Family Time | Confetti Cannons
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Confetti Cannons

Confetti Cannons

My firstborn son Henry, now 3, was breech, and born via scheduled C-section. I was devastated. I had been practicing HypnoBirthing for months, listening to birth affirmations like “I turn my birthing over to my baby and my body. My body knows exactly what to do. It works perfectly.” Bull.

I craved the anticipation of labor beginning; the careful arrangement of soft music, dim light and water therapy. The dramatic story I’d tell for years to come. Not just, “My alarm went off, I went in for my appointment, and well, that was that.”

I imagined birth like a rainbow-colored confetti cannon exploding out of my hoo-hah as parades with marching bands and ticker tape swirled around the room while everyone cheered. That magic cocktail of bonding hormones enveloping me and my baby as we experienced the most bliss anyone can ever feel.

I imagined the C-section experience as being hooked up to an IV across the room from something that somebody cut out of me, a giant horrible cut to my guts.
Of course, it wasn’t like that. The spinal block felt fantastic. Cory and I sang “Beautiful Boy” to Henry as he was born. The Glens Falls Hospital anesthesiologist allowed Henry to be placed on my chest, skin-to-skin, seconds after he was born. Holding him for the first time was transformative; otherworldly. My heart busted open in a million directions.

Recovery was horrible, though. I feared my stitches ripping open and my guts flopping down to splat on the ground like a dropped pan of hot lasagna. I hated showering. I didn’t want Dr. Soucy to remove my bandages or tape. Some moments of Henry’s first weeks of life feel blurry because of the pain meds.

The VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) with my second son, Daniel, born November 10, 2015, was an incredibly different story, though.

I woke at 3 a.m. with contractions 7 minutes apart. We woke Henry up for a kiss to the belly for luck, called Cory’s parents to come watch Henry, called my mom, emailed some clients, did my hair and drove to Bellevue Women’s Center in Schenectady. When we got there, contractions were three to five minutes apart, but I was only 1 cm dilated. They kept me in triage for two hours, but I was still only 1 cm so they said I could leave.

I listened to the Birth Affirmations track, feeling like a failure and fearing days of contractions this close together. We were discharged around 9 a.m., and sat in the parking lot eating popcorn we’d brought, trying to figure out where to go for breakfast. But I was in such pain and wishing for the dark room, the birthing ball, the soft music to create that relaxing birthing environment that I told Cory we needed to go back in. I labored on the floor of the waiting room next to a mother and her three-year-old boy.

I thought to myself, “Play it up so they don’t send you away again!” and found I didn’t need to act as I squatted in the hallway unable to move while a nurse said, “Come on. You don’t want to do this here, sugarplum.”

I was back in the shared triage room at 10:15 a.m. and they said I was 5 to 6 cm dilated! After more waiting, I was finally walked over to a birthing room. I dropped to my hands and knees, ripping off my hospital gown. The nurse offered me that birthing ball, but all I could do was moan and gush all over the floor. Cory put on the HypnoBirthing tracks, which helped me focus. The midwife, Pamela Platis of Capital Region Midwifery, got me up onto the bed and before I knew it I was at 9 cm and ready to push. Four or five contractions of pushing, and Daniel was born at 11:47 a.m.

I got it all. The anticipation, the excitement, the instant cuddles with a new sticky baby, the hormone cocktail, the intense feeling of accomplishment and empowerment, the bragging rights… and the stitches.

Pam said, “It would have been a tragedy for you to have a repeat C-section. You labored like a rock star.” Less than nine hours start to finish, and less than two hours from re-admittance to birth. Aside from genes (my mom delivered me fast-and-furious, too) I attribute it to those Birth Affirmations, which reminded me to literally open up and let it happen. Recovery hasn’t been awesome, and I’m not saying labor is fun, but I’ll take it any day over the fear of a lasagna guts splat.

So I don’t knock a C-section and I’m glad for the excellent level of care I had at Glens Falls Hospital and a healthy Henry, but HypnoBirthing, Capital Region Midwifery and Bellevue made Daniel’s debut into the birth experience I really wanted.

Confetti cannons and all.

This column originally ran in The Chronicle Newspaper on November 19, 2015.

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