The name "Tempest Syah" means 'Summer Storms', we chose it both for the personality we knew she'd posess, and because of the time of year she'd be born in. Early August is when the storms begin, and our corner of the Earth is charged with electricity and energy.
I had a feeling I would go into labour within
the next few days. After all, I couldn't get much bigger. I was overdue,
in a heat wave, and feeling terribly uncomfortable and impatient. We
had our midwife appointment that afternoon, and on the way home we were
listening to a weather report on the radio. At one point the announcer
said, "We're expecting a summer storm to arrive this evening".
Curtis gave me a big smile and said, "That's what she's waiting for!"
I had taken out a book from the library, "Ina
May's Guide to Childbirth" per request of my midwife Maggie. She wanted
me to read a chapter called 'Sphincter Law'. At around four o'clock
in the afternoon I sat in the rocking chair and started reading the
birth stories. I noticed the contractions getting a little stronger,
but I didn't get my hopes up. Curtis joined me in the living room to
read. At around six o'clock my contractions took a very sudden shift.
Curtis needed to help me breathe through them. "Is it labour?" he asked
me with a hopeful look. I told him I didn't know. Outside, the wind
began to pick up and the trees brushed against the side of the house.
We started timing the contractions at eight,
and at ten they were five minutes apart lasting sixty seconds. Despite
needing to drop down to all fours during each contraction, I still didn't
believe it was labour until I went to the bathroom and lost the biggest
glob of mucus I'd ever seen in my life.
Finally deciding that I was indeed in labour, I called my birth assistants between contractions and told them to catch the next ferry over. Maggie reminded me that because I'd had very little sleep the night before I should try and rest before labour got too intense. She offered me a gravol not only for nausea, but in hopes it would help me sleep, and then left. I napped off and on for about two hours, and awoke shortly after my friends arrived at 1pm. Maggie came by a few hours later to check on me. 2.5, but no other changes. I was beginning to feel discouraged. She offered me the use of a homeopathic to see if it would regulate my contractions. I accepted, and she gave me a tiny pill bottle with sweet-tasting orbs inside, then she told me to go for a long walk.
Curtis, Amber, Marian and I walked for almost an hour and a half. Putting an orb under my tongue every thirty minutes, and watching as my contractions slowed down to once every twenty minutes. A few hours later I decided to stop taking the homeopath, and they almost instantly picked back up to seven minutes apart. Exhaustion was starting to kick in my late evening, and I still wasn't getting anywhere. Maggie offered me another Gravol, and hoped I'd get some rest. But well into active labour, it had no effect. By 2am the contractions were so intense I was crying in-between. I started to feel as if I couldn't do it anymore. I'd gone more then 24 hours with what seemed like very little progress. The pain was so intense, and nothing I did could ease it. I got up out of bed and called Maggie in tears, telling her that I needed some reassurance. She said she'd be over within a half hour.
Amber and Marian were either already awake, or
awoke at the sound of me emerging from the bedroom. I sat on the birthing
ball and they helped me through the wait until Maggie arrived. For the
next few hours we went back and forth from birthing ball to birthing
stool. The latter, I've found, is the most effective form of torture
during labour - it makes the contractions unbearably strong. It also
makes them incredibly effective, so I was willing to sit on it if it
meant that I might make this go faster. Each time I switched back to
the ball, I would lean back on one of my friend's shoulders during a
contraction, while one in front would rub my legs and give me reassurance.
We began to fill up the birthing pool around
3am, and I got in just before dawn. Instantly the 'aftershocks' between
contractions ebbed. But, it also spaced my contractions back to around
seven minutes apart. I laboured in the tub for a good two hours. Towards
the end, I found that putting pressure on my cervix with diaphram-pushing
(rather then the kind of pushing you do to actually give birth) helped
control the pain during the peaks of the contractions. Maggie assured
me this was perfectly fine, and whatever helped me cope was good.
After another hour of contractions that went
nowhere, I agreed. The car ride was awful. I would never suggest anyone
in labour go for a car ride. I had a contraction in the parking lot
as we drove in, and dropped down to my hands and knees. I was only wearing
Curtis' robe, but at that point I didn't give a care if everyone on
Earth saw me naked and labouring. We took the back entrance (I suppose
I should just say 'other entrance'. When a hospital has only two small
hallways and two entrances, there really isn't a 'front' and 'back').
I felt awkward because I was moaning as I walked down the hall.
We came into the private birthing room, which
is the same room I've had all of my ultrasounds done in. I'd somehow
never noticed the big bed. Maggie set up a mat on the floor so I could
get on hands and knees and ride out the contractions while she filled
the Jacuzzi tub. I got in, but the position made the contractions worse.
I was so exhausted I couldn't think, and was losing my focus. I vaguely
remember crying and begging to sleep.
For two hours I managed to nap in between the
pain, and I felt so much better. My colour returned to normal, and I
actually progressed a little bit. Though, I was still a long way from
complete. By the end of the medication's effectiveness (about an hour
and a half) I had dilated to about 5, or 5.5.
Maggie put the birthing stool on top of the bed and I sat on it for a bit. It didn't have much effect on my dilation, although my contractions were getting to be out of control. We decided to try and break my water, in hopes of giving my labour the extra push it obviously needed to get to birth. Maggie got the little amniohook, and explained what would happen and that I wouldn't feel anything. However, upon exam she found the bag of waters so tightly encased around the baby's head that she couldn't break it. She thought she might have knicked it just a little, when a tiny trickle of fluid came out - no more then a few teaspoons. I later remembered that I'd been having periodic trickles of fluid for the last day and a half. It was likely my water had broken in early labour, but her head was so low that it blocked any from coming out.
Even though the attempt at breaking my water
wasn't effective, the examination itself did something. I had three
of the most hellish contractions, one on top of the other.
There's no more intense a feeling then the urge
to push. I finally know what other women mean when they say it takes
you over. "I'm pushing!" I said to Maggie. As the words left my mouth,
my body made another heave. I had no control over it. I felt scared,
because she'd checked me no more then five minutes earlier and said
I was only at five centimeters.
I went from five to ten in three contractions.
It seemed to me as if I was pushing only five
or ten minutes, but in reality it was actually one hour and forty minutes.
I remember the first few pushes felt discouraging. I was sure I was
just pushing and getting nowhere. I felt a burn at one point, and yelled
to Maggie that I thought her head was coming down. She confirmed that
she could see a little 'marble-sized' bit of head, and asked me to change
position. Her and her assistant turned me onto my side and had me brace
my upper leg against her arm. I was lying against Curtis, and his knees
were drawn up on either side of my body. He was whispering in my ear
throughout each push. "That's great, you're doing great, I love you,
I'm so proud of you . . ." Just as her head began to crown, Maggie asked
Curtis if he'd like to have a mirror set up.
She latched onto my breast within ten minutes of birth, and nursed vigorously for the next two hours. The afterbirth came out a few moments later, and Curtis and I both cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing. My friends and mother went back to the house to allow us some time alone, and we spent an hour just staring at our new child. We went home within two hours, lay in bed and slept. Outside, the storm finally ceased and the sun came out.
I still feel as though my birth was a natural one, and I did what needed to be done to make that happen for us. The decision that I regretted, not going back home, was probably for the best as well. Curtis reminded me that no more then ten minutes after making the call I started pushing. That stage took a long time because I only pushed with a contraction, and was not told what to do. But in the car the contractions were endless, I may have given birth to her in the back of Maggie's van!
The next child we have there's no doubt in our mind that we'll do another home birth, au natural. It was the most rewarding, beautiful thing I've ever experienced. I'd do it all over again.
© AVV 2003