Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Homebirth Story: Nohra Florence March 4, 2013

Name: Nohra Florence

Born: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 9:52am

Birth Stats: 7lbs 4oz, 21 ½ inches

For some reason I keep telling people that I was in labor for ten hours. That’s not true. I was in labor for ten hours with Terra, 18 hours with Amara, but not even a full eight hours with Nohra, and four of those eight were spent lying in bed, doing guided meditations, repeating the words “open” and “relax”.

I felt that first “real” contraction around 2:40am on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. I was 41 weeks and two days pregnant. I knew that I could go into labor at any moment, but I’d figured that I’d go into labor around 2am no matter the day, because both of my previous labors had begun around 2am as well. I was feeling a little anxious because I was overdue and those first few contractions weren’t very heavy at all. I didn’t want to jump the gun and get uber excited about this really being labor until I was absolutely sure. I lay in bed and played around on my phone, I wrote a poem. I waited about two hours, about eight consistent contractions, before calling my midwife and committing to being in labor.

Hearing my midwife’s voice was extremely reassuring. I told her that my intention was to rest, but that I’d been so excited I couldn’t do anything but wait anxiously for the next contraction. I told her that they weren’t heavy, but that they were certainly much different than Braxton Hicks. I felt silly about not knowing without a doubt whether or not they were true labor contractions, especially with this being my third labor, but my midwife wasn’t worried one bit. She told me that she’d be around when I called her to come over later; I hadn’t wanted her to come right away. She also suggested that if I wasn’t able to get back to sleep I should at least try to get some rest.

I wanted to rest. I’d not gone to bed until after 11pm and I was tired, but I was also giddy and upset with myself for not going back to sleep after feeling that first contraction before 3am. I knew that being angry with myself would get me nowhere while birthing. I needed to be gentle to myself and listen to my body and go with the flow. I repeated Ina May Gaskin’s words of advice: loose mouth, loose bottom. No scowling allowed. No tensing up. No negativity. Just ride the rushes. No pain, just…interesting sensations which would require all of my attention. I knew I’d have to work with my animal self in order to get my baby out. This was not the time for self-loathing or doubt.

I decided to listen to some guided meditations. There’s one on positive thoughts that I enjoy and I knew that imagining a wonderful birth and a chubby baby would be more beneficial than wearing myself out being restless. I enjoyed the meditation so much that I did another after the first one. Then another. Then another. I kept doing the meditations until 7am, when I heard my oldest waking in the next room. I’d been so relaxed during the meditations that it wasn’t until I rose from the bed that I focused on the contractions again. They were certainly heavier at that point. It wasn’t long before they were difficult to integrate.

“It’s Nohra Day!” the girls kept shouting. They’d been patient so long and were possibly more excited than I was to meet their new sister. It took a lot of energy to get them set up for breakfast; I had to stop to focus on the contractions every few minutes and I wasn’t sure when I should contact my midwife again. I went ahead and called her at 8am. I still wasn’t 100% that I wanted her to come so soon, but something was telling me that I should have her start on her way. She is the greatest midwife, so patient, so wise. She told me that she’d be right over after gathering her things.

Baby had still been breech at my prenatal appointment two days earlier, so I knew that a second midwife, one I’d only heard of, would also attend my birth. I wasn’t extremely nervous about delivering a breech baby at home. I knew the risks, but I also knew I was in good hands with the midwives, and that more than anything I trusted my body, my baby, and the birthing process. She would come out alright, I just knew it.

When my midwife arrived I’d just set the girls up to play on their computers. I kept feeling the urge to take a shower and after witnessing me integrate a few contractions my midwife agreed that it sounded like a good idea. I expressed my awe of the birthing process with her before getting in. Labor is so intense, so overwhelming to the senses, a unique and fulfilling journey every time. I hadn’t fooled myself into thinking that having done it twice the third time would be easy, but it did shock me that it was as difficult as it was to stay loose through the onslaught of contractions.

I got into the shower and it felt so wonderful. The heat, the massaging pelts of water rushing over me as my body swayed to the waves of clenches and pulls. It was great. I’d never had the urge to get in water during my other labors, but different babies require different practices at their births, and I was open to doing whatever it took to help my daughter come safely earth-side. My water must have broken while I was in the shower, but I never felt it happen.

About twenty minutes after I got into the shower the hot water ran out. I felt a strong urge to push while using the toilet and upon standing I lost my mucus plug. I started to get really excited that it was really happening. After months of anticipation I was really going to meet my baby soon! I told my midwife that I’d lost my plug and that I felt like I needed to make a bowel movement, but that I was afraid of pushing. She reassured me that I wouldn’t push the baby out into the toilet, so I relaxed and used the bathroom like usual.

I went and put on my robe, met the second midwife, spoke gently to my children, and then headed back to the bathroom. The rushes were very heavy and it took my entirety to handle them without fighting back, clenching up, resisting. Squatting really helped me to integrate them, but being in that position also made me want to bear down. It got to the point where I had to get off of the toilet because I needed to find a position to birth my baby in.

An intense contraction took me to my knees and I rocked back and forth on all fours as it peaked, then passed. I couldn’t stand after that. I was in the hallway at this point and the midwives were in the living room. I told them that I was going to start pushing, and crawled into the living room where there was more space. My littlest one, intuitive as she is, jumped off of her seat at the computer and screamed, “Amara! Nohra’s coming out! Mama’s pushing!”

Both of my girls ran to the living room. At first they stood behind me, lifting up my robe, trying to see if the baby was coming. At this point I was dealing with a contraction, but the girls weren’t bothering me. I’d spent months prepping them and was very pleased to have them there to witness their sister’s birth. Transition began; I knew because my body felt completely at ease. I could breath. I could speak. I could choose to think of birth defeating me, or of me conquering. I chose to think positively. This was it, Jet. You can do this. No one can do it for you. The faster you do it, the sooner it’s done. Get it done,  get to meet your baby. Show the girls that birth can be amazing.

Transition ended and I once again had the urge to push. It wasn’t heavy, but I tried to push anyway. It felt strange. I’d forgotten how to do it, and my abs were much weaker than they’d been for my first two births. My body hadn’t been a natural enema during this labor, as it had for my previous two, so my first push produced a bit of poop. I’d reached down during the push and felt my vagina. My midwife asked, “What do you feel?” And I said, “Like I’m pooping.” Lol. I knew being self-conscious at this point wouldn’t help me so I put the embarrassment aside and focused on working with the contractions.

The next one came and I thought to push but wasn’t committed. I tried it out but didn’t feel my body take over my thinking it through until I’d pushed several times and the contraction was past its peak. I found myself screaming, not in pain, but a vocal match to what my body was doing. Contraction after contraction I allowed my body to do what it needed to, my mind to shut off, myself to find breath and the strength to keep pushing long after I’d reached my maximum capacity and my lungs should’ve been completely empty.

I pushed. I screamed. I reassured my daughters that Mama was alright. I pushed. I felt my baby moving through my bones. I pushed harder. I heard my midwives saying “She’s head first!” and I pushed again, leaning back onto my feet from my hands and knees position, catching her in my arms as she slid out onto the floor. I’d done it. I’d given birth. I cried tears of joy to welcome her. My midwife gently unwrapped the umbilical cord from Nohra’s neck and Nohra began to cry.

She was beautiful, just like her sisters. She was covered in birthing gunk, but her sisters didn’t care. They came up and greeted her, kissed her, exulted. They’d watched the whole thing; they saw her coming out and were perfect observers. They were so happy to have had the chance to see everything and I was very happy to have had them there with me. Especially since I did not have the girls’ father.

The birth was amazing. I have no regrets. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it. The fact that my husband wasn’t present didn’t debilitate or overwhelm me. The situation is unfortunate, but I know that ultimately I’m giving my girls a much better, more peaceful, more balanced life without him in it. I am absolutely elated to have her here with us. She is so perfect. We are all pleased with the new member of our team.

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Due in 1 Week with Baby #3 February 4, 2013

Last week was an awfully trying week. Both of my little girls were sick and the weight of being a single parent was heavier than usual. The girls’ illnesses affected everything else. The dirty cups overran the sink, each having contained two to four ounces of a clear liquid; a multitude of cups used at once to encourage the girls to drink from the variety. The laundry kept piling up as everything was getting wet with one disgusting substance after the next. I got hardly any sleep; if no one was vomiting on me she was wide awake and wailing, having slept away the afternoon.

OverwhelmedCatI pushed through it, somehow. I really didn’t have a choice.

Maybe it’s the hormones of my impending delivery or maybe I’m just more depressed lately, but I cannot stop considering the bigger picture of my life. It looks like a catastrophe from a distance. How the hell am I going to get by? How am I supposed to manage caring for four human beings? How am I going to get through graduate school with all of these other responsibilities? How am I going to make it through these next few weeks without crumbling?

I keep finding my finger on the button with his name on it. Just one slip and I’d be calling him. I know I shouldn’t. I know it would just bring me down. What would he say if he answered? Surely nothing to ease my suffering at this point. What could he say to make this better? What could I believe from his lips even if they spoke the perfect words? What if a girl answered? Sigh.

I have more important things to consider at this time. I cannot get caught up worrying myself about his life.

Baby is still breech. I am willing to do whatever it takes to avoid having a c-section. I’m due in one week, but Baby might need more time to turn so I’ll be patient with her. These next few weeks may include hypnosis, acupuncture, a lot of time upside down, and if all else fails, a version. I’m not afraid of going past my due date, that doesn’t concern me. Getting cut open and needing weeks to heal while I’m alone taking care of three babies concerns me.

The Braxton Hicks contractions are coming on stronger and more frequently these days. My appetite is nearly non-existent. I’ve missed the past three weeks of sessions with my therapist so that’s probably another reason for the funk that I’ve been in. I just want to give Baby a happy, healthy welcome. I want to shower her with my affection, not postpartum depression. I want to be a good example for all of my girls. It’s just so hard to handle it all lately.

I cannot believe that in give-or-take one week I will have three babies. I really don’t know how I’m going to keep it together, but I suppose I do not have any other choice.

 

I’m Not Really Complaining… December 7, 2012

“Let me know if you need a massage,” a girlfriend asked me yesterday.

“I don’t think you’d want to massage my vagina,” I replied.

My husband would say that I have a low tolerance for pain; he was doubtful that I could go through with birthing our first daughter naturally and medication-free because of how much I complained about the smallest things. Paper cuts and pregnancy are different than birthing. Complaining gets you nowhere when you’re in labor, but it helps me out in other instances.

Similar to saying aloud, “I’m embarrassed,” after tripping in front of a crowd, I will say, “my pelvis aches” to my classmates when they see me waddling around. It brings a sense of acknowledgement to the way I’m feeling and it helps me to be at ease with my discomfort.

31 Weeks

Today – 30 Weeks

People think I’m trying to be funny when I refer to my fetuses as parasites, but what better name for them is there? I love my unborn daughter, but she is just a little bit selfish. I don’t think she really cares how I feel about the way she sucks the nutrients from my body and then jabs her feet into my stomach so that it’s impossible to eat. She doesn’t consider how I might take offense to the pain in my pelvis being a result of the position of her spine.

Oh no, things are right fine on the inside. She has her xylophone –my ribcage, she has her trampoline –my bladder, she even has a nifty place to store her phalanges –my belly button. I’m thinking that she won’t take too kindly to hugs because every Braxton Hicks contraction incites a brutal fight between her extremities and my organs. I wish she could understand me when I tell her that I don’t like the contractions either, but they occur for her benefit.

So yeah, pregnancy is not walk in the park. It’s a waddle wherever you are after 30 weeks, and it’s going to take two to three times longer to reach your destination safely.  I’m trying my hardest to stop picking up my other two daughters as much, it’s no longer convenient to have a washer and dryer in the basement, and it takes me several minutes to walk from the front seat of my mini-van to the back to strap the girls in and then back to the front to start driving.

I’m not complaining. Not really. I know that this will all pay off in a matter of weeks (when the pain strengthens in intense waves repeatedly, peaks, and then tapers off through days of afterbirth cramps). Someday I will hold my third daughter, in all her innocent and chubby glory. I will gradually forget the discomfort I felt while she grew inside of me, and years from now I will crave this experience again.

Tonight, however, I will pout a little and ice my vagina.

 

Woe Is Pregnancy October 12, 2012

My daughters are three and five, so my pregnancies with them seem fairly recent, but after giving birth I always gloss over how annoying pregnancy can be.

I remember the births vividly. I have no delusions about the consuming feat of labor and delivery; how much energy it takes to breathe easy through hard-hitting waves of contractions; the terrible tricks of transition. I remember well why they call it the “ring of fire” when baby is crowning, but I also remember the sheer joy and immeasurable humility of having a baby glide through my bones.

It was those subtler, constant and consuming pregnancy nuisances that I completely minimized in memory.

I remember complaining about the pain in my ribs. I don’t remember feeling like I was being pulled apart. There is a continual strain coming from my rib cage. It feels as though my ribs are being stretched to all sides and that the seven layers of skin holding them in might not prove strong enough.

37 weeks – 2007

I remember the pelvic pain and feeling pressure. I don’t remember waddling at 23 weeks because the aching in my pelvis is so strong that it hurt to put my legs together. I don’t remember there being so much pressure in my vagina that it hurt to sit down. I’m carrying around unfamiliar, weak, sore and swollen pieces of me.

I remember the practice contractions. I don’t remember being squeezed to the point where breathing becomes difficult. I don’t remember holding the bottom of my bump in a futile attempt to keep the pressure from affecting my bladder. I don’t remember being worried that they are strong enough to be a sign of preterm labor. And then, of course, I stress that it’s my stress level causing the contractions, which inevitably continues the cycle.

None of these discomforts are the same as true labor. I can handle that. When I’m in labor I am in my element, totally present, focused on creating the most peaceful earth-side entrance for my baby as possible. No screaming, no crying, no complaining, no drugs. It’s different when I’m in labor; the end is so near, and my mental commitment to staying relaxed throughout the process helps to keep things progressing positively. Pregnancy, however, is a lingering stretch of vexation, a waiting game, leading up to the day where the pain all accumulates, amplifies, and finally, finally pays off.

I’ve only got..17 more weeks of waiting…17 more weeks of rib-splitting, kicked-in-the-crotch feeling, Braxton Hicks contracting joyous pregnancy.