Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Arrival of Moon Cheese (Asha's Birth Story)

Asha Moremi Ojo
Born on 5/4/2016, 2:24pm
6lbs 15oz, 19.5in

Knowing that second babies tend to come earlier and faster than the first, I was prepared for a quick labor this time. This made me slightly nervous, since my husband works about a hour an a half away and is slave to the train schedule, but knowing that most babies are born during the night, I didn't worry too much. It was a running joke throughout my pregnancy that I was afraid to have a baby in the middle of Yucaipa Boulevard, the long main road that leads to the birth center, a good 15-20 minutes away. I'm afraid I almost jinxed myself.

On Wednesday, May 4, I was technically 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant and mentally very tired of the whole thing. My body hurt, my stamina was nonexistent, and my patience with myself (not to mention Amaliya's patience with me not being able to play tennis with her) had run out.  I'd been to the midwife 2 days earlier, but I was only dialated 1cm and not at all effaced - not unexpected, given that my cervix showed no progress when labor started with Amaliya but still progressed quickly. Still, I was discouraged, and every day more fearful that I would require a hospital induction.

That Wednesday morning I came home from dropping Amaliya off at school, looked at the sink full of dirty dishes and thought, you know what?  Not today.  Today I'm not going to frantically get the house ready just in case this is the day we have a baby. I'm going to enjoy some time to myself. I made a luxurious cup of coffee with butter and cinnamon, and laid on the couch to read for two blissful hours.   Around 10:30, I headed over to the midwife for a non-stress test to check on the baby, stopping for a mini blizzard at Dairy Queen along the way.

I opened the door to the birth center and before I could step one foot inside I heard a "pop" from my abdomen, and felt a sharp cramp along with a small gush of fluid. What perfect timing. We went ahead with the test, which involved being hooked up to one monitor tracking the baby's heartbeat, and another monitoring my contractions.  Moon Cheese was active and healthy, but I wasn't having any contractions. After a quick check revealing that my cervix was, in fact, progressing (3cm, 65% effaced), I headed home around 12 to wait for contractions to start. From the car I called my husband and told him to grab the earliest train home (which happened to be at 1pm), my mom to ask her to leave work and get ready to take Amaliya for the night, and my best friend Pokey (Erin) to come sit with me in the meantime.

I noticed some crampy sensations on the drive home, and had my first intense, had-to-stop-and-catch-my-breath contraction while trying to parallel park the car. My first thought was regret for the sink full of dirty dishes I'd left from that morning.  I ran upstairs to finish packing Amaliya's overnight bag (which was a disaster, by the way. I packed nothing but shorts and t-shirts for a cold rainy day, and forgot underwear and a sweater entirely. Somehow I did remember a toothbrush and all her hair/bath supplies). I came downstairs and attempted to unload the dishwasher, but was in too much pain to get very far. Finally I gave up and put on a movie (Dances with Wolves - I wanted pretty scenery and a beautiful score to distract me. Of course I remember nothing of it, except for glancing up once between contractions and seeing Kevin Costner's bare ass on the screen. There are worse things). At that point the contractions were extremely painful, requiring vocalization and rhythmic movement. I threw up my entire lunch, then draped myself over our ottoman and labored on my knees.

Pokey arrived around 1 or 1:15, I think, and at that point I was timing contractions 5-6 minutes apart. They quickly increased to every 4 minutes, then every 2.  Looking back, I'm amazed at how coherent I was as compared to my first labor. I remembered to try and keep my voice low, to find a rhythm to my movement and breath to help me through each one (I swayed my hips and tapped my hand on the ottoman). I remember desperately wanting to wait until Kunle got home, not wanting to leave without him. And then I had a different contraction - longer, so intensely painful that I lost control of myself and cried, and I felt the baby move distincly downward. My brain short-circuited at that point. I knew I was in transition, I knew we needed to go, I was afraid to leave without my husband with me, I was irrationally worried that he'd come home and not know where I was. I am so, so thankful to have had such a capable friend by my side through all this, since I was unable to vocalize anything that was going through my head.  She made the call that we needed to leave at that moment, a bit before before 2pm, and threw the car seat and my bags into the car. I somehow ended up in the passenger seat, screaming and biting on a pillow, and we sped off.

I had a few bad contractions in the car, but the change in position actually helped the pain and moved things along - not ideal, since we were still 15 minutes away. I had a moment of almost- panic when suddenly, in the middle of traffic and construction on the Boulevard, the pain lessened considerably and the next contraction brought with it the intense urge to push. I've read enough to remember that you're supposed take shallow, panting breaths to avoid pushing, so I tried, and it worked for a while. I saw Erin expertly maneuvering the car through traffic and was so grateful, even in that moment, that she was so calm and in control of the situation. She was using my phone, trying to reach my husband who was on the road, telling him to come straight to the birth center. I said out loud, "I am NOT having this baby on Yucaipa Boulevard!" And she confirmed, "No, you're not!"

We pulled into the birth center and one of the student midwives rushed out. She ordered me out of the car and told me to keep walking, even through the next contraction, likely afraid I would drop a baby on the pavement. The next 10 minutes are a blur. I'm on the bed on my hands and knees; I'm ordered onto my back and hold my knees to my chest; my midwife tells me to breathe her down, so I focus on keeping my breaths even and deep while I push; Pokey is by my head, holding my hand; I feel the ring of fire (something else I don't remember from last time, and wow, what a sensation); I feel when her head, and then her shoulders emerge; finally I'm told, "take your baby!" and I reach down to pull Asha into my chest. 

She's so tiny, I thought. So much tinier than I thought she would be. I worried for about a second, until she let out a loud, angry cry. She turned pink right away.  Healthy and perfect. I felt so much love for her during those first few moments, despite still being in shock over what had just happened.

We waited a bit for the cord to stop pulsing, and just as they were about to cut it, my husband rushed in. All he said was, 'Oh!" and he looked rather dazed as they immediately handed him the scissors so he could cut the cord. He missed the birth by about 5 minutes.

We forgive him

That is how Asha entered the world, only 2.5 hours after my first contraction. Moon Cheese does what Moon Cheese wants, after all.

I received a shot of pitocin in the thigh due to some heavier-than-expected bleeding, and delivered the placenta easily. Once I was cleaned up and checked, they propped me up in bed and left us alone to marvel at our creation for a while. We laughed at her enormous feet, were amazed by how she already loved to suck on her hands. She has a very strong latch and nursed well from the beginning. A perfect specimen, all around.

Pokey picked up Amaliya early from school and brought her over to meet her sister, only an hour after she was born. Amaliya walked in nervously, overwhelmed and obviously very excited. She was thrilled to meet her sister, climbing into bed with us and showering her with kisses immediately. She got to "help" with measuring and examining the baby and watched with amazement as they trimmed the umbilical cord.  I was so proud of how maturely she handled the situation, especially considering how surprised and overstimulated she was by the whole thing.

Moral support



And then, 3 hours after the birth.... we were home!  Pokey picked us up dinner, Kunle dropped Amaliya off at my parents' house for the night, and we settled in for a long, sleepless, yet blissful first night with Asha.

It's a nice feeling, to know that your family is complete.

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