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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.


Katherine’s birth story: cervadil induction, natural birth January 21, 2008

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

Thanks to Katherine for submitting her birth story. In her words, she was committed to an un-medicated, un-managed, natural birth, but was also birthing at a big university teaching hospital, albeit with a team of very cool midwives. She and her husband took a Bradley® class, followed the Brewer diet, did yoga once a week, and walked 2-5 miles per day.

41 weeks along in my pregnancy

On Thursday, my 1-week postdates checkup, I had borderline low amniotic fluid levels (which increase the chance for a “cord accident” and are an indirect marker of potential placental insufficiency, which can both be serious complications) with 1 cm dilation and 50% effacement, so the midwives wanted to induce me the next day. As I suspected, they “don’t do inductions on the weekend,” but I didn’t want my son to be born based on the hospital’s scheduling practices. I got them to agree to give me an extra day to research and think and see if labor would start on its own.

inaAfter reading in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth that low amniotic fluid was a reason that Ina and the other midwives who work with her would transfer to the hospital, I decided it might be serious, and I’d better see what I could do to get labor started. I got acupuncture twice, did nipple stimulation, sucked my thumb to stimulate an acupressure point on the roof of my mouth that helps get contractions going and helps them be stronger once they do start, visualized and told my cervix to efface and dilate because the baby needed to come out.

an induction with cervidil

By Friday night when I went in for what I was hoping was just a check, I was still 1 cm, but 75% effaced and having small contractions every 10-15 minutes. I was thinking I’d be told, “Yes, you’re in early labor. Go home.” No such luck. The midwife and nurse weren’t convinced I was in early labor and told me that I needed to start a cervical ripener in preparation for a pitocin induction the next morning. The midwife inserted cervidil at about 8:30 p.m. I was still pressing the acupressure point in my mouth and chanting in my head for my cervix to efface and dilate. By 10:30 p.m., the nurse had decided that maybe it was real labor after all. I remember the nurse kept asking me to rate the pain of contractions on a pain scale, and I went from, “Oh, maybe a 1.5″ to “That was…mmmm, a 3.” to “Um, 4?” The nurse said at one point, “Are you sure that was only a 4?” and I told her that I was trying to save the bigger numbers for later. My husband said I never went higher than a 5, although some of the contractions were pretty painful. For the most part,

I would say that labor wasn’t so much painful as it was all-consuming. It’s like being in the ocean and being carried up and down in huge waves. If you give in, accept it, and ride out each contraction, it’s not so bad. But if you tried to avoid it, I am sure it would be more painful.

I did a lot of ‘vocalizing’, i.e. moaning like a zombie or mooing like a cow, and that helped dissipate the intensity of the contraction and kept me breathing. Or, I would be quiet, but trace the outline of a cabinet door with my eyes or stare at a speck on the floor as a distraction from the contraction. My husband talked me through a lot of contractions too, putting up with me saying, “No touch!” or “No talk!” for some of them. He called our doula to come be with us sometime in the dead of night, but I don’t really remember when…

laboring in the tub, floating like Ophelia

The Cervidil fell out (it’s on a little string like a tampon and is supposed to stay in for 12 hours) at about 2:30 a.m., and the midwife found that I was 6 cm dilated. My first question was, “Do you have to put it back in?” to which the midwife and nurse both started laughing, “No, you’re in labor and progressing well.” My next question was, “So, this means I can go in the tub now?” Thankfully, I was able to have the rest of my labor in the deep whirlpool tub they had in the bathroom, floating like Ophelia and dozing between contractions,then flipping onto my hands and knees for mooing and pelvic rocks when one was starting.


After some indeterminate time (being in labor is really an altered state of consciousness, and I had no idea about time except when I looked at the clock and marvelled that it was so late at night), my doula recognized that I was getting pushy and asked for the midwife to come in. I had noticed that the contractions felt different, like I was being wrung like a dishrag from the inside out, but I didn’t recognize it as transition. I thought some part of my BRAIN would say, “Wow, I really have the urge to push.” But in a homuncular version of a laboring woman, the head is about the size of a cherry tomato, and the abdomen is the size of a VW bus — there is nothing intellectual about birthing a baby.

The midwife listened to one contraction (think yodeler being strangled, and that’s the noise I was making) and told me to get out of the tub NOW (they are not certified to do water births at the hospital). She checked me and said I was fully dilated except a little lip of cervix that she pushed back.

I pushed in a number of different positions for about 2 1/2 hours, changing when it seemed right to squat or kneel or lunge, made more primal noises, but did the final pushing on my hands and knees, smelling coffee and marvelling that I could see daylight through the venetian blinds. My son came into the world easily and gently with some minimal guidance and lots of encouragement from the midwife, nurses, my husband, and my doula.

analyzing my birth

I feel really lucky that my labor was not too fast, and not too long either, and that I never felt the need for drugs. I am glad I had a midwife who literally sat on the couch drinking a cup of coffee until it was time to catch the baby. And she told me just what I needed to hear, “

You’re doing a great job working with your body. Remember that half of pushing is molding the baby’s head, so even if it doesn’t feel like anything is happening, you’re doing a tremendous amount of work with every contraction.”

I am also lucky that after pushing, I came away with a minor skin tear, but no terrible damage to my anatomy. I think pushing for 2 1/2 hours gave the tissues a lot of time to stretch, and the midwife was really good at telling me to push and hold, push and hold, so the baby came down really slowly.

I managed (somewhat awkwardly) to flip from my hands and knees to sitting up, passing my leg over the umbilical cord and having the baby handed to me, wet and warm, by the midwife. The first thing he did was poop all over me, but I didn’t even notice until later. I was just amazed that he was finally HERE, that he was so big (8 1/2 lbs, 21″ long), but so little, and that he’d just come out of my body, that I’D DONE IT! I’d had the un-medicated, unhurried, relaxed, un-traumatic birth that I had hoped and prepared for!

After the cord stopped pulsing, the midwife clamped it and asked my husband if he wanted to cut the cord. At first, he declined, afraid that he might hurt me or the baby, but the doula, nurse, and midwife all said, “C’mon, neither of them can feel it. Just do it,” so he did. Severing the umbilical cord strikes me as kind of a funny ritual, like the human equivalent of a ribbon cutting ceremony at a library or a new shopping mall. I think new fathers are encouraged to do it so they can feel like they really had their hands in the birth process in some active way. I kind of wished that they had waited longer, but I was in a bit of a daze and not really capable of speaking up at that point. I felt kind of loopy, almost like I was stoned.

After my placenta came out (I’m pretty sure the midwife asked if she could give it a little tug to help it along, and at that point, I figured she knew best what to do), the medical staff got down to business. I had a little 1st degree tear that the midwife stitched up while the nurse helped me try to get my nipples perky so the baby could latch on. The stimuli from the stitching and this motherly but energetic L&D nurse trying to help me was a bit much, but the babe latched on like a champ and the repairs were done soon enough.

Aside from the family practice doctor coming in to check the baby over and take his height and weight, some hard pushes from the L&D nurse on my uterus to make sure it was involuting (shrinking) and checks that I wasn’t bleeding profusely, they left me and my husband and our baby son in relative peace, free to stare at each other and be totally amazed that in just nine months, a being who didn’t exist had come into being inside my body and made his way into the world.


As it turned out, the amniotic sac didn’t burst until three contractions before my son came into the world, there was plenty of fluid, and the placenta was perfect. I could have waited for labor to start spontaneously… In the final reckoning, though, with all the negotiating between my desires and hospital “standards of care,” I am glad that I got to give my son what I consider the best birth we could possibly have had, given the setting and the small, but real, possibility that we could have ended up with a true complication.

Thank you, Katherine for submitting your birth story for other women to read.

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


my second birth; a lot quicker than my first December 13, 2006

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

babyjFebruary 9, 2001 I’m 38 weeks pregnant. It’s about 8 P.M. and I’m watching TV. I’m tired, but going to bed doesn’t seem right so I bounce on my birth ball for a couple hours while playing Solitaire on the computer. I’m feeling yucky so I take some Tums and go to bed. Thirty minute later, a contraction awakens me. I suddenly realize I wasn’t having indigestion; I had just been in early labor.

Wow. This is intense. I giggle at its strength. Very soon, I have another one. And another. I’m still giggling. I’m happy my baby is coming. I get up and put all our bags by the door. I pack snacks for 22 month old Alex. I lie down, but I had felt better walking, so I get up again. I pace around our small house, pausing to lean on the couch or the wall when a contraction hits.

Pretty soon, I’m tired again. I haven’t slept at all, so I lie down. But it’s just not right. I can’t get comfortable so I decide to get into the tub. I sink into the warmth of the water. Relaxing is so easy. I lie on my side with towels under my head and just let the contractions wash all over me as I think about my cervix opening. I listen to Enya and imagine dancing and swaying. I put the hot water on a very slow drip, so the water in the tub doesn’t get too cold.

Time doesn’t matter. Just one contraction at a time. Then my arm starts to shake. I wonder why I’m shaking so soon. With Alex’s birth, I didn’t shake until very late in labor when perhaps 15 hours had passed. It’s been less than 3 hours since my labor started. My contractions get harder and more intense. My thighs are cramping, and I really need Todd to rub them for me. I don’t want to get out of the tub. I don’t want to call out to him because I’d more likely wake up my toddler than my husband. Then Todd appears. Wonderful. He quickly assesses the situation and thinks I’m in early labor since it’s only been a few hours. Another contraction overtakes me. My breathing is very fast because I’m working hard. I gasp at the peak since it’s so strong. Todd said,

That was a great Lamaze demonstration.

He thinks I’ve forgotten what labor feels like since I’m acting so badly in early labor. My next contraction is worse. It feels like someone grabbed my cervix, pulled down and turned. Ouch. I tell Todd to call our midwife; it’s time to leave for the hospital.

I get out of the tub, and ask Todd to please pack the car and call the babysitter. I want to leave as soon as I dry my hair and eat a frozen juice bar. During contractions, I bend over, moaning and swaying, ignoring the hairdryer buzzing and jumping on the counter because I didn’t turn it off; my popsicle is sticking to the floor. I’m finally dressed and ready to go, but Todd hasn’t done a thing. The bags are still sitting by the door. Alex is still in bed asleep, and the babysitter hasn’t been called. I’m mad. He doesn’t want to leave yet because it’s too soon. I told him to look at me, not the clock. We need to get to the hospital. I go lie down and ask him to please do all this stuff.

Finally, he comes back about 20 minutes later. Todd wants to time contractions for an hour to see what’s going on. I tell him if he doesn’t take me to the hospital now, I would have an ambulance take me. He didn’t want to leave too soon, only to have to come back home. I didn’t care if we had to return home. I just wanted to go now. Finally, we’re in the car. Fortunately, my pains space out a little. When we get to our friend’s house to drop off Alex, Todd parks in the street and saunters very slowly up to the door, leaving Alex and his things in the car.

What is he thinking? He is obviously not in a hurry like I am. I see him talking in the foyer–small talk while I’m writhing in the car, scaring my toddler. Todd brings me a huge cup of water which I had asked for and I gulp it down. Finally, we’re on our way again…

When I’m up in the labor and delivery room, the nurse asks me what I want to do. I want to pee and I want my cervix checked. But before I can get up and go to the bathroom, a contraction hits. It’s more than 2 minutes long; it’s very intense, but not painful. I shake violently, occasionally letting out a moan…

When the nurse checks my cervix, it seems to take her a long time. I can’t see her face, but Todd can. He told me later that he thought something was wrong or that I hadn’t even started to dilate yet. Then my nurse said,

Honey, do you have the urge to push? Because you’re complete!

Relief washed over me. Have you heard that your life can flash before your eyes if you’re near death? Well, a host of potential delivery locations passed through my mind’s eye, and I was just grateful that I was in the hospital. (I’d like to plan a home birth someday, but I don’t want to have an unplanned home birth, car birth or parking lot birth.)

Again, my nurse asks me what I want to do. I tell her I want to wait for the urge to push. She thought that was a good idea since the midwife and doctor weren’t even on their way yet.

The intervals between contractions space out, but with each one, my urge to push grows. First, I just bear down a little, lifting my butt off the bed. Before long, I’m pulling my knees way back and putting my chin on my chest. Todd is behind me and I’m leaning on him between contractions. I yell,

“Where’s my midwife, I’m pushing!” Moments later, she walks in.

After my next push, she suggests an episiotomy. I gave in the first time; I wasn’t going to go through that painful healing again. “Don’t bring those scissors near me,”I snap. I ask her to please tell me when to stop pushing; I want to take the time to stretch so maybe I won’t tear. She told me I needed to push a whole lot harder to even bring the baby down and then we could talk about holding back.

So I push harder and the head pops out. (So much for easing the baby out slowly.) Then I push again, and the shoulders and the rest of the body are born. The baby is slippery, covered in vernix. I help catch him. I’m holding him close while the midwife tries to clamp the cord; it’s very thick. Another son. Born after only 7 hours of labor, Caleb Daniel. 7 pounds, 7 ounces. 20 3/4 inches long. Alex has a brother. Almost immediately, the placenta releases. I’m breastfeeding and getting stitched up.

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diary of a primipara, a birth story December 13, 2006

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

1127092138aApril 4, 1999 One week to go until the official due date. The countdown began, or should I say that it continued. It’s Easter Sunday and I had much to celebrate with the little one moving inside me. I was tired and hot during Sunday School, and all I wanted to do was take my clothes off and go to bed. Todd took one look at me and asked if I wanted to go home. Yes, I did! He stayed at church while I went home to rest.

The baby moved like crazy when I went to bed. I had weird pains-not contractions. Maybe gas, but I wasn’t sure. My belly felt very heavy and different when I got up to walk. Did the baby drop?

A primipara is a woman who is pregnant for the first time or who has borne just one child.

April 5, I was sluggish this morning so I went back to bed. I wasn’t motivated to do anything. When I did my kegel exercises, it felt like I was lifting weights–yes, the baby must have dropped. In the afternoon, I felt better and went shopping with a friend for flowers.

April 6 I saw my certified nurse midwife today and she confirmed that the baby has dropped. She did an internal exam, and said that my cervix is soft and dilated a fingertip. My midwife thought I might have the baby this weekend. How could she say that? No one can really know for sure! Now I’ll have my hopes up. She noticed that I was swollen and told me that I should take my wedding ring off. I told her that I had been trying to get my ring off since Saturday night, but it’s stuck.

I felt pretty good today, so I planted flowers on the porch, went for a walk and took a cool bath afterwards. Then we went to Bradley® birthing class–hopefully this will be our lasts week. I want this baby to come!

April 7 I typed my address book into the computer–a project that I’ve been meaning to do for a couple years. It didn’t take very long; why didn’t I do it sooner? I printed labels to make sending out birth announcements a little quicker. Todd went to youth group without me. I just didn’t feel like being around all the kids, and I wanted to stay by my bathroom–I’ve been going all day plus I was having more Braxton Hicks than usual. I checked my suitcase that I’m taking to the hospital and put more things in it. I feel like tonight is the night. I made a sign that says,

Who are you baby? Esme or Aleksandr?

April 8 I’m still here. Last night wasn’t the night after all. I had four contractions before falling asleep. I had a few more things on my “to do” list that I had made. I tackled the fridge. Then I moved things around in the cupboard. Is this what everyone calls nesting?

April 9 I went grocery shopping and bought tons of cereal and frozen food; I felt like this was the last time I would be shopping for awhile. I went home and and tried to rest, but my mind raced with more things to do. I got up and planted the rest of the flowers. I washed a few windows. I saw the car and figured I should wash those windows too. While in the car, I decided it needed vacuuming, so I did that as well.

By supper time, I felt kinda queasy so I went to bed. I just felt like I was going to throw up and I eventually did. I hurled so bad that it splashed the walls in the bathroom. I went back to bed. I woke up about 1 am( like I always do) because I had to pee. After lying down, I had to run back to the bathroom. My insides had turned to liquid and I was having a serious contraction. I felt better so returned to bed. But there’s another contraction and another. Not too bad, but I couldn’t sleep.

I got up and walked around and ate some saltines. The contractions continued. I laid down in the guest bedroom because I didn’t want to bother Todd. If this was it, I wanted him to get as much sleep as possible because I would need him later. I looked at he clock to time the contractions. They were pretty short and irregular. They came every 2-7 minutes and were only about 20-30 seconds long. I took a bath but couldn’t get comfortable in the tub, so I went back to bed, thinking I’d wake up Todd around 8 A.M. The contractions continued. . .

About 5, they were painful enough that I started to moan at the peaks. I decided to wake my husband up. I couldn’t wait any longer. I just couldn’t be by myself anymore. We had been practicing relaxing almost every night together for three months–finally the time was here when I really needed him to help me relax.

April 10 I I laid down next to Todd and rubbed his back for awhile, trying to wake him up gently. He didn’t think I was in labor. He told me to try and ignore the contractions. He asked me if I had eaten something, walked around, or taken a bath (he must’ve paid really good attention during birthing class.) I told him I already did all that and have been laboring four hours.

This was it!

Finally, he timed the contractions and helped me to relax. At 7:30 A.M. we called my midwife and talked to her husband who is an OB in practice with her. He said it sounded like I was in labor and would probably have the baby today, but should stay home a while longer.

That was a reality check for me. I realized my contractions weren’t very long or strong after all. After a couple hours passed, my midwife called to see how we were doing and asked if we wanted to head to the hospital. Not yet, we wanted to stay at home. Later, she called again and asked the same thing. Todd helped me get dressed and loaded the car.

All I was thinking was, if I’m only dilated 1, 2, or 3 centimeters, I’m chucking the drug-free way and plugging into the epidural. I had 4 contractions in the car, and I was not happy about them. Being in the car was extremely uncomfortable. When we arrived at the ER entrance at the hospital, a nurse wheeled me up to the maternity floor while Todd parked the car.

My midwife met us at the hospital. I was 6 centimeters dilated and 95% effaced. Praise the Lord! We had labored at home for 10 hours and had a lot to show for it. I had been praying for a short, easy labor. We didn’t get a short labor, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle so far.

I lost all track of time. I laid in the side relaxation position and Todd rubbed my legs because they really hurt. He was wonderful. He rubbed my back and talked about the baby who was about to be born. The labor nurse said we were a great team and wondered if Todd was a massage therapist. No, it was the Husband-coached childbirth® classes. (Thanks Leah!)

The contractions got harder and my moans turned to screams. Both my midwife and nurse thought I must be in transition and wanted to check my cervix. At first I refused, but then I gave in to their request when they persisted. Seven centimeters. I was very discouraged that we had been there so long and I had only dilated one centimeter, but they said I was progressing fine.

I didn’t believe them. My nurse really encouraged me at this point since she had had un-medicated births herself. She said that if she could do it, I could do it too.

Let’s take one contraction at a time.

Todd asked me if I wanted to get into the jacuzzi. I didn’t; I was just so tired. But I did agree to walking around a little. The contractions were much harder standing up, so I laid back down.

They checked me again. I was almost complete–there was only a lip of the cervix. They tried moving it through a couple contractions. It wouldn’t budge. I was stuck. I wanted to push, but they told me not to, or I would bruise my cervix. They suggested calling the MD to come in and break my waters. Eventually, I agreed. But before the doc could get there, I was complete. I pushed. My water broke on its own with my next contraction.

I glanced at the clock. It was 5:15. I wondered how long pushing would take. It took me a few contractions to get the hang of pushing. The nurse suggested lying on my left side and pulling my leg up. That was much easier for me and more effective also–until the baby turned and pressed into my back. Ouch! I flipped over onto my hands and knees (what a sight!) and was able to get relief through about 4 contractions, but then it was back to lying on my side. My midwife pushed my leg way back for me because I couldn’t do it myself; I was too tired.

Finally, the head was in sight. It was time to assume the delivery position. They took the bottom part of the bed off and I scooted way down. Now both Todd and my midwife were pushing back my legs. The doctor arrived. My midwife told me I was going to tear and suggested an episiotomy.That was the one thing I definitely did not want. I would rather tear. I refused. They wouldn’t give up the idea. I refused again. They persisted. The doc said it would take a half hour off my pushing time and the baby would be out in1-3 more contractions.

A half hour off the time? How much longer would it be? The baby’s head bulged out of me. I freaked out. I gave in. The doc cut me the next time I was pushing which didn’t hurt since the pressure of the baby’s head cut off the nerves. Then the doc cut me again when I was done pushing. That did hurt. That cut was the most painful part of the labor. The contractions were normal; the scissors were not normal.

Two more contractions. . After 19 hours of labor, Todd watched his son, Aleksandr Arthur, be born at 6:52 in the evening. The new dad was proud. He cut the cord and took pictures. Aleksandr lay on my chest. He’s beautiful. It’s over.
We did it, and we did it the Bradley® way–drug free (but not without a lot of moaning, screaming, and grunting). Yeah. Not it was time to get stitched up–bring on the local. I was a mommy. WOW. There’s nothing like it. Alex was nursing. We called our parents to let them know about their first grandson. We didn’t even know how much he weighed yet . . . 8 pounds, 14 ounces, 22 inches long.

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