Sunday, November 05, 2000

The Story of the Day I Became MamaRil

On the afternoon of October 21st, 2000, we went to vote at a local municipal election. An election officer asked me when I was due, as I was feeling some pressure and rubbing my swollen belly, drawing attention to myself while I waited for DH to finish his registration. I told her I was due November 29th, but if I had the baby tomorrow I would not be upset in the least. Well. It seems that the baby was listening, and decided to grant me my unintentional wish!

I began having what I thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions around 9 p.m. Saturday night while we ate pizza and watched the election results on TV. The back pain that accompanied the false labour was worse than the contractions, and I was getting more and more uncomfortable. I just chalked it up to pelvic pain, as I had read that it was a normal thing this stage of the game, and I had been having menstrual like cramps for most of the day before.

I would look at the clock every now and again, timing the twinges, all the while telling myself it was nothing because there was no pattern to the twinges I was feeling. I basically tried to ignore the contractions, and concentrated on staying comfortable with the back pain. Certain positions were better than others were. While watching a TV movie (She’s Having a Baby) I had DH put his hands on my butt and rub my back and bottom to ease the pain. It helped, but he was unable to keep it up as much as I desired him to, so I decided to retreat to the bathtub. This was around 2 am, when the movie was over. The water was as hot as I could take it, and made me feel so much better that I did not want to get out. I lazed in the tub for a while, and then got out feeling better and retreated to bed with my husband. We laid and talked for a while, and the back pain came back lying in bed. We thought that making love would slow the slight twinges of contractions I was feeling in my belly, as having an orgasm for me had worked to stop false labour before. As it turns out I was actually in real labour and we were making love while my contractions were about 5 minutes apart!!! I had a contraction at the same time as I had an orgasm, and it was a very uncomfortable, intense and pleasurable feeling all at the same time.

The pain I was feeling was getting irritating now; I just wanted to go to sleep, because we were supposed to be painting the baby's room the next day. I could not relax in bed, and I was tossing and turning so I decided to get out of bed and do something to occupy myself. I tried to do the dishes, and chat online but I could not concentrate on the tasks with the back pain. Each contraction I felt made the back pain really intense. By this time I am starting to feel a bit uncomfortable emotionally with how intense the pain was getting, and begin to worry that maybe I should be going to the hospital to get checked, but I knew if I did that I would regret it. I went and got back in the tub again, as it was the ONLY thing that made me feel good at all. I did not even think of setting up the pool because I still did not think I was really in labour.

I lay in the tub on my side to get my belly under the water, and hung my arm and leg over the side of the tub. I actually dozed off a bit between contractions, waking up when one would come along. I am not sure how long I did that for. Once in a while I would get up and sit on the toilet and try to have a bowel movement, because it felt like I had to really bad. The baby had not lightened or engaged at all yet and I had no bloody show at all that I had noticed. The last few days before hand I was losing a LOT more clear thick mucous. While I was sitting on the toilet it felt like I was losing more, and I would check and nothing came out that appeared to be my “plug” yet. I was relying on what the books said and this was definitely not text book labour. I was sure I was not really in labour since all the signals that tell a woman she is in labour were not present. I moved back to the tub and got comfortable enough to rest more. I don’t know how long after that I woke up from dozing with a rather strong contraction, and it quickly prompted me to throw up. I knew that some women threw up when in transition, so I figured that I MUST be in labour.

It made no sense to me, the baby had not dropped or anything yet!!! Then, with that thought, the baby dropped and engaged in my pelvis, as I was standing in the tub, trying to get back in to ease the pain. I actually felt the drop, it happened rather fast, just one minute she was up, and the next she wasn't and my belly felt softer at the bottom where her head used to be. I was also feeling a weird sensation in my vagina, and I kept checking to see if I was losing my plug. Looking back, I realise now that what I was feeling was actually the cervix dilating very fast.

I was getting a bit concerned and thinking to myself “If this is real labour, it is the weirdest labour I have ever heard of!”. The contractions were not set apart at definite times, and the baby just dropped, and I still had my plug.

I called out to DH a few times, but he was fast asleep and did not hear me. I finally made my way out of the tub and woke him up and told him that I thought I was in transition because I threw up and the baby dropped.

He was irritated with me because I was being really whiny for false labour, and I am usually not whiny about stuff, not to mention the fact that I just woke him up from a deep sleep. He got up and checked my cervix for dilation. He said there was nothing there, having checked and felt something that seemed firm like a closed cervix. I got back in the tub yet again, and while he sat there on the toilet watching me, I was in the middle of transition and feeling a lot of discomfort.

I could not stay in one place so I got out of the tub walked around the house naked and wet trying to work through the contractions and back pain. DH got me to lie down and checked my cervix again in case what he was feeling the first time had changed or he was not feeling what he thought he was feeling. He estimated that I was about 5 centimetres dilated, and what he really felt the first time was the baby’s head. He was not sure enough to want to share this info with me because I was getting worried, and he was trying to protect me from anxiety. But with this lack of information I was still in denial that I was really in labour.

At this point it was the most intense pain felt at all. I started to think stuff like, if this is fake labour and it hurts THIS much, what in the heck am I going to do when the real labour comes along. It was negative thoughts I told myself I wouldn’t have during my birth, but the pain was getting the better of me for the moment. I got back in the tub, and I kept telling DH that I could not handle this pain anymore.

Once again, I was back out of the tub, I grabbed the pillows off the bed and laid on the floor of our bedroom hugging the pillows on all fours and rocked back and forth, and begged DH to rub my lower back and bum. He tried to talk to me to keep me relaxed and calm, and started to time the contractions. They were all over the place, at 6:46 am he timed the first one, it went until 6:47:10, and the next one came at 6:47:29 and lasted until 6:49:10. They were all over the place and really short. It just did not make sense to us, nothing was there to indicate that is was REAL labour according to everything we had read and prepared ourselves for.

Nothing until my water broke at about 7:20 am, that is! I was going through a contraction in the living room, and I squatted down and supported myself with the couch and felt the most amazing pleasurable strong desire to naturally push. I heard a pop noise and about a cup of my water spilled out of me. I told DH that my water broke, and he asked me if I was sure that it was not just pee, since I, like most women at this late in the pregnancy have trouble with bladder control. I said, "No, it broke!" At this point I was really annoyed, but everything was going so fast I didn’t have time to really be at all.

He checked the puddle on the floor and determined that it was my water, clear and clean. He looked at me and asked me what I wanted to do and left the decision up to me. I then took 20 seconds to decide what to do. I was 5 weeks early, and this was going to happen whether I wanted it to or not. I said, “Get the pool ready, we are gonna do this here, and we’ll decide later if we will take the baby to the hospital.” I knew that if we decided not to have the water birth because the baby was early, that I would regret it later and that if I even called an ambulance the baby would probably have been here before they even arrived. (Our car had died about 4 weeks before, so we had no other options to get to the hospital.)

Knowing I was really in labour, the negativity and confusion left me and my intuition told me that everything was going to be fine.

The contractions kept coming fast so DH told me to get back in the tub, while he began to run around the house in a mad rush to get everything ready. Thinking that sometimes women have broken water for a long time we didn’t know how long a labour at this point we were in for. I climbed back into the tub and tried not to push through my contractions even though the desire to was very overwhelming. I didn’t want the baby to be born in our shallow tub where I might not be able to be fully covered in water for a full emersion waterbirth.

DH was coaching me to breathe through each contraction and not push too much. I laid there staring at the shower head counting and breathing. Between contractions he ran around the house getting the already inflated pool that was sitting up against our dining room wall, and brought it into the unpainted, unfurnished baby room, and cranked the heat up; Ran back to me to coach me through another contraction; ran around again to get towels and fill the pool with the water bed kit.

I could not wait for him to get that pool set up; I just wanted to get in the pool. The tub was getting cool and there was not enough water to cover my belly. Finally, in record time (only about 5 minutes), there was enough water for me to climb into the inflatable kiddie pool and DH helped me to the bedroom and I climbed in and kind of sat back with my arms up on the sides to support my back to ease the pain. The water was nice and warm and took away my pain. All I felt now was the desire to push. NO PAIN! I had another contraction and I pushed a little but breathed through the last of it. DH warned me to take it slow to reduce the stress on my perineum, and I wanted to be sure I did not tear, as this baby was coming really fast.

At some point around now I put my hand down between my legs and felt the baby's head about an inch from my vagina opening. It was all very emotionally overwhelming and amazing at the same time. DH said the baby's head retreated a little back inward between the next contractions.

With the next one I pushed again a little, and breathed through the rest of it. I told John that I could not hold back any longer and that I had to just do it. I had to push with the next one that was coming right on top of the last contraction. He massaged and supported my perineum to ease the chance of a tear, and asked me if I felt any stinging sensation that woman feel when the baby crowns. I did not feel anything like that at all, and certainly not anything that was bad or gut wrenchingly intense, like I was told to expect from family and friends.

With the next contraction I pushed and the baby's head was out of my body! To me, at this point, it felt like everything happened at once. I do not remember it taking another 30 seconds for the baby's body to be birthed. Dh was right there in the pool with me, and he caught our baby at 7:37am

She gave two little breaststrokes in the water and then he lifted her out. And all this took place in only 17 minutes after my water had broke in the living room! He lifted our beautiful child up and turned her over to reveal that she was a girl!

Dh held her head-down for a moment or two to make sure all the fluid drained out, and checked her for mucous. She gave two little tiny cries to let us know that she was fine, and was very calm and relaxed. I was over come by happiness and joy internally, and a little shock, because I had myself convinced I was having a boy, and it happened so fast. Dh said the expression on my face was priceless when he told me she was a girl. The first thing I said to our little daughter was, "Breathe little girl" calmly and gently, absolutely forgetting that we had her name already picked out.

She was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen in my life. We held her head-down again to be sure to clear her mucous as she was a little rattley and we had no bulb. I cradled her in my arms and kept her under the water to her chest to keep her warm. She was so curious and looked around the room in wonder. I tried for a bit to get her to suckle at my breast but she was more interested in looking around the room. She was wide eyed and fascinated with everything that was going on.

I stayed in the pool with the baby while Dh brought a phone to the pool so I could call my mother. Still sitting in the pool with the cord still attached to my daughter I called her to tell her she was a grandmother and that she had missed out on her first grandchild’s birth. She was shocked, since she was two provinces away, at my cousin’s wedding. She was amazed to hear the baby cooing so soon after birth and a little worried because she was not crying.

“Babies are supposed to cry when they are born!” She said.

She was going to attend her birth to take pictures. The funny part of it was, that I joked with friends that it would be really funny if I went into labour and mom missed the birth while she was away. I never thought it would really happen. I’ll never again scoff at the superstition of a wish coming true if you make it while rubbing a pregnant woman’s belly!

We cut the cord long after it stopped pulsing (about 30-45 min. later) and wrapped the baby up in a pillow case of all things because that was all we had that was soft for her skin, and then wrapped her in a towel for extra warmth. I tried to get her to suckle to help release the oxytocin I would need to birth the placenta, but she couldn't get the tongue thing down right. I tried nipple stimulation, but I did not have any contractions starting.

About a half and hour to forty minutes later I had two contractions, and with the second, I birthed the placenta into my stainless-steel bread baking bowl. By that time my grandfather had showed up by then to give us a ride to have the baby checked out and the expression on his face as I walked by with my placenta in a bowl was something I wish I had a picture of!

The placenta seemed to be intact, and I was not bleeding at all. We then got the baby bundled well and headed to the hospital to have her and the placenta checked over to ensure everything was fine.

The baby became a little jaundiced, nothing to be really concerned about, but they were being extra cautious because she was a month early, and we had had her at home. They told us the reason she was jaundice was because we waited "too long" to cut her cord. We did not have a chance to refuse the vitamin K shot, because the nurse was giving it to her before she even explained it to DH, so he could say no.

I was irritated with that, because babies who have their cord cut later and get the extra blood from the placenta do not need the vitamin K shot, and it has been shown in studies to increase the incidence of jaundice. Waiting to cut the cord is beneficial to the baby, and they were acting like we took such a big risk with waiting. Which is completely assanine as the emergency meathod for Ambulance and firemen to birt a baby is to keep the umbilical cord intact when in the “field”.

We refused the eye drops, with a lot of fuss from the doctor. But finally got our wishes followed, when I stood my ground and said I’d sign a wavier. We spent 5 days as patients at the hospital, while she was put under phototherapy lights to lower her bilirubin, which wasn;t even necessary as her levels we not even high enough for concern, they were just using it as an excuse to keep us. Dh was able to room in with me the whole time as well, so we were not apart too much from her, but still we were apart more then I wanted to be. They were good to let me in as a patient as I really did not need to be there. But because I was breastfeeding they allowed me to stay.

Some things went on while we were in the hospital that still makes my blood boil even now when I think about it. They poked and prodded her being overly cautious because we birthed her at home on purpose. They tried over nine times to get a blood sample that was already done an hour earlier, but they were taking more blood “just in case” they wanted to reconfirm her results. She was so upset and cried so hard that she threw up all the precious colostrum that I had just fed her, and pooped all at the same time. The nurse then told the doctor that she was not accepting food and needed to be put on an IV. I was livid!!! I sat and cried while my baby lay in an incubator because the hospital caused the need for her to be there out of stupidity, pride and arrogance.

Because I was crying they had nurses ask me is I was depressed and did I need a councillor? I wasn’t depressed; I was pissed! I believe that she caused the baby to have two apnea episodes right after that trauma, and it was very scary.And then because of the apneas they put her on the monitors and said she needed to be watched to be sure she was fine. What made me even more mad was that they told about it like it was as non important as if she had just had a poop and her diaper was changed.

DH told the nurse off and demanded that she not touch our child again. The Doctor apologized profusely and from then on took her blood himself to test her bilirubin. When her IV failed and they said they would have to put it in her head next I said “no way!” and refused and just showed them that she was able to feed well, and that the nurses were being prejudiced against us for a homebirth.

They assigned a social worker to us while we were there, and she stuck her nose in our business when the doctor would be updating us on our daughter’s tests etc. She tried to get the doctor to say that we caused her to be sick, and that we took a really big change with “such a precious commodity” (her words) By homebirthing in water.

By the last day we were there I was so ready to kill that woman that I had to have DH head her off at the door so I would not see her, I was ready to tear a strip off her. She was implying that we did not understand how precious our baby was, because we decided to birth her at home in a natural environment and to keep her away from vultures like the NICU nurse.

Our birth was not the "perfect " birth that goes without it's twists and turns, but it was what we were meant to experience. I am so glad we had our little butterfly at home. It was perfect for us, and a very positive experience overall. I wish we had been able to skip the hospital routine crap, I feel it did more emotional harm than physical good, as she was very healthy from the start.

Looking back now, she was perfectly healthy and if I had not have been in such a state of amazement, I would have been better equipped to assess that and would have not allowed my mother’s insane rantings on the phone over 1200 kilometres away, to make an assessment she was not qualified to make, and have me thinking I needed to go to the hospital.

The doctors and nurses kept calling her a preemie, with a tone in their voice like it was a bad thing. I think I am just one of those women who has a shorter gestation time. Who said nine months is an absolute anyway? Nine months is the "NORM" but I think I have proven that I am not the "NORM" in anything I do.

I felt that she was just ready to come. She was the biggest “preemie" in the NICU. She weighed 5 pounds and 9.4 ounces. She is very strong and continues to amaze people with her determination for life. Even at 10 days old everyone commented on how full of love and life she was. Given that we HAD to be in the hospital, and was not comfortable with that, I felt that the paediatrician was a very good doctor, and looked out for her best interest. And he respected our decision to have home birth even though he was not of the same opinion and as soon as she was able to room in with me, he let her out on a "pass".

We got to take her home and just had to come back in for routine blood tests for three days to see that she was doing fine. He knew we wanted to get home to bond more with her. She was never alone long in the NICU, but it still killed me to leave here there, even thought I tried to reason with myself that it was a short time. I was there every three hours to nurse her and DH and I stayed with her for about an hour each time. I still feel that she would not have been jaundiced and needed to stay so long, if she had not had the VIT K shot.

I had only a small skin split in the perineum with her, which healed nicely without medical attention (that was offered profusely, but refused adamantly) in less than 38 hours. I had some back pain that lingered and came up now and again for a few days, and my muscles were really sore from labouring, but I must say for me, that birth was a wonderful experience that I will always remember with happiness. I accepted the after pains with joy, knowing I birthed my daughter well. We were in the local newspaper on the following Monday for having an at-home unassisted birth. It was a nice article, even though they made a few mistakes with the information.

For me childbirth was the positive empowering experience I was looking for. For Dh, I think it was empowering as well, for it is not many a Daddy in our society who can claim that they caught and helped Mommy birth their firstborn child. It has definitely brought us closer together, being through such a joyous celebration of life.

A few days after our daughter was born I bought him a Thank You card to tell him how much he means to me, because it seemed I could not find the words to express my gratitude for this beautiful gift I call my daughter.

Somewhere around then is when DH started calling me MamaRil.. and I liked it, and it stuck

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