asphodellium

Archive for the ‘pregnancy’ Category

(For Ashelyn’s birth story, go here.)

Thursday morning, sometime after 9AM. Kevin is preparing to leave for an appointment when I tell him I’ve had a few contractions. I can’t say for sure that it’s labour, but given the circumstances of my first birth – an emergency unattended homebirth – we alert the midwife.

She suggests a warm bath, which slows the contractions but doesn’t stop them. I feel them the same way I did with my first: a low frontal burn, not particularly acute. We call my parents, who come to pick up Ashelyn for the day, and arrange to meet our midwife at the hospital.

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It’s a little past noon when we arrive. Kerry checks me: 4cm dilated and, she says, “quite thinned out.” Contractions are roughly 5 minutes apart and 30 seconds long, but don’t bother me too much, so Kevin and I are instructed to go for a walk.

We wander around the hospital for an hour or so and return reporting some progress, but nothing remarkable. I’m still at 4cm. We get a curtained-off unit in the assessment area. It was quiet earlier, but now more labouring mothers are arriving, many of them making much more of a racket than I am. The wait for a room is long.

At 3:30PM, I feel a sudden pop, like a water balloon or a giant baby hiccup. Then a gush. “Oh,” I tell Kevin (who was dozing off on the assessment bed), “my water broke.”

Up until now, contractions had been well within the realm of manageable. My midwife kept asking if I felt any pressure, and I hadn’t. Neither had I felt like making odd noises. But the first contraction after my water breaking doubles me over, and there it is all at once: pressure and the urge to push. Plus the involuntary growly noises I remember making at Ashelyn’s birth.

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They usher us to the nearest labour & delivery room, thankfully just around the corner. I don’t, however, make it onto the bed before the next contraction hits. I feel a burning “ring of fire” but higher up, in the area of the cervix. I feel baby’s head moving down … and out.

The body slides out with the third contraction, and then the nurses are heaping warm towels – heavenly! – over the two of us. “I feel better now,” I say unnecessarily.

“I’ll bet you do,” one nurse grins.

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Jariel Jayden, born February 12 at 3:43PM. 7lbs 4oz at 38w4d, he’s almost a full pound heavier than his sister was – although both burst forth in the same kind of hurry.

Pregnancy was kind to me. I was happy, well-rested, and very fond of my bump. Unpleasant symptoms? Well, I had mild nausea in first trimester. Does that time I threw up a cucumber count?

The early months of motherhood were likewise kind to me. Mommybloggers seem to predominantly prefer toddlerhood to infancy, a common refrain being “I don’t miss those [dark, shock-to-the-system] days.” But although Ashelyn’s babyhood wasn’t half as interesting or fun as the present whirlwind of my waking hours, I remember it being easier. Back then I was still reading through my kindle library, sleeping baby in the crook of my arm. Now, I hide my kindle from the whirling dervish who has already cracked the screens on my phone and ipod touch.

So I’m one of those people. I liked being pregnant and I like babies when they’re brand new.

All this to say … I have an itch.

An itch for another mini!

Maybe, maybe.

However, Ashelyn is still breastfeeding (going so strong, in fact, that I periodically wonder if it interferes with her appetite for regular food). Aaand I haven’t gotten my period back. Which is lovely and all, but is this normal?

My sister-in-law's one-month-old. It appears I've forgotten how to handle tiny ones already.

My sister-in-law’s one-month-old. It appears I’ve forgotten how to handle tiny ones already.

It boils down to this: though I’m aware that conception is definitely not impossible, it doesn’t seem extremely likely at the moment.

I’m okay with those probabilities.

This should be where I say, “Goodbye, birth control!” Except we’ve actually only used birth control once, maybe twice, since Ashelyn was born. We’re mature and responsible that way.

(Then again, frequency of sex post-baby is like a form of birth control in itself … but that’s another post that in all likelihood won’t ever be written. Don’t hold your breath.)

When I was pregnant, one of my parenthetical fears was that our noisy, hulking beast of a vacuum cleaner would scare the baby.

Turns out vacuuming lulls her to sleep! Sometimes. Only if …

  1. She’s decided not to sleepfight.
  2. I’m wearing her in the Ergo while I vacuum.

My back says UGH but any weapon in the anti-sleepfighting arsenal is too valuable to reject.

In early August of last year, I pushed off from the dock at Buntzen Lake in a “bottomless” inflatable dinghy. The weeks leading up to that day had been chillier than usual, so the water was COLD.

Maybe we should head back now … WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “I’M TIRED”?!

I was pregnant at the time; we suspected as much, though it hadn’t been confirmed.* Kevin wasn’t too happy about my risking hypothermia out in the middle of the lake with three other guys, and gave me an earful when we returned.

One year later, here we are again:

This is a very big bath …

It was hot and humid, the lake much warmer, but an oncoming thunderstorm jettisoned my swimming plans.

* So far I’m the only person I know who was too cheap/lazy to take a home pregnancy test.

The midwifery clinic tracks with us until six weeks postpartum, so Wednesday morning was our last appointment.

My little mántóu has grown from 6.3 lbs at birth to 11.5 lbs! Evidently I’m producing heavy cream.

Little smirking munchkin, freshly baked.

Chubby grinning munchkin at six weeks.

Since the birth was quick and I didn’t tear, recovery has been quick and easy as well. I’m less than ten pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight, and it’s weight I could stand to keep … just not if it stays on my midsection! My last question to the midwife was, “So, umm, how do I get rid of the gut?”

To which she replied, “You don’t have one.” BONUS POINTS FOR HER.

I do, though. Not a very noticeable one, to be sure, but there’s definitely some extra flesh that wasn’t there before.

Although I’m not pleased about that, my concern over the paunch is largely overshadowed by the novelty of having cleavage.

I may tire of both, we’ll see.

Anyway, we left the clinic with a copy of my medical records, which I’ve been perusing. This “healthy 25yo nullip” (no longer twenty five, sadly, nor a nulliparida) wasn’t a bio major for nothing. They tell the story of Ashelyn’s birth, too, in a clipped, shorthand way.

(Kat really did write that it was “precipitous.”)

In hindsight, it might’ve started on Thursday, with what they call “bloody show.” I figured it was my mucous plug. Kevin paged the midwife on call, who assured us about changes in the cervix and mentioned that I might go into labour that weekend.

There was “bloody show” a few more times that day, but nothing else unusual. A ton of braxton-hicks.

I started feeling contractions that night. Turns out they were shaped similarly to the braxton-hicks, a slow clenching of the uterus, but whereas the braxton-hicks were painless these were accompanied by a bit of a burn – just under the threshold of what I would consider pain. Actually, I wasn’t positive they were contractions, but they came regularly enough that I began timing them around 2:40AM.

We had instructions to contact our midwife once contractions had been 1 minute long and 3 minutes apart over the course of 2 hours. From 2:40 to almost 4:00, mine were roughly a minute long and 4-6 minutes apart. Then I stopped timing them in favour of trying to sleep, except there wasn’t enough time in between contractions for me to fall asleep. Also, munchkin was having a dance party and kept headbutting my bladder. I must’ve used up half a roll of toilet paper that night.

I woke Kevin up around 5:20AM. Of course, he insisted on calling our midwife. I told Kat the contractions were “bearable,” and she said to give it another hour. By 6:30AM they were measuring in at 3 minutes apart, so Kevin paged again. Kat told him to call her when I could no longer speak through contractions, and that she’d be ready to come over when he did.

At that point I had no desire to talk during contractions anyway, though I figured I still could, especially at their tail ends. The first half required some … focus.

They got worse fairly quickly. I told Kevin to call Kat in at 7:20AM. By then I had to stop what I was doing (getting dressed, packing toiletries for the hospital bag) and clutch at items of furniture. At the same time I was wondering about my progress in terms of dilation, effacement, and station (Kat had offered to check at our last appointment, but I’d declined because I thought IT WAS EARLY). What if I was only, like, three centimetres dilated? I remember bracing myself for several more hours of this.

And then it got surreal.

I don’t know how I knew it was a good idea to head for the bathroom. Somehow I thought I’d feel better sitting on the toilet? Then all of a sudden I was making these weird growly noises, and Kevin was all, “Are you okay?” and I had to tell him to stop asking me such an irrelevant question.

He got Kat on the phone; she was on her way but stuck in traffic (there was also a mix-up where initially she had my parents’ address instead of ours). “Do you feel pressure low in your pelvis?”

“… yes.”

“Do you feel like you need to push?”

It hadn’t occurred to me, but now that you mention it: “YES.” Followed by two sets of growly noises.

So, change of plans – head to the hospital and Kat would meet us there. Except then I couldn’t get up, much less sit in a car.

They talk about “popping out a baby,” but in my case it was almost literal. The head just kind of popped out. None of us were expecting that. It didn’t even hurt, really, at least not that I remember. Kevin says he was freaking out, but it must’ve been mostly internal, since he seemed calm enough for someone who wanted to stay on the “other end” of the birthing action. Although in an effort to reassure him I did say something along the lines of, “It’s okay, I think the hardest part is supposed to be over now.”

(When Kevin recounted this part of the story, the other midwife thought it was hilarious.)

So we’re looking at each other all, NOW WHAT? The head was kind of purple and still, though I could still feel movement from the body. Kevin’s cell phone record shows a frantic call to Kat at 7:47AM (“The head is out! I don’t know what to do!”) and a 911 call at 7:51AM.

In those four minutes, as per Kat’s instructions, I pushed the rest of the baby out (more “slip” than “pop” that time) and Kevin called an ambulance. After catching the baby.

And it’s a girl! (Which means 95% of people guessed wrong. Told you all those indicators are myths.) Ashelyn Vienna, born March 30 at 7:50AM. I misquoted her birth weight, actually – it was 2870 grams (6.3 pounds).

Two paramedics arrived. They clamped and cut the umbilical cord, supplied us with lots of blood-absorbing sheet protector things, and helped move me to a stretcher. (First time on a stretcher!) Kat arrived, delivered the placenta (it reminded me of a jellyfish), did all the post-birth stuff. And she declared that I DID NOT TEAR. I was afraid of tearing in the same way I’m afraid of c-sections, so yay!

The paramedics wanted to take us to the hospital, but Kat maintained it wasn’t necessary, since everything they’d do there she could do in our home. Thus I missed my first chance at an ambulance ride.

Today is day six as a family of three. Ashelyn lost her umbilical cord stump yesterday and is already 2.5 ounces over her birth weight. She smirks and grins, though maybe it’s gas. Kevin and I want to thank everyone for the kind words, the chicken soups, the outpouring of support. We feel so very blessed and so very well loved.

Ashelyn Vienna, 6.4 6.3 lbs, born March 30 at 7:50AM. At home, because we never made it to the hospital. And our midwife didn’t make it to us. And Kevin, who has said all along that he wanted to remain on the “head” side of the birthing action, had to help catch the baby.

Hopefully that story will be up soon.

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