Monday, April 13, 2009
Kandace's birth story
Disclaimer: I think ALL mothers are amazing...no matter how their babies came into the world! The most important things at the time of birth are a safe mother and healthy baby :-)
Before I got pregnant, I definitely heard about more pregnancies that required interventions than I heard about natural birth experiences. I heard so many stories of fetal distress, "forced" inductions, C-Sections, etc. Television shows and movies that featured baby stories always showed emergency situations that required interventions and rarely (if ever) showed a natural experience.
A few years ago, a friend of mine from high school (shout out to Keya!) told me I should DEFINITELY go natural when I got pregnant, and my initial reaction was "giiiiiirl, I don't know!!". After talking with her for a while and learning a little bit about midwifery and water birth, my interest was definitely piqued. She shared her natural birth experience with me, and was honest about the fact that it wasn't easy, but it was truly an amazing experience. I didn't realize how much that conversation stuck with me until I found out that I was pregnant.
As soon as I found out we were expecting, I started reading about Certified Nurse Midwives and decided I wanted to move forward with a midwife instead of a doctor. I really believe that birth is not an illness and, therefore, does not need to be "treated" by a doctor and definitely not in a hospital...this is what women's bodies were meant to do. I searched for midwives in the area, and was immediately impressed with the practices of Ancient Paths Midwifery in Chino, CA (only 10 minutes from my house). We went to a "meet the midwife" session and decided that day that we wanted to move forward with this midwife and that we would give birth at the birthing center instead of the hospital. I won't go into all the details about the birthing center...in short, it is a truly comfortable, warm environment to give birth in! For those of you in the area, check out www.ancientpathsmidwifery.com!
To educate ourselves further, we watched a great documentary called "The Business of Being Born" (PLEASE check out the trailer at www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com) and I read an amazing book called "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" (I HIGHLY recommend these for everyone!!). Kevin and I also took a course called The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth (www.bradleybirth.com) - it was amazing preparation for the birth and I would definitely recommend it (the course is offered all over)!
In addition, I started using a Relaxation/Meditation series called HypBirth around Week 37. This series combines methods taught in The Bradley Method as well as the Hypnobirthing series (also known as The Morgan Method) - it truly helped me to stay in a relaxed state throughout the birth. Check it out at www.hypbirth.com!
Now...what you really wanted to hear...the birth...
THE BIRTH OF PRINCETON SHERARD JONES
On Sunday, March 15th I was awakened by an intense labor pain at 5:23am (I will never forget that time on the clock) and I knew right away that this was "it"!! I had been feeling what I thought was contractions periodically throughout the last month of my pregnancy, but they were clearly not contractions!! All I could think was "people lied when they said labor feels like menstrual cramps!!"...I don't know what kind of cramps y'all have had, but my cramps were NEVER anywhere near what this felt like! So, I leaned over to Kevin and said "we're in labor...this is DEFINITELY the real thing" and he was like "are you sure"...I was like "YES!! I am sure!". He tried to tell me we should go back to sleep to preserve energy, but sleep was the last thing on my mind at that point...I was SO excited!
Contractions continued at a steady pace, so around 7:00am Kevin called Lori (our midwife) to tell her contractions were between 6-8 minutes apart and had been constant for the past hour and a half. We both knew good and well we were not supposed to call until contractions were 4 minutes apart for 1 minute long for 1 hour ("4-1-1"), but we couldn't help ourselves :-) After asking us the typical questions, she politely told us to call her back at noon (I know she wanted to cuss us out for calling at 7 in the morning, but good thing she's a Christian woman...LOL). She did give me some great advice before getting off the phone though...she told me that most women feel better if they're upright during contractions...she was right! I had been trying to lay down and "rest", but that was not feeling great at all! I got up and walked around a bit, and then Kevin brought me some breakfast in bed (soooo sweet!).
Since more sleep was not an option at this point, we decided to watch some videos. We learned that laughter is good during early labor and can help ease contractions, so we watched Kevin Hart's comedy special which was absolutely hilarious and it truly did help! It's hard to laugh and feel the pain of a contraction at the same time...perfect! After that was over, we watched some things we had recorded on DVR. Every once in a while we would look at each other and say "WE'RE HAVING A BABY, HONEY!!" and give each other a kiss or cuddle...those were actually some of the most intimate and sweet moments we had in a while. Kevin was a great coach throughout all of the contractions...rubbing my back, saying encouraging words, reminding me to relax, etc.
Contractions at this point were steady at about 6 minutes apart and I was going to the bathroom like crazy (soooo much pressure on the bladder)...I was excited that I was making progress when I saw that I lost the mucous plug and came out the bathroom saying "honey, I passed the mucous plug! we're making progress!!" and he smiled and gave me a high five (I know, we're corny). After I took some time to listen to my HypBirth CD, we decided to watch another movie to kill some more time...this time we watched "Vicki Christina, Barcelona"...I really wanted to see this because I needed to see if Penelope Cruz deserved to beat Taraji P. Henson for Best Supporting Actress...I thought Taraji was AMAZING in Benjamin Button! In short, Penelope clearly won the Oscar for her body of work, because it could not have been just for this movie! Enough hating...It actually ended up being the perfect movie for us to watch because it brought us back to where we met (Spain)...we laughed and talked and reminisced about our time in Spain...it was perfect!
Kevin called Lori back a noon to talk about progress and she said it sounded like I was progressing fine, and that we should call her back around dinner time. In my head, I was like "dinner time???!!! I'm going to be in labor THAT much longer?!!", but I just said "okay". Kevin warmed me up some food for lunch and I scarfed it down in between contractions (during a contraction I didn't feel like I could eat a thing!!). I decided to take a shower, hoping that the warm water would help to ease the contractions (and I wanted to be clean for the birth...ladies, y'all understand!)...I am SO glad we have a seat in our shower because I definitely had to take some breaks to regroup! I even managed to fit in a body scrub in between contractions :-) (gotta get my pamper on even in labor!)
Fast forward to about 4:30pm...we decided to watch another movie...I wanted to watch another comedy show, but Kevin was done with comedy (we had just gone to two live comedy shows recently AND watched Kevin Hart's special earlier that day) so we decided on Hustle & Flow...this movie is not supposed to be funny, but we CRACK UP at so many parts of it so it was perfect! We got almost all the way through the movie when I heard a POP and felt water dripping out of me...."OH MY GOD, HONEY!! MY WATER BROKE!! MY WATER BROKE"...Kevin was like "relax sweetie...I'll help you to the bathroom". I seriously felt like I could not move...it felt like the baby's head was about to come out!! Kevin held me up as we walked to the bathroom to clean up. It was 6:00pm at this point...Kevin called Lori immediately to let he know my water broke & she was like "great! she's making great progress...call me back at 9pm"...I was in the background moaning loudly and saying to Kevin "CALL HER BACK!! They're coming closer together...more like 2 minutes apart...I think it's time to go to the birthing center NOW!!". He called her back, and she was a little hesitant because typically it takes more time than this but when she heard me in the background she could tell it was time. Now comes the hard part...getting out of the house....
At this point I was thinking to myself "I can't take this level of intensity for too many more hours!!"...welcome to Transition (the point in labor just before pushing where you have the strongest contractions and most women feel like calling it quits...this is when most women ask for an epidural). To be honest, I felt like I was paralyzed! I went from contractions being 6 minutes apart to only having about a 1 minute break in between contractions that were even stronger than the earlier contractions...it was intense to say the least. I was also surprised that I was feeling a pushing urge (I had heard that when it was time to push, women feel a pushing urge...your body basically does the pushing for you, etc.) and was a little scared because I thought the baby was going to come at home. Kevin helped me get my clothes on...this took about 5 minutes or so because I could only do things in one minute intervals. He helped to gather my things and put everything in the car, while I fell to my knees beside the bed to wait for him to help me. In between contractions I found time to put on the pearls that my grandmother gave me a few years ago...for some reason I thought they would give me strength...I was willing to try anything:-)
Kevin came back upstairs and was like "are you ready?" and I was thinking "uhhhh...NO!!", but I just told him I needed to take the next contraction and then I would try to make it downstairs. After the next contraction came, I walked as fast as I could down the stairs...just in time to drop to my knees by the couch for the next contraction. At this point, I really didn't know how I was going to make it while riding in the car...this baby was ready to come out! I rushed to the car and adjusted the seat so I could be a little more comfortable on the way (didn't help at all). I just closed my eyes for the entire ride and kept telling Kevin "I'm feeling the urge to push!! I'm feeling the urge to push! His head is right there!"...he was just rubbing my head and telling me to relax and breathe. When we got close, Kev was so focused on me that he missed the turn to the birthing center :-)
We got to The Oaks House Birthing Center at 7:00pm. I walked in and barely spoke to Lori...I walked directly to one of the birthing rooms and dropped to my knees again for another contraction. Lori came in the room and asked if I needed to pee...I told her I did and walked toward the bathroom...as soon as I got in there, I had another contraction so I got on my knees, rested my head on the toilet, and was making a grunting noise (pushing)...Lori thought I was throwing up so she brought in a plastic container, but Kevin let her know that I was feeling a pushing urge. She couldn't believe that I was already fully dilated since my water had just broken, but she checked me and felt the baby's head! She asked me if I wanted to go ahead and have the baby in the birthing room since the tub was not ready, but I said I REALLY wanted the warm water (I was willing to try anything that would ease the experience for me). She rushed and filled the tub with warm water and I got in at 7:15pm.
After 14 hours of labor and 23 minutes of active pushing, Princeton Sherard Jones was born!! He came out with his head facing up (somehow he turned Posterior during labor!) and eyes wide open under the water...as soon as I saw his face, I forgot about the pain and pushed him out! Lori put him right on my chest and we stayed there for a good while. Kevin was yelling "You did it, Kandace!! you did it!! Look at him!!"...it was too cute :-) After the cord stopped pulsating, Kevin was able to cut the cord. We got out of the water after about 10 minutes and Kevin took the baby to the bedroom to lay down with him while I got cleaned up. I came in to join them after a while...Princeton was asleep on Kevin's chest...it was SO precious! I got in the bed and got covered up with blankets (I was shivering from getting out of the water) and we rested for a little while as a new family. I pushed out the Placenta not too long after laying down...I was SO glad all of that was over!
I started nursing about 45 minutes after the birth...such an amazing bonding moment with our new son! He nursed for what felt like forever to me (it was probably about 45 minutes or so). After that, we just laid in bed...rested...smiled...kissed...and stared at the baby for hours...truly a blissful moment. We left the birthing center at 1:00am and were off to the house for our first night with our perfectly healthy newborn son...
Overall, it was an amazing experience and I would not have done it any other way! I look forward to my next natural birth experience...I think I'll try home birth next time!