Thursday, June 6, 2013

I had a baby.

So, Scott and I opted for a home birth this time around.  I know that makes me sound like some hard-core crunch-tastic momma, but I'm really not.  More of a realist.  And in my case, the reality is that I've done a natural birth before, and I knew I could do it again.  My labors are really short and straightforward.  I don't even push for very long.  Besides, there's a few things about hospitals that I find really annoying.  I'm not crazy about : (1) the crappy food, (2) the way some nurses make you feel more like a series of tasks than an actual person, or (3) the way the someone always comes in to "get vitals" as soon as the baby or I am asleep.  Plus, (4) the way hospital bills keep showing up in your mailbox for months and months afterward.  (Homebirths can be pretty affordable.  FYI.)

Putting the girls to bed and telling
them to STAY THERE till morning
unless they wanted to be traumatized
for life.  It (mostly) worked.
Because you never know who reads a blog, and because I had moments where I felt very vulnerable about our homebirthing choice, this whole next paragraph is nothing more than me explaining that our choice really wasn't a crazy one.  Skip it.  Homebirths can be both very safe and very rewarding when handled properly.  Many midwives have much better outcomes than hospitals.  I felt perfectly confident that our midwife was an especially experienced professional, a true expert in her field.  She has about a 3% transfer rate, which is much lower than almost any hospital's C-section rate.  Additionally, women laboring and birthing in comfortable environments and while being supported by doulas or midwives have shorter labors, experience less pain, and are more likely to report being truly pleased by their birthing than women who don't have that same kind of support.  In short:  I don't believe hospitals are evil; I don't have the magical, pain-free births other women brag about; I'm just me.  I had a great natural-birth hospital experience with Avie, but I felt confident I could also have a great experience at home with Israel.  So we did.

The only photo of the birthing tub.
Not that it matters -- I didn't get to use
it anyway.  So bummed.
So I was ten days overdue when we started my natural induction.   Richelle, our midwife, always does inductions in the evening, since that's when uterine contractions are the most efficient.  She arrived around 9 pm, but we spent a little while just talking over the plan, making sure we all felt comfortable with the details involved, and (at Richelle's suggestion) offering a prayer.  Then it all started: we stripped membranes; we coated my innards with evening primrose oil;  we took cohosh and homeopathic drops and as if that weren't enough, I also took 2 T of castor oil.

Usually, Richelle goes home for a few hours after getting the induction underway, and comes back once labor has really set in.  Already being 80% effaced and a 3.5, my body took instantly to our efforts, and Richelle never got the chance to leave.  It was 9:30, and labor had begun.

Welcome home.
I labored for the first thirty minutes in bed, and contractions were easy enough.  When the thirty minutes was up, Richelle allowed me to move again as the evening primrose oil had all been absorbed.  She checked the position of the baby.  He was head-down but not in an optimal position, so she asked me to labor in a crawling position that she hoped would encourage him to birth a little faster and easier.  As soon as I was off the bed, the contractions picked up instantly.  I had probably only been laboring on the ground ten or fifteen minutes when I hit transition.  The last thing I remember saying before I lost my ability to speak was voicing all my fears -- fears that he wouldn't turn around and it would complicate pushing; fears that it would go slow; fears that I didn't have enough physical stamina to endure it because I hadn't eaten enough...

Fears always hit at transition.  Every. stinking. time.  That should have been enough to soothe me right there, but it just seemed so fast.  How could I be approaching the end already?  So, I kept laboring but lost the ability to speak -- which sounds crazy, but it happens.  The sum total of my energy, both physical, mental, and, well, probably spiritual, too, is just being used to make it through the moment I'm in.  All I remember doing was ordering people to talk to me when contractions hit.  Internally, I was absolutely annoyed by virtually every word that came out of their mouths, but the irritation kept me focused on listening to them instead of listening to the fear.  Counter pressure on my back helped, too.  At one point I remember Richelle singing to me.  That was really sweet, and since it was a song I'd never heard before, it gave me something new to feel irritated about.

Seriously.  I can't talk much, but internally, I am one heck of a beast.

So I labored for another half-hour or so when I mentioned feeling like I had to push.  If I'm honest, here, I hesitated to say anything, because I was kind-of afraid it was just a bowel movement.  Richelle checked me, and I'd progressed from a 3 to a 6 in the hour and fifteen minutes since things started up, but that was still a long way from the 10 you're supposed to be in order to push.  With great effort, I managed to tell them I was thinking it was a bowel movement and I was going to poop all over everything.

(Isn't this an awesome story?)

They told me not to worry about it, and said that was part of why the whole room had a layer of plastic wrap over the carpet.  But still.  I decided to hang in there and try to avoid the total humiliation that would bring.  That plan lasted about eight minutes, at which time I realized two things: the urge was only getting stronger, and if I didn't poop, it would only prolong the whole laboring thing, as there would be less room for the baby to come out.

Richelle and Michael Israel
So I just started pushing anyway, to heck with being a six.  To heck with only being just over an hour into labor.  To heck with the midwife telling me to hold off if I could.  This was happening: I was either going to have a baby, then and there, or I was totally pooping all over my carpet.  I was gonna do it.  I just (very truthfully) didn't know whether it would be feces or an infant.

So I pushed.  And pushed.  Another eight minutes later, my water broke, and the baby crowned.  And three minutes after that, Scott was delivering our baby boy.

Scott weighing Israel:
8 lbs. 13 oz,
19 3/4 inches
From the first regular contractions to the delivery was an hour and half.  I still can't believe it went that fast.

He's absolutely huge considering our girls were 7 lbs. 2 oz and 5 lbs 4 oz.  Plus, he'd already gained over a pound by his 2 week checkup.  He's been able to hold up his head quite well pretty much since the day he was born, and we've seen enough smiles to assure us his temperament is every bit as endearing as he seemed in the womb.  We've even heard a few giggles as he grinned as big as life.

As to the overall homebirth v. hospital experience, I'll have to write a little more another day.  I also wanted to write a few notes regarding my thoughts on natural birth philosophies.  But this has been plenty long for now, and Israel will be needing to nurse in just a few minutes.