Sunday, May 13, 2012

Labor of Love

Since today is Mother's Day and my baby girl is now 11 weeks old, I thought today it would be appropriate to tell the story of the day I became a mother... and I wanted to make sure I wrote down her birth story while it is still relatively fresh in my memory.

My "due" date was February 15th... but she didn't make her appearance until the 26th, so we can just leave it to say that I was very ready to meet her. After her due date came and went it seemed like I was in limbo land... feeling like she was going to come at any point, but she took her time. I did many things to urge her on - took many walks, danced, worked in our vineyard... but nothing. Let me tell you, if you ever know a woman who is overdue in her pregnancy, don't ask her when the baby is going to arrive. That seemed to be the only thing people kept asking me and it only made it feel worse. Anyway, the doctor started talking about inducing me, which I didn't want because I was hoping for a natural childbirth. On the 25th, I went in to the hospital for a non-stress test and they told me that my cervix was still closed and not dilated at all. Well, that made me more determined than ever, so that whole day I did everything I could...practically every old wives tale I had ever heard about. I got a pedicure and they rubbed essential oils of cinnamon and rosemary on my feet and hands, I bought a pineapple and ate at least half of it, I made eggplant parmesan, I danced, I had some nice time with my husband :), I took a bath etc. - all very pleasing things to do even if I wasn't trying to induce labor. I didn't go as far as taking castor oil or anything like that, thank goodness.

Anyway, in the evening I started getting contractions, so I decided to just relax and watch some funny movies. My husband had a friend over and they decided to go out, which was fine by me since I didn't really think the contractions were going to bring anything about, as I had been having quite a few contractions for a number of days. As midnight approached, my contractions started coming around 5 minutes apart and I started tracking them. The has a great contraction timer as an fyi, and its kind of cool because I was able to save and print it as a record of that night. My plan was to stay at home as long as I could before going to the birthing center. My husband tried to tell me I should get some sleep... but men obviously don't understand what a contraction feels like!! I tried to relax by taking another bath, and watching a Youtube playlist I had made of babies laughing, which did help to both bring on the 'good feeling' oxytocin hormones and get me excited about meeting my new baby girl. I had taken a hypnobirthing class, so I also practiced those techniques and played a few hypnobirthing videos. Around 4am I called my midwife and doula and told them I was in labor and I headed to the hospital birthing center around 5, with my contractions coming every few minutes.

When I arrived, they checked me and monitored me for about 20 minutes. I was 4cm dilated, so they let me get in the tub, which really helped to ease the pain. The birthing center I went to was fantastic. We were able to bring our laptop and play a Pandora "Nature Sounds" station. I had signed up for Pandora One a month previously, which was a great idea because there were no commercials. The birthing center had electric candles and they put those around the tub and lowered the lights. It was quite relaxing minus the intense pain :) I had purchased a couple of bath pillows from Earth Therapeutics, which was a great idea because I could lean on those in the tub as well.

After a while I knew I had to get out of the tub because I was getting shriveled up and I wanted to be able to be in at the end to have a water birth. I got on the birthing ball for a while and my water broke while I was on the ball... around 9:30 I think. They checked me again and I was 9 cm dilated, so I decided to get back in the water and start pushing. I wore my regular bathing suit top and had purchased a bottom that was like a  skirt and cut the bottom out. I brought my own bathrobe... so I just got in and out of the tub feeling very at ease. I know people say when they are in the throws of labor, they don't care if they aren't wearing anything, which is partly true - but I liked that I had a nice outfit on that I could feel comfortable in :)

I had a lot of back labor, so my husband and my doula, Carol, just rubbed my back a lot and Carol read me  some hypnobirthing affirmations that I had printed out, which helped. My main mantra though that seemed to help me the most though was that I would breath in and think "Peace" and breath out and think "Release". Although I was definitely in pain, I truly believe my mental state helped me to reduce the pain and it was a very peaceful birth... no screaming or any of the typical things the movies often portray labor as.

I pushed for about 2 hours and then she was finally born at 11:58 am. It was the strangest feeling when she came out and there was no longer any baby in my belly. I was kneeling in the tub, so I flipped around and held my baby for the first time! It is somewhat of a blur... but my husband said I kept saying..."my baby - we did it!" I really did look at it as if we were both 'laboring' as it is a difficult process for the baby as well and I tried to 'communicate' with her as best I could to urge her to come easily.

These are the first two photos of my baby's life. She seemed so peaceful. She didn't cry. We just rubbed her  and warmed her up and she started using her lungs for the first time bit by bit in her own time. These pictures are before they had even cut the cord because research has shown it is better for the cord to stop pulsing on its own and to let the cord blood transfuse back into her body before being cut.

I think she looks very alert and almost smiling. I know I sure am!

I got out of the tub to birth the placenta, which harder that I thought it would be... maybe because I was flat on my back at that point on the bed. They did all the normal weighing of her etc. during that time and then they brought her to me and she found my breast and nursed for about an hour before falling asleep. 

What an amazing journey it was! I am so blessed that everything really went smoothly according to my birth plan. Here is my Birth plan if you want help in writing your own. 

One year ago... last mother's day, I told my husband that I wanted to be a mother - and now here I am with a lovely 11 week baby who has been making me laugh like crazy this morning. I am so blessed.

Happy Mother's Day!

A Whole Lotta Love,

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