My new baby, Levi Francis Harter (pronounced just like the jeans) was born April 9th, 2010 at 2:26 AM at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. Now, if you are interested in birth details, read on. If not, then skip the rest. I promise there is nothing too graphic. There is a picture of him getting his first bath.
Thursday, April 8th I awoke with a strong desire to get things done and had the energy to match. I woke up, cleaned my downstairs bathroom and kitchen including mopping and wiping down the cabinets all before 9:30 AM. I left for my chiropractor appointment. I particularly wanted him to focus on my lower back which felt kind of sore that day. He joked that I was looking lower that day and said he thought I may be dropping as we spoke. I joked back for him to try to give me an adjustment without breaking my water.
After my appointment I headed home. My mom stopped by for a bit and I felt like I should rest for a while. My back was sore and I wanted to be energetic enough for yoga that night. I was having a lot of braxton kicks contractions and I also felt kind of crampy, with twinges of pain lower in my abdomen. So I rested for a minute, then proceeded to clean my entire first floor and made some food to freeze for when the baby came. That night I debated about going to yoga and I went because it always makes me feel better.
When I got home from yoga, I put my 7-year old to bed and chatted with my husband. I told him I thought I was getting close. I told him about my backache, my cramps, and the strong nesting desire. Funny thing was that my doula instinctively emailed me at that moment and asked me how things were. I told her about my day. She told me to get some rest. It was 10:30 PM and time for bed. I got up to brush my teeth and felt the familiar pop and gush as soon as I stood up. "Honey, I think my water just broke". Time to head to the hospital. My mom came over to watch Sam, and we hopped in the car. We called the midwife to tell her we were on our way and called the doula to tell her to meet us there.
The car ride over to the hospital was interesting. My husband was driving and timing contractions. They were 30-40 seconds long, 2-3 minutes apart. I was breathing and trying not to curse myself for not bringing more towels. We were calling our family members to tell them to expect a baby soon. We got to the hospital at 11:30 PM. They checked me over, and I was 3 cm and 90% effaced. Everyone thought I had a bit of time before the baby would come. After getting monitored for a few minutes, I went to my own room.
I was hoping for a natural birth, but I was open to however God decided my labor would go. My doula met us there. We spent the first hour breathing and dealing with my back labor. My husband was awesome at massaging my lower back. At around 1:45ish, I started losing my rhythm and couldn't get it back. "How the hell do women do this?" I asked myself. It was as bad as I could take. I could no longer focus or time my breathing. My doula asked if I wanted to see where I was at. I couldn't bear to get checked because I didn't want to find out that I hadn't progressed very far and lose my resolve. I had labored for 7 hours in my first labor and only progressed 1 cm. I couldn't bear to hear that again.
The midwife came in and tried to help me get back into rhythm. She got me to move positions. I told her it felt like my insides were tearing apart. Apparently those were the "magic words". Just after 2 AM, after being in the hospital for a little more than 2.5 hours, she got me on the bed to check my progress and she announced it was time to start pushing. The tearing apart feeling was when Levi was moving into the birth canal. Once they got my into position, I pushed for 16 minutes. Levi was born at 2:26 AM, and I got my natural child birth.
When the baby was born they put him straight on my chest. The skin to skin contact is essential when the baby is first born. If your hospital doesn't do this as common practice, I recommend you ask for it (as long as the baby appears healthy). They also waited a bit before clamping the umbilical cord. The blood continues to pulsate and pump the blood into the baby. Once it stops, the cord is clamped and my husband made the cut. This is also something I would recommend. It provides the baby with enough iron stores so that at 6 months it is not as necessary to supplement the baby with iron. After the cord is cut, they took him to get a birth weight and gave him right back to me to nurse. He nursed for 30 minutes on each side. Nursing as soon as possible after birth ensures that you establish breastfeeding, begins shrinking your uterus, ensures he gets colostrum early, and helps signal to your body for the milk to come in (which usually happens 2-3 days after the birth of the baby).
After the baby nursed, he was taken (with my husband) to the nursery for any initial things like vitamin K and eye ointment. We declined the hepatitis B vaccine that they routinely give the first day of life (I recommend that you read into it and make a decision for yourself). They also give him his first bath (my husband helped and got pictures). I was "sewn" up since I tore a bit, and they pushed on my uterus to avoid hemorrhaging later. After everyone was done we met in the postpartum room and got some rest for the night.
Overall the birth of both my sons were amazing experiences. However, after having experienced one with many interventions and one that was completely natural, I have to say that natural childbirth is the way to go. The bottom line is that they both are uncomfortable and painful (childbirth hurts). But I felt completely present in the moment, I did not feel "out of it" or "drugged" and felt completely empowered in my woman-ness. When I let my body do it's thing, it went a lot faster and the recovery went a lot better than when I had been given pitocin and an epidural. Our bodies are amazing things and know what to do. We just have to let them do it.
However, regardless of how you give birth to your baby, enjoy the time and get ready for the new game to begin. The first month is tough but they are only newborns for a short time. The last 6 weeks have been a rollercoaster for me, as you will find out in my next few posts.
If you are hoping to birth with less interventions, I encourage you to read "Birthing from Within" by Pamela England & Rob Horowitz and "The Birth Partner" by Penny Simkin. I also encourage you to get a doula to help take the pressure off your partner. They are professionals at managing pain in labor and they know what to say/do when times get tough and your partner doesn't know how to help you push through.
If you want to look into vaccinations--I recommend "What your doctor may not tell you about Children's Vaccinations" by Stephanie Cave, and "The Vaccine Book" by Dr. Sears. That should give you some insight about the Hep B shot and other ones that you should be prepared for at the early pediatrician appointments.