Friday, September 19, 2014

Birthing for the 2nd time-- my boy August

Dear ones,

Giving birth to a human being is the most beautiful, scary, empowering, hard, intense, compassionate, and loving thing ever. I was honored to get to go through my second completely natural birth a few weeks ago. My second boy, August (Gus), was born on August 17th in Cambridge, MA.

HIs big brother, Isak, was also born with the same midwives program over 3 years ago, and after our great experience the first time around, I knew that I had to do it with them again. Isak's birth was a long labor. No complications, but long and super tough. I held through it though, and you can read about it here.
With that I must say I was a bit nervous this time around that it would take just as I spent the summer working through my feelings surrounding birth, and trying to allow this time to be its own thing.
The entire last month of this pregnancy was a warmup for the labor. I had many more weeks of symptoms preparing for birth than the first time around. It was hard to tell if this was just how 2nd pregnancy goes…the heat of the summer…or if labor was right around the corner. So, I took it day to day. That said, when my 39th week came and went, and then the 40th week came and started to go…I felt impatience all around and within me. My mom was already here from out of town to help with Isak and I was huge. My belly was able to stay stretch mark-free the whole time until that very last week. Ha!
I had a real day of false labor at the end of the 39th week (with the full moon) where there were regular surges and all…but after a night's sleep it went away. My boy decided he needed to wait until a calmer energetic period in the cycle came around. ;)
So, on Saturday, 8/16, I started seeing and feeling more definite signs that the time was upon us. My husband and I finished watching one of our favorite series (Homeland) that night, and then bam…the next morning at 41 weeks pregnant I had the "bloody show." I knew then that my baby was probably coming that day! This was exciting since my grandma gave birth on 8/17 to my uncle and her sister also gave birth that day as well. It was neat to be tied to her and her sister in that way, and through birthing energy.
I started timing the surges around mid-morning and noticed they were around 7 minutes apart. They were just intense enough that all I had to do was take some deep yogic breaths and it would pass. I was still able to eat, talk, rest. It was a beautiful summer day, so I remember just being on our porch, in my sun-filled bedroom, watching something with my mom, having snacks…until I called the midwives in the afternoon to check in and let them know what was going on. They pretty much said it sounded like I could decide to stay at home if I wanted. That said, we put Isak down to nap and I just knew to tell him that I probably won't be there when he woke up. Sure enough, the surges started getting stronger and so my husband and I left in the late afternoon for the hospital. We arrived around 5:00ish. Things were intense where I had to do more work breathing through…but I wasn't debilitated yet. They did an internal exam and said I was around 3 cm and my cervix was close to being fully effaced. So I was on the verge of active labor…but of course it was hard to tell when it would fully kick in. So, they decided to discharge me. I was honestly pretty annoyed by that because I was there and ready to be there and start the process of relaxing into it all.
My husband and I went down to Darwin's cafe just outside of Harvard Sq. to get some food. It was really lovely out and the sun was starting to get lower, so we went by the Charles river and sat on a bench. I could only take 3 bites or so of a snack as the surges kept getting more and more intense. I was so glad my husband got to eat and we could enjoy the stream of light coming through the trees, the water, the warm air, and all of the people out exercising (though I did get some looks that were like…'um, is she in labor?'). I tried to walk a little bit, but when every few steps turns into a time to hug a tree for comfort and breath, well, I knew it was time to head back to the midwives.

By the time we actually made it back to the hospital from all the starting and stopping of walking, it was around 8:00. The midwives were just changing shifts, but the same nurse (Jackie, you rock) was on call. She could tell I was much more into it by now. The new midwife on (Leila, you also rock) thought I was more like 4 cm now and my cervix was ready. I was the only midwife patient in labor at the moment, and I had requested the room with the birthing tub, so I got it! Yay, the palace was mine. :)

Again, it took some time just for me to walk to the room. Once there I had to use the restroom, and I was in a lot of pain (yes, birthing contractions are painful, people! But they are also somehow manageable because us women are amazing). In the bathroom, my baby gave a strong kick or punch and my water broke over the toilet! Alright! I was relieved because then I knew it was really getting going. The birthing tub was then full and they helped me get in. I had only a towel placed over me in the water, which felt so soothing. Leila kept pouring water over me through each surge, and my husband was there to massage my neck and soothe me. Jackie found an iPod dock, thank goodness, and so with the lights very low and my playlist on…I was able to tap in. Snatam Kaur, Sigur Ros, Amiina…they all helped me through for the 2nd time in this birthing game.
As most women going for a natural birth do, I had so many jekyll and hyde moments. One minute I would say, "I can do this!" and then the very next I was, "I can't do it!" and so the time would pass. My team of Leila, Jackie, and David were perfect calm, soothing, supportive, positive energy to guide me toward meeting my boy. My friend, Cara, who has been photographing this pregnancy throughout each trimester was on her way to photograph the birth. I remember asking my husband if he had texted her! We weren't sure she'd make it on time.
At the nurse's suggestion, I changed positions in the tub, and after only 3 surges or so in that new position…the incredible urge to push came over me. Wow, to feel that sensation again. It's beyond describing, really. The best way that other mama friends and I can describe it is, PRIMAL. There is no stopping the sensation. You are in that moment connected to every single thing on this planet. Nothing else will ever take me to that place in the same way.
I then moved back to the little seat in the tub and the midwife got her water birthing gloves and gear on. They guided me in my breathing as each urge to push came through. I had no recollection of time at this point. I remember Cara showing up somewhere during this time…and I was glad she made it! But I was definitely in another place. When the baby emerged from my womb (after only 25 minutes of pushing!), it's the biggest sense of relief I will ever feel. It was the same as after Isak emerged. Just this overall feeling of, thank goodness it's over…and I did it. Phew! And WOW. My little August was placed right on my chest and I don't remember much else. Just looking at his beauty and feeling so at ease, finally, that all was well and he was here. The water was still warm and soothing and my husband and I were taking it all in. Around 20 minutes or so later, my placenta came out. I stayed a bit longer in the tub and then they started draining it and we were able to get out.
Gus was 8 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches. He was perfect. I had no tears and all was in tact (again, yay for yoga!). I felt actually really good. He was born at 10:09pm, so within 2 hours of us showing back up at the hospital. That was more like it this time around!

This last month since has been very full in every sense. Full of visitors, full of emotions, full of stress (postpartum hormones combined with having a 3 year old!), full of celebrating, full of ups and downs, but mostly so full of Love. It's a transformative time of the year, so it feels most fitting to have welcomed new life into the world and to slowly allow my own transitions to happen. I'm undergoing another shift in my spirit that I welcome and that will provide for new energy and wisdom to emerge as I move forward in the many roles I hope to continue to encompass.

More to come…

Thank You to our families. Thank You to our dear friends who have provided such incredible meals, snacks, company and hugs. Thank You to my fellow new mamas all over the place who provided such inspiration and continue to. Thank You to my yoga friends and students all over the place who do the same.

Lots of love from our family to yours,


First meeting of our sweet boy--
photo by Cara Brostrom
 Do you see his mudra in the right hand?--
photo by Cara Brostrom

Gus at around 2 weeks old.