Oliver’s Story

Labor Day weekend is filled with bad jokes about pregnant women. The joke was on them though when I woke up Sunday morning and my water broke. But let me back up a couple of steps.

Saturday was rough. We had one real thing to do and that was go to the grocery store. Our fridge was basically empty and I was supposed to make beef stew that evening, so we needed some carrots and potatoes. But I dread the store. The stares, the comments, and worst of all, random people touching me. I get it, I’m huge. But leave me alone.
As we walked through the store, I remember sending my sister some texts about how awful the whole thing was, but at least when we were done, I’d be ready to go into labor. (Ha!) After that we came home and I relaxed for far too long, got dinner in the crock pot far too late, and eventually we scavenged up something for dinner while the stew went in the fridge for “later.” We settled in for the night and all was well.
Sunday morning Nora came into our room and woke us up, and Brandon took her downstairs to play while I dozed for a bit longer. Later when they were getting ready to make the usual pancakes and eggs, they came back up to wake me. As I finally rolled out of bed around 8:30, I felt that trickle of a high rupture and my water breaking.
I texted my midwife and doula to let them know, and then my mom to come over as soon as she could. But we kept doing our normal thing, making breakfast as a family. I had a few contractions, but they were far enough apart, I brushed them off as “random and unorganized.” When we finally sat down to eat, I took the opportunity to start timing them, and of course they weren’t random at all. So we ate, planned to get our dog to the kennel, and started getting ready for a big day.

My mom arrived, and I went to shower. The hustle of arrivals and departures had gotten my contractions off rhythm, so after I was clean (about 10:30), I decided to head up to bed with some music to just relax. We were all in the zone: Brandon got the pool set up, Nora played with her grandma, I put on my headphones and started the Live, Birds of Prey album. It was kind of perfect.
I lay there resting, feeling the contractions washing over me. They were definitely getting stronger, and about 45 minutes later I texted my midwife and doula to head over. I hid out for a little bit longer and then decided I wanted to go see how Nora was doing with my mom.
When I came downstairs, suddenly my contractions got very intense, and I was having to vocalize loudly just to get through them. So when Nora came inside from playing and one of these contractions hit, I could tell it was time for her to leave. She was a little scared and worried about me, but I wasn’t in a position to reassure her. Luckily we planned for just this, so Brandon packed the last couple things in her bag and got the car seat moved, just as everyone was showing up for me. (I heard a rumor that he also accidentally tried to send one of the doula’s bags with my mom, but somehow it was returned before anyone missed it.)
Kat, my doula arrived first, and I was kneeling by the stairs. She sat with me doing her thing, and we hung on until Rhoda, our midwife, and her team arrived shortly after. As everyone was getting set up, Kat casually mentioned that unless I wanted to be checked to see how far I was, I could just get in the birth pool for some relief.
‘OKAY!’ I remember thinking. Or maybe, ‘thank f*#%ing goodness.’ Either way, I stripped down to my bra and climbed in. It was pretty wonderful. Rhoda checked us with the Doppler and we got down to business.
Relief was relatively short lived and I kept thinking about a technique we learned in our birth class, where the instructor, also a doula, would give laboring mothers a couple of combs to squeeze. Somehow the little pain was able to take the edge off the contractions. So we tried that (instead of crushing Brandon’s and Kat’s fingers), and suddenly I realized I was starting to feel sick. I told Kat, and I already knew what it meant and what she would say, but I needed to hear it to believe we were there already. She said, “Sometimes you throw up to throw down.” In other words, it was probably time to start pushing.
Last time I remember I was a little scared of pushing so I fought it (as much as a laboring woman can), and I did end up throwing up. This time, I was ready. This hurts and the only way to be done is to get this baby out. So I pushed and pushed and Rhoda was magically right there to coach and encourage me. It was painfully intense and beautifully surreal. And then he was born, just before 1pm, my son, Oliver Bernard Kelley.
The next few hours are a blur as we snuggled and nursed, relaxed in the herbal bath, I was checked for tearing (just a little, no stitches needed!) and Oliver was weighed, measured, and examined. Kat asked me what I wanted to eat, and I laughed and remembered all the beef stew that was sitting in the fridge. It was perfect!

olibirth

Egg shells

My due date is in one week.

One freaking week.

We are living in day-to-day mode in hopes that this baby comes a bit early, like his sister, on one hand, but also trying not to get too frustrated if he prefers to come late.

It’s a very, very, VERY delicate balance.

And I have lots of support: people who are eager but patient. People who can give me sympathy without pressure. People who understand that my head is not the most fun place to be right now. Or really anywhere in my skin, as this baby continues to grow and shift and find all new ways to get comfy that usually result in my feeling less-so. 

So don’t feel too bad for me, because on the whole, I’m doing great.

What I’ve become acutely aware of, though, is just how vulnerable women get as these days and weeks tick by. Since Nora came at 38 weeks, I had no real comprehension of just how long another month of being pregnant would feel. And just how easily one person’s eagerness to meet the new baby feels like WAY TOO MUCH PRESSURE to get this kid out now. Or how a casual comment from a care provider can shift a mother’s entire perspective. The idea of induction isn’t quite so far out of question, because, really, you’re so close to your due date anyway.

And the thing is, we’re all guilty of a thoughtless, less-than-supportive, comment. Even if you’ve been 42 weeks pregnant, you can sometimes forget just how sensitive mothers are in these final days. So I’m not asking you to walk around on egg shells because of me, but just… be kind.

This is a pretty fantastic article my doula sent me the other day, on how to begin to empathize and respect women in those final days and weeks. And now, since the ‘any day now’ is closing in on me, I’m off to enjoy some of this sunshine and rub my giant belly some more.

Blessingway

In that one moment

when you wake up in the dead of night and feel them

the presence of all the women gone before you

Your mother and hers and on and on.

Your sisters and friends

and even enemies who have traveled down this road

to birth.

Some in fear, and joy.

With purpose and pain

Suffering humiliation and finding empowerment

Laughing, crying, grieving for something lost

Embracing all that is new.

It is a well worn path

You travel alone, uplifted by all that has been

to write your own story of all that might be.

In the still moments, you wait, and rock and

cry out to all the mothers and gods who will help you.

And soon a babe is born.

Been there, done that

Today Brandon and I finished up our child birth education classes through a local organization called Birth Matters. We had intended to just take the “refresher” class because we’d already gone through their CBE class when I was pregnant with Nora, but there weren’t any other families interested within our time frame, so we opted so sit through the whole deal again. And it was fantastic, again, too.

It was really different going through it as a 2nd time around-er though. The first time, as I’m sure many of the other new parents in our class, we had sat down and watched The Business of Being Born, and suddenly had a fire lit within to not be another cog in the wheel of the birth system. Of course, after our experience with home birth and transfer, we do have a small measure of appreciation that parts of that system do exist and function well. And yet, I still cannot imagine planning a hospital birth. It’s just not my style, especially after being able to labor and deliver Nora entirely at home and then transfer safely to the hospital after.

However, I do have the perspective of having a complication arise that was very sudden and not preventable. And I had to come to my own peace with those events and the possibility that it could happen again. Or something else. So as we sat through the class, we heard again about all the different pieces of technology and interventions that hospitals offer, and I felt suddenly wiser. The first time I heard all those same things, but in my head I said, “Not me, I’m having this baby at home.” Today, I hear myself saying, “This is not my plan, but if it has to go this way for our safety, I’m glad I understand how to navigate these scenarios.”

And that is so empowering.

I feel released from any potential guilt or feelings of failure. I feel like I can make choices in the moment and not be held to any invisible standard of what ‘home birth’ is supposed to be. It’s just… birth. And I want it to be safe and peaceful and full of joy for our whole family. And I’m starting to feel ready again.

My own making

It’s taken me a couple of weeks but I’m beginning to feel a shift.
Ever since I admitted to myself how much I dislike being pregnant, I’ve been able to move past it.
Well, aside from the fact that I am still very much pregnant.
I had a long talk with my midwife and she really encouraged me to focus on my self care; to not harbor stress but in the midst of all this chaos, keep working out ways to manage it better. So far, it’s been working out pretty well.
I have been writing down a daily to-do list because it feels damn good to cross things off. I will also shamelessly disregard said list if trying to get too much done is adding stress when Nora needs a snuggle day. And I’ve especially tried to start taking advantage of the few quiet moments after everyone else is asleep to stretch and meditate, and especially focus on my body and my growing baby.
It has brought me to an awareness of the bond I haven’t taken much time to foster with him (so sorry, little dude). I can’t say if the negativity came first, or the discomfort in being pregnant (chicken, meet egg) but either way I know it’s past time to break the cycle.
I definitely believe in affirmations and positive self talk to help manifest change, so that’s where I started. Being strong (even when you’re exhausted), being enough (even when nothing seems to make your toddler happy), nourishing your body (even when a donut will surely fix your troubles), and being present in this moment (even when there’s a giant list looming over you) are some of the areas I’ve sought to make peace with.
I’m far from perfect, for sure, and I’m also very good at making mistakes over and over, but my heart is happiest when I’m trying to do better.
That’s the point of all if this, isn’t it?

Confession

It’s taken me quite a while to come to terms with this, but I think it really must be said: I really don’t like being pregnant.
Of course that in no way reflects on the fact that I love my children, born and unborn with all my heart and soul. It’s just… pregnancy is complicated and challenging and it makes me feel very much out of control of my own body. There are moments of blissful awe and amazing strength, but for the most part, I’m just not a fan.
It starts with exhaustion and nausea, in the middle you’re just in the early parts of the discomfort and constant kicks to your most vital organs, including your bladder. If you’re lucky, you don’t have much trouble with pain in your back and hips, but that’s pretty much unavoidable by the third trimester. Plus the swelling, the heartburn, glucose testing, constant peeing in a cup for analysis, and several rounds of donating blood for routine tests. Don’t forget the giving up medium rare steaks, sushi, and cutting back on your beloved coffee. AND, that doesn’t even cover the stresses of finding the right care provider, taking extra birth classes, registering for a mountain of crap essential baby gear, becoming an object of shock and awe at your baby shower, and picking a freaking name. At least the second time around, I get to skip over a few things.
It’s just a struggle for me. I don’t have to like it though, and that’s the best part. I still get to have totally amazing babies and children in my life, because at least I am lucky enough to be able to carry and deliver a child into the world. For that I’m really am grateful, despite all the complaining.
I guess that means its all worth it.

Dear Oliver

A few things you’re up to lately:

Late night pillow fights. You vs. the nest of pillows I’ve propped around myself to help me sleep comfortably. Kicks and punches and wiggles galore.
Bed time heart burn. One of these days I’ll finally remember to take Tums before brushing my teeth. It’s inevitable.
Hiding from your sister. Every time you’re kicking and she comes to put her hands on my belly, you’re suddenly shy.
Snuggling right up against my bladder. I feel like I’m living in one of those commercials for ‘leaky pipes’ and can’t wander too far from the restrooms.
Enjoying the warm weather. At least, I hope you are because it’s not really my favorite time of year to be growing a baby. Guess we should have thought of that before hand.
Getting everyone excited to meet you. You’re getting bigger. I’m getting bigger. It’s all happening so fast, I don’t have time for denial. Soon we will meet face to face and start to figure each other out. Until then, my dear boy, just keep on doing your thing.