12.15.2011

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

. A month ago, I ventured into the realm of the one thing that really defines womanhood, childbirth.  Forget feminism movement, the desire to show that women are equal to men, you want to show toughness?  I have to say that this was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and ultimately the most rewarding.  I'm talking about Natural Childbirth of course, with no drugs. 

I never really given childbirth much thought before I found myself pregnant.  Doing research on it, I stumbled on this little documentary called "the business of being born" (ok, my sister recommended it) and I was sold on using a midwife and trying to go natural.  Being married to the military, my expenses were only paid if I went through a hospital, so I had to find a midwife who delivered at a hospital.  I found mine through the same OB-GYN office my sisters used, and they were fantastic!

I'll admit that at first I wasn't sure if I was going to make it without drugs or not, because Triage just about had me.  Later I was told that's how they seperate the girls from the women, and it sucked!  I wanted to kick the nurse in the head!  But alas, I get ahead of myself. 

My labor started four weeks earlier, with my baby shower delayed by some false preterm labor.  I thought my little munchkin's coming was immenent.  Alas, such was not the case, but when you get a false start like that, and your body adjusts to preparing itself for childbirth, you expect it to come at any moment.  I was told I probably wouldn't make my due date, but no guarantees on that.  Well, I didn't make my due date.  I missed it by 57 minutes. 

I tried natural induction methods to spur labor into gear because waiting for baby to arrive was irritating once you are given notice that her coming is 'any moment now', but the induction that ended up working was butchoring a couple roosters.  Poor Ebony and Oreo had it coming, they were tormenting my hens, and I like my hens.  They have a job to do and they are cute.  Roosters are good for meat.  When they start bullying my hens, they have to go.  So off with their heads, and two hours later I was definitely in labor. 

Of course, the stripping of my membrane might have had something to do with it as well.  I wanted to go natural with no interventions, but with me at my current state, and a mild case of gestational diabetes, well, no medicine was involved so we went ahead and proceeded with the stripping of the membranes. 

    I may have mentioned that triage was a pain in the butt.  Well, it was.  I should have labored longer at home but this being my first baby, I wasn't sure what to expect.  So off to the hospital we went, being twenty minutes from town and contractions suddenly coming four and a half minutes apart and lasting for nearly a minute.  It kind of came on quicker then I expected so I felt it was time.  Once we were in triage though, I thought I would give in to the meds, as I wasn't exactly prepared for the leg and back labor I experienced.  Thank goodness for my doula, Pam.  Because my birth plan of doing this gig via Hypnobirthing went right out the window.
    Let me tell you about my friend Pam.  She's a mother of eight with one more on the way, and she has a passion for babies and childbirth.  She was my lifesaver (along with my two sisters).  She's also a Doula, which is a birthing assistant, in a sense.  I had never even heard of a doula before a couple years ago when she helped my sister deliver her daughter, my sisters told me about her and recommended her.  Because she is pregnant, they helped out with all of the nifty little pressure points and so on, but I can't go without giving credit where credit is due.  As soon as I came out of triage, Pam was there, and she was a big support.  If you are pregnant and want to deliver naturally, get a Doula.  They are definitely worth it!
I also mentioned I had two sisters that were there to provide aid.  Having a support network of sisters, close friends, mothers, mother in laws (and the father to be of course) is awesome.  I was so grateful for them to be there.  I had an idea of what I wanted, but like I said, when you get something you aren't expecting, in my case, very intense back and leg labor, things kind of go out the window.  I used my breathing techniques I had learned to get through the process, but hypnobirthing, which is the process of getting yourself into a relaxed state of self hypnosis and having a calm, easy childbirth, well, it didn't really happen for me. 
I labored as much as I could in the tub, walking the halls, Pam played Drill Doula with me and had me speed walking and doing lunges and squats out in the hallway, bouncing away on the delivery ball, anything to relieve the pain.  For leg labor, I'll tell you, walking helps.  Also the little pressure point on my feet that my mom found and relieved instantly.  That little spot was gold!  But when it finally came to a point where i was basically not making any progress, my midwife suggested we speed things up by breaking my water, which had not broken yet.  That did the trick.  But then, the relief I had gotten from soaking in the tub wasn't there anymore.  Well, for that matter, the fact that I had to lay on my back in the tub wasn't helping either.  So I waited until I was ready to bear down and bring this baby into the world on my hands and knees.
I am very grateful for my husband, Gus.  However, when it comes to child birth, he was a little lost, as he went through the hypnobirthing class wiht me and that went right out the window.  He soon discovered that his laboring wife had no sense of humor and didn't want to be touched.  My mom said she was surprised he made it out of the delivery room with his head still attached.  Poor Gus, I appeared to have a lot of patience considering the circumstances with everyone BUT him.  I think it's also related to the fact that he was the odd one out, he was the only guy in the room and everyone else had been there done that.  They knew what to expect.  And he kept joking about jumping on the damn horse to spur labor along.  I was not amused.  

It's amazing how your thoughts go through your head.  You may be the most modest and unassuming person in the world, but when you are in the middle of delivering a baby, you don't care if somebody is livestreaming your crotch on the internet, you just want the baby out!  Once bearing down begins, the mood completely changes.  The lights come out, the scrubs come on, and everyone is waiting for the inevitable arrival of that little someone.  Nobody is more eager for that arrival than you.  And you do what ever feels comfortable to get there.  I bore down on my hands and knees at first, but then transitioned to on my back, and it actually worked quite well for me.  I was actually a little surprised.  I was told it took about twenty minutes of pushing to get that munchkin out.  It felt like a lot longer then that. 

As I was bearing down, what felt right was the scene you see in movies of the woman screaming.   I thought they made it a little dramatic, what do you know, for me it worked!  I had no drugs in my system whatsoever, and being vocal actually helped!  So I went ahead and let it out.  My midwife warned me about the "ring of fire", yeah, that's a good name for it.  I was also apparently a little to eager to get my little bundle of joy out of my womb and into my arms because I apparently tore like crazy.  I was told to reach down and grab my daughter and take her in my arms, and I was still in a state of disbelief that I had actually undergone the transition into motherhood as i stared at my baby and tried to wrap my brain around what just happened.

I may have been in shock as well, as soon as my baby was born I was given drugs and being stitched back up on account of heavy bleeding.

 But in the end, meeting a tiny, healthy, perfect little girl that was a little bit of me and a little bit Gus made the whole experience worth it.  And to say that I was actually able to endure the process until the very end, I can't describe how empowering it actually made me feel to be able to say that I did that.  If you can endure childbirth, you can endure just about anything.  What truly makes a woman a woman?  This right here, the ability to nurture within your womb a tiny little seed of life and bring it to term, then introducing that person into the world.  It is a distinctly female trait, and with modern medicine, to do it naturally (though with the tearing, thank goodness for modern medicine) is even more empowering still.  A woman's body is distinctly built to do this very task, to bring that child to life and nurture and provide for it's needs and I think that is absolutely amazing.  I have never appreciated that fact until i did it myself. 
 It's nice to finally meet you, Babe.  We have the rest of our lives to get to know each other, and I look forward to the adventure.