Friday, February 27, 2015

Isaac Elliot Fife: A Birth Story

We had a wonderful home birth and I couldn't be more happy with the whole experience, but as I've mentioned before I always want to be clear that there is no "right" way to have a baby.  See this post for more of my feelings on that topic: There is no Wrong Way to Have a Baby

I'd been contracting an average of 4 times an hour for three days.  A completely new experience for me since when I went into labor with James my first real tightening sensations had us off to the birthing center and things progressed from there.  In fact, at 4 AM on February 23rd I thought it was go time.  the contractions were painful and 5 minutes apart, ta da!  Quick call to my midwife, she advised me to take a big glass of water and lie down and if they kept coming call back.  I woke up the next morning with no baby.

So, I soldiered on, downloaded a contraction counter app, and practiced breathing.  On the evening of the 24th we finally picked a name that Austin and I both loved all that was left to do was see if it matched his little self when he arrived.

I couldn't sleep.  I was excited.  The little light from my contraction counter stayed bright as I logged each one and finally around midnight I poked Austin.  "I think this is it!"  I called Angela (my midwife) and she gave the same advice as before with instructions to call again when things "changed" or I thought it was time for them to come.  After I hung up with her I had a panicky moment.  Changed?  wait a second I'm not sure what that means, why was I the one who needed to decide this?  I relaxed into the contractions trying to remember what they had felt like when I was in "real" labor with James.  Pretty soon I enlisted Austin to start giving me pressure on my back and knees.  The pain got to me and I threw up.  Austin called for back up.

As soon as my birthing team arrived I felt more calm.  No more wondering where I was in the process, I could just get lost in labor land.  Austin turned on Pandora's "ambient" station.  We'd freshly upgraded to ad-free listening--not that an advert for McDonald's dollar menu would have killed the mood or anything.

Austin and I got into a groove that was really wonderful.  I mostly wanted to stay lying on the bed and in the wee hours of the morning was even able to sleep a little in between contractions.  I threw up a few more times, just one of the not so fun ways my body responds to pain.  Someone brought in cold damp wash cloths for my face.  There was often a straw pointed in my direction gently urging me to keep hydrated.

An interesting observation about contractions this time.  My saving grace when it comes to keeping in control is surrendering completely to each one and relaxing into the pain instead of fighting it.  This is WAY easier said than done, but it makes all the difference between panicked excruciating pain, and peaceful, endurable pain.  With my first delivery I'd practiced for months and months in preparation teaching myself to surrender and relax, this time I was less vigilant in my pre-labor practicing and it showed a little.  I needed a reminding.  Weirdly, if I forgot to relax all the way to my feet, my toes would curl up and then chain react up my body until Austin or a midwife reminded to me to relax and with the help of their pressure points and encouragement I could get my groove back.

At about 7:30 AM I had a particularly ouchy contraction and reached for Austin in desperation, when "POP!" my water broke!

Wowza that was weird.  Last time my midwife had to break my water for me so I was prepared for the flood. This time, one second I'm breathing through a contraction and then next I'm sitting in a pond.  (For anyone who is stressed, I was on our bed which was fully lined with a waterproof mattress cover and then a sheet so after easy clean up it was replaced with a fresh sheet and all was well.)

I took the opportunity to take a warm shower, but wrapped it up quickly as contractions were getting BAD.  Like Oh-wait-a-minute-what-was-I-thinking-I-changed-my-mind bad.  I thew up in the shower, dried off, put on a fresh nightgown, and told Austin I needed all hands on deck because these contractions were doozies: can't do this by myself contractions.  He enlisted everyone (both midwives Angela and Sara and the student midwife Maggie)  They coached me through with loving encouragement, pressure where I needed it, massages, cold washcloths, and reminders to breathe deeply.

My moans, once quiet and rhythmic became deeper and more like a sob.  It couldn't have been more than 5 of these contractions before I realized I was actually pushing.  Completely involuntarily.  I could feel the baby moving downward and I got EXCITED!  I think Austin was a little surprised it was already time to push, but the midwives were set for action.  Austin held me as I leaned back into his lap.

I LOVE pushing.  Call me crazy, but it's just the best part.  I know I'm almost done, the pain of the baby crowning overrides all the other pressure I've been feeling for hours and it's like fiery relief.  I remember Sara saying she could see his head and Austin asking if he had any hair.  I couldn't wait to meet him, he was right there!  Almost all the pushing was completely involuntary, my body and the baby were working together to ease him out.  It wasn't until the very last push that I gave it a little extra and he was born.

The placenta and the cord clamping all happen somewhere next, but I wasn't aware of anything but the rosey morning sunlight and the little wonder in my arms.  Austin and I were rather emotional when I realized our sweet little boy has my dad's signature brow and forehead furrow.  All around me the midwives quickly and quietly cleaned up and cleared out like magic fairies leaving Austin and I to enjoy our little boy for a few moments together before his newborn exam.

It was so beautiful to sit back, know that everything was taken care of, and I didn't have to go anywhere.  Isaac and I could just fall asleep right there in my new fresh sheets on my very own bed.

Isaac Elliot Fife born 9:23 AM on February 25, 2015.  8 lbs 7 oz 19.5 inches long.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Reflecting: 21 Months of Motherhood

The new game.  

James grabs something he knows he shouldn't have (knife from the counter, sewing scissors, uncapped sharpie, dripping raw meat packaging from the garbage can etc) I know he knows he shouldn't have it because as he is swiping it he says, "no." Nice to know something is getting through.  He pauses and looks at me to see what I'll do.  My mind races to decide if it's worth the risk of asking nicely for him to give it to mommy or should I just snatch it away before bad things happen.  I lunge for it but in my moment of thoughtful hesitation he has time to wind up and THROW.  The gleaming sharp edge (wet permanent ink, liquid bacteria juice, etc) painfully exaggerated in HD slow motion as it flips through the air...and I'm too late.

HELP ME FRIENDS!  He's doing it on purpose!  He is out to get me!  sigh.  Do I just get a bullet proof safe for my trash or lock him up in the closet all day?  Teaching him what is off limits only intensifies his thirst for a reaction.  

But, I press on.  One day it will finally sink in that sharp things and gross things are not toys.  On that same day my first grandchild will be about 2 years old.  ;)

As much as I needed to vent about James antics, I really do have it pretty easy.  This child of mine asks for naps, wipes his own face on his napkin, eats his peas, asks to go potty, requests my hand before crossing the street, and says he's sorry.  He has silky, kissable just-got-out-of-the-bathtub skin.  He "cooks" "soup" from legos and race cars on his cardboard stove while declaring his masterpiece "Num!" and "'Lishus!" And scoots around tight places while saying, "'Skew me, skew me." 

Speaking of cute, what is new baby going to look like?  Will we have cookie cutter kids?  James and James Jr?  Or will this one come with flaming red hair?  The possibilities!

Our second son is no longer feeling like an after thought.  This pregnancy has been high contrast from the ever-aware anticipation that shadowed every minute of James' gestation.  Weeks have blazed past as my body has ballooned.  Trimester 1 started as a peaceful, albeit nauseous, little journey.  I can be parent of two, no problem.  Trimester 2 ushered in crippling panic at the huge mistake I'm making.  I can't even handle the tyke we have now! Finally, this stretch has come to a balance.  This is going to be the hardest thing yet, but by golly it's what I was born to do.  

I guess the panic ensued when I wondered how I was going to pull this off.  Little old me, I'm no match for what I have coming, but I am blissfully not alone. I'm just the vessel and the Lord is the one who will handle pulling this off. Who knows, I might learn something along the way.  Something about refining fire? Deep breath, things are going to get hot.  

Fun visit to (great) Auntie Pat's house!

Gram Gram and Hempa were passing through

"If you're pregnant and you know it clap your hands! *clap* *clap*"