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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Roscoe's birth story (three months late!)

I've finally drafted Roscoe's birth story! It's really long and very detailed because I wrote it for myself and because I want to remember everything! I don't think people get to hear truly positive birth stories very often, so I wanted to share our experience.

Roscoe’s official due date was May 31st. A little back-story includes the fact that our doula had an out of town trip scheduled for the 21st through the 25th, and that my Grandparent's were visiting from Hawaii, but headed back home on the 21st as well. If we gave birth while Lori was away we would have had to use her backup so our fingers were crossed that he would come before or after her trip. As for my grandparent's, Roscoe is their first great grandchild so of course they were hoping he'd arrive while they were in town.

On Monday evening (May 18th) I set out on my usual 3-mile walk. On the way back I was feeling really tired and sorry I hadn't taken a shorter route. Later that night I felt really stiff and sore and figured I might have overdone it. Despite our initial plan to clean the house, go grocery shopping (our cupboards were practically bare), and make our bed per the instructions of our midwife, I was feeling so out of it that we decided to go to bed instead.

The next morning I felt more pressure in my pelvis, and found it increasingly difficult to comfortably walk around the house. In particular, my lower back was getting tighter and tighter. I began telecommuting up in the loft a little before 9:00 am, sat in on a conference call at 12:00 pm, and took my lunch at 1:00. Around the same time I felt a couple painless period-like cramps, not unlike those I'd been experiencing for weeks. I set my alarm for 25 minutes in order to take a quick snooze and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the couch pillow. Not more than ten minutes later I woke to a flow of warm water and quickly realized it was my water breaking. I made it to the bathroom just in time for a big gush of amniotic fluid, and awesomely, my back pain was instantly relieved, my belly seemed smaller, and I felt great! Despite the early signs of progress noted in previous weeks, Andy and I had tried to maintain the realistic expectation that Roscoe might arrive after his due date, so I was actually pretty shocked to be in labor at 38 weeks, 2 days. A rush of adrenaline simultaneously brought on tears and the shakes.

I first called Andy at work. When he answered I blurted out that my water had just broken, and he asked if I was kidding. Tearfully, I said “no”. He responded with a few sweet words and I could tell he was excited. We got off the phone exchanging “I Love Yous” and a joyful “Oh my god, we’re having a baby TODAY!” Andy left work and headed home knowing it would be at least an hour as he needed to stop by CVS to pick up an antibiotic for group beta strep. With rush hour fast approaching I next called Susan (our midwife), then Lori (our Doula). At that point, I had not yet had any contractions so I was told to go about my day, and to give Susan a call in a couple hours to let her know how we were doing. She said that if contractions didn't begin within the next 12 to 18 hours we would discuss how to proceed, but added that she hoped we'd have our baby by then.

So! After signing off at work, and considering my good luck in timing my leave (I had only worked from home for 2.5 days), I raced around to tidy the house (we had company coming!) and started some last minute loads of laundry while I waited for both Andy to get home from work, and for the contractions to begin.

When the first real contraction came I called Susan for a little pep talk (the first and last) and said something along the lines of, "I know we planned this natural birth and all....but....uh...these contractions kinda hurt. I'm worried!" She reminded me that they would continue to get stronger but that I would acclimate to the pain as my labor progressed. While on the phone I had another contraction more painful than the first, and said, "Oooh, that one was worse." In a calm and steady, matter of fact way, she said. "No. That one was BETTER, it was STRONGER!" Which reminded me to reframe the pain, and gave me a smile. Just one of the many reasons why Susan is awesome!

By the time Andy arrived around 3:00 pm I had experienced only three contractions. He had downloaded a contraction timing App a few days earlier (there's one for everything!), and by 3:30 pm Andy's iPhone showed my contractions coming every three to five minutes.

So there we were at the beginning of DC rush hour, with my midwife (in Maryland) and my doula (in Sterling) on the wrong side of traffic. Susan and Lori kept reminding me that first labors average 20 hours. They were very laid-back and in no rush to head out onto I95. My mom was in labor for 8 hours with me, 1.5 hours with my sister, and 1.1 hours with my brother. My labor was progressing as quickly and I was beginning to worry about the timing of the birth team's arrival to our house. I told them I'd call them if anything changed.

Initially, Andy helped me manage my pain with counter pressure moves we had learned in our Bradley class. Eventually, those were not at all helpful, and I did what felt best which at the time was to simply rock and breathe through each contraction. Lori suggested I drink a glass of wine and head upstairs to take a bath. I didn't drink the wine, but I did get in the tub; the heat felt nice, but lying down was uncomfortable. Andy and I then hopped in the shower but didn't stay long because I just didn’t find it very helpful which was disappointing because I had heard such great things about laboring in water. I redressed and we headed back downstairs.

In preparation for labor, Andy and I had created an exhaustive list of activities to keep us busy in the early stages. They ran the gamut from going to the grocery store to buy supplies for Roscoe’s birthday cake, to taking a hike at the local park, or watching video from our wedding. I entered the active stage of labor within an hour or so of my first contraction, to our dismay we never had a chance to implement the list! At one point, Andy suggested that we sit outside in the sun and maybe take a little stroll. That sounded nice. Just as we were headed for the door, the first of my transitional contractions began, and there was no going anywhere but upstairs for the final phase of labor. I called the birth team again and they were on their way!

I went back to our bedroom and labored for a little while, and around 4:30 I wanted Lori’s ETA—I was more than ready for some additional labor support. Andy called and she was only about 15 minutes away. I crawled into my bed just as she arrived.

Soon after, I started to bear down and Lori mouthed to Andy that we would have a baby SOON! When Susan arrived around 5:20 pm, I remember seeing her walk through our bedroom door, but I barely acknowledged her; laboring between the time that I went upstairs to take a bath, and Roscoe’s actual birth was quite a blur. I was definitely in my birthing zone, and completely giving in to the experience. My body led the way and I intuitively followed.

The transition from labor contractions to pushing contractions was for me the strangest part of Roscoe's birth. At this stage, the contractions began with rhythmic cramping pain but at the height of the contraction started a completely involuntary squeeze that, in the words of my doula, "is like throwing up backward!" It was kind of awkward and I found myself fighting the contractions. Up until that point I had been practically silent, but with direction from Lori I began vocalizing with each exhalation, which really helped me to focus and relax. After several contractions I had it figured out and headed to the bathroom for what would become my first true pushing contraction. I pushed only once with each of the next few contractions, and alternated between the bathroom and our bedroom for routine fetal monitoring.

When my labor had progressed to the point where I was pushing three times with each contraction, I instinctively retreated to our darkened bathroom after declaring “I want to be alone". I pushed over the toilet for the next 40 minutes and every so often someone from the birth team would poke their head in to offer water, or support. They also checked the baby's heart rate periodically. Otherwise, I was left to labor as I pleased. Andy, Susan, and Lori kept each other company in our bedroom. Around this time, Mel, our photographer, showed up. She had driven from Richmond (about an hour and twenty minutes away) and had timed her arrival perfectly.

With each contraction I could feel Roscoe moving down, and I could see my belly changing shape. I felt like I was getting somewhere so I asked Susan to check me for the first (and last) time. She said that I was making good progress. With the very next contraction Lori said she could see Roscoe's head and asked me if I wanted to touch it. I did and it felt wet, and squishy!

I squatted there in the bathroom and was prepared to give birth, but in an effort to avoid tearing, my midwife suggested we move into the bedroom and try a different position. I had several contractions kneeling in a "proposal" position, and then it was time for Roscoe to make his debut!

I laid back with Andy behind me, and pushed several times. At one point, I felt some burning and Susan suggested I breathe through the contractions instead of pushing with them. She also noted that Roscoe’s head was asynclitic, which means that it was tilted to the side. Instead of the back-top of his head coming out first, the side-top was leading the way. Susan helped reposition his head at the end, which alleviated some of the burning. Lori offered a mirror so we could see Roscoe crowning. The next thing I remember, was reaching down to pull baby Roscoe up onto my belly. His umbilical cord was on the shorter side so I could only pull him up to a certain point, but he locked eyes with us and, like a little animatronic baby, his dark gray eyes opened and closed in unison. He was brand new, beautiful, foreign yet familiar at the same time. Andy and I were awestruck. Roscoe’s apgar scores were 8 and 9. We invited my sister and my mom to come upstairs, and everyone chatted while waiting for the placenta to be delivered before Andy cut the cord.

When I attempted to breastfeed he latched immediately.

Roscoe was wrapped in a blanket and handed to Andy while I took a shower and got dressed. We climbed into bed, a new family of three, and waited for our visitors to arrive. First came Roscoe’s Grandpa, then his other set of Grandparents, and two sets of Great Grandparents. When everyone else went downstairs to enjoy the meal my mom and my sister had specially prepared, Andy and I were given time to ourselves to eat and hang out with our son.

Roscoe was born in our bedroom at 7:54 pm after 5 hours and 23 minutes of labor. He weighed 7 pounds 2 ounces, and was 19 inches long. Giving birth at home was calm, intimate, and empowering above all else. I loved everything about it, from beginning to end. Particularly the time Andy and I spent together before the birth team arrived, and the fact that I got to call the shots and labor how and where I wanted. Roscoe's birth was everything we had hoped for and more. I cannot wait to do it again!

A few surprises included the fact that I preferred to labor alone during the pushing phase. I didn’t want an audience, and I couldn’t have predicted that prior to the actual event.

Also, while we did not implement so much of what we learned during our Bradley course, I absolutely believe that it was instrumental in setting the tone for the kind of birth we wanted, preparing us emotionally and mentally for labor, and for working together as a team to bring Roscoe into the world. The confidence and excitement we had going into the experience really made it for us.

Lastly, many people thought we were crazy for hiring a photographer to document our birth experience. In reality it was one of the best decisions we made. Hands down. As the laboring woman, you miss so much because you have only one perspective. Mel captured things that were happening in other rooms of our home; sweet, sentimental moments that I could not have experienced if it weren’t through the photos she took. Furthermore, anyone who’s ever taken a Bradley course knows that you get to see many, many, MANY births on video. To tell you the truth, some of my absolute favorite pictures are of Roscoe literally being born. It is AMAZING to see your own body work in that way. As for my comfort level with being photographed at such an intense time, mothers will tell you that your modesty goes out the window during birth, but what I found was that I hardly noticed Mel was there. If you ask her, she’ll tell you that it was the most intrusive she’s ever felt behind her lens, but from our end we couldn’t have been more at ease, comfortable in our own space.

5 comments :

  1. Ok sooo.. THIS ONE MADE ME CRY!! LOL AGAIN!! hahaa... Great story! I'm glad I got to hear it from your perspective!! LOVE YOU GUYS!!

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  2. Beautiful story, even better when reading it!

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  3. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!! It brought tears to my eyes. I can only hope that I can have such a positive, wonderful experience as you had.

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  4. I came across your blog through McFatty Monday and just wanted to say how wonderful your birth story was. I really enjoyed reading it. I too was a Bradley student but I ended up having several days of labor. Boo! Well, we both have our beautiful baby boys now. Congrats!

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  5. Thanks for sharing your story. I am due two weeks from today with my first baby. We are planning a home birth as well and I am greatly encouraged reading positive stories like yours!

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