Sunday, October 6, 2013

Welcome to the world Little Hawk! The birth story of my gently born little guy.

 HAWTHORNE Sebastian Reynolds was born on September 25th, at 9:18pm during a successful, speedy homebirth. 8lbs 2oz, 20 inches long. We are all very happy to welcome him into our family. 
We love you little Hawk!
 Those who have been following my adventures in family, cooking, and knitwear may know that my first child, most commonly called Roo, was an attempted natural birth center birth that went a bit wonky and ended up being a very not-natural hospital birth. Pretty much everything I didn't want happened. I ended up at the hospital, attached to machines, with an epidural, pitocin, and almost had a c-section. Luckily she decided to make a move on and I was in transition when they checked me before wheeling me off to get cut. Sigh. In the end I had a healthy baby, which is the most important thing, but it was a 4 day nightmare full of disappointment, failure, and general fear.

This time, I decided I'd try something different. Different birth team, different location, different end goal. I chose a new team of midwives, decided to have a home birth (a home water birth if I could manage it) and to keep myself healthy, strong, and low stress enough so that I didn't have to worry about going to the hospital.

For the most part it seemed to be working. I was staying trim, healthy, strong. I gained almost half as much weight as last time (35 lbs instead of the whopping 65lbs of last time) was swimming regularly, and at the very end, taking very long walks. I ran all the way through my 7th month of pregnancy, racing my last races at 5-6 months pregnant (I did my last 10 miler at 4 months, my last 5k race at almost 6 months).
Here I am at the beginning of my 9th month after a successful 1/2 mile swim,
the standard distance for me during this pregnancy for a morning swim. 

Our life got a bit stressful as my ninth month loomed closer. Money became very tight, with not enough work coming in to keep us on top of our bills. Then, as I got closer to my due date, work came in overtime, with me stuck at home caring for our 3 year old with no help. I was worried the baby would come early, just because of all the stress.

This idea would later seem very very silly. Apparently, this little guy wasn't going to be moved so easily.

As my due date approached and then passed, I started to get worried. Baby had been head down in the final birthing position for what seemed like months, but was definitely WEEKS and WEEKS. I had constant pressure on my pelvis when I walked or tried to move around. I was sure the baby was coming soon. Braxton Hicks contractions were blending into real contractions that would taper off (false labor) on an almost daily basis. In addition to that, my midwives finally got around to sharing my GBS results...the week I was due! I had taken the test back at 36wks, but didn't find out the results until 39wks. I was GBS positive, which means that if my water broke early again, like it did with Roo, I'd be at risk for passing the strep culture to my child, endangering its life if I tried for a homebirth. If my water was broken for more than 12 hours, I'd have to go to the hospital. As it is, if I had been doing concurrent care as I had been with my daughter, they'd recommend IV antibiotics...which I really didn't want. IV's mean you can't move during the birth in the ways that you may need to in order to deliver without interventions. Antibiotics kill all the GOOD bacteria as well as the BAD. I had IV antibiotics with Roo and suffered with the worst case of thrush that took weeks to clear up holistically.
Here I am the day before Hawthorne's birth,
celebrating my 33rd birthday with a "sugar free" cake made out of paper.
My GBS standing had me on a NO sugar diet...a difficulty for a hobby baker!

But you don't wanna mess around with GBS. Its a bad mamajama that can lead to dead babies...if what you read on the internet is half true. So I didn't mess around with the treatment. In order to alleviate my risk, I doubled my dosage of vitamin C to strengthen my bag of waters. I eliminated sugar from my diet, including all simple carbs (no white bread or cereal). I upped my intake of green leafies and began eating sauerkraut and plain kefir with almost all of my meals (yum!...not so much). This was all in addition to the naturopathic remedies they had me taking [raw garlic with apple cider vinegar anyone?! How about some Olive Leaf extract. Then there's this fun douche...TMI I know, it was no fun T_T ]. I was pretty miserable those last 3 wks of my pregnancy.

Yes, 3 wks. Little Hawk didn't want to be born until I was almost a complete 42 wks baked.  He decided to best his sister for how long he could stay inside mama and was born 12 days after his due date.

Based on all the myths of second babies I had been hearing, along with my body seeming to get ready to birth sooner, the baby dropping "lightening" early etc etc I was expecting this one to be born early. Or at least earlier that big sister, preferably before my birthday, September 24th, which happened 11 days after my due date. Well, the New Moon a week before my due date didn't move him, neither did the full moon at exactly 41wks. I cried that day. I cried all day. I was actually starting to worry that my worst fears would come true AGAIN. Because if I couldn't birth this baby by 42 wks, I was prepared to take myself to the hospital and ask for induction. I know you can go beyond 42 wks and still have a healthy baby, but the risk factors increase astronomically after 42wks, each subsequent week making the risk factor for a stillbirth much much higher. Personally, I'd rather risk a failed hospital induction and C-Section to get a healthy baby out of me than risk baby not being healthy.

So what's a mama to do? Well, my next step was acupuncture.
I went to 3 sessions to "center" myself, which left me feeling very heavy, low, and after one appt, pretty depressed. But I think I needed to work through some emotional baggage I had been carrying around since Roo's birth--about myself, my last birthing, our family, our finances, our life in general--before I could birth this baby.  These sessions were followed by 3 session for "induction" purposes, to stimulate the uterus.
While all these were going on, I was having "practice" sessions every other night. These went on for 2 weeks. I hear this isn't uncommon for multips (second or subsequent pregnancies) but I wasn't expecting them to be as uncomfortable. Some of these sessions lasted hours, were in the middle of the day, and were as painful as early labor contractions. I guess in a way they were early early early labor. They also proved to be a good sign as to what time of day I'd end up going into labor, as I will explain in a moment.

My last three acupuncture appts were scheduled leading up to the day I'd finally start the herbal inductions set aside by my midwives, followed by the dreaded castor oil if needed, one day before I hit 42 wks. This was so that if it didn't work, we had enough time to try again before the situation became more dire. On the last day of treatment, the day after my 33rd birthday, we decided to give it one last good try. I ate spicy food, drank red raspberry leaf tea like it was water, went for a long walk around the Berkeley Marina, drove down the bumpiest road we could find (3 times) and had some "alone" time with the hubby...All before lunchtime.

And then things actually started to move.  At 1pm I began having contractions strong enough that I had to stop and pause. We began timing them. They were about 1 minute long and 12-15 minutes apart...not really much more than what I had been experiencing the days and weeks before, just a little bit stronger in intensity. I was expected at the acupuncturist at 2:15, just in time to start my herbs after the appt at around 4pm. First I cancelled my appt, then I rescheduled when Jeffrey convinced me it wouldn't hurt to go in, even if I though I might be in early labor, if only to help avoid the dreaded castor oil (I really hate the castor oil) later in the evening by getting my contractions really going.

So I went to my final acupuncture appt. I started having contractions as she put in the last of my needles along my spine. I continued to have pretty strong contractions throughout the session as I waited, 5 or 6 good ones during the hour I was on the table. Once the needles were out and we were driving home, they were coming strong enough that I had to hum through the pain, about 10 minutes apart.

Once we got home, I started up the herbs. I'm not sure what is in their herbal mix, but they call it "bring the baby" and I am assuming it was the same mix of herbs I took last time, just in a different configuration and delivery system. It tasted pretty awful, even chased down with honeyed tea.  I was to take this mix every half hour. My records show I took my last dose at 5:30...It seems I didn't need it after that.

The hubby wanted to go out to dinner, and had gotten our nook all set up to record my contractions with a portable energy source. I'm glad I decided to stay home and had the food brought to me, because I don't think I would have really been safe to go out. Real labor started shortly after they got home.

They returned at 6pm. As I got up from my birth ball to say "hi" my water broke. I thought I had wet myself, I wasn't sure at first, so I took care of the mess and then went to dinner. As I sat down, more water...and I was pretty sure it was my water breaking, not just a low baby head making me lose control. So we called the doula. My contractions were starting to get stronger, but again, nothing to really report to anyone. They were only 1-1.5 minutes long and 7 minutes apart. I figured I still had HOURS before anything would start happening (remember, last time I had broken waters for 4 days). I also wasn't 100% sure it had been my water. I think I was in a bit of denial that anything was actually happening, after weeks of thinking I was going to start up and having nothing come of it. My contractions were all strong enough for me to want to hum through them, but not so bad that I really felt anything more than pressure. They weren't really painful at all at this stage.

After dinner I went back into my room and got back on the birth ball, put my ipod on some relaxing music, and tried to work on my Stephen West Mystery Shawl. Roo hadn't had a nap, and the idea was that we'd get her down for an early bedtime while I went into labor, so that maybe she'd wake up and find a new little brother or sister. So Daddy was working on getting Roo-bug into the bath and clean for bed and story time when everything changed. It was maybe 6:45 when I suddenly dropped my knitting, jumped off my ball and changed positions to a standing bent forward position, hands on the bed, as I began to SCREAM through my contraction.

Jeff had just spoken to the doula and she was on her way, but she talked to him before this change had occurred. So she was going to run an errand before heading over to our place. She lives 30-45 minutes away in Concord. But the change, it was so quick it was like a switch was flicked inside my body, and everything went from mellow, pressure, not so bad to "HOLY F#$! THIS HURTS!!" There was now a chance the doula might not make it in time.

I had always though my epidural hadn't really worked last time, because I still felt pain. I now knew that it had been working just fine. I was beginning to experience what a true natural birth felt like.

So after a couple of these crazy screaming contractions Jeff comes in and says "should I call the midwives."
My best answer..."um I guess??"
"Regular number or emergency line..."
"IDK...what do you AAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
"I'm calling the emergency line!"

Which turned out to be a good call.  In minutes I was in the birth pool. The water helped with the pain and it felt good-ish at first. I don't know how long I was in there, but it was long enough for the first of the midwives, junior midwife Esther to arrive. Juli, the main midwife on duty that week, was stuck in the city. Team Oracle had just won the America's Cup, and the party was big in the city to celebrate...which meant big traffic. Apparently the noises I was making in the tub were enough to scare the midwife...she called in a back up midwife. She also had Jeff call the doula up and tell her that she needed to be there 10 minutes ago. If she didn't hurry, she was going to miss the birth.

I was told I was at -3 station. I was in a lot of pain, and hearing that didn't help.. I knew what that meant, It meant baby wasn't nearly as low as I was hoping it would be. It meant I still had a lot of pain until this baby was birthed...oh damn! But then in one of next comments to me she asked if  "I wanted to catch my baby"...I guess they could hear the baby moving down my body in my voice.

I'm sure it must have been an hour or so later, but time was pretty twisted for me, I'm not sure, but soon the house was full of midwives. The main midwife and the other main midwife in the practice who was off duty, both showed up at the same time as the doula. The back up doula and the back up midwife had showed up maybe 20 minutes earlier and were playing with Roo. I had 4 midwives, 2 doulas, a hubby, and a preschooler all in and out of the birth room at this time and all I could think was "I'm getting hot" and "If I try to change positions in this birth tub I might drown."

So as people were leaving, setting things up, etc, I was trying to get out of the tub. All while having contractions so strong I was trying not to sing opera during them (I actually started singing my scales from Women's Ensemble choir in high school during one. It's amazing where your body goes when you're in pain and trying to cope). I somehow managed to get out of the extremely deep birth pool and onto the bed. I had already started pushing. With the birth ball on top of the bed and me on top of it, I continued to push.
At some point the midwives could hear something was up and they asked me to change positions so they could check the baby. Apparently in an early check in the pool, Esther had noticed baby's head was tilted in my pelvis and set at an angle. So I got on my back, and then kinda on my left side with my right leg at an angle and something moved. I hear "this position is going to bring baby. You need to push through this next contraction, curl yourself into a "C" and push your energy down rather than vocalizing out."

Mama, Roo, and Hawthorne the day after his birth.
And less than a half hour later, little Hawthorne was born.  His head moved to just the right space and then his shoulder got a bit caught, but he managed to come out gently, whole, and without leaving any lasting marks on poor mama. I had very minimal tearing (no need for stitches) and a healthy baby boy who scared us a bit when he didn't start up breathing right away, but after a bit of oxygen and help from the midwives, he was fine. He didn't start nursing successfully until after his cord was cut, 2 almost 3 hours later, but other than those small things, he's been perfectly health, happy, and strong. He didn't have a name until the following morning, and we decided to give him our two favorite names from our list. We thought both had the gentle, romantic feeling that suited our baby boy with the gentle soul.
Here is Little Hawk at 10 days old.

 Even almost two weeks later I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that I  have a son.  He's growing bigger and stronger everyday, getting wonderfully chubby and round. I will enjoy watching him grow and change as I get to learn more about him and the person he will become.

Labor breakdown: approx 8 hours, start to finish. Baby born less than 3.5 hours after water breaking. < 3 hours of "active" labor with approx 30 min of pushing..easy peasy. 

Roo's labor by comparison: 4 days start to finish, with broken waters as first sign of labor. Failed midwife led herbal induction and caster oil. 17 hrs on pitocin in hospital followed by 2.5 hours of pushing...Ouch!

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