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Monday, June 10, 2013

Reverie's Birth Story

Everyone always says the same thing.  "Wow!  You are brave!"  and the occasional : "Wow! You are lucky!"
The wow meaning: " you really are out there/nuts/crazy aren't you?"  and the "lucky" implying that we are lucky that nothing went wrong.

When I had Grayson I wanted to shout it from the rooftops that I had GIVEN BIRTH!  My body is amazing, and you?  you have a child?  well your body is amazing and  you and any person that had birthed a child within any radius of me for months and months afterward.  I felt like my eyes were open and not only to just how amazing my body/nature/birth/life is but just in general.  I also felt an enormous kinship to all mothers, and still do, and for that I am so very thankful for.
The time leading up to his birth was so much fraught with "can I really do this?", "should I really do this?"(at home), and lots and lots of general anxiety and making sure we(Doug, Rebecca and Les) were all on the same page since apparently I thought I would be going somewhere during the birth.
Then it happened and it was the most life changing and beautiful thing I could have imagined.  It. was. perfect.  All the way down to timing, Indian Food and the comical entrance Les made right before he was born.

So Reverie's pregnancy was full of anxiety we had used up all of our good birth points somehow.  I was mentally preparing for a hospital birth.   Let me back up.

It's August 6th 2012.  I am still breastfeeding and therefore have missed the fact that my period is missing.  I am feeling slightly nuts(my first pregnancy sign, always)  so out of the blue, at 5 AM, right after Doug leaves for work, I take a test and it is a HUGE positive.  The test practically YELLED:  "you are pregnant dummy!"  I was stunned and just took off running, down the street to catch up with Doug. I went for about a block when I realized he wasn't there.  So I ran home realizing he must have gone out a different way.  I came back inside after checking the other doors and he was just getting ready to leave when I threw the test at him.  We hadn't really discussed what would happen if we got pregnant quickly because we didn't think it would happen.  He smiled and hugged me. (how does he manage to always keep his cool in situations like that anyway).  Then he went to work.  We were both thinking the same thing:  "we'll see". As survivors of multiple miscarriages we know better than to assume a positive test means you get to have a baby.  Despite that, as I nursed Grayson that morning I couldn't help but smile.  I am keeping 2 babies alive!  How amazing.  I will never forget that moment.  I started to love her immediately.  And just when I thought I couldn't be more in awe of my body, I was.

First order of business was emailing Rebecca, my midwife.  She books up very early so I wanted to just let her know.  She responded very quickly letting me know she was taking a birthing vacation that month.  I was devastated, but at the same time really believed that she NEEDS that time to be the amazing midwife she was.  I told her as much in my response but also mentioned that I tend to birth early, and if my dates were correct this one would be early as well.
She agreed to meet me at 10 weeks and "see how we feel". 

We saw the heartbeat the day we celebrated Grayson's birthday(Aug 25th)  I would say that is the day I really began to believe that we would be having a baby for real.  We didn't want to spoil the day if we didn't get good news because it was really a very happy day, so we let close friends and family know with a sign instead of telling them individually.  It was this little statue of a pregnant bird.  If the bird appeared the news was good.  no bird, no baby.

My entire pregnancy every ultrasound was  everyone(except Rebecca) telling me I was ahead of myself(just like Grayson)  My conception date could not be correct ect, ect.  Luckily for me I was confident in my records(after a few miscarriages and being a part of the EAGER study you learn to record everything, yes everything that goes on in your life pretty closely)  This time I had to be pretty sure or Rebecca would not be able to attend this birth.  People ask for a due date, that is part of standard conversation as a pregnant lady.  It is one of the safest questions you can ask a woman or couple that is expecting so I was a little sad to forfeit that bit of humanity that comes when someone is interested in your life.  I would often say I don't know, or a date range(March 27th-April 15th), and it didn't sit well usually.  I just had to breath, focus inward.  Come when you are ready baby, it will all be ok, I will make sure it is ok, no matter what baby, I love you.  This was my mantra over and over.

 Fast forward through being pregnant, horribly sick, with a toddler.  I would not say those were my finest months.  Now, after a few pregnancies, I can officially say I am a different person when I am pregnant.  I feel an intense need to withdraw, connect with my body and center myself.  Simplify, nourish and strengthen.  It is very hard to explain but whatever I am doing, it leaves little time for being social, which I normally put a very high priority on.  Come when you are ready baby, it will all be ok, I will make sure it is ok, no matter what baby, I love you.

My entire pregnancy I was also navigating through the very real process of mourning my last months of being alone with my first baby.  Grayson. It was harder, much harder than I had expected.  C'mon heart are you going to expand?  No, it seems you need to break instead.

The beginning of my birth month began, the days went by and we filled them to the brim with snuggles, endless snuggles and whispers and stories and rocking back and forth and I'm sorry, So sorry my little one that mommy is changing, I want to stay the same for you, always.  C'mon heart are you going to expand?  No, it seems you need to break instead.

The first week came and went, there were endless questions from everyone I came in contact with about when, how, what to do with Grayson, who will be there, what?  you don't know, you haven't even met the backup midwife?.
I don't know, I won't know, that is how it has to be.    
Come when you are ready baby, it will all be ok, I will make sure it is ok, no matter what baby, I love you.

We walked, and walked, and snuggled and walked and whispered and read and just breathed in the calm.  There is such a calm in not having a due date.  There just is.  I looked at it as another day with my little, little boy.  Days I would never ever get again.  I cherished them I really did.  I was so very excited to meet my little girl, but could it wait just a minute more, I just want to remember, smell, touch.  Just one more minute.   Please. I'm not ready yet, just one more minute.
C'mon heart are you going to expand?  No, it seems you need to break instead.
Come when you are ready baby, it will all be ok, I will make sure it is ok, no matter what baby, I love you.

Doug had been so busy, so very busy the entire last months.  We hadn't really had time to talk and realize that we were having a baby.  As we came up on the middle of our birthing month I realized this was holding me back.  I needed to have him near me, physically and emotionally.  I wouldn't be ready until then.  I planned a weekend.  I arranged for Grayson to stay with Doug's parents and we spent Saturday together.  We saw a movie, we ate slowly, we talked about my fears, and his, and just focused on our daughter.  I was having contractions but I had been for weeks.  Rebecca was leaving on tuesday(and wouldn't be able to attend if we didn't have her before then) so we decided to meet on Sunday to take a look.
She showed up around 9 and determined that everything looked favorable to strip membranes so we did.  She also gave me "rocket juice"  and told me that I would be having contractions.   She told us to keep her in the loop, and left.  Doug put Grayson down for a nap and went to his haircut appointment that I had scheduled at 11.  I was alone.   It felt good.
Come when you are ready baby, it will all be ok, I will make sure it is ok, no matter what baby, I love you.
I was contracting pretty hard, but this had been the pattern for weeks.  I would contract for a few hours and then stop.  So I made a few phone calls, Les and Tom were on their way back into town and I told her about Rebeccas visit.  She asked me to write down Grayson's schedule so I did. 
Doug got home and immediately started acting suspicious.  He asked if he should light the candles.  I said no, he asked if he could start filling the tub, I said no.  I couldn't talk through contractions but I had just had membranes stripped so it maybe wasn't real?  Luckily Doug ignored me and began doing the tub, contacted Rebecca, contacting Julie Barta to take Grayson ect. (she was our 3rd backup to take him.  The first two were out of town!)

Every time he left my side the pain was harder, everything seemed unmanageable.   Every contraction he was with me was manageable and calm.  So he was pretty much running back and forth to the tub(to make sure it was filling) and to me.  I needed to be near water.  At one point I was holding onto the hose that was filling the tub just to be near water.  I asked him to ask Rebecca if I could get in the water.  If you get in water too early in labor it slows it down and we didn't want that.  She said I could.   I got in, it felt great! There were more contractions, holding Doug's hand, Rebecca showed up, said I was doing great, reminded me to keep my tones low and that i had a few more minutes to go and she would be back after she got her stuff up all the stairs. 
She came back up and suddenly I knew I couldn't go on any longer.  I just needed to stop.  I couldn't do it, I knew I couldn't.  Transition.  even if you know everything about it, it still surprised me, again.  Doug and Rebecca talked me through, she started crowning and a few(careful)pushes later she was born into the water.  I grabbed her and immediately hugged her.  "hi" "hi" over and over was all I could manage.  

She was here!  I couldn't believe it!  "2:22 what a great time to be born!"  Rebecca chimed in. We marveled at her for a few seconds and then heard Grayson waking up from his nap(and saw him on the monitor).  Doug excitedly ran up to grab him. 

They were suddenly behind me feeding me apples.  Grayson tried to feed the baby an apple too.  What a kind boy.  Reverie went straight to nursing!  And stayed there for the rest of the day.

We hung out for a few more minutes(maybe an hour?) and Doug called Tom and Les to tell them to come over and meet the baby(and entertain Grayson while we got our bearings) It was so nice to hear loved ones from the next room as I got to know my little girl.  I was still not able to process that she had arrived already.  It just seemed surreal.  Doug was calling(or texting) everyone to let them know, he was so busy taking care of everyone and just smiling from ear to ear!

I am leaving so many details out, but there are just too many.  There are endless discussions with my dearest friend and sister.  She took all of these amazing pics from after the birth which I will cherish forever.  There is my mom(and Doug's mom), who despite wanting to have a plan for Grayson, let me be and just let things happen.  There was Rebecca, who talked me through being able to have 2 babies.  Who assured me that there is always room "on mother's lap"  what a gift indeed.
And Doug, who as always, has my heart and soul and guards it with everything he has, always.  Thanks for letting me do what I need to in birthing and in life.  You are such a masterpiece of a person.  What lucky kids we have!

In the very end, I have learned so much about patience and love and being quiet and still with oneself and things we just simply cannot control.  Since this birth was so much less of a shock to those around me I haven't told the story hardly at all.  This made me sad at first, but now I kind of like it.  Our little secret, our little Reverie.