Friday, June 28, 2013

The Birth of Ava Lily Rose

Welcome to the world Ava Lily Rose! Born on May 27th at 5:23 pm. 7 lbs, 22 in.

I can’t believe Ava is already a month old and I am just now finally sitting down to write her birth story. I scribbled some thoughts down in my journal a few days after she was born, but I want to add more depth and details to her story. So, here it goes!

I woke up at about 6:30 in the morning on May 27, three days before my due date. I was having contractions that felt a little different and more intense than the Braxton Hicks contractions that I had been experiencing. These sensations were more like menstrual cramps and I noticed that they were coming semi-regularly. I woke Woody up and we started timing them together. They were coming around every 4-5 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds to a minute long. I started to get anxious and excited and was thinking…today is the day!!! But, Woody was like, “Don’t you think you’d be in more pain if you were actually going into labor? I don’t think it’s happening today.” Since there was some inconsistency with how frequently the contractions were coming and how long they were lasting we weren't sure. But, I decided to give my midwife, Colette a call just to check in with her and give her an update. She told me to just try to ignore the contractions and go about my day because the contractions could easily just go away. OR they could progress and I could end up in labor. So, we decided that we would just touch base a little later in the day.

As the morning went on, my contractions were starting to feel a little more intense. They were about as painful or a little more so than the most painful menstrual cramps I’ve ever experienced. I curled up on the couch with my sweet doggie, Kona and suddenly had the urge to cry when I realized that my relationship with her was going to change after the baby was born. She probably wouldn’t receive as much attention from me once I was taking care of a little newborn. I think Kona was sensing a shift in things too and she snuggled up to me extra close.

After relaxing for a while, I felt the need to do something or go somewhere. So, Woody and I decided to go grab some coffee and get a few groceries at Whole Foods. We stopped at Hardcore and I got a decaf latte and an apple fritter. Looking back, that was a BAD idea but, I didn’t know that I was going to be pushing a baby out in a few hours!

Woody and I got to Whole Foods and that’s when my contractions really started to get more intense and painful. I had to stop and breathe deeply every time one came. I started feeling different mentally and emotionally at that time too. I feel like all of my energy was drawing inward and I kind of felt like I was vibrating on a different level. I remember Woody and I running into friends and acquaintances and we would stop to chit chat and I would just be holding my belly and breathing through the pain. Everyone was asking, “When’s the baby coming?” I would kind of laugh and say “I don’t know…maybe today!” At this point, I felt pretty sure the baby had to be coming today…or definitely by tomorrow. I ran into my best friend and doula, Feather, at the store and I could tell by the look in her eyes that she KNEW it was happening too. Woody and I finished grocery shopping and headed home.

When we got home, at around noon, I sat down to drink the rest of my coffee and finish my apple fritter while I checked my email.  As soon as I was finished and stood up, a huge gush of water splashed on the floor between my legs. I knew what had just happened but, I was still super surprised and a little stunned. I looked over at Woody and his mom, Mary Ann (who was visiting from Michigan to help out with the baby) and they had kind of froze too. But, then Mary Ann seemed to get kind of excited and said, "What do we do?!" I was grateful when Woody jumped into action and grabbed a towel because I was just standing there in a daze not knowing what to do!  I called Colette right away and told her my water just broke. She was actually heading home after attending another birth all night. She said she would stop by just to check me out and see how things were progressing.

After my water broke, my contractions really kicked into high gear. My memory of everything from that point on is a little fuzzy. It’s like looking back on a dream. I started to feel like I was coming onto mushrooms or LSD. I felt really clear and super high. I ended up posting up in the bathroom for quite a while at that point. I was still leaking a little water and kept having the urge to poop, so I alternated between sitting on the toilet and curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor.

Colette soon arrived and I greeted her with a huge smile. “It’s happening!!” I said. She asked if I wanted her to check my cervix to see how dilated I was. I was curious and it seemed like a good idea so she did.  She looked at me in disbelief and said, “Ok….that’s a baby’s head I feel right there. You’re fully dilated! Looks like we’re having a baby today. Probably really soon!” Then she asked if she could just check again because she really couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe it either. At that point, things progressed really quickly. I ended up back in the bathroom while Colette called her back-up midwife and Woody started setting up the tub. I quickly texted Feather, “I’m 10 cm dilated!!!!” She texted back, “I’m on my way!!!”

I had no perception of time and was not aware of anything but the pain of the contractions and my breath. Each surge completely took over my body and the pain seared through my entire being. I remember Feather once telling me she OM’d a lot through her labor and that helped a lot. So, with each rush I deeply OM’d. At some point Feather arrived. She crouched down on the bathroom floor and started OMing with me. At times I would forget to OM and I would just sob pitifully. But, regardless of the pain I was in, whenever Colette or someone else would ask how I was doing I would smile and say, “Good,” which made everyone laugh.

 Since things had progressed so quickly and there hadn't been any time to prepare, the water heater had not been turned on to fill up the birthing tub. So, Woody and his mom ended up in the kitchen heating up HUGE pots of water to try and get the tub filled as quickly as possible. Funny enough, a couple weeks earlier when we were talking about the role that each person would play at my birth, Mary Ann joked that she would be the one in the kitchen boiling water!

After an eternity, the tub was finally filled up and I could get in! YAY! As soon as I got into the warm water, I instantly relaxed and everything started to slow down. Woody had brought in the stereo and Mamuse was playing. My contractions weren’t as intense and I felt pretty good. Woody was so surprised at how well I was holding up. He was like, “You’re blowing my mind, baby! You’re so amazing.” Even though I was fully dilated, I wasn’t really feeling the urge to push so I asked Colette when I should start pushing. She told me I should just try and push with the next surge. So, that is when the pushing stage of labor began. It was probably around 2:00 p.m., about two hours after my water broke. The problem with being in the tub was that I was a little too relaxed and wasn’t making much progress with pushing. I got curious at one point and felt inside to feel where the baby’s head was. It was close but, I felt that I still had a long way to go.

After some time, Colette suggested I get out of the tub and try some other positions to see if they would be more effective. She also gave me some guidance and direction and showed me where I needed to be pushing and focusing my energy. I realized that in the tub, I was BARELY pushing. Once Colette showed me exactly how I should be pushing, I realized you have to act like you are taking the biggest poop of your life. THAT’S where I needed to be pushing. I think at first I was a little afraid of the sensations and the intense pressure I was feeling down there, so I was trying to avoid it and not really give it my all. When I finally REALLY started pushing, the pressure was SO intense and scary and it felt like I was pushing a baby out of my butt. It felt like I was going to tear in half. Colette had me try pushing on a birthing stool, squatting, on hands and knees and on the bed leaning against Woody’s chest, which ended up being the most effective position for me. At one point, Woody and I got in the shower for a little bit. But, standing up just felt too uncomfortable because there was just SO much pressure on my perineum. So, we ended up back on the bed. Looking back, my labor was relatively short and I only pushed for a few hours but, it was just so intense and burly. It’s funny because I thought the first part of labor was going to be the hard part. I thought dealing with the contractions and opening up was going to the most challenging. I thought I was actually going to enjoy pushing and it was going to be the easy part! Boy, was I wrong. I have never worked so hard in my life! I felt so weak and shaky and was so pissed at myself for eating that damn apple fritter and drinking that decaf latte earlier! That was the last thing I had eaten and I was feeling pretty queasy.

At one point, I started feeling really scared and was doubting my ability to push the baby out. I kept holding up a mirror to check my progress. I could see the top of the baby’s head (a full head of hair!!!) but, it seemed like it stayed in the same place no matter how hard I pushed. Everyone was being so amazing and supportive and cheering me on with each push. It suddenly occurred to me that often times in life when I encounter an obstacle or something really challenging, I’ll try to find the easy way out or just try to not deal with it all. I realized that in this case, there was no easy way out. I couldn’t run away and escape. I didn’t have a choice. There was only one way through it and no one could do it for me. I knew I had to just move past the edge of discomfort and use all my strength to push the baby out. I thought I still had a long way to go, but all of a sudden I felt an intense burning sensation and out came the baby! She had cord wrapped all around her. (Which is why I ended up having to push so hard. Ava had her own obstacle to face. The cord had been holding her back. So, we BOTH had worked super hard to get her out.) As soon as Colette unwrapped the cord, she had Woody put his hands down and pull the baby on to my chest. I was laughing and crying and couldn’t believe I did it! Woody’s mom came into the room right afterwards and asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?!” Woody was like, “We don’t know!” We were just in pure bliss drinking up the sweetness of our newborn baby. Finally we peeked and saw that my intuition was right on. A GIRL J

I’m so grateful that my birthing experience was smooth and there were no complications. I did tear quite a bit in three different places and getting stitched up was not a fun experience, but everything still flowed better than I could have imagine. I loved my birth team and Woody was the most loving, sweet, supportive birth partner I ever could have asked for. I am so proud of myself and feel like now I can do anything! 

I feel like I should add that even though my labor was pretty fast and I only pushed for about 3 hours, the whole process didn't end until about midnight. There was the delivery of the placenta, then they had to clean and examine the baby. And since for some reason I hadn't been able to pee for several hours, they had to insert a catheter to empty my bladder. I was really weak, shaky and dizzy and apparently looking pretty gray in the face, so Colette also had to examine me too. Then since I tore, she had to stitch me up (which was almost worse than labor!) I was also starving since the last thing I had eaten was that apple fritter in the morning, so Feather made me some toast with ghee and honey and some scrambled eggs. Serena, the other midwife who attended my birth, fed me bites of food while I tried to regain my strength. 

Finally, Woody and I were left alone to bond with our baby girl and have our first night as a little family. We barely shut our eyes that night. We just couldn't take our eyes off of Ava. We were so in love and in awe and felt like we were in a blissful dream land. The next few weeks of recovery, transition and adjustment will be a story for another day. We have just been swimming in a ocean of time. The days and the nights have blended together and flowed into one continuous wave. I have never been so tired in my life! But, I have also never been so happy and so completely filled to the brim with the deepest, sweetest love I have ever tasted. I am a mama!!! YES! This is what it's all about ;) 

Thank you for reading and sharing my journey with me! 

~Blessings and Bliss~