Friday, March 7, 2008


Wednesday night I had a lull while nursing Miss M, which I decided to use by writing up a task list for Thursday. This morning, while trying to scurry around, picking up the living room before the kids woke up, I found the notebook sitting on the table beside my rocking chair. It said:

Thursday 3/06/08
To Do:

That's all I had time to write down between diaper changes, feedings, and all the other stuff of life. I think I'm going to post that "list" on my fridge as a touchstone to reality. It makes me laugh every time I see it.

The day after Miss M was born, I was telling my Dad all about the action-packed super-fast birth and how I'd assumed I'd have at least 8-12 hours of labor... My Dad's response was, "I guess that's what happens when we assume we know what nature is going to do."

I'm a planner. A list-maker. A schedule-follower. These things make me feel competent and in control. As with the awesome strength and unpredictability of nature, it's probably good to be reminded (occassionally) about the nebulous character of time. So I didn't get any "chores" done. Between the shared efforts of my husband and father the important tasks have been taken care of so I can take the time to focus on the baby and find a few extra minutes for the other children. I think I've written my last "To Do" list - for a little while, anyway.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


M’s Birth Story

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008, was pretty uneventful. I washed and sanitized the baby carseat and spent some time re-reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Despite having no real intention of trying for a natural childbirth, I still found inspiration in the birth stories and information presented by Ina May Gaskin. For days I’d been feeling like I was ready to go into labor at any time, so it was difficult to think about anything else… but I was also starting to think that maybe I was being too impatient and seeing signs of impending labor out of wishful thinking – when really it could be weeks before I really went into labor.

J and I stayed up late, Wednesday night, watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report with my Dad. I was having my usual more-than-Braxton-Hicks-but-not-quite-the-real-thing contractions and mostly just ignoring them when we finally went to bed. It seemed like the contractions stopped, even though I woke up every 30-45 minutes until about 2:30 a.m. when I got up to use the bathroom. Justin asked if everything was OK and I said (without taking the time to think about what I was saying) that I thought he probably had another hour or so to try to get some sleep. When I realized what I’d just said I felt a little embarrassed because I hadn’t been timing contractions or anything, and I wasn’t really that uncomfortable and I didn’t want to be a drama queen when I wasn’t even sure anything was really going on. But as I thought about how I was feeling, I realized that my back was really hurting and that it just seemed like it was time to go to the hospital.

So I woke J up and told him to get ready and called my midwife… again I was a little worried that I was jumping the gun because I hadn’t been timing contractions and didn’t have any numbers or real evidence to give anyone about why I thought it was time… but Kathleen, my midwife, listened to what I had to say and just said that she’d meet me at the Birth Center.

J woke up my Dad and told him we were going. By the time we got there, I was feeling rather grumpy and uncomfortable. It was about 3:45 a.m. so we had to use the ER entrance and the Receptionist was wasting my time with questions about whether or not the Birth Center was expecting me, was I here to be induced, etc… so I just quit talking to her and kept walking to the elevators and went up to the L&D floor. On the L&D floor I signed the paperwork and joked with the nurses about how I wanted them to call anesthesia immediately (they were laughing, but I think we all knew that I wasn’t really joking) and get the epidural going. My nurse escorted us to our room and performed the internal exam, pronouncing my 4cm dilated, but easily stretchable to a 5 (my first thought was Stretchable?!?!? No wonder that hurt so much!!!) and she called for the epidural and brought in another nurse to start my IV.

Meanwhile my contractions were getting worse. They strapped me to the fetal monitors at 4:00, and I was able to hold still long enough for the nurse to get my IV inserted and start forcing saline through. Then I asked them to unhook the monitor so I could go to the bathroom. In the bathroom I started feeling like pushing… and I really didn’t want to get off the toilet… but I also didn’t want to have an accidental waterbirth, so as soon as the last contraction ended, I forced myself to get up and go back out into the room.

The nurse wanted to strap the fetal monitors back on, but I told her she’d have to do it while I was on my hands and knees. She said I didn’t have to be in that position – that the baby was fine and I could just lay down. I told her that it was for my own comfort and climbed onto the bed – on my hands and knees. I didn’t see her face, but I could hear the tone of her voice change as she asked me if I was feeling “pushy.” I didn’t really want to talk to her, so I didn’t tell her that I was pushing already. I was afraid she’d tell me to stop.

Suddenly my water broke and I could hear people starting to freak out. The nurse was yelling for the other nurses to find my midwife, then almost immediately after that for them to find anyone. Meanwhile she and the other nurses who had come in were trying to convince me to turn over onto my back. Even J was doing his best to try to help me cooperate, but that sounded like the worst idea I’d ever heard, so I continued to ignore them and just concentrated on pushing (although I think I might have said “No!” in a very grumpy tone of voice at least once or twice).

At 4:47 a.m., February 28th, 2008, the L&D nurse caught M as I pushed her out. Shortly afterwards, my midwife arrived (in time to deliver the placenta) and the OB on call briefly made an appearance (and realized he’d missed the show and left).

M needed oxygen so I didn’t get to hold her right away, but it took a little while for me to kind of come down to the human plane, anyway, so while I did watch very closely as the nurses worked on M, I was still feeling a little out of it. The placenta did not deliver in one piece, so there was some concern of hemmorhage for a while, but the midwife was firm in making the staff wait and give my body a chance to take care of itself and I didn’t have to have any pitocin.

After they were pretty sure I wasn’t going to hemmorhage, they let me take a hot bath while J held M. It was wonderful and I felt SO good afterward… and felt better and better as I realized how awesome this birth had been. At first I felt a little sad that there hadn’t been time for my friends to come. There hadn’t even been time to get any pictures. But at the same time, I’d always wanted to do a natural birth and now I finally had. I felt so powerful – like I’d done everything exactly how it was supposed to be done, regardless of what anyone was telling me to do (or not to do).

Poor M was all bruised up from her super-fast trip to the outside world, and she slept for several hours after the birth. Her older sisters were very excited to meet her. There was some concern about a heart murmur, so we had to wait for a peds cardiologist to come do an ekg before we were cleared to go home, but cleared we were and M and I were home before dinner on Friday, February 29th.