(by Selena Charlton, about the births of Steven and Lycia)
(January 24, 1999, 3:00 a.m.) I am fast asleep. Kyle, who is up playing computer games, comes in and asks me a stupid question, I can’t even remember what it was, that could have waited until morning. Upset that he would wake me for something so trivial, I try to go back to sleep. Then I realize I am and have been having contractions. Timing them reveals that they are 7 minutes apart. I could have slept through them a little longer, but now I am up.
I lay there for an hour and decide to time them again since they picked up intensity slightly, and they are now 5 minutes apart. Then I decide to tell Kyle that they are 5 minutes apart, and we will need to call the birthing center soon.
I spent the next hour on the toilet clearing my bowels. Then I decide it is time to call the birthing center. Carol, the midwife on call, says that she is going to take a shower and to come in around 8:00 AM. The car ride was horrendous. There is no worse place to be while in labor than riding in a car. The seat belt straps you down. It’s bumpy. Just when you’ve got yourself in a good place during a contraction, the light turns red and you have to brace yourself to stop. Next time I’m birthing at home and skipping this part!
Carol greets me at the birth center just as I have a good contraction. She hugs me and supports me. For the first time this labor I feel warmth. After being checked she tells me that I’m 3 (cm dilated) and it will be a while so go get some breakfast and come back. There is a Village Inn down the road. Put a pad on in case your water breaks. It won’t stop the flow, but it will help.
I was pretty hungry when we arrive, and I order some pancakes. The contractions pick up while waiting for our food to come, and when the food got there I was no longer hungry and only ate a few bites. I spend the next hour in the Village Inn bathroom pooping. After washing my hands, I had a nice contraction and was squatting down hanging on to the counter. A lady walks in and asks if I’m alright. I say, “yep, just having a contraction. It’s over now.” With a shocked look on her face, she says, “as in having a baby!” “Yep. On my way back to the birthing center” I reply nonchalantly. Then she just looks at me really oddly for a second, and I walk out.
Now I know things are really cooking. We get back to the birthing center, Carol checks me, and I am 7 cm. I dilated 4 cm at the Village Inn. I lay down a bit and Carol calls my doula, Christina, to come. When she arrives the tub is full and suggests that I get in because of my back labor. The jets were aimed right at my back and felt wonderful. Christina suggests that I get in an all-fours position to get the baby to turn anterior and relieve the pressure on my back.
Hallelujah! the baby turns after a short while on all fours! It should hurt less right? Wrong. It hurts more! I learned to manage back labor quite well. This was new all-in-the-front labor, and I couldn’t handle it. After a couple more contractions I leaned back to get him posterior again. He complies and I am back to my happy (yes I said happy) back labor. I got out of the tub to pee a couple of times and the contractions were much harder to deal with on land. Just getting out of the tub brings one on.
I reach a point where I feel like when my cat was having her kittens and she was flipping all around. I couldn’t sit still. I was in agony. I was in transition.
I hear a loud pop! My lower half was underwater, the jets were on, and everyone in the room heard my water breaking. That really set me over the edge. I start saying how I give up, I can’t do this anymore, I’m done, etc. I have said it once and I’ll say it again; Transition is Hell. After thinking I could endure no more, a moment of clarity came over me. The turbulence ceased, and I realized it was time to push.
It took me a good hour of pushing before I really got into a groove and was doing it well. After an hour and a half of pushing, my son was born in the water, followed a couple of minutes later by the placenta. Finally getting to see what my baby looks like and feeling him for the first time was the most beautiful thing that I have ever experienced.
I was helped out of the tub by my doula and taken to the bed to have my perineum repaired, and Steven was taken to be weighed. Steven was born face up and I needed three stitches. Having the lidocane injected was excruciating. It hurt more than the tearing. With as many times as I was poked by the needle, I would have been better off not having it numbed.
Steven would not nurse, his breathing was too fast. Carol tried giving him a homeopathic to help his wet lungs and some (cringe) formula to see if it would help while I ate some Boston Market that my mom ran out and got for me. Looking back I would have asked for a breast pump before resorting to formula. After a second attempt at getting him to latch on, we knew we had to transport to the hospital. The paramedics took his blood sugar and it was pretty low. I expected this since I hadn’t really eaten anything all day.
We were separated when we got to the hospital. Steven went to the NICU, and I went to mother baby. He was kept in an isolette because they didn’t want his germs to infect the other babies. I saw this the other way around, protecting him from the nasty hospital bugs. My bleeding was pretty bad since I was not able to get my son to nurse. I felt winded and I passed grapefruit-sized clots. He didn’t nurse well during the time he spent in the NICU. I was sent home after two days with a breast pump.
After three days he came home. I was wonderful to be reunited with him after our three-day separation. He nursed like a champ at home, and I didn’t need to use formula and exceeded his birth weight by the next week.
(Saturday, August 25, 2008, 7:00 a.m.) I wake up disappointed that I am not in labor. The night before I was really crampy and thought for sure I would go into labor during my sleep. So, I lay there for 20 or so minutes and will myself into labor.
The contractions, or rushes as Ina May Gaskin more correctly puts it, were so beautiful and powerful that I thought anyone in close proximity could feel them. A ball of energy would swell out of my heart until it would envelop my entire body and finally concentrate in my uterus. I really enjoyed them at this point. This is the energy of my baby girl trying to come into this world.
Since I for sure thought that the energy of the contractions radiated far from my body, I thought I would test it. After waiting for the next one, I woke up Mikey and asked if he could feel it. Much my disappointment, he couldn’t.
At about 8:00 I start timing the contractions to see if I should call Christina. They were 5 minutes apart. I get up, go pee, have a few good contractions, and realize I have bloody show. Yes, it is time to call the midwife.
Mikey calls Christina in the other room while I lay back down. He hands the phone to me and I tell her I had bloody show, that it kind of freaked me out, and that the labor slowed a little because I was freaked out. Since I tested GBS positive she said she would be over in the afternoon to start my IV antibiotics, take off to a post-natal out on Boca, and then return. (She thought it would be a long labor considering the size (my last fundal measurement was 47cm) and position (OP) of the baby, but I knew better.)
Mikey and I decided not to tell anyone I was in labor so we could have our privacy. The only problem was we needed pancakes. After calling my father in law, who was the only one we could count on not to spill the beans, we realized that we would have to get pancakes on our own. Originally we planned on going to IHOP in Punta Gorda, but we realized that was too far. So, off to the McDonald’s drive thru we go.
After pancakes comes nap time as I figured this will be my last opportunity to nap for the next, oh, four years. I don’t know how I was able to sleep through those contractions, but I did. After nap time comes shower time. The shower slowed things down a bit, so I decided we needed to go for a walk. After walk time comes picture time. I realize that I will never be this big again, so I tell Mikey that he has to take a picture of my belly.
We had decided long before labor started that we would pass the time playing dominoes. As we were playing and watching Grosse Pointe Blank on DVD, I sat on my birthing ball and ate grapes, which are oh so awesome while in labor. Soon I realized that I couldn’t concentrate on the game due to the contractions which had picked up intensity. After declaring me the winner, I went to the bathroom and had a lot more bloody show. I think this is around 3:00 or 4:00.
As I sit on the floor of the family room leaning over the birthing ball, the doorbell rings. Christina is here to start my IV. She gets everything ready and tells me that she will wait until my next contraction to poke me. Just then my back door opens. It’s my mom and my friend Julie. Someone let the cat out of the bag--no one was supposed to know I was in labor!
All of this hullabaloo puts my labor to a halt. This is obvious because Christina is waiting for a contraction so she can start my IV. 15-20 min later I have a milder-than-before contraction. Now, I wasn’t keeping track before, but I know they were much less than 20 minutes apart, probably less than 2 minutes apart, before everyone paraded in.
As I sit and let the IV do its thing, my mom and Julie inflate the birthing pool. When the IV is done, Christina leaves in the heparin lock for the next round in 6 hours. At this point I am sure Christina is still not convinced that it isn’t going to be too much longer because of the commotion causing my labor to stop and the fact that my baby is huge and OP. Good thing she decided to check me before she took off to that post-natal out on Boca. This was my only vaginal exam during the labor and the only reason we did it was because she was about to leave. She says, “I’m not going anywhere. You’re 6 (cm. dilated) and the head is coming down nicely.”
Christina left the room and left my husband and me to labor all alone. Then she went and told Maugh and Julie that I was at 3 cm, it would be awhile, and they should just go home and wait. Having all those people in my house was stalling my labor. To this day I feel as though I was further than 6 before all the commotion started and put me in reverse.
Alone with my husband we tried to finish watching the movie. I had reached that point where I did not want my husband to leave my side. So if I had to pee, I NEEDED him there. We never did get to finish watching that movie.
During my last trip to the bathroom, with my husband in front of me, things started to get interesting. With the contractions I started have sensations that were quite sexual in nature. I turned my neocortex off during contractions and when I would emerge from them I would find myself making out with my husband. The feelings were just so primal and amazing—the most intense experience ever.
All that hanky panky was brought to an abrupt end when we hear a loud POP and a ker splash! I made Mikey run and get Christina. “Something happened!” I exclaim. She said that my water broke and it was nice and clear, and helped me to the birthing ball where I had some pretty intense rushes.
Around this time I was wondering why the pool was not filled because I needed it right then. Maybe we shouldn’t have kicked Maugh and Julie out whilst assembling the pool. Enter Jodi, Birth Assistant.
The pool could not fill fast enough. Jodi and Christina boiled water on the stove because the hot water ran out. I almost did this myself, but my midwife redirected me. I labored on my feet hanging from my husband as he supported me in my limp, neocortex-shut-down body. Jodi took some good pictures of this.
Finally the pool was filled enough for me to get in. The second my foot touched the water I was put into transition. After one triple-peaked contraction by myself, Mikey got in the pool. I felt like I had to poo, and I could feel a lot of pressure on my sacrum as my baby labored down. This was the only time during this labor that I felt pain. Mikey, after some direction on where the sacrum is located on a person, poured cups of warm water over it which was wonderful. My sacrum was pretty sore for weeks later from a large, ”sunny-side up”, baby laboring down on it, and surprisingly was the only thing that was sore afterword.
Transition is Hell, but this time I was prepared by my son’s birth. With every, “this sucks”, “I’m done”, and profanity I yelled, in my mind I was saying, “she’s almost here”, and “this will be over soon and I’ll be holding my baby and get to see what she looks like.” I still would not describe the rushes at this point as painful, but they definitely were powerful and insane. They had their own unique energy which was hard to handle and very interesting.
While grunting through a contraction, I pushed, and it felt GOOD. After informing Christina of this and asking when you know it’s time to push, she said if it feels better to push then it is time.
While pushing I felt and heard a loud POP! It felt like the baby’s head exploded, scared the crap out of me, and I yelled, “what the @#%& was that!” Christina said that was my water breaking, so I guess that was the second layer to the bag.
Not many pushes later, my baby’s head appeared, and Daddy was the first one to touch her head—something that he will always be proud of. He would have caught her hadn’t her shoulders gotten stuck.
“Alright, everyone out of the pool!” commanded Christina. “I have a blanket laid out here. Next contraction I need you to get on all fours and push.” I knew this would happen--the Gaskin Maneuver for shoulder dystocia. After a few minutes of this not working, she had me flip on to my back. I pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and nothing happened.
Then I felt her turn completely around, then completely around the other way, and then she was out! Christina says, “wow, she’s over 10!” All I hear is Christina say, “heartbeat’s good” and Jodi and Mikey telling me how beautiful she is—no cry. I say I know she is beautiful even though I can’t see her.
After Christina works on my baby for a few moments to get her started, finally I get to see her. She was even more beautiful than I imagined. I held her on my tummy and she wormed her way up to my breast as Christina delivered the placenta and checked for tears. I gave birth to a 10 lb baby with only a minimal tear inside the hooha that did not require stitching.
After a few minutes I announced that BabyFace would like to nurse. I cut the cord because Mikey wouldn’t, and they helped me up to my bed. Lycia latched right on like she had been doing it for years and nursed for 3 hours. I was so amazed that she knew exactly what to do, and she continues to amaze me every day.
Lycia's Birth...through Daddy's eyes
"Ummm...sweety?" Blurry eyed, I awoke to my wife shaking my shoulder.
"Hmm?" was my articulate reply.
"Can you feel that? .... it's going to be today" was the response.
Now normally, I would have been my calm and collected self (insert laugh track here) and responded with a demeanor that would belie my excitedness. "Mmmm...are ya sure?" .....was all I could come up with.
My job, through 12 weeks of exercise, studying, role plays, and public flatulence (inside joke) was to keep things calm and organized and to quietly and internally freak out.
"...Should I call Christina?" I asked in a soothing voice.
"...Not just yet...but soon." she responded.
Three seconds later I made my phone call.
"...Agghh...goobbly gook--- baby coming!!...ummm fill the tub, boil the water get the hot towels.... (Christ I needed a drink) *** this was a private conversation with the midwife while Selena was coming to terms with what was going on.*** I'm glad someone was, because it was evident that I was a spectator/partnerI'm-to-be-responsible-for-a-life, ummm......daddy?
Breakfast came next. Could you believe that? Growing up, I must have watched the Lucy episode (my mom was fan) a hundred times. Ricky was the epitome of nervousness, and while he paced, went bug-eyed, and did his best to remove 'native- make-up' ***get net-flix, and rent the episode*** Lucy was busy having 'little Ricky'.
My impresssion of child-birth was just that. Chaos personified. And, for some reason, that day was one of the most calmest, serene, and most perfect days of my life. Within twelve hours, my life would change forever.
Where was I? Oh yes, breakfast. A quick phone call to my father (later known as "Paw-Paw") would reveal that we would have to get pancakes on our own. After that, a walk around the block would follow. Now keep in mind, my beautiful wife is in labor, and wanting TO WALK AROUND THE BLOCK. After our stroll, an odd request: "...we should get a picture of this....I will never be as far along as this.." **snap** I photographed her, as pretty as she'll ever be.
Things started getting a little hectic around three-ish...which meant (drum-roll) a shower and...ummm nap? This is so far removed from what I've always expected.
Insert family here. Sister-in-laws, mom-in-laws, midwives, midwife assistants, some guy down the road that wandered into an open door, etc...(just kiddin' about the last one)....bottom line, a house full of people in a very short period of time, to the point where the baby (yes baby) said "KICK EVERYBODY OUT!" I then proceeded to clear the place.
With just my wife and and I in the house, there was a moment of crazy-off-the-wall-eroticism, that I will not divulge in print for you people! (needless to say, it was HOT...see my blog at www.makingoutinthebathroomwhileyourhotwifeispregnant.com).
"....umm...'ker-splash'" that was the sound of water breaking in the bathroom. By that time the kiddie-wading pool was filled in the living room, and my wife was circling the house looking to get comfortable. Eventually, we were both down to our bare essentials and in the water. Christina, our midwife, was the Cecil B. DeMille for the afternoon/evening, and directed every step of the way. Not that our new arrival was at all interested in being directed.... Quite the contrary. Our mump was going to do things her way from the start.
After about an hour or two in the tub, it was clear the mump, was going to be...how to put it?..ummmm HUGE, and we needed to come out. (Not before I was able to feel her little head coming into the world...I still professs to this day, I did most of the work.)
After a while of pushing and changing positions, we found ourselves on the living room floor.....within about six minutes she found her way out, and to mommy......I was confused, and tearful. A minute before, there was Selena and Mikey. Then there was Mommy and Daddy, and Lycia.