Rachel and Evan

Prologue:
Some background, my first was an attempted homebirth, but ended up with a hospital transfer because she was asynclitic and posterior and I just couldn’t get her out. She was a c-section, 8lbs, 14oz, after around 50 hours of labor. Next baby was a successful homebirth. He had shoulder dystocia, and was born completely unresponsive and required resuscitation. He perked up after a minute or so, and then was completely fine, no hospital transfer needed. He was 10lbs 2oz.

Here’s Evan’s Birth Story:
A little before midnight Tuesday night I started having “interesting” contractions, but I wasn’t getting too excited since every night for the last 2 weeks I’d have a handful and then they’d go away. But these were stronger and took a little more focus so it did make me wonder. I decided to start timing them. 14 minutes.. 4 minutes.. 2.5 minutes?! SERIOUSLY?! I called my midwife at 1 am to tell her what was going on, and she said to call back with an update in half an hour. We called back at 1:30 to let her know that these contractions are *not kidding*, this definitely feels more like active labor than early labor. I skipped over early labor altogether (or maybe early labor was every night for the last 2 weeks, on the layaway plan). I called my doula and my mom and told them it was time to come over!

One thing that was cool is on some contractions, I swear I could feel my cervix opening. By the time my doula arrived, probably within a half hour, I was already hitting transition. I spent some time draped over the birth ball and my doula did some counterpressure in my back. The midwife and her team (assistant and apprentice) arrived just a few minutes later and started boiling some water for the tub. We only got a few inches in before the hot water ran out. I could tell I was in transition because I stayed “checked out” even between contractions. I looked up at one point and said, “hey, I think this is transition already..” and they were like, “yeah, I’d say so!” I started pushing a teeny bit at the end of contractions. Not so much with an urge, but because it felt good so I went with it. They got the pool filled and warm so I moved in there. The combination of the water and having my doula and husband switch off pressing on my low back felt really good, and I pushed a bit but the urge wasn’t super strong yet.

My midwife offered to check me, and I was curious if I had a bit of a lip or something holding me back, so I accepted. I didn’t even need to get out of the water. As suspected, there was a thin rim of cervix holding his head back – she described it like a rubber band.

After a bit I wasn’t feeling like I was very effective in the water and decided to get into bed for a while. The rim was so stubborn! My midwife kept holding it back so I could push the head past it, but then it would just slide right over. So frustrating. The water bag was bulging in front of the head. We decided to break it since I make crazy strong bags anyway, and figured that would help the head drop down a little more. That definitely helped, and of course, made the pushing urge that much stronger. I kept switching around locations and positions for pushing, toilet, back in the water, kneeling leaning on the birth ball, and then settled onto my back in bed. I was getting pretty mad while pushing, since it felt like I was making no progress!

After a while, I could see the head in the mirror and just kept thinking to myself, okay…almost done, almost done! But what really surprised me was just a contraction or two later the head was fully crowning, and just a few more contractions got the head all the way out. Last time, I spent a good half hour trying to get the baby’s head from crowning to out, and this one just popped right out. I was kind of on edge at that point, wondering if the shoulders would be stuck again. But then I heard, “okay, shoulders restituting..” and I was thinking, oh, cool! Since that meant no dystocia. But then she starts really messing around down there while telling me to push really hard, and I heard the..assistant? apprentice? ..one of the two asking if she needed to do suprapubic (a maneuver for resolving shoulder dystocia) and I thought, oh crap, here we go again! But then the shoulders came out and the baby was brought right to my chest. Eyes open, alert, making noises right away and crying a few seconds later.

After a minute I took a peek and found out we had a boy! I found out he had an arm up and behind his head so his elbow was sticking out funny. My midwife had to reach in and sweep it to the front and out and then he came out no problem. He nursed within 20 minutes, and we waited for the placenta before cutting the cord. After some more snuggles we did the newborn exam. 11 lbs even, 23 inches long, 15 inch head! And I have to mention, since most assume otherwise given his size, no tearing! He was born at 5:48am so start to finish, labor was only about 6 hours.

November 16, 2011 at 4:48 am Leave a comment

Erin and Hazel (with wonderful C-Section tips!)

Hazel June was born at 38.5 weeks on Tuesday, September 27, via c-section. She weighed in at 6 lbs 4 oz and was 19 inches long. A c-section was required because she was breeched and my amniotic fluid was low.

Hazel is doing amazingly well with her adoptive family, and her 14 month old sister Olive has really taken to her. Olive already tries to comfort Hazel when she cries and – according to her parents – is trying to say Hazel’s name. Hazel is very healthy and immediately took to breastfeeding. I’m fortunate that I get to see Hazel every few days since I’m pumping breast milk for her, and I know she and I will always have a very special bond.

On the recovery front, at 10 days after the c-section I still look about 24 weeks pregnant, but I feel really good. At 5 days after my c-section, I was still on narcotics day and night and had only lost 6 lbs. The weight really bummed me out considering a 6 lb baby plus all of the supporting fluids had come out of me. In the 5 days after that I was able to get off of the narcotics altogether, and I dropped 8 more pounds (likely water, inflammation, and constipation related), settling in at 8 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight.

I miss our class and the amazing energy we shared each week, I thank everyone for their concern and well wishes, and I wish you all the best of luck! While the c-section wasn’t what I had hoped for, I’d like to share some tips and things I learned the hard way in case it helps others.

What I learned in the OR:

1. There are a lot of people in the OR, and once they start, it’s a whirlwind. They don’t tell you when they cut into you, and then there are many people – in my case 8 – moving around behind the drape that they put up in front of you who are quickly talking in very abrupt tones and words. Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean anything is wrong. It’s just how things work in the OR.
2. Remember to breathe. Once they are ready to start taking the baby and placenta out, they suddenly tell you that there is going to be a lot of immediate pressure on your stomach. They aren’t lying. This is the most uncomfortable and indescribable feeling I’ve ever had in my life. Typically your nerves kick in and you feel pain before you would feel something like this, but since you are numbed up, all you feel is this weird pressure that you’ve never felt before. Luckily, my friend who was with me in the ER kept reminding me to breathe, because I was unknowingly holding my breath during this time.
3.Distractions are good – Don’t hesitate to ask the person who is coaching you to distract you. If you’re paying attention to what the nurses and doctors are saying, you might get nervous or upset. Being distracted won’t keep you from being able to see your baby coming out. The doctors will let you know when it’s time and will ask you if you want to see the “birth”. They also put the baby to the side of you several feet away once she/he is out, so you’ll be able to see her/him moving and being cleaned up, which is the best distraction of all.

What I learned after the c-section:

1. Deep Squatting is your friend – I almost started bawling in the hospital bathroom when my underwear dropped to my ankles and my gown fell to the floor in one fell swoop. I felt very vulnerable. How could I possibly pick those up on my own without having to call someone to help me? And then I remembered the squats Anna taught us in class when we didn’t have abs to help us. I gingerly tried them, and – voila – it worked! This is also the best way to get on and off of the toilet or anywhere else you sit down. A very wide legged squat is the best position to help you go to the bathroom (with your underwear around your ankles so it’s not putting pressure on your legs pulling them together, which then puts pressure on your core and your abdomen). While it didn’t seem as necessary during the pregnancy, I found walking my hands up or down my body like Anna showed us was really helpful as I moved in and out of a squatting position.
2. Modified Tree/Piriformis stretch pose with a Half Squat is also your friend. This is similar to the piriformis stretch we do at the wall in class with Anna and is the best way to get your socks (or non-slip on shoes) on and off, to get yourself in and out of the shower, and to wash (or shave) your legs and feet. Make sure there is something nearby to hold onto or lean on in case you need it.
3. Modified Downward Dog “on the counter” combined with Cat / Cow is your friend. According to the doctor and nurses, Day 2 is the toughest pain day. They were right. I woke up at 2 a.m. that night and couldn’t sleep due to the pain, despite being on narcotics. I walked up and down the hall for about 3 hours, with 5 to 20 minute breaks leaning over doing a pseudo-downward dog with my arms or hands on the counter (not the wall) combined with a lot of cat/cow in this position. It relieved the pain in both my abdomen and my back, and I still do this very frequently during recovery at home to relieve my pain and loosen my back up. Anna also recommended Apanasana once the stitches are out/dissolved, but at 10 days after the c-section I’m not able to try that yet.
4. Getting out of bed is not impossible – The nurses will tell you how to get in and out of bed, but likely the first few times will be pretty miserable. It’s ok to cry, yelp, plead that you can’t do it, and feel fearful of it. At the hospital, make sure the back of the bed is as vertical as you can handle for this, as that allows the bed to do quite a bit of the work for you. At home, I propped pillows behind me when I slept that helped me with this. I would recommend practicing what Anna shows us at the end class on how to get down to the mat and then get back up. This will be your lifesaver for getting in and out of bed after the c-section. I would also recommend sleeping in a low bed for a week or more after the c-section, making sure there are solid objects close to the headboard that you can grip onto to help you push yourself to a seated position with your legs hanging over the side of the bed.
5. Don’t be afraid of the catheter or the staples – When they put the catheter in, I felt only a small amount of pressure because I was already drugged up for the surgery. However, I was very afraid of the catheter being removed due to the large amount of fluid I kept seeing them dump from my body during the first 24 hours after the surgery. Given how hard it was to get out of bed, I couldn’t imagine having to get out of bed that often to go to the bathroom. Don’t worry. Since they pump you up with a lot of fluids that first day (and if you were retaining water during the pregnancy), that’s why so much fluid leaves your body during the first 24 hours. Luckily, after that point – at least in my case – it wasn’t painful to have the catheter removed, and the number of bathroom trips wasn’t exorbitant. And getting the staples out before I was released from the hospital was completely painless.
6. Constipation – When a “doughy belly” is something you covet. Half the battle I faced after the c-section was soreness, healing, and inflammation. The other half was a week of painful constipation and bloating caused by the surgery, having given birth, and the narcotics. The nurses will tell you to take Miralax once a day when you leave the hospital, but I had to switch to twice a day for several days to get anything moving. I can’t tell you how much better I felt once my system started moving again and I had a “doughy belly”. You’ll also be taking stool softeners, and there is a prune/raisin/fig paste that they might give you a recipe for that seemed to help as well. I understand that constipation is common for both natural and c-section births, and I’m unclear why they didn’t start me on the Miralax at the hospital.
7. Colostrum collection – Tell the nurses to use a soft flexible tip. If the nurse has you pump colostrum at the hospital to save for the baby, make sure they put a soft bendy tip on the syringe they use to extract the colostrum from the pumping cones that are placed on your breasts. I had 4 different nurses who tried to collect the colostrum using a harder flexible tip on the syringe and kept stabbing my nipple. My nurse on my last day was the only one who used a soft tip.

Now to the good parts:

1. Despite some of my experiences above, the nurses do know their stuff. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help or advice, or to ask them to watch your baby for you if she/he is crying and won’t let you sleep. They’re happy to help and are great at comforting babies.
2. Your friends want to help, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. They really mean it when they say it feels good to help out! Have someone set up a meal train for you for food delivery and then you won’t have to worry about cooking: http://www.mealtrain.com
3. No more heartburn. Enough said.
4. Your wardrobe may expand significantly, as many of your early pregnancy clothes might fit now.
5. You can sleep on your back again, though you might not be able to sleep on your side for a while so that’s an adjustment.
6. 1 week out you feel worlds better, and I’m told 2 weeks out is the next major milestone.
7. And of course the best part of all – your baby!

September 27, 2011 at 1:58 am Leave a comment

Amanda and Ryan

Tuesday August 30th, the day before our due date my friend Vanessa invited us to a Mariner game. I was joking with her that we would be in labor on the way home from the game that night. We arrived home and got into bed. Ryan was feeling my belly and Benjamin’s kicks when I felt a pop. Right after that at 11:30 PM my water broke in our bed.

Ryan quickly got some towels and I made my way to the bathroom – it was definitely a gush. Adrenaline kicked in and I changed the sheets on the bed while Ryan took a shower. I called the midwives and texted my friends and family and told them to go to bed, we would let them know when we were on our way to the hospital.

My contractions were about 8 minutes apart at the beginning and lasted 40 seconds. I liked hugging pillows and standing on the edge of the bed for these. I was able to keep laying on my side in bed when I wasn’t having a contraction and I really liked the hot pad on my back because I would have chills after each contraction.

At 3 AM I ate an english muffin because my friend Kim said I should eat something if I could and Ryan went to install the car seat in the car and pull a sleeping bag out of the loft in the garage. By 4 AM my contractions were 6 minutes apart and they were lasting 2 minutes. I said to Ryan, “maybe we need to talk about this natural birth. Maybe I want narcotics but I don’t want an epidural.” Ryan said, “Are you sure?” and I said, “no.” Ryan reassured me by saying “I don’t think the contractions are going to get more painful, they are just going to come more often.” This made sense to me and we continued to labor at home.

I really liked the slide breathing – Ryan would say 3 breaths and I would take a deep breadth and let it out in 3 breaths. This gives you something to think about besides the pain. I spent this time in the slow dance position and it was difficult to rest. At 5 AM I liked to sit on the edge of our high-backed office chair with my feet up on the bed 3 feet apart and a cold wash cloth on my forehead. I told Ryan I might vomit so he brought me the garbage can and I did vomit around this time. At 6 AM I was still having my 2-minute-long contractions every 6 minutes but in between I was having a 40 second contraction and I vomited again – this time only water. I could not get comfortable in any position so we called the midwife back at 6:30 and told her we were leaving for the hospital.

We are only 5 minutes from the hospital and I had 2 contractions in the car. The agony was waiting the 5 minutes for a nurse to come pick us up at reception. I was laboring in the lobby in the slow dance position in front of another pregnant woman who was not in labor (poor girl was probably scared). The nurse (Nancy) walked us straight to our room and I told her I was feeling a lot of pressure on my tail bone. Our midwife Sharon showed up a few minutes later. I changed into my nightgown that I brought for labor and Sharon checked my cervix.

Sharon told me I could push anytime. “What?” I said. This is when I got really scared. I thought that I would have to labor at the hospital a little more. The pushing part was what scared me the most. I told Nancy and Sharon that I didn’t want to feel rushed into pushing so they told me just do a small push to practice.

I was on my back with Nancy holding one of my legs and Ryan holding the other. Sharon was in the middle stretching my perineum and putting hot compresses on the area. She was showing me with her hands how much of Ben’s head she was seeing when I pushed and telling me that he has brown hair. You definitely feel and urge to push during the contractions and they were telling me pushing helps so you don’t feel the contraction which is true.

When the head was out I just kept pushing (and screaming involuntarily) and after 2 hours of pushing, Benjamin Thomas was born at 8:51 AM. Sharon put the baby on my chest while she prepared the cord for Ryan to cut. I delivered the placenta shortly after and Sharon started on my stitches. The stitches didn’t hurt – the shot to numb the area hurt.

They gave me a shot of Petocin in the thigh to help contract my uterus and slow the bleeding. Benjamin was 8 lbs 2 oz, 19.5 inches long, and his head was 14 inches around (that’s right ladies I pushed that out with no drugs).

August 31, 2011 at 8:51 am Leave a comment

Krista and Hanna

My husband and I welcomed our baby girl, Hanna Linnéa on 8-9-11, one day ahead of her due date. We had a regular check-up with our OB that morning and I had been experiencing mild contractions, about 15-20 minutes apart since 5AM. At our appointment, we had our OB ¨sweep the membranes’ as I was 2 cm dilated. We then checked the baby’s fluids and found she was running low, at 5 cm, so decided to go in for an induction and checked into labor and delivery within the half hour. Well, it didn’t take much to get us going as I quickly moved to 4 cm after the sweep and was in full labor by 10:30AM, having contractions 3 minutes apart.

We felt pretty strong about having a natural birth, so I was glad to avoid pitocin to speed up labor. The contractions were strong, but manageable early on so my husband had time to run back home to pick up our hospital bags. At around 12:30, we were measuring at 5cm, so they broke our waters to keep things going. Shortly after, the intensity picked up pretty quickly and it was time to get more mobile.

I took a quick bath, but decided that wasn’t delivering a lot of comfort so I moved onto squats and lunges. For the next 4 hours, I alternated between plie squats at the bed and single leg lunges at the window seat. I took small breaks on the bed, but found the pain much stronger when I was lying down. I think the combination of squats and lunge definitely helped speed up the opening and I was really thankful that I had practiced these regularly throughout my pregnancy. My husband and I didn’t rely on alternate breathing techniques, it was more comforting to just keep taking deep breaths and break each contraction into sets of either 15 squats or 15 lunges.

I wanted to keep the labor natural, but admit there were several times throughout those final 4 hours that I questioned whether my body was going to take much more. The adrenaline rush and fatigue made my muscles tremor and I was less and less able to relax in the 30-45 seconds between contractions. My husband was a huge source of comfort throughout though, massaging me and providing a lot of encouragement. I also reflected back on the birth stories I heard in this class for motivation to keep to our natural plan, and I’m extremely thankful for that.

Finally, after 4 hours of strong labor we reached 10 cm. and it was time to start pushing. I actually found this phase of labor to be least painful, and was able to get good rests between the contractions as the body relaxed a bit more. I squatted through the first 30 minutes of pushing, but then became too tired to keep the position once the baby’s head started to emerge. It took another 45 minutes to finish delivery but all pain was forgotten the moment Hanna entered our world.

I’m really glad that I took the time to practice yoga throughout my pregnancy and felt that this experience definitely helped me have the smooth, natural delivery that was important to my husband and I. I look forward to continuing my practice in baby yoga next month and would definitely return to this class for future pregnancies.

August 9, 2011 at 2:15 am Leave a comment

Danielle and Lainey

Lainey finally arrived on Thursday, July 7th at 8:58 pm. She was 8 lbs, 2 oz and 21 inches long. I’d been having contractions off and on every day since mid-June, so we were ready even though she wasn’t due until the 9th! My water started to leak on Tuesday around noon, and fully broke on Wednesday just before 5 am. Contractions were still pretty mild and only really were consistent if I was up walking around. We tried to walk (and squat and lunge!) as much as possible to see if we could get them to keep up and get stronger, but I was just getting really tired and frustrated. Not good! Went to the Puget Sounds Birth Center that night for our routine appointment and found out I was 3 cm dialated and 75% effaced. Ali and Sarah thought things would pick up that night and expected our call. I woke twice during the night with strong contractions, but they still weren’t consistent and I was able to go back to sleep. It was the best sleep I’d had in days!

The next morning, I went and did acupuncture above the birth center and took the birth center’s verbena/castor oil concoction. As soon as I finished the acupuncture (around 12:30), contractions started and seemed a bit stronger. After the gross juice stuff, contractions REALLY picked up (within 1 1/2 hours). I was suddenly in active labor and we were at the birth center at 4:30. I was only 4 1/2 cm dilated and fully effaced when we arrived. I was expecting to be in for a long haul to get the rest of the way. We labored walking around outside, on the bed, backwards on the toilet (AWESOME, I really did actually almost sleep in between, crazy!) and finally went into the tub for transition and birth. The whole thing was amazing and went so much faster than I thought it would. Greg was awesome, helping distract me with massage during each contraction and keeping me focused on breathing (and holding my puke bowl! I threw up every time the contractions felt like they were at a new level of strength, so about five times.) Long exhales (the back of the throat things that you make us do!) were the only thing that made the pain feel better and made me feel in control. I ended up pushing for just under an hour and she was born with the cord around her neck once and her shoulders once, too. She decided to take a gulp of water as she came up (Ali said she’s never seen that happen) and needed a couple breaths from Ali to get her going once she was born. They were so amazing and in control that I literally didn’t know they were stressed about her not breathing until well after the birth. I would TOTALLY recommend the tub even though she gulped, it was AMAZING for the pain and I think helping my tissues hold up 🙂 She really was fine in just a couple seconds.

I realize this was a long write up, but I thought it might be helpful to anyone else who has a long and frustrating early labor. I was really worried that we were going to end up having interventions because my water was broken/leaking for so long (40 hours from the break, longer if you count the high leak that started on Tuesday), but regularly checking my temperature and her steady vitals made us feel like we were doing the right thing. I would totally recommend Susie at Energetic Medicine (above the birth center) and the nasty verbena/castor oil drink that the birth center will give you (they don’t recommend just castor oil, too dehydrating apparently). I know that those two things made the difference in finally getting going.

Thanks again for everything Anna! It was such an amazing experience and I loved that I knew that my body was ready for it because of all of the work we did in your class. Natural childbirth is a totally doable thing, and the pain is manageable if you use your breath like you taught us!

Good luck to everyone else! I can’t wait for all of our babies to meet (hopefully!) at baby yoga!

July 7, 2011 at 8:58 pm Leave a comment

Laura and Charlotte

Charlotte was born on Wednesday May 12, 2011 at 10:10 a.m. It’s hard to tell the story of her birth without saying that we, my husband Trent and I, had hoped for a natural birth laboring at home as long as possible. Charlotte, apparently, had other ideas. At 41 weeks, an ultra sound showed low amniotic fluid levels that persisted and worsened over the course of three days despite my efforts to rest and hydrate. On Wednesday morning, the ultra sound confirmed that my fluid levels had slipped just below the “critical” level. Delivering the results, Sharon, the midwife, said what I already knew, “It’s time to have a baby.” Though an induction, complete with Petocin, IV, continuous monitoring and laboring at the hospital was not what we’d hoped for, I felt very confident it was the right decision. The good news was that I was already dilated 4 cm and 85% effaced. Sharon assured me this was a very good place to begin an induction and promised to help us maintain as much of our birth plan as possible.

We walked down to the Family Maternity Center at Evergreen and settled in to our birth suite. The nurse started the Pitocin drip at 1pm. Trent and I spent the afternoon resting, snacking, briskly walking the halls, lunging and doing down dog on a chair in the waiting room trying to get things moving along. Though contractions started within a few hours it was not until about 8pm that they became strong enough that I had to focus during each one. At that point the nurse said, as she wrote in my chart, “We’re going to call this labor.” I thought it was pretty funny that I’d been at the hospital for more that 8 hours and we’re just now calling it labor.

One of the side effects of Pitocin is that contractions have a tendency to “pile-up” meaning that they can come very close together very early in labor even when the contractions are not particularly intense. As a result, my contractions were coming about a minute to a minute and a half apart from the very start of labor. After a while, it became very tiring because I had little time to rest between contractions. Periodically, the nurse or midwife would turn down the Pitocin drip and the contractions would space out again, but as they built in intensity, the they piled-up once more. For the first four hours, I coped with the contractions by walking the halls and leaning over the counter or bed doing hip circles and vocalizing during contractions. Trent rubbed my back though I found I didn’t like to be touched during a contraction.

Around midnight, the contractions were much more intense and continued to come very close together. I began to feel fatigued. Sharon checked my cervix. It was only 5cm and I began to doubt, for the first time, that I would be able to cope with labor without an epidural (especially if every centimeter took four hours).

Sharon suggested that I try getting in the tub, but I was reluctant to try it. I had a strong urge to lean forward during contractions and felt that would be difficult in the tub. She suggested I try kneeling on the bed over a bean bag instead. I tried it and obtained some relief, but within about an hour the contractions were very intense coming every thirty seconds or so, followed by an occasional break of what felt like 3 or 4 minutes. While this might sound like a good thing, I quickly realized that every “break” was followed by a very intense contraction during which I vomited and peed on myself (TMI?). I couldn’t make it to the bathroom and found myself throwing up in some kind of container, peeing on the floor, apologizing to the nurse in between heaves and thinking I can’t believe I’m peeing in front of my husband. Trent, however, didn’t flinch; he just stood there with a hand on my back holding a container while I puked up the sandwich the nurses warned me about eating. I asked Trent what he thought about this later and he said, “That got real.”

Exhausted, I finally relented and tried the tub. The warm water provided a tremendous amount of relief for the next few hours as the contractions became very intense and came in rapid fire succession. Trent poured water over my belly and took orders while I barked “turn off the water, turn it back on, don’t talk to me, okay you can talk to me again.”

Around 2 am, I was exhausted and no longer coping with the contractions very well. I got out of the tub and Sharon checked my cervix again. I was afraid she’d tell me I hadn’t progressed and I’d become discouraged, but Sharon delivered the good news: 8 cms. I would have thought this news would give me the encouragement to push through, but it had the opposite effect. My immediate reaction was “Oh thank God. Now I can get an epidural.” I felt I could get the epidural at this point and (because we were so far along probably avoid most of the potential side effects I’d worried about. Trent and Sharon were supportive of my decision.

As Sharon and the nurse prepped me for the anesthesiologist, I entered the transition phase of labor. The contractions became extremely sharp and stronger than before. During each one, I doubled over in pain and my attempts at “vocalization” came out more like “owwwwch!” I was afraid they would tell me it was too late to get the epidural, but instead, the anesthesiologist simply said, “Once I start, I can’t stop so you have to hold still.” Afraid of what might happen if I didn’t, I sat on the bed braced against my husband, Sharon and the nurse through two contractions while the epidural was administered. Once it was in, the relief came within minutes and I remember saying, “this is the best thing that ever happened to me!”

Now happily oblivious to the contractions, Sharon checked my cervix again. I was at 9 cms. She broke my water, turned down the Pitocin and encouraged me to get some rest before pushing. She also informed me that the baby was turned slightly to the side, but would hopefully turn on her own as dilation completed. I asked Sharon, “If she doesn’t turn, can she be delivered vaginally in this position?” Sharon said, “I think she’ll turn.” I repeated, “but if she doesn’t?” Sharon replied, “I’m really confident she’s going to turn.” The message was clear and I was now stuck in bed unable to do anything to help Charlotte turn. I worried that I’d opted for pain relief at the expense of a vaginal birth, but tried to share in Sharon’s confidence. Labor slowed and I went to sleep. That was about 4 am.

I woke up around 7am. Sharon’s shift was over and Janice, another midwife, took her place. She checked my cervix and delivered the good news. My cervix was “complete” AND the baby had turned into an ideal face down position. It was time to start pushing. At my request, the anesthesiologist turned down the epidural. Though I still had some pain relief, I regained feeling and movement in my legs and could feel contractions to aide in pushing. I pushed lying on my side, alternating from side to side with help from Trent and the nurse holding my legs. After about an hour and forty-five minutes, I thought there is no way I’m ever going to get this baby out. I really wished I was able to squat or kneel to enlist the help of gravity, but even though I could feel my legs, there was no way I was going to be able hold myself up. So there I am, laying on the delivery table, actually thinking to myself, how can I get out of having to push this baby out? There must be some other way! Considering that an elective cesarean would have been a little drastic at that point, I grabbed Trent’s hand, regained my focus and pushed as hard as I could calling, “Come on Charlotte. Come out and join us.” About 15 minutes later, Charlotte crowned. The longest moment of my entire life was between crowning and waiting for the next contraction to push her out. It finally came and one push later, at 10:10 a.m., Charlotte literally popped out. Trent cut the umbilical cord. The nurses gave her a once over (because there had been some meconium in the amniotic fluid) and then finally handed Charlotte to me. Trent and I cuddled her and after a few attempts she began breast feeding. Trent and I have been totally smitten ever since.

May 12, 2011 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

May and Nicholas

My last yoga class was at 37 weeks because right around 38 weeks I started to get really uncomfortable. My back was continually hurting and it was painful to walk, sit, or move even (I ended up stopping work at 39 weeks). The midwife said this was due to the baby being very low (zero station) and facing forward. She told me to regularly do all the moves we do in yoga – child’s pose, pelvic tilt, hip circles, etc. – to try to get him to turn and hopefully he would then engage contractions. After about a week of this I was getting more uncomfortable, not less, and started accept the fact that I would be pregnant forever – but luckily I had been told at a few appointments that he would probably be a small baby. I was also getting a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions and felt like I was always looking at the clock and trying to see if there were regular. With Nate coming so quickly (2 hours) I wanted to make sure I made it to the hospital with plenty of time.

About 12:45 am Monday, I woke up with a contraction, which wasn’t uncommon since I seemed to get them each time I moved. I got up and did a bit of stretching and then had another one (4 minutes apart). By the third or fourth one I decided this was for real, woke my husband and called the midwife. My mom was staying the night so we were able to leave quickly for the hospital. In the car I noticed the contractions were slowing down (I only had two in the 7 minute drive there), but becoming more intense. I had two more really strong contractions at the hospital while walking to my room. The nurse gave me a gown to change into and a cup.

I went into the bathroom, took some of my clothes off, and had a contraction that told me the baby was coming any minute. I called for help, they moved me on the bed where my water broke and then they checked my cervix — I was ready to deliver. The midwife showed up just then and I told them I needed to push, to which they said just do what my body needs to do.

I did my best to slowly breathe down the baby, while also closing my eyes and saying how much it hurt (not my most poised moment, but at least this time I felt in control somewhat). I was continually reassured by the midwife and nurses that he was coming and it would be over quickly, which it luckily was. At 1:50am, just thirteen minutes after arriving at the hospital, and 1 hour after starting contractions, I naturally delivered my “small” baby – a 10 pound, 23 inch baby boy, Nicholas.

The birth was harder on Nicholas than it was on me. He didn’t have a chance to get the amniotic fluid out of his lungs and he was having a hard time regulating his breathing – his chest was contracting and he was showing signs of cardiac distress. He could also not be woken up nor would he eat. Because of his size they wanted to check glucose levels after each feeding, and after 16 hours of labored breathing and not eating he was moved to the NICU for closer monitoring (his size made him quite the novelty up there). We stayed there for two nights and on Wednesday took home a healthy baby who is making up for two days of not eating.

Thanks for all the support in class. I know that it helped!

March 28, 2011 at 1:50 am Leave a comment

Amber and Milo

On March 15th, I had decided to officially start my maternity leave (baby or no baby) so that I could fully relax and prepare for the birth. For the first time in my life, I went to the movies by myself and really enjoyed it, managing to see two films in the theater before I went into labor. What a treat!

For several days leading up to the birth, I had been feeling contractions on and off. They’d start to get fairly regular and would slowly grow in intesity, only to disappear over the course of a few hours. I started to worry about the looming repeat c-section that would need to be performed if I didn’t go into labor on my own by the 23rd. On the evening of March 14th, I started having steady contractions starting around 6 pm. I had them all evening and felt them all night as I slept. I started to get excited that this was it! Unfortunately, I woke up on the 15th feeling nothing at all. They had disappeared overnight. That morning, we had an appointment with our OB for an ultrasound and an NST to monitor the amount of amniotic fluid and the baby’s movements. Everything looked fine, but still no contractions. When the doctor checked me, I was still just a centimeter dilated (where I had been for several weeks) and she asked if I’d like her to try sweeping the membranes. I had remembered the midwives trying that toward the end of my last pregnancy to help move things along, so agreed, figuring it certainly couldn’t hurt. Our appointment was over by 10:30 am; by 12:30 pm, my contractions had started again. They were faint, but definitely there (and slightly uncomfortable) every ten minutes or so.

The contractions continued throughout lunch. Afterward, I had plans to go to the movies at 2:45 pm, so I headed downtown, feeling contractions the whole way there. I bought myself a buttered popcorn and a drink and headed into the nearly empty theater. As the movie was starting, the contractions grew stronger and I started timing them. Six to seven minutes apart for the duration of the film and growing stronger and slightly closer together. They definitely got my attention, catching me off guard with their intesity a few times. I started to wonder if this could be it as I left the theater to go pick up Rowan from daycare.

I arrived at daycare close to 6 pm and while the contractions were still there, they weren’t as noticable as they had been. Rowan had skipped her nap that afternoon and threw a series of temper tantrums on the way home. My contractions stopped. Completely. I didn’t feel a thing as I made us dinner and got her ready for bed. Zip. Nada. Nothing at all. Rick was out moving equipment into his new print shop, so when Rowan was finally fed and settled down, we spent some nice time together painting her toenails before bed.

It was 7:40 pm when I put her to bed and the contractions started again like clockwork by 8:15 pm. I texted Rick to let him know what was happening, but assured him that I was fine and this may just be a repeat of what had happened the night before. I poured myself a glass of lemonade (a staple beverage of my pregancy) and settled into the couch with my book…the same way that I had spent so many sleepless nights over the last few months. By 9 pm, I couldn’t concentrate on reading. The contractions were just too strong and getting even closer together. I texted Rick again and told him to come home ASAP – I still didn’t know if this was it, but needed some help with the pain. The instensity began to frighten me, so I tried to calm down, remembering different labor positions and activities for early labor. I tried distracting myself with music and facebook. Then I rolled the birthing ball out into the office; the bouncing was great. By 9:30 pm, the contractions were between 3 and 4 minutes apart. Jess (a friend) called to see how I was doing after seeing my last facebook update. She stayed on the phone with me, keeping me calm and distracted while breathing through contractions until around 10:15 pm, when Rick got home, flustered and upset that he hadn’t been able to be there sooner. At that point, the contractions had been coming every 3-4 minutes, lasting a minute for about an hour, so he called the doctor’s office, who advised us to head to the hospital!

Fortunately, Rowan’s bag was packed and ready to go, so we woke her up to let her know that the baby was coming and that she would be going to spend the night at her grandparent’s house. I really didn’t want her to see me in pain, so I labored through a few contractions on my own while Rick got on her coat and got her in the car. While they were on their way to the car, I had a huge contraction in Rowan’s room, but felt so comfortable alone in the dark as I leaned over her bed, smelling her blankets and everything that was hers. Heading downstairs to the car, I had another contraction on the stairs that stopped me in my tracks. I finally made it to the car and we drove around the corner to drop off Rowan. Pamela and Stan were outside waiting for her and as they approached I had another contraction bent over the passenger seat. I kissed Rowan goodbye and we were headed to the hospital. I don’t really remember much of the ride, but remember hating being stuck in the car with limited movement as each contraction came and went.

We arrived at the hospital around 11 or 11:30 – at this point, I really wasn’t keeping track of time. We walked into the ER…another contraction…I remember walking past a bunch of people in the waiting room doing my “monkey walk” as Rick later called it, legs wide apart, taking big deliberate steps, breathing heavily yet slowly. Finally we reached triage at Labor & Delivery. They ushered us into a small examination room, where I was hooked up to fetal monitors and asked to wait for a doctor who would come in to check my cervix. Again, I was irritated by the innability to move freely; those were the hardest contractions to endure. The contractions were coming on hard and strong and it was impossible being in that small room. I handed over my birth plan – the one that said that I was hoping for a natural birth and only wanted pain medication in the event of a long and/or complicated labor – and declared that I was willing to part with that plan and that I’d like an epidural immediately, thank you very much! The doctor finally arrived and I was devastated when I was told that I was only dilated 2 cm. The pain and the progress of the labor just didn’t seem to compute. They told me to walk around the halls for an hour and then come back to get checked again. I remember passing other laboring women in the halls and thinking that they didn’t seem to be in enough pain. They’d calmly stop and breathe, holding hands with their partners. I, meanwhile, was on my hands and knees on the floor with each contraction, grunting and growling through each breath. Eventually, I discovered a blubbering noise to make with my lips, which loosened my mouth and seemed to let the rest of my body relax to an extent. Still, I experienced hard labor in the hallway. It was frightening, reminding me of the point during my last labor, near transition, where I really started to panic.

After 30 minutes in the halls, which felt like an eternity, they called me back into triage to be checked again. I was just at 3 cm, but they agreed to move me to a birthing suite and called for the anesthesiologist. Once in the suite, I was hooked to monitors once again while we waited – a whopping hour and a half – for the anesthesiologist to arrive and administer the epidural. I was stuck in bed, unable to move very much during my contractions, which made them so much more difficult. I was miserable and all of our plans to use the bath tub, the birthing ball and labor positions went out the window with my limited movement. Eventually, the anesthesiologist arrived and I felt immediate relief once the epidural was in place. It was incredible, and yet I immediately felt as though I had failed myself and my baby by “caving” for pain relief so soon. Fortunately, I didn’t spend too long feeling that way and was able to relax and try to sleep for the duration of my labor, though without any sensation from the waist down.

I drifted in and out of sleep, though never slept very deeply, for the next 8 hours. Rick slept on the cushioned benches beside the bed and I would occassionally chat with the nurse who was monitoring my contractions and the baby’s heartbeat. They were worried at times that he wasn’t responding to the contractions and that his heart rate was decelerating with each contraction, but he would always bounce back. Still, it worried me enough to keep me awake and begin coming to terms with the idea of a repeat c-section. I just wanted a healthy baby.

As luck would have it, my OB was on call the following morning. When she came into my room around 8 am to check me, Rick was out moving the car, and she told me that as soon as he got back, it would be time to push. I was fully dilated and at a plus 2 station! Here it was, the moment that I had been hoping and waiting for, and I was suddenly frightened. How would I push without any sensation below my waist? How would it work if I couldn’t squat and had to deliver lying on my back? I had so many worries since this wasn’t at all what I had pictured. Rick arrived back at the room at about 8:20 am and I was pushing by 8:30. It was such a strange sensation – or lack thereof. I just felt like I was holding my breath…really, really hard. But with the first push, the expression on the faces around me told me that it was working. After the third push, I could reach down and feel the baby’s head emerging and after a total of 6 pushes and 20 minutes, my baby boy was being hoisted onto my chest and into my arms!!

Not at all the birth experience that I had pictured or prepared for, but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome: a successful and relatively painless VBAC that helped conquer my birthing fears. As I held Milo in my arms after the birth, there was part of me that was amazed with how easily it had all worked out and what my body was capable of doing – under any circumstances – that I wanted to do it all over again!

March 16, 2011 at 8:50 am Leave a comment

Eve and Aria

I passed my due date (March 4) with a sense of incredulity and frustration, and then made peace with the fact that the baby was going to wait for my mother to arrive on Monday the 7th (she was supposed to be there a few days after the birth. Look how well I planned!)

Monday arrived, and with it a huge snowstorm in Vermont that prevented my mother’s departure till the next day (and even that wasn’t a forgone conclusion till the last minute!) So, more waiting. During this time, I was experiencing lots of achiness in my low back and increasingly frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions during this time, but nothing that felt like labor had actually commenced. I was also stressed about my mother digging out from the storm and actually making it to the airport, so I had a feeling that labor wouldn’t really get underway till all of that was over.

My mother arrived late on Tuesday night, the 8th, and we all stumbled into bed around 2 am. Wednesday arrived, and with it a desire to stalk up on some last-minute food items. She and I also decided to enjoy the weather and the fact that she was around to help me wrangle the dogs and take a nice long walk with them. One of our dogs ran off in the middle of the walk and got stuck in someone’s backyard, so we had an even more eventful time than anticipated, and did more running than I had intended…

After such an exhausting walk, I needed to rest my back at home, so my mom did some impromptu massage on my neck and low back/hips while I rested in child’s pose on my bed. It was divine. That night, I finally remembered to watch the Babies documentary (4 babies from around the world over the 1st year of their lives). It was adorable and sweet and fascinating, and left me in the mood for birth.

I tried to get into bed early-ish – maybe 10:30 – and slept pretty soundly till 3:30 am on Thursday morning, the 10th. I then had some rather crampy contractions (which I still thought were B-H) wake me up and I had to use the bathroom. At this point I did the first thing that indicated I was indeed in labor – Dave told me that when I got up I threw the covers off the whole bed, uncovering him as well as me. I’m usually very careful not to uncover him. I didn’t bother with the light but thought that maybe I noticed some bloody show when I wiped. I ignored it and climbed back into bed.

I slept fitfully until 5:30, when I had to get up to use the bathroom again. As I went, I realized that I was having a bloody show in addition to loose stools and pee, meaning I was definitely in labor. I went back to bed, hoping to sleep a bit more, but immediately began laboring more intensely and had more bloody show in the bed (which I thought was my water breaking – it was dark!). Given the sudden change in feeling, I woke Dave up just before 6, and then got my mom up as well.

At this point, we started tracking contractions. They weren’t at regular intervals, but after a few that were 5-7 min. apart, they started consistently being much closer together (2-4 min.), so I had a feeling things were getting more serious (the fact that they were kinda irregular still made me take them less seriously, though).

We called the Doula (Rebecca) and asked her to come over, and paged the midwife on call. My mom started breakfast and Dave jumped in the shower. I started to pace a bit through the contractions. I spoke to midwife Sharon at 6:40. Since I could still talk through contractions (as I could the whole way, actually), and they hadn’t been regular for that long, she said, “I’ll tell Janice, who goes on call at 7, and you should call us again later.” It felt dismissive, but also calm. She also asked if I had felt the baby moving. I panicked a bit at this point when I realized that I hadn’t felt her move in a while, but also realized that maybe I hadn’t been paying attention to that. About 10 minutes later, after heading back to the bathroom and my bed, I felt her kick and yelled out “I felt her kick!” with great relief. It was the last time I noticed it, though!

In any case, I was able to eat some eggs & toast and fill up on water (the first thing that both Rebecca and Sharon told me to do was drink fluids!) I began to need to pace in circles around the house or sit on the toilet through each contraction (I didn’t know I had that much to empty out…). I was also beginning to use a rhythmic Lion’s Breath – tongue out and mouth wide – to help me through each contraction. I kept wanting to get into bed because I was cold in between contractions, but they were so close together that it required too much effort to keep getting up.

Rebecca arrived around 7:30 am. I was pacing through a contraction by the front door as she arrived, and opened it with some huffs and a grin. She immediately suggested that I get in the bath, so she and my mom ran one while I continued to pace and Dave quickly got our labor bag fully packed with last-minute items.

When I stepped into the bath I couldn’t imagine folding or bending down, so we quickly transitioned to the idea of a shower. I marched in place in the shower to the same pacing rhythm I’d been using before, hands braced on the back wall. I still had the presence of mind then to point out that we had to open up the drain again, or we’d have “the great labor flood of March 2011.” Then I suddenly felt nauseous, poked my head out of the shower and threw up in the toilet. I also noticed a bunch of blood. I told Rebecca, who said, “good, that’s dilation right there.”

At this point the water started getting cold (we now know that our hot water heater is less powerful than we’d thought!), so I had to get out. This may have been a really good thing. My mom and Rebecca helped me get dressed and I started to labor for a few contractions on my bed on forearms and knees, with the dogs hanging out around me. Then this got too intense and I started to pace again. I found myself flicking my fingers and shaking my hands, but also smiling through the contractions—I could just tell that this was happening in all its glory and if I celebrated that, it would be easier. It was actually kind of exciting! My mom helped by breathing and moaning with me – helping set a tone for me. I started to moan differently at this point – vocalizing like Liz demonstrated when talking about transition – which cued Dave that it was time to go.

He called the midwives again. They were apparently very skeptical that I was that far along, and told us to come into their offices in the professional building by the hospital. He told me it was time to go, and I took a moment, then had a contraction that I realized would be hellish in the car, and said, “If this gets any worse, I don’t want to do it in the car.” So, we headed out at about 8:45 am. We were all a little frustrated that they missed all the cues, apparently figured Dave to be a nervous first-time dad, and dismissed the idea that I could be as far along as I was.

I kneeled on the front seat facing backwards, with my mom behind me, and Dave drove. Rebecca followed in her car. I weathered each contraction by rocking back and forth, grasping at the air and seat, and pulling on my hair. It sucked. Dave kept a hand on my hip to make him feel better about the fact that I wasn’t using a seatbelt (to that I had said, “there is no way in hell.”), to which I said, “like that’s gonna help in an accident.” Luckily the drive over there is only 15 minutes, tops, so this torture didn’t last long.

Dave dropped my mom and I at the hospital entrance, and we raced up to the office (I couldn’t believe we had to go there first!) In the waiting room, I continued to pace through contractions, at this point needing to grab at my pelvic bone and moan through each contraction. There was a newly-pregnant couple in the waiting room, and I remember thinking, “Oh my god. I can’t believe they have to witness me in this state at this point in her pregnancy.” The minute the staff saw me (it was now 9 am), they raced me into the triage room and had me get up on the table. Once Janice was able to examine me, she asked, “do you feel any pressure?” I breathlessly responded, “oh my God. So much.” To which she said, “good, because you’re 10 centimeters.”

Wow. OK! We basically ran downstairs to the maternity ward at Evergreen, where they were waiting with walki-talkies and an open door. (first I signed the world’s messiest signature on my admission form.) In the room, I immediately stripped (I did put on a gown for a bit), and leaned over the bed to labor. The nurse and midwife started hooking me up to a monitor to get a 20-minute strip. I was pissed, but they were insistent. I didn’t want anything on my body at this point! I found the position OK, though, and soon said, “I really want to push.” No one responded – at this point it was clear that it was time to do so! Eventually someone hooked me up to the wireless monitor, but I was too far gone to really notice, and finally after 15 minutes, they gave up on trying to get a full strip and I just climbed up on the bed on my hands and forearms (the back of the bed was raised slightly) to labor.

With each contraction, I would rock back towards my heels and bear down strongly. I was kind of screaming/roaring through the contractions, and during one my water broke. Between contractions Rebecca started to lay warm hands on my shoulders and slowly stroke down. It felt awesome. I quickly felt tired, though, and turned to lay on my left side. My mother held up my right leg and Janice took a hot washcloth to my bottom between contractions, which also felt awesome. I found myself reaching up towards the top of the bed while I pushed, almost trying to pull in some strength and energy from the room to push the baby out.

They set up a huge mirror at the end of the bed. Janice and Bennett, the nurse, continued to try to pick up the baby’s heartbeat with the monitor. When I asked if she was moving down, Janice said, “yeah, can you tell that I have to move the monitor with each contraction?” Eventually she asked me if I could feel the baby moving down, and when I said yes, she told me to put my fingers into my vagina to see if I could feel her head. I could! I got a burst of adrenaline and energy and got a huge grin on my face. Oh my God. It made the intense pressure more bearable. I found myself reaching down to put my hand over my vagina, and could feel the pleasure that some women describe as “orgasmic,” but that abated as the stretching got more intense.

A few more contractions later, someone said, “there’s the head! Wow, look at that hair!” At this point I started feeling a lot of stretching and burning, which progressively got more and more painful. It was the only point during labor when I felt like it might be too much. This is when I let a few choice words fly. I feel like I kept making eye contact with David during this time, but he was stationed to my back, so I’m not sure what I’m remembering (I also turned onto my back right at the end – no one remembers quite when at this point – so that might be when I turned to Dave). In any case, the baby’s head came out after some horrible burning feelings, and then Janice said, “you can birth the rest of her with just one more push,” and I did.

It was amazing and I was flabbergasted and in love. She came out silent but alert, and there was silence till she let out a cry (and didn’t stop for about 30 minutes!), and then everyone exclaimed together. I cuddled her for a while, and then Dave and kicked my mom & Rebecca out while we talked about her name and Dave gave her a bath (and promptly fell entirely in love).

In the end, my labor lasted 7 hours, and I pushed for about 40 minutes. Aria Stella Edery was born at 10:20 am on Thursday, the 10th of March. Her name means lioness in Hebrew – a fitting tribute to the roar with which she made an appearance. I was blessed to have an easy AND fast labor that never overwhelmed me – I just kept remembering that I could do this, that my body knew what it was doing, and that if I let it happen, it would happen.

Aria was healthy initially, but the irony of the fast birth was that she came out so fast that some of the fluid didn’t get squeezed out of her lungs, and she started breathing fast and labored, and had trouble latching during day one because of the breathing. Eventually, on Friday morning, she was admitted to the NICU for observation and then put on an IV and monitors for about 30 hours. She improved quickly and it was a relatively uneventful NICU stay, which was really another blessing, but we all could have done without the extra day in the hospital!

March 10, 2011 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

Annie and Bailey

“No matter how your labor and delivery go, that day will be carved in your heart as the incredible day that you meet your child for the first time. It will be your birth and it will be special.”

I remember our doula, Jennifer, saying this to me during the labor of our first child as I was contemplating receiving an epidural for what at the time felt like insurmountably difficult contractions. This put my mind at ease and I decided to “wait a few more out” until eventually she turned, it was time to push, and out came Tori – warm as can be and ready to nuzzle into our arms and hearts forever.

This crossed my mind again last week, as my water broke and a surge of adrenalin left me shaking and completely terrified of the unavoidable process that stood between myself, my husband Ed, and the grand entrance of our second baby girl.

It comforted me again, because it was completely true. Natural childbirth was our Plan A. If we needed to move on to Plan B (medical pain management) or Plan C (interventions due to unforeseen complications) it would still and always be the day that we met our beautiful daughter and began our journey as a family of four.

After my water broke, we both scurried around the house making final preparations, contacting the midwives, our doula Jennifer, and Ed’s sister Ashley who would be watching Tori during our hospital stay. Tori is 16-months old and still nurses about twice a day. She woke up as I tried to sneak a few diapers from her room to tide me over on the way to the hospital. Going into “mom mode” was the best thing for settling my nerves. We had a very peaceful and cuddly nursing session and I choked up looking down at her long and lean frame stretching around my round belly and her sweet curls that fall in every direction. I knew in that moment that my sweet baby girl was growing up and would be a big sister the following day. It was a “tears of joy and sadness” moment that comes with all great changes in life – when you realize that you are so excited for where you are headed and that not moving forward isn’t an option.

We arrived at Evergreen Hospital around 11 pm and got settled into our birthing suite. The midwife on call, Shana, and the nurse were welcoming and we got all of the paperwork taken care of quickly. Since my water had broken, we decided not to do a cervical check, as it wouldn’t change a single thing in our course of action. We walked the halls for a bit, and then decided to take a rest. I won’t forget the image of my hubby, my belly and I curled up in that small hospital bed – if anything we were going to crowd the baby out of her comfortable home in the womb.

My contractions slowed a bit after laying down, giving me nice ten minute breaks between each, although the strength and duration of each contraction continued to grow. Eventually my position/breathing technique was no longer effective in getting me through on my own, and I was up and ready to try something new. Again we walked the halls, pausing for each contraction doing nice big hip circles while holding the railing and listening to Ed lead me in guided breathing. Even though we weren’t always in sync (his lungs are bigger than mine!) it was so nice to hear his voice and I felt very loved that he would get right in there with me, which he did every step of the way. Jennifer would touch my shoulders when they started creeping up and help me “breathe the baby down” as the contractions ended – once again I had my amazing team in place and we were going to do this!

When we tired of the walking, we returned to the birthing suite and I labored for a long while in a wooden rocking chair padded with pillows for my back and bottom. Ed sat across from me and held my legs as he gently rocked the chair and continued to breathe with me through contractions. One funny thing about labor is the time in between contractions. It is just casual conversation and life as usual and discussion about movies, children, and wise cracks ensued. I told Ed that two was a nice round number. He mentioned that 4 and 6 were as well. Nice try, buddy! Jennifer continued to coach me through body relaxation and reinforce how well I was doing after each contraction. Her presence as a place to go when a contraction got ahead of me or fear set in was invaluable. She could offer new positions, sounds, and breathing techniques for us to try – which passes the hours while the baby makes her great journey downward and into position. With Jennifer coaching me in one ear, Shana focusing on pressure points to press during contractions, and Ed in front of me, I felt very well taken care of and capable of what laid ahead.

The first time Shana did a cervical check I was dilated to 4.5 which was encouraging because in theory dilating from 0-4 takes the longest amount of time in labor. I knew the next “half” would be more intense and much harder, but I also had a sense of excitement that we were making great progress and nearing the actual arrival of our baby girl. The next few hours were spent in “labor land” where I just used the different sounds that came naturally to me to endure contractions. Ed followed my lead with making all the “yayayaya” and “mamamama” sounds and having his big voice present made mine just feel like background noise which I loved. I began to feel the urge to push around 6 a.m. so I tried to get myself positioned on hands and knees with the support of a bean bag on top of the bed. This wasn’t a good position for me so I tried laying on my side for what felt like transition and preparation for pushing.

When our second midwife, Sharon, arrived around 7 to relieve Shana, I was side-lying and enduring long and strong contractions while the pressure on my perineum continued to grow. She did a cervical check and let me know that while I was dilated to a 9, there was a bit of swelling beginning and we needed to get moving. Now Sharon delivered our first baby and I knew that she ran a tight ship. I knew that I could trust her implicitly and she would see to it that mom and baby would soon be united. So, goodbye side-lying and hello standing, let’s get this baby moving! It’s not easy to change positions at this point but again, I did what I was told and knew that this team had been through a bit more of these than I had. Transition came on strong and hard at that point and boy did I want to give up. I said several times, “I can’t do this” and I meant it, it simply felt too hard. I was exhausted having thrown up several times in response to the adrenalin pumping through me. I was administered an IV of saline and salt water has never felt so good.

At that point I knew that baby had done her work and now it was my turn. Like it or not, I needed to get in position, get strong, and prepare to push. I loved the strong and deep “Maaaaaa” sound for this stage because sentimentally, it said to me: “You are the mom. Your baby trusts you to know what to do and guide her through this. She can trust you. You can trust your body. This will be over soon.”

I listened closely to my coaches and communicated to them when contractions had begun and were ending. I accepted their guidance on when to push, when to hold, when to catch a breath, and when to push harder. The baby had the cord loosely around her neck which Sharon detected and corrected immediately. She had shoulder dysplasia, meaning she was a bit lodged at the shoulder level, and Sharon let me know that contraction or not, it was time for this baby to be born. I could tell that tension had heightened in the room, but like any good leader, Sharon took control of the situation and simply moved us through it. I pushed as effectively as I could and with Sharon’s help both at the perineum and externally on my belly, I felt the unmistakable “whoosh” of childbirth and knew we had done it. Our beautiful baby Bailey, warm, tiny and perfect, came onto mama’s belly for the first of a lifetime of snuggles with her parents.

I return to where I started, in saying that no matter how you birth your baby, it is the irreplaceable day that you and your partner come together and deliver on what you created together just less than a year before. That said, we have been blessed with two incredible births and two incredible little girls and I am so grateful for each person who had hand in their arrivals. I wish you all the best of luck and leave you with this: ““You are the mom. Your baby trusts you to know what to do and guide him or her through this. Your baby can trust you. You can trust your body. And yes, this will be over soon!”

March 9, 2011 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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