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Archive for the ‘sparky’ Category

birth story.

[note: m = midwife, v = backup midwife, and s = midwife apprentice.]

on june 18, i woke up with a craving for blueberry muffins. i’d been dreaming of them, freshly baked. and so i woke h up at about 7, and asked her to go for a morning walk with me. i envisioned us finding yummy muffin mix at the corner store. sadly, they had no muffins to speak of. fortunately, they had donut holes delivered by the krispy kremey people. so. nice consolation prize. and we got a 1.5 mile walk out of the deal.

incidentally, i had pretty regular contractions throughout our walk, and i could feel sparky’s head low against my cervix. i felt different that morning. the contractions felt similar to how they’d been all along, but i had a sense of this is all working up to something today. and so i called my midwife to update her with details of sparky’s whereabouts in my pelvis. upon hearing the news of sparky’s lowness, m said excitedly, “it looks like we’re having a baby today!”

h and i needed to make a trip to the grocery store later that morning, and since m’s house is in the neighborhood, she asked us to stop by for an exam. m immediately agreed that sparky was ready to come: she was -1 station, and i was 3 cm dilated and as effaced as i was going to get until i was completely dilated. she gave me an intense cervical massage to stir up the hormones, and recommended that i drink a castor oil smoothie when i got home, to push me over the edge from pre-labor to active labor.

h and i took our time at the store, and as we walked the aisles, my contractions were slowly becoming more regular, and more intense. finally, we came home, and i ate a lazy late lunch. i really was in no hurry to drink the castor oil. i didn’t want to do it at all. i knew that it would push me into active labor, but i also knew that i would probably have the worst shits of my life, and knowing my sensitive little system, i’d still be shit-happy by the time i was ready to deliver sparky. finally, at about 4 pm, h blended orange juice and castor oil, and i forced it down with much whininess and gagging.

castor oil is supposed to take effect within about 2 hours. 20 minutes after i drank it, i was on the toilet. the contractions quickly came closer together (about 3 mins apart after being 5 mins apart all day). m, v, and s arrived to our house at about 6 pm. m immediately checked my progress, and said i was now 4 cm dilated, and the baby’s bag of waters was right on my cervix. she offered to break my waters then, and get the party started right away, but i wasn’t ready. i was tired and was on the toilet every 10 minutes, and the thought of jumping into the big scary part of the experience so soon was too scary.

and so we drew a bath. heaven, heaven. hea.ven. i lay there on my side for a long, long time, as h poured water over my belly and my back and my legs. the contractions were coming in stronger, longer waves now. they weren’t crashing over me, so much as rolling by. i watched in awe as my belly turned into a rock every few minutes. i breathed deeply as my lower abdomen seized and my lower back ached with the worst mentrual cramps ever. the endorphins kicked in about that time, and i was able to find a peaceful place inside myself to just let these contractions happen and to bask in the relief of their passing. the midwives poked their heads in the bathroom every twenty minutes or so to check fetal heart tones, and sparky was a happy little girl. as i rested in the tub, with h so lovingly tending to me, i felt the presence of my dear aunt mh, who passed last summer. i felt her calmness, her stoicism, her fortitude. i smiled and told h.

finally, m told me it was time to get out of the bath for another internal check. it was a little after 8 pm, i think, as i could see the sun going down outside my bedroom window. i remarked that a walk sounded nice, now that it was cooling off outside. m checked me, and said that i was now 5 cm dilated, with a poochy bag of waters waiting for the perfect opportunity to break. she offered again to break the bag, or to leave things be and go to bed for the night. i was still afraid of getting to the point of no return so quickly, but i felt like it was fast approaching anyway, and so i agreed.

my waters broke with a pop and a gush. immediately i entered transition. the contractions took me over in a new, frighteningly intense way. they were no longer aches and cramps, but fire in my belly, wave after wave of fire. and those gifts of relief were much harder won. as i was coping with the adjustment to this new experience, m reminded me that i wanted to walk. i backpedaled with a “hellll no”. but she thought it would be good for me to try. and so i tried.

it took a few fits and starts to get me moving. i couldn’t integrate the contractions with movement at all and i was beginning to feel panicky. m looked me in the eye and said, “you’re experiencing fight or flight feelings now, and you can’t fight or flee this. remember, only your uterus hurts right now. let everything else go. let go of your arms, your jaw, your neck, your legs, your bottom. this is only happening in your uterus.” and so i focused on everything else i was holding tightly, and one part of my body at a time, i exhaled until the fire only remained in my belly.

somehow, we made it downstairs, and the midwives recommended i sit on the birthing stool for a bit. i did not like this at all, and politely told them exactly what i thought of their torturous stool. all i wanted at this point was to go outside, and suggested we go out into the backyard. i was wearing sexy mesh panties, along with a gigantic pad to absorb the leaking amniotic fluid. as soon we walked out the door, i remembered that we have four dogs, and they were all outside in the yard. naturally, they came flocking to me just as i had another huge contraction. i fell into a squat, with h supporting me, and another gush of fluid poured onto the patio. the midwives tried to push back the now very intrigued dogs, as i thought to myself, in any other situation, this would be equal parts nasty and hilarious. m decided to help me into a makeshift adult diaper, right there in the yard, as the pad was clearly useless against the fluid. and so it came to pass that i stripped and was put into a diaper made of chucks pads and tape. ingenious.

after the “let’s go for a walk” debacle, i was done taking suggestions for things to do. i wanted to be in my room, on my birthing ball, with h’s thumbs pressed firmly against my lower back. there was only the matter of getting back upstairs in order to make that happen. i have no idea where i found the strength to climb stairs while contracting, but i did it.

finally, i was in my room again. v dimmed the lights and lit candles. the midwives left h and i alone. this is the time when everything gets fuzzy for me. i sat on the ball for a long time, with my head leaning against the side of the bed. h stood behind me, applying constant counter pressure to my back. my labor mix played quietly in the background. so many of my musical friends were singing and praying me through the birth of my daughter. in my altered state, i was very aware of this fact.

i was in the most intense pain of my life during this time out of time. and yet, i was mostly silent. i moaned through each wave, and finally understood what is meant by trying to get on top of the waves and ride them through. i kept my eyes closed, and slipped deeply into myself. i’ve never been more mindful of remaining in the present tense. there was simply nothing else in the world other than me, the fire, h at my back, and my daughter descending. in fact, i forgot that h and i were separate people. she felt like the strong, standing part of me; my backbone.

i felt annoyed when the midwives had to come in and check sparky’s heart. i hated the interruptions, and mostly tried to remain silent and focus as they listened. m came in after what she said was 45 minutes and told me i had to try to pee. i was not happy about this change of scenery. i don’t remember if i was successful in my urination attempt.

another bath was drawn for me, but this time, it was not soothing. in fact, i fell into my most panicked state while in the tub. it felt angular and hard and i couldn’t escape and the contractions were coming so fast that i couldn’t change out of an uncomfortable position…i demanded to be freed at once.

and then suddenly all was quiet again. v recommended that i spend the rest of transition in bed, lying on my side with a pillow between my legs. she told me to try to sleep through the breaks, until it was time to push. everything around me went dark and silent, as h held me through the contractions, and i found my way back down inside myself during the breaks.

just as i was getting used to being in this place, m was in front of my face. “you smell like peanut butter,” i remember saying. she apologized, and asked if she could check me. it was just after 10:30. i was 9 cm dilated, with just a lip of a cervix remaining. h and v each held up a leg of mine, and m asked me to push. there went the lip. i was fully dilated now and ready to go.

i was right about the castor oil and its lasting effects. i’d told h as i bitched about drinking the smoothie, “i am going to shit all over m and not feel bad about it. she can wipe my ass and i won’t care.” and so it came to pass that the prophecy came true. “well, annie, isn’t that the sweetest poo you’ve ever laid,” m said as i pushed. i grunted and pushed some more.

once again, just as i got comfortable in this pushing position, m asked me to get up and try pushing on the birthing chair. the birthing chair is the assless chaps of chairs. it’s basically a chair without a seat. there’s room enough to hold your legs, but that’s it. your ass is left to gravity.

i pushed and pushed and pushed on this chair. things were going great; everyone was smiling. h supported me once again from behind. m told me to look down at my belly as i pushed, and wouldn’t you know it, my big belly was totally gone, except for just above my pubic bone. “reach up in your vagina and feel your baby,” m said. i thought i must be making fantastic progress, but i had to insert my finger a long way to find a baby head, and i briefly felt disheartened. i let the thought go and continued pushing.

and then the mood changed and the air was charged with urgency. sparky’s heart tones had dropped from 160 to about 90. she was stuck under the pubic bone and i was going to have to push double time to free her.

i was given oxygen, and taken back to bed. i held my legs behind my head, and pushed with my ass to the sky. there was a small part of me that felt panicked about the situation, but mostly i was back inside myself, concentrating on nothing but pushing. pushing, by the way, did feel comparatively awesome. it wasn’t pain anymore. it was just pressure. the contractions felt purposeful and helpful, and i worked together with them to bring my baby down. and i knew that i was a good pusher, too. i had no idea had such core strength, but i felt the sparky descent with every push.

meanwhile, m suddenly called for a shot of lidocaine, which snapped me back to the current situation. “are you going to cut me?” i asked as she numbed my perineum. i think she replied something vague like “we’re just helping you get your baby out”, and i knew she didn’t have time to properly answer me, and so i went back to following directions to push. i felt tugging and more pressure and her hands inside of me, helping me push sparky out. she asked me again to feel her head, and this time, a squishy fuzzy crown was poking out of me. i kept pushing.

there was no ring of fire for me. my perineum was numb, and the rest of me was well supported by hands and copious amounts of olive oil. i pushed as hard as i possibly could, and the oxygen mask kept slipping off my face, and then plop! her head was out. m yelled, “h, pull your baby out!” and with my next push, h had sparky’s whole body in her hands.

our daughter, judith marguerite, was here, after what turned out to be 34 minutes of pushing. she came out pink and screaming. and then she quieted down, and checked our her new digs. i’m not sure how long we all stayed that way, staring at each other, h crying and me staring in disbelief. but at some point, the cord stopped pulsing, and i watched h cut it. it was then that i delivered the placenta, which was mostly painless. it felt like i gave birth to a pancake.

jude got stuck because she refused to come out without her arm against her head. because of the distress, and having to push her out a lot faster than the ideal pace, i tore a lot. the pressure i felt after the lidocaine shot was m tearing my perineum to make room for my daughter’s head and hand. all that work with stretching and softening my perineum for months and it was torn on purpose!

i am so grateful for all the iron i’ve been taking. after delivering the placenta, i had an arcing hemorrhage, and required an immediate shot of pitocin in my leg. i bled a lot, “more than average” i’m told, and it could’ve been a lot worse…but i’ll save that story for next time. i’ve got a baby to feed now.

[next intallment: the afterbirth story.]

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perfect, squishy baby

i plan on writing jude’s birth story today, if she gives me more than 5 minutes between feedings, but in the meantime, here is a pic of her perfect squishiness. her uncle dennis took the pic on his cameraphone. once i am able to actually sit on my sad, healing ass, i plan on getting out my camera and getting some proper photos! soon…

blissed out in the sling.

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…as inspiration.

the news from here is that we’re working bootcamp today. i gots 10 minutes till i pump again, and torture myself with a little black cohosh under my tongue. at least it tastes like scotch.

woman three, by the way, gave birth yesterday. after making to 6 cm, the baby’s head would not engage, and kept floating high high up. the midwives worked their magic for a long time, before deciding it best to transport. the docs at the hospital advised that pit would probably have about 20% success rate in bringing the baby down, and recommended a c section. so that is what happened, and she gave birth to a nearly 10 lb little girl with a perfectly round head; she clearly had no intention of descending on her own.

michele told me all of this over the phone this morning. “i’m only telling you the details because your baby’s head is already much lower than this one ever ended up. you’re going to break this crazy cycle of transports…”

so, h gave me a cervical massage this morning (so much more pleasant than when done by a midwife), and was shocked to find sparky’s head very very low, my cervix all but gone, and dilation wide enough for 3 fingers to fit through. (mercifully, she didn’t test the 3 fingers estimation. bless her.) she could feel sparky’s head begin to assume cone shape.

and we wait.

contractions come and go, and i feel my baby’s head between my legs when i walk. come on out, child o mine. come on.

time to hook myself up to the bovine machine again. if you were here, you’d see me staring down in absolute wonder over the long slugs of nips being sucked through the pump horn, as h knits a scarf next to me. patty griffin is singing about burgundy shoes. the dogs are asleep under the bed.

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h and i were out and about running errands when the contractions started coming pretty regularly. (actually, they began in the middle of my therapy session!) i had to call midwife michele for lab results (my iron is 10.9…we’re trying to bump it to 11.7) so i mentioned this fact. they felt a little different today, in that i felt the contractions equally while sitting or standing. and they were coming 3-5 mins apart, lasting about a minute. lower back burn and wrapping around to just underneath my navel. ow.

so michele squealed a bit and asked me to check back with her in an hour. an hour passed; h and i enjoyed a lunch of falafel and gyro, respectively. contractions kept coming. i called michele back, and since were in the neighborhood, she asked us to come by for a quick exam. and guess what? i’ve made progress.

drumroll please: i am now 2 whole cm dilated, and 85% effaced, with a melty, buttery cervix. (such adjectives made me hungry for movie theater popcorn.) sparky has moved on down a bit (-1 station i think), which is why i am feeling pressure on my buttery cervix at all times anymore. well hooray.

michele massaged my cervix for awhile, which was quite uncomfortable, and when i asked about stripping membranes, she told me there was nothing to strip; my cervix and bag of waters are completely separated and ready to go.

and so she advised some mall-walking, which we did, hot sexy sexyness, which surely we will do, and an early night to bed. hopefully, things will pick up from there.

i had some good contractions at the mall, but they’re slowing down now that i’m relaxing without pants on. (you wanted to know this, yes?) however, i am quite crampy and sparky has massive hiccups way down in my pelvis.

i’m ready for you, little hiccuppy girl, if you are ready to slide on out.

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here is what i hope will be the last belly shot, taken fresh out of the shower when my belly is the shiniest. seriously now, i don’t think my skin can keep stretching, so sparky, you will either have to stop growing or simply come out. i say option b is the more favorable of the two.

39w2d

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we had a day of good contractions yesterday. we walked a little in the morning but my heartrate was up and i was a little dizzy, so i went back to bed until early afternoon. naturally, it was 100 degrees again yesterday, and i felt the need to walk to keep the contractions coming, so we went to…the mall.

i.hate.the.mall.

we sucked it in, though, for the sake of the baby. incidentally, sparky loves shopping. she becomes downright giddy when we are running errands. and so we bribed her with adorable outfits from hot topic and old navy, if she would just get her adorable little ass in gear already.

meanwhile, i seem to have finally finished losing my mucus plug. for two days, i was blessed with a mess of stuff every time i peed. copious amounts. but only a tiny bit of blood the first time it happened. and now, it’s just copious cm. i know that 3rd trimester ladies are supposed to have increased cm, but this is like a period, just with cm instead of blood. and no, it’s not amniotic fluid. i’ve tested the ph, and it’s just good ol cm.

thus endeth the tmi about my bodily fluids section of this entry.

back to the mall, i must confess that i really enjoyed spending time at the aveda store. i got a nice neck massage, and left with a new candle AND new lipstick. hooray! and h smelled so good and aveda-y that i was going to attack her in the fitting rooms of old navy. but alas, the store closed before we got to try anything on. so sad.

i could always attack her now, though…

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midwife appointment was frustrating yesterday. there were lovely moments, such as playing with michele’s tiny siamese-mix 6 week old kitten with the blue blue eyes. but overall, i was frustrated. my heartrate was up again, 100bpm or so. backup midwife wonders if it’s my thyroid and recommends i get it checked after i give birth. blargh.

my hemoglobin is still lowlowlow: 10.3. this is after 2 weeks on gentle iron twice a day, plus floradix (liquid iron supplement) twice a day. i’m taking it all with over 2000 mg of vitamin c every day. also, i’m eating a lot of red meat, cooked lovingly by my vegetarian h in an iron skillet. so i had a surprise blood draw, done by the new apprentice. hopefully i’ll have better results on monday. h is sure the midwife’s monitor is off.

meanwhile, the pressure is on to keep my iron levels up, should i go into labor this weekend. i have to start taking chlorophyll and a new kind of iron to help me absorb it all better. blargh.

not much has changed as far as labor progress goes. i’m still hanging out at a little over 1 cm dilated, and am 75-80% effaced. sparky is -2 station. during the internal exam, however, michele could feel sparky’s head tuck nicely when she pushed down on her bum. so she’s in a good position to come out the right way at least.

oh, and i lost 3 lbs since last week. total weight loss in 4 weeks: 6 lbs. blargh.

so you see why i was a little frustrated yesterday, despite getting to play with a fluffy kitten?

yesterday was also psychological mindfuck day as backup midwife told me, “you know you’ll probably deliver a week or two late right? even if i thought you were going to deliver early, i wouldn’t tell you.” and even michele reverted to the adage that first time moms deliver a week late. yeah yeah yeah, i know! it’s hard to swallow the dichotomy of “let’s see if we can get you to deliver early” with “you’ll probably go past your due date”.

so anyway. last night, i was totally exhausted after such a long day. h fell asleep at 9. i followed shortly after. and i couldn’t sleep. my heart was pounding again, and sparky’s foot was pushing against my diaphragm. i tossed and turned, sat up, stood up, paced, rolled around on the birth ball, stared at the stars awhile. nothing helped. i couldn’t get a good, deep breath. i was dizzy and the more i couldn’t breathe, the more panicky i felt. it was claustrophobia, climbing at the walls, stuck in my skin, etc. two benadryl finally knocked me out at 1 am. i woke up again at 5 with the same feeling. tried everything again. one more benadryl was the only thing that worked when i was still awake after sunrise.

now it’s 3 pm, and i feel like i was beat up last night. oy. i am so ready for this baby to come out. i feel my hard belly, and the very long baby balled up within it, and i beg her to please come out. none of this later-than-my-due-date bullshit. we need to get things going please. because i can’t take this trapped feeling of not being able to breathe for much longer. i don’t want to introduce my daughter to panic attacks.

this morning’s redemption, so i don’t sound too incredibly whiny: i woke up to gentle rain falling. we’ve been bone dry for weeks now, and every day is a temperature for the record books. today, a moment of relief. i needed it.

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after nearly four months of living in our new house, we finally got our pool key today. and so i christened my maternity swimsuit and floated around in a large pool with many, many rambunctious children. h threw them all off her shoulders. sparky kicked a lot. i think she enjoyed the whole swimming in a pool while in a pool thing. [as it turns out, the gate to the pool is unlocked. bastards. i could’ve been swimming all this time.]

here i am, post-swim, pre-shower: 38w2d.

38w2d

there is currently a pool of a different sort happening amongst my friends for bets on when sparky will be born. any guesses? i can’t think of a prize just yet, but if you win, you at least get the pleasure of being right. to me, that’s top prize, right up there with being first. heh.

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it’s a sweltering saturday afternoon, pushing 100 degrees, and i am nauseated and lounging in bed and tempted to get all nekked. we’ll see.

sparky is very active today, after being eerily quiet yesterday. i even had some contraband iced tea to see if that would stir her. it didn’t. she only came around as i floated on my side in the bathtub last night.

my charleydog–the alphabitch, as well as mama to 2 litters before being rescued and spayed and adopted by me–has been by my side more than usual, with a worried look on her face. h is convinced this means sparky will be coming soon. i just shrug. i have no idea. reading into signs get so exhausting.

and so i’ve resorted to taunting my fetus. at 3:00 today, i announced that if she wanted to be a may baby, she had 9 hours to get herself out of my womb. this was followed by some poking on my belly and “i’ll bet you don’t have it in you…” “i dare you to try…” “nah nah nah nah nah…” comments. she simply kicked me and ground her head into my pelvis until my cervix ached. i apologized.

yawn.

in other news, i think we have found our pediatrician. he is a jolly guy, nathan lane’s straight brother, who was a (“responsible, because [he] was in medical school”) hippie with midwife michele in the 60s, as well as the pediatrician for her kids.

reasons why we dig him:

  • he accepts our insurance
  • if we should ever find ourselves without insurance, he generously works with self-pay patients
  • he is completely supportive of “families like ours”, and actually got rid of a pediatrician in his practice who had issues with same sex parents
  • there is a lab at his practice
  • he is not antibiotic happy.
  • he is very flexible with vaccine choices and schedules. he trusts parents to do their homework and make informed decisions about their children’s health.

i didn’t know how relieved i would be to have found a pediatrician. we’d interviewed one previously, who was very honest about not having much experience with “families like ours” but had nothing against us either. she was pretty rigid about sticking to the vaccine schedules, and had nothing but horror stories when we asked her thoughts about, oh say, co-sleeping? (she herself slept with her mother as a child, interestingly enough.) i just didn’t feel comfortable with her overall. dr hippie was so nice, and had the answers to our questions ready before we asked them.

also, i had an appointment with h’s psychiatrist yesterday. i’ve met him a few times when i’ve accompanied her to her appointments, and he’s a quirky ADD OCD kind of guy. boxes of files are strewn about his office, and he never wears shoes. he has a fantastic potty mouth, and tells the most bizarre stories. all of his appointments notoriously run late by an hour at least. and he’s fabulous. he actually assesses more than the symptoms he has the power to medicate. he asks for your whole story (hence the lateness of all appointments). yesterday was a baseline assessment of how i’m doing without meds for depression and anxiety. i am officially doing “enviably well”. after sparky comes, i will check in with him once a month to make sure i am maintaining my mental health.

i can’t tell you how good it felt to walk out of a psychiatrist’s office without a prescription.

ok, i’m out of steam. but before i go, i must recommend you go buy the new record, shotgun singer, by my dear friend, kris delmhorst. she’s good people, and such a fabulous artist. AND she is due with her first bebe one day after sparky is estimated to arrive. privately, i am competing with her. my baby will come first. i will win.

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as it turns out, i am still 1 cm dilated. (h even got the official tutorial on how to check my cervix in the comfort of our own home. it was a bit weird to have her all up in my biz in front of midwives.) i am also 50% effaced. the news about my constant menstrual-like crampiness was met with squeals and thoughts that sparky will likely not hang out until her due date.

if she is still a fetus next thursday, i have my first home visit, where the midwives make sure they can find our house, give me my exam at home, and likely stay for dinner. (h will make a curry.) how exciting!

my blood pressure is still fabulous at 105/56, i think. heart rate was elevated, at between 90 and 120. they took my pulse several times to make sure i don’t have a heart murmur. i don’t. oh, and my iron. ugh. i was pricked twice today. in order to be clear for homebirth, my iron levels have to be at least 10. the first test showed me at a 9.something. the second was 10.2. and so i’m now having to monumentally increase my iron intake. on top of the ultramins and easy iron, i’m now taking floradix, which tastes nasty! i’m also doubling my vitamin c. and eating steak cooked in an iron skillet. fun.

so there you have it. remind me to tell you the story of our post-appointment visit to ikea today. mayhem ensued. but that’s a story for tomorrow.

edit: OH! and i almost forgot: i now have to sit on a washcloth full o castor oil three times a week after baths. the things i do for my perineum.

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