Part I Part II Part III Part IV
So the biggest moment had past. The baby was here, and all was well, but there was still significant business to attend to before the big thing all of us were looking forward to (sleep).
Being the one who had just given birth--in my dining area--I had the privilege of more or less hanging out and holding a baby while the others bustled around me. In this moment I did have a fleeting thought of "why didn't I give birth in the bed?" but it's one of those retrospect things. I couldn't ask for a re-do, and it seems that everything worked out OK anyway so again, it was what it was. I was reclined fairly comfortably against some pillows, and was covered with warm towels from the dryer, and was generally cozy amid the bustling.
Before too long I delivered the placenta, and it was in good shape; always a good thing. Now, placentas have never been my favorite thing. When I have paid attention I have found them somewhat fascinating; I mean, they really have a big job there in the womb, getting nutrients and stuff to the baby. But I've always been content to trust the docs'/midwives' assessment and get on with things. Carol later said she and Marte felt it was a beautiful placenta, and this is an area where I chose to trust them, and say "thank you" and be honored that I had a beautiful placenta.
Carol sat (or maybe knelt?), observing, and probably poking at my belly, and at one point said, "You're about to earn yourself a shot of pitocin," (to make my uterus contract and help slow down bleeding) to which I replied "I will think non-bleeding thoughts," and in the end I didn't need a shot of pitocin. Whether it was just fortunate timing, or my thoughts actually did affect things we can never know for sure, but I am glad to take credit for it anyway. Good job, Skerrib, for mentally talking yourself out of a pitocin shot.
After all of this we decided it was time to get me into bed, which I thought was a fabulous idea. Carol was very concerned that I not get dizzy or pass out. Her advice was, "If at any point you feel dizzy, you just sit/lie down because once the dizziness starts it doesn't get any better from there." I thought that was good advice. I've been fortunate to not have dizziness after any of my births, although I have to be conscious about taking in a full breath. I don't know all that much beyond high school anatomy, but I imagine it's something relating to my diaphragm, and readjusting to not having a baby taking up all that interior space anymore, or something. But I'm totally guessing on that, so who knows. The point is, I remembered to breathe, and we all went back to the bedroom, and I gladly climbed into bed without any troubles. Which is good, because had I gotten dizzy it would've been awkward with all of us squeezed into the hallway and me lying on the floor trying to think non-dizzy thoughts.
Next we set up to do the cord burning. "What's that, Skerrib? What on earth is cord burning and, seriously, are you some kind of hippie??" My rough summary of cord burning history and philosophy is that it goes back to some of the Eastern (Asian, I think) practices, with the body's Chi (energy) and stuff like that. Burning the cord instead of clamping it is good for the baby's Chi, and helps him/her get a good start. I'm not too sure what to make of the Chi...I think there's an element of mystery to be appreciated about the Chi, and in general there are things about the human body that we don't fully understand, and I'm certainly all for good Chi, but beyond that it gets a little freaky-deaky for me, so I don't delve too far into it.
As far as the technical aspects--Carol had a baby-sized heat shield (cardboard wrapped in foil) that we placed in front of the baby (who was snuggled next to me). The heat shield had a little opening for the cord to come thru, and then the cord was placed over a little metal bowl. Carol then used a candle to burn the cord, which as a result was cauterized, sealed, sterilized, and so on, leaving a cord stump about 3-inches long. It wasn't really any more cumbersome than a clamped-cord stump and in our case it fell off much sooner than average, within about 3 days. Some families choose to do a prayer or song or something during the 5 minutes or so that the cord burning takes; others don't. Being generally very practical about most things, we were content to simply watch and be part of the process.
After this there was the weighing and measuring, and final once-overs and such, and soon it was time for the ladies to slip out and leave us to sleeping. Which the Cat Daddy and baby did plenty of, but I only did sporadically because, you know, I'd just had a baby and all.
The boyz came back home after they woke up the next morning to greet their new sister.
Carol (and sometimes Marte) came back several times over the next several days for checks & rechecks and such. Carol shot me in the butt on Easter (I'm Rh-negative), because really, what better time to be shot in the butt than on the day we celebrate the Resurrection?? And just like that, we were off & running, our brand-new family of 5.
And really, that pretty much sums up the story. I keep stalling in my mind a bit. I mean, how do I make sure to capture it all, this practical, and maybe even a little bit hurried, telling of such a sacred, heady event? There's no way to get it all. But I think I got the best and most important parts.
I've had a couple of motivations for sharing the whole story. I know home birth is different than the norm for most people, so I hope I've taken out some of the mystery of it. It's certainly not for everyone, but for me it has been a wonderful thing (and I'm always glad to talk people's ears off about it, so if you have any questions or curiosities, please feel free to comment or email).
My personal goal, however, was to at least get the facts down--gory details and everything--knowing that as time passes and I come back and read them, my memories and feelings will be triggered, and I'll remember the experience and be so grateful that I got the privilege of it all.
Thanks for joining me...