Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Other Sam

My Sami is really such an incredible joy to me. He is about to turn three and just about every other thing he does makes me want to draw him in to me and squeeze him in an effort to hold on to. ... what? His spirit? His incredible cuteness? His larger-than-size-two personality? Well, something like that. Of course every other thing he does makes me want to ball my fists, clamp my eyes shut and scream! People always talk about the terrible two's, but I think three is much more interesting and difficult.

Oh, and have I mentioned that this boy can talk? And manipulate? and Charm? Yesterday I told him that he was too big for me to piggy-back down the stairs and he looked up at me and said: "But you said I would always be your baby, Mom." So naturally, you know, I gave in. This boy won't have any trouble in life but might keep me up a night or two.

And he was right to remind me: he will always be my baby. And so, thinking these thoughts so close to his birthday I dug out the birth story that I wrote a few days after he was born three years ago. If I could have ten children I would hope every birth was as wonderful as his!

Sami's Birth Story:

After deciding mid-way through my pregnancy that I would give birth at home, I set about making all of the necessary preparations. I found a midwife who would attend my birth and a doctor who would act as the back-up physician in case I needed to transfer to the hospital. I bought all of the supplies I would need and sat on a birth ball several hours a day determined that this baby would not be posterior as Oliver had been.

My pregnancy was smooth and easy and I was looking forward to giving birth. I had borrowed a copy of Ina May Gaskin’s book on Childbirth and read and re-read it several times over. I found the birth stories to be very inspiring and the theoretical part of it made me even more determined to have the birth I wanted: free of intervention and on my own terms.

As my due date drew closer I started to have very regular contractions that became more insistent every evening around 7pm and continuing through the night not allowing me to rest well. Also, the fact that they were so regular made me wonder every night if this would be the night that they would build to meaningful contractions. But every morning I woke up disappointed and tired. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer and made an appointment for acupuncture on my due date. After receiving the treatment, the acupuncturist told me that his next open appointment was for eleven days later and that he would reserve it for me if I needed it. I remember laughing and telling him that if I was still pregnant 11 days later that he should just shoot me!

Unfortunately the acupuncture treatment didn’t get my labor started but it did allow the contractions that had been keeping me from sleep to subside. I later joked with the doctor that he had given me the anti-induction!

The days came and went, and as anyone who has gone past their due date knows, those days are longer than any days that have come before. I was downright miserable. After seven days I went to my midwife’s house for a non-stress test that showed the baby was doing just fine. On the tenth day past my due date she decided to strip my membranes to see if that would get things going. We left her house and headed straight for our favorite Indian food restaurant for a spicy meal, hoping that something would work!

That evening I started having regular contractions again around 7pm. I said to Nik that he should try and get some sleep because hopefully these would amount to something. Neither one of us were feeling hopeful though. I had said the same thing so many times before. I went to sleep around 10pm after reading a few more birth stories from Ina May’s book. Then, around midnight I woke up knowing that it was time. I was still only having mild cramps but I somehow knew that this was really it. So I took a quick shower and then went downstairs to make some muffins so that the birth crew would have something to eat in the morning. I concentrated on making the muffins but had to stop a few times to brace myself on the counter for contractions that were a bit stronger. For some reason a phrase from Ina May’s book popped into my head and I kept repeating it to myself: “You have the wisdom of ages in your body.” I said this to myself with each contraction. Wondering how much longer I had I decided not to make the streusel topping that the recipe called for and just put them in to bake. I cleaned the kitchen and when the muffins were done 30 minutes later decided that I should wake Nik so he could shower while things were still under control. At this point my contractions still weren’t very painful and I kept waiting for them to get worse although I could tell they were getting closer together. I also wanted to re-make the bed with the plastic sheets and organize all of the supplies I had gathered.

When I woke up Nik he immediately fell back asleep. I did what I could for the next 20 minutes or so and then pushed him towards the shower. When he was finished we timed the contractions so that we could determine if it was time to call the midwife. A really funny thing happened then: with Nik sitting nearby with a tablet and the stop watch he waited for me to tell him that it was time to start timing the contractions. But by this time the contractions were painful enough that I was kind of leaning over the bed and moaning to work through them. After the first two he waited politely until I was finished moaning and said: “Just let me know when you have a contraction, okay?” But eventually we timed them and found that my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and about a minute long. I still wasn’t worried because this is the way my first birth began and that one lasted 22 hours! Besides, the contractions just weren’t that painful. At about 3:30 am we called the midwife and she sounded worried that we had waited so long to call her but I explained that they really didn’t hurt that much and that they had only just started about an hour ago. Surely I had a long way to go. At any rate she had a forty-minute drive so she said she would leave immediately.

After we hung up my water broke and my contractions immediately became much more intense. I suddenly became worried that the baby really was coming fast and that Marla, the mid-wife, wouldn’t be here for the delivery. Luckily, my friend Melaine had agreed to be the birth assistant and she lives very close by. I told Nik that he had better call her and tell her to come. We had hoped to wait to call her until a more reasonable hour but I was really feeling like I needed someone other than just Nik with me when the baby was born! Unfortunately Nik must not have realized that I began to think the baby was coming very fast and he told Melaine to take her time!! While we were waiting for the birth team to arrive I was doing my best to cope with the contractions and Nik helped my mother who had come to get Oliver, by carrying him to her car.

Marla arrived then and immediately checked me. I was already dilated to 8 cm! I couldn’t believe it. Even with the intensity of these contractions I was still worried that I would have trouble progressing as I did with my first. I felt most comfortable laboring while kneeling at the foot of the bed and relaxing my upper body onto the mattress during contractions. I made loud moaning-chanting noises through each contraction and “worried” the beads given to me at my blessing way a few weeks earlier. I also kept mentally repeating my mantra: “I have the wisdom of ages in my body.”

The contractions were coming fast and strong now and I heard Marla wonder aloud where Melaine was. But she arrived moments later and I guess I was in transition because the contractions seemed to reach their peak and I found myself telling everyone that I just needed a break. It was all too much and I really just needed a break.

And then I got one. My next contraction was noticeably easier to manage and Marla explained that sometimes this happened with transition. “Transition?” I thought: “How can this be transition so soon?” And as soon as that thought occurred I felt the urge to push. “Well, if you feel like pushing then push!” Marla told me. And I did. Three pushes and there he was, my little Samuel. And one by one we welcomed him into the arms of our family. Then all of us crowded together in my room and enjoyed a breakfast of fresh blueberry/peach muffins. Even the struesel topping could not have made it more perfect!

Sammy was born at the foot of our bed at 5:26 am, after just three and a half hours of labor, and weighed 7lbs, 6oz.

Two hours later I called the acupuncturist and told him that I would not make my 8am appointment that morning for another try at induction!


  1. Anonymous10:26 PM

    happy happy (almost) birthday to Sam!

  2. Happy Birthday Sami!!!

    So nice that you have the story of his birth all written down for him to read one day.

    I delivered in the hospital, but I did go all natural with Kaitlyn after having an epidural with the boys. Wow, what a difference! Kaitlyn was quick and it was over before I knew it, though the pain was so intense. But the pain is so quickly forgotten once that little baby is in your arms.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful story.

  3. OK NOW LADY BLUEBERRY MUFFINS!!!!?? I can only say that, because I am 3 weeks away from delivering,and I am too tired to get muffins from the bakery much less make them:) That sounds like such a lovely birth, Sami will be so grateful to have it when he is older (although, I am sure he loves to hear it now). Happy Birthday!!

  4. Now that you mention it, Allison, I think I passed the time waiting for Oliver by sanding a table I was refinishing! I guess I just get a surge of nervous energy when I'm in labor!!