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I was recently "cleaning up" my computer and stumbled on my birth story for my second daughter Alice. I felt warm and fuzzy all over again, just like it happened yesterday. : )<br><br><br>
ALICE ARRIVES!<br><br>
Andy and I had taken a Hypnobirthing class with Loretta Trettina in South Philadelphia. For the last two months of my pregnancy, we were learning how to go into “complete relaxation”. I really liked the philosophy of becoming completely limp during labor—letting my body do what it already knows how to do. The more we learned about it, the more it made sense that bracing yourself for each contraction is probably counterproductive. I listened to lots of tapes and CDs, daddy spent lots of time lightly stroking my arm and reading scripts. Part of the conditioning involves rethinking the sensations of labor. In place of “pain”, “contraction”, etc., terms like “surge” or “rush” are used instead. I also read quite a bit by Ina May Gaskin, who was quite wonderful and inspiring. She is a midwife who has delivered lots of babies—very few requiring cesarean sections. Her words of wisdom were welcome.<br><br>
We also decided to see the midwives at the Bryn Mawr Birth Center instead of the midwives group at Pennsylvania Hospital. Though the experience at Pennsylvania Hospital was not bad, it was still very “medicalized”. We were looking for something a little more relaxed and positive. We have received wonderful care at The Birth Center. It was refreshing that almost all of my appointments were on time!<br><br>
I was due on Thursday, October 18th. I finished my last week at work on Friday, October 12th. Mom (Grandma Sue) was spending the week after with us, assuming that her new granddaughter would already have arrived. Well….Grandma came on Saturday, October 20th—still no baby. By the following Tuesday, I was getting a little antsy. I called the midwives to see if they had an earlier appointment (I already had an appointment for Thursday). I went in on Tuesday morning. They stripped my membranes, which helps to get things moving along. I had been taking evening primrose oil for the last few weeks to “soften” my cervix. The midwife told me that I was already 3cm dilated and 50% effaced—welcome news. It sure didn’t seem like I had another week yet to wait.<br><br>
I was feeling intermittent cramps and more frequent contractions later on Tuesday but nothing was quite regular yet. Almost immediately when I put my head down on my pillow to go to sleep, things started to happen. It was about 10:40 pm. Some tightening, pretty regular, not too intense at first. I tried to get a little more sleep because it seemed like things might really progress this time. I also thought Andy should sleep some more in case we were going to have a marathon later. I did let him know, though, that there was “some action”. At around 2:30, I got out of bed and decided to listen to some of the Hypnobirthing tapes. It didn’t seem like it was quite time to call the midwives.<br><br>
At 3:30 am, I decided things were more intense, more regular. Time to get some advice! I paged the midwife on call—Peggy Stone. I told her that the contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart and that this was my second baby. She also wanted to know my group B strep status—positive, as last time. Thankfully, though, this time my water didn’t break first. That was a big headache last time. Anyway, she suggested that we come in. We got some last minute things together, including all of the Hypnobirthing tapes and CDs. Grandma Sue stayed with Sarah. She was still sleeping soundly.<br><br>
On the way, I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, thoughtfully prepared by Daddy. He always makes sure that I am well fed. That was my last real sustenance for a while.<br><br>
Peggy met us at the birth center around 4:45 am. We got settled in. They started my IV. I got one dose of clindamycin for my group B strep. When she checked me I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. After the initial examination, they filled the tub for me. I was really looking forward to sitting in some warm water. Also, I must say that the bed was pretty hard—not very comfortable—especially lying on my side.<br><br>
The warm water was wonderful. It took me a few minutes to find just the right position, but then I settled in for a long soak! Daddy and I got into a routine. I would let him know when a surge was happening. He would stroke my arm and recite some of the affirmations from the Hypnobirthing course—things like “relax your body”, “relax your shoulders”, “relax your abdomen”, “take in a long, deep breath”, “fill up the balloon”. With each surge, I tried to take in a very long, slow, deep breath while puffing out my abdomen as much as I could. Ideally the long slow breath should last for the whole surge. On the long, slow exhalation I used visualizations like the flower opening and the string purse opening. I was determined to open my cervix! I had to want the surges to become more intense. At first, I was able to chat a little between surges. As they became more intense, I had to stay focused not only during but also between surges. I think I kept my eyes closed almost the entire time. It was easier for me to go to a place of comfort that way. Now Andy was reading affirmations for the surges and between the surges. I must say that it really helped. It was hard to focus on much, but every time that Andy said “relax your body”, “relax your shoulders” I remember consciously doing so. Between surges, I just had random thoughts going through my head. It was a total flight of ideas.<br><br>
At around 8 am, the new midwife on call arrived. Her name was Denise Roy. She said “I’m all yours”. She was wonderful. For a while, she just sat on the edge of the tub and watched me while I was having contractions to get a sense of where I was. This was great. That certainly didn’t happen last time. I think that the midwives who work at Pennsylvania Hospital are much busier. They have a lot of patients, so it is difficult for them to spend a lot of time with each one. In that setting, I think that having a doula was very important. It also helps prevent going down the slippery slope of medical intervention. This time we decided against having a doula. I think it was the right decision. I think if we had any more people there it would have been too much. It was perfect just as it was. Andy, Denise the midwife, and Alisa the nurse. That’s all we needed. It kept the atmosphere very calm and relaxed.<br><br>
The surges were becoming more and more intense. I was starting to feel a little nauseous. I did know that this was common during transition (later labor) which made me hopeful that things were progressing. I was sort of nervous for her to check my cervix again. I dreaded her saying, “great, you are now about 5 cm, keep it up”. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take things (I also knew that this often happens in transition). Now with each surge, I started making noise during the exhalation—just a steady note. I needed to do this to keep it together. I don’t know exactly where it came from but it just seemed like that’s what I needed to do. Denise said, “That’s good, just keep it in the alto range”. I’m not sure I really realized this at the time, but I was starting to push the baby down with the “singing”.<br><br>
Finally Denise thought it was time to check and see where I was. It was about 9 o’clock. I climbed out of the tub. My legs felt like jelly. I think I sat in the tub for about 2-3 hours. I laid on the bed. When she checked me, I was 9 cm dilated and 100% effaced. I was elated! We were really close now. I knew we were going to have a baby soon, and it seemed so possible! My bag of waters was still intact. She told me to “listen to my body”. I could push if I felt like I needed to. First I tried in a left side down position. I don’t think this really worked for me. I didn’t sense a great need to push. Then I switched to a semi sitting position. I still had my eyes closed almost the whole time. I didn’t want a mirror. I didn’t want to reach down and feel the baby’s head. I just needed to stay in my place of comfort. I pushed for about a half hour. Denise did some perineal massage to help me stretch. Finally, I got in some really good pushes. It was really intense, but wow we were so close, I could feel it. In just a few minutes, I would have a beautiful new baby in my arms and all this intensity would be over! I did open my eyes at the end when Alice’s head was out. Oh my gosh! Incredible! Just a couple more pushes and then a beautiful, crying baby was lying on my belly! Pink, wonderful, big! She started breast feeding right away.<br><br>
A couple minutes later, the placenta passed. Denise checked me, no tears! She was absolutely wonderful. No more antiobiotics. Just a beautiful baby. Alice Margaret was born at 9:43 am on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007. She weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces, 21 inches long.
 

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Beautiful story mama, thanks for sharing it with us! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">
 

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What an inspiring, empowering birth story! Thank you for sharing!!!
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">
 
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