How's it been? I feel the need to explain my month long absence...though it's probably obvious considering my last posts were about my impeding labor and though it felt like pregnancy would last an eternity, it didn't! We welcomed our son, Tobias James, into the world on March 9. That combined with the catastrophic failure our computer endured over the last month has kept me away from you, blog. My handy husband has been performing open-case surgery on the computer and finally cleared it off the kitchen table night before last, putting it back together and giving it some new life a la newegg.com.
So I come bearing photos and tales of birth and a strong desire to get some of my bloggy ideas out into the world. I've had multiple instances in these few weeks of 3 a.m. nursing session blog brainstorms, though half of those ideas have escaped my sleep deprived brain by morning! For now, I do have this to share...
Laboring at home as long as possible.
After a relaxed early labor that lasted over a day and an intense few hours of unmedicated active labor in the hospital, I was so ready to meet this little guy.
Daddy getting him ready for skin on skin contact with me about 10 minutes after birth. He was so alert.
And finally home....our whole crew together at last!
We arrived and after talking with my nurse, I agreed to a very low dose of pitocin. I have thought a lot about this decision and I don't regret it, though I would be hesitant suggest other moms take the same route without really supportive hospital staff and knowledge of your own body. Mary, our nurse, agreed to manually set my dosage instead of putting it on to increase automatically. She also agreed that when my body responded to the drug and moved into active labor, we would stop increasing the dosage and leave it alone. She asked me one time, before we started the pit, if I was sure I wanted to forgo all pain management and when I said yes, she did not ask again.
About an hour after the pit started, I was starting to have to really work through the contractions. My sister saved the day by bringing my birth ball and favorite pillow which I had accidentally left behind in my haste to leave the house. Those two things made a world of difference. The smell of my home was so comforting, I would bury my face in the pillow at every contraction. I spent a good two hours laboring on the ball as labor progressed, continually replaying a mental list of inspiration: the natural birth stories from Ina May's books and from my crunchy mom friends, the idea that my body was capable and the mental image of my body opening up and pushing my son out into the world where we could meet him and love him. With every contraction, I would replace the jerk reaction of "Ow! Ow! Ow!" with "This isn't pain, this is work. It's hard but it's got a purpose". I'd read an interesting bit a while ago about how as the cervix opens, the uterus actually pulls up into itself and the fundus (the top of the uterus) becomes thicker and stronger to push the baby down and out. I kept visualizing this during contractions and thinking "Up!". This lead to my visualizing running up a flight of stairs each time a contraction built and resting "on the way down". It fascinates me that this is what I came up with in the moment, but I must say it was quite effective.
At noon, Mary came in to check my progress and shocked us all when she said I was dilated to 7 cm. The doctor poked his head in and instructed the nurses to begin setting up because he figured the baby would come in about 30 minutes based on my history. After this things become a blur and I can only say that it was Jeremiah staying calm and controlled that kept me grounded. He kissed me through contractions like Ina May suggests in her books, stating that it helps sphincters to open to relax your mouth. He applied counter pressure on my lower back and he assured me it was almost over and I was doing a good job. Tobias was born 28 minutes after the nurse announced to the room I was at a 7. He was, and is, completely perfect. If I'm being honest, until they laid the little guy on my chest, I wasn't 100% sure I could do it. After having two highly medicalized births, recovering from anesthesia and interventions, I desperately wanted to do it naturally but I just wasn't sure I was able.
Unbelievably...3 1/2 weeks have passed since Toby's birth! It's one of those things that just blows my mind. It feel simultaneously like time has flown and like he's been here forever. We are finally falling into a good groove, exhausted but smitten. God has big plans for this little boy, of this I am sure. He has certainly blessed us.