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.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stone's Birth by Stormy

On February 19th, we had our second son, first homebirth. Everything started on Sunday morning with me waking up with some crampy contractions. Nothing really that was consistant, but enough discomfort to wake me up for about an hour. Then I went back to bed and when I woke up I had a little of the "bloody show." I continued to have some contractions throughout the day and began making sure everything was ready and in place for the birth and then resting. I was resting on the couch for the second time that day when the contractions got to be a bit too uncomfortable and seemed to be regulating themselves to a more steady 7-8 minutes apart. So I got myself in the shower to relax a little. Of course the shower seemed to speed things up a bit, but it felt less strong, so I stayed in there. I had the shaky legs and then suddenly started to sob. My doula had just called and talked with my husband David since I had given her and the midwives a "heads up" that morning, and she wanted to see how I was. David hadn't realized how serious things had become so fast, so he called her back and asked her what temperature the tub should be and how long I could stay in. She recommended that I get in and if the contractions slowed down to then rest. If not, it would most likely speed things up.

Honestly, I was thinking things would stall as my first labor was a very long 60+ hours. But, there was no stalling. My contractions pretty much immediately became 5 minutes apart and 2 minutes long. He called the team and let them know we were ready for them to come. (The team consisted of our midwives and our doula). They were all here within 30 minutes. Cannot say how long it was before I really felt I needed their support, but they were able to rest a little bit before I really felt the need to have someone with me. (My midwives had a birth the night before and were up all night.) What I really needed was someone to hold my hands up in the water so I could try to fully relax my body. It was oddly difficult for me to relax my body when my arms were just floating there, and having them on the sides of the aquadoula did not seem to work either. So having my hands held seemed to help. David also had the room dimly lit with a couple of my favorite little lamps, and he had one of the "Dead Can Dance" cds playing in the cd player. It was really the perfect music as it reminds me of our relaxing trips to Colorado and it is a very soothing yet somewhat upbeat.

Soon after the hand holding began, I felt the need to do some little pushes. It sort of felt right but wrong all at the same time. So I concentrated on breathing through them until I just could not help myself and I had to push. I seem to remember the pushing taking a long time, but everyone else said it was only 5 minutes or so. First came the bag of waters, still intact, then can the babies head, which broke the bag. His head stopped coming out just below his mouth, and I found out later that the midwives were worried about shoulder distocia. But then they saw his elbow pressing out by my rectum and then were worried that I was going to tear a huge tear and have to be transported for stitching. But I magically kept stretching and stretching and his head came out with an arm and I only had 3 little stitches, 2 in one place 1 in another. Anyway, the midwives asked me to get on my hands and knees once his head was partly out and I finished pushing him out quickly there (I heard the slower heartbeat on the doppler and saw the concerned looks and whispers, though they were very well hidden from me, a mother can notice stuff like this no matter how small...). I knew it had to be quick. I figure he had the cord around his neck, which he did. I also mentioned throughout the last couple months of the pregnancy that I swore my son had daggers for nails already or daggers for hair, but I swore I felt a hand moving around and something rubbing on my cervix often, so his presentation made sense. He came out, and I think one of the midwives passed him to me in the water through my legs and I scooped him up. In the end, my labor was just 6 hours of regular labor, but if you count it from the first crampy contraction, it was only 20 hours. Not bad!

Stone Maddox was born at 12:29 a.m. on Monday the 19th of February (oddly enough it was his e.d.d.). He weighed 10 pounds 1 ounce, was 21 inches long, and his head measured at 14 7/8. We kept the umbilical cord attached until 10 or 11 in the morning and then my husband did the cutting. Stone has been a real pleasure to have and his big brother Zane is in love with him too.

We are so blessed to have 2 beautiful little boys. And to have my parents here to help us. Though we are all doing well, I am much more sore than I expected to be. (I have seen so many people just bounce up on their second day after birthing their 2nd or 3rd kid, and I have yet to figure out how they do it, but then again, they all had 7 pound babies, and both of mine were closer to 10.) Zane is really enjoying having grandma and grandpa here and I get to really enjoy my new son, yet still get cuddle time with my eldest son. Very nice!

Thanks to everyone for all their help/support over the last few months and many thanks also to my midwives, Eileen, and my very supportive (and super-excited-that-we-had-a-homebirth) husband.

Stone Maddox was Stormy's second birth, first homebirth. He was born on February 19th and weighed 10lbs, 1oz.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Georgia's Birth by Mackenzie

Thursday, December 27th
We were slated to head to the hospital at 9PM to start an elective induction. At 5 that evening, my OB called. L&D was PACKED, and she was asking if I could wait until morning to come in to start. I already was so anxious about the induction that I nearly cried thinking of changing our plans. Even with the caveat that I would have to spend much of the night in a triage curtain--till labor started OR a room became available that wasn't needed by someone further into labor--we were ready. That evening, we had a nice dinner and put Clara, our 18 month old daughter, to bed as usual. Then, I packed my bag and off we went. I arrived on time and got registered. Then we headed upstairs to a triage room they were using to start inductions for the night. Apparently, lots of folks were hoping for a tax deduction! The curtained areas were tiny and didn't have TVs. Thank goodness Dan was headed home--the room had a bed and a straight-backed chair, and that was it.

The nurse was great. She got my IV started and took all my info. Finally at 11 or so, the first dose of Cervadil was inserted. I was having sporadic contractions when I got hooked up to the monitors but nothing of note. I also got an Ambien to help me sleep. By midnight, Dan was gone, and I was sleeping. I slept soundly for about 3 hours when the Cervadil wore off. She also inserted the 2nd dose of Cervadil around the same time. By 5AM, I was up walking the halls because I was starting to get regular contractions and wanted to encourage them to speed up and intensify. STILL I did not have a room. Dan wasn't going to come back till I got a room. It just didn't make sense. And I didn't need him any way. I was coping fine--heck, it didn't even hurt!

7:30AM -- I'm finally in a room! And a nice one at that. Pitocin was started as soon as I got to the room. I was READY. Unfortunately, the contractions I had been having fizzled during the transition. Poop. My nurse was Diana. She was great. She kept coming in and jacking up the Pitocin when my contrax would start to space out again. And she even let me off to walk the halls periodically. Whew. I was coping fine.

9:00AM -- My mom and Clara came to hang out for a while. I was having noticeable contractions, but nothing I couldn't walk or talk through. AT all. Dan's mom also came to pick up Clara and take her home.

1:00PM--I hadn't been checked since 3AM when the last dose of Cervadil was inserted. So the nurse checked me. She pronounced me 2cm and 30% effaced. Ummm...I had been 2 and 50% at the DOCTOR the DAY BEFORE. WHAT???? All of this was doing nothing? I freaked out and started sobbing. Hysterically. Then she told me she had to leave to deliver a baby in the room next door. Damn it, I was supposed to be delivering. Not someone else. And nothing was happening. Nothing. I cried on and off for quite a while, and they continued cranking the Pitocin. My OB came to see me because I was so upset. She kept reassuring me that we were not out of options, that we needed to be patient, and that this WAS different from last time.

2:00PM--Finally the contractions were getting a little uncomfortable. My lower back was starting to hurt, so I got on the bed on my knees and draped my upper body over the birth ball. I also had heat on my lower back which felt great. I was able to zone out and relax a bit, though I couldn't quite reign in my emotions. My OB came back to check me, and I was now at 3cm and 50%. A little progress in the last hour. I felt a little more encouraged but still very emotional. We decided to wait a bit before deciding to go forward with the Foley bulb, which was our next step. My OB agreed with me that breaking my water wasn't the way to go yet.

At some point in here, a nurse I didn't know came in because the baby was off the monitor. She just waltzed in the room and told me I needed to sit back on the bed so that she could readjust the monitor. When I sat back, the baby got back on, and the nurse said, "Well, it's fine. Just sit like that." I FREAKED and started sobbing uncontrollably again and threw her out of my room. Dan was apologizing left and right, and my mom was horrified. I was just past coping, I think. All I could think was, "I WANT TO GO HOME!' I missed Clara, I was scared. I just wanted to be safe.

3:00PM--My OB was called back in, as was my original nurse. I couldn't stop crying. I was frustrated and scared. My OB sat down at the end of my bed and asked me what I was so afraid of. She acknowledged that I was having flashbacks and having a hard time dealing with the lack of progress because of my delivery with Clara. And she offered the option of stopping. I felt like I had so much invested already, and Dan was encouraging me to try the Foley. But my OB said that if we got much further in terms of dilation, she wouldn't be able to send me home. She also offered the option of stopping and starting again the next day. THAT I could not wrap my brain around at all. So basically, we could stop and go home OR we could try the Foley and know that we were committed OR we could take a break and try again later.

My mom was trying to be helpful and supportive but was just a bit too involved in what I viewed to be OUR decision (mine and Dan's), to the point where it was making me angry. So I asked her to leave as well while Dan and I talked. I know that made her upset, but I really didn't (and still don't) care. Dan and I held each other and talked about the situation. I could tell that he really wanted to keep going--that he didn't want to "quit". But he said that the insurance situation and the money didn't matter that much to him, and he was worried about me being so upset. As soon as I knew he wouldn't be disappointed in me, I knew that we needed to quit.

It wasn't 5 minutes after we sent my mom out that she came back in with the doctor. I don't know for sure, but both Dan and I think that my mom tried convincing her to tell us to quit. Because my OB came back leaning much more that direction. That made me a little angry, but since we already had made up our minds, it didn't matter. My OB said, "I want you to have the birth you want, and this isn't it, so I think this is the right decision."

We stopped the Pitocin, and within a half hour, my contractions had stopped completely. It was like I never was laboring--pretty much because I wasn't; the Pitocin was. I was pretty spent, though. Certainly, I didn't have the energy to talk about what had happened. Dan got to deliver the news while I felt sorry for myself for a while.

Saturday, December 30th
What is that? Oh, NO. I cannot be getting strep. But my throat wasn't sore—it was HORRIBLY swollen. I though I was going to swallow my uvula. It was rubbing on the back of my tongue and my tonsils and gagging me! This all happened at 5AM. I started crying and choking, and Dan and my mom thought I was panicking. So they gave me Benadryl and ice, and the Benadryl made me so tired I went back to sleep. At 10AM, it was the same. We headed to Urgent Care where they diagnosed me with an anaphylactic reaction to the antibiotics I was given for GBS. I got a shot of epi, a steroid shot, and a prescription for a course of steroids. Within 2 minutes of the epi injection, the swelling started to recede. NOW.... we waited. I sorely wanted to go into labor on my own. The thought of attempting an induction again was just a bit too much to bear. I had an OB appointment on January 2nd at 40w3d, and there was no change from my final status at my induction. My OB said that she wanted to induce the following Wednesday. I wasn't ready to commit just yet.

Thursday, January 3rd
Dan and I were DTD pretty frequently to try to encourage Georgia to make her appearance, and we did Wednesday night. I was having uncomfortable contractions during the night pretty regularly in the last couple weeks of my pregnancy, so that night I slept in the guest room. That and Dan was snoring horribly! I woke up at about 7AM, having to pee for the 4th time that night. As I sat down on the toilet, I felt a small gush. Definitely not urine! I lay back down in bed, and it happened again when I had a contraction. My contractions were noticeable and about 15-20 minutes apart. I decided to call my mom to give her a heads up; she needed to start planning her trip. During our chat, I laughed and felt another gush. That got all of us moving. We repacked and got showered and called Dan's parents to be ready to come get Clara at the hospital on our call. On our way, we drove through McDonalds for breakfast. No way was I going in hungry!! I was excited and optimistic, as was Dan. This was it!!

I got registered and checked into triage. The nurse was NOT in a good mood. Apparently, the mother of another nurse was killed unexpectedly the night before, and everyone was taking it pretty hard. My nurse was focused on getting through her shift so she could leave to visit her elderly parents. So being the "I-think-my-water-broke" girl wasn't a good thing for me; I was a nuisance. She pretty much started to dismiss me when I answered "Yes" to the "Have you had intercourse in the last 24 hours?" question. We did the 20 minute monitoring thing, and then she took me into the exam room to check me. When she did the speculum exam and said that she thought it looked like my membranes might have ruptured. But she couldn't do the litmus paper because of possible residual semen. So she got the slide ready for the ferning test, and I waited. She finally came back to tell me that she couldn't see any ferning. She even called in another nurse. NEGATIVE. But I had been so sure! She called my OB who instructed them to send me home.

Again, I felt defeated. I KNEW that my water was leaking, but if it didn't show on the test, what could I do? We stopped at home for me to change my clothes and headed to the Newport Aquarium with Clara for the day. All day long, I continued to "drip". I say it was dripping because it wasn't more than a couple drops here and there, but I constantly was wet. I also was seeing lots of "chunky stuff" when I wiped. We had a great day at the aquarium. Clara loved it, and it was SO fun seeing her get so excited.

Friday, January 4th
I had a chiropractor appointment in the morning and then an NST and ultrasounds for fluid levels in the early afternoon. Poor Dan was alone with Clara all day, though that was NOT the plan. The specialist where I had to go for the monitoring appointment was a zoo! I waited nearly an hour for the NST and then another 45 minutes, at least, for the ultrasound. Georgia passed the NST with flying colors in the minimum amount of time. The fluid levels on u/s looked great. I found it a bit interesting that the large pockets were up near her feet while the pockets nearest my cervix were barely measurable… The tech was chatty, and at one point said, "Wow, that's a chunky baby." She also commented on her head measurement and took and compared several to find the "best" one, saying, "I like this one the best, but it makes her even BIGGER." HUH??? She was estimated to be 10lb, 7oz!!! The tech said that they tend to overestimate, but she thought the baby safely would be 10lbs. DOUBLE HUH??? I was floored, especially since I measured correctly or a week or 2 behind all along.

I had tons of errands to run to prepare for my mom, sister, and the kids to arrive. Groceries, Target, belated Christmas gifts. As I was walking through Lowe's, I felt a BIIIG gush. Nice. More leaking. I also started to contract a little more frequently. But my water wasn't broken! And there was NO WAY I was going back. I called lots of people during my errand running to let them know about the ultrasound. I also called my OB because I was freaked out and wanted her thoughts. But she was gone for the weekend, and her partner said nothing wouldn't keep till Monday, so they just put a note on her desk. I wondered how the size estimate would change things… I was doing some last minute cleaning things including bathing Clara, and my pants were soaked. I changed into pj pants and soaked through them too. Still, I wasn't going back to the hospital just to be sent home. My mom and sister and kids arrived, and we chatted. My sister was bound and determined that I would have the baby that weekend. I wasn't so sure. She (being a former L&D nurse) thought that my water WAS broken and it was just a matter of time till labor started. But she also kept talking me through the possibility of a c-section to get me used to the idea.

Saturday, January 5th
We had grand plans to do SOMETHING, but the day got away from us. Kids with different nap schedules will do that to ya! I was having contractions all day. They actually hurt a little bit but weren't very close together at all. I was pretty uncomfortable all day—achy and sore and feeling pressure. And I continued leaking like Friday night. My sister kept trying to convince me to go in to the hospital. We had invited Dan's parents for dinner, so I wasn't even thinking about it till then. We had lasagna and had a lovely meal. The whole time, my sister kept hinting that I should go to the hospital. I didn't want to go until I was in labor. No way I wanted another false alarm!!
After Dan's parents left, I fell asleep on the couch. Waking up a bit more rested, I talked with Dan, and we decided that with Clara in bed, we should head in to L&D just to be safe. The timing was perfect, as everyone would be sleeping—no need to worry about having someone to take care of Clara! We got to L&D at about 10:30. I was contracting every 10 minutes…and after all the tests, YEP!!! MY WATER WAS BROKEN. (Well, duh—it had been that way for 2 ½ days…) The nurse (who was wonderful) put in a call to the on-call OB, and we waited. At first, he said that he would give me 4 hours to go into more regular labor on my own and then start Pitocin around 4AM. Then I brought up the fact that my ultrasound results were not yet in my chart. The nurse relayed that information to the OB. Dan and I talked a lot in that time about a c-section and my feelings about it. I didn't know what the OB was going to say, but I knew that my worst nightmare would be to be induced with Pitocin only to end up with a c-section after hours of labor and pushing.

The nurse came back. The verdict? The OB on call thought it wise to schedule a c-section. In his opinion, any baby with a predicted size of over 10lbs is a risk. So we were on the schedule for 8:30AM!!! I was moved into a room to be monitored for the night—with NO sleep aids, since this OB didn't believe in them. The nurse I had was awful. She put my IV in a horrendous spot on the back of my hand, and when I asked her about the c-section, she really didn't know and gave me a worst-case scenario. But perhaps the WORST part was that the entire time I'd been there, I hadn't had anything to drink (now over 2 hours), and only by asking for a drink did I find out that I was on strict "nothing by mouth" orders till after the c-section. I was so thirsty I cried! Dan offered to sneak me some Gatorade, but I decided to tough it out.

Sunday, January 6th
I woke early, partly because I was contracting a leaking everywhere, and partly because I was excited (and nervous!). I brushed my teeth and washed my face and combed my hair and sorely wished for a shower. My new nurse came on at 7—she was fantastic and really walked me through all that would happen. Dan and my mom and Clara arrived a little before 8. I was soooo happy to see them, particularly Clara. It's crazy how much I miss her when I'm gone overnight. At about the same time, the nurse anesthetist came in. He really put me at ease, providing me with more information about what would happen. And he was CUTE! I told my mom we should take him home; Dan didn't think that was such a good idea! At about 8:15, I took off my pants and put on another hospital gown. I drank the sour stuff, and then, we walked to the OR.
The OB surgeon met us at the nurses' station. I had never laid eyes on him before since he merely shares call with my OB's practice; he has his own practice. From what the nurses said, he's very well respected. He introduced himself to us as the name of my regular OB and we laughed! He went on to say that he'd "always wanted to try one of these c-sections", keeping the mood light. I liked him immediately. He walked the whole way to the OR with us. Once there, Dan went to change into scrubs, and I put on a funny cap and followed the scrub nurse into the OR.

How surreal! There I was, WALKING into the OR where my daughter would be born! I climbed up on the table, and a few people introduced themselves to me. The double-checked my identity and the procedure. Then, a nurse asked if I was getting my tubes tied. NO WAY!! The LOVELY NA came back and did the spinal. MUCH better than the epi. One quick, burning prick for the topical anesthesia, and some serious pressure (and zinging down my right leg) for the spinal, and WHAM! The numbness started! The staff described it as feeling "cold", and man, did it ever! A big, grey haired older lady nurse helped me to lie down. They put my arms out but did not tie them down and put a pulse ox on one hand and a BP cuff on the other. Before I knew it, the doctor was there, along with a resident who would be assisting. But WHERE WAS DAN? I started to freak out a bit because it seemed that they were going to start without him. That I could not have handled. But he got there just in time and sat right over my left shoulder, holding my hand.

As soon as the procedure started, Dan stood up to watch. He watched the entire thing. The surgeon and the resident talked the entire time, so I had some idea of what was going on. I felt fine! There was much debate in the operating room as to how big the baby would be. No one believed she was a 10lber. Most people were guess 8lbs, including the surgeon! The resident warned me that I would feel a lot of pressure and pushing—and her head was out! Then, the surgeon, "Well, maybe she IS big." More pressure, and I felt them pull her out. Relief, just like when you've pushed the baby out. And I saw her face from the nose up over the drape. She was SCREAMING as they took her to get cleaned up; she screamed the WHOLE time. There were bets being placed the entire time until they weighed her. 9LBS, 8 OZ! The nurse weighing her asked Dan how tall I was because she couldn't believe I'd had a baby that big in there. My response? THAT'S IT?? I said, 'What? All this for nothing?" The OB surgeon said, "Well, you saved yourself 12 hours of agony." Nice. He and the resident worked on stitching me up. While they were doing so, Dan brought Georgia over to see me. I barely remember seeing her because I felt really odd. I had a strange, burning pain in my sternum and was starting to get lightheaded. The NA told me that the pain was referred pain and that it was nearly over. Dan and Georgia sat next to me till I was finished, and then he took her to the nursery. At the end, The OB surgeon, "Well, your bladder and rectum thank you for having a c-section." I guess he thought we made the right decision after all!

The first few minutes of recovery were sucky. I felt tired and dizzy and kinda out of it. In hindsight, I think that was from the megadose of morphine they give you right at the end of the c/s. Quickly, I felt better. My mom came in to see me, and then Dan did. Soon, the nurses brought Georgia from the nursery. Her blood sugar was fine—they would have to keep checking due to her size—but she was having a bit of trouble keeping her body temp up. So after I nursed her, she would have to go back to the nursery for an hour to be monitored. She latched on right away, and she was an awesome nurser! I was so glad to have her in my arms within less than an hour of her being born! She was beautiful and chubby and so sweet.

When I was ready to go to my room, the nursery nurses took Georgia back. Then my nurse cleaned me up and moved me to my room. It wasn't long till I was ansty for my girl, and just in time they brought her back to me. She got to meet her sister and her cousins and Ga (my mom) and Grandma and Grandpa (Dan's parents). Then, Dan and I got to spend some quiet time with just Georgia. I was on such a high that I couldn't sleep, even thought I was tired.
While I was on fluids only for 6 hours after her birth, I was ready to EAT! Dan's parents brought subs around 6PM, and I ate an entire footlong chicken philly AND a large caramel frap from Starbucks plus fries. MMMMM!!!!!! By 3PM, I was sitting up on the side of the bed, and by 9PM my catheter was out, and I was walking! The only thing I'd change? Asking to do 'kangaroo care' instead of having her go back to the nursery for the body temperature issues. I was just a bit too out of it to think of that at the time. Overall, my c-section recovery was a breeze! But next time we're trying for a VBAC. Just so I can say I've done all 3!

Georgia Elaine's birth day was January 6th, 2008 and she weighed in at 9lbs, 8oz. She is the second of what Mackenzie hopes will be a number of children to come.

Clara's Birth by Mackenzie

After 5 weeks of bedrest, biweekly NSTs, and a trip to L&D for pre-eclampsia, my OB finally decided we should induce at my 40 week OB appointment. We had a few hours to prepare before we headed to the hospital. Dan and I made a list of what we would need to pack and/or buy. Then, we ate lunch and took a nap. The afternoon went quickly. Before we new it, we had to get packed and eat dinner. On our way to the hospital, thunderstorms began. Wow, was the rain coming down! By the time that we arrived at the hospital at shortly before 8 PM, tornado warnings had been issued for our county. In fact, the hospital was moving everyone ambulatory to the ground floor, and when we got to L&D, we were sent to wait in the hallway. The staff was wheeling all of the laboring women into the hallway as well because all of the LDRs had windows. It was wild to sit there with all of these laboring or recovering women, getting a preview of what I was going to experience.

Finally, we got into our room around 9 PM, when I was supposed to get my first dose of Cervadil. We waited and waited for a nurse to come. Because of all of the chaos surrounding the tornado, it took an hour and 45 minutes for a nurse to find time to get me admitted and insert the medication. In fact, it was close to midnight by the time I got the first dose of Cervadil, and I was supposed to have my 2nd dose at 1 AM! However, I was contracting pretty regularly on my own when the nurse hooked me up to the monitor, so she and the doctor decided to forego the 2nd dose of Cervadil and just head straight to Pitocin at 4 AM.

Dan stayed with me until about 12:30 AM and then went home to let the dogs out and get some sleep. I slept fitfully for a few hours. The contractions were more like cramps and were coming every 2-3 minutes. The big nuisance was the BP cuff. My pressure was high, so I was being monitored more frequently. Gosh, that sucker hurt. I also was showing +2 protein in my urine, so the staff started to get concerned about my pre-eclampsia. As long as I laid on my left side, my BP was fine. But that was the worst way to lay to cope with the contractions. At least I was able to sleep a bit. The nurse had to wake me at 4 AM to put in my IV and start the Pitocin drip. Shortly after, the contractions got a bit more intense, mostly longer, and I had a harder time sleeping. Good thing I brought a good book to keep myself occupied.

Dan got back around 7:30 in the morning. I was feeling fine but my BP was not great. Every time I would get up, it would go up to borderline dangerous. The nurses changed shifts, and my new nurse was GREAT! She had 37 years of experience and was very much like a midwife in her approach. When she first came in, I was sitting on the ball which she encouraged. Then my BP was taken, and it was back to bed. She checked me at the start of the shift, and I only was dilated to 2, although I was almost 75% effaced now. Not a lot of progress for 4 hours on Pitocin.

My OB came to check on my at about 9 AM. I was still at 2, and my BP was HIGH. She asked if I intended to get an epidural, and I answered, "Yes, eventually." She advised that getting the epidural now would help keep my BP down and recommended that we break my water and get the epi so that she wouldn't have to give me magnesium sulfate which could slow down or stop labor. So she broke my water and put an internal monitor on the baby. But it didn't work. And the whole thing was EXTREMELY uncomfortable for me. Afterward, I got up to use the restroom one last time before the epi, and I didn't feel any gushing. Strange.

The nurse anesthetist came in around 9:45 to administer the epidural. She was great at explaining it. I was a bit apprehensive, but she and Jane were wonderful. The worst part was that when she fed the catheter in, she rubbed a nerve, and I had a strong clenching feeling in my lower back. It was awful. But when she moved the catheter, it went away. The epidural taking effect was a very odd feeling. At that point, I didn't really need the relief, so I just got to kinda feel the numbness spread.

Right after the epi, my mom arrived. She'd driven in from PA that morning. I was SO glad to see her. I had been waiting (impatiently) all morning for her to get there. We hung out and chatted and watched tv as the nurses checked on me and moved me from one side to the other every hour to make sure that the epidural was taking effect equally on each side. We watched the contractions on the monitor and watched my blood pressure go up every time I moved from my left side.

At about 11:30, Jane decided she needed to check me again because the contractions hadn't gotten more intense after my water had been broken. She found that my water HADN'T been fully broken and the reason that the internal monitor wasn't working was that it was on my CERVIX, not on the baby. So Jane broke my water and put in the internal monitors for the baby and for contractions. Now it was a lot more fun to watch the contraction monitor because their severity was truly being recorded. Every so often, the nurse would come in and turn up my Pitocin because my contractions would start to "fizzle out". Thank goodness I had the epidural, because I don't want to think what it would have felt like otherwise! Eventually, my Pitocin was just about as high as it would go!!

Dan's parents arrived around lunch time and brought Panera for everyone…except me. I was STARVING at this point, having not eaten anything other than a granola bar since dinner. So I had jello and a popsicle while the rest of them had sandwiches and chips.

By 1 PM or so, I still hadn't made much more progress. So Jane dropped the bottom of the bed so I was laying with my hips slanted toward the floor. Then she propped my top let up on the tray table so I was essentially spread-eagled while lying on my side. She said the spread and the decline would help the baby move down the birth canal and put more pressure on my cervix to help me dilate. I hung out that way till about 4:30. In that time, the OB came to visit again and said that we were making progress, slowly but surely. I think I was maybe close to 100% effaced at this point? I kept telling everyone that I wanted to do whatever it took to deliver vaginally, and they were 100% behind that. Also during this time, I was discouraged and kinda retreated into myself. Everyone else was playing cards and chatting, and I just wanted to read alone.

Finally, the OB came back to check on me at about 4:30. I was FINALLY 5 cm and 100% effaced. She said the next 5 cm should go much more quickly than the first 5. I also started to get a bit more uncomfortable, feeling some pelvic floor pressure. I could feel the contractions, but only as a pressure. Even then, I was having to breathe through them a little bit. So they had the nurse anesthetist re-dose my epidural. That provided relief for most of the pressure. But within little more than an hour, the pressure was back, and it was more intense. D was now sitting next to my bed, and I was really having to concentrate to deal with the discomfort. My mom was there, too, on the other side. D was rubbing my lower back, and I was holding onto the rail of the bed HARD.

During all of this, D's parents returned with dinner from Wendy's for the troops. I couldn't STAND the smell and made them leave the room because I was feeling so nauseated. My mom headed out to the waiting room with them, and D stayed with me. I was crying because I was SO uncomfortable. D's mom offered to stay with me so that he could eat, and I nearly screamed, "NO!" at her. D called the nurse to check me, and I was at 7 cm. In just about an hour! The nurse put my legs down to keep me from dilating quite so quickly and in an effort to help me manage the pressure. And they sent the NA in to re-dose my epi again. By the time the NA got there, I was in a LOT of discomfort. Every time I had a contraction, I felt like I had to hold my insides in. Most of the pressure was rectal, just like you read about—it felt like I needed to have a bowel movement IMMEDIATLEY! I felt some of the same type of pressure vaginally. It didn't HURT, per se, but I was extremely uncomfortable.

It was now just before 7 PM…shift change. My great, midwifey nurse was leaving. What was worse at the time was that the nurses were having their shift change meeting and kept putting me off. That is, until I finally said, "I'm not kidding, I feel like I have to PUSH!" The NA, who was still in the room, RAN to the nurses' station to get my new nurse. She checked me, and sure enough, I was complete. So I went from 5cm to complete in an hour and 20 mintues or so. WE WERE READY TO PUSH!
Oh, did it feel good to push. It relieved the pressure SO MUCH. And yes, you poop during delivery, and no you don't care. Unless your nurse doesn't clean it up and you have to ask her to. Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled with my new nurse. Instead of coaching me on appropriate pushing and doing perineal massage, she was charting on the computer while I was pushing. What made that even more annoying was that she was hiding the contraction monitor, and we needed to see that because the pressure was constant whether I was having a contraction or not. So the only way I knew when to push was that D would watch the monitor and tell me when the contraction had gathered enough steam.

The nurse was thrilled with how well I was pushing and the progress that I was making. She jokingly asked if I had done this before! The baby had a few small decelerations, so I had to wear an oxygen mask. I was exhausted and shaking violently between every contraction, which made me even more tired. D was awesome, helping hold my leg and my shoulders and feeding me ice chips between contractions. He kept telling me what a great job I was doing. We pushed for about an hour, with both D and the nurse telling me what great progress we were taking when all of a sudden the nurse made me stop pushing and paged the desk to call the OB. Later, D said that we had only been seeing a bit of baby's head at the peak of each push, and then baby would recede…but suddenly, a LOT more of baby's head appeared with a big push, and it didn't go back. When the nurse told me I had to wait to finish till my OB got there, I said, "NO! Go find another doctor. Please!" She said it would only be 15 minutes. So I "blew away" the contractions for a bit and then was allowed to give little pushes. It was the longest 15 minutes of my life. Like a little kid in the car on a long trip, I kept asking how much longer I had to wait.

Finally, Dr. R arrived. She was great and positive and very excited. I pushed and pushed and started kinda hyperventilating. I was so, so tired at this point that I couldn't catch my breath between contractions. I was pushing for three 10 counts during each contraction, and the contractions were less that 2 minutes apart. My progress stalled. You could see baby's head, but I was losing the strength to push her out. Dr. R asked if I wanted her to use the vacuum to help me. I knew I needed the assistance. So on the next push, Dr. R attached the vacuum to the top of baby's head, and I pushed with all my might. You should have seen my tiny little OB standing up and pulling all directions on that vacuum with both hands! One more push, and baby's head was out. Oh, did it feel better already! I had to blow away a bit of a contraction, and then I pushed again to get her shoulders out. That was a bit easier!

And finally she was here!! It was 9:10 PM. D cut the cord. He was so funny when Dr. R asked if he wanted to. She barely got the question out, and he practically shouted, "YES!" She cried a little, and they took her straight to the bassinet because she needed to be suctioned. Probably because of the vacuum delivery.

I was so disappointed not have her placed right on my chest, but her daddy ran right over to her and watched the whole time. She never was out of my sight, either. While they cleaned her up, Dr. R put me back together. Mercifully, she had given me a shot of Lidocaine to numb my perineum. I wonder if she knew how badly I was going to tear? It took her as long to stitch me up as it took the nurses to check and clean up the baby. Everyone kept remarking on how big she was, and D and I both noticed her huge hands and feet right away. Someone asked, "What's her name?" D looked at me, and I answered, "Clara." D smiled really big. I had been having second thoughts about her name for a few weeks, but I knew as soon I saw her that it was right.

They finally gave her to me, all bundled up. She was PERFECT! She latched on the first try and did a great job, nursing for quite a while. My mom and D's mom came into the room and met Clara. They were so excited. After she finished nursing, D's dad came in, too. He took a lot of pictures. Then it was time for Clara to go to the nursery.

Unfortunately, the fun didn't stop there. As they nurses were monitoring my vitals after delivery, two causes for concern arose. First, my BP would not stay down. Secondly, I spiked a fever of almost 102 degrees. So, I ended up taking Percoset in addition to the Motrin I requested for the recovery pain. And then I got a migraine. By the time they moved me to my room, I was REALLY out of it. The nurse was giving us instructions, and I couldn't keep my eyes open. I had to keep my IV in to get 3 doses of antibiotics for the fever, and that was pretty uncomfortable. It was now midnight, and I was ready to pass out for a variety of reasons. D left to go home, and they took Clara to the nursery with the promise to bring her in when she was hungry. She nursed for an hour and a half at about 4 a.m. What a trooper!

By morning, I felt SOO much better. I had to have the IV until late afternoon that day to get my last dose of the antibiotics, but other than that, I felt pretty good. The headache was gone, and the pain in my "bottom" was completely bearable. The only outstanding issue was that my BP was still high unless I was laying on my left side. That continued until my discharge, and I was put on BP medication for a week and a half to help it regulate as I recovered.

All in all, it was a long and not uncomplicated labor. It definitely did not turn out the way I expected, and I was a bit disappointed in the experience. But Clara was worth every second of it, and I already can see doing it again in the not too distant future! The good news is that there's no guarantee (or even increased likelihood) that the next time around will be anything like this time.

Clara Louise arrived at 9:10 PM on Wednesday, July 12th after a long induction and labor (beginning 12 midnight 7/11). She is Mackenzie's first child.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lakota's Birth by Beth

My second pregnancy was a planned homebirth. A few days before my 42 week check-up, my midwife called and suggested that I take Castor Oil. I had 12 hours of mild contractions, but then they just stopped.

At my 42 week check-up, I was completely astonished when they urged me to go to the hospital. I was heartbroken. I knew the dates were off by at least 5 days and the baby was very active. I did everything possible to get labor going--more castor oil, sex, evening primrose oil, walked for miles, pumped, prayed, begged and pleaded for the labor to begin. I lost my mucous plug but was not in active labor.

Feeling I had no other choice, I drove 90 minutes south to the hospital where my midwife worked as an RN. Upon arrival (7pm) I was 3-4 cm dilated. An OB stripped my membranes and broke my water. Thankfully, being Saturday evening, the hospital was quiet and almost empty. I walked laps, used the breast pump, and waited. By 3AM there still were no regular contractions. The nurse said that if I wasn't in labor, pitocin would be started in the morning. So, I took the Ambien she offered and tried to get some sleep.

Around 8 AM, the OB returned and I knew labor was beginning. He still wanted me to have pitocin, so the IV went in. I barely remember the 2 hours on pitocin--I just kept waiting for them to get the IV out so I could get in the shower. Finally, satisfied that I was in active labor, they stopped the pitocin.

I stayed in the shower for most of the labor. With the heat and pressure of the water, I found the contractions manageable. When I got out, I used a birth ball and would yell to my husband "Front!" or "Back!" for counter-pressure.

Around 12:30pm I felt the urge to push. I know sometimes women are told to blow through the first urges, but for me, it is totally involuntary. My body just pushes. There was a flurry of activity as I climbed up on the bed. Lights dropped from the ceiling. Nurses flooded the room. I could still see my 4 year old daughter in the corner watching me. The sensations were so intense and happening so fast, I screamed. The doctor came in and told me not to scream. And just then, my son emerged. My daughter yelled, "Mama, you did it!" And, there was silence, as the hospital viewed my 42 + 6 days baby...Covered in vernix. No peeling skin. He looked up at me, wearily.

Lakota's birth is bittersweet. I was wounded by the experience leading up to his birth--I felt deeply disappointed that the midwives I chose did not believe in me enough to let him come in his own time. But, he was born with his sister present. Without pain medication. Without an episiotomy. And, as close as possible to our own terms.

Lakota was born at 12:43pm on October 1, 2006 at 7lbs, 12 oz. He is Beth's second child. She continues her Postpartum Doula Practice & Breastfeeding Counseling in NJ.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Braylon's Birth by Lindsay

I went in to labor on August 31st. I was having contractions and decided to go to the hospital at about 8 p.m. Once I got there, they checked me and I was at 4 cm. They checked me again about an hour later, still 4 cm. So they asked me to walk around the hospital for about 2 hours, which I did. They checked me again shortly after 11p.m. with only a little change. Because there was so little change, and my water still had not broken, they gave me an Ambien and sent me home, as the hospital was full and there were no nurses on staff (this is one of two major hospitals.... not really sure why there were no nurses on staff!).

So, I went home to sleep until I was "further along." I woke periodically through the night and was up at 6 a.m. At about 6:30, I was having to stop what I was doing to get through the contractions. Took a shower and got to the hospital at about 8 a.m. At this point I was having serious back labor that I couldn't get away from. So I asked for pain relief so that I could enjoy the labor. Well, the way this hospital works, you first have to go to a room so that they may determine if you are in fact in labor, and they monitor the baby at that time as well. Then they send you to the delivery room if they feel you are in labor and ready (when I was in there for problems with pre term labor back in June, there was one woman claiming to be ready to deliver who was not even pregnant, and one who was in labor, who had no idea she was pregnant!) The only way I could get some relief from the back labor was to get on all fours which messed up the fetal monitor reading. I was also 6 cm at this point. I kind of lost track of time at that point, but by the time they got me to delivery, I was 8 cm. I was in so much pain, and again I asked, no, more like demanded, an epidural. Then I remembered someone saying at one of the Dar a Luz meetings that some times it helps to open your mouth and let out a moan. So I opened my mouth and screamed. It was the only way I felt somewhat better. I screamed through each contraction. At some point I was told I had to remain on my left side and I could not move, as the baby was in stress. My doctor (who is a wonderful man that has been doing this for 25+ years) came in and decided to break my water, turned around and told the anesthesiologist who was just now arriving that I wasn't going to need him. About that time, I stopped screaming and told them I need to push, which I was also instructed not to do. Finally I was allowed to push and 16 minutes from the point of my water breaking, at 9:51 a.m. Braylon Truitt came into this world.

Now, I feel like I need to explain why I was told not to move from my left side and not to push until the doctor was ready. When I was in the first room of labor and delivery, they missed that the baby was in stress because I kept getting on all fours which messed up the readings. Once they got me to delivery, they caught this and monitored the baby. I was not allowed an epidural until they had so many minutes of an accurate reading, which is why it took forever to get the anesthesiologist to my room and why I was not to move from my left side. As it turns out, the cord was loosely caught around the baby's neck - which is why I was not to push until the doctor was ready.... Kind of scary, but all was fine in the end. I was really amazed at the relief from the contractions once I was able to push!

Braylon Truitt was born at 9:51 am on September 1st. Lindsay says she felt incredibly empowered by his birth.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Zoe's Birth by Elizabeth

Some women glow during pregnancy; I glowered and complained. In the first trimester, I vomited. In the second trimester, I vomited. In the third trimester, I had horrible heartburn, aching knees and feet and a teeny-tiny bladder. My doctor wanted to induce labor on my due date, but miserable as I was, I wanted my baby girl to come on her own time. The doctor agreed to let my pregnancy take it's own course, and I continued to say completely rational things like, "Induction wouldn't have worked anyway. They're going to have to take this baby by C-Section because she's never coming out." To his credit, my husband managed to keep a straight face most of the time, as did my mother and my best friend.

To Zoë's credit, she came right on time. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. on April 17th -- her due date -- and thought I had wet the bed. Feeling irritated, I waddled into the bathroom and discovered that my pants were dry but I was bleeding. Not just a little mucus-plug blood, but more like what I would expect toward the very end of a period. I thought, "I made it all the way to my due date, and now I'm losing this baby! Something is so, so wrong." But I tried to stay calm, thinking they could surely save her at the hospital if I could just get my husband to wake up and call the doctor. Even then I was still convinced I'd have that dreaded C-Section. After a couple minutes of my shouting his name, my husband came to and we got in touch with the doctor. She assured me that a little bit of blood was a normal beginning to labor and said it was time to head for the hospital.

Once I'd been examined and told again that the blood I saw was normal and that the amniotic fluid itself was clear, I began to relax. Because we were so tired and our adrenaline had been so high, time passed in a funny way. An hour passed in just a few minutes, and I never felt agitated about how long it took to get a birthing room or for labor to really get swinging. However, my doctor wanted me on Pitocin to speed things along. I knew I could refuse her suggestion, but I wanted to cooperate and I wanted to see that healthy little girl for the first time. So I was immediately on an IV, but they gave me a portable one so I could walk around the room. Every once in a while (again I have no sense of how long these intervals were) a nurse would come in and up the amount of Pitocin I was getting.

At some point, the pain of those augmented contractions became much more intense. I was handling it okay, but when the nurse asked how much pain I was in on a scale of 1 to 10, I said 7. Pre-labor, I'd been determined to get through on my own pain tolerance and grit, but I was tired and agreed to taking something laced with Phenergan. The nurse claimed the only side-effect to Phenergan was feeling sleepy. My husband and I were both exhausted already, so we figured a little more sleepiness couldn't make that much difference.


I ended up clinging to my husband, whimpering and shaking during contractions and then falling asleep as soon as they were over. A minute later, the next one would jolt me awake. I broke down and asked for an epidural, and that sucker worked like a charm.

For all the pain and suffering my husband remembers, in my mind that lasted about twenty minutes tops. The part of labor that stands out in my mind was laying down to sleep in a totally comfortable and blissful state thanks to the epidural. Once in a while, the new nurse would come in and wake me while she checked heart rates etc. Then I would drift back to sleep. Around 4:30 p.m. they turned my epidural off and by 5:00 p.m. I was pushing, but not really feeling any pain. Just little twinges. I could see Zoë's head in the mirror they brought into the room for me, and then the doctor was there, asking me to stop pushing, telling me that my laughter (we had a funny nurse) was pushing the baby out without any effort from me. Then they laid my baby girl on my belly and she said, "ahhh."

That was it. I was an addict. I would go through labor and delivery every day of my life to feel that intense, complete joy. I couldn't stop smiling, I loved everyone in the room, I loved my husband, I loved the doctor, I loved the nurses, but most of all I loved that baby. My baby. My baby who made forty weeks of misery worth every second I had suffered.

It wasn't the labor I had expected or wanted, but in the end, it was the best day of my life. I don't expect to have one that equals it until I get pregnant and deliver again.

Zoë Virginia was born on April 17th, 2007 at 5:27 p.m. At 8 pounds 5 ounces and 20.5 inches, she truly was the best little package Elizabeth ever delivered. She was Elizabeth's first birth.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Liam's Birth by Robyn

I woke up at 5:30 am feeling "wet". After two trips down the stairs to the bathroom, I determined my water might be breaking and woke my husband. We paged the midwife. It was three weeks and a day before my estimated due date. This is the beginning of my birth story.

I realized I was having contractions on the way to the hospital and remember little of the twenty minute drive, other than insisting my husband call someone just to let them know what was happening. My midwife had recommended we go to the hospital to get checked out due to the early timing of things and I wanted my support system to have some support as well. He called his parents. At this point, I was still uncertain that my baby was on the way. I was more worried that I would be sent home on "bed rest" and resting had been one of the more difficult demands of my pregnancy, until the last few days. What started as nausea and fatigue on Wednesday evening had developed into increasingly intense pain in my ribs by Thursday. This pain, relieved only by the less than eco-conscious number of baths I took in a three day period, was thought to be the discomfort of my baby's position in the last weeks of pregnancy. I refused to believe it was more than that. The contractions that I thought had started Sunday morning were a welcome shift in my body's discomfort.

Our parking garage ticket stamped 6:31 am announced our arrival at the hospital where we had chosen to give birth. Not wanting to feel like a "patient", I opted to walk through the main entrance and take the elevators to the floor of the birthing center instead of being wheeled in from the emergency room- a tip I remembered from our hospital tour. Movement felt good to me, working with the natural waves and surges rippling across my belly. I walked down the long hallway through the doors of the birth center, stopping every few steps to let my body rest when it needed. I was directed to triage where the plan was to test the fluid I was leaking to see if it was amniotic fluid and confirm that my labor had begun. My husband arrived minutes later from the parking garage, just in time for the nurse to examine me. It was then my water broke and, in her words, my cervix "melted". I was five centimeters dilated, April 30th would be our baby's birthday.

As we walked to our birthing room, we confirmed the names we had chosen for a boy or girl. My contractions were stronger and quicker paced and I was anxious to get in the water where I had found comfort for the past several days. I was wearing a sleep shirt I had brought from home and was comfortable rocking my hips back and forth while waiting for the birthing tub to fill. By now, I wasn't able to talk much and I remember it being very quiet in the room, just the sound of the water filling the tub. Upon confirming my labor, the nurse paged my midwife and she arrived in time to help me into the tub where the warm water enveloped me like a blanket, nurturing the process of birth. My contractions continued to intensify in nature, but were much more manageable in the water. I tried different positions, but found that relaxing back into the water's weight was most effective. My husband held my hand, rubbed my back, his presence a welcome comfort along with the water. After about an hour, I started feeling the urge to push. For some reason, it just didn't feel comfortable to push in the water, so I got out and onto the bed.

After about thirty minutes of pushing (and one interruption by my husband's parents to bring him coffee!) my baby's little head emerged. I now joke that the pushing phase is the actual labor in birth- it was much harder than the contractions, especially knowing I still had the rest of the body to go! A couple more pushes and my husband and I became parents to a gorgeous baby boy. It was 8:51am. The weight of my son in my arms was unlike anything I have ever felt. He looked exactly like I thought he would.

Shortly after birth, I tried to sit up and passed out. Believing I was only dehydrated from the stress of such an intense, quick labor I was given IV fluids. However, labwork and an elevated blood pressure reading quickly indicated I had developed an advanced form of pre-eclampsia called HELLP Syndrome, explaining my malaise over the previous few days. Over the next four days, I was on the bed rest I feared and was given more IV fluids/drugs and received two units of blood. Apparently, I was seriously ill but you couldn't have convinced me of that. I was on a birth high and convinced things happen for a reason, took the opportunity to lie in bed and nurse my son. We were released on the Wednesday evening following Liam's birth on Sunday morning. In spite of the complications, I have complete faith that my body did what it needed to preserve the health of me and my son and the natural process of birth. I was also blessed to have amazing supports in my husband, midwife and labor nurse.

Liam Christopher was born at 8:51 on April 3oth,2006 and weighed 6lbs, 15oz. He is Robyn's first child.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Amaya's Birth by Jeanna

At 1:30 a.m. on November 2nd, just two days before my due date, I woke up with very mild contractions. I sent a message to my boyfriend who was at work, to let him know that I might be in labor. By the time I went to the bathroom, I realized it was real. There was no way I could go back to sleep and they were coming very regularly. The contractions were still mild and I figured I was in for a long day.

Two hours flew by, and my boyfriend got home around 3:30am. He had just worked ten hours, so he laid down for a quick nap. I rested too - as much as I could - until about 5:00 a.m. when I decided it was time to call my doula. As expected at five a.m., there was no answer. I decided to wait awhile because my contractions weren’t too intense yet.

Finally, at 7:00 a.m., I decided that I should call the birth center and let them know I was in labor. After that, I called my doula again and she answered. Since I was still talking through my contractions, she suggested that I ask a midwife friend to come over and check my progress. I knew I wanted to stay at home as long as possible during my labor, so I agreed. She arrived quickly and told me I was just 2 cm dilated. This just reiterated the fact that it was gonna be a long day!

My doula dropped her boys off and arrived at my house just before 9 a.m. She rubbed my feet, we talked, and I called family. Since I was having a hard time getting comfortable and had a lot of back pain, she called a doula friend to ask if we could borrow her birth ball. Then she suggested that I take a warm shower while waiting. I spent about thirty minutes with the shower right on my lower back. Everyone made me some peanut butter toast which I thought I wanted, so I decided to get out. I spent a lot of time resting on the toilet - getting out of the shower was way harder than getting in!

When I came out of the bathroom, I didn’t want my toast anymore. I sat on the couch, then moved to the floor, then on the birth ball, and then back to the couch in a matter of minutes. I told them I wasn’t going to be able to do it without drugs. It was only 10:45 in the morning and it hurt SO much. My doula kept encouraging me and told me how great I was doing. Then I got the urge to push! This shocked all of us. When we checked my cervix, it was definitely time to go!

I rode in my doula's van with her other friend by my side. My boyfriend followed with my car. It was incredibly difficult to climb into the van and the hospital seemed so far away. I reminded them that I really wanted to push, and they said I could just a little bit to relieve the pain of the contraction. As soon as I did, I felt a big POP. “Something happened… my water just broke!” I shouted. My doula told me to reach down and touch the baby’s head. I did, and I felt her! I thought I was going to have my baby right there, but we quickly arrived at the hospital.

When we got there, they told us what room to go into and my doula gestured that I was ready now. They followed us into the room and I climbed right up on the bed before they could even lay blankets down.

“Where is my boyfriend?!” I asked. Mind you, he had no idea my water had broken on the way, so he was taking his time parking and calling people. Someone found him and ran him to the room, so I started pushing right away.

At 11:14 a.m., Amaya was born. I pulled her up onto my stomach and just looked at her with total awe and disbelief. I finally got to see the little girl who had been growing inside of me for so long. As they cleaned everything up, I nursed her for the first time. I had no idea how much I would love breast-feeding. There’s nothing better than knowing your body, which so perfectly provided for nine months, can continue to perfectly provide everything to keep this tiny being alive and healthy outside the womb.

I had no idea Amaya’s birth would go so quickly, but I’m thankful that it did! There is nothing that I would change about the entire experience. It was perfect. I’m so happy that I did it and I can’t wait to do it again!

Amaya Lillian was born at 11:14 am on November 2, 2005. She was Jeanna's first child. Jeanna is expecting another baby in May of 2008.

Simon's Birth by Bethany

Finding Strength at a Homebirth:

For me, this birth began Wednesday morning at my last scheduled appointment with my midwife before my due date. It was a normal visit, everything was fine, and she mentioned towards the end that she could check me vaginally if I wanted. After thinking it over, I decided I did want to know so I could plan a bit better. She checked and looked very surprised that I was 50-75% effaced and “a stretchy 4 centimeters”. She basically said she'd wait to hear from me soon! I had a few sporadic contractions that afternoon but nothing stronger than a Braxton-Hicks until I nursed my toddler son to sleep around 3. That brought on some pretty strong contractions until I took a hot shower to relieve them. Then not much happened until after dinner when I nursed him to sleep around 10 that night. Once again, the nursing brought on strong contractions but this time they didn't stop. As soon as they started, they were about a minute long and 3-5 minutes apart and required all my concentration. I called the midwife and after she heard me go through one contraction on the phone, she left right away to come over and called her apprentice to come, too.

I labored at first by walking around, pacing, really, and leaning on the dresser or my husband during a contraction. Then I labored kneeling on the seat of our big sofa chair. That felt really good, but every contraction was hard and there wasn't much time between them. After the midwife had been there an hour or so, she checked me again...7 cm! I thought for sure this labor would be a lot shorter than my first labor was at 32 hours.

The next few hours I mostly labored in the bathroom. I was constantly on the toilet as my body cleared everything out, but during contractions I liked to pull really hard on the towel hanging from the towel rack and sway back and forth. I kind of felt like pushing at that time, but then it hurt to push. The midwife suggested laying down and trying to relax a bit. We went to the bedroom for a while, but I couldn't relax laying down, so it was back to the bathroom. The midwife checked me and the baby still hadn't dropped. I could tell this bothered her a bit, but I didn't have time to worry about it in between contractions. Eventually, the labor came to a kind of low point.

Throughout the first few hours, everyone had been very supportive and encouraging—rubbing my feet and shoulders, applying pressure to my lower back, telling me what a good job I was doing. But now it was (besides me) totally quiet. Everyone was sitting in the bathroom not saying anything or touching me at all. It was a horrible feeling! I felt like I was doing something wrong. The midwife asked me, “What's going on here? Why hasn't this baby dropped yet?” I felt accused, but didn't know what to do differently. Here is where things get a bit foggy. I was still wanting to push but not really enjoying it. The midwife suggested that we go back to the bedroom and just do some real pushes instead of the half-hearted ones I had been doing.

Back to the bedroom and in a semi-upright position on the bed, I began to really push. In just a short time, my water burst all over the midwife. We're talking a high pressure fountain of amniotic fluid. This was no gentle trickle! At that moment, I could feel the unrelenting pressure of my baby's head. He was on his way down and there was nothing I could do about it but help him out by bearing down. I pushed and pushed. Time ceased. Only he and I existed, engaged in the intimate dance of birth. And then he was born. I don't remember the crowning or the head coming out. Only that final sensation of his body coming from mine, into the world. A boy.

That moment following the birth of your baby is difficult to describe. Relief is followed quickly by joy. Then your mind can finally take in the enormity of the task you've just completed. Amazement and a sense of accomplishment hover around you as you fall in love with your child. Then the tasks of life begin again—breastfeeding, calling your family, eating. But even as you move away from the birth itself, those strong and intense emotions which overcame you continue to color your life for years. The joy, the love, the amazement—they all become a part of you just as the baby becomes a part of your family and your life. This birth taught me the power of my body and the strength I had inside myself. I birthed powerfully and I can live more fully now with the knowledge that I am capable of powerful and amazing actions.

Simon David was born on March 3rd, 2005. He was Bethany's second baby and largest to date at 9 lb. 15 oz. Bethany currently helps other families have amazing births through her doula service. She can be reached at