Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Birth of Benjamin

(What follows is the birth story of sweet Benjamin Timothy as told by his mama, reposted here with permission. He was born at home on January 5, 2010, weighing 8 lb 8 oz)

My birth with this baby started 4 yrs ago with the birth of my first. After 10 days of prodromal labor, Cameron was born on a cold day in February at 42 weeks. I went to the hospital in sheer desperation for sleep b/c of the constant contractions. At that point, I didn't care about the baby any more. They tried to break my water but only got a little leak. He was born 6 hrs later. I wanted something different with my next baby.

Elijah was born two years later, in May, after an AROM induction at 42 weeks with an experienced midwife at home. While it was a homebirth, I had kind of been relegated to the bedroom for most of labor and was not very active during labor. Overall, better than the hospital, but still, something was missing.

I consciously know when Benjamin was conceived. I told my husband that I would get pregnant that night. We were in Salem, Oregon, looking forward to a move, scoping things out and excited about our future as a family. I confirmed pregnancy 2 weeks later.

We moved and Bret couldn't find a job so I worked 6 months part time at a local hospital as a registrar to support us. I was tired all the time, the boys were missing me, but Bret still didn't have a job so I didn't have a choice.

I found a midwife as soon as I moved up here. Lennon was comfortable to talk to and I felt free to want the birth I hadn't had yet. She was very willing/capable to handle more difficult births, if they arose. I was nervous both about the possibility of 42 weeks again and also that Elijah & Cameron had been breech until 37 weeks.

Two months before my due date, Bret got a very part-time on call job. Two weeks before my due date, he got a full-time job with benefits. God's timing is impeccable. I stopped working a week before my due date b/c of intense contractions that kept me up all night. I had to call in sick to my two last shifts and felt really bad about that.

Family came for the holidays, I thought Monster would come then b/c of some major labor type activity. But no. Family left. My due date passed and I started to doubt my ability to go into labor. I had emotional breakdowns. I ate brownies. I ate extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, the only thing I've ever craved in a pregnancy. I got swap packages ready. The boys were wearing me out with Bret's 12 hr work shifts so I was ready for baby to come.

Monday, Jan 4th, Bret came home from work and I asked if I could go do some errands sans boys. I was highly irritable and pubic symphysis dysfunction had just set in painfully making it hard to be a good mommy. So, I went out, fed the horse, went to a store to buy some puzzles for Cameron, toys for Eli and chocolate for me. Stopped by the grocery store for prescription meds and some herbal cough syrup for Eli. Got in the car and suddenly peed all over myself. It was very embarrassing b/c I never had any sort of incontinence. I kept peeing and couldn't figure out why.

It suddenly hit me as I drove into our parking lot, that my membranes could have possibly ruptured. So, I crossed my legs, waddled upstairs and told Bret to go get the bags from the car. Soaked my first pair of pants. Called Lennon and she said it could be just a small leak but to keep her updated.

Ate dinner, had some of the regular old contractions I'd had for weeks. More leaking, definitely was not pee. The boys were tired so I put them to bed at 6:30 instead of the normal 8:30. Both went down fairly well and I noticed contractions picking up to about 5-7 min apart and not too strong.

Called Lennon to update her. Updated some of my friends online who were eagerly waiting to hear about baby. Went to sleep from 10:30-midnight and stronger contrax woke me.

Got up, went in living room for a while and then Elijah woke up and wandered out. He apparently thought it was morning. I laid him in bed, he was dry coughing a lot so gave him some cough syrup. He did NOT want to sleep, kept singing to himself, sitting up and smiling at me. The contractions were getting stronger and I was having to blow through them a little. He loved that and would blow back.

I NEEDED him to sleep so I could get up and call Lennon. I couldn't leave him to get Bret if he was awake 'cause we'd start it ALL over again. So I laid there...for 2.5 hrs, trying to move with contractions and blow quietly. Finally, he was asleep. I jumped up, checked the clock and contrax were 2-3 min apart. Called Lennon, asked her to come right away (she's an hour away) and woke up Bret to go into the boys' bedroom.

Finally, I could start labor. I paced and rocked almost the whole labor, swaying. The contractions were getting strong in my back and hips. Lennon and Angie (midwife apprentice) arrived at 3:40 or so, walking in without knocking and I smiled at them and said I was glad they were there, that things were getting painful and I was tired of being alone. I don't think they had any idea how far I was b/c I was smiling, lighthearted. We had agreed earlier in the week not to do any vag checks unnecessarily so there was no picture of how far along I was in that sense.

I felt like there was a stall when they arrived though, that I sensed an intrusion for a while and needed to regain my composure and start going back into my little dark quiet space. I asked them if we could just have the blue cafe lights on in the living room with minimal lighting and they were fine with that.

Even with them there, I was alone in my labor, sometimes sitting on my knees rocking to all fours, sometimes just standing swaying. My noises turned from low moans to horse lips and a few "ow"s when things would sting a little. My midwife kept telling me softly, "You're making this look easy. You're doing great."

In between contrax, I wanted to throw up. I knew that sometimes that opens you up and I felt like throwing up, but I couldn't make myself do it. With my gallstone issues, throwing up has always meant there was something wrong with me and for some reason, the mental block was there that this was NOT wrong and I shouldn't do it.

Transition came and went quickly. I remember a few things I said, something like, "How did I ever do this twice already? What if he never comes out? How do I make this go away?" At one point, I started crying and frantically reaching out for a hand, meeting Angie's. My eyes were closed. I've always handled pain w/ eyes closed. I cried and was scared a few times but knew that I was safe.

And then, I started whispering, "Down, down, baby, come out. It's time. I don't want to do this anymore. I don't like it. It hurts. Come down now." I have no idea if I was whispering, but it seemed quiet to me and I kept saying that during the next 2 or 3 contractions.

I realized suddenly that I had to push. Someone woke up Bret and he came out as I grunted my first push. I was draped over the little exercise ball and rolled back and forth to push. I remember being relieved that it was almost over. I remember a little fear at the change in pain as he came down. There were a few pushes and he came out in a ball of screaming baby. They helped me sit back and put my bewildered but quieted son in my arms. I soaked him into my soul.

It was less than two hours from Lennon arriving and baby meeting the world. I'm really glad I was able to labor that much on my own.

That was the birth at 5:22 am. It was quiet, dark and sweet.

Lennon and Angie left a while later, after cleaning up. I reclined on the couch sleeping and DH went back to fend off the early waking boys. When they came out at 8, they walked in quietly and then Cameron said, "Mommy, you had the baby!" Cameron wanted to kiss him and kiss him. Eli just smiled and patted his hand and head and kept nodding. Later, Cameron gave me the most perfect example of how I've tried so hard to raise him. He said, "Mommy, you did a REALLY good job. He looks so cute from being born. That was a lot of hard work." What an affirmation from an almost 4 yr old!

I was so empowered by this birth. It was what I wanted. It was the birth I'd been searching for since my first pregnancy. I had imagined birthing in the quietness of night, in the light of the blue bulbs strung along the wall, in the quiet and surrounded by people that believed in me.

I was dumped on with a lot of responsibility in my first post-partum days, unable to get the help I needed to rest. When I have been overwhelmed, I have clung to the sweet dark peace I felt after Benjamin came to me that early morning. While my body has been tired, my mind clearly greets that memory and gives me strength to just get through one more minute, one more hour, one more day.