If anyone cares to read it (or maybe just skim through!), I finally finished my birth story
Thanks for reading!
“I am woman; Hear me roar” or more like, “I am woman, hear me scream like a rabid, wounded hyena” LOL
The Birth of Ocean Mary
On Friday, February 11, 2008, I was having mild cramp-like contractions throughout the day, but didn’t think too much of them and went about my everyday business. Orange stayed home from school because she had a bad cold. We walked to Reuggerio’s and got subs for lunch. I had the urge for a large steak bomb, which turned out to be a mistake…
Around 6, I called the doula Katherine and gave her the heads-up that I thought it might happen “sometime this weekend.” Contractions (or surges if you prefer) started getting more intense and I tried timing them around 7pm for a bit on “contractionmaster.com” but they didn’t seem to follow any logical pattern. They were mostly 5-6 minutes apart with “mini-surges” in between, and I still thought I had plenty of time. I did a lot of pacing, peeing/ sitting on the toilet, rocking back and forth on the computer chair (*note* cheap plastic Ikea chairs are not meant for labour rocking!), drinking Gatorade, and using my lavender hot pack. During contractions, I would envision a huge wave and I would swim, swim, swim up the wave, ride the top, and then slowly coast/ float down. This worked pretty well although they started getting really intense and even when I would envision the top of the wave, it still took a while to come back down!
Orange was wonderful. She watched (too much) TV and brought me my Gatorade, the bucket to throw up in (I kept thinking I was going to throw up, though I actually only threw up once) (*note to self: Steak bomb not the best choice during labour) and after I threw up, I took some TUMS and brushed my teeth…and Orange would bring me my lavender rice pack from the microwave. The heat helped a bit when I put it on my back. I would run to my bed for contractions and rock back and forth on my hands and knees. This was the position that I felt most comfortable in. I also started moaning and making low, gutteral feral-type noises that I have no idea where came from. I had been flipping through Pam England’s Birthing From Within earlier and I remember reading something about “channeling your inner wolf” and that’s just what I did! I was in the “zone”, in “labour land” I guess. This is how I was meant to birth.
I was waiting for Cory to get home and he (of course) was late. I left a message on his voice mail that was something to the extent of “you need to leave NOW”. He finally got home around 8pm. I was in Orange’s room with the lights out moaning and crying through the surges. He tried to do some of the deep pressure point massage that the doula had shown us. I was crying and screaming “it doesn’t work!” (it felt awful, it actually made it worse, I think I’m one of those women that likes to be left alone during labour). He obviously thought we still had plenty of time as he asked me if I wanted to “try out the shower for a while” and then he asked if he “had enough time to do the litter box.” I told him nooo, it was TIME to call the midwife. He called the midwife on call and told her that we were coming in. She asked him to put me on the phone and she asked me how far apart contractions were. I could barely answer her, I just blurted out “I don’t know!” and threw the phone back down. Cory picked it up and she asked him to ask me when I had last felt the baby move and again I answered, “I don’t know!” and then I said, “I can’t answer questions! Just tell her were coming in now!” And then I was scared because I didn’t know when I had last felt the baby move. I was just in the “zone” and hadn’t even thought of that.
Cory threw some last-minute stuff in the pack to bring to the hospital (we still forgot a lot, like the cloth diapers, nothing like frantically packing at the last minute, lol!) and got me in my nice new red fleece robe (that my mom got me for Christmas). He had asked if I wanted that or my coat, but there was no way I wanted to put on my big, bulky down coat. I couldn’t even make it to the door, so he said he would bring Orange & the bags down to the car and then come back for me. When he came back up, I was squatting, holding onto the bed and I told him that the baby was coming and that we weren’t going to make it. He very adamantly told me that I HAD to get in the car. As soon as that contraction ceased, we RAN down the stairs. As soon as I got outside, I grabbed onto the porch post, which was dusted with snow and did a mini-squat. The cold night air felt crisp and clean and everything was very vivid. I noticed Cory glance up and down the street. I think he was looking to see if anyone could see us, lol! We didn’t see anyone out, but I’m sure people could hear me! But, of course, at this point I was so internally focused that I didn’t care at all. Cory had the front seat all the way back and I crawled in on my hands and knees.
The ride is sort of a blur but it was very primal and spiritual. I was holding on tight to the head of the seat with my butt up in the air. I was extremely loud and I remember thinking how remarkable it was that these sounds were coming out of me (I didn’t think I would be loud, but boy was I…I had no choice!)~ low, guttural sounds and high-pitched screaming and I’m ashamed to admit, some choice cuss words (“turn off that fucking music!” and “why is the road so fucking bumpy?!”) thrown in. Hypnobirthing this was not! Orange was in the back seat in her booster (so right next to me basically) and she was completely nonchalant (as I knew she would be!) and I remember I apologized for my screaming and told her it’s just what I needed to do to get the baby out and she said, “I know Mom, but it does sound like you’re acting…” LOL
I told Cory that the head came out and that he needed to pull over. He felt over to my sweatpants but said there was nothing there. I reached over and felt for myself and he was right…so that must have been my bag of waters breaking. A couple of minutes later, I said the same thing and this time it really was the head. Cory felt the head bulging through my sweatpants and I told him he needed to pull over and take off my pants to catch the baby. He pulled over (we were on Carlton Street in Brookline, about 13 minutes from our house, probably even less considering Cory was going pretty fast!). It’s the street right before the bridge, with huge Victorian houses owned by Harvard University…a beautiful street to be born on!
Cory pulled over and quickly called 911, put the phone on “speaker” and threw it on the dashboard. He then pulled my pants down to my knees and caught the baby. I guided him in flipping me over to my back and placing the baby on my chest. This was somewhat tricky maneuvering around my pants and the umbilical cord. When I saw her, I knew she was fine even though she didn’t cry right away. She had good color and was looking all around with big blue eyes. She had a head full of golden hair and white-blonde eyebrows. Orange got out of her car seat and was stroking her and said, “Awww, she’s soooo cute, even if she isn’t blind-haired” (what she calls blonde, although I beg to differ). I could tell she was excited. I felt an amazing sense of calm (major endorphin rush after a quick, natural birth!), even though I’m sure the situation was stressful for Cory (and if you read his account of the birth, you’ll see what I mean!). Plus my whole limited view of the following events was from on my back.
EMT’s arrived (along with a host of other emergency vehicles) about 7 minutes after the birth. They somehow got me onto a stretcher (even though I told them I could walk to the ambulance, they couldn’t take any chances), which was cold and slippery from all the blood under me. They left the baby on my chest with the umbilical cord still attached. It felt awful to be flat on my back and I think I would have delivered the placenta earlier had I been able to sit up a bit. The EMT’s were very friendly & had a sense of humor (which I find is essential when you’re dealing with crisis constantly). They asked me what her name was & took our vitals, which were fine. The male EMT then cut the cord, which I was fine with since it was about a half an hour since the birth and it had long since stopping pulsing. He left a long 5-inch stump, though! I’m guessing he doesn’t cut too many umbilical cords in his line of duty. He took the baby briefly and rubbed her off a bit and put on a diaper and then put her right back on my chest.
We were brought to the Brigham because it was the closest hospital (we had been on our way to Cambridge Hospital), where they called a CODE BLUE (even though, of course, no one was blue, I guess it’s just part of the protocol when someone is born en route!).
They fixed us up in Labor & Delivery. I required a couple of stitches on my clitoris (ouchie mama, I think this was more painful than the labour!). It was an unusual place to tear (perhaps due to my hasty labour and hands & knees position?), which may explain why I had a doctor plus 6 interns & nurses between my legs observing the procedure! I found that quite comical that I had that many people staring at my yoni under very bright lights! Ocean was fine and they took her weight and height. The nurses & staff obliged all our requests (delaying the vitamin K & erythromycin, declining the “bath” and the Hep B, etc.). I think they thought we were hippie freaks (which I guess we kind of are!). They cleaned up all the blood (there was a LOT, even my socks were soaked). After all my labs came back (they did a blood count and a toxicology screening, which I guess is another protocol for those that birth on the road!) and looked good, we were sent up to a regular room on the maternity unit. One of the doctors told me later that we were lucky that they never took Ocean away. She said that usually when something like that happens, they whisk the baby away to the NICU for all sorts of tests and observation. I’m very grateful that didn’t happen. Ocean was able to room-in with me during the whole stay, which was nice. She very alert that whole first night and we spent it just staring at each other and nursing. I wasn’t very hungry after the birth. I thought for sure that I would be, but all I wanted was a banana. I did have a nice big breakfast the following morning though ☺
Recovery was amazing. I had hardly any pain and absolutely no swelling. I never felt dizzy or got the “shakes” and was able to get up and shower right away. My only complaint was that I was on such a “baby high” and felt so empowered and powerful after that birth that I literally didn’t sleep for three days.
During the labour, I had a couple of mantras I repeated in my head (and wrote down repeatedly), that I wanted to share:
Energy is equal to desire and purpose (found this in a fortune cookie),
Be Here Now; Expect the Unexpected; Use Love as the Energy to Power the Journey.
And then I had also written, “I can’t wait to meet you little one!” and “Ride the wave, swim to the point, and then float down” (my mental imagery to use during surges).
Although it wasn’t at all what we expected and we’re in desperate need of a new seat for our car (!), we got everything we wanted in a birth- a fast, natural delivery and a beautiful, healthy, (and mellow!) baby girl. And Daddy got to catch, how cool is that?! And Orange will have quite the exciting story to tell her little sister someday.
Ocean Mary Farinella
2/02/08 @8:55pm (according to 911 call)
7lb., 14oz. & 20” long