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My wonderful son, Evan Marc Butler was born in Bron (a suberb of Lyon), France on March 30th, 2009.<br><br>
Years before Evan was conceived, I wanted to have a home birth. I knew that childbirth would naturally be a transformative experience, and I wanted to creat an environment where I could experience that transformation as vividly as possible. In France, home birth is virtually illegal (i.e. it's impossible to buy malpractice insurance for it, so midwives who will do homebirth are very few and far between). Though France has a wonderful public medical system, it is very pro-medical-intervention in its mindset in regard to birth.<br><br>
When it became apparent that a home birth would be out of the question, we tried to find a birth center that would be supportive of natural birth (non-medicated birth with the freedom to move around and have general freedom in the body positions in birthing). We were seeing an OB in a hospital (who didn't speak English well at all, so DH had to attend nearly all of my doctor appointments), so investigating that hospital was the natural place to start. We found out that the hospital had a 50% episiotomy rate, and that it was the sole choice of the midwife who delivered Evan, and that though they might take my wishes into consideration, the choice to have an episiotomy or not would not be mine. Also, they would not allow my doula to be present with me during any part of the birth.<br><br>
This was very discouraging to me, and after encouragement from our wonderful doula (Yanick), we decided to look at other hospitals. There was one birth center that disappointingly closed just two months before my due date. After that, we could only find one place, in the entire metropolotain area of Lyon (2 million people), that would truly support natural childbirth (had a special room for it with a tub for laboring, and many other things to make birth as comfortable as possible, in addition to a staff that was specially trained for it). They would also allow my doula to be present. At the beginning of my ninth month of pregnancy, we decided to change to this hospital. It was a difficult decision because it's located 20km south of Lyon in a town called Givors, and we didn't have a car. This required taking a train or a bus, and so an appointment there would take 4-6 hours from the time we left home. We were also concerned that it would be too far once I went into labor (we were depending on our neighbor driving us).<br><br>
About two weeks before Evan was born, I lost what I thought was my mucus plug. I wasn't sure at the time because there was so much blood (it looked like a blood clot). I told this to my doctor, but he seemed unconcerned.<br><br>
My due date (March 24th) came and went. I did a lot of walking that day to try to start labor, but without success. The following Saturday, I blogged all day, trying to pass the time. That week, I also had to go to Givors for monitoring every other day. It was a very long week! On Sunday (the 29th), Mark and I went to Givors again, and the midwives there began to talk of having to induce (though it was very pro-natural, they still had a few rules I didn't like). We stayed so long at the appointment that we were late catching our desired train, so we had to walk twice as far to a place where we could catch a bus. We were worried we'd be late, so we walked as fast as we could. After that, I had some pain in my lowder abdomen, and it was a little uncomfortable during the night.<br><br>
The next morning I was still asleep, when suddenly I woke to a gush of fluid (about 7:30am). I sat up, and then ran to the bathroom. I thought it was my water breaking, but when I looked, it was bright, bright red. I thought I was hemorraging. I yelled to DH, but he was still asleep and could not hear me. When the gush slowed down, I got up and went into the bedroom and woke him, saying that we needed to go to the hospital right away. He called Givors first, explaining the blood, and asked if we should still go there or if we should call the pompiers (emergency response in France). The midwife said to call the pompiers. Within a few minutes, our apartment was filled with about 10 people, taking my vital signs, and determining what to do. Through all of this, I did not feel Evan kick (this scared me to no end). While the pompiers were taking care of me, I finally felt that kick, to my incredible relief. They decided to take me to the nearest hospital, which happened to be the same hospital where I was seeing the OB (Hopital Femme Mere Enfant in Bron). So, I rode to the hospital in an ambulance, with DH in another emergency vehicle following behind me. During the ride, I asked the "EMT" (who spoke a tiny bit of English) if I was still bleeding, and she said yes.<br><br>
We arrived at the hospital emergency room, and they transferred me into a room to perform an immediate utrasound. From the utlrasound they determined that my water did indeed break, and that the baby was doing fine and that I would not need an emergency c-section. They said that everything was fine, and if I didn't have the baby in 24 hours then I would have a c-section. They never explained why there was blood in my water. They never even mentioned it to us, and so we wondered if the staff even knew (indeed looking at Evan's medical book a couple weeks later, it was written that my water was "clear"). All they said was that everything was fine. Because we were in France and because of the inherent difficulty of communication, this did not settle me. I wanted more of an explanation, but did not know how to ask for it.<br><br>
By the time they were finished with the ultrasound, it was around 10:30am. I felt what I now know was the first contraction. It was so tiny that I didn't even know if it was real, but it was definitely different than anything else I had experienced. I told this to DH. I had the same feeling a handful of times more, and then I finally concluded that I was having real contractions. They moved me into a room to labor, and DH and I then decided to call a friend and tell her to let our community of people know (starting the phone tree, though there were some mixups with that), so that everyone could light a candle and say a prayer that everything would go well. After 45 mintes or so (I think), the contractions started to be the strong contractions I imagined. They were coming every 4-5 minutes, and DH and I used the techniques we had practiced for so many weeks to get through them. He was a wonderful coach, and it was awesome to be doing that together! I expected this to go on for several hours, as most first-time labors go. It went on for maybe an hour, with strong high peaks and periods of rest in between...<br><br>
Then, WHAM! The contractions changed in character and intensity. Instead it was like I was on one high peak, with only a quick and slight dip in intensity, then back to the peak. I wasn't getting any rest in between contractions. I instinctually thought, "this is transition!" I knew then that Evan was going to come very, very fast. At the same time, I began to process what had happened to me that morning. My water broke, but it looked like I was hemorraging, and yet the hospital staff never gave me an explanation of why, so I didn't trust that I actually was ok. I rode to the hospital in an ambulance. I was committed to giving birth in the hospital I so wanted to avoid (with the high episiotomy rate and lack of choices). I was in a foreign country, and so far none of the staff spoke any English, and my doula couldn't accompany me (to comfort me or to translate). Combined with the pain, all of these thoughts caused me to start to panick, and I realized that I would not be in the state of mind that I wanted to be in when I welcomed my son into the world.<br><br>
I desperately wanted to slow labor down, and so I told DH I wanted an epidural. He didn't believe me at first. We had decided beforehand that if I asked for an epidural, he would try to deter me from it. He was very resistant to believing me at first. Through the intense pain, I miraculously explained why, and he accepted it.<br><br>
The nurse came in, and we told her. She checked my cervix, and I was at 5cm. I was a little surprised at this, but I still instinctively knew that I was in transition-like labor. I'm sure that she was only thinking that since I was only 5cm dilated, I couldn't be having pain that was very intense. She left to prepare things, and I continued to labor even more intensely. Then she came in (after I don't know how long), and said that I was to walk with her to the delivery room. Walk!!!! I was in transition!!! I didn't question her, though. How could I? I could barely talk, let alone speak French! And so, in the middle of transition, I walked what felt like the length of several football fields, to the delivery room. It was hell.<br><br>
I thought that DH was behind me that entire time, but later I saw him enter the delivery room, and I realized then that they made him stay behind while they administered the epidural. He was pretty mad about this. During this time, though, he and our doula found each other, and they waited together.<br><br>
So, I finally made it to the delivery room, and I lay on the bed for a period of time, waiting for the epidural. I was making loud and intense moaning sounds, which were really helping with the pain. If I remember right, my OB came in sometime during this period and told me to stop moaning (that it made things worse). Other people said this to me too. They were totally wrong, but I stopped anyway (and suffered a little more instead).<br><br>
The anesthetist came in, inserted the needle, then left, and after about 10 minutes, I finally started to feel some relief from the pain. At the same time the pain went away, I felt a strong urge to push. The midwife (sage femme) who was to deliver Evan came in at this point, and she checked my dilation. She discovered with surprise that I was fully dilated, and she exclaimed (in surprisingly good English) that if I had not decided to have an epidural, then my baby would have been born already! It was so nice to have my instincts proven right here! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> She also said that she noticed in my medical record that I wanted to have a natural birth. She was very very supportive, and she acknowledged that I wouldn't get to have that experience this time, said she was sorry for that, but that I could do it next time. She said, "you can do it!" She was an angel.<br><br>
After this, DH came into the room. And, much to my surprise, my angelic sage femme allowed Yanick, my doula into the room as well! This had never happened before in the history of the hospital (or in the history of many of the hospitals in France), so it was a wonderful thing for both me and Yanick. It transformed the entire experience for Mark and for me to have her there.<br><br>
My midwife told me that she would leave me alone to rest for a couple of hours, and to just let my body push the baby down. I did this, and those two hours were really wonderful. I was able to fully process my experiences and re-calibrate myself to the current situation. Mark and I had precious time together during this time as well, and by the end of it, we both felt fully ready to meet and welcome Evan.<br><br>
My need to push was getting stronger and stronger, and the sage femme came in and confirmed that Evan was ready to come out. She told me then that it was hospital policy that if I did not push the baby out in 20 minutes then she would have to use other interventions that would help the baby descend (I assumed she meant forceps). I was quite surprised by this (they didn't tell us this when we interviewed the hospital)! She then said that she had a few other things to prepare first, and she gave my doula the "eye". Quickly, Yanick said, "Ok Kendra, we're going to push now!" So, with Yan's guidance, I started pushing, and I think we gained at least 10 minutes extra time this way. I could feel enough to know when I needed to push, and I still had the mobility of my arms and a very small amount of mobility in my legs.<br><br>
The sage femme came back over to the bed, and she officially started the clock and her guidance of the birth. There was one student in attendance as well. I started pushing on my side, but I was having difficulty getting any leverage. She suggested that I turn on my back. I had heard how bad pushing from one's back was, but I tried it anyway, and I surprisingly found the leverage I was looking for. From there, I pushed very hard, with everyone cheering at each contraction, and Evan came down quickly. Yanick said that the sage femme went longer than 20 minutes, which was also good. The sage femme told me to reach down and feel the head of my baby, and I did. Evan's head felt very soft and kind of squishy and wrinkly. It was amazing. She told me to push again, and then his head was out. One more push, and then he came out completely, and I heard him cry. It was such an amazing moment (4:47pm). The sage femme asked "What is his name?" and I shouted with incredible joy, "EVAN MARC BUTLER!!!!!"<br><br>
The sage femme put him on my stomach and DH cut the unbilical cord, and it was all an amazing feeling. Absolutely incredible. The first moments of the three of us as a family, and realizing all at once that though his body was so tiny, an entirely new person with a fully matured soul was lying on my chest, and that he was our son. What love!!<br><br>
After 5 minutes, the sage femme said that I needed to push out the placenta. The hospital at Givors would have allowed for the cord to stop pulsing before they cut it, and they would have let Evan nurse to stimulate contractions for the placenta to come out naturally without premature pushing. But I wasn't at Givors... So, I started to push. It was coming out, and I was focusing my attention on Evan (trying to see him even though I didn't have my glasses). I just kept following her directions. Then it became clear that it didn't come out in one piece. She reached in, and then I heard her exclaim about there being a lot of blood. Yanick came to me and said that there was a lot of blood and that Evan would have to go to another area of the room with DH while they worked to stop the blood. Then, suddenly, the room was full of people, and I could sense that there were new drugs being pumped into me. And then I was paralyzed from my neck down, surrounded by lots and lots of people speaking French and rushing around. Yan sat beside me, telling me what was happening and keeping me grounded. Thank goodness for her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<br><br>
It was also sometime during this time that my OB said to me "it's better, isn't it, getting an epidural for the first birth?" We had discussed our natural birth desires with him beforehand, and he reacted negatively to them, and then to say this to me when I was just out of childbirth and hemorraging was really a low blow. [He was a very good doctor in many ways (many people said he was the best in the city), and I am grateful that I had him, but he was not at all understanding of what I wanted or why I wanted it.]<br><br>
In the middle of all of this, a doctor came up to me and started talking to me in English with a very American accent. It turns out that a friend of ours who is a surgeon called the hospital when he found out I was in labor and asked this doctor to go and see how I was doing (they are colleagues). She was wonderful! She did her medical training in Chicago, and it was a bit of a miracle to suddenly have a piece of America in the delivery room. She comforted me as well.<br><br>
I remember specifically not feeling scared during all of this, but just accepting each moment as it happened.<br><br>
After about two hours, all the doctors went away, and DH and Yan and I were alone in the room again. I was told that I had to continue having the drugs for another 6 hours, and that I had to remain flat on my back. DH came back while Evan was being placed on my chest again, and I will never forget the look in his eyes. He bonded with Evan during those two hours, and he assumed the role of Evan's father during that time. It was so beautiful to see. DH said that it was amazing to watch Evan struggle with the fact that he was not in contact with me when he expected that he would be, and yet how he was bearing it with such strength. One of the first things DH said about Evan was how much he respected and admired him!<br><br>
Evan was placed on my chest, and my glasses were finally brought to me, so I could finally see his perfect little face. He nursed for awhile, and then fell into a peaceful sleep...<br><br>
I found out the next day that I lost about a liter of blood. I was anemic after that and was on iron supplements for several weeks. I had a quick recovery and only one stitch, which was also wonderful. I delivered my 9 pound baby beautifully, and I was very proud of my body.<br><br>
Looking back on the experience, I definitely had things I needed to mourn. I am sad that I didn't have a completely drug-free birth. I wish I didn't need the epidural, but I don't regret it either, because without it Evan would have been born before my mind could give him its full power. I was in the perfect mental state to welcome him! I am incredibly grateful for that. I was mad that I had to answer to my OB when he asked/stated that an epidural was better for me, and I had no way to respond to him (both because I had just given birth and I didn't know how to communicate the truth of my feelings in French). I wish that my body had been given a chance to birth the placenta naturally (i.e. allowing Evan to nurse, stimulating contractions that would help the placenta out). I don't know if I would have hemorraged or not, but it seems that pushing so soon after giving birth would have encouraged the hemorrage. The bleeding didn't start until I started pushing the placenta, when naturally I didn't really need to push at all, or at least not for awhile. [I asked my OB 8 weeks later why there was blood in my water, and he said it was because a small corner of the placenta was beginning to detach from the uterine wall. He also said that it was not related to the hemorraging that happened after I gave birth.] I just wish they gave my body a chance to do what it was meant to do.<br><br>
I also am sad that I did not get to share in the first 2 hours of Evan's life. While I am incredibly happy for DH that he got to be there with and for Evan, it is a big loss for me that I couldn't hold him during that time. The first 2 hours are so crucial in mother-infant bonding, and I wish I could have experienced that. I am fully bonded to Evan, of course, but I'll never get those two hours back.<br><br>
I am very happy with the experience as a whole, though, because I felt like I was completely educated about all of my options going into it, and with each thing that happened, I made an intelligent decision. The most important things were huge successes, and I am endlessly grateful that I have my amazing son and my profound attachment to him.<br><br>
DH's sister came a couple of weeks after Evan's birth, and on the last day she was in Lyon with us, she participated in my closing ceremony (it's a ceremony that goes hand in hand with the blessingway). Yanick came and guided us both in what we were supposed to do. She had a long scarf, about 2 feet wide and 6 feet long. She placed the center of the scarf under various parts of my body, while she and SIL grabbed opposite ends and then used the weight of their bodies to pull and thus wrap the scarf around me, squeezing tight. They started with the top of my head, then my shoulders, waist/hips, knees, and finishing with my feet. They would continue squeezing each area until I told them to stop. With each part of my body they did this to, different images of parts of my experience came to my head, and each set of images was "closed" in the sense that my brain was able to finish processing it. When they squeezed my head, I remembered all the research we had done on deciding to have and then trying to make real our dreams of a natural birth. I don't remember exactly the things that came to mind with the other parts (the entire birth experience was re-lived), but I do remember feeling like my womb was being closed and my body was mine again when my hips were squeezed. It was a very healing experience, and after it was done I felt like the pregnancy was finished and complete, and Evan and I were two instead of one.<br><br>
And so here I am now, exactly 13 months later (today is April 30, 2010), and Evan is just learning to walk. I couldn't write this until now because I still had a few things to process about it before I could let go of it enough to put it into words.<br><br>
If there is one feeling that I have when I think of the day of Evan's birth, it's pure amazement at who I am because of it. I am truly humbled now that I see the scope of motherhood. I was born that day too.
 

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Beautifully written, mama. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

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Beautiful story! I'm glad you got some of wha tyou want, and pray yau can hav ethe complete birth of your dreams in the future (if you so choose <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1">)
 

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You have recorded Evan's birth beautifully Mama. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/happytears.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="happytears">:<br>
Congratulations on the birth of your Baby boy, his 1st birthday~ your MamaAnniversay.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love"><br><br>
Thank you for sharing with us.
 
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