Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Birth of Little Jem, Part 1

Hello dear reader: My valiant attempts to tell this entire story as a single blog post before the end of my maternity leave were met with the humility that is woven so completely into my life now as a mother of two--it's everywhere I turn, both in the world and in my self. I return to work tomorrow, and only half of this post is done. And so, I am posting Part 1 of 2 now, with plans to post Part 2 sometime in the near future. 


Preparing to write this post ~
photo is of my laptop displaying blank
Blogger post draft titled "The Birth
of Little Jem," with 8-week-old
Little Jem in foreground
Four and a half years ago, I wrote up my experience of giving birth to my first child, my daughter Bookie. I've revisited that post so often in the years that followed that I always knew I wanted to write a similar post for any other babies I had. 

Ten weeks ago I gave birth to Bookie's brother, Little Jem. 

(My last post on the blog was at week 39 of my pregnancy; note that since then I've changed up how I'll spell Little Jem's blog nickname--because these things matter! As per usual practice, please refer to him and his sister by their blog nicknames in any comments you leave.) 

The experience was different yet similar. Today is the last day of my maternity leave, and I want to post this before I return to work tomorrow. 

It has been hard to find time and energy to write it as reflectively as I'd like, since this time around I have my almost five-year-old running around, filling our lives with delightful mayhem like it's her job (because it is). 

As a result, Little Jem's birth story will take a slightly different format than Bookie's. Since I knew in advance that I wanted to write something about his birth, I began a log of birth-related events on my phone's notes app, beginning with the day Little Jem dropped, and leaving in all of the earthy, material details. 

(Content warning: I write about all sorts of bodily fluids in these posts, including blood, urine, diarrhea, and breast milk, because this is all part of the reality of pregnancy and birth, and the whole premise here is: that reality is empowering.) 

It's a good thing I did, because I wouldn't have remembered all these details otherwise. So, what I will do here is this: I've copied most of the log over into this post with only minor edits, but I will punctuate the logged events with some reflection (in italics) wherever I feel moved to include it. 

And so, here is the story of the birth of Little Jem, Part 1:

Birth log:

Mon March 6: in evening baby dropped, a little less than two weeks until estimated due date

Sun March 12: two Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions: whole tummy tight for over a minute but not painful, just uncomfortable 

I didn't have BH contractions with Bookie. These were super interesting--I rather liked them, as they felt nice and productive (at least in terms of prepping and toning my muscles for labor) without the intensity that would come when the contractions were the kind that would actually progress labor. I also suspect an oxytocin rush accompanied mine, which made them even nicer. A good friend of mine and mama to many little ones likened these to "a hug around your uterus" which I totally agree with.  

Mon March 13: dilated to 2 cm (via OB check), bloody show

Tues March 14 around 12 am: Snow storm Stella begins, est. 12-18 inches of snow through Wed night (note: reached 2 feet); everything closed Tues, Bookie home w/ Baba [grandma], Daddy, and Mommy

Winter storm Stella drops over two feet
of snow on us ~ photo is of my back porch
with wooden post, table and chairs, and
deck rail covered in over two feet of snow

Before that week, I really hoped Little Jem would come a bit earlier than his due date. My third trimester was very hard this time around--no complications, just a lot of illness on my part. Plus, it coincided with one of the busiest times of the academic year: the first half of spring semester. As such, I was very tired, very ragged, and very ready to have my baby. Little Jem was not ready to be born early as I had hoped, but because of winter storm Stella I am now very grateful for this. Getting to the hospital while in labor during and immediately after that storm would have been a huge challenge!

Tues March 14 at 2 am: lost part of mucus plug

Tues March 14 at 11:30 am: lost full mucus plug

Wed March 15: Bookie home from school again, everything closed due to snow

Thurs March 16: Bookie returns to school

Bookie being home these few days because of the storm is significant because, unlike when I gave birth to her, this time I was needing to navigate laboring at home with my daughter's presence in the house. Many families have older siblings be a part of the laboring process; I wasn't sure this was the right fit for us, because I knew I needed to concentrate once labor began in earnest and my way of relating to my daughter about big, new things is to give her my undivided attention so as to answer all her questions and be fully present to and with her. You'll get to see in Part 2 how this aspect of Little Jem's labor and delivery played out.

Fri March 17 at 7:15 pm: feeling crampy in a way that has a little more pain (not much) than the Braxton Hicks contractions have had this week

Fri March 17 at 9:40 pm: felt first thing I would classify as a contraction, mild though it was

This was definitely a mild contraction, but it was also a lone one. 

Sat March 18: walked around Price Chopper then around Steamtown Mall

Trying to walk the baby out of me at the mall ~
photo is of me pregnant (wearing
LuLaRoe leggings and an Irma tunic
shirt) standing in front of a fountain
and glass elevator at the mall
Trying to walk the baby out of me at the mall ~
photo is a selfie of husband Paul and I at the mall,
me in a rose colored tunic top and Paul in
a black beret and winter coat, green tie
and plaid scarf

Sat March 18 at around 10:15 pm: experienced at least one real contraction; did not time it, and don't plan to until they come in regular intervals

Sun March 19: estimated due date; drank two mugs of raspberry leaf tea

I was late to the raspberry leaf tea club this pregnancy, but I did enjoy the few mugs I had in these days just before going into labor. To experience the full benefits of it I would have needed to begin drinking a mug a day many months prior, beginning toward the end of my second trimester.

Self portrait of a woman 40 weeks pregnant ~
photo is a mirror selfie of me in profile
40 weeks pregnant wearing a rainbow
striped long sleeve shirt and grey sweat pants,
taken in the mirror of an antique vanity
with framed photos and other meaningful items on
the table's surface in the foreground

Mon March 20: drank strong brew of raspberry leaf tea, late evening had many Braxton Hicks contractions

Tues March 21 at 10:45 am: Dr. Green (my OB) reported I am 3 cm dilated with a soft cervix; he then did a membrane sweep (two days past my due date) 

Ok y'all, here's the first major point of departure from my birth experience with Bookie almost five years ago. I did not have my membranes swept/stripped while pregnant with her. First, know that my doctor did this at my request and with my full consent. Membrane sweeping is a way to possibly induce labor. You can read about what it entails at the link above [Note: Let me know if that link doesn't work for you.]. I asked about this a week earlier to see if this would be an option for us if I went past my due date. My doctor said it was, as long as I was dilated to at least 2-3 centimeters and my cervix was soft/ripe when he did the vaginal check at this prenatal appointment two days after my due date. Both of those conditions were met, and so I gave him the go ahead to perform the membrane sweep. This didn't hurt for me; it was just uncomfortable. But let me tell you: this procedure completely worked for me, in that it caused the needed hormones to be released in my body to kick labor into action. Little Jem was born less than 24 hours after my doctor performed this procedure for me. 


This seems like the best (read: most intriguing) point to split the two parts of Little Jem's Birth Story. I look forward to finishing this story soon, though as I return to work tomorrow know that I am not only transitioning from maternity leave to full time work, but I'm also transitioning from being an evening worker to being a daytime worker, and from being a Public Services Librarian to being my library's Information Literacy (IL) Coordinator (full details here). I can't say how long it will be until I post Part 2, but the bulk of it is in draft form so hopefully not long! 

In the meantime, come tomorrow it's time to get my IL Coordinator on...

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