Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Birth of Ryan

Sixteen years ago this dear man-child was born.  He was a gift is the only way I can see it.  A little miracle.

My Love had had a vasectomy within months after our last daughter was born in 1985.  Yet less than ten years later I was having the worst case of mommy yearning.  It fell on me in waves of tears and sobbing, of grief that I would never carry a child again, to feel the flutter of life, to watch my belly grow and undulate, to give birth, to hold a newborn in my arms.  One should never have a vasectomy so soon after a birth and really I wish we both had waited and talked at length, at least a year later, if we would ever in our wildest dreams imagine wanting another child.  Why would we?  We had three beautiful girls who filled us with joy!

With much talking back and forth, waiting, and more talking my Love decided he would have a vasectomy reversal.  We found an incredible Dr. who did the surgery and blessings upon us he was back to 100% of his sperm count months later.

Me....I was another story.  At 34 when he did the surgery I felt there would be no problem getting pregnant.  After all, our girls were conceived the very month we tried.  Still, month after month passed and year after year with no pregnancy.  We were disappointed but tried not to dwell on it.  

Three years later in 1995, I realized my period was late.  I hadn't even bothered to count anymore as that dang period just kept coming.  What was the point?  Yet here I was almost 2 months late.  Happy, ecstatic, overjoyed and relief!  My Love and I had joked that if I wasn't pregnant by 40 he would have to get another vasectomy as we figured by then it was not  meant to be.  He wasn't looking forward to going under the scalpel another time.

Pregnant.  We didn't tell any one right away, we wanted to make sure of this.

We shocked many of the family and it was jokingly thought that the "milkman" must have done it!  They couldn't believe that my Love would have done a reversal.  

Next was finding our midwife Peggy who had been with us for our last two daughters.  Where oh where was Peggy now?  Quickly I found that she was a midwife with Kaiser hospital.  What will we do as we don't belong to Kaiser?  Would we do a home birth as we did with M.?  I wanted to and then I wasn't sure since we didn't belong to Kaiser and what would we do if I needed to go to the hospital?  Would Kaiser even let me go or would I have to go to our local hospital into the emergency and be treated as an outcast? 

With great reluctance we began a search for another midwife.  What I learned was the midwives were a scarcity in our area and mainly only worked through the Kaiser Hospital.  Insurance companies didn't want to insure midwives except at an unreasonable fee.  My how things had changed in 10 years.  We thought of the two nurses Lindy and Robin who did doula work when I was pregnant with E. and maybe they had become midwives.

As luck would have it we found that Lindy had become a midwife and worked through Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley.  Home birth didn't seem to be so easy because of the insurance sadly.  Still as long as I had a midwife I knew that it would be alright.  I had E. in the hospital with Peggy and it was a beautiful birth.  

Meeting Lindy after such a long time was a memory door opening for me.  Her face looked the same but her hair had gone to a lovely silver grey.  Still petite and soft spoken she and I visited back to the year that she came to our home when I was in labor, checking me, coaching me till we decided when it was the right time to go to the hospital.  She was only going to stay for that time at our home but as so often happens with a birth, it is not something you wish to leave till a baby is in a mother's arms.  

In all honesty, Lindy had huge shoes to fill with my not having my beloved Peggy as our midwife.  Two births with her, she left a indelible mark in my heart.  

My pregnancy went well with only one issue which was R. being breech towards the end of my term.  Thankfully he turned and his wee head was in the right position.

The night of his birth, one week late, we had just crawled into bed (can a pregnant woman crawl into bed?) preparing my pillows to support my huge belly.  Our time to watch him him move in the tiny space he had left to move in.  I felt like a whale, a beached whale at that.  Then the most odd sensation happened and I knew at once my water had broken.  This was exciting because in three births my water had never broken on it's own.  So this is how it feels.  My Love and I laughed and became giddy with joy.  Tonight was the night!  He went to tell our daughters that soon we would be going as their little brother was ready to come into our arms.  The time: 10 P.M.

We called my parents who were to come and stay with the girls for the night.  Within a short time my contractions came on in regular intervals.  My uterus knew the drill.  Did I remember after 10 years though?  Would it all come back of how and what to do?  How to breathe through my contractions?  It was then that Peggy's voice filled my head...her words..."down and out"....I heard her just as if she was right next to my ear, softly and calmly comforting me.  

We left for the hospital which was about a 30 minute drive from our house.  The roads were quiet thankfully.  Alta Bates is a huge busy hospital with a large parking garage.  The walking felt good as we approached the doors.  

I wasn't exactly thrilled to be back in a hospital.  I would  have preferred to be home.  I just kept telling myself and my Love, that the birth was to be our way.  Lindy understood too.  My sister by marriage would be meeting us at the hospital as she would be taking photographs for us.  Of course once inside after we checked in, they told me to sit in a wheelchair to go up to the Maternity Ward.   Why?  I wanted to walk, I wanted to stop when I had a contraction.  I wanted to lean myself into my Love's arms, hug him, rock and moan.  Rules...rules.

Once up in Labor and Delivery we were given our room.  Lindy came in and of course we all were excited.  At last baby boy was really on his way!!!!  Lindy checked me and I was dilated to 5 centimeters.

A nurse came in and said that they needed me to wear a fetal monitor so they could run a strip to check his heart rate.  Okay...I will oblige this rule though I did not want to lay on the bed for a half hour.  I certainly didn't have to do this when I had E. in 1983.  It was uncomfortable to lay there through my growing contractions.  I wanted up, I wanted to move and sway into my hips, I wanted to be anywhere but laying there on my side keeping a monitor in place with a big strap, breathing, doing my soft moans.

Finally they took it off but of course the nurse really wished I would keep it on.  The rebel in me refused.  We wanted to be left alone.  Let me labor in peace.

My labor was rapid and relentless.  Steady contractions, lengthening, growing in their waves.  Peggy in my head guiding me.....I realized a panic coming over me and I found myself becoming fearful.  After so long I had forgotten how powerful labor is.  I couldn't find a comfortable position.

This fear works against a laboring woman.  To watch a woman in labor you need to see in her eyes what she is thinking.  You need to hear it in her sounds that she makes. You need to see how her legs, toes, arms and fingers touch and reach.  She needs someone to breath with her.   She needs someones eyes filling hers.  Closing your eyes only can lose you in a dark and lonely place and make you feel frightened when active labor pours over you.  I felt adrift from my Love and Lindy.  Every time the fear tried to undermine me I heard Peggy.  I could have been totally alone in that labor room because a part of me was.  My Love didn't seem to realize this.  It was then that I cried out for drugs.  I felt I couldn't do it.  I begged for an epidural.  Of course my Love and Lindy knew I that I didn't want any drugs.  No, I really did!  Peggy in my head calmed me.  She "awwddd" with me, keeping my mouth loose like my body wanted me to.  A woman's body knows how to give birth, it's the mind that needs to be calm and trusting of this natural process of giving birth.

And then I hit transition.  A tidal wave fell over me and I feared I would not be able to go further.  How do I collect myself?  I was fully dilated but I didn't know if I could push.  The mind gets in the way.  Wait and the time will tell you when the urge begins.  It will happen.  I know the time will come to release and to be fully in the moment.

I tried being on my hands and knees, but no this wasn't working.  I tried on my side but no this wasn't working either.  I tried to squat and felt awkward and off balance.  

Back up on the hospital bed on my back with the head raised and pillows.  And there I began the pushing.  I might as well have been giving birth to a huge watermelon or a cannonball.  My request for a mirror came just in time to see R.'s crowning.  My mind connected that at last my labor was coming to an end.  Now would be the time to bring him out to our arms.  

As was the pattern with my tipped uterus, this fourth birth no surprise, R. would be a posterior presenting baby like his sisters.  Back labor and a baby facing the opposite way of a normal birth.  

That moment just as full crowning happens, just as you feel that you can take no more, just as you must let go, that head pops out.  The odd moment of knowing that there is no going back and a child will slide into a world of air, to be released forever from the amniotic sea and of the comforting mulled sounds of my body.  Now his shoulders must slide out one side first.  The last push and out he came with a whoosh of fluid.  A big boy indeed.   R. weighed in at 9 pounds 2 ounces.  He was healthy and beautiful.  Our son so wanted had come to our arms.  The world could have fallen away and I would have never known.  

His birth was at 1:15 A.M., March 27th, 1996.  My labor a mere 3 hours though it felt like many hours more.

Bliss.  That was my word of R. in our life.  Nothing could have been more blissful.  There I lay, baby on my bare skin, the warmth of his and mine, bonding, blending, beginning.


Ms. Moon said...

Oh Ellen- I love a birth story. Especially one like this. Yes, we all have to completely give up the notion that there is any way out but to surrender to the forces of childbirth and happens.
I know that feeling of being alone, even if our most beloved are with us. There is no one who can "save" us at that moment. Unless it is the baby who with his birth, brings complete cessation of pain. I honestly think this is the reason for pain in childbirth.
Happy Birth Day.
And to your son, happy birthday.

Elizabeth said...

How beautiful. I am grateful that you shared this --


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