The Birth of Charles Grey!
When I look at my son today, two weeks since his birth, I feel such gratitude. I thank God for entrusting me with such a precious soul. I thank God for giving me the intuition to trust my body more than drugs and machines, I thank the amazing women my intuition brought me to - Claudia, Debbie, and Ruth for all their love, understanding, and for believing in me. I thank my fiancé Matt for knowing me- for trusting in my body and my strength more than I did. Without all of these, Grey's birth would have been very different.
The Birth of Charles Grey!
When I look at my son today, two weeks since his birth, I feel such gratitude. I thank God for entrusting me with such a precious soul. I thank God for giving me the intuition to trust my body more than drugs and machines, I thank the amazing women my intuition brought me to- Claudia, Debbie, and Ruth for all their love, understanding, and for believing in me. I thank my fiancé Matt for knowing me- for trusting in my body and my strength more than I did. Without all of these, Grey's birth would have been very different.
The new moon came on March 10th. I had been having mild contractions the last few nights and on the 10th I started having some strong ones during the day. I loved the way they felt. Grey was due March 26th but I just knew he was coming soon. A few days passed with contractions on and off. Friday afternoon the world seemed to come alive with such energy! I felt amazing! I had the urge to go to the grocery store and buy fruit. The sky seemed the most vibrant blue and the sun seemed to radiate warmth directly onto me as I pushed my cart to the car. I puttered around the house all day feeling so high on the pure energy that seemed to be all around me I wondered "will this be the night?"
The weekend passed and on Monday I went to see Claudia for my appointment. I told her I felt like it might be soon. I ate so much that day! I couldn't figure out why I was so ravenously hungry! Then…
Just before 10:00 pm I was in bed watching TV having some mild contractions when water came gushing out! "Matt my water just broke" I called to him in the living room. He came into the bedroom smiling and in shock. We both knew this was it! We had never envisioned it starting this way. Matt sprang into action setting up the birth pool and setting out all the supplies.
My contractions started coming every minute and a half and lasting about 45 seconds each from the moment my water broke! They were getting intense fast. I tried to remember if this was normal from what I had read. "It isn't supposed to start like this!" I kept thinking- hoping this would make for a fast labor.
I called Claudia and she timed my next few contractions then she came over. When she checked me I was 2cm dilated and 90% effaced. The contractions had been so intense already that I was convinced I had to be 6 or 7 by now! But 2 was what I was and that I totally accepted it not wanting to rush my body or get caught up in analyzing or judging the process- just going with the flow.
We decided since it was 1am we should all try and get some rest. Matt and I got in bed- Matt fell asleep and I writhed around changing positions every minute or so. I listened to a Native American drumming CD over and over and over fading in and out of different levels of consciousness. Each contraction taking me further inside myself. I tried not to look at the clock and just accept whatever timeframe my body gave me. I took each contraction by itself and tried not to think of how many more I had to go or what they would be like. I tried not to think of the ones that had passed.
Around 7:00 am (now March 15) Claudia came to check me- 4cm. I hoped to be further along since my contractions were so intense and still only a minute and a half apart, lasting longer, and getting even more intense.
Claudia told me I had scar tissue on my cervix and that was making it much more difficult for it to open even though my uterus was trying so hard with such intense contractions. She broke up some of it (ouch) and I was so glad- my contractions were much less painful after that- like my body knew it didn't need to work in overdrive as much. I got up and moved to the recliner in the living room. I ate an apple and drank some apple juice. My contractions were getting more intense and Claudia stayed right by my side through them. Matt woke up and sat with me but I was so into the contractions that I really didn't need him there right then and I think Claudia sensed this along with how tired Matt still was so she said he should go rest if he was still tired. He went back to bed.
I lost all track of time around this point. I purposely didn't look at the clock- if this was going to be slow I didn't want to know how slow. My contractions then slacked off and started coming around 4-5 minutes apart. I finally was able to drift off and get some rest between them. I felt better after that but then they started coming 2-3 minutes apart. Claudia suggested we take a walk but I didn't think I was able so I got on the birth ball instead trying to bring on some good productive contractions. Pretty soon they were getting extremely intense- the best way to describe them is in terms of waves-they changed at this point from feeling like I was being swept up and yet riding with the waves to being caught in a Rip tide being thrown every which way against the rocks. I was definitely not riding them well anymore, they were riding me.
Claudia checked me again because I was starting to make pushing sounds and I was 5-6 cm. I could get in the birth pool!!! Matt got up and helped fill it up. I will never forget the relief I felt when I got in! The warmth engulfed the pain- I kept having intense contractions but I could ride them out again. I could stay relaxed and just let them come. They kept getting even stronger and the warmth was still helping but I was so overcome by the pain and the breaks were so short in between them.
Ruth arrived soon after I got in the tub. She put cold cloths on my face and neck. The cold sensation with the warmth of the water felt so good! It really helped distract me from the pain of the contractions.
I started getting tired, worn out, and just overcome by the pain that seemed to be going nowhere. My mind started playing tricks-thoughts like "I'm insane for wanting to do this at home" and "God I just want this to be over I don't care what they have to do to me" kept coming in – and then going away. I knew deep down I wanted to do this- I just wanted it to be over soon. It was like my mind was losing strength as my body was and I couldn't see an end nearing.
Claudia checked me again because I was feeling really pushy. Only 6-7 cm! After all that work! Part of me wanted to break down and cry- part of me (the part which used to have the loudest voice, now only a whisper) said "just accept it and go from there, I can still do this." Claudia told me the scar tissue was continuing to cause problems- my cervix might not dilate fully because of it- but it was totally thinned out so it could be possible to push the baby past it.
Breaking Down- Considering hospital transport
I was so exhausted at this point. I was starting to come apart. I had never envisioned this. Claudia told me the truth- this was going to be difficult and if we couldn't resolve it soon we might need to think about going to the hospital. Claudia could tell how exhausted I was. She was right- something had to happen at this point or I would just be too weak to go on and have him at home.
"I don't want to go to the hospital" I remember moaning through tears. But inside I did want to go- I just wanted it to be over- it seemed like this was just going to go on forever. I wanted an epidural- I wanted it the easy way. So many things went though my head- going back and forth between wanting to go to the hospital and desperately wanting to give it my all and just do this at home.
I felt so wronged by the Drs who had ruined my cervix- the Drs who had made it seem that if I didn't have cryosurgery for"abnormal cells" on my cervix I would get cancer when really 50% of those cases resolve on their own within 6 months. I had always felt I had gone against my intuition when I consented to the cryo just last March. I hated the Dr.s for not informing me of the potential issues it would cause with childbirth. I guess a normal vaginal birth isn't really important to them anyway.
I felt so weak- so crippled and it wasn't even my fault- all the healthy food and yoga in the world couldn't undo the damage they did. My body was ruined and now my baby's birth would be too. So many things flowed though my mind- "I don't want to be a failure" "I'm so weak, I have to just accept this" "I want to go to the hospital but I can't take the car ride"
I came to realize how weak I was. I vowed to never judge a woman for having an epidural- I would have had one too had I been in a hospital and they were readily available.
Matt reminds me…
I lost it, I started bawling and Matt started talking to me telling me how strong I am. "No I'm not Matt I really think I need to go to the hospital" "I can't do this anymore" "It's not going to work anyway" I said- I think I was just looking for his approval in going to the hospital. I wanted him to tell me its ok, I didn't have to do it- it was ok to give up- but he didn't budge- he looked deep into my eyes and told me I could do it- even as I tried to convince him I couldn't he knew I could and that's what I would want. "NO baby you can do this" "It's so close all you have to do is push and it will be over" "Think about all you've been throughthat you didn't think you would make it through Jen" "Don't let those Drs take this from you!"
Matt wouldn't let me forget how strong I was- wouldn't see weakness in me, wouldn't feel sorry for me and let me feel sorry for myself. His words anchored me and I knew I had to try. He talked me through the next contractions and I went inside myself more than ever before, pushing a little with each one envisioning my cervix opening wide.
Claudia and Ruth came back in the room and I said I think I can push so Claudia checked me and I was 8 cm and Grey was so low! I could push past it! I just didn't know what pushing felt like since I didn't have the full blown urge everyone talks about. So Claudia helped guide me- telling me when I made progress and what was working and what wasn't. I was so worried my cervix would tear- I asked Claudia "is it ok? Its not going to hurt me?" she said no and hearing that helped me let go and push since I totally trusted Claudia's guidance.
I pushed on the bed for a while "Jen he's so close! I can see his head getting closer!" Matt said. But I was so weak I just couldn't push as effectively as I needed to so Claudia suggested the birth stool. I got on and the intense pressure I was feeling intensified. I felt like he was coming out my butt! "I'm going to rip in half!" I thought. I couldn't fully relax my muscles. Matt was amazing once again, he put counter-pressure on my butt (to me it was one of the most romantic gestures ever- when someone is so comfortable with you they can do anything you need). I began to push better knowing I was supported. Claudia guided me- but I still wouldn't fully let go.
"Jen we can't go to the hospital now he's almost here!" she said. Something in me clicked- I realize this was it! I really was doing this! I had been so prepared to go to the hospital I almost couldn't believe I was doing this here! It shot through my brain and my body. Strength came- it was almost over! All I had to do was push with all I had! So I held my breath, bared down and didn't stop until each contraction was over. He crowned as I let out a huge scream and went somewhere so deep within myself.
His head was out! The cord was wrapped 3 times around his neck and was extremely long- Claudia calmly unwrapped it. I didn't even realize this was going on until Matt told me afterwards. His body came on the next contraction. It was 5:45 pm March 15!!! The placenta came on the next contraction.
I WAS DONE!!! "Oh Grey!" I said as I held my son for the first time. He was wailing at the top of his lungs. We walked to the bedroom and I nursed him.
For the first time in 20 hours I felt no pain. Pure bliss, "gratuitous grace." If I hadn't been so worn out I would have been crying uncontrollably. I was ecstatic yet totally shocked that I had done it! AT HOME!!! I had psyched myself into expecting to have my baby in the hospital that it seemed absolutely miraculous that I had done it at home!
In that moment I realized I loved Matt more than ever before- he never for a minute- even when it was rational to do so- doubted my strength and my intuition- he reminded me of both when I couldn't remind myself. In that moment I loved Claudia and Ruth so much for believing in me and for giving me the opportunity to give birth at home even in the hostile homebirth climate GA has. I loved them for knowing intuitively what I needed at all times- for their positive energy and love around me.
Reflecting- Complications Best Handled at Home
I look back and think "My God I would have had a C-section for "failure to progress" or at the very least pitocin and an epidural had I started out in a hospital!
This could have been very bad, even life threatening since we discovered my placenta had an artery growing through it- something they'd never seen before since it's so rare. It could have ruptured causing severe hemorrhage had I been given pitocin and had hard, artificially stimulated contractions.
I knew all the nightmares I had about hospital birth, the pain in my chest whenever I thought about giving birth in a hospital had steered me in the right direction- homebirth was much safer for me and my baby. And now I feel so empowered and trust my body and God more than ever before. As difficult as this birth was, it was in no way traumatic- as I know it would have been had I started out in the hospital. I thank God for the wonderful women who give me and other women the option of a safe, supported homebirth. The laws in GA are totally backward- every woman should have the option of an amazing homebirth experience like mine in which she is respected, nurtured, and guided on her own unique journey.