Monday, February 22, 2010

A Dear John Letter Regarding Labor Coaching

In case you don't know it by now, I'm somewhat of a natural type girl....natural consequences, natural healing, natural nutrition, and of course, natural child birth. For the last 7 out of 8 of my deliveries, I have opted to deliver my babies without an epidural. (My eighth delivery was a scheduled cesarean section as both the twins were breech.) There are so many reasons for this decision, which I will share in a subsequent post. Suffice it to say, whatever husband I am married to at the time has a lot of work to do himself during my deliveries. Most would assume that because this is my ninth delivery, my baby will come fast. This will most likely not be the case. My labors last anywhere from 10 hours (my third) to 51 hours (my sixth). In fact, I asked my sister in California if she would like to attend the birth because I'm sure that I would have time to call her, have her book and board a flight from California to El Paso, pick up my mother in El Paso, then drive the 3.5 hours it takes to get to the hospital where I will deliver in Mexico, find the hospital and still arrive in time for the birth. She said yes, if she's not in the middle of an important scientific experiment to find a cure for a debilitating disease. Come on, Robyn! Where are you priorities? Just kidding, I understand if science needs you more than I.

Back to the point, John's first birth attendance was with our first child together, or course, and my labor was 36 hours long. He did an absolutely amazing job supporting me in every way possible, along with our doula (which is a professional labor coach) and giving birth to the current 3-year-old boy was probably one of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had. Yes it was painful, torturous even, but the love John showed to me during the process is something I will never forget. We'd only been married for less than a year, but we became so much closer because of going through this together.

The last time I gave birth, the process was completed in two minutes, as Twin A was born at 1:24 PM via c-section and Twin B at 1:25 PM. Not much coaching was needed during this process, so coaching the upcoming birth may require that I remind John about a few things. This is the purpose of the following Dear John letter....

Dear John,

As you know, I feel like you did an amazing job when you coached me during the 3-year-old's birth. You were so exhausted after the birth, that you passed out on a hard, uncomfortable, ugly chair almost immediately after he was born. I felt sorry that you didn't get the adrenalin rush I did after the birth.

However, it's been almost four years since that occasion, and I would like to remind you of a few things you and our beloved doula did to assist me during that beautiful occasion.

1. If you see that my breathing isn't even during a contraction, breathe with me to show me the rhythm I should be using. You'll know the rhythm from my contractions up until that point.

2. Most likely, my labor will be very long and there will probably come a point when I start to cry and tell you that I'm considering asking for an epidural. Please, at that time, remind me that I can do this naturally, that I chose this way because it's the safest way, both for me and our baby, that I have done it many times before, and that every pain I have brings me closer to meeting our baby boy.

3. Do not at any time suggest that I receive medication or an epidural. If there is someone in the room who is suggesting this, please ask them not to suggest it as well.

4. When the doctor is checking to see how far I am dilated, please do not let me hear. I will most likely feel like I should be more dilated and I will feel great disappointment at hearing I've not progressed as far as I had hoped.

5. Remind me that I can try different positions for relieving the pain, such as walking, leaning on a table, sitting on the birthing ball, ect. 

6. During transition, if you see that I'm crying out and throwing my head back, remind me to make low gutteral noises and to keep my chin down. I don't know why this worked so well last time, this tip our doula showed us, but it did.

7. Please remind me to focus on whatever focal point I've chosen. Although during our first natural birth together, you printed and framed a photo of one of your gorgeous pink dahlias for me to use for this purpose, it turned out that the third button on your shirt was a more effective focal point. It helps a lot for me to have this kind of focus, no matter what I choose at my point of focus.

8. When it comes time to push, remind me that I can try different positions, such as kneeling, standing or squatting. I may not accept that invitation, but I may appreciate the reminder.

All righty then, I think those are the important points I need you to remember. Thank you for being here for me through this and I love and appreciate you!

Love, Your Wife


Unknown said...

Jen, It sounds like John i an amazing husband, father and birthing partner. Your letter is so affirming of your relationship.

layne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
layne said...

John sounds like quite a catch and an amazing partner.

I love reading posts like these, because even though I am far from even considering child birth, I feel very strongly for natural births. Posts like these give me hope that yes[one day], I absolutely can do it! And I cannot wait til it's my turn!!

Good luck Jen! Can't wait to see your new baby boy!

Rebecca said...

I'm not sure I could do long, drug free births that many times! My shortest labor (#3) was 2 1/2 hours and this last one (#5) was the longest at 15. I did get an epidural on the last one (mostly because I was psyching myself out in fear of the pain and creating complications with the labor), and I don't think I could deliver naturally again. I'm amazed that you do, after having done it both ways! Good for you. You are amazing.

Momza said...

Water. Water is going to be your friend in labor.
Drink it--it will help your muscles stay relaxed.
Stand in it--in the shower--it will relax you, and gravity will help bring the baby down.
Kneel or squat in it--in the tub, when you need to rest between ctx.
Water, Water, Water.

You CAN do this!!!!

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Momza, thank you for that important reminder. I was hoping someone would give their tips as well!

Stacey said...

Good luck! I had my last two of my six natural and I wouldn't do it any other way now. My doula was awesome and I was so glad to have her with my first natural childbirth. There wasn't much time with my second natural childbirth, but my hubby stepped in and did an awesome job. I totally understand what you mean by saying it brought you closer together as we had a similar experience. I hope all goes well for you!

roadrunner201 said...

Fantastic post Jen! I may print it and read it to my Bradley couples in the next class:-)

Midwest Mom said...

What a great list! I did the same with my husband on our third child. Just writing down little 'reminders' made such a difference. He recognized transition when it came and he and our amazing! doula got me to breathe, especially at the end. And she came out simply beautiful.

I will say a prayer for both of you. I'm sure it will all go well. It sounds like you really know your body.

Blessings, Julia at Midwest Moms

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Wow, Roadrunner, I'm totally flattered that you would read this to your class! I hope it helps someone! And how cool that you teach the Bradley Method!

Cheryl B. said...

Morning Jen :-D

I think I've mentioned this before, but just in case I didn't, my body and pregancies did not mix well. Actually, my body and any thing female hormonal related do not mix well. Thus the some what recent surgeries, and lots of the testing, and on it goes ...

A-n-yways, of it's own accord, my body did not handle pregnancy well, and thus labor and delivery were oh so challenging!!!

With son #1 I was in labor for 18 hours total. Back labor the whole time (actually, I had back labor with all of them). I was scared silly!!

They gave me different medications to try and help my body through all of it. They feared not giving me the med's would finish my body in, and Brian would have a baby but no wife.

I would start chewing on my thumb during some of the really hard contractions. The girl down the hall two rooms, was screaming bloody murder and had me scared to pieces of what was yet to come. The nurses tried reassuring me that I was handling things magnificently, and the other girl wasn't even as far a long as I was ... but I wasn't convinced. So to keep quiet when those contractions pulled at my spine, I chewed my thumb.

One time after a super hard contraction, I was surprised that my thumb didn't hurt at all. I had been chewing on it .... Then I noticed that Brian was rubbing his thumb for all he was worth, with out saying a word to me about it, and even holding his thumb really low in his lap.

We had been holding hands before the contraction hit. It had hit fast and hard, and he had not had time to pull his hand away before his thumb ended up in my mouth. He said that the way I was nawing at it, he felt like an absolute heel for getting me in this predictament in the first place, and there was absolutely no way he was going to remove it!!! He felt horrible that I had found the whole situation out, and kept trying to insert his thumb for my own thereafter. <3

I had awaken at 2 am in labor that time, and didn't have the child till after 8 p.m. - Brian went that whole time with out eating just like I did (he didn't want to eat in front of me, nor was he going to leave me to face this alone!) <3. I ate heartily in the recovery room. When he left the hospital after 10 that night, he drove straight across the street into Burger Kings drive through and ordered like he hadn't eaten in a month!!! ;-p

Son #4 however was a whole different sceniero. I woke up in labor, on his due date and went from 20 min. apart contractions to one non stop one. He wanted out, and he wanted out NOW!!! However, due to all of the complications I had had the other times (and with one of the miscarriages) I was afraid to just let him come out at home. I had hemoragged just shy of needing blood transfusions each time, etc.. So once I was actually in the hospital - I let loose. We barely made it to the delivery floor - running the whole way (me in a wheelchair). I was sorer from keeping that one in me, than from delivering him!!!

May this one go fast for you too!!!

The Farmer's Wife said...

very good list of instructions....I think you should print if off so he can refer to it if needed....You are woman Jen!!!!
you will be awesome! I will be awaiting the "call" to come bask in the celebration with you!

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Oh my goodness, Cheryl, that thumb story was too funny! Poor guy! I would be so happy if this baby came as fast as your last. I don't care if it's at home, I just want to be done with this pregnancy!

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

FW, I can't wait to GIVE you the call!

Luvmy9 said...

I always find it so amazing that your labors are so long. It doesn't seem fair, does it? But, we are each given different trials. You aren't throwing up the whole pregnancy, experiencing the heartbreak of infertility or the the grief of miscarriage. You probably wouldn't trade your trial, would you?

Well, here's my two tips (the water one and the position one were great): stay at home as long as possible, preferably in a low light, with a blanket in your favorite chair-whatever is most soothing to you-Your labor will go much faster at home where you are most relaxed. Second, consider taking pictures of your children with you to the hospital. I always used those for focal points. It was a sweet reminder of why I was going through the labor!

I'm still praying for a swift labor, easy delivery, and SOON! Send me and email when you can after he comes.

Luvmy9 said...

And, John, you ARE amazing as a father, a husband, and a labor coach! I hope you both have an easier time of it with this one.

Breezi@ Not Your Average Fairytale said...

I must be the biggest whimp in the world! I'm a druggie all the way. (although, I do wait until I'm dilated to a 6-7 before I get my epidural)
With my second child my epidural didn't work and I was throwing up the entire time because the pain was so intense.
my shortest labor was 12 1/2 hours.

I wish you so much luck in this! You are such a well centered person to embrace every step of this journey.

May you have the beautiful experience that you are hoping for. :)

Elder Romney's mission said...

jen you are crazy, and I mean that in a good way!

Melinda said...

How exciting. My deliveries were all so fast that there wasn't much time for anything. In fact my last was almost born in the car on the way to the hospital....LOL

Best Wishes for upcoming delivery.

Anonymous said...

This was so sweet, and tells a lot about what a wonderful husband you have. I hope everything goes well and that your labor isn't too long this time.
You're pretty amazing to go through natural birth so many times. I guess some women are just stronger than others.