The following is a semi graphic birth story that may not be appropriate for everyone.
(Doesn't that just make you want to read it now!!?? :P)
June 25-27th, 2008...9 months pregnant.
Every time I walked into my kitchen, that fateful Wednesday night, the tiny 4 oz bottle sitting atop my microwave taunted me. I rationed in my head, it was only going to be used for it's primary purpose of a laxative. After all, it IS natural, and my bowels WERE in crazy pain for over a week now. A small "in house cleaning" wouldn't hurt. It's not like I was going to stick on my red pleather miniskirt (oh lord) and do shots with the whole bottle...just dooooo it. C'mon.
I opted to hit the hay before the lil angel on my left shoulder was drown out by the screaming castor oil bottle on my right. I felt proud of my resistance...until 4:30 am. The tight bowel cramps (NOT to be confused with contractions...these were not those, they were purely "haven't pooed in a week" cramps) pushed me over the sanity edge and I entered my out of body experience as I watched my hugely pregnant body waddle down the stairs with a definite mission.
Two tbsp of castor oil, one bottle of Nestea green tea iced tea...done. That wasn't so bad. What's the big deal everyone talks about? Huh. Ok, back to bed. I slept with one eye opened for the remainder of the night, expecting to cramp up and explode like so many stories from the castor oil martyrs who had preceded me.
Not so much as a bowel bubble.
Hmm. Ok, well the internet said that there should be SOME kind of action between 2-6 hours after ingestion. Tick tock, tick tock...yah, nothing. So at 11 am, I thought since that worked SO well, we'll try one more dose of 2 tbsp, since it probably wouldn't work anyways.
Famous last words.
Thursday was the day that I became good friends with the porcelain throne, and you know, it felt goooooood!! Still no hallucinogenic cramps, just a good ol cleanin, that brought much relief. I figured that since I never had any of the tell-tale signs of "nausea, cramping, headache,or EXTREME diarrhea", that it definitely was just a "wee colon move along" and would have no effect on the little babe growing inside.
Weeeellllll, that was until later that night, while firmly planted on my birth ball, deeply engrossed in Last Comic Standing, and I dunno whether I just laughed too hard or what, but
~GUT WRENCHING minute and a half squeeze session of the uterus. This one was MUCH more sharp and acute than any braxton hick up to that point. Seeing as though I had been telling daddy G every day for 2 weeks straight, "OOOOOoooo...contraction, start timing, this is it"
...I decided to NOT to cry wolf again until I had good solid, stand up in Judge Judy court type evidence that we were indeed entering the birth zone.......which at this point, may have actually taken a head crowning to convince my dear husband.
I was coyly tracking the progress on contraction master (a fabulous internet tool for those of us who are mathematically challenged) , just leisurely pressing the space bar about every 8 minutes when a contraction hit. Love how oblivious men can be sometimes. He had no clue what I was doing. After a couple of hours of this, I decided to lay down to see if they'd hang around. The minute my head hit my ultra down pillow, my eyes were shut and the next contraction that shot me right out of bed happened at 6 am. WHAT? I made it through the night? Dang it! I thought I was having a baby....another false alarm. ARG! What is UP??!!
OW!! What was THAT? Another contraction?...what...like 4 minutes after the one that shot me awake??? Huh. Weird. OW! AGAIN! K, I have to roll over...this hurts!! This went on for about 2 hours...every 4-5 minutes and was NOT pleasant to say the least. I STILL wasn't convinced this was anything though, even though my eyes were crossed at every tightening.
10 am and I am on the birth ball again, timing with contraction master again, and DEFINITELY breathing through these ones. Ok. Maybe we're having a baby. I look at Daddy G who is packing up his laptop, grabbing his hat & jacket to head off to the office, and hesitantly say...
"um...maybe you should stay here for a few more minutes. Or...at least till the midwife gets here and tells me that I'm not dilated at all and what I actually thought was a baby was just a gigantic watermelon stuffed under my shirt and then she'd pull it out and we'd all have a mid-morning snack."
He skeptically looked at me, and sighed, "yah, ok, give er a call." I actually felt like I was inconveniencing him with my silly birthing drama since it was more and more apparent that neither of us REALLY thought a "birth-day" would ever happen.
When my m/w came over and checked me, she said I was 4-5 cm dilated and 100% effaced. I nervously chuckled and asked, "Soooo, we're doing this thing?" COMPLETELY expecting her to say, "well, I'll come back at Christmas to check again and maybe you'll be closer to 6 or 7 by then and then I'll take you seriously." BUT, to my absolute and utter surprise, she said, "YEP! It's birthing day!"
Suddenly I was obsessed with getting SOMEONE to tell me the date. Was it the 26th, 27th? Was it Friday, Saturday? What numbers were going in the baby book? What was the...OW!!! FREEEKING OW!!!! OK, forget the dates. How are we going to do this? Are we going to the hospital? Staying here?
I still had not committed to a "birth plan". I had more like 4 or 5 birth options. Let's see..1) birth in a Brazilian rain forest...hmmm, I guess that one was out, 2) do a home birth using a birth pool...still an option, 3)birthing on A Baby Story..c'mon, you know you wanted to too...but I'm Canadian, so apparently I don't qualify...so that's out too, 4)birthing at a hospital, with my m/w...yep, still an option, 5)getting a museum caveman actor to conk me over the head with his club and when I awoke, have a bouncing baby in my arms, yet remember nothing...yes...definitely still an option. Ok, so maybe there were only 3 options, home/hospital/caveman. I just always said I'd KNOW in the moment what we would do. Now that it was the moment, and the contractions were so sharp and present, the caveman was looking the most appealing by far.
***Something you should know about me. I am by NO MEANS a martyr who was GOING to have her drug free home birth no matter which poor unknowing passerby needed to lose a head in the process. I'm ALL for drugs in birth. Heck, I'm all for caveman clubs in birth. Whatever works for YOU in the moment is all good as far as I am concerned. That said, I honestly have NO clue what made me think having a natural birth was the thing for me. I had been reading birth story after birth story on babycenter.com and I always noticed the pride/boarderline cockiness of some women who felt compelled to report that THEY had an ALL NATURAL (in extra bold CAPS LOCK underlined in italics) birth and that b/c of this they somehow were more of a woman or had a more important birthing experience than anyone who used drugs in their labor, or even *gasp* succumbed to the dreaded SECTION! Just putting it out there...I'm not one of those. I think whether your baby came out head first, bum first, cut from your tummy, in a hospital, in your home, in a canoe with a shoe on a slew...a baby...YOUR baby was born...to you...and you are an amazing and powerful woman and mother. Ok, rabbit trail complete...on to the next chapter....where were we....***
Ah, yes...the pool. I had several conversations over the past 9 months about using a birth pool in labor...not necessarily to BIRTH in, I mean, maybe...remember, no real birth plan set out...but I figured since this was my last shot at this L&D thing (3 babes is plenty for me!) (this was written days after his birth...this "last baby" little piece of information must be taken in the context of JUST having been pregnant for 9 months and birthing a bowling ball. Just saying...things may or may not change on who in fact will be the last in our family. ;)) that I at least wanted to TRY something I hadn't done...so a pool was a nice option.
Around 11 am, my midwife told me that I should probably set it up now since she thought this wouldn't be a very long labor. So while my sister-in-law Jillanna, girlfriend Jen, and Daddy G blew the inflatable jacuzzi up and filled it with nice warm water, I continued to bounce on my ball, coming to a complete and frozen statue state when the contractions would hit. Honestly I could NOT get in the pool fast enough!
And LET...ME...TELL....YOU.....Oooooooohhhhh the pool. It was like fireworks on New Years...peanut butter and jam on white bread....50 year old women in cheetah stretch pants...me and that pool...we just belonged together. It brought SUCH great relief to my aching hips and pelvis (which I had separated 3 months prior). I'm sure if you just painted a blowhole on my head, I now LOOKED like a whale more than ever, but I felt completely weightless. I think part of me now expected the contractions in water to just feel like a mosquito bite every now and then. Well, I am sorry to disappoint you, but they still sucked. In fact, I distinctly remember having 2 back to back and feeling like my brains were going to be squeezed right out of my ears, and I looked at my midwife and said, "WHO DOES THIS???" She laughed and said that there were a few of us crazies left still...geez, I still didn't consider myself having membership in that group. I still had my hospital and caveman as VERY real back up options at this point!
Suddenly, while floating like an exotic water lily, my feng shui was burst.... well, with a burst! Who knew that you could actually feel your water break...in the water! My midwife confirmed it was the water and said it was clear and looked good. Well, good. Cause if it was green or purple or full of cheerios or something, I was SO out of that pool. As spiritual as some claim it to be, I'm not one who wants to bathe in membrane/placenta/amniotic soup thanks.
Well, it was only another 30 minutes anyways until my midwife suggested I get out of the pool and try some other positions. I thought she must have snuck some of the 9 month old liquor from above my stove with THAT suggestion, and said, "Oh, no no, I'm good here." What she wasn't telling me was that I had stalled out around 7 cm and the water just wasn't helping the labor progress anymore. I'm actually REALLY glad she didn't tell me these facts in the moment b/c I was fully convinced with all the insane pressure I was feeling with each contraction, that we were more like 11 cm and this babe would be floating to the surface within one or two more dreadful squeezes. Not so much.
After a few tries, I was finally able to get out of the pool...now if I thought I felt heavy in the last weeks of pregnancy, that was NOTHING to how heavy I felt after being in the water for hours and stepping out between contractions. I thought the ground beneath me might just crumble and cause the faultline beneath our city to cause a massive earthquake and then of course a domino effect tsunami. (Yes, I must still have a bit of my 5 year old mentality that the world somewhat still revolves around ME.) Ok, it's like trying to jump on the ground right after jumping on a trampoline...NOW you know what I'm talking about right? We've all felt that one, like how on earth did I just gain 500 lbs in 3 minutes??
Once out, the contractions felt like they were not only ripping through my insides, but I swear I could feel every pore expand and contract on the outside of my body as well. I remember reading somewhere that once you got to the point where you are saying, or screaming, or violently declaring..."I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE !!" then you are officially in transition...and although that's the most intense part, it generally is the shortest and then the timer dings, the bun in the oven is done, and your baby is in your arms as you conveniently forget every shred of pain that brought you to that moment. So, I figured if I started saying the magic words, "I don't want to do this anymore", then the baby would just take his cue and shoot down the canal. I was shaking my head side to side, crying the desperate cry of transition, with one eye half open, hoping to view his head pop right out.
I'm saying the words!
Where's the head?
After saying the "not so magic words" over and over, my wonderful birth team began encouraging me "Yes you can!! You can do this!" Bless them. I knew I could...I think? I just wanted to trick myself into transition. With the intensity that the contractions were coming at now right back to back, I'm sure, had you put me in a southern gospel church setting, I would have fit right in (well, minus the naked part) with my flailing arms high above my head, shouting OH LORDY OH LORD OH LORDY!! every time!
It was only about 20 minutes after trying to trick myself into transition that IT HAPPENED. What is IT? It, my friends, is THE moment where you know...beyond a shadow of a doubt...that
It's been horrible, yet manageable up till now, but suddenly...you can't stay there anymore. There's one more level in this real life video game...it's time to beat the BIG BOSS at the end. And THIS is the time when I REALLY started to ask WHO DOES THIS?...
I don't wanna be in this club anymore...revoke my membership, I'm a bad natural birther, I WANT MY EPIDURAL!!!!!
At this point, the realization that you are IN transition isn't nearly as satisfying, cause baby...you just want OUT of it!! We had tried several positions since out of the pool, but once in this zone, NOTHING seemed to be better. It felt like I was a fly who is drawn to the porch light, only to be zapped over and over and over...and you know you HAVE to go back to the light, but you also KNOW you are going to be zapped again...it's a cruel rotation. I could feel I was losing it, and no matter who told me I could do it however many times, I was quite sure now that I couldn't. My midwife checked me and said that there was a bit of a lip left but other than that, it was pushing time.
I've been pushing since I was in the tub, remember? I was 11 cm in there!
She also informed me of a lil surprise...I had ANOTHER bag of waters. And it was HUGE. This new knowledge TERRIFIED me!! I had always heard that contractions AFTER your water breaks are 1000 times harder and the pressure is 1000 times worse. OH, I could NOT do that. No FREEKING way could I do that. I was AT my pain tolerance level, and I sure as heck wasn't letting ANYONE near me with that water poppin crochet hook thingy, no matter HOW many years of baby school she went to!!! My midwife looked straight in my eyes and asked me in a way like I was from another country,
We CAN go to the hospital...or BECKY...I could break your water." I was like HOSPITAL....CAVEMAN...YES!!! I NEED TO GO!! She then asked if I was sure, but before I could assure her that I was sure, she offered me the GOLDEN TICKET. She said if she broke my waters, she could almost guarantee me that my baby would be here within an hour.
Suddenly the heavens parted, the angelic choir was cued and the beam of sparkly dusty light shone through my curtains and illuminated my midwife's halo. A time limit, that's all I needed. Ok. One hour of what I assumed would be the worst pain of my life...but it's one hour and then that's it. I grabbed that offer faster than Britney Spears grabs a McDonald's cheeseburger. Let's do this thing.
I lay on my back, between contractions, we had about 30 seconds to do the pop before I figured I'd go into rigor mortis from the pain again....and GUSH...GUSH GUSH GUSH SPRAY TITLE-WAVE...it surprised everyone to find I was housing the entire Pacific Ocean.
While I worked my way through my first post-pop contraction, which I have to admit, wasn't as bad as I was expecting, my (new best friend) midwife brought out the *drumroll please*
This is a rather ingenious invention that looks like a tall kiddie potty, just missing the front. Ok, that's a poor description. Um, google it. Google knows all. But beware of what you may see upon that birth stool if you do look it up. It basically allows you to sit and bear down, yet giving the midwife a good catching zone. Anyways, the SECOND I hopped up on that thing, it's as if the floodgates opened.
You know when you have something like a peanut stuck in your throat, and you are swallowing, coughing, gagging, to try to dislodge that thing and then suddenly it's loose and ahhhh, freedom. Well, it was like that, but instead having a 10 pin bowling ball drop from your throat to your vagina. Good times. So was it any wonder to discover that only moments after the huge drop that his head was half out!? NO FRIGGIN KIDDING. So much for an hour. It was literally 6 minutes from when she popped my water to when....
...my heart was stolen by the piercing eyes of my tiny SON staring right at me.
I can not explain to you what this moment is like. It must be one that is experienced personally, because the intensity of such love lacks true definition in the English language.
Hewas PERFECT, and really, I thought he was tiny...that is, until my midwife exclaimed "WOW...that looks like a 10 pounder to me!!" I thought she was joking. He didn't seem that much bigger than my 8.3 girls. Well, good thing I didn't bet anything on that, because the scale apparently doesn't lie and it said TEN LBS EVEN. I think there's a good reason why you weigh the baby after the birth and not before...cause had I known he was going to be a 10 pounder...I may have had that caveman on speed dial.
Truth be told, it sounds unreal these days, to hear of someone giving birth to a 10 pound baby in their own home drug free. And I get a lot of big eyes and sarcastic, "That must have been fun" comments when people become aware of this. But really, I found this way of birthing, for me, the easiest way of all my births. It was my shortest labor, and the one I felt most in control of and most empowered in.
This was one year ago today, June 27th, that Levi Jett joined our clan.
~Baby boy, you are loved beyond words. You are a man of great courage and strength and will do many mighty and valiant things in your days. I pray the blessing of God to cover every step you take, every word you speak and every life you touch. You are such an incredible gift to us, and we will eternally be grateful and humbled that we were chosen to be your family. You are my jewel, my sweet prince. Happy 1st birthday! ~