Saturday, June 14, 2008

Meet Morris

Morris Frederick Emmerson was born at 2:23 June 08, 2008.

In the 6 days since his arrival, Morris has been a totally mellow little baby, staying awake for several hours at a time each day (and night, alas) while contentedly examining the brave new world in which he now finds himself.

Here's how the main event last Sunday morning went down...

(Warning: if an open and frank discussion about girly bits or, um, things of a more scatological nature make you go "eeew" you might just want to look at the pretty pictures instead.)

At about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday June 7th, I felt a gush that suggested my waters had finally broken. At least, that's what I thought had happened. I'd already experienced about a million false alarms ("Oooh, yay, I'm having contractions! Oh, wait a minute, no I'm not. Yes I am! Nope, guess not. Am! Not! Am! Not!" Sigh... NOTHING tries one's patience more than waiting for a baby to arrive. Seriously).

At any rate, I wasn’t sure whether I'd actually felt what I'd thought I felt, so I just continued to hang out with Rob and Milo and see what happened.

Sure enough, by 8:30 I was experiencing regular contractions that were coming every 5 minutes or so and lasting about 45 seconds.

I called "Oz," my Australian-born midwife at 9:00 p.m. to let her know this was happening, and she said she’d come over and see how I was doing. I’d had several false labour episodes in the days leading up to this, so we knew that this might be the real thing – or not.

Oz showed up around 9:30 p.m. and checked me out. (This was my first – and last – internal exam.) Turns out I was 3 cm dilated, and about 50% effaced. By this time the contractions were coming every 4 minutes and lasting about a minute. They were pretty strong, but I could still talk through them and walk around no problem. (I was having lots of fun bouncing on my yoga ball – it definitely helped keep things loose down there.)

Oz said she thought this was probably the big lead-up to the main event and that I would be having the baby either that night or the next day. Since she lives only 10 minutes down the road, she went home to sleep for a couple of hours and suggested we do the same, to make sure we were well rested when the time came. She told me to call her when the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and had become too strong for me to talk through.

Rob and I went to bed and lay down to listen to my “hypnobirthing” relaxation tape. I found it really helpful to listen to a whole bunch of positive affirmation messages, such as “relax and let yourself open to the sensations flowing through you,” and “trust your body and your baby – they know what they’re doing” -- and of course, that old chestnut, "I'm good enough, I'm strong enough, and gosh darn it, people like me."

(Kidding on that last one.)

By the time 11:00 p.m. rolled around, I was feeling too restless to lie in bed any longer. The contractions had slowed down somewhat – they were back to happening every 5-6 minutes or so – but they had become significantly stronger, and I figured it would be better to climb aboard and ride that bullet train to Babytown than continue trying to relax – especially as “relaxing” was getting less relaxing by the minute.

So I told Rob we should get back up and start preparing for the baby, as it was coming soon. He still wasn't sure whether to believe me or not (!!! Note to men: when a woman says "this baby is coming SOON" you had best believe her, or at least act like you do. If you value your life, that is.)

But despite his skepticism -- or mere reluctance to get up from a cozy bed -- Rob got up and went downstairs to light a fire in the wood-burning stove in our family room (aka ground zero) and start gathering all of the stuff we needed for the home birth.

Meanwhile, in between my ever-intensifying contractions, I called the midwife and told her she should probably come over. She was back at our place by 11:30, by which time I had gotten to the point where I could no longer talk through contractions and it was taking all my concentration to deal with them. I could no longer sit comfortably on the birthing pool or walk around during contractions. From this time on, I spent most of my time on my knees (on pillows) leaning against more pillows piled up on the couch, while Rob pressed a hot water bottle against the small of my back.

(That poor guy… he was running around trying to do a million things at once – all things I’d asked him to do – yet was forced to drop whatever he was doing and come back to help me through all the contractions, which were coming a minute apart by this time!)

The midwife got busy setting up all her equipment and Rob started filling the birth pool with hot water. By this time I was bellowing and mooing like a cow through each contraction, making sure to keep my voice low and the rest of my body as relaxed as possible. I tried to practice non-focused awareness and concentrate on what the rest of my body was doing and feeling, e.g., What were my fingers touching? Was my mouth loose and relaxed? Could I wiggle my toes? And gosh, where the heck is Rob with the FREAKIN' HOT WATER BOTTLE ALREADY – that sort of thing. Phrases from my hypnobirthing relaxation tape kept on coming back to me, and helped me deal with the overwhelming force of each contraction. Every time I reminded myself to relax INTO the pain, I would have a wicked strong one – but I could really feel that things were opening up down there.

... But maybe they were opening up too much? Suddenly, I had felt an intense need to go poo. "Oh, this is embarrassing," I thought.

I told the midwife and she said, “Okay, it’s time for me to phone Petra (the other midwife).”

Silly Oz -- she thought the pushing stage had begun.

I, however, was still convinced I was about to poo, and thought I'd better get that over with before the baby came. Somehow I managed to get to my feet and go to the toilet -- where I remained for many long and frustrating moments. The contractions were coming on so fast and furious I simply couldn’t move. Oz kept saying, “You DON'T want to have this baby on the toilet.”

I just looked at her, dumbfounded. There was no way I was moving. Besides, I still REALLY needed to take a poo.

Then she asked me to feel inside myself to see if I could feel the baby. I reached up and felt something very squishy inside me. "I think I feel the umbilical cord," I told Oz.

Her eyes grew huge. "What?!" she asked, clearly alarmed. "Uh oh," I thought. Oz reached inside me and then smiled. "That's the head, Erin," she said.

The realization that the head was so low helped me find the strength I needed to get off the toilet. Once Rob told me the blow-up pool was filled with water, I somehow managed to stumble my way out of the bathroom and into the pool. As soon as I got into the deliciously warm water, my entire lower body relaxed and I was soooo happy no longer to be on the toilet.

The second midwife showed up just a few minutes after I was in the pool. The pushing stage was really intense this time around and the position I was in for my first boy wasn’t doing it for me, so I did some moving around until I finally found a position that worked. The next thing I knew, I was bellowing my way through an enormous push and dimly aware that Rob and the midwives were saying something like, “Here it comes! Here it comes!”

For a second there, I thought they were talking about my poo. A small grenade exploded between my legs -- "Ewww, that can't be pretty. Does that mean they're going to make me get out of the pool now?" I dimly wondered -- then to my utter disbelief I heard Rob and the midwives say, "There's the head! You're doing awesome!"

"Geez, I hope it doesn't have any poop on it," I thought.

The rest of the body came out on the next push, and then my midwife was placing the most beautiful little boy on my chest. His eyes were wide open and he was staring straight at me, just the most chilled one-second-old baby on the planet.

And of course, he didn't have even the tiniest speck of poop on him.

Morris was born after 7 hours of labour, from start to finish. Three of those hours were pretty intense -- including the 30 minutes of pushing I did -- but just like that it was all over. I couldn’t believe how quickly and how well it had gone.

After I was out of the tub, the midwives left Rob, Morris, and I alone to bond and introduce Morris to a very important -- and very enlarged -- part of my anatomy:

After about an hour, Oz and Petra came back to check on Morris and me and see how well we'd survived our ordeal. I needed a few stitches, but pffft! Like I could feel them, after everything I’d just been through. Morris scored 9 - 10 - 10 on the Apgar Scale (which basically means he's rocking some major good mojo). He, Rob, and I finally crawled into our bed to go to sleep at around 5:45 a.m.

... Only to be awakened just over an hour later by a sleepy-headed Milo, who came into our bedroom at 7:00 a.m. rubbing his eyes and holding a book he wanted Rob and me to read to him. Milo, that hero, that superstar, that all-around fabulous guy, slept through the entire thing.

Needless to say, he was blown away to discover he suddenly had a new baby brother.

Since then, one of the midwives has come by to examine Morris and me every day, to make sure we’re recovering well. (That’s one of the best things about having a home birth, in my opinion – the post-partum home visits!)

I must say, I’m amazed at how well my recovery is going this time around. Even though I had stitches, I’ve experienced very little perineal swelling and almost no pain or discomfort. I think I can thank Arnica (and, um, Tylenol 3 and Ibuprofen) for that!!!

So that’s how Morris made his grand entrance into the world. And a pretty grand entrance it was, I must say.

… Now, if only the little mouse boy could learn that the hours between midnight and dawn are NOT super-fun stay-awake party time...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A movie just begging to be made

... Here's hoping it doesn't get the Afternoon Playhouse treatment:

Note to self: Never, ever, EVER forget Milo's birthday.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Not just another reason to spread 'em for strangers

The cervix: a body part whose existence you're entirely unaware of, until you have a baby jumping up and down on it, sending you a very clear message: "LET ME OUT ALREADY!"