Friday, September 10, 2010

The Challenges of Being in Labor While Being a Mommy

I love this humorous account of a local homebirth. The humor comes from her no nonsense down to earth truth telling about the challenges of laboring and mothering at the same time. This is one of the difficult parts of having another baby. Women don't get the luxury of stopping motherhood while pregnant, birthing or recovering. No matter how many times I tell my experienced moms to have things arranged so you can drop everything, including your older child/children and zoom to the hospital I always arrive there before them! And then there is the issue of assuming this birth will be like the last birth; right? Enjoy Kelly's story!

Our little Alubia (bean in Spanish) was born on Aug.27, 2010; weighing 6 lbs 14 oz and measuring only 18 ¾ inches. She’s soooo small, but so cute. She has a full head of black hair and adorable chubby cheeks. We have named her Maui (Maria Luisa) and sometimes manage to NOT call her Alubia. Thanks, Maui, for the name.

Her birth story is very different than I imagined it would be, but it is still perfect (well, mostly). It turns out this labor stuff is complicated and having had a child only makes it more complicated. Who knew? This is the way things are supposed to be with a second birth: 1) The mother should know when labor starts. 2) The mother should remain calm during labor, because after all, she’s done this before and should be able to relax and breathe correctly. 3) The first child is NOT supposed to randomly start vomiting once labor starts and need his daddy. 4) The mother should be able to handle labor just fine if the father is temporarily needed by the older child. You know, the !Kung women only have birth attendants with their first child. After that, they go into nature and give birth alone and walk back to the village. So what’s a few contractions with no hubby, right? Well, none of that worked out well for me. And, I’ve also found out that the fact that everybody says that second labors can progress rapidly once they actually begin actually has a bit of a negative spin. They can take forever to “actually begin” and you should probably simply store your birth personnel (midwives, doulas, babysitters) in the garage or office or something so that everyone is ready to go right when you need them.

So here’s how it started. Wednesday at noon, I went to put Xavi down for his nap, but just couldn’t. I had absolutely no way of keeping my eyes open. So I pulled out a comforter and pillow and lay down on the floor and tried to convince him to nap with me. No such luck. Under those circumstances, he wants to lay on top of you with you on your back and I just couldn’t do it while pregnant. Finally, I texted Eneko to come and put Xavi down for his nap. He did and then returned to work while I went and laid down. And then started vomiting and having very continuous Braxton Hicks contractions and feeling like I was going to die. So he returned home and worked from home, watching Xavi while I made friends with the toilet (like we haven’t spent enough time together during this pregnancy). I felt so icky and wretched, way worse than with any stomach flu I’ve ever had, but a little like I was in labor, but not for any real definable reason. Kristi came over to check me and said not yet and drink the following liquids and we all went to bed (not together, she went home, obviously). A little later that night, the vomiting and ickiness went away and real contractions began. So that happened for most of the night and by morning, I was sure the baby was coming that same day, on Thursday. So when Eneko woke up, I told him the good news and we started getting the house ready for the baby and then I went to lay down to rest between contractions. It was wonderful. I let Laura, our doula, know what was happening and that we would call her when we needed her. Meredith, our babysitter, was able to get her in-laws to come care for her son until when her husband got off work and she kept me company until Megan could come check me and tell me… ehhh, maybe it will turn into active labor, but maybe not today since it was in the early stages. Stay hydrated, well-fed, rested and probably tonight, after Xavi was in bed.

Discouraging, but Eneko, Xavi and I decided to do those final things before the baby arrived. We ate lunch, went to Trader Joe’s to get some stuff, got Alubia’s birthday for Xavi present from Whiz Kids (love that store!!!), went to Doc Burstein’s one last time to get ice cream (I imagine I will be dairy-free with this little girl too so gotta eat the good stuff while I can) and then came home to rest while California Pizza Chicken (according to Eneko) was delivered. All this time, I was having fairly regular contractions that were pretty strong and I was doing a good job of relaxing during them, visualizing progress and all that good stuff. And on Thursday night, NOTHING! No baby snuggling in bed with us when we woke up in the morning on Friday.

So after a contractiony breakfast, the decision was made to send Eneko to work. Who knows when this labor will start so we’re going to have to go on with our lives, just pausing to breathe every little bit. Xavi and I went to gymnastics and the contractions were pretty controllable while we were there and then we came home, prepared dinner and had our naps and our lunch (staying rested and well-fueled like advised). I was pretty miserable by now, but didn’t want to waste my last days of one to one attention with Xavi, so we went to Avila Valley Barn to feed the animals, ride on the tractor and get some "I-sheem." That tractor ride almost killed me. When we got home it was close to five, so we finished dinner and then sat on the sofa to read (Xavi is in the phase where he loves to have marathon reading sessions, having you read a book to him over and over and over and then choosing another and having you read that one over and over and over. Up til now this had been great for pregnancy because how often do you get to sit with a toddler???). By now, I’m moaning through the contractions and trying to read to Xavi. “A cow says Moo, A sheep says Baaa. Three singing pigs say AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” and Xavi is getting upset and crying because that isn’t how the book goes and Eneko sends me a message saying he’ll be staying a little late to finish some stuff and I’m about to cry… But we survived that extra half-hour with no daddy and when he got home, he took Xavi on a bike ride and I got to have a few contractions without someone crying through them and flailing on my lap. Things seemed bearable once again. Eneko would be home all weekend and hopefully we would have a baby. Then during dinner, Eneko tells me about all the stuff happening in the office that weekend and I start freaking out. If he needs to work, he needs to work. Life can’t stop because I’m having contractions. But SERIOUSLY, it is sooooo hard caring for a toddler and having contractions. Should I call Sabrina to watch Xavi Saturday? But she needs to move and it’s her day off and she has her own family to take care of. And what if this goes on for days? weeks? It’s getting reaaalllly hard to relax during the contractions since it was getting really hard to relax period! And when you’re tense, they hurt so much more. And I was getting to my mental breaking point.

So my poor husband is trying to help and he offers to call one of the midwives to examine me and I say no, we have to wait until we are actually in labor. He offers to examine me and I say, no. Then I change my mind and decide that once Xavi is in bed, that would be a good idea and then I went to moan my way through the contractions in bed while he put Xavi to bed. By the time Xavi was asleep, I was so restless, moving from the ball, to walking, to laying on my side and just not feeling too great anywhere, knowing it was my fault, if I could just relax I wouldn’t have a hard time. So Eneko, around 8:30, checks and he says, “Not a 2 or a 5. A 3 or 4.” And I almost cried. Or maybe I did. Can’t remember. If it’s a 3, that means NOTHING. But if it’s a 4, then we’re in labor. But what if it’s a 3 and I stay like this for weeks???? He calls Kristi, against my advice, and reports his findings and asks for someone to come. And says he will set up the birth pool. I’m dead set against this, because, what if I’m not in labor? He wants to call Laura and Meredith too and I say no! And then beg for the pool because I can’t take it anymore and I need something to help. So he sets up the pool and it was like heaven getting into the warm water, but I still couldn’t relax because now we had an inflatable pool set up in the dining room in a house with a toddler and a cat (what could possibly go wrong there?) and what if this wasn’t even labor and if you can’t relax the contractions hurt and aren’t as effective which causes you to tense up more, which causes them to hurt more.

Poor Eneko is doing all of the last minute birth preparations for the house and wanting to call in reinforcements and I’m still saying no, not until we know for sure. Around 10, Megan and Edana arrive and begin unloading all the equipment for the birth and I am soooo frustrated because they might just have to pack all that stuff up and take it with them. I had thought one person would just come and do a quick exam. But, it turns out, surprise, it was labor. Finally Eneko gets to start calling help when Xavi wakes up. So Eneko is trying to call people and things aren’t working out. Meredith’s husband is working that night of all nights and Sabrina has to bring her little girl who is throwing up and he didn’t want that because it’s contagious. Turns out, I had understood that incorrectly. The reason Xavi kept waking was because HE was the one who was throwing up (probably what I had on Wednesday). So no babysitter. And I am freaking out again, because I really needed Eneko to help ME but it turns out it is hard to arrange for childcare via telephone while taking care of a vomiting child and massaging your wife’s back in the birthpool at the same time. Why isn’t there an app for that? Everything else seemed to happen in some kind of crazy blur. It seems like Laura, Meredith and Sabrina arrived about the same time, right when they were needed most and Eneko was able to focus on one thing, me, since Xavi was now in good hands :). Things were moving so fast at that time, or at least it seemed like it from my perspective. The contractions got crazy strong very suddenly and for two or three contractions it was really overwhelming and then we adjusted and the birth went on well. But certainly not gracefully. I was never really calm or centered or focused, even having to be reminded to breathe on way more than one occasion. I remember Xavi’s birth as being so peaceful but this one I think I will remember as more chaotic (entirely my own fault though). I think she was born just a little while later, totally covered in vernix, but adorable. And then we got those great moments you dream of in your pregnancy: time has stopped, you’re sitting in the pool, holding each other and your new baby, not feeling like pushing out the placenta, but knowing you will have to. And, yeah, after she was born, I was informed that it had indeed been labor :)

Anyhow, everything ended up perfect and everyone came through and then some, making our night exceptionally special. We got some amazing pictures, though all seem to have some kind of nudity, and it was great to see how my friends who had come to take care of Xavi ended up helping out with everything, as did our doula. It was so wonderful to birth our little Maui among friends.

Now I have a feeling that if we have any more kids, I will not be allowed to participate in any decisions about phone calls. So unfair! I only messed up one time. Like the one time (our first “date”) when the action movie we went to see ended up being a graphic (or pornographic depending on your definition) movie about gay bank robbers. And now I’m not allowed to choose movies for us to go see anymore. People should really get more chances in life.

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