The Birth of Hugh Callum Schatz-Allison
November 2, 2000. This was the day we were going to jump start labor. Castor oil and acupuncture were the name of the game and I was ready. The due date of Oct. 22 had come and gone, and I was feeling huge, impatient and uncomfortable. Steve and I both agreed that the 1st 8 1/2 months of the pregnancy flew by. The last 4 weeks, however...
The “you’re still here’s?” and “god you’re huge’s!” were getting very old.
So Thursday AM, November 2, I woke up, and began the Aunt Mildred’s castoroil induction, which my midwives swear by. First I drank an ounce of castor oil, chased with some OJ. A little thick going down but not too terrible. After this I took a brisk walk for an hour (at which time I realized that the right half of my face was not working...Bell’s palsy?). Upon returning from the walk I took my 2nd ounce of oil. This time was a little more difficult to get it down. It seemed thicker than before. Imagine drinking canola oil, but a little more dense. After the 2nd dose, I took a long hot shower for almost an hour. The 3rd shot of oil made me gag like you wouldn’t believe, and made me quite nauseated...but the thought of finally going into labor was worth it!!! I had been preparing for this day for months, years even! After a little nap, Steve and I drove to the acupuncturist, who stuck me all over, and hooked some of the needles up to an electro-stimulator, which I call the Barbie jumper cables.
Acupuncture ended and we drove home. In the car I had some strong braxton hicks, but nothing to write home about. As soon as we were in the door, I thought perhaps my water had broken, but, no, the castor oil was starting to work, and I pooped my pants for the first time since 1975. I then spent the next 2 hours on the toilet with the runs like crazy. This is supposed to stimulate uterine contractions, but...not for me. By now it is early evening, and no labor. I was pretty upset that it didn’t work. The longer I stayed pregnant the more likely I’d have to go to the hospital to be induced with pitocin. Not something this momma wanted at all! I was having a home birth for crying out loud!!! The old linen, chux pads, vitamin K, space heater etc etc had been ready since august! So, the sun had long set, and Steve and I took a long walk in hopes that something would happen.
Upon returning from our walk, Jharna, one of our homebirth midwives called to see how things were going, and to share some info with us. She had spoken with Bert, our back up medical midwife who had some concerns about the ultra sound we had done on Tuesday, Halloween. Apparently they thought the baby was extra large (9+ pounds) and there was excessive amniotic fluid. These things made them think I had gestational diabetes that had gone undiagnosed, even though I had done a random glucose screening earlier in the pregnancy which was fine. To get things going at home, Jharna suggested sex with an orgasm, nipple stimulation and to begin taking labor tincture (black and blue cohosh plus raspberry leaf ). Ok, we’ll give anything a shot at this point, but with this new info, they needed us to go in for a non-stress test (which was actually supposed to have been done on Tuesday with the ultrasound) and a level 2 ultrasound the next day, to see if the baby was ok. Well, this info put me over the edge. Suddenly I was a pregnant woman with risk factors. I was a wreck. What is wrong I wondered? Is the baby ok? Why won’t my body do what it is supposed to do? Will we have to go to the hospital? What will they do to us there? These were the things flooding my mind as I sat on the couch and sobbed as Steve held me.
Suddenly, at 8:30, I felt a little punch from within, just below my belly button, and water began to gush out of me. In 3 minutes I soaked a comforter and 2 bath towels. Steve called Jharna and got her machine so he called Teri, our other midwife, who told us to do lots of nipple stimulation, no sex, and meet her in the AM, because a friend of hers was going to do a uterine massage in some ancient Mayan tradition. If Labor didn’t begin in 24 hours, off to the hospital I would go, because infection can set in when your membranes are ruptured. OK, we’d do almost anything to get this going at home...right. OK. Not going to the hospital, nope! Not me! I’m having a home birth!
Steve and I stimulated my nipples, he pressed on my acupressure pints, and I even unwrapped my avent breast pump to help with the stimulating. By midnight I had had maybe 3 contractions, and decided to call it a day. Sleeping was not so easy though! At 4:30 I got up and started reading a baby name book, and stumbled upon the name Callum, which is a version of Malcolm (my grandfather’s and brother’s name) and it sounded like Calla, my best friend. Hmm, I’ll run that by Steve once he wakes up.
7AM on the road to get my uterine massage. Had to stop and get vitamin C and Echinacea tincture to help ward off infection (water had broken). Taking the Echinacea and the labor tincture made me laugh, because they are cured in alcohol. It was the most I’d had in 9 months(perhaps 2 tablespoons)!
We arrived at the center for cultural awakening where I was massaged by a woman who prayed in Spanish over me while burning sage and some other incense. The massage felt great and the baby went from lying way over on the right to smack dab in the middle. All lined up ready to go down the chute! Please let this work!
From here we drove to the medical midwife’s office for the NST (non-stress test) after stopping for a snack at 10:30. When we got there, they strapped two belts to my belly and I was given a little button to press each time I felt the baby move. One belt measured the heart rate and the other recorded contractions. They were looking to see if the heart rate changed with movement or contractions. With movement the baby’s heart rate is supposed to rise, and with contractions, it should stay the same, to show the baby can handle the stress of them. Well, Hugh had no problems with the contractions (which were braxton hicks still) but his heart rate stayed level with movement. They called him non-reactive. I tried drinking ice water & apple juice, changing position, etc, but after 45 minutes, no change. Dammit! What is wrong? The midwife talked to us and recommended we go to the hospital to be induced, because all of a sudden we were no longer good candidates for a home birth. Too many red flags. Until Tuesday we had been ideal candidates which we had been told by the medical people from the beginning. Now suddenly we were high risk. The midwife we spoke to told she had a homebirth and thinks it is a wonderful thing IF you are risk free. Now that we had 5 red flags they weren’t comfortable anymore. Water broken, large baby, excess fluid, 2 weeks past date, and a non-reactive NST. She left us alone so Steve and I could talk it over and decide. Although it was difficult to surrender, we agreed that the safety of the baby was the most important thing, and frankly we were both getting scared of what could happen. So, we’d go to the hospital to be induced.
I had another appointment for more acupuncture, so we arranged to go to the hospital after another sticking me with needles session. Steve would drive home (45 minutes) and get some things for me, and Jharna would meet me at the hospital, after the acupuncture. I made a list of things for Steve to get at home. Damn, what will I need to manage pitocin labor? Will I end up getting an epidural? To be honest, lying on the acupuncturist’s table, I was doubtful the treatment would work to get things started, and I was rather pre-occupied with the thoughts of going to the hospital...although it was relaxing, and she tried to address the bell’s palsy. She also put mugwort on the needles which she heated with a flame. It smelled like bad pot!
Off to the hospital. As Steve and I walked into the childbirth center, around 3PM, I joked that I’d been partying all day. Alcohol in tinctures, and now we both smelled like we’d been smoking weed. What would the hospital folks think? We had a good chuckle, which we desperately needed at this point. I got checked in, put a johnny on, and was hooked to a fetal monitor. Hearing the heart beat made me nervous, and I tried not to focus on the digital #’s flashing on the screen. Steve and I told Bert that I did not want to start pitocin until Steve returned from home. Steve left and a few minutes, Jharna arrived, thank goodness. Bert returned and checked me internally, and then left for some time. Where did she go? What did she feel up inside of me? Why didn’t she say anything?
After about 20 minutes, she returned with some bad news. My cervix was hard and closed, and the baby was at the highest station. In order to induce, they’s have to give me cervadil, a suppository to ripen the cervix and in the AM start the pitocin. Because of the state of my cervix and the baby’s position, we were looking at delivering in another 24 hours, and they thought I had a 20% chance of delivering vaginally. She had consulted with the obstetrician in her practice and they were recommending a c-section. A c-section? Me? In all of the reading I did during my pregnancy, I skipped the cesarean parts, partly because I knew I’d never have one and partly because I didn’t want to jinx myself. So, there I was strapped down, in a dress with my ass hanging out being faced with the most difficult news of my life, I think. What should I do? Why did I send Steve home? Jharna was great. She told the medical folks that we’d let them know what we wanted to do after my husband returned. She sat with me for this grueling 70 minutes while I waited for Steve to return. I called him and caught him at home. He was frantically trying to find someone to care for Franny, our dog, and get everything I put on his list together. I then told him the news, and we left it that he’d get to the hospital as soon as possible and we’d decide. In this time of waiting Jharna asked me to look inside and ask myself, or any spiritual power what the best thing was. She also told me to ask the baby what he was trying to tell us, as she believes babies communicate their needs way before they enter the world. Well, I asked, and my gut said I had to go ahead with the c-section. Something was wrong, and I had no idea why. Jharna reassured me that the baby wouldn’t be whisked away, and that Steve would be able to stay with him as soon as he was delivered. I had pretty much made up my mind to have the c-section before Steve returned, and he supported me completely. But, damn, were we scared.
As soon as we gave the go ahead for the section, things happened SO quickly. I was hooked up to an IV and a catheter, blood was taken, and I was shaved from my pubic bone to my belly button. Steve and Jharna put on scrubs , and lots of people came and went having me sign various forms, and answer various questions. It was a zoo, and the frantic pace made me very nervous. The anesthesiologist, I’ll call him Dick, came in and explained the epidural to me. He was way too chipper for my emotional state.
Next thing I knew I was being wheeled down the hall, and into the OR, the coldest brightest atmosphere I’ve ever been in. It was 7:15. There were a ton of masked people milling about quickly yet, casually. It seemed like it was an emergency, but at the same time, just another day at work for them. I really needed an energy level somewhere in the middle. Dick had me lie on my side while he put in the epidural. At this point my fear really set in and I was crying. Dick was making small talk to me and then asked Steve why I was crying, and did it hurt? In response, I could barely whisper, “I’m nervous”
Lying on the operating table, cold rushes went down my spine and I could no longer feel my feet. A screen was hung up so I couldn’t see what was going on, and Steve sat at my left shoulder. Jharna stood behind him. Both of my arms were strapped out in a T, and I was hooked to blood pressure and heart monitors as well as an oxygen mask. Next thing I knew, they were cutting into me. I could feel what they were doing, but It wasn’t painful per say, but it wasn’t pleasant. The first incision felt like a razor blade cutting a ziplock, and the next seemed a little more like sawing. After the cutting I felt lots of pushing, pulling and tugging. I have never been so frightened in my life. All this time my eyes were locked with Steve’s, and I had to keep repeating, “we’re having a baby, we’re having a baby”. At 7:35, after major abdominal pushing by the surgeons, I felt my baby get pulled out of me. I heard a sweet wonderful cry, and next thing I knew, Steve was with the baby, and he ran back to me with tears in his eyes and said, “It’s a boy! He looks like Ingrid and Dylan!”
Jharna said she had a good look at him when he was born and the cord was wrapped around his neck twice and around his chest and leg. We were told that if he had been born vaginally he would have been in major distress if he would have made it at all.
As the pediatrician and Steve spent time with the baby, Jharna and Bert stayed with me as I was stitched up. Steve brought the baby over to my face before he went to the nursery with our new little son. I was wheeled back to our room, where I felt a mixture of physical pain, joy, and loneliness, I wanted to hold my son like you wouldn’t believe. Where were they?
Before long they returned and I got to hold my sweet pea at last. I put him to my breast and got to truly look at his angelic little face. Hugh Callum was here, very healthy, 8lbs 14 oz, 21 inches long and I was holding him at last! Yes! Things did not go as planned, and my c-section experience was quite traumatic for me , but when ever I see my sweet Hugh sleeping peacefully, or hear his little cry, I am so thankful he is here. We are very blessed.