Saturday, May 15, 2010

An Unassisted Childbirth

39 weeks and 6 days pregnant
At 3:58, Mom awakens to a contraction. Hmmmm… right at the cervix, definitely not the Braxton Hicks type. Mom gets up to use the restroom. There is some bloody show. This is encouraging. Mom goes back to bed.
4:58, Mom is awakened by another contraction. She snuggles her back up against Papa. They have a nice intimate time resulting in a couple more strong contractions. Remembering it is Saturday morning and no one has to get up, they settle down for some sleep.
6:58 (why does Mom keep waking up at 2 minutes before the top of the hour?) another contraction. Mom hears the 1 1/2 year-old crying in the other room and goes to get him. Bringing him into the bed, everyone goes back to sleep.
That doesn’t last long. By 8:15, others in the house are starting to stir. Mom has a lot of bloody show every time she visits the restroom. Contractions are spaced apart. Never more than about 3 per hour. They are strong, but short.
Papa has the girls get up and make room for the birth pool in the living room. They do an excellent job, moving furniture, running the vacuum, setting up the pool and the atmosphere. The blinds are closed and candles are set out. Mom’s favorite music is moved onto the computer near the birth pool.
Papa drains the first round of hot water into the pool. Big brother is set to work heating more water on the stove.
This labor is puttering. Movement such as going from lying down to standing will usually bring on a good contraction, but nothing steady.
Mommy and Papa decide to take a nap around 11:30. By this time, two rounds of hot water have gone into the birth pool. It is not quite full enough, but the next round should do the trick, so everyone is confident that it will be ready before the baby comes. The little kids and the boys head next door to Nana and Grandpa’s to await the birth.
The nap is very relaxing. If feels so good to just be together, enjoying the last day of having the baby inside. The last two births were more private, just Mommy and Papa. This time we have included the two big sisters, so Mommy and Papa have to stay in the bedroom in order to be alone. Mommy just read Spiritual Midwifery and was intrigued by the idea that the laboring woman should be “giving some” to those around her, and that she would “get” in return. Just like in the Bible where Jesus says “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38
So Mommy tried to focus on Papa during the labor. During the nap, she “gave” to him. He “gave” in return – a nice oral dose of prostaglandins. Mom had 3 contractions while she served Papa. They went back to sleep. Mom could use nipple stimulation to bring on a strong contraction, but they wouldn’t keep going without more stimulation.
But those contractions were powerful enough to require concentrated relaxation. Mom would focus on opening her hands and mouth during the contractions. A relaxed mouth translates into a relaxed bottom, an open bottom, an open cervix.
Around 3:00, Mom decided that it might be better to be upright for awhile and see if that didn’t bring a little more progress to the labor. It is hard to both welcome the contractions and be glad of their absence at the same time. She moved from the bedroom to the living room. This room provided various pieces of furniture which worked well for leaning during rushes. As she felt one coming on she would either lean on the end table by the recliner, resting her palms on the table top and bending at the waist, or lean on the tall bookcase near the hall, remaining completely upright with only a slight bend at the waist while swirling her hips.
It must have looked funny to the big sisters and Mom joked with them about things like belly dancing. The girls were careful not to talk during the contractions. In between they asked questions or made conversation. Being upright caused the contractions to be stronger and more frequent, probably because of the pressure of the baby’s head on the cervix while Mom was standing.
Between 3:00 and 4:00 the rushes were stronger. But at no time did they become unbearable. They were not very long, not “textbook” at all, because none of them lasted more than one minute and they never got very close together. It seems there was never any that were closer together than about 5 minutes during this time.
At 4:00 Mom decides that it is time to get into the birth pool. Settling herself at the far end, near the kitchen, she drapes her body over the edge while kneeling on the cushy pool bottom. The water feels great. The temperature is perfect. She spends a couple of contractions trying to figure out how far she has progressed. Her cervix doesn’t give as much information as the books would have us believe. It is very soft and the bag of waters can be felt. But the squishy cervix isn’t dilated more than about 5 or 6, and that is probably generous.
Yet Mom knows that the birth is close. The quality of the contractions is very familiar. She knows that when the uterus begins to push downward, the cervix will yield, even if it isn’t “complete”. No text book can dictate what a body will do. And that is exactly what happens. As the description of the rushes changes from the “opening” type to the “expulsion” type, the head pushes the cervix aside and descends into the birth canal.
Mom focuses on breathing and relaxing her bottom. She resists pushing as much as she can without resorting to clamping her legs closed. She wants to relax and maintain some control over the head as it moves downward. If possible, it would be highly desirable to allow the tissues at the outlet to stretch.
The water bag breaks and Mom, who is holding her hand at the outlet, feels the force of the fluid rushing into the pool and simultaneously feels the head move to crowning. She redoubles her efforts at making things slow and begins to talk to the baby. “That’s a good baby. Go slowly for mama. Let it stretch… let is stretch. Wait. Take your time.” (Mom finds out later that the girls found this matter of speaking to the unborn baby to be quite interesting and unexpected – although Mom does it every time, it was their first time to get to see/hear it)
Mom is able to use up four contractions birthing the head. Probably a record for her. Unknown to her at the time, but highly obvious to Papa who is sitting in the pool behind her, (when did he get in the pool?) the baby is facing Mom’s front. What the books call a posterior position. Now for the hardest part, the shoulders and body. As expected, they rush out at a high rate of speed in a single contraction as Mom gives a little yelp.
The baby tumbles out and Papa scoops him out of the water. He gives a cry nearly immediately. A conversation ensues between Mommy and Papa.
“The baby’s out” says Papa.
“Is it out of the water?” (Mama can’t see what is going on back there and she can’t move just yet, she is gathering her wits, still leaning over the side of the pool).
“Do you have enough cord?” (Mom is asking if the cord is long enough to hold the baby out of the water while she rests a minutes. Because she could stand up, but she would rather not at this point).
“Yes. It’s a little boy.” Proclaims the proud Papa.
From then on, it’s pretty anticlimactic. Mom gets turned around and sits in the pool. She nurses the baby and they begin to get to know each other. For the events that happen a couple of hours later, including the hemorrhage and transport by ambulance to the hospital, Mom is writing a separate account because the birth itself was so peaceful and “normal” they seemed like two completely different events.

1 comment:

Jackelyn said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful birth story.