Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I found my monkey

I was on the birth ball and my hips were swaying from side to side as the contractions started coming faster and harder. I knew at that moment that my grand plan of hypnobirthing carrying me through Koen's birth was not going to happen. It was at that pivotal moment that my Doula, the lovely Pat Nielson, quoted Ina May Gaskin and told me "You gotta let your monkey do it." Little did I know, that I had a strong monkey living within me. I had to leave all reasoning behind and let my body take over.

I'm getting ahead of myself though, let me start early on Easter morning.

I woke up Easter morning to a slow drip of amniotic fluid. As Griffin celebrated his Easter basket I called the midwife and shared the news. "Call me at 2 pm" was her response. My body needed to start contractions and I had to wait until they formed a pattern before it would be time to head to the hospital. It never happened. I ate brunch, had an Easter egg hunt with Griffin, and just went about my day with a contraction here and there but no true pattern formed. I called at 2 pm "Come in at 7 and we'll check you." were the directions given to me. That would have given my body 12 hours to do the work.

We arrived at the hospital and I was nervous. I had been told horror stories about the use of Pitocin to start labor and was really scared. We decided to do a slow drip of Pitocin to see if my body would grab the contractions and take over. The midwife on call was Christy, a young whippersnapper of a lady who seemed to know her stuff. It was 11 pm, we all settled down to try to get some sleep. Christy predicted it would be 8 am before we really saw some action. I put on my lavender eye pillow, grabbed my I pod, and put on my Hypnobirthing Cd's to work through the contractions. The room was dark, it was quiet, and my belly started to stir with activity. I tried to pretend that I wasn't feeling anything and that I was going to fall into a peaceful slumber. Pat had gone to try to sleep in the room next to us, with an eye on a monitor that showed Koen's vitals and my activity.

A big contraction hit and Pat came sailing into the room and sat next to me as if I had called her to me. She has an uncanny way of reading my mind. We sat and chatted as I worked through a few hard contractions but nothing too painful. We all gave up on getting any rest. Roger got up, we turned on the lights, grabbed a birth ball, and had grand conversations as I slowly labored. I had a Popsicle, it was actually kind of fun. The three of us, just chatting away as my body did the work.

Then, my demeanor changed. There were some contractions that I couldn't talk through. Roger and Pat took turns rubbing my back. I had to pee every 2 seconds. Things were getting more serious. Pat called Christy in and she checked me. I was at 6 cm and dilating fast. It was then that I knew that I had to find my monkey. I abandoned hypnobirthing, I admit it, I just couldn't wrap my brain around it anymore. It seemed daunting to try to relax. I couldn't tap into my natural endorphins anymore. The contractions were too fast and too hard. It was time for me to get primitive-or get an epidural.

In my heart, I wanted to do this birth naturally and had instructed my team to help me at least try to get there without pain medication and work through it. I told Pat, "I'm seeing a word in bright shiny letters and it says epidural!" Instead of calling the anesthesiologist she filled up the tub with hot steamy water and tossed me in there. It was a liquid epidural. Tension melted away as she grabbed a bucket and poured the hot water onto my belly. Roger put cool wash cloths on my forehead. I had a great team surrounding me. The midwife and a nurse (pregnant herself, which comforted me somehow) were in the bathroom too. I felt safe as I floated in the water.

Then, Christy checked me, the contractions were so close that I almost lost it a few times. I was at 8 cm-no wonder I felt insane. Christy discovered that the amniotic sac was still blocking Koen's head. He had made a small tear on the side and that was what started the leak. He wouldn't come until the sac popped. She offered to break the water for me. "It will cut the time you have left by 30 minutes to an hour." "DO IT!" was my response. After that, things started to really move. My uterus was pulsating, I got out of the tub and sat down on the toilet to relax. I started crying, I remember being naked and vulnerable and Roger busting through our team of ladies and just held me as I cried. They moved me to the bed because my monkey had completely taken over and I was making all kinds of wonderful jungle noises. I impressed myself with just how primitive I felt.

Once I was on the bed, I had a good old fashioned freak out. It was all so intense, the pressure, the fear of the unknown. How long would I have to push? How much damage would I do to my hooha? My brain couldn't process my thoughts and I just started to lose it a bit. My team rallied around me. Pat practically sat on me and put her hands on my shoulders. "When I touch your shoulders, that means relax." Okay...I can do that, I thought to myself. Roger rubbed my head so lovingly, Christy called my name to get my attention "Let him go!" she said to me. Okay, I reached deep within myself and decided to give in. I was going to have this baby. 12 minutes later, Koen was on my belly crying. He was perfect!

I was in labor for 4 hours. It was fast and beautiful. Thanks to my team who stuck with me and pushed me to find my inner strength. Thanks to my husband who gave me so much support and love. Thanks to Koen for working so hard to push his way down. I owe at all to my monkey though, that fearless little creature that I found. Now, I feel like I can do anything!


Unknown said...

What a great story! I LOVED that feeling after giving birth that I could do anything. I occasionally tap into that when I have stuff to do now. Women are so much stronger than we think we are. Good work, lady!

Mary Jessica said...

That made me tear up like crazy. I am so proud of you and so happy and full of love for you and yours!

amy said...

Wow! What a great story Leigh.
Thanks for sharing.


Erin said...

You are incredible!

MamaOtwins+1 said...

Wow - so incredible. I didn't have that much strength. I gave up and went for the epidural.

Anonymous said...

I clicked over from your comment at C Jane's, just knowing I'd enjoy the post - thanks for sharing it. I went to the hospital terrified, with my water having broken hours before with no progress. But after many flights of stairs and no pitocin, it happened perfectly - fast and beautiful, like you described here. And I look forward to the next time!

Marie said...

Yep, your comment caught my eye on cJane too. I am addicted to natural birth. It scares me to death every time I think about the possibility, but then saddens me to no end thinking it might never be again. I've had six natural births and wish I could have six more. My husband says we're done, but I can keep on hoping. It's that inner strength in my that won't let me give up.

I have to say the moaning method and counter-pressure are best!

Claire {Beaktweets} said...

i saw your post on cjane. i'm pregnant with my first and am hoping to have a natural birth. each story i read is an inspiration. thanks!

Tiffany said...

What a great story! I choose to have an epidural and am glad I did, but I love love love hearing everyone's stories - you are a strong lady!