Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Birth

Monday Morning

I can't begin to document Xavi's life without telling the story of his birth day. This post is longer than the others will be and was a tough one to get down while tending to a newborn.
So it begins... 
That morning I didn't feel any different when I woke was Monday.  The Monday before our due date.  Our midwife, Karen, was coming later that morning, I still had three lists that needed attention, and meals to make for the week (chicken, oatmeal, rice, veggies to cut, etc). 

Karen began providing prenatal care early in my third trimester after an evolutionary process in which we learned more and more about the kind of birth we wanted to have. We decided that we would like to do a home water birth and have a midwife there to act as our "lifeguard" should we need extra support. 

Water broke...Finishing work

That morning the three of us discussed my worries that there would be no baby when the grammas came to visit just after our estimated due just five days!  We made plans to enjoy their visits with car rides up the coast, hikes, beach days, etc...all so I could stop worrying about when our little one would decide to come. After Karen left, I went back to work.  I remember suddenly jumping up because it felt like something popped inside of me...did I just wet my pants?  All I knew was that liquid was pouring out of me and it wasn't pee!  It was 1:30. 

I decided that I needed to finish up a few last minute work things, order Christmas presents for my sisters, and go get adjusted by my chiropractor. I thought I would have time...most first births take a long time to really get going and the mistake new moms to be make is getting too excited before it is time to deliver.  So Mario and I were still deciding if he should go in and take his midterms as scheduled...(he didn't!)

My chiropractor, Dr. Jen Padrta
Contractions were already 5-6 minutes apart after my water broke, but following my adjustment, they went to 2-3 minutes apart.  We still went grocery shopping to get a few last minute groceries...Still I thought we had time..This is when things get hazy in my memory.  Mario filled me in on the parts I wasn't clear on the next day but from what he told is how it went.
I ate some leftover tacos for strength, skyped with my parents, and cleaned my desk.  Mario cleaned the kitchen and began filling the birthing tub.  It sat right in our tiny cottage's living room below the rope swing support that Mario (aka McGyver) rigged from our celing rafters.  I showered, thinking that would slow things down again if it was "false" labor (which it didn't for the next 10 hours).  The contractions became very strong, the tacos came back up with a vengence, and I remember crying with each contraction..without knowing why.  The pain wasn't so terrible but it was...intense. 

Early Contractions as the tub filled...drawing strength from my labor rope swing
(I remember the outfit I had bought to wear while laboring...a huge button down shirt and a cute bandeau top to cover me...there was no way that I was going to walk around naked, in labor or not...I'll come back to this in a minute.)  I sat on the stability ball,  resting on the rope while I could, or bearing down when the contractions came. Mario closed the curtains, turned down any unnecessary lights, and it was just the two of us...soon to be three. When the waves came, Mario pushed on my sacrum as this was the only thing that provided any kind of relief.  This went on for several hours...each time a wave came, if there wasn't a hand already on me, I yelled.."PUSH!  Somebody PUSH!"  So this brings me back to the whole outfit discussion...there were two things I swore I was certain of as far as labor is concerned...#1- I wouldn't walk around way.  And #2 - I wouldn't be loud and yell...seemed like such a waste of precious energy and just wasn't my "style".  Well, #2 went out the window with the intense contractions and my yelling PUSH!  This continued the entire labor as with each wave I grew louder and louder...if that was possible.  At one point, I was yelling and pounding on the bathroom cabinet...mind you, pounding and yelling at the shared wall with our neighbor.  Somehow, he never heard anything...which we were, needless to say, very surprised to discover the next day.     

Contractions intensity increasing
Things were progressing very rapidly.  The sun had set. I was moderately aware of the darkness and thought that the way things were speeding along we would have a baby by dinner and be in bed by our usual bedtime or earlier....ahhh perfect! (Insert a sarcastic chuckle here)   Karen arrived after I had gotten in the tub...Mario was a bit relieved as he thought we might have to deliver without her.  She asked if I was pushing and yes, I guess I was!  We had decided to avoid any internal exams unless necessary...and by all signs, it would appear as if I was ready to push this baby boy out.  I could feel his head at the end of the canal but after some time realized that we were not progressing.  She checked me to find that I was in fact, NOT fully dilated but now, because of the early urge to push, the anterior lip of my cervix was swollen.  This would prevent him from descending the I would have to resist the pushing urge!  This is akin to resisting the urge to vomit when the contractions in your stomach have begun...NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE!  I got out of the tub to spend some time in other positions...backwards on the toilet, lying on our bed, and walking in between.  Getting out of the warm tub made me cold and here is where my #1 edict would go out the window...."CUT IT OFF!" Is what I wanted them to do with my cute little bandeau covering my top.  They didn't cut it off, but it did come off right away.  So much for rule #1 and not being naked.

Karen called her midwife assistant, Lisa, to help with the delivery since this was not going to be over by dinnertime.  These women were amazing...working with the environment we provided and with the materials we had there...all the while their quiet confidence in me and my ability to birth my baby at home never wavered.  They directed me and I clung to their instructions as a lifeline.  Only  once did Mario ask them privately if we were ok...once assured, my husband never wavered, even in the face of my duress.  He told me that I looked at him with eyes of a crazy woman in another dimension, not unlike the eyes of someone under the influence, and said that I "couldn't do this".  I recall the way he looked back at me telling me that I could and WAS in fact "doing it" .  I drew on that strength for the duration of the birth and can see it still today.  Without this team, Xavi's birth may have been a lot different.  I truly came to the end of myself...Mt Kilimanjaro, the Olympics, the Ironman...none compared to the experience of birth.  But none of these had the significance that birthing my baby without drugs or other intervention had...This wasn't about me or my comfort, or glory, or victory...only what was best for my baby and his future health.  My desire was to allow him to begin his life full of his potential life force, without depleting any if at all possible.  Through this crucible would I not only birth a baby, but I would find out who I was, facing every weakness and fear. 

FINALLY, they allowed me to get back in the warm waters of the tub..what a relief!  FINALLY, Xavi cleared my cervix as the swelling had been able to decrease enough for him to descend.  FINALLY,  I could push!  And push I did...with all my might.  Mario was under me in the water supporting my hips so that they could open fully, holding both of my hands.  At times, he wondered at his ability to hold me, not knowing how I got so strong. I remember the sensation of his head in my pelvis..yes, pain but more it was unbelievable to imagine a baby's head there.  FINALLY, his head came out and they assured me that the rest was next.  All I had to do was push 2-3 more times...well, five to ten minutes later (and quite a few pushes more) with his head still submerged yet out of my body AND two midwives gently guiding Xavi's shoulders to turn...he was born.  FINALLY, he was out and on my chest. 

He was greyish blue and making noises.  His skull was molded into a serious "cone head"...I of course apologized to him later for that.  We rubbed him to assist his "revival" and talked to him, both of us calling to him.  His heartrate never wavered throughout the entire birth, regardless of the intensity I felt, it was 130bpm, steady and strong.  Never in distress, he was birthed in a gentle, albeit loud, manner and into warm, dark, quiet waters...nothing to alarm him or cause him to stress.  As we talked to him, his heartrate increased in recognition of our voices..."Mommy's here, Daddy's here...Sashi's here, Dego's here" (And they were!  Sasha checked in from time to time but mostly slept nearby during the whole birth.  Diego moved wherever we went, sleeping, even acting as a labor support during a few of my contractions.  When he heard Xavi cooing in the tub, he hopped up on his back legs to see inside the tub, to see Xavi. He remains very protective of what must seem to him a very special animal.)...Xavi remained connected to me by his cord until it stopped pulsing and he was receiving oxygen on his own.  Once the cord was cut, all I had to do was birth the placenta.  We should be close to being able to go to bed, right? 

My placenta, Xavi's "twin"
 I had lost a moderate amount of blood, causing enough concern that  I was given pitocin to help deliver the placenta...Xavi nursed to help ( a pro from the beginning) and FINALLY, it was out. I was able to get into bed while they began the clean up and checking the placenta to be sure it was all delivered.   I slept, Xavi nursed...I tried to get up to go to the bathroom and passed out..the first of three total times of losing conciousness.  Sure I lost blood, but I had also given everything I had in delivering Xavi.  They let me rest. Mario held Xavi while they gave him his examination and tended to me.  Once I got a catheter, I felt much better and the midwives could finally go home knowing I had peed.  The sun was rising...FINALLY, we could rest.  We slept as a family, the three of us, after a fight well fought and a crucible experience like no other. 

Mario and his newborn son, Xavi

He soothed himself while being weighed...already knowing how to suck his thumb.

Xavi's first diaper change

My angels, Karen and Lisa (left to right) ..not sure why it won't let me turn the image...please turn your head. :)
Every day we are thankful for our healthy and beautiful baby boy.  Every day I wonder at the experience of giving birth to him...still.  Every day I know that Xavi chose us for a very specific reason...and it is our job to hold our feet to the fire as we discover what it is we are to teach him, show him, and how we should guide him.  More often than not, I am discovering that it is MORE about what it is we are to learn from this experience... and many more down the road.

For now, I am reminded that it was first by design, that Mario and I had a chance and brief introduction, overcoming many obstacles to be together.  Every day I am thankful that he found me and gave me Xavi...the greatest gift I've ever known. 

Our Wedding day, 12/25/09, in the Galapagos. 

Our journey has begun...


  1. What a beautiful and intimate story of a wonderful new beginning. Love you and love your story! Thank you for sharing it all.