Wednesday, May 19, 2010

BIRTH STORY: Birthing Bella Grace

(by Michelle Harmon, about the birth of Bella Grace, born 02.02.07)

I was greeted by labor contractions on Friday, February 2, 2007 – Groundhog Day. It was 2 am and I knew these weren’t Braxton Hicks contractions because they were considerably stronger than what I had been experiencing throughout the week. I didn’t want to wake Hal up, though, because they didn’t feel “strong enough” to warrant his groggy I-need-a-cup-of-coffee support. I fell asleep between each contraction – they were about 15-20 minutes apart. At 5 am, I needed to get out of bed to take a shower and “get ready” for labor. Tisk, tisk. I should have known better.

After my shower I woke Hal up and told him, this is it. I am in labor. He phoned into work to start his MONTH long vacation. We sat out in the living room together, ate breakfast, drank our coffee and wondered what the heck we should do. After Max woke up and finished his breakfast we called Hal’s mom to let her know she could come pick Max up. We had previously decided that Max wasn’t ready to witness such an intense event. My contractions were still regular and feeling strong but not increasing in intensity.

Saying “see you after Bella is born” to Max:I called everyone around 8:30am, to let them know what was going on. Of-course, my midwife was sleeping so I basically woke her up to let her know, um, that she should go back to sleep because I was in labor. I felt bad because I also woke her up when I was in labor with Max to tell her something similar. I have a feeling this probably happens a lot to midwives – the eager laboring woman who prematurely calls to give a “heads up.”

Hal and I couldn’t decide if we should labor by ourselves or call our doula, Nancy, for the support we so desperately needed. Funny, although I totally trust my body to give birth I still need someone there to “look after” my well being. We called Nancy and she was there by 9:30am.

This labor was already much different than my labor with Max. With Max, I went into labor at 4 pm and progressed rather rapidly. With Bella, I seemed to be stuck in a space that went on for infinity. My contractions were strong enough to demand my full attention when they arrived but as soon as they passed, I was laughing and talking like it were any ol’ day. With Max, I couldn’t even form a thought between contractions.

Yay! For the birth ball!I laughed so hard while in labor with Bella! Nancy was awesome. Hal and I felt so at ease with her and at one point when I thought I was putting her out because I hadn’t started pushing she assured me that she was excited to be there and wanted to be there. I felt so comfortable with her. I knew that if I wanted her to leave I could ask and it wouldn’t be awkward. I also felt that if *she* needed to leave, she would have.

I labored with Hal and Nancy all day. I held onto Hal during the contractions while Nancy did the double-hip-squeeze on my lower back. I used the birthing ball for almost every contraction. I also did quite a few leg lunges to open up my pelvic bones. I ate a lot, we baked a cake (and ate some of that, too), talked, and laughed. At one point, Hal and I danced to Lady Sovereign. Labor was pretty consistent all day.

Dancing to Lady Sovereign:As an effort to help kick the contractions up a notch, Hal and I took a walk around the neighborhood. It was a pretty short walk because I was in a lot of pain. When we got back to the house I laid down to rest. After waking from my little nap I took a shower and the contractions seemed a lot more intense. Nancy called Heidi to let her know. Heidi made her way over to our house.

When Heidi arrived around 6:30 pm and assessed the situation, I asked her to check me to see how far I’d dilated. I could hardly believe that I labored all day long. During the morning hours Hal, Nancy, and I were so sure that I would have pushed that baby out by noon! I was 5-6 cm dilated when Heidi checked me.Things get a little fuzzy around this time because the contractions started getting more intense. I remember Heidi giving me the antibiotics for GBS. I also found out that she had forgotten the labor pool. I was so upset because I really wanted to get in that pool of warm water. She called the other midwife and her assistant to let them know they had to pick up a pool. It seemed to take forever for them to get to the house.

Finally, they called and said they were lost. At this point I must have been 7-8 cm dilated. In between contractions I gave them directions to my house. I was still laughing and joking around. We all thought it was funny that the laboring mama was giving directions. When they arrived with my pool they quickly set it up and I eagerly slid in.

Giving Directions:It felt like I was taking too long to get to the pushing stage and that really pissed me off. I found myself getting irritable with my midwife and her staff. I started crying during and between the contractions saying that I wasn’t going to make it, I couldn’t do this any more and I needed drugs. I was getting annoyed because my midwife’s two assistants were too loud in my kitchen. And I got pissed at my midwife for yawning too loudly. Hal, Nancy, and Liz (who arrived around 8:30pm) were the only people I needed and as far as I was concerned, everyone else could have left. Anyway, I was grouchy – but I didn’t really say anything to anyone about it. Hal did said that once, when someone said that I was doing great, I snapped at them and said, “stop saying that!” I vaguely remember this.

Heidi suggested that I get up out of the pool and walk around the living room. The walking turned into stomping and Heidi went from midwife to drill sergeant. I was ordered to stomp hard and when I felt the contraction coming on, stop, go through it, then get up and walk-stomp again. Heidi was stomping behind me as I went around the parameter of the living room. There were two ladies in the kitchen, Liz sat on the floor next to the dinning room table, Hal walked backwards in front of me as I held onto him, and Heidi stomped behind me. It was not fun AT ALL.From there I think I went back in the pool, got out again, sat on the toilet for a while, back in the pool, back on the toilet – so on and so forth. I was exhausted and asked Heidi, “so when is pain relief an option?” She said, “well, your option for pain relief right now is to get back into that water.” Bitch. She knew I was close. Her answer pissed me off but I trusted her. I got back into the pool and the contractions got really intense. The pushing part followed shortly thereafter.

Earlier I had expressed that I felt like I needed to take a bowel movement. Everyone cheered after I farted my way to the toilet exclaiming, “that’s great! We love farting and pooping! It means you are getting close!” Well, I never did poop on the pot. When I started pushing in the pool I felt Bella right as rain right in my birth canal. I felt her head slip down over my rectum as I (SHE) pushed out the largest poop of my life. I swear I saw a geyser explode in the middle of that little kiddy pool. It felt so incredibly good. Hal later told me that I looked like Rocky Balboa screaming his famous line, “Adrienne!” The next thing I heard was, “um, okay, I think we are going to get you out of the pool, now.”

Heidi ordered everyone to set up the bed and help me out. I was totally out of my mind at this point and felt like this labor WOULD NEVER END. I don’t know how I did it, with everyone’s help (of-course) I got out of the pool and onto the bed. I was on the wrong bed so had to move one bed over to the one that was set up for my labor. Again, I had lots of help making this move.

I was on my back and I felt Bella move further down the birth canal as I pushed with each contraction. Even though I could feel her head, I STILL felt like I would NEVER push this baby out. I was scared, exhausted, and it felt like I was unraveling from the inside out. Everything was so surreal. Feeling her inside me was unbelievable. I was totally freaked out by it.

One of Heidi’s assistants was by my head whispering words of calming comfort into my ear. She kept me sane and focused. Liz was stationed (again!) at one leg holding it to help me push, the other assistant had my other leg, Nancy had the camera ready, and Hal and Heidi were ready to catch Bella.This was it, I thought, I am going to finally see my baby girl! I pushed several times in a row because the contractions were right on top of one another. Harmony, the one in my ear, told me to push gently – she said that my body already knew how to get Bella out and I could just let it do all the work. I listened to her and felt calmer but still TOTALLY freaked that this was actually happening – on my bed! Max was born in the water and I hardly felt him come out. With Bella, I felt everything, right down to her crowing head moving side to side trying to help inch herself out. Her head even moved side to side when it was the only part of her body out of the birth canal! One last push and she was out. Hal put her onto my chest and thanks to my premeditated desire to say this to her when she arrived, I repeated over and over from the bottom of my heart… I love you, I love you, I love you.

I was so blissed out. My 10 pound, 22 inches of beautiful baby girl was finally birthed at 10:46pm.I have to tell you… my midwife, Heidi, and her staff WERE AWESOME. My memories years later are much more sweet and loving. I wrote this birth story a week or so after giving birth when the memories were raw and unprocessed to the context of the situation {best way to write IMO}. BellaGrace is now three years old! And our midwife is still a part of our lives. I just think that is amazing and so special.

In hindsight, it is clear that I was just really bitchy/bitching in my head during this labor. Heidi was patient, kind, and super supportive. I was highly agitated by how long the labor was taking. My first baby was born in 12 hours, this labor was 21 hours!

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