Originally Posted by lconrad
DH Rob 7/2002 - DS Tommy 3/2006 - Twin DS William and Micah 3/2008
The Birth Story of Olivia Anne Archer
I awoke on Thursday May 6, 2005 with mild contractions 8-10 minutes apart and about 45 sec. long. but kind of irregular. I woke up, took my shower, dressed, went grocery shopping and spent the day pre-cooking some meals. I had spoken with my midwife to plan our 40 week appointment and we decided since I had hardly slept in 4 nights between all the illness and rib pain that I'd take an Ambien to help me sleep. Kyle, my husband came home from work and we left to go down to the house we are selling to water the new sod. (this has become a nightly adventure) We headed home (1/2 hour drive) and my contractions had picked up to 5 minutes apart and were demanding a bit of attention. Kyle dropped me at home to crawl into the tub and ran to Walgreens to pick up the prescriptions. He called me from the pharmacy and told me they weren't called in. I called my midwife back and she had fallen asleep with her daughter and forgot - oops! So, I gave her an update and she said she'd call them in. Kyle came home in the mean time as the pharmacy was swamped. My midwife rang me back at about 8:00 and wanted to come over and check me out before I took anything. So she came at 9:00. She watched me labor in the tub. I would get the strangest picture in my mind each time a contraction came. It was a 40's gangster-type man in an old 4 door car driving down a long driveway, pulling around and then driving away again. Weird! I got out of the tub. We listened to the baby through several contractions and babe was responding well. She checked me and I was 90% effaced and 2cm dilated. We decided it was going to be a long night and that the baby would probably come sometime over the weekend - but that to take the Ambien anyway and get some good rest. So I ate something, took the tablet and she left. Kyle and I crawled in bed and I was in excruciating pain in the water bed - so we huddled up on the love seat and slept the night away upright in the living room. I awoke at least ever hour peeing and in significant pain. At about 5:00 am I couldn't take the pain anymore. So we went into the front room where the tub was and I got naked and got in it and hung over the side. The water was such a great relief. Kyle put my music on and lit some candles and I tried to zone out. He rubbed my hands and the back of my neck through the contractions. By 6:15 the spacing was getting tighter together and that car image was gone (I guess the driveway got too short ) The pain was getting worse and I asked Kyle to phone our massage therapist and ask her to come and help - so he did. I started feeling really grunty and an uncontrollable urge to push. I reached down to kind of check myself and felt something soft and squishy. I was worried - definitely NOT head, hands, or feet....and I thought Oh my GOD CORD! I told Kyle to call Cossette (our midwife). He did and she was on her way. Margaret, our massage therapist, arrived and helped Kyle work with me - trying to ease the discomfort. It seemed like forever for Cossette to arrive. I don't remember her coming in. I had my hand inside myself the whole time "feeling" what was going on. She was there and hadn't had a chance to check me when I said. Oh MY... not cord....water bag. It popped in my hand as I was pushing through a contraction. From the point on I was in a zone. Kyle would give me water with a straw and at some point coco-cola. I remember thinking “hey that’s coke! I haven’t had that in years!” I kept my hand there, checking myself continuously. I was on 1 knee and squatting with the other leg, with my upper body kind of hanging over the edge of the tub. My midwife's assistant arrived - but I don't remember much of it. It was about 6:45 at this point. I felt the baby's head and told everybody and I just tried to focus. I felt the head do the back and forth dance as she made her way down, as I had my hand there the whole time. ( My midwife never did check me.) I felt a second pop and thought it was a second bag of waters. On the next push, finally the baby began to crown. When the head was half way out I remember saying "I'm on fire!" and I turned over into a crab kind of position. Kyle helped me float by holding me under my left arm and my massage therapist held me under my right. I don't remember anything said by anyone - just feeling like there were angels all around me. The head came out and I remember Cossette telling me to wait for my body to tell me when and how to push. Then I heard her say, "Erika, put your hands back down here and deliver your baby." There was one last push and I felt her shoulders come through and she slid into my hands. What a great feeling as she squished out! I brought her up to my chest and her eyes were wide open and her face and body were real pink. I noticed her hair right away as I had been curious and thinking about that in early labor a lot. She had just a little hair that was very flat to her head. Cossette said she only had 3-4 inches of cord and she was concerned. They clamped the stump off and the two midwifes checked the baby real good. They were concerned she may be hemorrhaging from the cord and gave her some O2. ( but she was fine) Kyle went by the baby and stroked her and I talked to her from the tub. She was looking all around the whole time and tracking my voice. After she began breathing I asked Kyle..."so, is it a girl or a boy???" we still hadn't looked! He said "I don't know" I said, "well, look I can't see." He announced it was a girl and I immediately asked - "Does she look like an Olivia?" and he said "I think so!" Cossette asked me to check myself for any cord hanging. I felt around in the water and in me and could feel nothing and told her. They helped me out of the tub to the birthing stool. I delivered the placenta and got the shakes. We looked it over and it was all very healthy - but the total cord length was barely 12inches. (I guess the average cord length is 55cm) We figured it must have broken during the delivery and luckily both ends clotted up real well and neither one of us had any bleeding. In retrospect, the second pop was not a second bag of waters, but rather the cord breaking. I had one small stage 1 tear and Cosette put in some stitches. I took a warm shower and crawled in bed to nurse the baby and we've been doing great since then! She was born at 8:10am My midwife was at the house till noon. She helped me with nursing and we did the baby exam. Olivia was 7lbs 12oz and 21 inches long. Her first Apgar was 4/5 (but our midwife said she was a 7 by the time they picked her from the water and placed her in a towel but they had to score it that way because of the cord breaking) then 7 (after 1 minute) and then the third (after 5 minutes) was a 9. She has no marks on her and started sucking her thumb right away. Cossette also did two loads of laundry before she left! Big yeah there! Kyle and I had lunch and I snoozed in bed with the baby. The tub guy came at 1:00 and cleaned the tub and took it away and the whole house was back to normal. Kyle had so much energy he wanted to go out and cut the grass. Family began arriving around 6:00p.m. to meet our new arrival.
What an adventure. I'd do another homebirth in an instant. The idea of going to the hospital or drugs NEVER crossed my mind. Although I LOVED the deep tub and all the mobility! The water was definitely my natural version of an epidural. I'd do it again in a heartbeat and it is my single biggest accomplishment on this planet.
(Homebirth, Twins, Waterbirth)
The Birth of Miriam and Chloe
Sunday January 7th a day of wonder and curiosity.
I had the dates of the 7th and the 9th in my brain for weeks. Kyle would ask me; "So which is it?" And I would reply; "well, I'm not sure I just know something is happening around those dates." The morning of the 7th my girlfriend Jessica came over and did a belly cast with me. The plaster felt good and cooling on my body and the cast came out perfectly. We joked as she arranged the strips that she would probably have to drive all the way back down to my house that evening to have the babies. Self prophecy? Kyle made arrangement earlier in the week to attend a business dinner being hosted at a new Bonefish restaurant. It was VIP night before opening to the public the next day. The plan was to get a nap in (as I only slept 73 minutes the night before), do a prenatal visit in the afternoon, and then attend a fabulous dinner. So, that's exactly what we did. The prenatal went well. My blood pressure was 102/78, no protein in the urine, no swelling concerns, fundus was measuring 48 weeks and I was dilated to 3+ and 70% effaced. We went upstairs and dressed up and headed out for a great dinner. The restaurant was about 40 minutes away and by the time we arrived I was feeling contractions every 10-15 minutes. Dinner was marvelous. Kyle was invited by a rep. from work and another fellow and his wife (who was 35 wks pregnant) were in our dinner party as well. We joked all night as Kyle kept checking his watch to time contractions that we were going to have a great meal and go home and have the babies. Of course I was looking WAY preggo and the restaurant staff was asking questions and making jokes as well. At the end of the meal I was having a lot of trouble sitting still. Our hosts invited us out afterwards for dessert and coffee, but I told Kyle I thought we should head home as things were really moving along. The people we were with were shocked. They thought we had been joking all night about having the babies that night! We drove home.
Once home we told Gail things were rolling along. We took a few pictures before we changed clothes. Gail came upstairs and checked me, I was 5+ and we listened to the girls' heartbeats. They were perfect 146 and 153. Things were moving along. Gail called Diana and told her to take her time - but to head out. She had a 2 hour drive from Fairfield. I called Jessica, Betsy, Jessica F. and Cossette to tell them things were happening and to be ready for a call later, but not to jump in the car yet. The contractions were coming 5 minutes and less apart and lasting 45+sec but I was getting a headache. (probably from the glass of wine I had through dinner) I wandered around the kitchen on the phone and checked my email. It felt better to keep busy and moving. We were joking in the kitchen about the woman on TV that are yelling "give me the epidural" at 5 cm. Then I was feeling like I needed a task and Kyle got this crazy idea to make homemade cinnamon rolls. HA! So we went upstairs to put some real clothes on and we were going to run to the store to get buttermilk. Doesn't every pregnant woman in labor go to the store to come home and bake? Well, I got clothes on and then the tub started calling to me. I decided I was in the mood to eat cinnamon rolls but not clean up the kitchen. So I stripped down and crawled in the tub for awhile. I was feeling really good and zoning out but my head was really starting to pound. Gail came in to take heart tones and chart and I was finding it very intrusive. She kept flicking on the lights and making too much chit chat about it all. I was getting irritated with it. Diana arrived and I could hear them talking down stairs. I was glad she arrived and hoped she would balance out Gail's energy with some peaceful calmness. At the next charting time they both came up. Gail flicked on all the lights and I asked her to turn them off. Her reply was, "well then I can't see my chart." I replied, "I don't care about your chart." I mean really it's just two heart rates to remember! At 1:30 I had them check me again and I was 7+ I was starting to feel like I was in labor-land. My headache had progressed to a migraine at this point and I was getting tired feeling. I hadn't slept more than an hour and a half the night before. Jessica and Cossette arrived sometime while I was still in the tub. I had to go to the bathroom, so when I was done I decided to try side lying on the edge of the bed. The contractions were more intense but I was able to work through them nicely and the warm blanket felt really good. Kyle sat in front of me on the birthing ball and helped me work things through as needed. My mind was wandering a lot in between contractions. I was irritated with the charting and still struggling with people interrupting my space. I didn't like hearing them whisper talk around me, and I kept getting this sinking feeling that I shouldn't be on my side. I was feeling very negative and I knew I needed to change the energy, but I was busy dealing with a migraine and contractions. Kyle was awesome. He kept giving me liquids to drink, got me ice packs for my head, and rubbed my hands and back as needed. He tells me after the fact that he felt very unsupported b/c nobody else was helping him with me, even when he asked for assistance. I kept asking him, "Is it Ok for me to be on my side?" I think I asked him at least 4 times and I also asked Diana and Gail when they came to check on me. Everyone reassured me that it was fine and that lots of woman birth on their sides. But I continued to have a bad feeling about it and thoughts of hospital transfer kept coming into my mind. I kept shoving the thoughts aside and trying to trust in my body and "set my mind free" I labored on my side from about 2:30 till about 5. Sometime around 5:30 I heard Olivia rustle and start to wake. I had Kyle call my friend Jessica F. and she came to the house in case Olivia was to awaken. Then we decided to try a change of position. I got on the birth ball and Kyle sat in front of me to hold me up. The contractions were intense and very painful through my back. With my belly being so huge, Kyle couldn't reach my back and I wasn't coherent enough to not have someone in front of me. (the bed and tub were both the wrong height and we couldn't get anything else to work) Nobody helped Kyle with me. He went over and asked for help several times. (The other three MW's were asleep on the floor) Finally Cossette came and sat behind me to rub my back and it felt sooooo good. We talked about this later. Cossette felt very awkward b/c technically she wasn't "really" there and it should have been one of the other three birth attendants helping Kyle. She told me after the birth she felt we were very abandoned during the labor process. Regardless, I am thankful she stepped in to help. We labored like this for 2 hours. I was exhausted and a crying mess - my head was still pounding and I continued to have a very uneasy feeling about things. I was having contractions about every 1-3 minutes and lasting about a minute, but I wasn't getting the increasing downward pressure feeling I had remembered with Olivia. I took a break to go and sit on the toilet. It was now about 7am. Jessica and Cossette had gone downstairs. I was back sitting on the birthing ball in our sitting room and I remember feeling like things had slowed down. Kyle left me to go check on everything downstairs and find out what was up with Jessica and Cossette. This is when Gail and Diana came over and approached me with "two choices." I remember feeling kind of hazy and thinking to myself that it was awkward that they would come and talk with me and ask me to make a decision without Kyle there....and even more so that they waited till everyone left. They told me they thought I had two choices: 1. try a manual dilation 2. Break the bag of water on the first baby. For some reason this all didn’t sit well with me. i had a lot of distrust that either of these were a good choice. I could feel the slippery slope and sensed that breaking the bag of water might send us on a spiral towards the hospital or maybe even worse. I was very uncomfortable that they waited till everyone left. Kyle came back upstairs. He told me that Cossette though I should get in the tub. This seemed to make sense. I had tried all these other things and still hadn't done what always feels right to me (squatting in the tub and relaxing to my music). So I stripped back down and got in. The water felt soooooooo good. I was whispering so Gail and Diana couldn’t hear me to tell Kyle the "choices" they had just presented me with. Kyle said, "What are you going to do?" and I replied, "I don’t know that I trust either." I asked me to go back downstairs and talk with Cossette and Jessica about this and see what they think. He left and I sunk into the tub and thought to myself. "darn it...I'm stalling out" my contractions were fizzling out.
Kyle came back up and I told him I was slowing down. He helped me out of the tub. I dressed up warm and went downstairs. Kyle and I bundled up and went outside for some fresh air. We tried to take a walk - but it was very cold and my ears, feet and hands were going numb. I did ballet squats with the contractions and they picked up - but still no intense pressure. We turned around and came back inside and everyone took a break to eat breakfast. I was trying to gather facts from all the people, still harboring a lot of distrust in the choices I was given. We all sat together and at 8:00 decided we'd go upstairs do a vaginal check, see where I was, where the babies were and probably break the water on the first baby. Olivia was starting to wake and I wanted to get back upstairs and out of site before she saw Kyle or me. Up the stairs we went. I lied down on the floor between the tub and the fish tank, on my back. Kyle was to my right. Gail did the exam and said I was still 7+/8 and my heart sank - I KNEW all the side lying wasn't a good thing for me at that time and that my gut was right, things weren't going good. This next chunk is hard for me to write. Much of it I didn't understand until after the birth. Gail didn't give me anymore information. She kept her hand inside of me and was moving a lot. It was terribly painful. I tried to zone out and focus on my music. I did well with it for awhile but then it started to seem like a long time. I started to loose it and was not coping well with the pain. I kept asking to get off my back, She did break the water and I asked if it was clear - it was. (She didn't break the water until about 10 minutes into this, the baby was -2 and we expected a bulging bag...but no bulge was there) I kept asking for a break, to get off my back, to get in the water. I wasn't getting answers. Kyle was holding my hand to my right and Cossette got down and took my hand to my left. I was sure I was breaking their hands. My mind was wandering into some very dark places. I didn't understand what was happening or what was taking so long, or how much longer. The room was spinning and I was being told to push - but had no urge to push. I remember thinking "Am I even doing this right?" "Am I even pushing?" I remember hands all over my belly and so much pain. I was screaming in pain and begging to get off my back. I heard Kyle telling me I was doing well, that I was amazing. He tried to comfort me and reassure me. The pain was awful and my mind drifted to stories from WWII that my grandfather used to tell me of torture techniques that the Japanese used. My mind was racing and grasping at something to hold onto. This went on for a long time. I remember Kyle, Cossette and Jessica offering ideas and suggestions to Gail - but she just kept deflecting them all. Finally Cossette got her to let me try a squat on the outside of the tub. I was hanging over the tub looking into the water I soooooo wanted to be in. I was trying to bite Kyle's arm and Cossette fashioned a rag for me to bite down on. I felt like I was going to pass out from the pain. All this time Gail still had at least one hand inside of me the ENTIRE time. Finally there was a pause and I felt pressure. Someone asked Gail if I could get in the tub and she said "I don’t think she can even stand up." I heard Jessica, in a harsh tone say to me. "Erika stand up and get in the water NOW." Kyle and Cossette grabbed me and I remember sinking into the water and it feeling so absolutely wonderful. I told Gail not to touch me and put my own hand inside myself. I couldn’t feel the baby’s head right away and I asked Cossette, "Where is she...I can't feel her." Cossette told me to wait. To feel the push and that she was there and she was going to come. After several pushes I felt her slimy soft head and that is when I felt the power transition back to me. I was at peace amongst the extreme pain. I was in control. I felt her head come down and tried to push gently. The crowning felt so much tighter than I remembered with Olivia. Kyle said, "Oh my God you are so amazing Erika." and kissed me." (With Olivia's birth he was behind me and never saw my body open to pass the baby with a full out view) She came out and I caught her. My mind immediately said DAMN short cord. I couldn't lift her head out of the water. I went into complete momma bear mode. I flipped my legs over the side of the tub and told Kyle to hold my pelvis up while Cossette grabbed me under the arms. Gail offered to have Kyle cut the cord but it was very awkward and he said to just do it. I caught a glimpse of my daughter who looked very pale to me, and not crying and not really crying as she was pulled out of the water. After the commotion I remember thinking...."ahhhh now I get a break." I put my legs down and seconds later I felt this horrendous urge to push and said aloud "Oh My God here she comes!" Chloe had no intention of waiting around. She came barreling down the birth canal crowned and 1 push later she was out. Her cord was also short, although about 1 inch longer and I could get her head above the water. Kyle got to cut his first cord. I remember Chloe was bright pink from head to toe, screaming like a banshee, and covered in a lot of vernix. They got all the cords clamped and babies wrapped and then helped me out of the tub. The contractions waiting for the placenta were very intense and seemed a lot worse than with Olivia. I pushed and this giant thing came out. I said "placenta?" and Gail said "No, that's a huge blood clot." A few contractions later the placenta came. They gave me a shot of pitocin to make certain I didn't bleed too much. I originally didn't want it unless necessary - but since I was in the water they a hard time assessing blood loss. After the placenta came I sat up and was in a blur. Everyone seemed have left me and was attending to the babies. (although they really didn't) I remember sitting without a baby, confused, shell shocked almost and feeling very disconnected from everything that just had happened. They brought the babies to me and I nursed them both. Gail gave me a sponge bath on the floor and it took 3 people to help lift me from the floor and get me into bed. I was wiped out. Later she checked me and I had one small skid mark on the outside, but no tearing. It was a challenging birth.
Miriam Elizabeth was born at 39 weeks on 1-8-07 at 9:35 am weighing 7lbs 6oz and 22”
Chloe Lyla was born 3 minutes later at 9:38 am weighing 7lbs 4oz and 20.25”
Now to go back to the time on the floor.
I have been very upset with this portion. I have done a lot of processing. I feel like I was not given enough information along the way. Cossette and I talked and agreed that Gail did a poor job of communicating with me. Cossette said technically speaking, things had progressed past "normal" birth and that something needed to be done or we would have transferred. But instead of giving me all the facts and putting the choices in my hands, I felt over run by Gail. I tried to process with Gail and her reply was "well, it was only an hour." Ok.....well it was THE worst hour of my life. She did explain in detail the technique she used. She called it a false pelvic floor. Basically I was a 7/8. Miriam was at -2 station (so she was not engaged against the cervix, which is why we weren't getting more dilation) When she broke the bag of water it trickled instead of gushed. She had hoped that there was a bulging bag and that if it was broken the head would descend - but that didn't happen, Miriam remained very high. Chloe was pinning her in. So she put her fist through my cervix and opened like you would to hold an apple in your fingertips (palm up). This made Miriam think she was hitting bone and she began to turn (she was also posterior) Meanwhile Gail took her other hands and was shoving Chloe over. Diana took both her hands and was shoving Miriam's body (from the outside) into a more vertical position. The hour of HELL was just to get Miriam to a 0 station. Then Gail had to manually stretch the cervix from an 8 to a 10 and get Miriam’s head to stay put (this is what was happening when I was squatting on the outside of the tub). Once the head was remaining through the cervix she let them all get me into the water. The girls' heart rates were perfect through all of this. I harbor some anger with this. If she had checked me and told me ALL the facts and said to me "Erika we can either try this and it is really going to suck and it may take a long time...or we can go to the hospital and try pitocin to get things stronger." I would have chosen to do this at home first - but then it would have been MY choice and instead of feeling forced on my back being tortured and begging for relief. I would have been focused on birthing these babies and giving it my all. This has taken some time b/c initially I felt very violated and very much post traumatic stress kind of a thing. I have come to some peace about it all. I know Gail has excellent clinical skills and I don’t doubt that the technique was used appropriately. I knew when we hired her, that her style wasn’t my ideal. I had hoped the others would balance her out and frankly, I didn’t have many choices. I am sad that she didn't communicate better given there was no concern for the babies or my own health at anytime. I am frustrated that the Diana I knew during prenatal care, didn't come to our birth. She instead became a third limb and deferred everything to Gail instead of balancing out her energy. Cossette was awesome and I am so thankful she decided to come despite the licensure issues. Jessica is another story. I am angry with her for putting my babies at risk (like I said, it's another story) and basically doing absolutely NOTHING during my entire birth except watching. But ultimately I have decided that I just have to trust that everything happened the way it did for a reason. Right now I need my full energy to care for all my girls, my husband and myself. Kyle was AWESOME. He was my strength and at my side every step of the way and I know from the talking we have done that this experience changed our relationship forever.
9 months later: As I continue to process this birth i have gained the vision of how lucky I was to have been at home. No doctor would have given me the time to maneuver the babies. I question if they would have even had the skills. I would have been section hours before they had even tried to manipulate the positioning of the babies. I am thankful for Gail's skills and I feel she was the right MW for the circumstance. Miriam was floating very high and there was a risk of cord prolapse. I needed to be on the floor - no question. Gail should have processed this birth with me more effectively when I tried to talk with her. I think she missed the opportunity to help me see (amongst the exhaustion and hormones) how much strength I had to get through this birth. Oddly enough, the final piece of healing came after I saw the movie "The Business of Being Born." I can claim victory of this birth as my own and I'd do it all again.
Last edited by ErikaArcher; 11-17-2007 at 02:43 PM. Reason: updated.
I would love to hear your comments when you're done reading!
Korben’s Birth Story
Born Tuesday October 24, 2006
Jon – my baby Daddy
Krystn – our midwife, CPM for 22 years
Liz – Krystn’s apprentice and assistant
Mom – my Mom, OB nurse for 20ish years
Stephanie – my sister
Deb – my stepmom
Rhonda – my MIL
Jenn – my SIL (Delaney is her 6mo daughter)
Jimmy – my little brother in the Marines
Dad – my Dad, was supposed to be at the birth
Mary – my best friend, was supposed to be at the birth
Sunday night, I started losing really pink, stringy globs of mucus. It seemed like there were gallons, and I showed Jon. Having seen cows give birth before, he said that the mucus looked exactly like what cows go through before they go into labor. This was odd, but very exciting to me! I also started getting contractions again when we went to bed around midnight. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, because I had been getting these “false alarms” on and off for at least a week. I would get contractions when I went to bed, but they would stop after an hour or so. These contractions were different – they were more regular and didn’t let up. I would fall asleep between them and then wake up and look at the clock. I started timing them around 2AM when they were about 7 minute apart. Now I started to get excited, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. During one pretty intense contraction, I punched Jon in the arm and was like “How can you sleep through this?” Around 6AM, the contractions slowed down and eventually stopped around the time Jon had to go to school. He asked me if I thought he should go, and I told him that I would feel better if he would stay home with me today. I was really discouraged at this point. I knew that it had been another false alarm, and I was really frustrated that they kept me up all night. Didn’t my body know that I needed to sleep? I was exhausted! I called Krystn for some words of wisdom, but I was secretly hoping that she would give me some magic way to instantaneously start my labor. She was super sweet and very encouraging. She told me that my body was doing an incredible job because dilating to 5cm is usually the hardest part, and I was already there. She reminded me that every contraction I was having now was just one more that I wouldn’t have to go though when the “real” labor started. She told me that I needed to reset my attitude and stop thinking of these contractions as “fake labor” and start appreciating them. Those ideas renewed my faith in my body, and I felt like a whole new woman after talking to her. Jon and I both skipped our classes that day and slept peacefully until 2PM (I never would have thought that would be the last decent sleep I would be getting for a long time!).
Per Krystn’s advice, I pretty much rested all day. I kept losing huge chunks of my mucus plug, and I also had a lot of diarrhea. I should have realized that these were signs of imminent labor, but I totally ignored them since I had been overanalyzing every potential labor sign for the past 3 weeks. I reached the point where I was done searching for labor, and I was going to wait patiently until it came to me. This was a huge roadblock for me to overcome. Looking back on it, I know that my body knew what it was doing. I think that it was just waiting for me to acknowledge this.
Around 7:00 that night, I started getting contractions again. I didn’t pay any attention to them because I didn’t want to be disappointed yet again. Jon and I were in our office, and I was trying to catch up on all of our photo albums. The contractions were short but intense, and they were coming pretty frequently. Krystn said that “real” labor contractions would come regularly every 5-6 minutes and last at least a minute. Although I disagreed, Jon decided that these contractions were different, and he started timing them (on an Excel spreadsheet of course ). I would tell him when they would start and stop, and he would tell me how long they were. I was really surprised that most of them were over a minute long. They weren’t painful, so I guess they were just easy to ignore.
After getting some stuff done at home, we decided to go get something to eat and do some grocery shopping. I had zero appetite, so I let Jon decide. We went to the Outback. I got French onion soup and cheese fries. I’m not sure why I remember that so vividly, but I do. I kept getting contractions throughout dinner. They were getting a little more intense. I actually had to pay attention to them. When one would start, I would stare at something on the wall and tap my foot on Jon’s foot. I don’t know why this was a good coping method; it’s just what I felt like I should be doing at the time. At one point, I went to the bathroom and had a huge amount of bloody show. It was different than the previous mucus chunks I lost – it was streaky and bright red. After that, the contractions picked up even more. They were coming about every 5 minutes and lasting at least a minute each. Still, they weren’t painful. They were just intense bursts of energy that I had to concentrate on. During one particularly powerful contraction, our waitress decided that she needed to tell me all about her 3 birth experiences. Jon said I looked like I was going to stab her in the throat with my steak knife.
Jon wanted to go home after dinner because he thought I was in real labor. I “knew” that I wasn’t (just like I “knew” we were having a girl), and I still wanted to get the grocery shopping done. I called my mom, and asked her about the new bloody show. She said that it was normal. I got a contraction while I was on the phone with her, and I had to breathe through it rather than talk. She said that “sounded promising” and she figured that I would be calling her around 11PM to tell her I was in labor. I just laughed because everybody thought I was in labor but me! We got all of our shopping done, and did some extra laps around the grocery store per mom’s advice. The contractions continued, and I started timing them on my cell phone “just for fun”. We got stocked up on food for the birth team and bought stuff to make Korben a birthday cake. Having that done made me feel even more ready for labor to start. Little did I know!
After we were done at the grocery store, we stopped over at my Dad’s house to visit Jimmy before he left for the Marines. His plane was taking off around 9AM the next morning, and we wanted to see his baby’s ultrasound pictures before he left. Jon and I stayed over there for about half an hour, and my contractions continued the whole time. I was hoping that I wasn’t in labor because Mary was really sick, and she wouldn’t be able to come to the birth if it was soon. When we got home and started putting the groceries away, my contractions stopped for a half hour or so. I told Jon that he was wrong, and I was right – I wasn’t in labor. About 2 seconds after I said that, they started again. Now they were 2-3 minutes apart and still lasting at least a minute. They felt a lot different now also. When I got one, I would have to stop moving and talking, lean against something, and sway back and forth. It only took about 3 of these to get my attention. It was 12:40AM when I told Jon to call Mom. She said that she would be over to check me in about 20 minutes and then we would call Krystn. While we were waiting for Mom to show up, the contractions continued at the same frequency and intensity, so Jon called Krystn anyways since her drive was long.
My Mom arrived around 1:10, and I was 5cm and 90% effaced. Between contractions, I would pace around the house. But when a contraction hit, I had to stop moving immediately and lean on somebody. They weren’t giving me much time to prepare – they hit like a train and didn’t let up until they were gone. After an hour of walking around, my legs were tired and shaky so I decided to lie down in our bed. Earlier that day, Jon and I bought a “sleep CD” that a friend recommended. He started playing this, but I made him turn it off. It wasn’t relaxing at all, and it really irritated me. I wanted to listen to the humidifier instead. My legs felt so good while I was lying down, but I just didn’t feel right. The contractions were somewhat harder to deal with, and I couldn’t relax as well. Jon was sitting beside the bed, helping me breathe through contractions. Then he decided that he wanted to lie beside me in the position that we had been using to practice our Bradley relaxation techniques. He made the mistake of doing this in the middle of one of my contractions, and when he shook the bed I “kindly” asked him to not to do that again. He maintains that I snapped at him, but I think I was as civil as a laboring woman could have been. I started to shake and get nauseated around this time. Jon asked Mom why I was shaking, and she said that it was just the phase of labor I was in. I remember hearing of the “fully dilated shakes” and I was hoping that I wasn’t 10cm yet. I was enjoying labor and didn’t want it to end so quickly! But, luckily, I wasn’t that far. The shakes and nausea marked the start of my 6 hours of transition labor. I always feared transition because women say it’s the hardest part. But I didn’t even know I was in it. Maybe because my labor was so intense the entire time, transition was what I got used to. But I know that if somebody would have told me I was in transition, I would have gotten nervous – I’m very glad that they didn’t label it for me.
Sometime during the lying down phase, Liz arrived and asked if she could check the baby’s heart. I remember thinking it was funny that she asked permission to check his heart tones. Of course she could, she didn’t need my permission! After about an hour of lying down, I decided that it was time to get up. Although I felt a little uneasy during that time, I’m glad that I did rest. I felt like a new woman when I stood back up. Deb and Steph had arrived, and they were waiting in the living room when I went back out there.
I went back to my routine of pacing between contractions and dancing during them. I think it’s funny that I wore my heels the entire time – I’m just so used to them, I can’t stand being flat footed. But the idea of a laboring woman in heels is so obscure! The swaying worked perfectly for Jon and me. I tried a few contractions using Krystn and Steph, but they were too short. He was the perfect height for me to just grab onto and dance, and his smell was familiar and calming. I remember I had a flashback of our first slow dance together, in 9th grade; who would have thought that 7 years later we would be in the same exact position, only with me getting ready to deliver our baby
I don’t know why, but I decided that I wanted to try other ways of working through the contractions. Next time, I’m taking the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. I squatted for one, and Krystn told me that that would make the baby come faster. But I really wasn’t comfortable squatting, so I didn’t do that again. Steph suggested that I sit on the edge of the couch and lean on Jon, so I tried that too. That was the second worst contraction of my entire labor. It was the only contraction that I actually moved during because I just HAD to get up. I was so unbelievably uncomfortable sitting down. I tried leaning on the couch with Jon behind me. This worked for awhile, but only if Jon’s feet were touching mine – they grounded me and gave me a new perception of where I was, if that makes any sense! During contractions, Jon would work with me to help me relax, and the one time he told me to relax my arms. Talking in the middle of a contraction was difficult, but I managed to hiss at him “I can’t relax my arms, they’re supporting me.” That was the second time that I was mean during labor.
Krystn suggested that I get in our garden tub. At first I didn’t feel like leaving the living room, but I decided to try it anyways. I knew that some women’s labors stalled out if they got in the water too early, and I asked her if she thought this would happen to me. She just laughed and said “no, your labor isn’t going to stall out.” The water felt divine. Liz had made it nice and warm, and she lit some candles that I had placed around the tub on the ledges. The environment was perfect: warm water, flickering candles, steamy air, peaceful quiet, just Jon and I. I was in a relaxed squatting position, and I would rest my head on Jon’s folded arms during a contraction. Shortly into the tub phase, I started getting contractions on top of one another and many with double peaks. They were lasting forever. It was exhausting because I had no time to rest between them. The only thing that kept me sane was Jon telling me when to breathe, when to slow down, and when to relax. He was so in tune with what I needed, even more so than I was at times. All I could do was concentrate on my heavy breathing, but I was really starting to feel worn out. The heat started to get to me, and I decided that I wanted out of the water. Between the contractions, I would try to work up the energy to stand up and get out, but there wasn’t enough time. I started to feel like I was never going to make it out of the water. It was then that I said “I think I’m actually in labor.” Apparently this was funny. Krystn came in around this time and wanted to know if I could stand up so she could listen to the baby. This motivated me, and I was able to stand and climb out.
She wanted to check me, and I was curious, so I laid on the edge of the bed. Lying down, flat on my back, was absolutely horrible. It was the only time that I remember the contractions actually hurting, and I felt like I had lost control over my labor. But when Krystn told me I was 9cm, I was glad that I let her check me. It gave me a burst of energy and I knew that I would be meeting Embie soon enough. Since I was naked, and all of our labor participants had arrived, I wore a robe out to the living room. I remember thinking that I didn’t really want the robe, but I wore it anyways. I didn’t want to shock everybody by walking out butt naked – that modesty lasted for about 30 seconds once I actually got out there I walked around for a little bit while I got accustomed to the new environment. Mom made a comment that “you don’t see women in the hospital walking around like that when they’re 9cm dilated.”
Liz had set up the birthing stool and lots of blue pads in front of the couch, and I sat there to labor away my last centimeter. It was a fun atmosphere. In a semi-circle around me sat Krystn, Liz, Steph, Deb, Mom, Rhonda, and Jenn. Jon sat behind me on the couch and I leaned back on him. Between contractions, we talked, laughed, made jokes, and basically acted like it was a normal day! I kept burping loudly, and Krystn told me that that wasn’t very princess-like, but that I was allowed to do anything I wanted during labor. I decided that I needed to pee, and Krystn said that it would probably be hard for me to pee in front of all these people, so they could help me to the bathroom instead. I DID NOT want to move, so I made up my mind that I would just pee when I wanted. I did this, and felt the need to announce it to everybody as well. They all laughed, and Krystn said that I should pee a little during every contraction so that my urethra didn’t swell up. I didn’t want a catheter after birth, so I complied.
Sometime during this, I “checked out” of reality. I was well aware of everything going on around me, but I no longer participated in the conversations. I needed to focus all of my attention on getting through the contractions, which were now coming every 1-2 minutes. Then came the worst contraction of my entire labor: It was about 6AM, and Delaney had woken up so Jenn had to go up to her house to feed her. Everybody thought I was really close to delivering, so Jenn decided to just bring her to our house so that she wouldn’t miss the birth. Well, Delaney started screaming right in the middle of a contraction, and I totally lost my focus. I was brought back to reality in a millisecond, and the intensity of the contraction hit me like a lightening bolt. I couldn’t take it; I totally lost it. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t get my focus back. I screamed “get her out of here now!” Afterwards, I felt so horrible about saying that! I just couldn’t control myself. That was the third and final time that I was mean during labor.
Every time I needed something, I was very polite about it. I almost always said please and thank you. Crushed up ice cubes tasted great, but I would have to spit them out when a contraction hit because I was afraid I was going to choke. A few times, Steph hit my one front tooth with the ice-cold spoon, and I could have killed her! That hurt worse than the contractions. A mixture of Recharge and ginger ale tasted great too. It helped my nausea a lot. The one time, I needed a refill, and I know that Krystn told them to make it straight Recharge. I heard them whispering and I knew that’s what they were talking about, but I really didn’t care. I drank it anyways, even though I was slightly irritated.
While I was sitting on the birth stool, still in my own realm of reality, my Mom made the comment “well if being fully dilated doesn’t make her break a sweat, I wonder what does.” Jon came back with “I make her sweat.” Everybody cracked up. Inside my head I was laughing, but I couldn’t manage to actually say anything. This was the last moment that I remember feeling the relaxed, joking atmosphere of my labor. After I started pushing, the fun came to an abrupt end.
Krystn checked me while I was sitting on the birth stool, and said that I just had a little lip of cervix left. During the next contraction, she pushed it out of the way and told me that I would probably start feeling the urge to push soon. I waited for it, but it never came. After awhile, I got impatient and just started to push anyways. I was fully dilated and getting anxious to meet this little man. I don’t know how long I had been pushing before Krystn offered to break my water. She thought that it was holding up the process, and I figured she was probably right. I was feeling like I had made zero progress. I remember thinking about women telling me how, after their water broke, the contractions got a lot more intense and painful. This was the only time during labor that I was actually afraid of feeling pain. Up until now, I had been thinking “Labor is really easy; I wonder when it’s going to get hard.” I knew that I was doing well at this point, but I was afraid of having more than I could handle. I decided to just go for it, and told her to go ahead and break it. I’m really glad that I did, because, even though it was bulging, it took her a good 5 minutes to rupture the sac. No wonder it wasn’t breaking on its own – it was really thick and tough.
After she broke my water, Krystn checked the baby’s heart tones again and told us that she thought he had the cord wrapped around his neck. Also, there was meconium in the water and his heart rate was decelerating during contractions, down to the 80’s at times. She said that it wasn’t a serious problem since it bounced back up quickly, but I heard a sense of urgency in her voice. I thought “oh ****, we’re going to end up getting transferred to the hospital.” She made the statement that I could keep easing this baby out gently, or I could make up my mind to really start pushing and get him out faster. But I never said it; for fear that I would jinx myself. I decided that I just wanted to get him out, especially with the potential cord around the neck, and I started giving every push my all.
Pushing was HARD! I never got even the slightest urge to push and I was pretty annoyed by that actually. I think it would have made the process a lot easier. With each contraction, I would push three times. At this point, Jon had switched places with my Mom, and she was coaching me. She did a great job of motivating me and telling me when to push. At the end of each one, when she could sense that I was about to stop, she would say “extra push” and I would give a few more seconds. After pushing for awhile, I started to feel like I was going to pass out. I think my blood sugar was just too low, and the physical straining put my already worn out body over the edge. When I would start to push, I would black out for a second and I wasn’t able to talk or move. It was horrible. I honestly thought that I was going to die. The birth team quickly went into action, and I was downing spoonfuls of honey, chunks of banana, and drinking Recharge like my life depended on it (I really think it did, actually). After pushing for awhile on the birthing stool, Krystn suggested we change positions. I didn’t have any feelings or urges about particular pushing positions, so I just went with the flow. I squatted for a bit. She told me that I needed to squat during the contractions then stand up in between them. I honestly didn’t think I could do that much moving. I was beyond exhausted, and I just wanted to stay squatting. Then she pulled out the “it’s best for the baby” card, and I was practically jumping up after my contractions were over. You can talk a laboring woman into anything with that line. Squatting wasn’t doing anything magical, and it was even more tiring, so I moved onto my hands and knees. That was horribly uncomfortable. Jenn suggested that I rest my head on a pillow and the birth stool. I tried that, but I still wasn’t able to effectively push in the hands/knees position. Back to the birth stool we went!
I finally started to figure out how to push once I got back on the birth stool. Krystn made the comment “You’re going to have this baby out of your butt. The sooner you realize that, the sooner he’ll be here.” That really made sense to me, and I started to find my groove. During the contractions, Jon and Jenn would help me pull and hold my legs on the birth stool and I would give it all I had. Tilting my hips up towards the ceiling really helped also. My legs were so tired and uncomfortable that I started getting the worst cramps I’ve ever felt. I swear they were worse than the contractions. In between pushing, it felt good to straighten them out, but I literally couldn’t bring them back onto the birth stool when another contraction hit. So after awhile I just kept them folded up, even though it was incredibly tight. I pushed for 3 hours, and I had no idea how exhausting it would be! During some contractions, I would pretend I wasn’t having one, just so I wouldn’t have to push anymore. Maybe if I would have had the urge, it would have been easier. Who knows!
After pushing FORVER, my hips started to hurt. I could feel them spreading, and I knew we were finally getting somewhere. Mom told me to feel my belly – it was like mush! I couldn’t even feel the baby anymore! And FINALLY he started to crown. Jon was a great coach. He kept saying “You got this, you’re almost there” and “I can see his head, just a few more contractions.” I had no idea how excited he was going to be, and I didn’t know if he would watch or not. But he watched everything. When I would look at him, the excited expression on his face gave me the energy I needed for the next pushes. Krystn was giving me a lot of perineal support with warm washcloths and massaging me with oil. The washcloths felt heavenly. The “massage” was anything but, but I know it helped me stay intact. When he really started crowning, Krystn asked me if I wanted to feel his head. I always thought that I would want to, but I honestly couldn’t move. My hands were holding my legs back, and I didn’t have enough strength to re-adjust. After a few more pushes, I experienced my only real “pain” of childbirth. I could feel the sides of my labia tearing, and I actually screamed a little. I could feel every fiber of tissue ripping, and I can still feel it now when I think about it. Everybody told me to “push through it” and I did. Looking around the room, I could see all the tears running down their faces, and finally, his head popped out! It was such a surreal sight – staring in the mirror in front of me, I could see my body with a huge baby head just sitting between my legs. It was incredible, but very dreamlike. The next contraction hit, and he came flying out. Krystn handed him to me, and I was surprised. I forgot that I got to hold him first! He was totally limp, not making any effort to cry, and his eyes were glazed over. I was scared out of my mind, but his color and heart rate were great, so that gave me some comfort. I could hear his chest rattling as he tried to breath, but I just wanted to hear him cry. My Mom started suctioning him with the bulb syringe, but he still wasn’t crying. Krystn kept reassuring me that he was fine. She took him back and started stimulating him with some rough rubbing. His cord was pretty short, so Jon cut it so she had more room to work. After almost 5 minutes, my little man finally let out his first cries. It was such a relief! Because my sugar was low, his was also. I gave him some sugar on my finger – he had quite the suck! He didn’t want to breastfeed, though. He was more interested in just licking my nipple instead. I remember just sitting there, staring at this little image of perfection. He was born with his right arm up by his head, and he actually had an indentation in his skull where his fist had been firmly implanted during the birth.
Overall, I am so incredibly happy with how his birth went. I am surprised that I did so well during labor. I kept thinking how easy it was and how much fun I was having. I never imagined that I would enjoy labor. Pushing was a different story. I think I would have been scared if I wasn’t so tired – maybe that was for the best. I loved being in my own house. I was so comfortable. I got to move when and where I wanted. I got to call the shots. I am so happy that we decided to have a homebirth. Because of his heart rate dips, the meconium, and his compound arm causing a prolonged pushing stage, I honestly believe that I would have ended up having a c-section if we would have been at the hospital. It was an amazing experience, and I will definitely choose a homebirth the next time also.
After a happy although sometimes harrowing pregnancy, and multiple bouts of preterm labor, I had reached 34 weeks. Collectively, my family, friends and medical professionals let out a profound sigh of relief. "Technically, you aren't quite full-term yet," my obstetrician informed me, "but you've reached the third trimester no-man's land. If you go into labor now, we won't give you any medications to stop it, just a fluid iv and then wait and see. But," she added, "if you start to stall out, we won't do anything either." This had seemed like an impossible goal after repeated hospitalizations, the first one at only 20 weeks and two days. Slowly, as I hit each milestone, my doctor would give me another goal, and praise my patience. At this point, and due to my frenzied research, I felt I knew as much about my pregnancy as anyone else did. "I'd still like to see you cook that little boy for another month or so, think you can do that?"
"Sure," I responded with a smile. I liked being pregnant. I loved my tight, round belly. I loved feeling my son kick and stretch and thump at me. The changes in my body filled me with awe. At the same time, I'd been on a razor's edge over every little twinge and ache for months and was getting rather impatient to meet this kid.
The 35 week mark passed by uneventfully, but the very next day, I felt the return of the all-too-familiar contractions. Remembering what my doctor had told me, I did something that still surprises everyone that knows me: I kept my mouth shut. Every so often, I could feel the contraction wrap around me. I'd relax and keep my breathing even and it would fade out. It wasn't even painful, I was surprised, and somewhat doubtful- while my previous labors hadn't been all that intense, they'd definitely hurt. Maybe this wasn't even labor.
Things stayed pretty much the same all that day and the next. I ran errands and did my best to keep myself distracted enough that no one noticed what was happening. Besides, my mother was paying to get my car all fixed up on Saturday, and if I had the baby I just knew she'd forget all about it. The car was in sad, sad shape. In fact, on day three of my maybe-labor, the car sounded very much like a Harley as I drove myself and my boyfriend to my mother's.
Offhandedly, I asked my boyfriend if he had a watch. I'd noticed that morning that things seemed to be picking up. To the point that I now needed to really breath deep when one hit, and I had several in the less than fifteen minute drive to my mom's place. He didn't and when I explained why, I actually had to pull over and calm him down. Back on the road, we got to my mother's without further incident and he promptly went in search of my younger brother the athlete for some type of timing mechanism.
I almost made it out the door to follow my mother to the garage without her noticing. Unfortunately, my luck didn't quite hold out. She cornered me and questioned my strange pacing, I tried to brush it off as 'no big deal, just some cramps' but she didn't buy it. She made me wait while she timed four contractions. "Less than four minutes apart! Why didn't you say something earlier?!? How long have you been having these?"
"Uhhh... a couple of days..."
With that, I was carried off to the hospital, plucked neatly into a wheelchair, and brought up to the oh, so familiar assessment unit. My mother took care of the paperwork while the nurses called in someone to give me an iv, hooked me up to the fetal monitors and generally fussed around me. Soon the comforting whoosh, whoosh of the baby's heart rate filled the room and everyone stared, rapt as the paper tracings drew out the sharp hills that marked my steady, strong contractions... every three minutes.
"Well," said Lorraine, my mother's first cousin and one of the L&D nurses, "I would have said you were too calm to be in labor. Do you need anything for the pain?"
"Pain?" I asked, "oh these don't hurt... just feel tight, like I need to stretch."
"Well, hun," she said with a laugh, "I'd keep that to myself if I were you."
I chatted with my mother until she had to leave (to bring my car to the garage with the help of my aunt- yay!) and my boyfriend until he headed home to fill his parents in and get something to eat. I was making progress, but very slowly and still wasn't in any pain, so I was pretty much just shooing everyone out the door. I'd had enough of being watched like a pot about to boil over, when I knew in my gut, I was barely simmering.
Eight hours or so went by and I buzzed my nurse, "since nothing urgent seems to be going on, can I either go home, or get some food?"
"Lemme check with the Doctor, I'll be right back," she tore off the several feet of monitor tracings and bustled out the door. I went right back to staring at the monitor, since there was nothing else for me to do. A few moments later, an unfamiliar doctor came in and introduced himself. In exceedingly calm and reassuring tones, he told me that my baby's heart rate was dropping more than he'd like to see unless I was being monitored and that I was being admitted. "Don't worry," he said as he patted my hand, "I'll sneak you in some food, and you'll have this baby by dawn."
Well, my contractions stayed the same, my iv stayed in place, as did the monitors, and my dilation. Morning came, along with dry rice crispies and warm apple juice, and went. In fact, Sunday passed in a slow creep of sporadically dwindling beeps and overly concerned medical staff. Monday brought yet more contractions, and 'decels' of my baby's heart rate, and the lovely adventure of a biophysical profile, or 'super ultrasound' as my boyfriend dubbed it. This involved a great deal of pressure on my full to bursting bladder as they attempted to see if the baby was compressing the cord, or possibly had some previously unspotted heart defect. Unfortunately, he was so low, and turned in such a way that there was no new information, even after a full hour.
The poor Dr's were in a quandry. My labor was talking it's slow sweet time, have only gained me an additional centimeter and another 30% effacement since being admitted despite the 'textbook' patterns of my contractions. At 35 and a half weeks, they couldn't do anything to speed it up without real evidence that the baby 'needed out'. Gently, they mentioned a c-section. I asked a barrage of questions about the risks of the surgery versus the other options and they let it go, saying that there was nothing urgent at that point, but stressing that I should accept that every time his little heart slowed down and didn't recover properly, the changes of the OR increased.
The 'watch and wait' crowd won out for Tuesday and I spent the entire day in bed and hooked up to the monitors and iv's. I'd never been so well hydrated in my life. Wednesday arrived with the pronouncement that I was to have a amniocentesis to test for lung maturity. The nurse whisked my breakfast away (brave woman, snatching food literally from the hands of a pregnant lady) and informed me that I could be wheeled up at any minute and since the procedure increased my chances of my waters breaking I couldn't eat until afterwards... 'just in case.'
Grumbling, I smiled and nodded and hoped that they didn't take long. At one pm, after watching my roommates eat their chicken nuggets and salad, I sweet-talked a nursing student into bringing me jello and juice. Once again, I had the spoon poised and ready when the nurse walked in with a wheelchair and snatched it away! She unplugged me from the monitors, hooked my iv bag to the chair and wheeled me upstairs, my poor boy rushing along behind her. I got to watch my little boy one the screen as they collected the fluid. He created quite the stir when he kicked and pounded on the syringe. "Looks like he doesn't want us poking around his room," one doctor joked. Even with my son's spirited protests, it didn't take long and I was returned to my room with strict orders to lie on my left side and not move for three hours. I checked the time, two pm... three hours meant that if all went well, I'd be able to eat my supper. Frankly, at that point, I was so hungry I was counting the minutes until I could eat.
Supper was late. In fact, the (now-hated, food depriving) nurse arrived just moments before the food trays were delivered to my roomies. "Good news," she said.
"I get a steak?" I asked hopefully. She shot me a quelling look.
"No dear, the amnio says the baby's lungs are mature. You're getting induced tonight!"
"Great!" I replied, "I'll eat my dinner and then whenever you guys are ready..."
"No dear, you can't eat if you are getting induced."
"But, I haven't eaten since yesterday."
"Oh don't worry about that, you have an iv."
"No buts dear, you are barely managing to avoid a c-section as it is... if your baby doesn't react well to the medications, they need to be able to get him out fast."
I stopped my protests. I remembered this argument all too well. It had taken all I could come up with to convince 'the team' to let me have a 'labor trial'. We'd worked out a compromise. They'd let me try to give birth vaginally, IF and only if, I agreed to have a heavy-duty epidural in place just in case the heart rate issues got worse, which was a real concern.
I had also agreed to participate in a study, testing a possible new technique for induction. A blood pressure pill that had the 'side effect' of triggering contractions during it's testing was being evaluated on it's usefulness for induction. There were a few different groups you could end up in for the study and I lucked into being part of the 'oral test group'. Yippee. Every few hours the nurses would come in, check my progress and make me take a little pill. Then, they'd note the ever-present monitor tracings and bustle out of the room. By morning, after four doses, I'd dilated a whole two extra centimeters, and completely thinned out. Finally.
This time, the on-call doctor checked me, made his notes and asked permission to break my water. "Sure," I said, just wanting to get the ball rolling after dealing with my slow but steady labor for a full week at this point, most of which had been in the hospital. Ten minutes after he'd left and I'd twisted and scooted and turned every which way trying to find a position that let me feel even a tiny bit dry, a frantic nurse rushed in. She informed me that the monitors had 'lost' my baby. Visions of scary surgeries and tiny coffins filled my mind. My boyfriend valiantly tried to get her to explain. No luck. She was busy fussing with machinery. Then, we heard it. The blessed whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of my little boy's heart. No one had tightened the belts on the monitors after breaking my water, so they were slack and not able to pick anything up. Baby was fine. We let out a huge sigh of relief.
My contractions were pretty much the same, although they were now just strong enough to be unpleasant. Had I been able to move around, I was sure I could cope, but I couldn't due to the heart rate concerns. I chatted with my boyfriend and my mother showed up after an hour or so. She'd dropped the kids at school and headed in to keep me company. We played cards and I read off and on for a few hours. The nurse marveled at how well I was coping, and my boyfriend felt brave enough to joke that I should rub his back. Everyone laughed but me. I reminded my nurses that I was supposed to have an epidural. One went to check on that while the other gave me a shot of (unneeded) painkillers. Hospital policy said that the narcotic HAD to be administered before an epidural could be given in a labor situation. Oh well, I didn't mind. However, I reacted badly, and although I wasn't in pain, I spent the next couple of hours paranoid, dizzy and nauseous.
Finally, the "epi-man" (whose name I was never given) arrived. The nurses checked me, then told him to hurry as I was nine centimeters! I curled up on my side, clutching my little emesis basin while he pricked and poked at my back. The nurses cooed and helped me breath through two decidedly uncomfortable contractions. He was just taping my back when I felt it. "Ummm... something just moved," I said to the nurse.
"That's just the numbing starting to kick in," she explained.
I was doubtful, "no, I don't think so... I definitely felt something move. Like a lot. Could you check me please?" The other nurse, 'epi-man', and my boyfriend were rolling me back into a reclining position and fussing with a variety of straps and tubes.
"Your water has been broken for hours, we can't check you so soon... the risk of infection-"
"Ummm... maybe you should check her," the other nurse interrupted. She had her hand on my belly and later told me she'd noticed it was smaller.
"Fine," said the first one, impatiently snapping back the sheet, "I'm telling you, she's only nin- we're crowning! Call the doctor!"
People burst into action. A Neonatal team appeared out of nowhere, my bed was transformed, my mother whisked away. Someone grabbed my boyfriend and stuffed him into scrubs and a mask and a surgical kit was laid out, 'just in case'.
Luckily, I got the hang of pushing quickly. After only a few minutes, the younger nurse was setting up a mirror so I could see. "The Doctor is in the elevator, she'll be here any minute." I was too distracted by the back to back contractions to pay much attention to what was going on, but I caught that much. Push, collapse and breath, then do it again. It was an easy rhythm to follow, and I still wasn't in any real pain. It didn't feel GOOD, but it was far from the worst pain I'd ever felt.
"You should have told me who it was," I heard my wonderful doctor joke, glancing up to see her getting tucked into a gown, "you can all go home. Just give her a catcher's mitt and show her where the clamps are. She can do this herself. Can't you?" she added with a wink.
"Of course," I panted, "but I'd rather not have to deal with the mess, so they can stay."
"Good girl, way to make us feel important," then she settled onto the stool and gently coaxed me to push 'just a little longer' or 'give a good one, this time.'
All in all I pushed for nineteen minutes, six of which were spent negotiating not getting an episiotomy. I ended up with no tearing and a perfectly healthy, six pound, four ounce, 36 week baby boy, who'd had his cord coiled around his neck four times- hence the heart rate issues. The epidural took affect ten minutes after I was all done with the birth, about halfway to the bathroom to get cleaned up, sending me sprawling to the floor. The nurse helped me back into bed and gave me a quick sponge bath, and my doctor came back loaded down with food for me to eat while my son was being evaluated in the NICU under the watchful eyes of his father.
We went home two days later, a full week after being admitted.
Here's a birth story-- and some pictures.
My MIL arrived on Thursday, Miles' due date. I jokingly said when she arrived, okay big guy-- you can come anytime now. My contractions started around 5p or so. They were noticable, but not painful at all and continued all evening. Finally during Grey's Anatomy, I decided to just count how many I had during the show (easier than timing ) I had 7. Still not painful, but persistent. I mentioned it to Trey and we went about our evening routine and went to bed. I had contrax all night-- but was mostly able to sleep thru them. They were waking me up a bit more often than the usual pregnancy discomforts, but I mostly slept. Around 6a I woke up with some really strong contrax, and when I sat up I felt a small gush. I went to the bathroom and had a good amount of bloody show...and contrax were about 7 minutes apart and strong. Instantly, as with the girls, I had diarhhea. Finally around 630a I was able to leave the bathroom, and woke Trey to call my parents (who would be coming from 3 hrs away.)
I went back to bed and just rested through some strong contrax. About 8a they were 5 minutes apart and getting really uncomfy, so I phoned my MW and told her today was the day. She said to call back when they were 4 minutes apart. I'm really terrible at timing contax, b/c when I'm laboring I'm in my own world. I don't want Trey around, I just want silence and darkness and to be in my own space. I tried to eat some toast and get some fluids in me, but I didn't really feel hungry, just thought I should eat. The girls were up and I visited with them a bit, before I wanted to be totally alone, and headed back up to our bedroom around 830a. I labored on my ball in our room and rested in our bed for a while before I was really uncomfy. My contrax were quite strong, but manageable, but I was having round ligament pain which I'd never had during labor before. I labored on the toilet for a while and did some squats, told Trey to call my MW and tell her we were getting closer and decided to take a shower.
At this point, Trey was getting things together like making our "birth bed" (shower curtain under the sheets and old sheets on the bed, the birth pool was already blown up, but he was putting the tarp under it and getting it ready to be filled, etc.) Bringing the birth kit into our bedroom etc. I labored in our bath tub and was having really strong contrax and I could tell they were close together, but again, not timing them.
My MW and team arrived, I think, around 1045a or so. She and her team got things together and I got out of the tub so she could do one round of vitals on me and baby. Baby's HB was good, as was my BP and pulse, etc. She then checked me, and told me I was a good 6, stretchy 7cm with a bulging bag. Baby was still high, but she said, as soon as your water breaks you're going to have a baby. Better hurry and fill that pool!
My parents arrived around 11a--and everyone hurried to fill the pool....but got it only halfway full before I was feeling lots of pressure and just wanted to get in. So I got in, I had about 2 really strong contrax, one more contrax and I felt my water break. It was the MOST incredible relief for about a minute. I had had so much pressure from the bag of waters-- but after the next contrax the head was right there. My MW checked baby to make sure he had done well after the water breaking (as he was still -1 before the break) She felt the head, and told me to. I turned over, put my hands down and he was right there. I didn't get the *ring of fire* at all, just incredible pressure in my bottom. I'm not sure how many, but a couple of contrax later he was out. Trey was there, as was my mom and Taya. My dad, Callie and MIL all missed it b/c he came so fast....but were there in the moments afterward.
Taya was in awe. And right after he came out said "where is the placenta?" (can you tell we'd been reading books?)
I couldn't get him up to my chest, as I had short cord. So he was confined to my belly for a while. We waited for the placenta to detach-- but it was taking a while, so we did cut the cord before the placenta was out. He was so calm and peaceful, only cried a wee bit and instantly his sisters were in love. He had apgars of 9 and 9.
We hung out in the water for a while and then delivered the placenta. I got out, snuggled and nursed Miles for a bit, and then the MW's had me get into an herbal bath with Miles. It was all so relaxed. About 2 hours after birth they did the full newborn assessment and checked me-- no tears or anything and Miles is just perfect and healthy.
Here are some pics. Some kind of graphic...but nothing too terrible.
This is in our bedroom. I was watching Callie and my dad on the swingset between contractions. It was a beautiful day-- 70 and sunny.
Feeling his head
He is out!
Meeting his sisters
I love this picture-- b/c once we were out of the water-- he was chilled. So Taya went and got him her princess blanket....which she insisted go on him. So his first pics are him in a princess blanket-- this poor kid!
Our herbal bath together (that is what is floating in the water!)
Taya and Miles
Miles all alone
DD 8.03, DD 6.05, DS 3.07, DD 5.09, and DS arrived 6.17.12
Birth Story of Odeliya Schwell 3/8/07
Wednesday, February 28th, I started having light contractions in the afternoon. Wed night I slept without waking up once, but all of Thursday, my ctrx were more noticeable and pretty frequent. Thursday night I asked Olivia to come check me, since I had labored all day but the intensity was not increasing. I was 70% efface, fully engaged and about 2 cm dilated. All in all, a productive day of early labor. I was ready to find out what we could do to speed things up, albeit being only 37 weeks, but thankfully, Olivia doesn’t believe in that, she truly believes in letting babies come when they are good and ready. She told us, instead of trying to figure out how we could make this baby come now, to think about why this baby wasn’t coming yet. She urged me to relax and to meditate on anything that might be holding up the labor.
So I relaxed. Over the next week (not quite as long as Taryl, sorry honey!) I had an hour or two of ctrx every day, but inevitably they would stop at night and I would be able to sleep.
Wednesday morning, March 7th, I had some ctrx in the morning. And I kept having them all day. Around 8:30pm, I decided to call Olivia, b/c they were frequent and they were strong enough to be nagging. She told me to have Yoram time them for ½ hour and call her back. They were coming erratically, but not more than 5 minutes apart. So Olivia’s assessment was that my body was still getting in gear. We were all pretty sure this was the real thing, but we had some time. She told me to get in the pool, relax with a glass of red wine, and get intimate with Yoram. She told me that my body was most likely going to find it’s pattern when I was relaxed and really sensual. So we lit some candles and enjoyed the pool together and some good red wine.
At around 11, we emptied the pool, deciding that I wanted fresh water for the birth, and went to bed. My ctrx seemed to have slowed down a bit and the wine took the edge off, so I tried to sleep. At 2:30am they started waking me up. I slept in btwn until 3 and then woke up Yoram and started making calls. Olivia and Kim (my doula) were first on the list, then my sister who was going to be in charge of Netanel, and then my parents. The ctrx were 5 minutes apart and getting intense.
Olivia and Kim pulled up at the same time, around 4am, Yoram was already filling the pool. Olivia set up and checked me at 4:30, baby sounded great, I was 4 cm. We figured we had time. Apparently that wasn’t Odeliya’s plan! I got in the pool right after my little exam and stayed there for most of my labor. It was awesome!! The heat and the water felt soooo good. My ctrx had gotten so intense that at some point I realized that I wasn’t using my break in btwn to relax, I was spending those precious minutes dreading the next contraction! So I made a conscious decision to relax btwn ctrx and enjoy the time.
I got out of the pool for a little (not sure how long, I was mostly unaware of what was going on around me, I became hyperfocused inward) b/c I was hot and wanted to lie down btwn ctrx, but I didn’t want to leave the comfort of the water. Olivia checked heart tones and asked if she could check me, uncharacteristically of me, I said no. Kim kept trying to bring me oatmeal, tea and water, and I kept trying to eat, but I wasn’t getting much down. It just seemed too “external” to eat. My body didn’t want to do anything but labor. I got back in the pool and was moaning through every contraction. It really helped to make those low guttural sounds and keep my mouth loose.
Netanel woke up at 6:15 and my sister hadn’t arrived yet. I decided to be more conscious btwn ctrx so I could communicate w/ Tani. Yoram had gotten in the pool behind me b/c I felt I wanted that support. Kim was great! Yoram and she worked wonderfully together to help me through the ctrx, and to make me feel comfortable. Olivia and Kim were talking to Netanel, I couldn’t make eye contact w/ anyone, I was barely opening my eyes at all. But I told Netanel that this was it, they baby was coming soon, and then I had a ctrx and started my moaning. Ok, now I have to backtrack a minute, b/c this was really funny. We had been watching some birthing videos to prepare Tani for the birth. Some of the women were really intense and quiet during their labors and some were noisy. I had asked Netanel if he thought I was going to be quiet or noisy and he decided I was going to be like the quiet mommies. So here I was moaning and he started getting nervous. Olivia was talking to him and he says to her, “But I thought she was going to be quiet!” I heard, and registered this conversation, and even laughed! After I explained to him that making noise helped me get the baby out, he was ok, and he moaned with me – which was sooo cute!
My sis finally arrived at around 6:45 and my parents were on their way. She took over w/ Tani and he was doing well. They I hit transition. The crazy thing is, no one knew that that’s what it was b/c I hadn’t been checked since 4:30 and it was only 2 ½ hours later! So all of a sudden my ctrx got unbearable, I started screaming and the pressure was building in my birth canal. Yoram asked Olivia if she thought this might be transition, and Olivia said she didn’t think so (I’m not sure why, I want to ask her). Somewhere I registered that Netanel asked my sister to take him out of the room (soo mature of him!)
Olivia gave me a dose of Valerian root to help give me a break b/c I felt like my energy was dwindling, but a break was not on the agenda! About five minutes later my next contraction hit and I felt like I was pushing, which I expressed quite loudly to my birth team. Olivia told me to go ahead and push if I felt like it and she came and leaned over the side of the pool to check where we were at. Fully dilated and head descending. The coolest thing in the world was feeling my water break with one of the pushes! Then her head descended and she was crowning and I thought my body was going to break apart. I vaguely registered that Kim and Olivia were closer to me now. They were telling me that I was doing great, that I was amazing and that my baby’s head was coming. I heard myself repeating at the top of my lungs whatever they were saying (“I’m doing great, I’m amazing, It’s my baby’s head!!”)
I think I got a little break before the next push and Olivia somehow broke through my intense inner focus and engaged my attention. I felt a really intense connection when I looked into her eyes and I felt like I had to lock that gaze to get through the rest of the labor. (Afterwards, Olivia told me that it was really intense for her too and that she was afraid to look away from me to see what was happening w/ the baby!_ She told me that I needed to listen to her and she was going to walk me through the rest of the pushing so that I wouldn’t tear and it was going to be really easy. Then I got really quiet. I pushed when she told me to and breathed when she told me not to push. My body felt like it was listening to her also, b/c I didn’t find it hard to stop pushing when I had to. Olivia applied counter pressure against my perineum and I felt my baby’s head pass through the birth canal and the relief of birthing her head. Her body came out in one easy push and I was still so intent on Olivia that she had to tell me to pick up my baby! And there she was. This beautiful little girl with black black hair and dark eyes, looking at me – really looking at me. She was amazing! I said to her, “I saw you! I knew you looked exactly like this!” It was 7:30. Exactly 3 hours since Olivia first checked me.
Her cord was a bit short and she had not cried yet or started breathing on her own, but her color was perfect – bright pink from her core to her fingers and toes. But she wasn’t breathing, so Olivia got to work. Kim told me to rub her feet while Olivia suctioned her – quite a few time. In the moment, I remember feeling a sense of urgency from Olivia, but also being confident that everything was ok, and that she had whatever it was under control. Finally we got a little cry out of her, but she still wasn’t doing much. Olivia asked me to get onto the bed where it would be easier for her to work, since the placenta hadn’t come yet and the cord was short. After a few more minutes, she started breathing, never really gave a big cry, but got going and then needed help with her sucking reflex b/c of the overstimulation from the suctioning. Olivia stimulated her palette until she got a good suck and then we latched her on. At which point she took to nursing like an old pro!
Once I birthed the placenta someone asked when we were going to cut the cord (it might have been my mom, who had arrived about a minute after the birth! Apparently, it was my mom’s fault they left so late and my dad was really pissed at having missed the birth). Olivia told us that she leaves the cord intact for at least 3 hours to maximize the amount of blood that the baby gets from her placenta. So we put the placenta in a big Ziploc, wrapped it in towels and tucked it next to me. Then she directed everyone out of the room so Yoram and I could have some time alone w/ the baby. I looked at my beautiful little daughter and asked her what her name was. We had settled on one of two names, but neither of them were right when I looked at her. And then this name that we had seen, and liked, but decided to dismiss came back to me. And when I thought about it, Odeliya, “I will give thanks to God”, it was exactly what I wanted to do. For everything. For this baby, for the experience of the birth, for the quick labor – and as it turned out, there was more to be thankful for that I didn’t even know yet. So I asked Yoram if we could revisit that name and he liked it.
I tried to nap but I couldn’t, so I decided to take a shower – in my own shower!! Kim stayed in the bathroom with me in case I got dizzy, I was fine. Then I got into my own clothes, in my own clean bed and nursed my baby, everyone came in and was smiling – and omg! As I’m writing this, I realize that it’s exactly how I had envisioned it when I was trying to decide where to have the birth! Wow, it was awesome!
When Olivia came back on Friday (she couldn’t come until the evening so she ended up joining us for our Shabbat dinner, which was so cool!) I asked her to go over the birth with me from her perspective, b/c I felt there was so much that I missed. She told me that she had started getting nervous b/c she was hearing late deceleration in the heart tones – which is a reason to transport. The weird thing was that it wasn’t happening consistently, some contractions where fine. That’s why she got nervous when I hit transition, she felt that things were happening too fast and too intense and she didn’t know what the baby could handle. But then before she had to make a final decision, I was pushing. She said that usually a mother gets a break after transition before pushing starts. Sometimes it can even be an hour or more. That’s why she gave me the Valerian, b/c she wanted me to really be able to rest so I’d have the energy to push. But my baby and my body knew better. It was time to come out, she wasn’t handling the labor well anymore. So that is the other reason that I have to be thankful. My baby is healthy and beautiful and she wanted to be born at home!
~Ayelet & Yoram
NJ, USA to Israel 12/29/08
Welcome baby boy!! 26.7.13
Rambling on at http://milkandhoneymomma.blogspot.com
facebook and twitterID: ayeletschwell
Jasmine was born on May 5, 2007 at 2:16pm. She weighed 7 lbs 7.5 oz and qas 19 1/2 inches long.
We were at DH graduation on Friday afternoon, May 4th, when I started having contractions about 30 minutes apart. Not too bad, I wasn't worried.
But that night, the contractions woke me up and were 8-10 minutes apart from 12:30am for the whole rest of the night and the next morning. Around 11am-12noon on Saturday they started getting much more painful even though they were further apart. Around 12:30pm-12:45pm, they all of a sudden jumped to only being 2-3 minutes apart with no warning.
I was laying down on the bed with so much pain, I knew something had changed. Olivier jumped in the shower, and woke up Jordan from his nap. We were supposed to take him to my sisters house before going to the hospital, but I knew that we had no time. I was on the phone trying to figure out what to do with him, all the while in tons of pain, since they were already so close together.
Finally, we just had to go and decided to bring Jordan with us to the hospital and my sister would meet us there to bring him home with her. We got to the hospital at 1:30pm, and they quickly had me change and checked me for dialation. The nurse said I was already 9 1/2 centimeters and fully effaced!
They quickly called my CNM, and luckily she was in her office doing some work, otherwise she wouldn't have made it there in time. It was even raining outside! So my CNM showed up a few minutes later, and they knew that I was going to have to start pushing very quickly. So there were tons of hospital staff rushing all of the equipment and stuff in there to get everything ready. Its a good thing I was going to do it all natural, cause they said I wouldn't have even had time for an epidural, even if I wanted one.
At 2pm, only 30 minutes after we checked into the hospital, they told me I was completely dialated and that I could start pushing. It took me 16 minutes to push her out. It was so hard, but cool that it didn't take me too long. My sister showed up and ended up staying cause Jordan was being really quiet and sitting there watching everything wide eyed. So he saw his sister being born. He was so good and well-behaved.
I did it all natural without any IV's or anything. It was so hard and painful, but I am so glad that I didn't need pitocin this time around. I was also so happy and proud of myself for being able to push her out on my own without an episiotomy. I had one with Jordan, and was able to do it all on my own with Jasmine, and she was even bigger than Jordan was.
When the baby finally came out at 2:16 pm, I asked if it was a girl...cause I wanted to be sure, and they said that it was. She weighed in at 7 lbs 7.5 oz. and was 19 1/2 inches long, with a full head of long black hair. She weighed a whole pound more than I thought she was going to weigh. She is so cute.
Her name is Jasmine Rae Lisanza. Rae is after my dad, and Lisanza is a word in my husbands tribal language in Africa. So she has two middle names and Jasmine is what we will call her.
Here are some pictures of her. Enjoy!
Proud big brother in the car before taking them both home.
Marshall's birth story. Due June 13, 2007, born on June 12, 2007.
Marshall was fairly still for about three days. For the first time I laid down to do kick counts. He'd have about a half hour/day of active time which was quite unusual for him. I figured he was just getting too big in there to do too much.
On Monday I lost a bit more of my mucous plug a few times throughout the day.
On Monday afternoon I watched my best friends 11 month old for an hour and a half while she had a massage. While she crawled around the house she swept the dirt off of her hands. I had been vacuuming and mopping at least weekly for a long time but the week or more before I had just been too tired to keep up on house work. That evening I suddenly wanted everything to be very clean so I vaccuumed the entire first floor, dusted etc. swept any corner cobwebs and I just knew that it was time to make sure the toilet and tub were cleaned because if I started to get nauseaus when labour finally started, I was not looking forward to staring into THAT bowl.
Jeff was outside in the garage puttering around but I really wanted him to come in and clean the bathroom for me because he said he would and after vacuuming I knew my back couldn't handle the job. He came into the house around 9pm but wanted to go to bed. I wanted to stay up until midnight cleaning house but decided to join him instead.
On Tuesday morning around 2:25am I woke up feeling a little damp so went to go pee figuring I was losing a little more mucous again. When I laid back down in bed I had achey pain in my back and lower abdomen. I checked the time and tried to fall back to sleep. About 7 minutes later it happened again. After the third one I woke up Jeff and told him what I was feeling. He was going to stay in bed a bit longer incase he ended up having to go to work that day afterall. While I moved around upright I started having more contractions which were now 3-4 minutes apart. Jeff got up with me and made himself an egg sandwich. The contractions were getting stronger so I walked around the kitchen while he ate. During the next hour Jeff cleaned the toilet and tub as promised.
Around 5am we decided to call the midwife and let her know what was happening. The contractions were pretty intense and I let her know that I think we skipped a big part of the labour process since the contractions started out so close together. We called mom, my sister, MIL and SIL. It wasn't long before everyone arrived and we moved upstairs to Marshall's room.
I lost concept of time around this point. A short time later the mw suggested we check my dilation so we could get an idea of where we started so we could watch progression and then we could keep checks to a minimum if I wanted so I agreed. I was already 100% effaced and dilated to 5 cm with bulging membranes. I tried different positions throughout labour. The most comfortable positions for me were when I was upright. Leaning forward at all caused the contractions to really hurt in the front. Leaning back caused really bad back pains. Laying on my side slowed contractions to 5 minutes apart but gave me a little bit of a break. Being in the tub wasn't comfortable for me because our tub is a claw foot that leans back too far so I got out of there pretty quick.
Jeff was amazing. I think he left me alone for two contractions during the whole process so he could have something to eat. I really missed him when he wasn't there.
My body was extremely relaxed throughout labour. It wasn't difficult for me to remember to focus on my breathing, to keep my shoulders, neck, mouth etc. relaxed. I had some trouble relaxing my lower body.
Because another mama had gone into labour at the same time that I did I had a midwife and a doula attend my birth instead of two midwives. I'm really glad it turned out this way because they played completely different roles during labour. The doula always made sure that I was drinking water, apple juice, gingerale and kept feeding me spoonfuls of honey to keep my energy up. She also made sure to tell me how well I was doing. The midwife was totally confident and continuously checked my blood pressure, Marshall's heartrate etc. She helped me by suggesting positions to try and always kept me informed and let me make the decisions about labour.
I barely talked during labour except to say what I needed, my eyes were closed most of the time. I thought I was really loud during contractions but everyone now tells me that it wasn't so bad. I moaned through most of them and for the few that caught me in a bad position I often said "Owwwwwwww" through them. Labour was harder, more intense and painful, and more primal than I had imagined.
I stayed at 9 cms with bulging membranes for a long time. My body started to push during some contractions and I could feel my body trying to get that sac to break so the baby would finally drop down the rest of the way. The midwife talked about breaking my waters to get labour to speed up but she said the contractions would become more intense. I was a little afraid of more intense - I didn't know if I could handle more. I also wanted to avoid as much intervention as possible. About an hour later after feeling my body push some more and feeling myself getting tired quickly I asked the midwife to break the membranes. I laid on my side and the gush of warmth was soothing. The waters were clear. Contractions did become a little more intense - a lot more according to anyone else in the room but I don't remember noticing a huge difference. My body was pushing more and more. I still had a small lip of a cervix so I laid on my left side for a couple of contractions and then rolled to my right side for a couple of contractions to help the lip to dilate completely. While laying on my big papasan cushion on the floor Jeff sat on the edge of the bed beside me. During an especially intense contraction I was squeezing his calf. After the contraction I looked up at him from the floor and he was crying. I started comforting him, telling him it was okay. Now that I was fully dilated I went back to the birthing stool with Jeff sitting behind me. My body was really pushing now so I pushed along with it. The pushing sensation was so weird - so automatic. My body would push so I would start to push and gave it so much more power. I pulled back on the stool with my hands as my body pushed the baby down. The midwife was checking my blood pressure and Marshall's heart rate throughout labour. My blood pressure never rose over 108/72. Marshall's heartrate stayed around 120 until this point when it dropped into the 90's. I was oblivious but apparently everyone else in the room knew that something was up by the body language of our birth attendants. They asked me to get back onto the cushion on the floor so I did. I saw the doula preparing a needle that the midwife said she would need if she had to do an episiotomy.
Everyone started urgently telling me to push, to hold in my sounds and breath during the pushes. I was reluctant at first to do it their way because I didn't want to purple push but they insisted. My mom was sitting at my head, Jeff at my side. Mom was begging me to push. I had short breaks between pushing contractions to get my breath and energy. I pushed with more than everything that I had. I started to feel him, he was close and it started to really burn. It was really hard to push when it was causing me so much pain. It was hard to hold him there between contractions - it stung pretty bad. At one point I said no to pushing but they told me I had to so I listened and then his head was out. The midwife pulled the cord out and forced it back around his head so I could push him out the rest of the way. He passed meconium during delivery. They immediately put him onto my chest and I felt his little bum in my hand. He was so squishy. He was so dark. He was darker than blue but he was crying so I knew he would be okay so I just held him and talked to him. My mom, sister, MIL and Jeff were all crying. MIL reached over to me crying and said thank you. The midwife and doula were checking his heartrate and rubbing him to stimulate his circulation and get his colour back. He was still crying and crying and it was the best sound I had ever heard. My sister cut his cord and the attendants took him to the dresser top where they continued rubbing him and they put a little tiny oxygen mask on him. He started grunting while he cried, trying to get the mucous and fluids out of his lungs.
The midwife helped me to deliver the placenta. I tore on the inside in a couple of places. The midwife later apologized saying she hated asking me to push without giving me time to stretch but I told her not to be silly, that I trusted her to get Marshall out safely. She couldn't stitch one of my tears because it was too close to my "button" - explains the extreme pain I was feeling. She couldn't even get the anesthetic in there to do the stitches.
Marshall was placed back onto my chest with his little oxygen mask which he kept trying to take off of his face. He nursed for a little bit but he continued to grunt. We were almost at the point of taking him to the hospital to see a pediatrician for the grunting when his cries became clear. Jeff had left to go and have a cigarette and was back now after pulling himself back together and he took Marshall. My mom helped me to the bath and cleaned me off. I could barely sit and I could not stand up straight because I was so sore. I wasn't allowed out of the tub until I peed - that took a while. The doula made my bed up for me but I wanted to be downstairs with my family. I held a now pink little Marshall who was awake and alert checking us all out, nursing like a champ. He was born at 12:44pm weighing 7 lbs, 12 oz. His apgar was 6 at 1minute, 9 at 5 minutes.
I couldn't sleep that afternoon, Marshall barely slept as well. Other than the pain down below I felt wonderful. I wasn't sure I ever wanted to go through labour again but emotionally I felt really good.
Marshall continued to nurse really well. The midwife was really great at showing us how to latch properly. Marshall lost 6 oz's in 3 days. By day 5 Marshall weighed 7 lbs, 13 oz! Yesterday at 9 days old Marshall weighed 8 lbs. He really likes his mamas milk.
I love him so much that it brings tears to my eyes. He is the cutest baby this mama has ever seen and now I know I would do it all over again and I am so glad I had a homebirth. My recovery was extremely fast. The day after I was hanging clothes on the line and doing dishes. I've had lots of help but have felt so well. I can't imagine doing it any other way.
On Sunday June 17 (Father’s Day!), I woke up at 1:15am feeling wet. I was surprised because my due date is July 3, but not overly surprised because for some reason even though I knew that first births are generally 41wk3d, and that my mom’s two kids were born at 42 and 41wks, I felt that this birth was going to be early.
Anyway, since I woke up feeling wet, I automatically thought – hey, my water broke! I got up carefully wondering if I was just imagining it, and if I was going to get the whole bed soaked – and I hadn’t even got a mattress pad and the mattress is only a couple months old! So I noticed that I dribbled slightly on the bed (not much), and a bit down my leg as I went to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet for a little while, wondering if I would leak more, and wondering if it could possibly be my water since I had no contractions. After about 5 minutes of sitting there staring at the wall wondering, I got back into bed, poked Wayne and said “um… I just wet the bed, I think my water just broke.” He opened one eye and half-heartedly said, “No it didn’t.” Next thing I knew, he was snoring again!
I lay in bed for about 20 minutes before I got a contraction. It was just the same as any of the others I felt in the previous week and not enough for me to even notice if I was actually doing something. I kept an eye on the clock and counted the time between contractions until 3am. They averaged 7-15 minutes apart, but none of them seemed serious – none of them even hurt as much as any period cramps, and they didn’t last very long (30s-1min).
At 3am I was bored. I nudged Wayne and told him that I thought that I was actually in early labour. I got a snore in response. I figured one of us might as well sleep and if it wasn’t me, it might as well be him! I got up and ate some crumpets with butter and jam, and did a load of dishes in the dishwasher. I then went back to bed and watched the clock on and off until about 5am when I fell asleep for a couple hours. At some point I contemplated calling my parents (2 hours different in Ontario), but decided that many people can be in this type of labour for several days so I’d wait until a more reasonable hour. Since I didn’t feel birth was close, I decided to wait until 8am to call the midwife, unless contractions changed dramatically.
At 7am, I woke up again. Wayne and I talked some. He decided that he was cancelling his work trip he was supposed to be gone for from Monday – Friday. We got up, then I called the MW to tell her where things were at. I was told at that point by Geri (MW) to go lie down and take it easy, and to sleep. She’d told me to call at the first signs of labour because at my last appointment I’d told her that when I’d checked myself a few days earlier and that I could feel the head only 2 knuckles in (but no cervix), and my mom had a very fast 1st labor. I then called my parents to tell them that baby was probably not going to wait until June 25th their planned arrival time. Instead of going back to bed, I decided to eat breakfast since it could be a long time before labor would be over, and if I had no energy that wouldn’t be a good idea.
As I was just about to sit down and eat breakfast, the doorbell rang so answered it in my bathrobe. It was Wayne’s ex-wife showing up with SS, because their agreement has SS with Wayne on father’s day. I’d forgotten SS (and his mom) were coming. Furthermore, SS showed up with his buddy who had slept over at his mom’s house the previous night. I wasn’t expecting to see Wayne’s ex-wife, and while I was talking to her I was a little worried my water would break in the front hall! Meanwhile, Wayne called our friends who were to be our support group for the birth if my parents couldn’t make it. Jack and Connie are great friends of ours, and have been just as excited as we are, if not moreso, about the baby! Connie refused to believe that I was in labour, after all, my due date was still 2wk2d away. Also, she knows that Wayne is always joking and Connie wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth. I assured her that there was no lying, and if they didn’t have other important plans for the day that they should keep their phone lines open for us!
Wayne told me again that I should go lie down for a while. I ignored him.
Before I could lie down, I went and posted on pg.org, then started a loaf of bread in the breadmaker, and then gave Wayne instructions on how to make cream of chicken soup for a post birth meal (even though it was on the can!). He decided that if he cooked up some chicken and added it to the soup that it would taste way better.
At 9:30am, I decided to start timing contractions again. They varied from 3 minutes to 15 minutes apart, and .5 to 1.5min in length but still didn’t feel like anything serious. I could talk through them (I’d had 3 while talking to my parents on the phone), and they were inconsistent in timing. The kids were running around yelling and screaming. Wayne told them to be quiet. I told him that the next kid who was too loud I would kill. He laughed.
At around 10:30am I went to take a nap. Geri called to see how things were going and I talked to her for a few minutes. She asked if Wayne wanted to go pick up a birthing pool on the other side of town (her husband was out of town and she had her 10yo son that she was trying place somewhere so she could come at a moment’s notice). We decided not to get the birthing pool and to use our hot tub instead. It was already set up and had just had the water changed ‘in case’ it was needed. Geri told us to check that the temperature was right - at 100f. I passed on the message to Wayne then fell asleep and woke up around 12:30pm to kids screaming. I lay in bed debating which kid I was going to tell off, and how I would do it. (So cranky ). I debated hanging the, by their toe nails but decided it would require too much energy now and explaining later. I timed my contraction and again they were about 15 minutes apart. Deciding it would be a long day, and I didn’t want to be dehydrated, I decided to get up and eat some lunch, and find Wayne to tell off the kids.
He then found some instant vermicelli soup (did I mention I was thirsty?) for us to eat which I thought would be good because it was mostly liquid and I didn’t feel like chewing. As I sat waiting for the noodles to soften, the kids were again yelling, and I got one of the strongest contractions that I’d had so far. Wayne went downstairs to tell the kids to be quiet (yet again). Within the time it took for the soup to finish hydrating the noodles, and taking about 3 bites, I had a couple contractions that were 3-4 minutes apart and serious enough that I had to breathe through them while leaning on the counter and rocking my hips. I couldn’t stay sitting on the stools. All of a sudden I had no interest in food whatsoever.
Wayne convinced me to go back to bed and try to rest. I went upstairs and lay down.
Lying down was the most painful thing I had done to date. As soon as I lay down, I got a really intense contraction that practically paralyzed me. There was no relief or way for me to consciously put myself in any position to try to alleviate the pain. I just writhed on the bed for a minute until it subsided enough for me to think. I tried to stand up and rock/circle my hips a bit but the contraction was subsiding fast enough that I had no idea whether it helped or not. I decided I’d try the same thing for the next contraction, but if it didn’t help I’d try going on all fours on the bed. The next contraction came quickly and nothing helped. I felt I needed to pee so I went and sat on the on-suite toilet. As soon as I sat down, another contraction hit. Sitting and leaning forward was worse than lying down!
Now, although the contractions were painful and preventing me from thinking, I was fine in between. Recovery time between contractions, however, was becoming significantly shorter. I had no idea how far apart contractions were, because I could no longer remember time, even when I remembered to check the clock in the bedroom – and once I was in the bathroom, I had no access to the clock. I remember having a couple long bowel movements – but they weren’t exactly the diarrhoea that people had described. I figured I still had a long ways to go.
After 3 painful contractions, I discovered that if I leaned back on the toilet and braced one hand on the wall to my right, and the other on the counter to my left, that I felt like the contraction was actually doing something other than causing pain (I wouldn’t say it was comfortable!). After a couple contractions like this I realized that I should contact the midwife (Geri). I called to Wayne (who I knew was busy cleaning up the house, making sure supplies were organized, dealing with SS and friend, making SS and friend lunch, cooking chicken, and making cream of chicken soup – all at once). He didn’t hear me (surprised?) for several contractions. I finally decided that I had to find him and waddled to the top of the steps where I told him to call Geri and then come find me. He called.
I remember sitting on the toilet for a while noticing that sometimes a contraction started before the previous one ever completely finished. Also, I started feeling extremely light-headed – like I would pass out from heat. Other times I’ve felt like that I would jump in a cold shower and I would instantly feel better, but I didn’t think I could make it to the shower let alone stand in it for any length of time. I cold see why people would opt for pain medication even when they had the strongest views against it.
Wayne, knowing that he should be listening for me, came when I called him. I asked for a cold wet washcloth to cool off my shoulders. He gave me one and sat with me (on his knees because the on suite bathroom is tiny!) through the next contraction. He wiped my shoulders and face with the washcloth periodically and it felt SO MUCH better. I didn’t feel as much like I was going to pass out, and the coolness helped me recover faster. Once the contraction was over, he ran to the kitchen to check on the soup, kids, their pasta lunch, then ran back. I don’t know how he did it, but he did that for the next 3-4 contractions. He missed one and felt bad. I was more worried that he would pop out his knee (he’s got a bad knee) while he kneeled on the floor next to me, holding my left hand (or more like me squeezing the blood out of it), and wiping my forehead and shoulders with his left.
At some point I decided that I wanted to go over to the hot tub in the back yard to see if that would help the pain, but didn’t know if I could make it there between contractions. I also wanted Wayne to have some warning so he could tell off the kids, turn off the stove, call Jack and Connie to get their buts over and help out. Plus, I had this fear that if someone wasn’t with me while I was in the hot tub (and I wanted it to be Wayne) I might get a mouthful of water and choke, so I didn’t want to be there alone. And why the heck was SS’s friend still here? Oh yeah, his mom was moving today and she was on her way from across town to pick him up. (They were moving 7 houses down from us and it would, of course, be easier for them if he wasn’t underfoot.)
After 2 more contractions, and Wayne running around like a madman, I decided I was ready to journey to the hot tub. It’s really not that far away, but it sure seemed like it that day! Just as I got to the tub, another contraction hit (looking back on it, walking definitely sped things up for me – not that I needed it!). I checked the time as I walked through the kitchen but can’t remember the time (1:47pm? 1:57pm? Wayne called Geri at 1:37pm according to her notes).
I got in the tub and remember thinking that all the hype about water easing pain etc.. was definitely overrated. I wanted to be able to hold/brace myself yet float and there was no way to do that. I also wanted a pillow on which to rest my head and there was no way to do that at all. After floating and writhing through a couple contractions (Wayne running in and out of the house and watching through the kitchen window while he was in the house finishing feeding the kids) I found I could rest my head on one of the drink/coasters which alleviated my fear of choking and drowning while in the midst of a contraction. For the first time, and many times after, I was so glad to be free of any wires/IVs. They would surely have come tangled and come off while I was moving around, and I would have had to really focus on something else instead of just letting labour progress.
Connie and Jack arrived soon after and told the screaming kids to be quiet and go play out front/down the street. They cleaned up the kitchen (we’re still locating some stuff they “put away”!). Jack asked Wayne if there was anything they could do and Wayne asked him to turn on one of the back yard fountains and the music. Of all the things to worry about, I only cared that the music was OFF. I wanted the birds and fountain and that was ALL! Then, Jack took one look at Wayne (kneeling outside the hot tub and holding my hands/arms) and asked if he wanted a chair. It hadn’t occurred to him until then! I don’t know how long I stayed in the ‘supported float’. I remember at one point that I asked Wayne if Geri has arrived yet and she hadn’t. She lives 45minutes away - in good traffic.
At some point I realized I was lying/floating on my side on some of the seats with my head still on the drink holder. It was much more comfortable. I then realized that since I had been in the hot tub I hadn’t felt overheated to the point of passing out and wondered how that worked since it was significantly warmer in the hot tub than the bathroom/bedroom! Wayne was still next to me holding an arm, or just being with me.
I remember how grateful I was that he was there. Not only would he stop me from drowning, but he would periodically hold my arms and breathe deeply and slowly on my face to remind me to breathe through some of the particularly long and painful contractions. I remember thinking how it would have been useless and annoying for him to tell me to breathe, but this way it not only helped keep my face cool but also made me feel we were going through it together.
Geri got there at some point and I vaguely understood that she was bustling around getting Jack and Connie to warm blankets in the oven, make ginger compresses, make the bed in the sun room (covered deck), and myriad other things. She then came over to get a pulse on the baby, blood pressure on me, and my temperature. They had a hard time getting a pulse on the baby, and ended up getting a cord pulse that was 12? I think. Good enough. They tried to get a temperature on me but couldn’t because my contractions were too close together to hold a thermometer in my mouth. I just wanted them to leave me alone and wondered if I could deal with any pokings and proddings if I had been in a hospital. I think someone might have lost a head if I had been in a hospital. How do people deal with that? The only reason I let them is because I knew that Geri was supposed to have them, but I didn’t even cooperate very well then!
Soon after that, I asked Wayne to get in the water with me. Between contractions, he raced to the sunroom and got his bathing suite on (didn’t have time to take his shirt off), and then climbed in. I don’t know quite what position we were in, but I somehow rested my head on his shoulder, and I think we were loosely hugging each other while I was semi-squatting.
Soon after that I remember feeling of bearing down. Geri was in the sunroom preparing things. At first it wasn’t strong enough to react to, so I didn’t. Then I remember being amazed that anyone would have to tell anyone to push, or even if they did if it would help. It just happened. I remember Wayne telling me not to push and I was completely confused. I was not doing it voluntarily. His asking me not to push was like asking me to stop my heart beating. My reaction was “How?”. Geri then told him not to tell me that (Fewf!!). A few contraction later, I felt the head was crowning, but when I stopped, it would go right back up. Along with the crowning came the pain that felt like I was on the verge of tearing – probably my biggest fear of the whole pregnancy. I felt the head, and I told Wayne to reach down and feel it, but I don’t know if he could (reach from his position that is). At about that point Geri said that she could see the head. She got Wayne to move me so that I was leaning backwards against him so she could access the baby coming out. She pulled her pants off and jumped in the tub. On the next push, the head came out. Geri told me to push on the next contraction, but I didn’t get one for about a minute! She was getting a bit worried, I could tell, but I couldn’t figure out how to push on my own. I finally got a small contraction and managed to push the rest of the baby out. He was laid instantly on my chest, underwater except for his head, which was wrapped in a wet towel (warm from the hot tub). We just lay there, baby on top of me, on top of Wayne for a while. Neither Wayne nor I was concerned that baby wasn’t breathing because his umbilical cord was still attached.
Geri, it seems, was concerned. She tugged slightly on the cord to see if the placenta was still attached. No action there. She then used a bulb to try to stimulate breathing. No luck. Baby was perfectly happy to lie on my chest looking at the world. It was almost as if he didn’t realize he wasn’t in utero anymore! After 2 minutes Geri gave baby a breath (artificial respiration style). At that moment, the second midwife showed up, was told he was born 2 minutes ago and hadn’t breathed yet, and gave him another breath. He started breathing then, and they gave him some oxygen for very brief time (30 seconds?). I’m told he turned pink instantly, though I never noticed his colour myself. He was then returned to my chest. All that took about 1 minute, I think. We also found out it was a boy – a big surprise because I was certain it was a girl. I also realized that Jack and Connie’s 10yo son Dax had been there for the whole birth.
Somewhere in the time between the birth and baby’s first breath, SS showed up, put his bathing suit on, and got in the tub with us. We stayed there together for about ½ hour, all of us mesmerized by the new baby. After about 15 minutes, we decided to cut the cord. Wayne couldn’t reach from his position, SS was terrified he’d hurt me and his new baby brother, so I cut it. It never occurred to me until a couple days later that I could have moved to let Wayne cut the cord. He probably would have liked that.
The placenta took its time to come out. Geri told me to push it out with the next contraction, but I didn’t get any contractions for about 20 minutes. Then, with some slight tugging from Geri and a weak contraction from me, it came out – intact.
Half an hour after the birth, Jack and Connie left (right on time for a meeting they had). MW#2 left shortly after. I had one very small tear that wasn’t hardly worth mentioning let alone stitching.
Baby Johnston (we had no names picked out for a boy – we still had 2 weeks!) weighed 6lb 0oz, was 49cm long, and had Apgars of 6, 10, and 10. His name is Reed Aslan Johnston.
My water broke at 1:15am, active labour started about 1:30pm, and Reed was born at 3:52pm, in our backyard hot tub to the sound of birds and a fountain. The pushing phase lasted 7 minutes.
Unfortunately Gardenbug and my father didn’t make it out in time for the birth.
Gardenbug made it to our house at 10:30pm that evening, and my father the following evening at the same time.
Skyler Dylan 22 April 1999
Reed Aslan 17 June 2007 ~ 8 September 2008
Ivy Rayne 3 May 2009
Leo Spencer 2 Sept 2010
Forrest Reed 15 Aug 2012