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Birth Story Part One: Batgirl

June 6, 2011

The baby formerly known as the fruitbat has arrived! The vital statistics:

Anneliese Napping

Click photo to go to more pics of Anneliese

Anneliese Mary Jarausch
Born at home in Oakland, CA
Tuesday, May 24 at 3:14am

7 lbs 1 oz, 19.5 inches

Here’s the story of how it happened.

Sunday, May 22

Daytime: Very pregnant (39 weeks + 1 day).  Organized a few files, hung out at home, in the evening Peter and I bicycled a few blocks to purchase a used balance bike that will just take up space for a while but makes us happy to have.

9:00 p.m.: Peter and I prepare for bed.  I am a bit restless, tidying up random stuff, and finally lay down for sleeping around 10:00 p.m.  Alarm clock is set for swim practice (5:00 a.m).

11:30 p.m.: I wake up and feel crampy.  I wonder if I’m going to make it to swimming in the morning.  Visit the bathroom and fall back asleep.

Monday, May 23

2:30 a.m.: After hourly awakenings with that crampy feeling, I wonder whether the heating pad will help ease the pressure.  I wake Peter up because I don’t know where the heating pad is, and he sets me up and asks if I’m okay.  I order him to go back to sleep and he laughs at me.  This is the scenario we practiced in our birth class, where early labor begins at night and our main goal is to rest up for the journey ahead.  The heating pad does not help, rather, it brings on my first actual contraction-y contraction.  But I can still fall asleep and thankfully so does Peter.  I turn off my alarm clock.

7:00 a.m.: I am awake and definitely having contractions, but they’re still mild and about 15-20 minutes apart.  We lay in bed for a bit and marvel at the reality of the moment.  Then I decide that I must go to the office and clear off my disaster of a desk.  Despite Peter’s objections, I convince him to go get a City CarShare and drive me to downtown (to my credit, I did not try to bike there!).  I send a couple of warning emails to key colleagues and bosses and set the deadline of noon to be finished with loose ends for work.

8:00 a.m.: Peter picks me up at home and we head to downtown Oakland.  I spend about 20 minutes cleaning off my desk, gathering files that could be useful to organize from home, and before another soul enters the office we are outta there!

9:00 a.m.: Contractions are still about 15 minutes apart, and I am sitting on the yoga ball frantically sending explanatory emails to colleagues so that the major report release that’s scheduled for the following day can proceed smoothly in my absence.  Meanwhile, Peter conducts nesting activities on my behalf – puts away dishes, mops all the floors, and sets up the birth tub.

12:00 p.m.: Email auto-responder is on and the computer is turned off.  Peter makes us grilled cheese sandwiches and we sit and eat a final “just the two of us” lunch at the kitchen table.  Let the waiting begin!

1:00 p.m.: I am really not so good at just sitting around, so I decide to go out and water the garden.  Contractions are closer together now, maybe 10 minutes apart, and I need to focus on breathing because they are getting more intense.  It is a gorgeous day out and we spend some time in the yard, trying out a few of the labor positions we learned in our birth class.  But I am starting to moan some and we don’t want to scare the neighbors so we head back inside.

2:00 p.m.: How about a nap? We lie down and put on the Podcast of “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” from that weekend.  After about a half hour Peter turns it off (I’m not sure why, I was listening!) and times my contractions.  About 6 minutes apart. I am now kind of singing through the contractions, trying to keep my voice in a low octave and relax.  Peter feels me tensing up as I do this and asks whether I shouldn’t be trying to relax, and not “sing” with such focus.  I don’t know any other way to cope so I keep on singing.

3:00 p.m.: We call the midwife to give her an update.  I am consistently feeling like I need to go to the bathroom and she thinks that perhaps the baby is tilted – maybe doing some lunges on the back stairs would help, and try to do them during contractions (what??).  So outside we go, and I do some weird frog-leg lunges as instructed, but I only last about 20 minutes before I am done with that and come back inside.

6:30 p.m.: I call the midwife because when I get up, the contractions are more like 4 minutes apart – but when I lay down they are 6 minutes apart.  (4 minutes is the normal threshold for “active labor,” when the midwife gets involved.)  She thinks it’s too early because the contractions aren’t consistent and we agree that she’ll stop by on her way home from yoga, around 9:00 p.m.  I don’t remember if we had dinner, but I am starting to need to be kneeling during contractions because they are stronger.  I mention to Peter that we could fill the birth tub, but he is concerned that it won’t stay heated long enough so the tub remains dry.

9:00 p.m.: Tenaya (our midwife) arrives and hangs out for about an hour.  She checks my vitals and monitors the baby’s heartrate during a couple of contractions.  When she has me lie down to feel the baby’s position, the contractions slow to 7-8 minutes apart – when I’m upright they are more like 4 minutes apart.  So I am offered a couple of options.  I can get a vaginal exam to see how dilated I am, and possibly try to reposition the baby.  I can try to walk around and do some stairs to see if things will pick up.  Or, I can try to relax myself and get some rest in the event that we’re still doing this tomorrow.  How to relax?  Take 2 Benadryl and drink a glass of wine.  I opt for the wine, and Tenaya gives me 2 25 mg capsules of Benadryl and says to call her when things pick up.

10:30 p.m.: I down the Benadryl, drink my wine, and decide to take a shower for extra special relaxation therapy.

11:30 p.m.: After about 30 very comfortable minutes in the shower, I lay down in bed and try to sleep.  For about 30 minutes, the contractions are slowed to 10 minute intervals and I can doze in between.  But soon they speed up…

Tuesday, May 24

12:30 a.m.:  Contractions are now 6 minutes apart and very strong.  I head back to the shower.  Peter brings me the yoga ball to lean over, and then a blue foam pad for my knees.  Otherwise, he’s kind of baffled as to how to help.

1:00 a.m.: I ask Peter to call the doula, Emily, and to start filling the birth tub.  I’m trying to continue to moan at a low octave but it’s getting really intense and at some point, I’m just flat-out screaming.  This does not help Peter figure out how to support me – he focuses on trying to fill the birth tub, which is difficult because I’m still in the shower.  (We have an on-demand water heater so the hot isn’t a problem, just the water pressure.)  Peter reports that the doula is on her way, ETA is one hour, and he keeps checking on me and bringing me water and juice.  At some point he brings me a peanut butter sandwich, cut into quarters, which is amusing and appreciated.

2:04 a.m.: My water breaks, dramatically.  I dump out my glass of water and try to catch some and make sure it’s not cloudy or bloody – looks okay and I tell Peter to save it for the midwife.  He calls Tenaya and she says she’ll head our way.  Emily has yet to arrive, and within a few contractions I am no longer able to kneel, I am squatting in the shower experiencing a totally new level of pain.  I think, oh my god, this better be transition because if it gets more intense than this, I am going to DIE. I feel an involuntary opening up that can only be compared to how it feels to vomit, except this is in my pelvis and about 10,000 times more intense.

2:15 a.m.: Emily arrives and immediately works with me on bringing my screams back to earth, which helps center me.  (Apparently she walked in and recognized that I was actually pushing already.)  Somewhere in this time frame I nibbled on a corner of a peanut butter sandwich square.

2:30 a.m.: Emily asks me to reach down and see if I can feel the baby’s head.  I can!  But Tenaya isn’t here yet…Peter calls her cell phone and she’s pulling up just then.  Emily turns off the shower and moves me to the toilet, telling me to grunt during contractions so that the baby won’t come out before the midwife shows up.  I am able to do this, partly because I know I’m so close, and partly because I had read about needing to slow the pushing to avoid tearing.  I do NOT want a tear down there!

2:40 a.m.: Tenaya is on the scene and watches me for a few contractions, then convinces me to move to the bedroom so she can have space to work.  I waddle over to my bed and put my elbows on the pillows, facing the wall, on my knees.  I can feel Tenaya spreading olive oil as I stretch, I can hear other voices but really this is tunnel vision time.  I can feel the baby squeezing out and that’s about all I’m aware of.

3:14 a.m.: With final pushes, the baby is born!  Tenaya tells me to reach back and hold my baby, and this HUGE little body, covered in white waxy vernix, enters my arms.  Baby cries, and they maneuver my leg around the umbilical cord so I can sit back and hold the baby.  Once the baby is on my stomach I can tell it’s a she, and as that surprise sinks in she pees on me.  Peter sits behind me to hold me up as we look at her little cone head and the midwives (now there are two – the backup midwife arrived right around the moment of birth) rub in the vernix.  Tenaya tells me to try to feed her, which will encourage the placenta to come out.  I put her to my breast and am totally shocked that I am alive and have a daughter.

The story doesn’t end there.  The placenta was not so straightforward, leading to a few more hours of drama.  When I have another moment for the computer I will type up part two.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 10, 2011 6:14 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this 🙂

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