Waiting for Relief
(Continued from Part 3) Only this time, I decided to stay in the shower for a longer time. Pushing was growing intense, but I felt like the head had not yet descended, which was rather disappointing given the effort I was putting into each push. I was trying to listen to the “Push Your Baby Out” Hypnobabies track, but the intensity had heightened to the point where I just had to vocalize through the contractions. I got down on my hands and knees in the shower, as that position seemed to make pushing slightly more manageable. By this point, I had been pushing for about 30 minutes, and was growing tired and discouraged.
I checked to see if I could feel the head, but disappointingly, all I could feel was swelling. My cervix still seemed high and tight, indicating that this was my cervical lip again, though I didn’t quite process it at the time. I asked Daniel to bring me the exercise ball for support to rest on, as my arms were growing pretty weak. But then my knees and feet were sore, so we put the towel under them as padding, too.
Julie began to urge me to head back to the tub so I could relax more. But I declined, telling her it was hard for me to get comfortable there. Being on my hands and knees is usually the only way I manage the pushing stage, and in order to really have enough water to promote relaxation, it was hard to be in that position and in the tub.
In the back of the mind, though, I was analyzing why Julie was asking me to head to the tub. Although I’d wanted a waterbirth for the previous three births, it hadn’t happened, and I was fine with that. So, my attitude for this birth and what I told my midwife and doula ahead was basically, “I’d love a water birth, but it hasn’t happened before and I’m totally cool with giving birth wherever my body feels most comfortable.”
However, in the last Hypnobabies class that I’d attended, we did a sporadic in-class assignment where Julie had us draw what we envisioned when we thought about our “perfect birth.” (I took that literally, while the rest of the class drew abstract things like rainbows and sunrises. I’m still not sure how I interpreted the instructions. ;)) But back to the story, my drawing was this: me in the bathtub, with the a moon showing it was night, and Carrie, Julie, and Daniel nearby, and Megan taking a picture. So, I think she knew I did want the waterbirth, and wanted to make sure I got in the water if possible.
Back to the Water
I continue to push with each urge, but felt like nothing was happening, like my body just wasn’t connecting full strength with each push. I was so exhausted and frustrated at this point. During my first two births, the pushing phase had been incredibly short, and so those experiences (and in my mind, the ideal) made this phase extra challenging. Plus, when you are using all the muscles you have never moved at any other time of your life, it wears one out quite quickly. I started envisioning going to the hospital and getting an epidural, knowing full well that an actual car ride at this point would be even more miserable. I felt like if I vocalized my frustrations, maybe it would mean I was coming to the end, so I whined and complained and said I was giving up and just wanted to go the hospital.
And then I went back to the bath, and complained a little more. I tried sitting in the bath and leaning back for pushing through each contraction. Utter misery. So, naturally, I asked Daniel to transform into a human pillow and get into the bath with me so I could rest on him for support. This was not part of our wedding vows, but amazingly, he did it anyway. 😉 I leaned back and braced myself against him during the next few contractions. It did feel a little better in that the pressure felt more manageable, but it made me get some killer hip cramps. So while pushing itself is pretty intense, trying to do so with hip cramps is probably taking 10 years off of my life each time.
In that position, I also feel like I’m not giving my body enough gravity for baby to descend, and the baby still felt like she was higher up. (Retrospectively, I think the hip cramps are actually my body’s sign of baby’s head finally descending through the birth canal.)
After a few more contractions, I could no longer endure the position anymore, and so I told everyone what I was doing and hoisted my body back into a hands and knees position. At this point, things sort of become a blur in my recollection as to the order and what happened next. But, soon after, Carrie came and checked again and said something like “you’re going to have a baby soon.” Julie encouraged me, and so did Daniel. Back on my hands and knees, though, it was rough. I continued to have hip pain and begged for counter pressure (squeezing my hips while I pushed). There was a lot of yelling in this phase. Not so much of pain, just of incredible effort (and some misery in there, too), much like a weight-lifter does when lifting heavy objects. I was eager to feel the head, but still felt only the cervix the next time.
And then, I felt it: the ring of fire! I was simultaneously excited and nervous. With Eden’s birth, this sensation was only momentary and barely noticeable. With Justus, it was a bit more protracted (and after his head emerged it was actually several minutes before his body did). I asked everyone if they could see the head, and they said “no.” I was like, “What?!? I am crowning! I can feel it!” Thankfully, the “no” was short-lived and next out was the head (Carrie slipped in and slipped the cord off the neck), and then our baby was out! I was in an awkward position to receive our baby, but after some initial confusion, Daniel announced she was a girl and he and Carrie helped get her into my arms. And the scene, apart from Daniel being behind me, looked exactly like it did in the drawing!!
All of the sudden, I exclaimed several times, “Wow! That was fast!” The birth was indeed fast, though the pushing phase took up a greater proportion than I had expected. Daniel and I remained in the tub just staring at our daughter. We had both been thinking boy in the hours before (though in the weeks and months before, my early-on guess of “boy” had shifted to “girl”), so we were a bit surprised at first. But absolutely in love and thrilled. She was very peaceful and quiet and didn’t really make much noise (she is still like that so far). Finally, I felt the urge to push again and pushed out the placenta, which surprised us all with the size (I later had weighed: it was 2lbs. 10oz.!). Time of birth: 10:30p.m. And then…ouch! After birth pains kicked it.
Everyone worked to help me back to our bed, and I settled in with our new baby girl! She was very alert and calm, and we eventually started nursing and she did great! We left the cord and placenta attached to Kyrie for a while, even after it had stopped pulsing. Daniel soon cut the cord, and then Carrie did the newborn checkup and weighed and measured Kyrie. When she was born, I thought she looked smaller than my other babies had as newborns (though, looking at these pictures, she does not :)), and so I kept remarking about how tiny she looked (comparatively, and relatively to my three previous 8+ lb. previous babies). I even went so far as to say that I guessed she was probably just near 7lbs. So, I was surprised to learn she was more than 8lbs., at 9lbs., 1oz., and was 21 inches long.
My afterbirth pains were quite intense, and for the last two pregnancies I’ve asked our doctor to prescribe Loratab to have on hand just in case I need it. I had avoided using it after Justus’s birth in spite of the intense after birth pains then, but this time I begged Julie to go ahead and hand me a half pill, along with Tylenol and some after birth herbal tincture. (After making it through natural childbirth drug-free, I am a wimp when it comes to this part! :)) Thankfully, about 30 minutes later the medicine started to kick in, and I felt better.
By the time everyone left, it was around midnight. Daniel usually goes to bed around 9p.m. most nights (and often earlier on Friday nights–yeah, we live exciting lives ;)), so I knew he would be extra tired. But I was pretty exhausted, as well. I asked him to take her for the first few hours, and then we could switch…but then I realized if he did that, he would miss out on important sleep and then it would be hard for him to take care of the kids the next day/morning. So, I sent him to bed and told him I’d stay up with Kyrie. She was awake, but I didn’t feel like I could sleep if she wasn’t, and I still had some adrenaline powering my excitement. I eventually fell asleep with Kyrie sleeping next to me, and we got a few hours of sleep before morning.
(The kids were all excited to see her the next morning. The girls were at first timid about holding her, but Justus was quite eager to get his hands all over her! 🙂 Daniel took the first week off of work, and it was pretty much just us and the kids most of the week, with a few visits from friend. Daniel did such an amazing job taking care of all of us (which is 5, since it included me), and somewhat shockingly, the kids only cried twice the entire time. However, they made up for it the following 2 weeks after, and haven’t quite returned to their only-cry-twice-in-a-week record. :/))
Processing This Birth
Overall, this birth was very much like what I had hoped and prayed for. Apart from a prolonged pushing phase (at least, comparatively, again), I came to the conclusion that childbirth can be much easier for some people and with some birth. I never really felt pain during my non-pushing phase, only strong pressure, and all of that was manageable. (If I could have combined this contraction phase + the pushing phase from Eden’s birth, I would have had a near-painless birth. I’m starting to believe that the few stories I’ve heard of such might be true? (Certainly not effortless, though, I know!) However, that pushing phase, though. More than made up for it! ;)) I vocalized so much that my voice was gone the next day, and my throat still sore and voice garbled for the whole week following. (Next time, I’m adding cough drops to the birth supplies to buy ahead of time.)
Do I think Hypnobabies made a difference? Well, every birth is different, so it is hard to truly know. But in short, yes. I think that is what made the first phase so manageable. It gave my mind something to focus on, especially during the part when I was laboring alone. In previous situations, it was hard to keep my mind from analyzing everything and running hundreds of different directions at once. This time, I was constantly reminding my body to relax, and those constant verbal reminders did the trick. Relaxing kept the sensations of intensity away, and kept me from doing the opposite and tensing up. (In fact, the few times I’ve had trouble falling asleep postpartum, I’ve simply listened to a Hypnobabies MP3 and have fallen asleep within minutes. :))
And waterbirth? Well, this is the first time I’ve not had any tearing, so I think it was helpful in that aspect, as waterbirth often helps with this. I think for me to feel the full benefits of a waterbirth, I need a birth tub or a bigger bathtub. But as it was, I am grateful for the experience.
I posted about Kyrie’s name and meaning here.
Thankful for Support
I’m again incredibly grateful for my amazing husband, my first and favorite birth support team member. In all, he was only present for about an hour of the birth, which was new for us and definitely felt different for me, both during and after. But with not having additional family or friends nearby to care for the other kids, the timing could not have been more perfect. And this was almost the exact schedule I had prayed for, too; I just didn’t know it would happen on my due date! 🙂 Julie was an amazing doula again, and I’m thankful I also got to take Hypnobabies from her. I’m also thankful that I was able to work with Carrie as our midwife, even though we connected with her a little later into the pregnancy, not even knowing if we would move to Ecuador at the time we hired her for our prenatal care. (If you are in Upstate, SC and looking for doula support or a midwife, I highly recommend these ladies!)
After my best friend (who has since moved several hours away) was able to photograph our birth with Justus, I learned how special it was to have birth photography. So, I was excited when Carrie connected me with Megan of Snap Life Photography when she was wanting to add a homebirth to her portfolio. (She does maternity, breastfeeding, and Fresh48/newborn photos, as well.) Having a birth video now is a huge piece of Kyrie’s story that I’ll cherish.