Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Aoibheann's Birth

Well, what to say? Aoibheann (pronounced Eve-een) has surprised me throughout this pregnancy. I honestly thought she was a boy, especially with how active she was.
I ‘planned’ that she would come a little later in the week, closer to her due date, but this little girl fooled me. I knew I had been getting closer to giving birth. Saturday, February 28, 2009 started out normally for me: I went to the gym, where I had a bit of a run and a good spinning class. I listen to my body and I don’t push it too hard, but I do get a good workout going, which I did Saturday as well. Kim and I went to the temple in Cardston in the afternoon for a session, and my mum watched the children for us. Everything was fine; I didn’t feel uncomfortable or anything. No signs!
As we were leaving the church around 20:45, I felt my first sensation. I wasn’t too sure what it was, initially thinking baby was being funny moving around as she was wont to do. It was low down, which kind of confused me. A second thought told me this might be labour. I realised I hadn’t cleaned the washroom yet! It was on my to do list for Monday.
After getting the children into bed, we did some preparations; although it seemed like there would be plenty of time. I was tired, expecting to go to bed, but first I washed dishes, cleaned the toilet and switched laundry. I had a few sporadic sensations, which varied in intensity; some were light, some were stronger.
I decided to have a bath, and that felt good. The sensations didn’t give me any sign things were progressing; although I could tell I was dilating. To what degree I didn’t know. I did go to bed and though I didn’t sleep, I was able to relax some. Kim got the crockpot going with washcloths to support the perineum and put the plastic sheet on the bed.
Off and on I woke up, using the washroom. The timing of my sensations varied: sometimes 10 minutes apart, other times 20–30 minutes apart. I did need to relax through them, but they weren’t too painful. Well, I realised in spite of not doing hypnobirthing preparations, I knew how to relax and what I needed to do. I focused on staying as relaxed as I could and told myself it didn’t hurt. It certainly didn’t hurt as it normally had in my other births. The last time I got up, I realised I needed to stay up. I wasn’t sure I was close to anything. It had already been about 6 hours of fairly moderate and sporadic labour. I did a quick self check and did feel the head. I didn’t venture to guess, nor did it concern me because I know how dilation works. You seem to be hardly dilated and then dilate considerably in a short period of time. I have not checked dilation before in labour, yet it always progresses!
Close to 03:00 Sunday morning, I had Kim come into the washroom. I was labouring rather intensely while standing over the toilet, which felt the most comfortable to me. I knew I was in transition. I started vocalising through stronger sensations, and I could feel the head moving down. Checking myself again, I felt the bag of waters, which first kind of confused me (remember, I had never checked myself before, but then my other births, after transition hit, were all hands and knees so I couldn’t check myself at that point). I thought I was wrong and she could be a frank breech! I wasn’t unduly concerned though knowing we could handle it if so.
It felt good to either sit on the toilet seat and lean forward with each sensation or to stand and lean on Kim. He brought me water, let me lean on him and encouraged me of course. My water was leaking and it was good I was over the toilet because of that! Less clean up.

The head was moving down, and as it got closer and the pressure built, I tried to hold myself back from pushing, but I felt a need to though her head moved back and forth somewhat. A few more sensations and I wasn’t standing over the toilet anymore. We had put chux pads on the floor and as the birth was becoming imminent I moved to stand a little away from the toilet, but still beside it. I was even feeling during transition that this was a much easier birth than my others had been. Even in transition, I felt more in control. I was focusing on being as relaxed as I could. It worked to a degree!
I was supporting her head and after a few more sensations, her head came out, quickly followed by her body. I had hold of her, and Kim’s hands were there too, to help and support. This is the first of my children I have been able to catch myself! That was pretty wonderful. We realised she was a girl and not a boy as we had been expecting throughout my pregnancy!
She still had some vernix on her, and we didn’t even have the syringe in the washroom. Hadn’t thought of having it there! We didn’t need it; she breathed easily right away. We untucked the cord which was around her arm and shoulder (and a short cord again).
Before I even had a chance to sit down, there was Sinéad at the door. She had been sleeping on the couch because she had vomited twice shortly after we came home. She heard Aoibheann make a sound and came to investigate. I found out later she had heard me from transition until the birth. We got her to check the time and it was 03:38 Sunday, March 1, 2009. Shortly after this, Aisling and Regan woke up and came to meet their sister. I sat waiting for the placenta to come out, and it did about 40 minutes later. A little while after this, Kim clamped and cut the cord. Aoibheann had tried to nurse some, but wasn’t quite getting it yet. She did want to be wrapped up though!
After my being able to shower off and cleaning up the washroom, we headed off to bed at about 05:30. No sleep for me though :)
It turned out Sinéad heard me the whole time I was labouring in the washroom and realised I was having the baby, so the moment she heard her, came to investigate.
My afterpains were much less painful this time, which I attribute to Polly Block’s formula, calcium, and Floradix. I felt so good after the birth, much more energetic and my recovery was much better. This was really a great birth and a wonderful learning experience for me. We are so blessed to have our little Aoibheann Bree Holly.

Mary Siever is a Nutritional Consultant, Natural Family Planning teacher & childbirth educator who has had unassisted births with her 4 children.