Skip to content

Bronte’s Birth Story, Part One

October 2, 2010

Disclaimer: This is a birth story. It contains tales of blood, vermix, blood, menses, impromptu ti leaf labor ceremonies, nonlinear storytelling, love, loss and gallons of raspberry leaf tea. If that kind of thing is not YOUR thing. That’s ok, move along, you won’t hurt my feelings. If birth IS your kinda thing…well it’s your lucky day.

Disclaimer 2: My feelings about caesareans are my feelings, it’s ok if you have different ones.

Disclaimer 3: This is a really, really, really freaking long post so I’m breaking it up over two days.

Waking in the surreal pale pre-dawn light of September 9th I knew I was poised to meet one great loves of my life.  Rarely is this an experience that occurs with a lot of warning, let alone a clearly marked date on the calendar but our Bronte was born a scheduled caesarean. Baby Day said the calendar. Before Nick and I carried our bags out of the quiet house, we went in to check on Jarah breathing softly in his sleep. The circumstances of Jarah’s birth directly influenced the reasons for Bronte’s birth. So let’s go back to early November 2008.

My little son was making himself at home inside me having just pushed past the 2 weeks overdue  mark. My mom had flown out in mid October to help prepare and be present for the birth. Now here she was extending her plane ticket and had reached the point where she was literally dusting the lightbulbs to pass the time.  I should have probably been helping but I was too busy sobbing over Discovery Health birth shows and chugging cup after cup of raspberry leaf tea which I was assured would make my uterus do something. Anything. I stopped answering the phone because NO THERE WAS NO BABY YET BECAUSE APPARENTLY HE WANTS TO WAIT UNTIL TOY STORY 36 COMES OUT AND HE IS OF AN AGE TO SKIP BABYCHINOS AND MOVE STRAIGHT TO TRIPLE SHOT ESPRESSOS AND MARTINIS. My sister would come home from work and we’d walk (well, I’d waddle) up an uber-steep local hill. At one point she broke off some ti leaves from a neighbor’s yard and did an impromptu and impressive labor inducing quasi pagan birth ritual on the side of the road. I read books by midwife Ina May, began rubbing geode crystals (literally, I actually did this) meditating on cervical openess, i-Tuned wolves howling (literally, I actually did this) to channel my inner powerful birthing animal, and was stumbled onto by my bewildered husband bawling my eyes (yet again) out to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack which seemed suddenly impossibly beautiful and mystical. 2.5 weeks overdue is a loooong time in a life of a full-blown pregnant woman. Here is a snap from that period where I am gamely trying to put a brave face on the situation:

And no, I did not miscalculate my due date. To say Jarah was planned is an understatement. His conception was probably one of the most meticulously charted and recorded and planned for conceptions in the history of this dazzling, fertile island. Which brings me back to early summer 2007 (I promise we’ll really end up back in 2010 eventually). I was 27, 7 weeks pregnant with an embryo whose name I’d already picked out. And I was bleeding. The only female obstetrician on the island was breaking the news that this embryo had no heartbeat. It was “a blob,” her sensitively chosen literal words. For 3 weeks my body would not let this pregnancy go. Finally I ended up in the hospital with a kindly grey haired anesthesiologist reassuring me that he made his salary not from putting people to sleep but waking them up again. I woke up an hour later babbling incoherently and apparently shaking all the medical staff’s hands having received a D&C.

Which brings me back to when I was 19 or 20. Some of my best girlfriends and I ended up at a women’s retreat dubbed Mad Moon Mamas north of Missoula, Montana. For a few life altering days we talked many things female, including birth deep and heavy . I left dreaming of my future powerful birth stories. How I would one day get forged in the burning fire of labor into a powerful woman and mother. Having a miscarriage, especially one that ended in a trip the sterile world of the OR rattled my confidence in that long-held assumption. Against all logic and better judgement I fell into a depression. I realized how charmed my life had been to that point. How subconsciously I really did believe that things would always work out for me, because they generally did. And suddenly, this thing, this baby/embryo/”blob” (that doctor was a source of pain and anger for a long time after) was no longer a happy due date. It was a raw hole.

For the next 8 months I lived wounded and ragged in one of the most fecund and fertile places on the planet fixated on gaining back what I had lost. Then just as the first pregnancy was to come to fruition, I was finally pregnant again. A pregnancy where again I white-knuckled began bleeding again at 7 weeks but  this little embryo kept its heartbeat. I was scared pretty much all the time. Scared that at any minute this little life was going to vanish before it ever really started. I started having high blood pressure near the end of my second trimester and began being monitored for preecylampsia which never actually eventuated. In hindsight seems obvious it was just my own unhealthy fear manifesting itself.

So there I was at 2.5 weeks overdue with Jarah when I finally agreed it was time for an induction. I was conflicted. Friends called to tell me how I could still have a natural childbirth while I could hear my mom on the phone worrying about the intensity of inductions. Nick held my hand while they started the Pitocin drip into the IV. I had the lights dimmed, soft music playing and kept my eyes closed ready to embrace whatever crazy tidal wave of contractions were to come.  I might as well have been at the spa with the multi-jet showers, foot massages and fluffy pillows. For two days I sat with Pitocin dripping into my body in higher and higher amounts while my family began wondering out loud if I was some sort of X-Men mutant who couldn’t feel pain in labor.

I never felt even a whiff of pain but after 2 days Jarah’s heart rate began to plummet while my cervix stayed undilated. The doctor was called by the night nurse who was alarmed as I was and when he suggested I could try wait until the morning, I told him it was time for a c-section right then and there. He pulled my birth plan out of my chart and reminded me of my strong commitment to natural childbirth. I was only half joking when I said if I had a fork and knife I’d do it myself then and there. I needed to baby out, alive and well.

So I ended up just after midnight  blinking in the bright lights of yet another operating room where I was assisted in getting out my baby through the lower half of my belly. He had the umbilical cord wrapped tight around one leg so I felt I made the right call as I lay on the table, focusing intently on a screw in one of the bright lights blazing into my face, attempted to breath deeply and calmly and realized for the first of perhaps 1,000,000,003 times to date that parenting is not exactly what I expected. I didn’t feel anger, or deep disappointment. Just dazed like the universe was teaching me a not so subtle lesson. You are now a mother. Prepare to be turned inside out. Literally.

I healed. I had my healthy, amazing, sunshine of a son:

It was more than I ever expected but I wished deeply I had worried less during the pregnancy and enjoyed the ride more. But at the end of the day, I found to my surprise I was at peace with my first birth. I felt good about my choices and had no regrets about having a “belly” birth and would often talk to Jarah about my scar and how he came into the world.

Flash forward Dec 31, 2009. We were in Arizona visiting my parents who offered to take the wee boy for the night so Nick and I could go out and get our crazy on. At that time I felt like I was 30, going on 300 and that a night out was not just a good idea but a necessity. I had a weird premonition I was pregnant though I knew it was highly unlikely. After a negative pregnancy test confirmed I was simply paranoid, I went out on the town with my husband, sisters, pal Jeff from Hawaii, Jose Cuervo and his more upscale amigo Senor Patron. Here is some evidence:

Three days later, still feeling hungover I took the other test in the pack. Just to reassure myself that I hadn’t just gone on the biggest bender of the last 4 years with a baby on board. The test winked cheerfully positive, “Pregnant.”  And so I embarked on an unexpected pregnancy which was like the soft whisper of a dandelion fluff being blown into a summer’s breeze compare to the fear and stress I felt with Jarah. It was like the baby was sending out little inter-uterine signals, “Mama it’s all good, I got this, just kick back and relax.” The whole pregnancy was so incredibly laid back and sweet. There was only one stressor. Neither hospital on Kauai performs VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean). If I want to push this baby out the old fashioned way, it was going to happen either at home or at the hospital in Honolulu.

Tomorrow will post Part Two, that part where Bronte actually gets born…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Courtney permalink
    October 2, 2010 9:34 pm

    I loved reading this. Your are a very talented writer. Now after having a baby I can seriously sit around and read and listen to birth story after birth story. I have been thinking a lot about my own lately after a brief intermission of about 2 months. So needless to say, I am on the edge of seat right now to hear the rest. Keep writing and give those babies a squeeze.
    ~Love, Courtney

    • October 4, 2010 8:53 pm

      It’s funny how having a baby makes you so much keener on birth. It was the exact same for me too! Give your cutie a squeeze for me 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: