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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Just Got Real February 25, 2013

Wow.

Nohra has been here for five days and sometimes it still seems like a dream to me. I really have three children.

I really have three beautiful little girls.

Nohra is absolutely amazing, my calmest child by far. Her temperament is incredibly mellow. I know that she may not keep this personality, but it’s much appreciated at the moment.

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My sister was able to come the day after Nohra’s birth to help me out and she’s leaving tomorrow. It has been so wonderful having her here. Everyone assured me that things would work out, and everyone was right.

I couldn’t have asked for a better midwife or a better birth. This is the first birthing experience that I’ve had where I can say without hesitation that it went perfectly. My neighbor/friend was amazing the day of the birth; I received such an immensity of love and help from her. Another friend let me borrow her dehydrator to prepare my placenta for encapsulation, and I’m quite honestly shocked by how much my sister committed to being useful. I feel very cared for and I am so appreciative.

Everyone who has helped me through this has helped to make it the best transition imaginable.

Thus far I am doing well to keep myself from thinking any sad thoughts. I may come close to considering something negative, but I quickly brush it away. There is so much to do right now. So much to accomplish in the next six months. I cannot bother with the unknown, the pain of the past. I need to stay strong for my curly girls. I need to stay strong for myself.

At this moment I feel so incredibly capable. I do not know what will become of our situation. I do not know what I will do or where we will live after I graduate, but…today I feel like I can make it work out somehow. Today I am not worried about our future. Today I know it’s going to be fine.

Everything is going to be just fine.

Maybe I am dreaming?

 

Welcome earth-side Nohra Florence February 22, 2013

She’s here!

Nohra wearing her first outfit ever.

Nohra wearing her first outfit ever.

I am so happy to announce the birth of my third daughter.

Nohra Florence was born at home on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 9:52am.

She was 7lbs 4oz, the smallest of my brood. 21 1/2 inches long, lanky like her father,and oh so cute!

Her features are the perfect combination of both of her sisters’.  She is another unique mix of my husband and I.

Shortly after her birth. She is so attentive, strong, and curious!

Shortly after her birth. She is so attentive, strong, and curious!

And guess what? She came out head first! I’m not sure when she turned, it must have been while I was in labor because she was still breech at my prenatal on Monday. I’m so glad that I trusted her, that I trusted birth. I knew she’d come out alright 🙂

I will write up and post her birth story sometime soon, but for now I will just tell you that labor was more intense than I remember it being. It’s a journey every time, but I stayed strong. I labored for ten hours, and pushed for about eight minutes before she was born. So incredibly worth it, even these crazy postpartum contractions are bearable when I look into her eyes!

Terra holding Nohra

Terra holding Nohra

Amara holding Nohra

Amara holding Nohra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My big girls watched their baby sister being born and handled everything so well. The months of prep that we did really paid off; they were well prepared for the experience and able to enjoy it without any fear.

I am in love, once again. I cannot think of anything negative. I do not know how things will go these next few months or any of that. All I know right now is that I have a lovely, healthy newborn. I am going to indulge in her newness, her perfection, our bond. I am going to cherish this time getting to know her and enjoying her with my daughters and everything beautiful.

Nohra smiling in her sleep :)

Nohra smiling in her sleep 🙂

All of the circumstances I deal with will somehow unfold. At this moment I cannot imagine anything having less than a beautiful outcome.

 

Blizzard Baby Prep February 8, 2013

These past few days have been crazy. The girls and I did so much shopping that I think they’ll want to avoid leaving the house for several weeks. As I type, the cars are being covered by the snow in our condo parking lot. It looks nasty out there but I am extremely content. I’m excited to see what it will look like come morning.

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The girls are excited to play in the snow, but I am so exhausted from shopping and cleaning that I think I’ll need a recuperation day. We went to the post office to make sure I had enough stamps for baby announcements and to send some mailings out. We went to the pharmacy to fill a prescription so I won’t have to worry about it a few weeks from now (when it will actually need to be filled). We went to the library to return CD’s and a book I’d checked out. We went to a laboratory to turn in a prenatal test I’d completed. We went to PetCo to stock up on Gerbil supplies, We went to Home Depot for batteries and whatnot. We went to the craft store to stock up on supplies for making Montessori materials. We went to Target for the California Baby diaper cream, breastmilk storage bags, and all the other items I needed in order to feel “ready” for Baby’s arrival, to Whole Foods and two other grocery stores to stock up on food. I’m probably forgetting something or somewhere.

20130207_092908_5_bestshotIt was exhausting. It took me several hours just to put away everything that we’d purchased! Surprisingly, the girls were in good spirits and were both very well behaved on each trip. I don’t want to give all of the credit to the new dual-screen DVD player or to the smartphone apps, though both came in handy. I was grateful for and pleased with the girls’ attitudes toward our intense shopping trips. I suppose I’m indebted to them now, and will have to brave the snow despite my Raynaud’s disease.

We really didn’t have to do very much blizzard prep. I was insanely prepared for Hurricane Sandy, after having been so horribly unprepared for Hurricane Irene. But Sandy never showed up in my neighborhood so I already had all of the extra water and candles and whatnot stocked. I focused more on the cleaning; everyone had a bath, the dishes are washed, the laundry is clean, the gerbil cage is clean, etc. If we lose power I do not want dirty dishes. If I have a homebirth I need to have enough clean linen.

20130207_093106_4_bestshotSo far no labor. I expect that she’ll come on Monday, as my other two came at almost exactly 40 weeks (Amara was one day after I was due and Terra was one day before). She is still breech as far as I know, but I never did make it to get another ultrasound. I am excited, and nervous as well. The fact that I’m going to have another child in a few days (give or take) is surreal. It’s really happening. I’m going to go through labor again. I’m going to push again. I’m going to feel that ring of fire again (…but I might not want to think too much about that). I’m going to hold a newborn baby girl in my arms and cry tears of joy.

I have been so anxious that I cannot get much sleep. OMG Baby is coming! I’d like to lounge around, watch TV, and fill out some sections of her memory book, but I have laundry to fold and homework to complete. I hope that Baby waits for the blizzard to pass by before making her appearance. Just in case she doesn’t, I’d better get to folding and studying.

Stay safe everyone!

 

The Home(birth)stretch January 25, 2013

IMAG0277I am still doing daily prep for baby, but I’d say the insanity of nesting hit its peak a week or so ago. I finally got the bookcase disassembled and made a run to our storage unit. I’ve got her crib set up, all besides the mobile. I’ve got her dresser cleaned out, but I’ve yet to fill it with her clothes. I’ve got the cloth diaper supply ready to be washed and sorted. I’ve managed to move all of the baby gear from the cellar to the living room, but I’ve yet to assemble anything.

There are still things that need to be done. Washing all of the covers to her various seats, washing my boppy pillow and her tummy-time mat, washing the stroller and her shopping cart thingy. Maybe I am still nesting…but I’m not feeling as incapable of balancing it all lately. I’ve reached a peace with this pregnancy. Now that I’m due in just over two weeks, it’s all a little bit easier to handle.

Not that the pulled groin muscle, pain in my hips, pressure in my pelvis, and continuous sleep shortage are easy to deal with, I just don’t want to complain about them anymore. Maybe I’m trying to build character. I’ll need it when I’m in labor.

It’s nearly impossible not to think about how the birth will be. I’m trying to keep the thoughts on how I’ll handle the actual labor and delivery, instead of contemplating how it’s going to feel with him not there beside me. There are good reasons why he should not be at the birth, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.

This has been so difficult. I’m full-term pregnant and I may be extremely hormonal, but being in my situation would be challenging either way. I cannot help but to look back and think about how much different life was before the conception of this baby.

Nine months ago I couldn’t have ever conceived of there being a time in the future where I’d go over six months without speaking to my husband. Nine months ago I couldn’t have imagined being pregnant, single, still in graduate school, victim to a felony, seeking a divorce. No…those just weren’t the thoughts I was thinking. DSC07109

So baby is coming soon, and the rush of birthing and the anxiety of transition and the newness of change makes me want to reach out for something old and comfortable and reliable, like being his Babydoll. I want to hear him call me by my pet-name again. I want to hug him while he’s shirtless and breathe in the scent of his skin. I want to run my fingers through his hair. I want him to validate me. I want him to possess me.

I do not really. But the familiarity of my marriage is my latest craving. I want to call him. I want to hear his voice. I want to hear him say that he still loves me. I want to know where he is and how he’s doing and whether or not he still thinks I’m pretty. I want to find out if he’s seeing somebody.

But he is not mine any longer, and I should not contact him. I know better than to think that just because he tells me sweet nothings something will change. I’d be a fool to have built up my strength for nine months and then give it all away in one conversation. I must remain strong, and alone.

It does get harder though, knowing that our third daughter will arrive any day now. I wonder if she’ll ever know her father. I wonder if he’ll even care about her at all. I wonder if he thinks this entire situation (court cases, failed marriage, fatherless children, etc) is my fault.

But I should spend my time assembling the swing and washing everything. I should not brood over what he might say were I to call him. I need to continue to build my strength, not slip back and allow myself to be weakened once again by his words, his eyes, his demeanor. This time should be about my daughters, my household, my impending homebirth. It’s just so hard to build a nest when someone significant has been banished from it.

 

I’m Having Another Homebirth!!! January 4, 2013

If I could successfully land a front handspring right now I would do five or six of them in a row. I am so excited! I’m having another homebirth!!!

I was trying my best to be positive about the disappointing reality of having to deliver Baby #3 at a birthing center. A birthing center wouldn’t be nearly as unbearable as delivering at a hospital. Still, every time I considered it I freaked out a little inside.

Taken 12/29/12 - 33 weeks

Taken 12/29/12 – 33 weeks

  • If I go into labor at 2am, like I have these past two times, who is going to drive me to the birthing center?
  • Even if I have someone willing to drive me there, what about my children? I’ll have to wake them up and get them dressed at 2am and then travel the significant distance from our house to the center, in LABOR!?
  • What if I have to take a taxi, with my two children? In labor? At 2am? In the cold of February?
  • If we take a taxi to the birthing center, how would we get home?!
  • How am I going to labor in a moving vehicle with cranky children?!
  • How am I going to calmly ride the waves of my contractions while being terrified that my water might break all over someone’s car?
  • Okay. Say I go into labor sometime in the afternoon. Say the kids are dressed, my friends are available, my car is functioning, and it’s not all that cold…but what if my labor starts out as strong as it did last time? Last time there was never a break in how strong the contractions were from start to finish the entire ten hours!
  • What if the midwives at the birthing center discourage me for coming in because I don’t “sound” like I need to come in yet? I never “sound” bad when I’m laboring. I pride myself on being able to keep it together. But my labor won’t progress until I’m comfortable knowing that I am where I need to be. Does that mean I’ll wait at home too long and not be able to make it to the birthing center? Or will I be in labor twice as long because I am uncomfortable not being where I need to be?
  • What if Baby stays breech?! At my last prenatal appointment the midwives wanted to schedule me for an external cephalic version just in case my exercises didn’t do the trick of turning baby. A VERSION!?! Do you know what that means?! Do you know what that might do to me and Baby?! Do you know HOW OPPOSED I AM TO HAVING A CESAREAN SECTION UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY?!!? Did you know that babies can successfully be born breech vaginally?

BBBThere were so many things about going to the birthing center that filled me with anxiety. I was still going to go, but only because I didn’t have any other option. Should baby stay breech, however, they will not even allow me to attempt a vaginal delivery. Liability, they told me. I would’ve had an involuntary cesarean section. I used to work at a hospital in the labor and delivery department. I’ve seen c-sections performed. I do not EVER want that to happen to me! Our society, hellbent on controlling childbirth, does not properly acknowledge the risks of cesarean sections, yet doctors are no longer being trained to handle vaginal breech deliveries. It saddens me.

I’m still living off of my school loans so we’re still broke as can be, but let’s just say, where there’s a will, and a very amazing midwife, there’s a way. I’m going to have a homebirth for Baby #3!!! Just over five more weeks and Baby is coming 🙂

 

 

Birthing Baby #3 November 7, 2012

I’ve decided to deliver at a birthing center.

After this delivery I’ll have birthed in a standard hospital (though we weren’t there very long before I delivered her), I’ll have had a homebirth (absolutely wonderful to experience), and I’ll have given birth at a place that’s a bit in-between one’s home and a medical facility.

The decision wasn’t easy, per say. After two successful, drug-free and intervention-free vaginal deliveries I really don’t see the need to leave my house while birthing, but…I’ll be alone. This time, not only in spirit, but I won’t have his body to knead like bread through the waves of contractions. I also don’t know if my mother or sister will be with me. So, even though I know that I have the strength to delivery my baby safely and peacefully, I’d rather not be alone.

I wanted to hire a homebirth midwife. I interviewed some and met one that I really liked, but that was months ago, when I thought I’d be better off financially by this time. However, I am not receiving child support, and with all of my other expenses I cannot afford to hire a midwife who isn’t covered by my insurance.

It does sadden me. I know that I’m fully capable of delivering my baby without anybody’s assistance. But with two little ones in the house who need tended to, and with us being so many miles away from a healthcare facility, it just seems safer to be with midwives during the delivery. Plus, I really don’t want to be alone.

2009 – Terra’s Homebirth

Birthing is difficult. It challenges your core strength as a person, as a woman, as a mother-to-be. It grounds you, and sweeps you off your feet simultaneously. It empowers you while bringing you to your knees. I love birthing. I feel the strength that I typically suppress consuming me. I am unstoppable and fully capable of riding out the rushes; in, out, up, down, squeeze, opening my body.

But I don’t want to be alone. Birth is a celebration. Someone come earth-side, someone taking their first breaths, someone welcomed to life. I want to be in good spirits when I push her through my bones, I want to give her a wonderful welcome. If I am not surrounded by loved ones, or loving midwives, it will be much more difficult to not succumb to the sadness, to the emptiness, to the fears. I do not want her to come into this world and be greeted by my grief.

I need the birthing center to distract me from brooding over him during labor and delivery. I do not want to focus on my worries, I cannot spend my labor wondering what my future holds. From my experience the best way to get through a delivery is to be totally present. It’s difficult though, when the sensations make you want to push against them or run away, and what is really going to help you is to embrace them, allow them to invade your idea of comfort, reorganize your concepts of control.

It still saddens me, that I cannot have another homebirth strictly for monetary reasons, that I will give birth to our third baby and he will not be there with me, that I will bring her into this world so uncertain of what will be. But I am happy that she’s coming. I am excited to prepare for her. The girls already consider her in everything that they do and enjoy imagining the ways that Baby will contribute once she’s here with us. I will do my best to bring her into this world safely and surrounded with love.

This may not be the situation of my dreams, but I’m still going to give birth naturally, and I’m going to make her earth-side entrance as positive and peaceful as can be.