Wilfred is one week old today. 9:45 am. I keep on circling around wanting to write down what I can about the story of his birth. I am in that fuzzy, spacey, postpartum time, where all of my time could easily go the way of baby-staring. Which, why not? It is so slow and sweet and fleeting. And such a supreme gift to be able to occupy this space one more time. But I also know that as time unfurls that the details of our story will likewise unwind and fade and as much as it feels impossible, with time there will also be forgetting. So I will try to get it down as best I can now. Most likely in stops and starts between nursing, changing, sleeping, eating, repeating.
I shared in the previous post my efforts to manage Group B Strep, not so much to prevent needing antibiotics in labor, but rather in an effort to prevent my labor from beginning with my water breaking. So, I had been doing the herbal protocols for just about a week, and I had also been slowing down immensely- like physically moving so slow that it was almost like moving through heavy water. I was so stretched, and uncomfortable, and cumbersome that it was hard to imagine 2 more weeks of growth.
So it was, that in the very early morning after Maple’s swim team banquet and the very last of our scheduled summer obligations, I woke to the most subtle internal pop. And I was fuzzy on what exactly it was, maybe extra mucous from the herbs and garlic, maybe something else? I felt strange and wobbly, a bit disoriented and shaky as that first wave of adrenaline began to move through me. In a few hours there was the telltale bloody show and intermittent leaking of waters. Indeed, same old same old, my journey into labor began the same way that it had twice before. However, that was perhaps all that was the same. The midwife and I had agreed that they would head over before too long to put in a line through which I could receive high-flow antibiotics every 4 hours as a prophylactic for the baby and there-in also remove the worry around time and duration. The antibiotics would make sure that we were safe and there-in greatly reduce any impending need to transfer from home due to GBS. A relief. And as such, a chance to simply settle in to the process, however long it may be.
Tuesday morning. After cancelling a few meetings and whatever else was set for the day, Maple and I headed out for a walk up our road. Jeb had run off- again- which made me super anxious and was yet another reminder that I needed to reschedule to invisible fence installation. Chris looked for him while Al came with us. The thing that stands out for me the most from that walk was that Maple twisted her ankle, somewhat painfully, and had a big cry about it. I could see in her emotion the fear and the worry and the concern that she was struggling to keep from surfacing and I was glad for the outlet of physical hurt for her and also somewhat amused that it was possibly going to prevent her from being much help- which it did.
In the months leading up to this day I had listened to Chris and the kids gaming out what it was actually going to look like. While I had been trying to paint it as a serene event, Chris was hyping it up a bit to be loud and intense and full of a screaming mama. This concerned me a ton- and irritated me- and I made a stubborn and impossible commitment to myself that I would have a quiet labor. Ha. Turns out he was wise to prepare them in this way.
Anyway. We spent the day hanging out. Chris went to the market and bought the store and came home to immediately commence making vats of stock. We ate and chatted and watched an episode of Parenthood all together. Eider and I were outside cutting flowers to make a bouquet when the midwife pulled up and began to unload all of her supplies. It was sunny and hot and beautiful on our mountainside. Jeb made it home, bedraggled and exhausted and the whole world was easy. The second midwife arrived and we went inside to get the line started for antibiotics.
Chris and I went on another very slow walk. After an hour I had to have the line flushed to keep it open. Something that would happen every hour for the duration. The evening passed with the occasional manageable, unorganized contraction, much in the way it had with Maple and Eider. The kids went to bed. Everyone settled in to rest. I rested as best you can when you have to have a line flushed every hour… which is not much.
Sometime in the night things shifted. As they do. We got up. Filled the tub. We didn’t have the proper attachment for the hose so Chris had to rig it to the shower head with a sock. It worked. After what felt like forever I got in and labored there for awhile until I was too uncomfortable and frustrated and had to get out. I was either about to have the baby or was forever away. After hemming and hawing for a moment we decided to check me. The only time I was checked throughout. Thank god. It was incredibly painful. And like I had feared I was only at 5cm. And something felt pinched inside. We guessed possibly his arm up by his head pinching my cervix a bit. One of the midwives guided me through some various shapes in an attempt to move him to a new position during sets of contractions. It was miserable and I was now officially just endeavoring to survive each contraction as best I could. The sun rose, the kids rose, we warmed up the tub and I got back in. And I continued to focus on survival. I got loud. Real loud. And I struggled internally with being cognizant of my kids and wanting to keep them safe in their security of me while simultaneously being in the complete and utter thrall of my own sensation.
Then suddenly, after forever, he was at the door. Pushing was a relief, as it is. I never felt like I pushed hard, just steady and with what one midwife later called a perfect, slow, crown. It hurt like fucking hell. But it was almost over and he was almost born and seriously anything is better than the abyss of those interminable contractions. There is a piece here that I did not recall until I was adjusted a couple of days ago. But there was this moment, after I had delivered his head- he was in this textbook position- where when I pushed his shoulders and body out he made that perfect spiral through our birth canal. Ours, for this one eternal moment in time. And then in my arms. Maple was in the room. Eider came in moments following, relieved that we were through the stark intensity of the stretch of time before. Chris was this Benevolent Presence of gentle smiles and tears. A papa for the third time.
And he is here. This little one I have felt for years. Calling to us, called by us, and now here with us, complete, whole, 5. Now one week old. Last night he lost his umbilical cord. Which is a relief and at the same time stirred up a hormonal wave of tears to the fact that, already, he’s growing up so fast… And even though he is mine to hold and nurture and care for so much as he grows, I know that this is all a long long process of letting go toward his eventual and sublime release. Like I said, I’m quite hormonal.
Some details: As my earliest babe, at just past 38 weeks, he was also my smallest at 8lbs 1oz and covered in cheesy vernix. He was also my longest at 21cm. Maple put his hat on right after he was born and has been, in all of the ways that we anticipated, an amazing big sister. Graceful, patient, and oh so helpful. I tore only a slight amount- not enough to merit stitches. Thanks, I imagine, to the “perfect, slow, crown”. Everyone is taking wonderful care of me, especially Chris. He’s been following the guidelines from The First 40 Days, keeping me gently nourished and able to rest. Again he is reminding me, for the millionth time, his magnificence as a papa and a partner.
So I guess that is it for now. He is one week old. This new iteration of us is one week old. Thank you to everyone for all of the well wishes and support and joy at this new wonder in our lives. We feel you each and are blessed by your love to no end.