept asking if it was my last day at work and I just smiled and said, “Maybe.” When I left for the day, I grabbed my day planner and a few other things I knew I would need just in case I didn’t make it back.
Saturday morning Warren and I slept in. When I got up to go to the bathroom I felt a very weird sensation. “Warren, I think I just peed on myself,” I said. It seemed strange but I continued on with my morning rituals. Warren planned a motorcycle ride with Monty and I planned on going to Earth Day at the Shell. As I was tooling around getting ready, I had the sensation of peeing on myself several more times. I called one of my midwives, Martina, and said, “Uh, what does it feel like when your water breaks?” She laughed at me and said she’d be by to check me in about an hour. As Warren was leaving I said, “Honey, I think my water just broke so please check your cell phone every 15 minutes or so.” He got a goofy, excited look on his face and seemed a bit speechless. I encouraged him to go ahead and go, but to check in with me on a regular basis.
Martina arrived around noon and confirmed that my water had indeed broken! Yay! I knew it! An Aries. And possibly a girl afterall. Martina warned me that it might be a long labor and not to get too excited because I hadn’t even had a contraction yet. She gave me some homeopathic pills to take and gave me her cell phone number. “Don’t start calling everyone,” she said, “Your baby might not be here until tomorrow.” I tried to stay calm but as soon as she left, I called my best friend Marlinee. “Hey, what’s up?” I said. After some chit chat I said, “So, uh, guess what? My water broke.” She couldn’t believe it. I told her not to get too excited because it could be awhile and then we got into the Aries discussion. From the get go Marlinee was convinced I was having a boy, but even she started to have her doubts. Next I called my mom and gave her the same spiel. I made her promise not to tell anyone, but within minutes both my sisters knew. Oh well. My final phone call was to Vanessa, my good friend who is a practicing midwife in California. I gave her a play by play. As we were talking I noticed that my lower back was really hurting. “You may want to crawl around on the floor some,” she said, “Just in case the baby is facing the wrong way.” We hung up and I did as she said.
It took about an hour or two of back pain for me to realize that what I was feeling were actually contractions! DOH! I called Martina to let her know and pulled out my birth ball. Warren called and I suggested that he come home. I sat on the birth ball in the livingroom, in the bedroom, in the diningroom...it didn’t much matter. I was starting to get uncomfortable. I called Warren, “Come home NOW,” I said. He did.
“We have to hang up the pictures!” I said. Warren dutifully opened the closet and pulled out the stack of posterboards that my friends had decorated for my blessingway. One by one he hung them on the wall facing my bed. Next, I got the candles from my blessingway and put them under the posters along with the magic wands. Ok I was all set. Warren started timing my contractions. They were anywhere from 2 minutes apart to 15.
“Maybe I just take a peek at Linda Goodman’s Love Signs one more time,” I thought to myself. Well I must have thought it out loud because Warren brought me the book. Much to my surprise I discovered that the cut off for Aries was April 20th, not April 21st as I had thought. By this time it was almost 5:00pm and a pre-midnight delivery seemed like a long shot.
We went on as usual, with the exception of 10-12 contractions an hour. Warren made dinner, tofu stir fry, and I parked myself in front of the TV and tried to watch my newest favorite show, “Trading Spaces.” It was hard to eat and even harder to keep up with “Trading Spaces,” even though it was their first ever celebrity edition. I called Martina and she came by at 9:30pm. She seemed pleased with my progress, but informed me that since I was still able to talk through my contractions that I still had a ways to go. She suggested that I try to sleep.
I tried, I really did. Poor Warren, every time he’d doze off and start to snore I’d wake him up by moaning or whining or something. By 1:00am I was beside myself and we were starting to get mad at each other. I was mad at him because he was sleepy and couldn’t make the pain stop and he was mad at me because I was mad at him I guess. Martina said she’d be right over and suggested that I get in the shower. That was the best shower I have ever had. I must have stayed in at least 20 minutes because when I got out Martina was there.
The rest of the night is kind of a blur. I must have been in what they call “Labor Land.” Around 5:30am Martina thought it wouldn’t be much longer–the head was low, I was dilated 5cm, 100% effaced (I just made up those stats as I really don’t remember what they were exactly)-and she called Kim and Casie, the other midwives. She said it was probably too early to call my mom, but we were definitely making progress.
I remember Kim and Casie arriving and the sun coming up. I think Martina took a nap and Kim and Casie took turns rubbing my back, massaging my hands, encouraging me, etc. At 9:00am I told Warren he better call my mom and Marlinee to let them know I was still trying to get the baby out. At this point the general theory was that the baby’s head was turned the wrong direction, thus making it difficult to get out.
The afternoon is a blur of homeopathic pills, herbal tea, dried fruit, baths, wardrobe changes, hanging on my husband, hanging on each midwife, leaning against every wall in the house, and begging for more counter pressure on my back. Finally at 4:00pm, Martina decided I needed a change of scenery. I threw a maternity dress over my t-shirt and we headed out the front door for a walk. I put one arm around Casie and one arm around Martina and we made our way down the street. Every few minutes I would have to stop, hug one of them while the other pushed on my back, and push with all my might. Being the president of the neighborhood association and living across the street from a pretty crowded movie theater made me feel a bit self conscious, but I had no choice. I had to get the baby out. “Come on Bumpy,” I said, “Come out.” I was calling him “Bumpy” because I was sure his head was going to be completely deformed from being lodged in my pelvis for so long.
Back inside, I continued to push. I pushed on the toilet, in the bedroom, and in the diningroom. I remember that there were chux pads everywhere and that at some point I was no longer embarrassed to be standing up in my diningroom peeing on the floor. Every once in a while a big wave of amniotic fluid would spew out. Since I seemed to be still making progress, although slowly, the midwives made the decision to try more “drastic” measures. I agreed to an enema. Soon I was pooping in every room in the house and not giving it a second thought. I think at some point my mom popped in and maybe my sister too, but they quickly left once they could see I was ok, and still very pregnant.
When the sun began to set I had a moment of dispair. Afterall, I had seen the sun set once already. I looked at Martina and asked her if she really thought I was going to get this baby out. She said yes. Then I looked at Casie. “You’re doing great,” she said. And Kim said, “Stacey, you are going to have your baby today.” Then I burst into tears. I think for the first time in 30 hours it finally dawned on me that I WAS going to have a baby.
We all hunkered down and decided to get the baby out. Warren and I got on the bed and I sat between his legs like I had seen on all the birth videos and pushed with each contraction. Martina had her hands inside me, pulling my pubic bones apart, doing everything in her power to get the baby out. After a few contractions like that, they decided that a new position was in order. I actually got on all fours like I’d seen in the birth videos that I swore I’d never replicate. It was hopeless, I felt like a donkey. In the end, I got off the bed and squatted with Casie’s support. I felt like I was in a scene from the Red Tent and that my Cameroonian “mom” would be proud of me. Warren sat on the edge of the bed and held my hand.
I pushed and screamed my guts out with every contraction. Kim was holding my legs apart and Martina was still pushing my pelvic bones apart and every time she pulled her hands out I thought it was the baby. Everyone was telling me how great I was doing and how close the baby was, but I didn’t believe them. Then I noticed Kim frantically getting her things in order–a pot of boiling water maybe– and at that point I actually believed that the baby was going to come out. With my next push, the baby’s head crowned. They held up a mirror so I could see, but I wanted to see my whole baby. I started pushing ferociously until I felt the famed “ring of fire”. It felt awesome. It was the best feeling in the whole world, because I knew it was really my baby’s head this time and not Martina’s hands. I heard Warren exclaim, “It’s the baby’s head!” and I pushed one more time as hard as I could and his whole little body came out. Before I knew it, he was in my arms. He looked strangely familiar, or just like I thought he should look. He had a head full of dark hair, and was a mini-Warren. He even looked a little Asian as I had hoped. I knew it was Satchel even before someone spread his legs to be sure. I did it. I really did it. And yes, I’d do it again. Just not right away!