Sylvia, Justus, and Bunni's Birth Stories

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krazykat's picture
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Sylvia, Justus, and Bunni's Birth Stories

Sylvia Joleigh
Emergency c/s under general anesthesia for Chorioamnionitis

Here is the full birth story (John made it home for mid-tour leave from Iraq about a week before her birth):

Sunday December 14, 2008, I began having contractions around 3 a.m. that were spaced around 5 minutes apart. I tried to go back to sleep to no avail, so I got up and got in the bathtub hoping to ease the discomfort. Nothing seemed to work, so I got back in bed and just waited it out. Later that evening John and I decided to go to L&D and see if there was any progress. The Wednesday prior at my 38 week appointment, I was dilated to maybe a ?fingertip? according to my doctor. After they examined me in L&D I was about 1-2 cms. They sent me home to wait for my contractions to get more painful or closer together.

Monday December 15, 2008, I was in a lot more pain throughout the early morning. I did not get any sleep and decided to see if my OB would see me in his office so we would not have to drive all the way to L&D again. When I got there he said I was still maybe 1-2. I was almost in tears at points because the contractions were so intense, but no closer together. I had a prenatal massage scheduled for that morning that I almost cancelled but decided to go in the hopes it would relax me a little. That was the best thing EVER! During the massage and afterwards, my contractions completely eased off. I could feel the tightening, but no pain during them for several hours.

Later that afternoon when I got home, I started to get the chills and took a bath because it was really cold outside. Then it occurred to me that I might have a fever. I took my temp and got 101.9 and we were off to L&D again. After the exam the doctor said I was around 2.5 dilated, and baby looked great on the monitors. They then sent me home and told me to take Tylenol.

Tuesday December 16, 2008, I woke up early morning again with a ton of contractions around 3 to 4 minutes apart but still the same intensity. BUT I had horrible chills. I felt like I was rocking the bed. I decided to get up and take a bath to try to warm up and I took some Tylenol, phenergan, and tried to drink some water. After my bath I got really nauseated and threw up. I decided to take my temperature again and got 103.5! Off to L&D again!

This time as soon as they hooked me up to the monitors, I knew something was wrong. Baby's heart rate was around the 200s. The doctor seemed really concerned and immediately admitted me. During the exam I had not made any progress. They put me on fluids, and continually monitored the baby. Later that evening my fever broke (I sweated through all the linens? gross!) and the baby?s heart rate dropped to a better level. They said if my fever stayed down they would talk about augmenting on Wednesday. They also did an amnio to make sure the baby?s fluid was not infected, and then they flu-tested me and took all kinds of blood. I was in a quarantine room, and it was weird that everyone who came in wore masks and gloves. I remember them telling me that the ventilation in the room was designed so that the air did not filter to the rest of the hospital. John and I got some laughs out of that. The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, and the next day is where all the fun began.

Wednesday December 17, 2008, they had been able to keep my fever at bay, but not gone completely. At 8:30 am they entered the pill to ripen my cervix (Cytotec) some more since I had not had any progress but was having regular contractions. Somewhere in here, a doctor checked me and told me afterwards that he stripped my membranes. No wonder it hurt terribly. John was not happy. At 1:00 pm they started the pitocin. The contractions got a little more intense, but nothing unbearable. At 2:30 pm I was 100% effaced so the doctor decided to break my water. I immediately went to about 4 cms and the pain was tremendous, especially to my right side and around the right side of my back. At 3:00 pm they allowed me to get the epidural. It gave me some relief but never took effect on my right side or right side of my back. The next few hours were pretty much a blur of pain and DH telling me to breath. They gave me several doses of the epidural but it never took effect, although my legs were completely gone. Around 12 am I started throwing up because of the pain and was losing my mind because I had not made any further progress. The doctor decided to do a C/S. I was ready for anything; I just wanted to be out of pain.

They finally took me to the back and gave me so much epidural medicine that the anesthesiologist had to call and get a second opinion. Meanwhile, they told John to suit up and someone would be back to get him. Something in that time period changed, though I'm not sure and there was suddenly a strong sense of urgency. They kept asking me in between contractions if I could feel them pinching my belly and I could. There was a lot of commotion, and then the anesthesiologist told me I was going under general. I remember looking up at him in his eyes and begging for him to call John and tell him what was going on. The last thing I remember is him grabbing the phone and telling the nurse's stand that I was going under general. As it turns out, John never knew. I was so upset because he could not be there, and I was scared to death. Everything was going very wrong. I went out like a light.

Sylvia Joleigh was born at 3:18 am on Thursday December 18, 2008 at 39 weeks on the dot. She was 8 lbs. and 19 inches long. I wasn?t really able to enjoy her at first because I felt so weak and I had the shakes so bad. They were uncontrollable. John was wonderful though. I knew he was really worried about me, but he took great care of her during that time period. My friend Carmen was there with him and she told me later that they brought Sylvia out to him and he was so confused. He thought he was getting ready to go back wih me and he kept asking, "Where is my wife? Where is my wife?" We were sent to postpartum and I thought everything was going well until the nurse noticed that my baby girl was grunting constantly. I thought it was just normal baby stuff, but they took her temp and it was low. Her blood sugar was also extremely low (around 35). And that?s when they made the call to put her in NICU. I think that maybe she ended up with the same infection I had. They did so many tests (on her and me) and they all came back negative. No flu, no cold, no nothing; just an elevated white blood count. But they decided to keep her and run a full course of antibiotics. It was heartbreaking to me to see her with an IV in her head and oxygen on. I have never cried so much in my life. I couldn?t stand having to leave her every day.

Finally on Sunday they released me from the hospital and we stayed in a hotel across the road until they released Sylvia on Tuesday. The best Christmas present ever! She is breastfeeding like a champ and doesn?t seem to have any problems. And in between that time John's command denied a Red Cross request for an emergency leave extension (but that?s in a whole other post).

So it was a very long, painful, and emotional, process but totally worth it when I look into my little girl?s eyes, or watch her while she sleeps.

"Sylvia" was after John's late grandmother. We had been trying very hard to have her for a year and a half, so I am fairly sure of when we concieved, and the next morning we received word that his grandmother had passed. The circle of life. "Jo" is his mom's middle name, and "Leigh" is my mom's... so that's how we got Sylvia Joleigh. Sylvia is originally a Latin name, and was also a Goddess of the Forest who was mother to Romulus and Remus (the founders of Rome).

The most disturbing thing to me about the whole thing is that nobody told me anything. This is some of what I found out after the fact, once I read my medical records in 2010:
-I had an infection called Chorioamnionitis. Some of the signs are high fever, increased fetal and/or maternal heart rate, uterine sensitivity, extremely ineffective contractions, excessive bleeding after birth
-The baby was posterior and asynclitic
-One of the worst things you can do with a mother who has Chorio is rupture membranes if they haven?t been ruptured. I also should have never let them rupture my membranes since she was posterior.
-Sylvia had to be resuscitated at birth
-I lost over 800 cc of blood

krazykat's picture
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
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Posts: 1143

Justus Brooks
Planned HBAC turned hospital transfer and repeat c/s

"So originally I had planned for a natural childbirth in a hospital, but I quickly found out how limited I would be as a VBAC and decided I am too tired and too lonely to fight by myself. If John were here to advocate for me I would probably feel a lot better about the hospital. After Bradley classes and Hypnobabies, I found myself considering home birth over and over again. I can't think of a place I am more comfortable, I would be a basket case if I had to be away from Sylvia, and I want as little intervention as possible to give me the best chance of a VBAC. John was able to attend Bradley with me, and when I mentioned an HBAC, he was suprisingly on board 100%. We did a lot of research and soul-searching together and we were reassured over and over again that HBAC was our best option.

In between there, Sylvia and I moved from Alaska, to West Virginia, to North Carolina, while John stayed in Alaska to get ready for deployment. I have gone from the military hospital, to a natural-minded (fantastic) OB in Alaska (Dr. Elrod), to a CPM in West Virginia, to a CNM here in North Carolina (at about 30 weeks pregnant). Then at 38.5 weeks on a terrible, gut feeling, I transferred care to another CNM.... SHEW!"

I had calculated my EDD to be September 2, 2010 based on my LMP, and my chart. My official EDD that my midwife went by was September 7, 2010 based on an early dating ultrasound. I had bouts of contractions on and off for weeks leaving me thinking that I was going to have the baby at any time. They would get regular and strong, mostly in the evenings, but then they would ease off once I went to sleep. Sometimes they would pick back up in the morning, and sometimes they wouldn’t. On September 13, 2010 I lost my mucus plug. Pinkish colored mucus continued to come after that. On September 14th I came down with a nasty cold that I got from Sylvia. I thought by the next day that I was over the worst of it, but I was definitely still feeling depleted.

September 15th I woke up around 2 am with contractions 4-5 minutes apart. Earlier that evening they had been 8-10 minutes apart but I had been able to sleep through them for the most part. Since they were stronger and closer together, I called my midwife who sent her apprentice to check up on me. We found that I was 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced. Once she and my mom arrived though, things started to ease off significantly. So Cher left, we took Sylvia to daycare that morning, and then mom went on to work. Lo and behold, everything began to pick back up as soon as I was by myself. The contractions were making me feel slightly nauseous and sweaty as they peaked, but I felt great in between. By around 7:30 pm, they were still coming about 5 minutes apart, 60 seconds long or more, and had picked up in intensity once I put Sylvia to bed.

September 16th rolls around and I had been up most of the night. I called Donna, my midwife early in the morning again, and Cher came for another visit. I kept trying so hard to rest, even taking Tylenol PM and dozing off for a few minutes, but the contractions were tough and hurting worse when I lay down. I was supposed to have an appointment with Donna in Fayetteville (one hour away) at 10 am, but I called and told her I would not be able to ride in the car for that long. She said she would come to me, and showed up around 10:30 am. She did an exam; I was a stretchy 2 cm, and about 80% effaced. She stripped my membranes and decided to wait for a little while with me to see if I progressed.

Around 2:30 pm, Donna checked again and I was 5 cm, and still not completely effaced. I was so excited at this point because I had made it past where I stopped dilating with Sylvia. This was where my mental block ended. I was proud! Contractions were getting very intense at that point. Shortly after I started throwing up. I remember telling Donna that I did not like for people to see me puking. I spent most of my time in the bathroom or the shower with the door shut.

By 5:30 pm, I was done! I had a mini-meltdown and asked to transfer to the hospital. I was throwing up, peeing on myself each time, shaking, sweating, and all around miserable. The contractions were hard and close. I had been moaning through every one trying to keep my tones low. I lived in the shower; alternating between standing while circling my hips, kneeling, and sitting in the water. Donna was sitting at the top of the stairs and I came out onto the landing. She wanted me to let her check me. I tried to refuse the check because it had become so uncomfortable to lie down or have anyone touch me. Finally, I allowed Donna to check with the promise that she do it very quickly. I wanted to climb the bed. I remember holding my moms hands tightly and trying to pull myself away from Donna, and wanting to scream. I was 7 cm! Donna told me I could do this, that I was in transition, and we were close to the end. I kept reminding myself in my head that this was the place I wanted to be… transition… this is when you think you can’t go on any longer, but is normally the shortest phase of labor. I was keeping that number 10 in sight, and I was excited, and scared.

At some point in here, Donna found out that she had another mom going into labor. She asked how I would feel if she left and tried to make it to the birth and then came back to me. I didn’t know how I felt. I can’t remember what I told her, but in my mind I was thinking that if she left, I was heading to the hospital. She had been my rock this whole time; the one keeping me going. She kept telling me over and over again that I could do it, and when I looked into her eyes as she said that, I believed her that I could. I found out later that she actually had three of us who had babies within a 24 hour period.

I got into the birth tub and it was heavenly. At some point, Cher came in to tell me that Donna was not leaving. I thanked her in my mind. I didn’t think I could do it without her. I was the most comfortable leaned with my back against the side of the tub, and my legs stretched out in front. I tried different positions and found some relief on my knees, but squatting was so painful! Donna told me that is the position I needed to be in to bring the baby down. I tried but remember it being excruciating. Luckily during this time, contractions spread way apart. I’m not sure how frequent they were but I remember feeling blessed for the break. I thought to myself, if I can only make it to the peak of the contraction, then I will get a break and I can do this.

At 8:30 pm, I was 9 cm. Donna suggested that we could try to break my water to move things along. I told her that I was scared of that since it was a very chaotic experience for me once they broke my water during Sylvia’s labor. But, they broke my water at 2 cm with her, and I was now at 9 cm. I told myself it was a very different situation, and then I agreed. Once my water was broken, I went to about 9.5 cm fairly quickly, with an anterior lip around my cervix. They watched the water with a flashlight, and it was clear. I remember Donna attempting to massage around the lip with some sort of golden colored oil that smelled bad to me. The pain was unbearable though and I wouldn’t allow her to do much. There were points when my body was pushing, and it was totally out of my control. I didn’t even think I was pushing, until I realized the sounds I was making. It did not bring the relief that I have heard so many people speak of. Why were the pushes hurting me so bad? That worried me. I pushed and pushed and pushed with each contraction. I tried standing, squatting, sitting in the tub, sitting on the couch, and the only position I refused was the toilet. Sitting on the toilet was a living hell for me.

Around 11 pm, I had a ton of pressure in my rectum, and I could feel the baby move down, especially when I threw up. I almost felt like if I felt for him I would be able to feel his head. I couldn’t sit flat on my bottom because of that. I got out for a period and sat on the birth ball. When I got up, there was some brownish discharge. Donna was worried that it may be meconium but I thought it was from the oil she had used to massage my cervix since we did not see meconium in the tub when she broke my water. I got back in the tub and Donna told me to squat. The pain was tremendous and she checked me and monitored the baby. She walked out of the room and Cher told my mom she wanted to see her outside. I asked if I could lie back in the tub in the leaning position and they said yes. I knew something was happening, but I wasn’t sure what.

When they came back in, mom started to explain to me and I stopped her. I told her I knew what was going on. I had an anterior lip on my cervix that was causing it to swell. I was paying attention through the contractions even though it seemed like I was out of it. I told her I didn’t need an explanation; what were the options looking like? Donna said we could try another couple of hours, or we could transfer. I opted for the transfer. I was exhausted and scared. They got me dressed (I would have gone butt naked at that point) and into the car. I remember closing my eyes, turning off my light switch, and opening my palms. I didn't want to know how far we had yet to drive. I remember feeling like I couldn't sit straight up in the seat, because it felt like I was sitting on the baby's head. At some point my mom told Donna to slow down she was going 65 in a 35 right past the police department.

We got to the hospital at 11:30 pm on the 16th. I remember getting out of the car into a wheelchair. I sat there slumped like a zombie with my eyes closed. The ER admissions person told mom that she would have to fill out a whole bunch of paperwork before they could get me in. She told him she wouldn’t do it that I was 42 weeks pregnant, completely dilated, and needed to get to L&D immediately. He began to argue back with her right about the time that I started having a contraction. I was pushing in a wheelchair at the admissions desk in front of everybody, and I didn’t care! I couldn’t help it; my body was doing it by itself. About 2 seconds later somebody came out the door and whisked me to L&D.

Once I was up there, they stuck me at least 8 times and blew my veins trying to get an IV started. I was extremely dehydrated. They did blood work and my white blood count came back high; around 21,000. The baby had done well up until this point and began having some late heart-rate decelerations. I begged to get off my back and at least sit up in bed. Lying down was unbearable. I begged to at least be able to sit upright. After the IV was in, I made it to the toilet to throw up again. I remember how cool the floor felt, and gripping the bag of fluids to the toilet seat as I puked.

During this time the OB on call decided to confront Donna at the foot of my bed as I was laboring hard, and she was not backing down to him. They were nearly yelling back and forth at each other and I was screaming at them in my head to get out of my room, but all I could do was moan and push through each contraction. He questioned her credentials, and told her what a terrible position she had put him in. While he came across as a total jerk, I was also very aware that he was afraid that somehow I had been led into all of this by them and wasn’t aware of everything that was going on. Oddly enough, I almost found that endearing. Thankfully my mom stepped in. The one person who was my biggest adversary in the beginning suddenly turned into my strongest advocate. She explained that I was very well educated, and aware of all of the choices that I had made. She said that she understood his concerns, as did I, but that it didn’t change anything that was happening, that we were there, and we needed to decide what to do next.

The tone changed from that point and he approached me and attempted to engage me in conversation as much as I was able. He explained that I could receive an epidural and labor down but he was concerned about the decels, the high white blood cell count, and the swelling of my cervix. He said that he would feel much more comfortable going ahead with the c-section, but that he would let me make the decision as long as I understood everything. I told him that I was comfortable with whatever his recommendation was and if he was at all concerned about the baby, then I wanted to go ahead with the c-section. Meanwhile, Donna was stomping on my mom's foot, growling at her to not allow them to take me to c-section.

Shortly after the conversation, I was wheeled back into the OR and given a spinal. I was so scared that it wouldn’t work but it took effect almost immediately. My mom was able to come back with me, and I asked the doctor to explain to me what he was doing. He was giving way too much detail, so I told him to just give me the basics, and that’s what he did.

At 12:58 am, on September 17, 2010, Justus Brooks graced us with his presence. He came out hollering with APGARs of 9 and 9. He was 7 lbs 12 oz and 19 ¼ inches long. I could hear my baby but I couldn't see him or feel him or hold him. Mom took pictures and showed me on her phone. She told me what he looked like. He did have moderate to thick meconium, the cord was wrapped around his neck three times, and turns out he was totally posterior. He also had a long scratch across the top of his head, about 3 inches, presumably from the amnio hook. The doctor spent a lot of time repairing my incision and everyone says it looks wonderful. I received stitches instead of staples this time, and the pain has been far less because of that, though my body felt like it had been hit by a few trucks after laboring for so long. And I got all the fun stuff like a very sore pubic area, and hemorrhoids.

After nearly 48 hours of labor, and a planned homebirth turned hospital transfer, I have been blessed with another perfect baby.

krazykat's picture
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 08/11/07
Posts: 1143

Bunni Larue
Hospital VBA2C

You've got to give a little, take a little,
And let your poor heart break a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

To tell the story of Bunni Larue, I have to give a little background. The stories of Sylvia Joleigh and Justus Brooks are condensed but will give an idea of how I approached Bunni?s birthl (Sylvia and Justus' full stories). My husband and I met in a Yahoo chat room in January 2005. He was in Korea at the time, and I was in college in NC. We spent months talking on the phone mainly, and then I drove to meet him for the first time in June 2005. It was like we had always been together. We got married in May of 2006. He has done a year in Korea, two years in Iraq, and a year in Afghanistan. We have been stationed at Ft. Hood, TX and Ft. Richardson, AK.

Somehow in there, we have been able to conceive 3 precious babies. It took us about a year and a half to have Sylvia. There was a point in time that we thought we might not be able to have children. So we were ecstatic to find out we were pregnant with her. He was deployed and made it home on mid-tour leave just before my labor started. She was born 3:18 a.m., December 18, 2008 at exactly 39 weeks gestation; 8 lbs. and 19 inches long. I had an infection called chorioamnionitis, which led to a very necessary emergency cesarean under general anesthesia, and a week stay for her in the NICU. The day after she got home, he had to report back to Iraq, and didn't see her again until she was six months old. Sylvia was named after his grandmother. Sylvia was also a Goddess of the Forest and mother to the founders of Rome; Romulus and Remus. Jo and Leigh are our mother's middle names.

Within 6 months of John coming home, I got pregnant again!! I'm pretty sure the magical moment happened the night of Sylvia's first birthday... he.he.he. The next 9 months were extremely stressful. We moved several times and John left for Afghanistan exactly a year after he had gotten home from Iraq. Justus came at 12:59 a.m., September 17, 2010 at 42 weeks gestation; 7 lbs. 12 oz. and 19.75 in. long. I planned a HBAC (homebirth after cesarean) in NC and labored at home for 48 hours. I can't remember the exact times, but I think I was nearly complete for 7 hours. My cervix began to swell at 9.5 cm with an anterior lip, when my midwife broke my water at 9 cm there was meconium, and based on several factors I made the decision to transfer. I also ultimately made the decision to go to cesarean. He had been posterior and asynclitic, and my mom said the cord was wrapped 3 times. John was in a terrible spot in Afghanistan and missed Justus' birth entirely. He came home a week later due to the cesarean and me needing help, and then did not see his son again for 10 months. Justus is a very old Latin name and Brooks is John's middle name.

You've got to laugh a little, cry a little,
Until the clouds roll by a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

We knew we wanted another baby, but had no idea how fast it would happen. Within a few weeks of John's homecoming from Afghanistan, we conceived again. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would go for a VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans). I knew I would not try another homebirth for a couple of different reasons, and mostly because I had a provider in mind who I knew would support me. I went back to work to occupy my mind, and I focused on not really focusing on anything.

As usual, my pregnancy was easy. The only difference was that I had a variety of skin rashes and weird things like itching under my ring, and an allergic reaction to mango skin. I have always been blessed with perfect blood pressure, no gestational diabetes and no complications. I had very little morning sickness and even that was just nausea. I did not take a standard prenatal but took Vitamin C, D, and B-Complex, as well as a magnesium supplement. The one thing I did do is go to the chiropractor religiously. I knew in my prior births that the baby's positions had really worked against me, and not only that, but all the aches and pains I had felt before had disappeared once I began seeing Dr. Jen. By the end of the pregnancy I had gained about 12 lbs. and I was GBS negative. Then the sicknesses began!

At 40 weeks pregnant I got a nasty stomach bug that really depleted me. I was out of work for several days. I went back for one day with a little tickle in my throat and thought I was getting a cold. Come to find out, at nearly 41 weeks pregnant I had the flu! Influenza A. It was terrible and I was very, very sick. Thankfully I started taking Tamiflu almost immediately which made it slightly shorter-lived than usual. I prayed for her to wait a few more days so that I could regain my strength. It was around this time that I started losing my mucus plug. At my 41 week appointment I was 2 cm and 50% effaced, but I was having no contractions whatsoever. Everything was oddly quiet down there. I was elated as this was where I was after being up all night the first night I labored with Justus, but after a couple of days I started to get down on myself. We were doing non-stress tests about every other day, and the baby always looked fantastic. My OB mentioned trying a Foley bulb a day before 42 weeks if I wanted.

That Friday rolled around and still... nothing! I went in for my appointment and agreed to the bulb. It was actually a nifty little contraption called the Cook Cervical Ripening Balloon. There were two balloons, one on the inside of my cervix and one on the outside. He filled them each with 80 ml of saline and sent me on my way. The insertion was not painful at all, but sitting upright was not very comfortable. After a visit to Wal-Mart, once I got home, contractions were coming hard at 10 minutes apart. I also started a cotton root bark, blue, and black cohosh regimen. The balloon stayed in for 12 hours and then I removed about 20 ml of saline and it came out fairly easily. I knew this meant that I was at least 3-4 cm dilated. As soon as it was out I felt instant relief and realized just how miserable I had been all day. I continued contracting through the night on my own, and then by morning, we were back to nothing once again.

Happy 42 weeks to me. This was probably the hardest day of the whole pregnancy. This was officially the most I had ever been pregnant. I kept thinking that statistically my chances of successful VBAC had dropped. I countered that thought by acknowledging that I am not a statistic and that I bake my babies longer, but I was really down on myself. I reached out to my doula. What was the latest she ever had a mom go to? 43.5 weeks with my OB and after 36 hours of labor she birthed her 11 lb. baby vaginally; also a VBA2C. I suddenly did not feel so bad for myself. Then I reached out to another ICAN friend who had gone past 42 weeks. She had gone on to have a HBAC after 55 hours of labor. What an inspiration! If she could do it, so could I. I had my pity party for the day, and by that Sunday I was in a good place. I felt good physically and emotionally and it almost turned into, "Let's see how long this baby really is going to cook!" I stopped all the herbs, rested a ton, and decided I was not going to do anything for a few days.

Monday I had a non-stress test at the hospital. She looked beautiful on it, and I did not get checked. I did not have one contraction the whole time. There was no other mention of any sort of induction, and my OB had left the ball in my court as far as going as long as we needed. For once I felt totally in control of the choices for my body and baby. Tuesday I had contractions all day long that were about 15 minutes apart. They started to increase in intensity, and by evening were 5-6 minutes apart but nothing unbearable. I woke up in the middle of the night starving and still contracting, and then by morning, everything stopped.

On Wednesday we had a biophysical profile. I think that is what held up my contractions. I got nervous, and hoped all was well with the baby. We scored 10 out of 10. My fluids were not fantastic but not bad either. The placenta was showing some slight signs of aging, but nothing too concerning. The ultrasound tech estimated her weight at 7 lbs. 6 oz. At my 39 week consult with the other doctor, they had estimated 7 lbs. 7 oz. She looked great and we went in for another OB appointment. This time when he checked I was 4.5 cm and about 75% effaced! Yes! I knew it would not be much longer and it was likely that my next round of contractions would not stop. Dr. Elrod brought up castor oil. We went and got some afterwards and I let it sit ominously on the kitchen counter hoping that seeing it there would send me into labor. I knew deep down that once contractions started again, they were not going to stop.

The next morning, John and I went and had a big breakfast at IHOP. We did some shopping and by the time we got home it was about 10:30. I decided to give the castor oil a try. I mixed 2 oz. with 2 oz. of orange juice and chugged it down. This is where everything starts to go fast. I waited 30 minutes and started my herbal regimen; one dropper of cotton root bark, one of black cohosh, wait 15 minutes, another dropper of cotton root bark, and a dropper of blue cohosh. I did this for an hour. I started pooping almost immediately from the castor oil. By 12:30 pm contractions were coming lightly about 5 minutes apart. Deep down I knew this was it. Suddenly they started to intensify. Then by 1:30 they were 3 minutes apart. Some were even lasting 2 minutes long! But I was confused. I could walk and talk just fine through them. Everything time wise was moving fast, but the intensity was workable. I decided to call our babysitter just in case. John went to get Sylvia and Justus from school, and Skylar got to the house at about 3:30 pm. John was gathering last minute stuff, and I was sitting on the edge of the bed. I?m still talking and joking through contractions hating to leave so early but instinctively knowing that go time was near.

At 3:45 I heard and felt the pop deep within me. There was no doubt in my mind about it; my water had broken. But there was no water. I stood up and felt a tiny dribble. What I did see, thank the powers above, was clear!! I had prayed for clear fluid. When I sat down on the toilet there was lots of mucus and bloody show, but very little fluid. It was pretty clear why very shortly after when another contraction hit. She was down deep in my pelvis. It rocked my world! And from there they kept coming fast and hard. There was no more talking or walking. I was moaning through every one and trying to make my way to the car.

That was the worst car ride of my entire life. John was driving fast. Traffic was heavy as usual for 4:00 pm on a Thursday coming out of Anchorage. I had a hard time relaxing. At 4:30 pm we got to the hospital and were told to wait in the lobby. I went to the lobby bathroom and started puking. I was sweating and shaking. From that point until around 10:00 pm everything was a blur. We had the worst nurse ever in the beginning, and John promptly fired her. I can?t remember who said it, but it always stuck in my mind, "Chances are if you don't like your nurse, she doesn't like you either. The difference is, she can't fire you as a patient, so go ahead and do her the favor of firing her." She kept harping on the monitors, which I wasn't refusing! The only thing I refused was lying in the bed to be monitored. Luckily, baby girl was cooperating and we could get her heart rate beautifully while I was standing.

Dr. Elrod came in and checked me and I was 5 cm and 90% effaced. Oddly enough, the information did not bother me. I did not have time to think of it. In hindsight, when I think of Ina May Gaskin and her talk of the Sphincter Reflex, I think that is what we had going on. I was scared, I could not get into a groove in triage, and I felt like I was on display. There was a point where her heart rate was dropping into the 70s and 80s during a contraction. He did not say anything but I saw a brief look of concern on his face. Luckily it popped right back up as soon as the contraction was over. I knew she was fine the entire time, but we did see that it happened when I bent over during the contraction so I tried to stand up straight after that. My doula also had me talk to my baby and connect with her telling her everything was ok. I have looked back on this moment and I am extremely thankful for Dr. Elrod's confidence. I think if it had been anyone else, they would have taken me straight to cesarean, even though decels during contractions can be totally normal.

All I wanted was to hide in the bathroom... alone. I think my body was further along than what the dilation told. I could feel the pressure as if I could not sit on my bottom. Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, and lasting at least 1.5 minutes long. I was also doing this funky double-peaking. The first one would come, it wouldn't ever let go, and then it would hit again. Then the second one would be normal.

Finally we got a room. I got the hep-lock. Shortly thereafter I started puking again. When I puked I would get lots of bloody show. I got the telemetry monitor which is the exact same thing as the other monitors but on a pole so you can move around. Then I got in the tub. It did not provide the relief I was hoping for and that I remembered with Justus. How in the world had I made it 48 hours at home with him? And I didn't feel like I could go another hour with her? I thought hard about it. I was fighting the contractions and could not let go and work with them. All I kept thinking is how fast everything was going. I asked for the epidural. My doula held me off for a bit. Then I asked again. I was sure. I talked to my doula, then to John. Then Dr. Elrod came in and asked why the change of plans. I told him that I knew I was fighting the contractions and if I could just relax I thought she would come. I knew I did not want narcotic medications. Everyone was extremely supportive and John said he was with me as long as I would have no regrets. I was sure.

I had to get fluids first which took FOREVER. Then the anesthesiologist started with an extremely low dose that did nothing. It did not take effect for quite a while. I felt as though I was climbing the bed with the contractions. They were so intense. In the meantime I also got a shot of Phenergan for nausea. It was just enough to take the edge off. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity the intensity of the contractions started to ease.

Amazingly, only about an hour after the epidural took effect, I felt a lot of pressure. At 11:00 pm Dr. Elrod came in to check and I was 10 cm and +2 station! That was fast! It made me feel even better about the epidural and in that moment I knew I had done what I needed. I tried pushing a few times and decided that I should rest. I was exhausted, and the pushing was not very effective. She just wasn?t quite ready. Around 3:00 am, we tried a few more pushes. Still not quite ready. I slept and let the epidural wear off.

At 6:00 am it was time. I was feeling contractions again and a ton of pressure. Everything was so calm and relaxed, just as I had imagined. There was just Dr. Elrod, a nurse, my doula, and John in the room. Nobody counted at me. There were no bright lights. I tried holding my legs and pushing, but I got the most from doing tug of war with the nurse. She got a towel and I pulled as hard as I could with the contractions. I was also getting a horrible cramping in my back that slowed me up a bit. It did not seem like I was making much progress.

Finally John said he could see a bit of her head. They brought the mirror in for me so that I could see too. Dr. Elrod stepped out of the room and I continued to push with the nurse. All of a sudden I felt her slipping down and the nurse jumped up and said "Whoa!" and placed her hand over my vagina. This was oddly amusing to me; what was she going to do, hold the baby in? Her head was half-way out, and I told them with the next contraction she would come. I began to cry. My doula told me not to be afraid, but that wasn?t it. I was doing it. She was doing it! My body was doing it! I wasn't even pushing! Then I felt a pop as I tore. Dr. Elrod came in and John was trying to put gloves on. Poor guy, he had one glove on, and Dr. Elrod goes, "It's your baby man, you better catch her!" Right at that moment, he threw the other glove down as I felt her wriggly arms, legs, and body slide right through my pelvis, and out in a perfect anterior position. At 6:49 am, he scooped her up as she pooped all over him and laid her across my belly. Fifteen hours after my water broke, and nearly 8 hours after I had reached 10 cm, my husband caught our baby girl... our vaginal birth after 2 cesareans.

As long as there's the two of us,
We've got the world and all it's charms.
And when the world is through with us,
We've got each others arms.

Time stood still. That was the most beautiful moment of my entire life. She was not breathing yet but I knew she was just fine. Nobody took her. They placed a blanket over top of the two of us and we rubbed and talked to her. Another nurse, one of my favorites, came in and was talking to her telling her she needed to cry. I knew she was fine. I felt her take her first deep breath, as the outside world filled her body. It was as if we were still one; her skin to my skin and her cord still attached to me. She never did cry, and the nurse finally said, "Well, she's breathing and looks great, oh well!" I did it. We did it. I had prayed many nights that we would do this together. I could not believe it.

The cord stopped pulsing quickly. I was surprised by that. It was totally limp and white and John cut it. Then slowly my ears began picking up the sounds of the room. Was that a faucet running? "Is that my blood?" I asked. I could hear it pouring off the bed. Dr. Elrod looked up at me and said, "Yes. I know you did not want the Pitocin Ariel, but you need it now! I don?t want to be talking about transfusion in a few minutes." I was bleeding a lot, and in my state of bliss I did not care what they did to me. My uterus was not clamping down. They ran the Pitocin, vigorously rubbing my belly, and then after a shot of Methergine the flow began to slow down. Later, we estimated about 4 cups of blood loss. Dr. Elrod stood up and held his arms up, "Just to give you an idea," he said. He was up to his elbows in my blood. I gave a slight push with the next cramp and felt the warm, softness of her placenta slide out. I asked to see it. It was big and healthy looking. No wonder she was nice and content in there. I ended up with a 2nd degree tear, and he said he checked my scar from the inside to see if that's where the bleeding was coming from, but it was perfect.

I must have held her skin to skin and nursed her for two hours before curiosity got the best of me. Instinctively I knew that she was my smallest baby so far. I wanted to know what she weighed. The nurse took her and weighed and measured her; 7 lbs. 1 oz. and 20 inches long, born at 42 weeks and 6 days gestation. She was my smallest, but longest baby! Then the nurse gently bathed her. She loved having her hair washed, and I loved watching my beautiful girl being cared for so intimately.

Bunni is a short form of the Goddess Berenike, the Bringer of Victory. Larue is my grandmother's middle name.

So all in all, it did not go exactly as planned, but I was prepared for that. It went exactly as it was meant to. I had waited a long time to write a birth plan because I did not know what I wanted. All I saw was the VBA2C and a healthy baby. Nothing else mattered, and I have no regrets. I have asked myself at least once a day, "Regret the epidural?" and every time the answer is, "Nahhhhh, I don't regret it one bit!" The only thing I wish I had done was go to the hospital when my mom had told me to (you know when I was still a bit confused about what was happening since I could walk and talk through contractions). I had this aversion to the hospital, and overall they were awesome! I wish I had a little more time in the beginning to integrate what was happening in my body and to reconnect inside before everything hit so hard. The biggest lesson I learned is that it is imperative to have a team that truly supports you. If it had not been for my OB, I do not know if we would have made it to a VBA2C. Especially since she waited until 42 weeks and 6 days. I do not know of anyone else who would have supported me to that extent. I am one happy mama, and I am excited to see what the future holds for our little bringer of victory.

You've got to win a little, lose a little,
Yes, and always have the blues a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love

krazykat's picture
Last seen: 2 years 7 months ago
Joined: 08/11/07
Posts: 1143

I keep trying to start this story, and I feel so elated, yet so scattered. It's like I am not sure where to start. I guess, this story really began years ago. Our oldest, Sylvia, was born on December 18, 2008 via emergency cesarean. I was under general anesthesia, and we both had a life-threatening infection called chorioamnionitis. The recovery was brutal, and I had no support or follow-up from my provider other than the six week postpartum visit. I don't even know who the doctor was who delivered her. My husband left back for Iraq just a day after she came home from the NICU. I was in a dark place for a long time afterwards. Over time I got my medical records, and began to accept the fact that the cesarean was very necessary. But my care could have been different and much more compassionate. Our second child Justus was born on September 17, 2010 by cesarean at 42 weeks gestation. My husband was deployed once again, this time to Afghanistan. We planned a home birth since I knew I wouldn't have him there to advocate for me and I labored for 48 hours at home. I was 9.5 cm and had been pushing for nearly 8 hours on an anterior cervical lip when we transferred in. He was posterior, asynclitic, and had the cord wrapped 3 times around his neck. While the cesarean definitely wasn't a desired outcome, I felt much better about it because I had done everything I could have. I had done everything right, and I learned a lot about myself in those 48 hours. Our third child Bunni entered the world on May 11, 2012 caught by her daddy in the hospital. We had received care from an absolutely fantastic OB named Dr. Glen Elrod in Wasilla, Alaska. This birth taught me finally to let go. Everything will be as it is meant to be. She taught me patience, and quiet acceptance. I did not go into labor until 42 weeks and 6 days gestation. Once my water broke, I was complete within 6 hours. The drive and then admittance into the hospital was extremely stressful to me. Though we got the vba2c that we so desperately desired, there was still something missing and I knew I would not have another baby in a hospital unless there was a true medical need.

We planned to have another child and let nature take its course. In January 2013 we moved with the Army to Ft. Campbell, KY. It wasn't long after that I found out I was pregnant, just 9 months after having our last baby. We bought our home, and I admit, I did consider where we would live based on where I would be able to have our baby at home. Certified Professional Midwives are not recognized in Kentucky, but very much accepted in Tennessee. I found out that Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and Gateway Medical Center (the two closest hospitals) would not accept me unless I scheduled a repeat cesarean, despite the fact that I had already had an uneventful vba2c. The closest hospital that would "allow" me a "trial of labor" (I loathe that term by the way) was Vanderbilt. They would require me to sign a consent to continuous fetal monitoring before accepting me as a patient. I also was very familiar with the pressure a hospital would put on me once my due date came and went. It just was not an option in my mind this time to birth in the hospital. Surprisingly, I found several options for midwifery care. It was legal, we could have an hba2c, and it quickly became the most logical choice. I talked to a couple of midwives and corresponded with The Farm. Everyone agreed that I sounded like a good hba2c candidate.

I found Sheryl Shafer. I knew she was "the one" when we met for the first time and she asked me the hard questions. We talked about the things that nobody wants to talk about. What if something catastrophic happened? Then, I would need her loving support more than ever, something I knew I would never get from a busy hospital or practice. Was I on a time-table? I was fully prepared to fudge my last cycle dates if need be, but she assured me I would not have any sort of due date countdown as long as we were both healthy. She asked if I was uncomfortable with my weight. She did not seem concerned about it, but she had picked up on the fact that I was, so she suggested Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Though it is extremely difficult for me to let people in, an honest, trusting, and gentle relationship began to form from that very moment. Throughout the pregnancy we would chat. She would talk to me as an equal, share birth stories, and instill confidence at each prenatal. I found her care and philosophies to be the perfect combination of holistic and realistic. There is a time and place for alternative therapy, as well as a time and place for medicine.

So I followed the Eat to Live program for a few weeks and lost about 15 pounds. The baby was growing just fine. Sheryl referred me to an awesome ultrasonographer, Roy Chamberlain. He was a breath of fresh air, and I knew he would give me unbiased, evidence based information. That was important to me if it came down to needing to do biophysical profiles once I hit 42 weeks. We paid out of pocket for two ultrasounds in his home. My due date based on my last cycle was November 5th, and a dating ultrasound estimated November 7th. At my 20 week anatomy scan we got November 11th, so that's the date we went with on paper.

I had my usual, completely uneventful pregnancy. No morning sickness that a little peppermint essential oil didn't cure. I never had a high blood pressure, or any other sign of complications. I measured a few weeks ahead, but none of us suspected a big baby by any means. I saw Dr. Laura Coleman at Care Chiropractic for the entire pregnancy. I work in real estate and kept myself very busy all the way to the end. In fact, I was out and about making selections with a client at 41 weeks and 4 days pregnant. The time flew by and I never really felt like I was past my due date or more than about 36 weeks pregnant.

November 15: "On a good note, I was up about 5:30 with ctx every 3-4 mins. No mucus or anything and they've slowed down a bit since my littles are up and about, but still coming. I fully expect them to stop at some point today, but maybe gearing up for the next couple days???" This was the day that I went out to make selections on a home with one of my clients. By the end of the afternoon I told my husband that I had a few "warning contractions" that I believed were telling me to stay closer to home. They were a good intensity but never regular or more frequent.

November 16: "What the heck is going on? Had the ctx night before last. They picked up again last night. Then about 1 am got to every 2-3 mins and lasting a minute and 20 seconds or so. I took a bath and really wanted to sleep so thankfully they spaced out. Now I've been having about one contraction every 20 minutes to an hour but the intensity is crazy have-to-work-through-it style. They are so far apart but so intense when they do hit. Anybody had this happen before? I'll take it since I know each one has got to be doing major work. But this weird non-pattern with really hard, long contraction is foreign to me! Still no mucus or show." Those slowed down too, and throughout the day I went several hours with nothing, then a contraction or two, and then back to nothing again.

November 17: "Had just a little bit of pinkish show this morning. Was in and out of sleep from about 3-7 am with contractions 10-13 minutes apart. Intensity has picked up, need to breathe through but have spaced out again. On a side note, has anyone tried the Anne Frye method of measuring dilation by fundal height during a contraction?" Around mid-afternoon I lost my mucus plug which was a bit brown, pink, and clear, but then did not have any more mucus at all after that. I tried the fundal height measurement of dilation, and at the peak of the contraction I could get 2.5 finger breadths between my fundus and breastbone. According to the chart, that would have put me at about 5 cm. In hindsight, it was probably pretty accurate, but I didn't believe it at the time. Contractions were all over the place, and most were 40 mins to an hour apart. I was feeling some discomfort but it just felt like the baby moving over my cervix which is pretty common for so late in the pregnancy. I rested and didn't do much of anything.

Later in the evening, I remember telling John that I just felt uncomfortable. I do not recall feeling a lot of contractions, no more mucus, but just a low, bloated, uncomfortable feeling. I ate a big dinner of peppers, potatoes, onions, and smoked sausage, and then sat around until around 9 pm. It seemed like contractions were coming more frequently, but still incredibly far apart and irregular... 15 minutes, 25 minutes... etc. I got in the bath honestly hoping they would stop so that I could go to sleep. I was tired and discouraged. They came a little closer in the bath but the intensity had let way up. It was more like just a tightening similar to Braxton hicks. At 10:00 I texted Donna and told her I was getting discouraged. She said maybe if I got some rest everything would kick in. They were coming closer now, but no intensity and they were very short. They were maybe lasting 30 seconds. I told myself I would call Sheryl if they got to 7 minutes apart. I might have 3 really mild ones, and then one I had to breath through. At 10:45 I texted my mom and Sheryl that I was going to go to sleep. I may have dozed off in between a couple, but it wasn't long before I found myself wanting to jump up out of the bed when I could feel the tightening begin. I woke John up and even though the pattern was very erratic and the contractions were really short in length, I had the feeling we needed to call Sheryl. At that very same moment as he called her, a text came in from her. "Are you ready to call this active labor? Are you ready for me to come?" Talk about a midwife's sixth sense! She had only been home a couple of hours from a very long weekend of births, must have gotten an hour or so of rest and woke up to see if I needed her. At 11:18 John asked her to come.

Our mattress is on the floor, so I alternated between leaning forward on it in a frog-leg position, getting into the bed and leaning over the birth ball, and standing and leaning against the dresser. I also felt like I had to pee between every contraction. I rode some out on the toilet. That's when the vocalizing started. Still 7 minutes, 12 minutes, 3 minutes, 6 minutes... At one point I stood there next to the bed looking at it longingly. I almost cried because I just wanted to lay down and go to sleep. I went to the bathroom again and told John I thought I was going to throw up. In between bathroom breaks and contractions, I helped him get the liner in the pool. He got the hose attached and began filling it with warm water. We used peppermint essential oil for my nausea and that helped a lot! It held me off for several more contractions. "Push on my back. No, don't push, not that hard!" He's literally got his hands softly laid on my lower back. My stomach got upset and I kicked him out of the bathroom. Then I really did have to puke. But it was more just heaves and didn't last long. I looked myself dead in the face in the mirror and thought "I can't do this. Those are 'transition thoughts'. If I go to the hospital, I won't have time for pain meds anyways." And then cried about 2 tears before the next one rocked me.

Eventually I came out of the bathroom and our photographer, Faith Doggett of Faith Doggett Photography, was there. 11:55 PM. I took one look at her, stripped off all of my clothes and went to get into the tub. Nope, not going to happen, another contraction. I moaned through leaning against the dresser and then knew I needed to move fast to get in before the next one hit. Now they were coming right on top of each other, but only lasting 20-30 seconds. I slipped into the heavenly warmth of the water, and sat back.

Not for long! The contraction came and no way was I going to sit like that. I flung myself forward, to my husband kneeling outside the birth pool.

I grabbed onto his right arm with both hands and held on for dear life. "I think I am puuuuuuuuuushing."

Yep, I was pushing but I couldn't believe it. I had no idea I had stepped out of the bathroom, and into the tub to start pushing. 30 seconds in between, and 20-30 seconds of pushing. That's the way it went the whole time.

After a couple of pushing contractions I felt a slight burn. My doula side says to myself, "Stinging, that only happens during crowning. I'm not that far along. No way!" I am not able to voice my thoughts but I see our photographer pacing back and forth from the living room back into our room. She's looking for our midwives. Then she goes around to my back and bends low. I know she's trying to see if baby is coming. I'm working hard and look straight into the camera lens begging her with my eyes. I don't know what for, but surely she can do something? Finally I catch hold of a few words, "WHERE. THE HELL. IS SHERYL. AND DONNA?!" Nobody has an answer... They are coming. Should be here soon. I feel like I have to poop. Doula side says, "You don't have to poop, baby is coming." No way is the baby coming already, I don't believe it. It's only been a few minutes. Every pushing contraction I hold John. He's my anchor. I hear him whisper, "They can't be stronger than you because they are you."

Yes, that's right, they are me. Here we go again!

All of a sudden, sweet relief. "It's out! I think it's out!" I reach into the water for the baby. It's like a little baby in a bubble. "The baby's born in the caul. The baby's born in the caul. Ohhhh, get it off. Get it off. Ahhhhh baby, ahhhh baby, ahhhh baby. I JUST HAD OUR BABYYY!"

In the light of a full moon, on November 18th at 12:14 a.m. Calista Marie was born in the caul with only my husband and photographer present. An hba2c. I had her less than an hour after I had called my midwife, and just 9 minutes after our photographer snapped her first shot. She had the cord around her neck. It wasn't tight on her, but I could feel it pulling the placenta, and that was the only moment through the whole process that I got anxious. I stood up quickly trying to maneuver her. My brain wasn't functioning, but instincts kicked in. With John and Faith's help we got her untangled and back snuggly in my arms.

Shortly after, our midwife Donna walked in. I was still in utter shock. In such a loving and motherly way she asks "Did you cut the cord or anything yet?" I look at her dumbfounded... "Huh?" I just had our baby. That's all I am able to process.

It wasn't long after that Sheryl arrived as well. Donna had me on the toilet delivering the placenta, and that truly was the only time I felt like getting violent haha! But she is such a beautiful soul that I kept my obscenities to a minimum and apologized profusely after each one. It is amazing how you can push a nearly 8 lb baby out of there and then a soft, fluffy placenta hurts so bad! Once it was out, I felt golden! They checked me and baby, got me into a warm bath, cleaned everything up, and fed me. I did tear and needed some stitches. Sheryl graciously allowed me to wait until I was ready. When I gave her the go ahead, it didn't take long until she was finished and we were snuggled warmly into bed together as a family. You couldn't even tell that our baby had been born just a short time before in our bedroom. A dream come true!

Calista's birth was the most amazing experience of my life. "Powerful" is the only word I have for it. I felt as though the power of the universe coursed through me with each push. I felt like my whole awareness and being expanded as she unfolded into the world. I felt as if I would burst with love for her, for my husband, and for our other children. The births of older three were life-changing and miraculous, but I feel like I was born that day with Calista. Her birth shined a light on all of us, and something changed between my husband and I. It's hard to explain, but our bond strengthened during those moments and I feel like our souls connected. I believe Calista is our last baby, but I know this birth will effect our 3 girls, and their children to come as well.

"Don't lose your way
with each passing day
You've come so far
Don't throw it away
Live believing
Dreams are for weaving
Wonders are waiting to start
Live your story
Faith, hope and glory
Hold to the truth in your heart

If we hold on together
I know our dreams will never die
Dreams see us through to forever
Where clouds roll by, for you and I"

If We Hold On Together performed by Diana Ross

Faith's Blog and Slideshow (with brief video) can be viewed here: The Birth of Calista