Born on June 28th, 2009 at 7:49 pm...
He's only 11 days old and yet it feels as though he has been with us forever. Funny that. And so I thought I had better write a blog post to comment on this most amazing occurrence; The birth of Jude..
He and Jason are snuggling on the bed right now, Isabella is happily chatting on the phone with her Grandma-Jude (Yes, we named baby Jude after Grandma-Jude, my mother and the wisest, most beautiful, generous, and loving person on the planet) and I am rather tired. Little Jude sleeps well, Usually in four hour stints throughout the darkened hours with brief periods of nursing and then he's right back to sleep. Last night was a bit hairy though, and we were forced to undertake an early wake-up to complete immigration paperwork legwork. Not fun.
So then,, It was June 28th. I had slept through many hours of preparatory contractions, getting up to visit the bathroom and assuming they were wicked gas pains. I am so grateful for the wondrous gift of sleep I recieved prior to the birth of this child; With Isabella I laboured for three days and they pains would intensify each time I tried to rest and so by the time she finally made her appearance I was utterly exhausted. But then, everything about this pregnancy and birth has been a polar opposite to my first experience.
I think we woke up around 10 am; I swept the floor, neatened up and then hopped into the shower when I realized that yes, these were indeed contractions, and yes, I was in labour. I let Jason and Isabella know the state of things when I was finished and I called Anela who was to take Isabella in for the time being, until Jude was born and we had rested a bit. We had breakfast and cleaned up some more, vaccuming the carpet and making sure the pets were cleaned, watered and fed, packed snacks for Jason at the hospital and then we were off. By this time it was about 1:30 pm and I was thinking that the contractions were too mild to take seriously but Jason had been timing them and they were averaging about 4 minutes apart so we dropped Isabella off and then headed to the hospital. I was fully prepared for them to send us back home again once we arrived, but thought it best to head in anyways as I tested positive for beta strep and needed to be administered pennicilin every four hours until the baby was born, at least once but twice was ideal.
What happened in the next six hours is something of a hazy blur; We registered, I changed into a gown, I was checked at the triage station and deemed to be six centimeters dilated already, and we settled into our birthing room. At this point it was still all so surreal. I was comparing everything I was experiencing to my first birth and nothing was compatible; I was thinking that the contractions were not nearly as intense as the first time around (That was soon to change) and everyone involved was sure that the baby would be born before 8 pm. The nurse strapped the fetal heart monitor band onto my abdomen, set up my IV drip and I hung out in the bed for a bit. The irony of my being hooked up to an IV during labour is great, as I was both apprehensive and terrified to simply do such a raw and feral thing as birth in a hospital setting..The last thing I wanted was to be restrained by cumbersome medical equipment but as I mentioned earlier, everything about this pregnancy and birth has been opposite of the first time; For growth I suppose, and learning on a grander scale..And perhaps to assist me in conquering fears that may have been baseless. I have to ponder this one a bit more.
The drip took about 45 minutes. Jason brought me juice boxes and jello. That's when my contractions (I hate that word, by the way. I love Ina May Gaskin's "rushes" better) got quite intense..I was bent over the bed, breathing them out as best I could, Jason pressing into the small of my back with his hand..the nurse popped back in and suggested I use the shower, so that is what I did. I stayed in there for quite a while, the hot water pelting my lower back. With each contraction I could feel the building power in a way I hadn't noticed with my first labour, and though it was excrutiating I was managing well by breathing through them and responding to each with intuitive movement.
Jason was a jewel throughout, staying by my side all the while, and I know there were times he felt a bit helpless and didn't know what to do to ease my pain or assist me. But a birthing woman is in a different world, Her body guiding her through the experience if she is allowed to listen, and I felt really focused and never had the panicking thought that I couldn't do it anymore. (not until Jude's head nearly crowned anyway) I love him so much,, and I cannot imagine a life without him. Sharing a birth experience is an immensely bonding thing, and his presence there was a gift.
Sam + Jason
The nurse was having problems administering the second dose of pennicilin while I was in the shower. Turns out, when she taped some waterproof paper over top the IV hookup, the tube bent backwards and so nothing could move through it. So I came out of the shower, reluctantly, She dried me off and I headed back to the bed.
A dry labour is infinitely more intense than a watery one. Luckily, it was not to be much longer. The midwife was called in; I am pretty sure at this point that I had been at the hospital for 4.5-5 hours, and once back on the bed again I had the unmistakable urge to push. The midwife and nurse set up the birthing bar that I might squat but the height was a bit odd,, Too high, and I was exerting too much energy and so the midwife suggested I kneel on the bed. That felt all wrong too. Finally, I ended up laying on my back, screaming as loud as I could through each contraction and pushing with all my might until Jude's head crowned. Now, in retrospect the scenario lacks all the scensory intensity that was present during the actual event, but I do remember vividly feeling that I had very little left to give, and that I couldn't push that hard even one more time, and at the end of each battle-worthy cry I bellowed I nearly wept with pain and exhaustion, But the mind is useless at such a time, and my body kept working until finally, Jude's head was freed and his body came quickly after, His grumpy little face crying and his body wriggling all around. I had the wherewithall to glance at Jason and I am so glad I did; His face revealed a genuine sense of surprise at the sight of this otherworldly being, his son and it was really quite amusing. He was a big baby: 9 pounds, 12 ounces. 23 inches long and a 14 inch head (That is one inch larger in circumference than average, thank you very much)
The midwife laid Jude upon my chest and Jason cut the cord soon thereafter..
Once things settled down, Jude was taken to a different part of the roon to be weighed and assessed by the pediatrician. His cries were distressing to me, a sweet verbrato-ish trill at the end of each one. We would come to know that he cared not for the poking and prodding of nurses in the coming 24 hours..But as I was shaking violently, my body in a state of semi-shock after the immense shifting of birth, the midwife busily sewing up a small tear in my labia, I was resigned to stay where I was.
Birth is hard work. Jason said I screamed like Braveheart at the onset of battle when I was pushing Jude out (-: He was pretty impressed.
Since I had no painkillers during Jude's birth, my recuperation time has been quick, although I can still feel my pelvis jiggling around loosely, not yet fused back into proper place. This has been the most remarkable perk of the whole thing; The naturalness of a woman's body to birth, heal, and nourish her baby all the while.
Two days after his birth we needed to return to the hospital for a checkup, and afterwards Jason and I took him out for his first meal. We headed into a cute 50's style diner in Walnut creek and had dinner and sundaes, picking songs to play on the jukebox. He slept of course. (-:
Jude is wonderful. With all the pokes and jostling and pricks he sustained at the hospital and his obvious distaste for such treatment he was given the label 'grumpy' by many a nurse, But after having him home for just a couple days he showed himself to be quite the opposite; A calm, happy, peaceful baby. He looks into our eyes when we talk to him and nuzzles into my cheek when I hold him. I cannot say just how delightful he is; We love him (-: