- Pressure waves = contractions
-birthing time = labor
-transformation = transition
-practice waves = false labor/braxton hicks
- BOP = bubble of peace
So I have wanted to share this for a long time. I needed to do it before the details slip my mind, like Bia's birth :)
On my due date- november 21st- I was hoping I would have some sign of labor...I mean, my two other girls arrived ON their due date....so even though I knew the chances were slim I still wanted to see little Julie ASAP! :)
I am a big fan of waiting for things to happen naturally but I have to admit that I wondered if I would EVER go into labor....One thing you have to understand about living in Brazil is that people start asking you why you haven't scheduled a c-section once you start approaching 40 weeks...I was SO bothered by it, that I vowed not to go to church november 27th had little Julie not made an appearance. I could not keep a straight face about people's comments any more!!! and I was NOT inducing this baby either....I had to trust my body!
Did I already mention how much more I enjoyed this pregnancy??Yes! It was because I had a miscarriage back in January and things seemed sweeter this time around and I took every movement and week as a miracle and a blessing. I actually got to the point of thanking the Lord for making me see that I can't control anything and how much I depend on Him. Gotta love how we need a good "shaking" as a reality check. ;)
Week 38 I started to feel the pressure waves pick up in strength, but still nothing major. By week 39 those PW's were getting stronger, but I knew they were only Braxton Hicks. Week 40 came and then I really started to feel them at a whole new level. It was great! I was SO EXCITED, because I knew it was all prodomal work :)
My body was working well. I had my membranes stripped twice. Once on week 39 and once on week 40 by my OB (pre natal work was done by my OB and the birth would be done by my midwife). I asked for it. Which now looking back was probably not even necessary, but I wanted something done. I knew I wasn't effaced at all, but I also knew I was probably dilated to at least a 2 on week 40. When I got my membranes stripped on week 40 I was right on! 2 cm dilated and about 50% effaced.
I knew that this being my 3rd vaginal birth, as soon as contractions picked up I was efface and dilate all at the same time and fast. So I didn't want any vaginal exams like I had with the other ones. Also because those make me anxious and are not helpful at all. I had my membranes stripped for the first time at 39 weeks and 5 days....so I was proud for holding off for that long. Anxiety got the best of me though.... I knew I was the one that had to dictate what happened to my pregnancy because my OB loved to interfere with birthing (episiotomies, epidurals and whatever else you can think of). I knew he loved to intervene with nature and I knew I had to show him I was sure of my decisions and my body. Because once he saw an ounce of doubt he would probably shove interventionism down my throat :) And I was sticking to my guts this time. I was determined to have the birth of my dreams in a country that had everything against it. I guess I work better when challenged that way :)
I forgot to add that when I went to the OB at 40 weeks and 3 days he suggested I had a favorable cervix and that I could induce. I told him I thought I was ok and that nature would take it's course. It made me nervous though....and I hope and hoped that this baby would come soon before I had to fight the world to hold off...I was willing to go all the way to 43 weeks with close monitoring. I even had an ultrasound done the same day as my appointment to make sure placenta was working right and the baby was ok. Everything looked fine and measurements were indicating she was 39 weeks. So we were still good and I was relieved that I didn't have a "medical"reason to induce, cuz I would darn sure fight it!
I think I mentioned before how I wanted to have my baby with my midwife Ana Cris and also a homebirth. Everything was in place for that up until 35 weeks. Where we had an ultrasound and she told me Julie would have to have some exams done after birth and that she recommended a hospital birth simply because my insurance could deny to pay for those exams because of the homebirth. Natural birth is already ground breaking enough in Brazil imagine a homebirth!! I was considered pretty crazy!!!! I wasn't even mentioning it to anyone.
I felt secure she was looking at my best interest and trusted her. I gave up my homebirth simply because I knew I couldn't afford to pay for the exams without an insurance and I didn't want more problems in my life (fighting with the insurance company). So we decided on the hospital birth. We birthed at the São Luís Hospital. The hospital I chose was the best I would be able to find for a natural birth in São Paulo though. They only have an 87% c-section rate :) hahahahahaha. But I had learned from research and from the forum I participate, and meetings from women that are activist on natural birthing that what really matters is the TEAM you choose to have with you at the hospital.
If you bring a team that has the same views as you do, they can choose not to follow the hospital protocols. Which doesn't happen if you get there and use the OB/GYN on call that night. So I knew I had to bring my team with me in order to have experience I wanted to have. ( And BTW next pregnancy will be my homebirth ;)
Once my due date was behind me I started to get anxious and bothered and wondered when this little girl would like to make an appearance. November 24th came and it was thanksgiving. I LOVE thanksgiving and I was overwhelmed by the messages of gratitude...so I decided to say a prayer of gratitude at night before going to bed. I poured out my heart for every single thing that made me thankful. Julie being full term, being pregnant again and enjoying motherhood with all my heart, the opportunity to be home with my girls and teach them and watch them grow, to be close to my family, Bia and Izzy healthy and jumping around and occasionally driving me nuts, Mat's job, a roof over our head, plenty of food and so on....I was truly able to find SO MUCH to be thankful for. I began to cry. You know when your heart is full and you just can't handle so much joy? that's how I felt!!!! I was at peace. I knew she would come when she was ready (even though I did not pray about that specific issue, I just wanted to show gratitude to the Lord).
Even though this past year and a half has been really challenging financially for us and we have learned more than we could ask for I have to admit it was hard to take the leap of faith and get pregnant. I mean, not hard for me. You are reading a blog from someone who would get pregnant tomorrow again. I LOVE pregnancy and having babies. So it wasn't a challenge for me to accept the feelings I had, but it was hard for my husband. It took him a great amount of faith and time to accept that we were going to have a baby while in Brazil.
My mother in law came to stay with me the day before my due date to help me out with the girls...and it was wonderful to have someone helping me on my very difficult days. The last week before I had Julie I was SO TIRED and my belly felt so heavy. It was a bit frustrating to want to get things done and my body just didn't "obey".
I was really gun-ho about not having a doctor interfere with my birth, so I planned with Ana Cris (my wonderful midwife) that she would come to my house once birthing kicked in to check me because we didn't want us to get to the hospital before it was really birthing time- remember vaginal births are RARE in private hospitals here). I was having a lot of prodomal work on Saturday though, so she kept calling to check on me and I thought that was the sweetest thing ever. I knew I was in good hands.
On saturday night she volunteered to come to my house and check me. I was 3 cm dilated and somewhat effaced, but not really in labor. (I guess I figured that one out ;) ). She asked to take some medicine to take the edge off and try to sleep. I was tired because I hadn't been able to sleep well (or long) the two previous nights. So I went to bed at midnight and prayed I could have a good and full night of sleep. I asked Mat for a blessing too. So I was sure nothing was going to happen that night....
At 3:36 am (yes! I got 3 hours of sleep! yikes!!!)I woke up with a massive pressure wave, and then had 8 PW's one after the other (they were between 2-8 minutes apart). I knew it was my birthing time because they came with a breath taking strength. I was having a hard time keeping my focus and relaxing during the waves. So I woke Mat and told him to call Ana Cris. He called her and I think when she heard how close they were she didn't think coming to my house was an option. She said she would meet us at the hospital. We left close to 5 am and met her there.
I was getting a pressure waves as I was trying to get out of the car....at this point I was able to focus well. I was in the back of the car (the front was too uncomfortable + Mat stopped at my parent's house to pick up my mom. I think she got ready at a record time- she was outside of her building and she looked way good for so early in the morning)
On the way to the hospital I was able to focus more thru the waves and they became more managable. We went to the triage room and they had to monitor the baby for 15 minutes. Ana Cris was the one to take charge, and I will forever love her for it. Midwives in Brazil don't have the autonomy to check you into a hospital, but she has done so many births there, and she was pretty much my right arm, that it didn't matter. The nurses were great and did not bother us. They just let her roll...so she connected the monitors, she was the one to check me when I got there...and surprise! I was at a 5 :))))))
Once the paper work was ready, Mat was signed in, and the insurance gave the ok for my stay at the hospital they let us go up to labor and delivery. I was able to walk there, and stopped between waves leaning myself against Ana Cris.
Once we were at L&D they had a room ready for us. She said she didn't want that room because the tub was too small. So they started setting up the second room they had :) It was SO NICE! The ceiling had little lights that looked like stars. You could dim the lights too. The tub was round and was a pretty good size. It also had a red/purple light in it...don't know what it was for...but I thought it was cute :)
I worried that I would not be able to get into the tub before I had Julie...but I this point things were just so calm and quiet. Ana Cris asked me how I was feeling and I said I was hungry. She brought me "pão de queijo", a sandwich and some orange juice (it's my favorite!). I tried eating some, but was not able to finish it all. At that point I was feeling nauseous. Oh wait.....before the food got there...I was just laying on the couch they had in the room, and I would get on my knees during waves....when the food got there I went to the birthing ball and was trying to get comfortable with it....but it really wasn't my thing....the ball was small and I didn't feel any support....
Ana Cris wanted me to wait until I was at a 7 before I got to the tub. She checked me again...and there it was....7...and I didn't feel like I was suffering at all. The waves were COMPLETELY manageable...and I was just waiting for the shaking and transformation to hit at that point. I was excited to get to the tub.
Once I changed and got to the tub ( I was still worried that Ana Cris was able to see my butt at that point, but I figured she would look at worse things....so I just walked to the tub with my top on- HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Mat and my mom were also in the room. My mom was the one to help me change from the dress I was wearing to my top) They also had Mat and my mom change to salmon/orange scrubs...they looked professional and matchy matchy....it was way cute! They also had bracelets, and the nurses were asking me to check my name and the bracelet I would be wearing because the number on it would have to match Julie's bracelet.....ok....so.....where was I?
Ohhh yeah! I got to the tub and it was heaven....it was so relaxing.....even though the waves were totally manageable before I got in, it was nice to relax in really warm water. I enjoyed being in the water and I thought Julie would be coming soon....so I took turns singing between waves. By singing I mean "ahuuuuuu" in deep sounds....for some reasons those were very helpful....I would change how deep my voice was as I felt that it was helping open up my bottom....I also imagined getting to 10 cm and dilating. I would think "open, open, open..."and soon the waves were gone....every time one hit I would get on to my singing...and it was SO NICE and RELAXING....it took my mind from the waves, and I was able to focus on my body and know what needed to be done. I also took turns on all fours, leaning on my side, on my back....whatever felt comfortable. :)
I just know that I got into the tub after 7 am, and then I lost track of time....I realized it was taking longer than I expected though, so when I checked the clock it was 10:30 am. At that point I thought the baby would be in my arms already. So I asked for Ana Cris and told her I thought it was taking too long, I wanted to be checked again and wanted to understand what was going on. She said everything was great, but I was anxious and wanted to get things moving.
The pressure waves were coming more frequently, but they were still manageable but I was getting tired with little sleep. I was able to relax so much between waves that I would begin to fall asleep and when another PW came I would wake right up....so THAT was making me tired....
Ana Cris said that when she checked my cervix, it was pretty much gone. Soft as butter. So she said as she held the cervix open, if I pushed the baby would drop completely and I would finish dilation. She said that would only be possible because the cervix of someone who had multiple births before is very different from a cervix that hasn't gone thru it. My membranes (water) was still intact (it was thick) and it was cushioning the waves A LOT! At first my midwife didn't want to break my water....we agreed on no interventions....but as I began to get tired I asked for the membranes to be ruptured. Julie's head was way down in the birth canal and I was already at a 7. AC thought I would dilate immediately after the membranes were ruptured...and that is what happened I think, because the baby was born a few minutes later....
Maybe it I had waited out my the waves would pick up, or if I left the tub...but to be honest I was afraid of leaving the tub (+ I was tired) and the pain that it would come with it ( I know, whimp!) so I decided to stay in the tub.
While in the tub Ana Cris had me alternate between waves on all fours (to help dilation) and on my back (floating) so she could do her little maneuver and the baby would drop as dilation was going on....we did those a few times...and she said "ok, let's get out of the tub and let gravity help you out". I immediately obeyed and we went to the birthing stool. Ana Cris was sitting on the floor right in front of me....
Once I got to the birthing stool I felt the waves coming with more intensity, but I was still fine and could manage the waves really well....once my midwife was getting the cervix out of the way, THAT was unconfortable. She said that in two waves the baby would be crowing....and lo and behold....she was right....I felt Julie coming down with a couple of long waves (plus a few short ones in between while we were waiting for the longer ones to hit) After the two long waves we had been waiting for she said "jump back to the tub"and there I was....
Ok pause here: The pediatrician who had come to talk to me just a couple of hours before Julie arrived was back in the room. She was so adorable and I immediatly liked her. I had talked to her on the phone and thru email. But has never seen her. She was so different from the other pediatricians I had met. She is called a "pediatra humanizada"which literally translates to "humanized pediatrician"....It basically means she is respectful, trusts nature, is not an interventionist, believes in mother-baby contact immediately after birth, no cord clamping until it stops pulsating, no tests of any kind until mom is done bonding with baby, loves natural birth, and does not take any insurance because they don't pay well and she wants to be able to take time with her patients and care WELL for them....it's a new wave in Brazil and people have been looking more and more for the "humanized" doctors.
My OB had also walked into the room and was just smiling and looking at me, I wanted to say "hi and welcome" but I was deep in the birthing zone and I was just happy to see him smile at me. I want to believe he was amazed, but deep down I also wondered if he was thinking "crazy lady could have taken an epidural" HAHAHAHAHA...it didn't matter because I never even THOUGHT about an epidural during the process. I never even considered it....he was respectful and was just watching the whole process and smiling....
The purpose of having him the room was to have him sign the hospital papers saying he was there after Ana Cris was done (remember I told you midwives have no autonomy in hospitals here??it's a shame!).
Pediatrician and OB were in the room as I was in the birthing stool. Once I moved to the tub I was waiting for the next wave to hit and it came like a MOTHER....no other way to describe it....I was pushing involuntarily. First big push I was howling like a bear, or maybe a lioness? don't know. I didn't notice until Julie was born. I only noticed my throat was hurting and I knew I made some deep sounds. So I asked Mat if I yelled and he said I howled. I wasn't screaming or out of control at all. I hope howling is the right word to describe it. But it was completely involuntary just like the pushing part. It somehow HELPED me during pushing the baby out. It was such a relief. At that point I felt like my body had taken over and I was just going with my instincts. It was AWESOME, because you really feel like your body is capable of anything after you have gone through an experience like that.Your body KNOWS what to do. Isn't that AMAZING?
So first push the baby crowned and I could feel part of the head out. Ana Cris told me to feel Julie's head. ( I also have to point out she talked to Julie while in my belly asking questions like "are you ready to meet your family?"and then she asked us if we were ready to see her.....all that during birthing time...some time before we got out of the tub to go to the birthing stool). Second push her head came out up until her cheeks. I was trying to get her out of there, because it was uncomfortable to have only part of the baby out waiting for the next wave to hit.
I felt the circle of fire and BOY was that an accurate description!!! Meanwhile I was thinking BOP ****"Holy cow, I am going to tear up in half if this baby doesn't come out soon, this hurts, get her out of there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"******BOP
I was also trying to feel where her nose was, and I tried maybe sliding her out, but it seemed like she was going nowhere until the next pressure wave.Third push and she slid right out as I picked her up and put her on my chest. My beautiful midwife was right there watching and making sure I knew she was there if I needed her. I wish I had a bunch of pictures of that moment. It was sublime. I also remember her smiling at me after the second push and she said "you are doing great, one more and she will be here" I said BOP ******"I don't want to, this hurts so much!"*****BOP That's when she smiled....and I pushed Julie out :)
I can't describe the feeling! She was here!!!!Purple and CHUBBY. She had rolls and rolls on her arms and legs...she was beautiful! and her head seemed huge! hahahahaha I was shocked because I was expecting a skinny baby and tiny...and she was indeed tiny, but really chubby :)
I get a little upset for not being able to cry when my children are born. I think I got more emotional with Isabelle, but I never cried my heart out....I am just in AW once these babies are born and I just talk and kiss and caress those babies telling them I am their mommy and how much I love them....It's a beautiful moment, but I don't cry...I guess the hormones/adrenaline keep me on a high :) There were tons of pictures being taken, and everyone was shocked at her rolls. My mom couldn't believe it, Mat was in love and so was I....it was PERFECT!! I could not ask for a better moment in life. I felt WHOLE!
It was stingy down there and I wondered if I had any tears. My midwife gave me a shot of pitocin because she felt I was bleeding more than she wanted....all that while in the tub. Sandra the pediatrician gave me some warm towels to put on Julie's head as we stroke and kissed this little girl! OH HOW BEAUTIFUL SHE WAS!! I was in heaven hugging the little angel I was so excited to meet!
Just adding here that Ana Cris said she thinks it took me a while to go from 7 to her being born because the tub stalled it, there was no gravity helping me out and my membranes/water was cushioning the process. Eventually the baby would be born, my body would be able to figure it out...but since I was getting tired and I asked for her help....she gave it to me :)
She was born at 11:47 am, 8 lbs 5 oz and 18 inches. A head full of hair and big cheeks....I think maybe she was a bit swollen because right now she just looks tiny....the day she was born she looked huge! :)
I am happy to report my perineum was intact no stiches whatsoever!!! No tears, nothing!...I am soooo pleased with it....because this has been my biggest baby yet!
They asked me to get out of the water after a while to check and see if everything was ok down there....at that point I wanted to get out because the water was RED!(see picture at the end)
Julie got her apgar score 10/10, she was weighted, measured, no eye drops (the shiny kind that babies get at the hospital), vitamin K was given orally instead of a shot and the umbilical cord was cut once after a long time of enjoying my baby girl in the warm tub.
It had not stopped pulsating yet, but it was hard to identify the pulsating when we did cut it. We were running out of battery and Mat wanted to take a picture of him cutting the cord- now thinking about it I should not have let it happen.....but I was out of it just watching my baby and it was too late when I came to my senses and saw Mat with the scissors....
Julie came to my breast right after the procedures and she nursed like a champ....first latch was not wonderful but pediatrician and I worked on it and it was great afterwards....she was HUNGRY and wide awake!!!I think she nursed for almost an hour!
I am thankful for my time working at WIC and for the confidence I feel in breastfeeding. I have no fear....if there's a problem, there's a way to fix it....and I can always use my knowledge, or someone else's knowledge and get things straight! I LOVE Breastfeeding!!!LOVE LOVE LOVE!
They took her to the nursery.....stupid hospital protocol. But because of pediatrician's orders, they kept her for an hour max! They didn't give her a bath (ped said the vernix was going to be absorbed and there was no need for a bath right away, I guess the vernix is good for babies. Don't know much about it, but I trusted her. Now that I think about it, she smelled REALLY nice....you know that heavenly baby smell? she had it until they bathed her....looking back I would wait 2-4 days before bathing her....I mean, how dirty do babies really get??)
Once I got to my room they didn't let me shower for a while. My aunt came to visit while I was still wearing my hospital gown and feeling sticky. :) Once the nurse let me shower she had to be in the bathroom with me and didn't let me wash my hair ( WHAT??????????????) I was pretty upset, because after being in the tub for so long, my hair was disgusting. She said my blood pressure could drop and I could faint. But really a shower could do that....not the hair washing part....I thought it was stupid...but decided it was not worth the fight. I would sneak in the shower after she was out :) Problem was, my lips turned white just from walking from the bedroom to the bathroom and I felt weak and like my organs were all out of place. Not painful at all, just weird. I also felt sore when I took deep breaths, but that was also ok. I lost a ton of blood apparently....that's why I felt weak. So hair washing was left for the next day when I felt much stronger....I just kept my bed rest for the rest of the Sunday because I didn't want to faint.... :)
My family was all over the room once I came to mother baby unit. Julie joined right afterwards. They took turns kissing hugging and loving that little girl. It was pretty sweet. We took tons of pictures that I will upload (if my bum allows me to sit for a while longer, because this post has taken a while...) and we were all so excited.
My dad was amazed. My mom went thru 4 c-sections full of interventions. He was never able to watch me birth so closely before he couldn't even go back to bed once my mom headed to the hospital with me. I would be totally fine with him watching the birth, but they didn't allow anyone else other than Mat and my mom in there. He watched it all online and was just SO emotional about it. He said he was my biggest fan, that I was his heroine. He could not get over how amazing it was and how proud of me he was. All because of the natural birth. He was in AW of how Ana Cris worked, how everything was gentle, respectful and pretty much completely opposite of what he has seen here in Brazil. I was amazed at how amazed he was. I really had no idea it was so cool for him....All that I fought for and worked so hard to get during this birth was immediately recognized by my father.
I am a daddy's girl, so needless to say I was extremely happy with his reaction and felt so much love for him. I in no way think less of people who have birthed differently than me. It is all very personal. But it was nice to get recognition from someone you love for something you worked so hard to get :)
Ok, so that's it peeps. This was by far my best birthing experience. All of them were amazing and special. but this one I had to fight tooth and nail to get it the way I wanted it. I feel like it was worth everything and I also feel like I could do it all over again, because in the end it was so much sweeter....
If you have been able to read every word I now congratulate you for enduring to the end :) I didn't want to miss any details for my future reference and I hope you have a visual of what it was and what it felt like for me to be there!!!
I do not have words to describe how life changing it was. Completely different from what I expected and visualized, but still wonderful and perfect in every way! I wouldn't have changed anything ( I mean really? who would expect manageable pressure waves up until 7 cm? not feel any transition and go straight to the pushing phase??a dream come true right? and I attribute it to having my water intact up until the very end of birthing....so I am hoping I get that for every birth from now on, hahahahaha :) )
I also recognize hypnobirthing as the WAY TO GO if you want to experience an amazing birthing time. I was able to keep my focus, relax between waves and go deep into the birthing zone during the waves. I learned to listen to my body and let it run it's course without tensing up! It was an essencial tool to Julie's divine birth. I HIGHLY recommend it :)))