Monday, December 3, 2012

Lila Persephone: A pregnancy/birth story

As much as I believe that pregnancy is natural and beautiful and that a pregnant woman is full of grace and magic, I do not seem to embody this during my pregnancies. I feel more like a conglomeration of symptoms, and by the last month I am an achy, hurting mess who is hell-bent on having the house spotless at all hours of the day. At least this time I did not have any major complications (such as gall bladder removal), though I added another interesting symptom: facial numbness after eating. 

I had a good-sized belly early on, which led to speculation that this little one would arrive a bit early. Both Gabe and I had independently guessed November 16th (due date was the 18th). My mom had a bag packed and cell phone in hand about 5 weeks early. With Annabel I had gone into labor in the early morning after my due date (November 21st), but had her just after midnight on the 24th. Here are a couple pictures of the belly the day or two before the due date: 

My due date passed without incident, but in a repeat of the first pregnancy, I woke up to some regular cramping that I soon realized were contractions. They started out six minutes apart and stayed around five minutes apart most of the morning. I called the midwife and I called my mom, who found a flight for that day. Then the contractions stopped in the early afternoon. I went for a long walk, told the baby it was time, maybe did some jumping jacks, but nothing. I felt a bit ridiculous for having my family fly in for nothing and for having Gabe take a day off work. I was also antsy to get this baby here after all the work my body had been doing that day. My mom, sister and nephew picked up Annabel and came over (around 4:30 or 5? don't remember). They made dinner while my contractions picked up again and steadily got more intense. Then back labor kicked in at some point, which made things rough. I welcomed the distractions of people in the house, and when contractions were consistently 3-4 minutes apart and really really hard to get through, we headed off to the hospital. We got there a bit after 8, and I got monitored for 20-30 minutes and checked. The midwife told me that I was only 1-2 cm and that I should labor at home until active labor. I was crushed and had visions of my 46 hour birth with Annabel. Also, things were getting super intense and my back labor was exhausting me already. They recommended taking Ambien so I could sleep between contractions at home and rest up. I was sort of in denial and just could not imagine standing up at that moment much less getting in a car, getting home and getting back in the car to do this all again. I asked to talk it over with Gabe and at that point threw up and had a bunch of contractions in a row. When the midwife came back I told her there was no way I could go home and that I wanted to get in the tub. She admitted me (thank goodness), and I had three contractions on the short trip down the hallway. The  nurse there took a look at me and said I was going to have a baby soon and she got that table set up for delivery. I was very confused and explained I was only a centimeter dilated. They came to fill up the tub but the nurse said she'll check me before I got in so that I didn't have a baby in there (the tubs are too shallow for water births, unfortunately). I should also note that my plan was to have a natural childbirth, but honestly in that moment I just wanted some kind of relief. I was grasping the side of the bed and dreading contractions, very unlike the peaceful birth I had anticipated and prepared for. I think I told the nurse I just couldn't take it anymore, and she said she always hears that right before a baby is born. My midwife arrived and I was checked again - '9 1/2 cm with a bulging bag of waters'. I threw my hands up and said 'yay!'. I also had a slight moment of panic because even if I had wanted something for the pain it was way too late for that - there was only one way out of this scenario. My water broke and I went back to 8 cm and had to stop the urge to push, which was difficult. Once I could push again, it started feeling weird and I sort of freaked out - I think I was screaming to get her out now. The midwife made me open my eyes and breathe and calm down and our baby arrived soon after. Gabe watched and had the same expression of pure awe as he did the first time. Our little girl was born November 19th at 10:56 pm, just a couple hours after they told us to head home. Despite the quick birth, I didn't tear and have had a super quick and easy recovery. 

Our first pic:

She was so alert and watchful for about an hour and nursed well right away. Then we let the nurse swaddle her up and put the little pink hat on her and she slept peacefully: 

Proud parents (repeat pics, I know):

It was hard to pick the right name this time around. We have named her Lila (pronounced Lee-la). I first read about this name/concept in Stephen Nackmanovitch's book 'Free Play: Improvisation in Life in Art' during my grad program. 

There is an old Sanskrit word, Lila (Leela), which means play. Richer than our word, it means divine play, the play of creation and destruction and re-creation, the folding and unfolding of the cosmos. Lila, free and deep, is both delight and enjoyment of this moment, and the play of God. It also means love. Lila may be the simplest thing there is---spontaneous, childish, disarming. But as we grow and experience the complexities of life, it may also be the most difficult and hard won achievement imaginable, and it's coming to fruition is a kind of homecoming to our true selves.

We did not have a middle name until we were leaving the hospital and had to sign the birth certificate. We decided on Persephone. Annabel's middle name is Eden, so they both are mythological names. I have always loved that particular Greek myth. Plus, it's a unique name overall. It can seem kind of heavy when you read the myth (oh my god, they named their child after the queen of death?), but there is something beautiful about the way the earth rejoices in her presence... we looked at it more like this song

Little Lila, we're so happy to welcome you here!
Mommy, Daddy and Annabel

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