Friday, March 22, 2013

Asher's Story


***It took me awhile to come to terms with the way Asher's birth ended up going.  In my mind I was going to have a perfectly pretty, relatively easy (2nd birth is easier right?), home water birth.  I pictured this perfectly serene scene where I catch my baby under the water and pull him to my chest.  I didn't leave any room for flexibility in that plan.  That's what I pictured and that's how it would go.  Oh, how wrong I was.  I still feel a little vulnerable sharing such a personal thing, this birth.  But looking back, Asher's birth may not have been "pretty" but it was beautiful, because it results in our boy.  I want to share to empower and inspire other women.  I hope you enjoy reading. =]***

January 17th, 2013 (one week past my due date) we needed groceries.  (For the past 3 or so weeks we had stocked up, thinking it might be the last trip before the birth, then when the cupboards got low and we had to shop again I was bummed out.)  So out we went as a family to Target, and then Hannaford.  I was feeling light contractions the entire trip, but had been feeling them off and on for a couple weeks, so I didn’t say anything.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  This was around 6:30pm.  Towards the end of our Hannaford trip I told Ben, “You might want to buy a loaf of bread.  I don’t think I’m going to be baking any.  I’ve been having contractions since we left the house.”

I had done laundry at my parents’ house that day and had been feeling a dull back ache the entire day, but kind of ignored it, again, not wanting to get my hopes up.  We left the grocery store and stopped by my parents’ to pick up the clean laundry.  My sports bra I planned to wear in the birth tub was in that laundry, so, just in case I needed it, I decided it would be good to pick up.  I told Ben to let my mom know about the contractions, but not to let anyone get their hopes up. ;] 

We got home, put Ziva to bed, folded the laundry I think, and watched an episode of Raising Hope.  I wanted to finish the pair of wool pants I was knitting for Ziva’s doll.  Just in case I suddenly became busier… ;]

Around 10:30 we decided to go to bed and I slept off and on.  I think the fact that contractions were waking me up was getting me super excited and that didn’t help with the sleeping.  After awhile of waking up off and on I grabbed my phone and downloaded a contraction timer app.  I tried timing for awhile by myself but I was distracted by trying to operate the timer, plus pay attention to breathing, so I woke Ben around 2:30am to push the button on the timer.


We timed for about an hour while he set up the tub stuff and made coffee for himself.  He made me an English muffin with peanut butter and I ate a granola bar. 

{English muffins, coffee, and hose from the kitchen sink going into the birth tub.}

{Eating an English muffin.}

Around 3:30 we decided to page our midwife, Josie, as things were progressing.  Contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart, lasting for about 45 seconds or so.  I was managing by getting on all fours when a contraction hit.  I was still happy and talking between them, though.  Josie decided to get her things together and be on her way up.  This is when it got real for me.  The midwife was on her way to our house in the wee hours of the morning.  I texted my mom to say, “The midwives are on their way!  You can come whenever, and please bring your exercise ball.”  She was going to be there to watch Ziva, so I wanted her available for whenever she woke up.

Mom showed up around 4am and brought in the ball.  I sat on it in the corner of our bedroom and bounced through contractions for quite awhile.  It was a nice change.  I noticed that my contractions slowed down a bit once she came and we figured it just threw off my groove a little.

{On the ball.} 

Josie arrives next and sets up all her things, takes my vitals and listens to the baby during a contraction.  Everyone looks and sounds good.  She leaves Ben and I to labor in the bedroom and sits in the kitchen with mom to chat and work on cross-stitch.

{Setting up!}

This is about the time that I stop timing contractions (but Josie still was) and I stop looking at the clock all together. 

The student midwife, Molly arrives.  I labor in the bedroom, then a bit on the toilet.  (Not comfortable for me!)  I labor for awhile in the living room with everyone there and I notice that Josie and Molly are wearing the same pattern of Smartwool socks.  As I’m on all fours in the living room I mention that I meant to vacuum the carpet that day. 

Things start to get more intense and as I’m laboring on my bed my mom comes in.  I remember saying to her, “I’m wondering about getting in the tub.”  She gets Josie for me.  Josie suggests I try the shower first, so as not to slow down the contractions.  I get in the shower and stay there for awhile with the hot water beating on my back.  Again on all fours, I’m staring at Ziva’s rubber duckies lined up on the edge of the tub, and contractions stay steady.  I go straight from the shower to the tub.  It feels SO good.


Ziva wakes up for the day and Ben tells her, “Today is a very special day.  Mommy is having the baby.”  She comes into the bedroom and asks if she can get in the tub too.  I say, “Not right now.”

{Ziva entertaining Molly over breakfast.}

{Eating breakfast.}

{I loved talking to my girl while I was laboring.}

{Watching and waiting.}

I labor for a long time in the tub.  I was so exhausted and kept falling asleep between contractions (while sitting up in the tub) and I would startle myself awake.  Ben was sitting in the corner of our bedroom next to the tub and I remember waking up one of those times to see him asleep against the wall.  I was in and out of the tub a couple times, sitting on the toilet to try to bring baby down, doing lunges with one foot up on the bed, “dancing” with Ben.  Things weren’t going as quickly as Josie had expected them to be so at some point (probably around 10am or so) so offers to check my cervix.  I say yes, because I’m really just hoping for a sort of gauge at how much longer this would be.  I was afraid I would be barely dilated and to my surprise I was 10cm, with just a lip of cervix on one side!  (This happened with Ziva too.)  I was so relieved and happy.  I had told a couple people already that I was, “ready to be done.”  Haha.  The problem was I was feeling absolutely no urge to push.  Nothing.  I was at 10cm, still trying to just breathe through contractions. I got back into the tub and tried to push anyway, so see if it would help the lip of cervix move aside.  It just felt weird and ineffective.

{Birth tub cat nap.}

Details begin to blur at this point.  I do some pushing while Josie pushes with her fingers on the nerve the baby’s head should be hitting to give me the urge to push.  Baby’s head was not coming past my pubic bone.  At one point I reached inside and felt the baby’s head, but I felt like it was still so far up!  (It really wasn’t.)  I was getting really discouraged and doubting my ability to birth this kid.  Ben could see it in my face and continually told me how great I was doing.  I don’t remember this but apparently I rolled my eyes.  I kept thinking I was bound for hospital transfer and a c-section.  This is why you need good support!  They weren’t going to let me believe this.  I kept quoting to myself "The power and intensity of your contraction cannot be stronger than you, because it is you." and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13)

Josie gave me some Black Cohosh in a shot glass to give my uterus a “boost,” it tasted like dirt, and I washed it down with some juice.  (Naked, Blue Machine.)  I drank that juice through my whole labor, I didn’t want anything to eat, but they kept sticking this straw in my face so I drank, knowing it was probably a good idea.  The taste of that juice will probably always remind me of my labor.

{Doing some pushing in the tub.  See this guy?  He barely left my side.  Honestly, I don't know if I could've done it without his support.  It was so vital.}

At one point the water in the tub starts to cool down, so Ben scoops some out with a bucket-like baby tub to make room for warm.  He sets the baby tub on the edge of the birthing tub to get a better grip and when he picks it back up we hear a big “whoosh!” of air as it cut a hole in the top of the tub!  I stick my hand over the hole while everyone else freaks out for a second.  Ben runs outside in a t-shirt to get some heavy duty tape out of the car.  Molly relieves me of holding the hole shut.  We wouldn’t have had this tape to fix the hole if we hadn’t borrowed my uncle’s pop-up camper that summer and accidently ripped a hole in the canvas.  Happy accident.

We try to do a squatting push, with Ben standing outside the tub and me standing in it, him linking arms with me and me squatting when I had a contraction.  That was awkward feeling and not working either.

I didn't include this part in the original publishing, but, if I'm trying to empower and inspire women, I need it to keep it real.  So here goes...

A big part of why I needed to "come to terms" with Asher's birth and why I didn't think it was "pretty" is because of this.

During the ineffective pushing phase, I was effectively pushing something else out.  I felt SO embarrassed.  But, that Naked juice does claim to be "fiber-full."  I, of course, was never made to feel like I was gross by any member of my birth team.  Josie kept reassuring me that in order for baby to come out everything needed to clear out of my pelvis, but I still felt disgusting.  There's nothing more humbling, in my opinion, than pooping (more than once) in a room full of people.  Except for maybe putting it on the internet.

I felt like this needed to be shared.  If more birth stories share the yuckier details, then hopefully less women will feel embarrassed when s&^% happens. ;]  No one wants to taint their birth story with poop.  I , however, don't want to add to the plethora of "perfect" birth stories and put false illusions in womens' heads.  Mamas, I'm here to say, (and honestly this is mostly for myself) you can poop during labor and still have a beautiful birth.  Every birth is beautiful.  Don't believe the voice in your head that makes you feel small and disgusting.  Your body is doing a miraculous thing!

I got out of the tub and into a position our other midwife, Sarah (who was on vacation in Australia during my birth) calls the “dangle squat.”  Two kitchen chairs were brought into our room and placed in front of our dresser, facing each other.  Ben sat on the dresser and rested a foot on each chair.  I then stood between the chairs with my back to him, and he linked his arms through mine.  When the next contraction came on, I climbed up onto the chairs and squatted into my push.  Josie had her hand inside me, making some room for baby’s big noggin to come down.  This time it worked!  Baby’s head moved down!  I felt so much pressure and I knew this was it.  Josie told me I could get back in the tub now; she knew how much I wanted a water birth.  I wasn’t about to climb down off those chairs when I had just pushed so well.  I didn’t answer her verbally; I just went ahead and pushed my baby’s head out with the next contraction.  The cord was wrapped around the shoulders.  One more push and he was here.  At 12:06 pm on January 18th, 2013, Josie handed my baby up to me and I looked down to see a head full of dark hair.  (Yes!  I've always wanted a hairy baby!)  We had planned on Ben telling me our baby’s gender, but in the moment I completely forgot and almost immediately looked between the legs.  “It’s a boy!” I said.  (Yes!  I was right this time!)  

I walked the two steps to my bed and layed down with my brand new little guy.  My Asher.




All is right in the world as the midwives check up on me and Asher on our bed.  The news is shared with those waiting in the living room.  (My mom, Ziva, and my sister.)  After a bit, Ben gets ready to cut Asher’s cord.  He jokingly asks if he can use his Leatherman, and Josie tells him he could have if we had sanitized it ahead of time.  Ben brings Ziva into the bedroom to meet her brother and she says, “I think I’ll just get away…”  She takes a little while to warm up to him. =]

My mom comes in and asks me what I’d like to eat.  I ask for scrambled eggs and she cooks them, then brings them in and feeds them to me while Asher is having his first feed.


{He latched on right away and did so well!}

{Ben holds Asher for the first time and Asher decides to poop for the first time, on Daddy. lol.}

{8 lbs, 8 oz!}

{1st diaper}

{My guys}

{Real life!}

{Big sister!}

{One of my favorites, so much joy.}

It’s amazing how much changes when that little person finally emerges.  Another person is suddenly sharing the air in the room.  There is so much raw emotion, as the birthing mother goes from working through pain and anguish to immediate relief and elation.  Everything after birth seems like a cake walk.  When else would I be smiling and laughing as I get stitches in a very tender area?  All I want to do is stare at my baby, while I simultaneously want to tell everyone I've ever met the good news.

{The next morning.  So tired!}

I’m so proud and ecstatic to have gently brought our son earthside in the comfort of our own bedroom, surrounded by people we trust and love.  I’m proud of my body’s ability to birth an 8 lb, 8 oz, 20" long baby with a 14” head!  


1 comment:

Megan Hackworth said...

Melissa, I found your blog because you 'liked' my photo on Instagram, tagged #birthwithoutfear, and wanted to see who you were. I have a baby Asher too, who has a big sister and was born in Feb. I enjoyed reading your birth story, and one of these days want to write mine up and post just so hard figuring out what to post. Anyway, I just thought out was funny that we both had Ashers almost the same age, and thought I'd say hi. :-)