Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Introducing Orrin Gray

Our beautiful boy was born at home December 16th, 2009 at 7:39 PM. He was 7lbs, 8oz 20.5 inches. I am happy to say that his birth was by far the most positive and empowering experience of my life, with, of course, the greatest reward I could ever ask for.

I had my 39 week appointment on Monday the 14th, and decided to have an internal exam out of curiosity. I had been having lots of “signs” of labor for the past week, including a couple hours of painful contractions on Saturday morning, so I was hoping that something was happening. My cervix was still very high, posterior, and only a fingertip dilated, so Patricia (my midwife) thought it was likely I would make it at least until my due date, though of course anything was possible, since cervical checks don’t really mean much.

After that, I sort of relaxed and stopped thinking about labor so much. The next day, Jesse and I slept in really late and then stayed in bed together extra long. We were both really tired all day (despite our extra sleep) and aside from cleaning the house, we spent a lot of time just relaxing. I started noticing some strong, but painless contractions around the middle of the day, but I figured they were just from the bending and stretching I had been doing while cleaning.

For dinner, we decided to try combining some of the foods that are rumored to encourage labor, just for fun—so we had pizza with pineapple and added some basil and oregano. I was still having contractions, which seemed to be coming pretty frequently, but I didn’t bother timing them. I had spent so much time thinking that something was about to happen that I was really trying to accept the idea of being pregnant another week. At some point, I fell asleep and the contractions continued. I slept pretty restlessly, and in all of my dreams I was definitely in labor.

At around 4 am, I was woken up by a contraction that was officially painful. I had to get up a few times after that to go to the bathroom, where my bowels seemed to be cleaning themselves out. The contractions were continuing, and I was at the point where I was squirming through them, but I was still unconvinced. After the similar episode on Saturday, I figured it was another false alarm. I got in the shower to see if they would go away, but they continued to be really strong and uncomfortable and were noticeably following a pattern.

After that, I decided to stay up and start timing them on the handy iphone app I had downloaded the week before. They were an average of 5 minutes apart and not letting up, so at around 6, I started to alert the “birth team”—my midwife and my mom. I was still skeptical that this was it, so both of them said they would check with me again in an hour. I tried to eat some oatmeal and kept timing contractions, which quickly increased to every four minutes. By the time an hour had passed, they were getting stronger as well, so everyone started mobilizing.

I was still in disbelief, and worried that Patricia would drive the hour or so out to us and everything would stop, but she seemed pretty confident that this was the real deal. At some point as she was on her way, she called to tell me that she was driving right into a rainbow. I found that so significant, since subsequent pregnancies after loss are often referred to as rainbow babies in the baby loss community. They are the rainbow that comes after the storm of losing a baby—and this boy has certainly brought a sort of beauty to our lives that did not exist before.

My mom showed up first, with snacks, vitamin water, and bags packed. I was so happy to see her, and she quickly got me to start listening to my Hypnobabies scripts, as the contractions were getting more and more intense. It was hard to focus on at first, since I felt so normal in between contractions and still wanted to socialize with her and Jesse. I took bits and pieces of it to work through the pain at first---I noticed a huge difference in the pain when I focused on relaxing my face, hands, and pelvic floor, and of course focusing on “open, open, open.”

Patricia and her apprentice, Kailia showed up around 10:30, and I immediately noticed a decrease in contractions, which she said was totally normal. They took my vitals and listened to baby, and I decided to have an exam for curiosity’s sake. My cervix was still high and posterior, so we knew we still had a ways to go. They decided to go out to breakfast and let me labor awhile without them.

After they left, the contractions picked up again almost immediately. I labored on the birth ball, and then with the birth ball under my butt as I leaned over the recliner, surrounded by pillows. We put Hypnobabies back on, and I started focusing on it more seriously. Jesse and my mom were bringing me whatever I needed, but I was slowly becoming less aware of what was going on around me. The contractions were much easier to handle when I was in my “zone” and really able to focus on relaxing.

At one point, after a particularly strong contraction, I had a really big cry. I had been feeling tears bubbling up here and there and knew I just needed to get it out. There wasn’t really any specific thought behind it, I was just overwhelmed with emotion. Undoubtedly it was part grief over my last birth experience, part joy that we had reached this moment, and a little bit of fear and anxiety over everything that could still go wrong. Once I got it out, though, I was really able to move past it and think positively.

After a couple hours or so, I had moved to the couch and was really having to breathe and focus through each wave. At some point, I had a couple right on top of one another, and my mom decided to call the midwives to let them know that things were progressing. They headed back over, and this time, the contractions did not let up when they arrived.

Kailia came over to listen to the baby, who was consistently sounding great. I had another big contraction and then felt a pop and a gush as my water broke! For some reason, it wasn’t really until this point that I actually started to believe I was in labor. We stuck a towel between my legs and I waddled to the bathroom to let the rest of the fluid out in the toilet. There was some light meconium staining, which worried me a little, but Patricia wasn’t concerned.

I thought about taking a shower, but there was no hot water since Patricia and Kailia had already started filling the pool, so I headed back to the couch for awhile. I had no concept of time anymore at this point, it was all about breathing and/or “singing” through each contraction until the next break. When the pool was ready, the walk from the living room to the bedroom seemed extremely long. My mom walked with me, pausing two separate times as I had to lean against the wall and try to relax through the pain.

The water was amazing. I don’t know how people labor without it! It was awesome to be able to move into different positions without so much gravity. I seemed to want to be up on my knees with my legs spread apart most of the time. Things started to get really intense pretty soon after getting in, and I started to find new ways to work through it. Jesse was an amazing support. At one point, I would sit up, hold his hands, and pull against him through each contraction—his poor arms got so tired! He would also hold my head up during the breaks.

After some time and a ton of really intense contractions, I started to feel really tired and ready for it all to be over. I remember thinking, “awesome! I must be in transition!” Patricia said the worst I ever said was “I don’t like this anymore.” I never felt like I couldn’t do it, just that I wanted to be done. I was so consciously aware of what was going on in my body and was thinking totally logical things in my head, but I was very much inside myself, if that makes sense. In between contractions sometimes I would look around and realize that everyone was just sitting around me, waiting.

Soon it started to feel better to push with contractions, but Patricia advised me to wait until my body was bearing down on it’s own, just in case I had a little bit more dilating to do. Soon enough, I could do nothing but push, and the contractions were less painful and felt more productive. I seemed to feel him at my tailbone for a long time and when he finally moved down past that point, I started to get impatient.

I pushed for what seemed like forever. I have no idea how long it actually was. He seemed to move down a little bit and then move back up. When I was finally able to feel his head with my fingers, I got more determined. Crowning was the hardest part of the entire labor for me, as I felt like I was going to tear badly towards the front. I hesitated while his head was about halfway through, and Patricia told me to just push past the pain. I think I screamed a little bit, but I did it, and suddenly his head was out! She saw “cords” around his neck, so she got behind me as I pushed again and his body slid out. Orrin Gray was born at 7:39 PM! She spun him out of his cord, which was around his neck twice, and then pushed him under me so Jesse and I could pull him out of the water.
He came out of the water crying, but quieted down really quickly when we started talking to him. It was such an amazing moment to finally hold this baby who we had waited so long for. At the same time, I was still sort of in shock and so relieved that the labor was over, it was hard to process that this was actually our baby! We stayed in the tub awhile—he was really alert and spent a lot of time staring at us. He also pooped for the first of what would be many times over the next few hours.

I got out of the pool to wait for the placenta, which I eventually pushed out into a bowl. I was amazed at how much lighter I felt afterwards. It was pretty surreal to NOT be pregnant anymore. Instead of cutting the umbilical cord, Patricia used two beeswax candles to burn it. In traditional Chinese medicine, they believe we are only born with so much chi, and some of it is supposedly held in the placenta. Burning the cord is supposed to draw the rest of the chi back into the baby. There is also something in the cord that sometimes pops and blows out both the candles, which happened pretty quickly with Orrin’s cord.

After he was officially his own person, the midwives did the newborn exam. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces (after about 3 poops!), and was 20.5 inches long. They heard an arrhythmia in his heart initially, which scared us a little, but it was thankfully gone by the 24 hour visit.

I had some minor tearing and ended up with 4 stitches—a small price to pay for my beautiful, healthy boy and a perfect birth. After stitching me up, the midwives started cleaning up…including emptying the pool by hand with large pots (Patricia forgot her pump)! After they were done and we had all eaten some dinner, they headed home and left us in bed with our new little bundle.

I’m so thankful to have had the birth experience we wanted and planned for. I’ve had people ask me skeptically if the Hypnobabies program actually worked when it came down to it, and I can honestly say that it was an invaluable part of my experience. I can’t say it was completely pain free, but it definitely put me in a mindset that made it much easier to deal with. I am totally sold on it’s effectiveness, and I will be recommending it to everyone I know!

The first three weeks of Orrin’s life have been a whirlwind and I can’t believe how quickly time is already passing. He is an amazing little being who has already brought so much joy to our lives. Not to mention he is incredibly easy going and really only cries when he’s hungry. He nurses like a champ, and had already surpassed his birth weight at his 1-week visit. I am so looking forward to watching him grow…it’s an amazing feeling to be a mother!


Hope said...

Oh Aleina-I'm so happy for you! It sounds like you had an amazing birth experience! I'm so glad!
Orrin is adorable! Congrats!

Hope's Mama said...

Beautiful, beautiful birth story. Amazing. I love the idea about the candles - I've never heard of that before.
Congratulations and well done. Orrin is simply divine.

Googies Girl said...

Aleina - I'm in Tears!!! What a beautiful birth story. I am just so happy for you!! I can't wait to follow along and watch him grow!
I was actually very skeptical about hypnobabies - so thank you for your honest opinion about the program. It seems like it was a major positive!!
Sending you a big congratulations!!!!

Hi, my name's Alisha. said...

thank you for sharing your birth story! orrin is so beautiful. isaiah and i can't wait to meet him.

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!