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On Thursday, Oct 5th, around 8pm, I began feeling contractions that were low and steady. They lasted around 1 minute in duration and were 30 minutes apart in frequency. From a previous apt that day, I knew that I was 4cm, with a very pliable cervix in the anterior position. I finished folding the laundry in our living room and visited with a friend who brought over a camera for us to use in the coming birth. Once she left, Calvin and I got our showers and played a few games of Yahtzee.
Around 11pm, we turned in for the night. By this time, my contractions were about 10 minutes apart and feeling the same. I had been having contractions 10 minute apart and only slightly less intense nearly every evening for the last few weeks and did not see this being any different but, just in case, we retired with my stop watch and bag near the door and a few chux pads under the sheets. I fully did not expect this to be it. But, we prayed before bed that, if this was it, it would be a gentle and easeful birth.
Around 1am I noticed I was waking around every 4 minutes to the same intensity of contractions, they only became quite hard when I had a full bladder. Thinking this might be it, but not wanting to wake Calvin and because I was no longer comfortable in bed, at 2:30am, I got out of bed and began walking and tailor sitting, timing contractions, and biding my time.
At 5:15am I could no longer time my own contractions while working through them as I was loosing sense of time, so I woke Calvin and he went down to relight the water heater (as it went out the night before and he was planning on fixing it that a.m.) so that I could take a hot shower. Then, we both got ready for the day and began timing contractions. They were, at this time, around 2 and 1/2 to 3 and 1/2 minutes apart, lasting 45 minutes, and I felt inclined to labor dance through them. As they were not increasing dramatically in intensity and were still not completely consistent, I took Lisa's suggestion (my doula, friend, and fellow Bradley teacher in the area whom I had called by this time) to try knee to chest position. As I was looking forward to the shower, I set a rolled towel in the bottom of the tub and let the shower beat on my back while I assumed the knee-chest position in the shower for about 30 minutes.
Calvin went to pack Charis and Jocelyn's overnight bags, and wake and ready the kiddos during this time. How comforting to hear the noises of the house while I worked at bringing this kiddo into the world. The coffee smelled great, the cheerios tasted great, and the chatter made me feel peaceable in a way I did not expect. Bri, our oldest, and Jocelyn, our youngest, came to the shower curtain and peeled it back to watch mommy through a few contractions. Pretty soon, Bri had placed her hand on my head and said 'so this is it, huh mommy? You are doing a great job'. Jocelyn just rocked back on her heels after every contractions and awarded me with one of her chipmunk-cheeked grins. My kids were turning out to be great coaches.
After a bowl of Cheerios, I went to the bedroom to assume the knee-chest position once again; this time on the bed. I stayed there for around 45 minutes and fell asleep between contractions - only to find myself the last time on my side.
Around 7:30, and after labor dancing through increasingly lower contractions, seeing off the twins (who were staying with my grandparents), Kairi (who wanted to see her papa and meema), and my mom, doing another bout of knee-to-chest on the bed, and eating some breakfast, I began to feel antsy. Calvin noticed a change in me and asked if we should head to the hospital. My next two contractions felt slightly pushy at the peak, so we decided to pack up Bri and head to the hospital. We called Lisa, Brenda (our midwife), and Deb (Calvin's mom who did professional videography of the birth).
After admission, and through admittance, around 9am, we found that I was 7cm along and the bag of waters was well intact with a large forebag (Xander was still -2 station). I got settled into my room, my mom and Kairi showed up, Deb and Lisa came in, and, after the initial 20 minute strip and getting hooked up for my GBS treatment, we began to walk the halls. At the beginning of a contraction, I would lean against Calvin's chest and, as the contraction came to fullness, I would bend my knees and sway my hips in rhythm to my contraction. He would apply counterpressure to my hips, and, at the conclusion of my contraction, would reward me with a sweet kiss. I remember picturing our baby in our arms and getting those same sweet kisses from my husband - that was my goal for each wave of childbearing.
We noticed that for the few moments that Calvin was not with me, my contractions would not be as affective (strong), nor my relaxation as complete. Between Lisa, Briaunna, my mom, and Calvin, though, I walked the halls for a good 3 hours, with only moments of pelvic rocks and birth ball rocking, before asking to be checked again. I was still at 7cm and 75% effaced. Calvin and I retired to the bathroom for a half hour and had a mini makeout session, trying nipple-stimulation and open-mouthed kissing (per Ina May). It was very intense and beautiful to be in a dimly lit area, showing love and affection to my soul-mate while feeling the ebbs and tides that would bring our child forth. Though I have heard it called erotic, erotic is too strong a word; I would call it sensual and beautiful. Lisa mentioned, when I emerged, that there was a difference about me and the labor. I would definitely say it was a pivotal moment, stepping through the threshold of laboring lady and into bringing-forth-life lover, mother, and woman.
We enjoyed some white bean chicken chili, apples, cheese, crackers, and water for a midday pick-me-up. Hoping to get descent going, I hopped in the shower to do squats during contractions and to have hydrotherapy applied to my tailbone as lower pressure was getting intense enough that it was hard to find relief. I stayed in the shower for about 45 minutes. As the family had moved down to the family waiting area so that I could try to get some rest, Calvin and I nested for 30-45 minutes, getting side-relaxation and a few moments of shut eye. I felt restless, though, and we were soon up again. Walking the halls again, Briaunna joined us and helped with verbal encouragement and applying her fists to my ever lowering pressure.
As we rounded the corner to my room, Calvin mentioned trying the jacuzzi and shower again. So, I got in the jacuzzi and labored there for a little over 2 hours. I alterated the shower and jacuzzi. My contractions picked up immensely in intensity and in frequency while in the tub, while I could really feel them moving DOWN while dancing in the shower. I did my own vaginal check around 4pm and could feel the bag of water at about +2. I asked Calvin to confirm that was what it was and after he checked me, he said 'yep, there it is'. My contractions were quickly becoming so low I was grunting through the peaks of them and instinctfully bearing down. The nurse wanted me to get out, but Calvin and Lisa protected my space and I continued to labor until, during one immensely fulfilling contraction, I felt the bag of waters move out of my body. I looked down and was able to see, for just a second, the bag of waters hanging from my body. It was about the size of a large water balloon.
Then, from the weight, it ruptured, and I felt Xander racing down the birth canal immediately after. Those in the adjoining birthing room say it sounded like a bucket of water had been thrown on the ground. Lisa went out to find Brenda and Calvin began helping me toward the birthing room. After having a few pushing contractions standing beside the bed and feeling hip pressure (I felt my legs would give out - those in attendance say this was my 'transition'), I climbed onto the bed backward so that my torso was draped over the raised back of the bed (simulating the all-fours). They tried, fruitlessly, to cover me with warm blankets, but I was so focused on moving our baby through these last few inches into the world that I yelled that is was 'too... grunt... much..... grunt... CLOTHE!'. They got the hint. So, all naturale, I began the final stage of hard work to bringing our child out of my womb.
After a few very confusing contractions where I felt immense pressure bowing out my hips, Lisa leaned in and suggested I give a push with the next contraction, even though I felt no inclination to push. As I did, I felt Xander move past my hips and down. Calvin positioned himself to catch and Brenda, Lisa, Calvin, my daughters, and mom all began cheering me on as I instinctfully pushed through each contraction.
He decended rapidly and came to crowning. As I grunt-pushed through contractions, I heard my family talking in awed, hushed voices, and my husbands hands supporting me and my midwives hands guiding me brought me close to delerious euphoria. As his head emerged, I lost all sense of bearing down and became disoriented.
Brenda told me I had to get him out. His mouth was at my perineum and he was not descending any further. After a few futile pushes (my body was not obeying) she placed her hands over Calvin's and began manually rotating his body into the correct alignment. My 'little' Xander was giving us shoulder dystocia. Luckily, the Gaskin Maneuver worked beautifully and, within the next few contractions, he slid free of my body and Calvin caught him. He was immediately passed to me between my legs and I sat back on my haunches to get him to nurse. He wanted to cry more than anything, but he eventually (10 minutes) latched on. Briaunna and Kairi got as close to the bed as they could and touched their brother all over. Remarking, teary-eyed, how 'He's here!!! He's Here!!! You did it mommy!!!'. It was beautiful. We went through the anatomy of a newborn and talked about his cord. They touched his cord to feel the pulse running through it and did more newborn googling.
Briaunna had the honor of cutting the cord once it stopped pulsing and, as she did the final snip (it only took her two), she exclaimed loudly 'now I KNOW I want to be a doctor!'. As my placenta began to descend, Brenda noted that I was going to start bleeding and we talked options. Once it was birthed, she attempted fundal pressure and 'massage'.. It didn't slow. So, we finally opted on pitocin.
I had no tearing. My 'area' actually feels remarkably well and I attribute that to the position I labored in. My hips on the other hand, they need my chiros skills! Breastfeeding is going great, mom and baby are recovering beautifully (though tiredly).
All in all, his birth was beautiful, empowering, humbling, and fulfilling. I was given the knowledge of my bodies FULL capabilities. I was given the gift of a family witnessing the birth of their family. I was given the joy of my husband being the first to touch our only son as he emerged from my body. And I was given the grace to have had a long, but gentle and easeful birth.
Welcome Xander Baylis - "Swordsman and Defender of Mankind"
October 6th, 2006
20 1/2 inches