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New Moon Babe

Somewhere out there
if love can see us through
then we'll be together
somewhere out there
out where dreams come true

My daughter was conceived in October, 1999.  I always knew that we had a daughter waiting for us somewhere and sometime, and felt that this baby was probably a girl!
We really wanted this birth to be special, authentic, and empowering.  Although we have good memories of our son's birth in the hospital, there were things we definately wanted to do differently this time.  We wanted a birth attendant who viewed pregnancy as a natural and normal process.  We wanted this child to enter the world peacefully and gently in a natural birth free of medications, in order to give her the best start possible.  We wanted our baby to be handled gently and have the birth attendants honor the mother-baby-family bond.  We didn't want to be pressured to give this child potentially harmful and painful interventions.  We wanted birth to be a family event...allowing pur son to participate as little or as fully as he wanted to.  With all of this in mind, midwifery care was the best choice for us.  We choose to have our birth and prenatal care at a birth center about 75 miles from our home.

My labor can be thought of as very long, or very short, depending on how you look at it.  I had 5 days of podromal labor (start and stop patterns of contractions), followed by one incredibly powerful 3-hour active labor.  It was diffiuclt to protect myself against emotional and physical exhaustion during those 5 my emotions were running high, and I wanted to rest in order to save my energy for when the most intense work of birthing needed to be done.  My contractions were really strong during this strong as my active labor contractions with my son.  I needed to sound through them and stand up and rock my pelvis in order to cope.  I was hoping that they wouldn't get any stronger when "real labor" started, as I wondered if I could handle anything stronger.  (luckily the intensity stayed the same...the contractions just got closer together)  We almost got out the door to go to the birth center several times..only for the contractions to stop when my husband had the car packed up!  I talked to a midwife from the birth center almost every day during this prodromal labor, and we all aggreed to watch and wait.  Contractions were very strong...just not very close together.  (about one or two an hour, with runs of them at 10 minutes apart at times)  The real doosies happened on the middle of the night...when I would wake up during the peak of a big one, without the benefit of
being awake to feel the contraction ramp up in intensity.  What a jolt!  At night I neeed to get up and walk around to make the contractions stop long enough to get back to sleep.  I remember thinking, "I hope this isn't the real thing..I just want to sleep!  Everyone else wants to sleep, too!"

Then July 2nd came.  It started out just like the days that preceed it.  It was a lazy, hot, and humid summer day.  My mom called to check on us. I told her nothing new was happening.  She said she was packed and ready to go.  (she was going to meet us at the birth center to be with our son during the birth)  We took an afternoon drive just to get out of the house.  We also went to Sonic for burgers and tater tots, and then for some frozen yogurt.  If I had only known that this would be the meal  before active labor started!  Yuck!  Not very nourishing!   At about 7pm, my mother-in-law called.  "Have you had the baby yet?" she asked her son.  Nope.  We hadn't.  It will probably be a few days more.   At 9pm, my husband was giving our son a bath.  In the meantime, I was reading birth stories on the internet, getting inspired and keeping my excitement and courage up.  A whopper of a contraction began.  I needed to get off the chair and stand and sound through it.  When it was over, I sat down to continue my reading.  A few minutes ater, I had another one just like it.  The cramping sensation in my lower abdomen went away, but the tightness of my uterus seemed to linger on and on, so I decided to get in the shower to relax.  I melted into the heat of the water, and the abdominal tightness went away for a few minutes.  It came back after another contraction, and decided to get out and rest my stomach muscles by sitting in the rocking chair.  As I was sitting there, the baby became very active, and just about every movement triggered another contraction.  my husband came over to me, and asked if he could rub my back to relax me.  "How about on all 4's?" He suggested.  That sounded pretty good, but I dreaded getting up out of the chair, becuse position changes were triggering contractions, too.  So I endured another contraction as I got out of the chair, and then another one when I got on all 4's.  He looked at my face.  "Why don't you give the birth center a call?" He suggested.  Me, not getting the idea that this was probably active labor, said, "Let's wait a few minutes to make sure these contractions won't stop".  So another contraction comes right then, and we decide that yes, I should call, and that if the contractions stop on the way up,  we will just stay in the nearby hotel for the night.  I called the birth center.  Sharon, one of the midwives,  was there already, and after we exchanged hellos, she said, "It's time to come in.  If you think the baby will come out on your way, pull over and call 911."   I said we would, but thought that that comment was premature and that things couldn't moving that fast.  I called my mom then, putting her on alert, and that we would call her when we go to the birth center to let her know if this was "the real thing"  (She was coming from her home, which is a two hour drive from the birth center)  Next I called Maria, our doula, telling her that we were heading up, and that we would call her when we got there.  She replied, "Oh, I'll meet you there"  (Later she told me that she knew this was it, by the sound of my voice.)  my husband got us all packed up, and put our son's car seat in the front, (we don't have air bags) so I would have more room in back to move around or lie down if I wanted to.  I stood beside the truck, waiting for my husband to secure our son in his seat, and for him to get behind the wheel before I got in to sit down.  Siting was uncomfortable.

We live on a pot-hole-laden, hilly, and generally bumpy street one mile from the smooth highway.  I cursed it furiously as I felt every bump and dip and change in elevation.  This was the only time I felt irritable during the whole birth, which is good...I was hoping it wasn't a precident I was setting.  We turned out on the highay, much to my relief, and drove on through the night at around 10pm.  I was bracing my left leg against the door jam and half-sitting on my right buttock

Contactions were coming about every two minutes now. It finally dawned on me now that I as in active labor, and it won't stop until the baby is born!  (looking back on it, it seems obvious)   At about 30 mies into the trip, my legs began to shake.  Was this transition, or fatigue from bracing my legs during contractions?  I didn't
say anything to my husband, but maintained the quiet, watching the road, feeling very alert, and not really diving down into my subconcious self like I had with our boy's birth.  Our son had fallen asleep, and my husband didn't speak unless I asked him a question.  Contractions were about one minute apart, with multiple peaks now.  I was needing to sound louder and louder to cope.  The contractions were very low in my abdomen, just under the buldge, and radiating around to my back.  They felt like really intense menstrual cramps.  I also felt a dull ache in my perineum, and an all-over achy-hormonal feeling.  In-between, I felt these sensations go away, and took some deep breaths and relaxed in my relief.  About 50 miles into the trip, my husband picked up the cell phone, and called my mom to tell her to head for the birth center, that "this is it".  Soon after this, my water started to leak at the height of several contractions.  I told my husband this, and he calmly replied, "We are almost there."

We were in the city now, and my husband was timing his speed to get all of the green lights.  He did pretty well!  Soon, we were passing the hospital, which is just across the street from the birth center.  I breathed a sigh of relief...I didn't have to stay in the truck much longer!  Over the  speed bumps, and into the birth center parking lot...During all of those prenatal visits, I imagined what this day (night) would be like.  my husband parked, and I was really glad to be there at last!

My husband brought our sleeping boy inside, and I made my way slowly to the door.  Contractions were on top of each other now.  I was feeling in need of some relief, and hoped not too many more hours would pass before seeing our baby.  Maria, our doula, met me on the walkway, and greeted me quietly and tenderly.  I barely said anything before another contraction came, and I leaned on the wall while she gently massaged my back and sides.  Her touch was so warm and reassuring, and I was so glad she listened to my voice on the phone earlier, not my words.

Maria helped me inside, and Sharon, our midwife, gave me a kiss and a big hug.  I really felt cared or by these women!  I felt their deep respect for the birthing process, and honored as a woman in labor and giving birth.  As I made my way to the bathroom in our room, my husband and a now awake little boy  brought our bags inside.  I looked at the tub briefly, wanting to fill it and get in. I must have had 3 contractions from the toilet to the bed, where Sharon wanted to listen to Baby's heart tones and check my cervix.

She had me lie on my left side (very uncomfortable...I wanted to be standing up)  and listened to Baby's heart through two contractions.  my husband was at my right side, and my son was sitting in Maria's lap in a chair on the left side of the bed.  Heart tones sounded good, and I was surprized that Baby's heart rate didn't decellerate during the contractions.  (My son's heart rate dropped by half in transition of his labor)  Then Sharon checked me...I was 8 centimeters dilated!  My husband and Maria cheered.  I was up and standing immediately after that...much more comfortable!  During the immediately following contraction, I held onto my husband, and was glad that
I didn't have to do this much longer.  Where did my labor go?  It was almost over! my husband and I held each other for the next few contractions, and I felt myself sink into his flesh as I sounded, and then grunted...the urge to push!  I announced the urge, and Sharon, who was standing at the foot of the bed, nodded her head.   I waited till the urge became irresistable before pushing, standing there holding on to my husband, and felt a burning in my cervix.  I told myself that it was the baby's head coming through.  With the next push, I felt her body in the birth canal, and the immediate need to get my legs spread apart to let her out.   I announced that the baby was coming down, and Sharon asked what position I wanted to assume, and I honestly didn't know.  I did want to be on the bed, though, and got on my hands and knees.  Then I saw a flash and heard a whirr...Maria had found our camera.   In the meantime, Sharon was following me around with the doppler, trying to find Baby's heartbeat.  She asked me to lie on my left side again, and still couldn't find it.  Somehow, this didnt bother me.  I knew the baby was fine.  (the same situation occurred in my son's birth.)  Now, my husband was holding my right leg up as I layed on my left side, and Maria was holding my left hand.  my son was kneeling on the chair beside the bed.  Sharon was on the bed with me.  My perineum and anus were beginning to stretch and burn with the next contraction as the baby was beginning to crown.  Durng the next two contractions, the incredible burning built up as much as I could stand it..I know why the stretching perineum is called "the ring of fire"  That is exactly what it felt like!

At this point, my son was getting excited...he exclaimed, "Mom!  I see the head!"  With the next push, Baby's head came all he way through!  What an intense relief!  The room filled with jubulant energy.  "Push stronger, Mom!"  my son cheered.  I smiled quietly to myself...I was so glad he was getting into his sibling's birth, and was seemingly taking to the sights and sounds of labor so well.

When the baby's head was out, I remember Sharon talking about removing the cord from around Baby's neck, and saying that it was around there only very loosely.

One more fire ring to endure as the shoulders came through...and there was no more sensation of stretching and burning.  As I took a deep breath and let out a sigh, Sharon said, "Kristy, hold your baby!"  I opened my eyes, and saw my baby"Kristy, hold your baby!"  I opened my eyes, and saw my baby between my legs!  I pulled Baby up onto my chest   My first impression was that she definately looked like our baby...with many of our vastly different features.  Her eyes were wide open, and I took in her deep gaze with so much joy!  I rubbed her back to stimulate her to breathe, and she let out a few cries, and went back to gazing at me.  I talked and talked to her... I don't remember what I said..but we were locked in on each other's eyes.  Sharon also rubbed her back to get her to breate some more, and then gave me an oxygen mask, and told me to hold it in front of Baby's face for a few seconds.  She let out another cry, and then pink color came to her skin. She was now breathing on her own.

At this point, our nurse, Olivia, arrived.  She had missed the birth by just a couple of minutes.  She asked if we knew the sex of the baby, and Sharon said we hadn't looked yet.  (although I suspect Sharon knew, she didn't give away the surprize)  So my husband and son had gathered around on the bed to welcome our little baby, and Maria resumed taking pictures.

After about 5 or 10 minutes, Baby started licking her lips and rooting for the breast.  I lifted her up a little more to position her, and happened to look down her body as I did...and saw that I was holding.....our baby girl!  As I looked, I exclaimed, "Oh, it's a girl!"  Cheers rang out in the room.  I smiled knowingly and felt content....that our daughter had come to us.

At some point here,  I had a tiny urge to bear down, and the placenta came out, stretching my perineum slightly, and felt another brief burn.

Olivia brought me a hot mug of chamomile tea, and put it on the nightstand while I nursed our baby daughter.  This was a very nice touch, and tea was wonderful
when I drank it later.

After the placenta came out, my husband cut the cord, as our daughter continued to nurse.  I didn't feel the sense of seperation anexiety like I did with our son when my husband cut his
cord...probably because there was no rush to remove our daughter from my arms, and we had established our new connection through nursing.

As we nursed, Sharon and Olivia checked to make sure my uterus was still firm and contracting.   I assured them that it was, as the "afterpains" were pretty strong.  Olivia began her series of blood pressure and temperature checks on me and the baby.  Sharon looked at my perineum, and yes, I had torn, and needed some stitches.  It turns out that I had a second degree tear, all along the incision of my old episiotomy.  So Sharon repaired the tear while my daughter finished up her hour-long 1st feeding at the breast.

My mom arrived while Sharon was finishing up.  She came in to meet her granddaughter, and then went into the "family room" to play with her grandson and watch Charlotte's Web on tape.

At this point, Sharon did her newborn eval on the baby, and Olivia weighed and measured her...8 pounds even, and 19 1/4 inches long.  They both were so gentle with my daughter..handling her with extreme care  as to not set off her startle reflex.

Maria left for home about then, and Sharon left shortly after, with Olivia staying on throughout the night.  Grandma got my son settled, and the two of them napped in the family room together.  my husband held our daughter after she finished nursing, and I got cleaned up in the bathroom.  He sat in the recliner while I relaxed on the bed, and we talked about all that had happened that night.

 My husband was almost asleep at this point, with Baby Girl progressiely making her way off his lap, and I was afraid she would land on the floor.  So with great protest from him, I took her back in the bed with me, and just lie there with her next to me as the dawn light peaked it's way over the horizon, and the warm breeze came through the open glass door in our room.   Although I was starting to get sleepy, all I could do is marvel at my new daughter as  I listened to her snoring.  Contentment washed over me.

I was very pleased with this birth...actually, all of my dreams came true!
My daughter had a peaceful entry into the outside world, I got to experience birthing with support and freedom, alert without medications....  I felt Nature's power within my body as my daughter came down and the energy, beauty and nuturance of a thunderstorm!  The birth was a family event with my husband as my partner (not a "coach") and my son being as much a part of the experience as he wanted.  All the plans we made came together and everything went smoothly...just like our destiny was mapped out by the stars.

Babies are like bits of stardust
blown in from above
blessed is the woman
who has felt the pangs of childbirth
for she has held a star

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my first birth

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