Thursday, July 21, 2011

today, in pictures

I sure do love this gal

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the arrival of sweet baby claire - a birth story

Finally. Little baby Claire is here. I cannot describe to you the overwhelming feelings of joy, inadequacy, and adoration I have felt this past week. As I write, little Claire is asleep in her stroller with sounds of ocean waves soothing her. James is in his office, working, but every now and then he will pop his head out of the door and gaze at our sleeping daughter. It's difficult to explain how I feel. Sometimes I will look at her and just start crying out of joy for having such a beautiful, perfect being in our home. Other times I feel completely lost, thinking about how this child relies completely on me, and that if I were to neglect her, she would not survive this world. The events leading up to Claire's arrival are as follows: On Monday morning, June 27th I had been experiencing some light contractions. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law invited me to go to the pool and relax. After being at the pool for a couple of hours, I started to feel kind of strange and went home. That night at around 6 p.m. right as James and I sat down to watch a movie, light contractions started turning into not so light contractions. About an hour into the movie, I asked James to start timing the contractions. They were between 7 and 10 minutes apart so we decided to go on a walk and see if they wouldn't get closer together. At around midnight, James' mother and my sister came over. We chatted for a bit, then James and I went to our room and continued to relax and use our birthing affirmations to get through each surge. At around 2 a.m. I decided it was time to go to the hospital so James packed the car and we headed over. Upon arrival, I was given a room and was told that if I hadn't dilated much that I could go home if I wanted to. I really wanted to go home if I hadn't dilated much, so it was unfortunate when my water broke about ten minutes later, because I had no choice but to stay at the hospital even when I was only dilated 1 cm. Well, several hours of very active labor passed by. I spent most of that time resting, relying on James to help me go into deep relaxation, walking the halls, etc. Then, out of nowhere, contractions simply stopped. For an hour nothing happened. The doctor came and spoke to us about getting pitocin to start up the contractions again. That's the last thing I wanted to do, so we asked the doc if we could have some more time and do some other things to help start up contractions again naturally before we considered doing pitocin, and he consented. We tried everything and nothing worked. Several hours went by and still, nothing happened. If it hadn't have been for my water breaking, I would have gone home. I wanted to go home so badly. But I had already been laboring for almost 24 hours and I knew this little girl needed to come out soon. And believe it or not, but after 17 hours of active labor, I had still only dilated 1 cm.  At about 11 a.m., I consented to getting pitocin. I knew it was going to be a rocky road from here on out, because I knew pitocin acted differently than my body's own oxytocin. Pitocin makes contractions much more intense right from the get-go. There is no ease into a contraction. My research was confirmed after a couple of hours of being on pitocin. I can't even describe the place I had to go in my mind to try to comfort myself during these contractions. One second, I would feel o.k., and the next second I felt like I had gotten hit by a truck. It was so hard not to just moan in agony for the first fifteen seconds or so until I could calm myself down and begin to relax through my contraction. If any of you are familiar with hypnobirthing methods, the "finger press" proved to work wonders. I was amazed how easy it was for me to slip into a state of deep relaxation once I remembered to press my pointer finger and thumb together upon exhaling. Getting to that point, however, was easier said than done. The pain was so agonizing at the onset of each contraction that my senses started to numb. My sight and hearing in particular were beginning to fade. My poor little sister had to step out of the hospital room a couple of times because she couldn't stand seeing me like that. At 6:00 p.m., about 7 hours after getting pitocin, I had only dilated 2 more centimeters. Upon hearing the news, I immediately broke down. How could that be? I had been laboring for 24 hours and I hadn't even made it  1/3 of the way there. I knew that I couldn't last 7 more centimeters. I knew that if I didn't get the epidural now, I wouldn't have the strength to push when I needed to, and that the doctor would have to pull the baby out, or worse, an emergency c-section would have to be performed. So, after laboring for over 24 hours naturally, I got an epidural. I'm not going to lie, it felt amazing. Other than not being able to feel my legs, I was feeling pretty great. I slept for several hours, and by 10:00, I had dilated to 10 cm! Perhaps my body just needed some rest. By the time my body started to feel like it was ready to push, the epidural had worn off. As painful as it was, I was glad that it had worn off because I wanted to avoid pushing so hard that I would tear. The last two hours of labor were especially life changing. In between those urges to breath my baby down and out, I had some of the strangest sensations. I lost all track of time, for one. I had no concept of it. I was so deep into my body that I sometimes forgot to breath. Those moments were some of the most sacred and humbling of my life. My mother-in-law was on one side of me, my sister on the other, and my husband right next to my ear, whispering encouraging thoughts, holding my hand, stroking my arms. The support I had in that room was overwhelming. My two sister-in-laws, Chelsea and Jani were there as well. When baby Claire's head crowned, I reached down and felt her sweet little head. I was overcome with joy, and truly realized for the first time that I had created life, and she was almost in my arms. I had a huge surge of energy just then, and had the urge to breath her out into the world. I felt like I was screaming, but after the event, everyone in the room told me I looked incredibly calm. With a couple of final pushes, baby Claire finally arrived. The doctor immediately placed her in my arms, and the most incredible thing happened. Claire took some deep breaths in and then just stared into my eyes. She didn't even cry! I just sat there with baby Claire in my arms, looking from her to James and back to her. She was finally here! After waiting for the umbilical chord to stop pulsating, I fed Claire right there in the labor room. She latched on perfectly. I was so grateful to be able to hold my daughter for a long time before my husband took her for a bath. I am so grateful to have a healthy baby and a succesful labor and delivery. As much as I wanted to do a natural birth, I'm glad I got to experience at least 24 hours of it along with the delivery naturally. I'm glad I was able to accept that getting the epidural was what was best for my baby, because my body couldn't have done it without a little rest. I had been awake for over 41 hours; a 3 hour nap was much needed. Claire is now two and a half weeks old. I can't believe how much older she seems already! Last night James, Claire and I were just hanging out in our bed, watching a movie, and for the first time I really felt like we were a true family. My family.