Sunday, February 27, 2011

The power of presence

I was rocking my baby girl earlier this evening. She had been crying, overtired, having a hard time settling down. Rocking her was finally calming her. Her body was getting still and heavy against mine. I looked down, expecting to see her eyes closed, and was surprised to see them wide open! I was impatient, my mind racing with all the things I needed and wanted to do this evening - clean, conversations with my husband, check facebook, work on birth announcements, write thank you notes, eat cookies, read, etc. And yet here she was, still awake and yet so content, so relaxed just being rocked in my arms. How far away I've been from you, my little girl. When this is what matters. You are what matters. Right here and right now is the only place I need to be - want to be - for as long as you need it.

This week she is 6 weeks. Before I know it, she will be 6 months, 6 years, 16 years (Lord help me with the teenage years!) And I will long for these early weeks of rocking and holding and nursing and the warmth and closeness they provide for both of us. Looking down at my daughter again, this time her eyes were closed. But this time, I wasn't in a hurry to stop rocking her and put her to bed. What a gift to rock this warm, snuggly, relaxed little one. Another one that I have been entrusted with - with their life, their heart, their soul. I am reminded how important it is to be present with this little one, to allow her and our time together to affect me. To allow the rocking to calm me, silence my racing thoughts, and put me more in touch with the precious gift of right now. How important it is to give that to not only our children but to all of our loved ones, for as long as they need it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

birth story

It's been a month since my daughter's birth. I am pain-free, and seemingly, recovered and healed from my 45 + hours of labor that ended in a C-section. Physically there only remains a scar from my incision. Mentally, emotionally, and psychologically, I'm just beginning to to process her birth...

I begin with gratitude. There's so much for me to be grateful for. I am grateful I got to go into labor on my own. After 41 ½ weeks, I didn't think it was EVER going to happen. It began around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, January 16. After having weeks of braxton hicks, I knew this was the real deal. My husband and son were asleep. The house was quiet and dark. I paced around the house, rocked in the chair my dad rocked me in when I was a baby. The same one I now rock and comfort my babies in. I ate. I prayed. Labor had begun and it was just baby and me in the wee hours of the morning. It was a peaceful time of anticipation. A beautiful way to begin.

Contractions continued to get more powerful and closer together. My inlaws came to get my son around 9 a.m. and we headed to a dear friend's house who had opened her home to us to labor in until I was ready to go to the hospital. Being about 45 minutes from the hospital, I didn't want to be so far away and have to take a long car ride in the throes of intense labor. We headed to her house, about 10 minutes from the hospital, arriving around 10:30 a.m. I labored there all day.

We headed to the hospital around 11 p.m. I was 90 % effaced and 2 centimeters dilated. Only 2 centimeters! But I was happy to be almost fully effaced. All those hours were not for naught. I was progressing.

I am so grateful for my husband and my doula's presence while I was laboring at the hospital. Nurses came and went, checking the fetal monitor strapped to my stomach for baby's heartbeat and my contractions. I was able to wear a unit that allowed me to be up and around so I was grateful for that but it kept falling off and nurses kept coming in to reposition, fussing with me even during contractions. But it was my husband and my doula that got me through the pain – their hands, their words, their constant presence. I was afraid of being alone with the pain but the entire 45 hours, one or both of them were always with me.

By that evening, I was fully effaced and 5 centimeters dilated. But then I stopped progressing. Perhaps due to exhaustion? Perhaps due to baby's position? I guess I will never know for sure. Baby was doing fine, I was doing fine (getting 2nd 3rd 4th 5th winds) so my doctor would make suggestions (break waters, pitocin, c-section, etc) but he let me decide each next step I wanted to take. Mostly I wanted to wait and see. After a couple more hours of not only no progress but my contractions getting further apart, I decided to get pitocin to speed up the contractions and an epidural for some pain relief. I was looking forward to maybe a couple hours of rest. But despite the interventions, I was still not progressing. The doctor broke my waters and still no progress. Baby's head was not moving down further into the birth canal. Thinking back on it now, I wish I had thought to ask "why?" It never went further than the fact, well, you aren't progressing. I didn't think to ask, well, why and is there anything we can do about it. Was it the baby's position? Was it because her head was not dropping? So, around 1 a.m. I opted for the recommended C-section and I was at peace. After 45 hours of labor, it was time to meet my baby and hold her in my arms. Once I made the decision there was no turning back and I was excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I felt a tremendous amount of pressure as they pulled her out of my tummy. Then my husband said, "It's a girl!" She let out a wail and I was overjoyed that she was here and our laboring onto birth was finally finished. Although now, our laboring onto life has just begun...

Now, a month later, I'm still at peace with the c-section but as the fog of recovery and sleep deprivation is lifting there is sadness. Perhaps I needed to first physically recover from the birth before I could deal with recovering emotionally. My questions remain but not in a haunting way. I'm not dwelling on it but I allow myself some time to wonder and grieve and question... why did I labor so long? Why did I stop progressing? Was there anything else I could have done? Knowing there probably aren't any answers. Knowing how the length of labor at that point was affecting all of us. So I ended where I began – so grateful. Grateful to have a beautiful, healthy daughter, in my arms as I write this. That's probably how every great story is lived out – with a mixture of excitement, anticipation, hope, trial and labor, tears and blood, disappointment, peace, wonder, questioning, sadness, gratitude, beauty, joy, and new life.

Welcome to our family, baby girl! Mommy, daddy and big brother are delighted you are FINALLY here!