Congrats Lisa! I look forward to following your home stretch and the birth of #6. Yay!
Hooray for your lodge! Can't wait to read your updates here.
Gwen, Mommy to Andrew, Jordan, Natalie & Jack
My blog - all things family, photography and crafty
Here's my sordid story:
I'm 40 years old (will be 41 in September), and have been married to Michael for 7 years in July. We met at work where I was a paralegal; our firm hired him as a law clerk when he was awaiting his bar results. So, yeah, I was a paralegal for 11 years in my former life. When Michael and I met, he had a girlfriend whom he almost ended up marrying, and I was married to my first husband.
My first husband and I married very young (way back in 1987, when some of you were still in diapers, I'm sure!) - I was 19 and he was 21. It was a troubled relationship that included abuse, addiction issues, and fertility issues. It took us about 5 years of TTC to conceive Kevin; Kevin wasn't born until the year we "celebrated" ( I use the term loosely) our 10th wedding anniversary. It was male-factor infertility that was finally overcome with medication, but in hindsight, I believe his fertility issues were likely caused by his alcoholism and drug abuse (which, at the time, I was only partially aware of).
Anyhow, after 12 years of marriage, when Kevin was only 2 years old, everything got to be too much. It's one thing to subject oneself to abuse and lies and instability, but it got to the point that I realized I couldn't subject my child to all that, so I filed for divorce after trying and trying to get my husband to get help and having him refuse, make promise after promise to reform, and then break those promises. Two weeks after I filed for divorce, he died of a drug overdose in June, 1999 (yesterday was the anniversary, actually). His problems had been bad enough for a while that it was a shock, but not really a surprise, if that makes sense. My dad, who was the only family member I had a close relationship with, had just died 6 months prior, very suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 51. It was a very, very dark time in my life.
Michael and I had hit it off right from the start at work. We had the same sarcastic sense of humor, and this easy banter between us. We got to be really good friends pretty quickly. I remember consoling him when he and his girlfriend/fiance broke up. After a time, he started expressing a romantic interest in me - this was while I was still married. Despite how awful my marriage was, I was committed to it and repeatedly put Michael off. After my first husband and I split, and then he died, however, the friendship between Michael and I did blossom into something more. I waited quite a while before allowing him into Kevin's little world, but when I did, the bond between them grew very quickly. My first husband had alwasy been pretty much an absentee father anyway because of his drug and alcohol issues, so it was really nice to finally have this strong, stable male influence in Kevin's life, and he just ate it up.
Michael and I got married barefoot on the beach, with the waves literally lapping at our toes, on July 20, 2001. Kevin was our ring bearer, and in addition to exchanging marriage vows between the two of us, Michael wrote and made his own vows to Kevin. Let me tell you - there was not a dry eye present. Michael has raised Kevin as his own all this time (Kevin knows he used to have a different dad, but Michael is really the only father he's ever known).
Here are some of our wedding pics:
Stealing a kiss before the ceremony -
Making our way onto the beach -
Our friends made this big heart in the sand for us to stand in -
Michael and I exchanging vows -
Michael making vows to Kevin -
We're a family now!
We both wanted at least a couple more kids, and because of our "advancing" ages (we were both well into our 30's), we decided to start trying pretty quickly after we got married. After all the years of fertility issues with my first husband, even knowing it was male-factor, I still really expected it to take some time before Michael and I would conceive. However, I got pregnant the very first cycle we tried, and Joey was born just a few weeks before our first wedding anniversary. I worked up until Joey was born, and have been a sahm since then.
Joey was a pretty intense baby - very high needs - colicky, cried all the time - it was rough. I didn't feel ready to try for another baby for a while. When he was 18 months old, we decided to go for it again, and again I got pregnant the first cycle we tried. Then we found out we were getting a two-for-one deal - TWINS! One of the biggest shocks of my life.
The whole time I was pg with the twins, I figured that was it for us. Four kids - two boys and two girls - who could ask for anything more? But when the twins were around a year old, Michael and I both started getting that itch again. We talked about it and talked about it, trying to decide what to do, and we finally decided to wait until the girls turned 2 to make a decision. But lo and behold, very shortly after that fateful discussion, I found out I was already pregnant! We had always used a loose form of FAM, and although I was still nursing the twins, I had gotten my cycles back pretty quickly post-partum (that's the way it's been for me with all of my babies - I get my period back about 6 weeks PP in spite of exclusive nursing around the clock). It was definitely a surprise, as I was always aware of my fertile signs and we were careful around that time every month. To this day, the best I can figure it is that Lilah was conceived by having dtd 5 or 6 days before I o'd.
Anyway, so with Lilah I finally got the homebirth I had wanted for so long. I'll post all my birth stories separately. It's interesting to me to see how drastically my attitude about pregnancy and birth evolved and changed over the years. I still cringe at parts of my first birth story - I was so uninformed and passive! And on some level, it does feel like with each subsequent pregnancy and birth I've been trying to reach that "ideal" I have in my head.
So after Lilah was born, Michael was done. I wasn't. He was going to get a vasectomy, and I just couldn't bear the thought. I convinced him to wait until Lilah was a year old so we could revisit the subject and decide what to do. He agreed to humor me. Through that whole year, though, he made it clear that he was ready to be done having babies, and I made it clear that I wanted just one more. The funny thing is, even knowing how I felt, Michael never took any steps to prevent another pregnancy. I kind of felt like "Well, he's a big boy, he knows how this all works, so if he's willing to play with fire, so be it." We had the "big talk" right before Lilah turned a year old and he said that if circumstances were different - if we were younger, if we had involved family, stuff like that - he'd love to have 10 kids, but as it was, he was ready to stop having babies and move on to the next phase. I couldn't argue with him. I wanted another, but it's not like I was being cheated out of anything - I already had 5 healthly, wonderful kids. However, shortly after Lilah's first birthday, I realized that I was once again on the nest. I was so scared to tell Michael that I texted the news to him while he was at work!
Me: Michael, I can't bear to tell you this in person, or even over the phone, but I believe I'm pregnant.
Him: U have to call me. U can't text news like that.
So I called him and he just laughed. I don't think he was very surprised - how could he be? He's been totally fine with it since the beginning. Phew!
My life has definitely not turned out how I thought it would! If someone had told me 15 years ago that I would end up having 6 kids, or that I'd be 40 and pregnant, or even that I would end up happily married to a devoted husband, I would have laughed my *** off. But I learned a long time ago not to plan out too much of my life, because you just never know when you're going to be thrown a curveball.
All of my pregnancies have been pretty uneventful. I guess the most "eventful" one was the twins - because it was twins, for one thing, and I did end up with PIH/pre-e and PUPPS. But still, I carried them to just shy of 38 weeks, never had any preterm labor, and gave birth to them vaginally. That seems very rare these days with multiples. Still, if you read their birth story, you'll see that it was still a pretty traumatic birth - at least emotionally - and to this day I still have a hard time getting past the anger I have over how I was treated.
I had pretty severe PPD after Kevin was born. I'm sure my rocky marriage was a contributing factor, but the way the birth went also left me feeling empty, and I went into a pretty severe depression that lasted close to a year. I had PPD after Joey was born too, and I think a lot of it was the fact that he was so intense, and just making the adjustment to a new marriage, and going from being a working mom to a sahm, I suddenly felt very lost and isolated. Fortunately, that depression only lasted a few months. I fully expected to get PPD with the twins, but I didn't! That in itself was shocking - traumatic birth, major adjustment to TWO babies - it was a recipe for PPD, but thank goodness I did really really well PP with them. I got the blues, I guess, with Lilah, but I think it was mostly trying to accept that she was going to be my last baby (har har!).
Some other fun facts: I've been pregnant and/or nursing for over 6 1/2 years solid - since October of 2001!! Also, I have 72 months of breastfeeding under my belt Honestly, I haven't the slightest idea what my "real" boobs even look like anymore!
This pregnancy has been healthy and uneventful except for some bleeding on and off in the first and early into the second trimesters, which I was told was the result of a subchorionic hematoma - but as I mentioned in a recent post, I have suspicions (and so does my mw) that it might have been a twin that didn't develop. That possibility has done a little bit of a number on me, but I'm trying not to dwell on it.
My big thing with this upcoming birth is that I've made a commitment to just leave things alone! I was so antsy to have Lilah (she was the first of my babies to have the nerve to be late) that I requested interventions from my mw that I think really set the stage for the horrible prodromal labor I had. I'm committed to no VE's this time around until I'm in labor, and no membrane sweeps unless there's a really compelling reason to do that. I'm trying very hard not to have any expectations as to when this baby will make his arrival; my first 4 all came a little before their due dates and so I had that expecation with Lilah, and she ended up being 9 days late, so I keep telling myself this one could go either way, and I just have to be okay with it.
I do think this is it for us. We'll be maxed out on space in the house and the SUV when this one is born, and honestly, I'm already about maxed out on energy and patience! I'm trying really hard to enjoy these last few weeks of what IS my last pregnancy.
Kevin Grant came into the world at 9:06 p.m. on January 10, 1997. He weighed 6 lbs. 14 oz. and was 20 inches long. Here is our story:
I woke up that morning of January 10 at about 4 a.m. I had been having regular painful contractions for several days and we had even gone to the hospital 2 nights previous thinking it was time, only to be sent home. My due date was 2 days away and I had felt like a walking time bomb for quite a while, knowing that any day this baby would be ready to make his entrance into the world. I had lost my mucous plug on Tuesday, January 7, which added to my excitement and anxiety. I had also been leaking fluid for a couple days, but at the hospital during our "false alarm" it was determined that it wasn't amniotic fluid.
By Friday morning, I was exhausted from lack of sleep, achy and a nervous wreck. On one hand, I was thrilled that any time I would finally meet this little creature who had been growing and moving inside me and hold him in my arms, but I was scared about the prospect of labor and delivery and I had enjoyed my pregnancy so much (especially after 5 years of trying to conceive) that I didn't feel quite ready to give it up. I was still leaking fluid but it seemed more than before. I was also still having contractions, painful enough that I was already doing breathing exercises when they hit. My husband, Kelly, went to work, assuring me that he had his pager and his cell phone with him and that he would call to check on me periodically as he had been since I started my maternity leave a week before.
By late that morning, I was so anxious I finally called my doctor's office and spoke to Janine, a nurse practitioner. I told her I was leaking more fluid than before and having a lot of contractions, that I was concerned but didn't want to go to the hospital again if it wasn't really time. She told me to go into the office right away so I could be checked there. She said they would determine if I was leaking amniotic fluid, the concern being that if it was, it could lead to infection even if I wasn't in active labor. Janine told me that if I was leaking amniotic fluid, I would probably be sent right over to L & D.
I left the house fully expecting to be back home in an hour or so with instructions to wait because it wasn't time yet. I had 3 or 4 contractions during the 20 minute drive to the doctor's office, and there I was on the freeway, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles and doing my Lamaze breathing each time a contraction came on. Janine took me into an examining room and checked me and said that there was quite a bit of fluid and did a litmus test which came out positive for amniotic fluid. She then spoke to my doctor and came back a minute later telling me to go straight to L & D where I would be given pitocin to move my labor along. I started bawling . . . I was shocked and scared out of my mind and kept thinking I didn't even say goodbye to my dogs! I wasn't ready! It wasn't supposed to happen like this!
I called Kelly at work (about an hour's drive away) and told him what was going on. He was taken by surprise; of course, he knew I had been having contractions and that it could happen at any time, but like me, he just didn't think it would be today. He had called me at home to check on me a couple hours before and all I had said was that I was trying to nap.
I drove to Kelly's parents' house, about 5 minutes from the hospital, so I could leave my car and Becky, my mother-in-law, could take me to the hospital. Luckily, my "labor bag" and overnight bag were still in my car from our last trip to the hospital on Wednesday night. I called my office on the way to my in-laws' house to let everyone know I was going to the hospital to have my baby. I talked to my friend, Sue, who cried with me and told me everything was going to be okay. I cried all the way to Kelly's parents' house. It was hitting me like a ton of bricks that within a matter of hours my whole life was about to change forever. We had planned that Becky would be with us for our baby's birth. She is like a mother to me and was so thrilled for us that we were finally going to have a baby after all our years of heartache and disappointment.
I was admitted to Labor & Delivery at about 1:00 p.m. and almost as soon as they got me in a gown and in bed, my contractions became stronger and consistently 4 - 5 minutes apart. I was only dilated to 1 ½ cm. Becky sat with me, rubbing my back, demanding extra pillows for me, and helping me to the bathroom. Suddenly I was starving and wished I had eaten something before I left home that morning, knowing that all I would be allowed over the next several hours would be ice chips. Kelly got to the hospital at about 2:00 and the pitocin was started. Within an hour my contractions were down to every 3 - 4 minutes and very, very painful. I have a very low pain tolerance and throughout my pregnancy, I had planned on having an epidural when the time came -- no heroics for me! The breathing exercises were no longer helping much. By about 4:00 I was begging for something for the pain. I was told I couldn't have an epidural until I was dilated to 4, but at about 4:30 I was given a shot of morphine and within seconds I felt stoned out of my mind. I still felt the contractions, and they still hurt, but I was finally able to relax a little. Kelly breathed with me when the contractions hit and I stared at the little stuffed giraffe my mother-in-law had given me to use as my "focal point" thinking, "This is NOT helping!" We anxiously watched the fetal monitor I was hooked up to. Everything was going well; my labor was moving along perfectly and the baby was doing fine.
Kelly began making phone calls to let friends and family members know that the baby was on its way. I had packed some snack foods in my labor bag for Kelly but he didn't have the heart to eat anything with me laying there nibbling on ice chips. Becky had also given me a hand-held fan to put in my labor bag, and Kelly turned it on and pointed it at me, trying so hard to make me more comfortable, but it just annoyed me and I snapped at him to get it out of my face.
At about 6:00 my membranes ruptured. I was only leaking before, but now I felt and heard a "pop" and the water just gushed out. After that, things really moved along. The morphine had worn off and I was in so much pain I was crying. Finally at about 6:30 I was given an epidural, and it was such a relief -- at first. After about an hour, it started wearing off on the left side of my body, so on that side the contractions, which were by then about every 2 minutes, were becoming unbearable. It's all kind of hazy now, but I remember lying there breathing, breathing, breathing, crying and telling Kelly that I couldn't do it, that I wanted to stop and just go home. He was wonderful, a Rock of Gibraltar. He held my hand and breathed with me and told me over and over, "You can do it, you're doing great. Let's just get through this contraction. It's going to be okay." My nurse gave me the news that the anesthesiologist was assisting with a c-section but that he would be right in after that to give me more epidural. For over an hour I was in agony, just wanting to give up and waiting for the anesthesiologist to come back.
Kelly's mom happens to be a nurse in the cardiac care unit of the hospital we were having our baby at. A co-worker/friend of hers came over to L & D when her shift was over to see how we were doing. Although we had only planned for Becky to be with us during the actual birth, it turned out to be a good thing that her friend, Cindy, came by because by the time the baby was being born, Becky was too emotional to handle the video camera for us, so Cindy stood in and recorded the events for us. It is really true what people say about losing any sense of modesty when you are about to have a baby -- at that point I couldn't have cared less who was there.
At about 8:30 I started feeling the urge to push with each contraction and I panicked because the nurse was not in the room -- she had gone to check on the anesthesiologist again. Kelly kept telling me not to push and I felt like I was going to throw up and pass out from the pain. The nurse had said she would check me once again for dilation before I got more epidural. When she came back she warned me that I probably still had a long road ahead of me. Then she checked me and said with surprise, "You're complete, it's time to push." No kidding -- I knew it was time to push because it took every ounce of willpower I had not to push! This meant, of course, no more epidural -- the moment of truth was upon us.
She instructed me to push when the next contraction came, so in a couple minutes I grabbed my thighs and began to push with all my might -- 3 pushes to the count of 10 with each contraction. Kelly was on my left and Becky was on my right and they counted to 10 with the nurse with each push. They had placed a mirror at the foot of the bed so I could see everything. I was still in a great deal of pain but the pushing was a relief. When my baby's head crowned, the doctor on call was called into the room. Seeing the round blue-white shape of my baby's head was the only thing that urged me on at that point.
The doctor did an episiotomy and I pushed so hard I thought I was going to pass out, but because I was still partly numb from the epidural, it didn't feel like I was accomplishing anything by pushing. I was accomplishing something, though, because it turned out that I only pushed for about 10 minutes before he was born. When his head and shoulders had been delivered, the doctor told me to reach down with my hands. I thought he was just going to let me touch my baby before he was out all the way, but he had me take Kevin and lift him out of my body and place him on my stomach. It was the most incredible thing . . . there are no words to describe my emotions at that moment. The placenta was delivered shortly thereafter and Kelly cut the cord.
At first, Kevin wouldn't breathe. He turned bright purple before our eyes as the doctor massaged him and suctioned mucous from his nose and mouth and he just laid there completely unresponsive. They took him away from me and over to a warming table where they gave him oxygen and continued to massage him. He finally let out a loud cry and I just laid there crying uncontrollably while Kelly kissed me over and over and told me how proud he was of me. The doctor said the baby's failure to breathe right away was probably due to the fact that he was born so fast and it stunned him -- strangely enough, the same exact thing apparently happened when I was born.
Kevin was beautiful from the first minute -- no mis-shapen head or blotchy skin or anything, just a perfect, beautiful little person. After his initial cry, he was very quiet and alert. I will never ever forget what it was like to hold him and look into his eyes for the very first time.
After he had been cleaned up and weighed and measured, the first order of business was to nurse him for the first time. I was all thumbs and the nurse helped me get him latched on but he was not interested, and actually didn't have a good feeding until the following afternoon. I got worried until then because he just didn't seem interested in eating, but I was told that was normal. By the time we got him home Saturday night, he was doing well, nursing about every 2 - 3 hours.
In the hospital, Kevin mostly slept and hardly fussed or cried at all. Our first night at home was a little frustrating because he cried whenever I put him down. When I became desperate enough for sleep, I finally brought him into our bed (I had been afraid to for fear of rolling over on him or getting his face buried in the blanket or something) and he was fine there, sleeping and waking to nurse every couple hours. From the very beginning, he was very alert, calm and easy to soothe. He was so tiny, and yet I was (and still am) amazed that this whole little person was growing and moving in my belly such a short time ago.
When I left the hospital and went home, I still found myself putting my hands on my stomach looking for that little butt or a foot or something. It was very strange not to be pregnant any more and I felt empty. I loved being pregnant and knew I would miss it but wasn't prepared for the incredible sadness I felt. I almost felt as if I lost a body part or something and I mourned that loss for a long time. When Kevin was inside me, I was so close to him all the time, he was a part of me and when he was born he became a separate little person and when I remembered how quickly it all happened, I would cry. Even though I knew a lot of it was post partum hormones, I felt terribly guilty for having these crying jags when I had this beautiful, perfect baby.
In the beginning, I was overwhelmed. I wasn't prepared for it to happen the way it did -- like I said, when I left for the doctor's office Friday morning I fully expected to be back home a while later -- with baby still in belly. When we came home from the hospital, Kelly's mom followed us and video taped the homecoming for us, and when we took Kevin into his room, I lost it (again) and just stood there crying. Everything leading up to that moment came back to me -- from the time we started trying to conceive a few years ago, through my wonderful pregnancy and then Kevin's birth, and there we stood with our son in our arms in his nursery. Talk about a labor of love . . .
Kevin's birth left me feeling extremely disappointed, empty and depressed. It wasn't until several years later, however, when I was pg with Joey, that I started educating myself and figured out a lot of things that happened with Kevin's birth that I wish I could have changed. First of all, I figured out that my OB almost certainly did a membrane sweep without my consent late in my pregnancy, and that was what led to my leaking a/f, which led to the induction, etc. etc. Also, in hindsight, the episiotomy pissed me off because I think it was completely unnecessary. Anyway, when I was pregnant with Joey, I was committed to doing things differently and being proactive about having a more positive experience.
Joseph Michael came into the world at 1:56 a.m. on July 2, 2002. He weighed 6 lbs. 14 oz. and was 19 inches long. This is the story of his birth.
After being in labor all day Monday, July 1, we went to the hospital and I was admitted at about 5:00 p.m. We were taken to a birthing suite where I changed into a gown and was monitored for a little while. There had been some concern the week before about my blood pressure, so I had gone for my first non-stress test on Friday and was told that I would have to go twice a week until I delivered. My blood pressure was still up a bit , but the baby was doing fine.
When I had Kevin, my first, my labor was induced due to a leak of amniotic fluid. It was a very hard labor, and I wanted this one to be different. Throughout this pregnancy, I did a lot of reading and educating myself, and came to the conclusion that although I wanted to deliver in a hospital, I wanted as little medical intervention as possible. My biggest hope was to avoid another induction and go into labor on my own, as I hoped that a natural labor would be easier for me to bear without pain medication. I also hired a doula, definitely the best decision I made, and Kym and I spent quite a bit of time together during my pregnancy, getting to know each other. By the time my due date approached, it felt like she and I were old friends. I had these visions of what I wanted this labor and delivery to be like, and the scene I pictured over and over in my mind was peaceful and serene, with me focusing quietly through each contraction and bringing my baby into the world.
My contractions were getting more consistent and more painful. My nurse, Benita, was wonderful. My own doctor was not on call, so his partner came in and introduced himself, and the first thing he wanted to do was break my water! I told him I’d rather wait and see how things progressed on their own. He said that was fine but in that case he wanted me out of bed and walking, which was fine with me. That was the main reason I wanted to try and avoid an epidural, so I would not be confined to bed. In spite of that introduction, I really liked Dr. Zepeda. He was very warm and personable.
Michael and Kym and I began walking the halls. For a while it helped and I could walk through a contraction, more slowly and forced, but still walking. I have no idea how long we walked but after a while my contractions were so painful and so close together that I could only walk a few feet before another one hit and I had to stop and lean against the wall and force myself to breathe, which was hard because I was crying from the pain by then. We finally went back to the room where the nurse checked me. I think by that time I was dilated to 5 cm. Benita told me that Dr. Zepeda had said I could go home if I wanted to and labor for a while there. I just looked at her in shock and said “Is he crazy?” She said it was just an option. I guess my labor wasn’t moving as quickly as they would have liked, although to me it seemed like everything was moving very quickly. After resting in bed for a while, I sat on the birth ball for a while and then we tried to walk some more. After a while I couldn’t take the walking anymore. The pain was excruciating, and I felt disappointed in myself for not being able to tolerate it better and live up to those serene visions I had. Kym talked me into taking a hot shower. I was in so much pain that I could barely think for myself and I just wanted to curl up into a little ball and wish the pain away. I was really starting to question whether I would be able to make it through the whole thing without an epidural. The shower helped relax me a little, and then Kym got me back on the birth ball, rocking back and forth, back and forth. After a while the nurse checked me again and said I was still only dilated to 5. I could hardly stand the pain as the nurse checked my progress. I just held Michael’s hand and cried. Kym massaged my feet and hands. I was beginning to feel discouraged.
I think another hour went by and my contractions were coming hard and fast and I was crying from the pain, leaning on Michael. I finally broke down and asked him what he thought about me getting an epidural. He was so great, so supportive. He said he knew that my goal was to not have one, but that if I did get one it was okay, I wasn’t failing or anything. He wanted me to think about the pros and cons. The upside was that I could escape the pain and maybe get a little rest. The downside was that I would have to stay in bed, and an epidural might stall my labor. He asked if I wanted to try to hold out a little longer. I couldn’t take it anymore, I was exhausted, and I no longer wanted to be up and around. So I decided to go ahead with the epidural. It was now about 10:30 p.m. and I was dilated to 6 cm.
Just like when I had Kevin, the epidural never seemed to take completely on my left side, but it did take the edge off. The pain was bearable and I was able to rest a little. I laid on my left side for I don’t know how long. Kym and Michael massaged me and talked to me. Benita came to check me again and I had not dilated any further. She said they might have to go ahead with Pitocin if my labor didn’t progress. She had me turn over to my other side. I don’t know how much time passed. Benita came to check me again a while later, and I was prepared for her to say that we needed to go ahead with the Pitocin. I think even she was surprised when she said that I was completely dilated! She had to call Dr. Zepeda at home and let him know he needed to get right over, as I was about to deliver. So I laid there, completely dilated, for probably 30 minutes. It was so strange in a way, laying there knowing that within a very short time I would meet my baby, and our life would change forever. I tried to savor those last moments, to take in everything around me and create a mental record of what I was thinking and feeling right before my baby was born. It was completely surreal.
While we waited for Dr. Zepeda, Benita broke down the bed, got a mirror out for me, and started getting things together for the baby. Dr. Zepeda arrived and at almost the same time he walked into the room, my water finally broke and everyone started laughing. Dr. Zepeda was very warm and spent a few minutes chit-chatting with us, which I really appreciated. When Kevin was born, the doctor on call came in, delivered the baby, sewed me up and left. I don’t think he said 5 words to us the entire time.
It was about 1:45 a.m. by now and Dr. Zepeda told me I could start pushing with the next contraction. I couldn’t feel my contractions now, just this constant burning sensation, so I put my hands on my stomach to feel when it hardened in a contraction so I would know when to push. Dr. Zepeda was wonderful in instructing me when to push and when not to so that I wouldn’t tear, and I ended up not even needing an episiotomy. I could see everything in the mirror and it was absolutely incredible.
When Joey’s head crowned, we saw that he had quite a bit of brown hair. His head emerged and I could see his little face, with a hand up right next to his cheek. In both my ultrasounds, that’s how he was, with his hands up by his face, and sometimes when he moved inside me I could tell that he was moving his hands down where his head was, and that’s how he was born, with his hand curled up against his face. There are no words to describe how it felt to watch this little creature emerge from my body, and it takes my breath away each time I relive it in my mind. When his shoulders were out, Dr. Zepeda and everyone else told me to reach down and take him, and I did, I pulled him from my body and laid him on my chest and just laid there sobbing. I had also pulled Kevin from me, and in all my life, there has never been, and I doubt there ever will be, anything that could come close to what that was like, to pull my babies from me. I pushed through 3 contractions, for about 10 minutes, before Joey was born.
He started screaming right away, and I was relieved to hear it since Kevin had trouble breathing when he was first born. I was allowed to hold him for quite a while before he was taken from me and weighed and measured. Michael gave him his first bath with Benita’s help, and put his first diaper on. Then he was given back to me and I held him while he was given his eye treatment and Vitamin K shot.
A little while later we were taken to a postpartum room. It was after 3:00 a.m. by that time, but I ate the entire meal that was waiting for me, I was so hungry. Michael slept in the room with me and Joey. I hardly slept at all. I was on adrenaline and couldn’t stop looking at our baby.
Later in the day Michael picked Kevin up and brought him to the hospital to meet his baby brother for the first time. He was in awe. He touched his head and said “Mommy, he’s so soft!” I can imagine how strange and amazing it must be for a 5 year old to watch his mommy’s belly grow bigger and bigger and finally see the creature that made it so big. Kevin sat in my hospital bed and held his brother and was very loving and gentle, and has continued to be.
I dozed on and off that day, but it was hard to get much rest or peace with all the activity in the hospital. Our insurance would allow me to stay for 48 hours, and the hospital policy is to keep postpartum patients for at least 24 hours after delivery, but I begged them to let me go home, so I was released at about 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
All in all, this labor and birth were a more positive experience than my first. I had wanted to avoid an epidural this time and I didn’t, and I have mixed feelings about it. I think in the end, it allowed me to rest and relax enough to progress when it seemed like I was stuck at 6 cm. On the other hand, there is a part of me that feels that I failed somehow, and that makes me sad. Is it about proving something to myself? Maybe. I am trying not to dwell on it. I certainly have a huge amount of respect and amazement for all the women who manage without pain medication. When I had Kevin, I was begging for drugs at 2 cm! This time, I made it on my own until 6 cm, and I feel pretty good about that. My biggest goal was to go into labor on my own and not be induced, and that did happen for me. And for some reason, it still amazes me that I did start and go through labor completely on my own with nothing to start it or help it along. I doubted my body’s ability to do that, so it’s a good feeling knowing that everything worked just the way it should.
As for Kym, I am so grateful that she was there, not only for Joey’s birth, but through a big part of my pregnancy as well. She was supportive and encouraging and always available to talk to and answer questions and calm me when I was worried about something. She really played a huge part in making my whole experience one that I can look back on with happy memories. When Michael and I are ready for baby # 3, I will definitely have a doula again, and I would love it to be Kym.
After Joey was born, a friend wrote to me:"The best thing in life is to witness the birth of a new life, and the most important privilege is to give life. You were able to have both of them." I don’t think it could be said any better than that. Giving birth to each of my children has left a mark on me and changed me forever in ways that I can’t explain and can hardly understand.
Here's how huge I was at the end - I'm in labor here:Annabelle Jeanette, 2:21 p.m. 5 lbs. 12 oz. 18 inches
Daisy Estrella, 2:39 p.m. 6 lbs. 1 oz., 19 inches
Finding out I was expecting twins was one of the biggest shocks of my life. There was just no reason to have suspected twins - no family history, no fertility treatment. Michael and I wanted another baby and were thrilled when I got pregnant the first cycle we tried, but nothing could have prepared us for the news of twins. We had hired a midwife already with the plan of having a home birth after having had two pretty unsatisfying hospital birth experiences. However, I did plan on seeing an OB for the first part of my pregnancy - that was just my comfort zone I guess. At my first prenatal appt. with the OB, during a routine dating ultrasound, I got the shocking news that I was carrying twins. Michael wasn't even with me, as I didn't know beforehand that I would be having a u/s that day. When we found out we were having twins, our plans for a home birth went down the toilet and I was crushed.
Although my OB continually warned me of a complicated pregnancy because I was carrying twins, I really had a pretty healthy pregnancy, with the exception of developing both PIH and PUPPS during the last few weeks. I fought hard to be treated as an individual rather than being subjected to routine protocols and procedures just because I was having twins.
I went into labor at 37 weeks + 5 days. I realized I was in labor a little after midnight. My contractions were coming about every 8 minutes and growing more and more intense. I dozed on and off through the night, and when Michael's alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. for him to get up for work, I told him I was in labor. We were both very excited.
We left the house at about 7:30 a.m., and by then my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and really hurting. We called our doula and asked her to meet us at the hospital. Kevin, who was 7 at the time, was very excited to know that his sisters were going to be born that day. Joey, then age 2, didn't really understand any of it. We got the boys dropped off at a babysitter's and made our way to the hospital.
I knew that because I was having twins, I would have to deliver in the OR, but we were able to talk the nurses into letting me labor in one of the nice birthing suites. It seemed like we had to make a case for everything we wanted because of all the lame hospital policies. Every time I had a request or preference, I had to argue for what I wanted.
When I was admitted, I was dilated to 5 cm. I had already had to agree to an epidural because Baby B was breech, and Dr. Zepeda said he would not try to turn her unless I had an epidural. I was bugged because I know a lot of times the second baby will turn around on its own after the first baby is born, but he wasn’t going to budge on that - he said either an epidural or a c-section. It made me so angry that I was given ultimatums like that - it seemed like so many decisions had been made that way. Because I was having twins, I had to give up a lot of control over how my birth would go and it was very upsetting to me.
Anyhow, when we arrived at the hospital, Dr. Linzey was on call - my former OB/GYN whom I had left after Joey was born because he and I had butted heads on some things that were very important to me at the end of my pregnancy with Joey. Dr. Zepeda was on call the night Joey was born I liked him so much that I chose him to be my OB when I found out I was pregnant again. Dr. Z had promised me that he would be at my birth even if he was not on call when I was ready to deliver - he left instructions in my chart that he was to be reached when I was admitted. I had left a message with his answering service earlier that morning, and when we got there I was surprised and a little alarmed to hear that they were still trying to reach him. I did not want to deal with Dr. Linzey.
By 11:30 a.m. I was dilated to 7 cm and was given an epidural. Dr. Z still had not responded to attempts to reach him. I was really feeling disappointed about the epidural because for the first time I really think I could have made it without one. With Kevin, I was induced and begging for an epidural by the time I got to 2 cm. With Joey, I tried to go natural but after 19 hours of labor, I ““hit the wall”” got an epidural. This time, though, I stayed on top of the contractions and never felt like I was close to not being able to handle it. My doula took a picture of me laughing between contractions.
Dr. Linzey came into our room and was very friendly at first. He talked about turning Baby B once Baby A was born, and he also talked about the possibility of a breech delivery of Baby B if she wouldn’t turn. I was completely open to that, as a c-section was my worst fear. I knew I would be going home with 2 newborns to care for in addition to my other 2 kids, and I had no family or help. I couldn’t fathom how I would manage to try and recover from a c-section on top of being on my own to take care of my kids and house (Michael would only be able to take a week or so off work). Then Dr. Linzey asked about the babies’ sizes and I told him that my last ultrasound almost 3 weeks prior had estimated Baby A (the presenting baby) to be approx. 5 lbs, and Baby B to be approx. 6 lbs. His whole tune suddenly changed then. He said Baby B could not be delivered breech if she was a pound bigger than the first baby. I reminded him that: (a) the ultrasound had been done almost 3 weeks ago and a lot could have changed between then and now, (b) the u/s weight estimates were just that - estimates - and the report even said “+ or - 12 oz.”, and (c) what happened to turning Baby B to a head down position? He got a copy of the u/s report from my file and pretty much became closed to the whole idea of even trying to turn the second baby. He had his mind made up that I should just have a c-section, period. And he was really quite a bully about it, insinuating that I was not making decisions in the best interests of my babies, and saying "We want these kids to be able to count to 10 someday." (He later used this same exact line on a friend of mine and I was appalled to realize that that’s all it was: a line, a scare tactic.) So we had gone from a very high chance of delivering both babies vaginally to pretty much no possibility of anything but a c-section. I was so upset I couldn’t even talk any more, I was just crying and crying. Michael argued with him and Dr. L was just a total jerk. I still wanted to know where the hell MY dr. was. I felt like if I could just get Dr. Z there, we could clear the whole thing up and go back to the possibility of delivering both babies vag. Dr. Z and I had talked about it at length, even taking into consideration that Baby B might be a little bigger than Baby A, and he was definitely more open to work with me and help me achieve what I wanted, at least as far as avoiding a c-section. So I’m laying there bawling, Michael’s pissed, and finally Dr. L left the room to “give us some time.”
Because of the PIH, my blood pressure was being constantly monitored, and by this time it was sky high - something like 190/110. Obviously our conversation with Dr. L didn’’t help matters, but even after he left my bp wasn’t going down and they were afraid I was going to go into seizures, so they had to put me on Magnesium Sulphate then.
Finally, a little while later Dr. Z showed up. I felt such a huge relief. But suddenly he seemed to have changed from caring, supportive OB to "I'm in charge here, I know what's best," and scolded, “Lisa, we talked about this . . .” I panicked a little - what, was he suddenly on Dr. L’s side? I told him yes we had talked about it and I reminded him that he had said he was willing to work with me and help me have the birth I wanted. He finally agreed to attempt a vag birth and hope that Baby B could be turned.
Around 2:00 I suddenly felt like I needed to push even though I was completely numb. The nurse checked me and said “We’re ready to have a baby here!” So they wheeled me on the L & D bed down the hall, around a few corners, and into the operating room. What a trip that was, to be in this cold, sterile, brightly lit operating room to have my babies. At the last second, right before we were about the enter the OR, they said my doula could not go in. That came out of left field and completely caught me off guard. I was so angry - it seemed like they had intentionally waited until the last possible second to spring that one on us so we wouldn’t have time to argue about it. What the f***??? Dr. Z and everyone else knew all along that I had a doula and no one ever said anything about her not being allowed in the OR where I would give birth - and where I would especially need her!
They sent Michael to another room to put scrubs on and I was wheeled into the OR. As it turned out, an OR birth requires 2 doctors to be in attendance so guess who else was there besides Dr. Z. Yep, Dr. L, my arch enemy. They weren’t going to let me actually deliver on the regular birth bed, I had to be moved onto the operating table. It was really narrow and hard and I was flat on my back. I kept saying “I can’t push like this, I need to sit up,” but the nurses were too busy hooking things up and getting things ready to pay me much attention, plus after my skirmish with the highly respected Dr. Linzey, the nurses really became pretty *****y and cold to me. Finally they did kind of elevate my upper body with pillows to make it easier to push. For some reason that I’m still not sure of, I started crying as soon as they got me into the OR, and I think I cried the entire time we were in there. It was so overwhelming.
I asked if they could bring a mirror in so I could see my babies being born. As soon as they put the mirror at the foot of the table I could see Baby A’’s head with lots of dark hair. Dr. Z told me I could start pushing. I pushed so hard I literally saw stars, but I couldn’t really feel myself pushing because I was so numb. Even so, it was only 2 contractions before Baby A was out. Annabelle Jeanette was born at 2:21 p.m., weighing 5 lbs. 12 oz. and was 18 inches long. They laid her on my chest and Michael cut her cord. I held her for a minute before a nurse took her away to clean her up and weigh and measure her, and then she was brought back to me and I got to hold her for a few more minutes before the next baby was ready to be born.
Now Dr. Linzey started manually trying to turn Baby B from the outside. From what I could see, it looked really painful, although I was numb, and at that point I was glad I had an epidural. How ironic it was that he was the one turning her since he was so set on doing a c-section. It only took a few minutes for him to get her head down and then Dr. Z broke her water and pretty soon I could see her head - another head with dark hair! He told me to go ahead and push, and again I pushed her out in just a few minutes. Daisy Estrella was born 18 minutes after her sister, at 2:39 p.m. She weighed 6 lbs. 1 oz. and was 19 inches long. So there was a 5 ounce difference between the two of them - not even close to a pound. No episiotomy, and no tearing. I didn’t get to see or hold Daisy right away. For some reason, they took her away right away and I didn’t get to see her until I was ready to be moved into the recovery room. After Daisy was born, they brought Annabelle back to me and I tried to nurse her for the first time. During all this, Michael was pulled in 3 different directions, between me and 2 babies. It kind of sucked. A lot of the time I was just left there on the table with no one holding my hand or paying me any attention or anything. I was (and am) still so angry that they wouldn’t let my doula be there with me.
When I was still in labor, we had been told that I would have to go to the recovery room for an hour or 2 after the birth and that the babies would have to go to the nursery for observation. I made a total stink about that until they gave in and said they could make an exception and let the babies stay with me in the recovery room. I held and nursed both babies in the recovery room. We were there for an hour or so and then I was taken to a private postpartum room. Michael stayed for a few hours and then went home to be with the boys.
My blood pressure was still pretty high so they wanted to keep me on the mag-sulph for 24 hours. During that time, someone came every hour to draw blood from me, and every hour the nurse made me get up and pee into a measuring bowl in the toilet. My blood pressure was also taken every hour, and my reflexes checked. Mag-sulph is some wicked stuff, and I spent the next 24 hours in a zombie state, just feeling incredibly weak and sick and out of it.
On that second day, Annabelle and Daisy started nursing really well, and for the rest of my stay in the hospital it seemed like if I wasn’t nursing one, I was nursing the other. On the second night I somehow managed to get them both in bed with me propped up on pillows so could nurse them at the same time. The three of us fell asleep that way and it was nice. Of course I got a talking-to from the nurse about how dangerous it is to sleep with a baby in bed with me. The nursed kept trying to convince me to let the babies go to the nursery so I could get some rest, and it just upset me. I had worked so hard to grow these 2 babies and to give birth to them - why did they think I wanted to be separated from them? I was also cautioned by more than one of the nurses that I would have to supplement with formula, that it would be too hard to breastfeed twins. Well, they didn’t know a thing about me or how determined I am. I never supplemented my first two babies, and I wasn’t about to go down that road with my twins. I ended up nursing them for 18 months - until I was about 3 months into my next pregnancy - and never did a drop of formula pass their lips.
All the nurses were just amazed that I had the twins vaginally. One of them told me that there had been 5 or 6 twin deliveries that week and they had all been c-sections except me. How sad is that?
After 2 days in the hospital we were finally able to go home. What a relief that was! The whole experience made me never want to step foot in another hospital.
Here I am in the OR - see how they have me flat on my back?! GRRRR!!!
Annabelle and Daisy, about a day old -
Back home . . . I think we looked like this - absolutely drunk with exhaustion - for a loooong time!
And here's the photo we used for their birth announcement - they were about a week old here -
There is a much longer version of this birth story somewhere in the Birth Stories thread, I believe, which includes all the days of prodromal labor leading up to her birth, but here's the somewhat short, sweet version:
Warning: boob shots!Lilah Peggy
October 3, 2006
7 lbs. 10 oz.
19 ½ inches
After a week of prodromal labor and trying all kinds of things to get the baby to come, Sue, my mw finally had me start taking cohosh on the morning of Oct. 3. There was a possibility that my bag of waters had ruptured a couple days prior (we weren’t sure - there had been a gush, but the litmus strip was inconclusive, and since then I had continued to lose all kinds of bloody show and fluidy stuff), my GBS status was unknown, so it was time to get things going.
I can’t remember what time I started taking the cohosh, but I alternated blue and black every half hour. I was still having contrax, but they were still only about 10 min. apart. Sue had me promise to take castor oil if the cohosh hadn’t made labor progress after 5 hours. At about 9:00 a.m. I asked her about conclusively breaking my water. She agreed to check me again and then we’d decide. When she checked me she felt a bulging bag of water and I was dilated to 7 cm, so she went ahead and broke my water.
The contrax continued all morning and they were very painful. I spent a lot of time walking around the house, and even up and down the stairs, trying to keep things going and hopefully to move it to the next phase. I was squatting and moaning through contrax by this time. The closest together they got was 9 min. apart. It was very discouraging and exhausting. We had already decided that I was not going to be able to labor in the pool because being in the water slowed my contrax down. I wouldn’t be able to get in the water until I was ready to push.
I guess around noon Sue made me sit down and eat some lunch and sent Michael to the store for some castor oil. I was not looking forward to that, but it was the next logical step and Sue assured me that she had had a lot of success with the combination of cohosh and castor oil. Michael got home with the castor oil and Sue made a smoothie with it and had me drink it.
My contrax were still about 9 min. apart and she checked me again. I was dilated to 9 cm!! She kept saying that there was no way the baby was going to be born without the contrax getting closer together - but there I was dilated to 9 cm and still only having contractions every 9 min. This labor seemed to be breaking every rule. At this point, I just wanted to lay down. I had had very little sleep over the last several days and was completely exhausted. I guess it was a little after 1:00 by this time. Sue and I went into the bedroom. I don’t know where Michael was at this point - somewhere else in the house. I laid down on the bed and actually managed to doze between contractions, but every time a contraction hit, I had to breathe and moan through it. Sue was a big comfort during this time, stroking my hair and arm when a contraction came and speaking words of encouragement. Her presence was very soothing.
Suddenly, around 1:45 the contrax started coming closer together and I got the shakes. I was finally in transition! Michael was in the bedroom with us by this time. I had exactly THREE contractions that were 5 minutes apart, followed by another doozy two minutes later. Sue had left the room for something and suddenly I shot up on the bed with my hand between my legs and yelling for Sue that I had to push!
Oh my God, it was such a shock, to go from contrax basically 10 min. apart all day long to this sudden feeling that something huge was pushing its way out of my body. I was suddenly very frightened.
Sue and Michael got me into the birth pool at about 2:00 and the contrax slowed a bit but were still coming at decent intervals and were very powerful. I fought the urge to push because it frightened me so much. With each contraction, I breathed deep in and out breaths and moaned. Susan told me to push whenever I felt like it and I kept telling her that I was scared and that it hurt, it hurt. Sue told me I was feeling the baby’s head crown, and encouraged me to reach down and feel her head . . . and suddenly she was a real little person to me, and not just this enigma wreaking havoc on my body and mind. Michael was behind me outside the pool supporting me in a semi squat position, and Susan kept asking me if I wanted him in the pool with me. No, no. I couldn’t deal with any sort of change at that point. Finally the urge to push became so powerful that I could no longer fight it and I began pushing . . . and oh my God, it felt like a train barreling its way out of my body. It felt like I was being ripped in half - seriously, I felt myself tearing down there, above and below my vagina. I began screaming at this point and Sue tried to calm me and told me to lower the scream to a grunt because it would help get the baby out. So I tried, I really tried, to grunt and pant, but I know I was still screaming too. I felt her head come out, and I thought the hardest part was over, that her shoulders and the rest of her body would just slide out with little effort on my part, but her shoulders seemed to be stuck. I was crying and saying “Help me! Please, help!” over and over. Sue reached down into the water and felt around the baby’s head to make sure there was no cord holding her up. Finally, I pushed with everything I had and out came her shoulders and the rest of her body. The pain immediately dissipated. Sue got the baby out of the water and up onto my chest. I was still crying uncontrollably - I was just overwhelmed by the whole thing. But looking at my perfect little baby girl for the first time made the whole thing worth every minute and I was struck, once again, as I had been with the birth of each of my other children, by how incredible it was that I grew this perfect little human being inside my body and brought her into the world. Michael and I both felt the umbilical cord pulsing, and that was new. I had never felt a cord before, or even seen one close up.
I was still in the pool, and Susan said I was bleeding. I remember thinking “Okay, so what? Doesn’t everyone bleed after they push a baby out?” It was only when I saw the look on her face that I felt a little scared. She told me I needed to get out of the pool. She gave me a shot of Pitocin in my thigh and I yelled “Oww!” and then almost had to laugh - I had just pushed a baby out of my body and I was going to complain about a little shot now? Sue called Alycia into the room (our babysitter who was there looking after the other kids) and asked her to get me some juice - I guess to keep me from fainting. She clamped the cord and had Michael cut it and they handed the baby to Alycia and then helped me out of the pool and up onto the bed. Sue was examining me, trying to determine where I was bleeding from, but by this time the bleeding had stopped. I had no tears - this absolutely boggled my mind. When I was pushing, I had the distinct sensation that I was tearing from here to kingdom come - but in reality, I had not a single tear or even skid mark anywhere. Holy cow. I shifted on the bed and felt something huge come out of me and thought it was the placenta, but it was two blood clots, each the size of my fist. The placenta actually took quite a while to come out. Sue took me into the bathroom and put me on the toilet, as being upright would help the placenta deliver. I again was fighting pushing it out - after the ordeal of pushing the baby out, I could hardly bear the thought of pushing anything else out. I sat on the toilet and managed to pee, and then finally, out came the placenta.
Here’s some stuff Susan told me later: she never did figure out where the bleeding was coming from after the baby was born, but suspected that the placenta had just started separating a bit early causing the bleeding. Fortunately, it stopped almost immediately when she gave me the pitocin. But what she told me later was that while I was still in the pool after the baby was born, the blood was pouring out of me - she said it made her think of an underwater volcano. Another thing she told me later was that when Lilah was emerging, her head came out face down, which is typical. Then she rotated, so that her shoulders would come out vertically - which is also typical. But then she apparently rotated back to face down, which meant that her shoulders were now horizontal in the birth canal! So when Sue reached down in the water to check for cord after the baby’s head came out, what she was really doing was trying to turn the baby without freaking me out.
After all was said and done, I climbed into my own cozy bed with my new baby while Sue and Michael cleaned up and brought me food. Sue did one, two, and three-day postpartum visits to check on me and the baby, and everything looked good. On day three Lilah weighed 7 lbs. 6 oz. She was 7-10 at birth, so that’s pretty good. She was a little jaundiced for the first couple of days, but my milk came in by day two, so the jaundice started clearing up pretty quickly. When Sue left on day three, I found myself crying. I’ve become quite attached to her and will truly miss her and the care I got from her.
I’ve spent a lot of time reliving the labor and birth in my head, analyzing it and trying to process it. Michael asked me a few hours after she was born if I would do it again if I had the opportunity. I actually hesitated, and that has bothered me. I think he asked me too soon, but the truth at that moment was that I didn’t know if I could do it again.
I’m trying to come to terms with parts of it still. I have no regrets, but of course I wish my labor hadn’t been so long and erratic, although it was certainly a test of strength and endurance and I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of. I wish I had better prepared myself for the reality of an unmedicated birth. I feel like I was either very arrogant about the whole thing, or ill-informed, or maybe both. I feel disappointed in myself that I freaked out during pushing - even a little ashamed I guess, however silly that might sound. The realization that I’ve come to is that for whatever reason, I had the belief that the worst pain I would feel would be the most intense contractions, and I had faith in myself that I could handle that. I had heard over and over that pushing is a relief, so I really believed that while pushing would certainly be work, pain-wise, it would be easy compared to the contractions. So I was completely shocked and unprepared for how pushing really felt, and it was terrifying for me. I had envisioned this fairly quiet water birth, where I would breathe and grunt my baby out, catch her myself, and pull her up onto my chest, and feel like Mother Earth herself. In reality, I screamed my baby out, and was too freaked out to reach down and catch her. I am utterly humbled by the whole experience.
All in all, it was an amazing experience, and the fulfillment of a dream I’ve had for a very long time. I am so thankful that I had a wonderful, caring midwife through my pregnancy and birth, that I have a loving and supportive husband, and that I was able to have my baby in the comfort of my own home.