Friday, April 20, 2007

The long and the short of it: a birth story

Thank you so much for your overwhelming congratulations! Baby L and I are being very well cared for by my mom, siblings and husband (my sister, sadly, had to leave yesterday), and are getting plenty of rest.

For those of you who are interested, here's the story of how the crazy short labor happened.

On Tuesday morning (9 days past due date), I woke up tired, swollen, and still absolutely full of baby. I'd already tried several strong herbal labor starters from my midwife, walked up huge hills, taken a homeopathic "body harmonizer", cleaned my house, completed some spinning and knitting projects. The day that my sister had to leave was creeping closer and closer, and it even seemed that the baby might wait until my mom had to go as well (at the end of this month).

Each day after my due date I'd been having strong and sometimes regular sets of Braxton Hicks contractions, but nothing that was actually "labor". I even contracted for 8 hours straight on Monday, but still nothing to really call labor.

My midwife told me that she had one thing left in her "birth trigger" arsenal that she uses only as a last resort, because it can produce such violent contractions. I decided that Tuesday was the day. I went out and bought the following ingredients:
a large spoonful of nut butter, 200 milligrams of Sekt (bubbly, cheap alcoholic stuff), 20 ml Castor oil, 2 drops Verbena oil. I mixed it all together with 1 cup of orange juice.

Looks tasty, no? It smelled sort of like bread dough, but bad. I was supposed to drink it in a half-hour or less, and was warned that it would likely make me throw-up, as well as give me other intestinal troubles. I felt that it was completely worth it though -- nothing could deter me from chugging the whole "cocktail" in one go.

Then I sat around. And sat and knit and sat some more. The alcohol gave me a light head, and the entire brew made me feel a little sick to my stomach, but nothing else. I was afraid to leave the house, lest the effects of the Castor oil come on suddenly, but still, several hours went by, and nothing. The midwife came by to check the baby's heartbeat, and my blood pressure. All was well. She was shocked to find that I was not throwing up. I was kind of discouraged, thinking that somehow my body was unable to respond to anything. Finally, I took a nap.

I woke up a half-hour later and realized that I was having a huge, hard contraction. This lasted for a good 5 minutes, wavering in intensity from strong to much stronger. Finally it passed, and I called my husband to come home from work. Smaller, crampy contractions followed, but by the time he got home an hour later, I was sitting in the kitchen, eating an apple. We were all frustrated, wondering if it had been a false alarm. Then the cramping started again, and progressively got stronger and stronger. Still, they lasted no longer than a few seconds each, so I called my midwife and asked her to come in about 2 hours.

In all reality, it was hard to believe that I was actually in labor after all this time. None of it seemed real, since the contractions were so short. My husband changed out of his work clothes, and in that time, the contractions changed so that I had to breath through them. He started helping me with acupressure to manage the pain, and we both locked "labor mode".

My mom came back from a walk with the kids. They went to the other side of the house to watch the movie "Cars", and she came to where I was, in the computer room. One look at me, and she was sure that this was for real. My sister was making soup for dinner, and left it on the stove to come help. Since they knew that I'd called the midwife, no one thought to calculate how long it had been since I said "two hours", and she wasn't called again.

The contractions were still no longer than a minute or so, but close together. The last thing that I remember my mom saying was "maybe we should start timing them", and suddenly, I was pushing. Five minutes later or less, Baby L was in my arms.

A few minutes later, someone thought to call the midwife again.

At that moment, the children walked in. Lightening McQueen had reached Radiator Springs (in the movie), and they were taking a snack break. To their surprise, they found that there was a new little person in the house.

So that, my friends, is how my husband delivered our baby on the computer room floor.

Note: Please know that I am not advocating an unassisted birth in any way. I know that some people hold to that convention, but I personally feel that births should be assisted by someone who has been trained to handle complications, should they arise. My husband, mom and sister, however, worked perfectly together as a team, and I remained confidant and peaceful through the entire thing. Thankfully, all went well, and it's the best birth experience I've had.

Also, please do not use that labor trigger recipe unless you have consulted your midwife or doctor.

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