finally... on finn's 1 month birthday i post his birth story.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY!!!!!!!!
bryan, my mom & i all wrote our own versions. it's been a lot of fun reading them... we each took like 8 pages to tell the story :) so i'm going to take excerpts from all of them instead of making you read all 3. it's lonnnnnng, so i hope you have a few minutes!
i'm also going to post jill mcnamara's pictures. she is such a great friend to be so cheerfully awoken at 1:45 am to come photograph for us! & then she went to work the next day. thanks jill!!! (ill only post the pg ones where my parts are hidden -more for your sake! be warned there is some skin though...)
meg: june 10th. 3:30pm
we went to the midwives today. I was 2 cm dilated & 80% effaced & he's at 1cm... he is ready to pop out. my blood pressure was 100 something over 90 & it's usually at 60 -so nedra was a little concerned & said we had a few options: do nothing, come back regularly to keep an eye on everything, induce by doing a cervical sweep & if that alone doesn't work: dun, dun, dun: castor oil. (castor oil is equivalent to pitocin- in the sense that it creates really bad cramps & diarrhea for several hours... all helping to push the lil babe out.) i wasn't excited about that option, but i'm pretty desperate for him to arrive, so if need be, need be. we opted for the sweep & OUCH. she pulled forward on my cervix & then her fingers swooshed forcefully around. i started to bleed immediately & groaned while bryan held my hand. this was my first clue as to what this natural journey is going to feel like: it's going to suck.
but i can do it.
i'll just need to focus on the fact that millions of women have done this before, thousands are doing it with me on this day & hundreds are doing it with me at the very same moment.
i can do this. but i am finally a little scared. my life & knowledge of being uncomfortable & in pain has just been turned up a notch. i jumped from 2cm to 4 just from the sweep! so they said go walk for 30 minutes, take a tylenol pm & nap for as long as i can. this labor could start in 10-12 hours and we may not even need the castor oil :)
we headed to the mall, ate some groodie sbarro pasta & walked around. i wasn't really feeling anything, just excitement. now i'm home trying to nap. i've asked mom to take off her flip flops (too loud) & to not clean anything. just relax. i don't have any idea what bryan's up to. the room is dark & quiet. but i'm not falling asleep... my brain is on overdrive, my carpel tunnel is burning & skye won't stop barking. so i popped the dreaded tylenol pm. i must rest. the #1 reason for transport to a hospital is the mom being worn out & i didn't sleep at all last night. so i'm not off to a good start.
and then i crashed hard for three hours
that would be my last nap before my son finn was born. I slept for several hours. mom & bryan made dinner. spaghetti, which was really good & i devoured it. even had seconds. we all commented on that being a good sign. i was feeling pretty good & hopeful that things were going to start up soon. the three of us took the dogs for a walk around 9:30 & i started having contractions. i had mentally prepared for a long labor so, this was good. small uncomfortable twinges every 15 minutes or so in the bottom of my belly. (i remember calling leigh [our doula] to verify that they were contractions since they weren't starting in my back -she said, yep those are contractions!) i'd need to stop walking & either bend over or hold my arms around my stomach. but, this was it. this child was on it's way out.
we finally made our way home & watched the simpsons. the episode was when the planes were rerouted over their house & they kept trying to get it changed & finally after making krusty the clown become a politician they succeeded. it wasn't that funny unfortunately, but a mild distraction. i was able to handle the contractions while sitting on the couch. then conan came on & things heated up. eventually i had them turn it off because he was annoying me. bryan brought me my ipod touch so i could download contraction master- our friend, kelly, had just told me about this application a few hours earlier. all we would have to do is hit start & stop during the contractions & it would monitor & track everything for us. (which was great because mom was freaking out about us not having any clocks in the house!) bryan was getting a kick out of it. he joked with me about how fun it was going to be to anaylze the data afterwards & he could make graphs, etc. i'm pretty sure i called him a geek then which i'm proud to say were my harshest words to him or anyone else for that matter. i had already gone pretty inward & i don't remember really talking or thinking much.
bryan: according to the contraction master toy, contractions started at 10:15pm. at this point in time, i don't think i was overly concerned or convinced that this was the real thing. by 11pm i started to realize that this is it & began to get a little excited. this was the initial excitement that i had been looking forward to for the past couple of weeks. while i hated to see megan in pain, i couldn't help but feel excited. at this point her contractions didn't appear to be too painful, but maybe she was just a lot tougher than i thought she'd be.
meg: contractions were coming every 3-7 minutes. i was on the ground now, on my knees hugging the labor ball. rocking & squeezing it when the contractions came. i think they were anywhere from 30 seconds to a little over a minute long. i needed bryan to apply counter pressure to my back & he did it to every one. they were pretty steady pain wise while we were in the living room. when bryan asked on a scale of 1-10 i think i said "6?" but i had no idea how long & intense this was going to get so whether or not that was even close to realistic! he was a little cautious to get too excited & kept asking earlier during the first hour or so "are these it? do you think this is it?" but i could barely say more than "bryan" to alert him of another one, so i was pretty sure. at least i hoped so!!! the routine was he'd get the ipod, say "yeah?" i'd say "yeah" until i was finally annoyed at repeating myself, using up too much energy & started to ignore him. the contraction would end & i'd lay on the ball sooo tired.
bryan: i probably called mary at 11:30pm to give her a heads up. she asked what megan's pain was on a 10pt scale. i can't remember exactly what megan said but it was somewhere in the 4-6 range. mary said that it was probably 2-5 because first time mothers tend to overestimate since they've had nothing to compare it to. in hindsight, i don't think megan exaggerated at all. anywho, mary said to call back when it was a 10 and contractions were 5 minutes apart. i called leigh after this, but she didn't answer so i left a message. at this point, i really wanted someone at the house who knew what they were doing, so i was not enthused about simply leaving a message. i probably tried leigh again around 11:45 -this time she answered and we decided it was time for her to come over.
meg: we finally called leigh. i again didn't know if we were far enough along for her to come but... the heavenly pool... i wanted that labor pool. so i said yes. she lived 45 minutes away & it would take her half an hour to set it up... i was thinking of it as a reward for having survived so far. shortly after he got off the phone i felt a wave of nausea. i asked for a bucket, quick. someone handed it to me & out came my dinner, spaghetti completely in tact. it burned, that would be the first time i felt that popular sensation. i puked again. and then i blew my nose for the next ten minutes trying to clear it all out.
more hugging the ball, more moaning, more counter pressure, more contractions.
bryan talked with the midwives i think for the first time because throwing up meant good things & i thought i remembered it meaning you were close. mary told bryan he'd know when they needed to come, because i would change. but to get me to bed because i really needed to rest. so against my will we moved. laying down on my soft bed & pillow was amazing between contractions. i think i fell asleep- deep, peaceful sleep BUT during contractions laying down felt dead wrong. i completely understand why labors in hospitals are always portrayed as outrageously painful, it's because they are! i had nothing to put my energy into- i was just laying there writhing in pain. so i asked for the labor ball & i'd lean over it & then lay back down, which was a pain in the ass, but then came my pillow & that made all the movement almost worth it. the contractions became really intense here. i kept feeling like i needed to poop- a few times i'd fling myself off the ball because it was no longer working. i remember crying softly in between the spikes.
i never thought "i can't do this."
i just kept thinking this really hurts. i didn't have the rock & a hard spot moment that most women during natural births seem to find, where they finally decide to give in to the pain & push. i wanted to ask leigh (who had arrived & would check in on me periodically while she was getting the pool ready) how far along she thought i was -but if it wasn't impressive enough i didn't want to lose steam or confidence, so i stayed inside myself. i remember thinking i wasn't taking deep enough breaths so i asked bryan & mom to breath with me & walk me through it. they must have been preoccupied because i only remember bryan doing this once. this is where leigh did a beautiful job. she was my cheerleader, complimenting me, reassuring me, rubbing me. just the right encouragement i needed every once in awhile.
bryan: i don't remember feeling nervous or scared, i, was however fairly relieved when leigh arrived (probably around 12:45ish). the one thing i think leigh really brought to the table, that margie & i had been lacking, was verbal positive encouragement... 'megan you're doing great, stuff like that. shortly after leigh arrived she asked megan if she wanted the labor pool. megan answered with a resounding "yes!" leigh began to set it up and i helped periodically, mainly helping her figure out how to hook it up to a water source since her adapter wouldn't fit our sink faucet. we eventually hooked it up to the pipes that supply water to the washer. it all ended up working out... well aside from the flooding that occured in our laundry room.
megan's contractions were getting more painful but she still hadn't reached a 10. i think she rated the pain at an 8. plus megan had not yet cursed at me, something that mary said would happen, which would be another indicator that it was time for the midwives.
meg: that urge to poop remained so i thought i'd finally try to go. as soon as i hit the toilet seat an intense contraction would come. the hardest to get through so far. i'd immediately stand up and rest my arms & head on the towel rack. bryan really had to be there for me now. i'd make it through & then try to sit again, almost instantly another would come so i'd stand again. i remember thinking that this was really hard & had i been in a hospital i'd ask for drugs now, with no quips. being free to move was the only saving grace. at this point i have no idea what time it is or how long i'd been at it. my only acknowledgement of time is bryan mentioning the length between contractions- 2 minutes, some quicker & the alarm in mom's voice as she asks bryan to help her find the midwives #s in my phone. i don't remember ever being concerned about everyone arriving on time or with enough time.
the urge to push intensifies. leigh checks in on me in the bathroom. i tell her i'm having the urge to push. she says "well, don't fight your body, but maybe don't push too hard." she also let me know that the pool isn't full yet but i can get in if i wanted. i think i basically ran for it. i'd forgotten about it & needed something to help me. i took off my pants but kept my navy blue tank top on, but pulled it up like a bra. it felt amazing, but quickly overrated as my next contraction hit. i couldn't sit -that was as bad as laying down. so i'd lean out & over the side of the pool. i needed to hug something, holding on gave my body a job, a slight distraction from what my body was doing.
margie: she is a trooper -mainly moans... an occasional: shit, oh god! the doula & bryan are right with her. looking at the stove i notice it is 1:46... 1:48... 1:50. the contractions are 2 min apart. i look at the doula quite concerned that she has advanced this fast. i question her ... "do you know how to deliver?" "No!" her eyes getting bigger with each contraction of meg's. leigh asks her about the urge to push & meg says "yes". oh shit, i thought this baby's coming. i call mary, it's appx 2am & they are on their way. i wait bout 15 minutes and ask bryan to get me their numbers again. he's getting "put out with me""marge they'll be here" "bryan get me the damn numbers!"
this time i'm getting really nervous & scared that they aren't going to make it. i say to mary "mary, this baby is coming & i don't know how to deliver a f_ _ _ _ _ _ baby." i keep going out front to wave them down. nedra turns the wrong way... thank god she's here. she doesn't bring anything in... gets her gloves on (that were in a box they'd given meg & bryan with prep stuff) and has meg roll over to check her. she immediately calls mary "she's crowning at zero station" hangs up & starts encouraging meg to breath & push.
i also get jill's number, a friend of theirs that is going to document the birth. i call her... she tells me she's going to get coffee. i said, "no, you need to get here now!" mary's here now, thank god and jill is minutes behind her. i call steph and put her on speaker phone. amazingly the dogs are great & not making a peep.
so now it's meg in the pool, bryan in there with her. leigh on one side, i'm on the other giving meg sips of water between contractions. jill's taking pictures, mary & nedra are getting everything ready. mary checks meg's blood pressure 130/90 it's up... the heartbeat of the baby is strong, fast.
meg: bryan was kissing my shoulder often. he's always been a man of hugs & kisses, much more so than of words, so, looking back, i'm not shocked that's how he naturally thought to encourage me. i had discussed with him wanting to try kissing through a few contractions... seemed like a beautiful idea to be so intimate while my body worked to bring the child we created into this world. but that never happened. i don't even remember looking him in the eyes. i think we may have hugged a few times but it was out of desperation on my part... trying to find something, anything that helped. i needed him & he seemed to be the only one that knew the correct place to apply the pressure. it was comforting to have him touching me.
mary & jill appeared on the scene :) right before they arrived the contractions begun hurting even more. i don't know how to describe what i was feeling. it was beyond intense -pain really isn't the right word although it was painful. my insides were being ripped out, that may be dramatic, but it's all i can think to describe it. i think around then i said i didn't know why people would do this again. i had said earlier in the day on the way home i could understand now why someone would schedule a c-section. the idea of knowing when your child was coming was a way more comfortable thing to endure than 'yeah, who knows. maybe 4 days, maybe 10.' that was dreadful. but leaving that appt i knew the process would at least start within 24 hours and i felt something other than frustration- i felt hope.
at 10 centimeters & my contractions no longer measuring on a 1-10 scale I also understood why someone would want a c-section, which until then was ludicrous to me. if i'm going to be honest, my opinion of women that wanted one for non-medical/health of child or mother reasons was that maybe they weren't strong enough for this job. (harsh, i know. i do apologize for my naive thoughts.) but, i get it. it hurts. it's not easy. that seems like a short cut to a sweet ending & it's in our nature to cut inside the cones while running laps around the field. but, i was in this game. i felt passionate about our/my decision. i was doing this for our baby, who would grow up to be a man some day & it is my job to hand him all the proper tools & i completely believe that being born in an environment that we could be relaxed in was going to have a major positive impact, somehow on his life.
i knew all of this & thought it to the core of my being, but man, i wanted this over SOON.
i had been mostly moaning up until this point. hmmmming & then whimpering. but through several contractions i switched to ohhhhhh's & my voice was louder. leigh would say "give into it or go with that. bring that baby down." nedra said something about seeing my baby soon. mom was wiping my forehead with a cold cloth because i was sweating & very hot. everyone was taking such good care of me. i think i came out of my mind a little here because i can see the scene. everyone doing their job around me. & then nedra said it was time.
bryan: throughout this whole time, megan was being a champ. i'd apply counter pressure to her back & that seemed to help. the midwives asked megan if she wanted to give birth in the pool... we hadn't necessarily planned on doing a water birth, but megan wasn't about to move at this point. so pretty much right away they told megan to start pushing when she felt the urge. they wanted her to do nice & easy, slow pushes to help stretch out her "area." megan would give about 3 pushes for each contraction. leigh and i were holding her feet up so she could push against that instead of the soft edges of the pool. though she will probably disagree, to me, it seemed like megan was in the most pain just prior to pushing. when she began pushing, she seemed to be in the zone. she would give her 3 pushes and then almost look relaxed in between with her head resting on the side of the pool. i was amazed at how natural this all came to her. she really didn't need to listen to the midwives at this point. i can't say enough times how impressed i was with her throughout the whole thing.
meg: i was supposed to take a deep breath & then bare down. so i'd close my eyes and bare down... i hated this more than any other part. i was now having to work & it was hard. i was having to be an active part to this delivery as opposed to someone just trying to survive it. it took a few contractions until i got the hang of it. each push brought finn closer to the surface -to this world - to my arms. his head slowly, very slowly appeared. i remember the midwives asking bryan if he was going to catch him & he said yes. they told us to feel down there... i could feel his head, so close, but so much of his body was left, all of it in fact! i was desperate & whimpering. i refused the mirror, didn't care to see it. with each push the burning sensation intensified. it was crazy.
i'd feel his head barely advance throughout the contraction, they'd drop my legs & i'd collapse, then i'd basically pass out but i remember feeling his head slip back in. I was frustrated that i was taking 1 step forward & 2 steps back. was this ever going to be over? finally his head was mostly out... i was on fire all over but especially there.
bryan: i felt like she pushed for maybe 45 minutes or so, but it may have been more like a half an hour. at one point, mary & nedra said they could see the head. but i honestly couldn't tell it was a head. finally i saw what i thought looked like hair. the process seemed very slow. nedra continued to apply olive oil and stretch out her "area" as the head slowly became more visible. megan seemed to be doing so well with everything, i felt like i really got to enjoy the whole thing. it was as if i had a front row seat to a show. while i focused on megan in between pushes, i just watched during the pushes, while providing support for her legs.
after what seemed like a long time finn's head was finally all the way out. from the few birthing videos i've seen, i expected the rest of him to slide right on out. that didn't happen however. his entire head was out & the midwives mentioned that his hand was sort of stuck. apparently he came out with his hand beside his face, a position that he still sleeps in sometimes (as of 18 days old). I could sense from the midwives that there was a little bit of urgency with his head just hanging there, and it seemed like forever, but it was probably just a minute or so. i was concerned that he wouldn't be able to breath, partially because he was stuck around his neck & partially because he was still submerged under water. i intended to catch finn when he came out, but because of the slight complication, i didn't want to interfere. i did, however, touch him as he eventually broke free & slid out.
(finn didn't take his first breath until he hit air... so that wasn't
what the midwives were concerned about.)
what the midwives were concerned about.)
the midwives immediately brought finn up to megan's arms and she of course was overwhelmed with joy & laughter. i'm sure i was also although i don't specifically remember what i did. i do remember finn coming out quietly, not crying immediately but looking around with his eyes. his lack of crying didn't alarm me because he looked very alert. eventually, he let out some cries. it was probably at the point when mary clamped the umbilical cord and handed me the scissors and told me where to cut. i was afraid i'd cut her fingers because i couldn't see very well. it took about 3 cuts to do the job & finn was now physically detached from his mother, although they still seem attached today as megan has a hard time being away from him.
after the cord was cut mary handed finn to me and i think i was concentrating so hard not to drop him that the rest is a blur. i do remember that they helped megan to the bedroom where she was to deliver the placenta. shortly after they laid her down megan began to shake uncontrollably, but i don't remember being too concerned. throughout much of the night i tried to get a sense from the midwives on whether things were normal or not. aside from the brief moment when finn's head was hanging out all seemed normal, or at least the midwives did a good job pretending like things were. (i think they really were though... normal that is)
meg: i remember nedra & mary saying his hand was up near his face & i thought of one of my favorite authors, anne lammot, her son's hand was up & had caused her to tear badly... that was one of mary & nedra's bragging rights, that i wouldn't tear. they were bad at stitching because they rarely did it. it seemed we stalled while they tried to work the situation and then almost exactly as my water had broken in the pool earlier with a major gush -finn slid out. RELIEF. but then more burning. my mom was yelling "oh my god, oh my god!" someone else was saying "hi baby" they placed him on my stomach & i opened my eyes for the first time in a really long time.
this beautiful, beautiful little baby was laying across my belly. i could feel everyone smiling. i held him briefly as they cut the cord & they basically yanked me out of the pool & took me to the bedroom for fear i'd bleed out because of my high blood pressure. they had a shot of pitocin ready in case i started hemorrahaging. bryan came in with the baby and sat next to me. i was shaking & a little afraid something was wrong with me -i felt weak, calm & weird. but, i had also just delivered a baby i tried to reason through the tiny tinge of fear.
(i had ruptured several little blood vessels in my face during the pushes...
thus the speckles on my face.)
thus the speckles on my face.)
they instructed me to push the placenta out... i remember thinking "are you f_ _ _ _ _ _ kidding me... doesn't that just come out now?" but it doesn't & i delivered it too. they asked if we wanted to keep it but we said no thanks. i'll be completely grateful for all it did, keeping finn safe & healthy for nine months, but i didn't want to do anything with it.
bryan had gaven finn to me & i attempted to breastfeed, but he decided it was time for his lungs to be heard. his first cry. i remember his eyes, his beautiful, kind eyes. they melted my heart. i couldn't get enough of him. his soft skin & even softer orange hair. his lips are beautiful. his nose is so very cute & he has a heart shaped birthmark between his eyebrows. such little fingers with tiny fragile nails. a swollen belly button & a cute little hinny. i think i said out loud "i'd think about doing this again" & they all laughed at me. mom was beaming at the foot of the bed, giving steph the blow by blows, bryan's head was close to mine as we both stared at finn.
we didn't need the pitocin. mary was able to push firmly & painfully on my stomach & large blood clots squished out. i needed to start breast feeding because that would help make my uterus contract & ultimately keep me from hemorraging. they glued my tiny, superficial tear that finn's hand had torn. leigh brought me a plate of goodies: strawberries, watermelon, fig newton's (which i'd started craving a few days earlier) cheese & fed them to me. by 5 am everyone had left & mom had gone to bed. it was bryan & i laying in our bed with our son, who was only 2 hours old between us. he was all ours... healthy & here. so sweet. so so so sweet.
it was over. nine months of growing. one terribly long last month filled with frustration & pissiness. 4 days of my impatience merged with my mother's constant eagerness to meet her grandson & fear of missing the birth. no more gentle pushes from bryan that we walk the dogs around every block in our neighborhood. no more "he'll come when he's good & ready." i hated hearing that. after only 4.5 hours, which seemed like much more...
we met our son, ethan finn paris.
i would totally do this again.
bryan: eventually the midwives took finn from us and measured & weighed him... they did a full check-up. they mentioned one leg looked a little longer than the other one, possibly due to a dislocated hip or maybe just positioning while in the womb, but he checked out fine the next day at our appt.