Friday, March 6, 2015

How To Have A Baby In Two Hours - The Play By Play

It's been a short month of newborn cuddles and lounging in bed. Baby is so gentle, so sweet and so alert. She watches, listens as her older siblings bounce around and yell.

Love truly knows no bounds.


It had been a tiresome week leading up to due date.

I was having intense Braxton-Hicks contractions at any random hour of the day or night. I wanted it to lead into labor more than anything, rather than endure discomfort with no immediate outcome. The pressure was severe to say the least.
Then, on Tuesday, February 2nd, I felt the baby drop down even lower. I had to stop and breathe because the sensation was unexpected and intense. I was sure to have the baby that night!

8:30 PM
I put both kids to bed and get ready for bed.

9:30 PM
After a friend recommended the "nip-stim" trick, I decided to try it. Thirty minutes passed and I started having some stronger contractions and could no longer sit still. I was pacing and breathing.

11:00 PM
Kimball helped clear the room and get things ready in case this was the night. He sat and made a playlist while I settled in to sleep and got in bed with me soon after. The few contractions I had felt slowed down a lot and I hoped to get some sleep.

1:00 AM
I kept getting up to go to the bathroom but I wasn't really having contractions. I slept alright the rest of the time but at one o'clock I woke up to back pain so severe I couldn't lay there anymore and I just knew it was finally starting. I decided to work through some of the contractions on my own since it was still early but they got strong fast and I didn't want to be alone anymore.

1:30 AM
I woke up Kimball and told him it was on. He began to set up the birthing pool. I couldn't wait to get in the water. I felt confused at the intensity of the pain and how suddenly it had started and needed relief. Kimball would push back on my hips a few times when it got particularly painful and then return to setting things up.

2:00 AM
I texted Cathy, my midwife. She asked for the time of the contraction intervals and they where a minute and a half apart and lasted about a minute. She seemed confused about that but told me she was on her way and that she would let Sarah, her assisting midwife in training, know that I was in labor.

2:10 AM
I texted my mother to let her know that tonight was the night. The contractions were so painful I was getting low and clenching the edges of the ottoman. I questioned whether or not I'd be able to endure hours of such pain. I couldn't understand why it seemed so painful right at the beginning of it all.

2:15 AM
I got in the pool finally and relief washed over me. The pain was cut in half and I settled in for the long haul. I labored by myself while Kimball puttered around in the kitchen. I didn't need back pressure and felt good about the pain level now.
So far I haven't experienced the water breaking on its own. It didn't with my other two kids.

2:40 AM
Sarah finally shows up and goes in to the kitchen to greet Kimball. I can hear them chatting and then Sarah comes in. In that moment I checked myself and realized I could feel the baby's head. So I told Sarah. She was going to check the baby's heart rate, went to grab the stethoscope and just then I said that the baby was coming. Sarah only just had time to turn back around when I had the first hard contraction. She dropped down in front of me and made me focus on breathing through it. Still hadn't felt the water break.

2:55 AM
Because of the terrible back labor I've endured with my other two children, I had them both on my hands and knees. Sarah, being a midwife in training with good but less experience than Cathy, really wanted me to sit and lean back against the pool. As we discussed it I had another hard contraction. The back pain wasn't as bad as I was used to so I said I would try it. I sat back, Kimball on my right side, Sarah next to him. I had another contraction.

2:59 AM
I felt pretty comfortable, strange as it sounds, sitting there in the warm water just seconds away from meeting my new little girl. I leaned back, had another contraction, gave it a push when I saw the top of her little head. I stopped to breathe. One more push and I had her in my hands. A wish come true for me, having wanted to catch a baby as it was being born but believing it to be too hard because of the pain in my back while laboring.

3:00 AM
Two, four, then six hands, where helping a very slippery baby come into this world. She was born in the caul. For a split second it was confusing. What was covering her from head to hip?? As Sarah was getting the slippery sack of her face we realized she was wrapped in the cord. Quickly, Sarah removed the rest of the sack and we all helped get her unwrapped. One and a half turn around her neck and half around her body. Sarah held her in a way to help her breathe and clear her mouth and lungs while I held and squeezed her hands.  She looked like she'd been smeared with buttercream frosting. Kimball was talking to her and touching her feet. She started spitting and bubbling and everything was alright. Someone asks what the gender is and we all sort of stop as someone double checks. I almost cried with joy over the news.

3:05 AM
Baby girl got back in the water with me. She was already so strong. Sarah pulled her arm and she pulled it right back. She kept expelling gunk from her mouth and was soon rooting around.

3:30 AM
Cathy shows up. I pretend like I'm still in labor...She laughed at all the vernix down the front of Sarah's shirt and all over all of our arms.

I started nursing in the pool as baby girl latched without a fuss.
Then came clean up and I got into my bed. I felt giddy and awake. Happy to have made it through another successful home birth. But most of all I was surprised. I realized that I had in fact somehow skipped the grueling long hours or labor and jumped right into transition, explaining why the contractions where so painful. Thanks to the Braxton-Hicks for a week prior, most of the dilating was already done.
I was able to be perfectly present to the point of laughing in surprise just as she came out, at the quick, rather easy birth of number three.

6:30 AM
We go to sleep after weighing, measuring, checking up, cleaning up. She weighed 7.9 pounds, measured 20 inches, and was fully responsive.

7:45 AM
Lois wakes up and comes into our room. I tell her I have a surprise for her. Her eyes widen and she climbs onto the bed. I tell her the baby came out. Lois had been asking to hold the baby for a couple of weeks while I was still pregnant. She was becoming impatient. So when I told her it was a little sister her little face lit up beyond description. Her happiness was so intense that she hardly knew what to do with herself. She almost cried. I definitely cried. We all laid next to the baby until Johannes woke up.
To him, nothing much had changed.

Lucia Adelise Olive is named after Kimball's ancestors. We struggled with finding a combination of names that felt right. We tried with two names in various combinations since that was our pattern with the other two kids but it wasn't until we used all three that it made sense. Her dark hair and dark eyes mirror my own and I'm ridiculously happy about it.

Hello, I'm a mother of three.

If you wonder who helps me birth at home ------>

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blog Ambitions vs. Reality

It's been OVER A YEAR, since I wrote the last post. In my lame defense, I kept a journal for a few weeks last year.

Things I've missed documenting:

Trip to Hawaii.
Trip to Sweden.
My thirtieth birthday.
Lois's third birthday.
Trip to Disneyland.
Third pregnancy.
Our fifth anniversary.
Johannes's first birthday.
My aunt's passing.
The birth of my third child.

Seeing the list of things I should have taken better care to preserve makes first feel guilty but the more I think about it the more I realize that there's no need for that.
I lived it. We all did. It was beautiful and memorable and we took lots of pictures along the way.

I remember Johannes at four months, pulling his feet out of the water at a beach on the Big Island because he didn't like cold water. In reality the temperature was just right, the sand so fine and white and the weathered, gnarled trees the perfect shade that I cannot wait to return to beach 69.
I remember pulling on my snorkel gear when the sun was giving the last of it's light, swimming out from the lava rock shore of Two Step and touching a turtle in it's natural habitat while holding my lover's hand. Pure bliss.

I remember flying to Sweden by myself with my two kids, how we hoped and hoped for a white Swedish Christmas and all we got was rain. Long walks through the green forest and my mother's delicious cooking and my cozy childhood home. New years eve in town with my honey, the random dent in the car from someone kicking it that night. Swedish fiddlers at the neighbor's house was a great moment to remember.

I remember turning thirty in California, spending the day by the pool watching Lois splash around. We ate at my favorite restaurant in Oceanside (the chocolate mousse is divine) and played with the kids on the beach. Lois lost her stuffed IKEA cat somewhere in the sand.

So many small and big moments. So many firsts and lasts.
This is reality. To live wholly and fully. And to learn from the past.

So, I renew my resolve to write about life as it comes.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sometimes Bad Things Happen...

...when you do business with people and you get to go to Oregon and then you don't mind so much. Sorta.
I love Portland. I love the Oregon coast. The whole state is magical really.
Delicious food, beautiful scenery and uber-friendly people. What's not to love?
Caught a soccer game while there. RSL vs Portland Timbers. That Timber's Army is something else! The best fans in the MLS, hands down. They're amazing.

First time traveling with baby J. He's a champ!

Delicious dining

RSL vs Portland Timbers 3-3

Oregon coast - Arch Cape
That's our vacation rental

Best seafood on the coast - oysters the size of your palm
and clam chowder to die for

Birth Is No Walk In The Park

We're the lucky parents of a brand new precious little humanoid. We adore him and he has our hearts wrapped around his tiny little finger.

The initial shock of becoming a mother has worn off and I'm practically a veteran now when it comes to birth and motherhood...

Nope, I'm joking.

I can safely say won't ever get used to it and I feel I won't ever quite fill those large shoes adequately.

As labor was creeping up on me for the second time I anxiously awaited the first signs with both dread and excitement. As with our first, we didn't find out before hand what the gender was.

I'll admit was a little afraid this time.
I anticipated the hard work that is labor and the potentially difficult transition from one to two little monkeys under my care.
I was afraid I was going to go past my due date and have a big baby.
I stressed about my little girl who was being unusually defiant and tantrum prone.
I was sick of being pregnant and wanted my body back.
I stressed a lot. About anything and everything.
Naturally the stress kept my baby even more firmly in my insides...
The more I wanted him to come out the longer the days of waiting became.

Finally, after 11 days past due date and a couple of false starts, I decided to try a natural induction.
My doula  and friend Vanessa brought me a concoction my midwife calls the Labor Bomb.
Ginger ale, apricot nectar, almond butter and some castor oil.

Let's just say, it had the desired effect. Within a couple of hours I was having steady contractions.

I was excited to say the least!

Kimball got his camera gear together and found a way to mount the GoPro underwater.
My dear mother had come from Sweden to be with me after the baby was born but was doomed to await his arrival alongside of me. I sent her and L away to stay with my in-laws. It was 10 PM, July 17.

Some women like having their mother with them when they labor and give birth but seeing my mother would have taken all the strength out of me and rendered me a little girl again. She would have suffered seeing me in pain and felt miserable for me.

Cathy, Sara and Vanessa showed up around midnight and labor was underway.
We set up the pool and I got in. As anticipated I was experiencing back pain, like with my first.

After a few hours of sitting in the pool I started to feel weak and extremely sleepy. I kept falling asleep/blacking out between contractions and waking up feeling disoriented and weak. I couldn't concentrate and I was losing control. I told the ladies I needed things to progress faster because I was already so so tired. I would put my forehead against the side of the pool and just fall fast asleep.

They broke my water.

Things became very intense from then on. Although I experienced complete relief between contractions in a way I hadn't with my first, without the water to cushion me, the back labor was 100 times worse.
I didn't cry or scream. I yelled.
I said I couldn't do it. I said I was dying. I said the baby wasn't coming out.
I begged for it to end. I said it was too hard.
I talked to him telling him to hurry up and come out.
Everyone worked hard at reassuring me and helping me keep calm.

It was difficult.
I moved from the pool to the toilet, to a birthing stool and finally to my bed trying to find relief from the back pain.

As soon as I got on the bed everything became clear.
I was ready, the baby was ready and I knew the time had come.
I regained focus, was completely aware of every contraction and where the baby was.

Kimball had been working hard providing counter pressure for my back and was now providing counter pressure on the baby's head. 5 AM, July 18. Slowly, the baby was coming out.

With two contractions his head came out, his little face was purple with all the blood gone to his head from being squeezed so hard. The poor little thing had been working just as hard to be born. At one point Cathy pushed back and unwrapped the umbilical cord. What seemed like three, maybe four contractions later Kimball caught him and seconds later a tiny boy with skinny arms bear paws was in my arms.

Just like that.

My dear friend Vanessa, Kimball, Cathy hiding
behind me and brand spankin' new baby J.
photo cred: Sara Vranes

I got back in the water to await the after-birth and warm the new man in my life.
It's interesting how little you remember about the labor you just went through as soon as you're on the other side so to speak. Every care just melts away at the touch of that little life you're now holding in your arms.

As soon as I was clean and settled back in bed, nursing properly and finally getting to rest, Kimball fell asleep. It looked awkward and uncomfortable the way he was laying but that's how tired he was. I've never felt more tender toward him than I did in that moment having felt him by my side the whole time, working as hard as he could to make me comfortable and to give me support.
He's truly wonderful and I adore him.

I was exhausted but high on endorphins and adrenaline so I stayed awake till noon.

I can't adequately express my gratitude at being so richly blessed that I can enjoy birth in my own home on my own terms. That I'm healthy and have healthy happy babies is such a priceless gift that humbles me as I know this isn't the case for all mothers out there.

As hard as birthing was this time around, the reward outweighs every moment of pain ever felt in the process of the miracle we call life.

We named him after a Swedish great grandfather and after the biblical story of Jacob that wrestled with an angel and upon victory was given a new name.

He is small now but he is mighty and he did conquer.

Welcome home Johannes Israel.