Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mama Bean is going to tell you a story. About birth. Bean's birth.

Being the delinquent mama that I am, I haven't really documented this yet anywhere. And I know, despite my self-assured feeling that I will never forget, of course, I will forget. So I better put it down somewhere for posterity. And isn't that what the internet is for? Posterity? Yes.

Bean arrived on October 15th, 2009, in our living room. We planned to have him at home, and were really blessed and privileged to work with the most lovely team of midwives. In our province, midwifery is covered by the healthcare system, so we didn't have to pay extra for it, which was just awesome. Demand is very high, so we were super super fortunate to be accepted for care.

The weekend before was Thanksgiving, and my brother and his family visited us for the long weekend. My sister-in-law grew up where we live, and her high school had a milestone birthday and threw a party. I think seeing my 2-year-old niece and 4-year-old nephew at 39 weeks pregnant did something to my hormones, and that's why Bean came a few days early. On Tuesday (Oct. 13th) my midwife swept my membranes and said I was at about 3 cm dilation. For some reason, I thought it was normal to dilate up to 4 cm for days before labour might start, so I didn't think much of this information. But I should have.

Our guests departed Wednesday (Oct. 14th) and thus missed Bean's arrival by one day, much to my sister-in-law's chagrin. I set about putting the house in order again, making notes of the areas in most desperate need of baby-proofing (man, toddlers find all your weak spots), and thinking about the preparations still needed for The Birth. For example, I hadn't packed the hospital bag yet. I guess I was "nesting" but I didn't really think much of it. As I should have.

Papa Bean and I had together time that night. That's a euphemism for...y'know. Maybe this little fact qualifies this as a TMI Tuesday post. Some might argue any birthing story qualifies for TMI Tuesday. But I know birth is just a normal, exhilarating, miraculous part of life. And so is sex. So we're just going to talk about it like the normal thing it is, on a normal day. It's on all the lists of things to do to encourage labour, so we gave it a try. And boy did it encourage!

I woke up at 2:45 am in active labour. I didn't really have any B-H contractions in late pregnancy, that I recognized anyway, and maybe I slept through all the warm-up labour, I don't know, but when I woke up, the contractions were 5 minutes apart. At first, I thought I needed to go the bathroom, number two style. But that didn't work, and the little light bulb slowly brightened in realization that I should be timing these feelings, and getting things ready.

Here's the thing: nothing was ready. The futon mattress I intended to birth on was still in the basement. The sheets and towels and other birthing accessories were scattered across the dining room table. I woke up Papa Bean, and he, well, he didn't believe me. He thought it was B-H contractions, and I should just try to go back to sleep. So I hung out in the basement, listening to my hypnobirthing music (I think I'll do a separate post on hypnobirthing), making a few notes, and trying to deal. When it had been an hour of 1 minute surges, 4 minutes apart, I woke up Papa Bean more insistently, because I couldn't bring that futon mattress into the living room by myself.

It's 4 am, and I'm gathering items from the dining room and kitchen, making up the mattress with protective shower curtain and cozy sheets, playing the soothing music in the background, stopping every 4 minutes to bend over and brace myself while mooing like an agonized cow. It was a really special time. Papa Bean called the midwives, and I talked to them briefly. They'd just been called to another birth, so they called a substitute midwife, and she was shortly on her way. When she arrived shortly after 5 am, I was writhing (that's the only word for it) on the mattress, wanting to push, but not knowing if I was complete or whatever. The midwife had a silent freak out and rushed around setting things up, then checked me. I was, in fact, complete. It was 5:15-ish. She told me I had to wait until the second midwife arrived.

It was hard not to push.

When the whole team was assembled, we started pushing. This was actually much less painful than dilating. I liked pushing, it felt productive. It's good that I liked it, because I did it for two hours. It was something I had to learn. The most painful part of pushing was in my low back. I needed Papa Bean to push really hard into my back, to supplement my weak muscles. He could not push hard enough. I tried pushing on my side, but I couldn't get the leverage to really push hard. Plus, I was still expelling a lot of energy out my mouth, with moaning. Our hypnobirthing training had taught I shouldn't hold my breath during pushes, but there is just no way around it. I had to hold my breath, to push the energy down through my abdomen, and out my vagina.

I moved to do some pushing on the toilet. The squatting/sitting was nice, but my back was still too weak. I tried hanging off of Papa Bean, too, but again the back pain got in the way of productivity. We returned to the mattress, on my side, before the midwife suggested turning onto my back. This was genius. I read all the books, that moving labouring women onto their backs was a serious setback in the history of obstetrics, but seriously, it was the Only Way. The mattress supplemented for my weak muscles, and I could really start to push.

I also had to learn how to hold my legs back. The midwives helped with this, and periodically checked Bean's heartrate, and all that good stuff. They never gave me any sense of urgency or concern, even though I had been pushing for quite a while, which is good, because it might have freaked me out. I did get tired at points, but Papa Bean's encouragement kept me going, along with sips of powerade (oh, how my throat hurt after all that moaning). He kept asking me to smile. It really helped. Between pushes I would really hunker down into some deep place and prepare myself for the next surge.

Eventually my water broke, and it was nice and clear. I think the midwife didn't realize it hadn't broken yet, because she was peering quite closely at me at the time, and almost got an amniotic bath. Funny, after the fact. It was really great to feel the little quarter-sized circle of Bean's head as the pushes started getting really productive. I could feel his hair! It got scary and more painful, in the burn-y way as his head got bigger, and I got stretchier. The midwife was great at washing and stretching my peri with warm washcloths, which made it much less painful. I still tore, but not as badly as I might have.

I was starting to get pretty tired of the burning when the midwife told me it was really close, probably in the next few surges. I just decided to be done, and bore down really hard, and out his head gushed. Rather than wait for the break and another surge, I just kept pushing and pushing until the rest of him came out in a big rush. It was the most brilliant release and relief I've ever felt!

So there he was on my chest, and I just kept saying hello. I thought I would cry, but I didn't. Just felt very happy and relieved and a little delirious (oh, how delirious we would get...) and drugged up, despite having had no drugs. I remember looking up hazily and saying thank-you. Papa Bean eventually cut the umbilical cord. Stitching me up took longer than I would have liked (I had to hold my legs in a pretty uncomfortable position, when all I wanted was to relax them together, at last.) Bean's temperature was a little low, so that was worrisome. There are many more little details, I can't keep them organized enough to write down right now. He was perfect and healthy and wonderful.

I can honestly say I don't remember the true intensity of the pain. I know when I go into labour for our next child, I will recognize what the feeling is, instead of thinking I need to go poo. I will remember what the pain is then. But I don't remember now, god bless oxytocin. Overall, we were just so pleased with how everything went. It was a beautiful day.

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