This is George Arthur Arizpe, my baby boy, and a very fine fellow indeed. George is almost 4 months old now. My days have been filled with trying to work out how to care for two kids, the solution to which, I am happy to share with you, is to forego bathing yourself and said children. Seriously- my sweet Henry received a bath toy for Christmas, and as I was writing the thank you note earlier this week I realized that Henry hadn’t had a chance to play with it because he hadn’t yet taken a bath. So we have some kinks to work out. But back to George! He has the most marvelous half smile- one side of his mouth curling into a grin, offering you a glimpse of his darling little dimple. He adores being held and laughs his head off when his brother smiles at him (something that is happening more often these days). We are all settling into our new life as a family of four.
As the new year starts, I’ve been itching to blog again. But I didn’t feel like I could jump back in with recipes for meyer lemon meringue pies and meatloaves without first announcing George’s arrival. I also wanted to write down the story of George’s birth before I’ve forgotten it. Stop reading now if you have no interest in hearing about lady feelings and placenta smoothies. My sister Helen, of Thousand Ships makeup and photography, documented George’s birth for me, so I’m going to use her pictures to tell the story.
Henry was born in a hospital with a midwife. I loved the midwife and nurse, but hated the hospital. I didn’t like the atmosphere, or having to be monitored all the time, or the sitting around after the birth waiting for them to let you go home. I also had a long labor, and thought that it might partly be blamed on leaving the house and driving to the hospital (my contractions stalled out for hours after arriving). I decided that I would want to do a home birth with baby George.
On Monday, September 9, I woke up with the first inklings of contractions. They weren’t terribly regular- ever 20-30 minutes I think, but that went on for a few hours, so I decided to call my mom, who was supposed to fly in the following Saturday to be my doula (I wasn’t due until the 21st). She decided to change her flight and come out that night. I had no idea if it was real labor or not, so I was worried she’d be missing an extra week of work for no reason. After she arrived, the contractions stopped all together. We hung out and ran a ton of errands on Tuesday, and then that night, they started again. Around midnight they were regular enough that I started timing them, marking the start times on my phone for 3 hours, until they got strong enough that I had to get out of bed. Andy sat with me for a bit, and around 4, I woke up my mom and sister and called the midwife.
I really did spend hours in just that spot. Andy and Helen and my mom all took turns standing with me. I rocked from side to side and leaned against the wall and held onto my belly. And I felt like things were happening fairly quickly. Monika, my wonderful midwife (from Heart of Texas Midwives
) said that Andy should start filling up the birthing tub (actually a metal stock tank we had bought that spring as a wading pool for Henry), and that she’d be over soon.
When Monika arrived, she got set up and then checked me. She said “you’re a good 5!”, and I completely lost my shit. I had all but convinced myself that I was fully dilated, that I’d be pushing soon, and that this birth was going to be much shorter and easier than Henry’s. When she said I was a 5, only halfway, all of my deepest fears about this birth dragging on like Henry’s did bubbled up, and I was terribly worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle it again and I’d have to go to the hospital and get an epidural. That’s why I look so miserable in so many of the following pictures.
Monika said I should get into the tub. Oh, but it felt so much better in there! The contractions were still intense, but in the tub they became tolerable, and my back felt so much better.
When we had talked about the birth with Henry, I told him that he would be able to climb into the tub with me if he wanted. He did! I was still feeling really low at that point, but Henry gave me a hug and said “there’s a George in mama’s vagina” (actually, I think he said “there’s a George in my vagina,” because he mixes up his pronouns) which made me laugh for the first time in hours and really cheered me up.
My contractions slowed way down when I was in the water. It was a really lovely break- I even fell asleep for a bit- but I worried that I would never get anywhere if I stayed in the water. So I got out and did more side-to-side rocking a squat-like movements and things started feeling much more intense. Things are sort of hazy from this point on. I lay down in bed and started pushing, but I was still feeling pretty down, partly because my water hadn’t broken yet, so I figured I was still far from giving birth. I remembered reading about the power of self-talk in Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth (my favorite pregnancy book by far) and so I said to myself, ‘on the next contraction, I’m going to push so hard that my water is going to break.’ If I was a more gracious person, I’d have said this out loud, because it worked (!) but I managed to splash Monika and Debra (my midwives) and Brandi (the student midwife) in the process.
The midwives asked if I wanted to give birth on the bed or in the tub, because we were getting close (huzzah!). I wasn’t sure (something about labor makes me incapable of making decisions!) but then decided to get back in the tub.
I pushed some more in the tub- not long, I don’t think, and then I reached down and felt the head- what an amazingly reassuring feeling that was! Just a bit more pushing and the head was coming out. This is what that felt like:
Really really intense. I cried. But it was over quickly!
I was on my hands and knees when George came out. Andy reached in and pulled him out and that unparalleled feeling of relief and happiness washed over me. And George was here!
And just for the zero of you who are interested, here’s a little bit of info about my placenta smoothie:
I had no intention of eating my placenta. Major ick factor. But over the course of my pregnancy, I read more about it, and I slowly but surely became convinced. The benefits are huge- foremost on my mind being that it greatly reduces your chances of postpartum depression, helps your hormones get back in balance, helps your body repair itself, and reduces your postpartum bleeding. It absolutely worked for me, and I couldn’t taste any placenta-ness in the delicious strawberry banana smoothie my brave and beautiful sister made for me (she just tossed a few walnut-sized chunks of raw placenta into a regular old fruit smoothie). I definitely felt like my moods were more balanced this time, and I only bled for six weeks after the birth (I bled for 12 with Henry!). I’d recommend it to anyone who has someone in her life who is willing to cut up your own organs and serve them to you.
And that’s George’s birth story! Thanks for reading it! I’ll be back soon with actual food blog material.
George Arthur Arizpe, 7 pounds 6 ounces, born September 11, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Huge thanks to my sister Helen for documenting the birth for me! Please visit her website, Thousand Ships makeup and photography
, if you’re interested in having beautiful pictures of your loved ones or of a special moment in your life.