Friday, April 2, 2010

Birth Stories: Gregory ~ homebirth

My husband, Dan, and I had been preparing for the birth of our first child since before he was conceived. After months of infertility, a miscarriage, and finally a little medical help, our little miracle was finally on his way. Growing up witnessing my mother give birth at home to each of my 4 sisters, I never imagined my own birth occurring in any other setting, barring medical necessity, of course. However, home birth is not common in Nebraska and midwives are hard to locate. I resigned myself to a hospital birth and began visiting the midwife clinic there for prenatal care. The hospital midwives were wonderful and very open to discussing our desires and concerns, all the while monitoring the healthy development of our baby. They were very nice and assured us that the kind of birth I wanted was achievable in the hospital setting, but because of my experiences and my conviction that birth is inherently safe, I couldn’t get comfortable with the idea and renewed my search for a home birth midwife. Honestly, the thought of unassisted birth did cross my mind – if all was well, I could just not go in to the hospital! But being my first baby, and considering that Dan was utterly terrified by the idea, it became clear that we had to find a midwife, or home birth was out. After searching for almost a year and a half, she finally came into our lives.

We prepared ourselves mentally and physically for the birth by attending Bradley method classes and reading as much as we could. It was a time of excitement, and each new book inspired us and reassured us. As the time drew near, I began to feel nervous that something would come in the way of my home birth. There were valid, though unlikely, medical issues that could arise, but the most disappointing to me would have been if I had gone more than two weeks past my due date. At this point, my midwife would insist on a hospital delivery. Also, I was hoping that my mother would be able to come from out of state to be with us for the birth, but she had purchased a plane ticket for my due date and could only spend about 10 days with us. These time constraints weighed heavily on my mind and I was sure I was going to go very overdue and not only would my mom have to leave before it happened, but I’d miss out on my home birth as well.

Little did I realize, prodromal labor began about 10 days before my due date. I was having episodes of regular contractions that were not painful, but I wasn’t sure whether they were different than the familiar Braxton-Hicks practice contractions. They seemed a little stronger, and it felt like they were, well, pulling on my cervix! They would continue for several hours but would always fade away when I went to bed, and they never distracted me from my routine activities. The day before my due date, my curiosity was getting the better of me and I asked my midwife to check me. I had been trying to feel around by myself and couldn’t find my cervix. It was right down in front, very mushy, 3cm dilated and 90% effaced, with a very bulgy water bag – much farther along than I thought – turned out I had been reaching right past it! Maybe I wouldn’t be going two weeks overdue after all??

We picked my mom up from the airport at about 11pm on my due date. I had been having the usual practice contractions that morning, and actually was passing what seemed to be my mucus plug, but there was no blood and the afternoon was quiet so we made plans to really start trying to get things going beginning the following day. Dan put the golf clubs in the car thinking the walking and swinging might help kick things into motion, and we also bought ingredients to do some baking, thinking it would be nice to do during early labor. We stayed up until about 1am chatting and catching up with my mom.

I awoke out of a deep sleep with a serious pain in my bladder area – this was not completely unusual, so I hauled myself out of bed and practically fell down the stairs as I groggily made my way to the bathroom. I peed, but that did not relieve the feeling of needing to go, although there was a considerable amount of bloody show. I sat for a while longer and eventually felt like I could get up. I thought something might be going on, so I did not go back to bed, but instead went to sit in the living room for a minute. It was 5am. Soon I felt like I needed to sit on the toilet again. After a couple rounds of this routine, I realized these were probably labor contractions. I got a paper, pen, and watch, and started writing down when they started and how long they were lasting. This was a little tricky since I kept needing to go and sit on the toilet with each one. In the beginning they were 4-5 minutes apart and about 30-45 seconds long, but by 6am they were 2-3 minutes apart lasting 90 seconds and longer, and getting pretty intense! I realized this was going pretty fast and decided it was time to let people in on what was happening.

I called my midwife and told her I thought she should come over - soon! I went into the guest room to wake my mom – I told her we were having the baby today and she said, “ok, sure honey.” Then she saw me have a contraction – I had to get up and lean over onto the bed and sway my hips. She said, “You better go wake Dan!” He bolted out of bed at the news and threw himself into the shower. When he was out, I got in and he and mom started getting things ready around the house. My midwife arrived while I was in the shower – before 6:30 I think – and wanted to check me. I was trying to wash my hair but had to get on hands and knees for contractions. I let her check me in between and she thought I was a good 6cm already.

I was starting to need to vocalize with each contraction. They were coming so fast I could barely finish my shower. I thought maybe I was getting close to transition. I was using visualizations of my cervix opening up – each contraction was pulling it up towards my ribs, over my baby’s head. It was yielding easily. I got out and did Child’s Pose on the bathroom floor for a bit, but soon went into the baby’s room and leaned over the exercise ball in front of the air conditioning vent – I was so hot! I was feeling pretty fine in between contractions, but there wasn’t much time. My midwife was having a hard time getting long enough to check my blood pressure! I was kinda shaky and felt a little nauseous. This was probably because the only thing in my stomach was a bit of blueberry juice I had drunk in that first hour in the living room. Mom found me a bucket, and Dan brought me some of the Labor-ade I had made the day before, which helped considerably. I never ended up needing the bucket! During contractions, I slipped into my own world – it was a completely separate space where I just felt my body do its work. It was not painful, just intense. I did not want anyone to touch me or say anything to me. I made very loud, low moans. It wasn’t long before the moans were turning into growly grunts – was this the urge to push? It sort of felt like it…

Dan kept coming in trying to ask me how to use the waterbed adapter on our kitchen sink to fill the pool in the dining room. We had done a practice run but I had been the one to set it up – oops! All I could say was, “I can’t think about that right now!” I guess he eventually figured it out because he came in and told me the water was ready for me. When I got in, my midwife checked and found that my dilation was already complete. My bag of waters was still intact, though very bulgy. She wanted to break it to make sure there wasn’t meconium. I hadn’t intended on doing any sort of interventions like that, but in the moment it seemed like it wouldn’t hurt since I was already fully dilated. The sensation that followed was crazy – so much pressure! But then I started to have really nice breaks in between contractions, which up to then I really had not had. I was able to put my hair into a ponytail. I could drink some more Labor-ade. I was feeling pretty great! When the contractions did come, that pushy, growly thing came over me. I decided to shift from leaning forward over the edge of the pool, to leaning back against the wall. Dan pulled up a chair and supported me under my arms, holding my hands. I sort of felt like things had been going so fast, now that they were slowed down I wanted to just hang out and enjoy it. It was still early! But it was time to push the baby out. I was not really mentally prepared for this yet, and during contractions I was starting to feel a very scary sensation that I would tear in the *wrong* direction. I was not really afraid of a normal perineal tear, but this feeling was terrifying. I could not do the “hold your breath and bear down” kind of pushing. It was all happening too fast. I was panting through contractions but I could feel the baby moving down anyway. I started to whimper, but my midwife gave me some reassurance that I would be ok. The time had come whether I wanted it to or not – there was nothing I could do about it. They told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head. I couldn’t let go of Dan’s hands. The head popped out and the contraction was over. I had a moment and I could reach down and feel his little ear, and what was this? A little fist by his right cheek! Soon he started to turn towards my right thigh, and one by one his shoulders slipped out too. I was narrating this to the on-lookers, trying to share my experience! I lifted him up quickly and it seemed like as soon as his head was above water he started to scream. He was so purple, and his back was covered in vernix. His fist was still clenched up by his face. He cried for a moment more, and then calmed down in my arms. What time is it? 8:20! Only a little over three hours of labor, with only about 20 minutes of "pushing." Crazy for a first baby.

We all looked at him in awe – his face was swollen! I offered him my breast but he was uninterested. We thought he might be cold, so we put a hat on him and submerged his body in the water. After a few minutes, we decided it must not be warm enough for him, so Dan cut the cord and he and my mom took him and got him bundled up. I got out too and went into the bathroom to see about the placenta. I tried to sit on the toilet and pee, but I couldn’t. After what seemed like forever trying to just go, I tried nursing the baby and this time he did latch on – and what do you know, the placenta came right out! I didn’t even feel it. Upon examination, there appeared to be a “double membrane” which may have been why my water never broke on its own. Baby nursed for a few more minutes. Then we went to check out the damage – I had two first degree tears that each got a little stitch. Not bad for a nuchal hand! I was basically right about feeling where I was going to tear – but thankfully it didn’t upset any important structures.

After I was all cleaned up, we looked the baby over and determined that he was perfect. 8 lbs even, 20 ¼ inches long. He was still a little chilly so we kept him wrapped up with a heating pad and settled into bed. He basically slept for the next 12 hours, and I couldn’t even fathom closing my eyes – I was so high! So we got up and proceeded to call all our family and friends. Did I mention it was Father’s Day? Dan was pretty pleased about that… And that is how Gregory Sebastian turned us into a family.

Maisie ~ unassisted birth

so i completely neglected the blog towards the end of my pregnancy...which was probably a good thing. i was cranky. i was not a happy mama. if i had made any entries, they would've been cranky and no fun to read.

the crankiness finally gave way to a surprisingly fast and very intense 1-1/2 hour labor and birth. during a snowstorm. i didn't have time to use any of my comfort measures (i had envisioned a fire in the fireplace, hot tea, listening to music...none of it happened). here's the story:

i woke up Jan. 24th with bloody show and some crampy ctx, but i'd had that the day before, too. i figured it would be another day of prodromal labor, so decided to lay on the couch, especially since i knew corey would be gone most of the day at the funeral home (yay for being on call!).

towards the afternoon, the ctx got a bit intense and i had more show, so i thought for sure i was heading into active labor. i told corey to come home at his earliest convenience because i thought it was time and i got the birth supplies out and ready to go....then it all stopped. which made me feel dumb. how can i be on my third kid and not know if i'm in labor?

corey got home a couple hours later and during that time nothing had really happened. ctx had all but stopped and i wasn't having anymore show. i was getting extremely frustrated. my mom and dad brought dinner over later in the evening. i kept having a pressure sensation, but couldn't really call it ctx because it didn't hurt. at that point, though, i was just hoping that labor would start by the following morning, otherwise corey would have to go into work.

after the kids went to bed, i ended up taking a nap on the couch until about 1:30 am, at which point corey decided to go to bed. i was still having pressure, and an occasional crampy ctx, but it never felt like labor; it never got a pattern going. i was restless, though, so from 1:30 to 3 am i puttered around the house, took a bath, watched tv, all the while convinced i was having more prodromal labor and i'd never see the end of this...

i had a couple intense ctx at 3 am that really got my attention, and some more show. i was getting really restless, moving from the toilet to the living room, arguing with myself about the pros and cons of getting back into the bathtub. i started to get nauseous. i wanted company. i woke corey up and he came out and laid on the couch while i continued wandering back and forth, spaced out (the thought that i might be in transition crossed my mind, but i couldn't believe that could be a possibility since i hadn't even really been laboring up to this point). i did have enough sense to get the chux pads and towels into the living room, though. good thing...

(this next part gets all stream-of-consciousness because that's really the only way i remember it)

round about 4 am (i think, can't be sure) i started having what i finally would've called labor ctx...except they were more like late labor ctx, and i hadn't had a chance to build up to that yet, so i couldn't get on top of them. and now i'm grunting at the peak of the ctx. and now i'm pushing. no, wait, pushing? why am i pushing? i can't be ready to push yet...what the hell is going on here? but there's definite blood on the chux pads i put down in front of the couch, and i can no longer lean on the couch in between ctx, but i think that's more because now i'm not getting a break in between ctx, they're right on top of each other, can't catch a break...and now my pelvis is being forced open, the baby's head is moving through, and i can feel every bit of it. on my knees in front of the couch, the head goes through my pelvis and drops onto the pelvic floor in one fluid movement. water finally breaks. corey wakes up and jumps behind me to catch. i check the color of the water on the pads real quick, then try to go back to focusing on what's happening, because now the head is crowning and it's everything i can do to hold it back and let the tissue stretch to avoid body is in control and just wants everything out now, and i'm doing everything i can to fight my body to prevent damage...i can feel the head hasn't molded. i hold back as long as possible and then give in. the head comes out, then the body without a pause. corey manages to catch her and maneuver her around to my front while i sit back. her cord is wrapped around a leg, goes across her shoulders and the back of her neck, and is tangled up in her right arm, holding it up at an angle behind her head. while untangling, i see meconium smeared on her, and now on me, but i know it must have happened while she was emerging or shortly after because the water had been clear. i manage to get it untangled and then check to see what we have....a GIRL!! i thought for sure it was a boy!! but i don't care, i have a baby!

i think she was half-asleep when she came out. she made a couple squawks after a few minutes, but initially just grunted and half opened one eye. she seemed a little put out that she found herself outside her cozy home, but was willing to go along with the location change. born at roughly 4:35 am, Jan. 25, 2010, weighing 9 lbs 2 oz and 22 inches long.

so there it is. i have a squishy 6-week-old sleeping on me as i post this. i thought for sure i was done having babies, that this would be my last, but i'm finding myself rethinking that decision...i can't say for sure that i'm done. i just can't. it's too final. so instead i will wait and see what the future holds for us. maybe in another few years...

Birth Stories: Evan ~ medicated hospital VBAC

AJ had a GI appointment on December 6. We had waited 3 months for this appointment and I was afraid I would miss it being in labor with Evan. I was just over 38 weeks at this point, but had been in threatened labor since 34 weeks. We left the appointment at 3:30pm and I had my first contraction in the parking lot!

We went to eat dinner at my mother-in-law's house that night. We were watching Wheel of Fortune at 6:30pm when I started having contractions. I went home about 7:45pm with out AJ and my husband so I could take a bath and see what happens since they were coming 10 minutes apart at this point. They didn't stop and got to be 7 mintues apart! I decided to go to bed and try and rest. While in bed, they spaced out to 12 minutes apart but they were so uncomfortable that I had to get up. I decided to move to the couch about 11:30pm. I just wasn't comfortable laying down so I hopped on my birth ball and starting playing on the computer.

They were getting more intense now and coming 7 minutes apart. At about 2am they were getting pretty intense and I really had to breathe through them, though they weren't really painful. I decided to start getting ready to go so when we hit the magic 5 minutes apart I'd be ready to go! I showered and went in and told Adam we would need to go soon. I didn't think we needed to rush so I went back and started getting dressed in the bathroom. I had a few contractions while I was getting ready and my husband came in and said those were only 3 minutes apart! I decided to hurry at that point. We got everything together and AJ woke up right then so we were all set. It's about 2:55am now and we drop AJ off at mother-in-law's house.

We show up at the hospital about 3:30am. Things started to get really hard at that point as the contractions were coming much closer together and were more painful at that point. They checked me and I was 5-6 cm and I opted for the epidural at that point because the contractions were coming back to back with no break at that point. I had to get some IV fluids before I could get the epidural and do my paperwork so it was 4:45am before I got it. The last hour was spent scaring all the other mommies on the floor with my yelling! About 5:30am I felt a trickle between my legs and thought my water had broken. I was wrong, it was blood! I called the nurse and she called the DR and got me cleaned up and tried to see if my water was broken and she couldn't tell. I was 6-7cm at this point and I tried to tell it should be soon. She just smiled that 'this lady is crazy and has no idea what she's talking about' smile. The DR had just told the nurse to watch me and make sure baby kept looking good. With every contraction though I was having more blood!

About 6:15am Evan's heartrate got really high. The nurse gave me some O2 to see if it would help. At 6:30am Evan's heartrate took a drastic drop into the 60s and I got rolled over immediately to see if it would help. My DR showed up right then just to check on me! What amazing timing! The DR checked me and I was 10cm, which was a blessing because Evan needed out NOW! I've never seen so many people move so fast. The NICU team was in there, nurses, the DR, lots of people! He tried to break my water and there wasn't anything to break. We now realize I had little to no fluid at this point and who knows how long that has been an issue. The DR gets the forceps out, I give one big push and he pulls and Evan Thomas Girard on December 7! He's blue and not crying. I'm bawling at this point because I birthed my baby and he's not crying! Something I could not accomplish 18 months and 10 days ago, I accomplished now! Evan was my VBAC baby! He starts to cry and it's the best sound ever. We were all so relieved to hear him. It was 6:43am, almost exactly 12 hours after labor started. He was 7#8.1oz and 19" long. 5 ounces bigger than my cesarean baby!

My placenta is delivered and confirms that I had a placental abruption. My blessed VBAC was almost a medically necessary cesarean. I held him while I was stitched up and got to breastfeed him immediately after that. A far cry from the 8 hours it took to get AJ to feed after my cesarean. This birth was really freeing for me. I was NOT broken, I could birth babies vaginally and it was just amazing even if it's nothing like I had imagined.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birth Stories: Landon ~ medicated hospital birth (induction for high BP)

Landon is my second child and I knew there was a chance of being induced and for an actual medical reason. I get High Blood pressure and I mean high (like 160/100). Once baby pops out, it goes back to normal, amazing I know. So, I find women who WANT to be induced somewhat crazy. Do you know how much harder an induction is on your body and your baby? The baby is more likely to be in distress and the contractions are harder, longer and more intense and you can’t really move around much if you’re hooked up to Pitocin. This in turn makes you FEEL an almost NEED for an epidural. I have heard a few stories of women who have been induced with pitocin and do not get an epidural. I wanted to be one of those women, but having contraction after contraction after contraction with no break, I caved after 5 hours. I thought, “at least I won’t be in pain anymore (if I only knew)”.

So, from 3:00-6:00 am I slept and felt fine. But at 6:00 I started getting the most intense/sharp pains in my arms, neck, shoulder and upper back. Pretty much my whole body not covered by the epidural (except my head) was in SEVERE pain. The pains came and went. But they were sooooo bad I told the nurse I’d rather be having the contractions (and I truly meant it). I started going in and out of consciousness. The nurse called the anesthesiologist back up and she tried to redo my epidural. This did NOT HELP. They were not sure what caused the pain, but thought maybe the epidural hit some nerve endings. It is very scary not to know why you are in such pain. Like I said the pains came and went, but did not always come when a contractions hit, so they weren’t sure if the contractions were causing the uterus to contract (causing the pain in my upper body or not). They weren’t too convinced since they figured then it would happen with every contraction, not with some contractions and without some. The pain sometimes would last 30 min straight and I’d be fine for 30 min. Sometimes it was shorter…so that kind of rules out the contractions causing all the pain. Really there was no rhyme or reason to it all. I can usually tolerate pain really well too. This pain was so bad that I actually asked my doctor for a c-section. And if you know me, I will not have surgery unless I absolutely positively need it. No plastic surgery for me ever. After being in this pain for 7 hours and begging for a c section, I had luckily gone from 7 cm to 10 cm and fully dilated in 30 min. This all happened after he broke my water. At this point I could have cared less how he came out as long as he did come out healthy and me pain free. My neck hurt so bad that it was hard to push, but Landon must have realized because I pushed all of 5 minutes and then he literally just slide out of me. I had one small tear. After he came out, all my neck/shoulder/arm pain went away. So it wasn’t some fluke or anything. I don’t think we will know the whole reason, but I do think the epidural must have hit nerve endings and the labor kept it going.

Thankfully, I did not walk away with long term side effects (physical) and my little guy was healthy too. I will note that I have walked away with mental side effects. I have had nightmares where I almost feel the pain and the hopelessness. Most people I talk to about it kind of shake it off, so I don’t talk about it much. But when your in so much pain and people are standing around you NOT DOING ANYTHING(in this case because they were clueless) or when all the doctors seem to care about is blaming the other for whose fault it was, it makes you vulnerable and almost preyed upon. My baby and I came home healthy, so that is what should matter or so I’ve been told. If only it was so simple!!!!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Birth Stories: Liam ~ homebirth

I woke up around 7:00 AM on Wednesday, April 8. Leila had just woken up and she wanted me to come snuggle in bed with her. I had a contraction as soon as I got out of bed and went into her room, and I wondered if they would be regular throughout the day. I'd been having irregular contractions, varying in intensity, for two weeks. Soon, Callum was awake and I was busy getting both kids dressed and feeding them breakfast. Contractions continued every 4-5 minutes.

I started cleaning up a little and getting some last-minute things ready for the birth. Contractions continued and started to increase in intensity, so I called Wyatt and let him know today might be baby day. I must have been getting anxious, because I called him back after an hour or so and asked him to come home. I had a feeling baby was coming and I wanted his help setting up the birth pool. Wyatt got home around 10:00 AM and I called my midwife at that point. I let her know I was having regular contractions and some bloody show, and she said she would come check on me. She arrived a little while later. I was still 3-4 centimeters dilated, as I was at my prenatal appointment the night before, but my cervix had softened and thinned out a little more. She said baby's head still had a little room to move around, so I should try to get his head engaged a bit more. I felt a teeny bit discouraged after she left, second-guessing whether I was really in labor or just having more intense Braxton-Hicks contractions. I followed my midwife's suggestion and wrapped my Maya Wrap under my belly and up over my shoulders to try and engage baby's head.

Wyatt fixed lunch for the kids and put Callum down for a nap. I walked all around the house with my belly in the sling. Contractions kept coming, sometimes 2-3 minutes apart, sometimes 4-5 minutes apart. I started to get really sick of timing the contractions. My midwife called after a while and said she would come check on me again. She arrived a little before 2:00 PM. I was 5 cm dilated at that point and baby's head had moved down quite a bit. I was still talking through contractions quite easily. My midwife said she was going to meet her assistant at the Panera down the street, and to keep doing what I was doing. We agreed that I would call her when I started having a hard time coping with the contractions, or when the contractions were about 1.5 minutes apart.

By this time, Wyatt had blown up the birth pool and started filling it up with lukewarm water. He took the kids to our friends' house when Callum woke up from his nap - they had graciously offered to watch the kids during the birth. Leila had said for a few months that she wanted to be there to see the baby being born, but she changed her mind at the last minute and decided she would rather go play with her friends. While Wyatt was gone, I knelt on the floor and draped my upper body and arms over the birth ball. I swayed my hips through each contraction. They were starting to feel pretty intense. Wyatt stopped at the Panera on the way home to pick up some sandwiches, but I wasn't feeling very hungry. He ate his sandwich while I swayed on the birthing ball. I was getting ready to ask him to call the midwife, when she called to check in. Wyatt told her I was ready for her and her assistant to come over.

It was around 4:00 PM when my midwife and her assistant arrived. I sat on the couch while they took my blood pressure and listened to baby's heartbeat. I was starting to really have to concentrate on breathing and relaxing through contractions. We went upstairs and my midwife checked my cervix. I was 7 cm dilated and had a bulging bag of waters. We decided to finish filling up the birth pool so I could get in. I got in the water at 4:30 PM and my midwife and her assistant started getting everything ready for the birth. I felt very relaxed as I sank into the warm water in the birth pool. The first few contractions I had in the water felt much less intense and painful. I was pretty much kicked back, relaxing, talking and joking. My midwife suggested I change positions for a while and kneel in the pool, resting my arms on the side of the pool. I stayed this way for a while. When my midwife listened for the baby's heartbeat, she noticed some decelerations, so I went back to laying back against the side of the pool.

My midwife checked me at this point and I was 8 cm, still with a bulging bag of waters. She checked the baby's heartbeat again during my next contraction, and there were no decels, so I stayed in that position for the rest of my labor. At this point I was feeling a ton of pressure from the bulging amniotic sac during each contraction. I still felt pretty happy and comfortable in between contractions, but they were coming closer together. My midwife's assistant was sitting behind me giving me sips of Gatorade and offering me lip balm (love her!), and reminding me to relax my face and breathe through the contractions. Wyatt was sitting across from me. I began really fighting to keep from tensing up my body during contractions. I kept tightening up my legs and lifting my bottom up off the floor of the pool, so he was holding my legs and rubbing them, trying to help me relax. I can't say that it worked very well at that point, but he was trying!

My midwife checked me again and I was fully dilated, still with the bag of waters bulging. We decided to go ahead and rupture my membranes. When they ruptured, there was some meconium in the fluid, but it was greenish so my midwife guessed it had been there for a while. My next contraction after my water broke was a doozy! I started to feel like I couldn't take the pain for much longer, and I didn't feel like I was very close to being done. I was sort of dreading the pushing stage and so I wasn't able to relax very well. I really started tensing up at this point and gave up trying to relax during contractions. I started to feel a little nauseated. My midwife suggested I try pushing gently during the next contraction to see if it felt good or not. I tried pushing a little but it didn't feel good in any sense of the word! I didn't feel the urge to push, I just felt an intense pressure and the familiar feeling of wanting to crawl out of my body to escape the pain and hard work of giving birth. Wyatt said it did indeed look as though I was trying to climb my way out of the birth pool.

I had some difficulty with "multitasking" at this point. It was hard for me to remember to 1. breathe 2. relax and 3. push. My first real push I forgot to breathe, which wasn't very helpful. My next push I tried to remember to breathe but I definitely wasn't relaxing - I kept pushing after I should have stopped to take a breath because I was afraid if I stopped pushing it would hurt more. I finally got it right on the next push and actually felt the "ring of fire" and baby's head crowning. I was shocked, because I was so wrapped up in the discomfort and the intensity of the contractions that I didn't consider the fact that I might be having a baby soon. I guess I thought I was going to be pushing forever? My midwife was telling me to stop and breathe, and only push during contractions so I wouldn't tear. I heard her, I really did, but I was so intent on getting the baby out that I didn't listen. Wyatt called out, "I can see the head!" and I gave one more push. The baby slipped out at 5:45 PM, head and shoulders all at once. My midwife grabbed him and told me to pick him up, but I must have been in shock still, because I was whimpering and saying, "I can't, I can't!" I finally snapped out of it and pulled the baby onto my chest. My very first thought was that he looked like Leila, just like the dream I'd had a couple of months before. My second thought was that he had red hair, but as it turns out, his head was stained with meconium. Ha! Poor kid. He started to look a little blue, so my midwife rubbed him with a towel while her assistant gave him some oxygen. He pinked up very nicely in a few moments and gave a great big squeal. Wyatt helped to cut the cord after a few minutes and wrapped the baby up in a towel and held him for the first time.

So, that's how Liam Henry was born at home. It was such a wonderful, peaceful experience laboring at home with just my family around me. My midwife and her assistant were amazing and wonderful in every way. I can't thank them enough for being there to support me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Birth Stories: Campbell ~ homebirth

Campbell's birth story

I know I'm forgetting something, so much happened in such a short time!

I had been having latent labor/contractions for about a week and was getting very cranky and distracted. On Thursday I finally gave in and called the midwife and asked her to check me/strip my membranes. I was really worried that I was going to have the baby on the day her daughter was graduating, so was hoping to move things along and maybe have a baby on Friday.

She came by and I think she and DH were laughing at me :) I was 2 cm and about 90% to 100% effaced. She stripped my membranes, and really thought I wouldn't be having baby until next week.

I slept really well Thursday night, the best night sleep I'd had in a long time. Woke up with a little bit of show and plug. Went to work about 6 a.m. and started having the same contractions I'd had all week long. Throughout the day I had some more show and plug, I figured it was because of the internal exam, no big deal.

About 1 p.m. I started to have contractions that were tightening under my belly and moving around to my back. I was stopping to notice them and was getting really annoyed typing at work and wanted to get out of the chair. I started timing them and they were only about 3-1/2 minutes apart. So, I called in work and took the rest of the day off and asked DH to pick Avery up from school at 3 p.m. so I could listen to some birthing affirmations and try to relax. I also called the midwife and let her know that I thought I might be having "real" contractions and would give her a call in a couple of hours and let her know if things picked up.

Quinn was taking a nap and I had the house to myself for a couple of hours, it was really nice. About 2 p.m. I was on the computer for a bit trying to distract myself and started timing contractions about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes apart. I was starting to lose myself in them and getting really distracted. So, I started preparing, made up the bed, blew up the pool and brought down the things I thought we needed. I had intended to finish up some laundry and make a poultice, but I just didn't get it all done, lol!

I called the midwife about 3 and let her know that things were picking up, she wanted to come by and at least check me to see if she was going to be able to attend an event that night at 6. Chris came home with Avery and Quinny got up from her nap. They were picking dandelions in the front yard to let me relax through the contractions.

When the midwife got here she saw me breathing through contractions, checked me, and I was 4 cm, 100% effaced and a +1 station. She started bringing the equipment in, called her assistant, and they started filling up the pool. When the assistant got here Chris was grilling burgers for everyone and it was a bit overwhelming. I went upstairs to rock through some contractions on my ball and listen to some more affirmations. I called Andi to let her know she could post, I think I was really in labor at that point.

The ipod was starting to annoy me and I was starting to get louder and longer, so the midwife came up to get me and try the pool to see if that would help. It wasn't warm or deep enough and I couldn't get comfortable, so back on my ball I went.

I don't know how much time passed, but everyone finished their burgers and we set the girls up with a movie in the basement. They came up and down, more curious than scared. I think they were more interested in the pool in the living room than anything else.

The hot water was ready, and before I got back in the pool she checked me and I was at 8 cm. I wanted to go to the bathroom before getting back in... She asked me if I had to poop and I told her no, but I emptied my bowels again when I got there. She reminded me that with the position changes I was going to have a lot of contractions, and I think I swore at her and told her sarcastically that she was full of great news, lol. Definitely transition.

Got back in the pool and started "no, no, no" through the contractions. They were right on top of each other and I just wanted a break. My shoulders started shaking, and I knew this was a sign of being complete. They started putting on gloves and suggesting I try pushing to see if it would feel any better. I remember thinking "what are they doing? I'm not ready yet."

I couldn't feel a pushing sensation when I was trying to push, but could feel the bulging bag. I asked if she would break my water so I could feel to push him out, I just wanted the contractions to end. I flipped over, she broke my water and I had a looooong contraction. Brought him to crowning while yelling that I did not want to (lol) and that it hurt and I didn't want to do it. The contraction ended and I was able to hold him there to stretch out my perineum. The assistant and Chris were trying to figure out the camera, and I yelled at her that the lens cap was on... Then another contraction and I pushed him out.

I remember him floating in the water and being surprised that there was a penis, so I said "It's a boy!!! There's a penis!"

The rest was a bit of a blur. I was helped out of the water, and arranged. I was able to birth the placenta right away as it had detached and was just sitting there, what a relief to have the contractions end! I had just a very small tear/mark that we left to heal by itself. The girls came up at some point, and Avery was able to cut the cord. So cool! He started nursing right away and had a great latch. He didn't want to let go ;)

Everything was very normal and relaxing. It was very surreal to have a baby after dinner, and everyone go to bed without disrupting routine too much!

A very healing experience after Avery and Quinn's births and I wouldn't change a thing!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Letter to the Mother in the NICU

I remember you. Your baby was tiny. Beyond that I don't know much. We never spoke and I know you'll never see this, but there is something I've been meaning to apologize to you about.

I saw you walk into the lounge that day. I want to say around Jan 23, 2008 but I can't remember which one as they all sort of blur together. You were dabbing your eyes with a tissue and quietly sniffling. I wanted to run over to you and hug you and tell you that everything would be alright. But....I didn't. I averted my eyes and pretended to be reading or checking my phone. Something lame like that. And that eats at me. Why couldn't I comfort you? Shouldn't I, as a fellow mother with a baby here, be able to empathize with you? Perhaps I was too caught up in my own situation. I was so busy trying to be strong and in control of my emotions that taking on any of yours might have caused me to crack. And if I cracked, then that would mean it was real. Then I would have to admit that I was in pain. That no, I wasn't holding it together. I was a wreck on the inside. So I put up the walls and didn't let you in, and for that, I am so sorry. Even now, almost two years later, I feel the walls going up again as I write this. I don't want to feel those raw emotions.

I think, more likely, what was holding me back was guilt. Guilt that my baby was going to survive and lead a mostly normal life. Guilt that she was 9.5lbs and able to nurse from my breast while many of the other babies couldn't even breathe on their own, let alone nurse. Guilt that, once her heart was repaired, we were going home. But you had bigger issues. You were just looking for your baby to make it through the night. Then maybe be big enough to eat or to be held. It was definitely a "it could be worse" kind situation. Why do we do that to ourselves? Did you find yourself doing that after seeing some of the other babies in there? That kind of denial does nobody any favors. Does the fact that it could be worse make my pain any less important? Does that mean that we're not allowed to mourn the sense of normalcy that we lost? Why do we feel selfish for simply acknowledging our own pain? It doesn't diminish anyone else's pain. Maybe I thought you'd think I was trite for suggesting that everything would be ok?

The nights were the worst, don't you agree? It was so quiet except for the sounds of the various machines and monitors beeping. The chairs were horribly uncomfortable. Every once in awhile an alarm would go off. The nurses would rush over and I'd get so worried about the baby. Did it stop breathing? Was it going to die right here in the middle of the night? And the crying. Oh the sound of those tiny baby cries will be burned into my brain forever. Since my daughter could nurse, I stayed there almost 24/7 to make sure she didn't get any bottles, but we were only there five days. How long did your baby stay? Weeks? Months? We were in pod 62. I walked by yours but you know what it's like there. You don't get nosy and poke into other pods. I know your baby was tiny but that's about it. Why didn't I reach out to you? And why couldn't I reach out to anyone and ask for help? Perhaps that question is best left for another time. I hope you had a lot of support. But please know that I think of you often. I wonder how you and your daughter are doing. I bet she's a sweet little thing. And I will always regret those two minutes when I should have gotten up and asked if you needed anything. I'm truly sorry.