Pilcrow

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The Birth of Natalie Ruth

My water broke at 3 am on Tuesday morning, after having been in the emergency room overnight with Jonah (my middle child, age 3). While we were in the hospital my back and hips were bugging me, so I was putting one foot on a chair, and doing sort-of squat thingies. I think that moved her low enough to break my bag. I wasn’t having any real contractions to speak of, just random barely noticable ones. We went to sleep as soon as we could, knowing that we needed the rest while we could get it. The next morning we got up and took Jonah to Nanna and Pappa’s home, despite the foot of snow accumulated outside. We picked up groceries and came home. Contractions were 8-10 minutes apart, but nothing stable still. Dawn (our midwife) suggested pumping, which wasn’t helpful in getting them more regular and closer together. She also mentioned Castor oil, but after my last experience with it I was pretty wary and we decided to eat dinner and try to sleep to make up for the lack of rest the night before. I spent a bit of time in the kitchen, making clam chowder to give us a few hearty post partum meals, and again, we slept.

I woke up on Thursday morning at 8 am having regular uncomfortable contractions at 7 minutes apart. There also happened to be, in addition to the foot of snow on the ground, a thick layer of ice. We called Dawn (midwife) and let her know where I was. We just hung around, and watched a bit of tv. Around 1:30 (I think! All times are a guess from my perspective, I wasn’t interested in clock watching!), I said to Sean that I felt like I was delaying the baby coming by being so relaxed and not focusing on the labor- my contractions were still 5-7 minutes apart, though getting steadily more painful- at this point I couldn’t talk through them and was sometimes moaning a bit, but still really cheerful and relaxed between them. I got up and walked into the kitchen after having a contraction. I literally felt my daughter shift inside of my uterus and pelvis, and nearly right thereafter had another contraction. They jumped down to 1 and a half minutes apart right then! After having a few of these, Sean handed me the phone with a serious look on his face, so I called Dawn (our mw) and she headed out. I hopped in to our birth tub, and Aaaahhhhhh- best thing ever! My contractions slowed a bit, and I felt all my muscles loosen.

The contractions became quickly more intense, and were very very close together (30 seconds!). I was still laughing and joking, until I had one very intense contraction and began to worry. I put my middle finger inside my vagina to gauge where our daughters head was- not even to the second knuckle I could feel her hair! I began trying my best to relax my muscles, and between contractions was explaining to Sean what to do when she came out- vigorously rub her with the towel, etc! I am pretty sure sheer force of will kept her from being an unattended birth. I was afraid because when Jonah was born, he was a little slower to start and needed blow-by oxygen, so I was apprehensive about how Natalie would be when she arrived.

Sometime during this period, Sean called Dawn to find out where she was. The roads being so icy etc we were nervous. I heard him say something like, “Okay I will move it” and I thought he meant he was going outside to shovel ice or snow or move our car or something- that was the first and only time I cried and was panicky. The whole time I was laboring I felt like I was doing it on my own, I felt self-sufficient and really proud that I was able to handle it all on my own. At that point I realized how much I had needed Sean- not to hold or rub or talk to me, coach me or anything- but simply his presence near me, knowing he was there. I told him no, he couldn’t leave (while bawling), he quickly assured me he was just moving the bookcase that was covering our downstairs door, so Dawn could come in more easily.

Dawn came through our door at 2 pm, and quickly began setting up - plugging in the  blanket warmer, washing hands etc. I told her I was feeling a bit pushy, she said “You’ve been doing great, keep doing what your body is telling you to do”. I began bearing down a little during that contraction, but I kept holding back, going slowly, slowly. It was all happening so fast I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I am suprised how much control I maintained. I was feeling really light headed and dizzy, the sensation was keeping me from feeling capable of pushing. Dawn gave me some kind of homeopathic med, kept those delicious icy towels around my neck and on my head, Sean was giving me sips of ice water between ctx. She was going to spray something in my mouth to help, but the idea mad me want to gag. I am SO unbelievably glad I did not vomit this time around. That was one of the worst parts of Jonahs’ birth- the constant vomiting, every single contraction during transition. It was HORRIBLE. I was nauseaous a few times then, but nothing came up.

After a few more little half-assed pushes like that, her head was crowning, ring of fire baby! I held her there, my hand on her head. I told Dawn it felt like my clitoris was tearing, she told me I was very deeply squatting and to maybe put a knee down. I did so, and it was immediately better. The feeling I had emotionally is nearly indescribable- like I was holding this person between myself and the world, between life and death, in some kind of suspended eternal moment- that is as closely as I can say. The next contraction, I pushed a bit more vigorously, definitely more loudly! When the contraction was over, I said I was holding back, I was afraid, something along those lines and  started laughing again somewhere around that time or the next contraction, had another contraction, and pushed like hell. I remember yelling “She’s coming!” and Dawn and Sean saying something like “bring her”, and out came Natalie to meet the world at 2:19 pm. Feeling the back of her head in my palm was just amazing. The assistant midwife Sara came in a bit after (?time again?). Sean was immediately bawling, I was laughing and telling my daughter hello, and the midwives were handing me blankets to wrap her and giving her head a little hat.

Her cord was really short, and stopped pulsating very quickly after the brith. We cut pretty much immediately since it wasn’t pulsating- she was on her own steam now! The placenta came out really quickly as well. I got out of the tub after a bp check, and Sara helped me to the bathroom, I showered immediately while Sean got to meet our daughter. Got settled in on the couch, nursing away. Sean went to heat me up a bowl of the clam chowder I cooked while in early labor. I was seriously starving hungry and thirsty as all get out.  As he was putting it in the microwave we heard a pop, saw a flash, and our power was out! The midwives had to do their post partum exam by flashlight and candlelight!

I have to say I am pleasantly suprised how well my labor went, and how great I felt afterwards! No tearing, my vagina looks so nice! I don’t even look or feel like I had a baby 4 days ago, other than the huge boobs, line running down my not-quite flat belly, some minor hip pain and the very light bleeding. Our power was out until the 22nd, 3 days after her birth. We had to sleep infront of our neighbors fireplace that first night, with candlelight. It was so peaceful and amazing. 

Another neat thing about Natalie’s birth- We rent a downstairs basement from my midwifes parents since I met her during my second pregnancy (Jonah). Dawn herself had her first child where I delivered Natalie, her sister in law had her daughter in our bedroom (before we lived here, of course!). Natalie is the 3rd little girl to be born inside these walls. Her parents were so kind as to have us come into their home, feed us dinner, bed us in front of their fireplace to keep warm. A neighbor came over a few hours later while we were all chatting in front of the fire. She was beside herself when she saw our fresh infant. She couldn’t believe I had just given birth 2 hours prior! The look on her face was priceless, and it was so wonderful to share the experience.