I know it's late, but I finally have a chance to sit down and write Max's birth story. He's currently sleeping in my sling... very cozy and all cuddled up.
I suppose it started on Wednesday, March 15 at our prenatal exam with Ellie. I thought that my amniotic fluid might have been leaking (it wasn't) and she decided to do an exam just to see how everything was going. She was amazed to find that the baby was really low! -1 station, and I was 80% effaced and 1 cm dialated. I'd had no contractions, just a few menstrual-like cramps which were probably from my uterus thinning out. Anyhow, Ellie laughed and said, "Maybe this baby won't be as late as I thought!" While I knew that labor still could be days away, I was happy to know that things were progressing. The next day I had more of the light cramping, but still went about my business, saw Amy at Whole Mama, Whole Child for an adjustment, and went for a few walks with my mom. I also did squats everytime I could to help the baby move down and get ready for labor.
On Friday morning I woke up and lay in bed for a minute, feeling a strange, stronger tightening in my abdomen. I wasn't sure if it was a contraction or not, so I just breathed through it and went about getting ready for the day. About 20 minutes later, another stronger "tightening". I told my mom that I think I had a contraction. 20 minutes later it was stronger, and I was certain! I called Ron, who had to work from the house in Vancouver that day since our DSL wasn't hooked up yet. We both knew that contractions this far apart could last for days, so I just told him that I would keep him posted. Then the next one came at 12 minutes, and then 10. They were picking up fast! I called Ellie just to let her know that things were starting, and that I would call her when the contractions were 4 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute long, and had been that way for an hour. That's when she and Betsy would arrive.
It was about 12:00 by now, and the only thing that really seemed to help the contractions was to sway my hips side to side, and to moan. I tried various positions, using the yoga ball, etc. but nothing else seemed right. My mom was making some miso soup, bringing me water, and getting things cleaned up and ready for the birth. I called Ron and let him know that the contractions were now at about 8 minutes apart, and that he should come home. He wrapped things up and was on his way. By the time he got home, they were about 5 minutes apart, and then 4 minutes apart. He called Ellie, and she said that she and Betsy were on their way.
Ron was a huge support, he was really the only person I wanted around. In between contractions, he and mom put together the birth tub, and got the sheets all set up on both the upstairs bed, and the downstairs futon. At some point I took a bath, but I couldn't get in a comfortable position during the contractions, so I got out fairly quickly. I remember being annoyed with noise- really sound in general. My mom had got a phone call at one point, and her chatting really distracted me in a bad way. I told my mom that if she needed to make a phone call please go in another room. It turns out she had been in another room- upstairs and with the door shut... I was just really sensitive to sound at that point and only wanted quiet.
I tried leaning on the ball, getting on my hands and knees, but still the only thing that helped was swaying my hips and moaning. I did this alone, or with my arms wrapped around Rons shoulders. In between contractions my lower back really hurt, so Ron did some lower back stretches that we had learned in the prenatal massage/yoga workshop we took. I also remember thinking that I was annoyed that none of the other positions that we had learned in that class were helping... isn't that what we took the classes for? However the focused breathing, and massage techniques had really helped.
Ellie and Betsy called around 2:30, they had been stuck in traffic and were getting close. By this time the contractions were 2 minutes apart! Ron and mom were now filling up the birth tub, which we had put in the family room in front of the fireplace. When Ellie and Betsy showed up, they brought in all their equipment, and Ellie checked me out. My amniotic sac had broken at some point, and I was 6 cm dialated. Whoopee! I got in the tub around 3:00 and labored in the tub the rest of the time. Ron got cold washcloths and put them on my neck. He brought me water and reminded me to drink. I had thrown up a few times earlier, and it is no fun vomiting while having a contraction, so I was nervous about drinking too much water and only took tiny sips.
For the next 3 hours I labored in the tub. Ron and Betsy would refill the hot water as needed. At one point, I only wanted cold water running on my feet during contractions, and they made sure that happened. Most of the time, it was completely silent, except for my moaning. The long, low tones really felt like they were helping me ease through each contraction. At one point I said, "I don't want to do this anymore!" with a smile. Ellie said, "You're doing great, this is the hardest part..." then I perked up, "Is this transition?!?" she said that it seemed that way due to the intensity and closeness of the contractions. At this point they were coming every 2 minutes, and lasting for 90 seconds... that means only 30 seconds of "down time" inbetween contractions. I was EXHAUSTED, and wished that there was a break- just 15 minutes or so- to take a nap. As it was, I did sleep a few times during those 30 seconds in between contractions.
The whole day seemed to go by quickly. I remember at one point laboring in the tub and looking up to see Ellie napping on the couch. I remember thinking, "Shouldn't everyone be DOING something? Coaching me, or cheering me on or SOMETHING?!?" But in reality had they tried I probably would have told them to shut up... I really felt a strong need for silence. During this time, I remember with each contraction thinking to myself "You can get through just this one contraction! It might be the last one before you can start pushing! Just get through this one and you will be that much closer to the birth of our baby." It really helped to look at it that way and just get through one at a time.
At what I think was probably around 5:00 or so I felt a different kind of pressure, down much lower, sort of a stretching feeling. Ellie said just to follow my instincts, that my body would tell me when to push. A while later she asked me to tell her when I felt like the baby might be crowning. I told her that I kinda did feel like that. She checked me, and once again was amazed that the baby was so low, really ready to come out. She told me that when I felt the urge to push, to go ahead and push. Sure enough, around 6:00 I got the strong urge to push, thank goodness! It was such a relief to be done with transition (which lasted a few hours) and to have something to focus on. Even the sensation of stretching open and pushing the baby out wasn't as bad as the discomfort of transition. I was happy it was over, and that soon I would hold our baby!
During the entire labor, Betsy and Ellie were checking the babys heart rate. They had an underwater doppler, so we could hear it beating strong throughout the birth. Even during the pushing part, when the baby was in the birth canal (a time when often the babys heartrate drops) the heartrate was going strong. Ellie kept commenting on what a healthy strong baby we were having... that made me feel good.
At some point during the pushing phase Ron asked my mom to switch the position of two buddha statues that we have. She did, taking one from up on the cabinet and putting it on the ground, and moving the one from the ground and placing it on the cabinet, right overlooking the birth tub. I looked at him, puzzled. Someone asked him why he wanted them switched. He replied, "If our baby is going to be born under a buddha, I want it to be under the authentic one we got in Cambodia, not the $10 one we bought last month at Cost Plus!" What a guy!
So I pushed and pushed, changed positions a few times, and then Ellie said, "Reach down, you can feel your babys head!" So I did... there was a soft little bump of hair! I pushed through a few more contractions, and he stayed in that position for awhile. Turns out his head was a bit sideways, and that soft little bump is still a soft little bump... getting smaller everyday, though. Feeling the head made me ready to push more, and he must've readjusted his head, cause soon after out it came. Just after the head came out, I felt a strong sharp pain down there and thought that Ellie was stretching me or something. I winced and said, "Ouch!" Ellie said, "That wasn't me, sweetie, I didn't touch you... the baby has it's hand out next to it's head, and it's wiggling it's fingers!" With the next contraction I knew it was time to push the baby out. I pushed and pushed, even after the contraction ended because I just wanted to get the baby out! Sure enough out came the rest of the baby at 6:36 pm... only 30 minutes or so of pushing!
Ron reached into the water and took the baby, placing it on my chest. He announced, "It's a boy!" and sure enough it was clear that it was! My mom asked what the name was, and we told her, "Maximus Brooks Purvis". He was blue and not breathing yet. I wasn't concerned because I knew he was still getting oxygen from the umbilical cord. We rubbed his back and feet, and smiled and cried in amazement at this floppy little baby that we made. Ellie got the suction tube, and suctioned him out. She was just getting ready to give him some oxygen when he started breathing and moving around. We put a blanket around him, and cuddled in the water until the cord stopped pulsing, meaning that he had received all the oxygen and nutrients from it. At this point, Ron cut the cord, and took Max out of the water, wrapping him in a warm dry blanket. I stayed in the water until I delivered the placenta, and then I got out to join Ron and Max on the couch. Ellie examined me... no tears, no stitches needed. I was pleasantly surprized- after such a short time with pushing I know that tears often happen. I did however have a hematoma (like a blood blister) the size of a golf ball from when Maxs hand and arm pushed out. Otherwise, everything looked good!
Ellie examined Max, weighed him and measured him, checked his reflexes, etc. Everything was great. 8 lbs. 14 oz. and 22 inches long. Then we put him on my breast, and he started nursing right away. Ellie and Betsy cleaned up and spoke with us about the basics of caring for my hematoma, and taking care of Max. They would return again the next day for a 24 hour visit, then again at 48 hours, 1 week, and 2 weeks. After that we go to their office.
We called our parents, and told them all to come over and meet their new grandson! My parents picked up my grandma, and they arrived just about the same time as Rons parents did. We introduced Max to them all, and explained his name. First, we really just liked the name Max. Maximus means the greatest. Brooks is my maiden name, and of course, Purvis is Rons last name. Since he's the first grandchild on both sides, he truly is the greatest of the Brooks' and Purvis' families! Plus its a bit fun to have such a tiny little guy be Maximus.
The family stayed briefly, I ate, and then we headed upstairs and all curled up in our bed. What an amazing thing, to wake up next to a sweet little being that you made with love, and have felt inside you for 9 months. We have been falling in love with him everyday since then!
I've been thinking a lot about the homebirth. It was perfect. It wasn't anything spectacular or romantic, it was just perfectly normal, the way birth should be. There wasn't a single streessful time. I was relaxed, "at home"... literally. I know had I been in a hospital I would have been nervous, stressed, and labor would have been longer and more painful- not to mention the increased risk of unnecissary interventions, and me worrying about that all the time. Of course, the hospital is necessary for high risk moms, and in the event that something does go wrong. If we had needed a surgeon or a specialist we would have gone. But I am healthy, I had a very healthy pregnancy, and home was the safest, best place for me. We had a specialist there- a midwife! Ellie and Betsy were great. I look back on Max's birth with such awe and amazement... it was so NORMAL and healthy and perfect! Having everyone come to us, being able to walk and eat and moan and have the quiet that I craved. Being able to just walk upstairs and sleep in our own bed after Max was born. It was just perfect. I can't imagine doing it any other way.