Archive for ‘pregnancy’

July 12, 2012

Isaac’s Birth Story–Part II

In case you missed it, here’s Part I. 

Although early labor took a few days for me, whenever people ask how long I consider my laboring process to be, I tell them about 6-8 hours or so. That’s because, although the rushes –or contractions – of early labor were uncomfortable, they were nothing like those that came the night of Isaac’s birth, and once things really started getting going, it was a fast and furious process.

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[We blew up the pool a day before the little guy arrived.]

After dinner on Monday the 25th, Ben could tell that something in my rushes had changed.  I asked him to time them so that I didn’t become obsessed with the numbers, which he did for about an hour.  At around 8pm he called our midwife Tina and our doula/birthing assistant Sonya and said that I was having minute long rushes every five minutes.  This is when I consider my active labor to have started.  My concept of time from that night is hazy – I went deep into my own body and nothing else mattered to me – but I’ll do my best to piece it all together.

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At around 10pm, Sonya came by to check on me.  At this point I was on the ground in our bedroom, rocking through rushes but having conversations in between.  The rushes became more and more intense to the point where the only thing that felt good was dropping to my knees while leaning against the birthing ball, rocking my hips, and moaning or flapping my lips during each exhalation.  I focused on loosening my jaw and envisioned opening up – a bright full moon between my legs in which my baby would emerge easily and gracefully – and kept connecting with the baby, telling him there was nothing to fear.  Sonya wasn’t sure how long labor would last, so she suggested that I take some catnip and valerian root tincture and try to rest.  She asked if we wanted her to sleep in our living room just in case, but since she lives only 5 minutes away I said she should go home and try to get some rest as well. 

I took the tinctures and tried to get into bed, but it was horrendous to go through the rushes while on my back.  Ben tried stacking all the pillows we had on our bed so that I could try sleeping in different positions in between rushes, but it was too intense for me and after a few minutes I wound up back on my knees on the ground, this time deliriously tired and a bit loopy from the tinctures.  I told Ben that he should try to get some rest, so he went to the guest bedroom and laid down while I worked through the rushes, which were quickly getting even stronger and more steady. 

At about this point I started feeling really cold and shaking constantly, which made me really want Sonya back.  Around midnight I woke Ben up and asked him to call Sonya.  I told him that I needed a heater [we had found one in the process of moving] and that I was getting nervous about the process of labor.  He did a great job of keeping me calm and reminding me that I was capable of anything.

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By 12:30am, Sonya was back at our house – she tried putting pressure on my lower back during contractions, which felt great at first.  My mom was doing everything I had asked for – offering me positive feedback and coconut water between rushes – and Ben was reminding me to breathe and gently stroking with my hair, then taking Sonya’s place massaging my back. 

Soon I got very introverted and suddenly I couldn’t stand anyone touching me or offering me drinks.  I knew it was important to keep hydrated because we weren’t sure how long the labor would last, but at one point I almost started crying because I was so sick of sipping.  Robin’s advice of allowing myself to be selfish during labor came to me, and I sternly told people ”Don’t Touch Me” when they’d try to massage me during rushes. 

Ben now began filling the pool with warm water as I walked the halls of our home between the rushes, dropping down and circling my hips whenever the sensation would take over my body, which was happening more and more often.  Mom and Ben lit candles in the living room and put on some music. 

I lost all sense of time and space, and went completely inside to get through the intense rushes.  I’m not a religious person [I consider myself spiritual], but my mantra became Give it to God, and I found that if I repeated the phrase over and over during my rushes, I was able to get through them easier.  I felt like I was being watched over and didn’t feel so alone in the process. 

At about 1am, Sonya recognized that I was progressing quickly so she called Tina.  The fear that I felt had since disappeared and it was all I could do to just stay present and focus on getting through one rush at a time.  I was on my knees almost exclusively because the rushes were so strong and close together. I told my Mom I couldn’t stand any more coconut water because I was nauseous, and I heard myself saying things like, “What if Tina gets here and says I’m not in labor?” and “I’m just so tired… I just wanna sleep for a minute.”  When I heard myself say these things, I knew that I was going into the transitional phase [when I would soon be pushing], but I kept thinking it wasn’t possible to be progressing through active labor so quickly. 

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The pool looked so warm – and I was still shaking profusely – so I practically begged Sonya to let me get in the pool, but she said it wasn’t time yet [later she told me that getting in the pool would have slowed my progress, and labor isn’t about being comfortable, it’s about getting the baby out].  She and Ben kept encouraging me to walk between the rushes, but I could only get a few steps before having to get back on the floor.  Nonetheless, I knew that it would help me have the baby, so I kept getting up.  I kept telling the baby it was time; I kept calling out to God. 

And then, around 1:30am, Tina showed up like an angel in my doorway.  Her presence was so calming to me and her touch was so reassuring that I almost started sobbing right then and there.  She watched me through a few rushes [I had started feeling the urge to push] before calmly kneeling down next to me and saying, “You’re feeling lots of pressure in your lower back, huh?” After I nodded she said, “Have you tried to poo yet?”  And I must have given her the stinkest eye possible, because that was the last thing on my mind at the moment.  She said, “I think your bag of waters is trying to break, and sitting on the toilet will help.  Why don’t you go to the bathroom and just try to poo.”  She went outside with Sonya to gather all her supplies. 

Sitting upright during rushes was so painful for me, but I trusted Tina and felt so desperate to relieve the intense sensations that I was willing to try anything.  I made my way to the bathroom and sat on the toilet.  When a rush came I wanted to cry, but something inside me said to push through, so I listened.  I opened up my legs wide and pushed like I was having a huge bowel movement and POP!  My waters literally burst into and about two feet in front of the toilet!  Isaac’s head fell into my birth canal so quickly that I felt like he was going to drop into the bowl. 

I heard myself scream, “Oh My GOD!  MY WATER BROKE!!!”  I was shocked; it was the first time I was freaking out during the whole process and I didn’t even recognize my own voice.  Ben came into the bathroom and calmly said, “It’s okay Haley, just breathe” and I yelled back at him, “What do you mean?  I’m gonna have this baby in the toilet!  Go. Get. TINA!”  So he went out into the night and told Tina “Haley’s water broke.  She’s freaking out.”  Tina – calm as can be – took her sweet time gathering her supplies while I waddled – half-naked with my hands between my legs to keep the baby from falling out [or so I thought] – from the bathroom to the living room and asked no one in particular if it was alright to get into the pool yet. 

My waters burst around 2am, and shortly after I crawled into the pool, staying on all fours and leaning against the side as the waves continued to crash over me.  Give it to God, Give it to God.  My body was still shaking, but my mind saw the finish line in sight: I could now push this baby out!CIMG5574

I don’t know how quite to explain the way in which the innate took over and did all the work from here on out.  I don’t remember the candles, or the music, or time… but I remember the way my low moans morphed into uncontrollable, powerful roars.  I don’t remember just how many pushes it took, or where everyone stood… but I remember feeling as if the entire Universe opened up between my legs to release my son.  I remember Tina telling me that I needed to slow down and Ben reminding me that I needed to breathe

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From what Ben says, after I got into the pool at 2 o’clock, it was only about 5 rushes before Isaac joined us at 2:44am. 

  1. Rush – PUSH! – Ouch ouch ouch.  Tina feels me in the water and says “Good job.  Your baby is in the birth canal… about a third of the way to crowning.”
  2. Rush – PUSH – I feel myself opening up and hear sounds I never knew possible coming from me.  Tina says the baby’s crowning and tells me to feel his head.  I feel his head and then feel it disappear back into me, so I say, “oh no, he went back in!”, to which everyone laughs. 
  3. Rush – PUSH – His head comes down and stays down.  Tina tells Ben that if he wants to catch the baby, he needs to get behind me now.  I hear them telling me to breathe. 
  4. Rush – PUSH! – I am more determined to push this baby out than I’ve ever been in my entire life.  I feel the fear and charge through anyway – froggy squatting in the pool and bearing down.  I feel like I’ve been torn inside out as the baby’s head emerges from me.  I was ready to push him completely out, but Tina tells me to slow down, stop and feel my baby’s head.  I’m afraid to touch anything down there because I fear I’ve broken myself, but I feel his head and wait for the next rush, which apparently took about 4 minutes to come. 
  5. Final rush – PUSH – the baby’s body slides out of me, I turn over, and he’s placed on my chest immediately.  I’m in shock at how calm, yet wide awake and aware he is from the beginning.  Tina says “2:44 am” and tells us to talk to him and rub his back vigorously because he’s a little pale and doesn’t cry [he didn’t actually cry until hours after his birth].

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I was in pure shock at how surreal it was to finally meet the little being who has been my sidekick for the past ten months. His perfection rocked me to my core and Ben and I were so in love that it took a few minutes before we realized we didn’t know whether it was a boy or a girl. 

I birthed my placenta in the pool before going over to the couch to dry off with my family.  Isaac latched onto my breast beautifully while I sipped herbal remedies from Tina, and then Ben got skin-to-skin time with Isaac while Tina helped me into the shower and then bed. 

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Ben and I stared at our little one for hours while they weighed and measured him, and then left us to get comfy in our own bed.  We finally got to bed around 5am, this time as a family of three! 

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I never spoke much about my “birth plan” because I honestly knew that I would have done whatever was necessary to have my baby come out healthy and happy, but this truly was my perfect birth.  Isaac was born at home in a serene environment surrounded by love.  I am so grateful to say that the experience was truly life-changing in the most beautiful and positive way, and if I had it to do all over again, I’d do it just the same [I’d just be sure to get some rest the few days beforehand Winking smile]. 

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I look forward to sharing my healing process with you all, but for now, I’ll just say that, as it turns out, I didn’t tear open the way I thought I did. I didn’t tear at all, actually.  I had two “skid marks” that healed beautifully in just a few days.  Nonetheless, I now have a healthy, happy baby, which to me is way more important than temporary pain. 

Thanks so much for being so patient as I put together this post.  The past two weeks have been the most challenging and rewarding days of all my life, and I’m taking it all one moment at a time.  I look forward to the days where I’ll be able to post more regularly again, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying every single moment as this kid’s Mommy: Smile

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Aloha Pumehana. Whether you’re here to find balance, wholesome recipes or inspiration, I hope you enjoy the posts.  Please subscribe to Green Plate Dinners to receive automatic updates and be the first to read new posts for free!

June 21, 2012

Healthy + Hapai–38 Weeks

Life has been cuh-razy lately between packing, moving, cleaning, and being nine and a half months hapai – hence the reason I haven’t written a blog post in weeks.  The baby is fully developed now [baby was considered full-term at 37 weeks] and as such my family and friends are all on Baby Watch 2012. 

Because we didn’t need an ultrasound and don’t care to know the sex, our family and friends have bets going on the baby’s birthday and sex.  I’m taking bribes but honestly have as little control over the whole situation as anyone else, so I’m excited to see who ends up winning. Winking smile

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“Your baby has really plumped up. She weighs about 6.8 pounds and she’s over 19 1/2 inches long.  She has a firm grasp, which you’ll soon be able to test when you hold her hand for the first time! Her organs have matured and are ready for life outside the womb.

Wondering what color your baby’s eyes will be? You may not be able to tell right away. If she’s born with brown eyes, they’ll likely stay brown. If she’s born with steel gray or dark blue eyes, they may stay gray or blue or turn green, hazel, or brown by the time she’s 9 months old. That’s because a child’s irises (the colored part of the eye) may gain more pigment in the months after she’s born, but they usually won’t get "lighter" or more blue.” [Source.]

The little one sure has been feeling heavier and more active lately… squirming, stretching, and hiccuping.  I’ve been getting more and more excited to meet and get to know the baby’s personality outside of the womb. 

Speaking of the womb, I thought I’d show you all what’s happening inside again, since I got some really fun comments the last time I posted an internal view.

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[Before Pregnancy vs. 36 Weeks Pregnant]

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I have had such an incredible pregnancy – full of light and love, naps, adventure, and even regular massages – and am so fortunate to have had very few stressors or scares.  In fact, I’m grateful that the past few weeks have been the most emotionally stressful for me, first with finals, then Ben leaving for vacation, and finally the moving process.  Truly, it could be way worse. 

Nonetheless, I just have to be completely honest and say it: I’m exhausted. 

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[Ben + I spent 8 full hours scrubbing and cleaning our old home this week]

Packing, cleaning and unloading a houseful of stuff is physically demanding.  Add in the hormonal changes and big life events – like creating an intergenerational home and becoming a mother – and you’ve got pure exhaustion. 

The new home is wonderful [it’s an old home, but it has tons of space and feels really good], and you’d think that with all the physical work I’ve been doing I’d be able to get some really good rest, but I’m still getting used to the new house and haven’t slept well in a week [which is probably a combination of being in a new space, being so physically uncomfortable, and having to pee every hour]. 

There’s so much to do every single day, which has really helped with the nesting urges, but I’ve definitely been feeling scattered and a bit overwhelmed with it all. For example, I’d love to post photos of the new place for you all to see, but I honestly have no clue where my camera is [hence the droid shots]. 

The new house has more than enough space for all the baby stuff, so Ben and I have been having fun putting together a space just for the little one.  And I definitely feel comfortable and safe enough to birth here [I was a bit worried when I first found out we’d be moving so close to the due date], which is great. 

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[19 Weeks / 38 Weeks]

Physically, I’ve been feeling very pregnant lately. The baby has finally dropped a few centimeters in preparation for his/her arrival, which means less heartburn and pressure in the ribcage but much more pelvic and bladder pressure – I am waddling up a storm!  Working out has been much more difficult as of late, but swimming and yoga still feel really good for me.

I’m also at the point where I stand naked in front of the mirror every day and just awe at what my body is doing.  I’ve found a whole new respect and love for my physical body through this pregnancy journey that I hope stays with me for the rest of my life.

Week 38 Tidbits:

  • Preparations: We’ve got everything set up here for the homebirth, including the blow-up pool, our birthing kit [in case baby comes before the midwife gets here], and snacks/coconut water.  The car seat has successfully been installed, and the breast pump I was gifted is ready for me to figure out [seriously, it looks pretty daunting]. 
  • Group B Strep update: Negative!  Smile  Which means that if I do need to go to the hospital, I won’t need to do the whole antibiotic treatment thing.  In case you’re interested, I heeded the advice of my midwife and douched with hydrogen peroxide before being tested [I’m not sure whether I had it, but a large percentage of women have GBS and don’t realize that it can be treated this way]. 
  • Signs of labor: I’m still not sure what contractions feel like, but I have been having more menstrual-like cramps, pressure, and feeling like my pelvis is opening up.   Nothing too intense yet, though.
  • Cravings: Lots of carbs being devoured over here lately [my midwife says it’s probably my body getting the sustenance it’ll need for the marathon of labor].  Cold fruit (especially watermelon and papaya), ice water, eggs (yes, STILL), and hot sauce.  Also, being in the water and Ben Time – it may sound ridiculously needy, but I love being able to spend every waking moment with him. 
  • Aversions: Being hot.  Foodwise, nothing really.  I’ll eat just about anything. 
  • Weight gained thus far: 18-20ish pounds… depending on the day. 
  • Things I’m excited for: Meeting the baby, sleeping on my back, having family visit, eating smoked salmon again [if anyone wants to give me a post-natal gift…], laying on my belly to get massaged.
  • Things I’ll miss: Having a constant sidekick, feeling hiccups and kicks, and being irresponsible. 

Alright, back to getting everything set up, and then hopefully a nap is in my near future!  Smile 


Aloha Pumehana.
Whether you’re here to find balance, wholesome recipes or inspiration, I hope you enjoy the posts.  Please subscribe to Green Plate Dinners to receive automatic updates and be the first to read new posts for free!

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