Saturday, January 25, 2014

Before and After

I haven't posted in a while, so there have been some posts running around in my head the last few weeks but I couldn't really write anything new until I wrote about Benjamin's arrival. The last time I wrote I was pregnant, and now I am the mother of two. The birth of both my children have been big Before and After moments in my life, probably true for any new parent. Nothing is the same and you can pin point the moment it changed.

Benjamin was born at home and he arrived exactly as I had hoped he would. I know many birth stories are about what didn't happen and about hopes not coming true. My first birth story was like that; after 50 hours laboring with very little progress I ended up in the hospital with an epidural, which wasn't my plan. I had once thought, I will have my first at the birth center and my second at home. But since I didn't have my first at the birth center, when I became pregnant I thought, well I guess I will have to have this one at the birth center.  I was having a lot of issues with pelvic pain and got fed up one afternoon with the lack of continuity of care and the lack of personal connection at the birth center, every time I went in I felt somehow less confident that I could do this thing that would eventually need to be done. I got my google on and found a few numbers. Two days later I was interviewing Amy Zenizo with my husband. To be honest I almost hired her on the phone the first time she called me back, and was ready to sign on the dotted line within five minutes of our introduction but we did our due diligence and not only waited until the end of the interview but interviewed one other person by phone and met with yet another, then did what we knew we wanted to do and hired Amy. So it was set, my second baby would be born at home. Each visit with Amy left me feeling confident and healthy and cared for. I knew she would know what to do if things went wrong and I knew she would do everything in her power to help me through this event that only I could do.

I went into labor at around 2:30 in the morning on a Tuesday. The first two hours I couldn't sleep through the contractions but was able to rest in between. Around 4:30 my husband could no longer sleep through my contractions either and we let Amy know it was probably time to come on over. I will say this, labor hurts. A lot. You are told this and yet when it started I said to Michael something along the lines of, why did I think I wanted to do this at home??? I could go to a hospital and this could hurt a lot less! He responded perfectly. He said, "if we need to we can still do that, but you can do this." It was exactly what I needed to hear. Not, well you made your bed now birth in it crazy lady, or your right this is scary as hell lets go! Just there are options and you are strong. Amy arrived around 6:00 and every contraction she supported me through were the easy ones. She emanated confidence and control. Having my husband there was so important but being someone who loves me dearly he was worried. He didn't want it to hurt and he wasn't sure it should hurt as much as it seemed to and I could feel that. Amy wasn't worried. You could tell by her eyes that she had seen this before and the end result was a baby and she rode each wave of pain with me with absolute belief that I would be ok on the other end. This is not to say she didn't know what could go wrong or wouldn't know what to do, it was exactly because she was so confident in what was normal and what was not that I felt at ease with her guidance. She told me what sounds to make and when I didn't want to move into the position she suggested she gently helped me do it anyway, and it was always better than what I was doing.

We had discussed David being present but had decided that I would not be able to focus well on the task at hand with him there. Additionally, he had made it clear based on a few of the "get ready for baby" books that he didn't want to be there. He woke up around 6:20 and was present for one contraction, which he hid his face in the blankets for. He was then taken to watch Daniel Tiger while he waited for his MeMa who arrived quickly. Shortly after Amy checked my progress and I nearly cried with relief when she announced I was already 7cm. It had taken my 50 hours to get to only 5cm the first time around. It was then that I knew I was going to do this thing.

Michael and Amy's assistants were filling up the tub, which got too hot accidentally, so then they were trying to cool it down. My sister's cell phone had shut down after an update the night before and she had to be roused by a knock on the door by our dear friend Brian. She arrived with about an hour to spare. At some point Amy ran home to pick up her daughter who is also one of her most skilled assistants. All this happened around me as if in a place far away, and I just tried to hold on. Pretty soon I got "pushy" as Amy put it. I pushed a few times out of the tub and then was helped into it where I pushed a few more times and then there he was, first his head, which freaked me out a bit as he hung out underwater as I waited for the next contraction. Which I knew in theory was fine but was kind of surprising when it happened. Then this chest, I remember thinking, this kid's got a solid chest, turns out it was almost the same measurement at his head, then finally my whole baby there in my arms and it was done. The pain went away and he was with me. Given how much it hurts it is astounding how quickly it is over. The pain of labor is more intense than any pain I have ever felt but it is also different. It isn't like the pain when I sliced off a tip of my finger or when I jammed my pinky so hard it hurt for two years. It hurts both more and less than these things. They say labor pain is one pain that the body experiences when something is going right, normally pain is a signal that something is wrong.

The after he came out part is kind of a blur, I was moved to the bed. I was bleeding more than Amy was happy which she managed so quickly and efficiently that everything was well under control before I ever knew there was a problem . In actuality the whole process was kind of a blur, I have very little visual memory of the whole 6 hours, the one exception being locking eyes with Amy during contractions. Other than that it was a profoundly internal event, one that required all my sensory capacities to be directed inward. He was weighed and measured and checked and every 15 minutes or so Amy checked my uterus to be sure it was shrinking back down to size and I wasn't bleeding too much any more. By about 1pm everyone but my sister had left and we were there at home with our new son.

My first born, who was now a brother, and my parents arrived with a chocolate cake around 3:00 and we had a special treat where we were allowed to eat it in bed, which was definitely David's favorite part. It took about two weeks before he was really willing to even look at the baby. I may write more later on this post-partum period and my transition to a mother of two at a later date. Three months in things are getting easier and we are finding our groove, but it took some time, but the After has begun.