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Birth Story, Part 3 (or, Fin)

September 27, 2010

OK,  I left off where I was already (unexpectedly) at 10 cm when the midwife arrived, and it was time to get pushing so I could meet my little Spud.  At that point, my memory of the pain decreases a lot, because at that point I had a Goal: GET SPUD OUT.  My contractions never got super close together, maybe 2 minutes apart, and lasting 45 seconds but they were intense.  The childbirth educator we worked with was right–just when the pain of labor becomes almost overwhelming (where women usually break down and accept the drugs if they are offered over and over again), it actually diminishes with the pushing, and I was grateful that I could feel every little sensation of my little Spud entering the world.

The first two or three contractions after I started pushing were just getting Spud’s head crowned so the pressure was just immense, not yet overwhelming.  DH had positioned himself behind me on the bed so I could lean against his chest while I was resting, and grabbing his arms, my knees or behind my thighs when I was contracting.  On the second or third push, my water broke.  I don’t remember what it felt like, with all the other sensations; Lisa just noted it for me.

Lisa was in position at the foot of the bed, and Phred was standing behind her with a  squeeze bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is Lisa’s lubricant of choice (also fabulous for preventing meconium stickage).  With every push, as Spud crowned, Phred would squirt and Lisa would massage the tissue to help it stretch and allow Spud’s head to pass easier.

The whole time this was going on, one of our chickens was standing outside the open bedroom window, singing her egg song.  Maybe she sensed what was going on and was encouraging me to lay my own egg, so to speak, but I think it was just a really funny coincidence.

Once Spud was well crowned, Lisa said there was some hair and had me reach down and feel.  I felt but it basically felt like a wet long-haired cat.  Right before or right after (I think after) with the next contraction I whined something about wanting Spud to have blue eyes, and were the eyes blue?  Obviously this was irrational, since they couldn’t even see if Spud had ears yet, but DH thought it was funny and started laughing.  I laughed too, as the contraction abated, and then Lisa said it would be in the next two or three contractions that I’d have my Spud.

I think there were at least two contractions where Lisa and DH said some really encouraging stuff that I don’t remember, but Spud didn’t quite come and Lisa said that was fine because it gave me more time to stretch out.  Finally she said the head was almost at it’s widest point and that I could get my Spud out on this push, so I took a huge breath and grabbed my legs and  PUSHED!

Up to that point I’d done some pretty typical moaning in between contractions, and low volume crying out with the contractions.  When Spud’s head was born with the enormous push, I yelled really loud, or at least it seemed to me.  After everything, when I apologized for screaming in their ears, Phred chuckled at me and said my scream was maybe a 2.5 or 3 on a 10 point scale of home birthing women.  But Spud’s head had arrived!  And it immediately twisted around and started crying.

DH said he will never forget what it looked like (he peered over my shoulder at that point), this bright pink baby head sticking out, already wailing.  I waited at that point for the next contraction, because Lisa had said that having contraction around the baby’s torso naturally expels any fluid from the nose and mouth, without having to poke the baby with one of those bulb suckers.  So I guess that was a surreal minute and a half, but I was a little preoccupied and it seemed to pass by in a second.

One of Spud’s hands was up under her chin so on the next push, her shoulders and one hand came out together, which is what caused a little bit of tearing (not the perineum, the labia, and that’s all I will say about the matter) and I felt a serious twinge.  But then, Lisa told me to reach down and catch my baby, who was still unborn from the waist down  So, I reached down with DH still supporting my back, and put my hands underneath Spud’s arms and pulled her(!) the rest of the way out and up onto my belly.  Awesome.

I was not expecting Lisa to ask me to do that, and DH had already declined the honor when I was maybe 3 months pregnant, because he was afraid of dropping the baby.  Lisa told me afterwards that I seemed really lucid through my contractions and the whole process, so she thought she would offer.  If I had said no, obviously she was right there and ready to catch.  I am so glad that she did offer, because it was an amazing feeling, to both pull and push my own child all the way into the world.

So now I was holding my Spud on my belly instead of in it, and DH scooted out of the way and laid me back on the pillows so he could get the first pictures of our beautiful daughter.  Her cord was not too short, but not too long either and it was just long enough to allow her to rest high on my belly while it stopped pulsing.  Phred pushed a little cotton cap on her head and threw a receiving blanket over her.  I’m not sure how much time passed because I was just in awe and half crying and looking at this tiny person.

Not angry, just a little startled.

There must have been another contraction but I was distracted and Lisa tugged on the cord to see if the placenta was ready to come, which it wasn’t quite yet.  She pushed on my belly (which was startling and uncomfortable) and then on the next contraction, she asked me to push again.  I totally didn’t want to, couldn’t she see I was busy meeting my baby?  But I did, and the placenta come out on it’s own.  After a baby, the sensation of birthing the placenta was funky.

Shortly after the placenta came out, the cord stopped pulsing and Lisa rolled the baby to the crook of my arm to expose her belly, so Lisa could clamp the cord and DH cut it.  (This is where I lost track of the placenta.  Phred was going in and out of the room doing various tasks, and this must have been when he slipped it into two ziploc bags and hid it in our freezer)  Lisa wiped off the baby a little bit, draped the blanket back around her, and I brought her up to snuggle against my chest.

Phred was back in the room and announced that LM had been born at 7:57 am, if I was interested to know.  I almost asked if that was when her head popped out, or if they time it from when the whole body comes out (maybe 2 minutes difference), and which clock he was looking at, but I decided it didn’t matter so I never asked.  I think this is when I told Lisa we had picked out Spud’s name(s) the night before, and since she was a she, Spud was now LM.  Ta-da.

Now things get a little more confused in my mind.  I think it was at that point that Lisa suggest I try getting LM to latch on, which I had been really nervous about.  I had every intention of breastfeeding, but having never done it before (and only using my boobs for one other, entirely different activity) I had a new mother’s nerves: what if I don’t have any milk?  What if LM can’t figure it out?  What if I don’t like it?

All these fears were laid to rest as soon as LM’s little squashed up mouth clamped around my left nipple and gave a few dozen spirited sucks, drawing out a little bit of colostrom.  She wasn’t really hungry though, and Lisa said I needed to be stitched up, so it was time for Daddy to have a little one-on-one time with LM.  DH took his new daughter out onto the couch and played her some Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I settled back on the bed to stare at the ceiling and go to my happy place while Lisa stitched me up.

After that 15 minutes of unpleasant, they told me it was time for a bath.  Excellent!  Phred had been in and out of the room during the stitches and he had pulled a bath of the perfect temperature, with a mixture of specially steeped herbs added to it.  Lisa and Phred helped me off the bed and I hobbled to the bathroom, DH following with LM.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Zen Baby.

We got into the tub and spent 15 minutes of pleasant together in the bath.  LM had been squirming and fussing (not crying) but she settled right down as soon as she was submerged in the warm water once more.  When the water started to get cool, it was time to put on the first diaper for each of us (mine was Depends) and get back to the bed, now that the birthing sheets had been stripped off.

It's a 7 lb 15oz small-mouth bass!

Lisa did the official weigh and measure with her fish scale. Her method is absolutely adorable compared to the images I always see of babies being weighed in the hospital–all naked and screaming on a cold plastic tray scale.  Lisa weighs the little bag, a diaper and an identical receiving blanket and subtracts that weight from the total measurement to get the true weight of the baby. I loved the “baby burrito” look.

Lisa showed me how to swaddle with a receiving blanket, gave me a few pointers on nursing the baby, told me to drink some tea, then she and Phred were on their way, to return the next afternoon for LM’s 24 hour checkup.  It was just after 12 noon, and they had been at our house for just five hours.

DH and I were left in the peace and quiet of our own home, to start getting to know this beautiful baby girl that we had made and birthed in the same bed.  I wouldn’t change a thing about that day.

Five hours post-partum. Life is great.

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