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Note: Molly was born at home. This story about her birth is moderately graphic, but probably only G-rated.
02/21/04 – 11:06 am
Edited: 02/22/04 – 1:25 pm
I woke up at 3 am on Thursday, February 19, much like I had been waking up on most nights these past few weeks. That big belly was making it hard to stay asleep. This night was different, though. Around 4 am, I noticed that I was having contractions at regular intervals, and they didn’t stop when I got up to use the bathroom. By 5:30, I was convinced that this was the real thing. Contractions were about 10 minutes apart, but I could still breathe through them. I took a shower, woke up Phil, paged our midwife Pat, and waited.
By 6:00, they were 5 minutes apart and growing in intensity, but I didn’t think I was really all that close yet. Pat had gone running, and Nadene was on standby to come over to be with Annie. I sent out a couple emails and updated Molly’s website. Suddenly, by 6:45, I realized I was closer than I expected. Contractions were now about 3 minutes apart, and I was having much more trouble relaxing through them. I got into the bathtub, and Phil called Pat and Nadene to come now.
The next few hours became a blur. At first, Annie was extremely concerned and wouldn’t leave the bathroom. She was very well prepared by the sibling childbirth class that Pat teaches as well as the books we’d been reading, but I think the real experience was a bit of a surprise to her. She helped Pat talk me through the contractions and asked everyone if I was going to be all right. She frequently asked me to call her if I needed anything (so sweet!). I had wondered before if she would want to be in the bathtub with me, but she never asked. She brought me water and apple juice to drink and patted my arm a lot. She even let me use her Scooby Doo cup!
I labored intensely. My brain had forgotten how hard it really was. I questioned my sanity (tell me again why I’m doing this “the hard way”?), and I really wanted some painkillers. I was loud, and I was hurting. Molly was posterior, so I had back-labor, which is truly painful. No position was offering relief. The bathtub was wonderful, but it wasn’t providing the comfort that I had thought it would (my memory of Annie’s birth is a bit cloudy, but I do recall that I relaxed at the end in the bathtub and was able to have the natural birth I wanted). I alternated between using the birthing ball while hanging onto Phil and hands-and-knees in the tub. Annie eventually became bored with the experience and went to play with Nadene, but she would check in on me periodically. Apparently, Sadie (our dog) was also concerned by my behavior and had to go outside for the rest of the day!
Pat and Phil were constantly encouraging me. I don’t remember anything Phil said during Annie’s birth, but this was much different. I was not distracted by a strange environment, people, or equipment. The bathroom was serene and dim. Pat was in the background, coming forward only as needed to check the baby’s heart rate or offer encouraging words or a drink. Pamela, her assistant, took care of any other needs, but I never saw her til after Molly was born. It was usually just us three, a team.
I tried to labor consciously and remain focused and relaxed, but that was very tough because the pain was intense. My mind raced with the possibilities. Why did I have to be so stubborn? Why wasn’t I done with this? It should be over by now! I can’t do it any longer. Please someone make this baby come out. But I also was clearly rational that I did *not* want to go to a hospital for this birth. Pat was there to remind me to work through the moment and not worry about the next one … rather hard to do when the moments are that intense! I needed to remain strong and survive each contraction. So, in spite of begging for all kinds of relief (drugs, c-section) and wanting to give up, I kept going and never once mentioned the “H” word.
At around 10:30, we started talking about an exam and possibly “stretching” the cervix, which might help things along. I could barely walk, but I finally managed to get to the bed, and Pat did just that. At about the same time, I’m pretty sure that Molly did turn from her posterior position, which changed labor, too. I stayed in bed, on hands-and-knees, trying to relax with Phil next to me and Pat rubbing my feet. Within 30 minutes of the exam, my water broke. Soon after, I moved back to the bathtub … and everything moved along rapidly from there.
Pat encouraged me to feel inside for the baby’s head – wow! I began pushing with more confidence that Molly would be here soon. Someone called Annie as her head began to show. I could feel her head (not that it felt like a head). I thought I would never be able to push her out, though. In hindsight, we wonder if Molly had a fist up by her face, which was making things a bit tough. But, with each push, she moved further along. Pat did have to help Molly a little when she’d been partly out for awhile, but suddenly she backed off, I pushed one more time, and Phil brought our precious Molly out of the water and onto my chest.
Annie watched with great interest. Molly was purple! And there was blood! Molly took a moment to adjust to the air. She whimpered quietly and peacefully. Phil and I rubbed her back with warm blankets and just watched her in awe. Soon, the cord stopped pulsing, and Phil cut it – while Annie watched with curiosity and compared Molly’s new belly button to her own.
Molly started nursing immediately – a champion already! I stayed in the tub for awhile before handing Molly to Daddy so I could deliver the placenta. After the trouble I had with Annie’s placenta, we were all a bit anxious about that. Fortunately, it seemed to separate pretty quickly and was delivered (with a bit of work) less than 20 minutes after Molly. Annie was amazed by the blood and rather concerned about how we were going to clean it up.
We all moved to the bedroom, and Phil called our parents to share the good news. I marveled in the presence of this wrinkled little babe. She had a tight grip on my finger and was nursing so well. I felt exhilarated. After about 1½ hours, Pat did her exams. Molly weighed 8 lb 13 oz! A far cry from the 7 lb 4 oz ultrasound estimate from two days before and quite a surprise to me. She measured 20½” – 2” longer than Annie – but she really didn’t look like she was 2 lb heavier than Annie.
Recovery has been “easy” this time, too. I had no tearing, thankfully – which is partly because of the water-delivery. I had a tougher time pushing Annie out, which did cause some significant tears (while less painful than an episiotomy, it still hurt). Pat prescribes a wonderful herbal bath for mom and baby twice a day to ease the healing. Molly does enjoy the soaking (as do I). Other than the occasional jaunt to the computer, I’ve been sleeping and basking in the joy of new baby smells and sounds.
The first night was difficult as Molly and I adjusted to each other’s needs. I wanted to sleep lying down, and she wanted to nurse while I sat up. Guess who won? The second night, we actually slept a lot! We found a lying-down position that worked for Molly, and she slept peacefully for hours in between.
We’ve had a few visitors already … Nana, Grandma & Papa and James & Sara. Pops returns from England today and will stop by on his way home. There is a proud sign in the front yard announcing our new arrival “Born at Home”. Sadie is very curious about the new baby, but she seems to be the only critter who is. The store is open without me, and life is good.
I hope that as you’ve read this, you’ve learned something – maybe about childbirth or maybe about me. This experience has been so unbelievable for us. We have waited four years to have another baby, and we have been thinking about home birth most of this time. Annie’s birth was tremendous and spiritual for us, but this time we wanted even more. We have met so many wonderful people along the path to this moment, and we learned so much about ourselves and our strengths. We have learned to trust our bodies as well as our human needs. Childbirth is a very personal experience, and I would never say that there is a single “right” way for it to occur. The path we chose was the right one for us. It might have been easier to choose a more conventional means, but I would never have known the joy, the power, or the intimate connection that came from experiencing this birth with my family.
I wrote this account to remember the feelings that I’ve had these past two days. But, I also secretly hope that other mothers might rebel against our society’s pressures and say “no” to the conventions that are changing the way babies are entering this world. It’s more than worth it.
02/22/04 – Annie has an amazing bond with Molly already. She loves being a Big Sister (so far). Before Molly was born, Annie was worried that the baby would dribble or throw up on her toys, but she hasn't been bothered so far. Molly's skin is very wrinkled (you would be, too, after 42.5 weeks in the "water"), though, and peeling. Annie is a bit afraid of the peeling skin, which she calls "sprinkles"! Annie pets Molly's soft head, loves to hold her, and is very concerned when she cries – she makes sure that I respond appropriately and let her nurse right away. So far, jealousy hasn't surfaced, and Annie is able to sleep through the night-time waking.
One more little tidbit: our next door neighbor (her name is Annie, but we didn't name our Annie after her) was born in our house on February 11 (don't know what year). She was tickled to find out that we were having this baby here, too.
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e-Mommy: Janis Hyde
e-Daddy: Phil Hyde
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