Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Splashes Baby Jules: A Birth Story

The birth of our firstborn, Orion, went so smoothly that it was hard for us to imagine a better birth for our second child. Still, we set our hopes high and planned a home birth. The hospital setting was our only complaint when Orion was born, so this time around we wanted to stay at home if possible. Even though things did not go exactly as intended, we learned the lesson that some of the best things in life just can't be planned.

On Thursday, September 25th, Orion, Great Grandma Muriel (Isaac's mother's mother) and I set off for the OKC Zoo. We were supposed to go the day before with friends, but Orion had been sick so we went on our own the next day instead. It was probably a good thing because I was tired and waddled around very slowly. I rested on many benches throughout the park while Muriel and Orion enjoyed the animals. (* see notes for zoo story) When we got home from the zoo Orion took a nap while I set about making a feast for dinner that night. I made ribs, steamed broccoli, baked potatoes, homemade dinner rolls (I recently got a bread machine!) and apple pie (served with vanilla ice cream, of course). It was a huge meal and I was stuffed. I was also very tired. Lucky for me Muriel was there to do most of the clean up. We (Orion, Muriel, Grandpa Yarchenko and I) played Candy Land. Grandpa won. Next thing I knew it was late and Orion still was up so I started getting him to sleep. With all the guests in the house he was sleeping with me and I told him that I was so tired that I would just go to sleep with him rather than staying up with the other adults.

As I rolled over in bed I felt a weird feeling inside of me and thought that my water may have just broken. Getting up out of bed confirmed this and I dashed for a toilet, not eager to drip all over the carpet. The problem is that the water doesn't just all come out at once so it is really awkward to get around without making a mess. I called for Orion who still hadn't gone to sleep and asked him to get Isaac. Orion came back and I asked him to tell me what numbers were on the clock. He came back saying "It's all ones!" 11:11PM. Isaac came and we called the midwife to give her the heads up. She told us to go to bed and to give her a call when contractions had started. Isaac and Orion went out to sleep on the couches and I tried my best to go to sleep but was too excited.

An hour later I was up and I called my dear friend Brittany and left a message on her voicemail that I was in labor. I figured she wouldn't get the message until the morning and would end up missing the whole thing. An hour later I called the midwife again and told her I was having mild contractions, about 7-8 minutes apart, lasting about 30 seconds. She told me to call again when they were lasting a minute. As soon as I got off the phone with her my phone rang. It was Brittany. "I'm here! Which door should I come in?" I let her in and she she started in on being the best friend a woman in labor could have.

First she cleaned my bathtub, in case I wanted to use it for the birth. Then she French braided my hair. She got me fresh clothes(** see notes) as I took a shower. She took photos as I prettied myself. (I wanted to look GOOD in the birth photos.) She started keeping record of my contractions. In between contractions we chatted and had a great time. It was like an impromptu pajama party.

Once I had had a few contractions that lasted a minute I called the midwife again. "You sound too chipper," she said. Of course I was! I was going to meet my baby soon and I was having a great time. She told me to call back when I was in more active labor.

I thought about how labor had progressed with Orion. As contractions with him had intensified there were other signs that it was nearing time to push. I started to bleed, I had hot and cold flashes and I almost vomited a few times. Then I went through transition, a few freaky contractions where I had a hard time even remembering to breathe. After all that I still had to push for 45 minutes to get him out. So in my mind there were many signs to wait for. If any one of them happened I would call the midwife and insist that she come. And after the huge meal I had eaten I was sure I would not be able to avoid vomiting this time around.

The problem is that none of those things happened. My contractions just got stronger and closer together. Eventually they were coming on fast and strong and so when I called the midwife I decided I would have to be all business. All I said to her was "I want you to come now." She needed to get her kids to a babysitter and then was on her way to my home. Still, it was a half hour drive for her to my home, and thus it was that my midwife missed the delivery.

After waiting half an hour, Brittany went out to keep watch for the midwife. I was hoping to slow the contractions down and so I laid down in bed. It felt so good on my back - until I had a contraction. There was no way I could stay in bed for another. On the next contraction I could tell the baby was making his way out. I stepped into the empty tub, removed my underwear and saw blood. Finally! I turned on the water and started to fill the tub and rinse off my legs. I called loudly for Isaac who was still asleep on the couch. Then another contraction but still no Isaac. I called again and he finally heard me and woke up. He came in surprised to see me so far along. I asked him to get Brittany and to just leave a door open and an outdoor light on for the midwife. I told him the baby was coming out. The problem was that I didn't tell him to be FAST. He was gone for five minutes looking for Brittany down by the gate, while she was waiting for the midwife in the back. And thus it was that Isaac missed the delivery.

While Isaac was gone looking for Brittany, Brittany came back. I pointed between my legs and told her the baby was coming out. From her view she could only see blood, she couldn't see the head crowning. I asked her to get Isaac. The problem was that I didn't tell her to be FAST. And thus it was that Brittany missed the delivery.

And so without my midwife, my husband, or my dear friend who had helped me through most of the labor, I delivered Jules myself while standing in a tub that only had a few inches of water in it. He came out on his own, with only my contractions and gravity to move him out. I did not need to help push at all. After catching him I laid him down in the tub and he calmly stared up at me. I sat down and placed him in my lap. I was in awe over what I had just done and what I was now holding. It was approximately 4:45 AM, Friday September 26th.

A few minutes later, Brittany and Orion came in and were surprised by the sight in the tub. Next came Isaac and not long after that, the midwife. The midwife took one look at me and said, "You don't look like someone who just had a baby."

I don't feel like someone who just had a baby. Well, I'm losing sleep, but my, ahem, lower female parts don't feel like they are about to fall off as they did after Orion was born. And this time around I barely tore. It was so small that it had already healed by the time I got around to using the toilet.

Our house guests slept peacefully though the whole event.

I was worried that Isaac and Brittany may have been mad to have missed the birth. Isaac would have like to be there, but he says that it makes a better story the way it unfolded. Brittany seemed more worried that I would be mad at her for not being there in the end. How could I be mad? I love how everything turned out. I would have liked to be able to share the memories of that event with someone. I would have liked to have photos or videos. Still, if anyone else had been there I don't think things would have happened the way they did. I doubt I would have caught Jules myself. And I probably would have had trouble listening to my body and so fully trusting my instincts if someone had been there for me to ask "what should I do?" We don't always give ourselves the chance to see what we are capable of. Apparently I am capable of birthing a baby all by myself. And I am so pleased to have found out.

*When you are pregnant and really big, people can't help but stop you and say, "Wow! You look like you are about to pop!" Since I got big quite early this time, I had the entire conversation in my head and it would play out the same every time. I would respond with "well, I feel like I'm about to pop." Then I would tell them my due date, watch for their surprise that is was so far away (this stopped happening when about 3 weeks remained) and then let them awkwardly wish me luck. So at the zoo on the 25th I got stopped and the woman told me, as expected, that I looked about ready to pop. This time though, tired out from our trip to the zoo, I just responded "yes," and walked away. I think I finally agreed and so did Jules.

**On the 25th I got a package in the mail from my sister, Melissa. In it was a maternity shirt that she had forgotten to loan me. She said at least I would have a few weeks to wear it. Oops! Still, I decided that it would be the perfect labor shirt, A black tank top with a cartoon baby on the belly. I would have a painful contraction and I would catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and the sight of that silly baby would make me smile. My other sister, Carly was pleased as punch to hear this, as she was the one who bought the shirt for Melissa.

Jules Patrick

Introducing Jules Patrick, the newest member of the StarShine Family. He made his splashy entrance at approximately 4:45 AM Friday, September 26th. He weighs in at 7 lbs and is 20.5 inches long. Mom and babe are doing great. More details of his wondrous birth will be posted as time allows.