After my 6 year old sons birth, I was left totally broken and with PTSD by an incredibly traumatic completely medically managed, interventive hospital birth. I had things done to me without my permission or informed consent. My water was broken without my say so…and then he was nearly damaged by a Dr who clearly didnt know how to handle a shoulder dystocia, and literally had a nurse holding me down so I couldnt get on all 4’s or what is called the Gaskin Maneuver. My sons face was so swollen and bruised for WEEKS that we couldn’t even tell what he looked like. I cringe looking at the photos taken of him in the hospital, knowing deep down that he didnt have to be born in that way. That it could have been different if I had been better informed. It took his birth to really open my eyes. To really make me look at and question what had gone on, what I had allowed to go on and how wrong it all was. I knew without a doubt that my next baby would be born at home, on my terms. Not someone elses. I knew with my next birth, there would be no IV’s…no vaginal exams, no continuous monitoring. The only people who would be there, were people that I chose to be there. She was not going to be born into a room with bright lights and machines that go bing and cold sterile medical equipment. She was going to be born where she made.
I knew I was going to be postdate….it’s my M.O. I just expect it now. So when I reached 41 weeks it was no surprise. That didnt mean I was happy about it, or enjoying being pregnant for nearly as long as an elephant (ok not quite that long, but still), but I expected it. At 41 weeks and 3 days I hit the “I am totally over this being pregnant crap” point. I called my midwife, whining like a little girl about how done I was, and what the hell is taking her so long. She laughed at me and gave me the number to her Chiro…explaining that maybe I just need a good adjustment to get things into alignment which could possibly be preventing me from going into labor. I would do anything at this point except be induced so it was worth a shot. The phone rang at 5:10 pm and it was the Chiro. He asked what was going on and why I needed to be seen. He had such a soothing voice that I swear he adjusted me right there on the phone and at 5:15 while I still on the phone with him my water broke. I told him he was so good that just by talking my water had broken and I didnt need his services now. We laughed and he wished me luck and I hung up. At this point I looked down and noticed some green flecks in the water. I called my midwife to let her know my water had broken, but that I saw Mec. Normally she wouldnt come over until labor was good and underway but with the Mec she wanted to check it out. It wasnt much or thick just little “floaties”. She speculated it was probably from a bit of cord compression, which had obviously corrected itself because she had a nice strong heartbeat…but because of the Mec we needed to get labor started due to increased risk of infection since my water had broken and there was Mec present. We called my doula (who had I never actually met before at this point) to come over and do an induction massage to try to get things going. Otherwise it was castor oil and breastpumping if nothing was happening within 8 hours.
We assembled the rest of the team…my photographer, friends and my husbands cousin who is her godfather. We started setting up the tub, I ate some food, we blew up some peeps in the microwave (yes I am totally serious) and watched some Family Guy. AT 8:00 Jean started going to work on my feet and my sacrum (lower back just above the butt) with some clary sage, and by 9:00 I was contracting (she’s damn good). I was working through them, and everything was going along beautifully. Jean will later tell me how she didnt know what to do for me because I was so calm and didnt need anything. Totally different then Dexters birth. Around 10:30 things really started to ramp up. I really didnt think it was that close, but Jean insisted I call Kim to come to the house. It’s a good thing she did too. By 11:00 I was in the tub and it was HEAVEN. I didnt ever want to get out. Around 11:30 Kim asked me to get out of the tub to pee. She didnt realize how close I was at this point and sometimes a full bladder can hinder the progress of labor. I was pissed. I dont remember many clear details past this point, but I am pretty sure I said “fuck you, I hate you…i dont want to get out, I’m never talking to you again”, but somehow I ended up in the bathroom…and I was in transtition. Kim and her assistant heard me from upstairs and knew it was time. My husband was in the bathroom with me. I kept repeating “I cant do this, i cant do this”…and I will never forget the way he looked at me and said…”Yes you can do this Alyssa, you are doing this”. Somehow I got back into the tub and within 30 seconds I needed to push. I had told Kim the entire time I was pregnant “I am a fantastic pusher…no one actually believes me until they see it…but be ready. Because when I push they are born”. She, like everyone else totally didnt believe me lol. I told her I needed to push…she said go ahead as she was getting her watch ready to start timing. I push once I yell “the head is out”…she says “holy crap” she throws the watch (which we find behind the TV ACROSS the entire house a week later) I push again as I feel her body move down and out and into my hands…. and 2 hours and 41 minutes after labor started I lift her to my chest. At that moment i didnt even realize what I had done. That I had just caught my own baby and that my hands were the first and only hands to touch her as she came into this world, I looked at Kim and said ” I did it Kim….i really did it”. Talk about empowering. Kim then notices there’s cord, which she tries to loop over…and then she realizes that looping isnt going to work. She takes Seven and unwraps the cord once, twice….5 times from around her neck, around her left leg, around her belly and back up and around through her legs and over her shoulders….my midwife said it’s the longest cord she’s ever seen, there are pictures of the assistant jumping rope with it somewhere. They hand me back Seven and at this point I am starting to notice I am having trouble breathing. My lungs feel tight and with all the endorphins running through my body I am literally high.
After this point I dont remember much until i get into bed. I have recreated what happened based on accounts from people who were there and from the pictures that my amazing photographer never stopped shooting. I know I looked at Kim and said “I cant breathe”…I know somehow my nebulizer was brought to me (I have severe asthma, and having an asthma attack immediately post delivery is almost unheard of) and put into my mouth and I did a treatment in the water and had oxygen placed on me. Kim says I was white as a ghost and that my eyes didnt look like they were seeing anything. I was then dragged out and put onto a chair and I was given 2 more treatments before I was finally able to breathe again. The chair is where I delivered the placenta and then I was taken upstairs. My memory comes back around this point and I remember the pain of her checking my tear with clarity. I remember nursing Seven for the first time and the lovely herbal sitz bath that my midwife makes. I remember them cutting the cord right before they left (around hour 5 after birth) and then being left alone in my bed, in my house with my brand new baby. No nurses, no hospitals….just my husband and me and our brand new daughter.