Queer, Pregnant & Parenting October, November & December 2013! - Page 10
Thanks everyone. We've definitely experienced nearly every emotion possible over the last few days. Fried: We had the ceremony at the City and County building immediately after we got the license. So many people were just getting married in the crowds so we headed down the hall a bit. To the right of us was the entrance to the bathroom, not the most romantic haha. We had a ceremony in California 3 1/2 years ago, it wasn't legal though. So we already got married, at least in our hearts, and had rings and dresses and the whole shabang. This was just for legal purposes really. It's amazing how different it feels though.
Redrock - Yay! I'm so happy you guys could get married. I only saw your post just now because I mostly lurk on the pregnant/parenting board. And here I thought I didn't know anyone in Utah. So excited for you guys. I remember when we could finally get married here in California. I hadn't even seen that coming, we had given in and done a domestic partnership shortly before that. Utah is a true and delightful surprise - I'm so happy for you - what an amazing year this has been for you!
So much catching up to do!
As you've probably figured by now, Olivia has arrived earth side! Here is her birth story, finally!
Olivia’s birth story officially begins the night of Saturday, November 16th, 2013. This evening I threw a surprise 39th birthday party for Christie at Big Al’s Bowling Alley in Vancouver. Her actual birthday is the 17th, but Saturday evening was a better night to throw a party. Not only was Christie surprised to see her friends and family gathered, but I was surprised by the turnout as well! Maybe it was all the excitement of that evening that jumpstarted labor! I know for sure that I was definitely moving around a lot more that night than I had been in the proceeding weeks.
We had a really wonderful time at the party and returned home exhausted around 10pm. Once I was finally able to take a deep breath, I realized that I hadn’t used the restroom all evening. This was surprising to me because at that point Olivia was sitting so low and heavy on my cervix that I was usually using the restroom every 30 minutes or better. Christie stayed in the living room and I lumbered up the stairs to the bathroom where I quickly discovered some light pink blood when I wiped. “Christie,” I yelled, “Um, can you come look at this?” Moments later she was next to me with a big grin on her face. I knew this was the start of something big but at that point I figured it could still be another week or so before Olivia was born. I really thought I was going to go late. Saturday night was only 38 + 5 and I just couldn’t fully wrap my mind around the possibility that she’d come early.
Over the next 24 hours I started slowly losing more and more mucous, but it was never a copious amount and I wasn’t feeling any contractions, Braxton hicks or otherwise, so it was easy to ignore. That next night around 11:30pm, though, I lost a really big chunk of mucous that looked more like a blood clot and that really freaked me out. I never knew that a mucous plug could look like a blood clot. Because I was so worried, I decided to reach into the toilet and feel it. I don’t know what I thought I might be able to tell by touching it, but I did so anyway. It felt rubbery and thick. After about 30 minutes of worrying and ill-advised googling, I decided to text my midwives with a picture of the rubbery, bloody mass on a piece of tp and ask their opinions. Kathy responded by telling me that I should ask the other midwives since she didn’t know for sure and she’d never seen a mucous plug look like that before. Cassie called and asked me some questions and then told me that she thought it was the mucous plug, but wasn’t 100% sure so I should ask Kori (the lead midwife). At that point I decided to call Kori because she hadn’t replied to my text yet. She answered right away and with certainty declared that it was indeed my mucous plug (because it was rubbery and didn’t break up in my fingers when I touched it). Phew! That was a big relief. I was very glad to have access to her expertise during my entire labor, but especially at this point.
Shortly thereafter my contractions began slowly. They were so subtle at first that I didn’t really know what they were until I realized that they were coming on for a short time and then fading away in a semi-regular pattern. To me they felt like mild period cramps at this point. The night before, after seeing the bloody show, I had messaged the girls on my November Mamas FB page to ask when they thought I’d start feeling contractions. I was worried that I might not know what they felt like because I had learned in Hypnobirthing that I could just experience my contractions as mild surges. They all said that I would just know when they came on. This was true as it turned out. That night and into the next day I felt the contractions semi-regularly, but they were mild and definitely tolerable. Sleep was elusive because I was kind of excited about feeling anything remotely related to labor, but I still didn’t think that I was actually in labor.
Still, I felt like Christie should probably stay home with me that Monday since I wasn’t sure what might happen next. She thought she should go in for ½ a day at the least, but acquiesced to my request without too much begging on my part. We relaxed most of the day and my contractions really slowed down a lot that morning and early afternoon. Around 4pm we decided to head out to Target and Trader Joes to do some shopping. I really didn’t want to walk around because I was so exhausted and sore (I’d pulled a muscle in my right butt cheek somehow), but I compromised with Christie and walked around for a short time at each store. I remember arriving at Trader Joes and thinking that there was no way I’d be able to make it from the car to the front door. I was so incredibly tired. Somehow I did, though. From there we went over to Jimmy Johns and I stayed in the car while Christie went inside to order takeout dinner for the both of us. That was when the contractions really started coming on strong. By the time we got home and I was sitting in my recliner, they were coming on every 6 or so minutes and lasting about 45 seconds each. I was hungry, but I couldn’t eat very well because I was so focused on breathing through each surge. I ate the whole sandwich though! We got home around 6pm and around 8 we called the doula to come over. I think she showed up around 9pm and upon timing my surges she suggested that it was probably time for the midwife to come over as the surges were coming every 5 minutes or so. Our midwife came around 11pm with her bag full of tools. This was when things really started picking up.
To deal with the strength of the surges I sat on the birth ball and swayed back and forth, got into the bath, curled up on my side in bed, and listened to the affirmations CD. Throughout, I breathed in to a count of four and out to a count of 8. It took a lot of focus and determination to get through each surge and they were a lot stronger than I thought they’d be, but I just kept moving forward and trying new positions and methods to relieve the pressure. I mostly felt the sensations in my lower back, which was surprising to me as I figured I’d feel them in my uterus. By 2am I was completely wiped out. Kathy, the midwife, had examined me once already, but hadn’t told me what I was measuring as I didn’t want to know at that point. At this point, though, I was ready to give up. I remember begging Christie to just let me go to the hospital and get a c-section. I told her, “I don’t give a shit what my sister and mom say! Just let me get a c-section. I can’t do this anymore!” Now that makes me laugh, but in the moment I was just so done. Somewhere in my mind, though, I remember also knowing that I must be in transition because I’d heard that when women are in transition they often feel like they are really done with laboring. Kathy came to examine me again then and I told her that I wanted to know my measurement this time. Fortunately she listened to me even though she told me later that she was afraid I was only going to be a 5. Instead I was a 7 and ready to be transferred to the birth center.
I knew it! I had been begging Christie to take me either to the birth center or the hospital. I wanted so badly to get into the birth tub as I thought this would relieve the pressure significantly. Now all I had to do was get from the house to the birth center and it would all get better. Christie quickly gathered all our things together and loaded them into the car, Kathy headed over to the birth center to get things ready for our arrival, and the doula stayed with me. Kathy said we should wait a ½ hour before leaving so we could give her enough time. I thought that there was no way I could wait that long, but somehow I did. Finally we loaded into the Sequoia and I went to lay down in the back seat. That was completely impossible, though, so instead I sat in the back on the edge of the seat and clung to the back of the front passenger’s side. With each surge I squeezed the seat tighter, gritted my teeth and rode the waves. I was working out so hard! Christie was driving as fast as she could, but I still wanted her to drive through the red lights even though she wouldn’t do that.
We got to the birth center around 2:50 and Kori greeted me at the front to walk me up the steps. All the while we were in the car and at home Christie had been playing our birth play list, which included several tracks of Native American flute music. The music stopped while Kori and I were walking up the stairs, but I remember clear as day that when I stepped into the birth suite the music resumed! I was surprised that they had found a way to get the music playing in the room before we got there as it was on Christie’s iPhone before that, but I was impressed! As it turns out, the iPhone was in Christie’s pocket the whole time, so that’s how that worked. Lol. I wasn’t thinking logically at that point. Quickly, I tore off my clothes and got in the tub. The water was warm and it felt good in that way, but it did not decrease the intensity of the contractions. If anything, it may have increased the intensity. Almost immediately I felt the need to push. The doula was in front of me letting me cling to her arms and Christie was behind me squeezing my hips. I was vocalizing a lot and not directing my voice downward to push Olivia out. Kori came to my side and looked me in the eyes and told me that I needed to move my voice downward so that I could harness the energy instead of losing it through the top of my head. I listened to her and did this and boy did it work! Also, I remember repeating this one affirmation to myself over and over: “This is not bigger than you- this is you.” That really helped.
From the tub they moved me to the toilet for several surges. I sat facing out with my feet up on blocks. Then I moved to a squatting position at the end of the bed. I told them that they’d need to help me up between surges as I don’t normally work out and I definitely don’t squat. Lol! They were happy to help, but when I recall this experience I realize that I did essentially complete a 12-hour cross-fit workout with absolutely no training. Isn’t it amazing what the body is capable of?!
It was in this squatting position that Olivia’s head began to emerge. I thought that I was going to have to get her whole head out in one fell swoop. I thought her head kept coming back in all the way at the end of each surge. Christie could see her hair and she exclaimed, “Baby! She has black hair! Reach down and touch it!” I did and that’s when I realized I was so close! I knew I couldn’t finish in the squatting position, though, so I moved onto the bed on all fours and clung to the headboard. I was in this position for about a ½ hour and then flopped over onto my right side and lifted my left leg. Christie helped me push my leg back as I pushed and pushed and pushed. This is what my body was calling me to do. I would have just breathed her down, but the urge to push was just too intense to ignore and I’m glad I didn’t ignore it! Because I listened to my body, my labor was just 12 hours from the start of regular contractions to her arrival earth side!
So, after I flopped onto my back I was pushing for a little while and finally I hit a wall that I knew I had to break through. From a deep, deep place inside me came this tsunami level wave and at that moment I roared out loud, “I CAN DO THIS!!!!!!!!” And that was the contraction that delivered her head. One more push and her whole body came out! All the midwives and the doula and Christie laughed and cheered when I yelled that I could do it. What an amazing moment that was! Christie watched her emerge and Kori pulled her up to my chest and told me in a calming voice that I was safe now. It was all such a blur after that. I was in complete shock that she was actually here. I was crying and shaking and repeating, “I did it! I did it!” over and over. She was so beautiful and slimy and warm. She cried almost immediately and I just held her tight to my chest. I could not believe I had actually done it! I’d given birth naturally! Even still when I look at her I am in complete awe of the miracle God granted us.
Our daughter, Olivia Grace Soto, was born at 5:56am on November 19th, 2013. She was such a thoughtful girl too- didn’t want her Mommy to have to share a birthday with her and didn’t want me to have to be in labor on that day either, so she came on the 19th, which put me in labor the day after her Mommy’s birthday. Olivia was a very healthy 7 lbs, 7 oz. and 19.5 inches long. Of course, we are partial, but we think she is just the most beautiful baby of all time.
The great thing is that she continues to be healthy too! In a little over 5 weeks she has gained almost 2 pounds. Both of her heel pokes came back with normal results and she eats and sleeps like a champ. Breastfeeding has been a big challenge because she was born with a tongue-tie and a lip-tie. Because of this, she did not learn how to suck properly while in the womb. Now she is learning, but I do not have much patience for the process as her latch hurts my nipples really badly. Right now I am expressing about ¾ of a full supply of breast milk through pumping and she’s getting the other ¼ in formula. We feed her mostly with a bottle at this point. I do still try to latch her on to my breasts from time to time and she does latch on quickly, which I’m grateful for. It’s a shallow latch, though, and she uses her tongue in the wrong way. Because it hurts so badly, I am gritting my teeth throughout the feed and I know that gets in the way of producing a full supply and also bonding with her. I bond with her so much better when feeding her a bottle, but I grieve the loss of the happy breastfeeding relationship too. So far I’ve seen two lactation consultants and I haven’t given up hope of exclusive breastfeeding yet.
If there is one lesson I’ve learned from her birth it is that I am capable of enduring a lot more than I ever dreamed possible. I don’t give up easily. Yes, I may yell and complain a lot, but I persevere. For that, I am proud of myself. I want future Hypnobirthing participants to know that they too can persevere even if their labor and/or postpartum looks different than they anticipated. The reason it took me so long to write this is that I was ashamed of having vocalized in labor. I felt a lot of grief for having a labor that looked so different than I’d imagined it would and worked so hard for it to be. And deep down I was afraid that the reason Olivia was having so much trouble breastfeeding was because I scared her by yelling while she was moving down the birth path. Yes, I really thought that she wasn’t breastfeeding because I had severed our bond with my worry and vocalizations. Honestly, I do believe that the way a baby is born is important, but when I’m more gentle with myself, I also realize that I am being way harder on myself than I should be. Just like my body was calling me to push, it was also calling me to vocalize. I swear I had absolutely no control over it. The truth is that Olivia and I are bonding and for that I am so, so blessed.
I also did hypnobirthing with my first. Some of it was useful, some of it wasn't. Labor is different for everyone, and I get annoyed by these methods that make us believe there's only one way. Really, that goes for parenting too.
I had a very similar breastfeeding issue with my first, and ended up pumping and bottle feeding for close to a year. It felt like a relief in the beginning (the pain of that latch!), but I got pretty depressed about it as time went on. If you want her on the boob, work on that NOW, with some top notch support. Can her tongue tie be clipped? Message me on FB if you want more support around this. xoxo
It's nice to hear that I'm not the only one not helped much by hypnobirthing. I didn't take a class but used a tape. I liked some of the affirmations, but my birthing experience was painful and intense. I also find it frustrating when people make it sound like their is one right way for birthing. I did not find it helpful to be told "just don't think of it as pain"... Ha! I yelled an awful lot during birthing my baby and I wondered how Taft affected her at first but realize that women have been bringing babies into the world with moaning and yelling for quite some time, and I don't think it is harmful at all.