Friday, November 15, 2013

21 Years later...{a birth story}

Twenty-one-derful years later....

If Max knew I was going to write his birth story...he probably would roll his eyes.... then come over and sit close by me on the couch and let me tell him about the day we officially first met. Who doesn't love to hear about their beginnings?

I was working for a CPA firm in Houston, half heartedly looking toward a manager position I had worked so hard to achieve. Seeing it was very near, I didn't want it so much anymore. My heart was changing directions.  My close friend in the office was pregnant with her second baby after a heartbreaking first pregnancy,  losing her baby to spina bifida. This baby was healthy, but I'd sit with her and pray, worry and hope with her, all the while the yearning and wondering in my own heart grew and grew to such a longing. One of my sisters, and two other friends gave me their pregnancy news, my yearning grew. Maybe something was in the water after all, Yay, I found out I was pregnant just after Craig's 28 birthday. My maternity leave would be six months, then miraculously, Craig made a career change that moved out of the center of Houston and closer to Galveston,  my heart leapt for joy knowing we would make whatever other changes we needed to for me to stay home with this baby. I wanted so much to raise my child.  I sold my car. We rented a home in a retiree vacation area during off season and moved in my eighth month of a pregnancy that breezed by joyfully, healthy and wonderful. I promised to give up eating out, shopping or doing anything except hold my baby. 

I'm sure I beamed pregnancy glow so thankful I was to be having my very own baby. God is good! We had celebrated our fifth anniversary during the pregnancy, five years is a long time to wait and wonder about becoming parents, especially watching three very close friends struggle with infertility with successes and failures.

I kept the doctor I had used for my regular exams whom all the girls in the office used. And I thought we had an understanding from our conversations and agreed upon in my birth plan: I wanted to go natural in very way possible despite everyone asking me why would I want to and to tell me how impossible it was. I saw my boss the year before suffer terribly after complications with an epidural, I wanted to avoid one.  I prayed I could handle anything. 

My mother had quick labors, my three older sisters all had natural uncomplicated labors. It gave me confidence and strength. 

I thought the doctor and I were on the same page and I had respect for her, but by the time this experience was over, the doctor patient relationship was forever changed. She lied, gave me lip service and never believed in the natural birth process until after she witnessed it, but I jumped too far ahead.

Now in our rented house with a delightful bay view on a deserted island with miles of walking paths, I took early leave at the beginning of November. The 50 mile drive into work was wearing me down quickly, and I guess the nesting urge had hit big time. My excitement of meeting my baby kept my mind occupied, it was very hard to worry about taxes and accounting paperwork. My mother made all kinds of adorable baby room items and I wanted to get everything ready.

I had three sonograms: one predicted boy, one predicted girl and the last came with a guarantee: boy. So we picked names. I always loved the name Max, and even better Maxwell Alexander. It turned out to be one of the most popular name combinations of 1992.

On Friday night before his due date, I started having Braxton Hicks contractions so we drove into Houston, where my hospital and doctor were. I talked it over with my sister, she convinced us to come by her house first and walk and see my godson and wait for real contractions to begin. We spent the evening with them, then contractions calmed down and we went home. The rest of the weekend we were too excited to stay home, we visited Houston and Galveston museums, the zoo and made a bad decision to visit a submarine exhibit, forever making a little claustrophobic with future pregnancies.

Sunday night I went to bed, and woke up at midnight with some interesting feelings. Now these contractions got my attention. Concerned about living an hour from hospital, we headed in.  Just after paperwork was signed, my labor trademark nausea hit. Big time. After a long bought, I was wiped out and before I could approve or object an IV was inserted in my arm. 

Now wait a minute, not what we agreed. 

Fine, it wasn't the feared epidural, I didn't loose my resolve. Not knowing how stubborn I could be, the doctor had the epidural equipment in my room, ready if I had a moment of lack of confidence.

Ready for your epidural, now? No thank you.
I had no reason to have an epidural. The pains were manageable and slowly growing stronger, very regular, not worse than my worst cramps.

Craig was by my side, letting me squeeze his strong hand with every contraction. I alternated walking, kneeing, rocking and breathing to a pattern that distracted any thought about the pain. Hours flew by. 

Craig would say over and over, "Relax your forehead," and I'd squeeze his hand. I wasn't very verbal, we knew what each other was thinking. Except later,  he'd tell the story I wasn't in any pain. I can see that, it wasn't pain, like a broken arm. It was labor pains, the pain of squeezing an almost nine pound body through my body and out. Divinely designed pain. Pain with a purpose. 

I continued to walk the halls. I took a nice long bath and I felt no contractions and was in heaven, interrupted to get out because my nurse didn't want me to get prune-y.

Ready for your epidural, now? No, thank you.

Then, the dreaded "let me check you." Which was a secret code for the doctor to screw a monitor into my baby's head. No reason. He wasn't in any stress, perfectly healthy textbooky delivery so far. Let me keep walking,... no? Oh, the monitor, when I tried to walk, no no no, you should lie down and don' t get up.
Well how would that help me?
So since I couldn't leave the room with the monitor, I labored kneeling at my bed.

Ready for your epidural, now? No thank you.
Finally having the need to push. The doctor wasn't there.
Tell her to hold it...Really?
I tried, but then my body took over...
and pop there was a baby's head.
Panic, the doctor wasn't in the room, scramble get the doctor in here quick..

Here is where I lost all confidence in my doctor.

With all the pressure of my baby whose head was already delivered, she runs in the room, she grabs her tools before looking at me, and the baby's head..she decided to give me an episiotomy. She must not have ever worked with natural deliveries before  -  (even though she stated 60% were "natural" later defined as vaginal). - or even worked with material before because I ripped all the way to a fourth degree "tear" which was started by her going against our signed agreement to not do an episiotomy. (And the baby's head was already O.U.T.).

Unfortunately, Mary, it is the worse tear I've ever seen...It needed 55 solid minutes of stitching up. Again, forgetting I had not had an epidural, she proceeded without a local, and wow...Our doctor patient relationship got worse at my post natal follows up with complications of healing of the tear.

But for now, while the stitching was being done, she let me hold my baby. (I see the beginning of my desire for homebirth at this point, but had no idea that was an option).

My sweet beautiful baby boy! Ah, love at first sight! Forget any pain, forget anything but joy at holding the most precious being I had ever held. Delighted that this little creature was with me and now I could see his face! Pure joy and happiness. He smelled wonderfully. His little swaddled self was the best package I had ever seen.

Marilyn came by and was let in when the stitching hour was over. Judy wasn't far behind her. They helped and bustled around, and soaked in this babyness. Both were with me these nine months wondering who would come and change my life forever.

Time to move me to a regular room and the baby to the nursery, I never understood why the separation. They insisted on giving him a bottle, but my smart little guy had already nursed in labor and delivery and wouldn't take it, but it delayed his return to me because they need to see him nurse, and actual nursing didn't count. 

I stayed awake the entire remaining two days in the hospital, and begged Craig to take me home. Too much nose and interruption and regulation on my nursing, new mommy hormones had me wired awake and eyes glued in this new person. The hospital system didn't understand the natural bonding and feeding schedules we were establishing and seemed to fight me at every step, even though I gave in to many of their rules as far as treatment of infants.

I was a confident mother bear and wanted my baby. I had given birth and felt like "I am woman, hear me roar." Twenty one years ago I was a polite young woman, and didn't roar like I can now, but I was finding that voice inside of me, and needed my baby with me.

That day began the best season of my life: motherhood. The reason I live, my purpose. I love each of my children so dearly and I am so thankful for every day I been able to be a mom. I know it started nine months earlier, but for me it started at Max's birth. I needed to see and hold him to know he was real. My awakening with his birth.

I apologize for my anti- Dr/ hospital tone in this post, so much negative emotion is woven in with the joy filled moments of Max's birth story which I can't separate. This journey set me in a direction I have continued on against the grain. Friends want to pull you back on the known path. I didn't like that known path, I wanted a different experience. It started with worry about effects of epidural on me and my baby. Then my questioning of the "known path" and "the way things are always done" grew beyond the birth plan to infant care, nursing support, bonding care, immunization overload of infants, circumcision, and education. I have had great support from my husband in every decision and an older sister who started on this journey before me and opened my eyes. {Thank you, Kathy!}

This birth story ends with the beginning of my new vocation and new identity now as mother.  I was enjoying my solitude after five years of intense working and living in the heart of a big city surrounded by people and noise.  Then it all stopped.  I now only heard baby noises, sea gull cries and the howling prevailing winds. Heavenly! 

Max took to nursing and was a thriving baby and it took a while to get used to this new job for my body. I had a lot of healing to do over the tear, (my sister referred to as Cesarean of the rear) which helped remind me I need to take it easy and recover. It would still be a nine month journey to heal that physical wound.

I didn't sleep a lot in those first weeks, because I only want to stare at, nurse, cuddle and hold this new little creature that took 100% of me. The lack of sleep or isolation stated to get to me, and my sister recommended I go to a La Leche  meeting for support. At about the two week post partum mark, first time driving since his birth, I braved our first outing. When it came time to introduce myself, a dam broke and I started crying and didn't stop until the meeting was over. I know now those moms understood, that day I couldn't think past the tears and worried they thought I was crazy. I was exhausted, lonely, sleep deprived and hormonally crazy, but at the same time deliriously happy and full of joy. I appreciated the love and support showered on me that day. I could probably go on and on, but I guess I'll put this chapter away, and look to who the young man is now, twenty one years later!

Linked at Grace's birth story link up at Camp Patton

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