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Full Moon Babe
my son's birth story
My son is a child of the full moon.  The full moon's presence hallmarked significant passages of his prenatal life.  He was conceived in the warm full moonlight of April.  I marked the passing of my pregnancy every month when it again filled the sky. 

Then there was the tenth full moon of my baby's gestation.  I gazed up at it through the arcadia door- that cold, silvery January moon.  I remember thinking that my belly was as big and round as that that moon.  I sighed, wondering when the birth of my baby would be.  This day had been my due date.  I felt emotionally soft, swollen, and sensitive this day, just as my cervix probably was at that moment.  My husband was very perceptive of my feelings, and made a dinner of my favorite foods.  As I gazed up at the sky, Rod gently told me that dinner was ready.  I lumbered over to the table, feeling very heavy, and feeling the fatigue of every muscle in my feet, legs, back, and neck.  I ate two bites of my food, but my body told me not to eat anymore.  I husband stopped me and said he would put my plate in the refrigerator for when I wanted it.

After the food was put away, I made my way to the bathroom.  As I sat on the toilet, another contraction started.  I thought very little about it until the time came when I expected the peak.  The peak didn't happen, and instead, the contraction took on a new quality, while getting stronger than I had ever felt.  I felt my eyes get big and round, and I grabbed the edge of the sink and started my relaxed breathing.  I had been practicing my relaxed breathing and relaxing my muscles with the braxton-hicks contractions of the past four weeks, but I really seemed to need it now.  When the contraction was over, my palms were sweaty.  There was blood on the toilet paper, and I spun around to mucous plug was there!  Yippee!  I had renewed energy.  My husband and I danced around the toilet to celebrate it's contents.  The contractions continued this way regularly all evening, and with the advice of our o.b., we went to the hospital around midnight. 
My cervix was three centimeters dialated when we arrived at the hospital.  We were in a LDR room, and I remember feeling grateful for the quiet and privacy of the nighttime.  When I first walked into the room, I noticed that it was very warm, and I appreciated this later. 

I dreaded having the electronic fetal monitor on for those 20 minutes every hour.  It was uncomfortably tight on my belly, and the cords got in the way of my position changes.  The only comforting thing about it was hearing my son's heartbeat.  It was regular and reassuring.  I tried the squatting and standing positions first during my contractions (I was so afraid my labor would stall), but the contractions soon became too overwhelming in these positions.  I tried to slow things down a bit, and switched to all 4's, kneeling, and semisitting.  This helped a lot.

Shortly after arriving at the hospital, while confined to the bed for monitoring, I felt a warm gush between my legs at the start of a contraction.  I said nothing, but knew my water had broken.  Between contractions, I still said nothing, as I was beginning to tune out the outside world and begin my inward journey to birthing my baby.  Somehow, I knew everything was fine.  A sound in the room brought me back to the outside world a few minutes later, and I realized that I should tell someone that my water broke.  "My water broke. " I said to my husband.  He calmly nodded, and did nothing.  "Maybe we should tell the nurse"  I said.  "Oh, right" he replied.  We seemed to be on the same wavelength... we were both in tune with my labor, and almost forgot that the medical staff wanted to be informed.  It was reassuring to know that the staff was close by, but I was glad to be alone with my husband and baby. 

I remember when I sensed that my baby knew something in his enviornment was changing.  It was shortly after the nurse confirmed the presence of amniotic fluid in my sheets.  It mattered not to me that I was sitting in wet sheets, but she insisted on changing the bed.  My husband helped me stand up, and another gush of fluid came out.  As the fluid left my uterus, I felt my son's head drop a little deeper into my pelvis, and felt his body startle.  I sensed that he was really frightened, and I hugged my belly, telling him that everything was ok.

We tried to use the shower for relaxation, but could only get cold water to come out of the tap.  We let it run for a long time, but no warm water came.  I tried to get in anyway, and my husband repeatedly flushed the toilet, which gave me a few seconds of warm water.  The cold water made me tense up, and the contractions were then too overwhelming, so we stopped trying. 

At about 6 centimeters diliation, I was getting very tired.  It was about 4am now, and the contractions were overwhelming me.  The last sleep I had was a lunchtime nap the the day before, and the last meal I had was just before the nap.  I wasn't "allowed" to eat, I couldn't relax in the shower with that cold water, and touch was irritating to me at the time.  I didn't want to subject my baby to medication, but I needed to rest, and my own devices were becoming less and less effective.  I opted for a seditive, to see if would help me relax.  It was administered via IV, and it took effect immediately.  It didn't change my perception of the intensity of my labor, but it allowed me to cat nap between contractions.  Getting a few winks helped me to muster up the energy I needed for transition and the pushing stage of labor.  I felt relief and calm.  My husband said later that my legs continued to shake uncontrollably at this point, (I am told this is a sign of transition) but I didn't notice it.

As that hour continued on, I drew deep inside myself.  I was floating on the open sea under a black nighttime sky, with the glow of the full moon dancing on the waves.  There were no ships, nobody around me...just the waves and the moon.  My purpose was to keep my head above the waves, and let my body float. 

Then my doctor came in.  This brought me back to the outside world.  She checked my cervix.  7 centimeters.  She left.  I noticed that it was daybreak now.  The contractions were cascading now, one on top of another, with multiple peaks.  I remember my husband trying to help me through the contractions by watching the printout on the fetal monitor.  He would say at the contraction's first peak, "Ok, it's going down now, you made it through...oh, it's going up again."  Since I knew what was happening about 2 seconds before he did from my own sensations, his comments seemed patronizing.  I told him enough, already!

By this time, I was in bed continuously, as I had no physical energy left to do anything else but let my uterus work. I was in transition and knew it- so though I was amazed, I wasn't scared of the incredible sensations of my body.  I was concentrating on regular, deep, slow breaths, and this rythm helped me to focus and center myself.  There were a couple of times when I wondered if I could stay concious during the peaks...not because I felt faint, but because of the intensity of the contractions.   The body seems to be ready to tune out when it is truly overloaded and can't handle anymore.  I have never in my life felt so overtaken by my body before, or since, transition of labor.  But that feeling lasted only a few seconds at a time, and only for a few contractions.

I was lying on my left side, anfd rythmically breathed in, and exhaled a slow yell with each breath.  My husband just held my hand, and told me how well I was doing.  He was my one link to the outer world,  he was there to make sure I would come back from inside myself.  These were the moments that I most appreciated him.  To him, it probably looked and sounded like I was being tortured.  I know that he must have been afraid.  But he put aside his fear and stuck by me, and gave me what I needed- his love, support,  trust in the birth process, and trust that my body was birthing our baby in the way that it was meant to.  How difficult it must be for a man to see his mate at her physical, emotional, and spiritual limits...especially if this is his first baby.  This was my husband's shining moment, and my love for him is deeper now after his showing me is great committment to me and our baby. 

Like I said before, the sight and sounds from me may have appeared to be like torture from a bystander's view.   But I was experiencing something very different.  Even though transition was the most intense and difficult part of labor, I felt very much in harmony with my body as I lie there on my left side, yelling out my exhales as a part of breathing slowly and rythmically.  I wasn't being tortured, I was empowered by strength that I never knew I had!

After what seemed like a long time, (I think in reality 15 minutes had passed) I felt a different sensation at the end of my yelled exhale- a grunt.  The urge to push! The urge got stronger over the next few contractions, and was becoming overpoweringly irresistable.  I started giving a little push at the end of my yells.  I felt my son's body slide forward as I pushed.  The nurse checked me, and I was fully dialated!  she instructed me, "Wait!  Don't push!  I'll get your doctor!"  Wait???  That was the most frustrating comment I ever heard!  Both of my obs were in surgery that morning, and both popped in from time to time.  Would one of them be there to attend the birth?  The jocularity of the staff over this little scheduling problem irritated me.  I pushed some while waiting, anyway.

In what seemed like forever, my nurse tracked down one of my obstetricians.  He was the one I preferred, and I was pleased.  Then I pushed freely.  What a wonderful, awesome, feeling!  With each push, I felt my son's body sliding forwards and towards the way out.  The pushing also relieved the intense, now cramping sensations of the contractions, which over the past 25 hours grew to be maddening. 

The nurse hooked up a mirror so I could see the baby's head crowning.  I saw, then reached down to feel his little crop of black hair.  "Wow, so much hair!" the nurse exclaimed.  Then, the reality of having a baby hit me like a lightening bolt.  I remember thinking what a special moment this was in my whole life, and that there would be only a few times I would experience this again.  I was back from my inward journey of becoming a mother.  I was now experiencing this journey on a very alert and highly concious level.

The staff was glued to the fetal monitor now, to watch for the beginning of my next contraction.  As soon as it began, they were yelling like they were at a football game..."push!  push!  Hold your breath to the count of ten!"  I tried it their way once,  and got dizzy from holding my breath.  Pushing before I had the urge made me work against my body.  I had no extra breath to tell the staff this, so I tuned out their urgings.  I tried what was suggested in William and Martha Sears' The Birth Book: wait for the urge to push in the contraction, take slow, even breaths while pushing, and and take as many breaths as I needed.  Ahh, now that was better.  I was working with my body then. 

My perineum began to tear, so my ob felt an episotomy was in order.  I watched this happening through the same mirror from which I watched my baby's head emerging.  The injection of anestesia in my perineum didn't hurt- my tissue was numb from the stretching of my son's crowning head.  It felt more like a mild sting- a welcome sensation from the tremendous pressure of the baby's head coming through.  Watching my doctor cut my perineum was very unnatural..even brutal.  I read later that pushing should stop during the crowning of the head, so the head can gently stretch the perineum, and  would allow passage of the baby with minimal or no tearing.  I was urged to push as hard as I could even during crowning, and I think this is why I tore.  I wish I had this information beforehand.

Two pushes after the episotomy, my son's head was born!  I heard the sound of suctioning, and realized that the doctor was getting the mucous out of my baby's mouth and nose.  Then I heard a little was the sweetest voice I had ever heard- my boy's first breath!  He didn't cry, and he remained quiet, and his body was still inside mine.

As my son's body emerged from mine, my doctor exclaimed, "wow, this kid is a chunk!"  This was no surprise to me- I had worked my hardest the past hour to push him out.  My son was still quiet, but breathing.  My husband told me later that during this time, our baby's eyes were open, and squinting in the daylight at his surroundings.  He was looking around, and looking very bewildered.  (My son's face is always very expressive)  The doctor turned our son over for a quick assessment, and then said, "I think someone is getting upset with me"  Then my baby began to cry!

The doctor lifted my beautiful boy on to my belly.  "This is my  child?" I asked myself.  Yet, I knew it was true.  I knew I was his mother, and this was my bodily companion over the past ten moon cycles.  Someone announced the time and date of his birth: Friday, January 5, 1996 at 11:15 AM. 

 I talked to my boy as my husband and the nurse helped me cover his wet, slippery body  with blankets.  He seemed to recognize my voice, because he stopped crying when he heard it.  So I just kept talking to him...telling him how much I loved him.  Then it occurred to me...was he really a boy?  We had his gender confirmed by ultrasound, but nobody said anything when he was born.  I didn't notice, I was looking at his face.  So I threw the question out to the room.."is he a boy?"  Everyone looked at each other questioningly.  My doctor smiled (I think teasingly) and said, "Gee, I didn't look!"  We peaked under the blankets, and smiled...yes, he is a boy.

Childbirth was very transforming for me.  In that moment when I was in the bed, holdiing my newborn baby for the first time, I felt like my old self was cast off.  It was like I was standing face to face with my former self, saying goodbye.  I knew I would not fit into my old mold again.  I smiled at my husband, and took in the brown eyes of my precious little son.

also visit:

my daughter's birth story-my second birth

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