Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Birth of Nathan Lee

Shortly after David was born, I snatched up some books on the Bradley birthing method which someone offered up on freecycle. About halfway through this pregnancy I decided to take a look at them and see just what was the difference. The books are old - lots of pics of something out of "That 70's Show" - but the method had come highly recommended by a Feingold friend so I dove in. Dr. Bradley was jokingly called Barnyard Bradley for his method which he developed after watching all sorts of critters labor and birth on his childhood farm. He felt that the animals were best able to do things the way God intended for their bodies to work and was always amazed that they could have the appearance of calm and sleep all through a labor and delivery. The biggest difference between his idea and the LaMaze idea is mostly the method of breathing. Bradley teaches utter relaxation of all the other muscles in the body while breathing in a regular, sleeping pattern through the powerful contractions of the uterus. (This is opposed to the heavy in and out breathing of the LaMaze method which, quite frankly, had never helped me much the previous 4 labors). After years and years of acting training which teaches first and foremost to relax all the muscles in the body, I always figured that should be some great help when it came to labor. However, it wasn't until I came across Bradley that I could actually put the two together. Relaxation I had down long ago, the breathing was the key...

The other thing I got to do all new this time was write up a birth plan. Actually, I just filled out a form on-line and checked off options we would like during labor and delivery. I specified things like being able to wear my own clothes, intermittent fetal monitoring, no drug intervention at all, a peaceful, quiet and dark atmosphere to labor, my husband to cut the cord, baby immediately to breast and being able to move about during labor in whatever spot I found most comfortable. The birth plan went to my midwives who put it in my file awaiting the BIG DAY.

Well, Saturday wasn't my day but Sunday was! Like I posted before, I spent the day on Saturday doing as much activity as I could to try to entice little Nathan to come out into the big wide, world. It actually seemed to have worked this time. By Saturday night I was completely tuckered out, plopped myself into bed and spent a restless night having regular contractions all through the night. This was a good sign, as up until then any contractions I was having while up and about would always stop shortly after I got myself horizontal - so horizontal and still contracting was good!

About 6:00 am I got up and sat in my most comfy chair (a wheeled desk chair w/good back support which was the salvation of this entire pregnancy!) and continued to contract. I looked up a contraction timer on-line and started timing the contractions once they really started to feel pretty strong. By 8:30 they were timing at about 4-5 minutes apart and lasting over 1 1/2 minutes. They were strong, long and regular - looked like Nathan's arrival was imminent! We had called the midwife at about 8:00 and she said to come on in whenever we felt comfortable. Knowing my history of going quickly once I get dilated, we didn't want to wait too long and we really felt this was going to happen quickly since things seemed to be progressing. So about 9:00 we showed up at the hospital after phoning in for reserve forces on the homefront (fortunately Michelle and Dan had opted to go to the Saturday evening mass!). Surely this baby would be here by 11:00 - we were sure we had timed it just right!

I was thrilled when, upon my arrival, the nurse immediately began to ask me questions which clearly indicated she had already reviewed and familiarized herself with our birth plan. This was all new to me - the idea that *we* were in control of this delivery! In fact, at the end of the day she did say this had been a very different delivery for her because she had been able to be so hands-off and just observe and be there when needed. Because I already knew what I wanted to wear and where I wanted to labor, she pretty much left us alone. I chose a rocking chair in the room w/good back support and spent the first hour or two at the hospital in the appearance of sleep, relaxing and working through contractions. The difference was incredible. Instead of feeling the pain of each contraction, I was able to feel the power of my body surging to bring my Nathan into the world. My husband was amazed at the difference. He was so incredulous with how relaxed I appeared that he took many pictures of me in labor. This picture is me sitting up in the bed, fully dilated and in the middle of a transition contraction! I felt so at peace and in control! By this time w/the other labors, I was screaming and crying and giving it up for the epidural...

To get through the early contractions I concentrated on thinking through how powerful that muscle is that will bring my baby into the world. As the contractions got more intense, I imagined Nathan and I swimming out into the surf on a surfboard. We rode each contraction in like a wave, my little man and I. And, finally, during transition contractions Nathan and I blew up a great big ball - it just got bigger and bigger. Through the whole labor my water never broke. At one point the midwife attempted to use the little crochet hook thingy but the membranes were just too tough and Nathan was just not letting go of that precious amniotic sac. Every time we blew up that beach ball I begged him to let *me* play in the water but he would have nothing to do with that! The neat part of this little imagination game was that I really felt like my body, Nathan and I were all working together to get this job done. I felt so much more bonded to the little guy when he finally came out.

I don't know if retaining the water made it happen or God just had an odd plan for this delivery but just as I got fully dilated my contractions slowed down dramatically. It finally got to the point where I was having them only every 15 - 20 minutes apart and I actually went *backwards* to 8 cm dilated. I thought I should be pushing by now but apparently there was some other plan. I would have a big contraction, we'd all get geared up for those pushing urges and then.....nothing. We found ourselves just sitting around looking at each other and wondering what to do next. I think God provided that little intermission because a few contractions into that odd lull in the labor my midwife had to leave to deliver a 33 week old baby. The mom had thought she was just having braxton hicks contractions and when she arrived at the hospital was already fully dilated and ready to deliver. So our midwife left to handle that situation (the baby weighed over 5 lbs and was just fine - Praise the Lord! We watched her contractions and her baby's heartbeat on the monitor in our LDR and could see exactly when the baby was born) and by the time she returned to me I'd had a total of, oh, maybe TWO more contractions!

But things kicked in a bit more swiftly after that and I found myself ready to push the little guy out. Now, I had never done this before - I'd always pushed w/an epidural so I had someone telling me when to push, how to push and even holding on to my legs since I had no feeling in them but this time I was sort of on my own - keeping with this theme that *we* were in control! I had never pushed out a baby in more than 3 pushes but this time it took more like 7 or 8 and I was TIRED by then! I had a mirror and could see everything happening and I just sort of expected to push a time or two and out he would slide but I pushed a time or two and there was nothing. The midwife did manage to finally get the bag of waters broken which helped to get him out but my contractions were still about 5 or so minutes apart so there was long waiting between opportunities to push. At long last, I pushed his little head out and that was an eerie feeling - I could see the little head hanging out there but the contraction was over and I was afraid he would strangle if I waited 5 more minutes to get the rest of the body out. I begged my midwife for advice - "What do I do now?!" She answered with just the voice of clarity I needed "You push again." I mustered all the strength I had left in my body and out came a whole, live, wonderful human being! We did it!! This pic is right out of the womb and straight to Mama. I was so happy to have him there but sooo tired too..


They let him stick around Mama for awhile and once he got used to the light in his little face he immediately wanted to nurse. He was a good little nurser right form the start and he got lots of time to start and finish the job. In the meantime, Dad got to cut the cord and take pictures of the placenta (he's always been fascinated by that...) Nathan was with me for a good long while before they took him to get weighed...9 lb 7 oz!
And heated up under the warmer:
He loved that warmer!
Some time later he got his bath and got his jammies on.
Then he and I had a night and a day to hang out at the hospital doing all the stupid hospitaly things until he was finally released 24 hours after delivery. Here he is all ready to go home. He had a nice little going home outfit which he immediately wee-ed all over so back he went into his gown. He managed to wee all over just about everybody and everything that got close to him in those 24 hours...
And was it ever good to be HOME! The big brothers and sisters are so happy to have him here. They scramble to be next to hold and cuddle him. I love this discovery JT made - I wonder if Nathan will ever grow into JT's shoes?
I'm sure, though, that God has some shoes of his own just for Nathan to grow into...

2 comments:

Jennifer said...

Mary,
Thanks for posting the WHOLE story! I sure brings back memories. Dr. Bradley has been my friend through three little boys and I can't say enough about the method. It's especially wonderful through the little "glitches" that come with every labor!
A drug-free labor is a beautiful thing.
Nathan is a beautiful little boy. I can't wait to meet him!

Esther Roberts said...

Mary,

What a beautiful birth story. Having taught Bradley for almost 4 years, had 3 kids by Bradley Method myself, I know how wonderful it is to be in control over your own birth. Kudo's to you kid. You did a great job!!!

Esther