Saturday, December 15, 2012

Birth Story

Well it all happened so fast, that I'm not sure how long this post will be!  I'm getting this done while it's fresh in my mind, and I only have one child in my care, and I share that with Knut.  I feel like I have time on my hands today.  So restful.

As I wrote, the midwife spent the whole afternoon at our house the day before.  She checked me before she left, and I was still barely dilated.  I was tired that evening, though, so I went to bed much earlier than I normally do.

Around 4am, a hard contraction woke me up.  I noted the time, and went back to sleep.  The next one came about 20 minutes later, and I was having trouble breathing through it.  I often count during a contraction, to see how long, and to give my brain something to do, or focus on while it's going on.  Both of these were over a minute, and both of them gave me the thought, "Now THAT'S the real thing."

I knew right away this was "real labor" so I was trying to focus on resting in between them, as they were still about 20 minutes apart.  Well, the next one came 15 minutes later, and I decided to hop in the tub to see if I could slow them back down so I could go back to sleep.  While sitting there for 30 minutes, I had only one really hard contraction, and I thought I was too tired to sit and wait that long for the next one.  So I just went back to bed.

My breathing during these contractions started waking up Knut who was sleeping a bit on edge.  When he got up that morning, he asked me about it, and I told him I was getting some really strong ones.  He went to feed the kids breakfast.

When the contractions moved to every 10 minutes, I got up to see if a change in position or movement would have an impact on them.  I went downstairs, and was planning on just vegging and timing them. However, the next contraction I got when I sat down on the couch was so intense, that I went over to Knut who was talking on the phone and said "I'm calling B now.  I'm telling her to get over here.  That last one was crazy."

So Knut got into high gear in getting the kids ready to go to his parents.  I was sending some of them upstairs as he made some phone calls, and while Knut finished gathering all their things, I hopped in the shower since I was feeling a bit gross.

The shower felt great, but the contractions were insanely intense.  I just remember thinking "was it really this hard the other times?"  It was like I was having transition level contractions, every 10 minutes, first thing in the morning.  I wasn't sure what to make of it.

B said she was coming right over.  Knut's dad was picking up the kids as I got out of the shower and started looking for a place to be comfortable, which wasn't really possible.  I tried sitting on the exercise ball I had gotten, since using that in previous births was so helpful.  I started rocking on it, and got another intense contraction, and decided I hated the ball.

I had felt better in the shower, so I thought water might be the key.  I went upstairs and got in the tub.  I told Knut I would need his help through the contractions and to get up as soon as he could.  He was busy getting some corn in our corn stove, to make sure the heat was good as the midwife came over.  When he got upstairs, he mentioned that he had just 2 phone calls to make.  I told him they could wait.  He could tell I meant business, and helped me through the next 2 contractions, even though there were still 5-8 minutes between them.

I told him I was starting to feel pressure, which was confusing to me since the contractions were still so far apart, and had only started a few hours earlier.  He quickly got to a window to see if the midwife was driving in.  She wasn't, and we both commented that she should be there any second.  I told Knut that these contractions were crazy, and there's no way I could do them all day.  This baby better be here by noon or before, because I just wasn't handling it.  Each one made me feel out of control, and I couldn't do it all day.  I just couldn't.  They were still over 5 minutes apart, and I was thinking how far I probably had to go, and was already feeling defeated.  I should have known that these were "baby is almost here" thoughts.

She got there, and peeked her head in the bathroom to say a quick "hi" and then started setting up some of her sterile supplies.  A minute later, I got another contraction that really freaked me out because the bag of waters buldged out of me and I new that meant the baby's head was coming next.  I felt down and felt the buldging bag and the words that went through my mind at that point aren't really fit for this blog.

So I did what any rational person would do and started screaming "The baby's coming!  The baby's coming!"  B was by my side in an instant, and since her assistants weren't there yet, she was telling Knut what to do.

I wasn't planning on giving birth in the tub, but that's where I was, and I wasn't about to move.  Our tub isn't deep, and I started to stand so that someone else could catch the baby.  I had always wanted to lean forward in all of my past deliveries, and was always told to lay back which always hurt.  Well, I leaned forward putting my weight on B who was kneeling or squatting or something.  I don't remember.  She told Knut to help her catch the baby since she would be slippery.  The next contraction, Ingrid's head came out, in the caul, which had never happened to me before.  One more contraction and more of her came out, and the bag of waters tore.

I was not doing well at this point.  I was totally freaked out and it was all happening so fast, and I was very noisy.  B told me calmly that one more contraction, and she would be all out.  She was right.  One more small contraction, and Knut and B were handing me my daughter.  I sat down slowly in the tub, and just held her and stroked her as she started to breathe.  The cord wasn't cut, we gently rubbed her back a bit, and without screaming, she just started breathing and looking around a bit at her new world. It was so amazing.  Everything got quiet.

I kept holding her as the afterbirth was delivered just a few minutes later.  At that point, the midwife gave the cord a "long cut" so we could transport baby and me over to the bedroom.  I waited holding my baby as the bed got set up with pads and pillows, and then Knut got to hold the baby as B helped clean me up and get me over to the bedroom.

After B did some vitals checks on Ingrid, I tried nursing Ingrid at that point, and she latched on perfectly right away.  Nursing your 5th is so much easier than your 1st!  That's when the cramping started, so I asked for someone to get me some Advil.

Around that time, one of B's assistants arrived, and they went to work cleaning up the bathroom.  Knut and Ingrid and I snuggled on the bed and we inspected her long fingers and cute toes.  When everything was cleaned up, B and her assistant came in and asked if they could do the newborn check up now that we were all settled.  So she got weighed, and her cord got cut much shorter so that it wouldn't snag so easily.  I guess I had never watched my other newborns get their check, or I wasn't sure what all was being inspected, but B explained everything she was doing in great detail, and why she was checking each part of her.  It was really interesting.

After that it was my check up, and we were all glad to see that I had very, very minimal bleeding (which was a worry after my last birth) and no tearing at all.  Everything was looking good, so then she got to work getting me some food, and a cup of hot tea.  It was really good herbal tea that melted pretty much every muscle in my body to putty.
(Left: B weighing Ingrid in her little blanket scale)














After the checks, the assistant went home, and B stuck around for a little while longer and talked over some need to know care things.  She basically said she was on call for us for the next week, day or night.  Just call her and she'd be right over.  We made plans for her to check on me the next day.  Then she went home.

The rest of the day was so...quiet.  We made phone calls, and took some pictures.  Knut made  a special supper I had in the freezer for after the baby was born.  It was some sort of Greek steak and spinach meat roll that I got at the butcher's to celebrate the baby's birth.  So he threw that in the oven with some potatoes, and heated up some green beans.  You should of seen how excited he was to be having this yummy supper with just us in our bedroom.  He brought up supper to the bed on china plates with linen napkins, and served milk in wine glasses.  It was high class, I tell you!  Knut and I each got a nap, and all the snuggles with Ingrid she could take...which was a lot.

Knut's parents brought the kids over to meet their new little sister in the evening, and then went back to spend the night at Grandma's, which they were really excited about.  Solveig promptly went over to Ingrid, and said "Baby!  Hold!  Hold!"  So she climbed in my lap, and I helped her "hold" the baby.  It was a mistake, though, because then her 2 year old self put her hand up and shouted "No!  My Baby!" every time anyone else went near Ingrid.  Solveig has claimed her as her own, and didn't like any of her other siblings hold her.  Poor Silje had to wait until we could pry Ingrid out of Solveig's hands, which took awhile.

The boys found the exercise ball we had blown up for the labor, and thought bouncing it up and down the hallway was way more fun than their new sister.


Finally getting her turn: my oldest and my youngest together.  Unfortunately Ingrid started to fuss at this point, so she didn't get to hold her long.  I think Silje still wants to get a chance to hold her longer, and we assured her that she'll have plenty of time to do that!

When talking tp family on the phone, people seem curious as to how we liked the birth at home.  Well, if you're talking to Knut, he'll tell you how amazing it was.  He was thrilled with it being at home, and was so calm and excited about his role in the birth.  However, most people don't trust the dad's opinion.  After all, he didn't give birth.

As for me, I would agree that giving birth at home was a really good choice for us.  We did a lot of research, we knew what we wanted and what we didn't want.  I have a whole post of the "why" behind our home birth written out, (the long version) and you can find that here.

I hesitate, though, in saying the birth was wonderful because it was so intense.  It wasn't some quiet bliss of an occasion, but then again, neither were my hospital births.  Birth in general isn't some pleasant easy thing for me.  I liked this more, though because I had more things to keep my mind occupied at home instead of just sitting there, waiting for another wave to come.  Due to my fast labors, I haven't had the option of an epidural or other pain relief for the last couple births.  In my opinion, hospitals specialize in medicated births, and midwives specialize in unmedicated births.  Since we knew our only option was unmedicated, we decided to go this route.

However, the recovery was so peaceful.   The care and respect we were shown in our own home, and the privacy and peace of it all was so so good.  I just love sitting in my own bed, snuggling with my husband and baby.  I like eating our own food, and just going with the flow.  I liked having our kids "visit" the new baby in a place where I wasn't worried about them pressing buttons they shouldn't or running screaming up and down the hallway.  Well, they did run up and down the hallway while they visited here, but it was in their house, and I knew they weren't bothering anyone.

I loved working with the midwife model of care.  We literally spent hours with our midwife, discussing options and getting some amazing preventative education.  I can't believe that with this 6th pregnancy (counting my miscarriage), I learned about 90% of my current knowledge on managing a healthy pregnancy.  Her information was invaluable.  Our wishes were respected to a "T" as she knew them by heart, and had helped us make a lot of educated decisions on the way.  She was so well equipped for so many different scenarios should they arise, but fortunately, none of them did and we had pretty much no medical intervention.  We had a back up plan for a hospital transfer should we have needed one, but we didn't.  While doctors are able to do a great many things for women's care, most midwives specialize in just birth, and they're darn good at it!

There were never any need for needles, and all our prenatal work of preventing any bleeding problems this time seemed to pay off.  Minimal bleeding, no tearing, no cutting, no stitching.  Although she didn't stay for many hours after the birth, she did leave us with detailed instructions as to my post-pardum care, and I must say, more "strict" than any hospital I've been to, but in a lovely, resting way.  She suggests more rest, more checking, and certain foods and teas and herbs.  I feel so cared for.  The whole thing was so natural and beautiful, while still intense and painful.  All the stuff of life in a day like that.  All in all, it was amazing.

12 comments:

Lisa Joy said...

That sounds amazing, Gretchen! I LOVE the pictures and thank you for sharing such a precious and intimate story! God bless you dear friend!

Vanessa said...

Absolutely wonderful to read about it Gretchen! Thank you for being willing to share and congrats! She is absolutely beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I love that you will willing to share this with us. Life is so precious so hearing about how a new life came into the world is priceless. Love and hugs to you all.
Andrea Perry

little macaroon. said...

Cor, I do love a birth story! Love love love'em!!! I think because reading them brings back so many memories of my own. And even though my most recent was just11 weeks ago, it seems like forever somehow. My labours are also insanely quick and intense (6 hours first time and 100 minutes start-to-finish second) and though both were magical I always say that I'd love each to have been a tiny bit less fast and furious. So I know where you're coming from! And I'm so happy you got the midwife led care that you hoped for, it's something many of us in the uk take for granted sometimes I fear.
Thank you so much for writing this, I loved it.

Cristy said...

Congratulations! She is beautiful! I hope you continue healing well! I have always wanted a home birth but it just hasn't worked out for us. My husband is not comfortable with the idea and I HAVE had some bleeding problems after delivery so I cant say as I blame him. Hearing the steady stream of blood hit the floor after my last baby was born kind of freaked me out too.

Lynn said...

Congratulations to you and all your family,hoping you have a peaceful and blessed Christmas.

katharine said...

Lovely story. I had my third and fourth at home (and would do it again if we are blessed with more) but I'll leave my soap box on the stoop along with you. Personal choices and circumstances and all.

I found my way here just the other day and it seems at such a wonderful time in your lives. Congratulations to all of you and just a little thought from experience: As those older kids get older with the birth of each new babe, watch the baby but also watch the eldest. The change you'll see in the next few months is amazing. My eldest is just like a 'tiny Mom' to the youngest with nine years between them. She has grown just a little taller in our eyes and I dare say in hers this past year. So, so nice to see.

PS my christmas present to myself, your Clarity Cardigan. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!

This was amazing to read! I love all of your 'fresh on your mind' details : )

I have one questions though and I hope it's not too personal. A midwife....what cost is involved in hiring a midwife? I'm not sure a home birth is something for me, but I'm curious to learn more about possibly having a midwife involved the next time around.

Thanks!
Teresa --- teresa_roy1@yahoo.com

Lori Ann said...

Oh my goodness! Thank you for sharing this post - what a beautiful story and what a beautiful family you are blessed with! Lots of good wishes this holiday season!

in the coop said...

Lovely. Congratulations!

Uniquely Normal Mom said...

Thank you so much for sharing, Gretchen! What an inspiration you are! So thankful for your sweet girl, who arrived under such wonderful circumstances. Thank you for sharing with such honesty.

Ekelund Fam said...

I love birth stories. What a doll little Ingrid is! So happy for your family. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!