Thursday, November 8, 2012

robin dash, a birth story.

between a full moon and my favorite holiday, my little prince came into this world...

it is a funny thing the way i wrote my birth story out on my head before it even happened - how the photos would look, how the faces on the people who bared witness to it would look, how the water of the birthing tub would feel, all of it down to the flameless candles. now, as i sit here to write this birth story, just having gone through and edited some of my favorite photos from the night, i am remembering how raw the whole thing was. not raw in a bad way, but in a way that i could have never wrapped my head around until i was in it, deep in it, or rather it was over and i look back on it.

tuesday when i went in for my thirty-eight week and five day appointment i had an agenda. one that involved the kids already staying with family, our van full of a carseat, our bags, snacks, and a coming home outfit complete with a cute hat - i was going to have my baby that night, my body was ready, white flag and all.

i had a speech and complaints and promises all ready for my midwife heike, but none of that mattered anymore when it was determined that i was already dilated to a six and a half, and despite the home-birth in labor or the labor on its way in or even the three moms to be that had their membranes stripped that morning, i was going to be staying to have my baby boy tonight. it was going to be a busy night.

by time the room i was going to be birthing in was decided, the bed was stripped and prepped, furniture was moved, clothes were changed, the bath was rinsed, and the candles were lit - it was five thirty and my midwife heike would be in any minute to break my water. my water was clear and perfect but there was still some question about the baby moving out of my pelvis easily.

it is weird when you are induced this way - labor isn't immediately set off in all cases. for a month or so i had been having constant and building in intensity contractions but as my water was broken even those ceased to exist. in its place came something else though...

something about the way the baby was brought down into my pelvis with the breaking of the bag or something about not having that extra cushion anymore sent me spiraling with the shooting pain of my sciatic nerve in both legs. I began to find it impossible to stand, a birthing ball became my only option and that wasn't helping labor along in any way.

eventually this subsided with some piriformis stretches and tim helping pull and push on my bent legs until the muscles relaxed, but over all it was a feeling that would linger through my labor. following, was a lot of standing around and people starring at me, puzzled how to bring on a good labor for me. my doula and i walked in the rain, we sent a flustered tim on errands for burger king chicken sandwiches, and i swayed my hips up and down the birthing center halls afraid the whole time people were looking at my diapered butt through my skirt.

we talked about what my labor would probably be like, hard and fast. i had come in at a six and half after all and this was my fourth baby, my body would do work for me in the best way. i was so anxiously awaiting some real action that i was stalling my body and draining the environment of the oxytocin it needed to push me into labor. we plugged my iphone into the dock and the room was suddenly filled with passion pit, regina spektor, mumford and sons, foster the people...all our favorites.

at about eight thirty i was hit with my first real contraction, one that clearly signaled the start of my labor. i announced to my doula i felt a contraction coming assuming it would be like the others i had experienced for weeks, so she took position behind me and lifted my belly high. what came on feeling more like a braxton hick was suddenly lasting and pulsating through my body. this was it.

it was a little while before another one crept on, this time i was on all fours with my doula hovering above me holding a scarf around my belly. again, she lifted and it sent my contraction in a different direction. at this point it was suggested that i labor on the toilet, this was equally silly to me and made perfect sense - something about the way your body automatically relaxes there.

i started fully clothed, facing backwards, laying on a pillow but quickly realized this wasn't going to cut it. i suddenly found myself naked, forward, and leaning on tim who was sitting on a stool in front of me ready with water and a pillow. the contractions started rolling in...

or rather, i can't saying rolling. something about these were nothing i could have ever imagined or had experienced with any of my pregnancies before. there was no start, peek, and coming down from. i was hit hard, hard like i had never experienced in my life - they hit, lasted, then were over. i began to feel a little desperate.

somewhere during a break, my doula who had been watching from her spot on the floor, started to talk to me about moaning with the contractions. her and the midwives had struggled up to this point to remind me to relax my jaw and shoulders with the contractions, that being so tense was making things harder for me and my labor. the moaning would help me move past that.

i had never been a noise maker in labor, or pictured that i ever could be, but suddenly with the next contraction i did it. you could tell i was letting it out unnaturally and timidly at first, but that was overcome quickly when the next contraction hit, building on the last one. low, consistent moaning was all i could do to survive the contractions that were hitting me now. i was in the beginning of transition.

i quickly wanted off the toilet, i didn't have a plan per say - maybe the birthing stool, or a ball, or standing, maybe the tub was ready. at this point i have heartedly yelled out i wanted to go to the hospital and get a epidural. later, my doula and i joked about this because i guess when i said it, i said it with a laugh - that was because i knew there was no way it could happen but it felt necessary to say, or ritualistic maybe? i was feeling desperate and was in so much pain, pain like you can't even imagine.

pain like i couldn't even enjoy my labor for one second. pain that made me forget what i was even working for, my baby to be here in my arms - i had totally wiped my mind of that for now, i just had to survive.

there were a few moments where i was caught with a contraction while trying to decide what my body needed next. hunched over the bed, with tim to far to grab on to, or walking from somewhere to another - these moments were raw and unbearable and i cried.

we had stopped timing contractions at this point, they were at least two minutes apart and moving me well along, it was ok'd for me to get in the tub now. i had never planned on actually birthing him in the tub but i knew i wanted it as a measure of pain relief and we would see what happened from there. the second i was in the water i wanted out.

my midwife, who had been absent mostly, leaving everything to her two students, suddenly popped her head in. "you sound close!" i did? it is a funny thing how they can pick up on the change in my voice, signaling where i was in my labor, where my baby was. she had been all the way down the hall and around the corner. then, at some point everyone disappeared and returned wearing sweats and pajamas - birthing clothes?

i couldn't get comfortable at all - not on my knees, relaxing into the grooves of the tub, on all fours or anything. then i remember at one point coming out of a contraction, i opened my eyes to find five people lined up in a row just starring at me. my midwife picked up on my dislike of the image immediately and got up and moved, i muttered something about feeling like a marine animal then demanded help out the water.

i wanted on the bed, i asked if i could lay on my side - i was suddenly picturing myself pain free in the fetal fitting. so all hands available quickly wrapped towels around me and i somehow managed my way to the bed in the middle of the contraction, the bed was the one place i had previously thought i would not birth my baby on. i remember clearly as each new contraction came on my breathing would change and i would whisper to tim in a deep choked voice, "one is coming."

i was in this thick of it. nothing made me happy, people offered me water and tried to hold my legs up for me and i thrashed and said no, a lot. i clawed at the headboard and tim, using anything i could for leverage. i finally broke down and asked my midwife to check me, at this point no one had since i had my water broken.

her answers were so un-fullfilling - "you have this much cervix holding on (holding up her two fingers just slightly apart)" i screamed for her to tell me what that meant - how far did i have to go? i really was at a loss why i wasn't feeling pressure to push yet.

a contraction hit and i officially gave up on any control of my voice, i was screaming and thrashing - the animal in me had absolutely taken over and consumed me, was in control of me as much as i was of it. it was like a rubber band had snapped - suddenly everyone's faces were elated and hands were ready to catch a baby. tim was summoned to a different position, he was going to catch our son. i remember hearing my midwife call attention to her two students, "see how it is all so clear now? there is the baby!" and suddenly i was pushing.

my midwife now filling the hole where tim had stood, became my anchor to the world - with my arms and upper body clinging to her right leg i pushed my baby's head out.

no one telling me when to push, counting in my face for how long, or telling me when to stop. i wanted him out and it was happening on my terms, i could feel him completely and knew exactly where to focus my body to move him down. i remember the panic i felt when the contraction had left me and all i had pushed out was his head, then i sat and watched the faces of everyone in front of me and giggled - it was such a quick passing scene but what i was seeing was tim's face in between four other women's faces and something about the sight was funny to me.

suddenly time stopped, or it just became a blur, but another contraction had consumed me and i could now hear my son crying and hands working fast to free him of his tangled cord. then he was in my arms at ten-twenty four pm.

the very last photo down there is a moment my doula caught the second he had been placed on my chest - i was yelling, "oh my god! i feel so good! that feels so good!" if you have given birth, you can relate exactly with that moment.

his cord stopped pulsating almost immediately and tim got to cut the cord of his new son. everyone waited on their toes as we introduced our new son, robin dash. he immediately latched on to nurse.

if you were doing the math while you read on, my water was broken at five-thiry but i didn't have a contraction till about eight-thirty then just short of two hours later my son was in my arms. it was a whirlwind.

later one of the student midwives gave me a "tour" of my placenta and made it a point to reassure me, that while i wasn't full term yet, i knew my body was ready to birth this baby. while it was still completely viable, my placenta was showing signs that it was on its way out. she laid it flat and reminded me that when i wanted to be up and vacuuming in a few days that there was a wound this exact size inside of my body now. it really is a wonder the time and care that midwifes put into your birth versus anything i have ever received at a hospital. we choose to even encapsulate my placenta, but more on that later...

i wonder a little what would had been different if this had been my first birth and so on. as painful and intense as it was from start to finish, i would do it again in a heartbeat. it was everything and nothing like i expected but one of the most rewarding things i have ever done in my life.

eight pounds/ fourteen and a half ounces and twenty-two and a half inches of pure boy deliciousness.

we left an hour or two after he was born and were in bed at home as a new family of six, less then nine hours since we had arrived. this boy has my heart. 

i have felt amazing since the second i stepped foot out of the birthing center. i spent the first few days in bed constantly snuggling and nursing my insatiable little dude, but i was totally ok with that. since then i have moved to the couch, but spend a little more time on my feet, letting tim hold him while i acclimate myself back into life with two other little ones. after all, tim goes back to work next tuesday and i have to put my stay at home mommy pants back on and life will attempt to resume to normal. life has been so good to me and my family.

and that is the story of my little prince, robin dash.


melissa rohr said...

Wonderful. Just lovely. Congrats mama!!

melissa rohr said...

That is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing <3

melissa rohr said...

Ah that gave me chills! I could feel your pain. Especially when you said you were desperate and not even aware of what was going on. I remember that so clearly. I will admit, the whole midwife/doula/home birth thing appeals to me, everything except the pain. I never want to experience that again. Congrats on little Robin. Love the pictures and the whole post. <3

melissa rohr said...

And I cried, duh. That last picture, I want to do it all again.

melissa rohr said...

Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this! It was beautiful, and I'm so, so proud of you!

melissa rohr said...

bahh I just BAWLED. The paragraph where you lost it and then started pushing, wow. You are super woman. I hope I can have another baby and go naturally like this. I applaud you! xoxo

melissa rohr said...

i do to and that scares me lol

melissa rohr said...


melissa rohr said...

you need to have one more! four is such a good number :)

melissa rohr said...

i can't wait till you get to have another one :)

melissa rohr said...

love, love, love your story. thanks for being vulnerable enough to share it so candidly!

melissa rohr said...

Congratulations! So inspiring, I hope I can have my daughter all natural this time. Sounds like you had an amazingly supportive team behind you.

melissa rohr said...

Beautiful story. What a super woman you are, it sounds like you totally channelled what your body was needing you to do.
And well done for being so quick with writing it all up. My baby girl is 7 weeks old and I REALLY need to get writing her birth story before I forget the details, x

melissa rohr said...

Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it! The pictures are amazing. You did awesome! I so wish I had researched natural births before I'd had any of my four kids in the hospital... Congrats again on your new little man! :)

melissa rohr said...

That last photo is beautiful. Totally teared up. Congrats on your boy :)

melissa rohr said...

I have been on the edge of my seat waiting for your birth story! You did not disappoint, lol. Amazing. Congrats, you guys.

melissa rohr said...

Thanks for sharing your story. If there is a second in my future, you've given me hope I can go natural and have the birth I want...with Abby I progressed so fast and was forced to stay in bed the first hour at the hospital, that when it came to epidural time, I couldn't get one because of how far along I was. I know I can handle the pain b/c of what I went through, but I've had my doubts if I can do it again. But you reminded me that in the end, the pain is gone and it's so very much worth it.

melissa rohr said...

One of the more beautiful birth stories I've read. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

melissa rohr said...

it seriously is one of the best feelings - you totally forget what you just went through.

melissa rohr said...

CRYING!!! Beautiful story... you are SUPERMOM! I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!

melissa rohr said...

Beautiful..just beautiful!

melissa rohr said...

First, I loved your birth story! Congratulations on your beautiful baby boy! We have two girls, and this spring we're looking forward to our first boy. Your story reminded me so much of my second daughter's birth, at home with a wonderful midwife and husband. I too had that cervical lip preventing me from pushing. I too had to get out of the water and onto the bed. And, I too managed to get her head pushed out, but then had to wait till the next contraction to get her all the way out. One of the true, "you've got to be kidding me" moments, right?

I did have one question about your story that I very much hope you can help me with. When your contractions really began, after your midwife broke your water, your doula performed two belly lifts in conjunction with contractions. Are these like the belly lifts described on the Spinning Babies website and in the book, Back Labor No More? I had very difficult back labor with both of my previous deliveries, and now, 5 months pregnant with my third I'm looking for ways to make labor go a little faster and hopefully eliminate the back labor. If you could maybe offer some insight as to why your doula performed these belly lifts for you, if you had used them before, and what you believe they did for your labor and delivery this time around I would be so grateful. You're the only woman I've ever really "known" to have used this move and I would so love some first hand information.

Thank you ever so much for taking any time away to help, I know you must be super busy. If you'd prefer you could email me.

Thank you again in advance and congratulations on a beautiful birth and family :)

melissa rohr said...

i'll do you one better! i am going to pass this question along to my doula as she will be able to answer it a lot better! is it ok if she answers on here? that way the answer is visible? make sure and check back in case the notice of reply doesn't go through :)

melissa rohr said...

Oh, that would be beautiful! Thank you so much :) I'll be sure to check back.

melissa rohr said...

Hi Matti! I'm Rachel, Melissa's doula, and I'm happy to talk about what we did for her birth. I did two different kinds of belly lifts with Melissa, first the "Abdominal Lift and Tuck" that is on Spinning Babies, and later we did some rebozo sifting for a couple of contractions. I learned the belly lift, kind of a "hug" from behind, from one of my midwife friends when I was very pregnant with my third baby. It was clear that Melissa's body was ready to have this baby (who walks around 6.5cm dilated?), but he hadn't moved down at all. I used it in an attempt to help Robin into the pelvis to try to get consistent contractions started, and it worked like a charm.

I stood behind her when her contraction was first starting and wrapped my arms around her belly, lifting it up during the contraction. From the first time we tried it, her contraction had a different quality to it. I think we did it 2-3 times, then we did a little "sifting" with a scarf one of the midwives brought me (I forgot my rebozo! It lives in my doula bag now.) Melissa got on her hands and knees on the bed and I stood above her (it's quite a picture). I did some slight jiggling, but more than the sift I just focused on holding Robin up to help the contraction move him into the pelvis. After those two moves, her contraction pattern finally caught hold. Moving her to the toilet at that point to help her relax and let her body work was our next step.

Researching positioning issues and how to resolve them is an awesome thing to do to prepare for labor. Having a doula with you who is knowledgeable in fetal positioning and how to adjust it can make all the difference. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions about this, my email is Congratulations on your pregnancy and I hope you have a wonderful birth!

melissa rohr said...

Thank you so much for the prompt response! I'm not due until early April, but I'll do what I can to avoid back labor this time. :) I see my midwife on Monday and I'll be discussing these ideas with her to see what experience she has with them. I might have more questions after my appointment if she doesn't have much insight into these techniques.
Do you know if these two techniques significantly changed the duration/type of labor for Melissa this time around?

Incidentally, if you have any advice on the dreaded back labor, I'm all ears, lol!

Thanks again!