Sunday, May 27, 2012

How's this for awesome? A birth story

Subtitle: Apparently it takes me three days to have babies
I'm not patient, especially while in labour so the world curses me with long labours
How I met the Wee Boy

The Wee Boy is 19 weeks old. In all that time, I have related his birth story to many, but never actually written it down. As a doula, I've witnessed birth many times and recognize that everyone's perception of what happened, how long things took, etc., is all very subjective. Because of that I, at times, have not wanted to write his story thinking that somehow I'll get it "wrong." This is ludicrous of course and frankly I want to write it because I want it on record somewhere...if only because I forget everything these days.
 First, the pregnancy (seeing as I took a blog hiatus). Carrying the wee man was a blur of 40 weeks and 3 days of burgers and fries, ice cream (it was an incredibly hot summer) and cookies and a complete and utter aversion to vegetables, salad and all things healthy. I gained 35 pounds, almost double what I gained with Chou, but, oddly, I ended up at the same delivery weight for both of them. I felt fine, just sluggish and sweaty. I had wicked insomnia for parts of it, fantastic ess-e-ex dreams for the first trimester, horrid, horrid heartburn for the last three months. I hardly ran, nor did yoga, but I did walk. A lot. You do that when you have a three year old. The above photo was taken on December 19, about a month before the Wee Man arrived. It was an impossibly mild December day (at freezing). Photos taken by Ali Lauren.

And then, the birth. As I mentioned above, I seem to take three days to have babies. I never really had Braxton Hicks with my first pregnancy, but this time I had them nearly every night, over and over, never painful, but enough to wake me at night (you'd wake too if you suddenly rolled on to a bowling ball). Then, on a Monday evening, the day before my due date, I had one REAL contraction at around six p.m. And then....nothing. No BHs, no more contractions, just one relatively uninterrupted evening and night of sleep. On Tuesday night, at 1 in the morning (so technically Wednesday),  a big contraction woke me up. I got up and lolled around downstairs. They were semi regular but not really and I could handle them fine. By morning, I asked the Hubby to call the doula; he took Chou to daycare and the doula arrived. But after a few hours of chatting and walking and chilling out, I fell right asleep. For two hours. Not one contraction. We sent the doula home.

I was bummed out (when I woke up). My labour with Chou had started on a Wednesday (with my water breaking) and she was born on a Saturday. Thankfully, my water hadn't broken, but I was already a bit tired and sure baby wasn't sitting in a great position. Visions of inductions and epidurals and all those nasty things danced in my head. My doula brain was telling me that all was fine and normal and lots of labours stop and start, but I was frustrated — this was supposed to be my 8 hour, text book labour! Or so I had hoped.

Wednesday passed with hardly a twinge. It was cold, with a wicked wind, so we didn't go outside much. I made a groaning cake (so delicious) and generally we waited. Like clockwork, at 1 am the next night (so technically Thursday), I woke again. Determined not to call the doula with a false alarm twice, I laboured downstairs on my own until 530 am, Thursday. Then, of course, it all stopped. Thursday was a milder day. I was tired and frustrated and called the midwife — she said to walk, sleep, eat and just chill out. I didn't want to but the husband insisted we walk the 1.5 miles round trip to pick up Chou from daycare. We got home at 5. And 10 minutes later contractions started. And were longer and stronger, but still manageable. I started timing them, they were exactly 7 minutes apart and a minute long. Better! I thought.

I made supper while I used the iPhone app to time contractions. I forget what I made, which is funny. Chou and the husband played while I swayed and breathed through each minute-long contraction. At bath/bedtime, things spaced out a bit, which was fine with me. I think I needed to have Chou tucked in bed before I could really pay attention to labouring. I laid down with her after telling her a story and she was nearly asleep when I had a HUGE took everything I had to not groan and moan and wake her up! I went downstairs, and on we went — 7 minutes apart, one minute long. Then, five minutes apart, one minute long...but not stronger. But by 10 pm, I was ready for help. We called the doula. By midnight, I sent the husband to bed and the doula and I slept in between contractions (now back to 7 minutes) and I'd get up from a sound sleep to lean on the couch while she did the hip squeeze. At some point she suggested I put my butt in the air and see if his head would move a bit (we discussed that he was likely not in a great spot). I tried it, but nothing changed. But by 130, I needed a shower. It was lovely. I emptied our hot water tank. At 3, I was back in. I was starting to shake and gag and I thought, "Oh, good, REAL labour." By 3:30 am, I wanted the midwife to check me....and I hoped she'd stay to catch a baby.

Instead, when the midwife arrived at 430, she checked me and I was...wait for it...2 cm! I wanted 4, that was all. You wouldn't believe how frustrated I was. This was 12 hours into regular contractions and I was 2! She confirmed that baby wasn't in a great spot (Chou was posterior, which is bad). Wee Boy wasn't quite that bad, but he wasn't face down like he should be. I sighed and right there gave up on the idea of a home birth. I knew I didn't have another 24 hours in me. I asked to go to the hospital and get some pitocin and an epidural. Everyone cleared out (we agreed to call the midwife when we were heading in and I sent my doula home to get some sleep). Chou woke around 630 and I laboured while she ate her oats and watched a kid show. The hubby took out the garbage and recycling, and while I was alone I had a large contraction, sweet Chou rubbed my lower back and said, "There's no one here now, Mama, so I'll rub your back." It was the sweetest moment ever.

On the way to the hospital (around 830 am), the contractions spaced to 10 minutes apart, thankfully (have you ever tried labouring while sitting in a car? Awful). The heated seats were a godsend. As we neared the hospital, suddenly the contractions felt easier, but were suddenly four minutes apart. We went straight to a room (no triage! The joys of having a midwife!), and once settled we discovered I was magically at 5 cm. Oddly enough, the contractions were stronger and closer together but far easier to cope with. Wee boy had decided to turn himself around into a better spot and I made quick progress. I decided against the pitocin, seeing as I was finally getting somewhere, but huffed on some nitrous. Sure, it made my head spin and my jaw feel funny, but it let me get stoned enough to sleep a bit in between contractions.

Within an hour, my water broke. Another 30 minutes and I was 7 cm. We called the doula back (poor girl! She left my place at around 530 and I was 7 cm by 10 am...not a lot of rest for her!), as things were moving quickly. Then I was 8 and I though "Ok, here we go, hardest but shortest part of labour." No.

I sat on the ball, I went in the shower, I rolled from side to side, tired and cursed with contractions that went on for 2 minutes and piggy backed one after the other. It went on and on, and still, 8 cm. After two hours of this, I said, OK, call for the pitocin and the epidural -- I'm getting nowhere. The midwife put the call in, and then called for the back up midwife, as midwife B needed a lunch break. Midwife T arrived. We had met several times and she was young and energetic and in hindsight exactly what I needed at that point.

When T arrived, she spoke with the husband, our doula and the nurse (who I had met at my very first doula birth here and a few times since. It was a great team!), and to me, as much as she could. We all agreed that this baby needed to move every so slightly or he'd never get out. She told me to put my butt in the air for two or three contractions, as baby was still pretty high up and I was still 8.

I about 3 pm. I lasted one contraction -- the labour until now had been tiresome, intense and frustrating but never overwhelmingly painful. Until this one contraction. I remember moaning "This is AWFUL", and then as soon as it ended I fell over on to my side and blacked out. Yes, really. It was only for a second and when I came to, my body gave the most incredible push. The midwife and nurse said "Don't push!" and all I could answer was "I'm not!" It really is true that the pushing reflex is just like any other reflex -- we can't control it. I was on my side, and the midwife wanted to check me to see if, magically, in one contraction I could be 10 cm and pushing but I could NOT roll on to my back. I could feel the immense pressure on my tail bone as baby made his way down...I shouted, "someone hold my leg!" because I could feel baby moving down and thought, hilariously, "If no one holds my leg, how will the baby get out?" I also thought, someone better be standing there to catch this baby. In my mind, it felt like baby was suddenly about to pop out...which he was, but not nearly in 10 seconds. Ha! I laugh about it now.

Either way, within a moment my body pushed again and a quick check (on my side, I really couldn't move at all) showed that baby's head was well down and yes I was obviously 10 cm.

I pushed and my body pushed and while I stretched, it burned, but it really wasn't more painful, it's true. It was powerful, overwhelming and all encompassing, but not painful. Having never felt this before (I was totally numb for Chou's arrival), it was all surprising and lovely...but it was over oh so fast...

Because after about 11 minutes from putting my butt in the air, Wee Boy was out! I remember the midwife telling me "The head is born!" and I was so in my own world I didnt' reach for him. Then she said, "Now a push for the shoulders" and suddenly I remember I was "supposed" to worry about his shoulders getting stuck. Why? Because, while we didn't know he was a he, we greatly suspected so and for whatever reason him getting stuck at the shoulders worried me before labour. But just as quickly as the thought came, it went, as he easily passed to the chest. Then, "Now, push out the body" Seriously? don't they just slide out after that? Finally, I opened my eyes as I felt the most velvety soft, warm slippery thing lay on my belly. He didn't yell like his sister, just announced he was here. I got to check and announce "It's a boy!" and we all laughed and cried and generally carried on like all people do. We played "Guess the baby's weight" which I guessed right on (7 lb, 12 oz, 21 inches, born at 3:11 pm, January 13. Yes, a Friday). After 22 hours of labour (about 8 of active labour), Wee Boy was here. And, unlike, Chou I didn't know his name right at that moment. But more on that later.


Instantly, oh so instantly, I felt no pain, only fatigue. I will say this, having had an augmentation/epidural birth vs. only the gas and nothing else for labour -- while I felt everything and that was painful and intense, I recovered ever so quickly. I felt like myself, I wasn't water logged or bogged down with fluids and medicine. While I'm glad we have modern medicine, birth really is quite fantastic with as few 'extras' as possible. We stayed one night in the hospital, and headed home the next day. And thank goodness my recovery was quick, because this baby was TOUGH on us. In the meantime, I leave you with birth-y photos. If you're PMS'ing, I apologize, as they will make you cry (I'm a non crier and they still make me cry)

 New! Check out that molded head! That's what happens when you hang around high up for HOURS. He had quite the flat spot on the front of his noggin, but the molded was all but gone within 24 hours.

 Minutes old, looking exactly like his sister did. It was unreal how alike they looked. I should note that while he was only 3 days "late" he was dried up like a prune. The only vernix I found was in his armpit. His sister, on the other hand, was 12 days "late" and was smaller, covered in vernix and very much not over cooked. It just goes to show you that different babies bake at different rates.

 There are clearer photos of Chou meeting Wee Boy, but I love how happy and protective she is here.

 At home the next day in the same outfit his sister wore home. He filled it out just a bit better.

My beautiful babies.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Maybe I could even get used to this

Day 2 of the 59 Days of Awesome challenge: In a word, awesome.

Pre two babies, today would have been an epic failure. I managed to do one load of laundry (it's folded but not put away), edited two videos and sent three emails (all work stuff), had coffee at a friend's and had supper ready at 6 pm. I didn't get the three errands done I needed to do. I packed exactly zero boxes. I purged no drawers, shelves or closets.

But I did play on the floor with my four month old. I did have a dance off with my four year old. I did chat with my brother (whom I almost never talk to and that bothers me) over text, and I did send two personal emails. I focused on good posture. I ate well (I did have a giant Prairie Cherry scone, but it was organic and cherries have antioxidants). I sipped some great scotch. I am blogging.

All in all, awesome. 10,000 points for blogging two days in a row.

P.S. I also made milk today. A lot of milk. 10,000 points for milk-making (it's totally a super power)

Epic Awesome Challenge total: 30,000 points.

How did you do Team Beaver?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

59 Days of Awesome

I have an Internets friend. She is awesome. Her posts remind me of why I loved blogging, but also about how long it has been since I blogged (early September of last year, but who's counting?). She's thrown down the 2012 Awesome Challenge.

I only found out about her 60 Days of Awesome challenge a day after it started, which seems fitting, in that I feel so very behind in all that I do these days. Since last blogged, we welcomed a wee 7 lb 12 oz boy in mid-January, who we discovered very quickly is actually a very little, very grumpy old man. You know, the type of little old man that thinks canned corn is all you need for vegetables and puts butter AND salt on his already salted and buttered mashed potatoes. Yes, that kind of grumpy old man. The first 12 weeks with wee boy were pure hell — he was colicky and a non-sleeper and taking care of him, and his now four year old sister and trying to take care of me, a house and all that jazz just made it feel like 12 weeks of torture.

But, here we are, at week 18 of having a wee boy and life is starting to sort itself out. That said, in true Wumpus style, we've decided that having a new baby isn't enough excitement. Instead, we're moving (end of June! Awesome!) and I've recently switched jobs (I start full time in September. The Husband will take pat leave...apparently. We'll see). Fun.

All of that is to say that running, fitness, eating well, sleeping, basic self-care has all fallen off the radar. I have accepted P-Bear's challenge of awesome to try, ever so little, to make every day a little more awesome.

Today's total: 10,000 awesome points for starting to blog after 8 months AND for having eaten very well all day (easy on the coffee, zero processed food and enough vegetables to meet the daily minimum, but just barely).