Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Levi's Birth

"How you approach birth is intimately connected with how you approach life."  - William Sears

I love this photo my dear friend Pamela Rosales captured of Levi and I. 

I have been looking forward to sharing Levi's  birth story with you since he was born nearly four months ago.  I have decided to share some very intimate, intense photos of my labor and his birth because it is something I am immensely proud of. My hope is that it will help people see birth in a positive light and encourage future mothers to look forward to the day they bring children into the world. 

As a mother of two children and a doula, who knows how inaccurate due dates are, I should have known that my baby was NOT going to arrive on its "guess date", but one always secretly hopes that they will. My labor started and stopped numerous times in the five weeks leading up to Levi's birth and it drove me CRAZY? I can't tell you how many times I collapsed into tears of frustration and despair. Oh and did I mention that I was nearly three centimeters dilated from thirty seven weeks onward. Do you know what that is called? FALSE HOPE! I also had three membrane sweeps, none of which yielded the desired results. My midwife recommended castor oil a few times, but I was hesitant to try anything that involved pooping my guts out. Sorry for the visual. 

In the weeks and days leading up to Levi's "guess date" I drank copious amounts of  raspberry leaf tea, walked, and went to the chiropractor. When that date arrived and passed,  I swam laps at the pool, climbed the stairs at the University with a friend, jogged, visited a reflexologist and had my fair share of sex. I was thirteen days post dates when I decided I was finally ready to take castor oil. I was scheduled to have my third stress test Monday morning and I was dreading it.  So I went to London Drugs and picked up some castor oil. Mixing the midwife's recommended dose of 50 ml with Greek yogurt was a great idea. Having spicy tandoori chicken and butter chicken for dinner afterwards was not.

By six thirty I was experiencing contractions similar to the ones I had been  having for the past couple of weeks. The only difference, was that they didn't stop after an hour. Nathaniel put our girls to bed and I started timing my contractions using an app on my iPhone.

 Around nine thirty that evening I called my midwife  to let her know how things were going.  I told her that I was having contractions but that they were not intense and still about seven minutes apart.
She decided to come and set up her equipment in case things picked up.

Now let me take a moment to tell you just how AMAZING midwives are.  The maternity and postpartum care they provide is exceptional. Appointments with midwives are leisurely, if not thoroughly enjoyable. You drink tea, you chat, you laugh, you cry.  You can call them anytime and ask them questions.   If you planning a home birth, they will often come to your home in your third trimester.   In the weeks and months leading up to Levi's birth my midwife and I covered many topics, but my two main concerns were; establishing a good latch as soon as possible and not tearing during delivery. One of the reasons why I chose not to to deliver in my beautiful birthing pool was because I wanted a lot of perineum care during delivery. Sandi used  hot compresses and was amazing at helping me deliver him as slowly as I possibly could standing up. Yup, I delivered him standing up beside me bed. There was NO WAY I would lie down. That is just one of the beautiful things about birthing at home, the freedom to do what you want to do. I hadn't planned to deliver him like that, but in the moment, it was what felt best. I actually didn't have a birth plan at all this time around. I had confidence that my midwife understood my wishes and would do her best to fulfill them.

I love how involved my girls were in the whole process.

While my midwife set up her equipment and prepared the bed I paced around the house, bounced and my ball and hung out with Nathaniel.  Later that evening I did a bit of project life, snacked on frozen blueberries and listened to music.  We enjoyed chocolate covered ice cream bars with our midwife and chatted away the hours while I waited and waited  for my body to kick into active labor.

The following photos were taken by my photographer Nancy Tait

  I noticed that when I stopped moving, my contractions slowed down, so I spent a great deal of time  rocking and bouncing on the ball. By one thirty in the morning  I was  tired and wanted to go to sleep so I climbed into bed and listened to a hypno babies  track on my iPhone. When I woke forty five minutes later, my labor had stopped altogether. I was not impressed! I asked my midwife to check my  dilation. I think she said I was between five and six centimeters. I tried walking around the house to get labor started again but it didn't help much. At that point we started talking about the possibility of rupturing my membranes. Normally, it is not something I would go for, for many reasons. Namely because it puts a time limit on labor and increases the risk of infection. In the end, I decided that it was the best course of action given the circumstances. Around three thirty am my midwife ruptured my membranes. Thankfully, it did the trick and I launched into active labor shortly afterwards. I started to need Nathaniel to hold me during contractions and I showed him how to do the double hip squeeze and apply pressure to my sacrum (an area on my back). I had never experienced back labor with my girls, and it was uncomfortable.  At one point I remember him gently trying to help me make noise and I remember thinking "oh, I'm not there yet". Not even 45 min later I was making more noise then I had EVER made with my first two births. 

Around six am I remember saying something about it being time to call my photographer Nancy. Throughout my labor Nathaniel had asked me numerous times if we should her, but I kept saying "no". For the longest time things felt so slow and I didn't want to a house full of people waiting for me. Up to that point part of me had felt as though my baby would NEVER come out! Thankfully she arrived quickly because Levi was born about forty five minutes after she arrived. I remember saying  "ooooooooooopening up"over and over and over. I would get louder and louder as my contractions intensified. Between contractions I would joke about how loud I was. 

Up to that point I had either been standing or on all fours. Anytime I tried to lay down or pee on the toilet, the contractions became unbearable. The most painful part was when my midwife pushed the remaining lip of my cervix aside during a contraction. As a doula I have witnessed other women have this procedure done and now I understand how it feels. Yowzers!  

That was definitely my least favorite part of labor, but immensely helpful. Once that was done all that I needed to do was push my baby out.  I remember the exact moment that my contractions changed from dilating my cervix to bringing my baby down. I wanted to feel what 10 centimeters felt like so I checked myself and let out a wail of frustration that my baby's head was still high in my birth canal . What's crazy, is less than five minutes later, I could feel his head crowning into my hands. My midwife told me not to push and to let the baby gently ease itself out. I braced myself and let that baby glide into the world. It was INTENSE and amazing!

Oh the intensity. This was the part where I was concentrating on NOT pushing and just letting baby ease out. 

Yup, that's me roaring my baby out.  I love that Nancy (my photographer) was able to capture this shot of  Claire dashing into another room. If you look closely you can see her hands clamped over her ears. She thought the whole thing was pretty interesting, but didn't like the yelling bits. Shortly after this I told her to go get Amelia. I remember hearing Amelia say "no thank you mommy". She was more comfortable listening from the next room while enjoying her cheerios.

Finally in my arms. I love the intense emotion on Nathaniel's face.

The relief was instantaneous and euphoric. 

Almost nine pounds!

Explaining what a placenta is...

Going over details from the birth with the attending midwife. She was  explaining to me that Levi was born with a malpresentaion known as "brow presentation".  Most of the time, when a baby is born, their  chin is tucked into their chest and the smallest part of their head leads the way. With a brow presentation, the largest part of the head, the brow leads the way. Apparently it occurs in about 1 in every 2,000 births and more often then not ends in a c-section. She said that if Levi had been my first baby, I may have not have been able to deliver him vaginally, but because he was my third baby, I made short order of it. Crazy!  All I knew is that it was my MOST intense/painful labor yet!

Enjoying a warm bath with my sweet new babe.

First precious moments with daddy

Elated and relieved. 

A nurishing snack and a cuddle on the couch.

First photo as a family. 

Nathaniel grandma had been staying with us and she was excited to meet Levi when she woke up.

 In a nutshell,  Levi Nathaniel Lord entered the world on August eighteenth at seven twenty am  
 after fourteen hours of labor. His birth was attended by two midwives and took place at home in our bedroom. Nathaniel, our youngest daughter Claire and a photographer were also present. He was  eight pounds  fifteen ounces and twenty one inches long at birth. 


Jelsma Journal said...

SO beautifully captured and shared... Thanks, Jocelyn! Well done and congratulations!
Love Jocelyn Jelsma

Mrs. R said...

Loved hearing the birth story in writing this time! I didn't realize Margaret was at your birth too. The photos are lovely, I love the one about the placenta and one with Amelia and Levi. You are amazing, great job!