Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Serafin Nancy Dorrington was born on June 20th, 2009 at 5:36 AM. She was 8.13 lbs. My due date was on a Thursday, June 18th. I knew in my heart that she was going to be born that weekend weekend.
When I woke up on Thursday morning, I noticed a gift that my husband left me by the side of the bed. It was a DVD with a note on it saying “Jess, this is what you wanted.” I knew what it was and my heart softened. I popped it into the DVD player and the tears started. My husband is a photographer. He went through a period of taking various photos of flowers. I remember I would see him going through is files on his computer and being mesmerized by the beauty and sharpness of his photos, especially those ones of flowers.
Throughout my pregnancy I was obsessed with flowers. To me, they are the ultimate symbol of fertility. I once heard that when a flower blooms it’s like an orgasm—a build up, a peak and then a mini-death. Even though the flower wilts and dies, the rest of the plant goes on producing. The seeds from the flower spread and create more plants with more flowers. If you look into the center of a flower, it actually looks like a cervix.
That afternoon I watched the DVD several times. I visually tried to imagine my cervix opening like a flower allowing my baby to come down as smoothly and as easy as possible. Throughout the day I was in a daze, I actually felt like I was on drugs, like I was in some sort of Euphoria. I knew she was coming soon. That night, I finished my book thinking to myself, I’m not going to have much time to read pretty soon, so I better finish it now! Then I went to bed.
I woke up at 3 in the morning. I was feeling waves in my uterus. It was completely different to the other type of surges I had throughout my pregnancy. I knew labor was starting. The surges were coming at 5 minutes apart already, however they only lasted about 20 seconds. Really, I didn’t know what was going on or how long it would be, just that the process was starting. I got up to get a snack and then went back to bed.
The next morning when I woke, I told my hubby what was going on and decided to call our doula, Esther to keep her posted. The plan was that she was to be the first birth attendant to arrive at our house to help support me during labor, when the birth got closer, we our midwives would come. “How long do you think?” I asked her. “It could be tonight, tomorrow or the next day, try and keep it low key. Rest, go for little walks, drink plenty of fluids.” I got off the phone with her I decided that it would be best to inform our midwife, Shiela, that my surges had begun. After we spoke for a while I was convinced that I was only in pre-labor, my surges were mild and even though they were close together, Shiela re-iterated what Esther had said, “lay low, don’t get too excited, it may be a while, rest, drink plenty and eat to keep your strength.” I do remember thinking to myself, “holy shit, how the hell am I going to deal with this for two more days?” I put it in the back of my mind and started to go about my day.
It just so happened, that my husband was off from work that day so he was hanging around the house. Like me, he also didn’t know what to expect. I think because I was relatively calm and didn’t seem to be in too much pain, thanks to the handy dandy hypnobirthing techniques, we both didn’t believe I was actually in labor! It was almost as if I was in denial about it, I kept waiting for it to be super intense thinking, “gotta hang on cause I’m going to be like this for two more days!” Not that it wasn’t intense, but I think that because the surges start off so mild and gradually build, by the time they are at that super intense stage, you are in such an altered state of being.
Throughout the day, Friday, I hung out and did things around the house. I remember toning a lot when the surges would come. One woman once told me that her surges came on like “waves” and that you had to “get on top of it like a surfer”. I kept imagining myself riding the waves. I was talking to a friend who was also close to giving birth and I would start moaning on the telephone. Sometimes it was more of a chant. I felt like I was “oming” my way through the surges sometimes.
The morning turned into the afternoon, which turned into the evening. At some point during the day my mucous plug came out. In the early evening, I was laying on the couch watching a movie and I remember the intensity of the surges increasing. I was trying to divert my attention and focus on the movie. I also remember kind of drifting off to sleep at one point, but would wake up because the surges were still coming about every five minutes. Again, I called the doula to let her know what was going on.
By that point I had a massive headache. In retrospect I believe it was because I wasn’t drinking enough fluids, but at the time I wasn’t even thinking about why I had the headache,, only, “how the hell am I going to get rid of this headache so I can rest and be ready for birth?!?” Our doula told us to call the midwife to tell her about the headache.
After speaking Shiela I remember feeling a little frustrated because I was hoping she would tell me I was getting close, by that time it was around 9 at night. Instead, she gave me what she called “tough love” because she was still under the impression that I was in pre-labor and it might take a while. She told me that I really had to focus on getting rest, that I should drink more fluids and take a Tylenol for the headache. After getting off the phone with her I really started to wonder how I was going to handle the birthing process if this was only considered to be pre-labor. Like a good mama, I got in bed and tried to get some rest. Little did any of us know, very soon after our baby girl was to be born!
At 11 pm the surges kicked up another notch, I called my therapist, I knew she might be able to give me ideas about how to handle the intensity, after all, we had spoken about things I might do in our previous sessions together, now I needed a little reminding! She gave me the idea of trying to distract myself with a story.
I got off the phone with her and called Gary down. I didn’t want to watch TV, but instead asked him to read me a story to get my mind off things. After several chapters I told him I needed to rest again. My head was pounding. He left the room and I continued to labor. I drifted in and out of sleep. I remember waking up for a surge and staring at the bouquet of flowers next to my bed. Imagining that flower opening--my baby easily coming down the birth canal and being born into my arms. The next 4 hours were a blur.
At about 3 in the morning I called Gary down again. He had been upstairs watching TV. “Call Esther, I need help relaxing, maybe she can help me relax!” I said to him frantically. I had such a nasty headache that I was thinking she could come and give me a massage or something. Or simply just help me calm down and relax! I was laying in our dim lit bedroom at that point breathing through the surges. Slow breathing, in to a count of 20 and out to a count of 20. I kept staring at the flowers. “Open.” I told myself. “It’s ok. Let go.” I was totally in the moment. I was about to give birth! My body went through having chills to sweating profusely. I started vomiting. My body was going crazy! Like a wild animal.
Trying to have a conversation with Esther was difficult. She listened to me have a surge, then said to me, “um, I’ll be right over”. As soon as I got off the phone with her I felt the urge to push! “Call Shiela!” I shouted at my husband in a moment of sanity. “Why don’t we wait till Esther gets here, she will be here very soon, she’ll know what to do.” He didn’t know what was going on inside me, but neither did I! I wasn’t coherent. I couldn’t think clearly. All I knew was that my body was doing what it had to do.
Esther got here very quickly. At that point I was squatting next to the bed, the only place I was comfortable. I told her I was feeling the urge to push “am I in labor?” I asked her (a question that we all laughed about later.). “Call Shiela!” She directed to Gary with a smile. Gary went to call the midwife. I could hear him talking to her but wasn’t listening to any of it. All I knew was that she was on her way.
We had planned to do a water birth. Esther told Gary to bring the tub in and start filling it up. As he rolled it in, she looked at him, shook her head and said, “don’t bother.” This baby was coming soon!
My hands were clenched. I was holding onto the bed in a squat. “raaaaaaaaa” I would scream as my body bared down. I heard this loud amazing mama voice come out of me. As I continued to labor, Esther put cold compresses on my forehead. She gave me vitamin water, which helped with my headache, although at this point I finally wasn’t thinking about my head!
My body was in control. It knew exactly what to do and it was doing it. What an amazing experience this was! At that point Esther started preparing the room for the birth. Shiela arrived, and very soon after, our second midwife arrived (midwives work in twos, one for the mama and one for the baby incase both need attention at the same time). This was happening!
Once Shiela was ther she started asking questions, “Did your water break?” I didn’t know (it hadn’t). “When was the last time you went to the bathroom?” I also couldn’t remember. She insisted that I try to go. With their help I hobbled to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet was impossible! The pressure on my yoni was unbearable! I tried to squat in the bathtub, it wasn’t happening, we hobbled back to the bed. I tried laying down on my side, turning around on all fours. The only place I was comfortable was in a semi squat by the side of the bed. I resumed position. The pushing urges were stronger and stronger. As each surge would come upon me I would breath down through it, and out through my yoni. This is what we called “J” breathing. I was literally breathing my baby down and out of me.
With each surge I would roar. My body baring down. The surges coming on top of each other, wave after wave. Then my body opened. She was about to be born. Still leaning over the bed in a squat the midwife says, “do you want to feel her head”. “No!” I shouted, I couldn’t take anything else, I just wanted her to be born at that point.
“Come on little girl, we can do it,” I screamed. My water finally broke. It felt like a huge pop! I remember hearing in the background “slight meconium”. This was the only time my head came back because I had heard that meconium in the water was not good. “Is it ok?” I asked, Shiela assured me that everything was fine. Then my sweet baby’s head started crowning. I felt a burn. She sat there, her head just about to come out, waiting for the next surge. “She’s right there” I heard somebody say. The next surge came upon me and out of know wher there was a gush of fluid coming out of me and with it our baby girl!
It was such a strange feeling for me to suddenly not have a baby inside me. It was such a huge relief, but I remember feeling so empty inside. I didn’t have time to think about it, our baby girl was right there! They took Serafin. She was having a little trouble breathing and needed to have some fluid sucked out from her lungs. I saw her flesh become pink and was in complete awe of the entire experience. A minute later she was in my arms. She had an apgar score of 8. Gary grabbed my hand and said “we have our little girl!” They helped us all back into bed and Serafin instantly began to breastfeed. I’m sure with a tough journey like that she must have been hungry!
At that point I didn’t feel tired in the least. In fact I was filled with adrenaline and wanted to call everybody and let them know that our baby girl had arrived, even though at that point it was only about 5:45 AM. If I could have, I would have, but there was more work to be done. About a half hour later, with a little work, the birth was complete when the placenta arrived. It was very large and we put it in a bowl to refrigerate. I had organized a women to come and make medicine out of it for future use. She was to encapsulated it for me to eat it and help me with post partum depression or other emotional times.
After the placenta was born I was stitched up. I had a 2nd degree tear. It was quite painful, but in retrospect I am amazed at the strength and courage I had to go through it all. Serafin was cuddling with her daddy through all of this. They both were exhausted and falling asleep in a chair across from the bed. I tried to get up to take a shower, I was very faint and ended up crawling from one place to another. At one point the midwives gave me some oxygen to help me get centered a little. I was pretty weak for the next couple of days, but we had this amazing little girl! I was now a mother!
The two months after Serafin was born were quite difficult for me, both emotionally and physically. Both my husband and I had a hard time coping with the sleepless nights and the adjustments to the new responsibility. Having a child brings up so much stuff. Many times I would feel overwhelmed and simply feel that I just did not know what to do when my sweet baby would cry. My body also hurt for many months after. I had pain right in front of my pubic bone and sometimes it would ache all day long, even 5 months after giving birth.
Now, 8 months later, I know that I’m feeling better, because I think to myself, “yeah, I could do it all again!” At least I would have an idea of what to expect, which could be a good or a not so good thing, I do tend to have an over active mind! Although, believe me, I’m not ready just yet!
I know that if I get pregnant again, it will be a completely different experience entirely and that giving birth is not about having expectations. In fact more than anything, giving birth is about being in the moment. Reacting to what is important and letting go of all the rest. In some ways I feel that giving birth has brought me closer and more comfortable with my own mortality and the fact that I too will die one day. Afterall, birth and death are one of the same, for the moment we are born, we begin to die, and the moment we die, we are to be reborn again. I love it! What a crazy trip this is! I feel blessed and grateful to have this opportunity to live and simply be!