I'm actually sitting here in bed with the laptop with two hands free. *gasp* Two hands free! Hans just finished eating some and fell promptly asleep, but I don't think he's nearly done with his meal, so I'm just holding onto him right now, letting him rest against my chest until he awakens for course #2. He's proven to be a very good eater and is already back above his birth weight. If only he'd take less than 5-10 minutes to latch on for the majority of feedings. . . but I digress ;-). While I'm sitting here waiting to serve the next course, I thought I'd start typing up Hans' birth story, per request.
As a refresher, for the past month Hans had been flipping between transverse and vertex positions whenever it fancied him to do so, much to the emotional exhaustion of his mother who did NOT want a c-section. 2 1/2 weeks before his due date I started going to a chiropractor who is certified in the Webster technique, and Hans flipped head-down after I did a pelvic tilt, and his position was confirmed by my midwife. But then he flipped transverse again a few days later, and continued to waffle back and forth for the next week. He'd always go head-down after a Webster adjustment and a pelvic tilt, though, so I kept going to the chiropractor every day, per suggestion. This mommy was VERY glad that he finally permanently settled in vertex position a few days before labor commenced.
On Tuesday morning (the 17th, 5 days before his due date) I woke up at 6:30 a.m. with my bag of waters leaking. I already had a midwife appointment that morning, so I just went in as scheduled and had the leaking confirmed. As per procedure, my midwife instructed me to check into the hospital 12 hours later, at 6:30 p.m., so they could monitor Hans' heartrate. Because of the slight risk of infection (since the amniotic sac had been leaking), they would also start me on antibiotics at 18 hours, or just after midnight.
All morning and afternoon I had slight cramping that I totally would have written off as indigestion if I hadn't been super-sensitive to any possible signs of labor. But they were really so mild. Only just before we left for the hospital did they start to even have a defined peak to them, and even then they were so mild. About 20 minutes after leaving, Adrian asked me if I'd been having any more mild contractions since we'd left, and I'd just had 4 sitting right next to him and not even flinched, they were so light.
We checked into labor and delivery at around 6:30 p.m., as we couldn't be admitted to The Birth Place (our choice for delivery) on the same floor until I was in active labor (5 cm). I'd been checked that morning and been almost 4 cm, which amused me since I didn't feel like I was in labor. My midwife and I both didn't think I was in active labor, and we both wanted to minimize internal exams, so we just decided to wait out labor starting and not keep obsessively checking for the magic number 5. I did not want an induction, so we'd been praying all day that I'd go into labor on my own. The only thing I'd done to help encourage labor was take a few walks throughout the day.
About 10:30 p.m. I finally started feeling like I was really in something resembling labor,and the nurse said that I couldn't possibly have been in active labor before then, as I was functioning too normally. The midwife had gone down the hall an hour before to lie down, as I wasn't having strong contractions at the time, but had told me to have the nurse get her when I wanted her. I still wasn't convinced I was really in active labor, and I wanted to wait to get her as long as possible, so I was really in labor and could be moved to The Birth Place. I was given antibiotics at 12:30 a.m. (ugh, rotten burning feeling in the arm) and was quite uncomfortable by that time. Finally at 1:30 a.m. I told Adrian to please get Jessica, the midwife, because surely I was in active labor with contractions so close together and so intense, and I really wanted the tub at The Birth Place. She came in and checked me, and I was at 8 cm! No wonder the contractions were one on top of another by then ;-).
So we finally got to move to The Birth Place, and I just got in that tub as quickly as possible. Calling a birth tub a "midwife's epidural" is a bit strong of a description, because it doesn't take away the pain, but wow, I felt so much better after getting in the tub, mainly because I wasn't so uncomfortable with every position, and wanting to change positions constantly. The water held me up and equalized the pressure quite nicely. Also, as soon as I got in the tub my urge to faint (which I'd been having with every contraction for an hour or more) was completely gone.
At one point my body was pushing with every contraction, without my aid. I told the midwife this, and she said that was fine and not to fight it. She asked me if I wanted to stay in the tub for delivery, and at that point there was no way I was going to voluntarily leave the relative "comfort" of the tub ;-); prior to labor, I'd been about 50-50 as to whether I wanted to deliver in the tub. Jessica very nicely didn't even suggest checking me again, as it was really obvious I was fully dilated, and she told me I could push when I was ready. Delivery really didn't take that long, though it was no picnic either ;-), and Hans was born at 2:57 a.m. I was never so glad to have something over with!
The main things I took away from the experience:
I totally see why women get epidurals. Duh. Especially when most labors (especially first-time labors) are so much longer than mine. I had a remarkably short and easy labor, and it was still plenty uncomfortable enough at times so that a c-section sounded like a good idea.
Water births are wonderful options. Period.
Practicing relaxation exercises for birth does help (yay for Bradley). During most of labor I felt like I was not able to relax with each contraction, but apparently I was, as the midwife said she could see me physically relax each time. If I hadn't practiced that a lot, it would NOT have happened.
I made it through *a* natural birth. I would like to make it through 11 more, but I'll take each one as it comes, and one natural birth does not a natural birther make.
And yes, I do still want 12 kids. Because I know half of you wanted to ask that.
The Bradley method was very helpful, but is not what got me through birth. The midwife and nurse tell me they were quite impressed with how well I handled labor and delivery, but in all honesty, I did NOT feel strong at all in the midst of it. The one thing that got me through was God's grace and strength, I'm quite convinced. I was telling Adrian later that a passage from The Hiding Place came to mind. It's a passage where Corrie's father explains to her that God gives us the strength to endure tough times, giving it to us right when we need it, not before, not after:
…that night as he stepped through the door I burst into tears..”I need you!” I sobbed. “You can’t die! You can’t!”…
Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam- when do I give you your ticket?”
I sniffed a few times, considering this. “Why, just before we get on the train.”
“Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run ahead of him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need- just in time.”
On the night of Hans' birth, with each contraction peak, I felt like God was handing me a ticket. Only one, just for that contraction. No more, no less.
It was worth it :-). *snuggles up to little Hans*