healthy and peaceful, and we're all so in love.
Birth story to follow, as soon as I wrap my head around it.
Hope all is well (or progressing, anyway) with everyone here! Sending love to all new (or new-again) mommas and mommas-to-be!
Update (3/1): Here's (what I can remember from) Olive's birth story. I have an extended version written in a journal to her, but I'm breastfeeding at the moment and can't reach it. If I leave out something especially juicy, I'll be back to update again.
I'd been having little labor signs for 36 hours or so (cervical pinches and pressure, and what FELT like a hand squeezing my bladder - hmm - I should've paid more attention to that!) and I began to have a little bloody show and some mild contractions. DH went to work on Tuesday (the 19th, her due date) but called every few hours for updates. He was a nervous wreck - at the time, I thought it was kind of cute. I didn't realize how useless it would render him. He came home early, and we finished packing our things for the birth center and then trotted over to the mall to do laps together. We had a 4 PM midwife appt, so we went over and I smiled through little contractions while we waited our turn. My sister (the postpartum doula that roadtripped all the way here to stay for three months and support me) came, too. 5 PM came, and we were called back at last. MW checked me and announced that I was 3 cm and 90% effaced, and - oh - that's not just bloody show, it's wet. Shoot. She checked some discharge for ferning and, indeed, it was amniotic fluid. Luckily, we had the bag of antibiotics (for GBS) in the car, so we went downstairs and started the heplock then and there. (It took three stabs to get it in - I was giggling at my formerly well-behaved veins. Bless those birthing rooms and their low light!) I was sent home to administer a castor oil milkshake and get some rest, and instructed to return within four hours.
We came back (me and my entourage - which had increased in number to three, with my mom meeting us at the birthplace) and set up shop. The midwife (a different one; in fact, the one I'd been hoping for as she'd been at my own birth and she just knows what's up) laughed at how much STUFF we brought, then humbly scarfed down the extra soup I'd packed her because I knew she hadn't eaten. I sat on the bed and swung my legs while MW hooked up more antibiotics, and I guzzled coconut water and probiotics and chatted with everyone. It felt like a sleepover. My contractions weren't bad yet and I was excited.
Finally, MW got tired of me trying to take care of everyone else ("Don't you want to take a nap? We'll probably be here a whiiillee..." and "Did you bring a good book?" and "Have you eaten anything? We have SO much food.") and ordered me to try to get some rest. I laid down and consented. My sister kept me company and we listened to Bon Iver Pandora, and then she rubbed my back as I leaned over the ball. I realized (after an hour, when things finally started to pick up) that I'd never called my cousin to ask if I could use her late mother's name for Olive's middle name, so we called her. My sister had to take over the conversation a few times as I contracted and it finally dawned on my cousin that I was calling in active labor with a purpose, not just to chat. Ha.
This is where things get fuzzy. The room was dark and I felt a little bit like I was dreaming. I spent a lot of time "clearing out," thanks to the castor oil. I ran to the bathroom ("run" is a relative term) probably every 20-40 minutes throughout labor. I remember sitting on the toilet while we were still timing contractions, calling out, "Contraction starting! ... It's over!" and trying to remain good-humored while I was arching my back and grasping for stability at the base of the potty. Some time later, I had a few rough contractions while bending over a half-wall on the way back to the bed, and everyone materialized beside me. Someone asked if I wanted to get in the tub, and I almost cried for joy, not believing I was at that point already. The water felt so good! My husband returned from his nap upstairs (I hadn't seen him since we got started) and sat beside the tub. I was probably in there for 40 minutes... or two hours... but I became discouraged when I I realized I was going it alone: DH was dozing pretty solidly unless I made a lot of noise. I gave up and turned up the hot water and relaxed a bit too much; MW came in and saw that I was falling asleep, and suggested that I hop back in bed.
MW checked me: 6 cm and 95%. Whether she meant to or not, she got my waters to break, and then I got down to the real work. The castor oil kicked in with its full force, and I sent MW and my mom rushing around with silver bowls as my tummy's contents came up again and again. I tried to find manageable positions on the bed, had another dose of antibiotics, and labored intensely for a bit before I was invited back into the water. While I was waiting for the tub to fill up, I was bending over the floor while DH and my mom tried to rub my back. I kept swatting them away, feeling guilty that my sister was the only one that intuitively knew what kind of back pressure I wanted. I hopped back into the water, and what do you know - as soon as I got in there, I felt pushy. My mom was hanging out with me, and I told her how worried I was about pushing in the water and "clearing out" at the same time, since that would evict me again. MW came in and heard my concerns, and suggested that I push on the bed, since I wouldn't be able to let go in the water. (She was right.)
Okay, pushing. I'd worried about it for weeks - why? I knew I could labor (and I DID; thanks, breath!) but I had irrational fears about pushing. My sister reassured me the day before, saying that most women really love pushing - it feels like a reward, and something they're actively participating in, unlike the ride that contractions are. So I really didn't understand when I couldn't handle pushing after all: WHY did it hurt so much? I couldn't deal on all fours, or leaning over the headboard, or draped over the ball. Finally, I was encouraged to flip onto my back and curl forward... I was confused, but compliant. (Olive wasn't sunny-side-up, but there was apparently something about the shape of my pelvis that made that position favorable.) It felt like it took forever for her little head to descend, but finally I was able to feel her (hair! lots! whoa, her head really did mold! I looked down and seriously thought I was birthing a doll) and that just made me ready to finish. I remember - while I was on all fours - muttering that I didn't want to do this anymore. I was very clear about not saying that I couldn't - just that I didn't want to. It hurt. To that, the crowd around me said very encouraging things, and I rallied - "Of course I can! It just hurts. I can, I can. I'll do it."
I was in danger of tearing upwards, so MW asked if she could do a tiny snip. I consented, and Olive popped right out. I was invited to pull her the rest of the way out and up onto my chest, and we spent a few minutes getting to know each other. She was perfect, and just the right pink, and alert. She cried coming out, but settled quickly on my chest and began rooting after I'd shakily rubbed in the rest of her vernix. I delivered the placenta (well, THAT was easy!) and the other MW (MW2) arrived, along with their receptionist/nurse assistant/my childhood friend, which was fortunate because we needed all the help we could get as I started to bleed out. Apparently, Olive wanted to join the superman club, and came out with her right fist next to her face. (I knew it!) That ruptured a blood vessel aaaallll the way up the birth canal. The next two and a half hours were spent with me on my back, Olive on my chest and nursing for most of that time, while MW1 stitched me up. I also got jabs of pitocin and cervadil, just for good measure. My sister held a lamp at proper sewing angle, and MW1's legs fell asleep. I was hooked up to a bag of fluids. Olive was weighed (8-12! Everyone thought she'd be 7 lbs!) and measured and admired and passed around while I faded in and out. After that fun, I really really needed to pee, and my sister helped me walk my IV-friend to the bathroom. On the way out, I leaned over the little half-wall again and breathed, and my sister told me to let her know if I needed to sit down. I said I just needed a minute... right before I passed out.
I woke up with my whole entourage around me, the smell of ammonia, my husband holding Olive and crying, and my foot tucked into my crotch on the tile floor. After that, we got our stay extended a little bit and I was ordered back to bed. Ate some sushi and some lentil soup, napped, and went home!
My sister has been the godsend I imagined she'd be. My mom, too. We've had such an incredible outpouring of support that I have two pages of names and gifts to write thank-you notes for.
I'm starting to feel a bit more intact. MW said that it was really a war zone, internally, but it should heal pretty well. I'm so lucky that I had her! Given the blood loss, I was ordered to avoid stairs (ha - we live in a two-story, 2nd-floor apartment) and take it very easy. The first few days were tricky, as I could barely sit (too painful) or stand (too exhausting) but I'm getting into a rhythm and have been able to climb the stairs without huffing and puffing tremendously. I've been outside the house three times now: twice for walks (she loves the Moby!) and once - in the car! - for our postpartum MW visit. At nine days old today, Olive's nearly nine lbs, still slightly jaundiced, but more alert and interactive all the time. She's such a peaceful soul. I already feel like I'm missing her newness, though I've soaked her up as much as humanly possible.
Update (again) 3/5: The more I digest the experience, the more I feel that I really achieved/received an ideal birth. At first, my memory was clouded with the "interventions" I received - while in fact (in my opinion) I didn't receive any. Sure, I had castor oil, antibiotics, an episiotomy, stitches, cervadil & pitocin (after delivery) and IV fluids, but I can truly say that everything was necessary, I felt informed and consented, and I don't regret a thing. And: Olive came into the world in the most peaceful, gentle, and loving way possible, and that's what matters most to me.
Edited by sgsnyder - 3/5/13 at 11:27am