Sunday, September 24, 2006

Labor Secrets of a Waddling Nipple-ation Station

Tonight I'm on pins and needles waiting for my librarian friend to finally go into labor. As her only birth partner I'm gripped with constant clock checking anxiety and jittery nerves, as if I'm the one who's percolating several long days past my due date. Been there, done that.

Selfishly, I'd like to hurry to the main event so I can experience childbirth as someone not doing all the pushing for once, and as the symbolically significant cord-cutter. I hope I can handle cutting the whitish-bluish twisty birth matter my husband tells me feels a lot like fried calamari between the scissor blades. He should know; he cut all three of our children's cords.

My friend's painless contractions are coming 18 uneventful minutes apart. Much to her frustration, they've remained that way throughout the weekend.

Her bags are packed for the hospital and so are mine, including Listerine Breath Strips, curiously strong Altoids and Binaca spray. I distinctly remember being extremely sensitive to others' sour breath when I was pushing. Who cares what mine smelled like when I was a righteous vessel of life, right?!

I went overboard, investing almost $10 into my breath-enhanced labor and delivery room ploy. I'm sure my friend will appreciate my minty freshness when the time comes. If not, I'm sending her a bill. No really ...

I so badly want to call her and check up on her every hour but I don't dare. I remember how annoyed I was during my two past-due pregnancies when well intentioned friends and family bombarded my phone to squawk in my ear, "Didn't you have that baby yet?" and "C'mon. Isn't there something, anything you can do to get that baby out?"

By the third pregnancy I finally smartened up and unplugged the phone for most of those final days, a ring-proof precaution I still take during my kids' naptime.

Naptime callers, feel free to leave a message if you must. I'd tell you to drop by in person if it's an emergency but I don't answer the door during naptime either. Unless you are actually aflame and I see you on local TV breaking news trying to stop, drop and roll your firey ass out, it's safe to say you aren't getting through to me, my kids' resident nap Nazi.

In case my overdue mama-to-be friend has nothing better to do while waiting for her Butterball timer to pop up and signal the start of labor, here's a list of tricks (some of them downright freaky, so be ready) that my midwife convinced me to try to help speed up Kade's on-and-off 29-hour labor.

The only trick I emphatically DO NOT SUGGEST is gulping castor oil. Why do I call it a trick? Because it was the biggest, meanest trick I've ever played on my nether region, which was already a pregnancy hemorrhoid train wreck to begin with. Please, please don't do tamper with evil castor oil possibilities, ladies, no matter how desperate you are! Trust me, Castor oil = ExLax on acid times twenty!

Back to my list of tricks I tried to bring my baby out of the womb of darkness and into the light (actually, he was born at 9:45 at night):

1. Walk, prego girl, walk. Walk until you need new insoles for your bad self. This isn't groundbreaking advice but walking probably helped me progress further in labor than any other "trick" up my midwife's nag champa smelling rolled-up sleeve.

I wasn't "allowed" to walk much at the hospital when Aiden was born, especially after I received a so-called "walking" epidural. Walking, my ass, Mr. Anesthesiologist.

I was numb from my hips to my toenails and higher than a hippie at Woodstock. C'mon. Walk? It was hard enough to try and keep my eyes from crossing and my panting-chapped mouth from drooling. According to my mom, I did plenty of both. She had to leave the room to laugh. Hey, mom, maybe I was just getting in touch with my inner newborn. No, really, I was high beyond crack-mom high on whatever the nurses convinced me to swallow and take by injection. Truth be told, after the Pitocin contraction hell ride kicked in, I pathetically begged for medicine. Sheer begging. Be careful what you ask for ...

During Kade's labor I was the opposite of the drooling, hallucinating and practically paralyzed bed-bound mess I was when laboring with Aiden. At eight, nicely pain-free centimeters dilation I strolled (okay, waddled) a sunny morning mile along the California shore with my husband, ate blissfully ripe strawberries and the best turkey sandwich of my life (thanks to kitchen crafty Todd) with butter crackers and sharp Canadian white cheddar.

Basically I did whatever my pregnant heart desired right up until retiring to my comfy bed to push Kade into the world. It's beyond cliche (as well as an understatement) to say that home birth changed my life, but it did. Home birth was the most freeing and empowering experience I've had yet. I look forward to the day another hyper-living experience tops it for me. I've heard becoming a grandparent is close, but I think I'll wait a few decades for that one.

Back to walking ... Walking opens up your hips and helps distract your mind. It's a no brainer, just what you need during labor. Something you don't have to think about much.

Walk. Pace. Stroll. Jaunt. Strut. Just don't run, okay, sister? The last thing we need is you eating dirt mid-sprint like I did when I chased Aiden in the park while very pregnant with Kade. My orhopedic doctor wrapped my leg in purple cast strips as a twisted homage to my first son's least favorite PBS character, Barney. The trumpet-voiced blob scared the heck out of Aiden and is likely the culprit behind his still-ongoing (and funny as hell sometimes) fear of mascots.

2. Play a game of Tune in Tokyo ... or a little thing my doula and I like to call nipple-ation.

Let me explain. My doula and midwife suggested that I stimulate my nipples to bring about more frequent (and stronger) contractions. Apparently nipple twisting isn't just for freaky-deeky foreplay, it also helps the brain release the super hormone Oxytocin, also the chemical behind the wonder of breastfeeding and so many other awesome mamas only functions.

When pinching index fingers and thumbs didn't cut it fast enough, I upgraded my nipple-ation by hauling out my Medela wonder breasts pump (the reliable Pump N' Style backpack model, which I sold on e Bay not too long ago ... ew!). I sat in front of the mirrored closet in my first son's room (no he luckily wasn't there to witness mom's nipple aerobics) and cracked up laughing, alone ... just me and my two highly irritated, grossly suction-elongated nips.

Parents and parents-in-law warning: You might not want to read this last labor trick without a barf bag handy. You might not want to read it at all, for that matter.

3. Last but not least, if all else fails HAVE SEX. Yes, sex! You too can do the do, ladies. Yup, the very deed that landed you in smarmy elastic waistband maternity panel jeans in the first place just might lead to enough cervical disturbance to jumpstart your petering out labor.

No, sex smack dab in the middle of stalling labor was not my idea. Sure, I'm perverted at times, but not that perveted, people. Blame my practical, talented midwife, Anne.

At first I abjectly refused her slutty (and grody) little suggestion. How could I possibly get into the mood with an ass rivaling the size of my overdue Buddha belly and Chianti colored stretch marks streaking upward from my crotch right through my belly button ring scar, as if I'd run into Freddy Krueger on Elm Street? (My dad always told me I'd regret my belly button ring one day. He was right, damn it. I do regret it. A wrinkled, pesky stretch mark runs right through what used to be a puny piercing puncture scar. The little bastard stretched longer and longer with each pregnancy, spawning my indefinite moratorium on bikinis and low-rise, belly-baring jeans.)

Even more effective than disturbing the cervix, to put the sex-effect nicely, according to my midwife, are the prostaglandins found in semen that help to soften, ripen and thin out the cervix in preparation for dilation. Who knew those flagella tipped little buggers actually had any function besides overpopulating the earth and sapping its already in short supply resources?

I yanked my unsuspecting husband into our bedroom after my midwife/doula team escaped our weirdo labor love nest for lunch and demanded, "Gimme' your prostaglandin stuff!" He had no clue what I was talking about. Even though he was grossed out and terrified to injure the yet still unborn, he was a trooper. He laughed the entire time and I winced, feeling like a battered big, fat collostrum leaking cow.

Of course, sex probably wouldn't be kosher in the hospital maternity ward. Nor do I suggest it. The hospital is the least sexy place I can imagine other than maybe a garbage dumpster.

Incessant contraction monitor beeps, movement inhibiting IV drips and numb legs a la epidural or spinal block aren't exactly in the aphrodisiac department. Besides, Nurse Ratchet probably wouldn't appreciate you busting into her medical stock K-Y (that stuff is gross ... and tastes about as delectable as curdled milk ... it's not meant to be eaten ... and is best left behind where it belongs ... at the gyno office and far, far away from your hopefully more adventurous than K-Y boudoir).

Perhaps the sex suggestion should only apply to the homebirth crowd. We homebirthers are crazy enough to try anything anyway.

I'd better post this twisted list now so I can get to bed early, just in case my cord-cutting moment happens to happen tonight. In the meantime, put out the good baby vibes for my overdue friend.


At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Lily said...

Hi Kimmy, I loved this story. Brought back memories of Aiden's birth; I can vouch you were wild & Adam so calm as usual (around me).
Also, reminds me of your labor evening shutdowns for Kade;knew he wouldn't come w/the grandparents' pressuring you. You didn't have to use crazy tactics for Solenne, did you? You are sooo adventurous, my wonderful daughter!
Love, your maman
PS Good luck at your friends home birth? Do I know her? Please let me know. You are in for a pleasant treat this time. Great job once again, Kim

At 7:58 PM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

Thanks, mumsy-o. You are so sweet and supportive. I gotta' get the kiddies calm for nighttime books and snuggles. Love, K

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