Monday, April 2, 2012

Kortland's Birth Story


When I learned that we were expecting our first, I was thrilled. About a week after taking a positive test, I was cleaning the living room of our one-bedroom apartment in a one hundred year old house when I was overwhelmed with the distinct, and very clear thought: "I don't want to be numb during this experience."

I was a little surprised by it.

So far as I knew, my mother had always had epidurals. And why wouldn't she? Why would a woman choose to feel any pain or discomfort if she could avoid it? I didn't have an answer. But the feeling persisted, and strangely enough, I started to get very excited.

So I started doing some online research. And I got even more excited. Then, I  found Hypnobirthing, and I knew in an instant that it was the vehicle I was supposed to use to accomplish my goal of having an unmedicated birth. My husband, who was terrified by the idea of a needle puncturing my spine, gladly jumped on board with me. It probably helped that he had been born at home {in California} on a TWISTER mat, no less, some 25 years earlier, and  that his mother had delivered dozens of babies as a lay-midwife and Lamaze instructor for decades.

As we attended our Hypnobirthing classes, our excitement grew. I awoke every Saturday morning like a child at Christmas, incredibly eager to get to class and absorb more knowledge, more truth about the amazing capabilities of my body. The information taught during the course resonated with every fiber of my being, and I knew, deep within, that for the first time in my life, I was hearing birthing truths instead of being told stories that perpetuated birthing fear and drama.

I was keenly aware of the fact that I had never done this before, and that I had no idea as to what I was getting into, but beneath the few waves of doubt, there was an infinitely more powerful body of peace. A place where I knew inherently that my body was perfectly designed to do this.

As the day of our son's birth  neared, we grew ever more confident and excited. I practiced with my relaxation tapes every day. I listened to birth affirmations whenever I drove my car. I felt like "Rocky" jogging a snowy, mental mountain, preparing for one of the greatest events of my life.

We went on a really fun {local} family vacation to Aspen Grove {up above Sundance}during my 38th week of gestation. During this time, I ate  A LOT, relaxed, and enjoyed time with my family. Upon returning {a short 20 miles}back home, my husband left for a two day business trip, and I went to my 39 week check up with my midwife, Sarah.

 I weighed in, gave my urine sample, and had my belly measured. And Sarah said. "Hm. That's measuring a little small, let me try that again." So she measured again. Then she looked at my chart. Then she measured again.And then she looked at my chart. She then explained to me that my stomach had shrunk more than two centimeters. She said that sometimes this was normal, and sometimes this was a signal that something might be amiss.

She ordered a non-stress test and ultrasound. The non-stress test indicated that we were facing some special circumstances, and that it was time for baby to come out.

I was heart-broken. All of my hard work and preparation seemed to go down the drain in a split second. My Hypnobirthing instructor recommended that we avoid artificial induction whenever possible, {a sentiment that I absolutely agree with} and now it wasn't feeling like we had much of a choice.

In this moment, I was supremely grateful that I had chosen to birth with a midwifery practice who avoided interventions whenever possible. Because of our shared belief in avoiding medical interventions, I could trust my midwife when she recommended that we induce.

I knew that she would never recommend it for her convenience or for mine, so I felt peaceful and confident in making the decision to go ahead with her advice.

I think that it is vitally important that other women take this into consideration when choosing their care providers. Choose someone who wholeheartedly agrees with your birth philosophy and preferences, and if you have any indication that your wishes will not be respected, high-tail it to a practitioner where you know your wishes WILL be honored!

We checked into the hospital, got settled in, and then Sarah {my midwife} said something I will never forget. She said: "You can still have exactly the birth that you want." 

 And I believed her.

A few short hours later, I was almost fully dilated. My contractions were powerful, lasting 90 seconds or more, but the affirmations I had played over and over and over in the months leading up to the birth really paid off! I felt like the contractions were 1/3 the length that they actually were. Each time a contraction would start, I would close my eyes and drop into a deep state of relaxation, and breathe as deeply and slowly as my body would allow.When each contraction ended, I sat up and conversed casually with my husband and mom.

Then, a really huge contractions started up. It was bigger than any I had felt up to that point. It was almost completely overwhelming. It shook my resolve. I got nervous and started second guessing myself. Thne another one came, and it was equally huge and overpowering. Then then came the fear. "What if I was wrong?" I thought. "What if I really can't do this?"

The moment that I let fear creep in, I immediately felt tension settle into my shoulders and back. My legs started trembling from the residual shock of the contractions, and I felt like I wanted to cry. All I could think was: What if these last forever?  I looked at the hubs with "deer-in-the-headlights-panic in my eyes, and said "I don't know if I can do this!"

He held my hands tightly, looked straight into my eyes and didn't say a word. {Smart man.}His look said it all though. He had complete faith in me. Then, I looked over at my mom.

Her eyes were full of tears.

I asked her what was wrong, and she said:
"I can feel him. He is so close, and I can literally feel him coming to us."

The fear left me in that moment, and the room was flooded with love, light, and faith. My eyes filled with tears, and I looked at my husband to find that his eyes were filled too. Love and faith are the perfect antidote for fear. They obliterated it instantly. I had renewed faith in my birthing body, and that faith carried me away from fear and anxiety, to a place of peace and positive expectation.

The rest of the birthing was filled with joy as our baby descended down the birth path and into our arms.

My midwife allowed me to deliver Kortland on my own. Once his head was out, his shoulders came too, and I scooped my hands underneath his arm pits, and lifted him to my chest in one easy motion.

It was a defining moment in my life.

I turned to the hubs, with tears in my eyes, and said:
"I am just so, so sad that you will never fully know what this feels like!"

I felt so lucky to have been able to be part of that sacred moment, and I found myself thinking that I couldn't wait to do it again...little did I know, that would be MUCH more difficult than either of us had anticipated! But, after dealing with nearly 6 years of secondary infertility, we found ourselves on the baby train once again!

You can read Tennyson's Pregnancy Journal or watch Tennyson's Birth Video to learn more.