Here's mine from 2005
Adrian is here-waterbirth
I loved reading everyone's birth stories as inspiration, so I have to post mine especially for all those still waiting.
On the 19th, I went about my day and at 2:30 felt really sleepy. I took a nap and woke up at 5:30 feeling hot, sweaty, shaky and nauseaus. I had been having some hard, but irregular contractions for 2 days. I called the midwife and she said to call her when the contractions got into a pattern.
At 11:00 that night, I decided to see if I could sleep through the contractions, but I had one that made me want to escape my own body. I jumped up and called the midwife to tell her that I was coming in, even though the contractions were irregular.
at 12:00, we got to the birthing center and I was checked by the midwife. I was 7 to 8 cms. She got the jakuzzi ready and I hopped in. She chouldn't believe how casual I was with the contractions. After an hour, she checked me again and said that I had not changed very much and she asked if I wanted to break my waters since he was soo low. I agreed and so she broke them and I got back into the tub.
During labor, I brought in some background music (spa type stuff) and some lavander essential oil that I put onto a rag to smell when a contraction was coming on. It helped a lot! The background music helped me to ignore the conversations around me while I was contracting. Being in the tub was nice too.
All of a sudden, I got a contraction that sent me into a panic. The midwife said to watch her and she'd show me how to breathe. With the next one, she showed me how and told me "stay on top of it" which helped me because I was thinking "if she thinks I can stay on top of it, then I must be ok" The contractions got so painful that I started to moan and scream, then grunt. The midwife said to tell her when I felt like I would poop.
Soon, that happened. Then she told me to feel inside of myself and tell her what I felt. I felt inside and about a centimeter inside of me was the edge of my cervix. Then she asked me if he had hair and I said "no." She said that I could move that edge of cervix over if I wanted to with the next push.
With the next contraction, I pulled on that edge of cervix. It brought on a strong contraction and I screamed at the top of my lungs. At the end of the scream, I just bared down. I felt a click/pop in my back when he dropped into my pelvis. I had my hand on my vagina and I could feel the bulge coming. With the next contraction, I screamed again and pushed and the bulge got bigger and I started to feel the "ring of fire." Then I didn't scream anymore, I just pushed onto my vagina to push it all back into place a little and closed my legs for a second. Then someone said "when the head is out, it'll feel much better." With the next contraction, I just yelled "push through it!" and pushed really hard. I had my hand on his head and could feel him coming out into my hand. I felt a "pop" and his head was out. That felt so good, but then his body was still inside and I didn't know if I could push it out. I was assured that I could wait for a minute to gather my strengh. I sat through one contraction, but on the next one, I just pushed as hard as I could and felt the rest of him come out. I pulled him up onto my chest and he just laid there comfortably on my chest without a peep. He was fine, just comfortable.LOL We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then we cut it and gave Adrian to my dh to hold while we waited for the placenta. That was a breeze, then we got up slowly and painfully to put on my gown and climb in bed. He was born at 2:50AM
After awhile, we weighed him and he was 9 lbs 2 oz! The kicker is that he is 23 inches long! The measured him 3 times to be sure
He's so beautiful and my birthing experience was wonderful. My dh kept looking at me and saying "wow!, you're strong!" It was amazing.
I hope you all have wonderful birthing experiences soon!
Our children make a study of us in a way no one else ever will. If we don't act according to our values, they will know.~Starhawk New User Agreement! http://www.mothering.com/articles/user-agreement
I won't be posting mine though--my first birth was a 53 hour induction, and my second birth is one I think would scare too many mamas here. So, I'll just read everyone's good stories.
Here is mine, copied and pasted from my old DDC here (I had posted when my waters broke, and continued to post updates as was able, while laboring). ETA: It's a bit melodramatic, but I was still sleep-deprived and very much in the throes of the experience still. This time we've hired a doula and I'm doing Hypnobabies, to hopefully avoid the domino of vomiting/out of control that happened last time.
Hi all -- am utterly exhausted but wanted to give an update (and am nak so typing will be poor sorry)
After my "gee I'm handling this great" post i decided to take a bath to slow things down a wee bit for to sleep.
theory good -- reality bad. Bath was very nice but as soon as I got out the contrax went absolutely ballistic. Have never considered that level of pain even existed, honestly. I woke up DH, put on a brave face, kept up with my breathing while he applied counter pressure, etc, but then the vomiting started...and things got really bad after that.
My m/w came over around 2:00am or so and checked me -- I was 100% effaced but only dilated 2-3. But I couldnt stop shaking nor vomiting, even though there wasn't anything but water/gatorade in me. I was so confused by that point I was afraid I was in transition already. Obviously not. And things got worse. Anyway, by 4:00 I couldn't do anything -- the contrax were piggybacked on top of one another, and lasting over a minute and I couldnt get up off the bathroom floor -- I'd vomit and then two contrax would hit and if it weren't for my husband's incredible help I truly think something very bad would have happened.
M/w came back sometime around 4am and said it was time to go to the birth center (I was 4-5cm at that point but in really bad shape apparently -- dehydrated from being sick?). From that point it took us nearly two hours for me to be able to put on socks and a shirt and make it into the car. (Dh had aleady loaded our stuff -- I literally could not move when the contrax would hit. And they wouldn't stop hitting.)
i have never been so utterly overwhelmed and out of control in in my life. Doesn't matter how many books you read nor classes you take -- no birthing tool nor coping mechanism -- no matter how effective in coping with contractions -- works when it comes to vomiting. And the phenergan I took around 2 either did nothing or was promptly upchucked.
I really think I could have handled the labor pains bettter had I not been wracked over every 5 minutes. Let me tell you -- that sucked more than anything has ever remotely sucked in all my 37 years.
We somehow managed to make it to the birth center and into a room and I was crying and on the floor with my head in a bucket, begging them to give me an epidural because I didn't want to take anything (even for the nausea) that would affect the baby at that point, and the nurses were incredible: they helped me breathe. They got me hydrated again. They were precious and supportive and helped me until sometime that morning when the wonderful miracle man with the giant needle came.
Thank God for these people. Immediately, I was able to breathe again and the vomiting stopped. It just...stopped.
Turns out it was the pain causing it and once the pain was numbed, so was the nausea.
And I was finally able to have some reprieve. Truly, the labor had been bearable for the first 8 hours but after that bath, and once I started getting sick, it went beyond my ability to cope. I had forgotten what the purpose was. All I knew was I would die if something didn't stop. And that scared me.
But once the medication took effect, I was able to focus again. I still felt pain and pressure but it was NOTHING like before. And the nausea was gone.
I could hold my husband's hand, and talk to my mom, and I remebered there was a BABY coming! There was purpose to the pain! And once more I was able to cope.
So after 20 hours of labor (21 hours since my water first broke) the pushing began and lasted 26 minutes, with no pain meds at that point at all and no episiotomy. But the pain of pushing was a relief. It was driven and necessary but not torturous. And I wasn't alone. The baby was helping me.
And at 2:26pm, on 04/05/06, Guinevere Mina Briton <LN> was born. She weighed 6 lbs, 6 oz and measured 19-1/2" in length. It was a gorgeous sunny spring day outside and she was born with blue eyes and blonde hair.
And the tiniest eyelashes you've ever seen.
But when she was born, the cord was wrapped around her neck and she was blue/gray. They laid her on me for a few seconds but then whisked her away. I was scared but then I started hemorrhaging. Things got pretty bad actually -- I told my husband to go to the baby and he did, not knowing I was about to faint. The m/w was able to get the placenta out in time but I lost a shitload of blood apparently.
And yet despite the scary stuff at the very end, we both ended up okay. It took some time and Winnie and I (and DH too of course) had to stay in the hospital longer than we'd hoped but we're home now, and working on BFing and sleeping.
So here I sit, late at night, a grand total of 12 hours of sleep since Tuesday night, and I am in awe and overwhelmed and amazed by this gorgeous little person that was inside me once but is now here in my arms. And I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to experience both the natural and medically-assisted aspects of her birth. I consider myself incredibly lucky in the end because things could have gone very badly for both me and my little girl, but my m/w (who is an angel straight from heaven) and precious husband and incredible medical staff at teh birthcenter kept us safe and sane and somehow we all managed to get through it and come out alive and kicking.
Right after birth
The next day
I think she's gorgeous. But I'm prejudiced like that.
Renee, For me, I was terrified of vomiting. I got the epidural with my 2nd birth because of nausea! The Lavender Essential oil on a wet rag helped immensely with nausea. I would just put the whole rag on my face and smell that lavender, then all nausea would fade away. I bet that room smelled of lavender for weeks after my birth.LOL
Keep em coming!
Our children make a study of us in a way no one else ever will. If we don't act according to our values, they will know.~Starhawk New User Agreement! http://www.mothering.com/articles/user-agreement
Quantum Michael's Unassisted Home Birth
On the night of the next full moon, I experienced what I believed to be more false labor contractions while getting my hair cut at the local Supercuts. They were irregular and very mild; they simply felt like tight bands of energy across the lower part of my uterus. I didn't pay much attention to them, and I also didn't understand why the man who was cutting my hair stopped at one point and asked me if I was okay. In retrospect, I see that I was already in an altered state of consciousness; I had started to pull in on myself, wrapping myself tightly inward into my own little world. We went grocery shopping after that, all the while still believing that I was simply experiencing false labor. They were still mild and irregular, but they were starting to come more often and they felt a bit tighter and stronger than the previous ones so far. A part of me wondered if tonight was the night, but I didn't give that part of me much credit for I had been experiencing this sort of thing for two or three weeks now to no avail. We went home and put on a movie, which I don't really remember. I know it was called “The Doctor” and was about a man who was on the bridge between two worlds: the living and the dead and what he learned from that experience both as a doctor and as a person. The symbolism of this given the current state of affairs was uncanny, not to mention the symbolism created by having several inches of my hair chopped off as well.
Anyway, my husband timed the contractions by watching the timer on the DVD, and found that they were getting closer together (about 4 to 7 minutes apart) and growing in intensity. Well, I was really the one who found out the last part since having to now grip the arm of the couch while also having to control my breath was sort of a sign. I now had a pretty good idea that I was in labor, but I didn't have any other signs to go on, like my water breaking. So, I was still not 100% positive that this was it. In the movies a woman's water breaking and pouring out all over the floor is always the telltale sign for labor, so I kind of figured the same would be true for me. I went to the bathroom after the movie was over and discovered something I had not seen in months: blood. There wasn't a ton, but enough to alert me to the fact that I was experiencing the infamous “bloody show”. Now there was no question in my mind that this baby was going to be born relatively soon.
I figured we had awhile since I had read countless birth stories in which it took several hours, sometimes even a couple of days, for a baby to be born. The fact that I could still move around pretty well, and the contractions were manageable made me believe that we had a long way to go. So, we started playing cards to pass the time. That lasted maybe ten minutes tops: the contractions were coming closer and closer together and I found myself not able to concentrate on much else but my breathing. I instinctively knew deep, belly breathing was the best way to breathe during labor, so I continued to do that as I made my way to the bedroom to lay down. It now hurt to walk (too much pressure) so I hobbled my way to the bed while clutching the lower part of my voluptuous belly. I laid down on my side with my husband facing me. We held hands and I tried not to squeeze his too hard as waves of intensity rippled through my body. I didn't have much awareness of the outside world at this point for I was becoming more and more simply a conduit of energy that didn't exist in any other capacity. Deep moans escaped my throat involuntarily, rising with the waves, becoming the loudest at the crest, and then subsiding in rhythm with the energy. An orchestra of sound and movement, I now knew what the ocean must feel like as it does its neverending dance along the shore. I started experiencing more and more pressure against my cervix, so I hurriedly took my pants off just in case the baby decided to pop out at any moment. I soon found that I needed to be able to bear down against something for the waves were getting too intense and too close together for me to stay in a supine position. I somehow lugged my body to the floor next to the bed where my husband had laid old towels and blankets and had also set up a folding chair with a pillow on it for comfort. It was exactly what I needed—I instinctively knelt down on the floor in front of the chair and rested my upper body on the pillow. The rhythmic dance inside of me had morphed into a barely controllable torrent of primal energy as there was very little break in between the rise and fall of each enveloping wave. My body was not my own nor was the voice that came out of the depths of something I cannot name. All I could do was hold onto to that chair and let the waves ride themselves for if the identity I had been had tried even a little bit to get in the way, the entire rhythm would have fallen apart. The harmony of life is such that every particle of nature is in perfect rhythm with every other particle. If even one air molecule is off in some way, for example, we wouldn't be able to breathe as easily. Thus, over time, we would perish. I knew, without knowing, that I was life itself and anything the mind might create disturbed the harmony of the manifestation of the life force that is “me”.
My legs involuntarily spread apart and my knees ached as the force ripped through my body like a tornado of fury. I felt a solid mass press tightly against my cervix at the crest of the next several waves. Every time that solid mass pressed against the most vulnerable part of my body, I yelled in pain. The only experience of physical pain I endured happened here on out. His head propelled itself against the softest, most delicate part of my body over and over again for what felt like an eternity, widening the circle with earnest and determination. This was the first time I wondered if I'd be able to make it through this. My strength, my determination, was giving out as I felt my legs start to collapse beneath me. I moved to the floor and laid on my side while holding the top leg up in the air. There was no thinking involved for I didn't exist: I was only bands of energy responding to various forms of primal stimuli. There was no free will during all of this, in other words. But, since I didn't exist, there was no one to give a damn. The last time his head rammed against the circle of life, my body was now ready to receive him. A great crack in the earth's crust is not unlike what this must have felt like as I felt my body splitting into two. My conscious awareness at that point was null and void. I vaguely remember both pleasure and pain as my body pumped me full of hormones while I felt afraid for a split second to look down at the lower half of what I used to call myself. I looked and saw that I was magically still in one piece while I pleaded with him to please come out. The pain and intensity of that moment is incredibly difficult to describe. Chris said the head was out, but all I knew was feeling very, very full. Too full—there's no way a person can feel this full. Splitting, aching, on the brink of madness, type of full. If it had lasted any longer, I probably would have lost all grip I had on reality, which isn't saying much. Then, another miracle happened: his body slithered out of me with his shoulders coming first (another crack in the earth's crust) followed by his slimy, squirmy body. His father caught him in the nick of time and laid him on the towel between my legs.
All three of us paused for a moment, not sure what to do next. The enormity of what just transpired had stunned us all into silence. This is what it must have been like the second before the world came into being. Life-filled ecstatic silence, on the brink of overflowing with the creative sap that can't help but become manifest. His lungs spilled first: the cry rang out in the still room, reverberating against the walls that had haunted me long, long ago. Instinctively, I scooped him up while his father tried to hold him along with me. His cries became louder, more forceful, the sound startling my senses in a way I never could have imagined. It was as if I had been woken up from a deep sleep, a sleep I had been in for eons. Chris pulled away which stilled the cries immediately. He knew he was safe with me, the only home he had ever known. Now the ego was reborn: Oh my God, what just happened?! My mind came alive again as I stared at this little creature in wonder and fright (which really aren't all that different in nature) and tried to become an instant mother. Pushing my nipple into his mouth, I had read on countless websites that it's imperative that the baby nurses within the first hour of life in order to create a healthy bond between mother and child. I interpreted this as saying that if he didn't nurse within the first hour then we would never be able to bond. I was unable to relax from there on out because I felt I had a duty that must be executed perfectly or else I might as well not even bother. He wasn't very interested in nursing. In fact, he pretty much slept after that. I laid on the towels with him for I was too weak and exhausted to move anywhere else, and kept trying unsuccessfully to get him to “bond” with me. I felt like a failure already and I had hardly just begun. A few hours passed with no sign of the placenta. Chris started feeling anxious about it (he was also in a near constant state of anxiety as the enormity of feeling as if he had been wearing the world on his shoulders hit him full force) so I painstakingly made my way to the toilet nearby. I was afraid to pee, but I had to go so badly that I braced myself for any stinging (we hadn't checked for any tears or cuts yet) and let it flow. Quantum was still in my arms, sleeping peacefully. Gravity has a way of moving things along, and this was no exception. The placenta I had intended on making a smoothie out of plopped into the toilet midstream. I felt both irritated and relieved, and I was also pleased by the fact that only a little bit of stinging had transpired. The placenta was out (I hadn't been worried about it since I'd read stories of it taking hours, even days, for it to make its sloppy exit), I was unable to consume the vital nutrients imbedded throughout this liver-like organ, but at least there were no tears to be dealt with. Chris tied and cut the umbilical cord, we put some clothes on him and a blanket, laid him in the co-sleeper and tried to get some sleep.
The story continues, of course...if you'd like to read more just PM me and I'll send it on over :-)
My second birth- 'I think I was made to do this!"- pretty long**photos added!
The birth of Evangeline Diesel Rose
Once again I woke up to contractions. This was nothing new, for a week and a half I had woken up frequently this way, becoming well acquainted with the wee hours. But as I lay there at 3 am Saturday morning I could tell they were different. They started low in my pelvic floor, at the bottom of my body and squeezed and ached up and over and around my uterus, not starting at the front of my pelvis. I lay there, not getting excited, telling myself this could just be a new and improved type of contraction, just another phase of this prodromal hell I’d been experiencing for so long. As per my nighttime routine, I got up to perform the list of duties that would hopefully send them off, and allow me to go back to sleep.
I swept, I tidied, I washed the dishes, I made lists. They were not going away. They came very frequently, less than 10 minutes apart if you didn’t count the weaker ones, less than 6 minutes, sometimes 3 or 4, if you did. I wrote in my diary. I realized, ‘this was it’, this was labour, and I could get excited this time, for real.
It was Saturday morning, much was planned for the day, but it would have to be called off. I was hoping for a short labour, like my first. Until now it had seemed like it would never be ‘the real thing’. A week and a half ago-Wednesday-I had called my mom and midwife and sister, and told them I was in labour, and to come on over. Since 12 weeks I had endured frequent Braxton Hicks that increased with the pregnancy (I drank Raspberry Leaf Tea throughout to combat them), and since about 32 weeks I could feel the ‘loosenings’ of my body preparing for labour(losing mucus plug, aching, soreness in my pubic area). Even with my first baby, I could feel for a week ahead things were changing, moving, preparing for birth. That Wednesday night my contractions petered out after a few hours, leaving me surprised and confused and totally unprepared for this ‘false labour’ thing. And from then on, I experienced bouts of frequent, regular contractions that were not Braxton Hicks, sometimes waking me up and forcing me from my bed, frusterating me and testing my patience. With my son’s birth I gave birth 3 hours 45 min from my first contraction; I had been induced with a gel early in the morning which worked like a charm. The labour was fast and furious, I desperately managed contractions by forced relaxation, and was able to have an unmedicated birth after 3 hearty pushes. I was hoping to have a similar experience, minus the induction, but expecting it to take longer, and thinking it might be quicker. Two days previous I had had a little breakdown, crying and crabbing all day, depressed that so much was happening but no progress was being made. It was frustrating to feel like I was in early labour, but to know I wasn’t.
Now, as the early morning wore on and I knew ‘this was it’, I decided to call my midwife. It was 5 am, 2 hours from waking. She sounded skeptical, but I assured her we would meet her at the hospital shortly. She went ahead to prepare the room, warning me that I must be 4 centimeters before entering the labour tub there.
The first bout of false labour showed me I didn’t want to birth at home. During the whole pregnancy I was deliberating where to birth-home or hospital- and I researched homebirth extensively. However, I just didn’t feel compelled to birth at home, even though intellectually I wanted to. I had decided I would decide once in labour, that I would follow my instinct, and hopefully a clear plan would emerge during early labour. My husband was very set against homebirth; he is extremely uncomfortable with birth and very squeamish in general. We had come to an agreement that he couldn’t force me to go to the hospital, but was allowed to be mad if I decided to stay at home. However, once I had everyone there on that Wednesday, waiting for me to perform (of course, no one really thought that) I felt I had to play hostess, especially as our home rather high-maintenance. We have a strawbale off-grid home, and being at home meant watching water consumption, running a generator, maintaining a fire, and other tasks that we’re used to doing but don’t feel we can leave with other people. So on this Saturday morning, I knew I would be heading to the hospital, where I would be well taken care of by my wonderful midwife (no doctors) and I could make a mess, run the water, not worry about the housework or other people, and even get taken care of and fed after.
So I woke up my husband at 5am, who was disgruntled (duh, it had to happen sometime!) to hear he’d have to get up after my shower. The shower was nice. The contractions were strong and frequent, but I relaxed through them and really enjoyed knowing I was in labour. I was able to labour alone, the way I wanted to, privately listening to my body, understanding it and allowing it to perform. I had read (with both pregnancies) Grantley Dick Read’s ancient book ‘Childbirth Without Fear’ and really believed in his relaxation, as well as reading Ina May’s books (Guide to Childbirth) and countless others. I felt well prepared, excited and in eager anticipation of how my body would perform this awesome task. There was no fear or trepidation, I trusted my body, I trusted myself and I trusted God that He had designed me well and He made me capable.
We prepared to leave, and I called my father-in-law to watch Axel(our 2 yr old) who was still sleeping. I was happy. I chatted with Doug while Chad loaded the jeep, and when I had to pause and bend during contractions, Doug laughingly advised me to leave.
The drive was beautiful. It was 6 am, and a nice, clear bright morning. The sun was rising and I was so happy, I had wanted to labour in the night and birth in the morning. I listened to The Be Good Tanya’s ‘Human Thing’ over and over. Chad drove fast, I had to relax during contractions, but I really enjoyed seeing the morning. We went through the Tim Horton’s drive through. Chad got coffee; I got a tea with no tea bag! We drove by the lake- it was so calm, and so beautiful and I was so pleased to be up and labouring this morning! On the highway we passed a tractor-trailor, and as I had a contraction I leaned my head back and looked up, and the driver looked down at me, holding my belly. Did he realize, and wonder about me for the rest of the morning?
We arrived our small, local hospital at 6:30 am, I crouched in the empty ER waiting room, waiting for Chad. Upstairs Barb, the midwife, had everything ready and was happy to see us. She started running the tub, and had me undress to be checked. She checked me and took my vitals; I was happy to hear I was 5-6 cm and could get in that tub! The water felt wonderful, so warm and relaxing. My mom and sister arrived, and it was a happy and crowded room, I was still cheerful and excited. Chad held the hand sprayer on my lower back during contractions, which was a nice distraction, and I moved around a bit to find a comfy position, but I was most comfortable in an all four’s position, draped over the edge with my knees spread behind me. Soon I was vocalizing through contractions, moaning, trying to keep my mouth and bottom relaxed. Between them I was chatting and joking. Barb checked me a couple times with her Doppler. I slowly got more serious, focusing on the contractions, and started to get uncomfortable. My audience was quiet and reassuring, sensing the change. After a couple more difficult ones, I lost my plug in the tub. I thought this was kind of funny, big bloody globs floating around. Chad didn’t really like that, he had to sit down. Then transition hit. I whined to mom, ‘I don’t think I want to do this anymore’, thinking it was too early to be saying that, and worried because suddenly I remembered how heavy labour is. In one of Ina May’s books she described one of her births, and commented that no matter how many times you do it, or how many births you attend, it’s ‘heavy’ every time. I knew exactly what she meant at that moment. I got really restless and uncomfortable, looking for a way out, away from the feelings and mounting discomfort. I found myself feeling pushy, and yelled out about that. I got distressed, and fell right into labourland. Barb told me I had to get out of the tub, and I got mad, saying I did NOT want to do that. (I’m normally not aggressive at all). She and mom hoisted me out, insisting. I was so pissed. I couldn’t believe I was expected to walk to the delivery room when I felt totally intoxicated and my body was expelling a human. I didn’t think I’d make it, but we wrapped a blanket around my waist and we hobbled/ran to the room. I walked into the room, looked around and thought, where the hell can I birth a baby in here? I was looking for a nest. So I decided on the bed and asked what to do, Barb said to get on it however I wanted. So I climbed on the bed as a contraction started, with my head towards the foot and my butt towards the head, in a semi-kneeling/all-fours position. As the contraction peaked I shouted to my mom and threw my head around, yelling and almost crying ‘I HATE THIS PART!!’. Contractions are pretty easy, but the pushing phase for me is the closest thing to torture. My body will birth whether I participate or not, and it feels like I am birthing a train. I feel sick, out of control, and totally horrid, like I am convulsing and vomiting. I don’t feel describing labour as painful is accurate, however the pushing is the closest thing to pain for me.
I had 3 contractions. I screamed, realizing I was screaming. I couldn’t help it, my body was the twister in the Wizard of Oz. It’s just such a frigging unbelievable feeling. There was so much pressure, so much force. After the first contraction my water broke, providing immense relief for a few seconds, and blood and water all over my feet and legs(minute one). I had a few seconds of panting and drugged-like rest, then another one came. I gripped my thigh with one hand and pushed on the bed with the other, and screamed. The head crowned, it burned, singed and flamed. I screamed about that. I may have tried to not push, I was told ‘it’s crowning’. Then the head was born (minute two). It was (of course) upside down and facing backwards, and I looked between my legs and saw the head. I watched the head for what seemed like forever, all was still and quiet except for the world spinning around and me feeling calmly drunken, waiting for the next contraction. I knew it was ok to wait, there was no hurry. Then it came, and I pushed and pushed and screamed my baby out(minute 3, time: 7:25). So much relief, so much less pressure, the body just stops it’s crazy birth-effort and you’re ok, you’re whole again, you’re empty. Barb didn’t direct my pushing, it was natural and very effective. For each contraction my body involuntarily pushes and I scream, then I voluntarily push down at the end, finishing with low, satisfying grunts and gasps. It is a satisfying, like after vomiting. But it is totally out of control, unmanageable, and totally bestial. It took 3 minutes, and for days after I remembered it with some fear, like a bad dream you really don’t want to think about because it’s still scary. Barb had been at my side and had one arm behind me, and one arm between my legs. She caught the baby, set her down on the bed for a split second and scooped her up to me. I caught her and desperately clutched her to my chest. She was warm and slippery and wet, and she smelled. Everything smelled, the room was heavy with the scent of birth. I was exhausted and empowered. I cried out, ‘my baby! My baby!’ and threw my head back and cried. This was the fruit of my labour, this was the reason for my suffering, this slimy being was what I had just worked for! How amazing to hold your child immediately after birthing it, knowing at once the connection between the labour and reward. With help I leaned back and took a semi-reclined position, cradling my child, crying and wondering at what I had just experienced. She was all crunched up in my arms, and finally it occurred to me to check the sex. I lifted a leg and saw a penis from under the umbilical chord. I called out, ‘it’s a boy’, and laughed, satisfied. I knew it was a boy, I was predestined for boys, I would have a pack of them because my husband’s family was incapable of making girls. I would be the only female in our family, and my boys would be rough and beautiful. I wasn’t disappointed with a second son, even though I knew everyone had hoped for a girl.
My sister somehow checked again, not believing me. She started screaming, ‘no it’s not! No it’s not! It’s a GIRL!!!’ I was confused and incredulous, wondering at how I could make a mistake. I whispered, ‘it’s a girl??’ and it was confirmed, I was wrong, it was a girl!! I couldn’t believe it, I started to cry, and I cried and cried and kept on checking. ‘It’s a girl? It’s a girl!’ How could it have been a girl? For quite a while I cried and gazed at my girl, totally in shock. Everyone laughed and hugged and screamed and jumped up and down. My husband and I hugged and kissed, we laughed and cried. I clutched her and tried to remember her being a girl in my womb. Every time I had dreamt of having my baby, it was a girl. And weeks before I was approached in a parking lot by an attractive and interesting-looking woman, who after a short conversation, very seriously said, ‘oh, honey I KNOW you’re having a girl’ and smiled.
She didn’t even ask if we had known the sex, but was kind and asked if I wanted help with my groceries. The experience shook me up a bit, I got in my Jeep and started to cry. And she was right, and my dreams were right, and my intellect was wrong.
We took pictures, we started cleaning up, I lay with my baby girl, cradling her, waiting for her to root. Finally we had her latch to encourage the placenta, which I delievered with a good push. It was fully intact, and I was intact, no tearing, despite her coming out with a nuchal hand. I felt great. I was amazed at my energy and serenity. With my son I bled quite a bit and passed some clots, and was somewhat sick after.
It wasn’t too long, though, that I started to pass the clots. Barb massaged my uterus, pushing more out. Even more came, quite large. My bladder was filling so we decided to get up and go to the bathroom, thinking it was causing the excessive clotting. I slowly eased to the edge of the bed, and after a minute and more large clots, got up. We made it halfway down the hall when I had to stop to lean against Barb, and then suddenly I was in the woods, camping, with so many people, rushing wind, and wooden boxes. But then I was being hoisted to a wheelchair, people rushing back to the delivery room, and hoisted by my husband back onto the bed. Oxygen went in my nose, other things happened. Once I came fully ‘to’ I was encouraged to pee in a bed pan, when that didn’t work a catheter was insterted (so painful) to drain my full bladder and I had to sip juice. Now I was in that post-birth-exhausted-drugged-like state, disappointed but not surprised by the turn of events. I passed more clots, I was checked inside (more pain), my placenta was rechecked to no avail. Blood was taken and an IV inserted after countless poking(collapsed veins due to the fainting). Eventually things settled down, my bleeding slowed and I regained some strength. My body seems to ‘shock’ after birth, perhaps because of the speed with which it delivers. There’s no really explanation as to why this happens, but this was the second time. For a good two weeks I’m also very weak with little stamina, and I’m quite sore despite no tears or stitches. Eventually I was moved to a regular room, where we received family, and I rested for the day, only getting up to go to the bathroom. I stayed overnight in the hospital to recover somewhat and rest.
My baby girl was born Saturday, April 14 (2007) at 7:25 am, four and a half hours after contractions started. She weighed 8lbs, 4 oz and was 21 inches long. My son was only 6lbs, 9 oz at birth. Her birth was more relaxed, the contractions were less intense and easier to handle, but the pushing felt much more wild, and less controlled, but more natural. Overall, I am happier with this second birth, due mostly to the better care I received with the midwife, not having hypertension, and therefore not ‘requiring’ induction. However, I’m still very happy with my first birth. On day two, before leaving the hospital we named her Evangeline Diesel Rose. We didn't have 'Evangeline' as a name choice, but a couple weeks before her birth I woke up from a nap having had a very clear, short dream that I had a baby girl and her name was Evangeline. She was a champion nurser from the start- she just wanted to constantly suck. We don’t believe she actually lost any weight in the first week. Now, at six weeks she weighs 13 lbs, over 4 lbs from birth. We just love her, she is so cuddly and even tempered, not fussy and she rarely cries. I’m so thrilled I had the birth I wanted, and now I’ve had two great births. I really, really love being a mom, my children are a delight and I love having a baby again! I feel like I was made to do this.
link to photos of birth and pregnancy:
It was around 7pm, the night before my son’s due date, when my husband, Dan, and I started to really pay attention to the contractions. We timed them for the next half-hour, from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next, just like we were told. I tried calling my midwife, Heather, to let her know the wonderful, and much awaited news but her son was the one who answered the phone. He asked who was calling and I very excitedly told him that it was one of her clients in labor. It felt like forever before she got to the phone and we spent the next ten minutes debating on whether she should come over or not. This was my second home birth and I remember that the first time my other midwife took a shower and a nap before she came over. I told Heather that it was probably not necessary for her to come to the house now, but she finally admitted that she would be more comfortable coming over right away since this was my second child and second births usually progress faster. I was very happy with her decision since this was my husband’s first child and he was probably not ready to be catching babies yet. So Dan and I sat on the couch for another 45 minutes or so and timed more contractions so Heather could see the “stats” when she arrived. Then we started to putter around getting things ready, such as the tray of supplies for Heather, the crockpot for the ginger compresses, the video camera for prosperity, and the hose to fill up the labor pool, which Dan had blown up that very morning. I was so excited that I couldn’t sit still. Walking around and doing things while I was in early labor felt better than sitting anyway.
When Heather arrived she checked me and said that things were progressing nicely. She recommended that I try to take a nap if I could but when I went in the bedroom to lay down around 9:30 p.m., my contractions became more intense. After about 45 minutes I got up and found Heather, Dan and my mom in the living room watching a horror movie while my 6 year old daughter was upstairs in her bedroom trying to sleep. We promised to wake her up for the birth but she ended up waking on her own anyway. I would have been surprised if she fell asleep at all because the energy in the house was so intense. I sat down to try and watch the movie with the rest of the clan but I could not concentrate. That’s when Heather suggested that we go fill up the labor pool.
When I first got in, it was too hot so Dan took the empty garbage pail to transfer cold water from the tub to the labor pool and that made it much more comfortable. After a while the contractions were so intense that I started to arch my back through them. Maybe it was time to push but I was waiting for Heather to tell me it was okay, and at the same time she was waiting for me to tell her when I felt the “urge”. After a couple of intense ones she asked if I was ready to push yet and that’s when I finally let my tension go. I guess I was waiting for permission to push because with my daughter’s (the first) birth the midwife told me when it was time. I pushed for awhile sitting on my bottom and then Heather suggested we try a different position, maybe the toilet. I did not want to walk that far at that point (it was only the next room over) so I got on my hands and knees in the water. When a contraction came I grabbed my husband around the neck and used him as support and leverage. At that point, he was not allowed to leave my side for a second because the contractions were coming so close together. All the while my mother was fetching things and my daughter was putting cold washcloths on my forehead. Heather thought that the baby was going to come before her sidekick, Donna, got there but she finally arrived with 45 minutes to spare.
Soon the “ring of fire” developed as Kale started to crown and at one point when Heather was stretching my perineum, I cried out, “I need a break!” Upon hearing me, my daughter became upset and had to leave the room and my mother followed to comfort her. I started chanting, “Baby, baby, oh baby,” as I was pushing Kale’s head out, it just felt good at that point to start vocalizing through the contractions. Sophia and my mom came back just in time to see Kale’s head come out and when it did Heather had to slip the cord off his neck. I kept on pushing even after the contraction was over and he “swooshed” out into the water. I turned over, lifted my leg over the umbilical cord and they placed Kale on my chest. I just kept on saying, “Oh thank God,” over and over again because I was so glad it was over. It took him a little while to start breathing on his own, he was blue for what seemed like forever, but I was not terribly concerned, as he was still connected to his umbilical cord.
We covered him in a receiving blanket and kept pouring warm water over his back. Eventually his silent crying face turned into the real thing and it was so nice to hear his voice. He pinked up immediately but it is so weird to look back on the still pictures that were taken and to see the different color changes he went through. Sophia came over and cut the cord and then exclaimed, “Ew, blood!” I passed the placenta easily and the midwives placed it in a bowl for later inspection. After a few minutes they wrapped Kale up in a dry blanket and gave him to Dan as I got out of the pool and into the shower. I came back into the bedroom feeling hollow and tired and lay on the bed next to Dan so I could try nursing. I felt awkward at first, like I had totally forgotten how to do it from 6 years ago. Kale caught on pretty quick and I just sat back and relished in the peaceful feelings that came over me, in between the after pains of my contracting uterus, of course. Heather borrowed him for a minute to weigh him and he was 8 pounds even.
Looking back it was amazing to see the family all participating in the birth of the new family member. My mom running in drinks and cold water, Sophia placing the cold washcloths and cutting the cord, Dan being my support and leverage and yes, even Shelby our dog sitting in the room totally quiet during the whole birth. Could it have been any better? I don’t think so.
Thanks to everyone else who shared so far--your stories make me feel empowered. Well first they make me cry but there's a lot of strength there and I appreciate you all sharing it!
Mama to Zoe (8/00), Morgan : (10/01), Brooke9/06), Casey 20wks (2/08), and Riley : (2/09)
Here's the first one from when I was 23 years old in 1996. At the time I was I living with a houseful of roommates and had been planning to birth at my parents house since it was the house I grew up in. The biological father was not involved so my roommate who was also pregnant was going to be my "birth partner"...
I woke up early Saturday morning to the usual pressing bladder pressure, which itself is hard to ignore. I started to notice another discomfort – a rhythmic cramping sort of feeling, which I realized must be contractions. I got up and headed for the bathroom. My roommates were in the kitchen making food. I said “So, I think I’m having contractions.” My roommate asked if I’d had any bloody show, I hadn’t. The contractions were 15 to 20 minutes apart; they felt like menstrual type cramps. I looked it up in the books and we speculated on what was happening. I guessed that it was “false” or “pre-labor” and didn’t think too much of it. My due date wasn’t for another week. I expected it to either stop or go on for a long time.
I was tired and our house was growing more chaotic so I called my mom and asked if I could come over to her house and take a nap. She came and picked me up and we stopped at the grocery store on the way and I had contractions in the store ten minutes apart.
At my mom’s house, my aunt and cousin came over. My cousin told me she’d had contractions like that for a week before going into labor. I could picture that happening, especially since my due date was a week away.
The contractions were mild enough that I could go about my business all day, I tried to nap and relax, but by evening I decided to call my midwife and see what she thought. She told me to call her back if they got stronger and closer together and to try to rest in the mean time. I was very tired so I tried to go to sleep.
I had some bloody show around eleven o’ clock. Through the night the contractions stayed about ten minutes apart but definitely got stronger. I think I was in denial that I was actually going into labor still, I kept trying to sleep.
When I’d get a contraction I’d grab the bed board and grit my teeth. I tried to relax and “go with it” but it wasn’t easy when it felt like my uterus was in a vise. It was unlike any pain I’ve ever felt – in the sense that there’s no way to compare it.
I did kind of wish someone was with me, I could have called my roommate, but she was also pregnant and I thought she needed her sleep. My mom kept checking on me, and I didn’t want to be touched. I just wanted a hand to squeeze.
During a contraction around six in the morning I felt a “pop” and went to the bathroom to find that I’d lost my mucous plug. My mom called the midwife and my dad went to pick up my roommate. When they got back I was sitting on the toilet, I felt like I had to take an enormous shit.
The contractions suddenly got close together and very intense. My roommate held my hand and helped me remember to breathe. I didn’t realize it at the time but my water must have broken, she told me later there was liquid running into the toilet. I started to feel a stretching sensation and I knew the baby was trying to come out. I told my roommate I felt like I had to push and she told me to wait until the midwife got there.
“I feel the head!” I said, “It’s coming!”
My mom ran out to where the midwife had just pulled in and everyone rushed in. The midwife asked me if I could make it to the bedroom. I got to the bed and she checked and found that I was fully dilated. They quickly set up and I started pushing.
They had me try different positions while they listened to the baby’s heartbeat to see which one it “liked best”. I ended up reclining on my side grabbing one knee and pulling it towards me.
I was so totally focused on pushing and the rhythms that I was pretty oblivious or uncaring of what was going on around me. There could have been dancing clowns in the room and I don’t’ think I would have noticed. It felt good that my body had just taken over – I felt like I couldn’t not push. It still hurt but it seemed easier, like my body just knew what to do. I made some of the strangest noises which I don’t know if I could ever duplicate.
At some point the midwives put oxygen on me because the baby’s heart rate was a little slow. I didn’t really have time to worry, though… I really thought I was going to be in labor much longer. It seemed to happen so fast.
I touched the baby’s head when it was crowning and it frightened and excited me. Such a strange thing to have happening to my body! I remembered the term “ring of fire” and the Johnny Cash song popped into my head. The midwives asked if I had a mirror and wanted to look but I didn’t. Judging from how it felt I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see my nether-regions being so contorted!
I guess I’d been pushing for around two hours when it seemed like she shot out of nowhere. The midwife said it was a good thing she had fast reflexes. All of a sudden she was there on my stomach, covered in vernix and slightly bluish grey. I felt a wave of panic and asked if she was okay. They put oxygen on her and she pinked up. Her head was coned and I said “she looks like an alien!” Everyone laughed and vowed to tell her I said that when she was older. I had seen pictures and knew what to expect but it was still so strange and scary. She had come out “sunny side up” (face up) which supposedly makes for a harder labor, so I guess it’s lucky for me that she was so small.
I was so entranced by her magical presence I forgot I had to deliver the placenta. I felt irritated that I had to push again. A few more pushes and it slid out – I saw my brother start to walk in at that moment and then do a u-turn as the midwife was showing us the placenta! I quickly dismissed the notion of eating it, planting it seemed more appealing. I had an insignificant tear, so small I didn’t need stitches.
After a while we put clothes on the baby and I thought she looked like popeye the sailor with swollen eyes and the little knit cap. But she was beautiful, tiny and perfect. A dainty and delicate seeming little girl, with a rosebud mouth and a button nose and pink “eyeshadow” on her eyelids. Her long fingers prompting everyone to make predictions about which musical instrument she would play. I was spellbound and couldn’t’ take my eyes off her.
She was five pounds and six ounces, small and dark-haired with big gray eyes. I called her Isadora, which means “gift of Isis” – Isis being the Egyptian goddess of magic and fertility, because she was truly a magical gift. Her middle name is “Maeve” meaning “intoxicating” and the name of an Irish warrior queen. It’s also a nod to my grandmother Mae, since she is her first great grandchild. She is my little star-child, born sunny side up on a sunny Sunday full of sunshine – a little early bird that couldn’t wait to hatch…
Baby #1 - Gabriel Ryan. Born 3:23PM April 21st, 1999. 8 lbs. 12 oz. 20 1/2 inches long.
Born in the hospital after 56 hours of labor, epidural, episiotomy + vacuum assist. Persistently posterior. Born at 41w4d.
Baby #2 - Kolaiah James. Born 8:09PM September 9th, 2003. 9 lbs. 1 oz. 20 inches long.
Born in the hospital after a Cytotec + AROM induction. 4 hours of labor. Epidural. Piece of cake birth! Born at 41w3d.
Baby #3 - Winter Alexander. Born 6:24am December 5th, 2005. 10 lbs. 2 oz. 22 inches long.
Born at home in water in my mom and dad's kitchen after about 5 hours of labor. Literally *the* easiest labor I've ever experienced, yet my biggest baby. Born at 42w1d.
Tomorrow's his third birthday.
Baby #4 - Suriya Skye. Born 4:10am February 9th, 2007. 8 lbs. 4 oz. 20 inches long.
Born at home in water into her daddy's hands after 3 hours of labor. Born at 40w4d.
Akiva's birth story
I was slightly over 40 weeks, so I had eaten very spicy food and had sex before going to bed that night. I woke up at 4 a.m. thinking I had peed a little in my sleep. I went to the bathroom and cleaned up and put on a pad. It was the same yellow color as my pee usually is when I've taken my vitamins, but I had a suspicion that it was amniotic fluid, because I'd never peed in my sleep and didn't feel like I had. But I went back to bed to get the rest of my night's sleep in case it was labor. I woke again at 6 am wet again, wiped, went back to bed. Woke again at 8 and told DH what had been happening. I called the midwife and told her about it, and she told me she was at the hospital and to come in so she could check me. The hospital was just a few blocks away, and we took our time getting ready and then walked over there, arriving at around 10. I was having some very light contractions, about 10-15 minutes apart, so light I could talk through most of the them. I was so happy and excited.
When I got to the hospital, my midwife had already been on for 24 hours and it showed. She kind of sneered at the Bradley water cup in my hand, which hurt, because I had taken Bradley on the recommendation of her partner. She told me the yellow meant meconium and started talking right away about Pitocin. I instantly regretted not having called my doula before I called her, so I called my doula and she started talking about cohoshes - my midwife just snapped at her that we didn't have time for that kind of thing. The fetal monitoring didn't go well, and that was the third strike. I agreed to the pit, and DH went home to get our stuff.
A nurse insisted on starting an IV, even though I wasn't admitted yet and it would probably be hours. With no one else with me I eventually gave in. I was in a tiny triage room and nurses kept going in and out. I knew that if I could get my contractions to pick up before I was admitted, I might be able to avoid the pit. I thought of nipple stimulation, but DH wasn't there and I had no privacy. So I tried to walk, hauling my IV pole, up and down the very short hallway of that triage ward. The nurses gave me strange looks every time I passed their station. Finally I was too embarrassed and went back to the triage room.
Thankfully my doula arrived then and I was transferred to an L&D room. I remember sitting there with her, having these little contractions, most of which I now had to focus on. At one point I said "I'm glad you're here" because I felt she was just sitting there doing nothing and it was a little awkward.
At some point DH came back, and eventually at 4 pm I was admitted and they began the pit. The contractions strated to quicken right away. I remember telling my midwife at one point that I was having trouble relaxing, and she said "that's the problem with that relaxation stuff, it really doesn't work." I felt so betrayed. I tried lots of different positions and after about an hour I was just curled up on the bed in fetal position. The contractions came one on top of another with no break in between and they were so intense I couldn't move or barely make a sound. The midwife said in my ear, "This is labor, this is labor." I was able to say "No, this is Pitocin." I hated her then. I would moan "no" and my doula would immediately say "yes!" which I found awful. Everyone kept saying "you're doing it! You're doing great!" They thought I was being still and quiet because I was under control. They didn't realize it was because I was paralyzed by pain.
They thought it had been long enough that I should go pee. DH supported me into the bathroom - probably five feet away, probably five contractions on the walk. He helped me lower myself gingerly onto the toilet, where I could barely sit, and with no break in contractions I could not pee. Three contractions on the toilet and I knew it was not going to happen. That was when I knew my labor was not sustainable as it was. At one point I got some breath and I said "call the anesthesiologist." I knew it would be another hour or so before he got there, so I'd have time to reconsider.
I kept saying it felt like a can opener. The midwife was confused and asked "manual or electric?" But I was thinking of the kind I hadn't seen since I was a kid in camp, the kind that's just a sharp curved point used to pry a hole into the top of one of those big cans of juice. I felt like something that sharp, blunt, primitive and unclean was prying my cervix open.
The midwife tried everything to convince me not to get the epi. She said that there was still a bit of intact membrane stretched over the baby's head, and if she broke it, I would only have an hour more of labor. I said that it would be more intense though, and she said yes. At that point, it was like what they say about torture: willpower had nothing to do with it. I thought very clearly that I was either on my own side, and could not agree to more pain, or I wasn't. If I am not for myself who will be for me? It actually went through my head.
The epi worked thankfully with no problems and the pain stopped. The midwife went to take a nap. I felt sad sitting there, knowing my body was doing this amazing thing and I wasn't able to experience it. But I really felt like I had had no choice. I was perfectly comfortable. I tried to make jokes to break the tension a little bit, because everyone was just sitting around watching me. My sister was in the room too, and the rest of both of our families were in the waiting room. Finally the midwife came back in and checked me and I was complete. I didn't have any urge to push (duh, numb from the waist down) so she told me to try to nap. I had no desire to. It was only evening and I had had a full night's sleep the night before. Finally I guess she decided it had been long enough. They turned off the epi and told me to try to push even though I didn't feel the urge.
Well, that was the key! As soon as I started pushing and the epi started to wear off I felt strong urges and it was easy to go with them and make a lot of progress with those pushing contractions. It was glorious. I was so glad they had turned off the epi and that I was able to have this part of my birthing experience, to feel it and do it. I really wanted to get up on my feet and squat, but I didn't trust my legs because of the epi. So I had to be on my back. The midwife hurried me faster than I wanted to go. I wanted to go slow so I wouldn't tear, but she kept saying the baby needed to get out quickly, so I pushed him right through my own flesh. I was yelling heartily, "God almighty, this hurts! This hurts so much!" Everyone thought I was suffering so badly, but it was joyful yelling for me. It was such a different, easier kind of pain than the kind that had immobilized me before. Although I wasn't in the position I wanted, and not going at my own pace, I felt very powerful. I knew exactly what to do with the pushing. I pushed hard and it felt great. It was very effective. I pushed for 45 minutes. I didn't feel any ring of fire. His head came out and it was a huge relief. I knew the hard part was over. From all the birth videos I had a clear image of what would happen next and the rest of his body slid out in the next push.
The neonatologists took him right away to the crash table and suctioned him. I couldn't even see him. I birthed the placenta, it was painful and annoying but I was so distracted by wanting my baby that I barely noticed. Then I had to wait while the midwife stitched up my many tears. At some point I noticed that DH was holding the baby. Finally, finally I got to hold him. The midwife had told me he was a boy even though I had asked her not to. All I wanted to do was look at him. I didn't care about getting him to nurse. He was gorgeous. He wasn't all red and wrinkled like a typical newborn. He was pink and smooth and simply gorgeous, with a bit of dark hair on his head and long eyelashes. He was 7 lbs, 11 oz and born at 12:15 a.m.
I love the common threads like the "ring of fire"
Here is my second story. Rather long...
Another undercooked baby girl! Five years after my first little peanut shot out like a bullet four weeks early, her sister had the same idea. It has actually been a little disappointing for me, and hard not to feel defective somehow in that my babies wont stay in until they’re all done. I say this because with both girls there were difficulties related to their prematurity. Both times my due dates were evidently off. Both times we thought I was farther along than I turned out to be. Both girls had EDD of 36 weeks.
When I’d seen my midwife the previous Wednesday I asked her what she thought about the possibility of me going into labor early like I had the first time. She said that as long as I made it through the weekend she felt fine about proceeding as planned, as (we thought) that put me at 37 weeks. The possibility of my due date being off crossed my mind but I didn’t bring it up because I really wanted to have this baby at home as well, and with my first daughter things turned out fine. My biggest concern was a replay of the breastfeeding difficulties I had in the first month.
Of course, the day after I saw my midwife I started having fairly frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions, and I really felt like maybe I should stay home and rest. I went to dance practice just to watch, but left early because I didn’t feel well. By Sunday I started getting contractions that felt more like “the real thing”, menstrual-crampy with some low back pain. I also noticed my stools were quite soft. So I started hoping to make it through the weekend!
The next day the contractions stopped and I went about my business. I thought it had been a false alarm. Then while grocery shopping, I felt a trickle from between my legs and thought, “shit, am I getting incontinent?” I didn’t feel like I had to pee (for once) and had the sinking sensation that I was leaking fluid. I was. It was clear and sweet smelling. So I called my midwife and she told me that usually when this happened labor starts on its own within twelve to twenty-four hours. She asked me if I felt ready and I thought – I don’t know! Would I ever feel ready? I didn’t feel like my partner was ready, in fact we were supposed to start taking a last minute childbirth class the next day, four sessions ending on my due date.
My midwife advised me to go for a walk and then try to rest and see what happened by morning. My mom and dad took my older daughter to their house and my partner and I went for a walk, noticing how beautiful and big the moon was. A black cat crossed our path, and I realized it was our midwife’s cat! I took it as an omen, not necessarily bad or good – but an omen, nonetheless.
I didn’t sleep much that night, mainly because of the glaring lack of contractions. In the morning my partner went to work and I walked over to my midwife’s house. Still nothing, but definitely leaking amniotic fluid. So we talked about how it was generally more dangerous to wait with leaking fluid, with an increased risk of infection. She suggested drinking castor oil if I felt okay with that.
I had already kind of sadly resigned myself to this early labor, knowing that would be the verdict. But I wanted to be positive about it… it felt like “ready or not, here I come!” Control slipping out of my hands… might as well drink the oil and bring on labor. I made a castor oil chocolate milkshake, which went down pretty easily. I was impressed that it didn’t taste too bad. Right afterwards I felt pretty queasy and just wanted to lie down. My midwife had advised going for a walk to pump it through my system, but not having slept well the night before I decided to try and take a nap instead. I knew that in a few hours I might not be able to leave the toilet.
Eventually contractions started, fairly mild although close together. I spent the day organizing and cleaning and talking on the phone to my friend who had been through castor-oil induced labor before. I was listening to gypsy music really loud, feeling excited and happy.
My midwife came over around four o’clock and we sat around and talked. I was 3 or 4 centimeters dilated and feeling fine with the contractions so she left to go do some things while I waited for my partner to come home from work. It was all kind of surreal, and I knew he didn’t know what to expect. We both thought it would probably be going on for a while. He came home and was intending to get in the shower and clean up, and was puttering around in the garage when a VERY painful contraction hit me out of the blue, dropping me to the floor. The phone rang and I had to crawl to answer it. I think it was his mom or sister, I’m not sure. Soon another contraction came on and I was yelling and cursing and he got off the phone. I told him to call the midwife.
It had changed very quickly from mild to intense contractions. When the midwives got there I was riding these contractions on my knees hanging onto an upholstered footstool. My good friend came and she and the midwives and my partner all took turns rubbing my lower back and putting a cold washcloth on my face. They put a big pillow under my knees. My mom came over with my daughter, who looked on with interest for a while then took grandma to play in her bedroom.
I think I puked a few times and had some loose stools (thanks to the Castor Oil) but everyone cleaned me up so matter of factly and I did not have the presence of mind to be embarassed, I was totally in that state of altered consciousness. The contractions hurt like a son-of-a-bitch but I was enjoying myself somehow. It was fun trying out different moans, with different pitches and patterns, trying to visualize that cervix opening. One thing that stood out in my mind was how unbelievably good I felt every time a contraction subsided. I was riding high on endorphins I guess, and felt very blissed-out.
Just when I got to the point where I was wondering how long this was going to go on for and whether I would be able to make it, I started to feel the baby moving down. At some point the midwives got me up onto the futon, into the same semi-reclining pose holding one leg up I had used with my first daughter. Both times the baby's heartrate was better when I was in that position for transition. I had the feeling this baby was sunny-side up as well, I’d felt everything in my lower back.
The pushing felt really good, I was just so excited to know I was almost there. The head started crowning, then slipped back in while I waited for another contraction and then I pushed her right on out. She came out looking good, color-wise – compared to my first daughter.
The interesting thing was the midwife said the bag of waters was intact around her when she came out, so the leak must have been a “high” one. We joked that the baby had kicked a hole in the sac, she’d been known for some good rib-kicks when in utero.
She started nursing right away and we sat around and marveled at her. I felt good, the labor had gone well and in spite of her early arrival she seemed to be doing better than my first daughter had. I was so happy that she took right to the nipple. Then I noticed that the midwives seemed concerned about her breathing. She was making funny grunting noises. They looked at her ribs, which were retracting a bit, meaning she was working “too hard” to breathe. Apparently this happens with early babies but it can be serious, so the midwives decided we should have a doctor check her out. Approximately three hours after the triumphant birth we were packing to go to the hospital.
I hadn’t torn at all and was doing okay aside from the intense afterpains and trembly legs and there was no way my baby was going anywhere without me. We all thought that she would be observed for a while and that we’d get to come home later. If I had known what would happen, I would have savored those moments still at home. It’s funny that I had mentally prepared myself as much as possible for how I would deal with it if something went wrong during labor and I needed to transfer to the hospital for delivery, but I never thought about the possibility of something being wrong afterwards!
Everything turned surreal once we got to the hospital. My partner couldn’t sign any paperwork because we aren’t married and therefore he isn’t legally the father until the paternity affidavit is signed and notarized and all that bullshit. So right away he was pissed off, and had to bring me all these forms to sign.
As soon as the doctors got ahold of the baby they were hooking her up to monitors and taking x-rays and sticking her with needles. The worst of it all was they seemed really incompetent – the x-rays were underexposed, then overexposed, then no none could hit her tiny little veins – they tried everywhere, even her head. I couldn’t bear to watch. My partner was having a hard time not punching anyone. I felt terrible. I couldn’t hold her, I was in a wheelchair and couldn’t stand up to really touch her in the little plastic observation bin, I could only stretch one arm up there and hold her little hand as my circulation got cut off. They finally sent me out to lie down in the lobby because I looked pale.
We listened to different doctors and specialists surmising about every possible worst-case scenario. We were told that we would have to wait for lab cultures to rule out bacterial infection, and that would take three days. Heartbroken, we retired to the closet they gave us to sleep in, where they had pushed some cushioned chairs together for me. Steven got the floor. The “camping rooms” for non-patients were full. My doctor was supposed to be in at 7 am to see the baby and talk to us. I felt sure that once I could talk to my own doctor I would get straight answers and everything would be okay.
After few hours of sleepless tossing and turning and crying, we were told that my doctor was in Boston for a week, and met the first of a string of on-call doctors. We prepared ourselves for the three-day wait for the lab cultures. The baby was moved to an incubator in the NICU. All the equipment and no-nonsense nurses were intimidating. Luckily my midwives and partner were all helpful in reminding me to push for what I wanted – to nurse my baby on demand and hold her as much as possible.
It was a challenge getting used to new nurses every time there was a shift change. Some nurses wanted her in that plastic box as much as possible and would encourage me to put her back before she got “too stressed out”. Well, I had my own theories about what was stressing her out, but it was difficult to argue with medically trained professionals who are good at making you feel guilty over the state of your child’s health!
Meanwhile her breathing had improved, but the next night while sleeping alone in her plastic box she had a spell of apnea in which her breathing and heart rate gradually slowed down and the nurses had to “stimulate” her to get her out of it. So the next doctor we saw told us that though the preliminary lab results looked good, we would have to wait at least three days from the apnea spell to see if she had any more.
Well, again I had my own theories about this apnea spell, having read studies of premature infants in countries where technology was limited and babies were kept inside of their mothers shirts (“kangaroo care”) and had as-good or better rates of apnea incidents. The theory being that if kept close to mama, the babies heart rate and breathing are regulated by hers. I believed that my baby might not have had that spell if she had been sleeping with me, but it was really hard to know where to draw the line.
So we waited and watched, and I sat next to the damn plastic bin and held her as much as I could. The nurses were irritated because the wires attaching her to her monitors would keep popping off when I moved her around, so there was a constant nerve-wracking dinging of monitors that they would have to come over and tend to. So it was probably to their disadvantage when I wouldn’t keep her in the box, but I didn’t care and grew really irritated with the machines. One nurse turned it off completely, making me wonder what the point really was.
Sitting in the NICU for five days was an experience unto itself about which I could write several pages. It was heartbreaking, really, watching these overworked nurses dealing with babies who were ultimately much worse off than my own, some of whoms’ parents rarely showed up to visit, much less feed and hold. It was comforting in a sad way, that my baby was the least of anyone’s worries in there. There were babies that had been in there for months and were still a ways from being able to go home.
Another thing that really sucked about the hospital and my lack of patient status was that I got treated like an afterthought. After my first daughter was born I was spoiled (as all new moms should be) by living with my mother, who did all the cooking and laundry, brought me glasses of water every time I breastfed, held the baby so I could take a shower, etc. While in the hospital I felt like I was on my own, under severe stress and fatigue, but I held it together somehow. My partner left and went home regularly while I stayed in the hospital and got moved to a camping room. My parents brought my older daugther in daily to visit us but it still was a lonely, sterile place.
After too many fill-in doctors gave us too many different “diagnoses”, my doctor finally came Monday morning and told us to go home. Just like that the monitors were disconnected, I signed a piece of paper and we were free to walk out. It was all very surreal, after feeling chained to a machine in the corner of the NICU for six days, unable to even walk more than a few feet with her, to walk away from the dinging monitors and incubators, get in our car and go home. I was dazed, elated and a bit scared.
A week after she was born I had to start from ground zero to some degree, finding a rhythm of my own with her. The first thing I noticed was how much more relaxed we both were! In the hospital she seemed much fussier.
After all the stress of the hospital, as soon as we got home I came down with a fever and a plugged milk duct. My partner had used up his week off from work, plus an extra day. I felt cheated on being “taken care of” as I was thrust into taking care of two needy little beings suddenly quite on my own. My older daughter had stayed with my parents for the week we were in the hospital and was anxious to be with me. Luckily friends brought over meals, and my mom came over for a while each day so I could get a shower.
I still battle with post-partum depression and feel that my partner just doesn’t “get it”. It seemed so easy for him to go back to “life as usual” while I was expected to fall easily back into this intense motherhood thing. It’s amazing how much I have forgotten in five years, and how different babies can be. I mean I know a few tricks but I feel like I’ve started from square one, despite having done this before.
Now at two weeks old she has gained one pound, up to 6 lbs 14 oz. I’m adjusting to life with sleep deprivation. I’ve had to learn to live with not getting much done, which is probably good for me for a while. It is wonderful to sit around and stare at my beautiful baby when I’m not catching up on naps. I’m amazed at how independent my five year old has suddenly become, now that I’m not always able to “help” her with things. I know it will all get better with time. Things are finally settling into place.
Baby G's Birth Story
My EDD was 8/11, and I was planning a homebirth. I was starting to get anxious, wondering when everything would happen, how it would play out, how would I KNOW I was in labor, etc. You think it would be easier, being my second, but with my first, I never felt a contraction or even a Braxton-Hicks before the onset of labor, and she came relatively fast- about 13 hours from first contraction, about 5-6 hours of hard, active labor. Every night with this boy, starting around my EDD, I would have some contractions, but they would disappear when I went to bed.
Finally, tired of all these games, I listened to the advice of the old wives and made my husband take me out to dinner on 8/14. We had calamari and I had the eggplant parmesan. Well, now I am a believer! Not much happened before bed. I woke up at 3:50am, but promptly fell back asleep. At 4:35am, I had a massive contraction, and thought, man, I need to pee! As I started to move, I realized something was off... my water had broken or I had lost complete bladder control. I had a waterproof underpad under my side of the sheet, but was about to make it out of bed without waking up my daughter or spilling onto that (I was wearing a thin overnight maxi, as well). I kept gushing fluid in the restroom, so I decided to go ahead and get up and see if anything started happening.
Posted on [other board]. A couple of contractions, nothing serious. Some more intense than others, but basically all over the place. I decided to call my midwife around 5:15am, just to tell her that I'd probably want her by to check soon- like in an hour or so. My contractions picked up- still, nothing in a real pattern, and I felt fine in between, but I was havig trouble dealing with them. I called my parents and told my dad to not go into work, and I would call them when something happened. I called my doula and she said she's be by. Dealt with some more contractions, and had my husband call the midwife and ask her to come by, and to call [my friend] and ask her to pick up some doughnuts for everyone.
My doula arrived first. She has been doing this for years and is a very calm woman. She is in the process of certifying with DONA. I wish I had met with her more often, because while she was helpful, she just didn't seem to sink into my rhythm, know what I mean? My midwife showed up around 7ish. I asked if she could check me. While she was checking, she looked at me and said, you know, numbers mean nothing, right? I said, of course.
3 to 4 cm.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. The contractions had been getting stronger and more intense, and I thought I had to be at least 6cm. I seriously thought about packing it up and heading to the hospital for drugs, but the thought of trying to get dressed and leave the house was unthinkable- during contractions, it was impossible to get comfortable. I had trouble releasing the tension from my face and shoulders. My midwife said, based on how my labor was going, she did not think it would be that long, and she was not leaving me. (He was at zero station when she checked, and I hadn't labored with a baby that low before- my daughter was about -2 when I was complete and pushing! [My water didn't break until after a few pushes with her.] I seriously thought my pelvis was about to snap.)
After resisting a "push-y" feeling during the peaks of a few contractions and about 30-45minutes, I finally caved and asked my midwife to check me again. I felt silly for asking so soon after being told I was only 3-4cm, but she happily obliged. Then she happily told me that I was complete and my son had hair.
So, we set about finding a position to deliver in. We started with a supported squat with my husband holding me up, but I decided that I wanted to sit on the edge of a firm chair, instead. As I started to move to get up, a strong pushing contraction hit. I couldn't resist, and got on my hands-and-knees in an effort to stop pushing (felt ring of fire, knew if I couldn't stop pushing, I'd tear). That did not work.
So, my son was born while I was on hands-and-knees at 8:01am on 8/15/03. Not exactly how I imagined it- not getting to see his birth due to position, not getting to be the first to touch his slimey little body- but an amazing birth. When I first saw him, the cord was wrapped around his belly- I need to ask my midwife if that is where it was when he was born. They unwrapped it and handed him to me. He is so amazingly beautiful. His head coned a little more than his older sister's had (her head was almost perfectly round), but he still doesn't look much like a newborn to me!
He was 8lbs 8oz, head and chest were 13.5", and he was 22". His APGARS were 8/9. He is taking to nursing slowly, and is bothered by his pooping and peeing, and especially diaper changes, but is otherwise an incredibly easy baby- at least for now. His big sister adores him, as well. And I feel fantastic!
3rd stage took longer with this birth, I think because he took longer to take to the breast, BUT, no serious bleed-out like after my first birth, which just further convinces me it was my OB's fault. I did tear- 1st degree periurethral and 1st degree perineal- but no stitches. I am a little swollen and sore, and my abdomen is achey, but I am still on that labor high, so who cares?
[My friend] was here for the birth. I am so glad she was. I am not a social birther, and didn't think I would want her here, but I went SO fast, and she was available in case my daughter woke up (she didn't- slept through the whole thing), and took some amazing pictures, oh, and, most importantly, posted updates to [other board]!
My doula came back the next day to cook up about a week's worth of meals (she also works as a post-partum doula and chef). My midwife's assistant is came back to do my 24 hour PP check up. A friend volunteered to bring by breakfast the next morning, and a couple of other friends are waiting until my food runs out to stop by with a meal. Life is good!
mom to all boys B: 08/01, C: 07/05 , N: 03/09 , M: 01/12 and far too many lost ones
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