george’s birthday

10 Jun

I’ve told George’s birth story more times than I care to count. At times I’ve been shy to share it because I truly feel that it was the ideal experience, and this is not in line with what most people consider to be “normal” for women, for childbirth. I can’t commiserate with those who had 70-hour labors or eventual c-sections, who say that childbirth is totally miserable but worth it. I came out of the experience wanting to do it again. Not eventually, right away. I say this not to be a braggart, but because I am coming to realize that it bears saying, and repeating. Women do not need to fear childbirth the way we’re taught to. Of course, some people will say I make these statements from a pretty sweet position, and I do. I was lucky, but I also let my body do its job, and was rewarded.
Three days before I gave birth, I looked like this:
We spent the day before I went into labor (and, coincidentally, the day George was born) in Anacortes for Jess Lynch’s craft fair at the Adrift. It was a long, tiring but fun endeavor and as the fair wound down, it began to snow. Hard. Beautiful, big white flakes. The first (and, it turned out, last) snow of the Winter. I was momentarily excited, then remembered we had to drive home. We quickly said our goodbyes, Jess ushered us out the door and we made it home as the snow started to slow. We walked in, lit the Hanukkah candles and crashed.
At 2:45 I woke up with what I thought was mild cramping, no big whoop. I woke Nathan to say I was getting in the shower for some relief. All the ladies I had asked about labor told me I would know when real contractions hit. Without a doubt. YOU WILL KNOOOWWWW, they said. Ominously. I did not KNOOOOWWWW, so I figured this was not “it.” Like a fool, I parked the iPod outside the shower and tried to time what I had decided were not-really-contractions. I am still shocked that the iPod survived my waterlogged hands reaching out every two (that’s right, TWO) minutes to restart the timer.
When I got out of the shower it was about 3:30. I told Nathan to call Winni, our midwife, who told me to try to get some sleep and call her in the morning. We both assumed I was mis-timing the not-really-contractions.
I was experiencing what I’d consider fair-to-middlin’ menstrual cramps, so I took to walking laps around the livingroom, into the bedroom, and back. In about 45 minutes, those “fair-to-middlins” turned into “okay, ouches” and almost immediately thereafter turned into hi I am having a baby right here in the living room. We called Winni back and she told us to GO NOW.
So — somehow, in all my preparation, I had not completely packed a bag. My bag, inexplicably, contained graham crackers, a note to “remember the popsicles,” a pair of hilariously impractical underwear, a nursing tanktop and two outfits for the baby. Nathan cobbled together an outfit for me, helped me into some pants and my coat and I went outside to stand in the cool night while Nathan put stuff in the car. The air was so incredibly refreshing, and I realized that I was having a snow baby, just as I had predicted. Poor Nathan’s mantra during that car ride was “don’t push; please don’t push.” I must’ve looked like the stereotypical lady in labor, huffing and puffing to make the urge to push lessen. For the record: nothing can make the urge to push go away. Not all the movie-style breathing in the world.
We walked into the birth center and Eloisa, the midwife who miraculously temporarily lived in the basement, appeared to welcome us into our candle-lit, warm and cozy room. There wasn’t much time for pleasantries. We said hi, she told me to strip and she checked me — 100% effaced, 100% dilated, ready to go. She started the tub water and I got the go-ahead to push. NOTHING in my life has ever felt physically better. I eased myself into the water and any pain I had been feeling was gone. The pressure of the baby was there, but the relief of the freedom to push and the soothing warm water made everything better. Eloisa was invisible to me as I pushed; she was just an encouraging voice from somewhere behind us, telling me I was doing well. A few pushes later, I felt her put pressure on my perineum and she told me the baby was crowning. One more push and he was out; 20 minutes of pushing, total. As Eloisa capped him, sucked out his nose and mouth and put him on my chest, Winni burst in, having been slowed down by the snowy roads, missing the birth by only a few minutes. It was 6:08am, about 4 hours after the first signs of labor.

I won’t go into detail, but after he was born I bled a lot, I had a small tear. But I never felt like I was in anything less than completely capable hands.

We hung out in bed, called around, sent photos from our phones. Winni got me some tea and we chatted about What the Heck Fest. We got the (still unnamed) baby dressed, and headed out about noon, into the gorgeous, clean, snowy day.

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3 Responses to “george’s birthday”

  1. Courtney Mumma June 10, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    Nothing like a good cry among strangers at the airport. Lovely. I can’t wait to spend another day with your family.

  2. cara June 10, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    beautiful birth story! and you are completely correct, there needs to more talk of how wonderful natural childbirth can be. women have been doing it forever and it can be an empowering experience. thank you for sharing with everyone.

  3. Karie Jane June 11, 2010 at 12:53 am #

    so lovely. i wanted to do that too. i was raised by a bunch of groovy moms, nobody scared of birth. i was totally prepared to let my body do it’s own thing. even two weeks after my “due” date with an aging placenta and a baby who had already taken his first poop. so then came induced labor..for a whole day. and then came the c-section. and somehow i still consider it all a wonderful experience. little george is so very sweet and i’m so glad to have met you stephanie. thanks for sharing your story.

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