Monday, September 29, 2008

My 4th, and Best, Birth

Physically, this was my best birth. I had been teaching Bradley for about 2 years when I gave birth to this baby. It was funny to be so huge and teaching to people, knowing I would be doing this again.

David and I practiced relaxation a handful of times during the pregnancy. I did my exercises and ate my protein. I was 34 at the time of this birth, 4 years since the 3rd birth. I found that my metabolism had slowed quite a bit in that time period.

I had the most fabulous midwife, Barbara Pepper, in Albuquerque. When I went in for my visits, I would do my own "pee stick." A couple of times she asked what I had had for breakfast because my glucose levels were elevated. I would embarrassingly admit to eating Cocoa Puffs and OJ. She would smile and encourage me to eat less sugar. When I did, I found that my glucose was normal. My body wasn't metabolizing sugar as fast as it once did.

I never had an ultrasound with this baby. We had with the others, and also knew the sex of each baby before they were born. Barb said she didn't see why I needed one -- everything was normal. I completely trusted her and her professional wisdom. She had been doing this for more than 30 years.

I didn't have the testing for Gestational Diabetes at 28 weeks. I also declined having the Group B Strep test at 36 weeks. I throw that out simply because I want women to know that you have a choice, even when it comes to testing. Even the Diabetes Association has said that this does not need to be a standard test for everyone. It is though. Same with ultrasound. It is not recommended that all women have an ultrasound, but I don't know anyone these days who does not have one. (There are risks associated with ultrasound, but we'll save that topic for another day.

One thing that was interesting with this pregnancy, I started feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions at about 10 weeks. I would take every opportunity to use those as practice contractions and do my relaxation. I would just relax every bit of my body during those brief periods, no matter where I was when I was having them.

All of my babies have been born in the 39th week, the first being 40.0 weeks. This one was no different. Easter morning, 3 days before my "due date," I woke to having very frequent Braxton-Hicks. They were very regular though, so I decided to stay home from church to rest. David took the 3 kids and I slept for a couple of hours and read a book. It was so relaxing and peaceful.

The contractions continued throughout the day, short and close together, not hard at all. David and I went for a walk around 3:30 and my water broke while we were out on the walk. We headed back home after that! I called my parents, who were coming over for dinner. We had a New Mexican Easter dinner of Chile Rellenos, Spanish slaw, tortillas, and fruit salad. I've never thrown up in labor, but I decided to take my own advice and not eat anything that I don't want to see again! I ate a tortilla and some fruit.

At 7:00 p.m., I was emailing with some potential Bradley students, commenting that I was in "early labor." We were putting the kids to bed at 8:00, and as I was laying on one of the girl's beds, I had a really strong contraction (the first of the entire day!) that I really had to concentrate on relaxing through. I told David I was going downstairs to take a shower.

My dad went back to their RV around 8:30 and my mom was staying for the birth. My brother-in-law also stopped by during that time to bring us some things from the store. I remember being fine to talk to him, but when I had a contraction, I had to lean over and not speak.

Everyone left and I went immediately to my bathroom, which I loved. I had told David during the pregnancy that I imagined laboring a lot in our bathroom. It's like, once my body was where my mind wanted to be, alone, labor really picked up. I had tons of contractions on the toilet. I was in the shower when David came in. Remember, last time David saw me was in the girl's room and I'd just had my first major contraction. He came in happy and talking, and was shocked when I told him to call Barb. He didn't believe I could possibly be ready for her to come to the house already! It had been 30 minutes since that contraction!

He timed several contractions while I was in the shower, doing the "doula hoola," rotating my hips, with my head pressed against the shower wall. It felt so great! I could feel that being upright was the best position. This is the only labor I didn't have back labor. What a difference!

When I got out of the shower, I decided I wanted to sit in the bathtub for a bit. We filled it up, but I would never sit down. I leaned over the edge instead, on my knees. David was right in front of me, talking to me. When you have birthed 3 babies together, you learn what different sounds and expressions mean at the different stages of labor. I was really starting to sound out the contractions -- loudly. David knew the baby was in the birth canal.

He was so calm. No one else was there yet. We had invited his sister, Marla, and my friend, Ingrid, in addition to my mom. Two of our children wanted to be at the birth, so we needed someone to be with them, plus, we needed someone to do the video.

David calmly told me not to fight the contractions. If I needed to push, that was the right thing to do. We knew what to do if the baby came without Barb there. How wonderful to have a husband who believes in my body to do this! Birth is not a crisis!

Barb got there shortly after I got out of the bathtub. I had a short period of back labor as the baby descended into the birth canal. Barb applied counter pressure and then massaged the backs of my legs as David embraced me and I leaned into him. I felt so supported.

We didn't stand there very long. I was ready to push this baby out! I moved over to my bed, but instinctively knew that I needed to remain upright. (Most hospitals/OBGYNs would not have allowed that.) They stacked a bunch of pillows under me as I leaned on the headboard. I was on my knees. (The video of this birth is awful! The back side of my 200 pound body is not attractive!)

At any rate, I didn't push very long before the head was born. She was born "in the veil" meaning the sac was covering her face. This is very rare, but the superstition says that if this happens to your baby, he/she will have good luck all their life. My best friend's last baby was also born in the veil. Interesting...

Her head was out for nearly 5 minutes before I birthed the rest of the body. Psychologically, I think I was hanging onto the baby as long as I could. There were a couple of reasons for this: 1) I knew this was very likely my last pregnancy and birth; and 2) We really wanted this baby to be a boy. Not really because we were dying to have another boy, but because we wanted our son to have a brother. And he desperately wanted a brother.

Barb mentioned that the shoulders needed to come out and I barely started to do the "Gaskin Maneuver," lifting one leg to release the baby's shoulders, and the baby slipped right out. I took the baby between my legs and awkwardly flipped over so I could sit up. I held her for a long time before I turned her over to find out the sex. I was so scared to find out.

The two children who wanted to be there for the birth came in right as I pushed her head out, so they were there for the birth. Everyone was so anxious to know who this baby was going to be -- James or Darcy? I finally turned her over and David announced (trying to sound happy for the sake of the video), "It's Darcy!" Everyone in the room looked at Daymon. He had the biggest, silent tears rolling from his eyes. It just broke my heart. My boy will never have a brother.

Now, if truth be known, I had enjoyed my time alone (while the others were at school) with the 3rd child so much, I was really hoping for another girl. We had so many clothes for a girl, too. And who doesn't love the name Darcy? Was I trying to console myself? Maybe a bit.

It took 1 hour and 12 minutes to deliver the placenta. Average time is anywhere from 5-45 minutes. Most hospitals administer pitocin, regardless of circumstances or necessity. They mash the uterus and some really lame doctors will even tug on the cord. None of these things are part of the natural process. Breastfeeding will cause the uterus to contract and take care of the placenta. Barb kept checking my vitals and to be sure the cervix wasn't closing, as that would be a complication. Everything was fine. This was my normal for this birth.

I would like to note that I had NO intervention with this birth, not even a vaginal exam. I just gave birth.

Darcy was born at 10:55 p.m., less than 3 hours after that super strong contraction. I loved all my early labor with this birth. Barb and all our visitors/helpers were gone by 2:00 a.m. My husband was snoring next to me and our new baby. I laid there next to her, both of us wide awake, staring at each other. I was processing the whole event. Not to mention having the absolute worst afterpains ever! These get worse with every baby. Every time I breastfed for the first 4 days, it was like being in labor again. I had to sound it out and have everyone in the room be quiet.

Darcy weighed just one ounce shy of Abby, at 7 lbs.15 ounces. She was really long too, 22".

Daymon was the first child awake the next morning. He came downstairs and climbed into bed with us to stare at Darcy, his newest sister. He looked up at me and whispered, "I love her more than anything in the world." I am so grateful that he was allowed the opportunity to witness her birth and find out that the baby was a girl with all of us at the same time. I believe that it helped tremendously with his love and acceptance towards her, and even us, for sharing this event with him.


The Mama said...

Great birth story, Donna! Thank you for sharing

dainingrid said...

I read this and started crying because It was such a memorable experience for me as well. You were amazing! Such confidence! I love Darcy:)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful birth story! Thank you for sharing!

Rachel said...

oh your sweet boy, what an amazing thing to say. My fourth was my easiest labor too, people are always so surprised by that, like it should get harder or worse when it really gets better! beautiful story! :)

Samantha said...

I LOVE reading birth stories! And, I also spent much of my labor on the toilet, so it was encouraging to read that someone else has done that too!!