Monday, December 17, 2012

Zahra's Birth Story

With Zayd, I was dying to get his birth story down on paper. (In this case, proverbial paper.) I wanted to memorialize every minute and remember it forever. Maybe it was because I had read so many birth stories before his delivery, maybe it was something about it being my first time, I am not sure. But I don't have the same urgency with Zahra's birth that I felt before. The change in me from Zayd's birth can't be recreated. There are things I know about myself, my husband. and our family that were created at Zayd's birth and remain constant. That being said, there are things to memorialize and remember forever and, from reading Zayd's birth story just two weeks ago, I know I will want to re-read this post in the future - that it will bring me joy.

Though I will go though the whole labor (all three days of it) in this post or another, I want to organize it differently this time.

Here are the things that I want to remember:

  • How blissfully happy I was to be laboring with Zahra. It made me teary-eyed over and over again throughout my labor weekend, the thought of getting to hold her sweet self in my arms. That was new this time; I could never have known how wonderful it is to meet your baby until I had already had Zayd. I repeated to myself over and over "We're gonna have a baby" and it made me laugh, weep, and smile through the final hours of her birth.
  • How powerful positive thinking can be. My midwife Jennifer gave me the most inspirational affirmations when the pain began to overtake my bliss. I am astounded (then and now) how hearing her remind me that I was doing this for my daughter, that I had to be open and calm for her to come, and that this would all end with a new little life really made everything hurt less. Your mind is so powerful. Hell, women are so powerful. There is nothing I couldn't have done that night to bring my little girl into the world. I wish everyone could get to know how strong they are. And by strong, I mean mentally and spiritually, physical strength had nothing to do with my two natural childbirths.
  • How amazing Zahra smelled to me when they put her on my chest.
  • How much I love my midwives, how important I think they are, and how lucky they are to get to surround themselves with life and birth everyday. I wish I had the energy to live a thousand lives and spend one of them at the birth center everyday.

The Story

The Beginning that Just Wouldn't End

On Wednesday, December 5th, I started pre-labor practice with nightly contractions. I knew it was a ways away but I was excited about the prospect. I had already missed my December 4th shared-birthday bonanza and now wanted to wait until the 12th if I could. (Even as we were in the full swing of it on Monday, Sam was asking if I could maybe hold off another 30 hours, "Just 12:01am on Wednesday and she gets a 12/12/12 birthday!" I could have punched...someone.)
That continued for the next three nights. By Saturday morning, we texted Nani and Nana to make sure their bags were packed. We knew it would be "soon".

That day, I had seven straight hours of contractions about four minutes apart. Then they just stopped. Eventually I realized, I wasn't in labor anymore. By the time my parents showed up at the house, I think they thought I was fibbing about the whole thing. Another night of contractions... another morning of disappearing labor. This I was happy about because my birthday horoscope book called a December 9th baby a pessimist - I wouldn't begin to know how to raise a pessimist and so it seemed better to just wait and be safe!

Really all of this serves to tell you all that I was confused about what my labor would actually look like since I'd been practicing for so so long. It gave me doubts. Months before in reading a book about preparing for natural labor, it had a section on taking account of your fears. It turned out that I didn't have any. This yo-yo labor made just the smallest place of doubt in me, but I still would say I had a birth without fear.

Monday, my mom and I decided to just take it easy, get out of the house, and see if the labor continued. We went to California Pizza Kitchen and I had some good contractions while munching on spinach artichoke pizza. In the end, they were picking up and we decided to go see Anna Karenina. For the most part, it was a good decision, though I would maybe recommend an action movie to see your way through Stage One labor - there were some dramatic quiet scenes where my uterus had trouble cooperating. It would have been easier to make small little noises through a movie where things were always blowing up. :) By 1pm, the start of Anna Karenina, I was really in labor. I will rent the movie when it comes to DVD to catch up on what I missed.

Home again, and I took Zaydie on a play date to his favorite house of multiples. I rocked through contractions while gossiping with my lovely neighbor and bouncing a baby on my hip. I think my neighbor must have thought I was nuts. Or that I wasn't really in labor. But, I found it easier to pretend I wasn't since three days of thinking I was just led nowhere.

Things Pick Up

Things seemed like they were moving slowly until they were just flying. I am not really sure what speed I was going at, because my whole concept of time was just twisted all around. The idea that at any moment I would stop being in labor was never far from my mind. By evening, I needed the lights out, I couldn't sit with Zaydie, and everything was in full force. (Stage Two.) I still wasn't excited, just holding on and working through the contractions. I spent some quality time with my husband where we joked between contractions and talked about me trying to hold on another 30 hours. I seemed perfectly coherent, which was completely unlike Zayd's Stage Two labor.

Then, I felt it. Pressure! Pressure is a sure sign that we have a baby on the move and meant we needed to head to the birth center. We texted my other favorite Mahncke Park mama that she should come to the house to sit with sleeping Zayd. It went something like this:
Sam: Can you come to the house in like 30 minutes, it is almost time to go to the birth center.
Neighbor: Like 9:25?
Sam: Nevermind, come RIGHT NOW.
And that was when the race began. It took me a good fifteen minutes to make it to the car because my contractions were about 30 seconds apart and lasting two minutes. So, I would have a contraction, recover, take three steps, then lay on the ground for the next one. My mom had to instruct me that we would never make it if I didn't run as soon as the next one ended. And that is pretty much what we did. Packed in with mom and Sam, we sped down 410. I had to roll down the window and it was the only time during either labor that I really let out some REAL noise. I realized that going 70 down the highway was going to be my only chance at really vocalizing and I relished it. And it helped. Three days of that would have drained my energy but that 15 minutes I enjoyed were freeing. Sam made jokes about needing a siren and I think he and my mom knew we were really really in it. I still had a small part of my conscience that wasn't sure. I wanted so badly to know that I could trust my body, but again, it had just been so long.

The Birth Center

We arrived at 9:30 and I waited in the waiting room for my midwife to arrive. This is a hysterical tidbit about me. I like rules. I like to be always within the rules, even in the throws of some serious labor. Sam and my mom tried to convince me to go to the birthing room but I really needed my midwife to tell me that it was ok. Ha. I laugh thinking about it.

Once we were settled in, it was time for the moment of truth. How far had I made it? 8 cm, folks. That's right. It was the best news yet. It gave me the confidence I needed to make everything else move so smoothly. I knew my body, I knew when it was time, and now we were here to have a baby. I would leave with a baby. That is when my bliss started.

Time moved more quickly than I realized. Sam and I worked through some intense pains with my midwife in my ear, keeping everything right on track. She was amazing. Sam was amazing. It was all working. Once I felt Zahra on the move, I couldn't have been happier. I felt blessed to be able to feel everything and know what was going on. Really knowing my body felt powerful. Every inch of her transition made me happier. I couldn't stop repeating, "We're gonna have a baby." It was all the motivation I needed. With Zayd, I tried escapism, "I am on the beach." This time, I didn't want to be anywhere else. Yes, it hurts. I am not trying to diminish any of that. But, I knew where we were headed and I was ecstatic.

By 10:48, Zahra was born in the same tub where I met her brother 20 months ago. Sam was going to get to catch this one, just like I caught Zayd, but we were thrown for a loop right at the end. Once we had Zahra's head out, it turned out that the cord was nonnegotiably tight around her neck. A little somersault and the rest of her was out but all of the catching was left to the professionals.

There, now it has all been written. It isn't as poetic as last time but it was just as beautiful. I'm smart enough this time to know that I just don't have the words.

Happy. I am happy.

And if you made it through that, then here are some photos for your enjoyment.

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