9 lbs 0 oz - 22 inches
Labor was not as I had expected it would be. For 9 months, I prepared for the big day. I meditated, I visualized, I practiced positions, rocked on a birthing ball, did Tai Chi, prenatal yoga. Brett and I worked on pressure points and compression techniques, and of course, the ubiquitous breathing. All of these things were meant to take me to another place while I was in labor. To distract my mind and relax my body, so that I could journey through labor with as little focus on the actual event as possible.
The labor I prepared for was to be a cerebral experience. Mind over matter was what was going to carry me through labor. Or so I thought. Contrary to the experience I planned for, I found that labor required me to be fully present and focused. Each contraction demanded my undivided attention. I was completely incapable of focusing on anything other than the acute pain that was gripping my body. But as soon as the labor and delivery was through, I knew I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
All day Monday, June 26th, I was feeling like labor was on the way. I wasn’t getting any real contractions – just a lot of cramping – but I could just tell something different was happening with my body.
At 9 p.m. Monday night, I knew for sure that labor was starting. Brett and I sat down to watch Hell’s Kitchen. The contractions were strong enough that I had to breathe through them and couldn’t focus on the show. They hovered around 10 minutes apart. My plan at this point was to go to bed at 10 p.m. and get a little sleep before the contractions got stronger. Unfortunately, by 10:00 the contractions were strong enough that lying down was way too painful. I propped myself up on pillows in the bed and tried to relax as best I could.
Very quickly, the realization set in that labor was going to be harder than I had expected. I knew I was still in the early stage of labor, and the contractions were already extremely painful. I tried to think of them as pressure, or intensity, or waves, but each time one hit my brain just registered pain. I tried rocking on the birthing ball, but somehow it seemed to make things awkward and worse. I fell into a routine where I sat up in bed, reclining slightly on pillows. When I could feel a contraction coming, I leaned forward on top of a stack of pillows in a modified child’s pose and groaned.
About midnight, the contractions got stronger and jumped to 5 minutes apart. After a half an hour of steady 5-minute contractions, I started to freak out a little. I very much wanted a natural childbirth, but at this point I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get through labor even if I was doped to the gills. I decided to sit in the tub. The tub relaxed me a bit and helped me to feel like I could do something to pass what I was sure was going to be hours on end of labor.
At 1:10 a.m., I got out of the tub and called Ann, my midwife. I must have found my courage again, because I decided I would stay home to labor as long as possible. Ann instructed me to call her and come to the hospital when the contractions were 3 minutes apart.
The pain was getting more intense with each passing contraction so back in the tub I went. In less than a half an hour, the contractions jumped to 3 minutes apart. I got out of the tub and made my way to the bedroom. I was suddenly struck by the realization that I would now have to get dressed and endure a 15-minute car ride while doubled over every 3-minutes with contractions. At this time, I was seriously questioning the sanity of my decision to stay home as long as I did.
This part of the labor was harrowing. Since we didn’t expect that my labor would be moving along so quickly, Brett had not yet fully packed the truck. First, he helped me get dressed between contractions. When a contraction would hit, I would lean over the bed on my stomach until it passed. Then we would resume trying to get me dressed. When I was dressed, he ran downstairs to put our things in the truck. He ran back upstairs to check in with me, and then back down again to pack a few more things. At this point, I was again questioning my ability to endure labor.
We ventured off to the hospital at 2:20 AM. I was able to kneel down on the floor in the front seat and rest my body on the seat. I think if I hadn’t been able to fit this way, I would have been on all fours in the bed of the truck! Most of the ride to the hospital was a blur. I am so thankful that it was in the middle of the night and we didn’t need to stop for traffic!
We arrived at the hospital at 2:40 A.M. The ER was empty so they were able to put me in a wheelchair right away and wheel me off to the L&D. It was a very short ride (it’s a small hospital) but I had to stop the woman pushing the wheelchair so I could get out for a contraction. I hopped out of the chair, kneeled on the floor, and draped my body over the seat of the wheelchair. She wheeled me the rest of the way to the labor room. As soon as I got in the room, another contraction hit. I kneeled on the floor and laid my body over the end of the bed.
There were two labor nurses in attendance. Brett told me later that one of them was clearly in training. At the time, I was only conscious of the fact that they were very distracted. Fortunately, Ann was there in just a few minutes. She checked me and I was at 7 cm. I was so relieved! I remember saying that if she checked me and I was only at 4 cm I thought I would die.
I sat on a birthing ball and they hooked me up to the fetal monitor. The contractions were coming like crazy and I was a bit desperate wondering how much worse they would get. At this point Ann said, “The reason they are coming so quickly is you are in transition.” Hearing her say that was like music to my ears! I had only been in the hospital for 15 minutes or so and I was already in transition! I had told myself over and over again that when I was in transition, I was almost done.
They were still trying to get an initial read on the fetal monitor when I started feeling like I needed to push. About 3:10 A.M., the urge to push became overwhelming. I climbed up on the bed and leaned over the raised back of the bed. I pushed a few times from this position while they took the bottom of the bed off and set up the birthing bar. As soon as I started pushing from the birthing bar, I remember getting a surge of excitement because I realized that I was having the unmedicated childbirth I hoped for.
I spent the next hour and 40 minutes trying to push the baby out. I had trouble getting comfortable with the birthing bar. In hindsight, I should have tried pushing while on all fours, since this seemed to be the most natural position during my labor. At the time I didn’t think of it. The birthing bar, it turns out, is not designed for women of my height. The bar wouldn’t adjust upwards and the platform for my feet wouldn’t adjust down. Every attempt to push seemed close, but not quite right. After a very long time of unproductive pushing, Ann said she would need to do an episiotomy if I didn’t make progress in the next few pushes. At this point I was extremely exhausted from pushing for so long and also knew that my body needed some help to get the baby out. So she made the cut and in a flash little Charlotte was born.
When Ann put her on my chest and I saw she was a girl, I was so excited and surprised. I didn’t believe it at first and waited until Ann said “A girl!” before I looked at Brett and said, “Peanut’s a girl!” I laughed and cried and kept repeating “Peanut’s a girl” for the next few minutes. She was so warm and soft and LONG! Brett and I figured a child of ours would certainly be tall, but I still couldn’t get over how long she was. When she was finally weighed Brett and the nurses and I were all so surprised that she was 9 pounds. She laid there on my chest and the nurses covered us up with blankets.
Looking back, childbirth was much tougher than I had thought it would be. I think that if I had a notion beforehand of how intense and primal childbirth is, I never would have thought that I would have been able to endure it without medication. But having gone through it, I now feel a deeper sense of inner strength and a deeper connection to my body. Childbirth taught me a grand lesson. I learned that I didn’t need all the things I thought would help me or hide me from the pain. The music, the visualization, the yoga, etc, these all served to keep me serene during my pregnancy, but were useless to me during labor. When labor began, I prayed for endurance, and found my only needs were to listen and respond to my body, and to feel the steady support of my husband.
I couldn't remember if I've shared my one and only homebirth (so far) here yet, so I thought I'd post it here...and then add my next one in 6 months or so!
We had planned on a hotel birth, but the baby had something else in mind!
Nolan’s Birth Story
I’d been having contractions for the last two months of my pregnancy and a month before I was due it was determined that I was 4 centimeters dilated and 40-50% effaced. The original due date was February 10, but the doctors moved the date up to January 31 after a few ultrasounds and baby measurements. However, once January 31 came and went, and still no sign of baby, we figured out that I must have been due closer towards my original due date.
On Thursday night, February 10, I came back from next door at Aunt Linda’s house, and decided to call my doula friend, Shanna. While I was on the phone with her, my sides started cramping pretty bad, and I remember telling her, “Man! I’m kinda hurtin’!” and her response was just, “Hmm….” as if to say “I wonder if this is the night?” That night, I went to bed around 11:00 and woke up around 1:00 AM - - still having those cramps and having to use the bathroom. I also noticed contractions that were a little more intense than normal, but figured it was still nothing since I was managing just fine…and decided to go back to bed and sleep. At 2:00 AM, contractions woke me up! They were even more powerful, and I was starting to feel them in my back. I shook Corey and woke him right away. “You’re going to have to start timing these things!! Oh - they HURT!” By this time, I was on my hands and knees, breathing through each one and trying to get some relief for the pain in my back. Corey timed several of them, and we found that they were only a minute apart. He called the midwife, and told her everything that was going on. I was on the toilet again, and right when my midwife was asking Corey if I had seen any blood yet, I was wiping and saw some! She told Corey that based on all she was hearing, that I definitely was not going to make it to the hotel. Corey relayed this info to me, and I started crying! I said, “We have to go to the hotel! Those were our plans! We can’t change our plans now!! What about being near the hospital?!? Oh my gosh!” I realized that I needed to quickly regain my composure…after all, I didn’t want to make the pain worse. My midwife and assistant were now on their way to our house (they both live over an hour away).
Next, Corey ran some very warm bath water for me and helped me in. Then he got back on the phone and began calling everyone on our birth team. Now this is the insane part: People have been calling and harassing me for the past entire MONTH wanting to know when I was going to go into labor….and once I finally DO go into labor and we call to let them know - - we can’t get anyone on the phone!! For instance, Corey called my doula friend, Shanna, 8 times! No answer! Then he kept calling my parents…and finally they picked up the phone. Could they please come right out?? Amber is asking for her mom….well, NO, my Dad says, because she’s got a contagious stomach virus and how horrible would that be if she gave it to Amber or the baby?!? So my Dad would not allow my Mom to come out here. Then Corey calls my sister to tell her, and HER husband wouldn’t let HER come out here, either!! The reason? He says that he didn’t think that she could handle the sight of childbirth. So he made her stay home. By the way, the whole time that Corey is calling up all these people, I am still in the bathtub and in TRANSITION stage of labor having hard contractions and with absolutely no help. This is not what I had envisioned my birth experience to be like - - but everything was happening so quickly and I was glad about that. I remember yelling for Corey to “Get in here!!” and then “heeeeelp me!!” at the start of an intense contraction. He was a panicky mess! He was having to do the job of 4 people all at once and it wasn’t working out that great! There was the birth kit and all the plastic liners that needed to be out and in place…so he had the phone on one ear, me yelling in his other, all the while running around ripping the sheets and comforter off the bed, laying down plastic everywhere and getting an entire birth scene ready.
That whole deal went on for about an hour, and then Corey helped me out of the tub and onto the bed. I remember when I stood up out of the tub, the contractions became really, really hard and all I wanted to do was to relax and lay down because I was afraid of birthing the baby right then and there. Next, he helped me onto the bed, and I laid on my right side breathing and quietly moaning through each contraction. The pain in my back was very strong at this point! I remember doing this for a while, and then was so relieved to look up and see my midwife standing beside me and I grabbed for her hand while I went through yet another contraction. Now I was applying pressure to my lower back through each contraction because it hurt so bad - - and I was glad to know that someone else was there to help with my back pain. Corey tried to help at one point, but he pushed too hard and that made it hurt worse, so I asked him to stop and let me do it again.
My water broke! It felt so heavy and thick, that I at first thought it was the baby coming right out! My midwife checked, and stated that there was meconium present in the fluid. She then checked me and got a look on her face. It wasn’t a bad look, it was just a serious one and I couldn’t figure her out. Then she told me in a very calm manner that what she just felt was a butt, and that the baby would be born breech. I came up off the bed, my eyes all bug-eyed, and said, “WHAT?!?! You have got to be KIDDING ME!!” Of course, she wasn’t, and calmly reassured me that everything would be okay, and that that was what they were here for. “We do this kind of work all the time and God is in control. Look to Him to ease your fears…” She prayed and talked and talked about God, and that made me calm and relaxed.
Next she said that she would like me to get on the birthing seat, so I did. That was not very comfortable, so then she had me lie down on the floor, kind of on my side with one leg up. Corey held up my right leg, and Shanna sat behind my head and offered good resistance and something to pull against. This whole time, there was meconium coming out of me – more and more (it looked like more than it actually was). Everyone was joking around that this baby definitely knew how to poop!
My midwife began with calm, clear instructions: “Push a little only when you feel the urge…” I did this a few times, and then she said, “Okay, now I need you to stop pushing, and blow through each contraction.” She made a horse noise through her mouth, and when my contractions came, that’s what I did, too. I wanted to push SO BADLY, and it hurt like mess to not be pushing. She said, “We have to let your uterus do the work for you, and try to stay opened up. After the baby has come down some more, then I’m going to have you stand up to finish pushing the baby out.” I kept on breathing through each contraction, and I could feel my body moving the baby down further and further, and I was starting to feel the ring of fire. They told me that it looked like a boy so far, but it was still kind of hard to tell. Finally, a good bit of the baby was out and I reached down to feel. Sure enough, everything was showing and it was definitely a boy! When his little “member” came out, it flopped over and peed right on Corey! All of this part happened in about 30 minutes. The next 30 minutes consisted of me voluntarily pushing the baby out. Once his butt was out, my midwife said, “Okay, now you need to stand up.” WHAT?!?! Stand up with a butt between your legs?!? Somehow, Corey and Shanna managed to get me up to a squatting position, and that felt so good! I said, “Oooooh….Let me push some right here!!” So I went for it. With each push, my midwife was squirting olive oil all around down there and massaging with her fingertips. This felt so good and really helped me to stretch nicely! In the squatting position, I pushed out one leg at a time, the body, and then one arm at a time. My midwife quickly said, “Okay, now you HAVE to stand up to birth the head!” They helped me to my feet, and everyone was squealing, “Push – push – push – PUSH!!!!” And I pushed his head out and they helped me back down on the floor on several pillows and on my back.
Corey and I were so happy! They handed me the baby, and I proudly announced his name as “Nolan Emmanuel”, and felt like I was laughing and crying all at once! He was just as alert and bright-eyed as he could be…not really crying and he came out looking around the room at everything and everyone. He lay in my arm beside me and the cord was still pulsating. After a few minutes, it stopped and Corey proudly cut the cord. We were bonding with him, and I was still having intense contractions, which helped deliver the placenta naturally and safely. Nolan was born at 4:59 AM on Friday, February 11, just about 3 hours after I awoke from sleeping! He was 7 pounds 6 oz. and 20 inches long.
My midwife checked me after I had a nice, long hot bath and found that I tore only a millimeter. I was surprisingly shocked! It makes sense, though, because she really helped me take things nice and slow through the pushing stage – and the olive oil and massaging definitely helped!
Ethan slept through it all, but later woke up around 6:00, and was introduced to his little brother. He was smiling from ear to ear, and you could tell that he was very proud of his new little sibling. He got in bed with me and Nolan, and said in a sweet manner that he wanted to share his (favorite) giraffe blankie with Nolan, and proceeded to cover him up with it. It was so cute!
Everything about my birth experience this time was absolutely perfect! I would not change a single thing - - not even the fact that Nolan was born frank breech. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I never ever saw myself birthing a baby at home, and now I can’t think of any other way that I could ever do it. It’s so amazing to me that it all happened right here, in the comfort and safety of our bedroom, and that right after it was over, I could crawl back into my own bed with the baby and Corey and go to sleep. How peaceful! I highly recommend it…
The Birth of Sage Elizabeth ~ 8.9.2006
The two days before the birth I was feeling great. In fact, so great that I felt that I wasn’t going to go into labor for another month or so and was perfectly fine with that. My energy had returned, I no longer had the severe pain in my pelvis and I just felt good.
Tuesday night (8/8 ) and Wednesday morning (8/9) I was pretty restless. I woke once with a lot of pelvic pain. I fell back asleep for about an hour but was awoken by a pretty strong contraction. Since I had been having moderately strong contractions, especially at night, for weeks, I just figured it was my uterus practicing some more. I got up to use the bathroom and ended up having a soft bowel movement. I went out to the living room to try to get comfortable and while lying on the couch, the big full moon shone in on me. Just then another contraction hit; this one even stronger. I literally saw the moon coming for me and welcomed it. I had one or two more when I decided I should probably time them. I got online to use the contraction log. It was a great tool until I couldn’t seem to sit long enough to hit the start button or the stop button when a contraction would hit me. I went to the bedroom to let Ray know I was having some strong contractions. He asked me if I wanted him to get up or if I needed help and I told him no and to stay in bed. About a half hour later, I decided I couldn’t time them myself anymore, so I asked him to get up. He timed them at anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes lasting around 60 seconds each.
He was convinced we should call Diane (the midwife), but I wasn’t just yet. He called her anyway. She had just pulled up to the home of another woman in labor in Chilcoot, CA, about an hour away from Reno. She told Ray she was turning around and driving (speeding) to our house. She arrived at around 6:30am and Ray thanked her for being so fast. Meanwhile, I had called my mom who I knew would be getting ready for work. I just wanted to let her know I might be in labor, but told her to go ahead and continue getting ready for work and that I would let her know. I guess I was in a bit of denial or doubt at this point that I was actually in labor.
When Diane arrived, she just watched me for a few minutes and then told me she was going to go get her stuff set up. I said, “Well don’t you want to check me or anything?” She said, “Nope… you’re doing just fine.” I said, “So you think this is it?” She laughed and said, “Liz… you’re having a baby today!” That is when I decided to call my mom back and just let her know that I was still going and she should come on over.
I labored most of the time in the living room. I tried the exercise ball, but found it too difficult to stay seated with all the pressure I was feeling. I mainly leaned over the back of my couch burying my face into the cushions. After about 20 minutes of Diane and my mom arriving, Willow woke up. My niece had come with my mom and Willow had heard her voice. She ran out to the living room to see a house full of people and me moaning and groaning into the couch cushions. My mom and Ray explained what was happening and that everything was ok. I had talked to her a lot about the baby coming out and she seemed to understand that it was time. In between contractions, I called her over to giver her a reassuring hug and kiss. She patted my leg and said, “It’s ok momma, It’s ok!” She trotted off to go play with her cousin. The contractions were getting pretty intense at this point and I felt like I should move to the bedroom. I told Diane that I wanted to go to the bedroom, but the couch had become my home base and I couldn’t bear to leave it. We laughed and I said, “Can we take the couch with us?” She had a good suggestion to take the pillows from the couch to stack on the bed so I could use them for support. We stacked them at the end of the bed and I leaned into them during contractions, sometimes just gathering them up in my arms to squeeze. My mom held them firm to the bed so I wouldn’t lose my balance. It was then that I realized I was holding onto them for support while I squatted through contractions. I was squatting so deep I think my butt was nearly on the floor. After a few contractions like that, I felt something dripping down my leg. I was wearing a sarong and pulled it aside to find mucous and blood hanging between my legs. I decided to take the sarong off. It was then that Diane suggested she check me. I got up on the bed almost dreading to hear the number; NINE and the head was “right there.” YES! That is music to a laboring mother’s ears. I got up gain to stand at the side of the bed just as a contraction started. I squatted into it and almost immediately started grunting and pushing through it. I had maybe one more contraction like that when Diane suggested I get on the bed for the next one. I climbed onto the bed and tried to position myself over the chux pads she laid out and was pretty unsuccessful. Just as I got onto the bed, another contraction hit me. Ray was at my head by now and I was in hands and knees position. I started really bearing down while gripping Ray’s waist and burying my face into his chest. Since we had planned that Ray would catch the baby, Diane suggested he change positions and get behind me. He said no and that I needed him up there. I was so grateful! I continued to bear down and could feel the baby crowning – something I never felt with Willow because of the episiotomy. Diane was putting counter pressure on my perineum and told me to breathe instead of push to allow it to stretch. In theory, it’s a great idea, but in reality, it’s nearly impossible. I tried my best not to push, but couldn’t help it. I felt the baby’s head come out, which was a huge relief. With another push, the baby would be out. Ray’s hands were stretched out beneath me. With a grunt and a push, he pulled her forward and put her down on the bed below me, in between my legs. He said, “IT’S A BOY!” having seen the umbilical cord. I looked down and said, “NO IT’S NOT! IT’S A GIRL!!”
She hardly cried. She just looked all around. She looked so much like Willow to me, but just felt different. It’s hard to explain.
One of the best things about having your baby at home is the calmness in everything. There’s no rushing and never a sense of urgency. Everything moves at the pace set by mom and baby. Sage didn’t get weighed for about an hour. She was just cuddled and nursed for that first hour. She was never stressed, which I loved because then I wasn’t stressed. She didn’t have a bath because the vernix, which she had a lot of, is actually good for their skin. It was actually really neat to smell that distinct scent of birth for the first couple of days of her life. After I had a shower, Ray made me eggs and toast for breakfast. I spent the rest of the day in bed.
In the end, I tore right along my old episiotomy scar and had to have about 8 stitches.
Sage weighed 7lbs, 13 oz. and was 20.5 inches long.
I started having birthing waves at around 9:40 in the morning on September 18th. At first I didn't think they really meant anything since I'd had birthing waves on and off for weeks. These felt a little different, though, and they kept coming throughout the morning. At 1 p.m. I decided to go listen to my Hypnobabies Fear Release cd. Eva lay down with me and fell asleep. I dozed lightly as I listened and the birthing waves stopped. I'd called Matt (my husband) earlier to ask him to come home. He came in at 2 and my birthing waves started coming again as soon as he walked in.
We decided to go to the grocery store to pick up a few last minute items and hoped the walking would encourage things to move along. We also stopped by the storage unit to get some things we'd need for the birth and the baby. On our way home we picked up take-out from my favorite restaurant.
We got home around 4:30. We ate and fed the kids before heading upstairs to rearrange the rooms to accommodate the birth. Since our new house wasn't finished yet we were still living with my parents. Matt and the girls cleared the room. Matt hung two paintings we'd purchased for the new house. One of them was the inspiration for my Special Place (a Tuscan garden) and the other was of a mother holding a sleeping baby. He also set up the birth tub.
At 6 I called my massage therapist doula friend, Olivia, to ask her to come work on my pressure points to see if that would help move things along. She arrived at around 7:30. Matt put the girls to bed. It took him a long time to settle Eva. My birthing waves were strong, but fairly spaced out. I tried not to be impatient and frustrated, but I wanted things to get going already.
After doing massage and walking stairs and doing the birth hula things did pick up and I got in the tub. I listened to my Birth Affirmations for awhile. I felt hot so I got out of the tub. At around 12:30 a.m. on September 19th I was feeling tired and decided to try sleeping. I put on my Hypnobabies Birth Guide and lay down on the bed. Matt and Olivia took naps, too. My birthing waves continued to come, but I did get some rest.
At 1:30 I had some heavy birth show, called my midwife, and got back in the tub with strong birthing waves. She got there at around 2 or so. I asked her to check me. I was 5.5 cm with a very posterior cervix. It seemed that was why it was taking so long. We got fairly chatty for awhile and the waves spaced out. At this time the newspaper reporter who'd contacted my midwife about doing a story on home birth and the assistant midwife had arrived. I was 7 cm.
My mw sent me and dh out for a walk. My parents live on a steep hill. We walked down the hill and that brought on some more birthing waves. At the bottom of the hill we decided it was too cold to walk around the block so we turned around and went back up. I told my mw I could probably try sleeping so she and everyone else except Matt went downstairs.
After another hour-long nap or so I woke up with stronger birthing waves. I called my midwife back upstairs and got back in the tub because they were too intense for me to want to do them out of the water. But again they spaced out. My mw had me sit on the birth stool while she tried holding my cervix (which was still very posterior at 8 cm) forward. Even doing that for a few birthing waves it still moved back if she let go. I was feeling tired and frustrated at this point. I'm not sure what time it was but the sun started coming up pretty soon after so it had to have been around 7 in the morning. I asked her to break my water, which she did. Then she cleared the room while I lay down again.
Things finally really picked up and I got back in the tub. It didn't seem like much time had gone by before the birthing waves got really strong and long. I'd had a lot of low pressure throughout the birth (maybe because of the posterior cervix) and that got very intense. I also felt more pressure in my lower back. At one point it kind of felt better to push a bit so I asked my mw to check me. My cervix had moved forward, but wasn't completely gone yet so I worked through another few birthing waves.
I was about ready to get out thinking I needed to go to the bathroom when I pushed really hard. My mw asked me if I could feel the baby's head. I didn't know if she meant could I feel it moving down or could I feel it with my hand. I reached down and Holy Cow, there was her head! I provided my own perineal support as I gently pushed her head out. I had to push again for her shoulders before the rest of her slid out and I pulled her to my chest.
She was born at 9:24 a.m. after nearly 24 hours of labor and only 1 min. of pushing. She has short dark hair and a darker complexion with facial features like Audrey (who also has dark hair and a darker complexion). I pushed the placenta out about 5 minutes later (I think--it seemed really quick). It was the largest placenta my midwife had ever seen--it seemed to be as large as a dinner plate. No wonder my belly felt so crowded.
After nursing in the tub for awhile I got out, passed the baby off to Matt, and took a quick shower. When I came back into the room they were finishing the baby exam and Audrey helped to dress her. We've named the baby Leah Virginia (Virginia is after Matt's mom). She weighed 7 lbs. 11 oz. and was 20" long. She's a very sweet baby and we're so glad to have her here.
Here's a photo slide show of Leah's pregnancy and birth:
7 pounds, 9 ounces, 19 inches long
September 15th @ 10:46 p.m.
On Wednesday, September 13th Jay and I went to the doctors for our 41 week, two days check up. At this point I was two days overdue and decided to have a membrane swept to see if we could get labor started. I instantly started having cramps and got really excited. We went home that night and slept very well. The next day I was still having some light cramping while we had lunch at Nonna Emilia’s with some of Jay’s co-workers to celebrate his 30th birthday. After lunch, we headed home and I took a two hour nap. I woke up with contractions at about 3:30 p.m. The contractions weren’t really strong but they were definitely different from the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing in the previous weeks. We decided it would be fine to go to dinner at Outback Steakhouse with my mom for another birthday dinner. During dinner, my contractions were getting much stronger but were very manageable. I told Jay that we should go to the hospital and get checked just incase I was dilated and they wanted to admit me. So we went home and got the bag packed and ready to go.
We then drove to the Willamette Falls Hospital in Oregon City which is about 25 minutes from our home in Beaverton. We were really excited and a little bit flustered. We even forgot some things and needed to turn around about a mile from home to pick them up. When we got to the hospital, they put us in an exam room and checked my effacement and dilation. I was two centimeters dilated and 80 percent effaced. I needed to be three to four centimeters to be admitted so we were told to walk the hospital for two hours to see if it would help get me to that point. After two hours of walking, I was checked again and still only two centimeters and 80 percent. We were then sent home. We were so tired and a little bummed out that it wasn’t time but I continued to contract throughout the night and didn’t get any sleep. I tried to take a bath at 4:30 a.m. to see if it would help relax me but it didn’t help very much so I decided to sit on the couch and practice my meditative method which served to help me quite a bit when I was in active labor. I’m glad I practiced!
Jay woke up at 6:00 a.m. and I was feeling pretty anxious. I told him that I think we need to go back to the hospital but we didn’t want to get sent home again so we decided to stay home for a few more hours. Both of us felt confused because we weren’t sure how bad they were suppose to get before going in. I was unable to walk and talk through them but I was that way the night before too and we still got sent home so I called Dr. Gulick at 10:30 a.m. and explained how I was feeling, I told her my contractions were four to five minutes apart and were lasting one to one and a half minutes long. She suggested that I stay home a little bit longer and call her back. When I told Jay, he could sense that I really felt that I needed to go to the hospital so he called the doctor back and explained that I was in pain and that we wanted to be admitted to the hospital. He basically told her that when we go, we aren’t leaving without a baby. It made me so happy that he said what I couldn’t. I didn’t want to be too pushy so I was really happy that Jay could me my advocate. We jumped in the car and arrived at the hospital at about 11:30. The nurse checked me and I was almost three centimeters dilated and 50% effaced. My contractions were off the charts on the monitor but they weren’t very close together. I would have a strong, two minute contraction but since they weren’t close together, I was progressing very slowly. Jay and I went and had some lunch in the hospital cafeteria and then I had a small break from the contractions which provided me with 20 minutes of much needed sleep. At this point I had been up for over 24 hours so I was started to feel exhausted. Dr. Gulick arrived at the hospital at about 4:30 and checked me. She said I was almost four centimeters dilated and that we could be admitted!! We talked about potentially breaking my bag of waters but Jay and I decided that I would sit in the Jacuzzi tub to see if it would help me along.
At 5:00 p.m. we were officially admitted and brought to birth suite nine. It was so exciting! The nurse started the bath for me and Jay put our Barry White Greatest Hits CD on. Then I just hung out in the tub for the next two hours. We talked about how exciting it was to finally be in the room and I started to cry because I was so happy to share this with Jay. Both of us were all teary eyed and shared a beautiful kiss; it was just awesome. My contractions started getting stronger and stronger but they were very manageable in the water. Each one started in my back and radiated out to my hips then my stomach would contract and the tightness ran down to my knees. I positioned the jets so they would hit my hips and that helped a lot! All of a sudden it felt like my bag of waters was coming out so I asked Jay to call the nurse so she could check me. I got on the bed and she checked my, I was six centimeters dilated! I decided to throw my pajamas pants and a t-shirt on and at about 30 minutes later at 7:50 I heard a POP and felt a trickle of water. I was instantly frozen and told Jay that my water had broke and to call the nurse. The nurse came in and I finally moved and a huge gush of water came out. It was such a relief! We were so happy that my water had broke on its own.
I started transition which was more than intense! It’s pretty unexplainable. I was moaning so loud! I know all of the people in the rooms around me could hear it all. I honestly didn’t care. Jay said he had no idea I had such strong lungs because my moans were so long. He thought they were going to stop and I would just keep going and going. It felt right to moan, that was the only thing I could do. The nurse came in and said that even though we have it in own birth plan to not offer and meds or an epidural she thought that she should. Jay gave her a nasty look and said “No thank you. We are fine.” She then left and a couple minutes later I had a contraction that scared me so much. I built and built and right when I thought it was suppose to be over, it just got so strong. I just started saying “Babe, it’s not stopping, it’s not stopping.” Jay could tell it scared me and then a new nurse walked in and I looked at her and said “it’s not stopping, make it stop please.” It was like a six minute contraction. The nurse, Heather, ended up being my one on one nurse. The previous nurse didn’t really know how to deal with a woman having natural childbirth so she had Heather come help me. Heather got me off of the bed and we tried the tub again but as the tub was filling up, I had a contraction and I just had to get out of there. They pulled me out and I looked in the mirror and there was a little woman in the room. I instantly got really upset and said “What is she doing in here! Get her out NOW!”, Heather ran out and asked what she needed as she was guiding her out and she said she was there to administer an epidural. Heather said “No, wrong room. Please leave now.” As Heather was taking care of that lady. I told Jay that I couldn’t do it anymore and that I felt like I needed relief. I told him I wasn’t a super hero and that I didn’t have to prove myself to anyone. He was so great! He reminded me of why we wanted to go matural and that I was almost done. He said that I’ve been in labor for so many hours and that I can handle a couple of more. He said he was so proud of me and loved me and it kept me going. I couldn’t have done it without those words of encouragement.
Then we moved me over to birthing ball. I started thowing up after each contraction but it felt SO good! Jay was awesome! He had such a great system. I would throw up, he would wipe my mouth and feed me some water, then the next one would start and we would do it all over again. Heather and Jay were taking turns putting pressure on my lower back. Jay was blow away because he was literally pushing as hard as he could on my lower back and I was telling him I wanted more pressure. He was getting tired from all of the pushing on my back. I had Heather check me and I was eight centimeters dilated. I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom really bad so we all moved to the bathroom and I sat backwards on the toilet for about 20 mins. The contractions were so strong! I was still throwing up and rocking back and forth while swaying my head in circles and moaning and groaning through each contraction. Jay said that at one point the nurse was verbally coaching me and I just said “I just have to work through this one.” She and Jay looked at each other and she gave him a look like-she has got this under control. I thought that was really cool that she recognized how hard it was and was willing to ride it out with us. Heather then went to grab some lotion so she could really rub my back and I told Jay that I felt like pushing. When she got back she rubbed my back and it felt so good. I told her to check me and I was 10 centimeters!!! Jay started saying “You did it! We’re there!” I went from eight to 10 in 15 minutes! I jumped off the toilet and onto the bed and Heather kept saying to push when I felt like it and that she was going to call the doctor and let her know to come down to the hospital. I was pushing and pushing. It was the weirdest feeling. I felt good to finally be at that point. Jay was really cute, he went behind the bed to coach me through pushing but gradually made his way around and watched the whole thing! When Heather got back, she walked in and said “Whoa! You are a pushing monster!”, I asked when the Dr would be there and she said she was on her way and not to worry. I trusted her and felt very safe. So I just kept pushing. The Dr walked in and was there for seven minutes before Katherine made her arrival at 10:46 p.m. I pushed for 30 minutes. I screamed so loud when she was coming out. I don’t think I have ever screamed so loud in my life nor do I think I could recreate that scream but it felt so good at the same time. I could feel every part of my daughters head, ears, nose and the rest of her body come out. She was placed on my chest and instantly started crying, they didn’t need to suction her and her Apgar scores were nine and 10. She was so adorable with a full head of hair just like her mom and her looks just like her daddy. We were both so happy all we could do was smile. Right after she came out, I looked up at Jay and said “WE DID IT BABE! WE DID IT!!” It was all so overwhelming and exciting!
The doctor said that she thought she was going to walk in and hang out for a few hours. She didn’t even have time to change. She said it had been years since she had to deliver a baby in her street clothes. The happiness is indescribable! We started talking about the day we met and told the Dr and nurses our story, it was really a cool time. Then everyone left and we were with our Little Love, Katherine May. We were so full of excitement that we couldn’t even fall asleep until 4:00 a.m.
Thank for reading about our experience if you made it this far.
I want to write this before I forget details...so I will add more to it later and fix any mistakes.
About 11:30am I went to the bathroom and noticed some blood. I decided to give Owen a bath before his nap and while he was in the tub my contractions started. I got him out and while I was reading to him before his nap they started getting stronger. I got him down and then called Hieka (MW). I told her they were about 3 mins apart but still irregular and I could walk and talk through them. She told me to have Pete come home and then call her when he got here. I called Pete and he left right away. I changed the sheets on the bed and vacuumed the bedroom then hopped in the shower. i was having to stop what I was doing during a contraction at this point. I got out and Pete called to see how I was, I said fine and to grab some food (in hindsight that was pointless). When he got home we started timing them and they were on top of each other (about a min apart) I called Hieka and she said get over there NOW. So we woke Owen up and loaded the car (or I should say Pete did, because I was about worthless at this point) Then we were on our way. It was a very LOOOONG painful car ride, I felt every bump. We got there at 2:45pm and they put us in our 2nd choice room, I was bummed but whatever. Then I heard commotion in the hall and Grace (receptionist) came in and said we could have our 1st choice after all I was happy. So they got it set up and we moved, bath was running, candles burning...it was awesome. Hieka told Pete to hop in the shower (he is a mechanic and was pretty dirty) and then she took Owen to hang with Grace and change herself. The student MW got me in the tub and I was having a hard time getting comfy in there. I started on my knees leaning over the side and imediately wanted to start pushing and they let me, what a relief that was. I sort of stood a bit to maneuver and felt that pop sensation when your water breaks but then something weird happened, I had this crazy sensation of a balloon coming out of me, I asked the student MW what it was, that she needed to check it out and all hell broke loose, she felt it and screamed for me to get out of the tub and on the floor on my knees with my shoulders on the ground (she had thought it was a prolapsed cord) I was asking what was going on and she just bolted and I heard her yell Hieka NOW! Hieka went straight to Pete banged on the door and said out now! they all ran in and the piece had seperated from me. It was a false alarm. It was actually a portion of the sac that had come out and then twisted, there was meconium so it had turned the twisted portion a funky color and they thought it was the cord....man I was freaked!!! but it was nothing thankfully. So back into the tub I went. Pete was dripping wet and still dressing, poor guy about had a heart attack. So Hieka got us all calm and centered again and had me lean back in the tub....ahhh heaven! It felt so good I can't even describe. So I was really needing to push now, she had the doppler on me and he sounded great. I was holding on to Pete's neck and Hieka had her hands on my perinium litterally holding me together to avoid a nasty tear along my scar from Owen. I was screaming/grunting through my pushing, it was totally intense...I was cursing like a sailor and appologizing, they were laughing and told me not to worry about it. I started to feel the "ring of fire" omg wow, I had forgotten how that felt....wow that saying could not be more accurate. I was saying that I couldn't do this anymore and everyone rooted around me and I got right on through it. His head was part way out and Pete and I felt it, then another big push and his head was out. Another push and the rest of him slid on out at 3:19pm (less than and hour from when we arrived). It was such an amazing relief. Hieka brought him up and I tried to hold him out of the water since I asked for it a bit cool. She couldn't believe how short and fat the cord was, what is funny is Owen's was too. She checked for the cord pulse and determined it had stopped and Pete cut it. Pete went to get Owen and she suctioned his mouth and that was all, he had a tiny cry but it was amazing. he barely cried at all. He started breathing right away. He was born at 3:19pm, less than hour after we got to the birth center. Owen was too cute, he was pointing at him and saying "baby, baby" They got me out of the tub then onto to the placenta birth stool, it took one push and it came out entact, then I was off and into the bed. He latched on right away and passed all his vital scores (9 on the apgar) respiration good, it was all good. After he nursed for a bit I needed to rearrange and get more comfortable so they weighed him, 9lbs 11oz! I couldn't believe how big he was/is They gave him back and gave us some family time. He did not inhale any meconium thankfully, and Hieka told me if I was in a hospital it wouldn't matter...he would be in NICU just for observation...I am so thankful I had the choice to not step foot in a hospital. Pete took him for a bit so they could take all my vitals and look to see if I needed stitches, my vitals were great and she looked me over down under and I only have 3 superficial tears NO STITCHES!!!! OMG I already can tell a HUGE difference from Owen's birth where I had a 4th degree thanks to the epi the OB gave me! I could not have asked for a better birth, water birth is simply amazing. It was absolutely amazing and exhileratting. It was such a supportive environment. So the whole oredeal started at 11:30am-ish and he was out by 3:19pm and we were home by 6:50pm...all in a days work
Name: August Keath ---
born: August 31, 2006 at 3:19pm in water
Weight: 9lbs 11oz
Head circum: 38 cm
Chest circum: 37.5 cm
Beautiful 70 degree day
here are just a few pics, they aren't great we needed the flash, I will have more soon...oh and in a couple of them you can sort of see the tub I gave birth in, in the background:
Well I guess it’s time I sat down and wrote out Brody’s birth story.
Let’s start at the beginning shall we? I met my husband Rob over 12 years ago. We grew very close as friends and went through many ups and downs together before we started dating. We had many mutual friends and were always hanging out together. After being friends for a couple of years he asked me out and we started dating. At first it was strange because we were best friends and didn’t want our relationship to change. Eventually we moved in together. It was just about 6 years before we got engaged to be married and another 4 before we actually tied the knot (very long story that one Wink ) We got married in a quiet garden wedding in August 2005.
Rob has always wanted children and is the oldest of five kids. I wasn’t so sure for the longest time if I wanted kids at all. It just wasn’t something that I really thought about. There were a few things that needed to be taken care of first before I would even consider having children anyways. First of all I needed to have my back fixed in order to carry a pregnancy. A childhood injury was aggravated in 2001 and the symptoms were becoming unbearable. So in the summer of 2004 I had complex back surgery after waiting almost 3 years to work my way through all of the tests. Specialists and wait lists. It took much more out of me than I had ever expected and the recovery was difficult and delayed due to infection and me just overdoing things.
Once I had had my surgery I started thinking a bit more seriously about having a child. The second thing I had to get done was get married. Rob’s family took care of that and helped us plan and finance our wedding. We didn’t start trying for a baby until the following December. We stopped using condoms in late October but didn’t really try to conceive. I had some pregnancy symptoms in November but ended up getting my period. That was when I sat down with a calendar and worked out the timing for my cycle. It just happened that I should be ovulating around my birthday. Works for me!! Very Happy We DTD two days before my b-day, on my b-day and two days after. That did the trick and we found out I was pregnant just after new years on January third.
For the most part my pregnancy was uneventful. I had some morning sickness and was quite tired during the first trimester. With this being my first baby I horded all of the information I could get my hands on. I bought books, talked to other women, looked for info online and joined this website. About halfway through my pregnancy I started retaining water and that in turn pushed up my blood pressure. I had planned on working as a R&D and production horticulturist until July at the very least but hadn’t really made any concrete plans regarding leave. I was disappointed after my doctor told me I had to stop working at the end of May. I gave two weeks notice, despite being allowed to stop working immediately, in a state of denial. Because it was a pregnancy complication I qualified for sickness benefits and didn’t have to draw down my maternity or parental leave.
Over the next few months my blood pressure bounced up and down but thankfully never developed into preeclampsia. I ended up putting on just over 60 pounds by the time my due date was rolling around due to the water retention. To say the least I was not impressed! I was thankful however that the baby was healthy.
My due date was August 25th and by then I was ready to have this baby and start our new family and get my body back too. Rob’s cousin swears by having sex to bring on labour so we gave it a try and celebrated our anniversary testing her theory. That was on the 21st. I was in early labour by late Tuesday evening the following day. I woke up Wednesday in labour still and lost the majority of my plug. I was surprised and a little apprehensive, a bit excited to that soon I would be having my baby.
I had my regular weekly checkup at the maternity clinic and my doctor was happy to hear about the contractions. Everything looked good and he was confident I would have my baby by the time the weekend rolled around. By Wednesday night my contractions were 5 minutes apart and we went to the hospital since we were in the area and it is about a 40 minute drive from our house. They took a urine sample and did a NST. My contractions were very low in my abdomen but regular. Despite feeling them they weren’t showing up on the monitor. The nurse did an internal and told me I was fingertip dialated. There were some white blood cells in my urine so they figured it was a bladder infection triggering the contractions not actual labour. They gave me a shot of Gravol to help me sleep and sent me home. I was in a lot of pain by the time we got home but it lessened when I stood up and walked around. I took an extra strength Tylenol and went to bed.
Thursday the 24th I woke up still in labour and lost more of my plug. The contractions were still 5 minutes apart and very low. My hubby asked if I was going to have the baby today before we decided it would probably be okay for him to go to work. By 11 am my contractions were 4 minutes apart and getting more intense. I was having a hard time concentrating during them and decided to call my hubby. We stll weren’t sure if this was it and he suggested calling the maternity ward and talk to them. When I called they checked my chart form the previous night and told me it was a bladder infection not labour. I asked them if a bladder infection would trigger contractions every 4 minutes and be quite painful. The nurse then said it probably was labour and, since it was my first baby, to come in when the contractions were 3 minutes apart or if I couldn’t handle the pain. I called my hubby back and told him he could stay at work for a while yet if he wanted too. It was super busy there so he stayed. About an hour and a half later I called him back and told him to come home.
I wanted to stay home and labour as long as possible in an effort to avoid interventions and the dreaded “failure to progress” slippery slope. We took our time packing some snacks and loading up the car. I had already put the car seat and my bag in the car from the previous night while trying to keep myself busy. I had a hot shower which helped with the labour pains and got dressed. As we drove to the hospital my contractions were getting more and more intense and were 3 minutes apart and getting slowly closer together. I had to concentrate during them and knew for sure this was the real thing. We checked into the hospital and were shown to our LDR room. Despite having rooms with tubs for some reason I didn’t ask for one of them even though both of them were available. At 1:15 the nurse did another internal at my request and told me I was 4 cm dilated at and at -1 station. I was happy to hear that I was 4 cm since that is the earliest I wanted to arrive at the hospital. The doctor broke my water to help move things along.
I sat in a rocking chair for a while and walked around to help pass the time. DH was in shock that we were finally going to have the baby and was very quiet. He watched me as I had contractions and asked me how I was feeling and if there was anything he could do. After a while I decided to get into the shower and Rob went to the kitchen to heat up a gel pack we had brought for my back and abdomen. I’m not sure how long I stayed in the shower before transition really hit me. My labour pains had moved more into my back and I was struggling through the contractions. I let the water pound my lower back while I leaned forward against the wall. I felt the need to sit so I sat down on the bench in the shower for a while with my legs apart to help the baby move down. I knew I was in transition and it was confirmed when I puked all over the shower. I was trying to decide if I should take the nurse up on her offer of pain killers when a really strong contraction hit my back again. By now I wasn’t feeling anything in my abdomen, it was 100% back labour. This was what I was most worried about before labour and it scared me. I got sick one more time and was getting really anxious as the pain continued to worsen. I knew it would only get so painful and then reach a peak, the change I was anticipating was the contractions getting closer with less of a break in between.
I asked Rob to tell the nurse I would take some pain control and to tell her I had been sick. He came back and assures me the vomiting was normal and nothing to worry about and that the nurse would be in in a minute. It took me another 30 minutes or so to get myself out of the shower… I was really torn about having painkillers but finally reached the point where I wanted something. She told me morphine worked it’s way out of my system and the bay’s system the fastest and suggested I get that. I wasn’t sure about her choice but ended up getting her to give me a small dose. It wasn’t long after that I decided to get an epidural. The back labour I was experiencing was much more intense than I had ever anticipated it would be. I knew it was the baby turning from the right side to the left as he dropped farther down but that didn’t help the pain. I started feeling depressed at this point. Here I had 2 internals, had my water broken, a shot of morphine and now I was asking for an epidural… What had happened to my plans on a NCB?! The anaesthesiologist arrived at 3:35 and gave me the epi. It was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be, he was great. Because I had an epi they put in a heplock “just in case”. I was 6 cm dilated at this point. Now I was stuck in bed with a monitor, IV and epidural. I had told them to give me a small dose of epidural and was shocked when I couldn’t feel my contractions anymore. Annoyed, I told the nurse to lower the dose. She told me “No, you’ll want it for later”. I looked at her in shock and told her I wanted it lowered immediately since I couldn’t feel my contractions anymore. She looked at me like I had sprouted horns and told me she would have to consult the doctor first. My contractions were barely showing up on the monitor either and they spent quite a while moving everything around trying to get them to register. I told them I had been feeling them down low and despite that they kept trying to find them at the top of my uterus. To this day I don’t know why they weren’t registering properly.
After calling the doctor the nurse agreed to lower the epi dose from 12 to 10. I told her I wanted it at 8 or lower. She refused once again. After getting frustrated that she couldn’t find my contractions with the monitor she told me that I should get pitocin to help them strengthen. I refused because I knew I was having them and didn’t want any more chemicals and hormones flowing through my system than I already had. She was furious. I told her again to lower the epi dose and she called the doctor again. I told her I was concerned that since my contractions weren’t showing up on the monitor and I couldn’t feel them I wouldn’t know when to push. While standing just outside the door she told the doctor I was being difficult and was refusing treatments. My husband and I were in shock with her behaviour and weren’t feeling very good with how things were going. She came back in, didn’t say anything and turned my epi down to 8. I could finally feel the contractions again and was regaining some of my composure and confidence. At 5:45 she did another internal and I was 10 cm dilated. On her way to phone the doctor she told me to do some “practice pushes” with the med student that was staying with me (I consented to one and she was wonderful) I told her I wanted to wait until I felt the urge to push before starting and was concerned the doctor wasn’t here yet. That pissed her off even more and she complained about me on the phone again to the doctor. I waited over 30 minutes at 10cm and never did get the urge to push. The doctor was there and I felt better about pushing so we started at 6:15. Brody’s heart rate was fluctuating and there was concern that he was stressed before I even started. The nurse from hell went home after her shift ended… let me tell you I was never so happy to see the back of someone’s head in my life! My new nurse was an older Scottish lady that I loved from the first moment she walked in the room. She explained everything and was much more supportive. We were all watching Brody’s heart rate during the contractions and in fact that was the only way they could identify when I was having them on the monitor. They were concerned it was more than head compression and made me stop pushing for a few contractions to give him a break. When we started pushing again his HB was swinging from 70 up to 180 and then back down again. It was too much and they started calling in other nurses and doctors. Soon I had three nurses, two doctors, a paediatrician and my student doctor in the room with us.
Now I was scared. I thought my nightmare of ending up with a c-section was about to come true and started crying. The doctors were all talking to each other and I couldn’t hear what they were saying. Rob held my hand and stroked my hair. He told the Scottish nurse that I needed to know what was going on in order to feel calmer about the situation and relax somewhat. She told me they were very worried about Brody and that he couldn’t handle the labour anymore. I watched the doctor as he pased (sp?)the floor at the foot of the delivery bed looking very concerned. They decided to try a vacuum to help me deliver my baby. He told me they would have to give me an episiotomy as a result. I grew more depressed when he told me this and continued to cry. After giving me the episiotomy they placed the vacuum. That was unbelievably uncomfortable and by then I was desperate to deliver my baby. They had me push continually through two contractions and between them too. I felt Brody moving down and through the birth canal. When he crowned I knew he was almost here. More people came into them room and everyone was encouraging me to push. I had quite the cheering squad at the end.
Rob watched as Brody’s head was emerging but focused on me for the rest of the delivery. I felt his head come out and then waited while they delivered his shoulders. The rest of him came out quickly and I was happy to hear him cry after they suctioned his nose and mouth. The pedi took him to the table right beside the bed to make sure he was okay. We were told it was a baby boy! His scores were 9, 10 and 10 and he was fine despite the difficulty he had during the labour and delivery. I was so happy he was here, healthy and that it was over at last. They gave him back to me a few minutes later after his scores and tests were done and they were sure he was okay. I started nursing him right away while they stitched up the episiotomy and small tear. (I was only the third or fourth woman to get an episiotomy at that hospital that year, they don’t take them lightly at all)
Brody was born at 8:06 pm on Thursday the 24th of August. He weighed 6 pounds 10 ounces, was 19 ¾ inches long and had a 33 cm head.
I am disappointed with myself for allowing all of the interventions and asking for painkillers and the epidural. It was not what I had planned at all. There are several things that I would have done differently if I had the chance to do it over again, but in the end all that matters is that he is here now and is a healthy baby. I would do it all again for him in a heartbeat, it was worth it.
Sorry this is so long, I had to get it out. The whole thing has been stewing in my brain for a while now and it feels better to get it written out at last.
Claire Helen P.’s Birth Story
Born healthy, happy, and beautiful on Thursday, October 5, 2006
19.9 inches long
7 lbs. 7.2 oz.
Awakened by a contraction at 2:30am. Awoke DH at about 4:30am to help me time them because they were getting closer and closer together. At about 6:30am the contractions tapered off to being 10 to 20 minutes apart and so we went back to bed. Slept a couple hours with a few minor contractions. After getting up continued with contractions throughout the day, but they kept going from 5 minutes apart to 20 minutes apart and didn’t maintain any sort of pattern or regularity. Spoke to midwife friend and she said that I was in early labor and reminded me about all the things I could do to breathe through the contractions. Midwife informed me that her mother was very ill and she may have to go out of town and be unavailable for the birth. I confirmed with the doula that she could be at the birth if the midwife was unable to attend. Fitful sleep Friday night as contractions came and went. DH stayed home from work Friday night.
Saturday, 9/30/06 and Sunday, 10/1/06
Contractions continued intermittently and, in retrospect after actual labor and delivery, were fairly mild. DH stayed home from work again Saturday night because I was now exhausted from the constant, but irregular contractions. He went out for groceries and to run a couple errands in the early evening and while he was gone the contractions went to 5 minutes apart for an hour and a half. I called him on his cell phone and told him to come home so we could go to the hospital. By the time he got home, I was having heavy bloody show, very liquidy and had called the midwife. The midwife said to go to the hospital immediately and call her after we were settled in. The Dr. examined me at the hospital and said that I was 1 cm. dilated and 80% effaced. He was very, very concerned about the amount and type of blood. NST for 20 minutes showed that the baby was fine and my blood pressure, temp, etc. was also good. Dr. left DH and I to labor for the night (while he was asleep in the room next door) and had the nurse monitor the blood and the baby. DH and I continued to walk, squat, hands and knees, tub, etc. through the contractions until 5am. The nurse was amazingly helpful and supportive. The Dr. checked me at 5am and there was no change in effacement or dilation, but the blood flow had tapered off. He took a sample of the blood to be certain that it didn’t have fetal tissue in it. He returned at 7am to confirm that the blood was not fetal and said he was concerned at my state of exhaustion from the now 48 hours of “false” or prodromal labor. He offered pitocin to either start labor or morphine to sleep. I asked him his opinion of what we should do and he said that he preferred having me sleep because he was afraid that with how exhausted I was that the pitocin would get me started on something I couldn’t finish and further interventions would be needed. DH and I discussed it and decided to try to the morphine. I had some breakfast so that the drugs would not hit my empty stomach. I slept on the morphine from about 8:30am to 2:30pm only mildly feeling the contractions occasionally. When I awoke I immediately started vomiting from the morphine, but had no contractions. Once the vomiting subsided, they sent me home to monitor my contractions from there. DH and I slept from 4:30pm to 11:30pm (contraction free), got up, showered, ate a little, and went back to bed about 12:30am Monday morning.
I was awakened by the return of the contractions at 4:30am. Still no pattern or consistency. DH had to go to the airport in the afternoon to pick up his mother, so the doula came to spend the evening with me. She was amazing. We walked, sat in the tub, hands and knees, and squatted, etc. everything through the erratic contractions. She gave me a hot foot soak and pedicure and that helped me relax some. About ½ hour before DH returned, the doula said that she would like me to consider returning to the hospital since I had been laboring for almost another 24 hours and she wanted the baby checked and also my cervix. When DH got home, the 3 of us returned to the hospital. NST was fine and so were my vitals. The nurse checked me and I was still 80% effaced and had gone from 1cm to about 1.5 cm dilated. She talked to the other Dr. from my practice and he said given this I could either opt for morphine again or go home and continue to labor. I didn’t want to take more drugs so we headed home once again. I was exhausted and devastated. DH and I spent the entire night going from the bed to the couch to the loveseat to the tub in an effort to ease my pain. It was absolutely the worst night of my life as I constantly felt like I was being split in half. I had been in prodromal labor for four days.
I had a scheduled 41 week appointment with my Dr. in the afternoon, but we went to the hospital late morning instead to see him there since he was attending other births. NST looked good, all my vitals were good, did an ultrasound and there was plenty of amniotic fluid and we watched the baby squeezing the umbilical cord with her little hand. Still 80% effaced and now maybe 2cm dilated. The Dr. said that he knew I was tired and overwhelmed and in pain but he preferred to let mother nature run her course because he was concerned that if they artificially started labor and my body wasn’t ready greater and greater interventions would be needed. I sobbed and sobbed. He suggested that I go home for the afternoon and come back in the evening to sleep at the hospital again. MIL stayed home with me for the day and DH tried to get a few hours in at work. I went to sleep with the morphine again at the hospital at about 9pm and DH came in to hold my hand and talk with me on his way home from work. I cried and cried at what I believed was my failure to have a natural birth and cursed my body for not doing what it was supposed to be doing.
I slept until 5:30am, still feeling the contractions but not as intensely. DH took me home at about 8:30am. Unlike the last time I slept on the morphine, the contractions continued as soon as I was awake. I continued to labor at home under the watchful eye of mother-in-law. DH went to try to get in a few more hours at work. At about 3pm, the contractions were once again 5 minutes apart and I passed a very small piece of plug. I called to tell the doula this and she said she would come over and stay with me until the contractions were 3 minutes apart and then we would go to the hospital. I also called DH and told him the news; he said to keep him posted and he would meet us at the hospital. During the first contractions after getting off the phone with DH, I felt a warm gush and immediately went to check my party-liner (worrying that the bleeding had returned). There was no more blood and the liquid was warm and clear. This warm gush of liquid continued with the next 4 contractions at which point I told MIL and we headed off to the hospital after paging the doula and calling DH. When MIL wheeled me into L&D all the nurses were so excited! They hadn’t cleaned my room since I left that morning because they said they “had a feeling I’d be back today”. It was so wonderful to have such positive vibes from the staff. A quick test to the pad I had been wearing confirmed amniotic fluid and the nurse called the Dr. to tell him “guess who’s back and she’s sprung a leak”. The nurse said the Dr. said a big “hooray!”. The doula and DH arrived at the hospital about 20 minutes after MIL and me. NST and all my vitals looked good. They started the antibiotic drip since I was GBS positive and checked me…no change 80% effaced and about 2 cm. dilated. I labored until midnight in every possible position…walking slow and fast, squatting, hands and knees, birth ball, lying on my side, sitting in the bathtub, crouching in the bathtub with the doula and DH taking turns spraying my lower back, buttocks, and vagina with warm water…however, the contractions continued to go from 3 minutes apart to as much as 12 minutes apart without ever remaining consistent. I asked to be checked again at midnight.
As of midnight I was 80% effaced and 4-5 cm dilated. I was disappointed and tired, but determined. The Dr., nurse, doula, DH, and I had a big conversation about timing because I was now 9 hours into the 24 hour clock since my water broke. After much discussion, we decided to go ahead with the smallest possible dosage of a pitocin drip. Within minutes, my contractions steadied into a rhythm of 3 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds to a minute. I never imagined such pain and it took every ounce of resignation along with will power to continue with each contraction. I begged to know when it would be over, I told DH several times that there “won’t be a 2nd baby”, and continued to ask the doula how in the “he** she did this 3 times?!”. At 4am I asked to be checked again. There had been absolutely no progress…80% effaced and 4-5 cm. dilated. The Dr. said “let’s go like this for another hour or so and then talk about what we could do next”. If I could have gotten off my hands and knees at that point, I would have walked across the room and done some serious bodily harm to him! DH saw my response and said “let’s talk about those options now” and the Doula said gently and quietly “Carla, you’ve been in labor for close to a week now and you are the strongest woman I have ever worked with, but I am afraid we’ve gone beyond pain with a purpose and now you are experiencing pain without purpose”. I said that I didn’t want “wimp out” or put the baby in any danger and that I wanted a natural childbirth. Everyone in the room acknowledged my desire and said that I was not a wimp, but that I did have options if I wanted to listen to them. The Dr. suggested the smallest dosage of Nubaine, a muscle relaxant, to help me relax between the contractions, but said that I would still “feel” everything. I chose this option and do not, to this day, regret it (ETA 12/3/06: I do now have regrets and what ifs and find myself wishing, at times, that I would have (could I have?) persevered without any medication). From 4am to 5am, I labored on my side in the bed, falling asleep between contractions (from the Nubaine), and waking up to feel the full force of each contraction and getting up on my hands and knees to rock through them. At 5am, I said “I need to push, I need to push”. I vividly remember the Dr. walking in wearing jeans and a t-shirt and carrying a cup of coffee. He put on his glove, checked me, and said “you’re 10cm, no lip of the cervix, let’s have a baby…but let me go get my work clothes on first”. I was so thrilled! In one hour, I went from 80% effaced and 4-5 cm. dilated to 100% effaced and 10cm dilated! The Dr. was back in moments and I got onto my hands and knees again and started pushing with each contraction. It felt so good!!! After a couple contractions, the Dr. said “knowing what I know about your uterus and cervix, I would like to suggest another position for pushing”. So, with many hands of help, I got into a squatting position, holding onto the birthing bar, and tried that for a couple contractions. It just didn’t feel right. The doula suggested lying slightly reclined (a position I never would have considered), with my feet up on the birthing bar, and my hands holding onto handles that came up from the side of the bed. This was it. During each contraction, I pushed with my legs on the birthing bar and pulled on the handles. I reached down to feel the head crowning and was amazed by the feeling of that little piece of our baby’s head. During the next contraction, I pushed 3-4 times while the Dr. applied mineral oil and put his fingers where he wanted me to push. I said “it burns” and the doula quietly said in my ear “that’s the ring of fire we talked about”. At the end of the contraction, I said I don’t have any more pushes in me for this contraction and the Dr. said “if you give me one more push, the baby’s head will be out”. I pushed one more time without the aid of a contraction and felt instant relief. I looked at DH’s face and he kept looking from my face to between my legs with complete and utter awe. When the next contraction came, the Dr. said “reach down and catch your baby” and I reached down, felt the rest of her slip from my body, pulled her onto my chest and burst out laughing. The rest of the room burst into laughter, too. I heard the nurse say “6:03 am”. I had pushed for one hour. Then the Dr. said, “move her down onto your belly, the umbilical cord is a little short”. The nurse said “well, Daddy, is it a boy or a girl?” and I realized at that moment that I really didn’t care. DH looked, paused for a few seconds, and said it’s a girl and I started crying. A few seconds later, I felt the placenta slip out and the Dr. said “you are officially no longer pregnant”. They covered our little girl in towels and I held her on my chest for at least 15 minutes (in one of the pictures you can see the wall clock in the background and she is still on my chest) and the doula helped me bring the baby to my breast where she latched and sucked for a few minutes.
ANDREA'S BIRTH STORY
Labor began at 11pm on 10/21. I had no noticable prelabor signs and contractions started at only 8 minutes apart. Dave and I decided to try and take a nap. We went to bed but I was unable to sleep. Eventually the contractions were strong enough that I couldn't lay still enough to stay in bed. I got up and went to the bathroom. Immediately the contractions changed to 3 minutes apart. I woke Dave up and he called the nurse. She told us to head to the hospital. It was now 2 am.
At the hospital, they put me on the monitor and checked me. At 3:30 am, I was fully effaced, 2 cm dilated. The MW warned me that they would check again in an hour and if I was not progressing they would send me home. While monitoring my contractions, the nurse noticed I was having "tails" on my contractions. In other words, each contraction would peak then start to tail off but it wouldn't end, instead it would peak again before finally relaxing. I told her I was concerned that the baby was posterior and she confirmed that this type of contraction is often seen with posterior babies.
We spent the next hour walking the hallways and mostly stayed on my feet or knees for laboring. I attempted hip rocks, etc to try and turn her from posterior. At 4:30, instead of checking me again, they announced they would give me another hour to progess. (Can you tell they didn't think I would?) Finally, the MW came back in. She commented that my contractions seemed to be intense (they were still thinking I wasn't going to be progressing). She checked me and I was already 5cm. Contractions were obviously doing their work and she congratulated me on doing well in laboring. It took a long time to get a fetal heartrate. I wasn't concerned at all, she was moving around like crazy and doing a great job of hiding from the monitor.
Kim was my nurse. She was great. She had already read my birth plan and was encouraging. She never offered meds, as requested, and gave helpful advice. She ran me a bath in the jacuzzi and encouraged me to sit back and relax. My first inclination was to continue trying to turn the baby, but she told me take a break and find a comfortable position instead. The jacuzzi was great, the jet felt great on my back. Contractions were getting stronger. Again, Kim had to try and get a fetal heartrate, but our little girl would not cooperate. Kim tried for 40 minutes and finally I had to get out of the tub so that we could get one. My contractions were getting intense and it took a while to get back to bed. I chose a side position. It still took a long time to get the heartrate.
By this time I started moving into transition. Dave was great at staying at my side. During each contraction I would grab his hand and sqeeze. I had some trouble with the breathing exercises, but I kept up with them. Dave helped and Kim was great as well. Transition was so intense that I refused to move from my sidelaying position.
My water broke while I was laboring on my side. There was meconium (sp?) in the fluid, so they attempted to explain the procedure. I was so far into transition though that all I understood was I would have to stop pushing when her head came out so they could suction her.
I felt the urge to push and the MW said I could start trying to push. Her original attitude that I would not deliver quickly was still in place though because she actually left the room and told me later that she was in another woman's room who she thought would deliver before me. Hello! (I will never understand why they didn't catch on that I was moving much faster than their expectations.)
I turned to my knees on the bed for pushing. The bed was tilted up and I held on to the top. At first the pushing felt a little strange, but soon I could feel like I was doing it correctly. I could feel the pressure of her head. Dave and I went through the pushing stage with no help. I have no idea how long it took, but I felt her head crown and yelled at the nurse. Talk about freaking everyone out! She went flying out the door telling me to stop pushing. The MW came running in telling me not to push because they weren't ready (remember, they were concerned about the meconium). It took so long that her head actually slipped back in! Eventually they said to go ahead. I pushed her head back out in one push, then another push to push it through. The suctioned her then told me to push again. One more push and she was out completely. She cried as expected and I remember the relief of knowing she was okay. It took them a moment to get me turned around so I could hold her.
She was all white with vernix but healthy and beautiful. She was born posterior (!) and has two large bumps on her head to prove it. I ended up needing a lot of stitches, but they helped to start breastfeeding even while they were sewing. I felt so much relief and pride. Her weight was 7lb8ounces. She was 20 1/4 inches.
Andrea started breastfeeding immediately. They tell me she is doing great and that her strong latch totally took care of any problem with inverted nipples, Yeah!
We came home after 24 hours. Dave and I are overwhelmed with love for this little bundle.
Lilah’s Birth Story
Lilah Peggy Morguess
October 3, 2006
7 lbs. 10 oz.
19 ½ inches
Sunday, September 24
Baby’s due date
Monday, September 25
Appt. with midwife . . . cervix 80% effaced and dilated to maybe 1 cm. First membrane sweep.
Tuesday, September 26
Began losing mucus plug. By that night, the beginning of prodromal labor. Was up a good part of the night with painful contractions that went from about 10 min. apart eventually to about 6 min. apart. After being up for a couple of hours, felt exhausted and went back to bed. Fell asleep, and by the time I woke up a couple hours later, contractions had stopped. Feeling very discouraged at this point.
Wednesday, September 27
Michael stayed home from work because I was so exhausted and feeling low. I continued to have erratic contractions all day. MW came by in the evening to check on me (with a surprise to lift my spirits - a beautiful henna tattoo on her leg with Baby’s name!). Cervix now dilated to 2 - 3 cm. Second membrane sweep. Decided to stop answering the phone today unless it’s Susan (mw). Sick of people calling and asking “Where’s the baby?” and “When are you going to the hospital to get induced?”
Thursday, September 28
Not much going on. Continued to lose mucus and have cramping and contrax.
Friday, September 29
In very poor spirits. Feeling completely dumbfounded that this baby has not come yet since all my others came before their due dates. Feeling a complete loss of faith in my body’s ability to do what it’s supposed to do.
Decided that staying sequestered at home just waiting for real labor to start is taking a toll on me emotionally, so made plans to get together with a girlfriend on Saturday for lunch and a pedicure.
Saturday, September 30
Woke up around 3:30 a.m. with pretty intense contrax, about 8 - 10 min. apart. They felt different somehow. Managed to get back to sleep for a while and woke up around 6 a.m. to contrax about 5 min. apart and lots of bloody show.
Called Susan, and she came over and checked me: almost 100% effaced and dilated to 3 cm. Contrax continued to be about 5 min. apart for several hours. Michael got the pool blown up and we made up the bed, went for a long walk while Susan hung out with the kids. She left for a couple hours and I napped while the girls napped and Michael took the boys to the park. We couldn't get a hold of Alycia (babysitter) this morning!! Finally able to reach her early in the afternoon. Susan came back around 3:00, checked me again, dilated to 4. Michael and I decided to go for another walk, and the contrax really picked up then.
I hadn't eaten much so Alycia came over around 5:00 to stay with the kids, and Michael, Susan and I went to grab something to eat. It really turned out to be a fun day. Everything was so laid back and we laughed a lot. At the restaurant, my contrax were really intense and close together, but at one point outside the restaurant, Susan and I were laughing so hard we were crying (over what? Nothing much, just Michael trying to get the camera to work - I think we were all feeling a little punchy by then).
By the time we left the restaurant, my contrax were so intense and close together that we rushed home to get the birth pool filled. The birth seemed imminent and everyone was very excited. We called Mireille, our doula, on the way back to the house and she headed over.
Then we got home and . . . my contrax stopped!!! Seriously, the whole thing completely stalled out. Susan checked me and I was completely effaced and dilated to 4 - 5 cm!!! But the whole thing just crapped out. After 3 labors that were long, I fully expected this one to be long, but I never expected it to just STOP midway through. I was devastated. All that work my body had done all day long, and the emotional buildup, and NOTHING to show for it.
Susan, Mireille, and Alycia all went home after it became clear that labor had stalled. I think Susan expected that I would be calling her back in the middle of the night when things picked up again, but they never did. Michael and I were completely drained and we went to bed around 9:30 and slept fitfully until about 5:30 Sunday morning. I only had a few contrax during the night, some pretty painful but mostly pretty mild.
Sunday, October 1
Contrax coming probably every 15 - 20 min. Still lots of bloody show and fluidy stuff, but things did not appear to be progressing.
Feeling very discouraged and frustrated and wondering how much more of this I can handle. I felt bad that we had wasted Susan’s entire day yesterday (she even cancelled appt.’s with other clients), but she kept telling me how much fun she had with our family. She said that this was just a lesson in letting go for me, and that Lilah had her own agenda, and we were just invited to her birthday party.
She talked to a senior midwife about me and they came up with a theory that a couple of things may be holding things up - the fact that I have major separation in my abdominal muscles from carrying the twins, so there's nothing holding the baby in a true vertical position, and also the fact that I appear to have a lot of fluid which may be causing the baby to float instead of settling down onto my cervix to help it dilate. So at Susan’s suggestion, we bound up my belly with ace bandages to push the baby in and down - this was very uncomfortable - and we took the kids and headed for the nature trails for a long walk.
The walk is about an hour from our front door and back. Once we were headed back up our street, I suddenly felt a warm gush and my pants were all wet in a few seconds. My water broke! I was suddenly overcome with emotion and just started crying - weird, I know. It was a couple blocks to get home still, so there we are walking up the street with me in wet pants and crying. This was about 2:00 p.m.
I had expected the contrax to pick up pretty quickly after I felt that gush, but like everything else with this labor, nothing was going according to my expectations. Susan came over that evening to listen to the baby’s heartbeat, etc. Everything seemed fine. She didn’t want to do another VE since it appeared that my water had broken. She did a litmus test on the pad I was wearing and the pants I had been wearing when I felt the gush earlier, just to confirm that it was amniotic fluid - and they both tested negative! I was flabbergasted. I refused to believe I had just peed my pants - honestly, it just didn’t feel like that at all. Anyhow, Susan said there were several factors that could lead to a negative result and she really felt that it was inconclusive - maybe it was amnio fluid, and maybe it wasn’’t. Because I had declined GBS screening and my GBS status was therefore unknown, she said there was some concern about having prolonged rupture of membranes with no labor, so if things hadn’t picked up by the following morning, she wanted to talk about getting labor going with black and blue cohosh and/or castor oil. I was not thrilled with either option, but kind of felt like I was running out of options.
Monday, October 2
Woke up again to contrax about 10 min apart. Talked to Susan on the phone and she suggested we bind my belly up again and go walking. She said to call her if the contrax got to be 5 min. apart. I was so sick of walking by this time! I was just tired of the whole thing. But we did it anyway, and while we were walking the contrax picked up. They became very painful and closer together. By the time we got home they were about 5 min. apart and hurting pretty badly. We called Susan and she said she would head over.
A little while later, Susan called. She wanted to know how my contrax were - how close together and how long in duration. I told her they were still about 5 min. apart and I guessed they were lasting about 45 seconds. Then she told me that she had another client in active labor!! Circumstances were such that she had to head over to her house, but she promised she would head to my house the minute I needed her. When I got off the phone, I lost it. I just started crying and ranting. I have to admit I felt abandoned. And guess what - my contractions STOPPED again. I really felt like I was at the end of my rope. Nothing was going the way it was supposed to. I was completely drained and devastated. I felt like if she had only come over, my labor would have continued. I know it’s probably not true, but I wasn’’t feeling very rational at the time. I went into the bedroom and threw myself on the bed and just bawled.
A little while later, Mireille, my doula, showed up. Apparently Susan had been worried about my emotional state and called Mireille herself and asked her to come to my house to sit with me and make sure I was okay. Honestly, I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or have someone watch over me. I think Mireille was kind of at a loss as to what to do for me. She sat with me in the bedroom for a while and then said maybe a change of scenery would do me some good and suggested we go shopping. Was she kidding?! I was busy having a pity party - shopping was the last thing I was interested in. I was supposed to be having a baby today for God’s sake, not shopping!! I didn’t have the heart to tell her I just wanted to be left alone, so I finally figured I might as well go along with her or be stuck in my bedroom with her babysitting me. I suggested we go get pedicures instead, so we headed out. It ended up being okay - we got pedicures and went to lunch. At least it was a way to pass the afternoon. She left shortly after we got back home.
I was still in pretty low spirits - really just feeling kind of angry and frustrated at how things were unfolding over the last several days. I had talked to Susan earlier and she said her other client had had her baby and she was going to stop by our house that evening just to check on me. By this time, however, I figured what was the point? I decided to call her and tell her to skip it, and I was going to tell Michael to go ahead and go to work in the morning. I felt like a pot of water being watched to see when it would boil, and the pressure was really taking a toll on me.
When I called Susan, she said she was already on her way over to our house. When she got here, she listened to the baby, took my bp, tested my urine - everything looked fine. She asked if it was okay with me if she did a sterile VE, and I said okay. So she checked me and determined that I was dilated to 5 cm, but during a contraction I would dilate to 7 cm. It was just so completely bizarre how far I managed to progress without ever really going into and staying in active labor. She did the litmus test on the fluid in my vagina for amnio fluid and it came up positive! Very strange. I think she tried to sweep my membranes again, but there wasn’t much left to sweep. She hung around for a while, and my contrax started up again, about every 10 min. After a while, she went home and said to call her if they got to be less than 5 min. apart. This was about 9:30 p.m.
Michael and I went to bed, I think around 10:00. My contrax continued, and by 11:00 they were again about 5 minutes apart and painful. We called Susan and she headed back over, this time with her assistant, Katie, and our doula Mireille.
So by 11:30 we had 5 adults in our bedroom, including me and Michael. It was a little crowded, and honestly I felt stressed by all the people watching me and waiting for something to happen. I got into the birth pool, and of course my contrax slowed down. The whole thing was so utterly frustrating. I felt like I was letting everyone down, as if I just wasn’t doing it right. Finally after a couple hours, I said I wanted to just lay down. I figured I would take a little nap and would wake up in a short while to “better” contractions. Susan talked to us about starting black and blue cohosh in the morning, and then she, Katie, and Mireille went and crashed in the living room. Michael and I went to bed. I slept fitfully, as my contrax continued through the night, too painful to sleep through, but still 10 - 15 min. apart. I honestly was feeling like this baby was never going to come out on her own, and I was again feeling bad for dragging all these people away from their families to come to my house for nothing.
Tuesday, October 3
Everyone was up by around 6:00 a.m. It was a school day for the boys, but we decided to keep Joey home since school was only half day for him and it would be too much hassle to deal with the drop off and pick up. Michael took Kevin to school, and our neighbor would bring him home as usual. I really didn’t know what was going to unfold on this day, but I remember Susan saying something to the effect that we would be having a baby today. Mireille had class in the morning, and she and Katie both left our house a little after 8:00. In truth, I was relieved to have less people around.
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. Susan 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 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 even without a contraction. So she went ahead and broke my water.
Now, this part she didn’t tell me until later. Apparently, when she broke my water, my cervix closed back up to 4 cm!! It was the bulging bag of water pressing down causing the dilation, and after she broke my water, the baby’s head didn’t descend as far as it should have, so my cervix closed back up partially. Something was hanging the baby up in there and preventing her from coming down like she should, and Susan started worrying at this point, because now my water was clearly broken and my GBS status was unknown. She didn’t tell me any of this until later, and I’m glad because I’m sure it would have just upset and scared me.
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 the contrax down. I wouldn’t be able to get in the water until I was ready to push.
Michael called Alycia around 11:00 and she came over to take care of the girls and Joey, as I really needed him to give me his attention.
I guess around noon Susan 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 Susan 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 Susan made a smoothie with it - castor oil, orange juice concentrate, vanilla ice cream and vodka - yes, vodka. It was pretty nasty. 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 of nature.
After I ate some lunch and had the castor oil smoothie, I just wanted to lay down. I guess it was a little after 1:00 by this time. Susan and I went into the bedroom. I don’t know where Michael was at this point - maybe trying to put the girls down for a nap while Alycia looked after Joey? 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. Susan was a big comfort during this time, stroking my hair and arm when a contraction came and telling me I was doing good. 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. Susan had left the room for something and suddenly I shot up on the bed with my hand between my legs and yelling for Susan 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. Susan 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. 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 Susan 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. Susan 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. Susan 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? She clamped the cord and had Michael cut it and then they helped me out of the pool and up onto the bed. Susan 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 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 the size of my fist. The placenta actually took quite a while to come out. We gave the baby to Michael and Susan 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. It didn’’t really matter since 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 reminded her of an underwater volcano.
Another thing she told me later was that she thinks Lilah had her hand or arm up by her head, which was preventing her from descending properly. She said that when her head came out, she was 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 Susan 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. If her arm really was up by her head even while I labored, that would go far in explaining the completely dysfunctional labor I had. She didn’t descend down onto my cervix enough to dilate it and make the contractions progress, so I ended up with this wacky, erratic labor that progressed very slowly. The end result was a beautiful, healthy baby girl, but boy, that was some work bringing her into the world. So far, Lilah is relatively peaceful (knock on wood!). My last three babies were pretty high maintenance, so I’ve been telling God for a while that I think I’m due for an easier baby this time. She’s a good sleeper and nursing beautifully. So far she really doesn’’t fuss or cry a whole lot. We still haven’t figured out who she looks like. With the other kids, it was so clear even at birth whom in the family they resembled, but Lilah is a bit of a mystery. I think she has the same nose as Kevin, but other than that, I don’t know. The other kids have taken to her really well already, although poor Joey was a little scared of her after she was born and for the rest of that day. He apparently heard me crying and screaming (although Alycia took him outside - so I’m sure the neighbors heard me as well), and decided that the baby must have hurt me so he was afraid of her at first, which made me sad. But by the next day, he was kissing her and rubbing her head. The girls, who I was so worried about how they would react to a new baby, are completely enthralled with her. And Kevin, of course, ever the loving big brother.
Susan 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 Susan 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. Of course, within a few days I felt like, yes, of course I would and could do it again, but I don’t think I’ll ever have that choice to make again, as Lilah is our last baby (I think . . .).
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 without unnecessary interference or interventions, or needless policies to adhere to. I feel even more strongly that pregnancy and birth are normal, natural processes. I can’t imagine ever being pregnant and under the care of an OB again. OB’s are doctors, and doctors are for sick people. Pregnancy is not an illness or a condition that needs to be treated or cured - it is a beautiful process that should be observed and honored, and my midwife and Michael respected that.
In spite of what my perception was, Lilah seems to have experienced a peaceful birth. When Susan put her on my chest, she looked up at me and coughed a couple times and then just lay there peacefully looking at me. I kept asking if there was something wrong with her because she wasn’t crying, she was just so serene.
So here I am, now the mother of five! Who ever woulda thought? It was such a short time ago that I was a miserable pregnant woman, and had anyone asked me then, I would have said I am gladly done with all this pregnancy and birth business. But of course now I am already missing it, and trying to rationalize just one more.