Friday, February 22, 2013

Gavin's Birth Stories

Someday soon when I write my "Best Ever Birth Stories",this will be a star. Gavi Love just turned 4, my favorite Little age. I've replayed this birth day many times and it brings me so much joy. First, Lindsay's recollection and then mine.  We wrote them privately, then shared them with other. A daughter and her midwife mama. . .

a birth story
“am i really doing this? is this really it?”
it was probably around five thirty-ish on january twenty ninth.
a thursday.
“lindsay. look at me. this is it.” ginger says. DSC_1626

it’s the twenty eighth. i’ve spent the day with lucas.
it involved:
a giant lollipop.
a box of popcorn.
a good chat.
a balloon.
holding hands.

i’m thirty nine weeks pregnant.

it’s now night-time. i take a quick fresh air drive.
the cranberries: “ dreamin’ my dreams” plays really loud through my speakers and out the windows.
i am singing outloud.
i spot a tiny sliver of moon.
i cry tears for a good best-friend day with lucas and acknowledge that this dynamic is going to change. DSC_1631
i cry tears for a baby boy. an old friend that i will meet again soon.

back at home i work on my birth playlist a bit.
i add “he came to meet me” by hem. i’ve found hisbirth song!

“…i'd seen this whole day
like it was drawing near…”

it’s now bed-time and i feel sick.
i take a hot midnight bath and rub my big belly.
i say a prayer for sleep. for peace. and please, no sick germs tonight.
my mom calls from the franti concert. she will be here in a few days.
i sleep good.
luc pukes.
andrey moves to the couch.

the twenty ninth. i wake. braxton hicks contractions are bugging me.
lucas and i eat a good breakfast together.
i clean lucas up and make him a cozy couch bed with his orange striped socks.
i take a HOT. LONG. SHOWER.
i remove ALL the bedding. start a load of laundry. i scrub and disinfect the kitchen.
it now smells like clorox. get these sick germs out!
i email amy for sick remedies:
RE: “open the door and let in some fresh air!”

the contractions are bugging me.

i change over the laundry and set-up to start sewing bumper pads for the baby’s crib.
i call my mom. she’s lunching at red lobster with gram and jen. we talk about cheddar biscuits.
“bring me one tomorrow and when is that birth tub supposed to be here?”
i tell her about the contractions.
“just sit down, hold still and rest” she says.
so i snuggle up on the couch with lucas to write baby shower thank-you’s.
we take a slow little walk to the mailbox and lucas drops each one separately into the slot.
we sit down together at the kitchen table for a yummy lunch. smoothies and a good sandwich. delish!
natalie calls from work to say “hello”
“if you talk to mom,” i say “tell her i think my baby is coming today.” 
i am only half way kidding.

the contractions are bugging me.

amy stops by with our sick-y survival kit.
a jug of recharge and some soup.
i cry. i feel different and my mom isn’t here yet.
“mom, don’t cry. i’ll take care of you” lucas tells me.
and he does.

i try to work on the bumper again.
i have to stop sewing with each contraction.
i call my mom, “these are definitely real. they start down low. but there’s no real pattern or anything.”
i want her to come now but i will feel so silly if this isn’t it. 
i decide that i have had it with the bumper, put it away and call andrey.
“ i think i might need you to come home soon.”

shannon calls.
my mom has called her and she has a tub i can borrow.
mom calls.she’ll try and come now – but dad wants me to see ginger and make sure before they switch tickets.
she’ll call her for me.
i call andrey. again. “i think you should just come home, now.”
amelia is at the door. she will take me to see ginger. i cry. she’ll be right back with the van.

i change into my cords, put on my birks and tie lukey’s shoes. DSC_1642
i pack him up a simple bag.
this was a “to-do” item i hadn’t gotten to yet.

i think:
this house is not ready.
the sheets are still in the laundry.
there is no pool, yet
we have no groceries
the back bathroom is a mess.
i haven’t shaved my legs.

amelia is back to pick us up.
the van is full of kids. she’s babysitting today.
i explain to her how i am feeling and she can remember feeling like this, too.
she’ll drop me off and take the kids to the park.

i ring the bell at the blue heron. ginger opens the door and greets me with a hug.
there you are” she calmly whispers to me.
she shoos a lady out of the exam room and helps me up on the table.
she feels my belly. it’s contracting.
it’s two thirty pm. i’m three centimeters. fifty percent effaced.
she calls my mom. it’s busy. she tries again.
i’m having another contraction. i need to lean against the wall.
“you should come soon” i hear her say to the answering machine.
she walks me to the door and gives me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
she’ll come whenever i need her.

i walk out onto the front steps.
i am alone with this. 
there is a breeze outside.
i hurt.

amy’s white car pulls up and i climb in and catch my breath.
we call amelia at the park.
the van pulls up and i switch cars.
i try my mom again. there’s two flights.
she’ll be on one of them.
she’ll either be here at six or at ten.

everyone seems to know i am in labor – but me.

i grip the van door handles until we’re home.
andrey is there. he’s already picked up the pool and has started to pump it up.
i get back into my jammies. i cannot do anything else.
amelia rounds up my birth kit, sets up my bed and says she’ll be back. she is calm but moving fast.
i find my spot on the couch.
lucas is playing in the living room with cameron and i ask amy to please take care of him.
i put my face in the indigo girls t-shirt she’s brought me. another contraction.
“start filling that tub now, andrey” she says.
i ask andrey to call my mom. i need to know for sure.
six! she’ll be here at six! ok. good.

 i am in labor.

it hurts.
i remember this.
i ask amy what I’m supposed to do.
“i think you just breathe. just. keep.breathing.” she tells me.

it’s just me and andrey now. i need him to squeeze my feets.
i remember that this helped while i was laboring with lucas.
we time them. four minutes apart. call ginger? call ginger.
we move to my bedroom.
i bury my head in his arm on each contraction.
he’s still in his work clothes. i smell the sawdust. it comforts me. i hold on tight.
andrey remembers that i’ll want to be in a sports bra when I get into the tub.
he finds it without asking and helps me into it.
he turns on the tv for me.
distraction. it’s ellen.
the tub is barely full but the tap water is already cooling. he starts pots to boil on the stove.
i love him for remembering how to do this.
he is calm.

ginger calls. she’s on her way. half hour or less.
i need to get in the pool already. i need andrey.
“they are coming too fast… i can’t get a grip” i tell him.
i get louder with each contraction.

ginger is here.
“good. good.” she says when she sees me.
she quietly but quickly gets the things she will need set up.

i am in labor. it. hurts.

please! turn off the news. yes. HGTV is ok.
the water is cool – but I feel so hot.
i need andrey. i squeeeeeeze his hands. he needs to take off his ring.
i squeeze gingers hands. she takes off her rings, too.
i am loud. i surprise myself with this.
ginger reminds me to keep my voice low. i need to relax and that will help.
she hums along with me. she smells like peppermint.
“i need to hear you” i tell andrey.
“you’re doing so good. you’re ok” he tells me on the next contraction.
i love him for this.
i hold onto the pool handles and let myself float. float. float.

“am I really doing this? is this really it?”
it was probably around five thirty-ish on january twenty ninth.
a thursday. 
“lindsay. look at me. this is it.” ginger says.
she checks me. six centimeters. fully effaced.
it’s only been a few hours.

i am in labor. four centimeters to go. no way.

i switch over to my knees. i rest my arms and head on the side of the pool and hold andrey’s hands.
please! turn off the t.v.
i need my playlist. turn it up loud. louder!
“such a way” by stephen kellogg 
“…she moves in such a way
that people fall in love with her every single day…”

i realize that the sun has gone down. it’s dark in our bedroom.
i need to push!
ginger tells andrey how he’ll need to pull the baby up out of the water so that they won’t have to move me. 
what?! already?
it hurts. bad. i’m done.

i need to push!
i hear my mom. she’s here. i can let go now.
it hurts.
push! he’s coming.
someone! please! get him out!
i lean into andrey. sawdust. “you’re doing so good. you’re amazing” he says.
i hear my mom again. “isn’t she so strong, andrey?”
i need to move. i turn around to sit down.
push! it burns! push!
“there’s a cord” i hear my mom quietly say. “ok. there.”
i push. i am loud. i can’t believe this. 
he’s in my arms.
he’s warm and wet. i can feel his heart beat, beat, beat against my chest. DSC_1668
i look at my mom. “is he here?” i ask.
my eyes are huge.
i look at andrey. he has tears.
i look at my fresh baby boy.
ginger flicks his tiny foot and i hear him wail.
he’s here.
“he’s gavin. isn’t he” i whisper.
”oh, gavin west. it’s you.”


My daughter, Lindsay was due with her second baby Feb. 7th. Her first, Lucas was 2 weeks late. As her midwife, the logistics of caring for her long distance (nearly 700 miles) were challenging but we did it. She came to SLC a couple of times, I made some trips to WA and a midwife friend in WA did some fill in prenatal care. Knowing when to leave my home for her home was a bit trickier. I didn't want to come too soon and evoke the "watched pot" syndrome or as my husband says, "hover". So, I made my plan and had a plane ticket in hand for Friday, Jan. 30, 3pm.
My Thursday was full up with prenatal appts. I started early, left for Ogden at 8:00 and worked my way south hoping to be home by 9 pm to start laundry and packing. I met my mom and sister for lunch in Layton and was there when Lindsay called me for the first time. She said she was having some tightening and it hurt down low. Suspecting Braxton-Hicks that were nudging her baby down, I told her to eat, drink and lay on the couch. She said there was no real rhythm to the sensations so I went on with my day. At 2:00, I called to check on her and she said there was still no pattern. What she was experiencing however, caused her to stop in her tracks and she sounded unsettled to me. I asked her if she would go to the local midwife to be checked and she said, "No. I don't want to seem silly. I'm sure it's nothing."
I was nearing Point of the Mountain on my way to Eagle Mountain. My self-talk went along the line of "Is she in labor, 38 weeks, 5 days? Should I try to get to her now? How can I do that? What needs to be done?" Then I started making calls. First to my daughter Christine at work. I knew she would be in front of a computer and could look up Southwest flights for me. Next I called my sister Amy, also at work because she knows how to find Delta's schedule. I called a recent homebirth mom in Lindsay's neighborhood looking for an inflatable birth pool since ours wasn't scheduled for delivery until Feb. 3. No answer. Hmmmm. Try another midwife nearby. Left a message. Christine and Amy called back with flight times. Both airlines had flights out at 5 pm. Delta would get me to Pasco and Southwest would get me to Spokane where I could rent a car and drive 2 hours. I called Chuck and asked him to try and get my Delta ticket changed. Ever the practical, steady half of this marriage, he suggested we talk about it when he got home!! No, the plane leaves at 5. I have to be at the airport by 4. It's 2:30 and I'm now in Lehi. OK, he says, but Lindsay needs to be checked by Ginger (the local midwife) first. Another call to Lindsay. She's crying now. This really hurts. I told her I could be on a plane and would either be there at 6PM or 10PM but she needed to be checked first. That was my last contact with her. I called Ginger's office to brief her on the situation and she suggested Lindsay come in soon. Next call went to my daughter-in-law, Amelia, a homebirth mama who lives across the street from Lindsay. It took a minute for what I was asking of her to register. Lindsay needs to go to Ginger's office NOW. She agreed to leave immediately, 4 kids in tow. That was my last contact with Amelia. The other local midwife called and said she had an extra birth pool, LaBassine, no less and would call and tell Lindsay where she could pick it up. Thank you. I made calls to cancel the rest of my day's appts., brief Briana and work my way through the construction in Saratoga to get home. I still had no confirmation on anything. Was Lindsay in labor? Could I get an airplane ticket? It was beginning to feel surreal.
I got home sometime after 3. What should I do first? Am I really leaving? At least start moving in that direction. Try this sometime. Imagine what you would pack if you had 15 minutes to get it done. I threw some dirty laundry in a suitcase, a favorite sock without a match and the oddest assortment of birth equipment. Oh, might as well throw in that bag of Naartje goods I got for the grandbabies and the cool woolen drawstring instrument bag (empty) that Lindsay made for me awhile back. Uh-oh, can't leave the doppler gel in my messenger bag. Ziploc that and throw it in the suitcase. Grab your laptop, phone charger and throw the dogs out on this sunny afternoon. Oh, better print your Delta conf. # just in case Chuck gets it changed. I have now lost all sense of time and reason and am moving through this haze on pure adrenaline. Purse with ID, 20.00 cash off of my desk, a coat. Don't forget the new knit scarf, the messenger bag and the suitcase. GO.
I got in the car and didn't have my phone. Another dash back into the house. I heard the end of a message on the house phone. ".....(?) cm, 50% effaced, you should leave now." OK. I'm on my way, somehow.
A few miles down Bangerter Highway, I tried Chuck again. He answered and said he was having trouble connecting with Delta. It was already 4 PM. I doubted I could make either flight but told him I would continue on to the airport. My NO FUEL light came on. Yikes. My mom told me to get gas! Then my car started this weird lurching thing when I accelerated. Please little Passat. Keep going and may these stoplights cooperate. No luck. I hit them all red. Waiting, lurching all the way to the airport. Around 3500 South Chuck called. His words. "Delta. You're on. Go!" I called him back. Should I forget about checking the suitcase and just run? He told me to park in the garage as near to the skywalk as possible and call him. I did. 4:25PM. "You have 35 minutes so go ahead and check your bag."
It seemed like everything moved so slowly. I fumbled at the kiosk and had to get help. Oh, yeah. They charge for the suitcase now. Find your debit card. My helper realizes my flight leaves at 5PM. “Oh my! Walk briskly,”he says. I KNOW! Finally the bag is checked, documents are in hand and I'm off to my gate. I heard my name called. "Will Cathereeeen Larson report to blah, blah" I'm there. Now I'm instructed to walk/run to gate 42! That is at the very end of Delta's new and never ending walkway. I called my consultant Chuck to tell him I was almost on the plane. He was relieved and said, "They won't leave without you." Cool. Incoming call. It's Andrey, Lindsay's husband, wanting to know when I will be there. I tell him 6PM and he sighs relief. A quick call to my sister Amy. She wants to know what she should be doing. I tell her to do Lindsay's thinking for her, instruct Andrey to get the pool up and filled and grab some good protein food for me and pick me up at the Pasco airport.
After nearly boarding a plane to Missoula, I found the way to my plane, my window seat. Phone turned off. It's all up to the birth gods now. This must be what "on a wing and a prayer" means. I tried to doze. Couldn't. Read the Delta travel mag then the Sky Mall catalogue, drank my plastic cup of ice water and nibbled on my Gourmet Center Biscotti.
As we began the descent to Tri-Cities, the view from my window overcame me. The sun was setting and the mighty Columbia River was weaving its westward way. Mount Hood was in the distance and the color of the sunset was incredible. Gazing out, I felt wrapped in warmth and assurance that all would be well. I felt a strong, binding connection to my little grandson. For the first time in weeks, I paused and let the peace fill me. I started to cry a little and readied myself for whatever would come.
We landed early. 5:40 PST. A call to Amy. She was on her way and pulled up to the curb just as I came out with my bag. She handed over the Arby sandwich and briefed me with what she knew. "Ginger is with them at the house. Amelia dropped off some groceries and supplies and said it sounds like a birthing going on." I asked how long ago that was. "Oh, about 45 minutes ago" Amy says. "Oh, Amy, Hurry!"
We pulled up to Lin's house and I ran in. I was met by feelings of peace and loud music. "Such A Way" by Stephen Kellogg. That girl loves her Birth Playlist!. Then I heard it. The strong, primal vocalizing that only a birthing mama can do. I followed it into their dim bedroom. There she was. My strong baby girl on her hands and knees in the birth pool supported by Andrey's strong arms. Midwife Ginger softly said to me, "He's coming." I reached in and felt a dime sized bit of baby head. "Oh, Sinny, I'm here. You are so strong and so beautiful. Your baby will be here soon." She moved instinctually and surrendered to the powerful surges that moved her baby closer to this world. Ginger reminded us that the baby would be passed forward through her legs and Andrey would help bring him up. Right then, Lindsay said she had to move. She turned over and her wee one crowned. I cradled his head, felt a little ear. The head was out, he turned, a loop of cord was slipped from his neck. He was gently born and lifted to his mama's arms. It was there that he took his first breath, opened his eyes and announced with a lusty cry, "I am here."