Volume 1: Issue 1

Sage Parenting

Birth Stories

melaniee, TnGsMom(dd), TnGsMom(ds)


Our Birth Story - an Unexpected Hospital Birth


I was due on November 5th, but figured I would certainly go beyond that date since I had been born 18 days late. What a surprise it was to be sitting at the computer (in the hubby's highly-coveted leather chair - hahaha) and feel my water break at 2:15 p.m. that day. Hubby was (unfortunately) laid off of his job the week prior, so (fortunately) he was home with me.

We headed to the birthing center where my midwife assured us that I was just in prelabor because she could tell by my face. I wondered what she meant by that? I was only a finger tip dialated so after some fetal monitoring because of "light" meconium in the fluid, we went home and agreed to call her that night around 10 p.m..

The labor pains gradually went from quite bearable to something that made me understand her earlier statement about my face. At around 6 p.m. I could no longer tolerate any of the laboring positions we had learned in our Bradley class, except standing, due to an intense pain in my hip bones that came with each contraction. I had never heard of this before and it was beyond painful, however I was charged just thinking that we'd have our little one in a few hours.

At midnight we went back to the center to find out I was just 2 1/2 centimeters dialated. Ouch! ALL of that pain for 6 hours and I was only 2 1/2. She gave me some homeopath (that I never did find out what it was called) to try to assist in the dialation (my cervix was at least soft).

We decided to go back home and try bathing and showering to help with the pain, and come back at 6 a.m.. Unfortunately bathing was too excruciating, but the showering helped. I kept wondering how the birth would work out since the center did most of them in their large bath tub and I still couldn't do anything but stand.

At 6 a.m. we went back and I was certain that the pain I had felt MUST have done something progressive because my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and 1+ minute long. By now I had been standing almost solidly for 12 hours and my body was really swollen and exhausted. After 6 more hours, I was just another 1/2 centimeter dialated: 3 centimeters. She gave me more homeopath and had us labor at the center for 2 hours at which time I was a "good 3 centimeters."

She advised us that most certainly I would get there eventually, but didn't think I could wait long enough so if we wanted she would help us find a good hospital/doctor for "pain management & labor acceleration."

This was no doubt the hardest decision I have ever made. I had been pondering it since midnight when she first mentioned the possibility, and still did not know what to do. I was very afraid of a hospital birth and especially spinal medication due to my mother's post-partum migraines which never went away. I did not want to be cut, have my son's cord cut prematurely and to have him taken away from me after the birth, etc. etc. The Hubby didn't want to push me into anything, but I know he was having a hard time seeing me in pain. I think I just wanted him to decide for me, but of course he would not. We finally agreed, out of exhaustion more than pain I think, to go to the hospital because I certainly could not stand another 8-12 hours and he wouldn't make it on his 45 minutes of sleep.

My midwife had three doctors in particular, one I did not like as I had seen him earlier in the pregnancy when the local ER sent me to his hospital for a C-Section and gall bladder removal (luckily he was at least a competent physician and realized that was not necessary, but he was very impatient/condescending/etc., a typical physician), one an hour and a half away and another in the city my mom lives, about an hour away. Of course it was now morning rush hour so any place would take a while to get to. The doctor that she knew of in my mom's town she felt I would be most comfortable with because he used midwives in his practice and might even look at my birth plan beforehand, but he would have to be on call. Also he was 60 minutes away and I just could not fathom how I would ever be in a seated position that long. The 10 minute drive to/from the center multiple times that night had been excruciating.

After another hour she got a hold of him and I was "in luck" because he had just done a c-section (uh-oh, that didn't make me feel confident) and was at a hospital an hour away and would take us.

The drive was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I believe, now, that forcing myself to be seated must have moved the baby to a new position because the hip pain lessened, and my contractions slowed so I only had 3 the entire way there.

I had never been to this hospital before in my life. As we were admitted the nurse asked me if I was sure I was at the right hospital because "my" doctor usually delivered elsewhere. Not a good thing to say to a women in labor. Luckily, we were at the right place. Now I must give kudos to this hospital. As the Hubby grilled them at the nurses station we found out I would get a private labor & delivery room plus a private recovery room and the babies never leave your sight except to go to the NICU, if necessary. That did put me at ease after recalling the nursery of crying babies and one getting sugar water at the other hospital where I had been a few weeks earlier. Our nurse patiently answered half an hour of questions regarding their policies, the pain medication, etc. At this point the only negative thing had been they do not allow you to stand, lying or sitting only. I did not imagine how I would do that, but then we realized the pain had decreased and the contractions slowed to 6 minutes apart. Unfortunately she did some how let it slip that they had already had 4 c-sections that day. I was beginning to wonder if I had chosen the wrong place.

After lots of grilling and more tough decisions we decided on an epidural so I could sleep since it was now hour 20 of standing in labor and they were going to augment the contractions.

The pain medicine certainly did it's trick because I remember being of sound enough mind to remark to the Hubby on the irony of the entire situation as I was hooked up to no less than 8 types of tubing/monitoring. So much for our Natural Childbirth.

At that point they checked me and I was only 4 centimeters but apparently my cervix was quite swollen. At this point the fear returned because we had learned in our class that if you push prematurely (which I hadn't) you would swell your cervix and that would hinder dialation/take hours to return to normal and often ends in a c-section. We attributed the swelling due to the standing for so long. After another hour I had dialated further, but was also swollen more. At this point the nurse mentioned the possibility of a c-section but luckily the doctor came in at that point and said that as long as I continue to dialate that I didn't have to worry. I am *so* grateful that I got this doctor my midwife knew. I am sure many other physicians would have taken that opportunity to get an early afternoon off and just do a c-section.

After an hour and a half of sleep I got the urge to push. I remember thinking that I wish I had more sleep & couldn't he wait. =)

I had made it clear I did not want to be cut at all (one of the few remaing portions of the birth plan we got to use). The nurse did the perineal massage while I pushed for 30 minutes or so. She was very positive and told me she didn't think I would have any problems (thank goodness for all the evening baths and squats I had been doing over the last month, at the suggestion of the midwife).

The doctor came back and after just 15 minutes of pushing (and 22 hours of "real" labor) he helped ME deliver our son! That was such a wonderful experience to think that I literally "brought him into this world." I reached down and pulled him up onto my stomach. He looked so small to me. I had been expecting a big baby due to gestational diabetes, but he was so tiny! The Hubby did not want to cut the cord (he's a bit squeamish) so the doctor did right away and gave him to the NICU team which put him in a warmer next to me so they deep suction him due to the meconium. They did not want him to take his first breath on his own before they could clear his airway. I tried not to think about what they were doing and luckily could not see his head at this point. It seemed like forever until they were wrapping him up to give him back to me, but I think it was just a few minutes. I had planned at the center, of course, to hold him immediately until his cord had stopped pulsating, so this was really difficult for me. Luckily he was just a few feet away under the watchful eye of daddy and I could see him a bit. They got him wrapped up to give back to me, but just before decided his nostrils were flaring and they wanted to take him to NICU. I begged for just a minute with him and they agreed. I think I didn't believe that there was really anything wrong with him and figured they were overreacting.

I gave him back and sent the Hubby with instructions not to let the baby out of his sight for a second and not to let them "do anything" to the baby we didn't want.

At this point everything was really surreal. I am sitting alone in a birthing room with no baby or husband wondering if it all really just happened. After 20 minutes or so I realized that since I told the Hubby not to let the baby out of his sight, I would not get any updates on his condition. Now the worrying set in. I called the NICU after another 20 minutes and they gave me Hubby who said he was okay and they were coming back!! Apparently he had been really pale when they got there, so they monitored him and gave him oxygen, but he was fine. He was 7 pounds, 8 1/2 ounces and 20 inches long.

I finally got to hold my son. All of you mommies know that there are no words to describe that feeling.

We spent that night and the next in the hospital. The Hubby stayed as much as he could, but had already missed one job interview while I was in labor, so had to be gone for several hours one day. Caring for my new son alone was quite an experience. I didn't want to keep calling the nurses all the time so I was pretty much on my own for half of a day.
I tried to feed him but could not. Three nurses later I finally got one who had training in lactation and was able to get him to latch on the morning before we left.

I did allow Vitamin K and the eye drops on the advice of my midwife and birthing instructor. The nurses were not pushy about the Hepatitis B shots, but I could tell they had never had anyone refuse before and weren't quite sure what to do. One nurse asked the other, "Do they have to sign a waivor or something?" The other replied, "No, only if they allow the test." Think about that one for a while. I also allowed the PKU test to be done because one of the diseases it tested for is in Hubby's family. This was horrible and excruciating (for me anyway). I don't know how it is outside California, but here they have to fill 5 1/2 circles on a piece of cardboard with blood, soaked to both sides. Both of these were very difficult for me to watch, but I didn't feel right leaving him to suffer alone (I guess many mothers leave the room), so I just held his tiny hand. I know now this was a useless test because it is not accurate until the baby has begun to digest milk. He had not had any at that point. I am angry that this is common practice in our hospitals, but I cannot help my son now. I was only asked once about circumcision, and no one even blinked when I said no.

Unfortunately he was identified as having an incompatible blood type with mine and began to jaundice. Aside from that, we were both healthy. After 1 week and many heel pricks to check bilirubin levels, the jaundice began to decrease due to his healthy appetite.

All along I kept telling myself (and those who were agast I would have the baby in a birthing center and not a hospital in case "anything went wrong," as if women weren't having babies long before some man wrote a book on it) that the number one goal was to have a healthy baby and the number two goal was to do it as naturally as possible. If I had to pick one goal to succeed in, at least I got the most important one.

One just can never prepare enough for motherhood. I am in constant amazement and adoration of my son. I can't even remember life before him, and don't want to. He is so sweet and patient with us as we learn how to do everything.

Seeing my husband, now, as a father has also been amazing. Not that I was unhappy with him before, but since labor began he has been so supportive to me that I just can't believe how blessed I am with our little family.

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My daughter’s birth

I have honestly felt like the luckiest person alive ever since my daughter was born. I have a wonderful husband and a darling child. I am extremely fortunate. She came to us, healthy and beautiful, and for that I thank God every day.
My daughter was born in a hospital and, although everything didn't go as planned, there were some things that did. For my next child, however, I am going to have a homebirth. I feel this is the right decision for me as I believe in the ability of my body to give birth and know I would be most comfortable in my own home. I do not think that a doctor is the best person to have at a birth. They are trained to know what to do if something goes wrong. That is the essence of the problem with a medicalized childbirth. They look at the miracle of birth as though something could always go wrong which can make a woman worry that indeed something may go wrong and they no longer trust themselves. This causes a cascading effect on the birth scenario as the more fear the woman carries, the more likely she will have a problem.
I want my next birth to be free from such worries. I know that my daughter’s birth may have been so much better had I not been in the hospital. There is nothing the doctor did that a midwife could not have done. Or perhaps that my husband and I couldn't have done ourselves... The doctor even said afterward that although things were a bit rocky she wouldn't have changed anything, like give me a cesarean. In any case, here is the story of my daughter’s arrival:
Twelve days before her birth my doctor examined me internally during a pre-natal visit. She was going away on holidays and wanted to check to see how ripe my cervix was. She discovered that I was already 2 cm dilated. At that time she chose to tear the membranes around the entry to my cervix. I didn't know she was doing this until she WAS doing it. She gave me no warning and did not ask me if she could. I am terribly upset that she did this as it was totally unnecessary. I wanted labour to begin on it's own without any "help" from doctors. The reasoning for her doing it was that if I was ready to go into labour, this would get things started. Many doctors (and some midwives) will do this if they also want to try to start labour so be sure to let yours know if you do not want them to do it. I think maybe my doctor wanted to deliver the baby as she was leaving for quite a few weeks and likely wouldn't be the one unless I went into labour a day or so after this visit. This is quite typical of doctors to try to plan births around their schedules and is, in my opinion, extremely wrong.
Two days later I lost the mucous plug. This is common if you have had an internal exam and are close to your due date. It does not mean labour is soon to follow necessarily. It can start in a few hours after the loss of the plug or a few weeks. I started to get excited, though, as it meant that the baby would soon be here. It was also about that time that I began to have some menstrual-type cramps. They would last for a few hours and were not painful. I had them on some days and others there were none.
On the day she was to be born, at about 2am, I woke up to some similar feelings in my abdomen. I remember laying there and thinking "Is this it?" Of course I must have asked myself that one hundred times during the pregnancy so I considered for a while that maybe it was not the beginning of labour. Yet these cramps would come and go, unlike the others which would linger. So I got out of bed and went to the bathroom. I had a bowel movement and started to get really excited as I knew this was a sign of labor beginning.
I then started timing the rushes. I realize now that you really don't have to go crazy timing. They will come even if you aren't timing them and it is probably better to not dwell on the length of time and such but rather the work they are doing. I should have focused inward and sent more good vibes to the baby within me.
My husband heard me moving about and decided to get up to check on me. I told him I thought things were really starting and he, like most men, started to get nervous. I continued timing and wrote down the length and time between rushes. They seemed pretty erratic to me. Some were 45 seconds long and others were two minutes. Some were three minutes apart and some were six. I thought perhaps this was false labour so I began to walk around the house to see if they would stop.
They continued but were still irregular. By about 4am most were over a minute and a half with two to four minutes between. We decided to get things ready and go on down to the hospital. I had told myself from day one of the pregnancy that I wanted to labour for as long as possible at home so what provoked me to go to the hospital so soon is beyond me. I remember thinking about people telling me "Don't wait too long!" and also about the fact that the baby was coming and being very excited and nervous. Leaving so soon was a mistake but I have learned from it.
When we arrived at the hospital I was examined and was 4cm dilated. I was moved into a birthing room shortly thereafter. At that point the rushes were still not bad. I could easily chat with my husband. He put music on and we were basically left alone from then (about 5am) until about noon. That was one of the positive aspects of my labour at the hospital. They didn't interfere too much at all until towards the end. This is not always the case, though, at all hospitals. Perhaps not even at this one. The main reason nobody bothered us was because there were so many other women in labour and they were too busy.
At 7am I could hear another woman giving birth. She was screaming out and it terrified me. I tried to shut the noise out. I kept thinking that my rushes were just starting to feel stronger and I still had to go through THAT! This is one (of many) very negative things about a hospital birth. We birthing women should not have to listen to other women as it really upsets the flow of your labour. You start to get scared and wonder why they are yelling so much. "Will it hurt that bad for me too?!!" I kept thinking.
I was in and out of the shower about two times by noon. I was vomiting between rushes (a sign of transition) and things were starting to hurt. I also had to listen to yet another woman giving birth which, again, really upset me. Some women say they really go to another world during certain points of their labour. They are virtually unaware of what is happening around them and they are very in tune with their body and their baby. This can not happen at a hospital.
Around the time of year she was born most days are fairly cloudy and a bit glum (with a long winter setting in) but this day was glorious! I wasn't outside enjoying it but we had a big window in the room and the sun was shining in which was so wonderful and it felt like a great day to be having a baby.
My husband was excellent. I remember that when a rush started I would look to him and he would hold my hand. I liked that. If he wasn't nearby just his presence comforted me. I was aloud to eat and drink at any time but I didn't have anything except water and some ice chips.
By noon we wondered why nobody was checking on me so my husband went and got the doctor. She decided to see how far dilated I was and I was at 7cm. She saw me vomiting and said I should take some gravol. She also mentioned she could give me something for the pain. I looked to my husband and he said "I thought you didn't want to take any drugs?" I didn't but it sounded SOOO good. Homebirths are ideal as you can avoid that temptation of drugs. I said Yes, I wanted some and was then given a shot of gravol with some demerol. I wish I hadn't have given in and taken drugs but...I did.
I decided, then, to go into the shower and didn't come out for two hours! The water was going into the hall and I could hear people talking to my husband but I was oblivious. I just worked through the rushes. The demerol made me feel sleepy. I think it may have been the cause for my stalled labour which I will mention shortly. The demerol is supposed to take the edge off but I remember that it still felt quite the same only I could almost fall asleep between rushes and the vomiting stopped (due to the gravol, I guess). I had a chair in the shower which I could rest on.
I started to pant after about an hour in the shower because it felt like what I wanted to do. However, I clearly remember having no strong urge to push. This may have been due to the demerol or just because my body needed a bit more time before it was ready to push. It is perfectly okay to be fully dilated and not pushing. You can wait a half hour and probably something will start by then.
A nurse came and told me that I should get out of the shower as it sounded like I was ready to push (the panting). I really didn't want to get out but complied (damn hospital!). The water was so very soothing. This is why I know I should labour in a birthing pool for my next child as I LOVED the feeling of warm water around me. The shower was okay but I did long for a big tub.
The nurse checked me and said I was 10cm. So she told me how I should push and I tried it. It didn't feel especially better but I thought that was what I was supposed to do so I did. I did this for three and a half hours. The nurses were worried so the doctor came and checked me but didn't see any problems. I continued to push but still there were no real improvements. Things went downhill from here. One nurse kept asking me if my rushes were feeling weaker as she thought I had stalled. I didn't know what to tell her so I think I just ignored her. I was still feeling something but it was a lesser degree. They decided to call the doctor in as it had been over three and a half hours.
Most first labours can apparently have a longer pushing stage but even for a first birth, three and half hours is quite long. The nurse decided to give me a pitocin drip to get things going again as she was sure I had a stalled labour. She couldn't get the IV in so another nurse tried. All of this WHILE I was having rushes! This, again, can happen often in a hospital birth. Labours can stall due to drugs or just that the mother is not comfortable with strangers around while she is doing the private act of birthing a child. So many hospital staff feel they have to get things going with the pitocin. They were making me worried though so I thought I should let them do what they had to.
The doctor arrived and at that point the baby's heart rate started to drop. It went from 130-140 beats/minute to 90. They called in more nurses and a pediatrician as well as the gynecologist (the doctor I am referring to throughout the labour is a family practice doctor who was the replacement for the doctor who went on holidays). They put the monitor on my belly (I had worn it a couple of times earlier and didn't like it all so asked to take it off) and decided to try the vacuum extractor. It kept falling off and people were starting to look nervous. I was moving around a bit (obviously) and the monitor was slipping so they tried putting one into the baby's scalp. It kept falling off too. People were everywhere (four nurses and the three doctors).
Then the heart rate dropped down to 30 and the gynecologist yelled "Cut her!" So I had an episiotomy. The baby’s head was not up against my vaginal wall to numb the area so I felt every cut. My husband, at that point, was extremely scared. They told him to sit as they thought he would faint. I was told to push (with or without contractions). Her heart rate likely dropped because she was petrified, as was I. People everywhere, and all looking so nervous. When the baby’s head emerged they noticed the cord wrapped around her neck twice. I was then told not to push so they could take it off. Then they said to push again. They got her out and put her on my belly. I remember seeing this little body on me but then they snipped the cord and put her in the bassinet so that the pediatrician could check her. I knew that the cord should be left uncut for much longer but I figured they knew best so I didn't say anything. I didn't get to hold my baby right away.
She was crying and I was thankful she was alive. I said "Thank goodness the baby is okay!" But the idiot doctor said "Yes, but lets make sure you are". She was worried because my uterus started to contract right away and she thought it was coming out with the placenta (apparently this happened to a woman whose birth she was at). She pulled on it and the gynecologist kept telling her to stop pulling. Of course I was very sacred because the doctor looked so worried.
The placenta came out after about a half hour. I don't remember seeing it. I think I was trying to see my daughter. I really wish I did get to see it. They then started stitching me up. My husband got to hold her and showed her to me. Finally after about an hour after the birth I got to hold my daughter. My Mom arrived right then and I tried to breastfeed my daughter.
So, you can see, I had almost all interventions imaginable. Were they necessary? That is very debatable. Certainly there was fear for the baby’s life and they were acting on her best interest but doctors usually seem to do many procedures unnecessarily. Things could have gone very differently had I followed my original wish since the time I first heard about it: to birth at home. I just think that I had so many distractions and people around and I wasn't 100% comfortable. Many women have likened it to having people around when you are having a bowel movement. It's private and you don't want people watching, waiting, checking, feeling, disturbing.
I wasn't sure of myself and maybe that is my fault but it seems that when you have a doctor you are made from the beginning to feel like it is not entirely your pregnancy but also the doctors. They have some control over how things turn out and you have to trust them. Now I know better and believe more in myself.
The hospital did allow full rooming-in (I believe most do nowadays) but they would take her for like an hour every night, really late, to weigh her. That isn't right. There is no need to be weighing the baby all the time. The medical profession seems to be obsessed with weighing. They should at least do it when the Mom is alert so that she can go with them.
I couldn't sleep at all at the hospital with babies crying and lights on outside the door. This was absolutely horrible as I desperately needed sleep after 15 hours of labour. I stayed at the hospital for three nights but should have gone home much sooner. The lack of sleep at the hospital set the stage for the rest of that week in which I got practically no sleep and was a mess. My husband was aloud to stay the night so he did that first night but went home the next two.
Probably due to the doctor pulling on the cord but maybe also due to so much pushing, I bled quite heavily after the birth. When the doctor pulls on the cord, it is usually the cause of postpartum hemorrhage. I will not allow anyone to ever pull on my baby's umbilical cord like that again. I would also like to go about two and a half hours before cutting the cord as before that, if you touch it say when the baby is asleep, the baby will stir. This means there is feeling in the cord so it shouldn't be cut so soon. At least let the baby adjust to breathing and let the cord stop pulsating.
Although the birth wasn't perfect I will always regard with fondness the early weeks of my daughters (once I actually started getting some sleep!). My husband was careful to not allow too many phone calls and very few visitors. I think this is extremely important after a birth. There is no need for everyone and their brother to see the new baby. I am thankful he was so insistent that people not come by too much, if at all. This permitted us three to become a family without any well-meaning disruptions. My husband had a full week off of work and then he took about seven weeks of half-days. He had to use up all his vacation time to do this but that was fine with him. It allowed him to help out whenever and wherever he could and allowed us all to get plenty of rest.
Yes, when I look back I remember many things I so wish had gone differently and will do differently next time. Birth is so natural but hospitals do make it seem very unnatural. However I must say that, no matter what, my girl did arrive safely and we were all surrounded in a bubble of love. I wish that to all of you. I hope that every new family can start out tranquilly and lovingly. That would make bringing a baby into the world even more miraculous.

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My son’s birth

Ever since my daughter was, oh, maybe a year old, I really wanted to have another child. I don't know why exactly, that primal urge was there and it was very hard to resist. Don't get me wrong, I loved having just my little girl but there was this desire for another that kept pulling at me. My husband, on the other hand, wasn't so sure. We are pretty young and don't have a whole lot of money behind us and that always worried him. Some say you need money to have babies...I say you need love. And we had that. So once my daughter was about a month shy of her second birthday we decided to go for it. How exciting!!!! Our sweet little baby was conceived on **one** try! It truly was meant to be.
My pregnancy went quite well. We decided to have a midwife and a homebirth and that was a dream come true for me. I believe birth is a very natural thing and that it is not necessary to be at a hospital. Of course there are situations where a hospital may be necessary...I would never put my child at any risk, but I would estimate about 90% of births could easily be done at home. And how wonderful it is!! But I'll get to that in a moment.
I had a few obstacles in my way for the homebirth...namely money. Where I live it costs $2000.00 to have a midwife...$2400.00 for me as I was 4.5 hours away from ours. In some provinces midwifery is covered by healthcare (B.C., Ontario, Manitoba...) but unfortunately not mine. So we did see a doctor for the first while as we weren't sure we could afford a midwife. I did insist on not having a doppler to be used, or any ultrasounds. I did not feel that it was necessary to expose my baby to any ultrasound waves unless there was concern. I preferred the use of a fetoscope so a friend of mine taught my doctor to use one. However he had lots of trouble so we did use the doppler for about 15 seconds one time.
But then, around about February, we decided for sure on a midwife (I was babysitting for extra money) and from there on we only saw her. She has caught many of my friend’s babies and I did meet her back in August shortly after we found out we were pregnant, so I knew her and trusted her already. Also I kept in touch with her throughout the pregnancy when I had questions so we did have an established relationship. We made two trips down to see her for prenatal visits and she came up 2 weeks before the due date as well. Midwife prenatal visits are much nicer than doctor visits. No rush, really easy going and enjoyable.
We didn't tell many people that we were having a homebirth as we really did not want any negativity. We did not want to have to explain ourselves, argue with anyone or cause people to worry unnecessarily. I am glad that we did not tell many people. Those we did tell we knew would be 100% supportive.
I knew I needed help with relaxation during my pregnancy and for labour so I did lots of my prenatal yoga and I listened to a great relaxation tape designed for women preparing for childbirth called "Birth Song". I also read affirmations that I found online and that I made up myself to make me feel really positive and calm about the birth. I really feel that those things helped me immensely. When labour did come I was extremely relaxed and that was essential to the smoothness of my labour. With my daughter I was really not worried about the pain but I see now how I was not relaxed enough. That may have had a role in the craziness of my labour with her.
The supposed due date was April 14th, 2001. Holy Saturday. My Mom arrived on Good Friday and I was still pregnant. We had a really nice Easter weekend-- relaxed, watched movies, chatted, went for long walks, and just enjoyed each other. I had some mild cramps in the evenings...nothing that led me to believe labour was imminent but I knew it would be soon as labour with my daughter began after a week of mild evening cramps.
Every night before I went to bed my Mom would tell me to wake her if anything happened. When I went to bed the night of the 17th, (after a really good movie..."I Dream of Africa") she said the same, so I wasn't so sure that night would be the night. However at 12:50 I woke up to my first contraction. Hooray! I welcomed it and waited to see if more were to come. There were more so I decided to get up and I puttered around the house for a little to see if that would bring them on. I lit candles and put on some nice music. After an hour of contractions that stayed 10 minutes apart I decided to call my midwife. We were all worried that the she would not make it as she did have a 4.5-5 hour drive so I wanted to call her as soon as I knew I was in labour. She said it sounded like the real thing but to call her in a half hour to be sure. At that point things slowed down and I was worried that I had called her for nothing. My husband woke up and I explained to him that I was pretty sure labour had begun but that it was slowing down. We talked for a few minutes but he decided to go back to bed in case it was the real thing, to get lots of rest. I sipped my early labour relaxation tea which had red raspberry, lemon grass, chamomile, nettles and peppermint.
I called my midwife and she said she would start getting ready to leave anyway and would call when she was at the half-way point to see how things were going. I started getting more things together...labouraide drink, getting all my herbs out, dug out our crock pot for the ginger compresses, going through my supplies. By about 4am I had woken up my Mom by the noise I was making so she helped me get the bed ready (my husband and daughter were in the den, she had been in my daughter’s room and we were getting the master bedroom prepared). From there on we chatted and kept track of the contractions. They had started up again and were still roughly 10 minutes apart. My husband woke up and checked on the progress. He did go back to bed but he and my daughter got up for good at about 7am. Our midwife had called at 6am and I told her things had picked up and she should still come! At around that time we called my Dad and told him I was in labour...he was up at 6am anyway and we thought it would be nice to let him know. I had a nice shower and felt really ready to have this baby!
I went online and emailed a few friends and family to let them know I was in labour and to say a prayer for me. Contractions were still 10 minutes apart and not bad at all. We all hung out and at about 8:30am our midwife arrived with her 6 month old son. She began to get her things ready and shortly thereafter my daughter and husband went out for a treat as she was getting a bit excited. My midwife got the room all ready and had breakfast. She would occasionally check the baby's heartbeat with her doppler. All was going great! I was thrilled that she had actually made it and that everything was going so well. We had candles lit still and music playing so we all just chatted between contractions and I was mostly going on my hands and knees for them. For some reason that felt best. They were still very manageable. I decided to try my frozen red raspberry leaf popcycles but they didn't taste so good during labour (normally they are really yummy! My daughter loves them too!). I was worried about the pain increasing suddenly so I mentioned I would take my motherwort and/or skullcap to help. My midwife said she had a herbal tincture (with skullcap, blue and black cohosh and some other things), and we added my motherwort tincture.
At noon I decided to have a bath. My husband got the bath ready and poured in the bath oil I had bought for labour. It had lavender, rose, geranium and clary sage in it which was supposed to be good for labour. Heck---I was willing to try anything! My husband and I were in the bathroom alone and he mentioned that it was weird I was still having contractions that were 10 minutes apart; he said it would probably be a long labour. At that point it had been 11 hours. I was quite happy with it going slow, though, as I got such a break with those 10 minutes. Moments later the contractions went right to being a few minutes apart. Roughly two. My midwife was in to check the heartbeat and see how I was doing. My husband left for a bit and the intensity was really picking up. I asked for my frozen clothes soaked in lemon water and someone got them for me...they felt great!! My Mom came in and her and my midwife told me it might be time to get out if I wanted the baby on dry land. I did not want to leave. They convinced me to get out and I remember telling my Mom I wanted it to stop...I had had enough. In the tub I had a few whoppers and they were enough to convince me that I wanted it to end. I had only been in the tub about an hour.
So I went onto my bed and asked my Mom to hold my leg. I was lying on my side so, with my leg up, it was like I was doing leg-lifts. My husband was downstairs with my daughter and my midwife’s baby had just woken up. I did not want my Mom to let go of my leg as anytime I was moved a bit it felt yucky. My husband bounced around between the children but came in to hold my hand at one point. My midwife had ginger compresses on me and they felt GREAT! I was pretty much pushing ever since I got onto the bed. At some point my Mom and my husband switched places so he was holding my leg and my Mom was holding my midwife’s baby. My daughter was downstairs with a movie and some soy ice cream. She had come up shortly after I got into the room but I didn't want her around so someone brought her downstairs. I asked for more frozen clothes for my head and my husband got them. Ahhhhh! Labour builds up a good sweat! I needed that coolness!
My midwife was telling me she could see the head. I was pushing veeery slowly...I really liked it that way. I mean it was intense and scary but I did not want it to be fast. My daughter came up and my Mom was going to take her back downstairs but I said she could stay seeing as it seemed it would be over soon. They were telling me the head was there and I pushed it out. My husband said the baby looked just like our daughter. And she was right there watching. I pushed the rest of the baby out and my husband yelled "Annnnd... it's a boy!!!!!" I was thrilled that it was over! And I said that many times. :) The baby then peed on me and I held him. We told everyone his name. He was born at 1:56pm (so labour from start to finish was 13 hours).
There was no rush to do anything with the baby. We just looked at him and talked. From there my husband called his family and got his sister. He told her some of the details and my Mom called my Dad. Then my midwife cut the cord and my husband held his son. My Mom was downstairs tending to the children. My midwife cleaned up...some people I spoke with about having a homebirth thought we would have a huge mess. Ha! Things get much messier in the hospital, if you get an episiotomy and such. I think the clean up of the birth stuff took about 5 minutes. I mean, it took a while for her to organize everything and put things away but the birth itself was totally not messy at all!
I had a shower. I only had three little tears so there was no need for stitches. My son had his exam and he was a healthy little boy. My midwife left after about 2 hours and stayed the night at a mutual friends place. She came and checked on us the next day and then left for her home. We were in baby bliss and all was well. If we had been closer she would have come more often to check (at three days, two weeks and six weeks) and I also would have had much more prenatal care. But I still got the best benefit of having a midwife--having her at the birth!!
My Mom had been a bit apprehensive of being there for a homebirth. She is a nurse and has that medical background where you worry about these things. Well...being there really changed her point of view. She is the biggest fan of homebirths now. I was surprised to hear her talking to people on the phone about it...she was in awe at the experience of it all.
The night my son was born I emailed everyone and told them we had a baby boy and sent off the pictures my husband had taken with the digital camera. Then I sat up with a glass of wine and we called some more family. I felt incredible. Alive and just so wonderful.
After my daughter was born things just felt different. Maybe it was the drugs I had with her (gravol and demerol). Maybe it was the 3.5 hours of pushing...I don't know. I was sore and tired and hyper and shocked. This time I just slipped into a really happy state. No worries. I felt so incredibly great! I even said (THAT DAY!) that I would do it again anytime!
The postpartum period at home was very cozy too. My Mom was super and I kept her and my husband busy getting things for me and doing things while I rested. I healed really quickly and I think the sitz baths I took really helped with that. Mostly I did comfrey and uva ursi sitz baths. When I did become engorged a few days after the birth I used cabbage leaves which helped relieve some of the discomfort. He nursed avidly and gained weight right away. He really didn't lose at all. His birth weight was 8 pounds three ounces and by two weeks he was nine pounds twelve ounces!
Everyone I know who has had a homebirth says the same thing. It is truly a remarkable experience. I know in our culture girls and women and scared of childbirth and I see why. Everyone tells their "horror story" of labour to them! Even I did to all my friends and family after my daughter was born. But now I say it is great. Labour is very cool and I mean that! Send more babies my way...I wanna do that again!

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