After Lucia was born, I got a ton of blog comments to the effect of "I can't wait to hear the birth story." To which I thought, "Birth story? Ok, I guess. I'll get to it when I get to it." Lucia's 18 months old now and to those of you who check the blog everyday waiting for that birth story, sorry I'm just now getting to it. Actually, count your lucky stars, but I thought I would never write it, but after watching this birth video (and cryyyyying like a baby) my own birth story just started tumbling out.
I'm going to be really honest here. I don't like birth stories. I'm a mama that loves natural birth and home birth and empowering women through childbirth and such. But I don't like watching birth (the video I linked to above is awesome, but I don't like ones where you see all the action, if you know what I mean) and I don't like reading about it, or at least reading about it detail by detail. (Give me a good book about childbirth and I'm totally there.) I can honestly tell you that there was some part of me that really enjoyed giving birth, although I certainly won't say that my birth experience was calm or painless. But would I ever want to watch a video of me doing it? Nope. Never. I didn't want to have a mirror to watch Lulu's sweet little head come out. No one took any pictures of my labor or delivery and there isn't a single picture of me the day Lucia was born, not even one of me with my newborn. I actually adore looking at those kinds of pictures, but it just wasn't for me. I don't regret those decisions at all.
Why don't I like birth stories? I don't know. I actually really, really love to talk about birth. I could sit around with a group of women and listen to birth stories all day. But reading them? I don't know. Just not my thing. It took me forever to accept that I just don't like them. You have no idea how many birth stories I forced myself to read when I was pregnant. I wanted so badly to be moved to tears by these stories, but I wasn't. I don't know, maybe I just haven't read "good" ones yet, but at this point I tend to just "mark as read" when they come up in my reader and go on my merry way. I'm more of a big picture person anyway - Were the baby and mama healthy? Hospital, birth center, or home birth? C-section or vaginal? Epidural or natural? How long was labor? Water birth? That's about all I need to know. - so the details of birth stories just bog me down. I guess. I don't know. I like to hear all the details in person so I'm not really sure why I'm adverse to them in print.
I love reading blog posts about birth and the issues surrounding it and about things like whether siblings should be present or the benefits of home birth, etc. In fact, had I not started reading blogs I would never have even thought to look into a birth center or midwives (although I think I would have still tried to avoid an epidural). So I think writing about birth is important and there are people that get a lot out of birth stories, so certainly don't stop writing them because I won't be reading them, just being honest about my feelings here.
Surprisingly, I loved writing my own birth story. It was a walk down memory lane. And a tug at my ovaries. If you want to read it, go on ahead, and if you don't, totally get it.
On December 5th, at 41 weeks 1 day, on the very day I was supposed to have an ultrasound to make sure baby's fluid levels were still fine and whether he/she could continue to live in utero uninterrupted or whether we would need to try some induction methods (natural ones at first, then the big guns if necessary) - which I was very annoyed about because I didn't want to pay for the ultrasound since I knew I would go into labor as soon as I had it; Murphy's Law, right? - I went into labor at 12:30 in the morning. I had really bad heartburn those last few months, so I was still up with that and had never fallen asleep. It took a little while before I was certain I was in labor, although it wasn't that hard to tell since I didn't have a single Braxton Hicks contraction my entire pregnancy. After an hour or so, I woke David up; I should have just let him sleep since I wasn't in pain yet and there was no reason for him to be as exhausted as we would both soon be.
After some time, David called the birth center and talked to a midwife who told us at what point we should go in. I labored in the bath tub while he timed my contractions and packed our bags (I was told to not pack the bags early so I would have something to do in early labor. Ha ha. I was quickly in enough pain that I couldn't do anything and David was so stressed trying to remember everything and it was deemed bad, bad advice to have waited so long). There was some blood and mucus at some time that morning and I don't remember when it started but I do remember it wasn't much.
We headed to the birth center at about 8:30. I was about 5 cm dilated when I got there. David called my parents on the way to tell them I was in labor so my mom could get a flight out in the next few days. At the birth center, I labored in and out of the tub and for a long while in the shower (David came in with me [with swim trunks on]). I was very disinterested in water/food although the midwife did push me to drink a little bit of water and eat a few almonds and I can't remember if I actually threw up at all or if I just wanted to at one point. Sometime during this, my mom called the birth center and David talked to her on the phone and she was really worried and then wanted to chat about her plane flight and I finally told David he just had to HANG UP because I was going to have another contraction soon and I wasn't what you would call a quiet laborer and if she was already worried, imagine how freaked out she would be if she heard her daughter making primal animal noises. (My mom had only c-sections and very scary, difficult pregnancies so she sees birth as something very dangerous. Despite my perfectly healthy pregnancy she was very, very scared about me having a baby in a birth center and not a hospital.)
Toward the end, the midwife asked if I she could break my water to try to speed up labor. It was actually a really hard decision because I didn't want to have any interventions, but in the end I trusted that my midwife wanted me to have as natural a birth as possible as much as I wanted to, so I let her. I also remember being told that there was a little "lip" of my cervix that was swollen and still in the way, so I was given some kind of natural anti-swelling thing that dissolved under my tongue. I pushed on the bed for a while on a ball and in a variety of positions and at some point during this, my baby was born at 2:53 in the afternoon.
David caught the baby and placed it on my chest. (Not before pooping some nasty black poop all over mama's legs and stomach on the way up. Don't worry, I cleaned it off the next day in the shower.) The baby was very purplish and covered in a lot of goo, but was a truly beautiful newborn. No pointed head, no bruises or splotches from birth. And hair! Dark, dark hair. It took a few minutes, and the nurse prompting, "Well, do you have a boy or a girl?" before David took a look and was shocked by the lack of male genitalia (we were so sure we were having a boy) and announced that we had a little girl. Lucia Rose. He cut the cord. I cuddled my baby and we tried to get her to latch so the nipple stimulation could help with the delivery of the placenta but she wasn't interested at first.
I didn't know what to expect regarding delivering the placenta. The birth books I read and the birth class I attended mentioned afterbirth just briefly but didn't really go into it. At some point, I was aware that things weren't going exactly as desired. The midwife asked if she could give me a shot of pitocin to help deliver the placenta and I told her she could. It was still a while after that and some rather uncomfortable pushes on my stomach by the midwife later that my placenta did indeed come out. It really wasn't a major issue, but I do want to mention it because that was something I was wholly unprepared for. Instead of spending the 45 minutes after birth with my attention on my new child, I was still, essentially, in labor. Lucia was on my chest the whole time, except a minute or two when they took her to the other side of the room to suction her nose and mouth, wipe her off, and weigh her. Even though she was there, I really didn't get to enjoy that time with her Eventually, after delivering the placenta, I was able to spend a few minutes cuddling her and then handed her over to David while I was stitched up.
This was when my mom called the second time. It was so frustrating because I wanted to be the one that told her, "It's a girl" but I wasn't really ready to make those calls yet. But I couldn't let anyone else talk to her because they would, of course, have to tell her that the baby was already born. So I got on the phone. While I was being stitched up. And to be honest, getting those stitches was much, much more painful than any other part of the birthing process. So it probably was good that I was talking on the phone to my mom instead of focusing on the pain. My mom has been warned though that the next time I have a baby, there will be absolutely no calls. What are the chances she'll listen? Probably close to 0%, but I tried.
So that's it, Lucia was here. I was fine. Birth over, motherhood began. We spent the next several hours with our sweet daughter. I nursed her for the first time. I was able to get up and walk around a bit. All three of us took a nap. I thought about taking a shower but didn't have the energy. We ate frozen burritos that I made by the dozens in preparation for the birth and Godiva chocolates that I won and David sagely put in a bag for an after birth celebration. Then, at 9pm that night, six hours after she made her entrance, we dressed our sweet baby for the first time, put her in her car seat that looked so small before she was born yet so big with her in it, and we drove home. And we went to bed that night, the three of us together, in our own home, as a family of three. It was perfect.
December 5. 2011
8 lbs 19.75 inches
So, if you're not like me and you actually like birth stories, you might want to go check out Grace's birth story link up. Almost 200 birth stories and counting. My biggest nightmare, but maybe the realization of your greatest dream? Yes, I will be linking up there. I know, I know, total hypocrite.