Monday, January 12, 2015

Darling Darren

As 2014 came to an end so too did my time as an expecting Mother.  Just minutes before our fourth child was born on December 29th I heard the midwife Suzanne say, "I don't think she'll be pregnant much longer" to a nurse in the room.  I don't recall exactly why she said it, but I know it encouraged me as those final moments were filled with fear and excruciating pain.  I recall whispering a prayer of "Father help me" a few times that morning and He did.  There is no other explanation of how a woman my size gave birth to such a large baby.
At 6:27 am we welcomed an 8lb. 12 oz. and 22 1/4 in. Darren Thomas into our family.  The words "It's a boy" are familiar in the delivery room as Darren is our fourth son.  The big brothers were hoping for a sister, but they expressed no disappointment upon meeting Darren.  

This was my third time delivering at Birth Care in Georgetown.  After bringing my firstborn into the world at a hospital I knew I wanted a different experience for my future births.  Birth Care provides a Home Birth atmosphere while being equipped with medical equipment in case of emergency.  Just before Darren was born I heard the staff in the room talking about giving me some oxygen.  In that moment I wasn't able to comprehend why such a request was being made, but I knew that something must be wrong.  I later found out that the baby's heart rate had dropped.  Fortunately with the help of everyone in the room I was repositioned, breathing better and the baby's heart rate returned to normal.

Darren and I were surrounded by many when he took his first breath.  My husband had a front row seat to each contraction, push and scream that brought Darren into the world.  Two weeks later my arms are still sore from squeezing Jeremy's arms and upper body during those early morning hours.  His presence, help and words of encouragement meant more than he'll ever know.
Did you know that the active presence of a husband or support person often result in shorter and less complicated labors?  For me personally, I know that Psychological Support has a huge impact on my labor & delivery experience.
I was very certain that our baby would be born on December 28th after four hours of intense contractions early that morning.  But when our three boys jumped out of bed that morning, my thoughts shifted from "Let's have a baby today" to "I need to get these boys packed up and out the door".  The contractions basically stopped - I was so disappointed that I would be pregnant yet another day!  Knowing that my labors always start in the middle of the night, the boys spent the night with friends so that if labor started again I could focus on the task before me.  
As predicted, labor started again around 1:00 am on the 29th.  I quietly got out of bed and readied myself for what I hoped would just take a few hours.  I turned on the Crock Pot that I had already filled with towels dampened with water and Young Living™ Essential Oils- Peppermint and Lavender.  These warm towels would greatly reduce the pain of back labor for me when applied during a contraction.  The Peppermint Essential Oil creates a cooling sensation that can cause the baby to turn away from a painful position like against a Mom's spine.  The Lavender has a calming and relaxing effect that is oh so welcomed.  I also turned on my diffuser that was filled with Frankincense - that mysterious oil you hear about at Christmas time.  This too can have a calming effect. 
I then called Sherry, my Doula, so she could start making her way to my house.  Doula is Greek for "a woman who serves".  She is there not only to support me in any way possible, but my husband as well.  There are many reasons why Dads Need Doulas.  I really like that it takes the pressure off of my husband to know exactly what to do during this unpredictable time.  The original plan was to once again have my Doula, Mary Ann by my side to bring my little one into the world, but things don't always go as planned when you have a baby around Christmas.  So Sherry graciously agreed to take her place just the week before.
As my husband got ready and Sherry walked in the door my mind was able to focus all it's attention on one thing - the baby.  Contractions didn't hold back after that.  The car was packed and we quickly got down the road, arriving at Birth Care in just a few minutes. 
Suzanne, the midwife, greeted us at the Birth Care entrance and was enthusiastic about getting the baby out.  After a few minutes in triage I was given my choice of birthing rooms.  Once I saw those rooms labor intensified again and I quickly sat in a rocking chair to prepare for the next contraction. 
Frankincense was diffusing, Christmas music was playing and lights dimly lit the room like candles.  I shed my winter clothing so that all remained was a comfortable black smocked summer dress.  Peaceful surroundings were now in place for not only me, but all who entered to be with me.  Many commented on the wonderful aroma as they entered the room.  One nurse loved it when Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" played softly in the background.

The memory of the next few hours is blurry.  Some women report feeling empowered, overjoyed and peaceful after giving birth and holding their new baby.  I felt like I just got hit by a car TRAIN.  I was holding the baby for a few minutes when someone told me to talk to him since he was crying.  I wasn't fully aware of his presence laying on top of me.  I wasn't cold, yet I was shaking.  Questions were asked yet the words couldn't quite come to my mouth to answer them.  I think I was in a state of shock.  Just moments before I was afraid that I couldn't get the baby out.  8lb. 12 oz. babies don't have small frames - it took everything I had to release my child into the world.  My lips went numb and I felt like they must be turning blue.  Then his shoulders were stuck, he had to be turned.  My fears didn't diminish in the minutes, hours or even days after his birth.  It was a traumatic experience that replayed in my head a few times before I was able to fully enjoy my newest son.  He was "The Incredible Hulk" until his name was finalized later that day. 

Soon after birth, Sherry anointed Darren with Frankincense.  This essential oil was chosen to promote bonding and strengthen the immune system.  Once home I applied Myrrh to Darren's umbilical cord to hasten healing.  As I child I recall hearing that the gifts of Frankincense and Myrrh given to Mary by the Magi were probably just sold for needed funds (because oils were such an impractical gift).  The oils of the Bible are often misunderstood and dismissed.  But I have no doubt that Mary treasured the gifts for their many uses.  Perhaps they were used when Jesus scraped his knee as a toddler or when he felt sick?   
Another joyous occasion for many new Moms is nursing.  But this was not the case for Darren's first feeding.  Just like his big brother Daniel, Darren had strong suction abilities that I couldn't handle.  By New Year's Eve I was in tears when it came time for Darren to eat.  Oh it hurt so bad!  Fortunately I had experience with this, so I contacted Dawn Wachter, L.M.T. Craniosacral Therapist and Reflexologist, right away for an appointment to relieve possible tension in Darren's jaw and an appointment for my aches and pains as well.  (To find out more about Daniel's feeding issues head over to my blog post from October 2012 - Craniosacral Miracles)
So at just four days old Darren received his first treatment.  Dawn discovered that his spine was twisted with tension up into his right shoulder and neck.  She worked on him as long as she could but Darren kept spitting up his breakfast and was clearly becoming hungry again.  Darren had spit up a lot since birth, which meant I had to feed him more, which meant more pain.  I was anxious to notice a difference when I fed him next.  But it was another feeding when I bit my lips and held my breath. 
Once Darren was finished eating I gingerly laid down for my own treatment.  There were few body parts that didn't hurt.  There were the obvious aches and pains along with my arms, legs, feet and especially my back.  The weight of the baby had been pulling on my back for several months and now it was trying to recover from back labor.  Dawn worked on restrictions and tension on my right side, uterus and colon.  My chest area into my neck and head were also tight.  I felt like Jello at the end of the treatment.  Oftentimes after a treatment I feel the need to lay flat on my back when sleeping.  (This is so unusual since I always sleep on my side or belly.)  As I lay there facing the ceiling my back will hurt yet feel good at the same time as my body realigns back to normal.  Two days later I felt significant improvement in my whole body, especially my back.            
Before Dawn left that morning she suggested having Daren's mouth checked for possible Tongue Tie.  So the waiting game continued over the weekend until I could get an appointment to have his tongue checked and possibly corrected.  In the days that followed I noticed a significant difference in Darren's spitting.  He went from spitting up most of his meal and needing a new outfit to just some slight spitting that could easily be cleaned.  Perhaps his tension wasn't allowing him to keep his food down? 
On Monday, Rita Rhodes, founder of Birth Care, confirmed that Darren was in fact Tongue Tied and she preformed a tongue frenectomy.  The procedure was painless but my baby boy was not happy about being strapped down for the five minutes that it took to complete.  
The next feeding was not without pain, because I was still so sore from the past week, but the procedure did make a difference.  Since then I've allowed Darren to feed longer and I've been able to enjoy my newest son a lot more.  
Just this past weekend I had the privilege of sipping some hot chocolate with both Mary Ann and Sherry at the Corner Coffee Shop in Intercourse.  Mary Ann just felt terrible about missing Darren's birth and had offered to come to my home for the day and help out.  But since I was starting to feel better I felt that some conversation with other woman was a greater need than a cleaner house.  We chatted for several hours about babies, essential oils and relationships.  It was time well spent, time that I will always treasure.  Some journeys are meant to be traveled alone - Motherhood is not one of them.  I am so thankful for these special women in my life. 


  1. What an amazing story, Dawn! I'm so happy you're on this side of everything though :) Congratulations, again!! :)

    1. Thanks Angie! It is nice to know that the worst is behind me and the best before me,