Laim will be three years old tomorrow. I have been thinking about his labor and birth way more than I have at past birthdays and I was finally motivated to write his birth story. I'm up much later than I should be, but somehow staying up late on the anniversary of my first labor to write the story feels right.
The birth of our Liam
There was a little stress and drama the day before Liam was born (friday). Well, a lot of stress actually. I was attended by a very mainstream medical midwifery practice and because I was more than a week past my due date I was constantly checking in with them for monitoring. Through that process I found out that there was a gap in the midwife schedule on Sunday that was being filled by the OB that I didn’t like and felt very uncomfortable seeing. We contacted Jenny, the doula who had taught our yoga birth class and made plans to try to speed the process up with castor oil and have Jenny help us during the birth.
We made plans to start the “induction” after dinner so in the middle of the day we took a trip to the co-op to buy a bottle of castor oil and stopped into the garden store next door to buy a nice glass bird bath for entertainment. We spend the afternoon relaxing in the backyard, ate a healthy venison and garden veggie dinner, and took my first dose of castor oil after dinner. When nothing happened in the first hour and half I took a second dose per the plan and Ina May guidance. I felt like the baby got really slow after that and was worried and calling the midwife when the kick counts weren’t the normal rate.
And then the action started. My labor is hard to remember because I became very primal very quickly. I’ve later described labor as being like a freight train, but there was a calm before that began. When my pains were just starting to ramp up I was getting scared and Jim was trying to help me lay in bed a rest a little. Then a big pain came and I felt panic and tried to get up. Jim folded me into him and rocked in bed through the pain. We stayed like that, him wrapped around me and the baby for about an hour while I slept briefly between pains.
The rest of labor is a bit of a blur. I remember there was lots of diarrhea (thank you castor oil), a little vomiting, singing, groaning, music, soaking in the tub, and some yoga. I focused a lot on singing and then groaning to facilitate opening during my pains. I think I even moaned “ooooppppeeeennnn” in a big low voice repeatedly. I labored in our great big tub until it felt to confining and I had to get out and get moving. I remember that the yoga positions with Jims support that I had found uncomfortable during pregnancy were just the best feeling ones during labor (like the hip pressure one) and the ones I had liked during pregnancy were almost irritating during labor (too light and hesitant).
At some point Jim called Jenny the doula because he needed help deciding when to go to the hospital (and I was offering no opinion). My pains had been about 2 mins apart since the first and each pain lasted about two minutes. Nothing like what the books said would happen. Jenny came to the house and asked a few questions, helped me through some pains and gently encouraged Jim to make the decision to go to the hospital. Longest 4 min car ride ever! The pains in a confined setting were almost unbearable and I had a bathroom garbage can at the ready for puke.
We entered the hospital through the ER and I another pain brought me to hands and knees in front of their desk (they got us out of there in one hell of a hurry). I was up to the birth floor and into a room around 3:45. I refused the hospital gown and IV and paced in my yoga bra and skirt hoping the transition to the hospital hadn’t stalled the process. Far from it. Katie the midwife attending that morning came in and checked how dilated I was, and told me I was 8cm. They all seemed very pleased but I thought it sounded like I still had a lot of work to do. The nurse tried to monitor me with the belt monitor and I could not hold still during the pains for the monitoring. I wasn’t pacing anymore, but i wanted to rock and sway my hips and be on my hands and knees. My movement kept interrupting their feed on the monitor and this was apparently a problem. I don’t remember the discussion really but I know the nurse was very upset I wouldn’t hold still and Katie started talking about using a scalp monitor. I just wanted them to stop talking to me and let me get on with my work, but some way we settled on Katie breaking my water and attaching the scalp monitor to the baby. She was still settling up just about to use the amnio hook and I felt my waters give way during a strong pain. I hadn’t realized she hadn’t broken them but they had broken on their own and was wondering why there was a rush with towels to clean up the mess. I was on my hands and knees on the bed and not looking behind me but I could feel them scurry around to tidy up.
Jim was firmly planted in front on me on the bed and Jenny next to us cooing soothingly and feeding us both sips of water and recharge. We were ready to get back to work and Katie told us that there was meconium in my waters and they would need to bring in more people to look at the baby right away which was a deviation from our birth plan. I must have consented, but I don’t remember speaking. I was completely using my reptile brain or “letting my monkey do it” as Ina May would say. I was moaning deeply, moving with the pains, collapsing into Jim to rest between and completely following my instincts at that point. Getting closer to pushing Jenny reminded me that my plan was to have the baby on my chest right away for skin to skin so I should take my bra off. I did and had my little skirt rucked up like a belt so I was essentially naked. I’m sure the pediatricians and labor nurses were scandalized.
The “ring of fire” is a perfect description of how my perineum felt during crowning. Taunt and burning. Katie applied warm moist cloths and warm oil which felt amazing. When the urge to push came I pushed, and when it stopped I rested. In a period of time that felt both infinite and remarkably fast I was on my final pushes. I think The monitor showed something that worried Katie because she asked me to push harder and deliver the baby right now. I bore down and went for it. Katie had everyone lift me at the last second and flip me on to my bottom facing her sitting up in this amazing fluid motion that felt like being weightless. Liam’s shoulder has stuck and the flip changed his entry angle and then he was there, and then he was suddenly gone. Whisked to a table in the corner under bright lights.
The mental armor that had made me non-verbal was suddenly gone to and I was crying and so was Jim, and so was Liam. Jim sort of grabbed my shoulders at the same time Jenny and the labor nurses lunged for me. It surprised me because I hadn’t realized I was trying to stand up and go after Liam. When Jim and Jenny told me later that I had done that I was surprised. My body had moved without me realizing it. They had him back to us in less than a minute I think and they didn’t clean him or wrap him just like we had specified in the birth plan. The nurses really tried to follow it even though they had to cut his cord right away and take a little detour to the doctors in the corner before landing on my chest.
And then I was staring down into Liams face. He was big in some ways and then so little in the details. “Well cooked” the nurses liked to refer to him since I was 10 days past my “due date” and so sturdy and ready for life. Laim was calm on my belly and we basked in him, saying all the amazed ridiculous things new parents say when in awe of what they made. When I felt the next pain it seemed almost worst than the other phases of labor because I was completely in the present and didn’t have any of the mental armor up. I remember telling Katie that I thought more pains after delivering the baby was completely unfair. Then the soothing ooze of the placenta over my perineum which I hadn’t even notice had been hurting so badly. The final rush to push had left me with a large tear that she adeptly stitched while I cuddled Liam. The needlestick to numb it was painful but the rest was fine.
|William James Rudenko 9lb 5oz (giant head)|
Liam was strong and tried to do that classic newborn squirm up my belly and start to nurse. It’s hard to remember the order of everything because I nodded off to sleep when I didn’t have the baby. Jim bathed him at some point and I got up and walked to the bathroom to pee (everyone seem completely freaked that I wanted to walk, but I was totally fine. Sore, but fighting fit. And then we ordered breakfast and I ate SOOOOOO much. The french toast was so yummy. Liam had been born about 45 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. A few hours later I was walking down the hall to a recovery room pushing him in the clear plastic bassinet. The hospital stay was longer than necessary and there was much stress and frustration but I remember so many good parts too. The nurses were really amazing and supportive. I remember some of them coming into my room to check on me and saying they had heard about my birth and were so blown away with how fast it was and that it was all natural and how well I had labored. Makes you feel very good, especially coming from someone who sees birth everyday. They gave me so much help learning how to breastfeed and helping me with the healing process.
Liam was such a amazing newborn. He weight 9lbs 5oz and even with all the crazy medical stuff he was put through he had gained a few ounces by the time he was a few days old. I think one of the most amazing things for me to realize was that I was now the person who could soothe and fix things. It took a little while to feel like I had the right to make decisions about my baby, but I did and it felt great to stand up for us and to know he felt safest with me and that he already knew me.