So, many of you know that we planned a home birth with Violet. Here's a brief explanation of why - we had a wonderful hospital experience with Isaac, so I was not coming at this from any kind of trauma or negative experience. What happened was basically that I started learning more about the options available in child birth (several family members and friends had had wonderful experiences birthing either at home or at a center), and the more I learned about birth centers and home birth, the more excited I was about trying it. What most enticed me was options - how to prepare during pregnancy, how to labor, how to push, pretty much every aspect of the experience was completely up to me. I learned about water birth, and I really wanted to try it - go watch some youtube videos if you're curious ;) - it seemed like such a gentle and peaceful way to give birth. Anyway, I said this was going to be brief. Basically, I had decided on going with a birthing center, and then when I learned I could have everything that was at the birthing center at my own home, I decided that was definitely the choice for me.
Ok, on to the birth story. Wednesday (the 15th) I had an appointment with Heather, my midwife, and she checked my dilation. I had gone from a 2 to a 3 in the preceding week, so that was good, but I wasn't feeling particularly positive that Baby was going to make her debut any time soon. Heather offered to "massage around a little" to see if that could help move things on (just try not to think about it too much), and when she did, I dilated another half centimeter. So, hurrah.
I went home and took all my slew of prenatal vitamins and other herbal stuffs (cayenne pills to prevent hemorrhage, evening primrose oil to soften the cervix, red raspberry leaf to tone the uterus - one fun thing about going with a traditional midwife practice rather than a more modern one ;) ). I got the feeling I should clean the house up, so I did (I even mopped!), and went to bed feeling pleased. The next morning I woke up feeling rather crampy. Isaac and I went about our day, but I had to stop every now and then as cramps started to feel more like contractions, but I wasn't really sure. Around 1, Kathryn and Rachel came over for our craft day. Kathryn brought the most delicious chocolate cake to celebrate my birthday (she also gave me a beautiful book of cakes and a lovely sweater), and we all had a slice while waiting for Laura and Charlotte to join us.
James came home, and I decided I should go see if lying down would stop things, or if this was for realsies. Laura, Rachel, and Charlotte left, and lying down did not stop contractions. Neither did showering. Dad came home. They reinflated the birth tub (we'd blown it up a few days before, but it had gone a bit flat) and put in the liner.
|My awesome birth team. :)|
|My little guy - he really thought the tub was cool. Thank goodness he was asleep by the time we filled it.|
I called Tracie, my doula, and let her know what was happening. I think we put Isaac to bed at some point, though I don't remember exactly when. Contractions were still really easy to get through, so we decided to go down and watch Pride and Prejudice, which we had borrowed from James's coworker and which needed to be returned soon. I really enjoyed watching that and getting up every five minutes or so to walk or bounce or move through a contraction. It seems for me that moving is the most effective thing, so I would either hold on to James and sway back and forth, or lean up against a wall and kind of bounce on my toes while breathing.
Tracie arrived a little while after starting the movie, and she was wonderful - she brought yummy-smelling spray, and a nice hot pack for my back, and she offered massages, and was all in all really great. We called the midwife and let her know how things were going, and she decided she would come over after putting her kids to bed and just see how I was progressing. She came near the end of the movie, and she checked me. I was dilated to around a 7 about then (yay!) so she decided to stay and she called the midwife assistants to come (Molly and Eve).
|Watching the movie with James.|
As they were arriving, we finished the movie (favorite line this go-through? Mr. Darcy: Do you talk, as a rule, while dancing?
Elizabeth : No... No, I prefer to be unsociable and taciturn... Makes it all so much more enjoyable, don't you think?), and contractions got a bit harder. I wasn't able to just breathe through them anymore, I definitely had to get up and move and hold on to James.
Eve thought I was looking like I was getting pretty close, so she told me "I really need you to get in the tub soon." So - I did. The hot water had run out so, we had been waiting for the heater to heat some more, but we ended up boiling water on the stove (I know, sounds so old-fashioned, right? :P) and adding that to the water to bring the temperature up. Anyway, once I was in the tub, contractions slowed waaaaay down and got much less intense. It was so incredibly comfortable in there. I was just talking to everyone, stopping every once in a while to breathe through a contraction or bounce my legs or wiggle my toes (seriously, that's all it took). Tracie kept me comfy with a cool rag for my face. It was so chill. At one point I had about four people all around just looking down at me - I was like... "Um... hi?" They asked me if I was feeling a bit like a watched pot. I was indeed.
Anyway, we decided that the water was probably just too relaxing and this was going to take forever if I didn't get out. So, I got out, dried off, and went to talk to Heather. She checked me again, and I really hadn't progressed much. She said that what was holding me back was the bag of waters, and she offered to break my water and said we'd probably have a baby soon thereafter. Well, I didn't really want to do that - I just thought, my water had broken naturally with Isaac and it would probably do so again if I just gave it some time. This was about 10:45ish. So, James and I talked and we decided we'd wait half an hour and see what happened. We turned off the relaxing music - we were listening to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack that I made James buy for me after the movie was over ;)
|Hanging out in the kitchen. Just waiting for the next contraction.|
|Here I am working through a contraction. It helped to hold on to the counters and kind of bob my knees up and down.|
So, we added some more hot water, and I got back in the tub - probably somewhere around 2am. Heather broke my water - not nearly as bad an experience as I had been expecting. After that contractions were waaay harder. I tried the first couple just sitting in the tub as I had before, but then I found that if I knelt and held on to the side of the tub, that was a better position for me. James was right there with me, holding my hands and talking me through "Low moans, low moans" he kept saying. :) Such a good birth coach. He also told me nice things like "You're doing awesome, you're so great," etc.
|He may have been laughing at some of the noises I was employing as pain-coping techniques at this point.|
They quickly pulled me back into a sitting position, pulled Violet out of the water and handed her to me. I really am not clear on the sequence of events after that, as I was just staring at my beautiful child and making all sorts of exclamations. James says I have a "funny voice" that he's only ever heard me use these two times right after giving birth to our babies. I just can't help it, they are the most beautiful creatures I've ever seen. I just kept saying, "Hello, Baby. You're so beautiful."
|First moments of life.|
|She took a nice big breath and gave us a nice big cry.|
After that, the story gets kind of gross as there was stitching and stopping of bleeding and not so much of the memories I really want to treasure forever. The cool thing was that I got to hold her for so long right after the birth. They wrapped her in warm blankets (they had been warmed with a heating pad), wrapped the placenta up and just placed it next to us, and I just held her while all the clean-up was going on.
I even nursed her a bit as they were palpating my stomach and getting my uterus to contract. That was the very un-fun part of the whole business, so we'll just move on.
|Molly checking her breathing. Sounds good!|
Dad met his granddaughter, and then took her over to the other side of the bed for her newborn exam. Kinda crazy that this is all just happening in my bedroom!
This all seemed to go pretty fast to me, but by the time everything was over it was probably after 5am, and everyone was exhausted. James took Isaac downstairs to sleep on the couch, Dad went to sleep in the guest room, and it was just me and little Vi. This was a little scary, and the only time I missed the hospital in all this. It's nice to have that safety net of a staff of wonderful nurses around to take care of you should anything go wrong. I'll have to think of some way to bring a little of that into the experience next time... It just would have been nice to know that if I needed something, I could have gotten ahold of someone. But, I didn't need anyone, we made it through the night, James came and checked on us around 7 or 8 and took the baby for a bit so I could sleep.
And that's the story of how Violet Frances West joined our lives. Happy Birthday, to me!