From Stacie: Thank you all so much for playing a role in the birth of our son! You were every reason why my birth was so satisfying to me and will leave such a positive impression on me for the rest of my life. From Maria watching Mia so that Dave could focus on me to Laura's photography and positive words during pushing to Meredith's gentle reminder that perhaps I should push a wee bit harder. Christy, what can I say, you have been there since day 1 (well week 13 is pretty close anyway). Thank you for putting up with my "scientician" ways of analyzing things (and over-analyzing, at times) and thank you for always making me feel so comfortable under your care. If we were planning to have another baby, I would want no one else to care for me and for my growing family than Motherland Midwifery. The journey that you guided me through has been awesome. From the empowerment I felt from the first pee stick I had to interpret on my own to the trust I gained in my body's ability to birth a baby with no internal exams or "coaching" and finally to the amazement I developed for Gavin's ability to nurse without assistance at less than 1 hr old. These experiences are now embedded in facets of my personality that are forever mine to treasure.
Thank you each for playing such an integral role. And without further ado, here is Gavin's birth story:
Let me start off by saying that this birth story will not include times and dilation updates because no internal exams were done. I was Group Strep B positive and internal exams can spread the bacteria. We did get an intramuscular shot of antibiotics but midwives are generally minimalistic in their approach anyway. But I digress. . .
· I want to start off the actual birth story by saying that the last trimester was sprinkled with an astounding number of Braxton hicks contractions making me carry the lovely diagnostic term of “irritable uterus”. Kind of just evokes a hilarious image doesn’t it? In any case, with regular intense contractions ever 2-3 mins apart lasting an entire minute it was no wonder that I suspected I wouldn’t know I was actually in labor until the early phases were gone and the active/hard labor had begun. Fortunately, I was wrong.
· The day before Gavin’s birth day was a fairy tale day for our former family of 3. It started off with blueberry pancakes that we all made together and then proceeded to the Philadelphia public library to return some books (including “the new baby at your house”) and checkout some more (including “In the Night Kitchen”). After an hour or so at the library we headed to center city to go to the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. It was an amazing day, the temperature, the sun, Mia’s mood, everything. After months of fearing walking, which made my practice contractions go nuts, now I was embracing the exercise and possibility of bringing myself closer to my son. We made it to the children’s garden where Mia got a balloon, listened to some Jazz, watched a human statue fountain and capped it all off with lunch at Govinda’s vegan food spot. That night, I assumed it would feel best to just kick back and read a novel in a rocking chair but something kept me nesting all night long. Perhaps there is something to the wives tale that women get a surge of energy just before labor.
· That night I was sound asleep until the breadmaker alarm sounded that it was done only instead of the wonderful aroma of bread it smelled like something was burning so I ran downstairs to find a ruined loaf (still not sure what happened). When I came back upstairs to go to sleep that is when the contractions started (just after midnight). I had a gut feeling these were “the ones” but not because they were stronger but actually because they were more subtle. My Braxton hicks contractions were always very strong and obvious and I just had a sense about these ones.
· Sure enough, 2 hrs later I felt a bit of fluid down below. Thinking it was discharge but never having that happen in bed lying down, I immediately got a surge of adrenaline/excitement just knowing for certain this was IT! Sure enough, some more fluid and then I got up to check it out in the bathroom and had to tuck a towel between my legs for the walk over so I didn’t wet the floor. I sat down on the toilet and even more came out. It looked clear and so I put a pad on and went back to bed to try to get some rest (ha!). Later on, I inspected the pad and it had lots of baby hair in it. I was shocked and confused; later when I told the midwife she said she had never seen/heard anything like it. It turns out it was just lanugo, the little hairs babies have all over their body that eventually come off. In any case, with Mia the water breaking delineated easy from hard labor so I was pleasantly surprised to be able to get along just fine for hours after the water broke. After hours of “trying to get rest” Dave and I got hungry and went downstairs for some cereal thinking this might be our last chance to get food in ourselves before the big event. I eventually would throw this cereal up during early active labor but boy did it feel good not to have nausea during contractions after that!
· I was hoping to be able to eat breakfast with Mia but by 6:30am or so when she woke up I was already needing Dave for contractions. Maria, who was coming from Binghamton, NY to watch Mia was just half an hour away so things worked out beautifully. There was only 30 mins where it was just Dave, me and Mia. Just as a contraction ended Mia woke up and we rushed her into the bathroom, where we were at the time, to tell her the good news. I said, “Gavin is coming today Mia” and there was nothing so beautiful in the whole world as the look of excitement that came over her face at that moment. And then it was interrupted by the sensation of an oncoming contraction. Our plan was to have Dave and Mia eat breakfast together while I used the magic of water (in the form of a shower) to soothe me in Dave’s absence. While in the shower Christy came by and gave me my antibiotic shot (boy that stung! You’d think after feeling labor pains I could take a simple shot in the butt but I definitely remember whining to her about the sting). The shower worked well enough to sooth my pains (along with some good old healthy labor moans/songs) although there was something so much more comforting in gazing into Dave’s eyes through a contraction. He just appeared so strong and confident at a moment where I felt so weak and vulnerable that we just balanced each other out and ended each contraction with a mutual smile of relief. This gaze helped me through the earlier parts of active labor.
· Dave came back and informed me that Maria had arrived (thank goodness for her!). He offered to come in the shower but it didn’t feel right at the time so I offered to get out and we labored in our room. I believe we sat on the bed eye to eye and holding hands.
· Here’s where things get somewhat blurry though I remember much more than I did after Mia’s birth for some reason. Christy suggested a new position to help Gavin’s positioning since my belly hung so low. I sat in between Dave’s legs and he held my belly up a bit during a contraction.
This immediately intensified things but I knew it would bring us to Gavin quicker so despite my tendencies towards self-comfort we stayed this way for a bit. After a while of this we did some side lying in the bed.
Of course I’m thinking this is bliss until Christy suggests holding my knee up and back. . . now why did she have to ruin a good relaxing position like that? At some point I do remember her saying “this isn’t about your comfort anymore Stacie this is about getting your baby out, the one thing that will bring you ultimate comfort”. Touché’ Christy! Well said!
· That knee up idea may have been where I first experienced the sensation of spontaneous pushing. How amazing to not have any clue that one is fully dialated and yet your body knows just what to do. Even more amazing is to be surrounded by people who trust in the birth process and in your body almost more than you do. After Mia’s hospital birth of prescribed pushing (3 times per contraction) and popped blood vessels in my face it was liberating to be left on my own to push as I deemed right.
· After this knee up bed thing we did a bit of hands and knees and then squatting while hugging the birthing ball (thanks to Laura! You’re right that headboard was not nearly as comfortable as the ball). We went to the birthing stool where we did essentially the same thing as before (where Dave held my belly up) but the birth stool helped open me up better than the bed. Pushing is where my lovely (or so they said) birth song turned into primal screaming (or so I remember). I was pleased and shocked to hear later that Mia never showed concern or nervousness at any of my noises. She never did come into the labor room, which was fine with me, but to hear her having fun and laughing in between my contractions was music to my ears, to know she was well cared for and happy was something I can never thank Maria for enough.
· A bit disappointed since I had heard the average 2nd time mom pushed for only 20 mins, I kept asking someone to just tell me they saw the head but no one would comply with this request of mine (for it wasn’t there to be seen). Meredith, in all her wisdom, finally suggested very gently, that if I wanted I could hold my breath and really push hard. I guess I was being too nice to myself because once I started pushing harder everyone REALLY started cheering me on.
· My humor, I was told, never wavered. I remember 4 specific instances that got people smiling.
o Someone said “good job” and I broke into a song that they do at Mia’s daycare for when kids do a good job cleaning up “G-O-O-D-J-O-B Good Job, Good Job!”
o Then, when describing how to push effectively, Christy said you want to push into it “down low” and I said “too slow”, as in the old 2nd graders High Five prank (cheesy, yes I know but it made light of an intense situation, which is apparently my M.O. as I cracked jokes during Mia’s labor too).
o When given a pellet of Arnica for bruising/swelling, I found it didn’t dissolve fully. They said that was fine and I got all the dose I needed and could spit out the pellet. Well apparently with labor went my manners and I spit it out almost directly at Christy.
o Finally, I recall someone saying the birthing stool was working great but bed would be more ideal for actual delivery so we should do 3 more contractions on the stool and then move to the bed. When asked what I thought of that plan I responded, “whatever you think is best, you are the professionals”.
· Our move back to the bed marked a big moment for me since I knew it was my last positional change. And now armed with a really effective push I held nothing back. I recall being so charged up by each person’s praise (I especially remember and appreciate some of Laura’s kind words). Things were fairly uneventful and it was suggested I touch the head to get excited and to feel my pushes progressing him. I did feel his head but kind of just wanted to get the show on the road so I re-focused and pushed with all my might! Soon enough I heard everyone talking about his dark hair and how he was out to his eyes and then soon enough I remember everything of his head was out but his chin. . . I had never heard of having to push for a chin! Silly chin! Eventually the chin came out, with Christy’s help no doubt, and then there was the relief of having done the hardest part.
· Only a couple more controlled pushes and he was born into his daddy’s hands at 10:08am on May Day (May 1st 2011). By 10:48am Gavin had completed the breast crawl meaning he made his way, all by himself, from being centered on my chest to nursing. He was immediately a natural nurser, which pleased me almost as much as being done with labor.
Gavin William Michelson was 8 lbs, 8oz and 20" long!
· Mia was immediately called in after Gavin was born and sat right next to me.
We kissed, did “noseies” (rubbed noses), and even “eye glasses” (butterfly kisses). When Dave came in with water for his “ladies” he offered the straw to Mia who said, “no, mommy first.” I nearly cried. Another thing with Mia was that since my tummy was so big during pregnancy I had no proper lap, she had to sit off to the side. So Mia invented a word for sitting in someone’s lap but NOT on the side. “Can I sit in your middle?” she would ask. I told her that after Gavin was born she could once again sit in my middle. Sure enough, this was one of Mia’s first requests so, despite the awkwardness and slight discomfort we had Mia-in-the-middle time with “her baby” in her middle.