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giving birth makes her feel feminine April 1, 2008

Posted by guinever in : birth, birth stories, labor, midwifery, pregnancy , comments closed

mollyThanks to Molly for sharing the birth stories of her third and fourth children.

I did not use a doula for baby #3. I really wanted to, but it wasn’t practical at that time. My previous doula wasn’t available any more, so we decided to take the info we had learned from her, and all our experience, and try a natural birth on our own. We chose a practice with midwives because I did not want to use a doctor. When I got to the hospital they wouldn’t admit me because I wasn’t progressing.

My contractions felt strong to me, but the nurse told me I probably wasn’t even in labor and sent me home. I didn’t want to go home because lived over an hour away. So we went out for dinner and saw a movie. I had a stress ball with me which I squeezed every time I had a contraction. Fortunately, we were at a movie that was very loud so hopefully no one heard my moaning. When we got back to the hospital, they still refused to admit me. They told me to take a tylenol p.m. and go home to bed. Bummer.

At home I got in the bathtub and tried to relax. The tylenol wasn’t cutting it. Go figure. I told my husband that I couldn’t bear to feel like this and not be in labor! He said I should get dressed and go back to the hospital, but I told him I didn’t feel like traveling. I didn’t even want to get dressed. And I wasn’t in labor anyway, according to the nurse, so why bother?

I was going to just lay down and try to sleep (ha!) He was getting very worried and insisted that I get dressed just in case. I could barely lift my leg to put my pants on. By the time I was dressed, it was clear we should get back to the hospital ASAP. Another hour and 15 minutes in the car was torture. I was panting, trying not to bear down. Transition happened in the car this time, and when we got to the hospital it took less than 10 minutes before the baby was born.

I had been in labor after all, LOL!

in labor with baby number 4

With our last baby, a fortuitous move placed us just 10 minutes from the hospital. Yeah! When my water broke, we drove straight over. My midwife wasn’t on duty and I had to use a different one. She didn’t know me, but I made my commitment to natural birth quite clear to her up front. I was frustrated because the staff didn’t want to let me get up and walk around since my water had broken. I was afraid that labor wouldn’t progress if I couldn’t do something active. I didn’t want to sit in bed the whole time.

laboring in the bathroom

They couldn’t keep me from going to the bathroom, so I got up and walked to the toilet and squatted there as many times as I felt I could justify. After awhile, they finally allowed me to walk around the halls, with frequent monitoring. My labor progressed at a good rate and it was finally time to push. I was having a hard time and the midwife suggested I squat on the bed. I had never given birth in that position before and it hurt like crazy to try and do it. The pressure was almost unbearable. But it worked great.

Unfortunately, the baby’s shoulders weren’t coming out. He was too broad shouldered. The midwife grabbed the baby and turned him like a corkscrew and pulled him out. That is probably the strangest thing I have ever felt, and not something I care to ever repeat! But it was amazing once he was out to hold him, and to know that, once again, I had given birth.

Giving birth naturally makes me feel so feminine! I may not be very lady-like in the process, as I tend to be one who makes noise. But I feel like I am doing what my body was created to do.

It was less than 5 minutes after our fourth son was born that I turned to my husband and said, “I want to have another one right away!”

You can read Molly’s other birth stories.

You can submit your birth story too; please click here for guidelines.


I don’t know how I could have given birth without a doula March 31, 2008

Posted by guinever in : birth, birth stories, birth story, doula, health, labor, midwifery, pregnancy , comments closed

mollyThanks to Molly for sharing her birth stories with us:

When my first son was born, I was living in post-communist Eastern Europe. Think America in the 1940s and you’ll imagine the situation in the hospital correctly. I had already suffered a miscarriage while living there, which was devastating. I tried to prepare myself for natural childbirth by reading a book about the Bradley method, but I was young and didn’t really know anyone who had done natural childbirth. In the hospital the nurses told me they were going to give me a shot which would make everything better, and I wouldn’t have any side effects from it at all. I didn’t realize that they were giving me a narcotic until it was too late. I had the strangest out of body experiences and felt convinced that I was dying and no one knew it except a big dog that was beside my bed the whole time. Of course, no one saw the dog except me, LOL!

After the birth, my baby was taken away from me and I didn’t see him again for about 12 hours. He had Strep B so they made him stay in the nursery and I could only see him when I wanted to nurse. My confidence as a mother was pretty low. I had already lost one baby, then I didn’t have the victorious birth I was hoping for with the 2nd, I couldn’t nurse very well and his health problems prevented us from bonding the way I had been told we should. As a new mother, far from family and home, I felt very isolated and insecure.

hiring a doula for her second birth

It was almost four years before I would birth baby #2. I felt that my poor birth experiences had robbed me of much of the confidence I should feel as a mother. I was 100% committed to having a natural birth this time, and I felt sure that it would be very empowering. I was back in the USA, and I decided to use a doula. She encouraged me to write a birth plan and submit it to the hospital when I came in for the birth. Part of my birth plan stated in large, clear type that I did not want any medication and that no one was to offer me medication at any time. I didn’t want to be tempted.

using a midwife

I also decided to use a midwife instead of a doctor. I was a little worried that having the doula there would take something away from the experience I hoped to have with my husband. Nothing was further from the truth. The doula enabled me to have a much better experience with my husband. During my first birth I felt like I barely saw my husband…he was too busy rubbing my back and applying counter-pressure for me to see much of his face.

With the doula, she rubbed my back and did a lot of the physical things I needed (getting ice, heat packs, etc) and my husband was free to totally focus on meeting my emotional needs. He was always right there where I could see him and talk to him, and I was able to hold his hand and feel his reassuring presence. My doula handled the nursing staff for me as well, which allowed me to turn my focus more inward and just relax and think about the task at hand.

As it turns out, I don’t know how I could have done it without the doula.

I was in the transition phase for over 2 hours….I think transition isn’t supposed to last more than about 30 minutes! It’s the time when you are sweating and cold at the same time, and the contractions are so intense. All you want to do is push but it’s not time yet. My doula enabled me to take each contraction one at a time.

thanking the Lord for a natural birth

I feel confident the staff would have pushed me toward C-section if she hadn’t been there, because it was almost unbearable and it just took so long. But between the doula and my husband, I had plenty of support and was able to make it through. The doula also suggested that my husband sit behind me on the table and I leaned against him. During the contractions I dug my fingers into the knees of his jeans. When it was time push, he leaned forward and I leaned forward with him and bore down. When the contraction was over I could lean back against him for a moment to catch my breath.

It felt so safe and secure to be so close to him.

When I finally was able to push my baby out, I felt so great! I was so thrilled that I had accomplished my goal of having a natural labor and birth. I immediately felt much more confident as a mother…as a person. I can honestly say that the Lord used this birth experience to redeem much of the loss and frustration of my previous one. I felt very exhilarated and empowered by the whole thing. It was like being on top of the world. I was fully alert and could immediately nurse my baby and bond with him.

an epidural after the birth for repair

All my sons have been big, and baby #2 was no exception. I had a rectal tear when he was born which necessitated a trip to the surgeon when he was a few weeks old. They gave me an epidural and I got to find out all about what I had missed out on. It made my legs all trembly, and they had to catheterize me, as well. When the catheter came out it was painful, and I couldn’t make myself pee. It was so uncomfortable to have the urge and not be able to go. This further strengthened my resolve to NEVER have an epidural during birth.

You can read more of Molly’s birth stories

You can submit your birth story too; please click here for guidelines.


birthing with polyhydrominos: a birth story March 21, 2008

Posted by guinever in : birth, birth stories, birth story, home birth, midwifery, pregnancy , comments closed

deb1This birth story is from Deb, a certified Bradley® teacher and doula.

I’ll do my best to recount our birth day without making it sound too bad. I wrote this a week after our birth, and even then, I could appreciate what we did and the choices we made that day, but it seems that with every birth there is something that I wonder if we could have done differently. I think that’s the way of things, though!

The midwife graciously said it will just make us better Bradley teachers. LOL I will tell you that I am a case straight out of Variations and Unexpected Situations…. not your normal birth.

knowing her options and trusting her birth team

I REALLY hope for those of you reading this and are expecting right now, that my birth story won’t scare you. This was one of those “couldn’t see it coming but you deal with it anyway” situations and I’m glad we had the chance to work through it. I think it comes down to knowing your options still and trusting your team. I felt like we always had a say in what happened…no one pushed anything on us. The only time I felt out of control was when it was ME doing it to myself! We still managed to have a vaginal birth without compromising anyone’s health. And for that I’m very grateful.

Deb’s obstetrical history

I have had polyhydrominos which is excessive amniotic fluid levels (normal levels at term are 5-25cm; my highest level has measured at 41cm. Basically, I was a whale.). I’ve been tested numerous times, because sometimes extra fluid is a result of an anomaly in the baby (such as problems swallowing or peeing in utero), but all babies have been normal. Other times extra fluid is a result of gestational diabetes, but that has been ruled out. So the docs have decided that it’s just the way I “am” during pregnancy. The down side to it is that with the extra fluid, there is no need for the baby to settle into a head down position, and for my last two babies before this birth, they have flipped back and forth between breech and head down up until birth, necessitating an external version (where the doc manually turns the baby from the outside). With this pregnancy, my fluid levels were staying sort of low (on the high end of normal, which is low for me!) and although she was both vertex and breech at times, she seemed to be settling more head down than not.

I was so hopeful that for once, I would be able to go into labor spontaneously and show up at the hospital in labor instead of for an induction. At 35 weeks, however, my visit showed that my fluid had spiked and was measuring a few weeks ahead, so they ordered an ultrasound. BAD IDEA. They did an u/s at 36 weeks and estimated the baby’s weight at 8lbs 13oz with extra fluid (at that visit my belly was measuring 44 weeks. Again, think of a whale).

They immediately went into panic mode saying that if we left the baby alone, she’d be over 10lbs at term and there would be no way they could turn her if she were breech. After a heart-wrenching week of trying to decide what was best, we decided to do an induction because we could be sure that she would be head down and we could avoid a c-section. I fully realize that others in my position would have refused the induction, thinking that if they just waited it out, the baby would flip to vertex, be in a good position, and labor could progress on its own. But with me and my past history, at this point it wasn’t only about as little intervention as possible, but my birth plan was basically one sentence:

We will do whatever is necessary to avoid a surgical birth.

planning an induction

We had decided that we were going to do the induction on Monday. As of the previous Thursday, I was just about 3cm and Chloe was head down and in a good -2 station. Things looked great for an induction that would hopefully go by “our rules”: the plan was to leak the bag of waters slowly to allow her head to settle even further in the pelvis. Then I’d just need a hep-lock and could call the shots in terms of induction, whether it be walking, lollipopping, or pitocin if we so chose. I was very optimistic that finally we have a chance to do this.

On Sunday, I was a little concerned because it felt like the baby had flipped back to breech again. My anxiety probably constricted all my pelvic muscles and wouldn’t allow her to turn if she’d wanted to! 🙂 On top of that, I just couldn’t be sure of the baby parts I was feeling so I was pretty much just obsessing.Throughout the weekend, too, I’d had a few sessions of hours of contractions, some strong enough to make me wonder if labor were starting. The last set came early Monday morning before the induction, starting around 4am. At first I thought

This is great; I’m going into labor on my own!

But then Todd woke up and grumbled “Do you know how the baby is lying?” and my ignorant bliss left quickly. I couldn’t tell, but I just had a feeling that she wasn’t head down. Although earlier in our late-pregnancy saga, our midwife had warned us that the doctor wouldn’t even try to do an external version if I came into the hospital in labor, she had just last week said that she managed to get him to agree to at least try, as long as I wasn’t in transition or anything. So I was hopeful on that front that even if things were happening, we’d at least still have a shot to try a vaginal birth.

getting the heplock

We arrived at the hospital shortly after 8am and did the usual admitting stuff. The first “event” of the day was trying to get my hep-lock put in. This is hands down my least favorite part of labor. There were 4 nurses and it took all 4 of them to get a line going. My veins just run and hide when they hear the word hep-lock! Seriously, all the relaxation techniques are put to use for getting a stupid line run in my arm. So the first try was a nurse and a student nurse. I *should* have respectfully asked her to defer to a professional, just because I didn’t want to get into the hour-long saga of getting it done. BUT I didn’t. Dumb. She almost got it in and then the vein blew.

So my midwife came in and I asked her for a shot of lidocaine in my other arm, which she was happy to do. The other nurses, however, including one who kept calling me “Bradley lady”, was heckling me about getting pain meds for an IV. I had no problem with that–I know my own weakness! My midwife, who is usually very efficient at the whole IV thing, promptly blew out my other good vein. So a discussion amongst 4 nurses ensued as to where they were going to get this line in and finally the “Bradley heckler” got it but she made my midwife do the other lidocaine shot. OK, so that was stress #1 over for the day.

I was on the monitor for a while and my midwife said it looked like I had a labor pattern. I could tell I was having contractions, but they were a lot milder than the ones I’d woken up with earlier that morning. I told her that I was worried about the baby’s position and when we did an ultrasound, sure enough, that little stinker had gone back to being head up. Between the three of us, there was a collective “CRAP”. Not what we were all hoping for! My midwife checked me and slyly said “I may have to fib to Dr. G about your dilation.” He was probably not on board with trying a version if I were past 5cm. “Officially” I was 2cm (I really don’t know what I was, but at this point it didn’t matter). She went out to call Dr. G.

doing an external version

The next step was to administer a medication that would relax my uterus (I was still having contractions, but although they were regular, they weren’t terribly strong). I was already frustrated at this point, because I knew the med would stop the natural contractions I was having and would take some time to wear off in terms of getting things going again. While we waited for Dr. G. to get to the hospital, my midwife and Todd almost turned the baby themselves. It was rather humorous, but also sort of a relief, because it looked like she would turn just fine. We were right; the doc showed up, did his own assessment, slathered ultrasound gel on my belly and flipped her lickety split.

He wasn’t able to maneuver her very far down into my pelvis, though, so they were concerned again about cord prolapse if the water broke. We decided to try a little pit to counteract the terbutaline shot (the relaxer…do you see the craziness in that!?!?) and once my uterus was contracting again go back to trying to leak the bag of waters to help her slowly come down into the pelvis. They started the pit out at the lowest level and it didn’t take long before I was having at least some contractions again. I actually feel like this was when I was either going to go into labor on my own or very nearly, so the induction part of the whole day didn’t bother me too too much). Around noon-ish, I was checked again and I was 4-5cm (who knows if I had been there since we had arrived–I never asked her!) and it seemed like an OK time to leak the bag. Here’s where the biggest mistake of the day happened, in my opinion.

it was supposed to be a slow leak

Dr. C. was on call and she was the one to do the leaking. She doesn’t know me from Adam and frankly didn’t care a whit about whether she broke it or leaked it. (This is my realization upon later reflection, of course). I’m still not sure why my midwife couldn’t do it, but she didn’t do it last time with Andrew’s birth, so maybe it’s a protocol thing. Imagine the scene: Dr. C, the midwife, and Todd are all flanking me for this procedure. She goes in, we all expect a leak, but instead she busts it totally open. All three of them jumped back with a gasp. I only heard the sound of the biggest dam breaking and water absolutely pouring out. And of course relief on my part, at least physically. Dr. C. was soaked, which was my only recourse. After my initial feeling of “wow, that feels better!” we immediately jumped into the concern about the cord…remember that the baby’s head was very high still.

But Dr. C, her work done, flitted off to the next train wreck. I’m really not very upset with her, but just wish that she could have been a little more thoughtful to the situation or that Dr. B. , who at least was my ally in this situation, had been the one at the hospital. But seeing as how this day was going, it was par for the course.

My midwife did an immediate check just to feel for head parts (and hopefully not other parts). There was no cord, but she did feel something odd… She was mumbling to herself and I didn’t really pay attention too much at that point, but Todd did. When he pressed her, she just answered like she was trying to figure out *what* she’d felt. Not a cord, though. (did we have an alien child? LOL) My contractions picked up a bit, but still were not demanding my attention. Really, they were just there…. The pit had been turned up a bit but I’m not sure of the numbers (I should have had Todd chronicle every increase, but just now thought of that!).

My midwife came back and checked again (how’s that for keeping exams to a minimum?!?! what are we up to, something like 27 by this point!??!) and discerned that Chloe had her hand on top of her head. Evidently when the water broke she moved down, along with her hand. It was almost on top of her head. This is not a *huge* complication; with my 3rd birth the baby was born with his hand up next to his face. It slowed down the pushing stage and caused me to tear a little, but nothing overly complicated. My midwife assured me that they don’t do c-sections for hands, but there was that little voice in the back of our heads that cautioned us about a big baby.

We all remembered our former midwife’s claim that I had a 10-lb capacity pelvis and went confidently with that thought! She did ask that I stay in bed on my hands and knees for a bit to see if maybe the situation could resolve itself. At this point, we didn’t want her to descend any further because then her arm could get into a place where it was stuck. I was on board with that, so I just tried to relax for a bit and not let my mind totally freak out. I have to say that although I wasn’t overwhelmed, I was not dealing with everything very well.

I really had wanted to do this without all the interventions and STUFF, and I was frustrated at feeling so helpless even at this point. My mental preparedness was not that great, but thankfully I have Todd, who is just so good at reminding me of all the things I need to know. I don’t know what I would do without him.

Are you all still with me?

Sometime after 2pm, I was checked again because of Miss Chloe’s hand/arm situation. This was my midwife’s day off, mind you, and she stayed with us pretty much the whole time. She took a nap at one point–maybe when she suggested I stay in bed–but I would say that she was in the room about 80% of the day. I was so thankful. She was really fighting for our right to keep laboring when anyone else would have called it quits before now. The report from the latest exam was not good: Chloe’s entire arm had gotten in front of her head and was actually out past my cervix into the birth canal. (Don’t think the irony of having joked about this a lot in class was lost on me!)

the baby grabbed the midwife’s finger

When she did the exam, the baby grabbed her finger. Oh my word. NOW we were in a true complication situation. She sat down next to us and laid it out. It was not something that was going to resolve itself, but she thought she could try to maneuver her arm back in where it belonged and hopefully the baby would pull it back down. She thought it could work mostly because Chloe had that arm around her head and on the opposite side of her face (I can’t remember which was the offending arm, but if it was her right, then it was up around the left side of her face). Usually, she told us, the protocol for this procedure is to get an epidural and then try, because, as she said

I will have to put my whole hand in there to try and fix it.

Now I am usually OK with labor…it’s hard work and I’d call it painful at times, but it’s usually something I can work through myself without pain meds. At that point, however, whenever someone uses the two words “whole hand” together when she’s referring to your birth canal… I was very persuaded. I felt totally defeated, actually. I’m going to have to get an epidural!?! Still, it seemed like a good use for one if the procedure was going to be all that.

But then I thought to ask how long it would take… if it worked, would it be quick? or would she take 10 minutes to get it done. She said that if it was going to work, it wouldn’t be more than a few minutes. After talking with Todd, and recalling the strength of two recent students who endured other docs manually breaking up cervical scar tissue, I asked her if we could try it without, but if it was too much, if we could stop and do an epidural. She agreed that it was worth a try.

It seemed like an eternity before we actually got on with it. When the midwife was putting on her glove (which she stretched to her elbow…I should have fainted right there!) So she started and Todd held my hand and tried to be encouraging, along with the nurse. She was right; it did not take very long, but it was probably worse than any other pain I’ve ever felt. I only kept on because when it was about to be too much, she said “OK, I think I got it.” Then she had me in bed on my side for a bit to see what happened: would her hand creep back up around her head? Would she pull it back where it belonged? I was rather traumatized by the events of the last hour, so I was happy to just recover. It was probably at least an hour or so before she checked and we got the good report

“I don’t feel any digits.”

At this point, we thought getting up and using the birth ball would be good. I was 6-7cm by this point, but obviously not working or in serious labor. I was just chatting, and I was ready to get on with it, but I think it was me that was keeping it from moving. My pitocin was pretty high at this point, and my midwife made the call to keep it on. I did not argue, mostly because it wasn’t even affecting me. I think at that point we were at 20 units (can never remember what units, though!).

If we had the all-clear of digits check around 3ish, then it was a good two hours later, maybe more, when I was still just putzing around. My midwife came in and gave me the “we’ve stalled here for a while, and that’s very unusual for a para 6.” I knew it and was worried that it was me that was my mental state that was causing the plateau. I had a little breakdown with her and she gently offered an epidural again, citing maybe the arm thing we did earlier was holding things up….but she used the phrase “cruising towards a section” here and that got me all in a tizzy.

getting a pep talk from her husband

I asked to go to the bathroom and Todd was in there with me and I had my all-out breakdown. Was I not ready for 6 children? Was I holding this up because I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for another baby? Again, Todd is so wonderful at giving me perspective, and reassured me that we were doing just fine, that we had only started several hours earlier, and that I was making progress. I didn’t have to take an epidural if I didn’t want one (I really didn’t want to, and mostly because I didn’t want to have to deal with the after effects. But I was pretty close to caving by this time)

Todd’s pep talk gave me a renewed confidence and perseverance and when we left the bathroom, the midwife suggested that I lay on my left side with the bed flat for a while. Whenever she did an exam that day, if I was totally flat my cervix seemed to magically open more than if I’d been tilted or the bed was up even a bit. So hey, worth a try. She also had my pit up to 26 by that point. (I HATE the number 26, by the way)

labor rituals for transition

I don’t know if it was the pit increase or the position change or my mental adjustment, but suddenly we changed gears. I would say it was sometime after 5 o’clock that all this happened. My contractions started to get fast, furious, and just plain awful. I remember how much pit contractions hurt. My ritual was that Todd HAD to lightly rub my shoulder on top of the hospital gown when each contraction started and had to continue until it was gone. NO questions asked, no slouching. I couldn’t deal with the strength of the contractions if he didn’t do that. I always find that so funny, but even thinking about it at the time, I still needed it and he got snapped at if God forbid he missed the start of a contraction. 🙂

By now I didn’t care who was in the room, who talked, or who was even breathing the contractions were so strong. I do remember my mantra became “I hate pitocin, I hate pitocin! My midwife and her stupid pitocin” and when she came in I said “It’s too much; can’t you turn it down?” to which she answered

These are the contractions you need to get your baby out.

It sounds so insensitive (and I remember really not liking her right then, but I respond to that kind of matter-of-factness, I guess.

It was maybe an hour of that before I was pushing without trying to, but when I got checked I was 9ish. She asked me to push through a contraction and she was convinced that I could push it away, so I did. Even after 6 babies I still have trouble getting into the groove of pushing and this time was no exception. That probably extended my time a bit, but it didn’t take long. Todd managed to call his sister and mom back in the room (I knew they weren’t there, but wasn’t concerned about them missing it. I just wanted to be done) and they arrived less than 10 minutes before the baby was born. I remember the midwife asking to have another nurse come in when Chloe started to crown because we had some concern about her size and shoulders.

She announced that if she had back up there, nothing usually happened. I asked her if she thought we should lower the bed and she laughed about that later, saying “When the baby is crowning, most moms are panting, breathing, or screaming ‘get it out!’ but you were asking me if we should lower the bed!” Oh well…it was a trick I remembered seeing from another big baby birth.

the birth

Todd was next my midwife, ready to catch. Chloe was born at 6:37pm with no dystocia and no problems. It was wonderful.

The nursery nurse jumped in at 6:38 and asked to take her to do the newborn stuff (remember that her shift was ending at 7 and she wanted to get her job done so she could leave). My midwife chewed her out and said,

She has worked really hard for this baby and she’s going to hold it for a while!

She deliberately didn’t cut the cord till way after it had stopped pulsing. We both really appreciated that. 🙂 The nurse got huffy and actually left! She didn’t ever come back, in fact, and Todd and my midwife did the newborn stuff themselves. I didn’t have any stitches, so that part has been great. She weighed 8lbs 13oz and was 22 in long. I was a little disappointed; I was hoping for at least 9lb!! But she was beautiful, has a very unique shade of blond hair that is really long in the back (she has male pattern baldness in the front and top) and looks JUST like her brothers and sister. It is quite amazing to see the same face in just a slightly different model.

processing the birth

So now, writing about this birth a week later, there are things I would change, but all in all, I think we took a possibly bad scenario and worked with it to keep mom and baby healthy. The next day my midwife said in all her OB years, she had never seen a complication like that and the nurses in L&D were still talking about us that we hadn’t taken the epidural. I was so glad we at least tried it without, even if we would have had to end up with one. I know the recovery without metabolizing the epidural is so much easier. Without that and without stitches, I was amazed at how I felt. I’m still tired and I was sore but nothing like past births. At least THAT part of it was smooth!

We owe so much to my midwife. She said she’d talked to Dr. G about what he would have done if it had been his patient and an arm and he replied (she said they call him Eeyore and if you use his voice, it makes it funnier!) “I probably would have tried it, but I’m not very good at it….” At least he would have tried; I’m convinced Dr. C. would have just hauled us back to the OR. We feel so indebted to her that we gave Chloe her middle name, Rose.


a hypnobabies birth February 1, 2008

Posted by guinever in : birth, birth stories, birth story, doula, health, midwifery, pregnancy , comments closed

sheridanA big thank-you to Sheridan for sharing her birth story here. Sheridan is a Hypnobabies instructor and a fellow member of Independent Childbirth. Here are some excerpts:

The Hypnobabies Birth Guide CD was amazing. It seemed to be saying exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. Either during or right before Dr. K broke my water, in the CD it said when your water releases you will feel a rush of anesthesia. It was perfect timing and it worked! After my water was broken the pressure waves were no longer painful.

…Luckily the lip was gone after those 2 pressure waves. I was so glad and started pushing. The nurse said, “Stop, we need the Dr. here and we need to break the bed down.”

I was like,

Whatever people, I am pushing, I don’t care if a Dr. is here or not.

I didn’t say this, but thought it. IT was ok to push, so I was pushing. I was a yeller grunter kind of pusher. It was so powerful. I really didn’t choose to do anything, it just happened. I would try to remember to breathe the baby out, but my body wouldn’t have that. But between pressure waves I would sometimes be breathing the baby down. To read the rest of the story, go to Sheridan’s website.

You can submit your birth story too; please click here for guidelines.


12 days overdue, but who’s counting? the diary of my pregnancy and homebirth of baby number five March 20, 2007

Posted by guinever in : birth, birth stories, birth story, home birth, homebirth, labor, midwifery, pregnancy , comments closed

ballbirthSo do you want the short version or the long one? The story of my actual labor and birth is quick and to the point. Light contractions started at 5:30 p.m. Active labor kicked in about 8:30. The baby was born at 10:36. Keep reading if you want the long version. If you already got through the title, congratulations. That was quite an eyeful! Other possible headlines for this birth story might be:

the day after Christmas 2005 Today I was certain I was pregnant. I hadn’t told anyone, not even my husband. It’s been several weeks now where I’ve thought that I might be pregnant.

a few days later I had never waited so long to take a pregnancy test. I’m usually one who tries for a positive result before a missed period. This time, I just wanted to “treasure” in my heart the possibility of being pregnant.

January 2006 I had lunch with a friend and told her the wonderful news. I asked her if she wanted to come to my homebirth, and of course she did!

First trimester This pregnancy was the only one where I didn’t feel nauseous all the time. I was grateful, yet tired, and I had cervical pressure which could be partially relieved by getting in a hands and knees position. I met with my friend Kendra, a student midwife, and discussed my plans for birth.

Second trimester When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I prayed for a labor that I could handle; I didn’t want to get an epidural. For my second birth, I added something to my prayer: Lord, could you make my labor a little shorter this time, please? Nineteen hours was a long time. For my third birth, I prayed that I wouldn’t have the same struggles with medical caregivers for a natural birth so I switched to a different midwife and a hospital a lot further away from home. For my fourth birth and first homebirth, I prayed that my midwife would arrive in time and that we wouldn’t have any complications.

Now I was pregnant with my fifth child, and again I had new hopes and prayers for my labor and birth. I prayed that everyone who was supposed to be at my birth would be there. I also prayed that I wouldn’t need any stitches. With all four of my previous births, I had torn and needed more stitches than can be counted. My perineum had suffered enough trauma and I wanted to protect it.

August 12 36 weeks. The baby dropped. I was so hormonal. Feeling absolutely yucky. I had crossed the emotional threshold. I wanted to meet my baby. I gathered all the supplies needed for the birth. I was ready for labor to start.

August 21 I had contractions every night this week as I drifted off to sleep. I was curious to know what my cervix was doing, so I asked my midwife to check me. I was 3 cm dilated. In my previous pregnancies, I had always refused all but one exam at the very end of pregnancy because of the slight risk of breaking the water or introducing infection.

Tuesday, August 22 38 weeks. I was feeling yucky. Totally tired. I was having lots of Braxton hicks. I really had the feeling I was going to have the baby in the next day or two. This was my fifth baby, so I knew that feeling well. I threw up twice. I needed to get a lot of things at the store including my traditional after-the-birth bagels and orange juice, so I took my oldest son with me to help out while my sister stayed home with the other two kids. I had seven hours of light, yet persistent contractions that day. I was exhausted and went to lie down. I called my doula and midwife to tell them what was going on. Tonight could be the night, so be on the alert. My nap was refreshing, and my contractions stopped. No baby today.

Friday, August 25 Still 3 centimeters. I was thinking that it would be a perfect time to have a baby. I went to a friend’s house Friday night. Out of the blue she asked me how I would handle Beth’s declining health and eventual death. What? I told her I didn’t need to worry about that just yet; I just needed to get past having this baby first. Besides, Beth was doing OK, I had just talked to her yesterday about a birth she had attended. I went home that night, feeling relaxed, in the right frame of mind to start labor.

Contractions started soon after my head hit the pillow. More than ten minutes apart, but they were not painless. I moaned at the peak of one, and my husband asked me if I was having a contraction. I told him yes and to just go back to sleep. He didn’t remember asking me that the next morning. I was beginning to think that this might be the real thing. Then my phone rang which confused me. I was in labor; I would be the one making calls soon, not the other way around. I answered the phone. It was the news of Beth’s death. The cancer had finally won after a nine year battle. I was stunned.

What should I do? If I was going to have a baby soon, I didn’t want my midwife and doula grieving over Beth, unable to help me during labor. But if I didn’t tell them, then I would be the only one who knew. That would be worse. And Beth was planning on coming to my birth too. With her absence, they’ll be asking if I called her yet, offering to make the call for me. And when do I tell them–after my baby is born, drop the bomb that our favorite midwife died. That wouldn’t work either. So I picked up the phone and made the midnight calls. I didn’t let on that I could possibly be in labor. They were just as surprised at the timing of her death that I was.

When I got off the phone, I pulled all my birth stuff into the living room and set it out because I didn’t want to get caught off guard like I had the last time. I even added water and plugged in the crockpot full of neatly folded preemie diapers to get ready to use for hot compresses. I laid down on the couch. I was thinking I can have a baby tonight then go to a funeral in a couple days. I might not be able to make the visitation, but I can definitely go to the funeral. Yes, I can have a baby tonight. That became my mantra.

I can have a baby tonight and then go to a funeral.

But my contractions slowed and eventually stopped.

Labor day approaching 39 weeks. My mother-in-law had plane tickets to come for a visit. I was eagerly anticipating her arrival. Then I panicked. I realized I was still pregnant. I was supposed to have had the baby before she came, so I walked to the store and bought some castor oil to take before bed. I mixed it with OJ and managed to drink it down while pinching my nose shut. I went to sleep, confident I’d be waking up with contractions. After all, the castor oil had not failed me when I had taken it with three of my other four pregnancies. I woke up the next morning still pregnant. hmm. I guess the baby isn’t ready.

We had Chinese food for supper, another thing proven to jump start labor. The next day I decided to try castor oil again. Yuck. I took it before bed and set the timer for 2 o’clock. If I wasn’t in labor by then, I was going to take another dose. The alarm went off and I changed my mind. I didn’t want to drink the slippery liquid again and gag.

September 1 For four hours, I alternated taking black cohosh and blue cohosh every15 minutes before going to bed. I also did lots of walking. In the morning, I was still pregnant. My mother-in-law arrived.

September 4 I didn’t sleep well. I was restless in my bed. I got up at 3 am and did some deep knee bends and walked outside.

September 7, the night of the full-moon. 40 weeks, 2 days. Todd and his mom took the kids out so I had the house to myself for a couple hours. I put on some lively Elvis music and danced and bounced. I was determined to get this baby out of me. When I was tired, I got out my ball and bounced and swayed on it for awhile. When the kids came home, they thought it looked like a lot of fun so they joined me in dancing to Elvis. I laughed and laughed; they were so funny.

Yes, this must be what my baby and body were waiting for. The full moon. I walked in the darkness, back and forth under the light of the moon, swaying, thinking of the ocean. I closed my eyes and tried to smell the salt-air. I was at the ocean, the moon was pulling the tide forward. The moon was pulling my baby out. Back and forth I walked and swayed outside my house. No contractions. I went to bed and woke up again the next morning, refreshed and still pregnant.

September 14 41 weeks, 2 days and 5 centimeters dilated. I wasn’t surprised at this news. I had light contractions all the time. The baby is so low, Kendra told me I could just reach up and feel the baby’s head if I wanted to. I’ve decided that this is the longest labor in history. I’m just going to continue dilating about 1/2 centimeter a day without ever really going into labor. Then I’m going to stand up and the baby will come out. No pushing necessary.

September 15 –Ten days past my due date I’m not pregnant, I decided. It’s an illusion. There is no baby. There is no pregnancy, therefore, there will be no labor. I tried to convince myself of this. I e-mailed the ladies on the natural birth list I’m on, telling them of my predicament and seeking encouragement. They told me the words I needed to hear, the words I’ve told many women before: just be patient. Labor will start when you and the baby are ready. They told me how great it was going to be that I could now empathize with women who go over their due date.

Kendra came over and she rubbed clary sage on the uterine pressure points on my ankles. We watched birth videos, and I felt incredibly relaxed.

Sunday, September 17 I woke up and was extremely achy. I wondered if it was my birthday. How old am I now? Todd gave me a box of truffles. There was no way that I was going to sit through church. I was hot and tired and my back was sore, very sore. After church, Todd called me and wondered if I minded if he and the kids went to the pastor’s house after church. Mind? No, I don’t mind. Are you kidding me? Stay as long as you want! I was enjoying alone time in the quiet house and had gotten some much-needed rest and now I could rest some more in the afternoon. I called my midwife or maybe she called me and said she was going to drop off some Cimicifuga; I already had Caulophyllum. She explained that I should alternate taking them every 15 minutes. These were the homeopathic form of black cohosh and blue cohosh. I lit a candle and poured some lavender bubbles into my bath. And I listened to music from Enya.

5:00 I took my first dose of the C & C. I had a light contraction with the third dose 30 minutes later. I continued taking the tablets and my contractions continued 5 minutes apart. Occasionally, they jumped around from 3 minutes or 7 minutes apart, something common during early labor. I quickly realized that finally I was having a baby so I had a few things to do. I sat at the computer, bouncing and rocking on my ball and did the lesson plans so Todd could teach the boys the next week if the baby did finally come.

7:15 I called Jan and left a message that I was probably in early labor and she should plan on coming tonight. Around this time, Todd called to let me know that he and the kids were on the way home. I didn’t tell him what was going on.

Lauren called to let me know I could go to the massage school the next day for a pregnancy demo. Ha! I told her I was in early labor and I had better still not be pregnant in the morning. I’d call her a little later when things picked up.

I called Shelly and she asked me if this was it. She hung up pretty quick and must’ve hopped in her car immediately because she was the first to arrive right after my midwife even though she was the furthest away.

I also called Amy, my sister-in-law, and my mom to let them know I was in labor. I had never done this before–had so many people at my birth nor called family members while I was in labor.

a little after 8 P.M. The family burst in the house to find me with some upbeat music on, bouncing on my ball. Contractions were starting to get a little edgy but I was coherent in between and kissed the boys goodnight. Twenty-two month old Mary stayed with me, but soon I didn’t like her around because she wouldn’t stop chattering or touching me during contractions.

I called Jan again to let her know I’d like her to come over. While on the phone, I had a contraction and fell silent. Then I had another one that was much lighter and that I could talk through. I decided I had better get off the phone and concentrate on being in labor or it might stop again like it had been doing all month!

8:40 Kendra, my midwife, arrived. My contractions were short and intense. I couldn’t talk during them, but I was still chatty in between them. She took my blood pressure. Great. She listened to the baby’s heart tones. I had a happy baby.

9:15 We called Lauren. Then Shelly arrived. Contractions continued. Then Linda, Jan and Marje arrived. The boys were already asleep, but Mary didn’t want to miss the party so she came out and went back and forth between Shelley and Jan.

I sat on the floor, leaning against Todd in between contractions. I asked him to rest his hand on my sacrum when I leaned forward for contractions.

I went to the bathroom and Todd followed a few minute later. My contractions were harder and my moans became louder and longer, matching the intensity of the labor waves that were overtaking me. I took my pajamas off and put on a nightgown so I wouldn’t have to do it later.

I went back to the living room, and had a flashback of my last birth where the end of my labor came upon me very quickly and there was a rush to get something under me. I didn’t want that to happen again, so I asked if someone could put the vinyl tablecloths on the floor. I mentioned there was duct tape. Marje jumped into action. Boy, she was really good with the duct tape. Maybe that’s why she was at the birth. Nearly everyday of this pregnancy, I had prayed that whoever was supposed to be at the birth, would be at the birth. Marje wasn’t even on the list of invited guests and here she was, my duct tape angel. She also brought me water and a washcloth when I needed them.

10:26 I went to the floor where I had been before and my labor intensified. Anne, my friend and doula arrived. I was glad that she was here. I chanted,

“Baby come out.”

Active labor slipped into transition. I glanced behind me at the clock. 10:30. I thought I had better have this baby today because there’s no way that I can be in labor for another hour and a half plus. While anticipating the next contraction, I decided I would push with the next one, just to see what would happen. I had not felt the physical urge to push yet, but all of a sudden, I was having an overwhelming mental urge to push. So I waited for the next wave. And I bore down.

I must have made some type of birth is imminent noise because my birth team–my midwife, the more experienced midwife and doula were all hanging out in the kitchen just a few steps away from me, but they came running when they heard my grunting. Kendra pulled on her gloves and asked me if I wanted her to check me.

Did I want her to check me? Uh no, I didn’t want her to check me. I was about to have a baby.There was no need to check me. She wondered if she needed to put her gloves on yet, if she was about to catch a baby. So I put my hands between my legs and I told her that I could feel the baby’s head. I withdrew my hand and it was all goopy so I asked for a wipe. I’m not sure why I was so obsessed with cleaning my hand at this point, but I was. Lauren walked in. I said,

“OK, everyone’s here. I can have the baby now.”

10:33 Anne asked me if I wanted to lie on my side. We had talked about it a few times during my pregnancy. I had told her to remind me to lie down, I told her to make me lie down. I had failed to lie down with my fourth birth even though I fully intended to…The reason for side lying in my case was so I would put pressure on a different area on my perineum to decrease the chance of tearing. Anne said “We’re going to lie down now,” and she grabbed my shoulder and pushed me down to the floor, guiding me to a side-lying position. I said,

“Pray I don’t tear. Pray I don’t need stitches.”

I am very grateful that Anne made me lie down and didn’t take my no for an answer! Thanks Anne!

I pushed. I was crowning. Anne held my leg back a little more. Todd was right beside me. Kendra used hot compresses to provide counter-pressure as I pushed. She told me to stop pushing. I breathed in and then blew out and blew out some more, waiting out the contraction. I pushed again for a couple seconds before Kendra and Linda told me to stop. Kendra supported my perineum, holding everything in. I took a deep breath and exhaled and exhaled. I lay on my side and felt my baby’s head. I wondered if this baby were Ruth or Jackson.

10:36 I waited for the physical urge to push and followed the cues from Kendra. The baby’s head emerged. I breathed and waited for the next urge to push a few seconds later. Then the body followed. Todd announced that it was a boy. It was Jackson. I took him to me and sat up holding him. I leaned back on Todd. Jackson was crying. He had pinked up immediately and he had perfect 10, 10 Apgar scores. Healthy lungs. I called my parents and told my dad it was a boy.

This had been my most peaceful, quiet birth. This was the first baby that I hadn’t roared out of me.

10:56 The placenta released and third stage was over. Jackson latched on and was nursing beautifully. The placenta was smaller than my other ones at only 6 1/2 inches diameter. And it was an unusual battledore, left spiral attachment (this last bit of info is for all those quirky midwives who keep placentas in their freezers and then take them to meetings to show off). For the rest of us, this means that the cord was attached to the side of the placenta instead of in the middle.

And I didn’t need stitches. Thanks, Kendra.

Everyone retreated to the dining room for chocolate and orange juice so Todd and I could be alone with Jackson. A few minutes later, I hugged everyone goodbye on my way to the shower. My two midwives stuck around.

11:49 I asked Todd if he minded if I cut the cord this time. Jackson weighed in at 8 pounds, 8 ounces. I was tired drifted to sleep in beside Todd with Jackson in the crook of my arm.

Read my other birth stories.
diary of a primipara
my second labor–a lot quicker than my first
the labor that kept on stopping–my third birth
born in our living room-the story of my fourth birth

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