Friday, May 20, 2011

Welcome, Maceo: Newborn Video

In our last post, we shared pictures of pregnant women of size to show the diversity of bodies and belly shapes for Honoring Our Bellies Month and for our Plus-Sized Pregnancy Photo Gallery

I'm happy to report that one of those women who shared belly pictures, Theresa, gave birth exactly one week ago to her son, Maceo.  She sent us a video of Maceo's first moments in the world, just after he was born.

The video is about 3 minutes long, doesn't have any graphic birth footage, and is mostly just sweet sweet pictures of baby Maceo with his mommy and daddy.

Beautiful, just beautiful. Thank you for sharing, Theresa.

Here is an abbreviated version of her birth story.  To me, it illustrates the importance of maternal mobility in labor as a way to deal with the pain without drugs, and probably as a way to help correct any position issues with the baby (in this case, possibly a hand by the baby's head). 

Can you imagine how hard it would have been for her to deal with the pain if she was tied down to a bed, flat on her back, not permitted to move around much, like most women (and especially women of size) are in hospitals?  This is why the epidural rate is so high in hospitals, even among women who want to go without drugs.  Such restricted movement just makes it incredibly hard to deal with the pain; free range of motion and unlimited mobility makes it at least doable for many.

Notice how much Theresa moves around in her birth story, and notice how many positions she uses for labor and pushing.  Notice also how she switches positions at the last minute.  This frequent movement and re-positioning was probably very important in helping the baby out, yet it's something that's rare in many hospitals.  How many problems could be avoided if women were just encouraged to have free range of motion like this?

Here, then, is Theresa's birth story.

"Suddenly instead of five people in our bedroom, there were six."

Okay, so Thursday I started having what I can only describe as gas pains..It wasn't painful, more like the kind of sensation that makes you want to wrinkle up your nose. Also I noticed when I was in the "library" that I had started to let go of the mucus plug.  I had an appointment to go see the midwives that morning and luckily I had asked [my husband] Moonie to start his leave a few days early because I didn't want to drive to the midwife's by myself (good thing, too!)

Everyone agreed my gas was likely early labor but it could be really early and start and stop or maybe it WAS just gas. Anywho, the appointment went well, my BP was great, my urine was fine and about an hour later the sensations subsided.  [I took] an afternoon nap (good thing, too). 

Moonie made us some dinner about 6pm and we watched a movie and my "gas pains" started to return.  I finished eating and felt like I really needed to go take a leak and Moonie helped me up off the sofa and followed me to the "library" but I was to do no reading here for a while!  As soon as I got in I got an EARTH SHATTERING contraction that made me grab the over toilet towel rack and moan, "Ohhhhhh AHHHHHHH"   We had been discussing that maybe I wasn't in labor and we didn't want to go getting excited over nothing especially since first labors are usually long.  Moonie just said, "Yeah, kid I think you really are in labor!"  and called the midwives to put them on alert and I tried to go back to watching the movie but all you moms probably can figure how well THAT worked out! 

By 8pm I was seriously in first stage. The midwifery student came over an hour later and I was just dealing with each contraction as it came. [I was] sitting on the exercise ball, using the sock warmers (socks filled with rice and warmed in the microwave), and Moonie was timing my contractions as we played my "Relaxing" playlist on iTunes and tried to veg out to the visualizer. 

Soon after the student came she started inflating the baby pool and I could no longer sit and deal with contractions I was walking around moaning and chanting OM while doing belly dance moves and pelvic stretches.  Walking it off was really the only way I could deal with these harder contractions, the thought of laying down was uncomfortable. I did try to lay down through one and it felt all wrong so I scrapped that idea.  

For me the contractions weren't painful per se, they were more like the most intensely uncomfortable sensations ever mostly because I couldn't lay down, I couldn't sit and standing and walking all felt crappy.  Then one thing that only one mom ever mentioned to me was the flu-like sick feeling you can get. Boy did I EVER get it!  I threw up that dinner like nobody's business and I felt like was gonna hurl up everything I had eaten since I was 2 years old. I felt really sick to my stomach between contractions and that continued until the end pretty much.

Later that night...the midwives came.  The midwifery student had been helping me through the contractions because the sensations were so STRONG that they scared me at first and I would [think], "Oh another one! What do I do???" I couldn't believe how close they were and she just hugged me and let me lean on her and reminded me to breathe and helped me through it.

I tried to sit in the pool which was filled by a hose hooked up to the shower head.  The water seemed too hot and there wasn't enough of it. Also it was on my hard living room floor so kneeling in the pool sucked. I couldn't SIT for love or money and leaning on the side just made it sink down and overflow.  I tried a second time during the labor but it just felt wrong and so I scrapped it. 

We all ended up in the bedroom and to be honest, I'm surprised my neighbors didn't call the police. I was told that I wasn't so very loud because I was moaning instead of screaming.  I was on all fours on our bed and it seemed like forever! I was getting these MASSIVE pushing contractions one at a time and felt sick as dog in between along with the front of my hips hurting like Satan was cracking my bones so in between loud moans I just yelled "SICK SICK! I'm not gonna be sick I FEEL sick!" and "DAMN IT MY HIPS HURT LIKE HELL!"

My midwife wanted me lay on my back to try and examine me but there was no WAY I could lay on my back!  I just instinctively knew that would make everything worse. She thinks Maceo's hand was up by his head because I had been pushing for a bit and the head would come out and go back. So she did a clear of my cervix which I  was told I complained about loudly (I have no memory of this) and then switched positions.  They suggested I try the birth stool. I got up off the bed and then another massive contraction came (they were now two or three pushing urges in a row then a break), and I just grabbed my rickety bedside table and got into a squat and yelled. I got into the birth stool and pushed there for a bit. Got back on the bed and pushed there, yelling about how my hips hurt in between while they kept repeating, "Push it out and it'll all be over!"  I remember being covered in sweat and seeing Moonie's face and holding his hand and crying.

"This is taking so long!!!" I yelled and they said something and I remember saying, " I just want to get the baby OUT!!!" I slid off the bed to the birth stool and  had the most massive contractions ever and pushed with all my might with every ounce of strength I had in my entire being and the midwife said, "It's coming!" and Moonie dove to the floor to help her catch baby and he said "I see the head, baby! I can see it, it's almost here!" I said "You do?!" and then pushed Maceo out into the world and suddenly instead of five people in our bedroom there were six.  The midwife and Moonie both caught baby.

"Is it a girl?" I asked and she said, "It's a boy!"  and I said "Oh it's Maceo!" and I just repeated his name over and over again.  The cord was around his neck but she just slipped it off and handed him up to me.  We waited what seemed to me like five seconds but was an hour we clamped the cord and the student cut it. 

Then we waited for the placenta to come out but it had stage fright I guess. I tried coughing and pushing but to no avail. I took a few doses of Angelica tincture  and still nothing. The midwife suggested we move to the toilet because it might come out easier. I sat there and sat there and nothing and finally the midwife said, "You know if you can't get it out we'll have to go someplace where they can take it out."  Then before I could even say "Oh" I had another contraction and this was actually a little painful or maybe it was just that it was stronger than I expected and it was over before I even knew what happened and out it came.  I looked at it when they put it in a specimen bowl and was like "uh-huh" and thought about how tired I was.

I went back to the bedroom and Maceo was in his Poppi's arms and the student took some photos. Then I had him again and we took some more photos.  Then the midwives started cleaning everything up and sump pumping the pool and deflating it, loudly.  Finally that crap was over and we had quiet time. I just laid in bed with Maceo and Moonie was totally enraptured with us both.

Our midwives examined me and I had  no rips but something called a skidmark which is like a little scrape on the taint and they were all so happy (so the hell was I).

I think I just laid in bed and dozed with Maceo and Moonie just laid diagonally at the foot of the bed, completely dressed with glasses and everything and slept for the next four hours until his parents got there and brought us breakfast.


Erika Ai B. said...

I love your blog. I love what you've done in bringing fat pregnant women into the light, and that is so very, very important. And this birth story is beautiful. I just have an issue with how you portray hospital or even "interference-heavy" birth. The NCB movement is complicated. It appears to be an off-shoot of a zeitgeist only among middle-class women. It has become a set of mantras for some people. I do not believe it is a good idea to portray NCB as the norm or "right". New valid statistics show, without fail, that homebirth is 3x more dangerous than hospital birth. Birth centers haven't been studied in-depth, but it appears that even a few minutes of delay when something goes wrong (and it can at anytime for any woman for any reason) is too long. And that chance, even that relatively small chance, it was too much for me. I had two hospital births. I won't go anywhere else if I get lucky enough for another child. I don't like the idea of taking people's choices away, I do think that with valid information everyone can choose what they wish. But...I also dislike even more the idea of selling an ideology that is proven to be more harmful, especially for us heavier women who *might* be carriers of extra risks. There isn't a right way to start motherhood, I guess. Can you post more varieties of birth stories, including hospital births?

Janeen said...

Yes, laboring on the back is EVIL! That was definitely the one thing I could not do, ESPECIALLY with the back labor and not just lying on the back, lying down AT ALL! I did much better vertical and leaning forward. I did try laboring over the stairs but that ended when a spider ran out at me during one of my contractions.

Well-Rounded Mama said...

Erika, thank you for your comments. I apologize for taking so long to publish your comment here. It came when I was super SUPER busy and not able to reply to it, so I wanted to wait to publish it until had more time to address it thoroughly. There's a lot to discuss in it. My apologies for not getting to it right away.

Thanks for sharing your concerns. I want to make sure people understand that I'm not actually trying to promote one "way" of birth or other. I personally don't care if you or anyone gives birth in the hospital or in the home or wherever; I just want that choice to be available. I don't care if people use an epidural or go natural; I just want that choice to be an educated one. I don't think anyone is "less" of a mother if they have a c-section or "more" of one if they go natural or whatever.

I'm all about things on a public health level, not an individual level. You get to make your decisions for yourself, but on a public health basis, these things DO have implications that can't be ignored. So that's an important part of the discussion...but it's not meant to judge anyone's experience on a personal level.

Well-Rounded Mama said...

Why do I have more "alternative" births on this site?

Well, it just happens that a lot of the materials I've gotten lately are from folks who have more alternative births, but believe me, I have TONS of hospital birth stories on my main website. Go check out the BBW birth stories at to read lots of hospital stories. And if you'd like to submit yours there, that's totally cool. I certainly don't represent only one "kind" of story.

I would, however, make a couple of points. This is not a forum for debating the safety of homebirth vs. hospital birth; there are lots of other sites for that. I deleted your comment from another post because it was inflammatory about that, and I will NOT link to that particular person's website because it's so unbalanced and inflammatory. She won't get any linklove from my site, EVER. If you want to have that debate, there are plenty of places to do it. This is not the place for it.

I'd just say that the statistical manipulation by both sides (home and anti-home) has been considerable. For example, the recent Wax meta-analysis got its conclusions by conveniently disallowing a HUGE chunk of its evidence for dubious reasons. There was an obvious agenda going on. And I've also seen birth extremists manipulate data too, so it's not unique to one side.

The bottom line here is that I don't indulge in the homebirth safety debate here; I let that be the topic for other blogs. Here, it's more about documenting experiences of women of size (wherever they birth) and commenting on the research that pertains to that and making sure women know the pros and cons of various birth choices.

Well-Rounded Mama said...

Sorry to break these comments up, but I have to for length.

Do I discuss interventions? You bet I do. People need to understand that things like amniotomy or epidurals or whatever come with risks, and bring pros and cons to the birth. I don't think interventions are automatically "bad" or "good"---I just think they bring benefits and risks, and too often the risks are not presented adequately. So yup, I see part of my job as discussing that, but I think you as a consumer are perfectly capable of deciding about whether to use these interventions. I just want more education about them, not judgment if people do OR don't use them.

Do I care if you or anyone gets an epidural or a cs or whatever, and think less of you for it? Absolutely not. I think it's your decision and none of my business. I've had an epidural so I know they can be a godsend sometimes. I've had 2 cesareans so I know I wasn't any less of a mother for having had one. But I also know the downsides of highly technological birth so I won't downplay those either.

But fair warning: I really dislike it when people put down natural childbirth fans as nutcases or hippies or extremists. I also don't like it when birth fanatics put down women who don't have natural childbirth. Both are awfully judgmental and neither makes for constructive conversation about these issues. I prefer a lot less judgment-laden tones here and won't publish comments that are too inflammatory or insulting.

Well-Rounded Mama said...

Gees, world's longest follow-up commentary! But this is important.

I apologize if you felt at some point that I was trying to put down or portray the birth experiences you had as "less worthy." That's certainly not my aim at all.

But there are risks to EVERY place you give birth (including in the hospital) and risks to all your chocies (going natural, taking the epidural, breaking the waters, whatever). No choice is free of risk. I don't think it does us any good to portray one way of giving birth as "better" than another. They're all just choices, with pros and cons to be considered. You made your choices and are happy with them; that's fine with me.

I do err more on the side of portraying the risks of interventions, simply because SO FEW women have intervention-free births or even know they can decline these interventions, or what the pros and cons of each are. So it's my aim to make sure they have more information on that.

But it's certainly not to judge anyone who HAS interventions, births in the hospital, or births in any particular way. I really don't have a pony in that race.

I do like to be able to represent the stories of the women who birth less interventively because there is this perception among medicos that this is NOT possible for fat women. It most certainly is, and I won't ever veer from making those stories available.

The OVERWHELMING portrayal of birth in this culture is highly technological and scary; I think it's good to counterbalance that with other stories, esp of women of size, to make sure people know other choices and outcomes are available.

BUT hospital births are important too, because the vast majority of women are going to be giving birth in the hospital in this culture. I would just like there to be more CHOICE about birth available in the hospital too, instead of "you're fat so you have to have x, y, and z" interventions. People often choose home because some hospitals find it difficult to allow women these chocies.

All of fat women's experiences need to be represented. More of those hospital experiences right now are on my other website, you're right. But they ARE there. It's not about one way or the other.

I hope that clarifies my point of view and the purpose of my blog a bit more. I won't back off on educating people on the pros and cons of interventions, and I won't stop showing alternative births. But neither do I want people to think that there's only one "right" way to give birth. Poppycock.

It's all about education, and then people's freedom to make their own educated choices.