Some people think it's insane that I was updating my Twitter stream throughout my childbirth/labor experience - as in during my contractions, from the hospital bed, through my water breaking, my epidural, and immediately after pushing out the Pod.
It's not that I needed everyone to know every single detail. People WANTED to know - loved ones from all over the world were calling my phone, my husband's phone, my sisters' phones - all wanting to know if Pod had emerged yet. My loved ones, friends and family alike, were ENGAGED and INVESTED in this event.
I share my life online, and have been doing so, in various incarnations and under various monikers, since 1999. So I shared this experience also - as part of my digital evolution. It is also a permanent record, for myself, to remember the hyper-conscious moments - and relive them.
Photos of my beautiful son are here on Flickr.
Here is my/Phoenix's Birth Story, which I summarized to send to my in-laws, who are in the UK:
Phoenix Orison De Jesus Kenefick
Born Sunday, July 15th, 2007 at 8.43pm, 8 lbs 11 oz, 21 inches long, head 13 cm, after 15.5 hours of labor
I was scheduled to be called in for the labor induction on Saturday, July 14th, and the hospital told us to be ready to come in as early as 5am that morning, so that is what Matt and I prepared for. We waited for the call from the hospital - for an available bed/room for labor and delivery. It was so hot that day - completely sweltering - and I was so impatient to get "the show on the road" - torn between impatience and growing anxiety. We waited the ENTIRE day for the hospital to call - and I even called them several times to inquire - but the women in labor that day weren't giving birth very quickly - so it was just a waiting game - no one to blame, really - whatever babies were en route that day were taking their time.
Up until 11.00pm on Saturday night we waited. I called the hospital one last time to inquire - and ask if I should just go to bed and wait for their call in the morning. I was told that I could be called in at any time - even in the wee hours - 2am/3am - whenever. So I said, fine, I'm going to bed.
At 11.30pm, just as I had brushed my teeth, had resigned myself to waiting until the next day, and was getting settled in for sleep, I received a call - FROM THE HOSPITAL! The nurse who called me was the same one I'd been talking to all day - and she apologized for the wait - but told me that they were ready for me - and that I had 30 mins to prepare and get to the hospital to get started!!!!
The entire household, though tired from waiting around all day, sprung into immediate action. My bags were packed and ready. Matt and I collected some final things, and we took off for the 5 minute drive to the hospital, with my mother and 3 of my sisters (1 sister had waited all day, but then had to go home) in tow. We all descended into the lobby, where I breezed through Admitting because I had pre-registered a few days earlier. The nurse let us all in, and we were shown into our room. It was a private room - where not only the induction would begin, but the actual delivery would take place. We all settled in, and I changed into a hospital gown. My sister Zandi braided my hair, and I did a light make-up job to maintain a bit of glamour and presentability throughout the process.
The nurse took my vitals, had me sign some forms, and started me on my IV. My ob/gyn came in, checked me and told me my cervix was still completely closed, and that they would start me on an IV of Cytotek, which would help stimulate my cervical dilation.
My cervix needed to be 10 cm dilated for me to deliver. I was at 0cm dilated. So we had a long way to go. After they started the IV, I was no longer allowed to eat or drink anything except ice chips until after the actual delivery. Since we had such a long wait in store, they gave me some Benadryl in my IV to put me to sleep, so I could conserve my energy. I slept from about 1am - 5am. The nurse and doctor both told me that it could take up to 24 hours for me to achieve full dilation. They kept trying to warn me that the induction "might not work" and not to be disappointed or discouraged if it took a long time. "Some women, with their first pregnancies, have been here for up to 72 hours," said Dr. Ngo.
HA! Obviously, they didn't know who they were dealing with. I have very intimate communication and cooperation not only with Pod in my tummy, but with every cell in my body, and I know how to get all my cells and organs to work together in coordinated concert.
I slept, with Matt at my side. My mother went to go visit her station of the hospital - Postpartum - and they were short a nurse and asked her to work. Despite the fact she'd worked a full 12 hour shift the night before, and hadn't slept because she was also waiting up with us for the hospital to call, she decided to work a few hours to help out her station, plus she'd also be closeby to me. She was running on adrenaline - she said she couldn't have slept anyway. My other sisters went home to sleep.
At 5am, the doctor and nurse came in, and checked me again. HAHA! I'd gone from 0cm to 3cm dilated in only 4 hours. They were stunned! Heh. The doctor decided then to start me on the pitocin - which is what they use to begin inducing my uterine contractions.
For the next 5 hours, I dilate a little bit more, and the contractions begin - uncomfortable, and I put my headphones on and start humming and singing to breathe through the discomfort. As I was taught in my Hypnobirthing courses at my hypnotherapy school, I only allowed myself to think of the discomfort as "pressure and sensation" - and never even referred to my discomfort as pain - not to the medical team, anyone or even my internal dialogue.
At around 10am, and 4cm dilated, the discomfort becomes nearly unbearable, and I feel my energy draining from me as I try to breathe through it. I decide then it is time to ask for my epidural. The anesthesiologist, a wonderful and skilled doctor, comes in and administers the epidural into my back. I feel the numbness begin from my lower back, all the way down to my toes, almost immediately. My body relaxes - and about 30 minutes later I feel a POP! My water breaks!
The doctor tells me that now that my water has broken that I should dilate a lot more quickly . . . at 3pm, I'm at 6cm dilated, only 4 more to go. The contractions are more intense, and I can feel Baby Pod bearing down on me. I listen to my music, hum, breathe. Matt is at my side, holding my hand and pressing down at a specific acupressure point to relieve pain.
At 5pm I am 8 cm dilated. I rest as much as possible to conserve energy for the pushing to come. At 7pm I am 10 cm, fully dilated. The nurse tells me that Pod's head is still rather high up, and that althought I am fully dilated, I should wait until Pod's head drops down till he's almost right on top of my cervix, so I can minimize the time and effort needed to push him out. It's a nearly unbearable pressure I feel, but I tell her that I can do it - that I can wait.
Inside myself, I tell Pod we have to work together. I tell him he has to swim and squirm. I send him guiding tones with the hums in my exhalations. There is a monitor for his heart rate, so that with each contraction the medical team and the family can see where he is pushing and trying to make his way down. When he is actively moving, the monitor shows his heart rate is between 155 - 170. When he is resting, his heart rate goes down to about 130s. So I coordinate with Pod, and tell him "Let's go" and his heart rate goes up. When I can't bear the pressure anymore, I say out loud "Take a break, Pod" and his heart rate drops back to a resting rate of 130s. People watch as he responds to my requests.
Just after 8pm, they check me again. The nurse is astonished that his head has dropped down to exactly where it needs to be so quickly. She calls the doctor, and they prepare me to begin pushing. The doctor arrives, my feet go up into the stirrups, and my labor team of my sister Nikki, Matt, and my mom take their places. I can here a little voice inside my head saying "I'm coming, Mommy" and my body starts to shake and cry. The nurse calls this "the transition."
I push with all my might, turning up the music on my headphones so I can concentrate - because everyone around me is just yelling excitedly - Pushpushpushpush!!! - I am only listening to the doctor telling me how long to hold the push, and focusing all my thoughts on telling Pod it squirm and swim - visualizing a dolphin spinning in the water as it gives birth to its spinning baby dolphin - humming and breathing to envelope him with sonic lubrication and signal for him to lock on to and to guide him - telling him that if it takes every last bit of my life force, I was going to push him into the light. That was my focus - to give Pod my life force - even all of it.
About 5 or so cycles of pushing - and an episiotomy ( I had to be cut because Pod's head was too big ) - just a little over 30 minutes of pushing, I felt a huge rush and push as a live little person dove out of me!
He had a slight temperature at birth, so after cleaning and weighing him, and after Matt cut the umbilical cord, they let me meet him before whisking him away to be monitored, etc. Matt went with him, while I stayed behind to be repaired and attended to by the doctor and nurses post-delivery. After I was all stitched up and cleaned up, they wheeled me to the postpartum ward, where I rested. Three hours elapsed between delivery and the time when Phoenix and Matt were brought to me.
Matt stayed with us in the private room, so all three of us were together. I barely slept. The next day, my mother was scheduled to work at the hospital so she was officially assigned to the care of me and Phoenix, which was very nice. We all went home on Tuesday afternoon, where my sisters had prepared and decorated our room to welcome us.
Matt and I did not attend any childbirth classes or trainings. All of these rituals, visualizations, meditations and practices I came up with on my own, a syncretization of prayer, meditation, trance work, self hypnosis, NLP, Hypno-birthing, tranceformational breathing, acupressure, mindfulness, and pain transcendence techniques. I made a decision to create the childbirth experience I wanted for myself and for my little Phoenix, and together we made it happen.