Part One: The Dress Rehearsal
All right, here we go. I’d been preparing for this birth with Hypnobabies and part of that program involves visualizing the details of your birth. I chose to visualize a Friday birth between the hours of 1am and 6am. Yeah, I don’t play around. I threw down the gauntlet.
On Friday, 3 days past my “guess date,” at approximately 1PM (ok, so it didn’t work perfectly), I had a gush of fluid while standing in the kitchen. I was home alone. The fluid was clear. But did not continue to leak like it had during Norah’s birth. I thought perhaps Cedar’s head had sealed it since the baby was already very low. My pressure waves (Hypnobabies lingo for contractions) began immediately and were about 3-4 minutes apart. I listened to Cedar using a doppler and he/she sounded great. I waited an hour and then called Scott to come home. The waves continued and I listened to a couple of Hypnobabies scripts on my ipod. Everything was very relaxed and manageable. I called my sister and told her to come when she wanted to.
As things continued, I noticed that I was very much in my head. In other words, I was thinking too much. I was trying to doula myself. And the waves were spacing out. In an effort to get my mind elsewhere, I asked if we could play “Pass the Pigs” the game which always makes me laugh. Except for one stellar Leaning Jowler, I tossed a terrible game (Scott won) but I laughed so hard. Then we thought maybe we should go out to eat. So we went for Mexican where I ate a ton of food and had great pressure waves.
When we returned home, it felt like Cedar had spun from ROA to a posterior position. Pressure waves were spacing again. We decided to try the birth tub. The water should either stop things or intensify them.
Let me interject here that La Bassine birth tub rocks! So much better than the Aquadoula I used last time. It was deep and roomy. The floor inflates making it very comfortable and it has internal handles. I hopped in. It felt marvelous. And, the waves spaced even farther. But it was nice. Scott was playing the guitar and singing some Iron and Wine. Noelle had gone to bed. It was an intimate and sweet time. I got out of the tub and Scott got in. His back was sore so he had some therapeutic time in the water. Then we went to bed.
Ok, I admit I went to bed utterly deflated.
When I woke the next morning, I felt embarrassed and discouraged. As a doula, I should have known if I was in “real” labor. Good thing Noelle is a counselor since I needed some emotional processing (over chocolate muffins) Saturday morning. Scott and I decided to spend the day watching movies, snuggling, and eating yummy food. I cried several times through the day. Hindsight: it was really nice to have a dress rehearsal and from the intensity of many of the waves, it was “real” labor. It was spinning the baby into position. Maybe changing my cervix some. More importantly, it gave me some warning that I needed to stop thinking like a doula and let my intuition take the reins. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that though.
Saturday night, as Scott was rubbing some pressure points on my lower legs, I watched my belly as Cedar spun to LOA–the best position for beginning birth.
Now we were ready?
Where was I? Oh yes, utterly deflated. Late Saturday night, we went to Publix to buy groceries. I had clipped all the coupons already so I had to go. Right, coupon moms? Then I stayed up too late. And went to sleep listening to a Hypnobabies script. During the night, I felt pressure waves come and go but ignored them. At 6am, I thought I might time a couple–10 minutes apart. No big deal then. I listened to another script. Around 7:45, Scott brought a warm rice sock and turned on some Fleet Foxes. What a nice way to wake.
At 9am, it was like someone flipped a switch. I was making breakfast when the pressure waves went from 10 minutes apart to a very serious 3 minutes apart. The energy changed and I told Scott I was having a baby today. I managed to eat my eggs and toast while standing and rocking. Again, I noticed how much I was thinking like a doula. What position should I take? Should Scott sift me? What about belly-lifting? Do I need to do the rotisserie? Argh, the voice in my head!
Then, without thinking, with the next pressure wave, I began reciting T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Yes, a poem about a balding man’s mid-life crisis. Yes, that is the focal point I chose folks. Not a nice Psalm. Not a beautiful song. Not even a poet like Neruda or Rilke. I could recite to line 22 (“curled once about the house, and fell asleep”) before the wave ended. I did not feel pain just an intense squeezing sensation.
*Note: I had never memorized this poem. But my brain pulled it out for me. Later, I tried to recite it and couldn’t. Brains in birth are wild!
At 10:35am, Scott wrote in the birth log that I said a horrible curse word. Friends–brace yourself. At the end of a pressure wave during which I forgot the words to my poem, I said “Dad-gum.” Time to get into the birth tub. Ah, the birth tub. Bliss. I could drape over the sides and flip my Hypnobabies light switch to “off.”
Using hypnosis, I totally kicked transition’s butt. Oh yeah. Smiling and relaxing, this birth was a piece of cake. Until at 1pm, I swore again. Scott notes that I said “Yowzers.”
I should interject that Cedar was sounding beautiful. She was actively involved and had a great heart rate the whole time. Never gave us a worry.
I began feeling a little pushy. I was really looking forward to pushing. My firstborn, Norah, was so easy-breezy to push (although her 32 hour labor was challenging). I pushed Norah out in 20-something minutes with barely a sound. Ah, but Cedar. My first tentative push with Cedar told me something was different. And I began to fear. Fear+birth=pain. What was I afraid of? Well the doula brain was happy to rush back into high gear and tell me. I was afraid of a posterior baby. A nuchal hand. Tearing. Having to transport for suturing. Shut up, thinking brain!
Scott got into the tub at 1:20 and I tried pushing a few times while standing up. Then squatting. Both were overwhelming in sensation. I birthed Norah while squatting and I was barely aware of her descent. In fact, she took all of us by surprise when she tumbled out in between contractions. Cedar. Oh Cedar. First to present was the bag of waters–yep, still intact. I felt it with my hand and it was so hard. Until it broke–nice gush of clear fluid. Then, I felt Cedar descending like a freight train. I was on my knees but moved to a knee-crouch kind of position. Really, I think I was crouched because I was contemplating jumping out of the tub and just running away. Scott applied counterpressure to my perineum. I put pressure on my front and around the head. Wow, the sensations were incredible. And not incredible like orgasmic birth incredible. Nope, none of that. Scott said something later about feeling the energy and power of my uterus. He said birth should be an olympic sport because of that powerful muscle.
Cedar was born at 2:18. Scott caught her and brought her to the surface. She was not posterior. And I did not tear. On my chest, I rubbed her and snuggled her. She looked so healthy. And she was. I didn’t want to look to see if she was a girl or boy. That took some time.
After the placenta came, Scott clamped and cut the cord. No one noted the time but I know Cedar was already nursing by then. We got out of the tub. I drank some OJ. We examined Cedar (heart rate, respiration, temp, etc). Unfortunately, my bleeding was a bit heavy and my uterus was not clamping down as well as it could have. So I got a shot of pitocin and had lots of “fun” fundal massage to get my uterus to contract.
Cedar weighed in at 8lbs 10oz and was 21 inches long.
Then we all went to bed. And I pretty much stayed there for 8 days. Snuggling and nursing and being visited by lovely family and friends. I was much more intentional about a postpartum lying-in with this baby and the difference was incredible.