seeking the wild of the everyday

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

in like a lion....

out with a lamb (wrapped up skin to skin in the moby)

40 weeks

<the real birth day of lincoln>

TO HELL AND BACK, our survivor speaks.
my HBAC (home birth after cesarean.)
a few things have changed in my house:
first off, we've turned the heater on for the very first time-
secondish, i am no longer pregnant.

in the past two weeks i've replayed the day over and over in my head;
the strange sensory details, the subtle nuances of labor, the breaking of my body, the moment of contact-
the fear--- and the triumph.

let's just say it was more than i ever imagined it to be, harder than i ever knew.
the only way to know to is to do.

let's hop back to three weeks ago.

i was very pregnant and tired of it. i spent my days walking, cleaning, and trying not to get my hopes up too high whenever i felt the practice contractions. it's really easy to do, even when you've completely deconstructed the idea of a "due date." i knew realistically that i could have a gestational period of 43 weeks, and i was trying to stay patient since i was going to let nature do her thing and have a completely spontaneous labor. so we went about our daily lives, pretending like we weren't waiting.
exploring the last wild swampy places in empty lots and between the strip malls, getting tadpoles

i wore this just about everyday. i'll get it back to you, mom.
planted a kumquat and mandarin tree in our front yard, used our lovely compost.

my mother-in-law tami gave me a pedicure...i was pregnantladyzilla that day.
my last day pregnant, who knew. 

now the story starts: on sunday night, around 11, i put down my reading material and turned off the lamp. tyler is already asleep and ready to get up early for work. i wake up at midnight with what feels like a really pinchy menstrual cramp at the base of my uterus. i wait a few minutes; it's consistent. i want to wake up tyler and tell him he doesn't have to go to work in the morning, but i don't want to cry wolf. i'm trying not to get excited. once upon a time my natural child birth educator specifically said to try to get back to sleep if awoken by contractions. the number one reason home births transfer to hospitals is from maternal exhaustion. (im sorry for the poorly constructed run-on brain is a little tired..)
but i am excited. my whole pregnancy i was nervous i would never go into labor (crazy idea, i know, but i was induced with teddy so there was a lot of institution-instilled doubt.) deep inside i was terrified i would fail, and end up with another c-section. i tried to stay faithful to nature.

i wake up tyler with little fanfare, and go to the kitchen to start an early labor project: food. i ate a whole box of spongebob mac and cheese (an unusual, but welcome treat) and started cringing from the contractions. i tried to go back to sleep. no luck. at around 5,or was it 6? i tell tyler to call deborah, the midwife. my contractions are strong and regular and i'm convinced the baby will come by lunchtime. i am already so tired.
"mother is proud. baby is proud." we both cry a little. a wise woman once said the baby who cries needs to tell their tale.
 okay, so i realize this story is about a year long...let me try to condense to reduce everyone's screen time;
i know it's the new thing to hire a labor and birth photographer, but while i was in labor the thought never even crossed my mind. i'll paint you a basic picture: me, shuffling silently across the floor slowly in a house coat, chin tucked to chest, breathing slowly. tyler watches on with doleful and attentive eyes. i smile at him wanly between contractions. i don't want to be touched. we don't speak. he'll attest that it was the quietest i've ever been (until labor progressed that is.) the midwives sit in silence on the couch in my bedroom, occasionally taking food/bathroom breaks, checking my blood pressure, and listening to the baby's heart beat. the midwives were really hands-off, trusting completely in the birth process. initially i didn't even want cervical checks, but eventually i started asking for them, hoping my hours of pain were making progress. at around noon was the first check. hesitantly deborah told me i was at a "4." talk about bitter disappointment after 10 hours of painful labor. i think it was then i learned how to pace myself. in pain the mind learns to do weird things to cope..laborland... thoughts are repeated over and over, like when falling asleep. i must of heard "i'm just a teenage dirt bag baby, listen to iron maiden baby with me..." a million times in my mind. (thank you, wheatus, for partially getting me through labor..)
the baby is still part of the mother's body. birth is just the beginning.
 i thought, "i am the Uterus Queen!"  i thought, "the pain is normal, my body is opening up, the pain is purposeful, allow the body to open..." in my bathroom we threw a plastic backed table cloth on the floor. it crunched under my feet as i paced it in circles, like a ritual. i learned how to handle contractions on the toilet, sitting, and opening up...i'd sit for three contractions, and then get back to my pacing. i was bleeding all over my beloved strangely comforting table cloth, my cervix was disintegrating.
rachel, and deborah, the coolest midwives ever.
 essentially it was this: the peak of my reproductive cycle, a climax of sorts. the whole time i thought i was so stupid to do it without drugs. what was the point? i practically drooled when i thought of teddy's birth, general anesthesia with a c-section...i wouldn't have lasted in a hospital. i would've had that epidural after an hour of labor, and a c-section a few hours later. i'd wander out to where the midwives were sitting. i'd tell them i couldn't go any longer, that i was dying...i wanted them to take over for me, to manage my birth. luckily they were so non-reactionary... they would just smile and say, "you're doing great, every thing is fine..." and then i'd wander back to my table cloth. there was no quitting, labor just happened, and i had to be open to it. occasionally i'd have a mental break through and think,  "this is my birth. i need to own it. no one else can do this for me." it was mystifying. i prayed for strength...the words of cheesy pregnancy affirmation cd's come to me: "your ancestors are waiting with a banner for you and your child"... .it was a battle. my pelvis had a stick of dynamite in it every minute for hours, and the baby was turned the wrong way. there was a bowling ball being pressed through my hips, crushing my bones. there is no way to prepare for that kind of pain.
rachel showing us the placenta's tree of life. it has since then been encapsulated.
 i labored on my feet for nearly 21 hours, with little to eat or drink in the mean time. i stayed mainly in my bathroom, the "pit of dispair," my darkened lair, for the majority of the event. i thought, maybe this is the only way to prepare me to be a mother again. i was in a self-hypnosis, waiting for transition, waiting to push, waiting for a time to rest. i got up on the bed, on my hands and knees, and my water broke. SWOOSH, all over. there was a change in the contractions, and i started pushing with them.
i am so happy to see teddy.

 it hurt, but it also felt so good to push. i could actually now participate in labor. it was the very first time that i felt i would actually meet my baby, that this was real, and not just painful. it. was. exciting. the uterus is strong! and i pushed so hard with every contraction. no one told me when to push, or how to push; the body just knows. people have likened the pushing to major pooping, but no, that's inaccurate. what it really feels like is pushing a baby out of the birth canal! i growled, nay, i roared with every push, like a lioness. la gritanda! i was going to get that baby out of me! there was a major stretch, but i kept on pushing...who can think about tearing at a time like this? POP, his massive fat head is OUT! i can see tyler's face...fascinated and wide eyed with anticipation and concern. i'm panting now, with his head out, waiting for the next contraction. i ask: does he have hair?! i reach down and feel his warm little wrinkly head! one more push, oh! his shoulders slide out, and his hips, and he is placed on top of my belly. i laugh and sob and tyler wipes a tear from his eye. "i did it! I'M DONE!"  mainly i'm impressed that i am, in fact, still alive. :)
 my body washes over with relief and peace and pure happiness. we remain that way for another hour, tyler cuts the cord after it is done pulsing. tami and my mom come in with teddy. there is rejoicing....and admiring. and i am hungry. tyler feeds me apples and peanut butter, i gulp down some soda. oh so good.
the throne of learning how to breastfeed.
 tyler holds his baby and the midwives give him a check-over. he's perfect..he breathes a little fast but deborah isn't one to freak out about those kinds of things. he weighs 9.8lbs and is 22 1/4 inches long. and his head is bigger than teddy's was..(another reason why they told me i needed a c-section.)
first bath with grandma tami casper.
 now i feed a pink gorilla baby as much as he wants. Ho bio-LOGICAL life. he's hardly ever been dressed, we hang out skin to skin mainly...for me it smooths out that transition from womb to world for both of us.
entering the system: off to auburn for the birth certificate, complying with california law. ;)
 there is nothing like seeing tyler with lincoln. i love everything, so much. i enjoy their shared company to the fullest.
my mother in law tami, at this very moment, is sewing the COOLEST cloth diapers and flannel liners. i couldn't be more excited about this. tami, you da bomb, for a million different reasons. (notice the cup o' human milk.. i rain milk, like a milky lady cloud)

i look at this picture and i wonder, when did i become a mother? let alone mother to two beautiful little people--- balancing youth/individuality and parenthood really isn't that hard; they just will go exploring with me. it's about learning, and it all comes down to love. there's a lot of love in the world.