Thursday, April 30, 2009

A birth story

It's been awhile since my last post. Things have been a little busy. :-) Our son arrived in the wee hours of the morning March 31st, 1:06am to be precise. He's sleeping right now, and I wanted to take a moment to write.

One of the online forums I frequent has a tradition of sharing birth stories. I read dozens of them in my last trimester, stories ranging from at-home births in bathtubs to emergency cesareans and everything in between. I believe these stories work to counter the over played Hollywood drama of birth, you know the story; the woman suddenly goes into full blown labor, usually someplace inconvenient, and she proceeds rapidly, and loudly, to some crisis point where the good doctor steps in and saves mother and baby. Of course, baby is usually a 10lbs one month old, and doesn't even resemble a newborn, but I digress. I don't know about you, but when I found myself pregnant, that was pretty much the only birth story I knew. That and my own story, but I didn't know much more than I was born C-section and I had seen a couple of pictures once. I think we do our society a disservice by perpetuating that particular story. Women need to hear more about the reality of birth, in all it's nuances and personal differences. They need to hear less of the Hollywood version. To that end, I would like to submit my own story to the dialogue, in the hopes that it gets shared and maybe helps further women's knowledge.

--Rowen Donald Erwin--
I think my husband and I were pregnant at our handfasting. Probably only a week or so pregnant, but I really do think Rowen was there.
The next 9 months proceeded fairly normally as these things go. I thought I had a stomach flu until I found out that morning sickness can last all day. :-) The first 3 months were pretty much spent in a constant state of nausea. I was still dancing though, salsa and belly dance a couple of times a week. I danced all the way through this pregnancy, although the frequency decreased a lot in the third trimester. My feet swelled, so I couldn't fit into any of my dance shoes. By the time I went into labor, my tennis shoes barely fit, I had to leave them unlaced. But, baby was healthy, and I was healthy, so I'm not complaining.

I had a few Braxton-Hicks in the last trimester. Nothing major, never lasting more than 10 minutes. When I woke up on Sunday the 29th with crampy pains, I knew it was something different. After getting out of bed at 8, I lost my plug. At first I thought it was my water breaking, but after careful consultation with the women in my life, we came to the conclusion that it was just my plug. I was having contractions all morning, about every 15 minutes or so, but they were very light. Dave and I packed our hospital bag and alerted my friend Becky. (Becky graciously accepted the position of labor coach, and I really couldn't have done it without her.) Seeing as how things were still pretty light we decided to go to the natural living expo that was at the convention center a few blocks from our hospital. We went and walked around for an hour or so, but the contractions remained light, I could talk through them and they were still every 15 minutes or so. We met Becky for some lunch. A couple of hours later, we decided nothing was happening very fast, so Becky went back home, Dave and I did the same and we settled in for the evening. Contractions continued, that evening they started increasing in frequency. I tried to go to bed around 11, but couldn't sleep, so I camped on the couch and timed contractions every hour or so. I got to 30 second contractions 5 minutes apart, but around 4am I finally fell asleep. I only slept a few hours, but when I woke Monday, the contractions had eased back to every 10 minutes. Dave felt we were too far along for him to go to work, so he stayed home. That ended up being the right decision. Around 11 we were getting bundled up to go for a walk around the neighborhood (to help labor progress) and I felt something pop. It was a very weird feeling, almost like a joint cracking, but in a place I knew I had no joints to pop. Almost immediately I felt my waters and I knew what had happened. Within the next 15 minutes my contractions increased duration and frequency noticeably. We timed them and realized we were at 1 minute long every 4 minutes.
We called Becky and told her we were headed to the hospital. If I was doing things over, at this point I would have insisted on getting lunch before going to the hospital. Oh well. We got there, got checked in and got stuck in a triage room to establish where labor was and get my vitals recorded. I was having to breathe through the contractions at this point and I was not surprised when the nurse confirmed that my waters had broken and we were not going home. We told her we were trying for a natural birth and she was very supportive, telling us she had helped a woman on her last shift deliver without meds. She got us settled in a room and brought us a birthing ball. Shortly after that Becky got to the hospital and joined us. From that point until dinner, we started to get down to business. My blood pressure and temperature both rose a little bit. Rowen sailed through all the contractions without any problems. To combat the temperature and the high blood pressure I drank lots of water. I walked around the room a little bit and sat on the birthing ball as much as I could. Dave and Becky each got dinner, by that point I was NOT interested in food, really I wasn't even interested in them leaving me to get food for themselves, but they needed their energy. :-D At 7 we lost our first nurse, she was replaced by the next shift, which was a little annoying because the new shift had to redo all the vitals tests. Contractions were fierce at this point, and I was having to rely on my support team more and more. I had read Ina May Gaskin's "Guide to Childbirth" and I really connected to her birthing techniques. It was no surprise to me when I moaned my way through the contractions. I rocked on the birthing ball and used low tones to help keep all my muscles relaxed. Deep breaths at the beginning of the contraction helped me hook the low tones into the relaxation I was aiming for. I instinctively found the pitch and volume level that worked for the pain level I was feeling with each contraction. Looking back on it, it was pretty cool, but at the time it was just intense. By 11 I was at 7cm, I pretty much thought I wouldn't make it at this point. I think I asked for drugs around this time and my lovely team talked me out of it, or just ignored me, it's all kinda fuzzy. By midnight I was nearing the end of my strength, contractions were coming hard and heavy and I was told that my half of the maternity wing could all hear me. :-D Around this point I vaguely noticed that the nurses weren't leaving anymore, they were sitting in the room next to me, watching moniters and quietly lending their support, allowing me and my team to do what we needed. They became very helpful when I entered transition a few minutes later and started throwing up. I didn't realize what was happening at the time, I just remember being very upset that I had to deal with *this* too. Time got even more fuzzy from this point on. I know the Dr came in and was scheduled to check me around 12:30. She said I only had a little lip left and she thought I could push through it. Now, Becky had to help me understand what was going on, I was still focusing my way through contractions and I didn't realize that we had gotten to the pushing part. I remember being surprised, "He's coming now?" Hahaha I guess pushing lasted for close to 20 minutes.. maybe 30, but it only felt like 5 minutes. Pushing was much better than the contractions. I finally felt like I was able to *do* something to help Rowen arrive, as opposed to riding along and trying to relax. I remember tryong to push him out slowly in the hopes that I would stretch easier. I didn't really feel it when I tore pushing his head out, it was only a small tear though. His shoulders rotating their way out felt *really* cool. Then, to my amazement he was out and on my stomach.

Dave got to cut the cord. I pushed out the placenta and got stitched up before I finally let the nurses have Rowen to weigh and measure. I got to see the placenta before they took it away for disposal. That was pretty cool, but maybe I'm just weird like that.
Rowen's time of birth was recorded as 1:06am on 3-31-09.
He was weighed in at 8lbs, 7.8oz.

We made it through 41 hours of labor with no drugs and no complications. Breast feeding is going well and he's already getting bigger. He's up to 10lbs 7oz as of Tuesday. :-)


oogRobot said...


Shannon said...

What a beautiful story! Congrats!