Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy Birthday June!

One year ago today, I gave birth to June Katherine! Also known as Senorita Smooch Bottom. Adjusting to motherhood has been a wild ride - it's not covered in pink gauze like TLC would lead you to believe. "Oh, I was born to be a mom...it's so instinctual" Bullshit. In the beginning, my instinct was to run out for a pack of smokes and never come back. (I don't smoke, of course, it's just an expression). But I got the hang of motherhood eventually. :)

At Fleet Fisheries in New Bedford, Mass....never make a mako mad

To commemorate Junie's first year on the planet, I thought I'd share her birth story. CAUTION - this is a long and graphic post.

me at 36 weeks

Even before I got pregnant, I planned/hoped for a natural, drug-free birth. The Business of Being Born made a lot of sense to me and I wanted to let my body do what it was made to do. In addition, I read half a dozen books about midwifery and the history of childbirth that further cemented my desire NOT to have a doctor muck up the process for no reason. If everything was fine, then I wanted no wires, no IV, no flat on my back...just let me be. And let me be naked too - why cover up your boobs with a dressing gown, when your southern regions are all hanging out? Plus then the baby doesn't get direct skin contact on your chest. Anyways...I'm rambling.

Although we pondered having a home birth, my insurance wouldn't cover it, so we decided to go with a Certified Nurse Midwife (Louise Bastarache) who has privileges at a small, local hospital in Wareham, Mass - Tobey Hospital. The maternity ward at Tobey functions more like a birth center, with the lowest C-section rate in the state, thanks to the midwife factor and the nurses experience with low-intervention, natural births. And in case anything went wrong, the operating room is right there, so you have the best of both worlds.

My husband and I took a hypno-birthing class, practiced those techniques as much as I could stand, and hoped for the best. On April 13, 2009, I woke up at 2am to a pop and felt my water trickling. Only an hour before I'd gone to the bathroom and found my mucus plug. (Yuck). I was 37 weeks and 3 days. We called our midwife, who urged us to try to get some sleep. Since this was our first baby, we all figured it would be a while. Boy, were we wrong!

In no time, the contractions started coming consistently 3 minutes apart and were getting pretty intense. We wanted to labor at home as long as possible, but soon I was dry heaving into the toilet and bleeding. Okaaaay...time to go to the hospital. It was only 5am. We called Bridget's sister, Melissa, who was planning to drive up from Brooklyn for the birth. She and her husband happened to be in New Hampshire at the time, so they jumped in the car and started the drive down.

The ride to the hospital was rough - I had no idea how far along I was and only knew there was an inescapable, annoying pain grinding through my pelvis. It took 15 minutes to get to the hospital, which was locked, except for the ER entrance. I walked my ass into the ER while Nick parked the car and grumbled "Maternity." They led me to an elevator, as Nick ran in, while some bitch asked me, "Are you due?" Yeah, I'm due...to kick your ass...can't you see I'm in labor?

A terrible contraction in the elevator that had me slumped against the wall. When we walked into maternity, our midwife hadn't arrived yet, so they hooked me up for the 20 minutes of fetal heart rate monitoring. Being stuck in that bed was not fun. The contractions were awful just laying there. I was bicycling my legs and moaning, begging them to let me up, put me in the tub, or give me drugs. Finally, my lovely midwife arrived, checked me - I was 8 centimeters! Thank Christ.

So, crying about how happy to be at 8, I stripped off my clothes and got in the tub. Oh sweet relief! The contractions were still tough, but totally bearable. The water helped a lot. So far, things had gone so fast, I hadn't listened to my hypno tapes or felt like I'd used the techniques. In the tub, I was able to use my breathing to calm down and handle the surges, even dozing between contractions. I was negative for strep, so an IV wasn't necessary. My husband knelt next to the tub with a cup and straw of water, and another of ginger ale. He kept pushing those fluids and whenever I refused, in my contraction daze, our midwife would threaten to put an IV in....that did it, I drank!

Soon I was 10 and we got out of the tub to try pushing, which was a total waste. My body wasn't ready yet - I didn't have that uncontrollable urge. So back in the tub, where I slept for a bit. Then back out of the tub, when I had the urge to push. In Massachusetts, it's illegal to birth in the tub inside a hospital (don't get me started...). We tried a bunch of positions, but pushing hurt, so I wasn't doing it right. I would push, but also push my knees down, which would narrow the birth canal and make pushing hurt less. Nice try, huh? It wasn't working and I was getting frustrated and tired. My cousin Melissa arrived at about 8:30am, at the height of the madness. Finally, I had to give in to the pain and push with all my might, damn the pain. At 8:50am, after only 7 hours of labor, June finally came out in a gush. Nick and Missy were both standing at my side and Nick was laughing/crying like a loony.

They put June on my bare chest and she just looked up at me. Blink, blink. Holy crap - I did it! I'd torn a tiny bit, so they gave me a couple stitches, but nothing bad. I felt great! Almost immediately, they handed me a menu and I ordered breakfast. Melissa fed me eggs and pancakes while June and I tried nursing. Although they did give me a couple shots of Pitocin in the leg to stop some bleeding. But I'd done it - totally naked, I'd given birth to our baby without drugs or any machines hooked up to me. I was so proud! Doing it all-natural was much harder than I'd anticipated, but totally worth it and I wouldn't change a thing! Given how fast this labor went, with the next kid, we may have to head to the hospital right away. Although giving birth in the living room would be fine by me, it makes my husband very nervous. :)

June Katherine - 2 days old

Happy Birthday, Juniper! I love you!


  1. Happy birthday Junebug! What a lucky girl to have her mum go through all that for her. :)