4.27.2008

MY BABY STORY

As I've had a few days to think about Charlie's birth, the word that keeps coming to my mind to describe the experience is control. It probably sounds weird to say that about birth - a situation where you must give up full control to your body to get things done - but it really opened my eyes to the possibilities when choosing not to have your baby in a traditional hospital setting.

Alright, so here's the story. (Please bear with me. This might be a little too specific for some people, but I find the detailed birth stories of others to be the most fascinating.)

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning with very strong contractions. There was no doubt in my mind that this was labor. I woke Erik up. He sort of sleepwalked out of bed and within 10 minutes had the Aquadoula (the tub) set up in our bedroom. He then started filling it up using a hose he had connected to the faucet by our washer. While he was doing that, I walked around the house getting a bag ready for Luke to go to our friend's house just in case he woke up while I was in labor. At this point my contractions were about 5 minutes apart and like I said, really strong. I felt pretty crampy, so I didn't feel as much of a break between each one as I would have liked.

Our midwife (Justine) arrived a little after 3 a.m. She asked if I wanted to be checked and I said no because the last thing I wanted to do was try to lie on my bed during these strong contractions. In the meantime, Erik prepared the bed by putting some shower curtain liners on top of our sheets, and then placing clean sheets that could be thrown away on top of those. Eventually the tub was about half full and I got in. Initially, the water felt too hot. (I had been worried it wouldn't be warm enough.)

Now, nobody freak out. I am going to post a picture that was taken while I was in the tub, during labor. I wasn't going to post any pictures like this, but I figured this one was semi-tasteful enough. Besides, I think it will answer a lot of questions.


I know it looks like we're just hanging out, having a casual conversation, but that was taken during a contraction. It also answers that most "important" question asked by my sisters and Candace, "What were you were wearing?" (When Candace asked, "And on the bottom?" I answered, "A skirt, naturally.") One of the reasons I really liked the tub was because I was literally able to float in the water through each contraction. Of course I still felt pain, but I'd like to think this eased it a little bit. Poor Erik is a real trooper. I don't think he was in the most comfortable position - slouched over the tub, trying to hold me up - but he kept it up as long as I needed him too.

With Luke's labor I pushed for 90 minutes (under my doctor's threats of an episiotomy and a c-section if I didn't get this baby out ASAP, and me screaming between pushes, "Look at my birth plan!!") I really hoped that this baby would be faster. No such luck. Justine checked me around 5:30 a.m. and I was at a 10. I started pushing and was quickly reminded why I HATE pushing. While pushing, I spent a lot of time thinking about all those people that push their babies out in 2 or 3 pushes (I hate you all) and then I got frustrated wondering why it was taking me so long. Then I started questioning whether something is wrong with me, my body... then I started thinking that I wanted to die, that maybe that would be easier. Seriously, these are the things that went through my head while I was pushing. Sometime during the pushing phase, Justine suggested I get out of the tub and try other positions. She also threw a Dryers All Fruit Berry Popscicle in my mouth which seemed to make everything all better. Charlie was born at 7 a.m. (after 90 minutes of pushing) while I stood in between the tub and the bed, hanging on to Erik, in a semi-squatting position.

(In my opinion, there is no better feeling in the world than successfully pushing a baby out after thinking you couldn't do it. It's that whole theory that you have to feel pain to the know the true meaning of happiness. I've never run a marathon, but assume it's a similar feeling of success.)

Fifteen minutes after Charlie was born, Luke woke up. It's hard to tell from this picture because he has the pacifier in his mouth, but he was SO confused. He was like, "What the - ?" I can't believe he slept through the whole thing! We really took a gamble by not waking him up to take him to our friend's house. (He did end up going over to my friend's house for the whole day about 40 minutes after he woke up.)

So, immediately after Charlie was born, he was put on my chest, cleaned off, I was stitched up, etc. Justine brought me toast, fruit, juice, and vanilla tea. They drained the tub into the front yard (using the hose), which probably sounds gross, except that the water was completely clean because I didn't have him in the tub. By the time Justine left - maybe around 10 a.m.? - you couldn't even tell that a baby was just born there. Erik and I spent the rest of the day laying in bed with Charlie, taking turns having him sleep on our chests. It was really nice.


Alright, so back to this control issue. There were many things I loved about a homebirth. I loved the ability to control my environment. I labored with the lights low. There was little, if any, other noise, besides Erik coaching me through each contraction. No one was yelling at me to "1-2-3- push! 1-2-3- push!" I was able to push when I felt like pushing. I had a lot of time to think and "listen to my body." I loved that I didn't have to go through heavy labor in the car for an hour on the way to the hospital, (that still sounds like HELL to me). I also liked the control over my position during labor. I don't think words can describe how sweet it was to sit with Charlie and Erik in our own bed all day, able to eat food that I like, without any interruptions. It was a great experience.

With all this being said, homebirths are definitely not for everyone. I am fortunate in that I have relatively "fast" labors and am considered "low-risk." I also would only choose this option if you had access to an experienced and licensed midwife. I also wouldn't do it if you like being in the hospital (hey, some people do!). Many of the differences I noticed between Charlie's birth and my experience in the hospital with Luke might also be attributed to the difference between a midwife and a doctor. Someone who has had their children with a midwife in the hospital might be able to confirm or deny this for me.

Over the past few days I have noticed even more differences between Charlie and Luke. For example, Charlie picked up breastfeeding very quickly, whereas Luke and I struggled with latching on for at least a week. My milk also came in really fast this time (the day after Charlie was born.) All of this could be because I am more experienced now too.

That's all for now. Luke is coming home from Camarillo tomorrow, so we need to go pick up all the knives, scissors, bleach (and other non-toddler proof) items we've left lying around!

20 comments:

  1. I am so happy to hear of your huge success with your home birth. You are SUPER WOMAN!! Charlie is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story and picture. Despite the long pushing, it sounds like everything went really smooth and controlled just as you had hoped.
    Congratulations Cristin!

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  2. Wow, what an amazing experience. Thank you for being willing to share the journey. I really appreciate hearing different perspectives and this one is no exception. Congratulations on a successful birthing process. Your son is too cute.

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  3. Glad things went your way!!! I wish they had gone more "our" way in the hospital! It sounds like midwives are much easier to work with than doctors!

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  4. I'm so happy you answered the question!

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  5. Childbirth sounds wretched beyond my wildest nightmares. Wretched. I do not want it at home. I do not want it at a hospital. I would almost rather adopt kids than have to be STITCHED UP DOWN THERE. The very thought is nauseating.

    At any rate, since you had to have a kid come out of you, I'm really happy you did it your way. Congratulations!

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  6. Can I just say how jealous I am that you have short labor? I was hoping mine would be shorter this time around, but it was just as long, if not longer. Thanks for sharing your experience. Charlie is a doll!

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  7. That was really interesting. If I wasn't a high risk person now, I think I would consider doing that. I'm glad things went so well.

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  8. Congratulations Cristin--Charlie is adorable. You're a trooper--I'm so glad everything went well. You look great and I know Luke is going to LOVE having a brother (if you can protect Charlie until he's big enough to protect himself).

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  9. Thanks for posting your Baby Story! Charlie is quite the handsome little man already. I'm glad that things went so smoothly and your way.

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  10. I am actually one of those people who enjoy having their babies in the hospital. Probably because mine come so quick(the last one was an hour and a half with about 5 minutes or less of pushing)that the whole experience is actually kind of enjoyable...i know, i'm a rarity. Though each one of my babies came double fast than the last, Elisabeth was 6 hours, Charles, 3 hours...so if the next comes in 45 minutes I might be having it at home too. Thanks for posting your experience.

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  11. Congratulations!I love the details too! After watching that little segment about natural birthing on your page, I'm mentally prepared and more open for anyway this kid comes out. I'm going to the hospital and planning on an epidural because my first birthing experience was great, but I do want to prepare myself in advance for another kid down the road to birth with a midwife (in a hospital). Anyhoo...You are amazing Cristin and I'm so glad your experience when just as you wanted! Can't wait to meet Charlie!

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  12. I'm so happy for you and your family! It sounds like you got just what you wanted out of the experience! Its nice when things go your way...despite the pushing! Charlie is too cute!
    p.s. I haven't had a mid-wife in the hospital but absolutely loved my hospital experience with Sarah cause my doctor rocked!

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  13. Thanks for sharing you birth experience. I always think they're fascinating, too. Charlie is absolutely adorable! I'm so happy for your family!!!

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  14. I'm so glad it worked out wonderful...wish I could be there to photograph a child where there doesn't seem to be any confusion on who the father is :) he's a cute fat baby!

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  15. That was great to hear your description. It sounds like it was such a good experince! I'm so happy that your little guy is finally here! Did Luke look really big to you after you saw him again? It's going to be fun for you guys to watch Luke grow up and be the big brother now! Enjoy! Congratulations!!

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  16. I'm glad things went so well for your labor and delivery, and most especially that you got to do it your way! That's excellent that Luke slept through it all. I take it you weren't screaming then. It was interesting to read a home birth story because it doesn't sound as strange as I thought it would.

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  17. I loved your baby story... you are amazing!! Congratulations!

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  18. I'm glad you got the birth you wanted. Charlie is so beautiful and congratulations once again!

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  19. you really were wearing a skirt? anyway if he keeps his dark hair, I think he will look just like erik's dad with that nose of his

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  20. I am still happy that you wore a skirt....

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