A Birth Story, Part Four (The Birth)

When I booked the reservation at the hotel, something told me that my little girl would cut our visit short.  I completely relaxed during that final day, and perhaps that is what coaxed my littlest love to arrive: a mommy’s body doesn’t cooperate well when it is in a stressful situation.

(*See footnote for explanation of “Ding Dang Baby.”)

My contractions began at around 11pm, and I just continued to read while relaxing in bed.  They seemed pretty steady though, and I mentioned them to Victor about an hour later.  He asked if I wanted to go home.  I didn’t really see the need of abandoning our hotel room until we knew for sure this was it.  I also wasn’t in a hurry: Ale took forever to be born, so I thought we had plenty of time ahead of us.

Ale was asleep, so I just continued to monitor the situation without waking her.  Finally, I decided I would use the app on my phone.  It helped me to realize that maybe we were further along than expected.  Around 2:30am we started the process of cleaning up and packing up the hotel.  Ale awoke and couldn’t understand why we couldn’t go swimming.  She had started the day wearing her swimsuit and tutu, and at this point was dancing around the hotel room wired.  I had been telling her for a month that her sister was “coming soon,” so she was pretty unphased.  That is until the contractions were strong enough for me to need to stop and breath.  “Mama, stop!  Stop doing that!” she said more than once.

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This was our last family photo before Josie was born.  Victor was a little irritated that I wanted a photo during my labor–so there was no time for a retake!

Victor called his mom to let her know I was in labor, and I called the midwife as we were leaving the hotel.  I also notified my mom and sister, as promised.  Clearly it was the middle of the night, as both of them asked me if I was going to go home…  Umm, no, I thought I would I would just use the bathtub here.  

This chat spans a couple of hours.

I not-so-patiently checked out of the hotel.  Contractions were pretty strong, and I had to stop to breath through them several times during the process.   I would feel one beginning, and tell the middle-aged man behind the counter, “Excuse me.”  Then I would turn my back on him, walk to the wall, hold on, and breath for a minute.  When the contraction subsided, I walked back, smiled, and apologized.

The taxi arrived and I joined my family outside.  (My husband must have been a little nervous.  He let my toddler pee in front of the hotel before getting in he taxi.  No time for a bathroom break! No sir!)  The ride home was pretty quick.  I sat in the front seat just to continue making middle-aged Mexican men uncomfortable.

We arrived home and began getting the room ready.  Remember when I said I thought we had plenty of time?  Well, we didn’t prepare the room before leaving for the hotel… So there we were, 3:30 in the morning getting everything in order.  I went through the baby basket and cleaned off the table in our room.  (By “cleaned off the table,” I actually mean I swept everything into a bag and stashed it in the closet.)  I am pretty sure Victor swept and mopped.  Finally, I took a permanent break from getting the room ready to concentrate on getting my body ready.

 My contractions were strong.  I know this next part sounds crazy, so don’t judge me: As a contraction would start, I would imagine a tall skinny man.  That’s what it felt like.  The contraction was like a long line that went down my back.  With my hands braced against the wall, I would start at his head and breath my way down his body.  Weird, I know.  It helped though, a coping mechanism of sorts.  I also nodded my head as I breathed, so I am pretty sure I looked nuts too.

The bathroom was nice because it was dark and private, but at this point it felt good to stand up.  I didn’t want to bend over, lay against the sink/wall, squat on the toilet, etc.  It felt good to stand straight pushing out to my sides with both hands against the doorframe.  My midwife arrived and did a quick check on the baby.

She, her crew, and Victor worked in the bedroom to get the pool set up and filled.  I literally didn’t see my husband again until the baby was born.  My labor was requiring all my concentration, and I didn’t have a break or all the time in the world to chit-chat like I did with Ale.  Finally I asked if the tub was ready, and continued my labor there.

I have sweet memories of Ale during this time.  She would check on me during contractions.  A couple times I remember her getting right down in my face and smiling a big, fake, slightly terrified looking smile.  I was aware that she was there and needed some reassurance.  I would smile back (I think, although it was probably more of a grimace.), tell her I was fine, and let her know baby sister would be there soon.  She joined me, bathing suit and all, in the birthing tub.  My midwife showed her how to pour water on my back during the contractions.  At some point, she got out and fell asleep in the next room.  Later I found out that she refused to remove her bathing suit before sleeping.

In the pool my contractions changed.  They weren’t a tall, skinny man anymore.  They morphed into a short, fat man.  Instead of long pain, it was horizontal and stretched across my back.  The short, fat man wasn’t nearly as nice as the tall guy. The coolest thing is that depending on my pain, my midwife knew where the baby was.  She didn’t make me get out of the water to check the progress, because she could tell the labor was progressing.  She also didn’t check to see that I was dilated, so I have no idea how far along I was.

It seemed like I was in the birthing tub for hours.  Later, Tirsa (the midwife) told me it was only about an hour.  I laid down a while, like one might in a bathtub.  Then Tirsa said it could help to change my position and move my hips.  I would ask questions like, “Why is there no break?” “Why does it only hurt on one side?”  She would just answer, and we would rest until the next contraction.  She applied counter pressure to by lower back and hips during the contractions, as well as pouring the warm water over my back.  I was on my knees while lying against the side of the tub.  I remember somehow working my way from one side of the tub to the other.

I didn’t voice these thoughts aloud, but in my head I thought, “Never again.” “I understand why women like drugs,” etc.  When I started getting the urge to push it seemed unreal.  With Ale I would push, then fall asleep in between contractions.  With Josie, there was no time!  I remember telling everyone I felt like I needed to poop.  (A bit embarrassing now…)  Tirsa said, “That’s because your baby is coming!”  Someone got my errant husband, and he held me at the end.  Three contractions back-to-back and Josie arrived!  I was on my knees, so they helped her swim between my legs to the front.  I laid back, and put her on my chest.  Wow.  That feeling.  Even writing about it now makes me tingle inside.

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The hours after her birth were amazing too.

I had watched this really inspiring video about the breast crawl, and I wanted to see if it worked.  We moved to the bed and placed Josie on my chest.  It was totally cool!  Within 30 minutes she latched onto my breast.  I delivered the placenta, but it was just placed into a bag alongside of us.  I don’t remember when we cut the cord, but it was so calm in the room, it wasn’t a big deal!  I moved to rest against the wall, and we continued to work on breastfeeding.  I had (mistakenly) thought that after nursing Ale for 2 years and 4 months, I would be a pro.  Wrong.  Feeding a newborn is no task for the faint-hearted!

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I feel like I should reiterate how calm it was.  Maybe I felt calmer because it was my second baby, but the general atmosphere of the room (and the people present) was peaceful with Josie.  I had a home birth and water birth with Ale, but it wasn’t exactly the calmest environment.  In fact, Josie’s entire labor was MUCH calmer.  When it was over, I almost immediately felt like I could do it again.

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Ale meets her sister, Joselyn Victoria.  (Josie’s name is a combination of my brother, Joseph, and my sister, Jenny Lyn.  Her middle name is in honor of her Papi, Victor.)

I have so enjoyed looking back over the photos.  The following photos are of the hours/days following Joselyn’s arrival:

 

 

 

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Josie is one day old! (Yes, she’s at McDonald’s.  We took her sister there after registering Josie’s birth with the powers that be…)

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Ale’s special Big Sister cake that she helped to make. (Because only BIG girls get to cook with Mami–not babies.)

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Daddy and Josie!

 

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Sister still likes to poke the baby’s cheeks! I blame that on old Mexican women who always grab her cheeks. 😉

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Abuela and Josie; My mother-in-law is something special.  Upon meeting Josie, she THANKED me.  It still makes tears come to my eyes to think about it!

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Los Abuelos! Having them here for Josie’s birth was really special.

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Sweet girl…

* “Ding Dang Baby” is from a Jacqueline Woodson book, Pecan Pie Baby.  I read the book when I was pregnant, and I sat and cried in my office.  It is all about a sister who isn’t overly excited about the birth of her sibling.  She calls him a “Ding Dang Baby.”  I was really worried about Ale being hurt or feeling replaced by Josie.  After reading the book to my mom, we often referred to Josie as the “Ding Dang Baby.”  This is an AMAZING book, by the way.

** I am SO happy I have these text messages with Mama and Jenny.  Not only do they remind me of details, but they provide quite a bit of comic relief!

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A Birth Story, Part Three

So at this point, I was 41 weeks and 4 days.  I had reached the government doctor’s deadline.  I had accepted a potentially dangerous intervention, thankfully without results.  Now I was just waiting.  I am lucky that my support system was as amazing as they were!  Between my suegra, my husband, and my midwife, I was good to go!

On Monday we decided we would continue to wait.  We wouldn’t return to the government hospital, as I had been instructed.  And I was okay with that!  After all, my body knew what was right, and I had confidence in it.

I had a message from my private doctor asking how things were, and I responded with a quick, “All is well! The pill didn’t work, so I am just waiting!”  I didn’t want to tell her too much.  She is wonderful, but I felt a bit awkward because I wasn’t having her at the birth.  She was my back-up plan incase things didn’t go as well as expected at home, and additionally had been the attendant at Ale’s birth.  I didn’t want us to end our relationship with poor terms–I wanted to keep things positive with her.

Then everything changed on Tuesday.  That evening I received a message from my same private doctor telling me that she was worried.

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“We have to induce labor by Thursday in a hospital with fetal monitoring or a c-section by Friday.  I’m worried.”  My heart dropped into my stomach.  I cried alone for a while, and then began literally walking the floors.  Maybe I could convince my body to send me a baby.  Finally I woke Victor up, and explained, through tears, the message I had received.  He was comforting, and reassured me that the baby wasn’t ready.  When she was ready, then she would make her appearance.  We decided to go for a walk (at around 2 a.m.) in the neighborhood, and we woke up his mom to let her know that she might need to listen for Ale.  Then we took off.

On this walk we came to the conclusion that we needed to just calm down.  We made a plan to ignore the doctor’s message, and take a little staycation at a local hotel.  The doctor had encouraged me to go to a temazcal, and this hotel has a sauna in the pool area.  We came back to the house, and I sent messages to my midwife and my family to let them know they wouldn’t be able to reach me on Wednesday.  I was going to shut out the world, relax, and enjoy my last days with Ale as an only child.  We would try to ignore the doctor, but would keep in contact with the midwife.

The next morning, I felt a billion times better.  I received a message from the midwife assuring (AGAIN) that all was well with the baby.  She wasn’t too big.  I was healthy.  She was healthy.  We could wait before trying some interventions to induce her birth.  We were going to focus that message, and forget about everything else.  We reserved a room at the hotel, packed up Ale, and drove about 2 miles away to relax.

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Ale and Daddy at the hotel.

We had a great time hanging out at the pool–and remembering our visit there for my birthday before Ale was born.  I got in the hot tub that I had avoided the previous trip, went to the sauna twice to relax, and played with my family in the water.

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Ale loves on Mami and Baby Sis.  Mami is 41 weeks, 6 days pregnant.

It was amazing.  I even had some contractions that came and went–just like all the other times.  We went out to grab pizza, snacks, and a giant bottle of water to keep us going until check-out the next day.  I took a bath in the first bathtub I’ve been in since summer.  Ale fell asleep watching cartoons, Victor began watching the news, and I read a novel on my iPad.  It was late, but we were enjoying our stress-free family staycation.

I didn’t even think it was worth mentioning when the contractions started again…

 

 

A Birth Story, Part Two

After my scare at the government hospital, I became a bit nervous.  Not because I was 41 weeks.  I knew that the baby was fine, but I was worried about what would happen if I didn’t make the government’s arbitrary deadline.  My midwife assured me all would be fine. (She did that a lot…)

Two days later, I had a routine appointment at my private doctor’s office.  I told her about the situation, and she said, “I was going to ask you if I could give you something to help you along.”  She checked to make sure that everything was okay.  Again, all was great!  The placenta was mature, but not too much.  There was plenty of fluid.  The baby’s heartbeat was strong.  I consented (clearly without thinking much), and she implanted a little pill to help me start my labor.  When I asked about the effectiveness of the pill, she said, “It is VERY effective.  I have only had 2 patients that it hasn’t worked on. “The doctor told us that it would cause me to go into labor that evening, or Sunday at the latest.  Misoprostol works by ripening the cervix.  It is also used to cause abortions.

I didn’t know that.

I came home, and began to google search the pill I had just willingly accepted into my body.  I became terrified.  Check this out:Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 10.20.26 AM

While misoprostol is used all over the world for the purpose of starting labor, it isn’t recommended by the FDA for that purpose.  I accepted an intervention without doing the research to see what it was.  I made the choice.  I didn’t talk to Victor or my midwife, I just went ahead and let a pill be introduced into my body.  A pill that could potentially have disastrous effects.

As tears streamed down my face, I sent a message to Tirsa, the midwife.  She said it wasn’t what she would choose to help me along, and that the labor would probably start within hours.  I was terrified.

The one thing I believe more than anything is that my body KNOWS what to do!  God made us perfectly–and the natural development of the baby is what triggers the labor of the mom.  Without waiting for my natural induction, I worried that I was rushing a baby who may not be ready.  Victor didn’t support the idea of making something happen either, but he wasn’t with me at the doctor’s office when I had to make a decision.  I felt guilty, angry, and more than anything, scared.

I asked my midwife if I could reverse the pill somehow.  Or maybe take it out.  She said it could potentially be removed if it was whole.  I had watched the doctor crush the pill and put it into some gel, so I knew it wasn’t whole.  But I was willing to try.  So was Victor, so with great care, he attempted to scoop out the crushed up pill from inside my hoo-ha.  It was as humiliating as it sounds.  There I was, nine months plus, legs spread wide asking my husband to clean out my insides.

We didn’t feel like he had been able to remove anything, so then we prepared for a baby to arrive.  We cleaned, washed the sheets, and went through our box of homebirth/new baby necessities.  My contractions began, and continued through the night.  My midwife reassured me that all would be fine, and encouraged me to get some sleep.  Even the next day, Sunday, I was having weak contractions.  We stayed home from church thinking that the baby might arrive, but no baby.

My midwife told me, “If the pill hasn’t worked by noon on Sunday, it is out of your system.  If your labor starts after that, we can assume that it has started naturally.”

And so, the waiting game continued.

A Birth Story, Part One

 

Autumn came to visit for my labor. It was a great visit, but when she left, there still was no baby…

 

To begin the story of Josie’s birth, I should fill you in on the weeks prior to her birth.  We knew we wanted to deliver at home again, but we wanted to look into just renting a pool on our own and using our doctor.  After I posted a question online, we met with a doula at a place called Nacer Libre (Free Birth).  Silka, the doula, asked if I might be interested in a midwife.  Upon meeting Tirsa, the midwife, we were sold.  There would be no need for the doctor–we wanted to have a peaceful waterbirth at home, assisted by a midwife.

My due date was January 28th.  My in-laws were here.  My friend was here.  The baby was not sure she wanted to be here.  The private doctor I see (who delivered Ale at home) had been told that I planned a homebirth with a midwife, but I continued with my visits to her.  I was told that the baby would probably come around the full moon, but the full moon came and went with no baby.  All was fine in my visits–baby and I were healthy and just waiting for the big day.

I was 41 weeks on a Thursday, and I had to go to the government hospital to extend my maternity leave.  They had begun my maternity leave a week late, so that is the only reason I had the paperwork and payment for that long.  (In Mexico women receive six weeks before the birth and six weeks after the birth.) If the baby isn’t born by the due date, they will give you a one week extension, taking you to 41 weeks.  At that point, they induce or schedule a c-section.  The coordinator informed me that I would only have until Monday to delivery the baby.  Then they would need to schedule something, because I couldn’t extend my leave past one that day.

The IMSS doctor did a normal check (blood pressure, listening to the baby, etc.), then told me that I needed to go downstairs for an ultrasound.  This was strange, but she insisted because I was at 41 weeks.  Things began to feel ominous when, instead of pointing me in the direction, a secretary walked me down.  On the way, she said I needed to call my husband and have him come meet me.  This was really weird.  Why did he need to be there for an ultrasound?  We tried, but he didn’t answer.  Finally we arrived, but I was confused.  “Why were we in a different place,” I asked, “and not at the regular ultrasound room?”  The secretary informed me that I needed to see the doctor in the Tococirugia.  (I had no idea what that word was, but there was a symbol of a pregnant woman.  I did know the word cirugia (surgery), and that made me more nervous.

When I told the receptionists that I was going to go home, they said I couldn’t.  Because, after all, I was forty-one weeks pregnant.  I sat in a dirty little waiting room for about 15 minutes listening to the sound of some poor girl screaming bloody murder in the hallway in front of me.  I waited.  I speculated.  And I decided I needed to get out of there.

On the wall there was a sign that said if you wanted to leave against the doctor’s wishes, you had to sign something accepting responsibility.  That sounded pretty good to me, so I asked the receptionist to sign so that I could go home.  This was a different girl, and she began to tell me that I could leave–I had not been to see the doctor, so I didn’t need to sign anything.  At that point, her partner began to text on her phone saying, “Espérame, espérame.  Es que tiene cuarenta y uña semanas…”  (Wait for me.  She is 41 weeks pregnant… )  I wasn’t going to wait around to see what they wanted.  “Okay, bye!” I said quickly, and ran out the door.

I was so scared someone would follow me or call security.  I was walking so fast, my heart was beating a mile a minute, and all I could think was, “Get out of here!”

When I made it home, I googled Tococirugia, and found out that it means Labor and Delivery.  I sent a message to my midwife updating her on the situation.  She said, “It’s a good thing you got out of there!  It sounds like they may have tried to induce you.  I’ve never known IMSS to let anyone go past 41 weeks…”

Gulp.