The Magical, Magnificent Placenta

“If someone were to drain 1/3 of your blood or harvest one of your organs without your permission, could they go to jail? Of course they would. Even if you somehow survived, no one is allowed to take what is rightfully yours, in your body without your permission. If you test the DNA of placental blood, does it belong to the midwife? the OB? the mother? No, no and no. It belongs to your baby. It is simply not the birth attendant’s choice to rob a baby of it’s own blood. As long as the umbilical cord is pulsing, the placenta is functioning and infusing the newborn with blood, oxygen, stem cells and immunity.”

Read more at The Magical, Magnificent Placenta.

 

The birth of Henry

This post has taken some time to write. I started writing it on 1, Feb and I’m only posting it on the 4th.

First, just to get everyone up to speed, I went to a Blessingway that a friend threw for me on the 23rd (January). Shortly before it started, I started feeling not-so-great. Jon and I went to lunch and I mostly just picked at mine. I ended up eating more of his raw celery (which I ordinarily hate) than any of my own meal. We went to the Blessingway and I had a good time, I just didn’t/couldn’t really eat anything there either.

That evening at home, I got sick. I spent the next few days with gastro-intestinal issues (which can be totally normal in early labor) along with contractions. I wound up being wracked with darn near non-stop contractions for the next several days. I. Was. Miserable. I could tell from the contractions that nothing was really changing.

I finally called the midwife office on Friday (28, Jan) to see if they could check baby’s position to see if maybe that was causing the lack of progress. The midwife on call, Holly, phoned back concerned that I was not in labor, but very dehydrated. She wound up coming to our house and giving me an IV which made me feel considerably better. The contractions were few and far between. I was ecstatic. The biggest challenge now would be trying to eat (something I hadn’t done in nearly a week) and drink. I tried hard to push fluids and I tried to eat a little bit, although eating was easier said than done.

Sunday we awoke to the sounds of Elias yelling about wanting to eat. We decided to go to breakfast. Before we left home, I went to the bathroom where I attempted to pee. I had noticed during the night that I had all the symptoms of a urinary tract infection. The morning brought no relief with pain and burning. This time though, when I wiped, I noticed some bloody mucous. I decided to phone the midwife back – I had already phoned asking about what to do for a UTI – and let her know. Holly wasn’t terribly sure. She decided to phone in an antibiotic and see if things improved in 24 hours.

I honestly didn’t want to go anywhere other than right back to bed but I knew that there was no way that would happen. Everyone was starving and, when Jon’s blood sugar gets low, there is simply NO amount of reasoning with him. So, I got in the car and we set off. It wasn’t too long in the car that I became very uncomfortable. Sitting down became an impossible task. I laid the seat back as far as it would go and found some (minimal) comfort. At one point, I told Jon we needed to go back home. He reminded me that we were already pretty much there (about a mile away) and that the kids were absolutely starving. I begrudgingly agreed.

We went into the restaurant and sat down. At least, I tried to sit down. I just couldn’t get comfortable. I finally went to use the toilet. I realized that I was semi-comfortable for the first time. I felt a tiny bit pushy whilst seated on the toilet. I quickly figured out that I couldn’t stay in here forever and need to get out. I went back to the table where I tried, very unsuccessfully, to get comfortable. Finally, the pressure got to be too much and I asked Jon to give me the keys. I went to the car and laid down again, while calling Holly back. I told her that there was definitely something else going on, that I was feeling a lot of pressure between my legs. She decided to come to our house to check me out. I knew that, with her having about a 45 minute drive to our house, Jon and the kids had time to finish up their breakfasts and then we needed to get home. I texted him as such.

The ride home was the longest ride I think I’ve ever taken. Realistically, we were only about 20 minutes away from home but it felt like three hours. And then there were the endless questions from Elias and several from Ceili Fey. I thought it would never end. And then, finally, we were home. I went inside and immediately removed my clothes. Don’t ask me why, I’ve no idea. I next went upstairs and tried to lie down and get comfortable. At one point I think I almost fell asleep but then I felt that pressure again and that brought me back around very quickly. I went to the toilet and noticed blood.

I went downstairs and got straight into the birth tub. It was nice and warm and felt good. I only stayed seated for a minute or two before the pressure became too much again. The odd part was that there were never any contractions, just a great deal of pressure. I hit the button to start the jets and finally found a somewhat comfortable position kneeling in the tub and sort of leaning over the side. I had either zoned out or actually fallen asleep, I’m not certain which. I stayed like that until Holly tapped my arm and startled me back to present. She asked how I was doing and I think my answer was “not well” or something similar. She went to do something and, while she was gone, I felt very pushy again. This time I surrendered to it and started to push. The feeling went away but then came back another time or two before she returned. One of the times, I felt something pop. It momentarily frightened me until I realized that it must have been my water breaking.

At one point, while talking to Holly, I remember sort of jerking bolt upright and pushing. She kept asking me questions like did that seem to help, etc. I told her that it did a little bit, for awhile.

It was right around this point that she decided to check me in the tub – she was originally going to have me get out so she could check things out but opted to have me stay in – and, to the best of her abilities since I couldn’t stand to have her checking for too long, she determined I was actually in labor. I think that shocked her to find that I was in labor with no contractions. It wasn’t too long after that I started to feel that burning and knew that Henry was well on his way. I kept putting my hand down to see what I could feel. At one point, Holly asked me what I felt… I wasn’t sure and whined something to that effect. She told me Penny (CNM) was on her way.

It seemed like no time at all, I realized that I was feeling Henry’s head! The burning was so painful and intense that pushing wasn’t exactly a fun option, any more than not!! Shortly after that, Henry came out. Well, it wasn’t quite that simple. I recall crying out for poor Holly to “get him out of me!” which was exactly what she was trying to do. She kept (kindly) reminding me that I had to help her by pushing. Admittedly, I felt like the biggest wuss afterward.

Relief!!

Finally meeting Henry for the first time
 It seemed as though it took forever but in reality, it all took just a few minutes. Yes, minutes! After a few more moments, it was time to get out and get dried off. I remember being uncertain about actually stepping out of the tub with Henry in my arms but it was much easier than I thought it would be. Holly also let Penny know that she didn’t need to rush. 
                                                     
Enjoying Henry, skin-to-skin
The placenta stayed inside me for about 20 minutes. I just didn’t feel ready to expel it earlier. Partially because I was afraid it would hurt and I had just been through some pretty intense – albeit short – pain. With Noah (my only other natural birth), it did, although I’m not certain why. Perhaps because I tore a bit or perhaps because it was tugged… I’m honestly not sure. I know that my fear most likely contributed to the lengthiness.
After the placenta was expelled, we snuggled skin to skin for awhile. Then Jon’s parents arrived. Only Jon’s mom got to hold Henry since Holly wanted him to stay skin to skin with me as his body temp had dropped when the back door got left open as Jon and Penny’s (the other midwife) husband drained the birthing tub. 
Henry and his Grandma Marilyn
Next it came time to weigh Henry. Holly held him over the scale and asked if any of us wanted to make any guesses. Jon and I both thought he would be nine pounds and some odd ounces. He weighed in at a whopping 10 lbs 13 oz!!  Yowza. No wonder it hurt so bad!
Henry, all 10 lb 13 oz of him
No one expected him to be that big!!!! I would later learn that he holds the current record for the biggest baby caught with the midwifery center. I also found out that this was the first birth Holly attended by herself. Glad it was an easy one for her. And me.

We all reached the conclusion that if Jon and I have any more children, we’ll be having home births without a doubt because we probably won’t have time to get anywhere if we wanted to.

Shortly after that my father and Connie arrived. They stayed with me while Jon, his parents and the kids (sans Henry, of course) ran up the road to grab a quick supper. It was nice to have a few moments of quiet. Even though the kids were upstairs for nap/quiet time during Henry’s birth and shortly thereafter, I was definitely aware of their presence. 

I have no regrets. Home birth was the best choice we could have made. I only wish we had done it sooner. The only thing I would have liked to have had differently was to have Jon a little more attentive as I was in labor. I think he had had some many false alerts that he was expecting this to be yet another one. Heck, even Holly had thought about not packing her birth kits when she headed out but changed her mind at the last moment. It would have been nice to have him rubbing my back or holding me. I think toward the end he was a bit freaked out. I know I was a little because of the speed at which things were happening. 

I did learn that faster is not necessarily better. When I had Noah, I had contractions all day so my body had time to get used to things and work up to birth. This time around there were just no contractions (on the day of Henry’s birth) so my body had no time at all to prepare. The best part? Besides a baby, of course, was that I barely tore at all. Just one tiny place that was so insignificant it didn’t even require stitches. Yay!!

On epidurals

I just found an interesting abstract on epidurals… I’d like to read the whole thing and may have to break down and buy the issue of Midwifery Today so that I can. It basically sums up epidurals as being given so much because a woman’s friends are doing it and likens anesthesiologists to drug pushers.

This year, about two million women will get an epidural legally, but hopefully not lethally, in the US. As a result, about eight of them will never walk unassisted again. In Westernized countries, roughly 50–70% of birthing women have epidurals for pain relief. Research on who gets an epidural and why draws a profile very similar to the people who were taking drugs in the ’70s. Most women are getting epidurals because their friends are doing it.(1) In a recent, large study of epidural users, the most often cited factor in deciding to have an epidural was having heard about positive experiences from friends and family. Having already had children and having fear of the side effects of an epidural each reduced the odds of choosing one by half. In other words, the older or wiser women get, the more they avoid the epidural trip. Overall, those who did not choose an epidural reported wanting to be in control and having more confidence in their ability to tolerate labor pain.(2)

Go here to read more of the abstract.

After having an epidural, I knew immediately I never wanted another. I didn’t appreciate not being able to feel anything at all during the experience. I did not like not being able to move. I didn’t like the feel of the nurse and my husband holding onto my legs in an effort to “help” me push the baby out. Above all, I didn’t care anything for the fact that, even since that epidural, I’ve had countless issues with my bladder. I would only learn after the fact that that’s a pretty common side effect of epidural.

Not to mention the obvious factors of risk to baby and the fact that, after a cesarean, it’s vitally important to not have an epidural because, in the rare event of a uterine rupture the woman will never know, thereby posing a much larger risk of death. Definitely a risk I do not care to take.

Birth supplies

I just placed the order for the birth supplies that we’ll need. I purchased from In His Hands Birth Supply. Here’s my list: witch hazel, mesh panties, overnight pads, mattress cover, plastic covering (for the floor), 30×36 underpads, peri bottle, peri cold packs. I also found a place called Midwifery Mercantile that carries those huge 17″ postpartum pads just like the hospital gives you!

I’m trying to get excited about everything again. It’s hard because after the whole where’s the placenta thing along with the blood pressure, I’m really kind of freaked out. I want this home birth so bad but I’m terrified that something will risk me out of it.

A tale of two births

All this talk about babies – okay, okay, I’ve been the one doing the talking – has got me thinking. Noah’s birth was so much more peaceful and calm than Elias’.

Prenatal care
With Elias:

  • I rotated through the three doctors in the practice
  • Appointments were quick, I spent more time with the nurse than the OB
  • I was told that I was in the minority for wanting to have a VBAC
  • I never felt as though I was taken seriously
  • I did not feel cared about, as though I was just a number
  • I felt like the doctors thought they knew my body better than I did
  • I really did not like the exams
  • The OBs freaked out when I went past the “due date”

With Noah:

  • Appointments were longer and spent with the midwife
  • I felt listened to and believed
  • I felt cared about
  • The vaginal exams were few and far between
  • It was made clear to me that I was not in the minority for wanting a VBAC, my choice was actually encouraged
  • No one freaked out when I went past the “due date,” we discussed things and they didn’t start to worry unless we approached 42 weeks

Labor
With Elias:

  • Went to hospital waaay too early – kind of got bullied into that
  • Labor was controlled and augmented with Pitocin that was not allowed to be turned off due to threat from the doctor that she would section me if it wasn’t turned back on

With Noah:

  • Went about my day, ate, drank, lived as normal
  • I waited to go to hospital until I was feeling the need to push
  • Mostly calm environment – once we got in the room

Birth
With Elias:

  • I was on my back with my legs being held up by my husband and a nurse
  • I felt very humiliated and embarrassed
  • The doctor told me to stop making noises when I was grunting as I tried to push
  • After I tore, Jon was shooed away from me while I was being sutured
  • The doctor sutured me up so tight that I had pain and tightness for months afterward
  • Elias was put on my chest momentarily before being whisked away

With Noah:

  • I laid on my side to push him out with Jon standing beside me
  • Noah was immediately put to my chest to feed where he stayed for some time
  • I was asked if it was okay to take him and weigh him, etc.

I attribute the difference between the two births to a number of things: The second time around I went to Nurse Midwives of Indianapolis where the Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) have views on birth that closely match my own, i.e. if it ain’t broke….

Also, we went to Methodist where the nurses are much more accustomed to seeing natural birth, unlike when we were at Clarian North. Clarian North would be later described to me as “perfect” for those moms who don’t want to mess their makeup.

I also read a lot. I re-read a lot of the books that I had read – or skimmed – before. I especially enjoyed reading Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and Penny Simkin’s The Birth Partner. I do firmly believe that both books played a large part in my having the natural birth I wanted.

If I do it again, I would like to consider a home birth. I definitely would want a water birth, regardless of where it would take place. But, of course, that all depends on whether or not we have another one. Now, I realize that realistically we don’t have space in our house for another person. I do get that. I have hopes – we both do – that we will be able to find some land within a few years and literally make a home for ourselves.