On Monday, January 18 at 3pm, Andrew and I gave birth to Roran, a beautiful 8 pound boy. All is well, there were no complications, and we have returned home to rest. Mom, dad, baby, brother and sister are delighting in the new dynamic of our family, and still soaking in the buzz of the experience we have just had. Below is our birth story.
After 42 full weeks of pregnancy, Andrew and I decided to employ acupuncture and Chinese herbs to encourage labor on Sunday, January 17. By 9 p.m. that night we were checking into the hospital and getting settled in our room with regular contractions about 7-10 minutes apart.
The children were thrilled with the hospital’s luxury birthing suite and big screen television, and we all stayed up until 2 in the morning watching Fiddler on the Roof. After a few hours of rest, by 7 a.m. Monday morning we were in the labor pool. The sensations were becoming more intense and quite frequent. Getting into the water was the most wonderful amelioration of “pain,” and after lighting candles in the room and putting on music, we stayed in the birthing pool until 11 a.m.
Despite the water feeling wonderful, I had not “progressed” and dilated, so we got out of the pool and headed back to the room to walk the halls and get a change of scenery. Contractions slowed down, and at 1 p.m. there had been no change in my cervix. The hospital’s staff started to exchange worried glances, whispering in the corner.
I should add at this point that although we explained to the hospital the type of natural birth we were looking for, the doctors and nurses were very worried about all sorts of fatal and other nasty possible complications that might arise from my having two previous c-sections. They were not pleased that we had refused all tests and scans, and we went in as infrequently as possible to let them take my blood pressure and chart my weight gain. It is only Andrew’s impeccable Chinese (both vocabulary and cultural understanding) that allowed us to decline each and every ultrasound, blood test and inspection, while still being allowed to show up and birth a baby.
It is no surprise at 1 p.m. I was offered drug intervention, and while refusing their suggestions, I have to say I started to become a little scared and worried. The sensations were fairly strong and yet it sounded like labor was not progressing in a quick manner, and I began to think of how easy it was to birth Niame and Ian. After preparation and surgery with the first two children, an hour and-a-half elapsed and I had a baby in my arms. I definitely began to question my desire for a natural, drug free birth this time around.
I stood up after the doctors left the room, and the sensations changed immediately. The intensity hit the roof, and all Hypnobirthing breathing techniques that I had learned were mostly thrown out the window. We asked for the birthing tub to be refilled, and I swirled my hips like a belly dancer for a good 40 minutes before the water was ready.
We got into the water, and immediately my body was pushing everything downward. It wasn’t like the movies; I was kneeling up in the water and my body and gravity did all the work. Within 10 minutes of being in the birthing pool I could feel the baby’s head, and we called the doctors. They couldn’t believe I had gone into the final stage of labor so quickly, and thought we were a little crazy when we said the head was crowning. Within an hour of entering the water, the baby was in my arms.
Andrew caught the baby, as I decided to stand up in the tub to birth him. Andrew cut the cord, weighed the baby, did all the diagnostic procedures, and when we left the hospital that morning, we realized that not one nurse or doctor ever put a finger on our child. We managed to show up and use the facilities and birth our boy naturally, without intervention, medicines, shots or tests, leaving a room full of Chinese hospital staff stunned watching the experience.
The children were present throughout the process, Ian filming the birth and Niame taking still photos. It was the most intense 24 hours that I have experienced in my life, and yet I woke up this morning and effortlessly dressed my baby and carried him out of the hospital and into a taxi to head home. Now that I reflect again on the “ease” of the cesarean I had with Ian and Niame, I remember that for three weeks following I hobbled around, barely able to bathe or cook for myself, with layers of abdominal sutures that rendered me mostly immobile.
After the birth, although a bit tired, I was fully functional and couldn’t believe that less than 24 hours before I was experiencing something more powerful than I had ever known.
Not knowing the sex of the baby ahead of time, we had three names typed out on paper to hand to the office when it was time to take care of paperwork. Andrew was left to make the final decision since he had always dreamed of naming a son Damien Michael, and it was only because of my loud protests that we spent 10 months looking for boy name alternatives.
Baby boy was born with blond red hair, and for the moment, grey blue eyes. To Andrew’s dismay the one thing he didn’t look like at all is a Damien. Roran is sleeping and eating well, and has already blessed us with a basket of diapers to wash. He is bundled up in all the clothes that have been waiting folded in tiny little piles for his arrival, and the children just can’t get enough of him. He smells amazing, and makes sweet little sounds with his mouth.
We are truly blessed and happy.