Monday, November 9, 2009

Yes, It WAS Beautiful!

I was wondering when this moment would come. The moment when I could look back at the birth of my son and say, "that was a beautiful experience." Bill has been there for a while. Well, actually, he's been saying that the whole time because for him it was truly a different experience. For me, on the other hand, many of the same things happened as did with the births of my daughters, it was just in a different setting. Does a different setting make a difference? Yes. Absolutely. Now that I can let go of the pain associated with the actually process of ushering a child into this world, I can look back and appreciate the beauty of giving birth in my own home, with my own people, and on my own timeline.

Ever since Kyra was born it was apparent to me that water makes all the difference for me when it comes to labor. It is relaxing and soothing, and I can forget a little of what is going on around me as I feel the rush of the water from the shower run down my back. With Kyra, I dilated 4 cm. while in the shower. With Tasha, the shower sent me into full blown labor. I went from non-consistent contractions to every 4-5 minutes. So naturally, I figured that water would definitely be a blessing with this birth. It's even better when you have a friend with a birthing tub she's willing to loan you, especially when the shower didn't work this time around. From 1am to 12pm I had consistent contractions, 10 minutes apart. And they hurt. That is nothing like what I had experienced before. I didn't know if it was real or not, so I didn't have anyone around. I tried many things to speed things up, and then gave up. Around 11, I got in the tub to slow things down, but that didn't work either. I made some calls and we determined that this was the real thing it was just going to take a long time. Great!

I got back into the tub around 1pm to relax. No such luck. The contractions now seemed to be stronger and possibly closer together? I rolled over to try to time them and it did appear that they were closer to the 8 minute range but I couldn't be sure. Then it happened. I felt the pop that could only be my bag of waters breaking. It was a quick, relief-like feeling, that was followed shortly by a holy-cow-this-is-really-it feeling. A few quick phone calls to Bill and Crystal, and things really started to progress. Oh, the pain. This great tub full of water was doing nothing to ease the pain like I was hoping it would. I figured if I couldn't feel contractions in the shower, then a tub full off water should really do the trick. No such luck. It hurt. Things were intense and it was all happening faster and faster.

Crystal got here first and did her thing. I assured her that there was nothing she could do for me, besides let me scream and moan, so she went about her business, brought me ice water, and asked a few questions to gauge where we were at. At some point during all this I thought to myself, "Is Bill even going to make it?" Yes, just a little part of me was worried that I had waited too late to call him. I really didn't want anyone around any sooner than I called because that just makes things worse- people hovering, waiting for something that you really can't control, all while you're trying to compose a little bit of dignity as the pain of the contractions set in. So, I had waited to call until I knew birth was eminent. And now, it was. Very eminent.

Now, no more worries. Bill made it. He was already all a glow as he knelt down by me and tried to sooth me. That lasted about a minute. He said something like, "breath" and I shot back with "don't tell me what to do." The contractions were really intense and really hurting and I really just needed to yell about it. He's a good man, minded his manners, and just kept quietly supporting me. And now, that's the last that I am going to talk about the pain...

I closed my eyes and tried with all my might to focus on the little baby inside me trying to get out. I have no idea of the time frames involved from here on out. It seemed to last forever, yet also seemed to happen quickly. I remember Bill moving from behind me to the front to see if he could see the baby's head. I remember Crystal gently patting my arm and saying all those soothing things that she had told us to say during labor. Things like, "you're doing great sweetie," and "it's almost over". Things I thought would not help, but most definitely did. My eyes were shut the whole time, trying to shut out the chaos that I was used to. But there was no chaos. Nobody rushing in and out of the room, nobody setting up supplies that may or may not need to be used, no introductions to an alternate Dr. in case my OB didn't make it in time. It was peaceful and calm, all things considering. I was being asked where it hurt. I was the person that this was happening to and somebody cared enough to assess how I felt. I wasn't being told where to go and when to push and when to wait. Nobody was messing with an IV that had fallen out of my hand. Nobody needed to check the baby's heart rate. I could tell you the baby was fine, and I felt him move down. I was told to push when I felt like pushing.

I don't know how much of difference it made to me during the actual experience, but I know that being in control of the situation made a difference going into the birth process. I know that now I have absolutely no regrets of how things were done. And now for the beautiful part...

I pushed. And I pushed. And I pushed. I pushed hard and I pushed fast. Apparently I only pushed for 10 minutes and there that little baby was. He was in my husbands arms. That was the first thing that I saw. I opened my eyes and saw Bill holding our baby. I didn't cry then, but I certainly am now. He was so proud. There was our child. In our home. In our arms. It was an absolutely amazing experience.

Then I heard Crystal, "give him to his mom". That's when it hit Bill to look. I think he was too overcome by the experience to care. He looked surprised and then looked down. "It's a boy!" as he handed him over to me. I was surprised too. I reached for him and snuggled him on my chest just looking at the beautiful child that had been given to us. Overwhelmed with joy and let's be honest, relief. I was so relieved to be done with the labor that nothing else in the world mattered. I just held his sweet little body close to mine and waited. I guess we waited a full minute for him to breath, but he did. He did everything like a champ. He was perfect and nobody took him anywhere to do anything to him. He was all ours. All our responsibility. All in our care. And somehow, everything was much simpler, much more calm, much more right in the world as we sat in Tasha's bedroom holding our newborn child without any strangers around. What a blessing and a joy. Words could never express how thankful I am to a loving father in heaven for sending this sweet spirit to our home.

I wonder sometimes why different things happen. I'm sure the false labor weeks ago was to prep us for this time. It showed me that I didn't really want the kids to be here. It helped Bill to see what kinds of things needed to be taken care of before the actual birth. We were able to make some adjustments, but some things were still up in the air. I had also asked April to be here for the birth and to take pictures. Pictures I wasn't sure I would be comfortable with, but also knew I could just get rid of if I didn't want them. There were times, during the labor, that I thought she was there. That would be like her, to just come in without being seen or heard and do her thing. It didn't happen that way, and I know there are regrets associated with that. I know how much she wanted to be here. Childbirth is her thing and she wants to share it and be supportive and do whatever she can to help her friends.

But the unexpected things that happen during childbirth can also be a little like a family vacation. Who remembers the vacation that goes perfectly? Nobody does, because that never happens. Someone forgets the camera, or someone gets sick. A wrong turn is made and you end up hours from a destination that closes at dusk. You blow out a tire and end up spending the night in a funky town but having the most interesting experience the next day because of it. I guess what I'm saying is that the unexpected is what you remember. It's what you thrive on and the memory of that event is what touches your heart for years to come. It is that picture, the one that didn't get taken, that will forever be etched in your brain.

One of those pictures was Bill holding our child. We didn't really plan that. I thought I would need him at my side the whole time like I did in the hospital. I thought I would reach down a bring the baby out of the water, but I didn't. He had moved around to see the baby crowning and never moved back. He waited patiently for the head to come out, turn, and then be followed by the rest of his body. He caught our child and brought him out of the water. I won't ever forget that. Nobody took that picture and I don't regret that. It could not be put on film in a manner that would do it justice. You have to see the joy in his eyes and hear the delighted chuckle in his voice that could never be captured in a still frame.

Another picture that could not have been taken was the soothing voice of my friend confirming that I could do this. She was always there encouraging this birth. From the time she gave me the pregnancy test to the delivery, she never waivered in her confidence that this was the right thing to do. Always supportive, yet never pushy, I knew Crystal would be there to help me with any problem I had to face. There is no way that this home birth would have happened without her help and we will obviously never, ever have anyway to express our gratitude and love to her.

And finally, was the picture of patience and understanding that arrived hours after the birth. April had understood when I called earlier to cancel the lunch date we had scheduled. She was patient when I asked her to wait until about 4pm to come over and to bring Tasha with her. She was kind enough to let everyone in the room hold little Payton before her. But the picture I have etched in my mind was the very April-like way that she gently plopped herself down at the foot of my bed and asked for every last detail about the birth. Engrossed to no end, and not sidetracked in the least as the children and my mom made random comments. It was truly a story that she wanted to hear and absorb. Had she actually been here, I would have missed that moment with her. It was then that I realized how much her friendship means to me and how all the unspoken things that happen between us really do matter. That is a memory I will have and cherish more than any picture she could have taken. Hopefully, she can make her own pictures from the details that I'm sure we will continue to share over the next few days.

I know I probably left out some facts, figures, and details that most people would associate with a birth story, but this is all I've got. We've had some wonderful family experiences with the girls, both before the birth and since, that I will share at a later time. I'm not sure which ladies at church had my mom cornered on Sunday, but when they found out I had the baby at home and the circumstances around it, one of them said, "well, I guess in this ward when you have a baby you just call Crystal and April." I would say that if you want to do it your way, under your terms, and you need the support of some really great women, then YES (!) that is exactly what you do.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

My goodness, Helena. You had me crying here. What a spirit that boy brought with him. I am so very happy for you, and now you have made me crazy hungry to birth one of my own!