Lucas’s Birth

There’s no “pretty” way to write about a birth. Or at least, I’m not capable of it. Here’s a real, slightly stream of consciousness account of the birth of Lucas Aron. Our second home birth, our second child…the next chapter of our great adventure. 

After yet another long, uncomfortable, sleepless night, I awoke to Ali climbing over me and creating a nest for herself on what space was left on the couch. It wasn’t until I felt a tap on my shoulder that I was fully awake.

“Hey, it’s Father’s Day.”

I gasped and apologized, realizing I had completely forgotten that it was Father’s Day. I had no gift, no card. No meal prepared. Nada.

My poor man. He was so forgiving. He just wanted to spend some time doing things he liked around the house. I said sure…I will try my best to keep up with Ali.

A half hour later, we were all sitting on the couch, eating breakfast. We had broken down our dining table to make space for the birthing pool. After Aliana’s early arrival, we made sure to be ready at 36 weeks. The pool was inflated and in place. Our towels were washed  and clean. We had our birth box in the baby’s room, all items accounted for. We were all set to meet the baby. But he took his time!

Shortly after breakfast, I thought I felt a contraction. At this point, I had been having contractions for about two weeks. I must have forgotten what Braxton Hicks felt like, because I had been having them for a while and never knew it. For at least a week and a half, I had been having contractions ten minutes apart for two hours. Much like my first labor, I was able to sit quietly to manage them. We would text Michelle, our midwife, just to keep her informed. But the tapered off, each and every time.

At this point, I couldn’t believe that I’d made it to 39 weeks. I had finally accepted that I would go full term. But this contraction felt different. I quickly felt the need to scoot forward to the edge of the couch, then the urge to stand was too great. I walked it off, making sure to take deep breaths while imagining the contraction’s apex and release.

“Andrew……”

That felt different. That one didn’t feel quite right.

“Just letting you know, I think I had a real contraction there.”

The look on his face was hilarious. His shoulders fell, and he glanced at the pile of papers he had begun to shred.

“I guess I’ll start to put this away.”

Could this be it? Could it finally be happening, or am I going to keep being pregnant?

We quickly found the answer to this question. Not five minutes later, another contraction. Same intensity. Same need to keep moving.

It’s 8:45 am.

It’s time to call the midwife.

We’re on the phone and I have another contraction. She trusts me to tell her if I need her to come right away. I told her I thought I would be ok for a little while longer. She said she’d prep her things and wait for our call.

I called my mother, waking her. I also woke my sister in California, to just let her know the baby was likely to make an appearance that day. Mom didn’t believe me that I had just started labor. She must of thought I was calling her late in the game like last time. I remember telling her quite sternly, “Mom, I just had three contractions in the last fifteen minutes. You need to get up and go!”

I don’t know if the fact that I didn’t take another birthing class helped or hurt me this time. I mean, I remembered what I learned, and I had been reviewing my Bradley workbook over the last few weeks. I used what I remembered, but my labor was advancing too quickly for me to integrate the contractions. I spent some time leaning against the couch. I spent some time leaning on the exercise ball. But they were coming on quickly, and stronger each time. At one point, I just sat on the toilet in hopes that the gravity would help the situation, I had forgotten that it works way too well, though. Andrew had called Michelle to check in, He knocked on the door, I opened it a crack, and heard him ask if I wanted to speak to Michelle. My only response was to slam the door in his face! I couldn’t count my breaths let alone hold a conversation. Michelle took that as her cue to make her way to our house.

Funny (to me) detail. I got tired, so I opened the door again, and leaned against it while still sitting. Andrew leaned in to check on me, and placed his toes on mine. I moved my foot, but he just put his back on top of mine. I think this was his way of sympathizing with me, and letting me know he was there for me (up until this point, I had been laboring on my own while he topped off the air in the pool, and straightened up the bedroom and kitchen). As a woman in labor, however, this was the least helpful thing he could have done. I yanked my foot out from under him again while gritting my teeth, “get the eff off of me!”

10:30 am

The next thing I remember, is Michelle coming through the door quietly. Aliana is so excited to see her, she wants to take her upstairs to see her room. Michelle is able to hold her off long enough to check on me and see how things were going. We wait until a contraction subsides and I ask her to check my progress. As soon as she was done I have another contraction, but this one felt wet. I thought my water had broken and I was momentarily excited, but it was only my mucus plug. Slightly disappointing, but Michelle announced that I was 4 cm dilated, but that contraction likely pushed me past 6. This was happening so fast!

Faith, who I really should just start introducing as my sister, came over. She was incredibly helpful with Ali, and resumed her duty as birth videographer. It was around this time that I felt like I needed to get into the pool. Andrew filled it up, and I quickly got in. I tried to integrate the contractions, but they were so strong, so close together, I felt like I barely got a break in between them.

We prepared Aliana as best as we could. We read books, we watched natural birth videos of cats, dogs, horses, and some human births. We talked about how some mommies need to make noises to help their bodies get their baby out. I let her know that I had to make a lot of noises to get her out, and that I might make a lot of noises to get our new baby out. Ali was very excited to watch her baby brother’s birth, but she got really nervous  with how much I was vocalizing. She mostly stayed out of the way, preferring to be in the living room watching a movie. She did come into the kitchen to check on me once in a while, and I remember catching a glance of her peeking in flapping her hands. She’s anxious, I thought to myself, but I couldn’t spare much more thought to make sure she was okay.

Because I actually got to test for group B strep this time, I found out I was positive, and I opted for antibiotics again. I know this is one detail that conflicts with many others that I know who have chosen to have unmedicated births at home, but with my medical history, I err on the side of caution. I have been very lucky to have a midwife who helps me become informed of the choices I have and supports the decisions I make. It’s one of the reasons why I love her so much. Michelle is not only an amazing birth provider, but she’s also a teacher, counselor, friend, and certainly family.

Like my first labor, I wasn’t able to finish the whole dose of antibiotic. I couldn’t quite feel a pressure they way you would think when it’s time to push. I just felt my contractions getting longer and longer, so I began to pull in on my belly as I did with Aliana. I thought I could feel crowning, but then there was a pop! and the feeling was gone. My water broke! I don’t know if my bag was actually hanging out or not, but I swear it felt like his head had come out. Though that was disappointing, I knew that he was only so much more closer to coming.

Ali was pushed into this world two hours after my water breaking. Lucas….it had to have been under an hour.

The contractions were coming on one after the other. I kept moving, swinging around in the pool, at one point practically hanging out of it with my butt in the air. I seriously could not keep control of myself. I was trying so hard to work with my body, but my body had one mission. I kept trying to control it, but it was telling me to let go, let it do what it needed to do. I wasn’t blocking it, by any means. I wanted to work with it so bad, to be a part of my body as it went through this amazing transformation. But I couldn’t. I was afraid. I didn’t want to be in pain. The thought that kept me going was the little girl in the other room. I did this for you, I can do this for your brother. Don’t fight it, meet it head on.

I want to say that I finally reached my breaking point, but I don’t think that’s quite right. Deep down inside, I knew I couldn’t be ‘broken,’ but I was also so tired of trying to be in sync with my body. I needed a break, so so badly.

Another contraction, another push. I could feel him coming, the burning sensation that comes with crowning. Jesus, it hurt. It burned. Got to get it out to catch a break. Once his head is out, I can breathe, I can take a moment to regain my strength just get it out getitout getitout getitoutgetitoutgetitout.

I let all my air out and cry, “It won’t stop!” This contraction will not end! It keeps mounting, growing bigger and bigger. Keep pushing keep pushing keep pushing. A deep breath, hold and bear down. I open my eyes and see a flicker of something round in the water below me. I push and reach down to touch his head and suddenly my son is in cradled in my arm. I sit back against the side of the pool and pull him up and out against my chest. “I’ve got him!”

12:30 pm

His eyes slowly open and close as if he’s waking from a long, peaceful nap. He was totally chill! Like he hadn’t just journeyed out into the world. We begin to call Ali over and she rushes in. I had to do a double take when I caught sight of her. My baby girl suddenly did not look so little anymore. At that moment, I was so overjoyed with the two greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I’ll never forget the moment, when all pain was gone and only joy left in it’s wake.

Lucas remained quiet but he was by no means struggling. Though pictures taken in those moments show him to be blue, he was actually quite pink in person. He was just, relaxed! He passed his apgars with flying colors.

Getting the placenta was super easy this time around. I merely looked down into the pool and noticed a bit of a red cloud forming around me. Michelle reached down while I gave a light push and out it came, intact. We took a similar journey from the kitchen to our bedroom, where Lucas and I were cleaned up. It’s 12:45 when my parents walk through the door, barely missing it!

Unlike last time, I tore a little and needed two stitches. This boy practically shot out of me, my body didn’t have time to stretch and adapt around him. He was measured and weighed, Andrew held him while mom got me a snack. I’ll never forget the next couple of minutes, where I sat on the edge of my bed next to my midwife in silence, just the two of us, sharing a pupusa. Both of our jobs had been completed; now, the feast. It was one of the most emotionally and physically satisfying meals I’ve ever had.

We started the day on the couch, planning the day ahead. We ended the day on the couch, holding the greatest Father’s Day gift anyone could receive, and one I can never ever top.

Lucas, I was so scared to be your mom. I didn’t think myself capable of being a “boy mom.” Today, as I stare at your sleeping face, I cannot picture my family looking any different than it does now. You’ve taught me so much — patience, excitement, strength. Thank you for choosing us to be your family. We love you so, so very much.

Birth Story Part 1.5: Post Partum

One Month Old. Photo by Samantha Whitman Photography

Before I continue the part two of Ali’s story, I was reminded today
that there will be a huge chunk missing if I don’t speak of the moments
immediately after birth and its’ affect on my body and the emotions I experienced. This entry was really hard to write, because describing your emotions is never easy. I didn’t really edit this post, but rather just let the words flow straight out of my mind. I hope you understand what I am trying to convey. I apologize for the HUGE tangent as well.

This next part is kind of Andrew’s favorite. One of the first things he
tells people about the home birth experience is what I did a few minutes
after Aliana joined us. But to find out what that is you’ll have to keep
reading below.

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2 Months of Fatherhood Down, Infinite to Go

We’ve survived. Me, Aliana, and Lilly have survived the first few months are parenthood. It’s been quite the trip so far, with the birthing experience, the NICU experience, the family, the friends, a reunion, a wedding, the day care search, the acid reflux, and the real fear of job loss (mine). My momma never said life was like a box a chocolates, but she has always said, and still says to this day, that “it will all work out in the end.” I’m 25 years old and so far it has all worked out. I can only assume another 25 years of trial and tribulation are ahead of me with everything ultimately working out in the end.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I have taken well over 1,000 pictures of Aliana since her birth. I was just going through some of them yesterday and I can’t help but smile at nearly all of them. I’ve even made a few separate folders for the dark and blurry pictures. I don’t want to delete any!

Here’s to being a daddy!

My Aliana

hands and feet

32 weeks and 6 days (7 weeks left)

i can feel hands and feet now, or rather, i can feel the overall shape of hands and feet.

i’m having some trouble distinguishing which is which, because her back is on my spine when i feel her appendages best. so, since i can’t quite tell which end is her head and which is her butt (which is very easy to distinguish), it’s hard to say which is a foot unless she were kicking like she’s swimming. usually, it’s just a big poke that slides around or in and out. it feels like a big flat roundness. today i was able to feel that one of these round pancakes was slightly long, so it may have been a foot, but i’m not 100% positive.

it’s so awesome! it makes me more anxious to see her. it’ll be happening soon! at this point, she can be born somewhat safely. It would have to be a hospital birth, because she would be considered premature. at worst, she would need to spend a month in the nicu, but most neonatologists would probably not be phased by it at all, the survival rate is so high. once we get to 36 weeks she can safely be brought into this world, at home or in hospital.

there is some preparation left before we’re ready for our daughter to make her appearance. first, our baby shower is on may 7. we’ll be traveling down to long island where most of our families live to celebrate with the perez’s and the kahrs’.  we also (and probably most importantly) have to get our birthing kit, which will provide some extra tools for Michelle (our midwife). this includes things like tape for the umbilical cord, (there’s no other way to say this) piddle pads, and other little items in this vein. it’s getting very exciting around here!

Why do we cultivate a fear-based culture in the US?

23 weeks, 2 days

this week’s belly photo

Note to self: what you say today may come back and bite you in the ass.

The reaction that really struck me the most when we began to tell people that we were pregnant or (to the few we shared this with) were planning to get pregnant within the year (boy did it happen fast) came from mothers:
“Whatever you do, get the epidural! Don’t even try to put up with it.”
“Get ready for the most painful experience in the entire world.”
“You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.”

Then, I would place the reactions of the ignorant and insensitive (and by ignorant, I mean those that have never experienced birth and have only witnessed it from movies and television, not actual birthing videos or documentaries):
“Are you scheduling your c-section?”
“You’re gonna be a screamer! I bet I’ll hear you all the way from here!”
“You better warn your neighbors, they’re gonna think you’re Linda Blair with all that screaming!”

I kept asking myself, Seriously?!?!

First, I’m sorry, I don’t really understand why the need for hazing from experienced mothers. Is that really necessary? Are we pledging a fraternity here?

You’re gonna have to click more to continue reading. This will be a very long post.

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Transitions

18 weeks

 

Last night's weekly belly photo

transition (noun): movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another.

Pregnancy is a time full of transitions. Some you’re prepared for, and others you aren’t. But the best you can do is roll with it.

I think I may have felt the baby move this week. Not quite sure, but it’s a feeling that has only come few times. It feels really different than the usual rumblings and gurgles I’ve become used to since I got pregnant. It feels like something is in there nudging me. It’s funny because so many people have told me so many different things about how it feels, and this feels like nothing anyone has told me about.

I’d like to continue thinking that it’s the baby reaching out to me, saying, “I’m here mommy, you’re not alone!” but it could also be wishful thinking. I’m anxious for an outward sign of life, some encouragement that this period has a purpose.

While I continue to experience transitions (some wanted, some expected, others neither) I must remind myself that regardless of everything, there’s a little gift waiting for me at the finish line.

All that matters at the end of it all is the light shining, beckoning me to come and claim it as my own.

I can’t wait.

16 weeks! Officially Planning a Homebirth!

Lilly is now showing! AND, I can feel the uterus! It’s the size of a mini basketball that fits right into my hand. For so long now Lilly has been waiting for the day she would show, then all of a sudden within a weeks time, she “popped.”

I can see Lilly has been maintaining this blog more than myself, but here am I to discuss the controversial decision we have made… to use a midwife instead of a regular Obstetrician. After much research, thought, and discussion between ourselves, we feel this is the best approach for us. Also, this is now officially official because we have received the pre-authorizing required by our health insurance provider. This means our provider will cover nearly all of the expenses charged by our midwife. Also to add, our Midwife is extremely experienced (nearly 30 years), has delivered over 1000 babies, is a Certified Nurse Midwife, and is therefore legally allowed by New York State Law to practice midwifery. We have met with her twice thus far and have been very pleased with her knowledge and personal service. She schedules hour long appointments instead of the 5 seconds you get with a normal Obstetrician. Lilly has been incredibly happy with the decision which is all that matters.

In case you were wondering we do have a back-up plan. In the event we need to transfer to the hospital during the pregnancy now or during labor, our insurance will cover the medical expenses there as well. We’re doing our best to cover all the bases, but obviously we’re new at this.