Tuesday, May 22, 2012

the birth story: part II, the homebirth~early labor

Warning: Starting with this post in the series, there are bound to be some more graphic or raw mentions of the birthing process. It's difficult to feel any squeamishness or embarrassment on my part having been through the experience. And it's difficult to tell a birth story without any of the real details. 

Part II.
The Homebirth~Early Labor

Early Labor

Around 11:15 p.m. on Thursday night, after almost 11 hours of contracting, my midwives decided I was officially in early labor. When I heard those beautiful words—early labor—the excitement finally bubbled up past my caution and skepticism. There had been so many false alarms leading up to the day I finally went into labor that part of me truly believed I'd be pregnant forever. But, now it was happening. 

I will never be able to fully understand how I managed to do it, but once I knew I was in labor a powerful force took over my entire being. The doubt, the lack of faith in myself, the insecurity and belief that I was not strong enough were nowhere to be found. I was overwhelmingly joyful, positive, full of life and ready to dive into the experience. When the contractions grew more painful, I smiled and said "I'm so happy that I'm in pain!" I began to ask, out loud, for my uterus to make the contractions stronger, to keep them coming. I asked my cervix to open up so I could let my baby out. I told my body to bring it on. I completely invited labor to take me over.

I will admit that I did, in fact, listen to Kanye's Stronger about 14 times during those early hours (as I had joked I would many months ago). [Side note: I'm so sorry, baby girl, that that song will forever be attached to bringing you into this world. It's wildly inappropriate, but I did at least listen to the clean version instead of the explicit.] I also listened to an amazing hip hop song written by a local rapper (again, sorry baby girl, your hippie mama has many sides) about his wife going through labor—so beautiful and so encouraging, give it a listen here (the song is called Ups Downs All Around). I can't tell you how much these two songs pumped me up early on! I never thought I'd want to be pumped up during labor, but it really got my adrenaline moving. Little did I know how much I'd be using that reserve of adrenaline over the next 3 days, though.

Sometime in the middle of the night—time became an indiscernible, unfamiliar concept once labor began—I went upstairs to use the bathroom. I was using the stairs and toilet sitting to help bring the baby down and open up my pelvis, both of which are highly effective, by the way. On this trip to the bathroom, though, I was surprised by what I labeled "my first period." I had been looking for any signs of bloody show (a sign that your cervix has begun to dilate) for over a month, so when I finally saw it I was literally shouting with excitement and called my midwives and doula upstairs to show them. I honestly felt like a preteen girl again, so proud to finally "be a woman." Things were happening, I was having a baby, "for real," as I put it to my husband who stood in the bathroom with me, equally excited about my first period.

I was really into squatting during contractions during early labor. Squatting is not easy, let me tell you. I'm not sure where the lower body strength came from to squat over and over for hours, but I pushed through the exhaustion because I felt the progress (aka, pain) more intensely in that position. Squatting also led to many interesting discussions among my birth team, such as the likening of my use of the banister at the end of the staircase to a stripper pole. I felt like I was in Flash Dance and asked them to pour a bucket of water over my chest as I threw my head back during a contraction. Where were these crazy thoughts coming from while in the throws of having a baby? I will never know. But, this discussion ended in me proving that a pregnant woman can still shake her booty—sort of—which was recorded on video for good measure. 

Then there was the marathon session of live Phish concerts that I suddenly needed to have on in the background. I closed my eyes and swayed to the music, transported to summer nights of concert going—this ended up to be an incredibly relaxing visualization for me, such a carefree place to be in my mind. Of course, the music then led to a discussion of our past lives, the time before any of us (in the birth team) had children and could frequent hippie shows and live free-spirited lifestyles. Those days felt so far away while I stood in my living room moving toward childbirth. I wondered if my past and future would ever co-mingle, if the girl would ever peek out from behind the mama exterior.

As labor progressed, and the intensity grew to unbelievable heights, the house was still filled with laughter. Life continued in between contractions and other than the pangs that rolled in waves over my abdomen, I felt like we were just hanging out, hosting a big slumber party. Close to dawn, we ascended the stairs, and I crawled into bed, needing a safe, familiar place. Unbeknownst to me, I would remain there for close to 24 hours.

To be continued….

Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI

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