Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Birth Day, Levi!

My estimated due date was November 21. It was pretty much assumed by all that I would not be at Thanksgiving dinner that year. My family decided to have an extra Thanksgiving dinner the Sunday (the 15th) before my due date so I wouldn’t miss out on the feast. But at 39 weeks pregnant, who is really enjoying food anymore?!

We drove home that night, put Henry to bed and went straight to bed ourselves. I slept better that night than I had in months. {This actually happened the night before Henry was born as well.} Usually my full bladder, constricted lungs or aching hips would have woken me up half a dozen times. I opened my eyes around 4 am and a few seconds later my water broke. It’s such a strange feeling. As if my gigantic self wasn’t enough, I could no longer deny that I was going to be pushing out and mothering a baby! Wow!

My labor with Henry was only 6 hours long, so everyone knew this might move quickly. I woke up Mike, called Misty {my midwife}, Emily {my sister}, and Lori {a friend who would be helping with Henry} and then hopped in the shower. My contractions had not started when I got in the shower around 4:15. I tried to enjoy the warm shower while my mind raced around the thoughts of “Oh boy, here we go again…” I started having some mild contractions. They were just strong enough that I wanted to move through them. I got out of the shower around 4:30 and realized that I had had 4 contractions in 15 minutes.

While I was in the shower, Henry woke up and was spending some time with Mike. He could tell something was up and there was no getting him back to bed. I told him that the baby was coming. We had watched a lot of home birth videos together. He knew I was going to “roar like a lion”, push the baby out, and the baby was going to nurse A LOT.

Emily and Misty were the first to arrive. I was trying to lie down on the bed and get some rest, but the contractions were coming every couple minutes. It was unbelievable how much more manageable the contractions were when I was off the bed. I quickly found that the most comfortable place was standing at the foot of my bed, with my elbows resting on the bed, and rocking my hips from side to side during a contraction.

I’m not a very meditative person {I’m not very good at relaxing and breathing during yoga}, but I get very chanty in labor. With Henry I said “Oh baby, Oh baby, Oh baby…” through every contraction. This time I started saying “Baby move down, Baby move down…” It’s nothing I planned to do. I think it just helps me focuson the task at hand. It keeps me focused on the work I am doing and not the intense feelings moving through my body…though I was still very aware of those too!

I was laboring at the end of my bed and at some point Melaine (midwife), Lori, and Trinlie (midwife) arrived. Lori took Henry to play, the midwives started setting up, Mike was watching me work, and my sister was taking pictures of it all. Around 5:45, I realized that I did not have the necklace from my blessing way. My friend, Emily, was stringing it together for me and I had not gotten it from her yet. I decided that she would definitely want me to call her for it, even if it was before sunrise. After calling a few wrong numbers {her husband had switched phones with someone}, Misty got ahold of Emily and my necklace was on its way.

At this point, the contractions were really starting to roll. My “Baby move down” was getting more vocal and the rocking of my hips was getting deeper. This is where I start to regret not having had my labor videotaped. I would love to be able to watch my midwives. I was given the opportunity to labor like I believe every woman has the right to. I was watched, guarded, and trusted by my midwives. They let me do the work that I needed to do to help mybaby into this world, all the while making sure we were safe. The few times I opened my eyes while contracting, I saw them watching me from the perimeters of my room. I also knew they were aching to help me. When I am having a contraction, I cannot have any sounds in the room and I cannot have anyone touch me. It’s like a sound or touch breaks the fragile bubble that I’m in, the bubble that keeps me from being swallowed by the strength of my own body.

I began to feel nauseous and had a hard time staying on my legs during the contractions. The contractions were now one on top of the other. I threw up once and knew I had to get off of my feet. I went and sat on the toilet to get some support and continued to rock my hips. Misty and Mike sat on the floor beside me. The contractions were so intense. I started to feel scared. I was scared that I was going to be in this state forever. This labor had been more manageable because I was in my own bedroom. I didn’t feel like it could be coming to an end yet, so I felt like maybe I was stuck. The fear of a laboring woman J I opened my eyes and looked at Misty and told her I was scared. She whispered back to me that the baby would be here soon and I knew she was right. I remembered transition, I remembered that wall and I remembered the reward.

In the mean time, Henry was playing downstairs with Lori. They would come up every once in awhile to check on me. Henry was doing great with it all. He checked on me frequently enough to see me progress, saw that I was ok and went on playing. I’m so glad he woke up when my water broke because his normal wake-up time was about the time I was going through transition, and that would have been bad.

While I was in the bathroom, Melaine and Trinlie were setting up for the birth. They could hear the progress I was making and also knew the baby would be here soon. Trinlie peeked into the bathroom and suggested I move back into the bedroom. I remember walking back into my bedroom and being so grateful for the intuition of these women. They had prepared three separate places in my bedroom that they thought I might want to settle in and birth this baby. I tried standing in the spot at the end of the bed where I had labored earlier. As soon as the contraction started, I was brought to my knees from the intensity.

Before the next contraction, I moved to the spot on the bed that they had prepared for me. I had a few more contractions on my hands and knees. Then after a contraction, I just felt that I would be pushing during my next contraction. I laid over on my side to take a moment to rest. When the next contraction started, I started to push. I don’t have the “urge” to push like some women talk about. With both of my labors, I have a total involuntary experience of my body, from my shoulders down, pushing the baby out.

I pushed through a few contractions and all the sudden felt the baby slide down the birth canal. What a strange feeling. With Henry, I pushed and pushed and pushed and he

just inched his way down. This time, most of the movement happened in one push! At this point I remember Misty telling me to take it easy so I didn’t tear. I remember thinking something like, “I don’t care if I tear… I’ll deal with it later… GET THIS BABY OUT!” I am grateful for the encouragement though ;)

I pushed a few more times and Levi Paul Swinson was born at 8:04am on November 16th. I heard Emily say “It’s a boy!” I brought him up on my body and just laid there and took it all in. I watched Mike watching his newborn son. I watched Henry crawl up on the bed to meet his baby brother. I watched my sister look at me in awe. I watched my midwives and friends take care of me. I took in the sweet smell of my baby. I thought of the past 4 hours, grateful for the experience of bringing this baby into our family.

I am so grateful for Levi’s homebirth. I am grateful for my body. I am grateful for the strength I receive from the experience of birth. I am grateful for the wisdom of the women that watched me birth my baby. I didn’t mention everything they did in Levi’s story because I barely noticed it. They charted my progress and occasionally monitored the baby’s heart rate with a doppler. What they didn’t do was check my dilation at any point; it was obvious I was progressing. They didn’t tell me lay down on my back. They did keep us safe. They guarded me and the space so I, along with my family, could birth this baby. I am forever grateful.

The next few hours were spent taking care of me and making sure I had something to eat. The midwives performed the newborn exam on the bed beside me. Then they cleaned up, tucked us in and left. Emily stayed to help with Henry. We curled up in bed. Levi and Mike slept while I watched, grateful for the day the Lord had made.

4 comments:

Lori said...

It was a blessed day. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.

Jon and Lauren Swinson said...

What a wonderful experience giving birth is! Giving birth to Elinor was the most painful experience I have ever had but I KNOW I would do it again IN A HEARTBEAT, and I wish with all my heart I could go back in time to have the same type of experience with Toby. :( The joy in bringing your baby into the world they way they were MEANT to be, and the sense of accomplishment is overwhelming. Such a lovely story Geneva, thank you for sharing.

Paige K said...

What a sweet, sweet birth story, Geneva. I still want to hear Henry's story. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. <3 home birth. :-)

Chandra said...

Geneva~ THANK YOU for sharing this beautiful moment in time with me! I loved reading about Levi's birth! :)