Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Our Birth Story



It has been almost 12 weeks since the arrival of our sweet baby Tate, and oh, have we been savouring him! I can hardly believe how fast the time has flown. Cliché, I know, but so true. I've thought of you all so often and have wanted to catch you up on things around these here parts, but the little man has taken top priority and that has meant not having my hands free much. I've also been trying to be gentle with myself by prioritizing healing and recovery. And let's be honest, the sleep deprivation also meant not having my head free much, at least not in a coherent sort of way!

THE GRAND ENTRANCE

I want to share Tate's birth story with you, especially for all you mamas-to-be. And I want to start by saying this: Any way you have a baby is amazing. I mean, you carried, nurtured and grew another human life inside you for 10 months and then it came out of you and greeted the world with tears and cries and wonder. That is a miracle. And whether you had your baby at home or in an ambulance at the side of the road or in the hospital by c-section doesn't matter. What matters is that your baby is in your arms and you love them more than your beating heart can contain.


It's always been strange to me that motherhood could be a competition. I noticed it keenly after Noah was born - women comparing birth stories and their babies' milestones and achievements like they were accolades. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. So sharing my story is not my way of giving you something to compare against, because comparison is the thief of joy. It is my way of letting you into my world and {I hope} encouraging you, all with the knowledge that we are each unique and that's a good thing.

TO HOPE, TO PLAN, TO DREAM - VERSION 2.0

I think every mama-to-be lands on some kind of a birth plan before the big day. I really came to my birth plan for Tate by way of my experience of giving birth to my gorgeous 9lb 4.5oz Noah. Having watched an amazing piece on a news program showing women giving birth without drugs and in quite a calm state, all by preparing mentally for the process of birth, I had done a lot of reading about the fear-tension-pain cycle. The basics are this: the more afraid you are of something the more your body will tense, and the more tense your body is the more intensely you feel pain. That intense pain causes you to be afraid and tense up, and so goes the cycle. I knew I didn't want that if I could help it.

So I coached myself as if I were an athlete preparing for a big race. Each night, I reminded myself that pain in childbirth is normal. Whereas pain in regular everyday life is usually a signal from the body that things aren't right, in childbirth, pain is a signal that your baby is coming to you. Pain signals something beautiful happening, and your job is to embrace the process. I told myself that the more I embraced the process of childbirth and the pain that comes with it, the less I would resist and the faster I would have my baby in my arms when the time was right.


I mentally walked myself through the 3 stages of labour and what would happen in my body. I visualized my happy place {the ocean and beach in Turks and Caicos} and I had a mantra that grounded me more than anything else. I did that mental work every night for about 3 or 4 months before my due date, and Noah's birth was pretty incredible. Two and a half hours of active labour and twenty minutes of pushing later, I was holding my beautiful baby boy in my arms. I literally felt like I'd run a race and won!

Noah was born in the hospital, and there were aspects of that experience that I didn't enjoy, so I decided after some serious deliberation that I would prefer to have Tate at home, an option for me because I worked with midwives this time around. I really can't speak highly enough for these amazing women. To be a midwife is not just a career, it is a calling. Their round-the-clock commitment is remarkable, and they are not just practitioners. They are your partners. They are your cheerleaders. They are your caregivers. I'm so grateful I made the choice to work with them. The care I received from them was truly exceptional, before, during and after Tate's birth.

I'M A WATER BABY

I did a lot of the same things in prep for Tate's birth that I did for Noah's {lots of prayer and positive thinking}, but I was more relaxed about it because I had such a positive experience to build upon. I had used the tub at the hospital to get through labour with Noah and I knew I wanted to be in water again with Tate.

One of the things I didn't like at the hospital was that they made me get out of the tub and walk across the hallway when I was 9cm dilated and ready to push! I so wanted to just push Noah out in the water. The buoyancy was so gently supportive of my body. Knowing how much I love the water, we decided to rent a large birthing tub for Tate's birth plan. It was delivered and set up in the nursery about 3 weeks before his due date.


As you probably know by now if you follow me on Instagram or we are connected on FB, after being told by the midwives that they thought he would be coming early, Tate decided to keep us all on our toes and hang in there an extra 6 days past his due date. We all agreed that given how fast Noah had come, I should call them a bit on the early side if I thought I was in labour.

After 3 false starts over the previous weeks {only one of which I called the midwives for}, I knew for sure we were in business on the morning of January 16th when the contractions were relatively consistent at 8-10 minutes apart. I was still calm and able to talk {don't believe what you see on all those TV dramas!}. The contractions were still more like bad cramps, but I knew I was in pre-labour, so we called our midwife Dana and she came by the house at around 8:15am to check me and see where we were at. Her plan was to then go and see her clients at the clinic for the morning and come back at around lunchtime.

OH BABY!

Needless to say, Tate had other plans. By the time Dana had finished checking me, I'd kicked into active labour with contractions coming way faster. It was obvious that Dana wasn't going anywhere. Graham had already been filling the tub with warm water, so I got into it pretty quickly and used the water to soothe my body and sort of swish my way through each contraction. Graham was amazing, placing cold washcloths on my forehead as things heated up.

And heat up they did! My second experience of labour was definitely more intense than the first. Being at home, I allowed myself to be a bit more vocal about it. I'm so glad it was a Thursday and Noah was at school! The transition phase was really hard {as it was with Noah} and then it was time to push. I think Tate would have come out faster if it wasn't for the fact that he was holding his left fist up by his temple. Talk about strong and determined! It must have taken a lot of willpower to keep his hand up there while being squeezed out of the birth canal.

I found myself wanting to push but recoiling from the pain. His little fist up there meant that there was a lot more circumference coming through all at once, and I could feel myself tearing. In the end, I just breathed past the pain and after about 15 minutes of pushing, out he came. The world changed at 10:39am with the introduction of Tate Michael Alexander Walker - all gorgeous, peaceful and perfect 8lbs 8oz of him!


He and I each wound up with our own war wounds as a result of that determined little fist of his. I tore quite badly and he wound up with a little cyst on his head where his fist had been pressing into it. All that was nothing compared to having him safe and here in our arms, though! All I could do was keep saying "Hello! Hello, my love! You're here! We did it!!" I cried, but only the good, salty-sweet kind of tears. There were a lot of answered prayers all wrapped up in Tate's birth story.

THE AFTERGLOW

I'm so grateful to the midwives for their gentle and loving approach. Letting me bond with my baby was top priority after he was born, so Tate lay on my chest for about an hour skin-to-skin as soon as I was out of the tub {yup, even while I was getting my stitches - he was my perfect distraction}. I also got to take a hot shower in my own bathroom and lay down in my own bed right away. And I got to totally forego the horrors of hospital food, eating a delicious and nourishing meal that we had prepared ahead of time. I know home births aren't for everyone, but it was totally the right choice for us.

Tate was truly so calm and peaceful after his water birth. He let us know when he was ready to try nursing for the first time by actually working his way towards the source. Babies are such breathtaking little miracles! The experience of nursing him for the first time didn't feel forced or clinical like what I had experienced with the nurses at the hospital with Noah. Don't get me wrong. It wasn't like the clouds parted and the heavens descended or anything, but it was a quiet, connected and special bonding moment. I felt supported and safe in my own little home.

BROTHERLY BONDING


Graham went and collected Noah from school at around lunchtime so he could come home and meet his sweet new baby bro, and Noah actually snapped the first photo we have of Tate {above} with Graham's phone! Noah was grinning ear-to-ear and beyond excited to meet his baby brother after so much anticipation and such a long wait.


We basically just snuggled in bed all afternoon, called and emailed friends and family, shared a quick "he's here!" FB update....and then we slept...

JUST THE BEGINNING

There's more to our story that I'd like to share with you in the hopes that it might be encouraging or helpful, but that will have to wait for next week's post.

For now, snuggle up with the ones you love and tell them how much they mean to you.

xo
s.

7 comments:

  1. I am so teary right now!! What a beautiful post. And I love love love your comment at the beginning about birth stories and how any way one has a baby is incredible.

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    1. Thank you so much, Heather! I'm a big believer in choosing to elevate and empower one another as women, and one of the first ways we can do that is embrace our uniqueness and accept differences as beautiful! xo

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  2. Thanks for sharing Sarah. Sending you and your family lots of love.
    -Joy and Larnell :-)

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  3. Love this. Didn't mean to cry, but you made me. I also like your subtle, clever dose of humour, like how you "swished your way through each contraction." It makes me laugh and I'm imagining your sweet laugh too! Keeping going, Mama!

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    1. Aw, thanks Lor! Makes me smile to think I made you laugh AND cry. You always look beautiful, even when you're crying! xo

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  4. What a beautiful post and so true. Every story is different and all wonderful - the goal is to have a baby afterall not be the fastest, bestest birther ever. I always thought it was ridiculous when the nurses would praise me for having a short delivery - like I had something to do with it. Enjoy your new little one.

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