Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead

Benjamin’s Birth Story: Part Three
January 28, 2011, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Birth, Children, Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , ,

This is Part Three. You can catch up by reading Part One and Part Two.

My water still hadn’t broken so Christy, our midwife, asked if we would like her to break it and we agreed. This was 6pm. By 7pm Benjamin’s head was still tranverse and the contractions were still out of this world but I didn’t have the urge to push yet. But due to being able to labor all around the room and get things opened up, he was finally able to maneuver his little head into the right spot! Hooray! Once he was good to go Christy told me I could start to push. And pushing him out was easy peasy. Well, not easy peasy, but pushing is great because you get to work with the contractions. I delivered him in a squatting position, holding onto a rope thingy to hold myself up. I don’t really remember a rope thingy, but Daniel says there was one and I was incredibly loopy, exhausted, and sleep-deprived by this point so I trust his memory over my own. I would rest sitting on the edge of the hospital bed and then pull up with the rope to a squatting position when a contraction came along. I spent really all of my laboring to this point in silence. I talked a little bit between contractions but mostly just to ask for “fisticuffs.” But with pushing it was different. Primal grunting sounds escaped my lips. I was WORKING. Benjamin’s heart rate dropped some at this point so they put the fetal monitor into his head just to be safe. It only took about 10 minutes to get his head to crown. They set up a mirror so I could see him come out but…I’m a fainter. My dad and I are both fainters. We faint. A baby coming out of me just didn’t sound like something I needed visual confirmation of. I could feel that baby quite well, thank you very much, so I mostly closed my eyes and worked hard to push him out. After his head crowned, it felt like he TUMBLED out, elbows and knees.  This was 7:47pm.

He gave a good strong cry and I was able to hold him right away and begin to nurse him. Then Daniel held him while they were stitching me up and sang, “Be Thou My Vision” to him, the hymn we sang to him everyday in the womb. Well, we didn’t sing it IN THE WOMB, but he was in the womb when we sang it. You know what I mean.

He was perfect and alert and deeply resented his first bath. Pink and chubby with a full head of black hair. He was 7 lbs 10 oz and 20 inches long with two 9s for his APGARs. The excitement wasn’t quite over. I fainted a half-an-hour after delivery (I told you I’m a fainter) but was quickly revived. Once Benjamin was in our arms, I realized I was STARVING after almost two days without eating hardly a thing. My sainted mother found us some sandwiches because the hospital restaurant was already closed. Apparently these ham and cheese sandwiches were out of some sort of vending machine but they tasted like the food of the gods to me. At this point, I was keyed up to spent the next few hours staring at my baby. Daniel said with relief, “Now we can go to sleep.” After getting set up in our room Daniel immediately nodded off while I unadvisedly slept not at all, enthralled by the sight of my little one. This is not to say that Daniel wasn’t excited about being a father, but as a general rule, exciting events don’t interfere with his ability to sleep. But babies do interfere with your ability to sleep. A couple of months ago we said to ourselves, “hey! I think we finally caught up on sleep from when Benjamin was born.”

I feel like I can take a lot of the credit for our little guy’s birth but I could not have done it without our amazing midwife, Christy, whose patience and expertise saved me from the c-section I would have had due to the transverse position of his head and long labor or without Daniel who coached me through every minute of labor with encouragement, calm, and love.  My mom was my doula during the birth and brought ice chips, blew up birthing balls, put heating pads on my back and cool cloths on my head, and a million other vital tasks. So I had a good team for which I am grateful.

So, Febuary 8th, 2009: Thus began months of exhaustion, continually having vomit on the shoulder of my shirts, and seeing/touching more poop than I thought possible. And thus began my transformation into a mother and falling in love with Daniel all over again as he learned to be a father, relearning the words to lullabyes my mother sang, soaking in the smell of my baby’s head, laughter in the bath tub, and a million other beautiful events of inexpressible joy and boundless love. Picking a best day of one’s life isn’t easy. But it’s hard to beat the day you meet your first-born son.

Benjamin’s Birth Story: Part Two
January 27, 2011, 2:09 pm
Filed under: Birth, Children, Motherhood | Tags: , , , ,

This is Part Two. If you missed Part One you can read it here.

By the time we got to the hospital I was 7 cm and labor was intense. Daniel and I wanted to use the Bradley Method of husband-coached natural childbirth (no drugs). Christy, our midwife, suggested that Daniel and I walk around the halls to keep things progressing. During the next few hours my contractions intensified until they lasted for almost 2 minutes and were less than a minute apart. I would count down slowly from 20 as the contraction started, telling myself that by the time I got to 1 the contraction would be close to the peak and then start easing up. After a few hours of this, I started blacking out around the peak of the contractions, like I had fallen asleep. Daniel, who was right next to me timing each one would wake me before the next one started so I wouldn’t be surprised. I guess this was my body’s way of controlling the pain for me. It would allow me to feel as much as I could handle and then give me a rest. I sat in the bath tub, on a birthing ball, on the toilet, Indian style on the foot of the bed, and stood holding onto Daniel during my labor. I know some women labor on their backs in the hospital bed, but I can’t imagine how painful that must be. Because it was a low-risk pregnancy, I didn’t have to be continuously hooked to the fetal monitor and could move as much as I wanted for which I am very grateful.

In about an hour (2pm, I think) I had progressed to 9 cm and began to have excruciating pains in my upper thighs and lower back because Benjamin’s head was transverse (he wasn’t breech, his head was just turned to the side instead of up or down and couldn’t fit in the birth canal). So, his head was hitting some pretty serious nerves. Daniel would knead his fists into my lower back after each contraction was over to relieve the lower back pain. We called it “fisticuffs.” Just a little labor pain joke we had. When the contraction ended I would pant, “cold cloth! Fisticuffs!” Then 15 seconds later I would beg, “Socks! Blanket! Hot cocoa!” Not really. I was only interested in ice chips, but I was FREEZING in between contractions. Eventually I said, “Christy, I can’t handle much more than this. How much worse will it get once I move into transition?” “You’ve BEEN in transition, Haley. It won’t get much worse than this.” Was that a relief! I felt like I could handle the current intensity of the labor but anything more was daunting. But it’s not you can quit having a baby in the middle of labor so I don’t know what my plan would have been if things had gotten much harder.

At this point I thought, ”Hey, labor won’t last forever! At some point in the not too distant future, this will be over!” Then I remembered an important point that I’d forgotten during my labor trance, “Oh yeah! And a baby!”

I think it was also at this point that I made a mental note to myself, “Haley, this is your body giving you a message. Do NOT do this again. Next time you get baby fever, adopt. You will forget how you feel in a few hours when you look at your snuggly baby. So just remember: don’t ever do this again.”

It was 6pm and my water still hadn’t broken and Benjamin’s head was still transverse (turned to the side so that it couldn’t fit through the birth canal.) To be continued…

Read Part III.