I’m lying here in bed, enjoying the nice breeze and some rest w/ Summer as she feeds our newest addition to our family, Cedar. He was born after about 22 hours of labor on 5/6/11 at 10:08 AM. Labor was long, and the early signs of labor showed up almost 2 days before so we anxiously awaited everything we learned about in class, and sure enough, Mary Ester wasn’t lying! It was all true! 😉
An early side-note: Summer found out that she was carrying breech at 36 weeks. Undeterred, we found a OBGYN who accepted our insurance and was confident in attempting an external cephalic version. I had a hard time, watching some dude grunting and sweating as he distorted Summer’s baby-belly with no success. His arms were shaking with the effort, and I thought “no more…”. He took a brief break, and said he didn’t think it was going to work in our case, but he was willing to try one more time in the opposite direction. Within 30 seconds, *plooop*, Cedar was turned. She was mildly sore for 3 days, but given that he was now head down, it wasn’t something she gave a 2nd thought to.
Labor/delivery: First a sleepless night of nervous energy as we waited for “cramps” to become contractions. Then as we walked around town the next day, the contractions found a rhythm and became regular. Our doula Gayla showed up around 10pm and guided Summer and I through the scary, early stages of labor. Funny to me now, but looking back I was so nervous during those early contractions, punctuating every 10 minutes of time with a fresh bit of anxiety. Later, we intuitively went through all the training, trying different laboring positions and techniques. It all felt very calm and natural, despite my harbored fears and reservations that come with one’s first labor experience. In case you don’t recall me mentioning it in class, my father is a pediatrician, and my grandfather before him was a chemist; their collective knowledge and experiences passed on to me over my life led me to initially view homebirth with a lot of skepticism. Additionally, I have a lot of clients in my business who are Dr’s, all of whom called me crazy for even contemplating something so stupid — except for one. He’s an ER pediatric Dr. at Montifore, and his 2nd child was homebirthed and strongly supported our decision. They unfairly subjected me to a lot of self-doubt, which I kept at work and did not bring home.
Summer would probably want me to share all the gory details, so here it is: first, our water broke. Yes Paul, ours broke too. After living here for 11 years without any issues, the water boiler broke. The night labor started Summer took a warm shower and had a small glass of wine, with the hopes of relaxing and sleeping. In the AM as the pain and stress set in, she desperately wanted to slow things down with a hot bath, but there was nothing. We could hear the heater working, but no heat. Luckily, a 6am call to our local repair guy (who was literally around the corner) was answered and we had a new starter installed by 10am.
The other “gory” detail: Summer had food poisoning for days before she went into labor from an ill-advised street fair veggie samosa. The bad kind, projecting from both ends. To make things worse, it was her first time suffering the wrath of this sort of ailment, so she was down and out for 2 solid days. Though we though she was through the worst of it, in the heat of labor it returned with a vengeance. At one point, we wondered if the hospital was in our future because dehydration was setting in and her fatigue and stress were wearing on both of us. While still on the toilet, we had a discussion at 3am and decided that if things didn’t take a turn for the better after an hour (when our midwife Valeriana was due to arrive), we’d go. At 4am it had slowed and she felt better, largely due to the 3 hours she spent in the birthing tub, 1/2 submerged in warm water. Summer claims that this alone helped her gain the the rest and confidence she needed to turn the proverbial corner. We went ahead with our plans and got down to business. At 5am I broke out the tools and pulled a shelf out of the wall so she could do the reverse-toilet seat labor. As 7am came and went, She started to wonder if she had enough energy left. At 9am, with little progress and an empty gas tank, I guided her to bed to try to sleep.
Truth be told, I settled into the couch with the laptop to read an article someone sent, about the attack dog(s) Seal Team 6 used in the assault of Bin Laden’s compound. Did you know that they have dogs with advanced body armor, head mounted cameras, and earpeices for remote commands? They also sport titanium teeth at the cost of $2000+ a tooth that are designed to crush bone and pierce body armor. They are also trained to jump from planes at 30k feet w/ supplemental oxygen. True story. As I got to the end of the article, I heard some commotion and elevated voices. It couldn’t be?! I thought she was going to sleep?! As I turned the corner, Summer was bearing down on all 4’s and the tension and urgency between the doula and midwife was very clear. The baby was coming. And I was reading about attack dogs. It turns out that as commonly happens, the baby’s head was stuck on the cervix near the pubic bone, and was freed with a really quick and minor manual adjustment by the midwife. The baby was coming out like gangbusters! The rest, as they say, is history. Cedar was born at our home, in our bed, and into his mother’s arms. A truly humbling experience. The fear, the doubt, the hard work, the everything… it was all compressed and blended into this really fuzzy timeline, but also into very indelible memories that we’ll retell to Cedar once he’s ready.
I hope this finds all of you well on this Mother’s Day, and we cannot wait to meet with you guys again this summer sometime. We were honestly lost the first few Sundays after class was over. It will be good to catch up.
~rich and summer and cedar