Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The Parellel Universe of Labor
Now it is time to continue my story. When I left off, it was about 4am Saturday morning and the midwife, her apprentise, and the doula had arrived. The filmmakers were already here and sleeping in the downstairs bedroom. I had set up my birth space downstairs in the family room because my bedroom was too small, and I don't birth on a bed anyway. The doula arrived and bought her big birth ball which would turn out to be my best friend in labor. I had one also but is was smaller and as we later found out, had a slow leak in it. The doula, Nadah was lovely and wooed me with herbal teas and a scented hanky. She put my frangrance, lavender, on a hanky and I kept it near me my entire labor. She changed the scent as I entered transition to clarysage, and again to rose postpartum. I don't know how it helped or why, but I sniffed it all through my labor. Its still sitting on my dresser with the rose scent still on it and I smell it several times a day. Nadah always stayed near, but didn't speak much. When I needed her she was just there. She made a few suggestions for this and that but mainly I appreciated her presence. She did provide counter pressure toward the end that I found invaluable- hers was the only touch I wanted- not even my husband's would do (he wasn't doing it right anyway). Anita, the apprentice arrived just shortly before the midwife. She immediately wanted a set of vitals. I quickly realized that not only was I going to be annoyed by interventions (of course there had not been any yet) but that even assessments were a constant irritation. I submitted without comment, but inwardly I knew I had not prepared myself for the interruption of assessments- vital signs, heart tones and the like. These simple seemingly uninvasive procedures made me feel like a patient- the very feeling I was hoping to avoid. Yet there it was staring me right in the face- patients require baseline assessments. How many times had I done these procedures on women without thinking what an intrusion and irritation they are? I didn't like the feeling at all. I could dish it out, but I couldn't take it. I birthed at home to avoid being made to feel like a patient, yet a simple request for vitals brought it all rushing back to me. I immediately thought about my conversation the previous day with Dotty about autonomous birthing. She and her husband had six of their eight children at home, unassisted with her husband catching. I had toyed with this idea many times, but was committed to the presence of a midwife. I realized that just as the presence of filmmakers would be a sacrifice of privacy in this birth, so would the presence of a midwife represent a sacrifice to some degree of my autonomy. After the midwife arrived the whole entourage moved downstairs to the birthing space. The filmers woke up and started filming. I cleansed the room with my burning sage, gifted to me at my blessingway by Sr. Morningstar. I lit my candle and insence and put my selected CD into the player. The music was short-lived as the filmerstold me it was copyrighted and couldn't be a part of the film without permission. It was turned off. Another sacrifice. I was laboring heavily at this point and needed to focus on the contractions and worked hard to shut everyone else out- it wasn't that difficult. My husband was upstairs sleeping and I decided I wouldn't send for him till it was time to push. I knew he was tired, so I just let him sleep. The doula, my hanky, and the birthball were all the tools I needed. Between contractions, I sat on the sofa with my eyes closed. I could still hear their whispered conversations but was glad noone tried to address me directly. During contractions, which were deep and hard, I stood up, Nadah put the ball on the sofa and I leaned onto it and rock back and forth, stretching my legs far apart and standing on my tippy toes. When the contraction ended, I sat back down again with my eyes closed. I had no interest in communication with those around me. I only wanted Nadah to be there with the ball, giving counter pressure, to pick up my hanky if I dropped it, or to refill my water bottle. This was my whole world. Managing the contractions and resting between them. I had a thought- this is too easy, I should make it seem harder or they won't really believe I'm going to deliver in the next few hours. There were no vag exams so up to this point no one really knew how dilated I was- we were just going by how I said I felt, the baby was low, the contractions every 10 minutes lasting 45 seconds to a minute. I knew the baby would be born in the morning but did everyone else know it? I could not or would not communicate- I only wanted to cocoon into my little world and be left alone.