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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.

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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

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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.

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the labor that kept on stopping–my third birth December 15, 2006

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

babyabbyIt is often said that a woman’s first labor is long, her second labor is easy, and her third labor is unpredictable. Whoever said this must’ve been at my births because it mirrors my experience.

At 34 weeks gestation, I had 2-3 contractions an hour all day long. A few days later at my prenatal visit, my midwife wanted to check me to confirm that the baby was head down since she was so low. I was 2 cm dilated. I continued to have occasional contractions for the next six weeks. I had not experienced pre-labor at all with my first two pregnancies except the occasional Braxton Hicks while walking. So this was something new for me.

On a Tuesday night, my contractions started at 11 P.M. and quickly fell into a 4 minutes apart pattern. After an hour and a half, I called my husband Todd at work and asked him to come home. Then I got in the tub and labored there for a couple hours. We left for the hospital at 3 A.M. During my first contraction in the car, I moaned a little and after it was over, my boys ages 4 and 2, imitated me and started to hum. Even in my laboring state, I couldn’t help laughing. They were so funny!

The labor nurse assigned to me was somewhat clueless. She was going to take me to my room when a contraction started so I just leaned on the counter and she wondered why I wasn’t following her. Anita, my doula, had to explain to her I was having a contraction. Then later after getting settled into bed, the nurse asked me how long I had been shaking. I ignored her. She asked again. I still ignored her. She asked again. My nerves were frayed. I snapped,

PLEASE don’t talk to me while I’m having a contraction. Just a sec!

When my certified nurse midwife arrived, she just sat next to me and started peeling the EFM (electronic fetal monitor) off me. How awesome is that?? I never saw the likes of that thing again. Hooray! Eventually, I stopped shaking and my midwife said I was shaking because I hadn’t been relaxed. She checked my cervix and I was 6 cm dilated. Then a little while later, my labor really slowed down.

Todd and I walked the halls. I took a shower. Todd and Katie rubbed my feet to stimulate labor. I was having a light contraction every 20-30 minutes or so. We walked some more. I was tired. It was 7 am so I went back to bed. Almost immediately, my labor picked up and my contractions were once again four minutes apart. I was deep into my Enya music
and my labor while Todd slept on the chair. I was glad I didn’t need him so he could get some sleep. Occasionally, my new and improved labor nurse came to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and to check my blood pressure.

Two hours passed. I got up at 9 am because my contractions stopped again, and then called my mom. By noon, I was beginning to wonder if we had done the wrong thing in coming to the hospital because it had been3 hours since I had had any contractions worth mentioning.

Maybe I was still just having a lot of pre-labor. (When I shared this with Todd, he said he didn’t think we were going to make it to the hospital in time for the birth so he thought we did the right thing in coming to the hospital when we did based on the circumstances at the time)

I was back to having 2-3 light contractions an hour. Ho hum. What to do??? I was thinking it, but Todd finally said it out loud.

Let’s go home.

We were considering at least leaving the hospital for awhile even if we didn’t drive the 45 minutes to go back home. I really needed a change of scenery. I didn’t want to be at the hospital if I wasn’t in active labor.

Meanwhile, my midwife kept busy. I kept hearing baby cries. When we arrived at 4 am, I was the only one there. Now the labor hall was full and babies were coming out in every room but mine! When would it be my turn?
I talked with my labor nurse about our plan to leave, and she said I’d need to go on the monitor for a half hour so they could document my stalled labor. My midwife came in and we asked her about leaving, and I asked her to check me. I was 9 cm dilated. I freaked out.

Here I was totally coherent, talking on the phone, eating turkey and gravy for lunch and 9 cm dilated. Which thing doesn’t go with the others?? I changed my mind. I didn’t want to leave the hospital when my cervix was so close to being completely dilated. Four more hours passed with no contractions.

I had been considering AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) for awhile and my midwife said she’d do whatever I wanted and listed a host of other possibilities (none of which I wanted.) So I had her break my water. My cervix had closed a little bit since the last check; I was now at 8 cm.

We waited and waited and waited. Nothing happened. Yikes. Did I do the wrong thing? Did I just put a needless time limit on the labor now that my water was broken? Approximately an hour and a half had passed since the AROM. I would have a strong contraction when the nurse checked Abby’s heartbeat with the doppler, so we did that a little more often.

Then it happened. Transition happened, that is. You know what I’m talking about. No turning back now. Contractions were long and strong with no breaks in between. I don’t know how much time elapsed. It could’ve been 20 minutes or perhaps only five minutes. But I had had enough and asked Katie to check my cervix and make me complete if I was almost there. That’s exactly what she did. I’d have to say that was the worst part of my labor. She had her hand up me and I was lunging forward, screaming and gagging, (everyone thought I was going to throw up in her hair; I didn’t, thankfully), yelling,

No Katie NO!” And she just yelled back, “PUSH. PUSH” So I pushed and then she was done. I was complete. Whew! Katie told me to get on my hands and knees and push with the next contraction so my cervix wouldn’t close back up. Abigail crowned very quickly. Katie poured olive oil on my perineum and did a lot of stretching. I followed her instructions as to when to hold off pushing during the next contraction.

My labor nurse was right beside me, helping me breathe and telling me when to push. Todd caught Abigail. In my hands and knees position, I couldn’t see a thing except the wall. I thought she had already been born when it was just her head and I wanted to turn back over and sit down. (the head was such a tremendous release I didn’t realize her body was still inside me).

My second stage was 14 minutes. And third stage was quicker at 6 minutes. My midwife asked me if I wanted to push the placenta out and I said no, I wanted to wait for it to release on it’s own. She said, “It already did; it’s sitting right here. I know you don’t want me to go in there and grab it–just give a little push!”

Baby girl. Abigail Helene. 8 pounds, 1 1/2 ounces. 20 1/2 inches long. I’ll always wonder when (and where) Abby would’ve been born had we been at home when my labor stopped. We wouldn’t have known I was 9 cm and I would’ve chalked all those hours of contractions to another round of pre-labor.


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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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