Life With Nine Kids

Friday, October 1, 2010

My First Painful Birth (after an easy labor, cervical lip)

Photos taken less than 10 min after birth
NOTE:10/14/13--  A brand new birth story is available here: Beatrice's Unassisted Birth Story (half hour labor and birth -with extra info on my favorite topics of vernix, cord cutting, and not pushing)

Every birth is so different, but for the most part my labors are intensely quick and the actual birth quite easy and nearly painless. This birth had some surprises...

I went into labor Monday September 20, 2010 around 4 pm, the day before my "due date." Light back achy labor lasted through a trip to the library and the six kids’ bedtime routine.

Around 9pm things started picking up and at 10:30pm my husband, Ricky, and I tried to get some sleep. I figured my water would break soon (most of the time it does for me before labor even begins). I couldn't really sleep so as contractions picked up I quickly snuck out of bed and cleaned the bathroom, did laundry and tried to watch some TV. When the contractions started to need my attention I got through them by chanting a song, humming, walking fast and visualization exercises. I managed to doze off on the couch a few times before getting in a hot shower around 2am. (A hot shower is my normal routine for when they really start hurting at around 6 or 7 cm dilated. I have done this for every home birth.) As usual the shower was great. I usually can stay in so long I'll run out of hot water before I'm ready to get out, but this time I'd been up all night laboring and cleaning house so I was tired of standing. I decided to run a bath and labor in it. I tried to relax thinking all the while that a bath was nice but not as great as the shower. Suddenly I had an epiphany and say out loud, "I have jets!" A perk we discovered when we moved in last year: a jetted tub! The moving water feels much more relaxing to me and simulates the shower feeling.

At 3am I tip toed soaking wet to my sleeping husbands side and tell him my water sac is still intact making it hurt like it did with Penelope. Ricky quickly got up and sympathetically looked at me with soft eyes. I tip toed back to the tub and he followed and got me a few things I wanted, like some water to drink.

Some time around 3:15 am I felt I was dilated if not darn near close to it (just a guide to birth, not a rule or even necessary), but my water hadn't broken. I felt for the squishy water sac, made sure the baby's head was presenting well and after several attempts at the tough sac I broke it with my fingers. Nearly four years ago I had to break our little Penelope's water, too. I learned a lot from that birth because I kept wanting to wait it out; I did not want to interfere with the birth and thought I'd just birth her in what is called the caul (born in the water sac). She was just not moving down into the birth canal though and labor started to really hurt awfully bad -but once I broke the sac she was born almost immediately.

After breaking a really tough sac I told Ricky that hopefully we'd have our baby soon. I could still feel a thick spot or "lip"on my cervix despite that I was probably fully dilated. Ricky helped me through about six contractions in the bath that were fiercely bad. For most of these contractions I was kneeling in the tub facing him as he kneeled outside the tub. I started having him push against my shoulders as I pushed into his hands with my shoulders. I also hung around his neck several times collapsed into a heap of contractions and loud pushy grunts as we hugged tightly. He could feel the tornado in my body swirl as I bore down repeatedly with contractions one after another as I looked the storm in the eye. The contractions felt absolutely overpowering. They did not overpower me though; there is a great birth affirmation quote that says, "The power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you."

This was the only birth I remember where Ricky actually talked to me through these transitional contractions. They were so fierce he got into doula mode and talked me through them, praised me, and said I could do this. Soon after this storm my body started trying to push a baby down and out. I don't forcefully push my babies out, I let them come. I find it extremely painful, tiring and unnecessary to forcefully push. I still had that thick area around part of my cervix and it was stretching over the babies head slowly. Something I've heard can be quite painful. And it was!

It got more apparent the baby was making his way down so I got out of the bath and sat on the toilet to give my legs a rest, help my pelvis relax and still use gravity to the baby’s advantage. Two painful but milder in intensity contractions later I moved to the floor in a part kneel part squatting position. I had a very powerful contraction where Ricky held me again at the shoulders to steady me and allow me to push against him. As the contraction subsided my hip felt like it was going to lock up on me and I yelped and pushed him away and barely avoided it locking up on me.

The next contraction brought on the unmistakable 'baby is coming out of my butt feeling'. It went away as the baby rounded that corner of my body, and then he finally slipped down further into the birth canal. I could feel his head fully in me and in mere seconds I went from thinking 'this is taking for-freaking-ever-and-hurting-like-freaking-hell' to thinking 'oh shit this baby is going to fly out of me.' He was coming quite fast and I tried to hold his crown in a little bit for a contraction or two so as not to tear. The concentration that it takes to wait can be overwhelming. During all of this Ricky was in front of me still. I soon told him to move though because he was blocking the video camera. He moved off to the side and started taking some still photos while still keeping a supportive hand on my shoulder/back.

This was the first of any of my births that I felt a truly unmistakable ring of burning fire sensation as the baby crowned. I've never felt it all that much before, just a little bit and then it quickly passed. Eventually his head was born into my hands (thank god) and then about 30 seconds later as I waited patiently his top shoulder presented and then the rest of him slid out in one plop of great relief. In an instant I was sure I had torn somewhere. Or, everywhere. (Not an uncommon feeling when your baby is born, usually if you birth slow and upright tearing is minimal and even rare)

He was born September 21, 2010 at 4:33am weighing 7 lbs 12 oz and measuring 19 ½ inches long.

He gurgled and sputtered and was born a really, really beautiful pink color. I brought him to my chest and cradled him. I asked Ricky, "Did you see yet?" Meaning if he saw that we had a boy. He said he did. Our baby drooled out some fluid from the corner of his mouth and continued to sputter and then gasp signifying he was taking in oxygen. I wasn’t yet concerned with hearing him actually cry as I proceeded to count fingers and toes and noticed he was covered in the softest velvety vernix (natural baby lotion) that seemed to just seep into his skin effortlessly as I watched. His daddy looked over us thoughtfully and said, "Give us a cry now" and the baby did right on cue. We got it on video, it's adorable.

Not long after the birth I sat nursing him on the living room couch and thought about how I'd given birth much less painfully and gracefully in the past. "That really hurt! But his head is tiny?!" I suddenly said. I pondered over how I had not torn anywhere at all. My pubic bone nor my pelvis was even sore. At all. Even days later recovery from this birth was as if nothing ever happened. I asked Ricky as I pointed to the baby, "THIS little head is what I was making such a fuss over!?" And we laughed.

Less than an hour later sleepy eyed children one by one began to wake earlier than usual sensing newness and love. All the hard work and pain was long forgotten and replaced with a morning sunrise that promised the magic and wonder of a new day and a new life ahead. Three brothers and three sisters happily welcomed the seventh child to our family and with my new nursling latching on we all had breakfast together and talked about what to name him.

~~~Like Christmas~~~
For about a week after our little Everett was born I was trying to pinpoint the magic and feeling of it all. I wanted to describe home birth and the unity of my family. This piece, written a week after Everett's birthing day, was published in the fall of 2010 Friends of Missouri Midwives newsletter.

August 1, 2004 we had a little girl and as she was being born in the early morning hours our older three children woke up one at a time and found me squatting down to give birth on the bathroom floor as their father snapped photos.

October 17, 2006 as the sun rose into the sky our new baby girl was going to soon start crowning and inch her way into the outside world. My husband awoke our youngest daughter so she could see the birth, as she fell back asleep near me the other kids woke up on their own and joined in to watch. As I quietly gave birth the youngest woke up at the last minute in awe to watch. About 20 minutes after the birth our oldest daughter reached out to touch the newborn but the two year old snapped, "My baby!" And smacked her older sisters hand away.

August 23, 2008 I decided I wanted a quiet couples birth with my husband and got just that. Within minutes however our youngest two little girls woke up at 6am and met their new little brother. Ten minutes later our oldest daughter, whose bedroom was very far away, sensed something and came to our room to see as well. Then our other two boys followed.

September 21, 2010 within a half hour of me birthing a baby boy at 4:33am our almost four year old woke up and to her surprise I was holding a new baby. Her eyes went from sleepy to bugged-out-surprised and awake in just seconds! After the shock she put her head to my chest and we had a quiet snuggle in the dark as sleepiness started setting in again. Then finally she asked, "Mommy, did we have a girl baby or a boy baby?" I’ll treasure that thoughtful cuddly moment always.
Our two year old followed about 10 minutes later. Venturing from our bed and into the living room where I sat I excitedly told him the baby came out and to come see. I know he won't remember but I will; it was the happiest day of his two year old life. He was beaming from excitement and love. He was at that moment given the gift of a brother and you could tell he cherished his new baby brother completely. Then a half hour later our 14 year old sensed something and came downstairs followed by our two 10 year old sons soon after.

Being in the home for birth brings my family together. It ties a bond between home and heart. There is an element of privacy and intimacy that is shared within these sacred walls of our own home. A special bond that ties a freshly birthed wet newborn to his kin without interference or interruption in the family space. When I bring forth a child into the world I do so without leaving and so the children receive a sibling that seemingly has always been here. After all, since being created the baby has never left.

On that beautiful early September morning in 2010 I noticed something as I sat back watching my family. Six children between the ages of 14 and two years old rushed about happily as my ears took in their excited chatter. They greeted their new brother. They asked questions and explored baby hands and toes. I took in the sight of our pajamas and bed head hair. My husband and I were smiling at each other looking on proudly and feeling content; and as I observed this glorious morning I had a familiar warm feeling overcome me.

The smells of breakfast and coffee, the pitter-patter of feet, the laughter, the newness, the hope and promise of a fun day; taking all this in I realized the warm feeling that came over me was like Christmas. The early morning happiness and coming together of Christmas. The familiar and blessed feeling of family and of gifts. This time the gift was wrapped in a snugly blanket, suckling at my breast and being kissed by siblings atop his newborn velvety head. This was the feeling of family coming together, the feelings of Christmas magic.


Christina said...

fabulous story! congratulations, again! :-)


MrsKnight said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful birth story! And congratulations!

Claire Cramer said...

Congratulations! Another wonderful birth story. It's interesting to hear about the variety in your births! Happy babymoon. :)

Beth said...

So beautiful! Congratulations, guys!! :D

Frances said...

Oh, he is beautiful! Well done!!!!


Mom of a Half Dozen Kids said...

Thank you for the comments! We are quite happy! :)

Bonnie said...

I am so glad that I've found your blog. I love home birth and I love reading about it. I had my first 2 in the hospital and had to fight to have it all natural, my husband and I did have our way but after the 2nd time we wondered why we were even in a hospital having our babies. So our 3rd baby we had at home unassisted and it was so much more than AMAZING! So cozy. Definitely warm feelings just like Christmas :) I am pregnant with my 4th and will be having this one at home with just our family as well. Very excited that I get to do this again. Such a blessing! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience so that people like me can read it! :)

Mom of a bunch of great kids... said...

Thank you so much for your comment Bonnie! It really inspires me to share! Congrats on the new baby, how very exciting! Happy birthing!