Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dear MEAC Sisters!

Dear Friends, As another meeting comes and goes I realize how much I miss you. I find that I think of you often over the course of the months. I have been a terrible "long distance" friend, and pray for your patience as I resolve to give more care to those that matter most to me, which include you.

I recently sent an announcement of Jack's birth to all of you, but sense that something went wrong with the delivery as I didn't hear from any of you and now see your request to see some pictures. So sorry it didn't come through. Although, this gives me an opportunity to send a more personal message.

I am sure that you wonder how the birth went in comparison to Maggie’s, and how she is adjusting to a new sibling. . .

The full story will take more time to put down than I have here, be assured that I really want to share it with you and will. But in short form, this was a FABULOUS birth. I worked very hard in preparing as I had some significant fears that became stronger and stronger as the days before delivery became shorter and shorter. I worked with my midwife and a doula which made all of the difference. One comment from my doula made a particular impact on my preparation. She said, “Jodie, do you believe that a baby does a significant amount of the work during labor?” I had to say no, that I hadn’t really considered that since my experience with Maggie was that I had done so much of the work myself. I thought a lot about that afterward and eventually decided, “Well, if that’s the way it’s set up, then doggone it, I’m going to let this baby and my body do all the work, I’m just going to show up!” I also decided that I wasn’t going to push until my body demanded that I do.

One seemingly unfortunate piece of the drama was that a month before I delivered, Maggie had a terrible flu for two weeks. It was exhausting to care for her and try to keep her safe. We eventually had to make a trip to the emergency room during her sickness. Then I got the same flu right after. I have never been so sick in my life and thought a few times that I wasn’t going to make it through. The thought that I was going to die seriously passed through my mind. Everyone told me that I didn’t need to worry about going into labor while I was sick because my body would hold off until I was better. This didn’t happen. I went into labor two weeks after I got sick at the height of my illness.

However, as I look back, I couldn’t be more grateful. Not only have I learned so much from being so sick, but it made my labor exactly what it needed to be. As I began to go into heavy labor I realized that I had no voice and couldn’t make any sounds. This was initially very scary for me because I didn’t know what I was going to do if I couldn’t manage my contractions with some noise! However, I settled into my body and let it take over and the result was a magical labor. I began to use my tongue as my management tool and it was just perfect. With each contraction I imagined my tongue as my cervix and vaginal tissues, and made it as soft as possible with each contraction. If I had to describe it as anything I would call it a Zen Labor. It was silent, dark, and gentle and I felt completely centered and soft. It was fascinating to be so sensitive and aware that I was able to feel every detail of my cervix softening and my baby moving through the birth canal. I had no such sensations during Maggie’s birth. Her birth was full of sheer work and strain. There were times where I felt him stop moving down with my contractions and fear would rise inside of me that we were stuck. I would vocalize this fear as best I could and my midwife would walk me through it and I’d simply change positions and re-center. I labored in a birthing tub from 3:00 in the afternoon until about 9:45 in the evening. I was a prune to be sure. I felt like we were at a stuck place again so we moved to the bathroom. I hate laboring on the toilet because it just hurts like hell, but I knew it was the right next step. As I worked through my contractions again I realized that my baby was right at the point of moving under my pelvic arch. This is where Maggie got stuck resulting in a 10 hour push, and I felt a great sense of fear of this place. However, again because I was in such a sensitive place I realized that now during each contraction I was resisting with my pelvic floor, I was pulling up instead of staying soft. It was so hard to walk into this terrible fear I had of letting this baby begin to come through the birth canal rather than resist it. I can’t describe how it felt other than the fear and the pain were so intense that submitting to it was an out-of-body experience. It was here that I began to push.

The result of all of this was an incredibly gentle labor with a pretty short push. Jack was born perfectly, with a beautiful little cry, and BREATHING. I couldn’t quite take it in as you can imagine. Doug and I couldn’t believe that we actually had a baby and it wasn’t 45 hours later!

This time my active labor was 24 hours with a 45 minute push. Amazing! I was so grateful to have had such a perfect birth team that had helped me prepare so well, and were so perfect in working me through some scary, difficult spots.

At one point my midwife said, “Jodie, do you realize that all of us here at your birth are the fruits of your labors of MCU?” I hadn’t realized it but all three of my attendants were graduates of MCU since it had been under my stewardship. It was a sweet, humbling moment.

My recovery was hard however. I remained very, very sick for another week and a half after Jack was born. My exhaustion resulted in some wicked postpartum blues. But since I have recovered from the flu, those have slowly evened out. I’m now going through the natural challenge of managing two instead of one.

Jack is a strong, beefy boy and looks just like his dad. He’s grown over a pound and an inch in the two weeks after his birth. My milk had come in strong and rich, and he nurses like a trooper. It is such a different experience from Maggie.

She loves him so much. She is gentle and interested. I put her just close enough to him that she can reach out and stroke his hand or his head.

She is almost two now and is really wanting to be naughty without quite being able to. I am working on giving her as many opportunities to grow , experiment, and explore that a normal two year old would have. She is a joy.

I love you all so much. I’m so grateful for the many years of friendship we have enjoyed. I feel so grateful to have your strong love and prayers and intentions for joy with me.

I pray for you alike, that your families, relationships, and endeavors will be prosperous and blessed. Many blessings to this meeting and to MEAC.

I love you all. You will hear from me again soon.