So this post is a bit delayed, but I wanted to let you all know that Ari Josaiah was born last Thursday, September 3rd at 3:42am.
He weighed 7 lb, 4 oz and was 19 1/2 inches long.
It was a beautiful and very long (20+ hours active labor) home birth. My midwife, doula, DH and Mom were all very supportive. I'm almost done with my birth story, and will repost with it soon!
A couple of FB pics, if this link will work. I'll add a few more later:http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...8330182&ref=mf
And the long story of Ari's birth (sorry, but I'm not a very concise writer!)
Pics of birth to be added soon...my internet upload is going so very slow!
The Birth Story of Ari Josaiah Martin – born Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 at 3:42 am
Contractions started sporadically on Monday, at 40w 6d. Couldn't really sleep through them that night and started getting more regular the next day. I made the baby birthday cake and my Mom and DH helped though contractions. I called my midwife for the first time around 1am and she decided to come over to see how things were progressing after all those contractions. Good news = cervix was 80% effaced. Not so good news = cervix was only 1 cm dilated. So she gave me an herbal tonic of valerian, skullcap and crampbark to see if I could get a bit of sleep before things were in full swing.
Around 8am, contractions were waking me up every 10 minutes and I got out of bed not too long after. They quickly became closer together and continued throughout the morning and early afternoon. Our midwife, assistant and doula all came back around 4pm on Wed. afternoon. After all that, I had made it to about 4-5 cms. Not great, but at least we were making progress. So then it was time to get in and labor for awhile in the tub. DH and my doula were so great helping me through each and every contraction. And the water really helped make everything feel a bit better too. I was very loud and vocal through most of my contractions which felt absolutely perfect at the time.
Things were taking awhile, but every time baby's heartbeat was checked, it was consistently up in the 140's. We all could tell I had a very content and healthy (if a bit stubborn) baby in there. Hours later, around 6-7 cm, MW felt the bag of water bulging in front of the baby's head, which seemed to be in a bit of an awkward angle. She suggested trying something called "sifting" to see if it might help get things more straightened out. I got on my hands and knees, and she put a moby wrap under my belly...gently lifting up and back, and shaking it back and forth for about 10-15 minutes. Afterward, around 10pm at this point, she suggested that DH and I go for a 30 minute walk around our neighborhood. Of course, right away, we ran into another guy about our age we'd never seen before who asked if we lived around there, etc. I basically said "I'm in labor, and we were told we had to go for a walk". Luckily, he said, "Oh, I've been through that before. Good Luck" and walked away just in time for the next contraction to hit and for me to hang on Paul through the intensity of it. I remember with my eyes closed thinking that I could be pretty much anywhere (in the house, walking outside, etc.). It was at this point that I realized what people talk about when they are in "laborland".
After our 30 minute walk, we returned and had a conversation with MW about the possibility of breaking my water to help get things moving along, and allow the baby's head to make contact with the cervix. What I really liked, but was also really challenging at the same time (as it's hard to make a decision about anything in the middle of laborland) is that everything was presented as an option for us to try, but only if I wanted to and was comfortable with it. When she checked me again, the bag of water was still there, so she made a tiny scratch in it with a special finger cot to allow the fluid to drain out. Out it came, and slightly tinged with meconium, but not enough that she was concerned baby was in distress (especially with the continued good heart tones and the fact that it is common to have a bit of meconium in the water at 41 + weeks). So back into the tub I went to continue working on opening up and getting this baby out!
At this point, let me just take a minute to try and describe my experience of going through this very long, natural labor (partly for the benefit of the many people who have asked me over the last few days how in the heck I could handle over 20 hours of labor without any drugs – and more importantly, why would I want to). It's already difficult to fully recall the pure intensity and concentration it took to work through each and every contraction. Having supportive people there for me at all times and through every contraction really worked for me. Whether it was a hand to squeeze as hard as I could, an encouraging reminder that “you can do this”, a cold washcloth placed on my forehead, or low back or calf massage…it all served to support me through the more challenging times. Even when I responded to “you can do this” with “but no, I can’t”…they were there to reassure me and remind me that I was strong, my body and baby were doing exactly what they needed, and that all of this was happening as it should be. I will be honest, there was one point when I told everyone “Now I know why people decide to just go and get their babies cut out!” But even as the words came out of my mouth, I knew that wasn’t what I wanted and that everything happening in my body was happening for a reason. Each and every contraction were helping to guide our baby farther down and closer to joining us in this world. And yes, there was pain, and quite a bit of it. But the difference between this and other pain I’ve experienced before – is that I knew there was nothing wrong with me. Even though this was my first birth, I’ve watched so many videos, talked to so many people, and read so many stories about birth that I completely trusted the process that was unfolding. Of course, there were moments when it was taking so long that I really wished my body and baby would work together to make things happen more quickly. But I never once recall thinking this baby wasn’t going to keep coming out, or that I wanted to give up on working through it and go to the hospital for someone to make it easier for me. For me, the thought of needles, knives and drugs anywhere near me and my baby was very frightening. And staying at home with my midwife and birth team was extremely reassuring. Every step of the way when I needed something, one of them was there to provide it for me. And I was the one making every decision about how to proceed and keep going every step of the way.
So back to the birth story. I had forgotten to mention earlier that I had been given a few doses of 2 different homeopathic remedies to help with softening my cervix. It’s strange – I can still remember the sweet taste and feel of the pellets dissolving in my mouth. And the one time I started a contraction right after they gave them to me and how hard it was to vocalize through it when I was trying to keep the pellets under my tongue. Eventually, the sifting, walking, homeopathics, breaking the water, and continued contractions all worked together to move things farther along. I was probably about 9 cm when I first started finding it difficult not to push at times. So I spent a full hour of very intense, very long, and very close together contractions taking quick shallow breaths, and “not pushing”. After about an hour, when MW could tell it was becoming increasingly difficult not to push, partly because I had done so through at least part of a couple of contractions no matter how hard I tried to stop it, she suggested I might try pushing for a bit to see what would happen. After a bit of guidance of where and how to effectively push, I got the hang of it, and was so relieved not to have to hold it back anymore. It was hard work, but different than all of the hard work I had done with breathing or vocalizing through earlier contractions or with the past hour of working so hard to not push and allow my cervix to more fully open. However when MW checked me 30-45 minutes later, there was a still a small, but very stubborn lip of the cervix that was holding on in front of the baby’s head. She was very reassuring, and suggested if I wanted, she could help me to push back the cervix over the next several contractions. She told me, “I won’t lie. It’s not going to be very comfortable for me to do this, but I really think it will be effective to clear the way for baby’s head to come down”. At this point, after over 20 hours of intense labor, and fully trusting that she knew what she was doing, I was about willing to try anything she recommended. So out of the tub and onto the bed I went so we could give it a try. If my moaning, grunting and otherwise vocalizing hadn’t yet woken up the next door neighbors, I have a feeling that I did during those next 5-6 contractions. But with each one, I was assured we were making progress and almost there.
Then back in the tub I went to give pushing a try again – and without any part of the cervix standing in our way. We were making some progress in there, and I could reach up and feel the top of my baby’s head. Very exciting to know it was only about an inch away, but at the same time, it was hard not knowing how much longer it would take for the head to move down that inch and start to make its way out. Then it was suggested that we try to change things up a bit and try pushing on the toilet for awhile. Besides helping to allow the body into an open and upright position for pushing – it is one of the only places we’ve ever sat down to push something out of our bodies before if we’ve never had a baby. With one foot pushing against DH and the other against my doula, I really started making some progress in there. They brought be a mirror so I could see the top of the baby’s head as it was moving down and starting to come out. It looked so strange, wrinkled and purple – very unlike a baby head. Of course, I’d seen pictures before, but it’s just not quite the same as watching it happen in your own body, with your own baby. Then the MW assistant who had been guiding me through things for awhile, told me that she thought baby would be out in just a few more pushes, and that I should go to wherever I wanted to deliver this baby – the birth tub, bed, etc. And what did I do? Did I go and get into the tub as I had planned? No, of course not. After working so hard for so long and being so close to my goal of meeting this baby, I couldn’t imagine doing anything that might delay it an extra second. Not to mention the thought of trying to walk down the hall and get myself back into the tub with a baby head halfway out between my legs! So my response instead was “do I have to go anywhere?” With that, everyone came to join me in the fairly small bathroom for the delivery. All 5 of my wonderful support people were there when his head emerged at 3:40am. The rest of his body came out a couple of pushes later at 3:42. Funny how they record the birth time of both…
He was brought right up to my chest, and after only a short while of brisk rubbing with the towel, he started to make some louder noises. The crying started not long after, which I had mixed feelings about. I already wanted to soothe him and “makes things better” but at the same time knew that the loud cries were a sign he was healthy and very here. It was several minutes before I remembered to check and see if it was a boy or a girl! I think a part of me knew that he was a boy, but didn’t want to be too attached t that in case I was wrong. I was still surprised to see and find out for sure though! He pinked up very quickly, and the cord was cut after it had completely stopped pulsating, about 10-15 minutes later (I was glad that they checked it a few times before that to let me know it was still pulsating and not quite ready to be cut). Then it was time for Paul to hold the baby for the first time while I delivered the placenta. I heard him say “I’ve never held a newborn baby before – especially my baby!”, which gave us all a good chuckle. It was when they lifted the baby off me that I noticed for the first time that my lap was good and covered in meconium. No time like right away to get me used to these next few months of exploding baby poo! Luckily, with everything I had gone through, it was just one more thing at that point that didn’t really matter at all. Especially considering how ecstatic I was to have a healthy baby boy after all that work! They helped to clean me off, then the placenta quickly came out with one light push…definitely nice it is a big soft blob without bones . When presented with the option, I decided to take a quick shower to rinse off before getting back into bed with baby.
Our baby was so wide eyed and alert right from the start. I was so grateful we were able to have our birth at home and without medications – so that we could start our bonding process right away without anything to interfere with it. And with the help of tons of tons of natural hormones coursing through both of our bodies, I felt so much love for this little guy right away. After a few unsuccessful attempts at breastfeeding, our MW asked if it would be okay if she gave him a homeopathic baby remedy to help balance and soothe him, then do some of the newborn measurements, etc. to see if maybe giving him some time would help with us trying breastfeeding out again in about 20 minutes. DH decided to check and adjust our little guy as well to help him integrate the process he had just been through and help his system get balanced out even more. He was declared happy and healthy in every way, and with no sponge bath, Vit K injection, antibiotic eye goop or anything else given to him (besides the few homeopathic drops) – we continued the process of bonding and trying to figure out the whole nursing thing. He still couldn’t quite get the sucking part down, so my Mom was very helpful in taking him for a bit, and teaching him how to do it on her finger. The next time I tried, he latched on great and started sucking away. Yeah, Ari!