Sunday, November 16, 2008

Teags and Evie

Here are some pictures of Everleigh and Teagan together. Update to come later today!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our Birth Journey

Our Birth Journey:

Everleigh Anne was born in the quiet hours of the middle of the night, at home, unassisted, and caught by her mommy on October 19th, 2008. She came into this world at 1:47am after an 8.5 hour labor. She weighed 9lbs even, was 20.5 inches long, and had a 14 inch head and chest. She has lots of beautiful dark, curly hair, dark blue eyes, and looks a lot like her big sister! Here is her birth story;

On Saturday, October 18th, I woke up at about 6:30am from a bad dream I was having. I was dreaming that my water broke and the baby’s cord prolapsed. In my dream, however, I wasn’t scared. It was only when I woke up that my thinking mind determined that that would be a bad thing J Being I planned on going unassisted, I knew that was one of the very few cases where I would absolutely transfer to the hospital. However, I didn’t feel that the dream was a warning of any sorts, just a sort of last minute release of a fear that I may have subconsciously held. I rolled out of bed carefully (because of the severe SPD I had) and headed to the bathroom. As I finished up peeing, I felt a faint “pop” on the right side of my belly and thought maybe I was still dreaming about my water breaking! I just ignored it, and headed downstairs to get some water. As I walked down the stairs, however, I realized I had trickles of water running down my legs. Since the same exact thing happened with my first, I knew that my water had a high leak and soon I’d be giving birth to this baby!

I became very excited, and posted to all my online groups that baby time was very near J. I then called my mom to let her know and to try to talk her out of going up north on a trail ride that day, as she was to be with my daughter while I was laboring. I tried calling my aunt as well (one of my support people), but she had already left for the weekend and I didn’t have another number to try to reach her at. At 7:00am, I called Jason as he got off of work to let him know what was up. He told me he needed to go to Brainerd to get me my pool for the birth, which is an hour away. I was upset that he still hadn’t gotten it, but since I wasn’t having any birthing waves to speak of, I told him to just hurry up and go! I got Teagan ready after that, and headed over to my mom’s to visit with her a bit. She decided to still go to the trail ride, leaving my youngest brother in my care for the day. Happy birthing time hormones must have been kicked in by that time, because it didn’t occur to me how messed up that really was! I basically was left with almost all of my support people gone a considerable distance away, and now I had TWO kids to take care of instead of one.

Instead of getting upset, however, I just decided that I was going to make the best out of this day. It was one of the last beautiful autumn days of the year, the sun shone from the moment I woke up until it set… no clouds obscured it. It was very warm and mild out, just a light breeze that would gently flow through the half-bare trees, causing the yellow, orange, and red leaves to let go and fall softly to the ground. Absolutely a perfect day to be born!

I got the kids together, and decided to go out to breakfast. My mom and brother Daniel also decided to join me. I live in a very small town, where everyone knows who everyone is, and so of course by the time I left the restaurant, all the waitresses were staring at me in amazement because I was just sitting and eating peacefully with my water broken! J I of course felt fine still, and would have a wave or two here and there, but nothing else to speak of. I could definitely feel baby moving down lower and pressure was building, but I was doing just fine.

After that, I came home and listened to my hypnobabies. I listened to Fear Release, then Birthing Day Affirmations, and then just started Early Birthing Time before the kids interrupted me. I decided to get up and clean my house. Much of the day went on like this until finally Jason got back and I asked him to take me to do something… I was so bored and anxious waiting for something to start! So we decided to go bowling J I ate pizza while there (big mistake) and bowled a 130, which not only won the game, but isn’t bad for a woman in labor! J About halfway through the game, I noticed I was having regular birthing waves, and I knew that now there was no turning back! None of them hurt, but I would have to stop for a minute and let them pass every once in awhile. By the end of the game, I was really feeling them. I felt very ready to just go home and relax for a while.

Once home, Jason decided to leave me… AGAIN… to go fishing. I didn’t say anything to him because I didn’t want a fight, but I was very disappointed. I just let it go though (thanks hypnobabies again… I imagined my thoughts and emotions regarding him floating away from me with every breath I exhaled), popped a movie in for the kids, and went on my computer for a while. By 5:30pm, I posted on one of my groups that I decided my birthing time had finally started, as I was having them regularly and having to use my tools to embrace them. So I count my length of labor from that point.

The pool that Jason got me turned out to be WAY too big. I never was able to get it warm enough to even think about getting into. I worked at it for awhile, adding boiling water to it, but it just didn’t work. I started to feel a bit disheartened by that point, and decided to call my wonderful friend Heidi, who agreed to be my “doula” if I needed her. Well I definitely needed her! I felt a little abandoned at that point, and couldn’t really concentrate because I had both kids. She said she was already out the door before I even hung up haha. I sat down at my kitchen table and just breathed through my birthing waves for awhile, and then headed for the shower. I wasn’t using my hypnobabies at all at this point, and some waves were becoming p***ful. The water was absolute bliss, but I really wanted to get down and kneel, which I couldn’t do in my shower at all. I cursed not having a birthing pool ready and waiting for me somewhere! Anyway, Jason finally got the hint and got back to my house shortly after Heidi showed up. My mom also decided to head back finally by that point. I think it was around 7:30pm or so at this point, though I never remember checking the clock. Heidi went to work immediately, rubbing my back, making me tea, brushing my hair, telling me how great I was doing, etc… just all the lovely things a support person should be doing! She also tried to get my pool warm enough for me, but it was a lost cause. I finally just told her to leave it be, as I needed some hot water for my showers! Jason still continued to boil water for awhile after that, but he too gave up J

Finally, my mom showed up… with wine on her breath and got right in my face during a wave… making me very angry. She got the hint fast, and took her new boyfriend, Teagan, and my youngest brother over to her house for the night. I was a bit upset that Teags wouldn’t be around for the birth, but with the chaos of the day, I decided I just wanted peace and quiet.

After mom left, and the house became peaceful, the birthing waves really kicked into high gear. I wanted nothing more than to move and rock during waves. I would dance through them, jump during them, rock, shake, walk, run, arch my back, squat… really, whatever my body told me to do. I didn’t think at this point… it was really amazing looking back, but at the time I had no concept of how silly I must have looked, or how primal. I moaned, growled, sang, breathed, ahh’d, oooh’d, or just talked to baby through all the waves. I still wasn’t using hypnobabies at this point, mostly because I had no idea how to use it in these different positions. It wasn’t the fault of hypnobabies by any means…. Because of Jason and I breaking up 2 months before baby came, I slacked off on the end part of the materials and never did a birthing rehearsal… nor did I practice my center switch enough. Even though waves were tense, and some could have been described as “painful”, I felt like I was doing great and didn’t need hypnobabies at that point.

However, at about 11:30pm, I started getting tired. Heidi could sense it, and she started making me drink teas and water a lot more to get my energy up. Being I go to bed at 9pm every night, my body was completely rebelling against the waves… I just wanted to sleep! I got into the shower at that point to try to wake myself up and help ease the pressure I was feeling in my lower back and tailbone. Jason came in at that point. He put his hand on my shoulder and said “Relax”…. And ALL the pain I was feeling completely melted away. I moaned through the wave anyway, just because it felt so good! He looked a little confused and asked if it worked at all. I told him YES, it worked! And I think he then felt like he could *do* something for me. He kept up the Relax cue with me, until I got cold in the shower, and then I headed to the bedroom. I just wanted to sleep! And then I remembered my hypnobabies. I put on a script (I can’t remember which one) and layed down on the bed, propping myself with pillows. Even though I was still aware of each of the waves, I slept in between them and didn’t feel any pain during them while I listened to the scripts. However, because my brain wasn’t quite working right at that point, and I wasn’t sure how to use my tools while still being able to move, I would get angry at Kerry (the woman who invented hypnobabies and is the voice you hear during scripts) and after 3 or 4 waves would throw the headphones off and jump out bed so I could start pacing and moving again. It was kind of weird J But at least I knew whenever I really needed to rest, I could just throw the headphones back on and let my body recharge.

By about 12:30 or so, I knew I was in transformation. I was feeling TONS of pressure, and knew that baby was making her way down. I kept waiting for the pushing urge to start, but it just wouldn’t. I *knew* instinctively that I was fully dilated, and I was confused by the lack of pushing urge I was getting. In my mind, I would think “Don’t push until you feel the urge” even though my instinct was telling me that I needed to push for some reason. I fought with myself through a few waves, going back and forth on the issue. I felt my belly at this point, and talked to baby, asking her if she was ok, to which she quickly responded to with a wiggle and kick. I just decided to give a little push with the next wave, just to see how it felt. If it hurt, I would just stop, I told myself. So with the next wave, I pushed a little…. And that set off a HUGE, earth shattering, powerful, uncontrollable push and WHOOOSH, my waters forcefully released, making Jason jump so hard because of how loud and sudden it was! Heidi was prepared though, and had put chux pads beneath me and caught all of the water…. I don’t think a drop got on my floor! Once my waters released, I looked at them both and told them I felt soooooooo much better! The water was causing intense pressure inside of me, and once it released I felt baby move down considerably. I knew with the next wave, I would be pushing.

As the next wave came, I remembered how amazing pushing really is. It is like the whole earth and all of its power is moving through you… it is so instinctual and wonderful, and I was so happy to be at home, in my own surroundings, and completely uninhibited. I never made a sound when I pushed out Teagan. With this baby, I moaned deep and loud, making the most primal sounds that I’ve ever heard. I could feel myself connect with every woman on this planet, the ones that were, are, and will come and birth their babies. I could feel all their power move through me… it was truly amazing. As I felt baby move down, I could also feel my tissues stretch and start to burn. At one point, I wanted to get up into a squat (I was on my knees, and would either lean forward into Jason or backwards into Heidi during pushing… whatever felt best at the time) but when I tried to move, it hurt. So I just remained on my knees, reminding myself that this would be a good position to catch my baby in! After just a few pushes, I reached down to touch baby’s head as she crowned. Heidi offered perineum support, which I refused. I just wanted my own hands down there, and I supported myself just fine. During a push, I held her head and felt myself open around it… I remember thinking how warm and alive baby felt, and how in any moment, we would no longer be one, but two….

With the next push, her head completely crowned and I felt the ring of fire very acutely… I never felt that with Teagan, and so I thought that I was tearing. With the next push, even though it was just as powerful, I didn’t feel baby move down hardly at all. My instincts gave over to my mind for a second, and I remember thinking that maybe baby had sticky shoulders. So I threw myself forward over the bed and really PUSHED… and felt her unlodge and her head came out the rest of the way. Heidi told me later that she was just slowly coming out… first her forehead, then her eyes, and nose… but she was definitely coming J My body didn’t wait for another wave, it just kept pushing from there… I sat back upright and birthed my baby into my and Heidi’s hands on my bedroom floor. Later, Heidi told me that baby never rotated when she came out. Everleigh ended up with a bruise on her elbow, and I’m guessing that happened either when I pushed when I thought she had sticky shoulders or just simply because she didn’t rotate and maybe got it caught on something.

She helped me pass baby through my legs so I could hold her. She was so sweetly covered in vernix, and the first thing I noticed is how little her ears were! She was nice and pink, though not breathing right away. She was making the motions, so I didn’t worry as long as my cord kept pulsing. Finally she took a little breath, and then another, coughing a bit. I held her with her head tilted down to help her clear out the mucus. I rubbed her back gently, and she just coughed a bit and started to breathe just fine. I then turned her over, and Heidi put a blanket over us to keep her warm. I took my shirt off and just held her skin to skin. Within 5 minutes or so, baby decided she wanted to nurse and latched right on. Shortly after that, I felt my placenta detach (which was strangely uncomfortable…not painful, just weird) and I pushed it out where I sat. I looked at it a bit, and it looked complete and intact. I felt some blood come out of me, but it didn’t seem excessive and I felt fine, so I didn’t worry. We called the midwife after that, and she came by to check me and baby out. I decided to get the oral vitamin K because of the awful bruising Everleigh had on her elbow and arm. She weighed and measured her, and helped her clear out the rest of the mucus that Everleigh was having a hard time getting out. She checked me for tears (I didn’t even have a skid mark) and made sure my uterus was clamping down nicely. These were all things that I could’ve done myself, but it was nice to have the midwife do them as well.

Some interesting notes: It was nice to not have anyone else around during my birthing time. Heidi was absolutely wonderful, and I was so glad that she was able to come! Jason and I had been broken up for a couple of months at that point, and so there was a lot of uncertainty in regards to him even BEING at the birth, as well as how that would affect me during my birthing time, etc. In retrospect, I know that even though Heidi was invaluable, she also caused some subconscious discomfort for me. I’m not a very modest person, but having someone see me naked who has never seen me naked before is a bit disconcerting, and it caused me some tension which equaled pain. Totally not her fault though! J It is just something interesting that I observed in myself and will keep in mind for next time. I have no regrets at all for this birth; it was an amazingly healing experience, and even though things didn’t go exactly how I envisioned, I feel so blessed that I was able to experience birth in this way.

It was wonderful to not feel any restraints on myself… I didn’t have to worry about time, or strange people, or how loud I was, or anything. It allowed me to become completely instinctual. At different points in my labor, my thinking brain would wake up for a second and question if baby was still ok. For only a second it would do that, because in the next second I just *knew* baby was ok. It was never a question. I could feel her life in me, and every fiber of my being was at peace. It is truly amazing how powerful our instincts are, and I wish every woman could experience that inner knowing that each of us has. I never second guessed myself or my feelings with this birth; with my first, I had people telling me how to move, and how to moan, and how to push, etc… When I felt that something was wrong, I was told that everything was fine… even though I was right. Being undermined in that way was probably the most hurtful aspect of my first birth. I didn’t know it then, or couldn’t quite place my finger on it, but now I know exactly what was taken away from me. Heidi and Jason totally melded with me during this birth, accepted what I said and did as THE best thing for me and baby, and honored that sacred knowing that I have… that very woman has.

Regarding hypnobabies: Even though it wasn’t a painless birth, I still feel hypnobabies was a success. I will definitely be using it for my next birth, if I am so blessed, but will be sure to learn and practice ALL of my tools, and learn how to use them in different positions. I think that the full hypnobabies coupled with a birth pool would have made this birth nearly painless if not completely painless. When Jason would say “Relax” to me and read the scripts, I would feel any pain completely melt away from me. It was truly amazing! During pushing, when I felt the ring of fire, I remembered to just breathe baby down in between waves. I didn’t tear at all, which I contribute partly to that. I think EPO, following my body’s cues, and being in an instinctual position also contributed to me not tearing. I didn’t tear with my first birth either; I was squatting for my first birth, had used EPO, and had 2.5 hours of slow stretching to help as well J Being Everleigh’s birth came much faster, I was a little surprised that I didn’t tear with all the burning and stretching I was feeling. I also wanted to note that a lot of the pain I had during birth directly stemmed from my SPD… my tailbone and hips just KILLED me. I will make sure that I go to a chiropractor faithfully my next pregnancy for sure!

I also wanted to comment on how wonderful it was for Everleigh to not be poked and prodded right after birth (or at all!). I held her on me, skin to skin… no one vigorously (and roughly!) dried her off, or wiped her vernix off, or poked her heels, or made her cry. When my midwife came after, she was gentle, always following my lead and would wait for me talk to Everleigh, letting her know exactly what was going on. No one tried to take her from me. No one did anything to Everleigh without first *asking* me, which was a huge change from the hospital!

I decided to cut her cord after an hour or so of leaving it intact. The cord was white, limp, and cold, and I had delivered my placenta only about 5-10 min after having Everleigh so there wasn’t any blood still going to her by that time. Being I was going to be mostly on my own post partum and with a toddler, it just wasn’t feasible to have a lotus birth this time around. Heidi took my placenta, bagged it up and put it in my freezer for later. I didn’t eat any this time around either, mostly because I just didn’t think of it at all until much later and by then it was too late. I haven’t decided if I am going to encapsulate it or bury it under a new tree. We will see.

Post partum healing is going wonderful as well. I had very little baby blues, which was surprising to me considering the circumstances I am in right now. My bottom was only sore the first day, and really I wouldn’t even call it “painful”, just a bit sore is all. My lochia tapered off nicely by Ever’s 2 week birthday, and as of today I haven’t really bled for 2 or 3 days now J Breastfeeding is going perfectly… almost *too* well! I get nervous sometimes just because of how easy everything has been… like I’m waiting for the big “Gotcha!” or something. I was only engorged and had nipple soreness for a few days (as opposed to months with Teagan) and my supply has evened out perfectly already. I even accommodate Teagan’s occasional nursing session without my boobs overflowing a few hours later. Everleigh was back up to her birth weight by her 2 week checkup, and seems to be gaining wonderfully. Her cheeks just keep getting chubbier everyday! My weight is now a pound less than my pre-pregnancy weight, which I am very happy about. Hopefully, the weight will just keep dropping off! All my old clothes fit, which is really great considering I have very little funds for new clothes at this time.

All in all, Everleigh’s birth was absolutely wonderful, healing, and magical. I wish everyone could experience birth in this way! Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this pregnancy and birth. Without many of you who are reading this, I may not have kept my chin up and moved forward with confidence. Being a single mom is not easy by any means, but I feel that I have given myself an excellent start!