Wednesday, February 04, 2009

River's Birth Story from Mama's Point of View

Thanks for attempting to read my birth story. It's a great way for me to journal and begin to process my life-changing experience. For those that think I'm crazy for birthing naturally in a cabin in the woods, it gives you an insight into what was going on in my head and body. You may want to take it in a few sittings, but I am appreciative to you all for giving the lengthy story a shot.

Rain has a whole new meaning. I think that every time a rain storm comes in now, I'll be holding my little boy ever so close to my heart and in my mind. I also have this strong desire to go to Mama Ocean. I'm a mountain girl...put me in a tent in the woods and I'm golden...but River brought me to the love of the ocean! I can't wait for the right time for Ryan and I to take a trip to hear and see the sounds of crashing waves. And I can't wait to embrace the next rain storm with open arms. Ryan and I think it's beautiful that his name is River. We had it picked out beforehand, but the water elements played a huge role in the birth of our son. Ryan said it's pretty cool that the "rain" is the beginning and the "ocean" is the end...and a "river" is what connects them and brings them together. I can't wait to learn more about the water elements and their meanings.

Monday night, the 26th of January, we were watching The Bachelor with River's godparents, Jim and Choyer. While we were watching Jason take girls on dates, Ryan was massaging my belly (my uterus, actually). Pamela, our midwife, showed Ryan how a week earlier. She said they could start some contractions. After the show, I began to feel some strange sensations in my lower belly and back. When Ryan asked for a hair cut from Choyer before we left, I thought to myself...Oh Great! I wasn't ready to say anything yet because I wasn't sure of what I was feeling. I did know I wanted to go home and get in bed. As soon as they were done, we hopped in the Element. I closed the door and looked at Ryan..."Something weird is happening."

When we got home, we got a shower and went to bed. I would feel the rushes every 10 minutes or more, and I could sleep through some of them. As the night went on, I would wake up with them. Sometimes I'd walk the house or get on all fours in the bed or on the yoga mat at the foot of our bed. Sometimes I'd lean against the wall. Then, back to sleep. A little around 3 a.m., I started contemplating calling Pamela, but I didn't want to wake her for no reason. I held off until 5 a.m. When we spoke, she said that this could go on for some days or weeks. It could be the baby moving down, or it could be me having my baby. Her orders were to get a warm bath and see how things were going when the sun came up. At 7 a.m., I felt hungry and I was having a little more difficulty sleeping. Once my feet hit the floor, they surges were coming every 4 - 7 minutes. We would be eating or packing up some things for our drive, and when I felt the rush come on I would squat or drop on all fours and B-R-E-A-T-H-E! Then, up and at it again. After calling Pamela again to tell her the progress, she calmly said pack up and head down here when you get a chance. I'll check you and see what's going on. Ryan packed up the car with determination but ever so quietly. He knew I didn't want chaos. I called Maranda, one of my doulas, to give her a heads up and we hit the road for our one-hour drive to The Farm, our birthing center.

It was pouring rain, and every time a sensation came over me, I would breathe slow and deep and use non focused awareness coping technique. It's a technique we had been practicing with my Birthing From Within mentor program. When a contraction starts, you focus your awareness and breathing on something else. For me, it was the sound of the rain and the windshield wipers. You're not supposed to attach an idea onto it like...the sound of the wipers are ticking me're supposed to JUST hear it. And you can do this with any of your senses...but for me, it was the rain. I also began "tomohawk chopping" the air and swirling my hand like a lasso in a rodeo. Don't know where that came from, but the rhythm helped me get through each surge.

About half way there, I needed to pee, and Ryan wanted a coffee. We pulled into a McDonalds. I asked Ryan how long I had before another one. He was keeping up with the timing when I would raise a finger and give a head nod. I had about 4 or 5 minutes to use the restroom and get back to the car. I took off and b-lined for the bathroom. As I was washing my hands, one began. I tried to breathe quietly as not to scare the other ladies in the restroom.

We showed up at the cabin in front of Pamela's house around 10 or 10:30. I laid down for her to check me, and she told me I was at 3 cm. "It looks like we're having a baby today," she said. Well, we kind of figured that one out already but to hear it from Pamela was confirmation. I would go back and forth from the toilet to the bed. Pamela wanted me to rest as much as possible because she anticipated us going into the night, and she wanted me to have my strength. Ryan had unloaded the car, and Pamela was going through our supplies. With a heating pad on my back and nestled in the bed, Ryan sat beside me. He called Maranda and our families. Maranda was asked to pick up some wine for me, so I could get some rest. Once our midwife's suggestion.

Having been with women in their birthing process, I knew how important it was to keep relaxed...well, as much as possible. I would make trips back and forth from the bathroom to the bedroom. I would sit on the toilet and BREATHE and remind myself to give myself over to my body and my baby. I knew I couldn't let myself "freak out" at 3 cm. I still had 7 more to go and then pushing. When I would lay in the bed & breathe, I would start using the non-focused awareness again. I would listen to the rain on the window and sounds coming from the gas heater. I would find myself yet again trying to lasso that "invisible birthing cow" again with my hand or was it a swirling tornado...who knows? But that hand would start swinging and swirling when a surge came on. In between those contractions, I don't know where I was...I guess "Laborland" somewhere.

I told Ryan I felt like I could poop and I wanted him to go get Pamela to see if I could. I know sometimes in the hospital they don't let you. So, I wanted to make sure. Pamela's house was right behind our cabin, so it didn't take long for her to come. She told me I could try, but not to force it or push too hard. When I couldn't do it, she said, "Let me check you. It could be the baby's head moving down." She checked me, and I was 8 cm! I popped that head off the pillow. I couldn't believe it. 8 cm in an hour and a half. I mean that's great, but I still didn't want to get too excited because a lot could still happen or not happen. She called her team to very nicely hurry on over.

About 30 minutes or so later, I found myself on all fours with a great urge to push. She checked me again, and I was 9.5 cm...I had a little bit of cervix left. She told me to take all my focus and strength, and bring it all to NOT pushing. Have you ever had to go so bad and been told not to? I knew she knew what she was talking about, so as I sat up underneath the picture of the ocean...somehow I started to breathe like the waves crashing on the shore. I can remember hearing Ryan whisper in my ear..."Kari, you sound just like the ocean. You're doing great." Later Ryan said I was looking like an exorcist or something. My eyes would roll back, and it was like I was looking through him. I remember seeing a stained-glass window hanging in the other room. I would focus there and Ryan's eyes and then it would unfocus. Little did I know but the stained glass was one of an ocean wave. I don't remember too much then.

Somewhere in all of this, the assistant showed up. After awhile, I told Pamela that I couldn't resist it anymore. I HAVE TO PUSH!! She said, "Go ahead." And that's when Mama Bear kicked in. I do remember finding "my voice" as I would push. I remember feeling my water bag release and a few minutes later, I felt the lovely "ring of fire." At The Farm when the head begins to crown, they tell you to pant like a dog and hold back from pushing. I was looking into Pamela's eyes as to say..."Like this?" She told me I was doing great. The other midwife, Stacie, walked in as River's head was crowning. She grabbed our camera and snapped a pic. With the next sensation, I nudged River on out, and it felt good. They told me it was 10 minutes of pushing.

When Pamela laid him on my chest, cord still pulsing and him still connected to my body, it was the most surreal experience of my life. I think I will always remember that moment when his warm wet body was laid on my chest, and he opened his eyes and we met. Those kisses I gave him felt so intense. It is absolutely indescribable...the instant love I felt.

After a few minutes, I delivered the placenta. And when it came it oozed out. It felt wonderful too. River had a good amount of fluid, but they suctioned, used a dee-lee, and gave him oxygen to dry it all up. I had a first degree tear, but it didn't matter. He came so quickly, and I have completely trusted my care providers the entire time. So, a few stitches meant nothing to me. We had our baby in our arms.

As Ryan and I have started to process the experience, there are a couple of things that really stick out for me. Having River is an extension of the love that Ryan an I share. He was created in an intimate love, and he now links Ryan and I together. He's a part of us both...a tangible completion for the massive amount of love we have for each other.

Also, I'm experiencing a whole new love I never knew existed. I know Romantic love, but this new unconditional love I have for River is blowing me away. He has taken me to a whole new level and capacity to love that I never knew before. He also has grown mine and Ryan's love for each other and made it even stronger. January 27, 2009: I am totally in love with two men now...Ryan and River.

More stories about our amazing care will hopefully come soon. And of course, River updates. Thanks for reading my birth story and allowing me to share it as I process this adventure.



Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said...

I am totally in love with two men now...Ryan and River. - LOVE IT.

Amazing story Kari...I felt honored to read it. Thank you for sharing.

Mary Lindsey said...

Complete preciousness. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story! I loved all the details... I felt like I was there. The next time it rains I will think of your family. :-)

We would love to come visit you! I will have Chris call Ryan to see if we can bring you a meal.

How's nursing going? I loved every second of it!!! Hope to talk soon.

Mary Lindsey

Anonymous said...

Your birth story along with Ryan's was exciting to read. We were happy to have been able to spend those days with y'all. We are blessed to have River as a part of our family. We look forward to spending a lot of time with him. Love, Mom and Dad