0

Eating Babies Eating Boobies

I can’t believe my little girl, who was just born yesterday according to my sense of time, is so active.  She’s already standing up on her own, hands-free.  She took a step the other day!  Zack had to catch her before she fell on her face, but my goodness the bravery on that one.

I never got this far nursing Gwenna.  She weaned at 3 months, while we fought with thrush and bottle preference (curse you Tommee Tippee!).  I never got to these sweet moments, when she actually crawls over to me and reaches out her arms and tries to get to the boob herself!

I am super grateful for the ability to nurse her through hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalances, and pregnancy (and miscarriage).  I had mastitis in the beginning, cracked nipples, blisters, a necessity for a complete elimination diet (I went Paleo), and a really frustrating time with waking up every 45 minutes- hour and a half at night before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  But we’ve made it, and I have to say, it’s worth it.  More every day!

It’s difficult to explain the feeling a mom gets when she nurses her baby, but let me try.  Do you know that unexplainable urge you get to just squeeze a baby?  To give hugs and kisses and raspberries and tickles?  How you can never get enough?  That feeling, I believe, is meant to be paired with nursing.  I can nom on Clover all day long and never feel satisfied that I’ve loved on her enough, but when we’re nursing, and she’s looking at me with her big half moon eyes, that’s the feeling of absolute peace, happiness, and love that can fill anyone up.  The inexplicable desire to pinch those rolls is somehow fulfilled through an act that nourishes the baby and the mommy.Image

Pretty smart of evolution there, huh?

And that is why I think we always want to “eat” the babies!

1

The Next Step

I’m always trying to move from one point to the next, hopefully forging ahead in a helpful direction, and at the very least distracting myself from discomfort.  Looking back on my laboring style, that was a huge problem.  Moving around constantly, trying to stay on top of the contractions, breaking out in complete panic when I could no longer do that.  I had an anxiety attack and needed oxygen and you know, was just a mess in general.  I do that in life too.  I stay on top of my emotions and always move around, trying to shake them off or escape them.  This is a very harmful thing…

So the next step is to stand still. 

I have a lovely friend who had a stillborn.  Incredibly heartbreaking and nearly inconceivable for most, this experience was something she experienced with the most grace you can imagine.  She honored the baby, made a scrap book for him, grieved his loss, and even corrected family members who felt the experience was too uncomfortable to speak about.  “Moving on” looked like child’s play compared to the way she bravely faced the heartbreaking reality and emotions.

She has inspired me today to try and give myself time to process and grieve, and to honor this little lost life.  To not place such value in getting away, moving on, feeling less.

All we have of the pregnancy is an ultrasound photo, taken after the loss, but it’s something.  Zack and I picked out a name.  Blaine- we thought this was a great unisex name, and unique and trendy enough to be in a family with a Gwenna and a Clover.  I think I will make a scrapbook page with Zack and Gwenna, and this will be a good opportunity to explain to her that the baby in mommy’s belly is not going to grow big and come out the way Clover did.  We still haven’t told her.

We are experiencing an outpouring of kindness and support from friends and family, and that has been so valuable.  I appreciate every kind word and prayer.  Although my relationship with God has been very complicated and confusing lately, I like to think there is a heaven where the little one will be able to exist as she was meant to be, have all of the happiness she was meant to have.  And be able to see we all miss her.

3

A Loss

Long story short, I’m miscarrying.

Monday night I had bleeding and cramping, and when I woke up the next morning I was fine.  Out of confusion, I went to Dr. DuTreil, a very charming and knowledgeable doctor.  The examinations told me that the development of the pregnancy was at least a week behind our calculated dates- dates that there was really no way around.  After this news and scheduling an appointment for next week for a follow-up, the bleeding started heavier.

Even as most signs confirm the miscarriage, pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and light nausea are still hanging around.  Even getting a little more defined.  I’m told this is normal as well, as the body hasn’t completely registered the loss.  Insult to injury, to have the symptoms but no baby.

The process has yet to reach the level of physical discomfort I know it will have, and sometimes these things take way more time than they should be allowed.  I guess that’s why doctors do D&Cs.  Dr. DuTreil talked about options with me, and his tone was most hopeful when he mentioned “just do nothing.”  As I was beginning to plan a homebirth, I can certainly appreciate the idea of letting my body do its own thing.

My first miscarriage happened before I knew there were other options.  It was very early, and even then, the physical aspect of the experience was unforgiving.  This also happened at a time when my entire life was in a state of turmoil- sick family, a breakup, a move.  I think the hormones that were present allowed me to feel the emotions of grief that would have otherwise been too overwhelming in that situation.

Since then, I’ve become much better at avoiding feelings.  So much so that when I am given condolences, I have to adjust to the level of emotion apparent in the giver’s message.  Strange to think that even the doctor is hurting more than I am.  But that’s just the surface of things- it’s not the reality.  This realization prompted me to consider…

Just a few days ago, I was speaking to my daughter’s nanny, explaining that both of my daughters were very specific people who “happened” at a very specific time, and we’d be at such a loss if they hadn’t happened just then, and been just who they are.  Of course this is true for all children.  Who would this baby have been?  The little one would have been very close to Clover in age.  So close that they wouldn’t be able to help their bond.  Irish twins.  This baby was going to surprise us at the birth with whether it was a boy or a girl.  A girl, I think.  As Clover was different from Gwenna in so many ways, even from the very beginning, I imagine this girl as the sleeper we haven’t yet had- the one who sleeps from the night practically from day one.  Maybe she’s slower in reaching her milestones because her sisters spent so much time awake, working on these things, that she is not as intensely interested in.  She is a wind whisper in a hurricane house, and balances our family.  As the baby, she looks up to her sisters and when they cry, maybe because I said we couldn’t go to the zoo immediately, she brings them pretend tea.  Hugs and kisses.

This baby will not ever be that person, or any other.  What the baby is, though, is a reminder that we have two lovely miracles.  A chance for me to cry, and reconsider all the things I do to “get ahead” instead of getting dirty playing.  A chance to look at how distant I’ve been with everyone I love, and compare that person with the one with all these emotions right now… and strive to be this person when my two year old is too tired to do anything but whine in a pitch so high it’s unregistered to all but dog ears, when my husband is distracted by the TV and I need to repeat myself 3 times, when Clover is teething and needs to be held all day.

It seems impossible… but you will be missed.

0

You Mad?

The 33 shares on Facebook for my last post means it was controversial.  And that’s the point.  Sometimes we say things other people don’t want to hear.  I was really cranky yesterday after twisting my knee and seeing a mommy blogger apologize for her voice which has helped so many people, so I’m sure the message was rough around the edges. The point was that natural parents who present their beliefs to the world- that breast is best, that corporal punishment is harmful, and other things- should continue to present this helpful information without being concerned with avoiding hurting feelings.  If I do something wrong, I feel bad for it.  I understand the mechanism of hurt feelings.  I also understand compassion and empathy and not wanting other moms to hurt.  Yes, we are all connected.

But they’ll get over it and maybe be better for it  Hey, they were reading your blog in the first place- which means they were probably looking for that information that may have hurt their feelings.  You can help remind them that we are all human.  We all make mistakes.  Then we learn from them.

Bottom line: psychologists wouldn’t be so plentiful and successful if we were not a society trained in avoiding emotion.  Avoiding emotion does not get my vote for best idea ever.  So speak, sisters.

P.S.  I’ll take the opportunity here to point out that I am on my THIRD child, have certainly not lived up to my original AP intentions, and still believe strongly in the principles that have guided the formation of those ideals.  Still- superior, bully, whatever you want to call it- I am not that.

Aside
0

Disclaimer: Since many people have a hard time identifying sarcasm, irony, and the likes through text, please be advised that I do practice AP, I do not identify with the AP Crowd, and I am being quite sarcastic below.  But I am better than you.  Just kidding… the whole point of this post is actually the opposite of that.  I am not better than you, but I did benefit greatly from those who wanted to help me be better than a previous version of me.  

So this happened today.

This isn’t the first time one of my favorite mommy bloggers backed off her stance of whatever it was because she realized the internet is actually a large network of real people she didn’t actually want to offend.  I understand that.  In this world, there are people who just naturally get along.  Other people like them.  They don’t like conflict.

Natural parenting attracts a lot of conflict.  I’ll tell you why: in the same manner the Church is known for not representing literal Christian values, the AP crowd is known for their own sort of hypocrisy and hyperbole.  There happen to be seven Baby B’s of Attachment Parenting.  You probably know of breastfeeding, birthing naturally, babywearing, and maybe a few more.  I bet you didn’t know “Balance” is in fact one of the backbone principles of these popular parenting guidelines.  Yeah, if I read one more blog about not “forcing” a child to say “thank you” to strangers who compliment or help them, I might forget it myself.  Here is where I simply mention that I believe “Balance” includes a healthy understanding of basic social interactions, even though they might make a child uncomfortable, among other things.  And back to the topic at hand.

So the Church of AP is a bunch of in-group bullies, and that’s obviously an exaggeration, but bear with me.  You, you disposable-diapering, formula-feeding, non-co-sleeping, epidural-getting, time-out-using old hags, you are the outgroup.  Ahem, we are the outgroup.  (I’m not owning up to all of those, but I’ll admit to falling short of my Sears ideals.)  And I understand that there has been a lot of bullying because honestly, the folks who are reading up on Attachment Parenting are the folks who probably hate their own parents for screwing them up and needed to find a road map to anywhere that wasn’t where their own parents ended up.  Maybe they need to feel better about themselves because mom was kind of mean, and that might mean bullying (which is not okay- it’s just kind of obvious to put together).

That’s almost what happened to me.  I ate the stuff up.  At 20 years old, I’d already come up with a birth plan and a few weekly meal plans for toddlers and picked out a great preschool… maybe it wasn’t that intense, but maybe it was.  AP was my Bible.  The families I nannied for were my preachers.  I’d found my calling in life, and I was great at this caring-for-kids-in-the-superior-way stuff.  I could have been a total jerk, but then I had the ultimate humbling experience: children.

But I didn’t care that AP was supposed to be superior to other people’s ways.  I cared that it was often the best for the children.  I cared that breastfeeding, and my support of breastfeeding mothers, could mean fewer illnesses for those children.  I cared that getting on their level and listening to them helped them learn to value their voices and emotions.  I cared that wearing an infant would help her feel emotionally secure when she was off playing by herself.  I was, and am, so grateful for the information that doctors, psychologists, and mommy bloggers put out there for me to devour. Truly, I was never into searching out formula feeding moms and “educating” them- just really stuck to hanging out with people who saw things kind of the way I did.  That’s what people do in general, anyway.

I can’t imagine being apologetic for believing in what I believe or apologizing for the facts that helped form my beliefs.

“It made me realize that telling people to not let facts hurt them, was like expecting the rainfall to never touch a single body.” – Two Degrees of Suburbia

But you’re not giving the facts to just people.  You’re giving the facts to parents.  We shouldn’t be so concerned about hurting people’s feelings when we can educate large numbers of people.  We can change a person’s journey on a destructive path by simply linking a few articles on Facebook.  That’s worth a few defensive reactions, in my opinion.

And you know what?  When you believe something, don’t be chicken and say it isn’t worth believing in because a few of your friends don’t like it.

For instance: I have a couple of really wonderful hard core Christian friends.  But I’ll tell them to their faces that gay rights are important, I don’t see any logical way to continue to deny them, and I’ll back that up with facts.  Christians love their Jesus!  I have loved Jesus.  They might get their feelings hurt in that conversation, but it’s right.  I love those ladies, but the issue of civil rights is bigger than avoiding an uncomfortable conversation with a couple of really great friends.  In any case, they’ll still be my friends at the end of the day, because I think we all realize that differing opinions don’t mean you should cut someone out of your life.

Loving and advocating for children and families should be bigger than avoiding uncomfortable conversations with a couple of really great friends.

0

WOW.

Hokay, so, here’s the news:

Baby #3 is on the way.

Clover is only 6 months and nursing around the clock, so it was a bit of a surprise.  The more the merrier!  Except after 3- 3 is my limit. 

I’ve been MIA for about 6 months now, so I would apologize here, but it’s against some sort of rule to apologize for not blogging while you’re blogging.  So just “hi again”, I guess.

Quick update for this week’s post:

-Gwenna is turning 3 at the end of the summer.  The madness of birthday party planning is about to begin.

-Clover is 6 months- nearly 7- and pulling up on things and walking with her walker and being an all around badass.  She heard that rumor that younger siblings could be slower reaching milestones than their older siblings, and smashed that whole notion. 

-Baby #3 is going to move us in the winter to a bigger home and to get a bigger car and that means

-My business must GROW FASTER THAN THIS BELLY.

-And oh yeah, thyroid stuff.  I’ll have to dedicate an entire post to that one.

Talk at ya next week!

0

Happy New Year!

Image

Oh my.  I haven’t blogged in quite some time, huh?  WELL, I have some positive things to share:

Every now and then I get 3-4 hour stretches of sleep, so I resemble a zombie much less now.  Clover is growing well- 15 pounds at 10 weeks old!

I am well on my way to getting back in shape (Paleo diet, back to teaching, resistance training, and soon, WEIGHTS!)

The fall semester plopped me right down onto the Dean’s List (things that also happened last semester: a hurricane, birth, kidney stones, running a business, mothering a toddler, running a home, teaching Zumba three times a week. I can’t be stopped, y’all.)

The agency is taking off.  I’m a little shocked at how well we’re doing.  We went from modest start-up to- dare I say it?- successful overnight.

I’m back in school this semester, and classes start Monday.  Gwenna is also off to Montessori pre-school on Monday, so I may very well have more time to flood this blog with pictures of Paleo food and recipes!  Get ready!

1

Project Sunshine

The newborn phase sucks.

Image

Don’t get me wrong, I love Clover.  I love my whole little family.  But there is no denying this is hard.  As a matter of fact, there’s no denying that there is little happiness or rest these days.  There’s a lot of frustration and tantrums from a toddler and a baby yelling in my ear and vomiting in my hair.  There’s a lot of crying.  I feel like Gwenna doesn’t like me very much, like I’m losing her.  I’m convinced that Clover is dead every time I wake up and she’s not screaming to be fed, and even if she is, I’m terrified to look at her because she could be crying because of some lethal injury or strange newborn illness.  I feel like I’m failing at everything- mothering, being a wife, being a homemaker, being a woman, being a business owner, being a student.

Last night was the first time I slept 4 hours in a row in over 3 weeks.  My days alone with the kids consist of never changing out of a single half-outfit, nursing, getting vomited upon, and pleading with my two year old to do various things, like wear underwear.  I’ve been sicker than I have ever been in my adult life within the past few weeks, I have mystery symptoms that are getting worse, and yeah, let’s just sum it up with “health not so great.”

I feel like I’m in a debt of depression and happiness is thousands of dollars or days away.

Yes, I know some of this is extreme.  You don’t have to tell me to ask for help or to sleep when the baby sleeps (um, that is when? Exactly? Also, just let the toddler run amok?).  I know things are supposed to get better with time. But here is the thing: I have not given up on my dream of happily teaching Gwenna to decorate sugar cookies or doing holiday crafts while nursing Clover in the Moby wrap.

GAME PLAN!

I’m not stranger to the crazies.  Seriously, just ask anyone I’ve ever dated.  So!  I know that there are specific habits one can adopt to help themselves out of a hard place, if they’re not too far gone.  (Notice I’m not saying that if someone is depressed that it is all their fault and they should just DO something about it.  Um, no.)  I’m going to write out a few things I plan on doing, and to keep myself accountable, I’m going to track my progress here.

Want to join me?  Let’s map out a plan for our hearts, minds, and bodies.

Start by setting a small relationship goal.  It can be something to do with your husband, your children, your best friend- something that gets you connected with other people.  That’s for your heart.  Then set a small goal to do with positive thinking- prayers, affirmations, meditation, or whatever suits you.  That’s for your mind.  Then plan an activity you can do every single day to be active for a little bit.  That’s for your body.

Here’s what my game plan looks like:

Heart:  Half an hour of cuddles every day with husband, daughter dates every weekend (one parent with one daughter, the other takes the other daughter, alternate children every other week), call a family member once a week.

Mind:  Affirmations- I am strong, my heart is open, I can feel happiness, my life is beautiful, things are getting better every day.

Body:  Walk every morning with Clover in the Moby wrap.

I will see you tomorrow for check-in!

0

Birth story, not from concentrate.

WOW I’ve been away for a while.  Obviously, I’ve been in over my head with a newborn, a toddler, wifely chores, full-time class schedule, and my own little business.  A little behind-the-scenes peek at a few of my Facebook statuses would also clue you in to the health issues I’ve been having and the reflux my poor Clover has.  Those are different posts, though.  This is about my second birth.

My first birth was an unhappy one.  My husband and I were all set to have a serene, natural, unmedicated birth, using Hypnobabies and the birthing tub we rented.  We were seeing the only certified nurse midwife practice in the city, and set to birth at the only hospital that was “friendly” to their practices.  When my water broke a day shy of 41 weeks, I was not only ready, I was flat out excited for the pain to begin.  “This is what your body was made to do,” said so many voices in my head- the voices of birthing blogs, attachment parenting literature, Ina May Gaskin, Rikki Lake. 

The rhythmic waves never came.  Five hours after my water broke, the midwife suggested a cervical ripening agent to stay ahead of the risk of uterine infection.  The drug- Cervidil- was inserted.  An hour later, I began to experience “contractions”.  They were stabbing pains, one after the other, reacting to movement, sound, anything at all.  They weren’t, however, moving my labor along.  I howled out with every one, for 12 hours.  At some point, I realized that my need for rest was much greater than my need to forgo pain medication, and I asked for the epidural.  Good thing, because somewhere around the 24-hour mark of my waters having been ruptured, I got a fever.  Antibiotics were hung.  But now that my body could relax apart from the contractions, progress was very fast.  The baby began to experience frightening decelerations, and the midwife urged me to get her out, very soon.  I pushed on my hands and knees after the epidural had been turned off for a couple of hours.  I did this for an hour and a half.  Convinced they were all lying to me, telling me my baby was crowning, I screamed at the top of my lungs and gave a huge push and out came Gwenna, whom I thought would never come, and she was whisked away for “aspiration.”

I felt that my body had failed me by not producing contractions on its own.  I felt defeated by the unforeseeable reaction my body had to the Cervidil.  I felt disconnected from my newborn, who did not escape the nursery for 4 more hours.  I felt disappointed, despite my best efforts at optimism.  My husband and I repeated the claim that the epidural saved me from a c-section.  I don’t know if it’s true or not.  Part of me believes it’s just an excuse.

And so this time would be different.  I found a student doula.  I taught Zumba throughout the pregnancy so I could keep my fitness level up.  I researched even more than the first time.  I knew that this time, my water probably wouldn’t break.  This time, my body had already been through it, so I’d go into spontaneous labor, of course!  How could she possibly stay in there with me doing the salsa three times a week at full term, anyway?  We saw the same midwifery practice and were to deliver at the same hospital as the first time.

Right about the same time as my due date, I discovered signs of a kidney stone.  I went in to the midwives’ office to have things checked out.  One centimeter dilated.  Group B Strep, positive.  E. Coli, positive.  The hours and hours of rhythmic, textbook contractions got me one centimeter.  20% effaced.  That was crap… and so it was on the evening of my induction, at 41 weeks and 4 days.

And YES, I DID try every method of self-induction I could have possibly tried. 

So, at the hospital for my induction, I agreed to the placement of a Foley bulb catheter.  This would get me from 3-5 centimeters before we evaluated whether I would need Pitocin in the morning.  The placement was painful, only because the midwife seemed to have a huge problem with placing. I was, after all, pretty much closed shut.  I noticed the contractions begin almost immediately.  Mild, but regular. 

The midwife strongly suggested I take something to get some sleep before the hard work began.  I was offered a choice of either Benadryl or Ambien, and I chose Ambien, because it sounded prettier.  I asked the nurse if there was any difference in side effects between the two, and she shrugged.  Thus began my hallucinations: blinking lights that turned into spiders, buttons on the bed that wouldn’t stay still.  And then I got a little sleep.

When I woke up at 5 AM, I realized the bulb had fallen out.  I also realized I was having frequent, regular contractions.  I pulled out the breast pump and did ten minutes.  Rested for a while.  Ten more minutes.  At 6 AM, the nurse came in with the Pitocin and annoucned that we would be starting the drip.  I said I’d like to talk to the midwives first and assess the need, as well as walk around, be active, encourage the contractions.  They were 3-4 minutes apart, 40-50 seconds long.  She said, no, we would be initiating the process at that point.  I was really shocked, stood my ground, and politely repeated myself: I was going to wait and speak to the midwives before starting the Pitocin.  I had dealt with this nurse’s rude comments regarding natural birth and my daughter’s name, and now had to defend myself against baseless demands not made in my interest.  I was ready for shift change at 7!

I met my new nurse, an angel, and my husband and I walked the halls.  I found some stairs.  I felt a little tired and the contractions were beginning to hurt- we went back to the room.  I rested.  The contractions slowed.

When the midwife arrived, we decided to start the Pitocin.  The Foley bulb had apparently dilated me 5 centimeters, but I was still just 20% effaced.  With the slowing contractions, I was convinced that my body had failed me yet again- so near 42 weeks, and not committed to moving the baby out.  I was disappointed.  I was giving in.  But I was also hopeful that I could still avoid the epidural, with the birth tub available and my doula and my husband both present.

So, 10 AM, the Pitocin started.  I began to take slow breaths through the contractions.  I also started my nails, my makeup, my hair- Mary, my doula finished my hair for me (angel).  It didn’t take long for me to have to focus through contractions.  I decided at some point that I would rest as much as I could, and we turned on Hypnobabies tracks.  I rested in a half-awake state through at least one half hour track- and that was the limit of my use of Hypnobabies during labor.

I remember a cumbersome trip to the bathroom- IV and pole in tow- and the end of my peace.  Every contraction after that was moaning, breathing, squatting, opening, swaying, holding on to my husband.  He says I really tired him out with the squatting.  I wouldn’t know, because he was supporting my weight along with his!  To work through the contractions, I did squats, rolled on the yoga ball, hung over the yoga ball (all fours), and looked wistfully at the birthing pool that my husband kept having hiccups setting up.

The baby was very difficult to track on the monitor.  Her heart rate, when tracked, was beautiful; however, the nurse was very insistent on tracking the heart rate through contractions.  This turned into her digging the monitor into my abdomen through contractions.  I pleaded with her and cried and felt utterly violated when a struggle away from her proved futile, but her heart was in the right place.  She was moving around with me, trying to help me maintain my freedom while monitoring the effects of the Pitocin, which can be dangerous.

I remember intense pressure in my tailbone, and I thought it might be gas or something, so I’d tighten up and fight the “opening” work my body was doing.  I then remembered all the frustration I’d been experiencing over this baby insisting on being malpositioned- everything I tried from Spinning Babies to accupuncture would move her… and she would move right back into a position ill-suited for birth.  It occurred to me that she could be posterior- backwards from the appropriate position, or head up- and her skull could be putting pressure on my tail bone.  So I stopped fighting.  With the next contraction, I felt her move down. 

Every contraction after that, I felt her move down.  This was so different from the first time, when I was feeling betrayed by my body and by the medicine which had promised to step in where my body had failed.  This time, I felt the building strength behind these waves.  This time, I felt the humanity in birth- specifically, the other human involved in the experience.  I felt like I knew what was happening at every moment. 

Eventually, even though I hadn’t dilated further from 5 centimeters in about 7 hours, the midwife told me I could go ahead and get in the tub.  Considering the growing intensity and frequency of contractions, I would have been fairly upset if I’d have been denied the tub any longer.  I climbed in with my bra on, intending to change into my bathing suit top.  Then the bra was wet, and there was no point, and I had no energy to spare, anyway.  The pictures of me laboring in the tub are pitiful… wet nursing bra and a band around the monitors. 

The contractions were getting really rough, but I made sure to make each count, blossoms in my mind’s eye and peace in my breath.  I thought my water broke just a couple of contractions into my time in the tub.  I asked the nurse to assess.  I stood up and the drips of fluid from my body came to a stop, so we assumed it hadn’t broken.  But somehow, I really thought my water had broken. 

Contractions ripped into me after that.  I allowed myself to resign to the idea that this intensity was just normal at this point.  The midwife said “This is what active labor looks like, you’re doing it!”  And I just stared at her.  I was looking for “transition”.  I was hugely disappointed.  After hours and hours of what felt like decent progress, and being told I had not progressed.  Then the midwife claimed that I shouldn’t worry about transition- transition was just “so short”! 

That was a normal woman’s birth, I reasoned.  Short transitions were for women who didn’t have to be induced at nearly 42 weeks with their second births, who had some kind of progress at that point, who had entire labors which lasted less than the 7-8 hours I’d already been in active augmented labor, whose bodies weren’t broken.  I didn’t believe her.  I was convinced that I still had to move through transition, that my water would break and it would get even worse, that I would endure it all and in the end face a c-section because of lack of progress.

And yet, in the back of my mind, something told me it was almost over.  That I was in transition, and moving fast. 

I announced that I would like to be checked and if I hadn’t progressed, I wanted the epidural.  And so they checked me.  The midwife said I was 5-6 centimeters, but I was more effaced now.  It sounded like a trivial amount to me, and I was losing the ability to “roar” through the contractions.  They wouldn’t let go.  At the peaks, I felt my head shaking, side to side, “No,” it said.  No, this couldn’t be less than transition.  And yet, I surrendered to the impossibility that the Pitocin was responsible for the overwhelming experience, which is what everyone around me seemed to believe.

The epidural required about half an hour of fluids before they could place it.  The anesthesiology team swept into the room like a military unit securing a base- ushered everyone out, set firm orders for everyone.  This didn’t mean insensitivity; no, the nurse anesthetist assured me I was during great as I roared through every contraction, shrieking at times. I could no longer breathe normally.  As hard as I tried, I felt myself losing control, and the familiar pattern of breathing that comes along with hyperventilation set it.  I was given an oxygen mask.  The epidural was placed at about 6:30.  Immediately after it was placed, I was checked, and found to be 8 centimeters dilated.  The midwife confirmed that Clover was posterior.  I knew what was in store for me with a posterior birth: greater chance of tearing, more pain. 

For the next 45 minutes to an hour, I shrieked and writhed as I felt the contractions building in intensity.  I felt the pressure in my pelvis.  I didn’t stop to think what this meant.  I kept asking why the epidural wasn’t working.  The nurse anesthetist said it was just taking time, and I was progressing so fast it couldn’t catch up yet.  They kept injecting drugs into the line.  Finally, a different anesthesiologist was called.  He gave me something different or something more, and within ten minutes, I was pleasantly numb.  I would have been happy to have had half of that relief, or a quarter of it.  But I had all of it, and I was very happy. 

At 8 PM, I was checked.  I was not only complete, but Clover’s head was crowning.  My husband and Mary were retrieved from their errands and the midwife set up for birth.  She told me to go ahead and push.  I was extremely relieved that the epidural would not be turned off this time.  I pushed.  Then I laughed at something.  The midwife said, “Laugh again,” and I did, and it counted as a push.  And then I pushed one more time, and out she came.  I caught her, brought her up to my chest, but paused halfway there to let the midwife unwrap the cord which had wrapped tightly, twice, around her neck.  I gazed over my beautiful little one while we waited for the cord to quit pulsing.  My husband cut it once it did. 

Clover had turned at the very last minute.  I had no tearing.  My body pushed her out almost entirely on its own, while I was oblivious and numb, at 8:28 PM.  Roughly an hour after I got relief from the epidural.

I’m a bit disappointed, but keeping Clover close after birth meant everything to me. 

Maybe next time, I’ll have it all…