Shaman’s Birth Story- Part 1

I woke up on Thursday morning at 41 weeks feeling normal and pregnant but somehow knowing that today was going to be an action packed day.  After being up for a while I went to lie down for a little bit of rest while my husband cooked us breakfast (foxwiches) and decided to have a conversation with Baby Fox about when and how he (I always called him a “he” even before the gender was announced at birth) wanted to be born.

We were communicating about how he didn’t want to be induced at the hospital with Pitocin and that it would be best if he gave my body a signal to get started on its own sometime over the next week.  Less than a minute later while still lying down I felt an odd cramp and I thought “this feels productive” then I felt and heard a small pop and even though my bladder felt fine I felt the urge to get up and hurry to the bathroom, as soon as I waddled across and cleared the carpeted area and entered the bathroom tile I feel this gush and trickle coming down my legs.

My first instinct was “oh great, I peed myself” but I didn’t feel like my bladder was releasing so I did a kegel squeeze and noticed that it did nothing to stop or slow down the flow and that the liquid was completely clear, I went to the bathroom and was able to compare the difference and knew without doubt that no, I hadn’t peed myself and that I would be meeting my baby soon.  It was 9am.

laughing at how much clear fluid I was leaking

I waddled to the kitchen and informed my husband that he shouldn’t plan on work and proceeded to call the midwife for a heads up.

Labor started very gradually over the next couple of hours, first with some mild/ non-painful contractions that most of the time I wouldn’t notice except that they would squeeze out more amniotic fluid and that would let me know that my belly was tight.  It was a funny and frustrating thing because I was leaking EVERYWHERE and had to be careful not to slip on my own pools of amniotic fluid.

While I was in the nursery getting something to show Daddy Fox I got my first strong contraction that made me gush so much liquid that I just stood there laughing watching it stream down my legs and make a pool at my feet, there was no point in trying to contain it with pads, it would soak right through.

The midwife came by in the early afternoon to check on things and make sure that baby’s heartbeat was fine.  By then I was having painful contractions but they were still in the early labor stage, manageable and with a decent break in between.  She left to take care of business while waiting for my call to let her know that things had picked up, I really didn’t think that we would call her until that evening but my body had other plans…

Within minutes of her leaving contractions intensified and were becoming more painful and closer together, after almost an hour of contractions being 3-4 minutes apart and 1-1.5 minutes long I asked hubby to give our doula a call and to notify our midwife soon after.  I remember being told that she texted saying to get the tub filled, I remember thinking “isn’t it early for that?” but then I had to go inside myself to manage the contractions and the surroundings would blur regularly.

After this stage things become hazy and blurry for me, I know that the midwife arrived at some point but by the time I noticed she was busy setting up and her assistant had arrived without me noticing.

I had entered the first stage of active labor and things were picking up in intensity, I was very proud of myself at how good I was handling things until then, I would go inward at every contractions and vocalize, sometimes almost chant to get through them, it was tiring but very doable provided that I took it a contraction at a time and didn’t think about how much I may have left.

our doula helping me through a contraction

After a while the pain was taking its toll and I asked if it would be a good time to go in the pool, the midwife agreed as long as it didn’t slow things down by spacing contractions out.  I got in and it was a GREAT help, the warmth was so relaxing that it allowed my body to tense less during contractions which made for one less thing to focus on doing during a contraction.  The only gripe was that the water level was not high enough to fully cover my belly and it felt like torture to go through a contraction without having someone pouring warm water over the belly during it.

As the day turned into night I lost more and more connection to the outside world and would go into “labor land” in between contractions thanks to the complex mix of hormones swirling through my body.

It was difficult to stay nourished and hydrated as I threw up fairly regularly as a result of some of the stronger contractions.  Sometime late at night things were getting so intense that my focus was starting to falter and it was getting harder to get through the contractions, I was getting tired and only having a 2 minute break in between to try to nap quickly and recharge.  But things had started to slow down as well so at the suggestion of the midwife we tried a couple of approaches such as nipple stimulation and acupressure while in the shower to get the contractions to pick up pace again.  Sometime around 1am the midwife gave me a tincture of some herbs to pick things up.

After being in the shower for what felt like an eternity not much was happening but the water felt delicious during contractions.  At some point I noticed an emotional shift where for the first time in the whole process I started to doubt myself and cry in frustration of being so tired, it was hard to open up and be vulnerable about my feelings when having an audience but I credit the fact that I trusted them all so much to be part of this process with me that I could do so.

I was displaying the signs of entering transition yet my body was stalling, I had made it to 7 centimeters but was still working on bringing the baby down to have his head pressure on the cervix to move things along.  Sometime in the wee hours I had lost enough of my grip that I decided to call Eileen, the EFT practitioner that I had worked with my during pregnancy.  I felt bad calling her at 4am or whatever time it is that I dialed her but I needed to refocus quickly as I was starting to have a mini panic attack during the stronger contractions as they were coming in double waves with the second peak being way stronger than the first one and I could no longer breathe properly through them.

I worked with Eileen on the phone crying about how I felt stuck and that there was something holding my body back, we talked for a while with me having to put down the phone every time that I had a contraction, it was helpful at first but at one point I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t focus on listening to her, tapping and dealing with what was going on at the time so I just hung up.

After another period of blurriness, Sandra (midwife’s assistant) put on her drill sergeant hat and coached me out of my shell of despair into doing some uncomfortable techniques to bring baby down.  So here I am less than an hour before sunrise naked in our backyard with me walking like a sumo wrestler and stomping on the grass to have the rocking and moving help baby move lower.

By sunrise the next day I was back in the tub and gradually able to take emotional control of the situation, it still wasn’t easy but I was freaking out less, the exhaustion was the biggest thing taking its toll since I was having such a near impossible time eating and sleeping.  At least baby was making his way down….

working through active labor in the birth pool

By then the back labor was my biggest challenge, I would yell for someone to put pressure on my back during a contraction as I didn’t know how in the world I could get through it otherwise.  The sunrise turned into full fledged morning and I was starting to crumble again, one expects the emotional signs of transition (seriously enjoying the idea of a hospital) with your body doing the last bit of opening needed but my body was not communicating with my emotions and hormones.  I had been stuck at 7 centimeters for hours which was discouraging but being able to feel with my baby’s hair with my own fingers gave me the motivation to give it another 1 1/2 hours before I cried for help again.

My husband took a short nap since things had been going on for so long, I tried to let him as long as I could until I just had to ask for him.

I wouldn't have made it anywhere near as far without my husband

After that hour and a half, my water had been broken for more than 24 hours and I was exhausted.  The midwife was getting worried and impatient and after talking on the phone with two other midwives she approached me and my husband with a proposal.  She said that the other midwives had used this trick with success and it was to inject a small amount of Pitocin to get things kickstarted again and finish dilating.  It would be 1/10 of the dose normally given at the hospital, she said that we would have to “back her up”.  We knew that this was illegal and she wasn’t allowed to use Pitocin in this way but we were also exhausted and trusted her judgement so we let her do it.

Shortly after getting out of the pool she gave me the shot and I labored in the birthing stool for a couple of contractions when I suddenly felt this wave of helplessness come over me, I felt sick and I declared that I HAD to go to the bathroom NOW!  As I stood up to try to walk I was suddenly hit with a contraction that immediately peaked without warning and when that peak faded, another one came, and then another one, and then another one and… it felt like it went on for an eternity as if my body got stuck in that loop like a broken record of peaks with no break in between.  The pain was so unbearable that it took 2 people to hold me up as I just couldn’t move and would have ended up on the floor otherwise.

I counted 7 peaks on what will forever be known as the giant contraction from hell, I don’t know how long it took for it to be complete as it was an eternity to me but when I was done I had dilated from 7 to 10 centimeters in that one giant contraction.

That is when everything changed, baby Fox’s heartbeat had been monitored regularly throughout the whole labor, including during contractions and he was making it all look like a walk in the park, labor was not affecting him at all… until now.

Story continues here

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