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cagnew 08-15-2014 07:05 AM

Previous Birth Stories
I know it's kind of early to share birth stories, but I'm a birth story junkie! Anyone have any birth stories they want to share? I have two written down. They are kind of long since I tend to be a rambler :)

I have one posted on mothering already. It's my unplanned unassisted VBAC (in a hotel). Here is the link:

Here is my second VBAC (with a few pictures): http://childrenlikeflowers.blogspot....rth-story.html

cagnew 08-15-2014 07:09 AM

Just a warning about my stories: I am very honest about the pain of transition and pushing that I felt. It DOES hurt and I don't lie or sugarcoat it. However, despite that, it IS completely doable. I just don't want to freak out the first-time moms. Seriously, even though it hurt and I do remember the pain, I am not afraid of doing it again. And this is coming from a person who gets light-headed just thinking about having blood-drawn, so it's not as though I am a strong person with a high pain tolerance!

Valerie11 08-15-2014 07:45 AM

Those are some beautiful photographs. I actually felt more comfortable and confident with my 2nd and 3rd and now I'm scared again with the 4th! Not about being a mom, but about going through the whole pregnancy and birth. That was the first thing I thought of when I found out this time - oh, I have to go through that pain again.

I don't have enough time to read through the whole two stories right at the moment, but I will when I have time. I wish I would have seen them last night, I had insomnia and nothing much to do.

mamabear7 08-15-2014 08:10 AM

awesome story! I was wondering why you decided to labor at the hotel? I imagine it was to avoid laboring at the hospital and being pushed into something you didn't want to do? Anyways beautiful awesome birth story!

mamabear7 08-15-2014 08:32 AM

Oooh I just read the second story and loved it as much as the first. I love how you write out your stories, and the pictures are gorgeous. Your children are gorgeous!

cagnew 08-15-2014 08:53 AM

mamabear: Thanks! With my hotel baby, I was afraid of getting to the hospital too early. She was my first VBAC and I had all kinds of fears, and ending up too early and eventually being sectioned was a big concern of mine. I was dreading being on the monitors too. Plus, I live an hour away from the hospital. I didn't want to leave too late and end up delivering in the van.... The hotel seemed like a good compromise, along with my midwife doula. The plan gave me the confidence I needed to have hope. I figured I would just walk in the hospital ready to push, thereby avoiding all interventions. Pretty naive of me! There is no way I could ever walk into a hospital during transition. I know some women can, but not me. Where ever I hit transition is going to be my birthing place, whether i like it or not, haha :)

DuchessTergie 08-15-2014 10:05 AM

7 Attachment(s)
Cagnew, I LOVE birth stories. There have been a handful of events in my own life that have been deeply shaping, and childbirth is one of them (not only because it is how I became a mother). Your stories are lovely and could you be any more wonderful? A selfie in labor? My hat is off to you!

** Rest of the posted edited for privacy. I'm OK with sharing short-term, but it was time to remove my story. :)

sarahknavy 08-15-2014 01:21 PM

Baby Boy!
Baby Isaac Ryan is here in my world, and things will never be the same... Here is his Opening Act:

Thursday morning I awoke to a large amount of fluid leakage... not a whole lot... but I wondered if it was my water breaking, and if my baby would be coming soon. I had a few more of these small gushes over the next couple days, I walked a bunch trying to get labor to kick in ... but to no benefit.

I had a doctors appointment on Monday. I got up and walked The dogs for about 3.5 miles around the neighborhood. I went to my appointment and told her about my week. She sent me upstairs to Labor and Delivery to do a test to see if it was indeed my water that broke. When they told me that it was and I needed to be induced... I was so upset. This was not the way it was supposed to go... I was supposed to be calling Andrew telling him I was in labor... not that my doctors appointment didn't go in the right direction, and he needed to come to the hospital. So Andrew arrived, and over the next two hours we talked to doctors, my sister-in-law, a doula, and each other about whether induction was the way to go. In the end, God pushed us to agree. I was still so upset, and the doctors agreed to let me have one last meal before they began the process. Andrew went to get me some subway as I tried to mentally prepare myself for what I thought would be a long road ahead.

After I finished my food, the liquids began... I loved my nurse. She was young and goofy and didn't really want to be in Labor and Delivery any more than I did. I joked with her about how we had to be the most depressing couple she had encountered on the floor. The Pitocin started taking effect and contractions were a couple minutes apart. Isaac.... he did not like contractions. Every time I would have one his heart rate fell. If I had two close together... it fell a whole lot. They tried resting the Pitocin and they tried taking it slow. I was only 1cm and 10-20 percent effaced.

At this point my fear is a reality and the doctor wants to do a c-section. I really did not want surgery... especially if I was not sure something was wrong with my baby. The nurse talked about his heart rate and explained that it was supposed to be fluctuating but his was just steady. I got her to go back and look at what he was doing when I first got there. On that readout (before I started any meds) he had a huge deceleration when I sat up. His heart rate was steady at that point also. This calmed my suspicion that he was having trouble because of the Pitocin.

So we agreed to the surgery.

This was the freakiest experience of my life. I walked into this room with the whitest lights ever, and all these people started taking things off me and putting other things on moving my arms in different directions. When they went to put the meds in my back I am shivering so badly the nurse asks if I needed a blanket. She held my hand and told me everything was ok and that I was doing great. After they got the medicine in me and got me down on the table(with arms strapped in)... all I can think about is that all these people are staring at me naked... It was at that moment that all my modesty went out the window.

The anesthesiologist let me take my arm out to hold Andrew's hand. That helped me feel better. Like I was a little more involved in the birth somehow. Andrew got to "trim" the cord. lol.

They didn't show him to me when he came out but all the people in the room let out a shocking exclamation. This child must have been playing hide and seek with his cord because it was wrapped around his neck and stomach and legs. This actually gave me so much relief. I knew that I did what was best for my child. They showed him to me, and I kissed my sweet baby. My first thought was that he was so soft and warm. [i still remember that feeling 3.5 years later]

Isaac Ryan
5-24-11 @ 0258
6 lbs 2oz , 20 1/4 inches long

As if that wasn't enough... the next 4 days could have gone better. He had some trouble keeping his temp up, he had some low blood sugar, then problems with jaundice(keeping him under the UV lamp for a day and a half). Because of all that, the doctors worried about infection, and we had to stay an extra day to let the blood cultures come back(which were clear). . .

Then we got to come home and life is awesome. :)

sarahknavy 08-15-2014 01:29 PM

Baby Girl

And so it began...

On Monday, February 18th at 2am, I woke up to an excess of fluid. Having been through this before with Isaac, I was decently sure it was my water leaking. I woke Andrew up crying. I was just so worried that about what would happen and how all the events would unfold. I went back to sleep for a few hours and finally gave up around 5 am and started getting ready for a long day. It was (my mil)birthday! We called her on Skype. During this phone call, I was leaking a lot. At one point I sat in the recliner and had a really large gush of fluid… At this point, I started texting my friend about watching Isaac. I finished laundry, dishes, and got packed and headed out the door. I was so anxious but was just praying that the small amount of contractions I was having would be good enough to start labor on my own.

I got to the hospital around 2 pm. I wasn't dilated and was barely effaced but the baby was low. My cervix at this point was posterior. They admitted me and put me in a room to see what would happen. I was walking and sitting on a ball for a few hours. I was having contractions, but nothing consistent or substantial. The doctor came around after his office hours and checked me and decided he would go home, change, and shower and then come back to start an induction. I was still unchanged. He got back to the hospital and went to sleep, and we started pitocin at 8 pm the 18th.

This was the beginning of a long night. I continued to walk around my room and sit on the ball. Anything to get things moving and get baby to push on my cervix. Andrew fell asleep and I let him sleep until I was having a hard time resting through contractions. Around 2 am, they got really bad. I went to use the restroom and didn't make it before I started vomiting. After I was done with that, I used the restroom and suddenly everything was more tolerable. This happened again around 6 am and at that point I told Andrew, I wasn't sure I could handle the pain anymore. He convinced me to wait until sunrise and see how I felt at that point. I tried to use the restroom a couple times with no success. The contractions just kept getting worse and I was no longer able to relax during them. After the doctor woke up, we decided he was going to check me, then we would see how we would proceed. My pitocin was at about 11 ml/hr at this point. My contractions never got to a point where they were regular enough to be in a good labor pattern.

Around 8 am, I got the horrible news that though my cervix had moved to anterior, it was still closed. I was so frustrated, and at this point I knew a csection was probably inevitable. Andrew and I discussed our options. I could get an epidural and see if I could then relax and make some progress. The doctor said we would talk after he was done in the office and if there was still no progress, we would just do the csection at 5pm. I kind of felt like the epidural was just to postpone the csection so that I could rest and be awake and alert to care for my daughter.

Cue epidural! Ah, much better. It only took on one side which I actually really liked. I was able to move around enough to get on my knees, the contractions were tolerable since it was only half the pain. If I pushed my button for an extra dose, the pain would subside enough for me to rest. I rested a little then started back to work. I got up on my knees and faced the back of the bed and ate some ice. I eventually made my way to laying down and fell asleep for a while. I had some trouble with my blood pressure and was a little light headed. The pitocin dose was lowered to 7 because the baby was having some small variables. She was recovering ok, but they were being very cautious. She started looking better and they started slowly increasing pitocin again. She didn't have any other trouble after that.

Around 4, the nurse came in and told me that she was going to check me and if there is still no progress, we would stop pitocin and start preparing for the csection. I was 2 and 80... progress was so unexpected!!! The nurse said she had no clue what the dr was going to say and that she would call him and see how to proceed. I knew I was probably going to have to beg the dr for more time to see if there would be more progress over the next few hours. At this point my water had been broken for 26 hours!

After the dr was done with her office hours, she came over and we hashed out our new plan. She was going to let me keep going! No fight needed. She said she wants to see 1 cm every 3 hours(4 hours at the most). As long as the baby and I were doing perfect and showing no signs of distress, we would keep trying. She said since I was not in active labor, technically, I could still have clear fluids. I was getting my husband to go to Olive Garden so that I could have a good meal post delivery. She was ok with me eating Zuppa Tuscana soup broth. At about 630 pm I enjoyed the most amazing soup of my life. I hadn't really been hungry until that point. Andrew was eating my food from the hospital, and it didn't bother me a bit. Baby girl really loved the energy boost and started squirming and moving a whole lot. I rested a little more, and I think Andrew took a nap.

Around 9, the nurse came in and she said my contractions looked like the baby might be face up and having a hard time flipping. She turned me over into a nice comfy position on my belly. It was hard to get the monitors to pick up from this position. She spent the next hour trying to get the monitors to pick up both baby and contractions. While working on the contraction monitor, she asked me to tell her when my contractions were starting and stopping. The problem was that I was so tired, I couldn't stay awake through them. I had hit my epi button because that position made contractions very painful. She decided at 10 to let me rest for 30 min, then she would come back and try to get the contraction monitor into a better position.

At 1030 pm, I woke up, and told Andrew that I felt some pressure. It kind of felt like an air bubble, and I didn't feel it for long. The nurse came in a minute later and it was time to check me again. To everyone's surprise... I was complete and ready to push. The nurse said my contractions had slowed way down, and she was so worried about me in the hallway. She said it was either all over or all done. It amazed me how much she could tell based on contraction patterns.

I cannot begin to describe the feeling I had at this moment in time. I was amazed that in 4.5 hours, I went from almost hopeless to elated. She said it was going to take some time to push because the baby was still high. They called the doctor and we worked on pushing through some contractions. My contractions were actually pretty far apart which was nice because the baby was having decelerations. I was on oxygen the whole time I was pushing, but I was also on my side and not my back, which was really nice.

While I was pushing, I declined touching the baby's head or looking when her head come out. Andrew didn't look and was just focused on my face. I am happy with that, I wouldn't want him to be traumatized. ;P

Leah Christine arrived at 1130 pm on February 19th after about 36 hours of labor. She was 6 lbs 10 oz and 20 inches long. She nurses so well, and I am very proud of my birth experience. The doctors could not have been more supportive of me and my wishes. The nursing staff was amazing and I am so lucky to have started and ended with my favorite nurse. I was especially thankful for the nurse in the office who was in the doctors ears about supporting me while they were in the office for the day. She called me a few times in labor to tell me she was rooting for me and happy that things went well.

sarahknavy 08-15-2014 01:29 PM

Mine are long too since I just copy pasted. I enjoy reading all birth stories :)

boscopup 08-15-2014 04:30 PM

I'll have to dig mine out of the MDC archives. :D Well, I have the first two. I never wrote #3 , despite him being the one where I finally got to have a waterbirth that I'd wanted since #1 ! (#1 came at 29 weeks, and #2 came too quick to fill the tub) I only got that waterbirth because #3 had his arm up by his forehead in a weird position, and I think that slowed down labor a bit. He came out with a weird bruise on his forearm.

Valerie11 08-16-2014 06:46 AM

cagenew, those were amazing stories. I really felt your impatience at the baby taking so long to get here and the uncertainty that it was true active labor. I was also going to ask, "why the hotel?" but mamabear7 beat me to it. How awesome that you had her all by yourself in the hotel with no drugs or IVs or anything, just the way women have for millennia.

DuchessTergie, that is amazing that you had her in the car on the way to the hospital. Especially for a first. I can't imagine going through that.

sarahknavy, My first was born on Feb. 18th, though it was over a decade ago. I'm also happy that you got to do a VBAC with the second and that you didn't feel guilt over the first.

Valerie11 08-16-2014 07:05 AM

I will do some quick birth stories based on what I remember now.

First boy: My water broke in bed at night and I told my husband that means we HAVE to go to the hospital. He told me to take some Tylenol and go back to sleep. But I insisted. Went to the hospital, they confirmed that it was amniotic fluid, labor had started. Went to the labor room and the pain became so intense. I was only 20 years old, and really I was not prepared for this mentally. Once the pain became great enough, I actually had thoughts of finding a hammer to hit myself over the head to knock myself out. Every time they offered something, I took it. Something (can't remember drug name) to "take the edge off". Yes, please. "Epidural?" Yes, please. And that was it. The epidural was the magical thing that saved me. I had no idea that it was hardcore narcotics, but I wouldn't have cared then, anyway. I fell asleep and woke up in the morning being told that it was time to push. So I did. About 15 minutes later he came right out. I remember seeing the umbilical cord and it was like something out of the Alien movies. Blue and looked kind of like a dryer hose. I also didn't realize that we should have waited to cut it until it wasn't blue like that anymore. Then my family, who had all been waiting outside, unaware that he had been born because I didn't make any noise, came in. I was so scared of the baby, had no idea what to do with him. I let them take him to the nursery and bottle feed him! I had no clue. He had jaundice for a week afterward. It was a learning experience for sure.

Second girl: The pregnancy was great, I was ready to give birth, though. On my due date, went to my OB that morning for a scheduled appointment and she said that I was 2cm dilated and I told her that my last baby was 8.5 lbs, so she said let's induce naturally, which means that she manually pried my cervix open with her fingers to get labor going. Really, I should have just waited. So I walked over to the labor and delivery wing and waited to be let in. I was having contractions, but they were normal slightly painful braxton hicks, so for whatever reason they let me in and hooked me up. After I was 4cm dilated, they manually broke my waters to speed things up. Eventually I was in active labor and took another epidural. It only worked on one side so I had to lay on the side it wasn't working on and that worked. I was watching TV after that. I was watching ER. I was hoping to make it to the end of the show, but I didn't. At 9:45 I felt this intense need to have a bowel movement and I told my husband that it was time and to go get the nurse/doctor/whomever. So he did and they said that yeah, I was ready. It took 45 minutes of pushing and this time I was not quiet. I kept saying I just can't do this, but they kept saying that yes, I could. When she came out, she looked so familiar. And her cord looked nothing like my son's, it was white and flat. I'm not even sure when I looked at it. And her head was pretty round/big, so that's probably why it took so long to get through. This time I kept her in my room and EBF her. She was such a great baby, took right to BF and was all around easy. Plus, this time I knew what to do.

Third boy: Now I have a new husband, so wasn't sure what to expect this time. My previous two labors had both taken around 12 hours. I'm pretty sure the second one would have gone faster if I just let it happen when it was supposed to have. I wasn't due until mid January, but had false labor in December. It really hurt, but was just braxton hicks, because it eventually went away. I had to pay for that in a separate calendar year. They should really change the rules of insurance for pregnancy. Anyhow, one night (the night before my due date) at about 9pm my back was really hurting. So I took a bath and it didn't help. I told my husband that I think this is it. What is it with first time dads? He told me to take a Tylenol and go to sleep! I was like, no, this is it. I had the baby about an hour after we got there. This was a totally new hospital with everything in the room to keep babies out of the nursery, which was nice. I'm hoping to make it to the hospital in time with the fourth.

sarahknavy 08-16-2014 08:46 AM

@Valerie11 - that cracks me up... Usually they are the ones who are "go!go!go!" Not "go back to sleep"

DuchessTergie 08-16-2014 10:21 AM

7 Attachment(s)
Valerie-- thankfully that was not my first. I'd be done with kids if it was. Like you, I also noticed how the cords looked different from child to child. I would have expected they came in one standard model. Like you, I hope to make it on time, too. I have decided an unplanned homebirth trumps a car any day of the week, so where I am when I hit transition is where I will stay.

My first was a wondeful labor overall. My water broke but nothing happened... My husband also came down with some serious food poisoning at the same time. I drove us to the hospital because I was an obedient first-time mom and my poor husband is the one that had contractions the whole way there. He passed out on the hospital floor for the hours and hours we waited for the Pitcoin to do its thing.

I dreaded my labor when I saw the midwife I didn't really like would be the delivering midwife. Well, the authoritative manner she has that turned me off for pre-natal care was just the ticket for birth. I demanded an epidural about 20 minutes after the contractions started (I had been on Pitocin for quite a while at this point) and she discouraged me but sent for one anyway. Then she demanded a nurse get a juice box for my husband and revive him from the floor. Well, the epidural didn't work. After wondering what was happening for about half an hour, they did a quick check and -suprise- I was ready to push! No wonder it didn't work....

I pushed for 3 hours. That was hard work. I did NOT want a mirror, or to touch my baby's head. My husband kept looking and getting so excited, saying he could see her crowning and it was so awesome. Finally, my midwife said in her authoritative way, "Give me your hands. Your baby is coming out head and shoulders at your next contraction." And she had me catch my baby, unplanned. I began to weep, my husband was crying, the baby was crying, and even the midwife and nurses too. It was perfect.

The epidural did finally kick in and I just got to hold my sweet girl, my first-born, while they did the repair. The repair took just over an hour and I wouldn't let anyone bathe her or anything. I still remember that amazing sweet smell babies have when they are fresh from the womb. There is NOTHING like it.

TeeThatsMe 08-16-2014 08:15 PM

I am loving reading your stories! Thank you all so much for sharing them!

Here's my son's birth story. It is... suuuuuuuper-long. And features some, ahem, vivid language featuring four-letter words. Here's hoping the length doesn't break the thread, at least. :)

(Marcie was our doula, and Awakenings was the name of our midwifery practice. Juli and Sharon were our midwives from Awakenings, and pretty much everyone else mentioned is a family friend. Side note: We had just met our dear friend Daniel's brand-new girlfriend Sheela about two weeks before... They just celebrated their wedding anniversary the other day! :joy Oh, and my mother is deaf and my husband and I are both fluent signers, but nobody else who attended Ryu's birth knew how to sign. My mother spent most of this day signing without using her voice at all.)

Friday, April 17, 2009
Oh, my beautiful little Ryu!

The alarm rang at 6:00am. I was contracting. Ugh, B needed to turn that thing off—wait, I was contracting. There wasn’t any doubt about it; this felt different than everything I’d felt before.

I didn’t say anything and let it happen. B hit the snooze and came back to bed. I lay there, contracting, and then it went away, and then—around when the alarm went off again nine minutes later—it hit again. He hit snooze again. The contraction went away again. When it rang again and I was contracting again, that was enough.

“Good morning, honey. I just had three contractions.”
“Yeah. I think we should do a shower and breakfast and stuff.”

Kept contracting through the shower. Kept contracting through breakfast—we ate the last of Robbin’s strata. Something was happening. Something was happening.

We tried not to freak out. We decided to go for a walk.

I don’t remember what we talked about on most of the walk. We went through Strawberry Creek Park, around by Café Zeste, and up to the Bread Workshop. He got coffee and I got a milk chocolate croissant, swaying through a contraction as I asked whether that pastry down there was a bear claw or an almond croissant. When we got out of the bakery, I told him, “No more public interactions. I felt like an idiot having a contraction as I talked to her, swaying around all over the place.”
“Okay, honey.”

My exciting milk chocolate croissant was awfully bready—no chocolate in sight for the first third of the pastry. I held it up to B to see. “Fail,” he said. I giggled right through a contraction. Huh... it was pretty obviously still early days. But I was walking around, after the shower, after the breakfast, and still having contractions, so even if it was early days, was it labor? We thought it was.

It had been an hour and a half and I was still contracting pretty regularly—we were timing it on my phone. So we called and left a message at Awakenings, then sent Marcie a text.

We got home. We examined the silly little iContraction app. There didn’t seem to be much of a pattern to them—four minutes apart, ten minutes apart, eight minutes apart, five minutes, ten... I waffled over whether B should go to work. Finally, it seemed like he should really go. I was walking and laughing through contractions, and they weren’t that regular. I could be doing that for the next two days! He shouldn’t miss work unless he had to. He kissed me goodbye. His hand was on the doorknob.

WHOA, WHOA, no, there was a big big contraction, I was going to need help if I was going to get through these, “Honey! C’mere! I think you should stay. Stay.”

So, he stayed.

We wandered through the house as he got it ready. He picked stuff up in the living room and I lay on the couch, calling him over for each new contraction. He tidied up the kitchen as I lay in bed and hollered out for him to time each fresh wave.

Should we tell my mother? She was in LA. She was planning on being in Fremont by evening, but it looked like she was going to have to skip Fremont. But what if we were too soon? It took a while to email her, and when I finally did, she didn’t write back.

B called Daniel. “Our heat’s out and it looks like we’re having a baby today. Do you think you can head out to the store and pick us up a space heater? Oh, whatever, anything under 200 bucks is fine. Thanks, D.”

I wrote again, to every parental email address I could think of. This time she responded right away—she was on the road, she was driving too fast to email. She would be here by 3:00pm. Okay.

Juli was checking in with us; Marcie was leaving messages. I was certainly still contracting (“Is her belly hard when she’s feeling it?” “Well, yeah!”, but then I had to think about it; my belly was getting hard, right? Surely it must be?)—was it more regular now?—and pretty much fine. Every single one hurt, and every single one seemed a part of a general build toward hurting just a little more, but B was there, and listening to me, and reminding me of everything I knew that I knew, but couldn’t quite access on my own. When I said they hurt, he said they were productive. I’d come out of one and tell him, “That was a bad one.” He’d say, “No, honey, it was progress!” I kind of can’t believe it, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. I stopped characterizing them as bad or painful. They were what they were and I was getting through them and he was helping me. We agreed we’d check back with Juli at 1ish. We agreed that Marcie didn’t need to come just yet.

Daniel came by; I was in bed. I heard him helping B put together the birth tub. I was so thankful that he was there, and proud of myself that I could let B go about his business and put together the birth tub without coming to be by my side for the contractions. I was okay to handle at least a few by myself. When the tub was ready to go and filling up, Daniel came in and visited for a minute and we talked about Sheela. It felt so good to chat with him and tell him how much I like her, but when the next contraction came, I’m not even sure what I did—I think I just kind of curled inward and left the conversation. I think I said goodbye, at the very least, and then he was on his way out.

B told me he was going to the back room to clean up some of the clutter for my mom, and started to give me the phone so I could call him for help. “No,” I said, “I’ll just come back there with you and be with you, okay?”
“Yeah, honey, that’s great. We can put on some ER episodes and you can—“
“Nooooo hospitals.”
“Oh. Oh, yeah, duh. Okay, Pushing Daisies.”
“Nooooo dead people.”
“Ha. You’re right. Well, I don’t know what we have for you to watch.”
“I can watch the B Show, honey. That one is funny.”
“Yeah, but it’s mostly reruns.”
“I don’t care. That guy is great, I love him.”

So I labored in the back room for a while. Come to think of it, I guess I probably labored in nearly every room of our house for at least a little bit, except Ryu’s room. That makes me smile.

B was so good at partnering my laboring self. Anything I needed, he got. Anything I didn’t know I needed, he reminded me. Every single contraction that I called for him, he dropped everything and was there. I loved him so much, and it was so good to tell him that.

We came back inside and I returned to bed. I don’t remember Marcie arriving, just knowing that she had decided to come (“Marcie says Juli told her your family has a history of going fast, so she’s just going to come on over”), then knowing that she was there, and being happy for her to take over being next to me.

Looking up at her there, standing over me in the midday light streaming through our curtains, I thought—wow. All that stupid Ina May stuff is real. Marcie is so beautiful. I’m seeing white auras. I told her about it, and she and B both kind of laughed. Really, though, I saw that stupid hippie aura, and being able to tell her about it felt, again, like I’d felt when I was talking to Daniel—it was so good to smile and say nice things while all this was happening.

“Have you been applying counter-pressure?” she asked B, and while I’m sure he had been doing some of that, suddenly when she mentioned it in those terms, I thought, “That is what I need every time.” We were still timing contractions at that point, I think, and so they started switching off—whoever was attending me listened for me to say “contraction,” or “push,” or “pressure please,” and they hit the stupid little iContraction button and pressed on my back. “Lower, Marcie.” “Higher.” “Yes, that’s nice. Thank you.” Over and over. The breaks between contractions were such a blessed relief. Marcie told me how great I was doing, and I wondered. All I was really doing was trying my best to relax when the wave swept over me—was lying there quietly really doing so great? I just worked on not tensing up at the pain, not dwelling on how much it hurt, trying to focus on how good it was that labor seemed to be working.

The pool. The pool was ready! I wanted to get in. Frankly, I’d wanted to get in for days and days, just because I’d so looked forward to laboring in that birth pool. B said it was full enough, and it seemed as though it was probably warm enough. I got to change into my little nightgown—the gown I’d reserved for laboring! The gown I was going to give birth in!—and got into the pool.

Oh, my, I was so buoyant in that pool! How was I going to anchor myself down? I was just floating around in there—it was so big. And it wasn’t that warm. But it was good to be in the water. We thought about ways I could still lie on my side; it seemed so important that I be able to lie on my side. We found a milk crate for me to lean on, and that seemed to do the trick. Here was a contraction—oh, applying counter-pressure was not an easy feat while I was sloshing around in that pool.

I was in the pool for a while, despite the petty annoyances of having to brace myself for counter-pressure and the not-quite-comfortable temperature. B worried about me leaning right on a milk crate, and got me a foam kneeling pad from the birthing kit; it was such a nice idea in theory, but it floated so well that it kept getting away from me. I stuck with using the milk crate by itself.

My mom arrived at two-thirty. I couldn’t believe it—ninety minutes before, she’d been close to Fresno. I waved a finger at her for speeding, then slipped into another contraction. She whipped out her camera and took a picture with the flash. No flash! I might have felt bad about how vehemently I needed there to be no flash, but I was just in no mood to fuck around with stuff like that. I did not need bright lights in my face. Ugh. Come on.

In the pool was the first time I put a name to an interesting sensation I was feeling. It wasn’t quite that I had to poop, but more that the feeling of holding my rectum closed was too much effort to handle during a contraction. (Since when has it been work to keep my rectum closed? Weird.) Gingerly, I tried the experiment of letting it relax a little during a contraction, and that felt right. I wasn’t actively working on opening it, or anything; just letting it relax into the shape it seemed to want to be in. It was a big relief, as though I was leaning the muscle against a door frame so it didn’t have to work as hard. I told Marcie about this, and she didn’t seem to know quite what to make of it, but whatever—the sensation was good and it didn’t seem to be doing any harm, so I went on doing it.

After watching me go through a few contractions, my mom said to me, “So it doesn’t hurt very much, does it?” Uh... what?
“Yeah, mom, I’m feeling a lot of pain.”
“Well, you don’t look like you’re feeling very much!” O... kay. I really didn’t know what to say to that, so I’m pretty sure I said nothing at all.

The contractions came and went. B spent some time doing the counter-pressure, then Marcie again. Each new break between contractions felt like the absolute high point of my day; but then, after one contraction, the pain didn’t go away. I was clearly done with the contraction—my belly was soft, and the, I don’t know, contract-y sensation went away—but not with the pain. It just sat there in my back. Oh, dear. The counter-pressure didn’t seem to touch this pain that was only tangentially related to contracting. Suddenly, it was very very obvious that I was done with the pool. It was not warm enough. I could not get enough traction to make counter-pressure very helpful anymore. This floating around business was simply not okay. I made the announcement that I was headed back to bed, and marshaled the resources to get up and walk with the pain. I stood up, and it was nice to see that while I’d been in the tub, somebody had had the forethought to line my entire path back to bed with towels and bathmats, so I didn’t really have to worry too much about dripping. I clambered over the tub’s edge, shrugged myself into the biggest, fluffiest bathrobe we have in the house, and shivered my way back to bed.

Now, why didn’t I want to just take that wet nightgown off? I guess by then I was well into late first stage, and moving into myself and being irritable and irrational, because I wanted nothing to do with taking any clothes off. I rolled myself into bed, soaking nightgown and bathrobe and all, shivered under a sheet, and demanded more blankets. I’m sure at least B tried to convince me to wear something dry instead, but it just wasn’t happening. Come to think of it, I know that I ended up wearing a dry sweatshirt later on, but I have zero memory of finally consenting to changing out of that nightgown. It was almost a surprise to see it drying on the towel rack the next morning.

It seemed clear that this between-contractions pain was now here to stay, and I was so happy to be back in my safe (semi-)warm bed. Juli arrived fairly soon after I got into the bedroom, and sat by our side to see what I was up to. During the first full contraction since she’d arrived, I heard her whisper to Marcie, “Is she this quiet during every contraction?” It was absurdly gratifying to hear this, even in the middle of a contraction. She also called Sharon fairly soon after that, and I remember her reporting that I was “turned really far inward” at the moment. Seeing as how those words reached me as though they’d been spoken at the other end of a dark tunnel, that seemed apropos to me.

Juli did a quick cervical check. Nine centimeters. NINE! Holy SHIT! All the pain made so much more sense! Look how much work I’d done! Oh my GOD! It had been... oh, eleven hours of labor? And I’d been calm and quiet and done my thing and relaxed through every contraction (well, okay, I’d tried to relax through every contraction, and mostly succeeded), and I was DOING IT. I think Juli was surprised, too. She said something to me about how quiet I’d been, and I told her, all duh, “Well, yeah, that’s what we learned during Bradley class.”

She said, “Yeah, people learn it, but they don’t necessarily do it, and you are REALLY doing it.” Again: I’m not sure how I got the wherewithal to feel as smug and self-satisfied as I did at that moment, but man was I ever proud of myself when she told me that. And yet, even as I felt that, I also thought—but seriously, how else could anybody possibly do this? Reacting to the pain any other way would have cost energy I was pretty sure I did not have.

The persistent, between-contractions pain was taking its toll, though. During contractions, the “relax your rectum” feeling was getting stronger and stronger, until I realized that I was probably doing something akin to pushing. I wasn’t sure I could face being told to stop doing it, so I didn’t say anything and tried to keep it minimal for a while.

B was beside me, Marcie was beside me, B was lying next to me and holding my hand and I was telling him I loved him, oh, wow, I loved him so much. I don’t think I can ever really tell him how grateful I am that he was right there beside me the whole time, that he spent every minute of the entire day doing everything I needed. I probably will never be able to tell him exactly how much he made it possible for us to do what we did. I just knew, all day, that whatever happened, we would be fine, because he was right there. Having that faith was utterly necessary, and he gave it to me without a second thought.

Sharon arrived. Just like everybody else, she had to announce her presence to me before I was aware of it. Some little inkling of her significance sort of presented itself to my brain: “Hey, the gang’s all here now; apparently this show is officially on the road.” It may have been Sharon’s being there that prompted me to bring up my pushing shenanigans with Juli. I don’t know why, but at that point, having kept it to myself for that amount of time, I felt awfully worried about telling her, almost scared that it would turn out to have been a really bad thing to do. So, I explained the rectum feeling I’d told Marcie about, and said, “I’ve been doing something like pushing for a while now. Is... is that okay?”

She laughed at my furrowed little brow and told me that whatever I felt like doing was fine. What a relief. I guess I had really internalized the idea that you must only push when you are told it is okay to push. It was nice to hear that I should just do what my body told me to do.

So I started letting that feeling do its thing. I was pushing. Not huge pushes, just letting my body relax into the motions that it wanted to do.

My mother piped up: “You are doing really good; I guess it’s not that painful. Wow, that means it’s going to get a lot worse, huh?”

I lost it completely. I had been in continuous pain for what felt like hours, and here she was looking at me and deciding that it didn’t hurt AT ALL? And trying to psych me out for it getting WORSE! I let loose on her with a supremely nasty look. “Mom. How is that helpful? HOW is that supposed to help me? Why would you say such a thing?” Poor midwives; my mom had been signing only, and I’d used my voice when I responded to her, so they had no idea what she said, and only heard me snapping at her. Poor mom; she wasn’t really thinking carefully about what she was saying, and I believe she may have thought she was saying something supportive, trying to help me gear up for the challenges ahead. I did not need to feel scared about what was coming up, though. I put it out of my mind, and I guess B dealt with soothing my mom, for which I am thankful.

This gradually increasing pushing must have gone on for a while; the next thing I remember was Juli asking everybody to leave the room for a minute to give B and me some privacy, and telling us, “Go ahead and love up on each other for a few minutes. We’ll see if that gets things going.” Hearing this, I was so relieved that I knew what she was talking about. I think if I had never read Spiritual Midwifery, I would’ve been awfully weirded out to have our midwife tell us to get sexy with each other in the middle of labor. As it was, though, it made a lot of sense, and even sounded pretty good—kissing would probably distract me from the pain for a few minutes, right?

So, everybody left, and B leaned over me, and good Lord, that was some intense kissing. It felt so good, and again, I had a little flash of “Okay, okay, Ina May, you are a batty old hippie, but you know what you’re talking about.” It did feel spiritual. It did feel positively “tantric.” We were connected way more deeply than we might be during a run-of-the-mill makeout session.

It obviously connected very deeply within me, too, because we hadn’t kissed for more than thirty seconds before BAM, I had a crazy contraction that took me much further than I’d been before. Whoa. Whoa. That was a little much. I did not want things to rev up that quickly. “Okay,” I told B, “I think that did it. I think that was enough.”

So we just lay there quietly together, riding out the contractions, doing the counter-pressure, until Juli came back. We told her how it had gone, and she observed a few more contractions, then asked us to do it again. Wait, what? Again?! No, ma’am. Noooo, thank you. I told her I didn’t think it was a good idea. She sort of raised her eyebrows and told us, “Well, we can go on like this for some hours more, or you can try it and we can get this baby out sometime soon.”

Well, shit. She was forcing me into making out with my husband some more. Dammit, I was going to have to keep it up with the sexiness. I can’t remember if this struck me as funny during the moment, but B definitely found it funny, and I think Juli and Sharon did too. Okay, fine, I would kiss him, fine.

They left, and I collected myself, and manned up, and we made out. Again, it felt amazing, and again, oh, OH, when I contracted, something entirely other than my conscious self seized me and puuuuuuuushed on me. Oh, dear. I was definitely going to do the involuntary poop thing if this kept up.

Okay. Okay. I could encourage myself and keep it together. By the time everyone came in again, I had started talking aloud about what was going on. “Okay. I can do this. It’s coming and I can do it and I’m going to PUSH PUUUUUUUSH!” Or “This is good, this is progress, I am doing the work, huuuuhhhhhhh, puuuuuuuuuuush!” Or even just “I CAN DOOOOOOOOO IIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTT!” After one or two of these big cheerleading efforts, I came through the contraction and felt the need to let everyone know what I was going through—I remembered what B had spent the morning telling me, and instead of letting out a complaint, I looked all around the room, wide-eyed, and told them all: “This is hard work!” That one got a big laugh. Laboring Tee is a hilarious stand-up comic. (Or a lie-down comic?)

I was still lying down. I was still in the bed. At some point, it did dimly occur to me to find it amusing that I was laboring essentially flat on my back. Wasn’t this exactly my problem with hospitals, that they “make you” labor lying down? And here I was! Every time I thought to change position, though, the idea was instantly shut down by how painful it was to move. Fine, then. I was laboring lying flat, and there was nothing anyone was going to do about it. Whatever.

Push, push, push, PUSH, push, I was so desperate for a break, I was so desperate for a minute’s respite from the pain, and none was coming. I was so desperate to make my own decisions about what my body would do next, and I couldn’t. I’d feel a contraction coming on, and tell myself: Okay, Tee, three really good pushes in this contraction and then you can rest through the rest of it. But my body went rogue on me. I’d push for my count, and try to relax, and my body would push yet harder. It was terrifying, and I screeched, “I can’t stop pushing!” Again, hilarity. Everybody thought this was great. “Yes, that’s good, honey!” It was good? It was? Okay. Okay. It was good. It has to be a mark of how loving and trusting I felt toward everybody (and how loving and trustworthy they were toward me) that their word was enough for me—if they said it was a good thing that I was no longer in control of myself, then yes, it was a good thing and I could let it go and not be in control of myself. I didn’t have to freak out, even though it was frightening.

So, I stopped really counting pushes or deciding how many I’d be doing, and just tried to devote myself to pouring all of my effort into every push my body sent my way.

It seemed to work. I was... yep, I was involuntarily voiding my bowels. Awesome. I felt the need to announce that out loud, and Marcie calmly informed me that she was on it, and then there she was, wiping me off. Thank God for the perspective brought by that deep level of labor; I didn’t care at all.

B said to me later that he believes this was our experience of transition. How lucky are we? If transition is the scary, dark place that convinces a woman that she can’t do it, I can’t imagine going through it in a nicer way than starting with kisses and ending with the sense that even if I couldn’t control what was happening, I was surrounded by people who understood what was going on and thought it was great. Looking back on it, this is probably one of the aspects of the birth for which I feel most grateful.

This body-directed pushing was really getting us places. The sensation of pushing slowly shifted its focal point away from my rectum, and firmly into the birth canal. I began to be able to feel Ryu moving through. Then, my water broke! It BURST, like a water balloon! I have no idea how far the amniotic fluid gushed, but it felt like I’d positively exploded something with my vagina. This, too, needed to be announced. “My water broke!” I gasped. “I POPPED it!” Okay, obviously it had been pretty evident to everybody else in the room, because once again I was the comedian of the year. Laboring women stating the really, really obvious are funny.

Outside of that big event, it seemed to me like very slow going; I was so impatient, and I’d certainly been hoping for a very quick second stage (my mother and grandmother were both surprisingly fast pushers for all of their children; I myself was born in 20 minutes flat). It started to feel important that I make sure to include the baby in all of my pep talks, so my little cheerleading slogans moved from “I can do this” to “we can do this”—“Feel that, baby? You’re moving down!” (This is probably seriously overcorrecting what I actually said, which may have sounded more like a gigantic, grunted “DOWN, BABY! DOOOWWWWWWNNNN!”)

I pushed for another year or so—or maybe it was another thirty minutes. Or five. I really can’t say. Juli said she could see his head! “Oh! Hi, baby!” I called. Everyone fell all over everyone else trying to clarify that he wasn’t out yet, and I said, “I know, I know, he can’t hear me yet,” and then they had to correct me on that, of course he could hear me, from inside just as he’d been able to hear me for months, and I realized that ultimately we were all on the same page but language wasn’t working for me at the moment and gave up trying to make sense of myself and pushed some more, since that was all I was good for anyway.

For hours, I’d been resistant to basically anything that wasn’t lying on my side and laboring. Every sip of water took cajoling. Marcie made me a milkshake with coconut milk and strawberries; they basically had to threaten me to take each swallow.

I got incredibly literal; if Sharon or B asked me “do you want to do xyz?” I blithely answered “no thanks” and completely ignored the real meaning until they re-phrased it to “please do this xyz.” My stubbornly literal piece de resistance had to be, when his head was close to emerging, telling Juli, “but I don’t want to open my legs!”
“Honey, you’re going to have to open your legs to let him be born.”
Oh. Right. Okay, then. Open it was.

Another series of pushes, and Juli told me to reach down and feel his head. The little bit of him that bulged out of me was so soft! That was his skull?! Oh, man! And I could feel his hair! “Oh my God, he has so much hair!”

Pushing, pushing, and he was moving forward, oh, it hurt, it hurt so much, oh God, was I tearing?, “No, no, I can’t push him further, I’m tearing,” but everyone looked and assured me, “No, sweetie, we don’t see any tearing,” and again, I find it amazing that this encouragement was enough. I most certainly did feel tearing, and I was tearing—they didn’t see it because they were looking downward, and I was tearing upward—but they told me it was okay for me to keep going, so that was all there was to it: I kept going.

He crowned, and despite the rushing pain, it was wonderful. A few more Herculean pushes, and there he was—there was his whole head! Juli and Sharon saw the cord wrapped around his neck, so they eased him out of that, and here came his slippery little body, and here was our son, caught by his father, all white and blue and purple, and it’s true, that’s the most beautiful thing you can ever see.

He figured out crying quickly, and spent most of the first hour screaming—he had a lot to say about his day, too. The placenta took forever to get out, but after massage, concentrated pushing, some extremely awkward squatting, several different homeopathic herbs, and a Pitocin shot, as everybody was walking out the door so B and I could do more making out (ha ha, it was a last resort this time, ha ha, it’s funny how reluctant Tee is to kiss her husband), I finally felt the contractions that got the thing out. B cut the cord.

Sharon took me to the bathroom so she could help me shower and pee. Showering turned out to be a no-go for the night; I was awfully woozy, and found out later that I’d managed to lose a fair amount of blood.

Jamiko came over with a burrito for B, and ended up hanging out with Marcie, laughing and talking for so long that my mother later asked me, “Was that Marcie’s boyfriend or what?” Oh, Jamiko.

We got some instructions on using the Sitz bath herbs to make compresses, and some discussion of what my few tears looked like and whether we should do stitches (it didn’t seem to make sense to). We pinched my nipple into all sorts of shapes and got through a few trial breastfeeding runs. Marcie offered me “some toast,” which turned out to be the single greatest English muffin with butter I have ever had in my life.

By 10:30 or so, everybody was packing up to head home and we were just about ready to get under the covers and go to sleep. And... that was it. We had this beautiful momentous thing happen in our home, and when it was over... we were home. We just curled up and went to sleep, or, rather, B and Ryukichi went to sleep, and I lay there all night staring at them, lost in the most wonderful, clear-headed, hormonal high.

It’s now 10:30 at night on Saturday. It’s been exactly eight days, and all three of us are here together in the place where we started out together. I feel so profoundly fortunate that we were able to do it this way. I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything.

TeeThatsMe 08-16-2014 08:48 PM

And here's the story of my daughter's birth. Slightly less long. Not much cleaner language. ;)

Susan was our primary midwife, and Cheryl was to have been her backup; Erin is the backup midwife who was actually able to attend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Eloui: Loulou Bear, Ellie Belly, Baby Lou.

She is so tiny and compact, just like her birth was, and just like her birth, it’s impossible to leave it at that: she’s so complicated. Ryu was somehow a stand-alone sort of kid and had a stand-alone sort of birth; it started, it progressed, it ended, we had a new baby. Ellie, and Ellie’s birth, demand context.

By Monday the eleventh, I was a week and a day past our vague, vague due date. Even though it didn’t make that much sense to worry about precisely how far along I was, my parents were on their way to town, Susan was on her way out of town, and I was starting to feel some concern that our plans were going to be messed with if this baby was born nowhere near when we’d expected. My parents’ timing was bad enough; it would be a shame if they missed this baby altogether. But, in my mind, Susan imminently leaving was a bigger deal. After all the drama with [flaky disaster midwife], I really did not want to pass into yet another midwife’s care for the birth itself. B and I talked it over, and we decided I should start specifically encouraging labor.

So: walking, tropical fruit, evening primrose oil, sex. Conveniently enough, I’d forgotten my laptop a few blocks away during the workday on Monday, so I took an evening stroll to go and retrieve it. Then, of course, the dogs needed to go out; I took them for a good long walk around the block. I made a smoothie with pineapple, mango juice, and the greenest-feeling papaya I’d been able to find. I cracked open the evening primrose oil that Susan had recommended I buy; after some research and debate with myself, I decided just to take a caplet or two orally for the first evening. Then, at bedtime proper, the first sex we’d had in a while.

All of these things happened within an hour or two, so I can’t say for sure, but it certainly feels like it was the sex: no more than five minutes after we were finished, I felt a contraction. Pre-labor had been funny up to this point, and I’d even had a few painful contractions before, so I told B about it, but neither of us were all that excited. He went to sleep. I had another contraction, and another, and started to perk up. Then, of course, I realized that it was 11:00pm—perking up was the last thing I wanted to do! I needed to get some sleep; if it wasn’t labor, I’d need the rest for work in the morning, and if it was labor, then I’d REALLY need the rest for… well… having the baby in the morning. I timed a few contractions, detected no discernable pattern, wrote Susan an email—“definitely having some good cramping that feels like it's going places … preventing me from sleeping for nearly an hour … when I get up and walk around, I just feel like I'm opening up”—and endeavored to sleep.

It worked; I slept from 11 to 5, getting up to pee every so often and feeling, each time, contractions and cramps and discomfort and that unmistakable opening, widening sensation. When I woke at 5:00, it seemed clear that I wasn’t getting back to sleep. I devoted myself to timing contractions and just handling things by myself for an hour, to give B a little more rest, then woke him to tell him this show was on the road for real and asked him to make me some breakfast. He sprang up and started some bacon and eggs. I decided I should keep up the “is this really labor” checklist, and took the dogs outside for their morning walk. It occurred to me as I walked that it would be funny if I needed to grab a tree or something for support: What would I say to a passerby? “Oh, I’m just in labor; also, walking my dogs.” This was probably a pretty dumb idea, going outside by myself while in active labor. I tried doing horse lips to ease myself through a contraction and stay standing. It seemed pretty useless, which was… interesting, somehow. I made a mental note not to bother with the horse lips, then found it funny that I was essentially doing research on labor while in labor.

Coming back inside, I called Susan to let her know to be on the alert; today was definitely the day. She said she’d head into town and stay with Erin in Takoma Park until it seemed like she should come over to our place. Ryu came out of his bedroom, bleary-eyed, and I did what I could to keep him occupied at the table while B finished preparing our breakfast. It was 6:30 or so, and already I wasn’t really able to respond to him very well during contractions. I was noticing that if I was upright at all, the rushes seemed both more frequent and less intense; when I lay down, they spaced out a bit more, but were much tougher. I spent a lot of brainpower trying to figure out which approach was better: Should I be walking around to encourage them to happen, and to dampen the intensity a little bit; or just lying down to ride them out? My automatic reaction was to lie down and relax as completely as possible—that Bradley training two years ago really had a lasting effect on me—but I worried that it was taking an awfully passive approach to the birth. Shouldn’t I be doing more? Shouldn’t I be encouraging it more? Shouldn’t I be… I don’t know, participating?

All this ruminating was pretty much made moot, though, as I sat at the dining room table and tried to eat my eggs and stay calm when Ryu insisted “Wake up! Mommy, no go sleep!” every time I shut my eyes during a contraction. I ate as much as I could and then fled back to the bedroom to hide from his demands. I’m a little bummed, in retrospect: as much as we did have some special times together in his last month as an only child, I still did have some fantasies about our final moments together as mommy and baby. Instead of having any kind of sweet encounter, I basically spent those last minutes trying pretty hard to avoid him. Oh, well; that’s labor for you, I guess.

I lay in bed and rode out more contractions, and B brought Ryu in so they could both say goodbye. I really did not want B leaving me by myself to labor for even the ten minutes he needed to take Ryu to daycare, but there was nobody else to take him, so that was that: I was laboring by myself for ten minutes.

It actually took fifteen or twenty minutes for him to get back. By the time ten minutes had gone by, it was becoming increasingly clear that I was in transition: my mindset was so negative. My worries about being too passive were really ramping up, but I just couldn’t bring myself to stay upright for more than a minute or so at a time. I’d been going to the bathroom to try to empty my bowels, but just couldn’t seem to do it. I was so worried that I wasn’t going to be able to give the baby enough room to move down! But then, too, maybe I was actually just feeling like I needed to push? Great. That wasn’t helping. I wasn’t even sure if I actually had to go or if I was just feeling the need to push, which felt WAY premature; it was only, like, eight o’clock!

…To say nothing of the contractions themselves. They hurt. A lot. They felt way less manageable than I remembered feeling when I’d been three hours into labor two years ago. I needed help and had none. When was B going to get home?! What was I going to do if he wasn’t home soon?! Even pressing the stupid button on the iPhone to time contractions was a monumental effort, and I missed recording some. I needed help. I needed help.

Finally, he got back. I was struggling, but things still needed to get done for this birth to work okay. He asked me if he should start filling the birth pool, but no: the dogs were still in the apartment and we hadn’t even called the dog sitter yet. He handled that, and I tried to keep it up by myself. At a glacial, excruciating pace, I tapped out a few pressing emails for work. I kept going to the bathroom (with eventual, partial success; I got out what I could, but didn’t feel like I’d created much room for the baby to move, and didn’t resolve the pushy feeling at all), and tried sitting on the exercise ball a few times (no dice; the bouncing was hard to bear and the amount of muscle control I needed to exert to keep myself upright required way more energy than I had to spend).

Susan called again. I don’t know whether I asked her to come, or she decided on her own, but it was very clear that she needed to come. I gave her the code to get into the apartment building. She told me that Cheryl was at another birth, so Erin would be coming to assist instead.

Poor B kept trying to get the darn tub set up, and I kept coming up with more reasons to stop him from getting it done. Part of it was all the errands I kept sending him on, but a lot of it was that I just needed his help whenever I could get it. I told him Susan was on her way, and that Erin would be replacing Cheryl as the birth assistant. He seemed very surprised by this: “She’s at another birth?! …Oh. Um, well, okay.” I found out long after the fact that I hadn’t actually been very clear, and he had understood that Susan herself was not coming. He couldn’t believe how calm I was at the idea of not having our midwife with us.

I finally let go and started telling him how worried I was at how fast this was going: “This seems so much quicker. I feel like I’m way further along than I was this time last time. It’s way further.” He was being so encouraging, but I was so down and bleak that I hated hearing him tell me that I was doing a good job. He told me that I was going to be wonderful, that I was going to have this baby beautifully, and I hated him for it, because I knew he was wrong: This was going too fast and I was going to fall apart and fuck it all up royally, and I didn’t need my husband trying to Mary Sunshine me into thinking any differently. It wasn’t his fault, though, he didn’t understand that; so I tried to be really nice (thank you, Ina May) when I told him “I’m sorry, but I think I can really do with less encouragement, okay?” I’m pretty sure he was amused. It appears that I am always very funny in labor.

Susan called again. I don’t know what my deal was; I had felt really certain that I was clear about the code: “star-four-eight-one-five,” but apparently she was at the front door and couldn’t get in. I was useless on the phone, so B took the call, and I guess she kept saying something about a pound key—but I swear I never told her to hit pound, just star! Oh well. The point was that she was here and B had to go let her in. I was going to be alone again, for the third time; I knew it would only take the time he needed to get downstairs and then back up, but that felt like SUCH A LONG TIME. I was starting to lose it. Thank God they were at least almost here. I really needed to push, but had no idea how far I’d progressed.

It’s interesting when I think about how much I’d internalized from Ryu’s birth, and from what I’d read. Even though I knew perfectly well that I felt further along, I was unable to translate this into “this birth will likely be quicker overall,” because I had so strongly resisted the idea of a faster second birth. Every time I tried to reason to myself that I was in transition and therefore it would be over soon, the irrational, panicky part of my brain blocked everything out with doom and gloom about how I had twelve-hour births and could therefore expect to be in transition for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, I was also totally ignoring the logical conclusion of my increasing need to push: I was nearly there. The many, many stories I’d read that included “permission to push” were sticking with me and I couldn’t imagine letting go and getting it done before I was told by a midwife that it was okay. So, the knowledge that Susan and Erin were literally on their way upstairs was hugely comforting and I devoted myself to hanging on until they came through the bedroom door.

I heard the front door, and… B came into the bedroom alone. Where the FUCK were the midwives?! I couldn’t even HEAR them! Were they even THERE?! As soon as I could talk, I asked B what the hell had happened, and he said, puzzled, that they were in the kitchen, quietly talking and making plans. Nnnnnooooo, that was not going to work, I was pushy, I needed them here! So he went and got them, and then I think returned for the umpteenth time to try to get the tub set up.

Finally, Susan and Erin appeared in the bedroom. Again, Ina May flashed in my head and I tried to remember to keep the energy good, said hello to Susan and “I’m so glad to see you again” to Erin. By this time, I’d started to make noise during contractions, deep lowing calls. I think Susan said something about this being good. It was amazing how much work I was putting into doing things right, to approaching everything somehow appropriately. I mentioned that I was still timing contractions, and did they need me to keep doing that? Erin was very nice about it, but this was obviously a funny question to her. Yes, she said, once the midwives were on their way, it was generally totally fine to stop timing contractions, so… given the fact that they were here… I could stop. (Days later, I checked the times I’d recorded; I had hit the button for the last time just 26 minutes before Ellie was born. Yeah, pretty sure birth was impending at that point.)

Eventually all the niceties died down and I finally got to say “Listen, I feel pushy. Can I push? Is it okay?” Susan surprised me (why was I surprised?) by saying, “Well, sure, if you want to”—I feel pretty sure that she had never checked me at all, or even touched me really, and yet here I was ready to push, and getting the okay? Wow! Okay!

So, okay, a contraction came on and I pushed. That is not accurate. I didn’t have anything to do with it. I let the floodgates open and became… a vessel or something. For exactly what, I am not sure: my own instinct? The baby’s desire to arrive? The Earth? I don’t know. It was much, much, much stronger than I am. Letting it do the pushing was like being a tree uprooted by a tsunami, or a house swallowed by an earthquake. I felt like I was tethered to my voice, which led the way and dragged me into the push as I yelled.

I remember the animal sensation of surrendering to pushing when Ryu was born. This was not the same. This was that sort of experience, multiplied by some crazy exponent. Looking back, I feel it was the exponent of compressed time: pushing Ryu out took me about ninety minutes; pushing Ellie out took six.

So I drowned in the undertow of my very first push, screaming and shocked at how big this felt. At the end of it, they said they felt the head! I reached down and felt the baby’s head, after the first push!! I lost my head entirely and started hollering for B. Bless him, he was still in the living room with that poor pathetic tub. He got into the bedroom in time to see my bag of waters, bulging out—I felt certain that I would break it with the next push, and I was right.

A second titanic roaring effort, and when I was through it, I gasped, “Water broke, that’s my water, that’s a lot of fluid,” and Susan and Erin told me, “No, no, that’s just more mucus from your plug”, but it was absolutely amniotic fluid; I could feel how much and knew that I had certainly broken my water. I am not sure when they figured it out, but I didn’t feel any doubt about it, and finally, finally, it made sense to me: This was not a dress rehearsal. I was pushing fast and going to have this baby very soon.

Another push. It came in stages. I got ready; I started; I was pushing without regard for the ring of fire I felt; Susan looked into my eyes and said, urgently, “Okay, push, and then breathe”; this was simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. If I’d had it in me to think, I might have said “Yeah, right, lady. If you think breathing’s so important, how about I keep doing what I’m doing and you breathe?” I was nowhere near that presence of mind, though, so instead I gritted out, “I can’t do that!!” B tells me that he has never seen me so crazed as I was in that moment. I’m not surprised.

So, instead of breathing, I kept right on pushing, fully expecting to tear as badly as last time or worse, and not caring. Instead of tearing, I popped out my baby’s head on the beginning of the third push, and the body at the end of it. I had birthed my baby in three pushes. A tiny, tiny little body that was nothing like Ryu’s—brought up to me and set on my own body. Screaming and squalling right away. It was surreal: was it really already over?

B had looked down at the baby’s face right away, of course, and seen something, and it took him a minute to get Susan’s attention to tell her to look. The baby had a cleft. We looked at that for a minute, and then finally I asked, “Can we look and see if this person is a boy or a girl?” B was the one to look for that too, and it took him an agonizing second or two to pronounce, “It’s… I’m not exactly sure what I’m seeing, I think it’s a girl.” Susan confirmed. It was a girl. A girl!! I was overcome. I sobbed to Susan, “I’m so happy—I didn’t want to have a preference, it’s not fair—but I really, really wanted a girl. My girl, I’m so happy, my girl.” She smiled at me, tearing up herself.

Birthing the placenta was like blowing out a birthday candle: whoosh, it was out, I was finished, we had done it. They checked and found barely any tears at all—maybe a single little skid mark. (During the past week and a half of recovery, I have felt exactly one tiny sting from that tear, exactly one time.) “What time is it?!” It was 9:30 or so. She had been born at 9:18 and the entire thing had happened, start to finish, in four and a half hours.

The cleft was a huge shock, far more for B and even for Susan and Erin than for me. I was busy with my rush of hormones, compounded by the fact that I had a daughter, and frankly didn’t care about anything beyond that; everyone else in the room was pretty well concerned. Susan took a look and said it was a bilateral cleft lip and palate. She asked if we’d had any idea; no, of course not. We would have told her if anybody had caught that. Much later, B checked the images from the 20-week sonogram, and it’s there, perceptible if you’re paying attention. I am glad that I didn’t know ahead of time. I don’t think I would have wanted that information as I anticipated the birth—anticipation might have turned to anxiety, or even dread. It isn’t life-threatening; she didn’t need immediate medical attention; it was good to find out as she was born and then get a few hours with her before we packed up and went to the doctor’s. Susan wrote down her name as we spelled it for her: Eloui Clare.

We were extraordinarily lucky to have that exact labor, with that exact timing. Had it been longer, we might have been too exhausted to face the day of medical appointments we ended up having. Had it been later in the day or on a different day of the week, we probably wouldn’t have been able to see the doctors at Children’s Hospital as quickly as we did. Had it not been so easy on me, I might not have been able to go at all—they might have had to leave me at home to recover while my husband and daughter went to see about how we were going to treat her cleft. As it was, I felt great, even hours after the birth, and had basically no problem getting up and walking around and taking her in to see doctor after doctor over the first four days of her life outside.

Because of the good fortune of the timing and ease, and because of how overwhelming life has been since then, it is difficult to separate my thoughts about the birth itself from my feelings about Eloui’s cleft. Getting my thoughts down here is helpful in remembering how amazing it was that it went that quickly and that easily. A simple, uncomplicated birth for a wonderfully un-simple, complicated little girl. I feel very blessed, and very grateful.

jodieanneanton 08-17-2014 07:38 AM

I have LOTS of catching up to do with the reading on this page! I LOVE LOVE LOVE birth stories! :D

Here is my story for my third baby...

Graham Vincent's home birth (A surprise footling breech)

I have yet to write down my stories for #1 and #2 . Hopefully I can come back on here and type up quickie versions for your reading delight. ;)

jodieanneanton 08-17-2014 08:12 AM

cagnew, I just read your stories. They were wonderful. :love I love all of your details. I laughed and teared up and just loved every minute of the read. Thanks for sharing and for starting this thread.

Off to read more stories!!

DuchessTergie 08-17-2014 10:19 AM

7 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by TeeThatsMe (Post 17927514)
Because of the good fortune of the timing and ease, and because of how overwhelming life has been since then, it is difficult to separate my thoughts about the birth itself from my feelings about Eloui’s cleft. Getting my thoughts down here is helpful in remembering how amazing it was that it went that quickly and that easily. A simple, uncomplicated birth for a wonderfully un-simple, complicated little girl. I feel very blessed, and very grateful.

Tee, yes to THIS. My DD2's birth set the tone for a very traumatic and scary year medically and emotionally speaking. My girl came in with a bang and things didn't let up until she was 15 months old. But, the spiritual component I experienced during her labor carried me through all that followed. I LOVE your thankfulness. Lovely, just lovely, and very inspiring.

jodieanneanton 08-17-2014 12:26 PM

@sarahknavy , I love your stories. I am so happy you got your VBAC! What a surprise happy ending! **SWOON!**

cowchick530 08-17-2014 03:19 PM

3 Attachment(s)
My story, well, Mayson's story really!
I'm going to make this pretty short..

I was 20 years old, and terrified. I had no idea what pregnancy, labor, and giving birth were all about.. but I would soon enough find out.
I am a high risk pregnancy because I have had a previous kidney surgery. and then to top it off I have Ulcerative Colitis, so that just makes it more fun... But on the bright side, I was constantly reassured of my sons wellbeing as I had to have a lot of ultrasounds to assure my ureter wasn't being compromised during the pregnancy, (my son loved to sit on it) and if he was there to long I would have to deliver. YIKES! I finally found a position to sleep that worked. he stayed off my ureter for the remainder of my pregnancy. BUTTTT at 7 1/2 months the ultrasound tech told me based on measurements my son was close to 7 Lbs... I was instantly terrified because I had so much time left... WEEELLL my due date was September 23rd, and of course it came and went. finally my dr. decided to induce me on October 1st. I was so excited because my DH's birthday is Aug 2nd, mine is Sep 2nd and I thought I would have for sure had him on Oct 2nd. and it did not work that way at allll... after spending the whole day on Pitocin and cervidill my contractions were pretty uncomfortable but not regular and not making any progress.. I was sent home : ( I was up almost all night with painful irregular contractions and I was exhausted... I was to return the very next morning to start on Pitocin again. On the way to the hospital we hit a raccoon which of course busted my radiator and we made it to the hospital with a very much over heated car! thankfully my dad works at an automotive store and brought a radiator to us in the hospital.. funny I know... hehe. my DH spent some time in the parking lot of the hospital replacing the radiator, so I was upstairs in early labor all alone.. which I thought at first I could handle, but it made me pay more attention to the pain. Finally I was making progress, DH arrived just in time to keep me company in the jet tub, which was AMAZING!!!!! but my pain ended up getting SOOO bad that I got out.. I didn't know what I wanted, to walk, to lay down, to sleep, crawl on the ground, take a shower. I was just trying to find ways to easy the pain. the nurse came in as I was getting a bit vocal.. she checked me and WHAT??? all this pain and discomfort for two days to only be at 3cm. So my dr. broke my water. I was exhausted from not getting any sleep and the nurse asked if I wanted to get the epidural, and if I did it would probably be an hour before I could so I could get some pain meds to take the edge off, I agreed to both.. and I kid you not, 10 min after I got the newbain(sp?) they came in with my epidural, apparently they got a cancel from another patient and had time to come do mine.. SOOO THEN I was drunk feeling and was horrible.. then all of a sudden I started to really feel my contractions again.. despite me pressing the heck out of that button, the epidural wasn't as effective anymore.. they came in and ran ice up and down my leg and told me to let them know when I felt it.. which was the whole time. I could have jumped up and performed a salsa routine for them. it simply was not working.. they ended up giving me a large amount of the epidural medicine through the catheter in my back and that helped.. I then pressed the button every 15 min and I was able to relax enough to sleep on and off.. my friends all arrived and even my friends 1 month old son was there.. it was pretty special to me that they allowed all of these people in the room. it was some how comforting.. well then at around 10 pm. they cut off the epidural completely and I was extremely nauseous, so they gave me some anti nausea meds. at 10:45 they noticed my heart rate was WAAAYYY down, so they game me meds to help that, and then determined I was allergic to the anti nausea meds.. well at around 11 pm I was fully dilated and ready to push.... by 11:30 the meds they gave me to help with my heart rate had made my heart rate jump up pretty high.. it was at 140 bpm. I felt like my heart was going to explode, but I was going to get this baby out.. my dr. asked how I felt about an episiotomy and I said no, then I said WAIITTT do I need one.. and then bam it was to late.. it was like being cut with a spoon and then someone pouring hot sauce on it.. man I was on fire! I had previously mad a vow that I wasn't going to cuss at all. I was going to keep my potty mouth under control. I did yell at DH once because he was counting to slow, and I did say that I wanted to cuss so fricken bad, but I was pretty good. I was proud of my self : ). at 12:12am on October 3rd my son was born.. his little stubborn butt was born 12 min after the day I really wanted him to be born on.. lol.. He was so precious just looking up at me.. I held him for over an hour before they weighed him.. and not to my surprise, this big guy was 9lbs 1oz.. no wonder I tore so bad. wheewww but it was all over and so worth it! we welcomed the newest love of my life into the world, and he was bigger than my friends one month old hehe! it was the most amazing feeling in the world.. I had all my goofy friends and my cousin and my DH in the room and I couldn't have asked for a better support team,.. I even thought it was funny that DH and my cousin were posing for pics next to me while I looked like a mad woman.. haha anyways that's my story!

jodieanneanton 08-17-2014 03:22 PM

@Valerie11 , Thanks for sharing your stories! It is amazing how labors are just so different from each other!! I was laughing out loud when your second husband told you to go to sleep and take some tylenol, too! How funny! :D

jodieanneanton 08-18-2014 04:22 AM

@TeeThatsMe , Just read your stories. You are an excellent writer. I loved all the details and felt like I was there, going through it with you! Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

luckiest 08-18-2014 09:06 AM

Apologies for length! In the years since his birth, I've wondered whether he wasn't a little asynclitic at the beginning. I've read a couple of asynclitic birth stories that described similar early labors - intense, widely spaced contractions that weren't very productive.

I started having regular contractions Sunday afternoon but could mostly ignore them. Still, I got little sleep that night. Monday morning I took a bath and got back in bed to try to get some rest in case the real thing was coming – it didn’t really work. I rested, but didn’t sleep. John had gone to work but was coming home after lunch. I was enjoying being by myself at that point. I think he got home around 1, and we just hung out. When contractions were about 5 minutes apart and I was having to concentrate through them (late afternoon?), we called our doula to be with us. She got there and started setting some things up. I was uncomfortable enough to get in the tub, but only spent about fifteen minutes in because contractions basically stopped. That was really frustrating – I felt like I was handling them badly and knew I was getting tired. I was having trouble “transcending” and felt very awake in my rational self. No position provided any measure of comfort, although I ended up mostly leaning forward – leaning on the ball, leaning on the couch. Contractions were getting much stronger, but not closer together, and Francine decided it was time to call Juli, the midwife. I think the sun was still up then. Not long after Juli got there, my contractions started spacing out but stayed pretty intense. I was a “stretchy 4″ when she checked me. After a couple hours of spacey contractions, she kicked everyone out and put John and me alone in the bedroom to see if that would kickstart real labor. No luck. The pains were really intense and hard to handle, but close to ten minutes apart. I was very aware of my surroundings, very conscious. I got in and out of the shower a few times; the water felt really good. Juli came in at some point (midnight-ish?) and told me I wasn’t in active labor anymore and she was going to leave. She gave me a pep talk about welcoming contractions, using my affirmations, relaxing and riding the ride, all that stuff. She asked if I was scared of anything, if I felt like I was resisting labor and why that might be. I felt like I’d hit a wall – I was exhausted, I felt like I was doing a shitty job handling what were apparently not even “real” contractions, and began to think to myself that if things didn’t start happening soon we’d end up transferring for exhaustion and dehydration (I was also throwing up every couple of hours and couldn’t keep fluids down). Juli’s pep talk ended up having the opposite effect of what I’m sure she was intending – I felt like I was somehow doing it wrong. I was thinking things had slowed down because I wasn’t able to relax enough, or invite the sensations enough, or something. I was pissed at her for leaving, pissed at myself for stalling. That was definitely the low point of the whole thing.

I got in bed and while John and Francine slept I tried to concentrate on relaxing my whole body through each contraction. I visualized opening up, I moaned and breathed into my belly. For a while that was fine. It took every ounce of me to relax through each one, even though it was so much worse to be tense. I was on my left side in bed, barely hanging onto myself.

I’d gotten the idea in my head that I’d need to transfer and it was just a matter of how long I could go before I’d say it out loud. I hadn’t slept at all, not even really dozing between contractions, and I just kept thinking that if I couldn’t get any rest or stop throwing up that I wasn’t going to get my homebirth. I’d resigned myself; I was just going to go until I couldn’t go anymore, then we’d get in the car and go to St Luke’s. I was too exhausted.

I started standing for contractions, leaning over on the bed. I could feel that they were picking back up, but I somehow didn’t think that meant I was “back” in labor. I felt stuck, even with changes. Juli’s presence had meant that things were happening – now that she was gone, things had stopped. In my head, anyway. Contractions were only pain, not progress – unrelated to the birth. When things picked back up I felt lost, I didn’t know what to do with them. I decided to get in the tub in an effort to stop them, like they had stopped the first time I went in.

I was apparently in denial and really was in active labor at that point. John and Francine said afterwards that I’d changed completely – my voice changed, my movements changed. I didn’t notice any of that. I got in the tub with the intention of making my contractions stop, or slow down enough that I could really rest. I thought I still had tons of time. The tub didn’t slow anything down at all. I think I did fade away while I was in there…I don’t remember a whole lot other than putting my head up to the window to cool off. And I kept asking to have some water taken out of the tub. It went all the way up to my shoulders and I felt too buoyant. I was on my knees, leaning forward against the side, and my knees were just barely resting on the bottom. I don’t know how long I was laboring there, but it was well past midnight. Francine woke up and was helping me make more productive sounds and getting me to relax. John was with me the whole time once I decided to get in the tub.

So after some time laboring in the tub, all of a sudden I grunted at the end of a breath. Immediately Francine asked if I was pushing, and I think I said, “a little bit.” It didn’t feel like I was pushing, necessarily…my breath just caught at the end and I had to grunt and bear down. I heard her phone beeping as she was texting Juli. She was trying to get me to blow through contractions, which was damn near impossible. My face was really close to the water and I was blowing so hard I was spraying back into my face. Only a couple of contractions after I started grunting my water broke during a push. I’m glad I was in the water, because it was FORCEFUL. I’m certain I would have soaked everything within five feet of me to the knees. Again I heard Francine’s phone beeping.

Juli lives all the way in the Berkeley, even in the middle of the night she was probably 30 minutes away. She called another midwife who lives close to us to come. Our second midwife, Deborah, was sick, so I’m not sure if calling Heather had been the plan all along or if they called her because she was close and someone needed to be here since I was pushing.

Even though I was pushing, I STILL wasn’t convinced that it was time. At the beginning, I still had all the sensations of a regular contraction but with a strong, unbearable urge to push, and pushing didn’t really feel that great. I thought I was having a premature urge and that I wasn’t fully dilated yet. That thought didn’t last very long – I started feeling him move down and I reached and felt his head. That was it, that was when I finally knew he was coming. It felt like a walnut.

The contractions changed entirely. All sensations disappeared except the need to push, there was no pain whatsoever. I was pushing with an open throat, making lots of really loud, low grunting noises. In between contractions I had woken up a little bit…I felt…drunk? I was able to talk, and had no inhibitions about what was coming out of my mouth. I talked to the baby a lot, I chanted a lot. “Down down down,” “Huge huge huge,” “Stretchy stretchy stretchy.” I made everyone laugh a few times and I wish I could remember all of what I said. I know I said that the whole process was a serious design flaw, and as I was getting out of the tub I think I said something along the lines of, “Fuck all of you.”

Once I had moved him down enough to see his head, Juli gave me the option of getting out of the tub so she could support my perineum better. The thought of getting up and moving five feet to the pallet they’d set up by the heater seemed like they were asking me to run a marathon. I did get out and got on my hands and knees on the pallet. Getting there sucked, but once I was there it felt really good, I felt like I could push more effectively. My mom was at my head and I leaned on her a lot when my arms got tired. My RA affected wrist was bothering me, and I ended up leaning on my fingers rather than my palm and that made it harder. (I think leaning on my bent fingers for so long actually did a bit of temporary nerve damage – it’s two weeks later now and a whole side of my index finger is numb. Getting better though.) I tried leaning on the ball for a while, but it made me too upright and I didn’t like it.

I started pushing in earnest, holding my breath. Juli asked if I wanted to lay on my side, that I might have more control over pushing, and my response was, “There’s a baby in my vagina, I can’t move.” The burning started – everyone talks about the “ring of fire,” and it did burn, but it wasn’t even half as bad as I was expecting, not even close. I remember thinking that this is what everyone means by accepting the sensations. The burning meant that the baby was coming soon, it wasn’t scary pain, it was good, productive pain. It hardly registered as pain, it was what it was.

He crowned nice and slowly. It was so bizarre to feel him slip back after every contraction until he got around my pubic bone. I think I chanted, “Stay stay stay” for a while. The feeling of him crowning was really intense for about a second, and then there was a huge feeling of relief. I could feel Juli manipulating him somehow and wishing she would stop. She was asking me to push out his body, but I really just wanted to rest there and had no energy to push without the help of a contraction. She pulled as I attempted to push, and John caught him as he slid out, at 6:41am. I really wish she’d have just let him be, let me wait for the next contraction. If you count starting to push when I started grunting, it was about two hours, but true pushing was about an hour I think.

I turned around, lifted my leg over the cord and John handed him to me. There truly, truly aren’t words. Nothing else existed. I had been born as well. We all cried and laughed. It was a couple of minutes before I looked to see that he was, indeed, a boy. There’s nothing I can say that would do those first few minutes justice.

Then it was time to birth the placenta. This is the second thing I wish Juli had done differently – she applied traction really soon. My mom estimated about 20 minutes had passed, but it felt like a lot less to me. She had me sit up on her birth stool so I could push. I saw that she was pulling a bit and asked if it was detached, and she said, “I think so.” She had reached in and said it was “right there,” and she may have thought it was detached but I’m not sure it was. After I pushed it out I started bleeding – a lot. Heather gave me a shot of pitocin in my leg. I gave the baby to John and Juli and Heather supported me to the bedroom, leaving a crime scene in my wake. There was an underpad between my legs which was almost comical for how little it was doing. Once on the bed I got a second shot, Juli was massaging my uterus to get it to clamp down. They got the bleeding under control really quickly, but I had still lost a lot. On my back I felt okay, but upright I felt woozy. My heart rate was fast, but otherwise my vitals were fine. We tried to get me rehydrated right away, turns out too quickly – I threw up again. It was a challenge trying to get me to pee – the bathroom was too far for me to walk but my bladder was beyond full. They set up the birth stool right next to the bed and I peed into a pot. We had to go round 2 a few minutes later because I hadn’t emptied completely (the lack of sensation is so bizarre). Felix was on my chest this whole time and self-latched pretty quickly. He didn’t nurse for long, he mostly checked out the scenery. Heather made me a little placenta smoothie shot, which really did make me feel a lot better. I’d bought frozen berries specifically for that, so I wouldn’t notice there was placenta involved.

I figured, by the delightful stinging when I peed, that I had some kind of tear. My perineum stayed intact, but I had pretty substantial labial tear. I’ll spare you the details. Juli and Heather debated stitching it, but decided that the tissue was too thin and it was in too awkward a place. They’d both seen similar tears and they did fine without any stitches.

Francine left an hour or two after the birth, the midwives left around 1 maybe. They got me all set up with food and sitz herbs for compresses, lots of homeopathics for the blood loss.

The next time I had to pee I was able to walk to the bathroom (with assistance) and had to crawl back. Sometime later in the afternoon I managed to go and come back without assistance, but the next time I tried to do it on my own turned out to be a mistake. We’d been asleep, I left Felix on the bed and woke up John to tell him I was peeing but didn’t ask him to go with me. I wasn’t sure whether my mom and Claire were still there or not. I got to the bathroom just fine, but started feeling REALLY lightheaded on the toilet. Still, I thought I could get back okay and made it to the doorframe of the bedroom before passing out. I remember reaching for the doorframe to steady myself, and I woke up on the ground. I was only out for a couple of seconds – I heard John say, “I need help” really loudly, and I shot up to my hands and knees because I thought he meant help with the baby. Then I realized I was on the floor and he meant he needed help with me. My mom helped me to the bed and I felt fine again.

The tear and the blood loss definitely made recovery more difficult. I couldn’t sit upright, but leaning back was really painful on my tailbone (since I broke it last year, any kind of prolonged lounging is super painful). Peeing was awful for about a week. It’s day twelve today and I just now feel close to normal energy-wise. I didn’t leave the bed except to pee for probably five days. Those first days are a blur anyway – time has no meaning at all; it’s either light or dark outside.

cagnew 08-19-2014 06:04 AM

I've read all the stories and loved each and every one of them! I hope to have time later to comment on each one :) One thing is clear- we have some strong mama's in this group!!!!

Valerie11 08-19-2014 02:32 PM

I need to read the later stories starting with Tee's. Will do when I have more time this week.

Valerie11 08-22-2014 06:43 AM

Tee, I just read your story about Ryu's birth. I cannot believe how non-anxious you were through the whole thing! I'm guessing that was your first birth? You seem so prepared. It's also interesting the kissing and how it speeds things along. Home birth is illegal in my state (not illegal, but it's illegal for anyone to assist) and the closest midwife center is too far for my comfort both with timing and gas prices, so I'll be in a hospital. I doubt I will want to do any kissing in the hospital room. Your story is making me want to do a home birth, though.

TeeThatsMe 08-22-2014 07:31 PM

Oh, @Valerie , thank you! Yes, Ryu's birth was our first. We had done Bradley classes, loved our doula, and lllllooooovvvvvveeeeeedddddd our midwives--so I guess we just figured it was all going to work out? :) Sounds kind of hopelessly naive, but I sure am glad we happened to be right!

Yes, the effect of the kissing was a big surprise to me, too! It's funny you say we sounded prepared, because while I may have *thought* we were prepared, one of the most vivid feelings I have about that birth was how many things, large and small, came as surprises to me that day. There were lots and lots of things I never would've expected.

Valerie11 08-23-2014 07:34 AM

Tee, I read your second birth and it's amazing that you just didn't believe that you could go that fast! I'm also glad that you didn't find out about the cleft palate earlier, I know I would have just worried needlessly, too, if I had found that out before the birth.

cowchick530, I know what that's like to be 20 and have just no idea of what you're in for. Sounds like you did the same thing as me and just took every medication that they offered. Sorry that he wasn't born on the 2nd! :)

Luckiest, I'm sorry that you doubted yourself and even felt guilt at not doing it right, and I'm sorry that your midwife/doula? Juli left you like that. But I'm glad that you got to have your home birth in the end.

jodieanneanton, that is a wonderful story. I am sure we all know what would have happened if he were breach in a hospital setting. And how cool that you found out the sex that way!

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