Monday, May 15, 2006

the arrival of Liam Cooper

So Thursday was more or less a normal day... Raelin and I were going to go out and play at the Toy Library (open indoor play space for kids) but she was resisting getting dressed and i wasn't all that motivated to motivate her and thought to myself, i dont' really feel like going anywhere either... So we spent the day sewing little things for the doll bed she and Kevin made, making flannel wipes for the baby, and in general having a great, mellow domestic day.

I may or may not have had any significant contractions throughout the day. Nothing that alerted me to thinking that labor was imminent. After dinner Raelin was pretty exhausted; we got her into bed and Kevin headed out to have a beer with a few friends. I puttered around, made myself clean the kitchen, surfed the web, read a bit and then started to get ready for bed. Kevin came home about 10:00 or so and we were in bed by 11:00.

I am fairly sure the contractions started up right away. The first few were nothing more than i'd experienced on other evenings, but i paid attention to the fact that they continued, and it seemed like fairly regularly. Hmmmmm, i thought. Raelin had already woked up once, so Kevin had moved into her room. I got up, went to the bathroom and returned to bed. At this point, i was fairly certain that the contractions were getting more intense and that this was probably going to go somewhere. I wondered if our midwives were still at our friend's house just 20 minutes away; I had heard that she was in labor that afternoon.

About 11:45 or so I went into Raelin's room and told Kevin that i was pretty sure that I was in labor. "What? you're kidding..." I told him to give me 1/2 an hour or so to walk around and make sure things didn't slow down or peter out. Within 15 minutes I was back; contractions were definitley *not* doing either of those things, and were in fact intensifying faster than i expected. I told him we needed to call the midwives and my mother so she would be available for Raelin.

the first call to Donna and Ellie was at about 12:30 am. there were, indeed, still at our friend's house and Ellie informed me that she was pushing. We chatted a bit and i told her how things were going and what i was feeling. She suggested we go ahead and start setting up the tub and to call when and if things changed.

Kevin got busy moving furniture and prepping a space for the tub. I put in a few calls to my mom and she headed over. Meanwhile, I walked and breathed and began moaning my way through contractions that were getting more intense. I was a bit taken aback; i wasnt' expecting such intensity so soon and i was feeling a bit alarmed that i wasn't having a more gradual descent into the state of mind known as "laborland." Unlike labor with Raelin, i couldn't lie down or sit. I needed to lead against counters or futon, or whatever was nearest and rock through them. I felt restless and instructed Kevin to page Ellie again, just 30 minutes after the first call. Things had definitely progressed and we needed a midwife.

The tub was filling up at this point and i got in with about 6 inches of water. By now the contractions were getting difficult to manage on my own and i asked kevin to get in the water with me. On my knees, leaning against the wall of the tub, I began some serious vocalizing to get me through. The amazing thing to me was how aware and coherent i felt. At this stage in Raelin's labor, i was in a totally different dimension. The endorphins and adrenaline, while not pain relivers, were reality-relievers that allowed me to totally surrender to the process. This is something i teach in my classes, about the importance of helping a laboring mom get into that primitive, other reality and how that facilitates labor. So, here i was groaning and moaning like hell and thinking, where are my freaking endorphins?

The tub was awesome... perfect temperature. The second or third contraction I had in the tub my water broke with a distinct, Pop! Oh fuck, I thought, here it comes... typically when your water is still intact the contractions are cushioned by the sac, but once it's broken, the baby's head can descend right against your cervix without the water cushion, stimulating more intense contractions. I looked up at the door and said, "where is the bloody midwife? she needs to be here!" i was already feeling the urge to push, and that freaked me out. How could i possibly be ready to push already? I had been in labor for maybe 2 hours. Holding back the urge to push is one of the most difficult things to do... it's like trying not to breathe after you've held your breath for as long as you can. I panted my way through the next 2 contractions and then my savior, Donna, arrived. I love midwives. they are so in tune... she got right down next to me and asked me how i was... how long I'd been pushing... all in a calm, reassuring tone and as if she had been there since the beginning.

One of my concerns was that i was pushing too soon and that can make the cervix swell and hinder dilation. "do you think i'm complete?" i asked. "oh yeah, you're complete!" she assured me and so I braced myself for pushing. With the next contraction, I pushed and reached up and felt Liam's head about a finger length away. I had a nice break before the next contraction and asked for an ice cube of Recharge... I was biding my time. I knew the sensation to come, and I wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to bring him down any further yet. Donna brought me an ice cube and with the next contraction and a substantial roar, his head was right at the opening. Rest. I waited. "Is it ok for me to take my time like this?" i asked. "definitely!" Donna said and so i relaxed and tried to mentally and physically prepare myself for the next one.

It's hard to describe the feeling of a head coming out of you, but suffice to say it is totally bizarre and fascinating and crazy painful and amazing all at the same time. I took my time and was coherent and practically conversational. I heard the cat meowing outside and almost laughed. Two more contractions and his head was out... one more and Liam was free, at 2:13 am, barely 3 hours after labor had started. We brought him up the surface,stopping briefly so Donna could slip the cord that was wrapped around him once. He was a bit blue, so she gave him a bit of oxygen and ventilated him to stimulate his breathing. we rubbed his chest and sang to him. He coughed and bit and Donna flipped him over onto his tummy, which he responded to immediately- his skin pinked up and he began to cry in earnest... for 15 minutes! And then he settled down with the help of a homeopathic remedy, and slept peacefully for the next 2 hours.

Birthing the placenta is the final stage of labor, and that practically took as long as the first half. Nearly 2 hours labor i finally let go of the placenta. My feeling is that my body wasn't ready to finish labor all that fast... it was such a shock to do so much work in 3 hours, holding onto the placenta made it linger a bit. But it came out, healthy and well and all in one piece. finally... and empty belly and the end of pregnancy... and a greate sigh of relief!!

I should mention that Raelin slept through the entire labor... our friend's baby (whose birth Donna had to unfortunatley miss) was born 15 minutes after sister arrived 10 minutes after Liam was born... my mom was a dream help...that we had a warm fire and scrambled eggs and almond butter and toast...that Liam is beautiful and perfect in every way and that we are blissed out to be a family of 4.


Blogger e said...

that's incredible and fantastic and beautiful and wonderful and totally nuts.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Bartlebee said...

thank you for all the details. really. what an amazing experience - and so different to raelin's birth. boy was he ready to arrive!

3:28 AM  

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