Monday, May 17, 2010
Tales: Jack's Birth Story- You Better Work!
I remember the day I figured out I was pregnant with Jack. I was out at a meeting for a parenting group and I got a tell-tale headache. The longer it got between eating the worse the headache got. I took a pregnancy test as a formality. Of course, it was positive.
My pottery studio had been closed for nearly a year which meant less income but more time to rest. The resting helped with the nausea. I never even threw up with this pregnancy.
My last two homebirths had been paid for with tax refund money. In fact, both times the checks arrived the day of the birth. This time we wouldn't be getting a refund. We thought about our various options. I did not want to be in a hospital to give birth. After two homebirths there was no way I was going back.
We thought about a birth center but with my history of fast labors and no car that didn't seem right either.
We also considered an unassisted homebirth. Frank was excited about the idea after he caught Lillian. We bought a book on unassisted childbirth and a copy of Emergency Childbirth.
I knew that having to think too much in labor, rather than letting myself go, resulted in pain in labor for me. The only way I could let go enough would be to have my midwife there. We decided that we wanted to have the same midwife who attended our first two homebirths.
We needed to find a way to pay for the birth. We held a fundraising baby shower through Unique Baby Boutique. Guests bought us things we needed and we got a portion of the sales. It didn't amount to much though, nowhere near enough.
I had started setting up exhibit booths at conferences and events back when I still had my pottery studio so I continued after the store closed. This year I again set up at the Partners in Perinatal Health conference. It is an amazing conference unlike any other I've exhibited at. This year was especially amazing because Ina May Gaskin was the keynote speaker. She signed one of my hand painted pregnant pitchers!
I also set up an exhibit booth at the La Leche League of MA/RI/VT Area Conference to sell slings and my custom pottery. It was at that conference that I met Melinda Rothstein at a booth she had set up for DiaperFreeBaby, an organization supporting families practicing Elimination Communication (EC). After ECing Lillian from birth until her "graduation" to toilet independence at 1 1/2 years, I was excited to meet other ECers.
When I was about 37 weeks I set up our carnival size popcorn machine to sell popcorn at the local Earth Day festival. It was a rainy year but we were initially set up outside. When they made the call to move us inside I was already popping popcorn and I didn't even have anyone to help me move the huge machine. I waited for a festival worker to come help me move inside as I continued to pop popcorn in the rain. Finally when someone came to help, it was too close to the end of the event to set up inside. I didn't make much money, especially for the amount of effort it took.
In the end it was family that came through with funds to pay for our homebirth, especially my in-laws. It was so heartwarming to me that they cared so much about us. I am still grateful to this day. I am also grateful to our midwife for giving us a discount to make it more affordable.
If you read Lillian's Birth Story, you know that Frank was under the impression that I could control when my water broke by this time. So, the Monday evening when I was at 39 weeks Frank requested that my water not break between 9-10pm because he wanted to watch 24. I laughed and said that I had no control over that but I'd see what I could do.
That night after the kids were asleep and Frank was just getting settled downstairs to watch 24, I relaxed doing some light yoga on my bed to try to relieve the agonizing rib cage pain on my left side. I was in a modified child's pose when I felt an unbelievable sensation and heard a loud "pop". I'm still not sure which came first- Jack moving causing my water to break or my water breaking causing Jack to move rapidly down. Whichever it was it was an incredible sensation.
I called for Frank while enormous amounts of amniotic fluid gushed out. Frank, relaxing and feeling confident that he had at least an hour uninterrupted, tried to get up to run upstairs. He wouldn't normally try to rush so fast for just my water breaking but he must have heard the urgency in my voice after the startling way my water broke. Unfortunately, his foot had fallen asleep and he wasn't able to get upstairs as fast as the rest of his body wanted to. It was about 9:30pm.
We called our midwife and my aunt and started to do all the things we needed to do to prepare for the birth. I sat on the office chair in our bedroom with a chux pad under me while Frank put the plastic sheets on the bed (he would never put them on beforehand because he hated the feeling of them while he slept).
My aunt, midwife, and assistant midwife all arrived pretty quickly. For some reason CSI Miami was on the TV and my aunt kept commenting on how cute she thought David Caruso was. We had a water bell fountain set up in the room.
Lillian had just started sleeping in her own bed in the next room with her sister and she woke up several times during the labor. Frank had to continually leave to put her back to sleep. The rest of the kids stayed asleep.
The labor was moving pretty quickly and I felt like I was just about ready to push only the urge wasn't that strong. Something didn't feel quite right and doubt was starting to set in. My midwife, who had not done an internal exam with my other two homebirths, checked to see how dilated I was. I was just about fully dilated with just a "lip" to go. I remembered from my first birth that I did not want it to be manually pushed open during a contraction. So I continued to labor without pushing until the urge got really strong.
I think Jack must have been in a slightly odd position because the pushing took longer than my other babies. I had to work much harder too. My midwife commented on how strong and powerful I was while pushing. I felt that way too. I wasn't feeling pain and more than any other birth all my energy was channeled into pushing. No pain, just work.
I was in my usual spot and position- semi-reclining on my husband's side of the bed. The assistant, who had never attended one of my births before, asked if I wanted to try some other positions. My midwife, who knew me well by now, knew that this was my preferred place and position.
As he started to crown, my aunt commented on his red hair. Frank wasn't sure if she was joking or not because he was expecting dark hair like our other babies. Frank commented on how big his head was. He also had the cord around his neck like Frankie.
The first thing Frank noticed was his unbelievably beautiful umbilical cord. It was truly amazing! It looked silvery-white and had prominent bluish-purple veins that looked like pearls. The midwives loved his cord too. Our midwife explained that it was the way it formed in utero and it was rare.
As usual for me, it took a little while to birth the placenta. I had to give a few coughs and a few little pushes to coax it out. It was just as amazing as Jack's cord. It looked like a beautiful tree. My midwife spent about an hour making beautiful placenta prints.
When Jack was a couple months old I thought about going to a DiaperFreeBaby meeting. I checked out their website and found information on becoming a Mentor. I filled out an online application. I went to a meeting while I was waiting for my application to be processed.
I couldn't believe how many other families were at the meeting. There was a NY Times photographer there too.
DiaperFreeBaby. Once I became a Mentor, I noticed a lot of other Mentors needed media relations support. My father is a news photographer and I had just attended a PR and media relations workshop. I started offering tips to other Mentors and I created PR resources for our Yahoo! Group.
About a month later, the NY Times article came out and a People magazine article. I had also done an interview for a local newspaper. More and more media requests came in. DiaperFreeBaby did the morning talk shows- the Today Show, Good Morning America, the Early Show. I continued to offer advice and support. I was then asked if I would be the Communications Manager for the organization.
It was so busy at the time that I would spend 12 hours a day at the computer coordinating media pieces. I nursed and pottied Jack at the computer. He slept on my lap or in the bed a few feet away. I ate all my meals at the computer. If I left to go to the bathroom I'd come back and have 10 more emails in my inbox. It was a very exciting time and I learned a lot about media relations and PR.
Jack is 5 years old today as I write this. Happy Birthday Jack Jack!