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grey's birth story

thought it was finally time i got this up here. sorry for the length, apparently a lot happened in 25 hours! enjoy :)

note: jeremy & i took a hypnobabies class prior to the birthing. in hypnobabies
due date = guess date, braxton hicks = practice waves, contractions = pressure waves, labor = birthing.

* * *

jeremy and i had just walked in the front door from a 5-day backpacking trip in the olympic national forest; i ran upstairs to take a pregnancy test (even though really i already knew) and three positive tests later...we were going to have a baby! the guess date ended up being april 23rd, which I loved—exactly ½ way between jeremy’s birthday (february 24th) and mine (june 23rd). i had a wonderful pregnancy—only 3 weeks of feeling nauseous & about 5 weeks of super tiredness but besides that i felt good the entire time. i gained my goal weight (35 pounds) due mainly to walking 30 minutes every day and eating normally.

in hypnobabies they encourage visualization of the birth, but the 2 times i tried it i kept getting stuck on the date of the birthing. my sister esther was coming to visit april 21st – 28th and my mom was coming on the 26th (for 2 weeks). i thought it would be so great to have the baby on the one day they were both here: april 27th. but then when would the pressure waves start? would they go over the night of the 26th? that didn’t sound like fun. i’d get frustrated with the visualizing and move on...

my guess date approached and i felt great. since starting maternity leave on april 13th i was actually sleeping better than ever. i told myself that april 23rd was the 2-week countdown to meeting my little guy, so that way i wouldn’t get frustrated if he came “late”. in hypnobabies, they encourage patience: “your baby will be born on his birthday, not when doctors decide.” i knew he’d come when he was good and ready.

i’d been having practice waves since the 15th week (when they got too frequent for my liking i upped my magnesium/calcium and they slowed down). as my guess date got closer i’d have around 8 per day, but they were no big deal. on the morning of thursday april 26th i was laying in bed when i felt a small cramp in my abdomen—totally different from a practice wave. i looked at the clock: 5am, a bit later i felt another one: 5:30am, and a while later, another one: 6am. i smiled. it’s happening!!! they went away once i got up but at noon they returned. my sister esther and i met my friend chelsea for lunch and we timed them: 20 minutes apart! they weren’t painful at all. i texted jeremy at work and he tied up his loose ends before coming home early. he met us at home with a big bright smile.

that afternoon i took a shower (and dyed my hair – i knew it would be a while before i’d get the chance to do that again!), cleaned, and got the house ready for the birthing. at 6pm we went to the airport to pick up my mom. she couldn’t believe i was there to meet her! the pressure waves were still 20 minutes apart but getting stronger. we went to a thai place for dinner but before the food came i knew i needed to go home. jeremy was so excited to tell the waiter that we needed to get our food to go because his girl was going to have a baby!

we ate dinner at home but during the pressure waves (that were getting closer together) i went and laid down. i called my midwife catherine to let her know what was happening. at about 9pm she sent her nurse rachel over. she checked me for the 1st time (i knew that unless the birthing had actually started cervical checks usually don’t mean anything, so i had waited to get checked) and i was 3cm dilated. my pressure waves were getting stronger and i threw up a few times (bye bye thai food...). at this point i had a lot of back pain, so i was mainly on my knees leaning over the fold-out bed in the living room. rachel did the rebozo technique to help me out. i was also listening to my hypnobabies tracks on my ipod (“easy first stage”).

rachel left a few hours later (i think my pressure waves were about 7 minutes apart) but let us know that someone would come back in the morning, or to call if i needed them sooner. she encouraged me to lay on the bed and try to get some sleep, but my back hurt so much there was no way i could lay down. i spent the entire night on my knees, leaning over the bed, having pressure waves. i waddled back and forth to the bathroom all night and had jeremy apply counter-pressure on my back during the pressure waves. good times...

at 7am my midwife catherine showed up. she checked me out and said i could go ahead and get in the birthing tub that was set up in the kitchen. my doula allison also came over, as well as rachel the nurse and the midwife’s assistant kayla. i spent the next 5 hours hanging over the side of the tub listening to hypnobabies on my ipod with my eyes closed. at one point i felt like i wanted to push and catherine said it was probably the water sack (since it hadn’t ruptured yet). those pressure waves were intense, unlike anything i’d ever imagined; it felt like my body was trying to turn itself inside out. i focused on my hypnobabies tracks and my breathing. allison massaged my back (it still hurt so much) and my forehead when i would scowl. i remember making some grunting noises (i couldn’t have stopped myself if i’d tried!) but otherwise i was in my own world, listening to hypnobabies with my eyes shut tight.

around noon my pressure waves were still about 4 minutes apart. rachel gave me homeopathic pills to try to get the pressure waves closer together. catherine suggested i get out and try to squat to see if we could get this baby out! we tried a few different positions but nothing was happening. she had me waddle over to the bed and try a few positions there—still nothing. we started walking back to the kitchen when i had a pressure wave and needed to lay down (in the middle of the dining room). they threw a chux pad under me and whoosh my water broke! i remember everyone in the room going “oh!” when it happened. finally, some progress! there was some meconium in the water, so catherine told jeremy and i that depending on how the baby looked and acted when he came out we might not be able to do skin-to-skin.

i remember every time rachel listened to the baby’s heartbeat; i was so grateful when she would say “yep, still sounds great”. i was feeling enough pressure just being in pain, so not having to worry about the baby on top of that was a huge relief. so there i was, laying on the hardwood dining room floor, my back hurting even more (and no way for anyone to massage it) and catherine said to grab my thighs and push. i pushed, pushed, pushed... pushed some more... the baby’s head was finally crowning and i remember thinking “oh, this is why women ask for epidurals!” but then right away thinking “i know why i didn’t want one, and i still feel that way.” (not that i could’ve gotten one at home anyway!) it seemed like catherine said so many times “one more big push!” but i kept at it because i knew the harder i pushed, the sooner the pain would stop and i'd meet my baby. finally, i pushed harder than i thought i ever could and out came my baby’s head! a few more big pushes and out came my baby! they quickly checked him out but he was crying and wiggling (good signs) so they laid him on my chest and i hugged him tight to me, stroking his sticky, warm skin, whispering “it’s ok sweetie, it’s ok. we did it!”

once i pushed the placenta out i was helped over to the bed and i got to nurse and cuddle my sweet baby (skin to skin). after about 30 minutes, catherine said they wanted to give him a quick bath (they wouldn’t have normally except for the meconium all over him) and do a little check-up. we made guesses as to how much he weighed and were all surprised when he was an even 9 pounds! i was lucky enough to not need any stitches, just 2 tiny tears (thanks perineal stretches!). jeremy’s parents, sister, and niece came for a quick visit, then i was helped upstairs for a shower and got into bed. allison made me a green smoothie (with a bit of raw placenta in it) and jeremy and i cuddled our sweet babe. life was good.

grey wren matsen kindred, born april 27th 2012 at 1:38pm (my visualization came true! my mom and sister were both there, as well as my sister liza and niece nika watching via skype from new york city). 9lbs, 20 inches long. what an amazing, humbling experience. i love being a mom to baby grey and am so grateful to jeremy. i’m so in love with my new little family!

* * *

it took me a while to be ok with my birthing. in hypnobabies you’re taught how to use self-hypnosis anesthesia for a pain-free birth. after the birthing, i was frustrated with myself for not being able to do this, but now i realize how perfect my birthing was for me. i was able to stay calm and focused through the entire process. i’m told i only said “ow” a few times (ha!). everyone who was there told me later that they were extremely impressed with how quiet and calm i was. i definitely credit that to hypnobabies and listening to the tracks during the birthing. and hello, i pushed out a 9 pound baby on the dining room floor! go me!!

things i’m glad i did (and would definitely recommend): hypnobabies, perineal stretches (not fun but totally worth it), birthing tub, having a doula (allison [pictured] is a student doula, so she was free, although in hindsight i totally would've paid her - she was amazing!), red raspberry leaf tea (for the last 2 trimesters), evening primrose oil (for the last 3 weeks), not getting the flu shot (i upped my vit d3 to 5000 iu/day), not getting checked until i was in active labor, consuming the placenta (allison made a powder out of it using a technique i came up with after a bunch of research, and i took some every day for 3 weeks following the birth. i had so much energy and my emotions were so stable, i was amazed. i really think it was because of the placenta) and last but not least: home birth!!!

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