Tag Archives: mother

A Very Revealing Baby Story: Mesh Panties and Midwives

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rooreynolds/

Once the beating of Willa’s heart filled the birthing suite, we began to settle in, unpacking the rolling suitcase that rivaled my own growing size. After the past month of patchy labor signs coming in and out, I felt like I’d finally made the team.

I slipped into the maroon jersey nightgown I’d chosen for labor and scooched the provided mesh underwear up my legs. My mom helped affix the foot-long menstrual pad to the material of my giant briefs.

With the scare of the blood and water breaking out of the way, we launched into our previously outlined procedure, the one I’d sketched out on charts and planners over the last months. As is my custom, I had executed about seventy percent of my insane pre-birth checklists, but this landed me at a more relaxed person’s one hundred percent ready to welcome baby Willa into the world.

Drew sent text messages to our inner circle. He dispatched my sister in law Christy who would be serving as my lay-woman doula in the delivery room. We unpacked the hospital bag and plugged in the essential oil diffuser. Drew added water and several shakes of lavender oil into its basin and the suite filled with heavy herbal mist.

My heart raced with Willa’s at each tightening, grateful, anxious, excited, impatient all at once.

The contractions came and went, painful but not unmanageable. They registered on the tachometer as peaking mounds met with the temporary increase in the baby’s heart rate. My heart raced with Willa’s at each tightening, grateful, anxious, excited, impatient all at once.

The nurse switched out my heart and contraction monitors for wireless ones that would allow me to more easily move about and use the birthing tub. I had many ideas for how I might want to labor, many memorized contortions that made me feel like a cave woman, grunting and primal.

The nurse with the tinkly bracelet came in to administer my two hour drip of antibiotics. She put a heplock IV in my arm as per my vigilante birth plan. This one page document ensured I wouldn’t get swallowed by the medical industrial complex. We’d workshopped it in our natural birthing class and printed enough copies so that even the cafeteria workers at the hospital would know I didn’t want a medicated birth.

The nurse warned me about an incoming burning sensation, which I could combat by keeping my arm moving to help spread the medication. I braced myself for two hours of searing pain in my veins. “When does the burning start?” I asked squinting my eyes in preparation. 

The nurse laughed, the charms on her bracelet clanking together as she pressed buttons on the IV poll. “If you didn’t feel any, it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s only when the medicine starts. Don’t worry.”

Time darted and stalled, taking on the shape of the mounds and valleys on the screen monitoring my contractions.

Time darted and stalled, taking on the shape of the mounds and valleys on the screen monitoring my contractions. My birthing team, Drew, Christy, my mom, and my dad (who was only supposed to stay for a little while) assembled in our birthing suite and ate Chipotle burritos to prepare for the hours of my crunchy labor. 

With each surge, I used the breathing from my prenatal yoga class, matching the length of my inhales and exhales. Christy and my mom took turns rubbing my lower back, something I was surprised I didn’t really enjoy. Each contraction took my voice away before I could tell them to stop massaging or explain that I wanted less pressure. Drew explored the closet off our suite filled with different  birthing tools. He brought out a somewhat deflated birthing ball and a peanut shaped inflatable the nurse had suggested for labor with a posterior positioned baby.

Two midwives were on call that night, since one was new to the practice and still got scheduled with a more senior midwife. Neither was my first choice from the group of midwives, but I hadn’t gotten the one who made me feel like I was a cast member of “My 600-lb Life” when she diagnosed me with gestational diabetes. Overall, this looked like a promising birthing team.

Jenna, the new midwife, had the wide stance and no-frills politeness of someone from the midwest. She wore her strawberry blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail and sported a pair of Warby Parker glasses, an update since my last appointment. She lived in one of my favorite Chicago neighborhoods and had given me an internal exam at the office a few weeks ago (read: had her hands in my business as far up as they could go), so she felt familiar enough.

The supervising midwife Michelle seemed to have recently gone on a life-changing tropical vacation.

The supervising midwife Michelle seemed to have recently gone on a life-changing tropical vacation. At our appointment earlier that day, I’d noticed she had new sassy highlights and while her skin had darkened to a caramel tan, her overall demeanor had lightened. Both midwives clunked around the room in Dansko clogs.

Even though the contractions occasionally gripped my midsection through to my back, Michelle noted that I needed more umph and action to deliver a posterior baby resting so high in my pelvis.

She encouraged me to order something from the hospital cafeteria since it would be a long night. When I finished eating, she’d come back and see where my contractions were. If they hadn’t strengthened, lengthened, and gotten closer together, we’d have to consider using Pitocin.

Christy timed my contractions as we all willed them to get longer, to come more often, and to register on the screen of the tachometer. And here is where the doubt starts to seep in. The voices of a thousands Ina May Gaskins and home birth advocates begging me to ask more questions, to try flipping myself into a headstand, or swallowing a bottle of castor oil.

The heart monitor dropped the baby’s heart beats and picked up my own, as if it knew that at that moment, I needed closer monitoring. 

A Very Revealing Baby Story: The Sidelying Release

Around fifteen percent of women have their water break before going into active labor. If you are like me, most of the amniotic sacs you have seen, or will see, break in your life have belonged to the the cast of Friends or have taken place due to multiple viewings of the movie “Where The Heart Is” with Natalie Portman (which I suppose predisposes us to a whole slew of misconceptions about pregnancy and birth).

The gurus insist that pregnant women will most likely bypass this messy occurrence despite its over representation in the birth of every on-screen baby. Our birthing instructors and childbearing girlfriends assure us that our water may even hold out so long that a birth professional will have to prod it with what looks like the crochet hook my grandma uses to bind off her knitting projects.

I’ve never been that worried about my water breaking anyway, even in a public place. Many pregnant women bemoan the idea of their water breaking in front of their students or male colleagues. Screw that. It’s a free opportunity to pee yourself in public with no repercussions or shame. When else as a grown woman do you get to leave a puddle of bodily fluid on the floor and render excitement from your peers?

When else as a grown woman do you get to leave a puddle of bodily fluid on the floor and render excitement from your peers?

So water-breaking joined swimsuit-wearing and a Donald Trump presidency as things I didn’t need to worry about until later on. My immediate attention was focused on my 41 week and 5 day bump, willing my daughter to turn inside of me so I could push her out to the rhythm of my carefully practiced inhales and exhales.

The midwife had been solemn about Willa’s positioning. Even after we left the exam room with its posters of growing babies and plastic models of vaginas, the comforting hand of the midwife still laid heavily on my shoulder. She warned me in the sweet way women are often informed about bad news or potential crisis—solace without information.

I couldn’t get her hand off my shoulder all the way home or when I laid down on the couch with a “harumph,” whining about the unfairness of it all. My shoulder still dipped under the weight of her warning, and I knew the pressure wouldn’t lighten until I tried the prescribed twists, turns, and stretches that might coax Willa to turn her face away from the front of my belly.

The living room became mission command for our endeavors to rotate the baby around. I had spent the previous weeks pining for less time with Willa inside me. At the suggestion of one friend, I got on my hands and knees in the shower and yelled at my belly, “Come out Willa! Come ouuuuuttttt!” Now with a deadline for induction and a baby not ideally situated, I wanted all the time I could get.

Drew typed away at the computer, scouring the Spinning Babies website to find the cure all method for the posterior positioned baby. He found long lists of possible scenarios that could be summed up in the phrase, “everyone is different.” Nothing very helpful for a woman on the night before her induction.

My mom’s phone murmured with a constant stream of YouTube videos featuring women with calm voices positioning giant pregnant women on medical exam tables and couches. The women smiled, mere examples of the predicament of their viewers. They stared vacantly ahead like the person you’re supposed to watch in a workout video giving the low impact modification for each move: “If you have troubles with your knees, watch Mary Ellen for an adjustment,” But the Mary Ellen’s never look like the sweating, heaving messes looking to her for relief from the classic plank position or full push-up. Their half extended movements and shallow squats don’t fit their demeanor and bikini ready bodies.

After Drew and my mom gathered a consensus from popular advice on the internet, we went for a position called “the sidelying release,” offered in a YouTube video with a lot of thumbs up. I laid down on my left side, hanging my bulging belly over the side of the couch and letting Drew and my mom position me, pausing and unpausing the video to find the magic contortion. It was uncomfortable, and I was skeptical of my two-amateur chiropractors trying desperately to make everything alright.

Courtesy of Spinning Babies

Courtesy of Spinning Babies

According to the woman in the video (with an unfortunate haircut), we were supposed to take little breaks in between stretches, so we began the process of moving me, which took a great deal of willpower these days. Much use of the words “hoist” and “maneuver,” and careful count downs for the most minor adjustments.

On my sit bones once again, I leaned forward over my “birthing ball,” the one I’d been bouncing and gyrating on for the last month to wiggle Willa out. My cheek rested on the cold rubber, my arms arched over the curve of its sphere.

And then I felt something odd, something I didn’t have words for…the sensation of someone farting in my crotch. I know, not a great description, but the only analogy I had to put to the sensation.

The black nightgown I wore felt warm and soaked. I tilted myself forward and saw a large wet circle where I’d been sitting on the couch. The baby stopped moving inside of me, and as I took stock of the situation, I noticed something else on the couch.

Blood. A lot of it.

We needed to leave, we needed to get the baby out.

You are Here Stories: She Will Grow On Laughter

When my mother was pregnant with my older sister, she was a visiting nurse. She drove around Aurora, Illinois in her blue Plymouth Horizon, stopping at the Dairy Queen drive through on the way home from work. She’d slurp banana milk shakes while listening to the instrumental theme from St. Elmo’s Fire.

While pregnant with me, she chased around my toddling sister. She exercised weekly at a local Christian workout class called “Believercise.” That is, until mom lunged too far, causing significant bleeding; the doctor ordered at least a week of bedrest. She had to pee in a bucket, another reason she’s the best mom of all time. In her third trimester, she survived summer days by scarfing down dripping slices of watermelon, a fruit I still consider to be one of my favorites.

There’s something sacred and terrifying about the way babies go wherever their mothers go. They eat the same foods, hear the same noises, and even pump the same blood. They can benefit or be harmed from the womb they inhabit, which is why pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat Subway or drink cocktails. Now that I’m pregnant, I worry my tiny has been anchored to a sinking ship.

You see, I’m not the best at being pregnant…

Read the rest over at You are Here Stories!