30 January 2007

Hello Ingrid, Goodbye Kaya

Ingrid will be 2 years old on Febrary 5th. Holy cow! Every year, around my kids' birthdays, I get nostalgic about their entrance into the world.
I wrote this when Ingrid was 4 months old. I barely remember any of this except the part about euthanizing my dog. If the birth sounds easy, well, it was. Empowering, too. No interventions, in the comfort of my own home, with my family there.
Remember: Chris=Primo="the husband".
This is a happy birth story, but if you are not comfortable with discussions about pregnancy, childbirth, and the normal bodily functions that occur during childbirth, you shouldn't read this. On second thought, maybe you should. There's a little bit of sexual innuendo, too, as Ingrid was born in the same bed we made her, so prudes be warned. One of the nice things about homebirths is that in the midst of all the discomfort of labor, you may be reminded of the pleasure of conception. Unless you conceived on a beach, and hence you may be reminded of the discomfort of the sand in your butt at conception.

We took no photographs of the birth, and even if we had, they wouldn't be posted on the internet.

Ingrid Solveig was born at 5:51 pm, Feb 5, 2005. She was 8 lbs 10oz. On Feb 4, 2005, at about 6:30, we had our sweet rottie Kaya (aka Snuffer) euthanized. She was about 10 1/2 yo. That whole week I could tell that Kaya was going down hill. She had lost a lot of weight, was not eating, was shitting on the kitchen floor, and she was very weak and in pain. She was no longer responding to steroids (for an enlarged spleen). Because she was so old we decided not to put her through invasive tests of treatments, but to let her pass peacefully. I had not expected her condition to change so quickly. On Friday I took the day off and made an appointment with the vet. I told the vet that I was about to have a baby and needed to take care of my dog before I could have the baby. The soonest they could take us was that night. So Kaya and I hung out in the house together all day. She laid by the door in the hallway, I tried to feed her pain meds and treats, and talked to her. I thanked her for putting up with us all this time.

We dropped Bea off at her friend Sam’s house. My sister in law Randi came with us. She is the greatest dog lover I know, and I was happy to have her with us. The vet took us last, so Randi and I waited in the car with the Snuffer. When it was time her, Chris carried her into the exam room, she snapped at the vet (one last time). Randi, Chris and I petted her and talked to her as the vet gave her the injection. She went very quickly. After she stopped breathing the only thing you could hear in the room was me bawling. Chris asked Randi to escort me out of the room. On the way home we talked about Kaya’s antics, how she helped Chris and me get together, how gentle she was with Bea. She was a wonderful dog, and I’m glad we had a chance to be her human companions. I wish I’d had her euthanized sooner so that she didn’t suffer, and that we could have done it at home—like our new baby's birth….

On the way home, I started getting serious gassy heartburn. We ordered some Chinese food, and I had some dragon maki, and sesame shrimp. I admit I'd been eating sushi and rare red meat all throughout my pregnancy, contrary to the advice of my midwives. But for some reason I had cravings for freshly killed and hardly cooked meat the whole time I was pregnant. My fondest pregnancy memories revolve around all the good food I ate, and my last pregnant meal was a no different, even though I was terribly uncomfortable, crampy, and gassy.

Chris had to go back to work for a bit. Bea went to sleep early, Randi went home to take care of her dog. I laid on the couch and watched a documentary on the British Royal Family until I fell asleep. Around 9 or so my father in law called to see if we had put Kaya to sleep. Yup. I was so tired and crampy, I couldn’t really talk to him.

I took a bath to help the crampiness. I figured something was happening, the cramps weren’t feeling like Braxton-Hicks anymore, but they were nothing to call a midwife about. They went away after the bath, and stayed up late surfing the web and thinking about Kaya.

At 5 in the morning, I woke up to more crampy mild contractions. I went back to sleep to see if they’d go away. Chris asked if I was going to have the baby soon, I said, “probably this weekend.” At 7 I got up again, and there was my mucous plug and a little blood in my morning pee. I couldn’t go back to sleep, as much as I would have liked to have slept in one last time, I was too excited. I called the midwife who lived closest to us. She told me to count the contractions and call her back in 1/2 an hour, which I did. I reported that they were about 5 minutes apart, but not strong. She said to call back in a couple of hours. So I ate breakfast and started to clean the house a bit. I called her at the appropriate time, the contractions were still nothing I couldn’t clean through, but were 5 minutes apart. She had the apprentice midwife Patti come over and check me. At about 11 am I was 3 cm but not too effaced. So she went home to get her gear, and she called Jharna, the midwife, to report. I went back to cleaning (talk about a nesting instinct). I tried to watch my favorite tv show Buffy the Vampire Slayer at noon, but it was too distracting and I didn’t like the vibe. So I turned off the tv, listened to music, vacuumed the floor. Sometime around 12:30 or so I took a bath. Jharna came over, gave me a quick check, listened to the baby's heartbeat. The bath was very relaxing. I had programmed a “birthing music” playlist on iTunes a few days earlier, and I just listened to music and soaked. I was spot on knowing what I would want to hear while in labor: blue grass, English and Irish folk music (I was really into the song "Pretty Polly" for some reason), Neil Young, the Cocteau Twins, Blind Faith, Thin Lizzy, John Renbourne, Pentangle…

Sometime while I bathed, Bea hopped in the tub with me, and was very mellow for once! I told her I was taking a quiet bath, and would not be able to talk while I was having a contraction. She stayed for maybe 45 minutes, before I had to ask Chris to redirect her. My mother in law took her outside to make a snowman.

I got out of the tub and put on my Ziggy Stardust t-shirt. All I wanted to do was walk walk walk walk. I walked up the stairs, down the stairs, up into the nice cold attic. Chris and I just walked around and listened to folk music and bluegrass. At some point I tried to lay down and quickly puked. No more laying down. I stopped walking and just rocked my hips, dancing through the contractions. Jharna said Ingrid’s head was not quite in my pelvis, and she had me walk up and down the stairs some more.. So I danced and walked, danced and walked.

When I tried to get on all fours, Ingrid heart rate decelerated, so that was out. When I got too tired to walk or stand, I leaned up against Chris, propped up against our Liberator ramp. I thought it was funny that this pillow we used for "making babies" was best used to give birth on. And then I realized that the sounds I was making and the sensations I had were much like, well, making the babies. I was so happy to be home in my bed, having my baby at that moment, although I would have liked not to have given birth sitting and laying on my back.

I got up again to dance, and I had to pee, but I didn’t want to walk to the bathroom. Thankfully we had put some plastic down on the bedroom floor, and I, um, peed on the floor. (I just wanted to dance—rock my hips) I was starting to get the urge to push! Oh the pressure! Apparently the bag of waters was just in front of Ingrid’s head. Jharna suggested putting a pin hole in it, but she wanted to wait for Kristen, the other midwife to arrive. Fine with me. So when Kristen arrived probably 20 minutes later (I wasn't paying attention to time), Jharna poked a tiny hole in my bag of waters, and…. I thought I peed on myself. My bag didn’t break, and there was just a trickle. But the pressure was lifted, and I really wanted to push.

I don’t know how long I pushed, let alone how long I was in the tub, or how long I walked around. At some point when I was walking around I looked at the clock and it was 5:00. I estimate I pushed maybe 20 minutes, 30 minutes tops. I had much more of a burning sensation while pushing than I did with Bea. But when Jharna told me to stop while she helped Ingrid’s head on my perineum, I listened (last time I pushed when the midwife said to stop and I ended up with a tiny tear). Jharna was very adamant about my stopping. But Lord did it burn. It felt like someone scratching me from the inside on her way down the birth canal.

When she crowned, I felt her mushy little head. I wish I’d had a mirror. My mother in law, Chris, the midwives, and Bea were all there. Bea got a little freaked out and left until Ingrid was completely out. Ingrid came out with a couple of good pushes (once I had the green light). Her apgars were 9 (hands and feet a little blue) then 10. And she was born with a nuchal hand (which is why Jharna told me to stop pushing for a sec I think). I had a few skid marks, and Ingrid scratched me with her little fingernails (so she clawed her way out?). I cheered! No tears. I could live with skid marks. She was born with a head full of brown hair (which turned blonde within 5 months), blue eyes (which have stayed blue, unlike her sister's, whose eyes turned gray then green and are now hazel), and a little hemorrhage on her eye. She weighed in at 8 lbs 10 oz., nearly a full pound bigger than her sister. And of course she was absolutely beautiful. My mother in law cut the cord. Ingrid was a little slow to nurse, but she latched on like a pro within a couple of hours, and hasn't let up since.

After all the picture taking, telephoning, and oohing and ahhing subsided, I ate a little dinner and put my Ziggy Stardust shirt back on. I don't remember taking it off, but I guess it came off. After everyone left, Bea, Ingrid, Chris and I all snuggled in bed to “sleep”. Chris and I just stared at her. I kept up the vigil when he went to sleep.

We had picked out her name long before we actually met her. As with Bea, it was a name Chris and I both liked. We compromised on Solveig ("SOOL-vay") for a middle name. I wanted it as the first name. But I got the first name for Bea (Amelia. Chris liked Beatrice. If you know her, you know she is most certainly a Bea or Beatrice.) One of us had vetoed names like Judith, Alice, Miriam, Aurelia (also vetoed for Bea), and Ingemar. We knew we were having a girl (I didn't care about the surprise of finding out at birth), so Jesse, Jedediah, Joshua, James, Sean, Jacob, and Primo were all out. We now have a dog named Jed and a cat named James.

I could have written my birth story before she was born, it seemed to go exactly as I had wanted, although I would have liked for Kaya to have met Ingrid. Kaya was her

North American Registry of Midwives
More Homebirth stories
Midwives Alliance of North America
The Midwife and Homebirth
Massachusetts Midwives Alliance


joshua said...

Kaya was her what?

Also, is she named after Solveig Dommartin? Because that's a pretty obscure reference.

Also also, she's a little bit Joshua! That's great!

Parthenia said...

Kaya died almost exactly 24 hours before Ingrid was born. I got early signs of labor as we were driving home from the vet. My midwife joked that Kaya was Ingrid's spiritual midwife. Having Kaya euthanized was incredibly stressful and a relief. It was the last bit of unfinished business I had to do before I was ready to have a baby.

Ingrid Solveig is not named after anyone in particular, but I do love Solveig's Song from the opera Peer Gynt. They were two names that Chris/Primo and I could agree on, although I was really pushing Solveig because it's close to Sovay, which is a song about a female highwayman. And as you know, I like highwaymen better than pirates.

Now why or how is she a little bit Joshua? I don't remember that part!