Monday, November 29, 2010

The Birth of Silas James

In the early morning hours of Monday, November 22nd -- the night of a full moon -- I found myself unable to sleep. I had an ache in my lower back and could not get comfortable in bed. After getting up repeatedly to use the bathroom, I finally just stayed up and wandered the house.

When I noticed a crampy feeling in my lower abdomen I wondered if I might be in labor, but I waited another hour or so, until 4:11am, before deciding it was time to wake my husband. I still wasn't sure if this was it, but I was feeling “off” and wanted him with me. We went downstairs, leaving the baby monitor on so we could hear Henry when he woke up.

At 4:35am I called Christy, my midwife. I told her about the backache and the cramping, which had started to come and go. I was able to talk to her through all of it, so I wasn't sure if it could be labor. She said that it wouldn't hurt to fill up the birth tub -- we could always drain it later if it were a false alarm -- and to call her back when we knew more. In about half an hour the contractions had grown so intense that I didn’t think I could talk on the phone and my husband called Christy back to ask her to come to the house.

My husband worked to fill the birth tub and at 4:58am he called my sister Karen, who we had lined up to watch Henry during the birth. She asked if she had time to shower and eat, and we thought she did. Henry was still sleeping at this point anyway.

At 5:25am Christy arrived, and soon after Deb, another midwife she works with, and Brandy, Christy's apprentice, came too. By this time the contractions were getting painful. I had taped a sheet of reminders for myself on the wall of our family room telling me to relax my mouth and jaw, breathe slowly and deeply, make low-pitched tones, and to trust my body. Every now and then my husband reminded me of these, but just having thought about this in advance and knowing the sheet was there was enough.

During Henry's birth I strained my throat yelling and tensed my body up so much that afterward I felt like I'd been hit by a Mack truck. I was convinced that if I'd been able to relax at all and be more in control of my reaction to the pain things would have gone more smoothly.

Henry woke up at this point and my husband went upstairs to get him. He was pretty upset to find out that the baby was about to be born, but calmed down when he heard that Karen was on her way. He came down and said hello to me as I braced myself through the contractions, which were starting to get more intense.

The birthing tub was finally filled, after my husband had drained the water heater and boiled countless pots of water on the stove, at 6:30am. I was so grateful to be able to climb into it; the water really helped make the pain more manageable.

At 6:40am my sister arrived and went upstairs with Henry to his room. She brought the board game Mousetrap and he had a lot of fun playing it with her. At one point he ran downstairs to see me, but he was fine with being led back up after only a minute or two.

At about 8am the midwives wanted me to empty my bladder, so despite my desire to stay in the tub my husband helped me out and walked me to the bathroom. It was a Herculean effort.

At 8:32am I dropped an F-bomb. Up until then I had been moaning through the contractions, able to remember my own advice to use low tones and breathe through the pain. But the pain was getting to the point that I was wishing I’d scheduled a c-section. I asked Christy, “How much longer?” She said that if I wanted to get out of the tub she could check me, but I wasn’t willing to get out again.

And then suddenly, at 8:37am, I felt like everything inside me was plunging downward. I started yelling and all the midwives rushed toward me with their equipment. It was incredible. I had no choice but to push when I was having a contraction and I could feel the baby moving downward as I did so. At this point, at 8:41am, my water broke.

Deb told me to wait and push with the next contraction, and when I did, at 8:43am, the baby‘s head came out. One more push and his whole body was in the water, at 8:45am.

I had been kneeling on the floor of the tub, hanging on to the side, and I turned around and the midwives handed the baby to me. He was pink and crying. The water level in the tub was so high that I had trouble keeping his head above the water, so the midwives helped me out of the tub and onto the futon mattress we’d set up nearby.

They laid the baby on my stomach and he immediately latched on. (In fact, he stayed latched on for an hour and fifteen minutes, until Christy decided she needed to do the newborn exam.) At 8:53am the umbilical cord stopped pulsing and my husband cut it.

Silas was 21 inches long and 8 pounds even. His Apgar score was a perfect ten.

The whole experience was so different from my labor and delivery with Henry. This time I could feel each contraction; last time I felt constant pain that never seemed to ebb and flow. This time I could feel when I was at the pushing stage; last time I never really felt a strong urge to push. This time I could tell that pushing was accomplishing something; last time I didn't know if I was even doing it right. It was the perfect textbook labor and delivery, and despite the pain I felt much more in control of everything.

I'm so glad I had this opportunity to do it again. It was an amazing experience.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Still Pregnant

My due date isn't for five more days, but I'm ready to meet the baby now. With Henry I knew he would be late, possibly by one or even two weeks, and I don't remember being impatient for him to come out. (Of course, he arrived on his due date.) This time I had a feeling the baby would be early, so in my mind he should have been here already.

The take-away from this is that my intuition sucks.

Maybe part of the problem, too, is that I have so many more complaints this time around. Hemorrhoids, crotch pain, left ear plugging up, constipation, back ache, you name it.

Also, last time at this point my time was my own. I had stopped working when I hit eight months. I could sleep late, nap during the day, and then stay up to watch a movie with my husband. Now I'm pretty much at Henry's beck and call, shuttling him to activities, doing art with him, reading to him, and then too tired at night to do anything but try to sleep. I can't complain about this part, though, because it's what I wanted, and in general I love it.

Mostly, I think, I'm ready for the next stage of my life to begin. I want to see how this labor goes (I'm hoping to be more aware and in control this time, as much as possible at least) and to meet this little guy. I'm so curious to see what he's all about. Will he be a blondie, like I was? Will he be a good sleeper (please, please)? Will he like art as much as Henry does, or will he be athletic, or into something else entirely?

There's a lot to look forward to, and I'm ready.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More Facebook Funnies

September 2010:

[True Mama] was laying down with Henry waiting for him to fall asleep last night when he asked, "Mom, what's four plus four?" I said eight, and then I heard him counting quietly to himself from one to eight. He paused and said, "Yes, you're right."

[True Mama]'s husband was explaining to Henry where to place his tongue to make the "R" sound correctly. Henry tried it for a while, then got frustrated and said, "You're just tryin' to make me talk fancy!"

[True Mama]‎'s son told her husband, "I can paint anything you want me to." Her husband said, "What about a mosquito?" and Henry replied, "If he stays still long enough."

[True Mama] did not realize how literally Henry would take her when she okayed a "space" theme for his bedroom. He wants the walls, ceilings and floor painted black and his bed to look like a moon crater.

[True Mama] was looking at the Chinaberry catalog when some wooden Christmas carousels caught Henry's eye. He asked if we could buy them, and I said, "Well, one costs $75 and the other is $150." Henry studied them and then said, "Oh! The more expensive one has Jesus! No wonder it costs so much -- Jesus is the son of God."

[True Mama]‎'s son fell down the stairs this morning, which was all kinds of horrible. But the one funny thing is that Henry kept asking me afterward why I hadn't asked him if he knew where he was (and he was kind of peeved that I hadn't).

[True Mama]‎'s son just said, "Two plus three is four." Daddy replied, "No, it's not. It's five," and Henry said, "I tease."

[True Mama]‎'s son was pretending to be one of two little toy fish he owns, Fishy Wishy and French Fry. He said, "French Fry is really crabby. He wasn't like that when we got married, but I'm not going to divorce him. I still love him; I just don't like him anymore."

[True Mama] to Henry: "Please stop picking your nose and eating your boogers!" HENRY: "I didn't even get anything. Besides, I do it all the time in bed and you don't even know."

[True Mama] just had to explain to Henry why he should not be going around saying the word "cock" in front of other people. He's been saying it a lot lately without knowing that it meant anything, and when he said, "COCK, Zoe, COCK!" to the neighbor girl I finally had to say something.

I forgot to mention that Zoe was eating a popsicle at the time.

October 2010:

[True Mama]‎'s son suggested we play a game he just made up, saying, "Don't worry, it's fine for an old pregnant woman like you."

[True Mama]'s son was working on a craft project and getting frustrated. He said, "They made this project just so no one would ever want to do a craft project again!"

[True Mama] got up from sitting at the table with Henry to answer the phone, saying, "Excuse me, honey, I need to answer that." Henry said, "It's okay. I'll let you."

[True Mama]‎'s son asked, "Mom, how do you get to the Domes? I'm just curious." I said, "Well, you take 27th Street off the freeway" and he shrieked, "I don't even know where that street is!" I said, "Does crying help you understand?" and he said, "No! I'm just doing it!"

[True Mama]‎'s son came inside complaining that the neighbor kids were worried that he'd get blown away. I said, "I think you might weigh more than Zoe" and he said, "No, I weigh a pound less than she does." I asked, "How much does she weigh?" and he answered, "A pound more than me."

[True Mama]‎'s son invented something that can identify how smart someone is by their voice. He said I was 200 mump-o-meters smart and Daddy was 400 mump-o-meters smart. Nice. Even better, two minutes later he said, "Mommy, I figured yours out wrong. I was including the baby." Thanks, kid.

[True Mama] was telling Henry some of the cute ways he used to pronounce words when he was littler -- "Nonny" for his sister Maddy, "zoom-zoom" for living room, etc. When I was done, he asked, "What did I say for 'toxin'?"

‎[True Mama]'s son just asked if we were going to have a lifeguard for the birth pool.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

Henry was a cat for Halloween this year. In retrospect I think we should have drawn whiskers on him, but my husband said that Henry meowed the entire time he was trick-or-treating, so hopefully it was pretty obvious what he was supposed to be.