Remembery: When Piper Came to Stay

Monday, July 14, 2008

A year ago this morning, Pete and I were playing Yahtzee at the breakfast table with my parents. I don't remember who won. I was tired, and so discouraged.

The night before, I had started early labor. It was enough to bring my parents up from Lynchburg, as they were planning to be with me for the birth, but not enough to produce a baby that night. We had a thunderstorm, and our power went out until 4:00 a.m. After weeks of Braxton-Hix contractions and false alarms, my labor had stopped.

We spent the morning resting. Mom and Dad went out with Kate.

Early that afternoon, Pete and I decided to take a walk. We did fencing steps most of the way, I remember. When we got back, Dad was napping in the living room, and Mom was napping upstairs.

We decided to follow their lead, but a nap was not to be. At about 3:30 p.m., my contractions began again, this time in earnest.

At first, I didn't believe anything was happening. There was no way I was calling the midwife after so many false alarms and head-pats telling me that I would "KNOW when it's real." I went downstairs and tried to eat, but I could barely stand at the counter when a contraction hit.

The contractions were about 4 minutes apart.

We went back upstairs, where my mom had awakened, deciding to try to watch a movie. I couldn't even concentrate to pick one. Mom tried to teach me how to breathe. I wasn't getting it. 45 minutes after the contractions had begun, we asked her if we should call the midwife to come. A year later, I am still laughing over her emphatic nod. After having gone through this eight times herself, she definitely knew what was happening.

Of course, the midwife was not available when we called this time. Neither was our birth assistant. We called our birth assistant's backup, who had taught our birth class. By the time she arrived about half an hour later, I was in the bedroom laboring away between a small stool, the couch, and my red padded bench.

At the beginning, my dad was cracking jokes, and I wanted to laugh, because they were genuinely funny, but I had to ask him to stop cracking while I was contracting, because my poor stomach got so confused as to what it was doing.

I figured out that I could control my breathing by "singing" through my contractions. I could plan my air supply and relax more easily on a sustained moan. This also gave those around me an indication of the strength of the contraction. I snacked and drank as I could between close contractions.

Pete had finally gotten in touch with our midwife, who was in the process of getting lost on her way to our house, and our birth assistant, who was driving the hour from the conference she'd been attending in D.C. Kate arrived shortly after they did, in time to witness the birth.

I think it was around 5:30 p.m. that my one break came. My favorite moment of my entire labor and pregnancy. The contractions stopped for about eight minutes while Pete and I were kneeling at the bench beside the window. The lighting, the horses in the pasture, the breath, Pete's smile and our quiet joking together, our last moment as just us before Piper entered our lives.

After this, we moved to the bed, where I labored until about 8:30 p.m. before the midwife told me I ought to get up and use the bathroom. I knew that the birth was going to be soon, and I didn't want to move, but she insisted. I had one hard contraction halfway off the bed, and a minute later, as we moved around the end of the bed, Piper's head dropped into position and I had one transition contraction that left me hoarse for two days. I have never yelled like that in my life. I was angry and frustrated with the midwife for making me move and I was yelling at the pain for being there at all. Pete cried. I thought everyone was telling him it was okay, but they were talking to me. No one noticed him but me.

And then we were on the floor. Someone got a mirror so I could watch, and 20 minutes and seven pushes later, Piper came. The midwife wasn't quite expecting her yet, but all of a sudden, her head popped out, and there was our baby. She started to cry, but stopped as soon as she heard my voice telling her it was okay.

They brought her up so she could rest near my heart, and her little eyes popped open, surveying her new surroundings, so curious, unafraid. Her eyes haven't changed. Pete reached forward and let her grasp his finger.

Pete and I showered together, and when we hugged close for the first time in months, I wept. I cried for the next week, actually. I was in shock. It was so amazing.

The first noise we heard from Piper that night when we went to bed was a little sneeze. And then another one. She cried a little, not sure about this being alone thing, then slept. There was a baby in our house.

It is an incredible thing, this life-giving process we women get to experience. It is our rite of passage. Every detail is etched into our memories. We talk about our stories, share them with our children, and remember forever what we went through bringing them into the world. I think I changed from girl to woman when Piper was born.

I know I posted shortly after Piper's birth about what happened for me emotionally during my labor, but I never got around to posting the basics of her birth story. Forgive me a little reminiscence today.


Kate said...

Happy 1st birthday to Piper! :-)

darren said...

Yay for one year! She's an absolute beauty.

S. Mehrens said...

Happy birthday Piper! You are such a big girl now... hard to believe a year ago you were such a tiny fragile little baby.

K, beautiful pic. Piper is such a cute little girl.

the Joneses said...

Wow, I feel like I went through labor with you. Um, yeah, thanks for that. Piper is such a lovely little lady!

-- SJ

K said...

And you survived!

Tricia said...

Home delivery stories are always unique. Did you feel really brave, having your first at home?
This is totally off topic, but I love your work on Leeann's template. It's beautiful!!

Kelly Sauer said...

Tricia, I didn't feel brave, really. We didn't have a home birth to make a statement. I had a really bad hospital experience two years before, and my heart really needed to be at home. The more we learned about birth, the more it seemed to fit. I needed a place I could be myself and relax and not have to worry about being in control.

I should also note, however, that my birth was out of the ordinary for a first-time mom. Normally, it can take between 10 and 48 hours, and I was told that first time moms usually push for a minimum of an hour. My labor was 5 1/2 hours, and I pushed for only 20 minutes. I am very thankful that it went so well, and I pray that if we have more children, we will have the same good experience.

Thanks for your kind words about Leeann's template. That one was quick, but fun, and SO her! When are you going to get a blog so I can do yours? :-P

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