Monday, July 24, 2006

Homebirth 101

As a homebirth mom, I've received many questions and comments regarding my birthing choices. I realize that people are often naturally curious about birthing choices that seem to be outside the "norm". Unfortunately, however, many people are caught so off-guard that they end up coming back with something unintentionally offensive (at least I hope it's unintentional). Others bluntly pass judgment without care for reflection and certainly not with any thought for actual truth.

So, if I may step up on my soap box for just a moment, I'd like to share with you a website that answers a few homebirthing questions:
But What If...? Questions Commonly Asked of Homebirth-ers

Friday, July 21, 2006

Mother of Two

Today is Day 3 "on my own" with both girls, and we're all still alive and in one piece! :) Everyone says that having a baby will change your life forever. That is certainly true, but, in some ways, at least from my own experience, I would say that having a second child changes your life even more than having the first one does. The adjustment has certainly been greater.

Eliana has been adjusting beautifully. I've been so pleased (Thank you, God!). Even with her grandmother now gone she is doing well. She loves her baby sister and is such a little mama to her. It just warms my heart to see her hugging, kissing and petting little Evangeline.

I am so thrilled to have two little girls! We had our first outing today at the park, just Mommy and the girls (and we're still all alive and in one piece!). I told Chris that going out with one of the girls is like going out with a friend, but going out with two girls is like having a party! Sure, it takes 4 times (not 2, mind you, but 4) the time and effort to pack up the car and get out of the house, but think of all the fun we'll have!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Evangeline Azalia's Hypno/Water/Home Birth

We left for a social gathering in our neighborhood around 5:00 PM on July 4th. Just after arriving, I began to take more notice of the contractions I had been having (for days). I was feeling that downward pressure-in-my-bottom feeling with each contraction, and it was like a little light bulb going off in my head, "Oh yeah – I remember this!" After timing a few surges at about 7 minutes apart I whispered to Chris, "I’m in labor." We remained at the party until about 7:30, when I was having more difficulty being discreet during surges and not feeling at all sociable anymore.

Upon arriving home, Chris started getting Eliana ready for bed and I began to get things ready for the birth. My body didn’t stand too much of that. It let me know rather quickly that all hustle and bustle would now cease. I managed to tuck in Eliana and tell her goodnight, and we informed her that the baby would be coming tonight and that she could meet her in the morning.

After that, I retreated to my bedroom and told Chris, "I want my tub." He began to get it ready around 9:10 while I labored on the bed. It took all my effort at that point to focus and concentrate on my breathing during surges. I started feeling somewhat anxious about my ability to do HypnoBirthing. I was doing fair at the moment, but my breathing already had great strain in it, and I couldn’t imagine keeping it up through anything much more intense. Looking back at it now, after the fact, I can honestly say that this part of labor was more difficult than "transition" was in the tub.

Jenny, my midwife (who was also my HypnoBirthing instructor), was called around 9:30. I finally decided that I should try sitting on the toilet, but it took me a few more contractions to get up the nerve to actually move. After sitting on the toilet for a while I inquired about the tub. Chris said it was almost half-way full, and the next moment I was making my way to it.

Upon entering the water (around 10:15), I let out a huge sigh of relief. Another surge soon began, but I breathed through it easily. The pain-relieving effects of the water were so great that I remember telling Chris, "Who needs an epidural when there’s water?" My confidence level skyrocketed. I kept listening to my HypnoBirthing CDs and concentrated on breathing slowly and deeply during surges, relaxing every part of my body. I reclined against the back of the tub a lot and would let my arms float freely in the water during surges. When I became uncomfortable, I moved freely and easily in the water to my newly adopted position. I had labored in the water with my first child, but it had been in a hard feeding trough, and though the water had still had a wonderful soothing effect, I never could find a comfortable position. Being in a soft, padded birthing tub made all the difference in the world.

Jenny arrived around 11:00 PM. She checked the baby’s heartrate and said it was good. All sense of time was really lost on me after that. I continued to go deeper into relaxation and really got "in the zone". My CD cut off, but I didn’t bother telling Chris to restart it. I had affirmations and visualizations freely floating through my mind.

I did not know this until after the fact, but, around 1:00 AM (just an hour before the actual birth), my midwife came back in the room to check on me and found Chris and my mother asleep on the floor. I looked so calm and relaxed that she believed I, too, was asleep and that my labor and stalled. She was about ready to check me and go home until things "picked up" again.

That, however, did not happen. I finally became uncomfortable in my reclined position, as the baby was starting to move down and put more pressure on my lower back and tailbone. I moved to sit on my knees with my legs spread, facing the tub rim with my arms and head supported. Breathing began to require an extra level of concentration, and I began to feel squirmy, unable to find a position to stop this new uncomfortable sensation down low. I just couldn’t believe the baby was actually moving down. "Surely not," I thought. "It hasn’t gotten bad enough yet."

Jenny began to talk to me, as I struggled to keep control over my breathing. "Let it be big," she said. "Let it be so big." I finally said that I wanted to know where the baby was. She checked me and said, "The baby is right here (in the birth canal)." I soon began to feel the urge to bear down and decided to adopt the on-my-knees position by the rim of the tub again. I finally began to vocalize some during surges, as I released tension and followed my body’s cues to bear down, but it was still nothing terribly loud or traumatic-sounding. I simply needed to release some of that "huge sensation" somewhere. I continued to breathe, even during the pushing. I simply followed my body’s lead. It was very empowering.
At 2:00 AM, my bag of waters released and took me quite by surprise. Soon after, Jenny was encouraging Chris to feel the baby’s head and prepare to receive the baby. As the baby crowned, I began to feel a small burning sensation in an isolated area, but not the "ring of fire" that I had experienced with my first. A minute or so later the head was out. I remember wanting to hold my baby so badly that I kept saying, "My baby! My baby!" I wanted to receive the baby myself, so I scooted backwards to the middle of the tub, still on my knees, and pushed the shoulders out. Chris supported the head, and I reached down into the water and pulled the baby out and onto my chest, leaning back against the tub. Official time of birth was 2:08 AM on July 5.
Words cannot describe the feelings experienced in that moment of time just following the birth. What sense of empowerment, relief, joy and overwhelming love!

The cord was short and did not allow me to see the baby’s gender, as the water was high and the baby was held on the side and covered with a towel. Turning the baby enough to see the gender would have required submerging, so draining of the tub began. It was probably a good 10-15 minutes after the birth that I finally took a peek and announced, "We have a girl!"
It took the baby a few minutes, but she quickly latched on and nursed like a pro! She nursed more that first night than Eliana did in her first few days of life!

The baby weighed in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce and measured 20" long. She had had ZERO molding and had a head the size of a 9-pounder, but I only have a few "skid marks". I’ve gotten very little sleep, but, otherwise, I am recovering quite nicely.

I am so very pleased with this birthing experience and feel that I must recommend water and HypnoBirthing to anyone out there pursuing a natural birth. This is coming from someone who really struggled with accomplishing hypnosis in practice. The smarty-pants man and the chattering monkeys in my head never like to shut-up. When the time came, however, I went way off the deep end, even fooling the midwife into thinking I was asleep. It really was a great experience for me, and I thank God for it.

We named our daughter Evangeline Azalia. Evangeline has a Greek origin meaning "good news". Azalia is Hebrew for "spared by Jehovah", in remembrance of the heart-wrenching time earlier in my pregnancy when we thought we would lose her and in memory of her twin, whom we did lose.