Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Really? One Month Already?


And lot's of "Firsts" to Report...

If anybody knows us at all, you will know the importance of dog walks in our daily lives...
Here's Simon on his first dog with Dad at the ripe ol' age of 1 week. Silly dog hat on to commemorate the event.

First long dog walk at 1,000 Acres in Troutdale.

First participation in U.S. Census!

First Family Portrait...Thanks Leann!

First pie with his name on it! And nope, Mom, didn't bake this one! It was from our friend, Jen! Mmmm, pie. Unfortunately, it was not to be "First Taste of Pie" but instead, "First pie flavored Breastmilk!"

First butt of silly joke from Aaron! See the movie Idiocracy for the reference. This is an Amazon label for a gift from Aaron.

First official document from "The Man".

First bath with Dad at the helm.
First interaction with the Dingo! It went well...the baby was not eaten by the Dingo.

First photo shoot!

Other un-photo documented firsts....

First bottle from Dad with pumped breastmilk....followed by first 30 minutes of post bottle screaming.

First Colic Medicine. Followed quickly by second and third choice colic meds. Then a few days later with first mom's dairy free breastmilk. Phew.

First poop straight to nap. Which went "Waaah!" Red Face, Body Scrunch, Large, Loud Poop! And immediate collapse into deep sleep. "And I'm spent!" With mom and dad laughing hysterically in the background.

First teleconference with the Grandparents. He slept through most of it!

But mostly he just eats and sleeps and poops.

Oh and occasionally he does some of this.....
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Markus' Birth Story for Simon


I got "the call" on Monday at 2pm. I took the bus home and squared away the dogs. I brought Pago to her kennel and dropped Einstein off at Sherri’s. Things were already different and I could tell I was excited. Normally, I bring the dog bed and go inside and chat a while, but this time I walked Steiner back to the gate and left. Liz and I went home and even managed to get a night’s sleep that night.

The next day things went well, although I thought Liz went over board with making apts. By the time we were done with breakfast we had an appointment with the midwife, her friend Chris, the acupuncturist and an ultrasound. There was a scheduling mix up with the midwife, and she wasn't there. She got checked and swept at Chris' and made it to the acupuncturist with plenty of time. Things started to pick up after that. So much so that we canceled the last apt.

Things were progressing normally from my perspective, but I didn't have any real frame of reference so even if they were not I would have thought they were. My adrenaline was pumping like I had a couple cups of coffee. Over all I was calm and going though all the comfort measures in my mind and trying them one at a time to see what was working. I was a little nervous as I didn't want to do the wrong thing and it turned out Liz's two favorites were the third eye press, and lower back pressure. So I decided to stick with those for the majority of the time and a new one here and there in between.

Jessie, our doula, called about the time Liz's contractions were at 10 min apart. She was still at another birth and was just calling to see how things were going. The second time she called the contractions were irregular and between 5-10 min apart but getting more intense. Jessie said she could come over now, or in two hours. I told her Liz was doing fine, after checking with Liz of course, and that she could come in 2 hours. Just as we were hanging up Liz one of her more intense and strong contractions. I called Jessie
back in about 5min asking her to come over now.

Jessie got here and that was a relief. As it turned out my mind was kind of blanking on some of the other comfort measures and I was running out of ideas. I don't think Liz noticed. One of the first things Jessie did was to rub her feet. I was shocked that I had forgotten that one, but after the initial shock lots of the others came back to me and I regained a sense of purpose and confidence.

Liz's contractions were getting stronger but staying about 5-7 min apart and we called Catherine. She sent over a Carissa to check on Liz. She determined that Liz was still at 2 cm and that seemed to put a stress in the room. I didn't know if that was good or bad, but I felt concerned. Liz wanted her water broken, and I thought, “Noooooooooo,” but kept my mouth shut. Seemed too early to me but as itwas I was the one with the least experience in the room. Carissa offered to and did call Catherine. At one point she offered to let Liz speak with here, and Liz said something to the effect that if Catherine wanted to talk to here she could come down here in person. SNAP! That was around 8pm and Catherine said she was in a meeting and would be there by 10.

True to her word, Catherine was there by 10. This was perfect timing as it gave Liz a little time to change her mind. Catherine said she would be willing to break her water but felt that that would put us on a count down timer, and that she felt we should probably wait a little while before we did that. Much to my relief, Liz agreed. I was still wide awake and we proceeded as before Liz with getting checked every few hours.

As night turned into early morning and excitement, anxiety, fear, joy, happiness eventualy gave way to exhaustion. I ate a little and drank some juice and that made things worse. By this time (3am ish) Liz had gone from shower to tub, to birth ball, to bed, to standing, to squatting, and back to bed. I was lying next to her and Jessie was at our feet, most likely twice as exhausted as I was. The contractions seemed to slow a bit naturally and I got little mini-cat naps 3-4min apart. Not sure if it helped but it's what we got.

The next big thing I remember was the sun coming up-6ish. Liz got checked again and had made a ton of progress (6cm) which was a major relief to me. I immediately started to get excited thinking I'd see Simon some time in the next 4-6 hours.

About that much time later (9:30ish) we had only gotten 1 more centimeter and Catherine and Liz decided that breaking her water wouldbe a good thing to do. I was watching the procedure expecting a big gush was about to come out but very little did. For the next hour or so, most of the rest of the water did come out. The breaking of the water was my next surge of excitement, that came from my anticipation that NOW things were really going to happen and fast.

The contractions were getting even stronger but Liz was showing the 20 odd hours of labor. She was exhausted and so was I. I got a little energy from the sun being up and started to get nervous again as she was getting check regularly without much progress to show for what was surely a lot of painful effort. As helpless as I was to speed up the birth process, I still felt I had a job to do and as such still a purpose. Do whatever I could to support Liz, in any way she needed. Keep the birth tub warm, gentle touch, massage, words of encouragement. By this point it was clear that she had a much higher pain threshold than I did and was the most courageous person I have known.

Around noon things looked like they had stalled out. Liz had got up to 7cm and holding. Catherine suggested using the breast pump as a means to stimulate more frequent contractions. I didn't see the connection, but it didn't take me long to see it. Liz had a pump on for maybe a minute tops and bang, a huge one hit. It didn't take long and I was back up to my same feelings of excitement for an imminentbirth.

Four hours later and almost a centimeter more I was starting to worry about Liz. The language Catherine was using was changing. Kit, her assistant, was checking Simon every 30 min. and true to form he was a trouper. His heart rate never indicated that he was under stress. Kit did a great job, checking Simon before and after contractions. When I started to get nervous again, I would watch Kit's face with twice the intensity I would have reserved for players in a poker game. Looking for any tell, or sign that things might not be a hundred percent perfect. If there were any signs, Kit never let it show.

About four, or four thirty, the decision was made to transfer to Providence. It was at this time I "lost" it. We didn't have a go-bag and I had not really discussed this beyond that it was a possibility and depending on the situation we would go to 1 of three different hospitals. I grabbed my work bag as I knew it had my laptop, water, and insulated cup we could use for ice. Catherine suggested I don't forget our camera, so I grabbed that bag, too. Catherine, Liz and myself piled into her Subaru and headed out for Providence. I wasn't sure I should be driving, but I was still the obvious choice. At the second stop light on 82nd I did my little adrenaline check, holding out my hand to see if it is shaking. To my surprise it was relatively steady.

We got to the hospital and our nurse Summer, who was great, started to hook Liz up with a fetal monitor and another monitor for her. I started to feel not needed. Liz was going to get some pitocin and an epidural. I started to think about the movie "The Business of Being Born" and thought, here we go on the cycle, more pit = increase epidural = increased pit = increased epidural until it gets to the point where we need a c-section. It was all baseless, but it was what I was thinking. The Dr. came in soon, and both Liz and Catherine filled him in on the previous 24 hours. After her initial visit with the doc, and getting hooked with the epidural, fluids and pit pump I stated to think again (6pm). I thought the baby would be here soon. I even called my parents to tell my dad that Simon probably wasn't going to wait for his birthday to be on 4/1.

Things progressed slowly and eventually we got past the 7cm and even 8cm. Hope and Rebecca who had really held things together brought over
some pasta for me, which was huge as I was more hungry than I realized (yet again). The hours passed and I still had nowhere near as an active roll as I did while we were at home. It didn't feel great but Liz was being well cared for and making good progress.

About 10pm the real pushing started. Liz got herself situated and Catherine and the nurse were holding her legs in a position where she can push easier. I sat by her head and got up with every push to see what was happening. In between every contraction I tried to give her as much positive encouragement as I could. At some point, I'm not sure what triggered it, but Catherine had to stop lifting Liz's leg, maybe it was intentional I'm not sure. Regardless of why, I immediately stepped in and started to hold her leg. Soon I could see the very top of Simons' head. The doctor was working to turn him slightly as he was not in a perfect position. Before I knew it, the doc was telling Liz to reach down and deliver her baby. There was meconium everywhere, but Simon showed no signs of distress. Simon was crying instantly and he was cleaned up a little and placed on her chest. I was so full of joy at seeing everyone healthy I teared up and let out a little "Hi, Buddy!" which was very "me" according to Hope, and I agree.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Part 4: I Guess since we are only doing it once, we may as well do it all!


Hospital Help

I immediately made the decision to transfer to Providence. I decided I needed an epidural for rest and a lot of pitocin to get a vaginal delivery out of the situation. I had worked there as a nurse and felt they were very baby friendly and would be flexible with the transfer from home. Within minutes of the decision, I was dressed and heading for the door. Markus apparently put on a valiant face and seemed totally fine with this turn of events. It wasn’t until afterward that I learned he was really nervous about this change. My support team was totally on board and supportive of the change of plans. Catherine came in our car and Markus drove.

We were shown to our room and introduced to the physician that Catherine has as backup at the hospital. He agreed with the plan, especially after assessing the baby’s position. Simon was indeed posterior, though I’d had no classical back labor pain, and asynclitic-meaning the baby’s head was cocked to the side (like the RCA puppy, listening to the Victrola). He also felt I was 8cm at that time. There was also some light meconium, my tough little guy was also showing some evidence of pooping (ha-ha) out, even though his heart rate was still super strong and regular. This reinforced to me that our transfer had been a good call.

All of the medical interventions were set into motion and the nurses were kind and skilled. What occurred to me while all this was going on and the few contractions I had to deal with while I was there, was how incredibly hard it would be for me to have had natural labor in the hospital. I knew my contractions were weaker (I had an internal monitor that registered my contractions on par with a speed bump when they should have resembled mountains!) but having to interact with staff and be present, etc seemed to make the pain more intense and hard to deal with. Imagining dealing with the contractions brought on by pitocin in the hospital setting, without pain meds made me shake my head in wonder at the women I knew that did manage to accomplish this.

The epidural provided me with rest. I won’t pretend that it wasn’t a relief after all the hours of intense pain and more importantly I was able to sleep! I rested for three hours after the epidural at which point I was complete and feeling a bit of pressure.

The epidural was turned down to ½ and I started pushing. I wanted to push in a totally flat position, pulling my legs way up because I’ve always felt that for someone that has to be in bed and has a posterior positioned baby this can open up the pelvis really well. In Samoa, I would get a woman in this position and the baby would nearly fly out every time….perhaps I hoped that would happen for me! Simon didn’t fly out but I felt it worked well for me. I got feedback that I was a good pusher and I worked really hard at it. I’d always felt that pushing would be my “forte” in labor and I feel it was. I remember saying, “It feels so good to have my hard work pay off.” With the pushing I could feel the satisfaction of progress that had been so hard won during labor. As the baby descended the physician was able to manually straighten his head and he came very quickly after that. In all, I had two hours of pushing.

I was able to see Simon born in the mirror and even though he had meconium he was vigorous and crying upon delivery and I was able to pull him from me after his shoulders were delivered and up onto my abdomen.

It was an incredible moment. I was crying and so very happy. Markus was laughing/crying and welcomed our son with a characteristic, “Hi, buddy!” We kissed and stroked our new baby and a feeling of joy was evident in the room. Our team had hung in there for about 33 hours of labor. They welcomed Simon and then left for rest.

Catherine, Kit with Us

We too rested and in the morning we were able to negotiate early discharge and we were back home by 10:30 am. My sister was there with a clean house and food for us as she would be for the next several days.

It was an amazing experience and I think everything went as well as it could have under the circumstances that we had been dealt. Everyone was wonderful and supportive in all our decision-making junctures. I loved laboring at home and was grateful for the care I received when it became evident we needed extra help to have a vaginal delivery.

I guess we just needed to do it all, since we are only doing it once.

Bringing Simon up. You can see where he got stuck at 6cm.

The big cry.

Markus cutting the cord.

Greeting Simon.
Happy to see our baby, FINALLY!
Phew! I made it!

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Part 3: I Guess since we are only doing it once, we may as well do it all!


Home Zone

When Jesse arrived I was in the shower working on coping. In the other room, my hyponobabies tape droned on as it would for much of the next 24 hours. It sure didn’t afford me a painless childbirth (still unconvinced this happens from hypnosis or shear luck of the draw) but the message was soothing and since I’d listened to it nearly every day of my pregnancy, the familiarity was helpful, especially the continuous positive tone.

Shortly after Jesse arrived I decided I wanted the tub set up. While I was waiting for Markus and my sister to set it up I got the bathtub running. There is some standard birthing wisdom that it’s best to avoid the tubs until you are in active labor. I am pretty sure had someone said that to me I would have said, “Screw the standard wisdom. I like the water, I NEED the water!” Jesse had brought her herbs and essential oils and offered me some. She started to put some on a washcloth and I told her to go ahead and put it in the water. The orange blossom oil smelled wonderful and relaxing…and then the burn started. I was instantly out of Laborland and crying in pain. I am one of those people that looks at poison oak and starts with boils and itching. In American Samoa, I touched mango sap and woke up with my eyes swollen shut. I had an awful reaction to the oil…it felt like it was burning my skin off. It seemed totally unfair to have to deal with anything other than contraction pain (which were still coming). Everyone flew around the house trying for remedies….aloe vera, baking soda, anything. Eventually, the cure was good ol’soap. I should have let someone else wash it off as I still have a long stipe of burnt skin down my right thigh. I remember saying, “I have so much adrenalin in my system, it will be a wonder if my labor starts back up again.” The contractions had slowed but once I was out of searing pain, labor resumed.

My Sister and Markus shaking on a job well done.

The tub was good to go around 7pm and I thankfully got in. It was just as I’d imagined. I remember saying, “They’re going to be lucky if they can ever get me back out of this.” Two hours later, I was needing some feedback on how labor was progressing. My contractions were starting to radiate into my groin and my butt and I was in a stinky mood. Of course, this whole time my team had been amazing. Markus was wonderful and at my side continuously.

It was at this point I asked Markus to call Catherine to come. She said she was going to send someone over that lived closer to check my dilation. Carissa arrived around 9 pm and had the unfortunate task of telling me I was still at 2cm….that meant that I hadn’t changed at all in all those hours of labor. I felt this might be an issue with having a stenotic cervix (I’d had some problems in the past) and that if we could get stronger contractions from ruptured membranes we could break past that (a stenotic cervix will often not dilate, not dilate, than boom be very open all of a sudden and labor will commence normally). Carissa didn’t have a second person to monitor the baby and didn’t have an amniohook so made a call to Catherine for direction. Catherine was in a meeting and asked to talk to me. I was in no mood to be put off (I’m a midwife, I knew there were some good reasons for not rupturing membranes at that early stage) and told Carissa that if Catherine wanted to talk to me she needed to come-did I mention I was in a stinky mood? Luckily, Catherine is used to pissed off laboring women and agreed to be there around 10:30 pm.

I grumpily got back in the tub to await her arrival. And labor hard while there. The pain was turning into something I’d never heard laboring women describe before….many women have radiating pain down there thighs and back pain. What I was starting to feel was excruciating cervical pain and as before pain in my groin and butt. I kept thinking, “WHAT is going on? This isn’t normal labor! I’m prepared for NORMAL labor, not some weird anomaly. I’ve never even SEEN this kind of labor after hundreds of deliveries. What the hell!”

On the Birthing Ball

Catherine arrived and patiently talked me off the ledge of rupturing my membranes. Of course, she was right. Luckily, I’d had some cervical change, I was now 3 cm and lots of show. With renewed hope I started trying to work with this labor that was such a stranger to me. I think it was at this point that I shared my history with cervical pain and stenosis with Catherine, wondering if this had to do with the strange labor pain and slow progress. I think we all just had a collective shrug of the shoulders.

Laboring in the tub

The baby was checked regularly and boy was he a trouper. Never, in all of this long labor did he falter. Interestingly, my uterus had some performance anxiety around Catherine and Kit….I’d be contracting away and out of it in Laborland. I’d see Catherine and “snap” I was back and my contractions would space. Really this didn’t surprise me one bit, and I mentioned it to Catherine. She nodded, they’d recognized it as well. I think that’s why they kept mostly to the living room during the early labor.

It was around midnight that we all were getting exhausted. I told Catherine I wanted to lie down and was given blissful permission. Markus, Jesse and I curled up on the bed. I would have a contraction, sending me moaning and twisting or sitting straight up in bed and one or both would jump to attention. Then we’d all fall back and doze until the next one came. That was a surreal experience, to be deeply asleep and then to be jerked back into your body that was already seizing up in pain. Somehow we made it through the night like that.

With the dawn came new hope. Shades were pulled, doors opened for air. Breakfast started to be cooked-my sister and my bestfriend Hope were holding down the fort in the front of the house—cooking, cleaning and doing other village women activities, this was such a comfort to hear this real world activity and still be huddled in my bubble of labor. Catherine checked me around 5 am and yeah, I’d made some significant progress! I was 6cm! I got up and started moving around. Two hours later, she checked me and offered now to break my water because there hadn’t been any progress and hilariously I refused! I wanted to get up and move around, see where we could get without it.

In the birthing tub

By 9:40 I still wasn’t changed and I agreed with some trepidation to have my water broken. I knew at this stage in labor this could really get labor moving and it could be super intense. I remember saying, “Ok, everyone, things are going to get CRAZY now.” Catherine broke the water and a small amount of clear fluid came out. I think it was at this point that Catherine could feel on my cervix a small knobby area of scar tissue. Touching this area felt like it was a locus point for all the pain I was having with contractions. She tried to stretch that area. She was also uncertain of the baby’s position. I think there were a couple of times when she suspected the baby might be posterior. I wasn’t having classical back labor so I wondered about this.

After breaking of the water the pain I was having felt more manageable. I thought that I was now having “normal” labor. I was listening to the hypnobabies on the ipod with headphones and working with the contractions. It wasn’t until later that I understood that what was really going on was that my contractions were spaced out and less intense.

Listening to Hypnobabies on the ipod.

When the pains did come back they were still in my cervix and groin. I had instinctually started using my thumbs to dig into the crease between my thigh and groin, finding the nerves that were causing so much pain. Each time it took a minute to find and then the amount of pressure I had to exert was really hard to sustain during the contraction. We tried using massage tools to apply the pressure and they worked somewhat better. Then Jesse had a moment of genius and thought to wrap a Rebozo (a long Mexican scarf used for all sorts of maneuvers in labor but I’d never seen it used for this situation). It was wrapped around my abdomen and then up and over my thighs. Markus and Jesse would each hold one side and I would dangle…effectively cutting off the nerves during the contraction. It was a lot of work for them but it relieved the pain really well.

Markus holding the Rebozo, waiting for the next contraction.

At around noon I was still 6cm and we started to use the pump. It was a really hard process because you were basically causing yourself the pain of labor. I’d have to attached the pump, tell them to start the pump, then tell them to turn it off once the contraction started, deal with a whopping contraction, wait two minutes and do it again. The pump should have kick started stronger, longer and more frequent contractions of my own, but I was having to work for every contraction. My spontaneous contractions were still about 5 minutes apart. At one point I had a four minute contraction (one of the risks of using a breast pump) that sent me over the moon in pain and fear. In the midst of the pain I didn’t think it would ever end and was terrified and said so. I also knew that with such a long contraction the baby could be in jeopardy of not receiving enough oxygen. In the middle of the contraction I pleaded for them to listen to the baby, and the great and tolerant baby he is, he did fine. After that I needed a break from the pump and got in and out of the shower, the tub and did various position changes. The next time I was checked I was 8cm around 2:30 pm. This was really encouraging and I started back with the pump in the tub. I eventually got to the point were I was having a little pressure.

Catherin and Kit

However, at 4:30 my contractions were still irregular and when Catherine checked me not only had I not changed, but I was regressing. Because of the baby’s presentation, my cervix was swelling, making my dilation less. Catherine felt that I was only 7cm now. She said we could continue with the pump or try to get an acupuncturist to come.

At this point I was over 24 hours of laboring and with the swelling I was concerned that if we continued we would start tiring out the baby and if we ended up transferring later we would end up with both an exhausted mom (me) and an exhausted baby and then end up with a cesarean.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Part 2: I Guess since we are only doing it once, we may as well do it all!



This is a different type of birth story. This is the midwife side of my brain story, the one with a time line and some facts and events. It actually took me a while after the birth to figure this version out. Which, actually, I’m totally proud of, because that means that for most of my labor I was in Laborland-working hard, focused, giving up as much control as I could and not concentrating (too much) on the clock. One of my fears about labor, was that I wouldn’t be able to enter that place. I was concerned I would hyper-focus on time. At some junctures I did need to pull my attention into time passing, especially as things slowed and eventually stalled. But when I asked how much time had passed or what time it was, I was always very surprised. One of the most salient ideas I had during pregnancy was amusingly from my Prenatal Yoga Video, “Where there is no mind, there is no time.”

However, after the birth it was important to me to put the timetable together, to see what the journey had looked like from the outside. I treasure the internal world I had for labor and will not replace those hazy memories with a "then this and then that” version, but I do like to know how the series of events unfolded. My doula, Jesse, was invaluable in this process. Throughout labor she kept a record of time and events and at her postpartum visit we were able to talk and process what had happened. She was also amazing in providing the most awesome photos.

So let us begin….

Maybe not exactly at the beginning, but a few days before. As my due date came and went the possibility of going to 42 weeks and the ultimate thing I resisted, hospital induction, (to me much more terrifying than a cesarean delivery because a csec would come if absolutely necessary, a hospital induction would be like a flogging to me). I had been getting acupuncture (at Blossom Clinic, Liz Richards was my acupuncurist though I saw Kine Fiscler on the day labor started because Liz wasn’t in the clinic) regularly and as I went past my due date I was going twice a week. On Monday, I had my midwife friend Chris check me and was 1 cm/70% effaced and “low, low, oh my gosh the baby’s head is right there” low. She also swept as best she could and then I went off for major acupuncture followed by a major labor stimulation massage from Lori Reising (again of Blossom Clinic). They really worked their mojo on me and by the time I was leaving I was starting to have some good contractions. I was so sure things were happening, I even called Markus from the table in between acupuncture and massage to come home and take the dogs to the their respective labor refuges.

When I got home I gave my doula a call and she said to be in touch. We talked about how the full moon was rising so it had to be soon! Ten minutes later, Jesse called back, here other client was in labor, it had to be the fault of the full moon! She gave me the number of her back up just in case. I took the news well but felt really disappointed. We had spent a lot of time with Jesse during the pregnancy and it would be hard to switch gears to someone I didn’t know. That evening the contractions spaced out and we went to bed and slept all night.

I woke up in the morning feeling disappointed. I had an apt with Catherine and was looking forward to seeing her and checking in and getting checked. Markus stayed home from work and we headed over there. When we got there, as the first patient of the morning, the receptionist was surprised…we’d been misscheduled! No one was going to be in the office that day. I talked to Catherine and we arranged for an ultrasound to check fetal well-being (as I was one week past my due date I needed to be reassured). Catherine also gave me the name of Kine to see if she could work me in for some last minute acupuncture. I also called my friend Chris. Within ½ hour I had a time for Chris to check me, an acupuncture apt (Kine went out of her way, juggling day care and starting her day early), and an ultrasound apt. At some point early in the morning I checked in with Jesse, my doula, and she knew that things were wrapping up with her other client and she had gotten ‘some’ good sleep.

Chris checked me and I was 2cm and she swept again. An hour later I was in the middle of acupuncture and getting some good whopping contractions. By the time we were in the car driving home, I knew that these things had done what they were meant to and I was canceling the ultrasound as I was in labor!

We got home and Markus made what was to be my real last meal for 36 hours-grilled cheese! Thank goodness we picked something substantial. The contractions were coming regularly and I was coping well. Around 3pm Jesse called to say she could come over now or in a couple of hours. Initially, I thought it would be fine to wait a couple of hours, but I had a whopper of a contraction that nearly sent me to my knees and I immediately had Markus call Jesse back and ask her to come. She said she’d heard the last contraction and wasn’t surprised. She promptly turned the car around and headed our way. She got here at 4pm and that is when I officially start the clock on my labor.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Part 1: Labor Land-My Birth Story to Simon


It’s been a week now, Simon, that you have been in our arms and hearts. Your birth journey was a long one. Immediately after you were born my heart opened up and sang. At first the labor was a hazy, misty time. Images floated up and then submerged. There was no linear memory of time and events.

Memories of this kind, with my mind deep in the hypnotic waves of hormones and contractions and pain were of feeling wrapped in a circle of love, of faces close to mine, words of encouragement, moments of anger and doubt; and one of sharp, intense fear for your well-being.

I remember your father most of all, his support was constant, unwavering. His excitement and awe and the experience of anticipating your imminent arrival and supporting me as I worked to bring you to us. He rarely left my side unless I encouraged him to go and take care of himself, eat, shower, drink. He was back faster than I thought possible to accomplish those things. He held me, stroked me, massaged me, took my pain away with the rebozo, slept beside me and startled awake with me in between contractions. He helped me try to make my contractions stronger at the end with the pump. He held my water, told me he loved me at every moment and that I was the strongest person he knew. Not once did he falter or fail in his devotion and acceptance of what we faced. He didn’t show his fear that I now know he had, when we decided to transfer to the hospital and he bounced back when we were finally at a point of pushing and we could work together again to bring you to us. He was uninhibited in his joy at seeing you, both laughing and crying. He kissed and touched you immediately and told you he loved you and called you “Buddy.” When the excitement settled into a dreamy aftertime and everyone had gone, your father held you on his bare chest, you also naked, except for your small diaper. Since that time he has craved every extra moment he can get with you. He loves cuddling with you and soothing you and even relishes a dirty diaper to change. He welcomed you into our bed without hesitation. Today, the one week anniversary of your birth, he took you on your first of many to come, dog walks. It is a gorgeous, sunny day with blue sky, after days of rain and gray clouds. You will forever be safe and secure with Markus as your father.

Other memories that float out of laborland are of my sister arriving, your Aunt Rebecca…she flew in on the day labor started. I remember hugging her and fighting tears at seeing her there. Then I had to turn away fast as another contraction hit me and I had to go to the bedroom to cope.

In the middle of the night, Jesse, my doula, and Markus and I all curled on the bed, dozing in between the contractions. A sleepy, dream state broken by the contractions sending me hurtling into a void of pain, which, as they ended, seemed to drop me back down to earth and sleep again.

There was a surreal, ancient feeling of being inside the labor hut or tent, huddled in the back of the house, keeping to our large bedroom and bathroom for most of the time. A murmur of activity, and smells of food from the women tending to the practical needs of the laborer, the partner and the attendants. Even the eternal icon of boiling water on the stove, a huge plume of steam visible every time I would venture a peek at the kitchen, water to keep the birth tub warm.

I remember feeling tended and served when surrounded by two or three people to be dried from the shower or tub and dressed. I remember the chills and shakes so exaggerated in my tired and exhausted body.

The pain of your labor was so different than I expected, so unlike anything I’d helped other women through. The pain also didn’t seem to respond to any of the tricks I’d known and I was forced to find new ways to relieve it. I worked with the Jesse and Markus experimenting, identifying and finally through Jesse’s divine inspiration finding a method that gave some sweet relief. Jesse was a rock coming up with suggestions and supporting both me and your father without fail even without proper sleep and rest, having come from another woman’s delivery to your labor. I remember her fanning me with a fan I’d brought back from Samoa.

Hope came a few times to just quietly sit in the room. Her presence felt warm and solid. Every time I saw her I would get a swell of gratitude. Towards the end I remember a circle of women in front while I was in the tub, Markus behind me. I could lock onto a face during a contraction and get guidance and feedback.

Jesse remembers me saying to you, “Come out baby whale.” During my pregnancy I’d listened to humpback whale song at one point and you’d gone crazy, jumping around inside. I’d started to fondly think of you as a little whale inside there, sloshing around, getting ready to be born. The size of a whale wasn’t what I was excited about birthing but your slow birth progress started to make me wonder.

I remember a few moments of anger and frustration. Hours without change and progress. Feeling stuck in a perpetual loop of contraction and relaxation. I remember wanting something to just be DONE about being stuck and not knowing what to do and trying everything I knew.

There was the point when my water was broken. In the beginning I had demanded this and then been convinced against it. Now I had to allow it to happen, knowing full well that with the rupture of membranes came more pressure and more intensity. I remember saying, “OK, everyone, things are going to get crazy, now.” Thinking to myself, “I can’t believe it can get crazier than this.” And the pain did change, but not as I expected. The groin pain lessened, the cervical pain lessened, the contractions seemed more “normal”. I was able to describe them as a midwife, “starting in the back, wrapping around to the front, pushing down from the top.” I thought the hypnobabies program that I had been listening to continuously throughout the pregnancy, was now WORKING…I could have a low pain delivery now. I put on headphones and breathed and worked with the contractions. I said your name out loud, “Simon” and at that exact moment and for the first time in days, the sun streamed through the window, and I thought to myself, “Yes, this is it. This is going to go somewhere now.” It was hours later when I realized that my contractions got weaker after the breaking of the water…something I’ve rarely encountered.

At the end, we needed the breast pump to get my contractions to match the “longer, stronger, and closer together” mantra. The surreal feeling of having to use my analytical brain to MAKE myself contract. Attach the pump, wait for the contraction, tell Jesse or Markus to turn the pump off, deal with the contraction, rest, be told it was time again and repeat this over and over. Sometimes, rarely, getting my body to respond with it’s own series of contractions. The intensity of the four minute long contraction that had me spiraling into the outer limits of the universe, scared out of my mind that it would never end and that when or if it did you wouldn’t have been able to tolerate such a long, hard squeeze without much oxygen. But it did stop and you did tolerate it and we tried other things.

Then the realization that though I’d made it to 8 cm, now my cervix was swelling, my dilation diminishing with lack of progress. The things we were doing just weren’t working. The decision was made and I was out of labor land. Things came into sharp focus, my medical brain taking over, except when the contraction came. I was dressed and going out the door within minutes of deciding to seek extra help. Markus never faltered though exhausted and strained. My team totally supportive of the decision. The transition to the hospital was surreal and intense. So many people around, my midwife advising, “Go into your bubble now.” This was a place I trusted but there was no place to be out of my head. I had decisions to make, greetings, and questions to answer. I remember thinking how hard for all those women to deal with labor pain in the hospital without medication…it would be so incredibly hard.

All the things we needed to get help happened fast. I was soon resting, sleeping, trying to recharge for the time when we would need to push you out. It came fairly soon. Despite the medication I started to feel you down further and the need to push. It was such a change to feel all my hard work paying off and getting progress. They brought a mirror and I began to see your head. Markus came and helped holding my leg for the pushing. It felt like we were a unit again. The physician came and during a push manipulated your head into a straighter position and that made progress much easier. After delivering so many other babies, I was able to watch in the mirror as your head slowly emerged and you became real as a baby, no longer inside of me. Your shoulders were delivered and I reached down and brought you to my chest. You were screaming and crying before you were even fully born, making it known you wouldn’t be needing any more medical attention, thank you very much. You were perfect and warm and calmed a little when I held you. I was so high and happy after your birth. You were so perfect. I was crying and touching every part of you. I told your father to touch you and feel your little butt, it was so cute. Markus cut your cord and you were at last our baby, no longer a mystery inside my belly, but here and very, very real. We each took turns cuddling you skin to skin and time seemed to stand still. Our support team peeled away to rest after such an epic journey. Leaving the three of us, so tired, to rest and start our new life of firsts together.

Simon, your birth was so long and so varied. It was an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change a single moment nor do I regret a single decision. Life with you in it will be an amazing adventure and I want to be with you and your father to savor every moment of it.

I love you with all my heart, all my soul. Bless you for making me your mommy.



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Friday, April 2, 2010

Our Little April Fool You Baby!


Simon Eugen Weltin arrived 7 minutes past midnight on April 1st, 2010 (an April Fool's baby and sharing his birthday with his Swiss Grandfather!) after a very long home labor (28 plus hours of hard labor) and a short delivery at the hospital. He was 7#9.5 ounces, 20 inches long and 13 inch head circumference-not the giant baby I had been anticipating. He was in there kinda of funny, head facing up, instead of down and then tilted to the side-this makes for a long labor and we needed a bit of extra help in the end to get him out, while he was still a happy camper and tolerating labor well. I am happy with all the support we had and think both the labor and the delivery were incredible experiences-apparently we just had to do it all, since we are only doing it once.
All dressed and ready to go home!

Simon on the Scale

Simon and his footprints.

First car ride home.

Big, ol' bear hat (apparently needs to be saved for a later date).
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