Sunday, August 26, 2007

Baby in the House!

Emile Arjun Ascherl-Hansbrough was born at home on Thursday, August 23 at 8:03 p.m. He weighed 7 lb. 8 oz., and was 20 inches long at birth. Here's the story!

Like my labor with Idris, my labor this time around took on a pattern that might best be described as "avant garde," or "rythm-challenged". For the first twelve hours, I had contractions that went from 10 minutes apart, to seven, to fifteen, to five, to recognizable progression. Most of this time, they weren't strong enough to keep my from having a conversation, but they were strong enough to keep me from sleeping. So, as things started around 11 a.m. on Wednesday night, I had a long, sleepless night of waiting for things to really get going.

With my first birth, an acupuncture treatment turned out to be the miracle that got my labor on track, so first thing Thursday morning I made an appointment with an acupuncturist whom my midwife had recommended. Her office is in a yoga studio in East Aurora (about 35 minutes away), and we found ourselves driving there in the hardest rainstorm we've seen all summer. Yikes! I did NOT want to have this baby in the car. Luckily, we got there without a problem. Talk about a perfect place to get help and relax during labor—the building was all soft light, wood, and quiet, and by now I guess there’s no place I feel more at home than a yoga studio. Stacey, the acupuncturist, told me she knew I was ready to go, and that the treatment would help and give me strength. She was totally right. I felt great when I left.

My contractions began to get a little stronger and more frequent on the drive home, though they still weren’t following any recognizable pattern. I told Andrew that I thought we needed to take a walk to encourage things to keep moving, and asked him to start calling friends to see if someone could watch Idris for a while. Nate and Lydia were the first saintly ones to respond; they took Idris to the park while Andrew and I walked up and down the block. Every time a contraction hit, I would dive for the nearest tree, wrap my arms around it, and start chanting (well, moaning, really) “OOOOOMMMM namah shivaya”, while Andrew put his hand on my forehead and said “Relax, deeper...” (one of the cues from the childbirth hypnosis we'd been practicing.) We did this probably seven or eight times. I'm sure this looked like some strange pagan ritual to neighborhood passersby—it was around 5 p.m. in the summer, totally broad daylight, lots of people were out walking their dogs and stuff....

A little while later, Sol and Pete took over for Nate and Lydia, taking Idris to their house (while simultaneously hosting a barbeque—thanks for letting the little guy crash the party!) Andrew and I sat down to watch a movie, and my contractions still were not getting any more regular. They had been five minutes apart on the walk, and slowed down to ten minutes apart. At this point I was getting really depressed. I kept thinking, “maybe there’s some way I can just turn this labor off and try again in a few days.” But I had no idea how to do that. We decided to call Eileen again and see if she had some insight. Andrew spoke to her first, and then he put me on. She said, “do you think you’re making progress?” and I petulantly responded, “NO.” And she said, “Erin, I think you are. Why don’t I come over and check you out. Maybe it will give you some encouragement.” I said I’d like that. She also said she’d call Catherine, Eileen’s backup doctor who would be attending our birth (such a rare and cool thing—a doctor who is not only willing to back a midwife, but wanted to attend our birth just to get more familiar with what homebirth is like! She is fantastic.)

After we hung up, I laid down in bed with one of my hypnosis cds, and Andrew stayed with me. As I was breathing through a rather strong wave, I suddenly felt this big, warm burst of fluid on my legs and figured my water had broken. It was a LOT of water! This brightened my outlook a lot, because I finally had what I felt was a tangible, recognizable sign that labor was really happening. Sure enough, the contractions started coming faster, stronger and closer together. I got up in between a couple, and saw that Catherine had arrived. We told her my water had broken, and she said, “oh, that’s great.” And I was like, “really? Does that mean I’m getting closer?” (This was the state I was in—not yet believing that HOURS of contractions + water breaking= yes, your baby really will get here today.) She said, “I think your baby will be here in 2 or 3 hours.” Wow! This psyched me up. Eileen arrived shortly after that. I decided against an internal exam, even though I was still feeling very frustrated about my weird labor patterns. Everyone else, though, seemed to feel that things were well on their way. Andrew decided to start filling the pool in the living room.

I breathed strongly through a few more contractions, and when the pool was filled I got in. Wow, there is no greater feeling of relief than being in labor and stepping into warm water. I smiled. Things were going great. I was still talking between contractions, breathing strong during them. And then that changed, too. I said I was feeling pushy, and Eileen was like, “that’s great! Go for it when you’re ready.” I said I thought we’d better call to get Idris back to the house. With a knowing look on her face, Eileen said that would be a good idea.

As I was entering the pushing phase, I noticed that Idris was in the room. He walked right over to the pool to say hi to me, and then he brought me a glass of water. I couldn’t believe what a big boy he was! He seemed so grown up to me, helping me that way. Andrew changed him into his swimming trunks, and he got in the water with me. He giggled about swimming in the living room. He was having fun! This was excellent. I had a few rough contractions, starting to push, and I felt Idris’s little hand on my back. What an amazing son. After a while, the noise I was making seemed to get to him, so he got out. I didn’t really notice at that point, but everyone said he was really laid back about it; just like, “okay, I’m done with this scene now.” He hung outside with Sol and Ben, who had brought him back to the house and were waiting on the porch for Drea and Leticia, our third and final childbirth tag team, to arrive and watch Idris. Drea must have shown up as I was really starting to push. I made a lot of noise, and she said she could hear things progressing from outside on the porch. I pushed for about an hour altogether. Halfway through pushing, I started to feel a lot of pressure in my sacrum, and Eileen and Andrew gave me good counterpressure to relieve it. Now, I had back labor through my entire first labor, and it ranks right up there with war, capitalist-enforced poverty and exploitation on my list of things that I hate and want to rid the earth of. I found myself thinking, “this sucks. I don’t want to do this anymore”—not “I CAN’T do this anymore”, just a real feeling of, you know, enough already! Eileen suggested I change my position, so I went from kneeling to squatting, and smiled—what a genious suggestion. It got rid of the back pain. Still, after more pushing, I was getting tired. As Ram Dass said of the moment of his stroke, “My mind did not turn to god.” I was really, really just pissed. Luckily, this lovely attitude was eventually replaced by a voice in my head saying, “only three more.” And indeed, after a few more pushes, he started to crown! I had my hand on his head as he came out; I took a little breather, then worked a little harder to free his shoulders. Oh my god, I caught my own baby! I hadn’t even considered the possibility that I might catch him myself, and it was a wonderful surprise. Eileen told me to bring him forward, so I stood up a little, picked Emile up out of the water, and handed him over to Eileen while Andrew helped me turn around to sit. Eileen handed the baby back to me, and I held him in the water. I saw that Idris had come back into the room—he didn’t actually see his brother crowning or being born, but he was right there seconds afterward. Idris got back into the pool with me, and Andrew stood at the side of it as we all stared, awestruck, at the newest member of our little family. I held him for a nice long time, and even got to begin nursing him in the water while we let the cord stop pulsing. Idris got out of the pool, and with Andrew guiding the process, helped his papa cut his little brother’s cord.

It was sweet to have Emile arrive at such a social hour. Welcome, sweet little one!


Emmitsworld said...

okay so I realize I have only known you for a brief time but there is nothing like reading a birth story to get me sobbing. Thank you so much for sharing something so personal and beautiful. I can't wait to see you and would love to bring you guys a meal whenever you are ready.

Lydia said...

I just read that story like 3 times. Wonderful. And it was so nice to meet Emil today. Thanks for letting us cuddle with him for so long!

Sara said...

erin, my fav is the picture of you laboring. honest and true, and you're a brave woman to share that photo.....
congratulations to you and andrew, and to your cool kids -
see you soon

cake said...

ditto what emmitsworld said. what a wonderful gift. you were the one who told me that when you prepared for idris's birth, you read a lot of positive birth stories to build your confidence. i did that too, and avoided reading difficult ones, or ones with negative outcomes. i had such a beautiful birth experience, i really love sharing it with pregnant women, and i loved reading yours.

Ella's Mama said...

Erin, congratulations on such a wonderful peaceful successful hypnobirth. I love hearing about home births like this, it's fantastic. I had the same pool as you, he he! And my nephew's name is also Emile, great name, you are a blessed family. Thanks for sharing your story.
~Nicki from hypnobabies group

John K said...

Wow Erin, that's really incredible. I've never heard much about home births before, but after reading your story, I think it would be the way to go. Can't wait to have you back at the studo, we all miss you!