Since December 27th, I’ve been wanting to write Griffin’s birth story. Well, nearly 3 months later, I’m finally getting around to it. Not only do I want to record the details of the most wonderful day of my life for memory’s sake (I happen to have one of the worst memories on the planet), but I also hope that this story will inspire other soon-to-be parents out there to consider natural birth. I am not going to say that birthing Griffin naturally was painless or easy, but I will say that there are some beautiful benefits to taking that road...the road less traveled in today's western world.
Before I begin, I would like to mention that, yes, I am writing about labor and delivery, and, yes, this will include details and tastefully chosen pictures of my labor and delivery. No private parts will be shown...hence the "private" part (pun intended).
I do not seek out tests of endurance. I am no marathon runner or mountain climber. Most of my life's tests of perseverance have not had happy endings. Like most human beings on the planet, I am a great starter and a pretty terrible finisher. There is nothing special about me in this endurance department, although it is an area of my life I recognize needs work. After much research and strong personal conviction, Oliver and I chose to have our son naturally, without drugs or any other interventions, in a birthing center with a midwife. I've blogged about this decision for natural birth in the past, if you would like to read about our journey in that department. We found Lisa Byrd at Covenant Birth Center in Lexington, SC, and she helped empower and prepare us physically, mentally, and emotionally for the big day throughout the course of our prenatal care. However, nothing can fully prepare you for the massive, life-changing test of endurance that is birthing a baby. I asked my friend, Reilynn (who, herself, birthed 5 babies naturally) to be my doula, and she had stressed several times that birth is like a marathon, taking loads of endurance and focused pacing. She is the kind of person who loves finding the "runners high" of a long race, and I wondered how I, a pretty "wimpy" person in comparison, could climb the proverbial mountain of birthing a baby.
Griffin was due a few days after I completed my last semester of college on December 18th. From the way I felt (and looked!), I thought there was no way I would make it to my due date. So, I made arrangements with my professors for the possibility of an early birth. Somehow, I made it through those last exams and papers in a special desk with a separate seat, being too enormous for a regular desk, and I completed my semester with my GPA not too much damaged...although, at that point, I did not care an iota about my GPA! My dad, step-mom, and brother were due to arrive on the 21st to stay for the birth of Griffin and Christmas. We were hoping his birth would precede Christmas by quite a bit, but our little guy deemed it necessary to stay in the cooker a bit longer than any of us thought was physically possible.
I began the week of Christmas with pretty mild contractions that would stay pretty regular for several hours and then dissipate. This pattern continued throughout Christmas week, and the contraction severity and blocks of time increased as time went by. Several days before Christmas and Christmas Eve day brought regular enough contractions to warrant phone calls to my midwife, asking for advice and giving her a head's up. None of these bouts of contractions amounted to active labor, and my family and I went about having a good time together, doing all kinds of things we all knew I wouldn't be doing for a while after Griffin was born. We went out to eat (although I was bracing through contractions for many a meal), went out to see Avatar in 3-D, and went on long, strenuous walks, hoping to get things going so we could have a baby before Christmas. Well, Christmas came and went, and all Griffin's "First Christmas" outfits had to be returned or shelved for the next baby.
Looks like I'll have to post this story in installments...More to come!