A Pickle Is Born!

It all began with your confusing due date. First it was May 13th, then May 15th, and finally we settled on May 18th.  It may not seem like much difference, but in the last days of pregnancy the anticipation combined with living in the body of a beached whale makes each day last forever. The early ultrasounds thought that you needed more time to cook than we had originally estimated, and boy were they right. You didn’t come until May 30th!

The last phase of my pregnancy began on May 1st. I, your mommy, took off work 2 weeks before your due date. I got things squared away at Lula Health Center. It was a hard push in April to the finish line. I felt like a horse heading towards the barn those last 2 weeks at work. I was so excited to get to focus full time on my pending babe. The first week in May went by, then the second . . . and no Pickle. Aunt May May decided to come out to spend some time with her water buffalo of a sister. She hoped to make the big day of your arrival, but alas you were a Pickle and needed more time still. She stayed in town until May 24th, but had to head back to school and work. It was a good thing she came, though, because she entertained my anxious mind as I awaited your arrival. We had a great sisterly time scrap booking ideas for her wedding to Nick and watching Gone With The Wind (I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies, Miss Scarlet.)

The day after May May left, I woke up with contractions. I told Gabe to work from home that day because I was sure I was in labor. We started timing contractions with an Iphone App called Labor Mate. That afternoon he came with me to an acupuncture appointment with Ruthie Moss, who specializes in prego ladies. I was still having contractions. Afterwards we went to have an ultrasound to make sure you were safe and sound in my tummy. After arriving home, the imaging center called and said that they did not get the correct measurement for what the midwife, Kori Pienovi, had ordered. Good lord! Very pregnant and still having contractions, we entered rush hour traffic and headed back across town for another ultrasound! We arrived, waited, and then the ultrasound technician came out and said “never mind- they HAD gotten the correct measurement” . . . Oi vay! That night we got burritos and headed home to prepare for what we thought was your near arrival. By late that night, however, the contractions had faded away.

Two days later I had cramps all day, like a bad period, but no more contractions. When will you be here, Pickle? We want to meet you soooooo badly!!

By the next day, contractions returned. Hurray! We got out the trusty Labor Mate App and began timing again. Luckily it was Saturday so Gabe was home. That day, we went to the farmer’s market up the street. I lied on the sidewalk basking in the sun surrounded by people, contracting away. After that we went with your Aunt Karen to the Memorial Day carnival on the water front. Every time I had a contraction, I made everyone stop in their tracks while I breathed through them. It was an exciting day, but we must have been a hilarious site.  Children were crawling all over the carnival, and it made me even more excited to meet you! That night we were sure you were on your way any minute so we slept in the living room on the couch timing away. I would wake Gabe every 9-10 minutes and say “Contraction” . . . he’d stir half bleary eyed and start the App . . . “Finished. How long was that one?” . . . ”Zzzzz”.  We did this all night long and still no Pickle! We were tired, and I thought I had already experienced some real pain (ha ha ha- little did I know what was ahead).

The next afternoon we had an appointment to see Kori and the other midwives, Corrine (Assistant) and Whitney (Apprentice). They could tell we were fatigued and gave us two options: 1) Slow down the contractions so we could get some rest before the big event OR 2) help speed up the contractions and get the show on the road.  We chose #2- we want to meet you!! So, we went home and did everything they told us to, including calling the acupuncturist to come over to our house to help induce me. Ruthie arrived and as soon as her needles went in, the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and stayed that way. It was an intense treatment: needling, electrical stimulation, moxa. She suggested we go for a walk to make sure the treatment stuck. We decided to head out for a rice bowl dinner 3 blocks away. Ha! By this point, I could barely make it half a block without a much stronger contraction than I had experienced so far. By the time we made it to the rice bowl place, it was closed . . . At that point, I couldn’t think any more about food. I needed to get home. So, we journeyed home and by the time I was back on our couch, the contractions had changed all together. I started moaning uncontrollably with each one. It wasn’t very loud; Just a dull roaring moan for the entire minute or so. I had entered active labor! Hurray! Yikes!

Gabe called Kori and held up the phone as I entered another contraction: “Oaaaaaaaa” . . . “Yep, she’s ready.” We were finally permitted to go to Alma, the birthing center, to check in. Gabe was rushing around our home to get everything together. He had Karen make dinner for us, and she whipped up a glorious meal in a jiffy (although we never got to eat it.) At that point, I told Gabe that we should just have a home birth instead because I wasn’t sure how we were going to make it to Alma. The 5 minute drive seemed like an impossible feat.  But I bucked up, and Gabe helped me get going. As we drove to Alma, I made Gabe stop at every contraction. He even had to pull over on the Hawthorne Bridge. The slightest jolt made the pain so much worse! We finally arrived at Alma and, although, I was in more pain, I was so happy to be on the road to Pickle-ville!

Words can hardly describe what happened over the next 16 hours, from 9:30pm on Sunday – 1:30pm on Monday, but I will do my best. I lie down on the bed in the room and began the next phase of the journey. It was dark with candles lit and felt like I had entered another world. Contractions would come, I would moan and they would pass. They felt like a gripping pain with a hot poker running down the front of my abdomen. Gabe was right by my side. We were soooo tired because we had basically been awake for over 24 hours. Between each contraction, we would fall into a deep slumber. I moved between the bed, sitting in a chair with a neck pillow and sitting in the birth tub. Even sitting in the tub, I would drape my arms over the edge of the tub and rest my head between contractions. I have no idea how I could fall asleep so deeply in that position. Every hour, Whitney would check my vital signs and check your heart rate.  We were moving along slowly, but you were doing great. At one point, Kori came in and suggested that I get out of the tub. She thought maybe it was slowing us down. I was not happy about this because the hot water was cutting the pain a little bit. And I would take any little bit I could. It hurt like hell, over and over and over again. She had me try some contractions leaning over the bed, squatting on a ball, and even sitting backwards on the toilet. I was not a fan of these positions probably because I was so fatigued.

While I was on the toilet, I had Gabe push on my low back in a downward motion towards my tailbone. I think this was the beginning of the transition stage where you are almost ready to descend. Let me tell you, this took things to a new level of pain. At every contraction, I ordered Gabe to push on my low back in just that exact fashion. There was a specific amount of pressure and location that I needed. A contraction would start, and I would say “GABE!” He knew what I meant. I knew it was really hard for him to do every few minutes, but it was so immensely helpful that I had to tell him over and over how much it helped. This carried on for several more hours until we found ourselves back on the bed and all of a sudden, a huge wild banshee scream came out of me. I could feel your head pass through my cervix into the vaginal canal. Wow! That was so hard, but fast. Where was Kori, the head midwife? Since that part happened so fast, I was sure that you were about to appear any minute. And where was my coach! Little did I know this was just the beginning of 3 hours of pushing.

I started to feel the urge to push more and more. The last phase had begun, and at some point after that Kori did appear. This part, the pushing part, was a whole new level of hard. At this point, we were so tired, but I needed all of my reserves to get you out. It was an amazing sensation, (awful at the time, amazing in hindsight.) A contraction would start and build like a tidal wave until *POW* the most amazing force would arise within me, and I would feel you move. Each time it seemed like with that much effort you were sure to be out, but no, you had only moved a millimeter. After a couple hours of this, a magical moment occurred: Your two grandmothers arrived. My mom had arrived in Portland at 11am that day. It was amazing because she had been back and forth about when to come. Then, by some miracle, the labor took so long that she was able to be there for the last hour and see your birth. I think you must have been waiting for them. You have a special bond with your Grandmothers, I can tell, because even now they are able to care for you in a way that you love.

When they arrived, I felt like there was magic in the air. I was at the point where I was ready for them to just yank you out so I could be done with this. I didn’t care if I tore or anything, but your granny’s arrived to give me the extra support I needed to get through it naturally. Then my stomach started to grumble. Oh, boy, I’m hungry. Oh yea, we didn’t have dinner- damn you rice bowl place! I was so hungry! Thank goodness I remembered my friend Julia had recommended I bring some protein shots. Give me that protein shot! Down the hatch . . .  Back in the saddle. As the last hour of pushing continued, Kori asked me to focus my screaming into my pelvis instead of letting the screams fly. As I did this, the pushing got even more intense. I had to have a cold washcloth over my eyes and was fed water through a straw. I couldn’t open my eyes to the outside world. I had to go to a deep internal place and draw up all of the reserves that I had to make it. I had Kori’s words to coach me, and Gabe’s hands on my low back to support me. At each monstrous push, I could swear that you had to have moved a foot, but still you had only moved a millimeter. I didn’t know if I could do another. But another contraction would come, and we’d move you even closer to the world. Towards the end I could hear all of the voices in the room get excited when they could see something appearing.

But it wasn’t your head. They described it as a jelly like sac. That’s when I realized that my water never broke. I hadn’t even noticed. Finally, the last pushes- just when I thought I could not go on, I could feel the largest part of your head creating the “ring of fire”- holy Moses…. And you were out! You were born in your sac. Kori had to break the sac and all of the fluids came pouring out. It was then that we heard your first cries, and they brought you up to my chest. In a flash all of the pain and suffering was gone and we were slip sliding on each other. My first words to you were “My baby! You’re so cheesy and wonderful!” You were covered with a layer of vernix which is a cheesy substance that coats your skin in the womb. Then I had to deliver the placenta. I did not want to bear down again, but alas it was the only way to be finished. Out it came, and I could focus on my new wonderful, perfect baby.

Clara Jay Paez

Monday, May 30th, 2011

*Born in the sac is also known as being “Born in the Caul”. Caul means cap. It is very rare and thought to have special meaning.  The Dalai Lama must be born in the caul! Some think it means you will be clairvoyant, or super lucky, or born to be a midwife, or . . . that you cannot die by drowning. All good things! You are so special!

** Right before we hopped on a plane to go to Uncle Bobby and Aunt Sheridan’s wedding, we found out that you were in a breach position. You had to be manually turned around 3 times in 2 weeks! After the first two, you flipped right back around. The third one stuck- thanks goodness. We could swear you were going to be a dancer.