Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

This morning I realised that we had missed Cave Baby's nine month birthday on Sunday. Not that nine months is a particularly important milestone - but it did occur to me that she has now been out in the world for as long as she was inside me. Nine months in the tum, nine months out of the tum. A wonderful symmetry.

So this thought, and reading Monkey's birth story on That's Not My Monkey, inspired me to write something about Cave Baby's birth.

I had been in the early stages of labour for around 30 hours when we called a midwife to our house. Before she arrived I had been labouring in the bath, so I was stark naked, kneeling on the bedroom floor when she came in. "Oh, we're having a baby", she announced as she saw me. At that point I was only 4cm dilated and I laboured on in the bath for another couple of hours. I can remember that time quite well: with every contraction, I leaned forward to put my head on the bath taps and I kept banging my forehead. I was using gas and air and it felt pretty ineffective, though it must have been doing something because I was literally pulling my hair out before I started on it, and afterwards I wasn't.

I spent another hour or two on my knees in the bedroom and this period really is hazy. I only remember the occasions when I was interacting with other people: when the midwife called the hospital to tell them to put an ambulance on standby because my waters were stained with fresh meconium; when I peed in a bucket because I couldn't imagine getting up to go to the toilet; when the midwife asked me if I wanted to push.

There was about an hour of pushing before Cave Baby emerged. I found this stage much less painful than the first stage of labour. Whilst I had visualized each first stage contraction as a huge hot fire, the second stage contractions were like a line of gas burners lighting up in a row across my back. Each push was a gust of air whooshing through the fires and casting them aside. I felt like an athlete. Half way through the pushing stage I abandoned the gas and air because I was worried it would impair my performance (seriously. That is a glimpse into the strange mind of the labouring woman).

I felt the baby's head crowning (not painful, just a strong sensation). I felt the baby turning inside me to get her shoulders through ("The baby's moving! The baby's moving!" - probably the first thing I had said for hours). And I remember her skidding out of me, and the midwives catching her and wrapping her in a towel before passing her through my legs so I could hold her for the first time.

I wish I could remember it more clearly. Everything is so fuzzy. And I wish we had taken some photographs of those first few moments. But I am thankful that she arrived safely and that I was also well. I am grateful that I had wonderful midwives who did not transfer me to hospital, despite the meconium (though we did have an ambulance at our house for the last half hour of labour). The lovely midwives followed my birth plan exactly, letting me do whatever the heck I wanted during labour, delaying cutting the cord until it had stopped pulsating, and allowing me to deliver the placenta naturally.

An hour or so after the birth I was sat up in bed, feeding my baby and chatting to the midwife who had to stay for two hours. I remember thinking, "I gave birth a hour ago and here I am wracking my brains to come up with entertaining smalltalk at 6 in the morning."

I was so lucky to have such a great birth experience.


The wife of bold said...

What a wondreful birth - mine were all in hospital but very straight forward and i only had gas and air for my first two. I did want a home birth for the twins but due to complications near the end i had to have them in hospital - maybe next time lol x

clareybabble said...

Your birth story is a lot better than my first! I would have loved a natural birth but had an epidural in the end. I made up for it with my daughter though and had a completely natural birth - she was nearly born on the way to the hospital though! x

Laura McIntyre said...

Its a lovely birth story , my 3rd was born at home and remains one of the best days of my lives. I always think 9 months is an important milestone

cartside said...

Oh, what a wonderful birth story! I wish mine would have been like that! Happy 9 month's birthday! It is a special day!

Mon said...

Great story! Had to chuckle at trying to make small talk, lol

I felt 9 months was significant. Not in a huge way, but it seems a slight transition, between babyhood and infancy.

Happy 9th month Cave Baby.

allgrownup said...

Well done on such a great effort on Cave Baby's Birth Day. I also found the pushing stage much better than the 1st stage, much to the horror of other mums I share this with! I found that I felt in control again, the harder I worked (at pushing) the sooner I would meet my baby, so I worked HARD! And the pain wasn't nearly as bad as everyone says, it was the 1st stage I found unbearable. I used a birth pool and supped through 12, count them, 12, canisters of gas & air.....good stuff! Like you said, didn't feel like much at the time though!

Cave Mother said...

allgrownup - flipping heck, 12 canisters of gas & air! That's some going!

Jessica said...

Wow! That's quite an awesome story! I wish it was mine!! I started off at home with my midwife and ended up in the hospital because of high levels of meconium in the birth fluids. I ended up with an epidural and pitocin (don't even get me started on all that... all I can say is all that mattered in the end was that my baby was ok), and a vaginal birth.

I hope the next one is drug free :)

And what's the "gas & air" you guys keep talking about??

Cave Mother said...

Gas & air is a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. It's extremely popular here in the UK! You just puff away on it as much as you like throughout labour - hospitals even have it piped directly into the rooms. At home the midwives bring canisters of it (I used one and a bit). It gives some pain relief but to be honest the main effect is that it makes you control your breathing, and it takes your mind off the contractions. It is cleared by your system about 30 seconds after you inhale it, so it has no effect on the baby. What I like is that it offers you a middle way between having injected painkillers and having nothing at all.

Maybe if they had it in the US, more people would be able to give birth without the heavy duty pain relief.

Joe said...

Love it! So glad you got to have the birth you wanted, and that you didn't get transfer to the hospital. I was also fortunate to have a fairly natural birth, despite being in the hospital with an OB. I am absolutely going the midwife route next time (possible home birth too... though we will have to see - I'm a nervous person :D).

By the way - totally love your blog. Lots of insightful comments! I was hooked when I read your About Me: "when I am not sure what to do, I ask myself the simple question: what would a cavewoman do?" I do that all the time too, although I never worded it that way, or publicly :D I strongly believe we all need to get back in touch with a more natural state! ;-)

Joe said...

P.S.: Is the gas & air the same as laughing gas? A lot of people use laughing gas here, although I didn't try it (never occurred to ask for it in the mist of it all ;-) ). I also found the pushing stage to be a HUGE relief!!!