December 25, 2015 ~ 3 days 'overdue' but 2 days left to go.
Here is Jasper Hawthorn's birth story.
I believe strongly in the importance of sharing our birth stories
and the knowledge and support we can bring to each other
as a community of women by doing so.
Each of our stories is as unique,
valid and important as we ourselves are.
December 24, 2015
I was looking forward to this birth. To meeting this little boy. Unlike Cedar's birth, my firstborn, which I dreaded, I was excited to labor this time. I knew what it would be like to meet this guy, to see him for the first time ~ that picture indelibly pressed upon my memory forever. I knew what a newborn was capable of and what I was capable of as a mother. I didn't have to figure it all out from scratch. Cedar, 3.5 years old, and I had talked much about the birth, he had seen his own birth pictures, and I wanted him to be a part of things. The birth pool was inflated, the room was cleaned and ready, we had bought flowers and washed the champagne flutes. I was ready.
Since Cedar had been born on his due date, I expected that Jasper would arrive early. His 'due date', December 22, came and passed. I got a massage that day which didn't bring on labor. Another day came and went.
The waiting. Finally on the next day, Saturday, I went and got acupuncture, asking for labor to be started. The acupuncturist wiggled those needles like mad and gave me 4 acupressure point stickers to wear and press. I went home. The night was clear and cool. I pressed the stickers a lot. I woke up on Sunday and Tim made plans to go do the grocery shopping that was sorely needed. I took a shower before he got going and noticed a little blood. I told Tim, asked him to not dawdle during the shopping. He stared at me, "I'm not going shopping!" But finally went and was home in record time.
Some mild cramps started. I wanted to stay busy. I had lots of time later to feel all the feels. I called my midwife, Kathy Hindle (she attended Cedar's birth), at noon to mention things might be starting. Around 12:30pm I decided to make gingerbread cookies with Cedar. My belly was gripping in the strong Braxton Hicks that I had been experiencing throughout the pregnancy ~ my body knew exactly what to do, it was very strong, and I and my mind were just along for the ride.
December 27, 2015. 12:24pm
At 3pm my contractions were 25-40 seconds long and 4 minutes apart. I wasn't really sure what was going on. It didn't seem hard and they didn't seem very long. Tim pulled up an app on my phone so I could begin to keep track and follow the rhythm. I vacuumed, tidied, and generally puttered around. I had a sudden urge to watch Elf, which I have never seen, and so we pulled that up on Netflix and Tim and Cedar nestled onto the couch and watched it. Cedar was riveted because he doesn't watch movies and watched the entire film almost without blinking. I watched about 3 minutes and walked out of the room and began to walk around the house during each contraction.
Walk into the bedroom. Change into a comfortable dress and a yellow cardigan. Light a candle. Think wonderingly that I might be going to have my baby this evening. Walk into the birth room. Walk back to the bedroom. Repeat. At 5:07pm I gave Kathy another call in between contractions just to update her on things: my contractions were around 30-35 seconds long still but now 2-3 minutes apart. She listened to my voice as one started and said I sounded rather calm. I said I didn't feel very distressed and I didn't know what to expect. It was going so easily compared to Cedar's birth, where I just stayed in bed or on my hands and knees from the first twinge. She said she would take a shower, have some dinner, the car was already packed and when I called her next, she would come over.
4:04 pm and my gravity defying belly.
My last belly picture.
I called her back at 5:33pm as things suddenly got harder. I found myself in my bedroom and had to lean on the bed to get through a contraction on my hands and knees. I felt really present and less spacey than during Cedar's labor. I had done this before. I could handle it. I think I hung up on her when the contraction started this time and she called back 3 minutes later and said she was on her way. Night had fallen. The house was clean and quiet. Our 117 pound rottweiler was asleep on the floor. The fish were floating leisurely in their tank and I'm sure the chickens had put themselves to bed. I texted my friend Megan who was going to put her 11 month old to sleep and then head over. She couldn't arrive for an hour and I remember hoping she would make the birth. I felt clearheadedly like things were moving fast. It all seemed manageable and my life was still continuing around me in an orderly way. Being a mom for 3 and a half years had made me less fluttery around the edges. I had to hold the space for Cedar.
So now the contractions are about 40 seconds long and 2 minutes apart. Kathy arrived and it was good to see her; she is such a positive spirit. We chatted about how things are going and when I had a contraction I would turn and walk out of the room, into the living room, and then back in again when it was done. We all trooped upstairs. Tim began to fill up the pool and Cedar laid out towels around it and helped Kathy unpack her bag. I left them all there and went out into the other rooms when a contraction came. Walking, walking. I hadn't walked at all during Cedar's labor so all the wanting to walk was a surprise to me. I lit the candle I had been given and which was lit during my Blessingway.
7:20pm Cedar and Kathy, my midwife
Tim worriedly asked me if it was okay if he only filled the pool up half way since he was worried about the floor breaking. I told him to fill it up all the way, please. The floor will not break. Cedar busied himself helping Kathy with her things. He was having a great time. My contractions were about a minute long and 2 minutes or less apart. I pulled off my dress (which ended up somehow completely disappearing after all the excitement was over) and got into the birth pool on my hands and knees. I didn't quite want to be in there but didn't feel like I wanted to do the walking anymore. With Cedar's labor I was in the pool the whole time and it felt wonderful so I had assumed that's what I would want this time too. I kind of went into la-la land a bit when I got in. The water felt cool. I guess it was about 6:40pm. Tim messed around for a bit trying to get the pool water warmer. I wanted his hands on my lower back but barely. So he did that and then he was stuck there since I wouldn't let him leave. Kathy wanted to know if we wanted pictures of the birth and at that point I said not to worry about it. I figured at some point we would get pictures of something. She then bustled around getting the plastic and extra bedsheets on the futon ~ by which I knew birth was near. Cedar started to get rammy, kicking the pool a bit and then rocking a chair so it banged the wall. Megan arrived and I smiled hi and then tucked my head, getting back to my focus. Cedar went into the closet and Megan went in after him and picked him up and they went downstairs and ate a snack and then read books. I felt a sense of relief knowing he was in good hands and that I could focus on the labor. Unbeknownst to me Kathy had called the other midwife Alison (at a family dinner 2 hours away) and told her she would not make the birth, that I was already doing it.
Things after that seemed to move quickly. The contractions were sharp and regular. They began to be harder to integrate and I wanted the room dim ~ the bathroom light was on flooding into the end of the room since Kathy was filling a big soup pot with hot water from the tub faucet and running it over to dump in the birth pool. (Megan heard rapid footsteps overhead as she and Cedar were down in the kitchen and wondered what was going on.) Everything felt very spacious and my eyes were closed the whole time. There was silence, just me in the water and this labor happening. Very chill. Just had to do it. My breathing carried me and at one point I was breathing quickly, Kathy asked me to breathe more slowly so I wouldn't get faint. I slowed my breathing and would count 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-in, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-out really loudly in my head right as the pain peaked, which helped like a third of the time. My breath was blowing into the water and making a little hollow in its surface. My body was relaxed everywhere I could be, my face almost touching the water. It was really really hard to stay and do it, but where could I go? I berated myself for getting into this situation again. Hands and knees and then a longer pause after two surges in a row. I rested a moment with my head on my arms on the side of the pool. Sweating buckets and Kathy was worried the pool water would be too cool for the baby if he was born underwater and shock him. I was too hot to want 100 degree water.
Another space. Buzzing quiet. Tim's warm gentle hands over my waist. Breathing through contractions which got sharper and more mind blowing and I wanted to stop. It was too much. I was very quietly out of my mind. I knew I was in transition. The dimness of the room. Eyes closed. A long rest. Minutes long. I kept chugging watered down orange Gatorade each time Kathy offered me the straw. Then, the rather strange feeling of the top of my uterus moving down, the baby pushing his feet against my right ribs, and his head turning back and forth. Kathy saying quietly, "The baby's dropping down," and me not wanting her to say anything. Shhhhhh. Words put me into the rational world and I don't want to give birth there. I need to give birth in this quiet hazy clear ether. I rose up on my knees, gave a little grunt. Kathy said, "Sounds like that was a little push!" Shhh, I know. Just testing things out there. Another contraction. Then I decide to go for it. On my knees, I turn and hold the side of the pool. Eyes still closed, I give a great heaving push. The baby is pushed down and between my pelvis. It is the most overwhelming and terrible feeling. All my bones and tissues and ligaments are pushed into places they are normally not. Kathy says to wait and stretch. I decide that I can. For long moments I am suspended in insanity, panting. Tim comes to my side and touches my shoulder in support. I think how sweet that is as I shove him away. He moves to where the action is. I push. The room tingles.
"I can see his head!," says Kathy. Another push.
"His eyes!" Push. "His nose!" Push.
I ask "Is he out yet?" knowing he is not. "His head is out!" she replies, "There's the amniotic sac. He's in the caul!" and I say excitedly, "What? That is AWESOME!!" Kathy reaches to him through a tear in the caul and loosens the cord around his neck. And as she turns away to grab some essential item, I give one last push and in fire and power Jasper Hawthorn is born into the world and Tim catches him midair over the water.
Just after birth at 8:37pm
I still have my acupuncture pressure point sticker on my hand
I turn around and see Kathy then holding him, and I will remember his little tiny body on her hands forever, there in the air. I turn to take him, clearing the umbilical cord with my leg. I hold him. I look at him. It's done. I did it! "I'm done. I'm done. Holy Shit. Holy Shit!" I keep saying. He gives a little cry and in disbelief I hold this amazing baby who just came out of me. It is only about an hour since Megan came to watch Cedar. The relief of birth being over is a tremendous feeling. I'm elated and feel wonderful. I radiate energy. I ask someone to go get Cedar. I don't want him to miss a thing. Kathy goes into his bedroom where he is reading books with Megan and she simply beckons with her hand. Cedar pops up so fast he is a blur running to the birth room and then he cautiously appears at the doorway, gobsmacked and holding his stuffed chicken.
He is in awe. Surprised and shocked I think, that there is really a baby, OUR baby, there, no longer in my womb but in my arms. It really happened.
After a bit I get out of the tub and lay joyfully on the futon. The cord is still warmly pulsing so we wait, and wait and wait. It keeps pulsing for a long time, and we all feel it and marvel at its function. (Tim's guess is 30-40 minutes.) It finally stops and Tim cuts the cord, and later Megan cuts the cord closer to Jasper's belly. At some point I deliver the placenta (ouch) and we make sure it is whole. I snuggle in bed with my new bigger family and connect with Cedar and Tim while Jasper lays on my breast. He starts nursing with no issues, and has nursed like an absolute pro ever since. This surprised me for I thought we would go through the same long learning curve as Cedar and I did, but it was as if my body remembered exactly where I left off after two years nursing Cedar.
I relaxed while Kathy stitched me up. There was quite a large tear and some skid marks from Jasper's quick exit. Cedar was pretty fascinated by that whole process.
There is lots of love and chatting and exclaiming and the champagne is opened. Tim, Megan and I make a toast to Jasper, who gets weighed and checked out by Kathy. He's 7lbs 14oz, 21.5 inches of perfect baby. Perhaps red hair? And the whole time I continue to bleed. I need to get up to pee to make sure that all works and as I get up, blood pours out. Kathy helps me to the bathroom and when I get there I lay down on the floor since I am about to faint. I lay on the floor and Kathy cleans the blood off of the white tiles while Cedar offers me a sip of Gatorade and lies on the hallway floor to keep me company. I can't help but kind of laugh. I manage to scoot into the tub staying supine and have a quick rinse and a pee there. Then to my bedroom where we settle in. I keep bleeding and try to go to the bathroom again but have to lay down on the floor which is where Kathy finds me and scolds me for not waiting for her. The floor feels so wonderfully cool and I enjoy laying there as my head stops spinning. I drink more Gatorade, some green smoothie, eat some cheese for which I have no appetite. Back in the bed Kathy gives me a shot of Pitocin and a pill to cause my uterus to clench and stop the bleeding, which works (giving me crummy contractions again for a while). I want to avoid going to the hospital, where I would be hooked up to a Pitocin drip. I drink a ton more watered down orange Gatorade. When the proper amount of time has elapsed since I can get up without feeling faint, she is able to leave. Tim has gotten Cedar to sleep and so Jasper and Tim and I nestle into bed which is where I stay for the next five or six days. The first 24 hours are always the toughest; I am happy when they are past. Breathlessness and the feeling of my innards being sore and confused vie with the intense happy hormones of natural childbirth. I take two sitz baths a day and a shower when I feel like it. I babygaze. I try to read books with Cedar while torquing to nurse. Tim brings me Floradix (iron supplement), and iron rich foods to counteract my anemia from the blood loss. Green smoothies with spinach, oatmeal waffles with maple syrup, dates, prunes. It is one of my favorite things about home birth ~ being at home, keeping my baby near in the warm quiet nest, and being waited on for a week as I stay in bed and Tim takes over household duties and feeding the feeder of our new son.
Jasper Hawthorn Way
Caught by Daddy
Born with his caul
December 27, 2015
(Cedar's half birthday)
7 lbs 14 oz
Now 7 weeks postpartum, this has been a sorting out, holding space, "clarifying my aspirations while learning more about my personal triggers" time. It can be hard to meet the needs of two, but I try my best with lots of love. I am trying to find a balance with my own personal needs (solitude, making, movement) and surrendering with reverence and dedication to the needs of my sweethearts. The journey continues.
Find me on Instagram