Friday, December 10, 2010

Birth Story: Silas






Time is running again- it has been almost 3 weeks since Silas was born. It was a perfect, peaceful birth, in my bedroom with lamplight and candles and music and the support of people I love. Pretty much everything I had hoped for. And.....Nicky now has an identical twin who is four years his junior. As one friend said, "you guys just made the same baby again."

So, from the beginning, here is how Silas Nathaniel made his way into the world.

I woke up around 3:45 in the morning with contractions. Due more to excitement than being uncomfortable, I got up, made some tea, and watched Roman Holiday while trying to discern any pattern to the contractions. By 5 am, they were lasting about 30 seconds and 6 minutes apart. I called my midwife, A, who said it sounded like a good early labor pattern and advised me to call back when contractions were lasting a full minute. Then, since she lives four hours away, I called my mom so she could be on her way. The contractions were still light enough that I was giddy and light-hearted. It was finally happening! I woke Ricky up and told him what was going on, and that he should go back to sleep, but he got up as well. We finished the movie and by then a shower was starting to sound nice. My contractions really slowed down at this point, perhaps due to the soothing effect of warm water too early in the labor process. Nicky woke up and we had breakfast and played for a while. I was keenly aware of this being my last day with just him, and it set me on edge a little bit. I felt pressure from myself to make it memorable, but tried to just stay calm and enjoy being in the moment. Always a challenge for me.

Around 10 am, we decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood. I really thought that would get some contractions going again but I only had 3 very mild onesduring the whole walk. We returned home, and although I was frustrated I realized this gave me a good opportunity to get some last minute things taken care of. I was deep into the nesting phase and had a few things on my list still. My mom arrived at 11, and I sheepishly apologized for waking her at 5 am. Oh well, at least she was here. Better safe than sorry.


Ricky's mom arrived shortly after, made some soup, and took Nicky to the park. I tried to stay busy, chopping veggies for chicken salad and freezing mint tea with honey into ice cubes for the labor. By 2 pm, the contractions increased to 6-10 minutes apart, but were still only 30 seconds in duration.

The contractions continued to regulate, and a good pattern had been established by 4 pm. Nicky returned, everyone had some food, and then we decided to go ahead and have Nicky go with his grandmother to her house. We had been undecided about whether he should be in the house during the birth, but now that it was finally happening it seemed clear that he should just go have fun and not be troubled by seeing his mother in pain. I felt a bit weepy seeing him go, even though I knew it was the best thing for us.

I was pausing and rocking through the contractions now, internalizing. We sat down to watch About a Boy, one of the movies I had picked for early labor. It's a comforting film for me, familiar and life-affirming. I made it probably 3/4 of the way through the movie, all the while breathing, pacing, and rocking through contractions. They were getting more intense, and when they got to 60 seconds and five minutes apart, we called the midwife who sent her apprentice, S, over to check on me. She arrived a little after 6 pm, and found my cervix to be dilated 5-6 cm and the baby at zero station.

The contractions were pretty intense at this point; I remember it was sure hard to get on the bed and lie still so she could check me. I needed to rock my hips, and I needed to be upright. I was also getting to the point where I needed outside encouragement. I remember S telling me that I was doing a good job working with my body, and Ricky just being present and holding me at times, and my mom who seemed to know just what to do through the whole process.

I decided to try getting into the tub. We lit candles, and Ricky put my favorite Pandora station on the laptop, and I descended into the warm, deep, water. It felt so wonderful for about five minutes, and then I started to just feel hot. I couldn't find the right position in the tub either. I was suprised by this since I really had expected the tub to be a lifesaver, and I had been waiting to get in until I felt like I really needed some relief.

I finally got out of the tub to pee and leaned on my mom for several more contractions. Oh, they were painful, and I wasn't having any trouble being in the moment anymore. I was absolutely absorbed in each moment. I stood by the bathroom counter next, trying to find some position that would offer comfort. I hadn't yet settled into the pain; I was still trying to find a way to escape it.

I tried to lie down on the bed next, hoping to rest, but the contractions forced me up. I felt again the need to push down with my feet. I tried being on my hands and knees for a while, next to the bed. It was very tiring to my knees but a little more effective. Apparently I was making some pretty intense noises during all of this. I heard A & S say, "that sounded different!" from the living room and they both came in. A said it sounded a little like I was bearing down, and reminded me I couldn't do that just yet. S suggested that I try squatting, since we were still waiting for my water to break. "I have a feeling as soon as your water breaks we'll be ready to rock n roll", she said. I did, but couldn't make it through one whole contraction in a deep squat. It was just too painful. So, I stood by the side of the bed and kept working. A reminded me to focus my energy downward, and at this point I realized I was trying to climb out of my body to escape the pain, which is of no use when you're trying to push out a baby! I hit my wall. I felt defeated. I was convinced the pain would never stop. And then I heard A saying "Emily, you'll be holding your baby soon!" And I made some sort of happy noise in response, and then I settled into the pain, and the work. And my water broke! Everyone shouted out words of thanks and encouragement. I had to lie down on the bed again, and let the midwives check my cervix one more time to make sure I could push. They did, and I was kind of in a fog and finally asked, desperate, "Can I push???" "Yes!", they both replied. And so, the pushing began. I was flat on my back, in bed, which was the last place I expected to be at a homebirth, but I couldn't imagine moving again. I asked for some pillows behind me, and that helped.

The first few pushes didn't really feel effective to me, but then the pressure really built and I just let loose. I knew it was so close. Silas came out in 6 pushes. They put him on my chest, and I remember cooing to him, utterly euphoric at this point.

Silas was so quiet that I didn't even think he had cried, but apparently he did right when he was born. He was so pink that they didn't have to stimulate him at all. They just wiped him off with a warm towel, put him back on my chest, and covered us both with a blanket. The cord pulsed for about 10-15 minutes, and then it was cut. The placenta came out in 2 pushes, intact. Ricky helped me to the shower, and watched me through the glass door in case I got wobbly. I felt fine at this point.

Once I got back to bed the shaking started, as I came down from that adrenaline rush. I snuggled up with my little one and he nursed. That moment had been rehearsed in my mind so many times. I felt so, so grateful to have been given, and to have created, this birth experience, and to have this perfect little creature in my arms, and my husband next to us. We joked that he was such a considerate baby to be born at bedtime. He settled into his sleepy state and we stared at him, asked him what his name was. He seemed so, I don't know, elegant. And wise. Like an old soul, for lack of a better explanation. We took the night to sleep on it. And in the morning, curled up in the bed with coffee, stared at him some more and came up with Silas Nathaniel, and it just fit.

What an experience. We spent the day mostly in bed, and that evening the big brother returned, running in the front door asking "Where's the baby?" And there we were, a family of four. Thank you God for these blessings.


family of four

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