Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Satchel's Homebirth

Satchel's Homebirth
Stacey Greenberg

You're my little potato
I dug you up
You come from underground
-Malcolm Dalglish

Saturday, April 20th, Warren and I slept in. When I got up I felt a very weird sensation. "Warren, I think I just peed on myself," I said. It seemed strange but I continued on with my morning rituals. Warren planned a motorcycle ride with Monty and I planned on going to Earth Day at the Shell. As I was tooling around getting ready, I had the sensation of peeing on myself several more times. I called one of my midwives, Martina, and asked, "What does it feel like when your water breaks?"

Martina arrived around noon and confirmed that my water had indeed broken. Yay! I knew it! Martina warned me that it might be a long labor and not to get too excited because I hadn't even had a contraction yet. She gave me some homeopathic pills to take and her cell phone number. "Don't start calling everyone," she said, "Your baby might not be here until tomorrow." I tried to stay calm but as soon as she left, I called my best friend. Next I called my mom. I made her promise not to tell anyone, but within minutes both my sisters knew. Oh well. My final call was to my good friend who is a practicing midwife in California. As we were talking I noticed that my lower back was really hurting.

It took about an hour or two of back pain for me to realize that what I was experiencing was the dreaded back labor. I called Martina to let her know and pulled out my birth ball. I sat on the birth ball in the livingroom, in the bedroom, and in the diningroom. I was starting to get uncomfortable. I called Warren, "Come home NOW," I said.

Once Warren came home we decided to get everything ready. He opened the closet and pulled out the stack of poster boards that my friends had decorated for me. They had funny pictures and encouraging messages on them (i.e. PUSH! Breathe. BLOW!). One by one he hung them on the wall facing my bed. Next, I got out some candles and put them under the posters along with the magic wands from Satchel's fairy godmothers. I was all set. But the baby was not. Warren started timing my contractions. They were anywhere from 2 minutes apart to 15 minutes. Warren made dinner, tofu stir fry, and I parked myself in front of the TV and tried to watch "Trading Spaces." It was hard to eat and even harder to keep up with the decorating. (Even though it was their first ever celebrity edition.) I called Martina and she came by at 9:30pm. She seemed pleased with my progress, but informed me that since I was still able to talk through my contractions that I still had a ways to go. She suggested that I try to sleep.

I tried, I really did. Poor Warren, every time he'd doze off and start to snore I'd wake him up by moaning or whining or something. By 1:00am I was beside myself and we were starting to get mad at each other. I was mad at him because he was sleepy and couldn't make the pain stop and he was mad at me because I was mad at him I guess. He called Martina and she said she'd be right over. She suggested that I get in the shower. I did immediately and it was the best shower ever. The hot water pouring down my back was heavenly. I must have stayed in at least 20 minutes because when I got out Martina was there. The rest of the night is fuzzy. Around 5:30am Martina thought it wouldn't be much longer so she called Kim and Casie, the other midwives. I remember Kim and Casie arriving and the sun coming up. I think Martina took a nap and Kim and Casie took turns rubbing my back, massaging my hands, encouraging me, etc. At 9:00am I told Warren he better call my mom and my best friend to let them know I was still trying to get the baby out. At this point the general theory was that the baby's head was turned the wrong direction, thus making it difficult to get out.

The afternoon is a blur of homeopathic pills, herbal tea, dried fruit, baths, wardrobe changes, hanging on my husband, hanging on each midwife, leaning against every wall in the house, and begging for more counter pressure on my back. Finally at 4:00pm, Martina decided I needed a change of scenery. I threw a maternity dress over my t-shirt and we headed out the front door for a walk. I put one arm around Casie and one arm around Martina and we made our way down the street. Every few minutes I would have to stop, hug one of them while the other pushed on my back, and push with all my might. Being the president of the neighborhood association and living across the street from a pretty crowded movie theater made me feel a bit self conscious, but I had no choice. I had to get the baby out. "Come on Bumpy," I said, "Come out." (I was calling him "Bumpy" because I was sure his head was going to be completely deformed from being lodged in my pelvis for so long.)

Back inside, I continued to push. I pushed on the toilet, in the bedroom, and in the diningroom. I remember that there were chux pads everywhere and that at some point I was no longer embarrassed to be standing up in my diningroom peeing on the floor. Every once in a while a big wave of amniotic fluid would spew out. Since I seemed to be still making progress, although slowly, the midwives made the decision to try more "drastic" measures. Without blinking, I agreed to an enema. Soon I was pooping in every room in the house and not giving it a second thought. The contractions were coming hard and the endorphins were flowing so that I could actually sleep between them.

It was all very surreal and other worldly. Immense pain and then total relaxation.

When the sun began to set I had a moment of despair. After all, I had seen the sun set once already. I looked at Martina and asked her if she really thought I was going to get this baby out. She said yes. Then I looked at Casie. "You're doing great," she said. And Kim said, "Stacey, you are going to have your baby today." Then I burst into tears. I think for the first time in 30 hours it finally dawned on me that I WAS going to have a baby. I also realized that it wasn't just going to happen. I was going to have to work. Warren and I got on the bed and I sat between his legs like I had seen on all the birth videos and pushed with each contraction. Martina had her hands inside me, pulling my pubic bones apart, doing everything in her power to get the baby out. After a few contractions like that, they decided that a new position was in order. I got on all fours, another birth video position that I swore I'd never replicate. I felt too self conscious and decided to squat at the foot of the bed with Casie's support. I felt like I was in a scene from The Red Tent. I pushed from somewhere buried inside me. Deep guttural, almost animal like noises, came from within me. Loud noises. Noises I soon had no control over. My body was pushing out my baby and I was merely providing the soundtrack.

Kim was holding my legs apart and Martina was still pushing my pelvic bones apart and every time she pulled her hands out I thought it was the baby. Everyone was telling me how great I was doing and how close the baby was, but I didn't believe them until I noticed Kim frantically getting her things in order. With my next push, the baby's head crowned. Kim held up a mirror and told me to look. I took a quick glance, but I wanted to see my whole baby. I closed my eyes and started pushing ferociously. Then I finally felt the "ring of fire". It was the best feeling in the whole world because I knew it was my baby's head and not Martina's hands. I pushed hard one more time and his whole little body came out. Before I knew it, he was in my arms. He looked strangely familiar, or just like I thought he should look. I did it. I really did it. And yes, I'd do it again.

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