June 30, 2010

Inner Strength: Kristen's story of Christos' Waterbirth

I had always planned to have a natural child birth, like I had the first time, but after my husband and I separated when I was 2 months pregnant, I had to accept what it meant to be pregnant without a partner, and what it would be like to have a baby all alone. Through it all, I learned that I am so much stronger than I ever thought, and that with faith and focus anything is possible. At the end of the day, going through the labor and delivery was an empowering experience that prepared me to take on the biggest responsibility of my life, and showed me that once we surrender to what is, the universe rewards us with a type of joy and happiness that we could never have planned on our own.

It was January 6, 2010, 3 days away from my due date. I was convinced this baby would come early, like the first one had. I had gotten coverage for my shifts at work starting at my 37th week, thinking that Baby would make a grand entrance around that time. 37 weeks came and went. Then I thought, maybe Baby will come on Christmas. Christmas came and went. Maybe New Year’s? Then New Year’s came and went and still no baby.
At around 11:30 pm that night, I was taking a shower, when I had what felt like a big contraction. Earlier that day, I had visited my chiropractor and asked him if he could "get things going". He said he couldn’t play God, then made a small adjustment in my lower spine, and sent me on my way. I did not know until much later that he had done the Webster Technique, and that it would prove to be successful!

After my seismic contraction in the shower, I felt as though my water had broken, but couldn’t be sure. Could this really be it? No, I wasn’t getting my hopes up. I dried myself off, and got dressed, still questioning if my water had broken. By now it was after midnight. I went downstairs and my brother was sitting on the couch watching TV. I told him that I thought my water had broken, but I wasn’t sure. "Shouldn’t you know if your water broke?" he asked. He asked me what he should do. I told him to go to bed and get some sleep, because if this was it, I would need him in a few hours to be there for my son, Ethan.

So, my brother went upstairs to sleep, and I lay down beside my 4 and a half year old son, who had fallen asleep in my bed. I tried to sleep too. By now I knew my water had broken, because I was soaked, so I got up and put on the clothes I had prepared for this very moment.
The contractions started to come, about 8-10 minutes apart. I remember holding my beautiful belly, talking to the baby, saying goodbye, that I would miss him inside me and that I was so happy he would be in my arms soon. I told the baby I loved him, no matter what, that we were going to do great, to not be afraid. We had been through so much together already, we were strong, and we would be ok.

Soon, the contractions became too intense, and I could no longer lay down and doze between each one. I got up and went over to my desk, sitting on my yoga ball, rocking back and forth gently with each contraction until they passed.

I sat in the darkness of my bedroom, the music from my birth play list softly in the background, listening to the chants Om Namah Shivaya, Ramana Ramana Ramana, over and over again. As the contractions quickly picked up speed, I stayed put on that yoga ball. Between each one, I folded myself forward, laying my head on my bed and resting until the next wave hit. Ethan never woke up; he was as peaceful as an angel, his sleeping breath making me feel safe and warm as I labored to bring his sibling into the world.

It was just the three of us – Ethan, me, and the baby that would soon be here on the outside. I thought about the daddy, the man I had loved so much who helped me to create this child. Things were so different now, so different than they had been when we had made our baby. He didn’t love me anymore, wasn’t there for me, and in this moment, I was ok with that. I was strong, and I could do it. I texted him, he didn’t respond for hours. By then I was in full labor and it didn’t matter anymore. He was not going to be a part of this after all. Deep down I had already known that it would be this way, and I knew it was exactly the way it was supposed to be.

At around 4 am, the contractions became so intense that I ditched the yoga ball and made my way into the bathroom, where I closed myself inside with each passing contraction. At 3-5 minutes apart, I was no longer riding waves but tsunamis, and I had to muffle my face in a towel to keep my screams from waking the entire house. Soon, I heard a little voice at the door whisper, "Mommy," and I opened the door and smiled for my angel, telling him that his brother or sister was on the way. With each contraction, I’d close the door gently, and from the other side that small, brave voice told me to "breathe Mommy, keep breathing." And I did.
Soon, it was really intense, and I knew I needed help caring for Ethan. I told my son to wake up my brother and my mom. My brother came down, finding me doubled over my bed, hardly able to move, and he let me squeeze his hand and he rubbed my back for a minute. I was so grateful. Contractions were about 2 minutes apart, and he said I should call the birth center; I argued for a second and then gave in. When the midwife called back, I was grateful to hear the voice of Susan Thomforde, the one I had felt the safest and most comforted by. She said I should come in.

My mom helped me into the car, and as we drove the 20 minutes to Beverly, it felt like an eternity. I could feel the baby’s head pushing down, and I told my mom to drive faster. I hobbled to the birth center, stopping at the door unable to go any further as a giant contraction froze me where I was standing.

After the contraction passed, I went inside, and waited for a moment in the dark living room for Susan. After a few minutes, I was allowed into the birthing room, where Susan asked if she could check to see how far along I was. I reluctantly agreed, and was shocked when she said I would be having my baby within an hour. Little did I know my baby would be born in 30 minutes!
Susan began to fill the tub as I labored by myself in the darkness. After the water had filled the tub, Susan helped me in. The water eased the pain somewhat, and I could feel my body floating through each contraction. Within a few minutes, I could feel the baby start to come. I remember thinking that I didn’t know how to do this, that logistically I could not make sense of the whole experience. I asked Susan what I was supposed to do, and she said to do what my body was telling me. So I listened.

It was the most marvelous experience, as my baby was born into the water. It only took 2 or 3 pushes before I felt his body emerge, and then everything went quiet. I was no longer in pain, no longer making any noises, and there were no sounds of crying. Just stillness. Time had stopped.
The baby floated under the water, and then Susan and I helped the baby to the surface and he was in my arms. I didn’t even think to look at the baby’s sex, all I could see and feel was a perfect, round little creature, my child. Sweet sweet joyous moment. Then, Susan asked, what do you have? And I looked and saw that it was another son, a brother. And that is how Christos arrived. It happened on January 7, 2010 at 6:35 am, on my father’s birthday.

Ed. Note: Thanks, Kristen, for this beautiful and personal story! Single women have the same rights to their childbirth choices as coupled ones; a great resource for single moms or single pregnant women is YouAndMeKid.net.

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