Sunday, October 24, 2004

Clara le Petit Bebe

This morning I got up with Clara and Leo and let Marc sleep in a bit. I changed Leo's diaper first (poopy of course). As soon as he had a new dipe on and was all dressed again he pooped (again). So I changed him a second time. Then I changed Clara's diaper, she left the room with a clean diaper and came right back about 30 seconds later telling me she'd just poo'd! So changed her again too. Then I went to pick up Leo to take him to the living room to find out his diaper had somehow leaked and he was wet!! Yes, I changed 5 diapers and 2 outfits in the course of about 15 minutes!!!! What a start to the day.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Leo's Birth Story

Leo was due on October 4th. On that day I met with my midwife Catherine and consented to an internal exam as part of the check up. I was so excited by the result – 3-4cm dilated and 70% effaced! This baby could come any time! I left the office with my spirits soaring, let me go to my book club this evening and then I'm ready to have my baby.

I'd been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a good 2 weeks before my due date (probably what got me to 3cm dilated) but they always started in the early evening and petered out overnight. By Wednesday the 6th I was starting to loose my cool attitude, I wanted to meet my baby and I was tired and uncomfortable. Every night I went to bed hoping that the next day would be “the” day. My goal for this labour and delivery was simple; let my body do what it needs to do to bring my baby into this world naturally.

On Friday October 8th I spent the day with Clara playing at home and at the park. We had a good day together and I was feeling positive about things in general. Marc rented “Supersize Me” and we watched it Friday evening after Clara went to bed. It was during the movie that I had some contractions that seemed a little different from the usual Braxton Hicks I'd been experiencing. Of course by the end of the movie they had stopped so I attributed the pains I'd been feeling to gas. Went to bed and slept fairly well (for a 40 week pregnant woman).

I woke up on October 9th at 7:30am with a pain in my lower abdomen that felt like a gas pain. I went to the bathroom to see if I could relieve the discomfort but nothing really happened. I went back to bed but soon felt another pain. That is when I started to consider the fact that these were contractions and not gas pains. I woke up Marc at 7:45 and told him that I may be having real contractions but I just wasn't sure. Marc said, “ok, I'll stay awake”, I was so unsure of myself that I told him ”no, go back to sleep now in case I'm wrong”. At 8:00am I was still not sure what was going on but I decided I should get my Midwife's opinion so I called. I told her my contractions were not very long or very intense but I did think they were contractions. Catherine said, “ok, why don't you wait a little to see what is going on and call me back within the hour.” I called her back at about 9:00am and we quickly agreed it was time to go to the Maison de Naissance, my contractions had already become much more intense but were still only about 30 seconds long and about 5 minutes apart. Laura arrived soon after this decision was made so Marc called for a taxi.

The taxi ride was surprisingly all right. I had 3 contractions during the trip but with the window open and the cool air on my face they were quite manageable. Marc and I arrived at the Maison de Naissance at 9:30am and within minutes of our getting settled I felt like I needed to sit on the toilet (apparently my favorite place to labour). Catherine quickly checked me and said I was 6cm dilated so I headed to the bathroom. While there Catherine checked my temperature, took my blood pressure and checked the baby's heartbeat. Except for my slightly low blood pressure everything was just fine. Contractions quickly got more and more intense and closer together but I was able to moan, sway and wiggle to get through them. I remember feeling incredibly hot and Marc had to keep putting wet face cloths on my face and back. I don't know how long I stayed in the bathroom but as soon as I said something about an urge to push Catherine and Marc quickly shuffled me back to our room. I knew I had to stay in a sitting position so I tried the birthing stool (what a strange non-bench) and it was perfect. I laboured with my eyes closed, moaning with each contraction. There was very little break between contractions but I could feel an obvious tightening and loosening. Catherine was getting ready for the birth at my feet but she kept telling me that everything was perfect and that I was doing fine. She told me over and over to follow my feelings and do whatever came naturally. The pain was intense and excruciating during this time and I was surprised to hear the sounds I made, very low and primal. With one contraction I all of a sudden found myself pushing, and once I started I just couldn’t stop! I grunted and pushed and soon felt a burning sensation that told me that the baby was crowning. Catherine may have told me that the head was coming but I knew by myself exactly what was about to happen. The midwives (Babette arrived just in time for the birth) were trying to get me to slow down and push bit by bit so as to preserve my one point (before baby crowned) they asked me if I was even having a contraction and I remember saying “I don't know anymore!” I wasn't and was able to take a very short break from pushing between contractions. My bag of water still hadn’t broken so right before Leo crowned Catherine broke the bag so that he wasn't born in the caul. Marc thinks I only pushed about 4 times before Leo's head was out (his cord was loosely around his neck) but my sense of time was completely out of whack so I have no idea if this is true or not. I do know I got to feel Leo's head before I had the final contraction and pushed his body out (what a relief) into Catherine's hands. She handed Leo up to me and I held him to my chest...he was wet and purple with very little vernix at all and quiet and alert. He quickly turned pink and gave us a few quiet cries... it was like holding magic.

I moved to the bed and soon delivered the placenta. Everything was perfect, I kept repeating “you're here, you're here!” and at some point I realized I didn't know who this baby was – girl or boy. I asked Marc “do we know what it is?” and he said with a huge smile, “It's a BOY!” It took Leo about 2 minutes tops to start looking for the breast, and thankfully he seemed to know exactly what to do when he found it. After Leo nursed he went to snuggle skin to skin with Marc while Catherine gave me a few stitches for a very minor tear, apparently the speed with which Leo came into this world was more than my body was prepared for! While I was being stitched, Leo gave Marc a hickey on the shoulder!

About an hour and a half after he was born Catherine did Leo's newborn check up. Of course he was perfectly healthy and weighed a whopping 9 pounds 9 ounces! He was 21 inches long which came as a surprise to Marc and I since his legs looked much shorter than Clara's had seemed at birth (we think). After the check Catherine showed us Leo's placenta and uterine sack – she said it was a beautiful example of a very healthy organ! It was fascinating to see the thing that had connected us for so long.

After the checks were finished Marc, Leo and I settled in for some much needed rest. Our post natal aid, Sylvie was just lovely - she brought Marc coffee, some fruit and juice for me and checked on us periodically throughout the afternoon in the most unobtrusive way. Leo came home to meet his big sister that night at 8pm – what a surreal experience I hugged and kissed two sweet babies and they were both MINE!!!

Postscript to Leo's birth
As I wrote before, my goal for this birth was to allow my body to do whatever it needed to birth my baby. I wanted to know how I birth babies. Looking back on the experience I feel completely fulfilled, Leo was born when he wanted and how I wanted. I was able to move freely during labour and simply follow my instincts. Other than a few very quiet suggestions from the midwives I successfully looked inward for the strength I needed. I have to admit, the sense of empowerment I've experienced as a result of Leo's birth is beyond anything I ever could have expected – I feel like I can do ANYTHING!!!