"Ask me for strength and I will lend not only my hand, but also my heart."
~ Unknown

Monday, August 13, 2012

Addicted to Birth part 2 of 2

      Pregnancy was amazing, I have to admit, and I know that everyone is going to hate me for that statement but I have never felt so good pregnant before. I attribute my great pregnancy to a doula client who was having her first and told me that she did not have morning sickness. I was of course shocked because I had never heard of that before and had my share of morning sickness through my pregnancies. She told me that she had a respected coach that she had looked up to who had a wonderful pregnancy and so she decided that is how her pregnancy would be as well. I was amazed that she could expect to have an easy pregnancy and tell herself that and it happened. I wanted that as well so when I was pregnant I decided to enjoy it and love it and feel good.

       I don`t know how it worked but it did! I think telling my body that I loved it and telling it to feel good helped me to choose things that made me healthy and feel good. I remember a point early in my pregnancy where I started to feel a bit nauseous and decided that it was my body telling me that it needed something. So I boosted my vitamin intake and started taking Juice Plus pills, which uses natural foods to provide the body with nutrients, as well I made sure I was stocked up on healthy appealing snacks. This time my first trimester, rather than being a time of toilet worshipping, I was instead ravenous and ate constantly. I think that because I never gave my stomach an opportunity to be empty I did not experience the nausea that accompanies the excess bile that is produced by the body in early pregnancy.

      In addition I did not want to sit around this pregnancy and feel out of shape and tired so I decided to go to work. Unfortunately I was afraid that no one would hire me in my condition knowing that I would be quitting in a matter of months so I advertised myself as a house cleaner online. I was shocked when my week was quickly filled up. I loved working and cleaning houses and it worked exactly as I had hoped to keep my energy up. I stayed in wonderful shape throughout my pregnancy and every time I would pick things up from the floor or wash the bottom of a toilet I would make an effort to squat rather than bend so that I could strengthen my pelvic floor and be accustomed to it in case I wanted to birth in that position. That is the funny thing about squatting, it is a wonderful position for birthing but if you have not practiced it, it is really difficult to hold the position while you are pushing out a baby.

      The best part about working hard and eating healthy was that I never got that last month exhaustion where I felt like I needed to get the baby out so I could sleep again. I felt so good and full of energy from being active that when I went to bed I was able to fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly. My only complaint with this pregnancy was vaginal varicosities that never caused me discomfort and a mild case of hemorrhoids.
Having a pleasant and busy pregnancy made it easier when my due date came and went. I was determined not to quit working until either contractions made working too difficult or my water broke on someone`s floor. I did not want to sit around waiting on a baby who was running on his own schedule. The fun part was that the week after I was due I scored two extra move out cleans through a client and since I was nesting like crazy I worked my butt off cleaning and scrubbing on hands and knees and the home owner was impressed. He asked me if I was interested in getting another regular house to clean. I told him I would have to decline since I was expecting the baby any day. When he asked about my due date and I admitted I was past my date he stared at me like I was about to spurt amniotic fluid all over his newly cleaned floors.

      I had grand plans for my home birth. I decided I wanted to have a birth party with all of the people I know who are like minded with me about birth as well as a few other close friends and family. My plan was to sleep between contractions if labor started at night and to fix snacks for the party in early labor if it started during the day. I planned to give birth in the basement in a birth pool and have the tv on and snacks upstairs to keep guests occupied during the slow times until I began pushing and then I wanted everyone present for the birth.

     I was excited when contractions seemed to be coming regular on Friday June 22nd but didn`t get too anxious since I knew they could stop when I went to bed. However, it really felt like contractions were regular so I decided I would call my birth team and put everyone on alert in case it was the real thing. Judging by contractions and my last birth I expected that I would labor through the night and give birth the next day. My mom and Aunt were travelling to the birth from 2.5 hours away so they decided to come that night so they could sleep here and be well rested for whenever things picked up. Our wonderful friends Sam and her mom, Nadine, also decided to spend the night since Jeff was picking them up for the birth since neither drive and I didn`t want him leaving me when things got intense. Sam`s two kids came as well and had a sleepover with Tony and Sam. We stayed up excited and talking till midnight when my mom and Aunt arrived. I was starting to get frustrated about then since it seemed that contractions were coming less often and weren`t as intense. We all decided to get some rest since things were slowing down and reassess the situation in the morning. It seemed like the moment I lay down labor intensified and I had to get up a few minutes later to use the bathroom and saw my mucus plug go which delighted me since it confirmed to me that I hadn`t called everyone in vain.

      I slept really well between contractions until I couldn`t lie down any longer around 5. I decided I wanted to try the birth pool and Jeff began filling it while I laid on the bed we had set up in the basement for the birth. I was still tired so it felt good to rest but whenever I felt a contraction coming I could not be lying down so I would get up and walk over to the telepost where I would get it lined up with my spine and lean into it so that I had pressure in my lower back and I would sway my hips. It was amazing how that trick worked to alleviate the pain that accompanied the contractions. As soon as the pool was filled I tried it out and got in it and onto my hands and knees. Surprisingly, this didn`t work for me as it did throughout my entire previous labor, and I got out again and continued being upright through the contractions. After a while my back was sorer from the pressure that I was forcing on it from the telepost than from the contractions so I quit using it to lean against. By then others had woken and after a bit of experimentation I discovered that I could cope really well with someone squeezing my hips and I would continue swaying my hips and would drop my jaw and let my air out in low moans and grunts.

      It all felt really good I felt like I was working completely with my body to let the baby move down and I was able to really stay loose during the contractions. I also liked sitting on the toilet and spent most of my time moving between the bathroom and the birth pool. It felt really good to be actively doing something. 
Whenever I sat on the toilet I would check myself to see if I could feel the baby or anything that was going on inside, it was exciting when I could finally feel the bulge of my amniotic sac after a while.

     While I was laboring three other people arrived including my midwife. Three people that were invited were unable to make it including a photographer who was going to take pictures. Since Sam was my backup photographer she was busy snapping pictures and taking care of things. She was awesome and seemed to always be there during a contraction when I needed a hip squeeze or drinks of water and also managed to capture beautiful pictures of the labor and birth.

     I was getting worried and mentioned it to my midwife because I could tell that I was not yet to transition as I could still focus and felt completely aware between contractions and I was afraid that I would have difficulty with the intensity that would come with transition. It was amazing when transition hit I could instantly tell. Everything took on a surreal quality as if I had been drugged and I couldn’t really tell who was around me. It was nice to know that I was in transition. My favorite part of labor was when my older boys would come and check on me. I was able to explain to them what I was feeling and what was going on with my body and it would remind me to relax and let things happen and smiling at them to let them know that I was ok helped me feel better and in less pain. They were so attentive and would give me hugs and massage my back which really did feel wonderful.

      I was really feeling a lot of pressure on my bottom and when I was on the toilet and checked myself I could feel my water bag right inside my vagina and when I pushed a little further past it I could feel the baby’s head. I asked my midwife if I could break my water but then I was afraid she would say no, so before she was able to answer I pinched the amniotic sac between my fingernails and pulled and felt the gush of fluid as my water broke.

     My boys were really excited for this as they knew it meant the baby was coming and had been asking me if my water broke yet for weeks before labor even started. Breaking my water was such a relief and eased the intense pressure I had been feeling. Since I could feel the baby’s head high up in my vagina I began pushing through the contractions and kept my hand on his head and felt it move down with each push. Before long the head was visible from the outside and I told the kids to watch their brother being born. I squatted in the pool and the kids and adults lined up where they could watch. I started to push cautiously. I planned to push slowly so I wouldn’t tear but as soon as the contraction started I was crowning and I couldn’t slow it down at all. Woosh! The baby’s head was out and there was that adrenaline rush again which I knew I would remember all my life.

     The midwife checked for the cord and another contraction came. A small push and Forest came swimming out and I brought him up and to my chest. I inhaled deeply as I kissed his sweet little head then rested my head back on the edge of the pool as the euphoria of birth washed over me. Jesse Forest came into the world at 11:05. We instantly fell in love. I felt wonderful. I birthed the placenta. I breastfed my baby. I relived the birth with my friends before everyone went home and I could not wait to do it all again.

     Yes I freely admit it I am completely addicted to birth.

Addicted to Birth part 1of 2

      Yes I freely admit it I am totally and completely addicted to birth. It has been over a month since I gave birth to my little Jesse Forest and I am still on such a birth high that I get giddy and excited every time I recall the rush of pushing him into the world into my waiting hands and bringing him up out of the water to my breast. It is a good thing that I am sane enough to realize how much work parenting can be afterwards so I haven’t gone crazy and started a football team. Although I am on the right track, so far we have had four beautiful boys spaced three years apart. Each birth has been a totally unique experience and helped me to learn and grow.

      Birth #1 was by scheduled cesarean because Tony wanted to be born bottom first and the doctors didn’t go for that so I willingly put myself under the knife to bring him into my groggy waiting arms. Unfortunately I was too tired from my general anesthesia to appreciate the moment and held him with joy but was unable to keep my eyes open long enough to examine his beautiful tiny body.
Birth #2 was my biggest regret and after an emergency C-section due to “failure to progress” I got to see my little Sam lifted over the blue curtain for a minute screaming his little head off and then I was separated from my baby. Needless to say the whole experience threw me into a fear of birth and pregnancy and traumatized me from ever wanting to have another child.

      Birth #3, my triumph! Thanks to an unplanned pregnancy I faced my biggest fear and approached this birth from a new angle. I actually educated myself and gave myself permission to defy the experts and trust myself and my body. So after two cesareans I had my first VBAC in my basement with a midwife, my mom, husband and boys. After hours and days of labor that didn’t ever want to end I pushed Alex out into my arms in breech presentation. That was the first time I felt the rush and high that turned me into this birth addict. It was the moment that I reached down while his body slipped into my hands and everything stretched to let him free. Like a shot of adrenaline! I was on a high for days reliving that moment and feeling. Despite endless hours of exhausting labor once I held my baby I was ready to run around and dance like a crazed lunatic. I had given birth to my baby in a way that people had told me that I couldn’t do and I had given birth to a new me as well.

      Birthing my baby changed my life. I learned so much about giving birth and how backwards birthing has become in our liability-riddled medical model. Giving birth is natural and healthy and should take place in a natural environment not surrounded by fear, lying on a bed with strangers staring between your legs at a place that you haven’t been able to look at yourself for months. I felt like my mind had been blown by the new information I had learned during my pregnancy. People don`t tell you these things. I was naive and innocent when I approached my first two births and put my trust in a system that puts themselves and their fears ahead of me and my experience. What mattered to my care providers was that they were not going to be held responsible for my lack of knowledge and experience so instead of educating me about my body they rescued me from it. They treated my physical symptoms while leaving me with a totally shattered psyche. I was shocked to learn how little birth professionals focus on the psychology of birth when it is such a huge aspect of the birth process. Yeah, our bodies can sometimes manage to give birth on their own, completely drugged up and with no feeling of what`s going on and if turning the synthetic contractions up does not force the baby out then the doctors are there with their surgical instruments to come to the rescue. Thank heavens for modern medicine.

     Our brains do work and feeling scared and threatened is not the way to give birth. A prepared mind can make all the difference in an easy birth as can our minds shut down labor and fail to birth a baby if we are in an environment of fear.  

      Alex`s birth made my mission in life clear. Now that I knew better I could not keep it to myself and let innocent victims fall prey to the surgical knife and let innocent babes be needlessly cut from a mother`s womb if I could make a difference. Yes, I had turned into a birth junkie. Every conversation I had somehow turned to birth and I passionately told everyone I spoke to exactly how birth should be. I enrolled myself in a midwifery program and before long I started attending hospital births as a doula. The more I learned and experienced the more it confirmed my desire to fix birth and fed my addiction to keep going.

     Becoming a midwife through distance education with three kids was draining and difficult and despite my drive to provide options in care I was burning out. So to light the flame and get the passion going again I decided it was time for another birth high. So naturally we got pregnant again with our fourth.