Monday, April 18, 2011

Robert's Birth, part two: I have a place where dreams are born

If you missed part one, it's here. All the photos in this post are by my awesome friend Jenn.

It's a good thing we had the TV and DVD player in our peaceful birthing space because we ended up putting on a movie for Suzi. We chose Peter Pan, the old one with Mary Martin, which was my favorite as a child. By the time we were in the bedroom things were intense enough that I didn't pay attention to the movie. While it was an unusual choice for a birth, it wasn't a bad thing to have in the background. I tried again to do the rotisserie but lying down still stalled my pressure waves. Since the baby was already in a good position, Carey said I didn't necessarily need to do it anyway. I did several pressure waves on the bed in the beginning of the rotisserie.

Here I am doing the first position with a heat pack on the front and back, while Suzi watches Peter Pan. I think everyone should have two heat packs in their birth toolkit.

And the rolling pin came in handy for the hands and knees part. This position didn't feel so great and I was telling Jordan "no, stop moving it... just press down... a little lower..."

Soon we decided it'd be a better idea to get in the tub, but I wanted to put my hair up first.

The La Bassine was full and ready for me, but I didn't want to get in too soon. It's a psychological thing, I think--the tub is the last and most effective comfort measure and the baby's birthplace. I knew it would mark the end of my birthing time. I also knew I didn't want to get into the tub and back out before the birth. Since I didn't feel pushing was all that imminent, I went to the bathroom to try to pee first and stayed for a few pressure waves. I could see the movie from the toilet, but I sort of looked through it rather than at it. I could watch myself in the bathroom mirror, intensely swaying back and forth to whatever song I was halfheartedly listening to from the movie.

Robert wasn't quite ready to come out yet, but he almost was. I could tell. And I could tell he was going to come hard and fast. It was time to get in the tub.

I had a bra on that I thought I wanted to wear but as soon as I got into the water I realized I didn't. I'm glad I didn't waste money on a special bikini top or anything. The La Bassine was all I'd imagined and more. Deep. Soft, even on the bottom, but way more solid and supportive than you'd expect an inflatable tub to be. It insulated the water and kept it warm too. After the first pressure wave or two sitting in the tub, I was surprised to find myself in a kneeling position leaning forward over the side of the tub. We had discussed, and practiced, a squatting position leaning back on the side of the tub so I could see Jordan catch Robert, but in the moment, that was not what I needed. I used Julie's trick of putting a washcloth into a bowl of ice water with a few drops of peppermint oil and laying the washcloth over the side of the tub to lean on. I loved that because it was so refreshing and covered up any other scent that might have been in the room.

It wasn't long at all before I was pushing, and I was right--he was coming hard and fast. I managed to stay calm, but it was a lot to wrap my head around. This felt different from Suzi and Ivey's births. I pushed with both of them for well over an hour. I knew there was no way I could do this for that long. It's not that it was really painful, but it was intense and it would've been tempting to get it over with quickly by pushing as hard as I could. But one of my goals was not to tear if I could help it and I knew I had to give myself time to stretch. One of the things we'd learned in Hypnobabies was to "ahhhh" our babies out. Instead of gritting our teeth, holding our breath and pushing until we turned purple we were to breathe and say "ahhhh." Julie even told us to practice while going to the bathroom. Luckily that was one of the few things I had practiced. (Wow, I can't believe I just shared that.)

So when I started pushing just a few minutes after getting in the tub, I began vocalizing for the first time during the birth, breathing deeply and saying some version of ahhhh. It was around this time that Jordan got into the tub with me. He'd been wearing his swimsuit for hours, all prepared. Suzi was still waiting with us, either on the bed or somewhere near the tub. Every once in a while I'd hear her ask if her baby brother was coming out yet and someone would tell her it would be soon or "shhh, Mommy needs to concentrate."

After a couple of pushes my water broke with a little pop and I saw something dark shoot out and mix with the water in the tub. Carey and Crystal used the doppler several times to check Robert's heart rate, and sometimes with the position I was in it took them a little while to find it. I wasn't too worried because I could still feel him moving around. Specifically I felt a hand up near the top of his head, which was a bit unnerving. I'm pretty sure at some point that Carey asked if I wanted to try to get into the squatting position I'd planned, and I said nope. A push or two after my water broke Carey suggested I reach down and feel the head and I did. It had hair. I knew it wouldn't be long now!

Jordan was ready to catch the baby, and I continued to relax and ahhh during pushes even though I was really ready to have him out. A couple of pushes later, Robert's head popped out all at once, surprising me a little and Jordan a lot. This is the part where I figured I'd wait for the next pressure wave, push one more time and then Jordan would bring our son up out of the water. But Robert had his mouth open. Carey was worried he might try to breathe and told me to get up out of the water. Thanks to Jenn, I have amazingly clear photos of all of this. I won't share them here, of course, but they've helped me understand this part of the birth that I could not see.

Photo 1: Robert's head is out and his little face is looking up from under the water, his mouth wide open. His hand did not come out with his head and for that I am thankful. Photo 2: We are up a few inches out of the water and his mouth is still open. Carey's hands are preparing to catch. Photo 3: Carey is holding him by the shoulders and he is almost all the way out. He is already turning pink and is holding one fist up over his head like a superhero. But he is tangled, oh so tangled, in his cord. It's around his body and his neck and there is no slack anywhere. Photo 4: He is slightly further out, Carey holding him with one hand and untangling him with the other. Jordan looks worried.

And that brings us to this picture, in which Jordan is handed the baby.

I turned around and lifted my leg over the cord and tried to hold my tiny, slippery baby without dropping him in the water. I had to crop the next photo for it to be shareable on my blog, but I just love the look on my face. This face sums it all up.

I have three children! This one is so tiny! And he's a son! I had him! And he's here!

Seriously, birth is always a surprise. Even the third time. He was born at 7:17 pm, during one of the final scenes of Peter Pan, after about 20-30 minutes of pushing. It was about an hour and a half after we finished his birthday cake, which makes me laugh.

Suzi was present for all this and was so cool about it. I'm glad we had her at the birth. In this picture I'm saying something to Suzi about her baby brother being here.

Next there was the placenta and getting out of the tub and drying off and all that. Jordan held the baby for most of this. Here he is holding the baby in one hand and my placenta, still attached, in the other. Awesome Daddy. I love this photo.

And then Suzi cut the cord, with help from her dad, and Carey tied it off with the special cord tie we'd made at my Blessingway. I was lying on the bed right next to all of this, feeling so happy but also extremely sore. The after pains this time were pretty awful. If you didn't know, these are post-birth contractions which slowly shrink the uterus back to its usual size. They are a necessary thing, but they don't feel good, and they also apparently get worse for each baby you have.

Robert weighed in at 6 pounds 14 ounces, over a pound less than our first baby. So yes, he was small, but not too small. Soon my mom came and one by one our birth team left, and eventually we were left to love on our new little boy.

And it was beautiful.


Emily said...

Wow- absolutely stunning pictures, Jenny! They always say the first labor is long, the second is short, and the third is unpredictable- I guess the last part was true for you. So happy that everything went beautifully!

Unknown said...

What a wonderful birth story, Jenny! And the photographs are really beautiful. I'm so glad you have such pretty pictures of your birthing time. Robert is so precious! I'm just so happy for you all. =)

McCool said...

Beautiful wonderful story. Thank you for sharing!

Megan said...

Lovely! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Birth really always IS a surprise, isn't it? My husband laughs at me because I said something like, "Oh, it's a BABY!" when I saw each of my kids for the first time. But you're in such a place of drawing in as you birth that I don't think you can really think beyond yourself to what you're actually DOING.

And, again, love the photos!

CJ said...

Those photos are amazing! And your birth story is just wonderful! Congrats again!

Kristin said...

I love birth stories and this one was great. I was so excited to read the end. I waited until my kids were in bed tonight so I could savor it!

Crystal - Prenatal Coach said...

Awww beautiful birth story! Congratulations mama!

Lauren Wayne said...

Oh, I love your birth story! What a beautiful day. I've been enjoying stories of subsequent births as I try to imagine what our experience will be like.

It's so funny that you mentioned trying to turn and step over the cord and not drop your baby. For some reason, that scenario keeps going through my own head as I wonder how coordinated I can be right after giving birth. :)

I love that Suzi cut the cord, too. I was thinking it would be cool if Mikko wanted to do the same, but so far he doesn't even want to be in the same room. :)

I love the peace shining through all your photos, and the joy on your faces after the birth. Thank you for sharing, and keep loving on those sweet kids. Congratulations again on adorable Robert!

Rixa said...

Lovely picture and birth story. I was reading along and all of a sudden I realized, "Hey! I sewed that infant scale sling!" Pretty cool how the world is so small...