Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Best Friend's Homebirth




Fingers are itching.

If you were stalking my profile yesterday, as I'm sure most of you were because I am SO fascinating, you know that my best friend gave birth to her 3rd kidlet, Max. Lauren is one of mah best friends and invited me along for the ride. Lauren is like me, one of those crazy people who believe natural childbirth is optimal and that homebirth is awesome, safe and a great way to bring your kiddies into the world. Lauren has had all of her children at home. For those who don't know, I met Lauren when I was very, very newly pregnant. She was my midwife (one of two at the birth center) and we just clicked kinda quickly. Besides, she gives a good pap smear. I mean really, how many people can say they met one of their best friends during a pelvic exam. I always laughed when I'd do those silly surveys on myspace and they ask if your best friend has seen you naked. Hunny, she has seen my cervix. K? She was with me during my labor and delivered David. She's a good catcher seeing as how he rocketed out of my womb faster than a Ryan Madson fast ball (google it). And she will be delivering all my future children.

She sent me a text on the 27th at 5:49am saying she had the good ol' bloody show and had some on and off painful contractions. Lauren had been waiting (ahem) impatiently for over a week for this little guy to make his appearance. Afraid to miss it, I pretty much stayed very local to my area or my parents house. Lauren lives an hour away from me and a little less than my parents. I kept my phone charged, loud and glued to my ass. Kept the gas tank filled and kept a little bag of extra clothes and some baby stuff in my trunk. I find that funny as I'm usually never prepared for anything. That night, I had barely slept. I got in late from my parents house and then struggled with my usual insommnia. I kept telling myself that I had to sleep because I just *knew* Lauren was going to be in labor. It didn't work. I fell asleep a little bit after I got her text. She called at 7am to tell me that oh yeah it was it. I did something that would end up being the theme for the day - I got out of bed and updated my facebook status. I took a shower, Mike cooked me some eggs and got my coffee ready (read: poured it into my travel mug) and I kissed my sleeping little boy before leaving. Thankfully, Mike had the day off. Our original plan was to head to the beach, but I changed those plans a few days earlier cuz I *knew*. I was so nervous because I had to travel the dreaded blue route and some other awful highways (she is in Joisey) that have a rep for being clogged. So I prayed to God for a quick safe trip and then asked for help from my travel buddy, St. Joseph. Somebody up there likes me because that was probably the most trouble-free trip I have ever had on the blue route. Not a lick of traffic.

I had an "oh shit" moment when I pulled up to their house. Apparently, I was nervous. I was actually shaking. Yeah, shaking. WTF? I told myself to get over it, which I did seconds later, and popped into the house. Lauren was walking around in all her hugely pregnant glory. Her contractions weren't too shabby, though not regular. Her contractions never became truly regular througout the entire labor. Lauren does labor beautifully. She's very good at the labor sounds. ***Tidbit: the sound you make during labor matters a great deal. Pushing time aside, making low sounds is much better than high-pitched noises. Low sounds truly ease pain and they help that baby descend. Some women can carry that all the way through pushing, but a lot of women, myself included, yell a bit higher then (um, cuz it hurts). *** One of the first things I did was to update my status. Haha. The entire day was filled with people - me, Brian, Lauren's sister, Lauren's dad, Lauren herself (she stopped once her water broke) - updating our statuses. Priorities, yanno? Lauren's sister had posted a poll for people to guess when the baby would come and what his weight would be. I predicted 4:48pm and 8lbs 4 ounces. Um..I was kinda wrong. Haha. Lauren and I took a couple of walks. The walks probably provided the most consistent contractions. She was pretty regular then. Me and her did two walks and then she did another with Brian later. *** Tidbit - walking during labor is very beneficial. It reduces pain, gets things moving and brings the baby down lower. ***When the midwife, Kathy, got there she did all her midwifey things like check Lauren's cervix (which Lauren had been doing herself at times) and they spent time together. I watched Little Rascals the movie with Brian and the kidlets. Adorable movie, yet slightly creepy and mildly rascist (thought not as rascist as the original shorts). Kathy got out a giant stockpot and began simmering herbs - calendula, comfrey, uva ursi, yarrow and the like - to make a sitz bath and perineal wash. Lauren threw some wet diapers into the freezer. *** Tidbit - this is a GODSEND. Freeze newborn diapers to have on hand after the birth. These will be used on the perineum after the birth and they make everything feel so much better. They work MUCH better than those stupid cooling pads from the hospital. It's even better when you freeze them with the "tea" of the above mentioned herbs. Those herbs help in healing. Trust me, I did this when I had David and it made all the difference in the world. I healed very quickly. *** Brian got to work on making dinner for everyone - grilled basil chicken, which was divine. Lauren's mom and dad were there and helped keep those kiddies in line. Lauren's dad is awesome. Always very calm and he has a great sense of humor. Her mom is awesome as well. She cleaned the whole dang house while Lauren was in labor and she made brownies. YUMMY brownies.

Lauren's water broke at some point around 4. Originally, the midwife was going to give it a pop in order to get things rolling a little more since the contractions never had a particular order to them. However, it broke on it's own. Damn, with the way she contracted the whole time, if she had been in a hospital they would have hooked her up to pitocin, given her an epidural and eventually would have done a c-section because she never had a "classic" labor pattern. But, oh my, the human body DOES know what it's doing and babies are still born even if labor isn't textbook. Her contractions became significantly more painful at that point but she still worked through them beautifully. She got a lot of massages (deep counter-pressure in that cranio-sacral area....works very well) from Kathy, Allison (5 years old), me, Brian, Jessie (Lauren's midwife friend who came to help and offer support). This is where my current status update comes from - you know you love your friend when you are willing to stand in her amniotic fluid. It's the least I could do for her as I peed on her during my labor (thankfully, she forgot that until I reminded her last night) She stood for a good portion of those contractions, leaning against the bed, getting her massage, swaying - all things that the body wants to do naturally when you give into it. Still, in between those contractions she was chit-chatting away, smiling (hell, she smiled through most of her contractions) and laughing. Awesomeness. She eventually sat in bed for some contractions as she needed to rest. Allison came to sit by her and hold her hand, massage her and tell her things were alright. At 5 years old Allison is already a pro at this birth stuff. She's pretty matter-of-fact about it, mom is a midwife after all, and she witnessed her little brother's birth. And, ohemgee, it never negatively affected her psychologically. Still in good spirits between contractions, joking during rest periods. She snapped her fingers with Brian - beatnik style. As a contraction fell from it's crest she would pout, furrow her brow and say, "I DO NOT like this AT ALL." She was awesome. You know, many epidural pushers who say us natural-birthers are martyrs try to make the point that the epidural allows them to talk between contractions, to rest, to regroup. Yeah well, nature allows that, too. Lauren was able to talk, rest, relax, laugh and snap her fingers between contractions. As she neared pushing she got up and moved to the toliet. *** Tidbit - many laboring women find sitting on the toliet helpful. Not only do you get to pee and poo, but it offers a good position for gravity to do it's job. It helps open the pelvis a little, almost as good as squatting. When allowed to labor naturally and listen to their own bodies, many women will opt to sit on the potty at some point. *** Girlfriend had some rip-roaring contractions at this point, yelling that her entire body was splitting in two. I think she was feeling those urges to push at that time. She got up and stood for a little bit. Leaning back into Brian, she put all over her weight into him and let herself go, letting the gravity take over. Actually, I think that part happened before the toliet part - or in between two trips to the toliet - but it doesn't matter. Eventually, she got back into bed and the hardest work began. For those not familiar with a birth unlike your typical hospital birth, there's no one yelling, "
pushpushpushpushpushpushpushpushpush" and counting, "1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9..10." No. Doesn't happen. You push with your body, not by someone's counts and "pushpushpushpushpushpush" is annoying. It was all love, man. Lots of gentle encouragement from the midwives. She didn't push for long...I think it was less than 10 good pushes...oh yeah, definitely less than 10. Lauren grabbed him as he came out and pulled him up onto her chest. He was born at 7:12 pm. And he is a gorgeous little boy.

That is all the factual stuff. The rest is me. Me, me, ME. Well, I for one hada rip-roaring awesomely good very spiritual time. What a freakin' HIGH. THIS is the type of stuff that I want to roll up and smoke. I am in absolute awe of my Lauren. Now, to hear her tell it during labor is a different story, of course. She was hurtin'. All I saw was a very strong woman who let her body do it's work and trusted the process. She is an awesome birth-giver (we all are). She did such a beautiful job and I admire her so much. I am so freakin' honored and humbled that she invited me to be there for the event. Like, seriously, no one ever regards me as important enough to invite me to anything like that. Anyhoo. I was glad to be there. The whole experience validated so much in me - what I think of family, what I think of friends, what I think of birth, what I think of me and birth. Now, I don't know how they all felt about me being there. I could have been a nuisance. I tried to just play it low and take signals from Lauren. The last thing I wanted was to be all up in her face and make things less enjoyable for her. I have this thing where I always think I am in the way. I always think I'm un-wanted. You have read the blogs. You know the history behind me and what I dealt with. I think it comes from there. Even in my life at work. I feel in the way, as if I'm intruding. Hate it. Had to get over it. It was amazing to be in that environment...where a mama is in the process of giving birth, the midwife is there making herbal remedies, daddy and nanny are making food in the kitchen, poppy is telling jokes and just putting a layer of calm over everything, kids playing etc. I'm inspired by Lauren and her strength, focus and calmness during labor. Hey, I did good during labor, but Lauren is who I want to be when I grow up and have my next kidlets. There's that mushy stuff...where you are in awe of the whole experience. For a good while it was just us women in the room. Lauren, the two midwives, me and Allison. Very primal. Very real. And to have your hands on a woman wo is doing the hardest work any human can ever do....to feel that energy, the power and all of that life --- my sentences are so short and choppy because I can't convey what I want to say. I can't put words to what I felt that would make y'all understand. I was so blessed to be there. And to see that little guy make his grand appearance, take that first breath and cry. And all that love between Brian and Lauren....the strength in them both, the way he KNOWS her and can be her rock. So freaking OM. You can't describe it. THIS is why I'm a birth addict. Ugh. I'm frustrating myself because I can't flow the way I want when I write this. I'm not a good writer and I'm frustrated because I want you all to feel how cool it was.

What did I do? I took lots of pictures. The album, Max's Birthday, on my profile is mostly the pics that I did. I really, really, really really hope I did a good job there. I'm official birth paparrazzi. Lauren and Brian have graciously agreed to cut me a $10,000 dollar check for my services. Thanks guys. Mainly, I was there to be with my friends during an important day. I played with kidlets, ate food, held Lauren through some contractions, took lots of pics, held Lauren's foot a lot and sat too close to Brian's man feet on the bed. Love them all. I am so, so grateful that I was there...words just cannot ever express how special that was to me.

Mom and baby did well. I left a few hours after the birth, tupperwear container of awesome chicken and a travel mug of awesome coffee in hand. And, wow. Did you know that the adrenaline that keeps you wide awake and alert all day for such an event will remarkably CRASH on your drive home. I drove home high and elated, praising God, listening to Bowie and drinking mah coffee. I did good most of the way home. Five minutes from home I started to crash...I was thisclose to pulling over and calling Mike to come get me. But, I made it. Mike came out to meet me and I pretty much collapsed in his arms. So dramatic. But, damn, my knees and back were killing. I should've downed some of that cauphyllum Lauren was taking during labor. I had already called out of work hours before. I knew I'd be a floppy, exhausted mess and even more useless than I usually am. And I love my bosslady (don't fire me) for being understanding. At least it wasn't a Tuesday night, Larae! I ate a little, updated facebook and watered my flowers (it rained 20 minutes later - haha) before getting almost 10 hours of sleep (thank you Mike and David).

So, yeah, I had a pretty good Thursday. The official stats are:
Maxwell Edward Hodges
Born August 27, 2009 at 7:12 pm
7lbs, 8 ounces and 21 inches
Gorgeous as can be.

Love ya, Lauren. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of it. Love your whole family.


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