Do you suppose a moment captured in a photo can portray a person’s truth in that moment? Or does a persons truth take more than a photo moment? This picture of Keala makes me wonder this. I wish I remember what was going on that got her attention, maybe her big brother getting ready for school. She most certainly loves to watch him, that’s for sure.
In previous posts I’ve mentioned possibilities on the horizon, and one was my new job with Heart Hugger. The other opportunity came in the way of a possible new home purchase. While walking my neighborhood a few months ago I came upon a lovely house that was for sale and I made an inquiry about it. Once we took the tour, it became a very appealing home for us to potentially raise our family in. It was big, had a pool, and needed just enough updating so that we could make it our own. I even coined it the “barbie dream home.” We went through all the steps to get financing and everything else a family needs to consider when buying a new home, but in the end we decided that now isn’t the right time for us to make this kind of a commitment.
What did come out of the “barbie dream home” were many conversations and realizations about where we are now and where we’re headed in the future. We reevaluated our finances, which was a bit of a shock to my system and had some really difficult discussions about money. In the end our little family came out on top and we’re stronger than ever. I also realized that while the “barbie dream home” would have been pretty awesome for us to have, what I really looked forward to was doing something new and different. My mind and body were ready to start getting back into a routine and back in shape.
For my new mommy friends who are reading this, I’m sure there are new mom’s who get back into the swing of life much faster than 7 months post-partum, and there are no doubt women who take longer than that too. Even though your life with baby has changed so very much, rest assured that when you’re ready, life is right there waiting for you to take the reigns and start getting involved again. When you do, there is such a greater appreciation for what you’re capable of, for the moments you have with your own thoughts and for how truly blessed you are, right now in this moment. Here are the ways that I know I’m gettin’ my groove back:
- I decided that I was ready for ME time. So I joined the Y and started working out 4 times a week while Porter stays home with his dad. Not only has this been great for my mental and physical health, but Luke also really enjoys the time he gets to spend with his son.
- Getting a part time job that I can do from home feels wonderful. I’m able to bring in more money for our household, I get to be creative, and it involves legitimate discussions with other adults.
- I actually get dressed in the morning, rather than wearing my PJ’s all day.
- There is food in my fridge and pantry that I’m able to eat at regular times throughout the day. I’ve never appreciated square meals so much in my life!
- Our day starts with something of a routine. This has been a true revelation.
- The house gets cleaned regularly. I thought that when I was at home with the baby that it would be easy to be a homemaker and a mommy. I was wrong, very very wrong. My job is to be a mom to my son and that meant housework had to wait. Finally, we decided that on Saturday mornings both Luke and I would clean the whole house and then we could spend the rest of the week living in it. It makes me feel so much more comfortable to know that my home is clean and I’m not constantly fretting over when it’s all going to get done.
- We made a budget and are actually sticking to it. Thanks to Wells Fargo Online Banking it’s easy to see how much money we really spend, right down to the penny. Who knew it would work so well, or how much we actually spend?!
- I made plans for the garden and have been getting quotes from landscapers about prepping the yard for fall planting. It’s actually going to happen!!
- I bathe regularly and even shave my legs, woohoo! For the new mommies: Aunt Flo also came by for a visit 7 months after baby. I would have been happy to be one of those new mommies who didn’t see her for 12-14 months, but the break was nice while it lasted. Sorry if that was TMI anyone, but I wish someone had told me to expect a hiatus in that area so I would have looked forward to it rather than freaked out about being broken somehow.
- This week I started separating my laundry into colors and whites again. My whites thank me.
- Porter started sleeping for 8 hour stretches at night, which has been quite a gift. Thanks to the Ferber method, waiting for the right time for me to let go a little, a bedtime routine, and a husband who was willing to watch the baby monitor while Porter learned how to self soothe. It wasn’t pretty, but it was textbook and the crying only lasted for 2-3 nights. So far bedtime has been something of a dream, total pun intended!
Before I had a baby of my own I was/am a doula. I help families deliver their babies into the world. It took certification, study, and confidence in the natural process of pregnancy and birth. I’ve been a doula for about 8 years and I know a lot about pregnancy and birth, A LOT. There have been many women who I’ve been with as they’ve crossed over into motherhood in both hospitals and birth centers. There have been completely natural births, water births, epidural births, vacuum assisted births and even a cesarean birth. Each and every one was different, but ended in the miracle of a new baby taking it’s first breath and feeling gravity for the first time. I thought I knew what birth was like because I’m a woman. In some ways I did know. I knew the physiology, I knew coping, hypnosis, and breathing techniques. I have an inherent belief that babies always come out when they are supposed to, if left to their own devices, and they will be born vaginally too.
Many times I would instruct my clients that birth was about letting go of control. Letting your body do the work and becoming a bystander of sorts. It wasn’t until January 10, 2011 that I figured out what birth really is, and it’s not about letting go of control. Giving up control implies that, as a birthing woman, we have any control over birth in the first place, we don’t. Birth is about surrendering, giving oneself up to the power of another. That other may be god or the universe, for me it was giving myself up to my baby.
This is the birth story of Porter Rainn, my son. I’m not going to fudge any of the words or images, so I will give a brief summary for those of you who don’t want the deep dark details, and then I’ll get into the thick of it. Here we go!
Porter Rainn was born 2 weeks and 4 days past his due date on Monday 1/10/11 at 12:53am after 50 hours of labor. This child took his sweet time! I labored at home from Friday 1/7/11 at 11pm until about 2am on Sunday 1/9/11. We went the birth center twice and were sent home because I was not yet far enough along before I was finally admitted. I then labored in a big bath tub at the birth center for about 13 hours, then labored out of the water for the rest of the time. I chanted, hummed, rocked and rolled until I pushed out my baby of 11 pounds 2 ounces. He came out just like a baby is supposed to come out and didn’t cause either of us any harm. The birth was totally natural, assisted by my husband, doula and midwives, no inductions or drugs. Just good ol’ fashioned baby birthing.
Porter was born into the loving hands of his father who then handed him to me so we could bond skin to skin. I even cut his cord. He started breastfeeding within 25 minutes and hasn’t stopped since. He measured 23.5 inches long and was chubby from the get go, bigger than any newborn I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s perfect, he’s wonderful, he cries, sleeps, poops and is very much loved my everyone who meets him. He’s lucky to be here and we are lucky to have him.
Now for the whole story, with details. Luke and I decided not to get any visual ultrasounds during my pregnancy and therefore didn’t know the gender of our baby. According to all wives tales, no one could figure it out either. He was due before Christmas on 12/23/10. I didn’t expect him to be born before or even on his due date, but I certainly didn’t expect him to be two and a half weeks past. By the time I had my last prenatal appointment, the midwives were telling me that if I wasn’t in active labor (dilated 4cm) by Monday, January 10th I would be drinking a Castor oil cocktail, or have to take my chances at the hospital. I was beginning to panic, neither option sounded like the way I wanted my baby to be born. Luckily, by Thursday night I lost my mucus plug and by Friday night around 11pm I started having somewhat regular pressure waves (contractions). They were too intense to sleep through, but not so bad that I couldn’t use my hypnosis techniques and breathe through them. I instructed Luke to go to sleep because we would no doubt be having a baby the next day and he should be rested.
As my husband slept in bed I lit candles in the living room and swayed through what I though was a quickly progressing labor. I timed pressure waves and they were steady at 5 minutes apart and lasting anywhere from 30-70 seconds. During my pregnancy I had tested positive for Group B Strep (GBS). No big deal and quite common for pregnant ladies. It did mean that I had to either go on IV antibiotics 6 hours before the baby was born or do a vaginal wash with Chlorhexidine, an antiseptic that kills bacteria so that I didn’t pass GBS onto my newborn baby. Hibiclens can be purchased for $10 a bottle at your local drugstore. Since I had no desire for an IV or antibiotics I had to do this wash every six hours until the baby was born. I got a peri-bottle and diluted the Hibiclens
The night passed and at about 7am on Saturday I was sure it was time to go to The Baby Place. I woke Luke and he called my friend and doula Sarah to tell her it was time. When she got the call we could hear her husband hoot and holler with excitement in the background. She came right over and we loaded up the cars and excitedly drove to the birth center about 25 minutes away. Oh goody, this was it!! Or so I thought.
When we got to the birth center the midwife checked my cervical dilation and I was hoping for at least 4cm (active labor), even better would be 6. After a quick check I was told to go back home because I was only dilated to 2cm. Hmm, this was taking longer then I thought. We made the drive home and I continued to labor using my hypnosis techniques (which weren’t working as well as I had imagined).
After the day passed I decided that I must be at least 4cm and we returned to the birth center with high hopes. I really wanted to get into one of their gigantic bath tubs. When we walked in I met Holly and started crying. On the way over I had my first realization about what it really meant to let each contraction move through me. To allow the energy to move through my body and open me up, but I didn’t have the words to explain it. I told Holly this and she said the word that struck right to the core of this whole birthing experience, she called it surrender.
I climbed onto the bed, ready to be dilated to at least 4-5 centimeters. Alas, still 2 cm. While I was disappointed I was confident that I now knew what this whole surrender process was about and on the ride home, as I listened to my hypnosis, I quietly allowed each contraction to move through me. Luke was impressed and I’m sure slightly relieved that my moaning and groaning had subsided.
This continued for the rest of the day and into the night. I labored in the tub and out and the contractions got stronger and stronger. Luke built a fire in the fire place and they both took turns supporting me and taking naps. At around midnight the contractions reached what I thought was critical pains and I really wanted to get into the big bath tub at the birth center. I called the midwife and pleaded to come in and get in the tub and she said ok. We then took the longest most uncomfortable drive, OF MY LIFE!
We finally arrived for the third time at the birth center and Holly had the tub all set for me to go. She wasn’t going to check me just yet, but said I should hang in the tub while she slept for a little while. I was in heaven. I labored in the tub somewhere between 12 and 15 hours. I was pickled and pruned and didn’t leave to go the the bathroom because urine is sterile. It sounds totally gross now, but I was so grateful for the watery relief that it didn’t matter to me one bit. Holly eventually checked me, after the sun came up, and I was dilated 5 centimeters. Half way to pushing and as Holly enthusiastically said, “You don’t have to take Castor oil!” Honestly, I hadn’t even thought I would have to go there, and I was glad that opportunity passed me by.
The first half of the next day (Sunday) passed with me in the tub working through contractions and dozing in between. Luke and Sarah took turns napping and breathing me through it all. I finally decided that I needed a change of pace. This was taking a long time and I realized that I had to move around in order to move this baby down and out. I asked for Holly and Colleen’s advice. I believe my exact words were, “I’m in a rut.” They suggested that I get out of the pool and onto the bed with heat packs on my back. I agreed that it was time for me to experience the next level of labor and I knew that my support people were ready to actually get down to business.
The second half of the day was spend mostly on the bed on my left side. I would have liked to walk around and squat and do all the other fabulous positions I have preached to so many women, but honestly they made the contractions hurt like hell. At this point in my mind I was reminding myself that no one actually died from contractions and I instantly took back any judgement I had of women who use epidurals during labor. Poor Luke was trapped behind me, folded like a pretzel, pushing a heat pack on my lower back while Sarah was in front of me helping me sing (heeee hawwww heeee hawww, etc…) through the contractions. Throughout all this I was drinking water, getting up to pee and every six hours I was using the Hibiclens. I want to say that time flew, but the clock pretty much didn’t register in my mind. I was having to take it one contraction at a time. I will say that at no point was I scared or didn’t think I could do it. My babies heart rate was awesome, so I just had to keep moving forward on this journey.
Nighttime came and the contractions were getting very intense. There is no real way to explain it, but it felt like the energy of a train running through my body and out my vajayjay. I wanted to push, but knew that I wasn’t yet 10 centimeters and pushing too soon could cause my cervix to swell and therefore prevent it from dilating further. The last two centimeters were by far the most difficult, frustrating, and painful event of my life. Both Luke and Sarah had been dedicated helpers, but they were obviously tired and didn’t know how else they could help me. There was no way to ease the intensity of what I was going through. I’ll say this, transition is a bitch!
Holly came in and told me that I had to start letting the last of this energy work through me without spazzing out (my words, not hers). I had to quiet down during the contraction and then rest in between them. Much easier said than done. It involved lots of low groans, blowing out candles across the room and the sleeping in between contractions. Thankfully Lynelle, a midwife in training came in. She was a sight for sore eyes. It was around 10pm and she was fresh, smiling and an angel there to help me make it to the end, when I had exhausted everyone around me. Lynelle sat with me face to face and allowed me to gaze into her eyes during contractions when I thought my body was going to explode. She smiled, reminded me to relax my face and shoulders and was a moment of peace for my screaming mind and body. This whole surrendering bit was really really hard.
Finally I decided it was time. I could wait no longer and I was pushing with or without permission. Holly checked my dilation and I was at 9.5 cm. I pleaded with her that there must be something she could do to help get me to 10, and she said yes. PRAISE THE LORD! This was maybe the happiest time of the day, I was going to push my baby out. I sat on the birthing stool and gave a strong heave downward. My water broke and was perfectly clean and then I started peeing. I peed for what seemed like 5 minutes. I don’t know why because I’d been going to the bathroom all day, like the good little doula that I am. Something about my water breaking and being able to release my bottom let my bladder go. I know better than anyone that bodily functions during labor are to be expected, I just didn’t think I would be so embarrassed. Oh, and yes I pooped too, twice! Everyone around me practically did the happy dance for me though, and they couldn’t have cared less.
In order for me to get past the last half centimeter I had to lay on the bed with my legs held over my head by two women so Holly could help push the last bit of cervix over the baby’s head. I had expected to push on the birthing stool or in the water, but it was my destiny to push on my back. With every contraction I would say to Sarah and Colleen, “it’s time” and they would pull my legs back and over my head. While they were doing that I pushed and pushed and pushed some more. There was no counting and no one chanting at me what to do. It was awesome. From being a so many births I knew that I could push with all my might and the baby wouldn’t come flying out, so that is what I did. I managed to get three solid pushes with each contraction. The midwives had told me to expect to push for 2-4 hours since I was a first time mom. In my head I knew it wouldn’t take that long, I was meant to push this baby out and I wasn’t scared of any pain or pressure that may come my way. I was born for this moment.
In between pushes I would watch Luke’s face and I could tell how far along we were by where he was standing. There was comfortable banter among the women and Sarah tended to my washcloth and water needs. As Luke said it was a very YaYa of the Traveling Pants moment. I loved it. I love remembering this time, the happiness and love that filled the room was exactly what I wanted my baby to be born into. There was peace and confidence everywhere.
Finally, Holly started spraying my nether region with olive oil and she instructed Luke to come sit next to her so he could be ready to catch the baby. I began to feel very intense stretching during one of the pushes and then it burned. My focused push turned into a yell and I felt the ring of fire that is spoken of. Then the hardest words to hear were spoken to me in the midst of this very fiery moment, “Don’t push, just breath through it.” HA! I know I was given this advice so I wouldn’t tear so I did my best to blow out imaginary candles. Then Jerusha, another midwife, said to only push if you’re having a contraction. To which I replied that I couldn’t tell if I was having a contraction because “THERE’S A HEAD STICKING OUT OF ME!!” The head finally passed to the outside of my body and Holly gave the go ahead to give a big push, when I did I felt my sweet baby slip from my body and into the arms of his loving father.
It was quiet for a moment and then there was a soft cry. I looked to Sarah and said, “It’s a baby!” “Yes it is.” she replied matter of factly. I looked between my legs and Luke passed Porter up and into my arms. He was crying now and I held him high on my chest. His body was so long that it trailed off my side onto the bed. When it was time to cut the cord Luke’s hands were too slippery from catching the baby and Sarah didn’t feel the need, so I volunteered to cut the cord. I was elated, couldn’t have been happier. Luke was crying and super emotional. Two and a half weeks past the due date and after 50 hours of labor had our baby boy!
The last part of birth gives the most relief by far. The delivery of the placenta happened a few minutes after Porter was born and I started to have cramping again. I pushed 2-3 times and out it slid. My body felt empty and it felt GREAT. I made everyone look at the placenta before it was placed into a bag. After a good check of my parts and the recognition of a small tear that didn’t need stitches the midwives left the room to go help another woman push her baby out. We were alone with our baby, who began breast feeding instantly and without any problems.
Around 3am Jerusha and Colleen came into to take Porter’s measurements, they were pretty astounded by what they found. Weight: 11pounds 2 ounces (Luke called it and was very pleased) Length: 23.5 inches Head circumference: 14.5 inches
Our baby was HUGE! We spent the rest of the night eating scrambled eggs and toast, took baths and then fell into a deep sleep for the next 4-5 hours with our new baby in between us. It all went perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience during my prenatal care and labor. My baby and I were healthy and my husband was more supportive and loving than I ever could have imagined. I trusted my body and mother nature and I wasn’t let down. We plan on having another baby in a few years and I hope to do it the same way. While my body will forever be changed, the pain has passed and I have a strength and gratitude that I have never experienced before. Even though I will never poo poo a women for using medication to ease the pain of childbirth, I highly recommend an out of hospital birth with no drugs. It was worth every single moment.
Two of my good friends came over today to meet Porter over lunch. After sharing my birth experience (which is coming in a future post) one friend asked if I had any postpartum depression. When I said no, she replied that with the pregnancy, birth and postpartum I had had the perfect experience. That got me thinking that, yes I had a pretty near perfect experience. Everything went as planned, my family came out of the birth experience happy and healthy and I’ve almost made it to a month with a brand new baby and haven’t had issues with depression. What I will say is that for the first two weeks of my new life after baby I did feel a little crazy. With hormones raging, being closed into my house, being sleep deprived and figuring out how to take care of myself, my baby and husband, I think a little insanity is okay. I’m not doctor or therapist, but there are a few things that I attribute to my (mostly) positive attitude in the last few weeks:
1. My husband and I planned to have a baby and were thoroughly prepared to deal with this new life.
2. I was highly educated about the kind of birth experience I wanted to have and took every measure to make that experience happen.
3. When something went differently than planned, I tried to roll with the punches and did fear clearing hypnosis.
4. My baby hasn’t left my side since the moment he was born, not even to be measured and weighed. We were skin to skin immediately following birth.
5. Breastfeeding. It’s not easy and hurts like crazy sometimes, but the hormones released and the bonding that happens make it all worth it.
6. Super supportive husband, family and friends. Luke was extra supportive of our birthing choices and breastfeeding and wants to be as involved a dad as possible. I had friends who helped cook and clean for 2 solid weeks after the baby came, and my mom came for a week when Luke had to go back to work the third week.
7. Walking outside. After the first 2 weeks it was obvious that I had to move my body. I bundle up the baby and we walk every day, even if it’s just around the block.
8. Talking with people made a world of difference. Especially people who have been through and survived having a new baby. Hearing how they dealt and what they dealt with brought me back to reality and made me realize that this crazy time would soon pass, and evidently I would miss it. We’ll see about that one.
9. I was aware of postpartum depression and tried to stay vigilant about whether I was experiencing those symptoms, or just normal new mom anxiety.
10. Finally, back to the fact that I’m pretty average and acknowledging that women have been having babies since FOREVER and continue to do it around the world, hundreds of times everyday, and still manage to survive. This means that my chances of survival and general well being are pretty high and I can count on the crazy parts passing and rest assured that what I’m experiencing is NORMAL.
There it is. My top 10 reasons why I think that I came through this pregnancy, birth and post birth without diving into the pit that is depression. Again, I’m not a doctor or therapist and I don’t want anyone to think that this list is a cure or a guarantee, but I’m sure they helped me get through this first month of life after birth. And now to take you out, some tender pictures of Porter at 1 month.
Here’s a video shot by our friend Danny at our Friday night dinner. Luke and Shaun are jammin’ and Ashley is holding Porter.
|Going for a walk|
|Porter the visionary|
|The “yeah right” face|
|Cupie Doll Porter|
|“I told you so.”|
|Life is good Porter|
|Porter’s workin’ out a deuce face, sorry TMI|