Sunday, September 5, 2010

born yesterday

ok, so he wasn't really born yesterday, but that little phrase expresses so much to me right now. when you have a baby you are instantly brought back to the amazing fragility and wonder of life, and are thrown into an awe-state that is all wrapped up in the newness of this child: the tiny body which was there inside you but concealed for all that time, the fresh-sparked soul, and all the delicate unknowns about the life journey to come. it is hard to think about. really, really thinking about life usually makes me end up in tears. it is easier to brush off the cosmic breath with the pressing things of everyday life, with distractions and amusements... part of me wants to be a native american nature dweller right now, digging for roots and hunting the deer as i think on all this, instead of dishing up bowls of cheerios every morning inside these four walls. but there is the Spirit, and He still speaks whether you are in or out, so here i am, fulfilling my duties, and snatching moments of spirit-depth before the vulnerable newness grows into its path of solid branches.

the end of pregnancy was hard this time around. i have never bothered much about the classic complaints of the third trimester, because to me anything is so much better than being nauseous all the time, as during my first trimesters. but this time it was hard in a spiritual sense; i felt hot and irritated most of the time, and i was overly harsh with my girls a lot, which grieves me to think about. not knowing an exact due date was a challenge as well; i was pretty sure it was the middle of august, but as days went past that, i began to fear i might go all the way into september, grunting every time i had to pick up the kitchen cloths off the floor AGAIN and waddling about in my rotation of two and a half outfits day after day...

thomas had come back on the 13th, and being relieved that he would not be missing the birth, we breathed a bit easier as we settled down to wait. i had a couple of false starts. one evening i sat down to write my sister an email and suddenly pains came on so strong that i couldn't write. i went to bed... and woke up to my 6 am alarm, disappointed that i would be doing a pilates video workout instead of a uterine one which resulted in holding a baby in my arms. wednesday the 18th i was also having fairly strong contractions in the evening. i got sparrow's dance bag all ready for the following day, just in case i wasn't there to pack it, and went to bed... again waking up to a pilates workout. tired of working out, and having recently cleaned the bathrooms, i was so ready for baby now that i told sparrow on thurs. evening that tonight might be the night. she prayed before bed that the baby would come out tonight, and sure enough... this time i woke up at 3 am to contractions!

my labors have always started while i was sleeping. part of how i know it's real is if the contractions wake me up. i never do believe the labor if it is kicking in during the daytime, or before i've gone to sleep for the night. the first thing i like to do when i know i am in real labor is take a shower. i can't stand the thought of giving birth to a baby while having greasy hair. ok, my first labor i delayed the shower, but that is because i didn't know how fast labor was going to go! now i know. they are not going to dawdle on for 24 hours, if i want clean hair, i've gotta get it NOW. so i lit some candles and thoroughly enjoyed the freshness of dr. bronner's peppermint hemp soap as the water ran over me and i swayed to the rhythm of my labor. once out, i woke up thomas. THE PLAN was to leave ASAP and do most of the labor in the hospital this time, as the speed of the labor was totally unpredictable, and the distance to the hospital was MUCH greater this time than either of my previous experiences. we ate some toast with peanut butter and bananas as we packed, some chocolate yogurt--the hospital does not allow you to eat once admitted. the weirdest thing was that we could not find the "listening" half of our baby monitor! i SWEAR i put both pieces into the top drawer of the tall dresser in the girls' room, but we searched and searched between contractions, and only the "transmission" side was there. THE PLAN for the girls was to have abby kugler (staying in our attached apt.) listen to the monitor til morning as she slept, then bring them over to omi/monty's in the AM. i even called and woke up poor monty to see if he had a baby monitor, but no go.(oh yes, i did wake him up, but they are also missing parts of their monitor.) so when we were almost ready, we knocked on kugler's door, and abby ended up coming over and sleeping on the couch. poor woman!!! she was going to have to go manage the wycliffe conference tomorrow, and here she was all cheerful at 4 am with her pillow! i love that woman.

so thomas and i high tailed it out of there and i kept having to tell him "GENTLY!" over the speed bumps. whoo! my contractions were three or so minutes apart, but relaxed in the car somewhat, and got further apart when we got to the hospital. i tell you, it was so much more bearable being in the car without being in pushing stage! we called dr. westerband's office because there were a few things i had discussed with her that were outside of normal hospital protocol, and she was the one that would have to give them the directives concerning me. (she said no routine IV would be ok, and that i could deliver lying on my side.) however, dr. w's office did not pick up the phone! it rang and rang. they are supposed to have a 24-hour answering service! i called the hospital back and they said that oh yes, dr. w. was not on call tonight, and i would be assigned to a random doctor. what?! that can happen here??!!?? i was a bit apprehensive and miffed. what if the other dr. was a male who did not respect the woman's power to labor? what if they now insisted that i be connected to an iv? NOT the ideal situation! i didn't expect my doctor to leave me in the dust during the final stretch here. actually, continuity of care has been shown to have better outcomes for baby and mother. but oh well, no turning back now.

once we got to the hospital, the flood of paperwork began. oh yes. admission. then triage (where they made me put on a hospital gown and checked me to see if i was really in labor. i was 7 cm dilated!) then i got to walk to labor and delivery and my nurse spent 5 minutes trying to stab a hep lock needle into my vein, jabbing my bone repeatedly (it is still sore two weeks later!). that was definitely one of the worst parts. she was trying to stab it into one of the most obscure veins in my arm, which is baffling! I HAVE GOOD VEINS! i have NEVER had them try to stick it into a side vein like that before. it has always been no sweat. aaaaaaanyways... they brought me a labor ball, and strapped me to the fetal monitor, and the fun of waiting began. poor thomas was extremely tired after his long day at work, and i kept employing him as a double hip squeezer for every single contraction. we also made sure i drank tons of water so an IV wouldn't be necessary. but it really was a waiting game. i did spend some time on the toilet which must have helped me to progress, but other than that i did not move much or do much to work with my labor. i had been reading "natural childbirth the bradley way" a few days before, and just kept remembering the emphasis on the importance of totally relaxing your belly, so that is pretty much all i focused on this labor. trying to totally relax my belly with every contraction. i spent time draped over the birth ball which was on the bed, i spent time just sitting on the bed, also toward the end, leaning my head into thomas who was sitting in front of me for part of the time, and toward the end i was up on the bed kneeling and clasping the top part of the bed which they had put all the way up for me. i didn't even look at the nurse when a new shift came in. i didn't know what she looked like til after the birth, haha! but still it was frustrating because i swear they had me signing papers, answering questions, getting tested, and getting fingerprinted the WHOLE time i was there laboring, right up until the end! sheesh! when you ask a woman in active labor a question that requires an intellectual response, you pull her out of her active labor every time! i am baffled that they don't know that and am positive that had i been left alone to get into it more, it would have gone faster, and i would have perceived less pain. because it WAS painful. it was hard. i felt like i was in transition for about an hour and a half! toward the end there were some high blood pressure readings and they were concerned i was getting preeclampsia, so they took my blood and tested me. it came back negative. the blood pressure was also reading normal again. turned out to be a funky bp machine. ah, technology!

anyhow, pretty early on we got to meet the doctor that was on call tonight instead of westerband. her name was dr. gillespie, and yes, it was a woman! when she came in, i was immediately put at ease. she was young-ish, in her 30s perhaps, and looked a bit like jerusha gittlen. she was wearing a little silver cross on her necklace, and a kind, open smile. she allowed me to labor without an IV, and when i asked her about a possible side lying delivery, she said ok in such an agreeable and unhesitating manner that i became even bolder and asked, "...or hands-and-knees?" "sure," she said right away. and became immediately one of my favorite strangers in the world. even dr. westerband said she would get too turned around if i was on hands and knees, so to keep it on the side. i hit the jackpot with this dr. gillespie! i also asked her to put counter pressure on while baby was coming out, and to remind me to push slowly while crowning, cause they usu. shoot out so fast that i tear, and she agreed to that as well. i'm serious, she was the coolest!

i finally started feeling the first inklings of pushiness around...7:30, 7:45-ish. the contractions were coming a bit slower now, more sitting in between. the doctor came in and checked me. 9 cm. 9 cm!!!! see why checking is so discouraging/deceptive? when they told me i was 7 at admission, i thought, i'm almost done! more than 3 hours later, i had only progressed 2 cm! but i am sure that the whole checking/ belly monitor/ question asking caused me to slow, or even regress somewhat before i moved on. anyway, gillespie asked me if i wanted her to break my water. i said no. she then asked me not to push through my contractions for now, so i just blew and moo-ed for awhile until i told the nurse it was unbearable not to push, i couldn't help myself. she called the dr. in again and this time i was complete. i was still hugging the back of the bed, up on my knees, with my back toward everyone, and i had no desire to move. and i was pushing! ah, glorious pushing, it's my favorite part! it is A) perceived (by me) to be more productive than any other stage because it requires more active participation, and B) so encouraging because you KNOW the baby is almost here, it's almost over! my water broke with the first push.  the baby came out with the 2nd. the dr. coached me beautifully and provided the needed counter pressure. i definitely felt the "ring of fire" this time more than with my 1st two births. the head was coming out, and the contraction was ending. i stopped pushing, willing to wait for the next one, just to be sure i was pushing slow enough, but the dr. said, "keep pushing," so i pushed slowly through the end of the contraction, and the head came all the way out, and the body followed! 8:13 AM. what i had been growing in there for 9 months, my mystery, was here! "it's a boy!" they said. "IT'S OUT!" i thought. OH how wonderful to have this surprise come out and be so perfect! he was perfect! i pulled my shirt off and flipped over, reaching over the crazy bloody bed; they handed me the warm, squiggly body, blue curly cord trailing behind...

they clamped the cord right away, i asked if they could wait when i saw them doing it, but the dr. and nurse both immediately said, "no" and "we have to do it now." a bit surprising, but it was a minor thing after such a beautiful emergence that i didn't sweat it. thomas cut the cord. they suctioned him while he was on my belly. threw warm blankets on us. i just lay there relieved. thomas was stunned to have a son. we were both actually SO surprised! "i have begotten a man child with the help of the Lord!" (thomas is still getting used to it; he keeps referring to the baby as "she" and "her." we just laugh.) i put the baby to my breast right away this time. with my girls, i had waited to nurse, just placing them on my belly and letting them "crawl" up to find the milk for themselves. my philosophy on this has changed. yes, they CAN crawl up to find the breast at newborn, and it is really cool to see, but i have learned more about WHO I AM as MOTHER, who God made me, and what that means. part of my job is NOURISHER, and i have realized that me taking initiative to FEED my child is the right thing to do. i don't know how much it affects the child later on, if at all, but God gave ME the authority of motherhood, and they are not motherless. they don't have to be independently finding their food. the boy child latched on right away and began to suckle. it was a satisfying feeling.

they did give me pitocin in an IV pretty immediately to contract my uterus and stop the bleeding, which i would have preferred to avoid, (i think it cancels out some of the natural oxytocin that makes you fall in LOVE) but i was so happy with the birth that i didn't protest. i just looked at my boy child and laughed. gillespie checked me, and: NO TEARS! praise Jesus, i had thought it impossible. thomas got to hold his son after about 1/2 hour. then he made ready to go home for awhile, he wanted to see the girls, and i told him to feel free to take a nap. today was his day off!! i just sat there with my boy and praised God. and texted the world! i wolfed down a piece of french toast. i tried to sleep, but the pillows were impossibly uncomfortable. texted thomas: "bring pillows."  i finally acknowledged my nurse, Cathi, who turned out to be this awesome on-fire Christian! she told me her whole testimony, which was pretty radical, divorce, conviction by the HS, getting back together with her husband, he coming to the Lord DAYS before dying of a massive heart attack. she goes to a church with a messianic Jewish pastor, (i'd like to visit it sometime) and listens to all the calvary preachers on the radio, incl. the one who teaches at the church we've been attending in oro valley. she really was a sweetheart. i wish she would have remembered better what it is like to be in active labor!!!!!!!!!!!! but God obviously blessed us through one another that morning. AND she rescued my placenta from the trash. at last i took a shower, got a patronizing talk from a pediatrician about the vitamin-k shot, and my baby had his bath too (with the CA baby "tea tree and lavender" soap i had brought in). lauren came to see me on her lunch break and brought me a latte! whew! i REALLY wanted that coffee! it was so great to see her. soon after came mrs. graham with aunt trina, emily, omi, sparrow, golden, david, and danielle. the hospital staff weeded out d&d because they were non-related children =( but the others got to stay and help me transfer (at last) to the postpartum room, with a parade of balloons and presents. it was wonderful to have visitors. the girls took to their baby brother immediately, golden acted like she knew what it was going to be the whole time: "baby broder," she kept saying, and sparrow got to hold him on the bed.  soon thomas came back as well and stayed for awhile before going off to run some errands for me. i saw him again later that night and we sat down to discuss the question of our son's name. my sad discovery was that "youngblood," my long-favored name for a boy, is from jungbluth, german, and means "impetuous young man." impetuous?! impetuous???!!!??? really? does it have to??? ...we certainly couldn't speak that over our child. and besides, thomas was not so keen on the name anyways, so... i guess it was a good thing i decided to let it go. we had several options on the table: cyrus, blue, peregrin, strongbow (mine! i guess i am partial to warrior-sounding names), but decided in the end on Silas, at thomas' suggestion. i hadn't thought of it, but when he mentioned it, i thought "yes!" right away. and we had prayed a lot during the pregnancy about God giving us the right name. Silas Arrow. Silas means "forest" from greek "sylvanus." there are a lot of good spiritual connotations for forests, trees, etc. and i love that Silas in the Bible was a missionary and prophet. as for Arrow, thomas has always had that name in mind, and well, we are hoping for our quiver full of arrows! (Psalm 127.) God wants arrows for the battle!

"Listen to Me, O islands,
         And pay attention, you peoples from afar
         The LORD called Me from the womb;
         From the body of My mother He named Me.
    He has made My mouth like a sharp sword,
         In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me;
         And He has also made Me a select arrow,
         He has hidden Me in His quiver."  Isaiah 49: 1-2

Silas Arrow McDonnell, Aug. 20, 2010, 7lbs 9 oz., 20"long


MikeandCharlsie said...

What a wonderful birth story! I loved reading it!!! Thanks for sharing such a special time with us. So glad you were blessed with a nice alternate Dr. and such a neat nurse. I got a kick out of the fact that your fav. part is's my most dreaded part! I can manage the pain of contractions etc...but pushing not so much :) Love you are a blessed mama!

Mk said...

My mom enjoyed this post about Silas' birth. I'm glad that the Lord blessed your time and even surprised you. Thanks for sharing your stories with us all.

Barbie said...

Thank God you were so thorough, my dear. Took me three days but I got through it and now I'm sitting here sniffling thinking how amazing life is, how blessed indeed you marvelous McDonnells are, and what a perfect beginning this is for such a perfect little man of reknown.
And now I'm going to go cry and pray that God grants us our desire to fill our lives with tiny little beans who grow into strong warriors.

The Fredricksons said...

I loved the story....thank you so much!!! It's funny the part I teared up the most was all the ending after Silas was out and Thomas went home and the girls came to see their "baby broder"......i just know that feeling of holding this new precious little one and vistors and being so exhausted but so full of love and life.....oh man....i loved it....thank you!

The City Girl said...

Awesome birth! And sounds like you had an amazing doctor this time around. So glad:)