Sunday, October 11, 2009

Samuel's Birth by Rachel

It is hard to say when exactly I went "into labor" with Sammy but the day before his birth I was losing my mucus plug all day, I still thought that it would definitely be a few days, despite the fact that I was 5 days overdue. My first baby was 10 days overdue and I figured this one was following suit! That day I went out shopping for a bridal shower present, and that evening I went over to my moms house to spend the night. my husband was at work and he would not be home until 7am the next day. At my moms that evening, I could not get comfortable, my back was killing me, and the only place that felt good was on my hands and knees. I did many pelvic rocks and tilts and sat in my dads big comfy recliner. I finally decided to give up and go to bed early, I slept well all night surprisingly, but I woke in the morning feeling TERRIBLE!

I got up to walk to the bathroom and could barely make it down the hall. My hips and legs were hurting so bad. (off and on throughout the last weeks of pregnancy I was having trouble with my leg going numb and having painful leg spasms). I was supposed to be going to a funeral that morning, but seeing as how I couldn't walk I decided to settle in the big recliner and watch Regis and Kelly. I stayed there all morning, experiencing a few contractions, probably about 1/2 hour apart and not very strong.

Around 11 or 12 I decided to drive my dads truck home so that my husband could go to IKEA and pick up our new couch. I did not think I was in labor but just in case I brought my sister along with me b/c she was going to be watching my son during the labor. We got to my house and the contractions were about every 15 minutes and still did not hurt that bad. I woke my husband up and told him what was going on and that he could probably go to IKEA still and get the couch. I was up doing dishes and making lunch, my leg was feeling much better. Feeling pretty good despite the contractions that were still coming about every 15 minutes. I called my mom and chatted with her and she was convinced that I was in early labor and she would be right over! (lol) she was going to be my doula for the birth. Once she got there, I put on my Enya CD birthing mix and decided to try and take a nap while Caleb was taking his. I laid down on the couch and my mom gave me a massage, I talked to my sister on the phone (she lives in VA) and just tried to relax for a while. This was probably around 3pm or so, and the contractions were getting closer together and stronger, coming about every 10 minutes or so. Still completely bearable and tolerable though.

We called Family Beginnings and made sure there was a bed available, and there was actually two open so that relieved some of my stress! I rocked in the glider and sipped the power smoothie my mom had made me, I walked around outside on the deck, but had no desire to go further than that! I remember being mad at my husband b/c he was down working on the basement and was not paying me enough attention! Eventually at about 6:30p I decided that we should go ahead and go in and see where I was at. (I wanted to stay home as long as possible to avoid any unnecessary interventions and hopefully the antibiotics since I was GBS positive). We got to the hospital right at 7pm and got checked I was dilated to 7cm and about 70-80% effaced. I did end up getting an IV and the first dose of antibiotics started. I got right into the tub after that, and floated around, then things started picking up and I was feeling each contraction much stronger now and needed support to get through them. I had several loose bowel movements and was very thankful b/c I didn't want to poop in the tub!! Theses contractions were SOOO hard and then I felt my water break, and my baby turned inside me, (he had been posterior which is why they were so hard and why it was taking longer to be "complete)The IV infusion finished and the Dr came in to see how I was. I said i was ok, and he said he had to run an errand and would be back later.... So after several more contractions I was feeling a little "pushy" but did not tell anyone b/c I did not want anyone telling me when and how to push!! I guess my grunts gave me away though and the nurse decided to check me and I was complete! I still did not feel like actually pushing yet, and so I just sort of did "little" pushes through each contraction and felt better doing that. Apparently they had to call the Dr right after he left to come back since I was complete!! I was leaning over the side of the tub on my knees, but the babies heart rate did not like that, so I ended up leaning against my husband and my legs were supported by the nurse and my mom. With each contraction now I was actively trying to push out my baby, and it wasn't easy! After the nurse told me to stop pushing in my face and push with my bottom, I realized that was exactly what I was doing and really started to concentrate pushing my baby out with my muscles that were made to do so! His head crowned and was born, and then the Dr helped get the shoulders out (they were a little stuck) and then the rest of his body came sliding out and he was handed to me and I brought him up to my chest and was amazed at what i had just done (and so relieved that i was not feeling any pain down there) my first son I got a 4th degree tear and was in a lot of pain!! But with this one, I felt great, and we brought his brother in and he looked at him with wide eyes!! and gave him a kiss.

Samuel Patrick was born at 10:56pm 9lb 6oz 22 inches long. And I ended up having a second degree tear but I felt perfectly fine like I hadn't torn at all!! After the birth I was shivering uncontrollably which happened with my first son as well, I got stitched up and nursed my newborn son. and remember those precious first hours in which I got to hold my son skin to skin and really enjoy the bonding time I was able to experience, I will never forget it!

Samuel is Rachel's second son and was born in September of 2008. Rachel is a Dar a Luz chapter leader.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Makayla's Birth by Suzie

Makayla’s “due date” was October 12, 2008. As that day came and went, I quickly realized that she was not ready to make her way into this world yet. We continued about our normal routines at home, adding in a lot of walking to encourage my body to begin labor. In the back of our minds was the concern of my rising blood-pressure. I was monitoring it 3-4 times a day and all was well until Saturday. That afternoon, my blood-pressure rose to 160/100 no matter what position I was in. After delivering a birthday present, we came home and I called the doctor. He was very concerned and said that we needed to head to the hospital to have a BP check and some bloodwork. I called our doula and off we went.
They very quickly got us through to triage and got me hooked up to a BP monitor. No change, so they did a lot of labwork to make sure everything internally was ok and hooked me up to a labor monitor, which showed nothing because I was having very sporadic, minimal surges. All this time, Makayla was doing just fine. The doctor then decided based on the elevated blood-pressure that it was time to have a baby. He knew our intentions of having a natural delivery with hypnobirthing and was very accepting of working with us through the process. I knew at this time that induction was likely going to happen, however, I also knew that right now neither I or Makayla were in any immediate danger and we may have some time to stimulate labor without meds.
After getting settled into the labor room, I asked the nurse if it would be possible to speak with the doctor on the phone. She got him for me and I asked if I could have my membranes stripped to try to encourage my body to start surging and progressing into labor. Also, it was about 10 at night and I really thought that getting a good night sleep would be of great benefit for me and Makayla and Kenny too. He was ok with that so the nurse stripped my membranes and we settled in for the night. My mom, dad, and sister arrived about midnight and after about 2 hours of being real uncomfortable they decided to go home until the morning, it was very obvious that I wasn’t having this baby overnight. Kenny and I both got a good night sleep with the exception of the 20 minute period of the girl in the next room over screaming that “she couldn’t do it anymore”. I pulled the pillow over my ears very tightly to block it out, that was the last thing I needed to hear as I mentally prepared myself for my calm, natural hypnobirth.
Sunday morning we woke up and our new nurse, Teresa came in to introduce herself and talk with us. She was very accepting of our birthplan and let us decide how things were going to go for the day. We decided to break my water in the morning and then to get up and walk around for a few hours. Mom, Dad and Jennifer came back in the morning and took turns walking with me around the hospital. Vicky and Amber arrived later in the morning. Rich, Kelly and Jarrhett visited also.& nbsp; Kenny’s dad and Liz also came for a little while. Our doula arrived in the morning to provide support to me and Kenny.
After hours of walking around with no change in progression, Teresa said to me that it was probably time to start the Pitocin and I agreed. It was obvious that labor was not going to progress on it’s own and with no change in my blood-pressure, it was definitely time to have this baby to eliminate and possible risks to me or Makayla. At 12:30pm my Pitocin drip was started. Surges began almost immediately. With the help of my hypnobirthing breathing and relaxation techniques, I was able to go within myself, relax and move quickly into active labor. I spent a lot of time on the birthing ball early on. As the surges became stronger and I became more relaxed and in my own world, I moved to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. It was a very comfortable position and I had a pillow propped on the wall to lean on. The lights were off and my relaxation music was playing. At one point, I sent everyone out of the room because they were all talking loud and it was becoming a distraction to me keeping my focus off of my labor.
With each surge getting stronger, I would tell myself and Makayla that we were getting closer and closer. I was encouraging my body to open up and encouraging Makayla to move down the birth canal. I could actually feel as she got lower and lower. After about 3 ½ hours, I decided that I wanted to get into the tub. At this point, I had not had any exams to see how I was progressing. Teresa suggested that she check me before getting in the tub because it would be difficult to do once I was in (this was just a standard bath tub, not a nice big birthing tub). She checked and said that I was at 9cm and 100% effaced, it was time to call the doctor. As I stood up to get into the tub, I realized that it was time to have a baby, there was no time to get in the tub, Makayla was ready to make her entrance into the world. The pressure was intense and with each surge I could feel myself bearing/breathing down. I never really felt like I had to push, my body was just naturally focusing down with every surge. Kenny was supporting me with his arms as we walked back into the birthing room. With each continual surge, my legs would give out and he was holding me up with his forearms. He turned to Jamilla and said “I can’t hold her up anymore”. She got him a chair to sit in and I squatted in front of him resting my arms over his legs. This was a very comfortable natural position for me.
Teresa and our doula got everything set up to deliver in this position on the floor. As the surges progressed, Makayla began crowning, with no doctor in sight. Teresa called the nurses station to get his ETA and send in a resident because we were crowning. At this point, there was no stopping us, Makayla was ready and my body was doing it’s job to deliver her. Within a few seconds and 2 surges, Makayla was born at 4:58pm. I reached down and pulled her to my chest and there we sat staring into each others eyes, experiencing those first moment as mother and daughter. She was absolutely perfect. When the resident finally made it into the room, he took one look at the situation, realized that Makayla was already born and turned around and walked back out. Once her umbilical cord stopped pulsating, the cord was cut and Makayla, Kenny, and I were allowed to enjoy our first moments as a family together. Then I had to get up off the floor into the bed so the doctor, who arrived about 5 minutes after she was born, could examine me.
The day was abolutely perfect. Even with a few minor changes because of my blood-pressure, we had the beautiful, peaceful, natural birth that we wanted and in the end, we had the most perfect gift ever, our beautiful daughter, Makayla.
Makayla was born October 19th at 4:58 pm and weighed 6lbs, 12 1/2 oz.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Jonah's Birth by Jen

My son was due on May 5th, a day before our wedding anniversary. I had no expectation that he would be out by then. He was our first child, and first children may very well come a couple weeks after their due date.

I was planning on having a water birth at our hospital’s birthing center. I saw an OB/midwife group that very much trusted nature to take her course, and they were in no rush to induce labor. They did, however, schedule biweekly non-stress tests to keep an eye on things. I have scoliosis and a funky musculoskeletal system, and knew my son was posterior. I was using the rebozo technique to turn him at home, and inserting evening primrose oil at my midwife’s suggestion to try and help soften my cervix.

I had a great NST on Monday, my due date. I would go out and walk a little bit, as much as I could. I have a chronic pain syndrome that flared up during pregnancy and restricted my mobility, to the point where my husband had to help to dress and bathe me. Thursday rolled around, and my usually active son seemed much quieter than usual. I did kick counts, and I just couldn’t tell if he was even moving or not. I drank some cold water, ate a snack, had a Sprite, and lay on my left side for a while in the evening. He moved a couple times, but was definitely not the wild child he generally had been. I considered calling the on-call midwife, but decided to just keep my NST appointment in the morning.

I was shocked to wake up the next morning and find I had slept the whole night through for the first time in nearly 5 months. My son hadn’t woken me with his kicking. I drank another Sprite and had a carb-filled meal before my morning appointment. I was relieved when the midwife found his heartbeat, but it was very flat. We tried all the usual tricks to get him to be more lively, but when I lay in that chair waiting for him to move so I could push the button they gave me to mark his movements on the monitoring strip, I knew something was wrong. My son was not himself, and it filled me with fear.

The midwife felt he was just quieting down in anticipation of labor, but my intuition told me differently. She ordered a biophysical profile for 3PM, just so I wouldn’t worry all weekend, and scheduled me to see the OB for another NST on Monday. I called my husband to go with me to the test, and we stopped at home to get the hospital bag and eat something. Yet again, I had a big meal and a pop, hoping to sugar him up so he would move for us.

I thought perhaps his fluid might be low, but I wasn’t prepared for our son to flunk the test as much as he did. He did not move once- not even a twitch. He scored a 4/10. I’ve worked as a labor and delivery nurse, and knew exactly what would happen. The tech left the room to talk to the doctor, and I turned to my husband and said, “They’re sending us to the hospital now.” And so they did.

On the way there, I called my mother to come to the hospital, worried they would have to get him out, and wanting to be sure someone would be with me and someone with my son the whole time, in case he had some distress. We had no idea why he was not moving.

We arrived in Triage at 7PM. The triage nurse said the doctor reading the BPP had estimated our son’s weight at 10 lbs. She and the midwife felt my belly and laughed, saying, “That kid isn’t 10 lbs!” The OB on-call as backup agreed. They felt giving the vaginal route we desired a shot would be fine, and we would watch our son to make sure he tolerated everything. My cervix was firm and high, only 1 cm dilated, and we decided that using the mechanical means of a foley catheter bulb would be less risky to our already distressed son than a chemical ripening agent.

My midwife inserted the catheter, which would stay in up to 12 hours until it dilated my cervix enough to fall out on its own, and I nearly passed out. Stimulating our son’s scalp made him make one big turn- and suddenly he was himself again, kicking and wriggling as usual. His heartrate suddenly changed from flat to a textbook-perfect one.

I had never planned on an IV or fetal monitor, but suddenly I had them, and wanted to have them. I was terrified he would stop moving again- or even die. We had called our doula Eileen on the way to the hospital, but she was at another birth, and we fully expected the process to take a very long time. The foley insertion had jump-started my labor and I was contracting every 4 minutes, but it was no problem for me. My pain level was consistently high during my pregnancy, and the only way I could tell I was contracting was by feeling my abdomen harden, or looking at the monitor. What I couldn’t stand was the hospital bed. It was too uncomfortable to sleep in. I accepted an offer from the nurse to take a sleep aid, and had maybe 3-4 hours fitful sleep, waking up to watch the monitor and reassure myself by my son’s movements.

In the morning, our doula arrived. The birth she had attended had finally happened at 5AM, and she was exhausted. She took a catnap on the floor of our room, and we walked the halls a bit. At 11AM, the foley bulb fell out while I was relaxing in the shower. Our midwife Margie checked me and I was 5 centimeters. I had lunch, and they started Pitocin. She offered to break my water, which is pretty routine in the hospital, and I declined. I felt strongly that my son already had issues and needed that extra cushion. Margie respected my wishes without problem.

Before too long, I was contracting every 2 minutes. My son was posterior. Eileen offered to put counter-pressure on my back during every contraction, and honestly, I couldn’t tell her when I was having one. It was just like the intense, neverending pain I would feel from my illness, and I usually dealt with that by rocking, listening to music, and trying to daydream myself in another place.

Saturday is a blur for me. The rocking chair was uncomfortable. I couldn’t move far because the FHM did not have telemetry. I wanted to soak in the bath, but taking the monitors off for more than a couple minutes was not appropriate to my son’s situation. I listen to Johnny Cash sing “Folsom Prison Blues” over and over. I remember zoning out in a daydream and hearing a nurse ask my husband and doula if I was unconscious because I didn’t fuss or cry or make any noise at all, and my doula telling her I was just a hypnobirthing mom. I remember wondering what all those laboring patients I had were whining about, because it was totally doable. At dinnertime, I was starving and could smell food. I made my husband sneak chicken fingers and fries from the cafeteria and wolfed them down. My midwife came in a few times and had me try a few positions to get my son to turn. I did them, and he didn’t budge.

At 9PM, Margie came in again and checked me. I was STILL 5 cm. It was so disappointing, I wanted to cry. She and my doula decided it was his posterior positioning, and wanted me to lie WAY over on my left side. I hadn’t been able to lie completely on my left side for more than a brief time for over a decade, because of my crooked back. I tried, and the pain this time was not tolerable. I didn’t cry out, but I told them I wouldn’t be able to do it for long. Both ladies felt he wasn’t going to move down unless I could stay on my side for a long time. I decided on an epidural, so I could tolerate the positioning better, and crank the Pitocin to the maximum, since it was ¾ maxed for most of the day. It was a tough decision to make, but since he had been looking so great on the monitor, I decided it was our best shot at helping him come out. It was in by 10PM.

Once on my side, my son didn’t care for that position either. The night nurse increased the Pitocin, and then had to decrease it due to late decelerations of his heartbeat. I spent most of the night with an oxygen mask and fluids bolusing through me. I declined to have my water broken multiple times. I was never pressured to do so, just given the option. My husband and Eileen turned me every hour or so, and cat-napped on the floor next to me. None of us slept. I watched my son’s heartrate all night, reaching for the call-light every time it would have a big dip. I stared at the infant warmer in the room, feeling a dread come over me, and feeling I would never see him in it.

In the morning, Margie came once again and checked me. Still just 5 cm. The OB on-call and Margie had never mentioned a c-section ever. Not even at this time. I know most OBs I had worked with would have taken me to the OR as soon as we came into triage, or at least after it had been a few hours without progression. I was tearful and told her I had a bad feeling. She again offered to break my water to help move things along. I requested we just go to the OR. My doula encouraged me to heed my intuition, and my husband was supportive. I was never pressured or even offered to have one. That, as well as every other decision, came from me.

My son Jonah was born on Mother’s Day, and my grandmother’s birthday, the first baby born at the hospital that day. 8 lbs 2oz, and 19.5 inches. He had a double nuchal cord and a placenta high in the fundus of my uterus. The cord was stretched as taut as could be between the placenta and his neck. The OB needed the vacuum extractor to pry him out, and he was limp and dusky. The neonatal practitioner worked on him for a couple minutes and he finally pinked up and started crying, peeing on his nurse. His cord, we assume, had been wrapped a 3rd time when he stopped moving, his distress likely from cord compression. The OB told us that my instincts were right, and if we had broken his water, we would have likely had an emergency c-section instead of the unplanned but less scary one we had. I feel very lucky to still have a living child, because I know from my work experience that when a baby stops moving, it is often because they have died. My birth was nothing what I had planned, but because my desires were honored and respected, I don’t feel traumatized by it at all. In fact, my husband and I both agree that we had a great birth- an adventurous one, no doubt- but a great one.

Jen's first son was born on Mother's Day. Jonah weighed 8 lbs, 2oz and was 19.5 inches long.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Myles' birth by Melissa

my first child has hydrocephalus, and was breech, he was born via c- section at 37 weeks@ ohio state university. i had read enough to know to ask for a low horizontal incision so that i would be "allowed" to VBAC later!

i tried to VBAC in evansville, in 2002, in hind sight i had a lot going for me, but when i hit 42 weeks, that was it... they broke my water and gave me no choice to use anything to induce. i was even told NOT to do nipple stimulation! after taking a hot shower, the nurse announced that i had a fever, and the baby's heart rate was in the 170's which is probably distress... since it had been 24 hrs with little change (and very little contractions!) they called for a c- section due to distress ?? and i was cut over an hour later!

in 2004 we moved to cincinnati, i wanted to home birth but mark was uncomfortable with the idea in light that we had a VERY supportive dr who was fine with my birth plan which included intermittent monitoring, letting the cord pulse out, and catching my own baby in any position that i wanted to be in:) (and more crazy stuff that he was o.k. with) At 41 weeks and 5 days i was sent home from an appointment with not even a word about my "pending doom" LOL i made an appointment for the following week which would have been 42 weeks 4 days, and went home.
On the morning of my 42nd week i went into labor, stayed at home and did house work as long as i could, tried to eat lunch... at 1pm i went to the bathroom and when i wiped there was cooked green spinach consistency of mec on the toilet paper! i had suspected that i had started leaking fluid over a week before but decided from my own research that i would keep tight lipped about it:) when i saw the mec, it confirmed in my mind that i indeed had been leaking. shortly after 1pm. i went into active mode then finally called the dr office and told them what was going on. to make this shorter:) i went to the hospital around 4 ish, baby was fine, we did an amnio infusion which limited mobility, and i agreed to monitoring because of the mec too... i was 3 cm at 3 p.m. and at 6 ish when they started the monitoring and the amnio infusion, (what some would call the "lack of progress" didn't bother me in the slightest, and no mention was made to this, just the number, also that was my LAST check until I TOLD them that i was feeling pushy, then i was COMPLETE) i had the baby a little after 10p.m. with maybe 45 minutes of pushing without holding my breath for more then a few sec. at a time which was on my own accord ( NO purple pushing). after his head was out i lifted him onto my chest on my own and he stayed there until his cord stopped pulsing, and then it was cut. shortly after it stopped pulsing he did start to get pale, and THEN they did a little suctioning. He was 1/2 oz shy of 8 lbs! i sarcastically told them to scoop up a bit of the mec when they weighed him, as normally that is still in them and would have been counted as his birth weight:) the nurses didn't think i was funny;) the more women i work with the more i realize that i was fortunate to have the easy going, evidence based practitioner that i had! i have attended many more births with this man, as a doula, and each time i witness his gentle patience of the natural process, and the respect he gives women for their choices (he respected one mama's choice for a lotus type birth and the nurses about pissed them selves to see a baby with a cord and placenta still attached!!! LOL) was my 3rd birth the perfect birth that i had hoped for , um, not really. but i am totally satisfied with how things played out at the time, knowing that had i been with ANY other dr. in the area or back in evansville, in., he would have cut me open any number of times! not only that but had i planned a home birth i likely would have been transferred for the extremely thick/ abundant mec. i like to say that i practice "no regret doulism" based on what my mamas want (not what I want!) and i feel that is how my last birth played out, NO REGRETS! i went with the flow, and used some interventions as i felt was fit at the time.

in the end we had a Healthy baby AND a healthy MAMA!!! most forget about the healthy mama part!!

Melissa is a Birth doula, a stay at home mama, and homeschools 2 of her 3 kids. Dylan is eight, has special needs and goes to public school. Kaya is 6, and Myles is 4. The "stay @ home" part is very misleading, as they are out and about almost everyday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ori's Birth by Christina

Christina and Ori, photographed by Deb Pruitt

The night before Ori came, we went to a reggae concert. The base thronged in the speakers positioned like sentinels around the small stage. Bodies cluttered forward, and I hung back. I thought for sure that the steady rhythm and boom would bounce my baby right out of me. Surely his impulse must be to evacuate. That's what I would do if the building I occupied started to shake.

But he waited.

I went home and crawled beneath a thick blanket and curled on my side to find a comfortable perch on my ever rounder belly and pitched down into sleep. I don't remember what I dreamed.

I woke with back pain. Three trips to the fluorescent bathroom in the wake of 3 a.m., and I began to wonder if I would ever get back to sleep, if I was sick, if something was wrong. The obvious was untenable. I rose and ebbed in my rocking chair next to the bed, waiting for the wave of nauseating ache to pass, and realized I was in labor. The room was dark, but I didn't need the light to see my baby moving in my uterine cavity. He was ready.

I rocked for nearly four hours before anyone else stirred. My friend, Deb, my pseudodoula, poked her head in, took a look at me, and knew. She asked if I was ready to go, and I said no. I hadn't really bothered to clock anything yet, but I could tell that the contractions were not that close yet, and I felt that I would know when it was time to move. Ryan, the father, and Paul, another friend, bobbed around me and then disappeared. Deb returned with chicken broth and water and tea. Light slid through the curtains and crept up my pulsing leg. I breathed. And breathed. And breathed.

Two hours later, the pain was sharp, and I knew if I was going to move on my own locomotion, I had to do it. Immediately. So we did, and I pressed myself down to the car and bent and bent and rode and bent again at the front desk, and laughed when the nurse asked if I was sure that I was in labor.

We got a room, and the real work began. I was already dilated and the pain was swift, strong, so I didn't think it would be long. Not my son. He was going to make me earn him. I could feel him working, and me working, but I was so absorbed that it didn't occur to me that the pain was not quite right. I wasn't really feeling the contractions in my uterus, not like I was supposed to. It was all, almost all, in my back. Had I been less preoccupied then I might have recalled that severe back pain was a sign of a baby turned sunny side up.

But Ori was my first. I followed his lead and let myself feel my way. In a divided gown, in the propped up hospital bed, next to the bed, near the bed, I stood and sat and knelt and rocked. Drums keyed up on the CD player, and I heard a thick Swahili voice lift. Amandla! Power to the people! And then Bob Dylan and Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen. And back to the drums. The drums pulsed through my muscles, through my baby, and worked with us.

Deb tugged my hair down, brushed, braided. I oozed into the spasms. Paul was peripheral, a long-legged blink of motion behind a camera. Ryan took up his post in a deep leather seat, silent as ever, but watchful. Now and again, one or more of them disappeared for snacks or cigarettes or fresh air. I just kept rocking, undulating, working.

The intern flashed in, propped me back, prodded, spoke, flashed out. I scarcely noticed him at first. The nurse did her checks, asked me questions. I'm sure I answered but I don't remember what I said. The music thronged and swam in me. My body heat spiked and fell. I was hot. I was cold.

I didn't have painkillers. I drank water and tea. I had some crackers. An hour sped by, another dragged. I was fairly far dilated at first, but then seven or eight hours passed without another centimeter opening. I thought about my babe. I talked to him, in my head and heart and blood. I fed him urgency and love through the umbilical cord straining for release. I remembered the words of the midwife: Your labor is not something happening to you. It is you and your baby working together. The pain is muscle. It is working pain. Work with it.

Deb sat with me, watched, rubbed my back, shoulders, neck, back. Paul came and went, appeared with a video camera, disappeared, changed the music. Ryan observed, stoic, quiet, but present. Around the ninth hour, he drew me a bath and helped me in the soothing water. He sat with me, held me up, kept me from slipping under.

About 15 hours along, the intern decided to break my water to spur dilation. It worked. I widened. Then labor slowed again. Then it picked up again. After 20 hours, I began to push. And push. And push. I pushed on my back and on my side and on my knees and on my feet. I pushed against a bar and against the hands of the nurse, the hands of Deb, the hands of Paul. Ryan sat and stood by me, as overwhelmed as I was in his own way, I think, unsure what to do, frozen by uncertainty. I was too absorbed to guide him. I could only look over occasionally, and ask how he was doing. He was a phantom. They all were.

I pushed so hard and so long that I broke all the blood vessels around my eyes.

When I first saw a mirror the next day, I didn't recognize myself. I looked like a battered woman.

I pushed so hard that everything possible escaped my body except my baby.

I pushed for four hours. That's a long push.

Sweat lathed me. I was pure motion and effort. The pushing had become a rote reflex. I couldn't have stopped if I tried.

Finally, after four hours of pushing, the OBGYN, a four-star general of a doctor, decreed that the baby was facing up and his head could not angle past my pelvic bone without help. I had two choices: an epidural and forceps or a C-section. I asked Ryan what he thought, and we decided on the former.

Everyone started to move more quickly. I was turned and moved. An anesthesiologist appeared. Rough hands, rough voice. He told me to stop pushing, and he didn't seem to understand that I could not. Somehow, he inserted the needle, and the nothing spread. I felt nothing, beneath my waist. My uterus, my hips, my legs, my toes—they dissipated. I sighed and fell back, still pushing but without the same vehemence.

They moved me from my dimly lit birthing room to a fluorescent surgical room. If the forceps failed, they would go directly to a C-section. Nurses in masks surrounded me. The intern was there. The OBGYN. Ryan appeared in scrubs. Everything was plastic and metal and blue-green polyester.

And I just kept pushing, though I couldn't feel what I was doing.

I apparently only pushed for a few minutes. Twenty minutes after receiving the epidural and being rolled from my birthing room, Ori, my son, slid out. The motion of his birth was swift. I sensed the release, heard the doctor, heard him, and then a slimy wet dark little body slipped across my shoulder. Tiny. Naked. Perfect. He was covered in ambiotic fluid and mecomium but he still smelled appealingly familiar. His head was cocked up toward my face. His small lips hung open, breathing, bewildered. His eyes, eyes that have never lost the peculiar shape of his father's, peered up at me, wide, indigo, and aware. I will never forget the moment I saw that face and looked in those eyes.

I held Ori's little body to keep him from slipping. I said hello. I’m not sure how long I held him, but soon, the nurse came for him to check his vitals. I didn't want to let go, but I did, and told Ryan to stay with him. They both disappeared. Movement below worked at stitching up a tear. Then they rolled me along again. Ryan and Ori had already returned to the room. I resisted the urge to reach for Ori right away, waited, watched. After a few moments, Ryan passed him back to me. He was swaddled and capped and surprisingly calm, just watching and staring into the eight inches of space that was his newly formed vision.

The ensuing hours were a blur of sleep and nursing and looking. Ori knew exactly what he needed to do, and had no trouble latching onto my breast the first time and sucking, though the first latch pinched and we had to adjust. He quickly grew frustrated with the thin trickle. He wanted more, but my milk supply was just forming.

Still, we made do. His mouth quickly settled into a rhythm. He held on simply to hold on. His impossibly small fingers rested on my skin, brushed, tapped, occasionally jerked as he realized that he had limbs. His cries were alarming—but tender. His scent unimaginably sweet.

I had read in more than one book that you should not expect to love your child instantly, that you should not expect to find him or her beautiful, because your body and your mind has gone through so much that you can easily be overwhelmed by a rush of mixed chemicals and responses. While I honor that this may often be true, it was not how I felt. I did love Ori instantly, and he was beautiful.

Then and now, it seems hard to imagine that the world ever existed without him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sadie's Birth by Carrie

It's hard to tell when my labor actually started. We had a difficult time figuring that out for the birth paperwork afterwards because for two days I had some strong contractions that felt like "something"...I could tell they weren't Braxton Hicks because they kept me awake at night but were not very painful, just "sit up and pay attention" contractions. I had also started to have bloody show (interestingly, I had never had bloody show before but this was my 4th baby) and loose stools.

Two nights before my "labor day" my husband and I slipped out to Home Depot. Kids were at home with my Mom and we needed to buy a vanity for the kids bathroom we were remodeling. (How's that for waiting until the last minute! He was worried that the midwives wouldn't have a place to wash their hands in there!)

As I walked around Home Depot I had some pretty intense contractions but I was happy with felt good to be out of the house and I figured I was probably dilating some. At one point I had to sit down on one of those big flat buggies because I was feeling so much downward pressure in my back.

We went home and I thought that night would definitely be the night...

Next day was basically the same. Occasional contractions that were strong but not too bad. I went for a walk in the afternoon thinking it might speed things along and had one strong contraction right after the other. One of my neighbors teased me about giving birth on her front lawn.

That night I woke up with a contraction and a water had broken. That was around 10 p.m. I got up and started doing some light housecleaning. I wasn't actually having contractions at this point so I figured I might as well get some things done while I could and that maybe the activity would bring them on. I tried to lie down in bed and rest every once in awhile but just couldn't seem to relax so I gave up and got up for good.

I woke the husband up and told him my water had broken but to go back to sleep, I wasn't going to call the midwives until things heated up and that I would give him plenty of time to fill the pool, in the meantime I wanted him to get as much rest as possible. Plus my 3rd child Ilana was asleep in the bed with him and I didn't want her waking.

I started getting things ready... moving the birth kit to the table, putting the sterilized sheets in the bedroom, moving the kitchen table chairs into the living room so we could put the pool in the kitchen.

At 11:30 my Mom woke up and I was mopping the floor. She was like, "What in the world are you doing?!" I was still very comfortable at that point, having a few contractions but nothing very intense. I had used a disposable diaper (I use cloth but got a few of these in the mail as samples) in my underwear to catch the fluids and had to keep changing it out.

A couple of hours later I was starting to have to "deal" with the that I mean that I needed to get down on all fours and wiggle my hips around, breathe and focus. But they still weren't very painful! Dh was up at this point and kept saying to me..."Honey don't wait too long to call the midwives, it could be quick, this IS your 4th baby!". And I kept saying that I didn't want them just sitting around waiting all night, I honestly thought I might be going on for another 8 hours or so...little did I know that at this point I was 7 centimeters dilated!

I called my midwife and told her that I didn't think I needed her just yet but alerted her to updates. We had been in contact for the last couple of days so she knew of my situation.

My Dad was working in Chattanooga TN (we are in the Atlanta area) and had stayed at a hotel. Mom was staying with me while he was gone. She called him and told him to come on to the house. It's a good thing he headed out when he did because he barely made it for the birth and it would have killed me for him to miss it, he was there for the birth of all my other babies.

I alternated between my "on all fours on the floor" position and sitting on a huge birth ball (actually it wasn't a birth ball technically, it was one of those oversized bouncing balls with handles that I borrowed from my oldest child). I would sit on it and rock a bit. It felt very comfortable.

At this point I was feeling a tiny bit tired so I tried to get into bed, but the contractions felt more painful when I was lying down so I got back up.

I put a Patsy Cline cd in the cd player. Her voice really relaxes me so that was nice. The contractions got a bit stronger. Dh called the midwives and told them to come on. I was starting to make some noise, down there on the floor on all floors wiggling around. That was the most comfortable position I found and I wasn't moving away from it! I would also occasionally put my forehead or arms on the birth ball to support my upper body weight so that my belly could just hang.

Meanwhile Dad had called us in a panic because the street was blocked off at the entrance of my subdivision. Apparently there was a house fire...a home burned to the ground when a dryer caught fire. The EMTs had to drive my Dad to my house! All this excitement was getting on my nerves however. Dh and Mom were all worried that the midwives wouldn't be able to get to the house with their equipment. I wasn't concerned with all that...I had work to do! I figured that the fire trucks would be gone by the time they got there anyway. Turns out I was right.

Claudia my midwife and Debbie her apprentice arrived and started to set up. I was REALLY wanting the comfort of the birth pool (which dh had filled with warm water, it was set up in the kitchen) at this point, but even still, I wasn't convinced I was in heavy enough labor to get in...I was worried that the warm water would relax me too much and that my labor would stall or even stop. I asked Claudia to examine me and let me know if it was safe to get in the water, but not to tell me how many centimeters I was dilated!

I was scared that I was still in early early labor and had lots of time left. Claudia assured me that I was WAY past the point of worrying about that and to get in the pool! Later she told me I was about 8 centimeters dilated when she arrived.

I got in the pool and the water felt SO good...I was kind of wiggling around like a crab...when a contraction came I would move my hips around like a belly dancer. I was also a bit more vocal this time than in previous births. I kept hearing myself saying ""
with the pains. Like I was asking for her help to make this short. I did feel a lot of wiggling, like she was pushing against my fundus with her feet to help things go fast.

From the time I got into the pool, it seems like I only had around a dozen contractions when I felt tears coming on...I had had a lot of nightmares late in this pregnancy and worries about the baby dying. When she was too still I would push on my belly to wake her up so that I could feel the comfort of her movements. I think all that emotion started to overwhelm me at this point and I heard myself saying: "I don't want my baby to die!" and I started crying. It's amazing how much love you can feel for someone you've never even met before!

When this happened I knew I was in transition. Everyone started to move around like "It won't be long now" was surreal. Like I was watching someone else labor. I heard the midwives getting things ready for the birth.

I started feeling a bit irritable now. I remember looking into dh's eyes and saying that I really, really wanted to stop what I was doing and take a nap.

Debbie reminded me that since so much of my blood was going to my uterus right now, it was normal to feel sleepy. I was REALLY REALLY REALLY wanting to stop what I was doing at this point and go to sleep.

A couple more contractions and I started feeling antsy and hot and nauseated. Dh had been giving me sips of juice and I asked him for ice water instead and a cold washcloth and that felt nice on my forehead. He had been sitting in a chair beside the pool and in between contractions I put my head in his lap and kind of napped. I had a contraction and felt "pushy" but thought... no way! There is NO WAY I am ready to push, I'm not working nearly hard enough!

But sure enough, when I said: "I feel..." and Debbie finished my sentence: "Pushy?" I said, "Yes". So she came around and examined me and gave me the go ahead. I couldn't believe it! I pushed a bit with each pain but couldn't really find a position that felt right. It was like I couldn't find my pushing muscles. I told Debbie this and she made some suggestions, but it just didn't feel effective to me.

Then all of a sudden I got that really familiar feeling of I MUST GET OUT OF THIS TUB RIGHT NOW.

I always get that feeling right before I push the baby out. I have nothing against waterbirth but it's so undeniable and I believe laboring women should listen to their bodies.

So I get out and got on the birthing stool that Claudia and Debbie had made ready. The cool air felt awesome and rejuvenated me a bit. It's so cool the rush of energy you get before pushing...God knows what he is doing, we are so wonderfully made!

At this point I still didn't feel the head was still too high up and my pushes felt like they weren't making anything happen. But after a couple more pushes I felt THAT feeling.

I don't care if you have had one baby or twenty, you dread that feeling of the head descending and the infamous "Ring of Fire"... crowning. It's exciting because you know it will only be a few minutes before you see and hold your baby, but it HURTS!!!! and you dread what's next. I heard myself say: "I hate this part".

Jesse was sitting behind me on a chair and I leaned back into him and had my arms on his thighs for support and leverage. He had said earlier, when the midwives asked him, that he wanted to catch the baby. But when they told him it was time, I said: "No! I need him back there." I was afraid that if he moved I would lose my momentum. I wanted it OVER WITH!

The kids were starting to wake up too and when they came into the room I whispered to somebody: "I don't want them in here right now...". Again, I was afraid that I would lose my concentration and I could tell it was only seconds away.


And it's over.

And I am holding my slithery creamy beautiful purple pink baby in my arms and everything is peaceful and time stops and I am so filled with love and emotion and there is no one but me and her and everyone I love and I thank God for her and for everything and she is so beautiful that she glows and I feel as if I have known her all my life and I am in bliss and I thank God for letting me experience all of this....

Sadie Miranda was born at home on September 1, 2005. She was Carrie' s fourth birth and weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and was 21" long.
You can visit Carrie at

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Adele's Birth by Autumn

The weekend before Adele’s birth, my husband and I went on a nice hike at John Bryant State Park outside of Yellow Springs, OH. The day was nice and cool and the trees were just getting their leaves. I remember only being able to walk a little ways on the narrow, rocky path in the cool spring woods. We stopped at a large boulder along the path to rest for a while before turning back. I remember thinking about all my doubts and worries. Would I be able to handle labor and a baby? Would I ever be able to go on a hike like this again? Would I ever be able to leave the house again? Would my identity totally change after having the baby? My husband was there to reassure me before we headed home.

A couple of days later on Monday evening, I began having some contractions. They weren’t painful, but they were noticeable. I had a bloody show earlier and I decided to call my midwife around 8 p.m. when I felt the rushes becoming stronger. Because I was a week from my due date and the contractions were not regular yet and overwhelming, my midwife expected this to be a check on how I was doing. She came over and we talked about what I was feeling and decided together to do a check to see how dilated I was. She was surprised to feel that Adele’s head had dropped to 0 station, the narrowest part of my pelvis and I was about 2 or 3 centimeters dilated. She informed us that Adele would probably come quickly and she needed to get her midwifery supplies from home. She briefed My husband in how to handle the birth if she couldn’t make it back in time! She ran home and grabbed her birth supplies and overnight bag and we waited. My contractions went away after a few hours with the midwife on standby in our guest room and I went to bed that night with my contractions subsiding.

The next evening, I began having the contractions around dinner. This time I wasn’t going to “jinx” them. I did call my midwife but told her not to come over until they became stronger and more regular. Once again, they subsided after I went to bed.

I had an uneventful Wednesday. With my ligaments being quite loose from hormones, I managed to twist my ankle while walking in our kitchen. I ended up having to lie on our couch all day Thursday with a visit and flowers from my friend, Jen, to cheer me up. I felt some light rushes and would put my hand on my belly and pause but it was difficult to tell if they were Braxton-Hicks or real contractions. That evening they progressively got stronger and closer together. I was almost afraid to call the midwife in case they would go away. They kept getting stronger and I ended up calling her around 1 a.m. because I couldn’t sleep through them. I knew that this was it and Adele would be making her appearance soon.

Around 3:30 a.m. I felt a big “POP” and the rushes kicked into high gear. This must have been my cervix popping open during transition. Adele was in a hurry to meet us! My husband and the midwife worked quickly to fill our birth pool in our bedroom. I remember not wanting My husband to leave me to finish disconnecting the hoses. As soon as I could get into the birth pool, I stripped down because I couldn’t get into it fast enough! The warm water felt so good and I was able to focus. Each contraction was intense and I felt the need to kick my legs out. I was leaning back against the pool on my bottom. Fear began to set in and I wondered if I could really do this. Sometime after I got into the pool, the midwife’s assistant, another midwife, arrived. Both were reassuring me that this was normal and to keep my tones low. I flipped over on my hands and knees and labored hanging over the edge of the pool gripping the assistant’s hand. I was already feeling the need to push (around 4:30 a.m.); it was incontrollable. My body wanted to birth my baby. My midwife wanted to flip me over; I remember telling her I couldn’t and she said I had to do it. With her help and My husband’s I was on my hands and knees. The midwife would check Adele’s heart tones and she seemed to be doing well early on but began to drop around 5:15. I soon needed to flip back over, which allowed Adele’s heart tones to go back to what they should be. I remember thinking of how I couldn’t possibly flip over, but they helped me with it. Shortly after, Adele began crowning and made her entrance at 5:30.

Adele was immediately given to me. I cannot describe the intense rush of love for my baby and the fact that My husband and I had made this little one. Soon after, I had to use traction to pull the placenta out. Adele nursed within the first hour of birth and we got to know each other while the midwives checked her and me. After 3 ½ hours My husband cut Adele’s cord. We spent that day cuddling and resting with our new baby. I have never felt so empowered by an event in my entire life. We feel so blessed for such a great birth experience.

Autumn and her husband welcomed Adele into their family on March 30, 2007. She weighed 6lbs. 3 oz and was Autumn's first birth. Autumn is a Dar a Luz leader and is currently opening a chapter in the Emerald Coast region of Florida.