Birth Stories

IMG_0193Beka & Tim…

I went in to see the midwife exactly one week past my due date, March 11. I was beginning to get discouraged. I had tried having my friend massage trigger points on my feet and hands, jogging, lots of walking, and all the other things they tell you to do to start labor. Nothing was working.

I asked my midwife to strip my membranes (Ouch!!!) and she said that I would probably feel contractions for a couple hours and if my body was ready, I’d have a baby, but if not, the contractions would stop. I left the office having reluctantly scheduled an induction for 4 days later thinking that there was no chance of me going into labor that day and thinking that I was doomed to an IV full of Pitocin, followed by an epidural because my labor wouldn’t progress, ending with an emergency C-section.

Like the midwife said, I experienced contractions right after I left the clinic. My sister and I went to the dog park and I needed to stop walking and concentrate through the contractions. When we got back to the car she said, “Your contractions are coming every 3-4 minutes” Laughing, I told her it was probably not going to happen and that we should go to Ikea to buy curtain rods.

In Ikea the contractions continued and got more intense, I had to stop, breathe, and lean over the shopping cart to deal with them. “You are in labor Beka,” my sister said and excitedly we both breathed through my contractions and laughed at the people staring at us as they walked by. I called Liz (our doula) to let her know what was going on and she seemed pretty convinced that I was going to have that baby…I was still not quite convinced. When we go to the “Scratch-and-dent” section I felt something that can barely be described in words. It was like something punched down on my cervix from inside my uterus while at the same time a cork came dislodged. I think I even heard a noise. I had to sit down and close my eyes to deal with the intensity of the following contraction and the warm gush that I felt between my legs.

Oh my god I think my water just broke. I waddled to the bathroom as quickly as I could and sat on the toilet where my body started emptying itself in more ways than one. My sister came bursting into the bathroom shouting, “Did your water break?!” I didn’t know because it wasn’t watery, it was more mucousy and pink…that’s not what all the books said would happen. I just couldn’t imagine getting off the toilet. Plus I was having contractions every 3 minuets…this was certainly not how all of my birthing books described the onset of labor; there was nothing gradual about this. The midwives later said that it was just my mucous plug coming out but looking back I really believe this was when my water broke. Do mucous plugs gush?

When we got home I promptly filled the tub and threw up. I called my husband home from work. When he saw me he called Liz and she came over. He timed my contractions and Liz held her blessedly cool hands against my forehead reminding me to relax my face. This was intense, I thought for sure I was dilating fast. Time becomes a blur at this point but I know that were going to go into the hospital at 3:30 PM.

At the hospital they checked my progress and I was only at 2 cm. WHAT! How is that even possible with the amount of pain I had, my contractions were 3 min. apart, I couldn’t talk through them…shouldn’t that mean that more was happening?

My mom and sister and friends, Natalie and Aimee met us at the hospital. The nurses and midwives left us alone, coming in occasionally to check the baby’s heart rate. I needed everything and everyone to be very calm and quiet so I was grateful that the hospital staff left us alone. I spent a lot of time in the tub, sitting, or standing. Lying down sounded absolutely horrific to me. Liz’s hands, which seemed to be under the control of a magic climate control system because they were so deliciously cool, helped me focus my breath and relax my body. When she touched my face I could relax. When she touched my shoulders I could relax. She helped me figure out how to stop wasting energy tensing my legs during a contraction and reminded me to make some noise during my breathing.

They tried to get me to eat but I threw up everything. The hours whizzed by and I felt like I was floating in my own world that existed one contraction at a time. I could hear the quiet conversation that was happening in my room but could not understand the words. I focused on a drop of water falling into a perfectly still lake creating ripples that eternally opened and opened. I thought of the constant rhythmic waves of the ocean. When I focused on breathing and relaxing and opening through the contractions the pain was really quite manageable, I was thinking really positively about myself until they checked me again at 1:00 am. I was 100% effaced and 4 cm. That’s it???!!! That’s wonderful Beka you’ve done a great job, you have come a long way. What were these crazy people talking about I had been here for hours and hours, barfing, moaning, breathing, in the tub, out of the tub, and I was ONLY 4 cm? NOW they were calling it active labor (what the bleep was it before). They wanted me to get some rest…yeah right. It was at that point I began to feel afraid that maybe I couldn’t do this; maybe I wasn’t strong enough for a natural childbirth.

At some point during the wee hours of the morning there was a shift change and a new midwife came on. I had been warned that this particular midwife pulled the plug on water births often because she didn’t feel comfortable with the process. Also, my contractions really picked up in intensity. Around three or four in the morning the midwife came in and announced she didn’t feel comfortable allowing me to proceed with the water birth because the baby’s heart rate was dropping during contractions. She wanted me to lie on my side (the most painful position for me), hooked up to the IV, and on constant fetal monitoring. Suddenly, the peaceful atmosphere that had been created, the careful control of pain through relaxation and concentration was shot to hell. It seemed like there were wires and tubes everywhere and immediately I was in unbearable pain. I can’t do this anymore, I can’t do this anymore I was shouting. I was trying to sit up, I wasn’t breathing effectively and I felt totally hysterical. Liz was saying my name to refocus me, my friends and family were telling me that I could do it and I silently cursed their names for it, the nurse was telling me to focus on my toes because they were not feeling pain. The midwife checked me and I was at 8 cm. The nurse started preparing the room for delivery and I felt totally scared and defeated. The thought of pushing this baby out on the bed seemed impossible. I must have drifted off into my own world because someone was waking me telling me that it was okay to deliver in the tub and they were filling it right now.

What I didn’t know was that Liz, our nurse, and our first midwife made some secret plans just in case the second midwife pulled the plug on the water birth. Our first midwife came back to the hospital and took over again. She looked at the baby’s heart rate and said it was fine for me to be in the tub. It was as if the clouds parted and angels started singing. Suddenly I had more energy and I got out of bed and started to head across the hall into the water birthing suite. As soon as I got in the water the pain lessened significantly and my head became clearer, I think I was even cracking a few jokes.

Shortly after I got in the tub I felt the urge to push. It was incredibly powerful and intense; my body felt like it was no longer mine. I wanted to push but it hurt so badly. The midwife check me again and I had just a little lip of cervix left to dilate so instead of pushing when the urge came I had to pant. I remember feeling nervous about making strange noises while in labor but at this point I had no control over the noise coming out of me. Finally the midwife told me I could push. At that point I knew I was so close to meeting my baby yet I was afraid to push. I pushed a little while in an upright position without much progress because as soon as I started pushing the pain would make me stop. Then something inside of me clicked and I realized that I could do it but more importantly, I had to do it. I found a position that worked and started giving it all my might. I was making a lot of noise and focusing on “pushing through the pain”. Liz told me to be concentrating on focusing my energy downward rather than out of my mouth through noise and it worked! I held my breath and imagined everything pressing down to get that baby out. People were cheering me on! I didn’t believe I was making significant progress until they told me to reach down and feel his head. It was soft and slippery. Pushing his head out hurt but not as bad as I thought it would and then came that amazing feeling of him sliding out of my body…it was glorious! My husband picked him up out of the water, put him on my chest, and my world stopped.

There on my chest was my son. He was big, healthy, perfect, and purple. He opened his eyes a little and gave a squeak. I felt an intense surge of powerful love, profound awe of this new little life, and immense gratitude that I was the mom of this perfect creature.

Liz helped me get the babe latched on and nursing while the nurses stitched me up. He was 9 pounds 13 ounces after all and came out with his fist pressed against his face. I should have spent the next hours sleeping after a 22 hour labor but I could not take my eyes off my little man, and have felt exactly the same was ever since.

I cannot imagine giving birth without Liz, and I am so grateful for her continued support through out my postpartum with breast-feeding issues, concerns, and fears.

Angie & Cory…..

“I woke up late Tuesday (9/1/2009) night bleeding. I called the nurses’ station at St Joe’s to see what to do. They told me to come in. I was still not dilated and they said that this was a normal occurrence. At this time I was having very mild contractions that just felt like cramps. After a few hours we were discharged. Wednesday I worked from home and continued to have contractions that felt like cramps. They picked up in intensity a bit by Wednesday afternoon. My husband, Cory and I decided to head to the State Fair for a distraction. We had just paid to park and were walking to the gate when my water broke. I ducked into a port-a-potty to see if it was really my water or just my bladder. I couldn’t really tell. So we walked back to the car to find something else I could use to soak up some of the fluids and decide whether to turn around or go into the Fair. Just then, another gush of liquids came and we decided that with that we would head home. I was scared so I texted Sarah (my doula) but she was busy so Liz called me.

Liz was our back up doula as Sarah would be out of town Labor Day weekend. After talking to Liz, I decided not to go into the hospital yet, even though my water broke and that was against all medical advice. It was a long night with me breathing through my contractions throughout the night. We got some sleep, but not much. Now it was Thursday. I knew I wasn’t going into work so I emailed my boss to tell him I wouldn’t be in that day. We spent the day breathing through contractions, working with distractions and talking to our fabulous doula, Liz! We watched the movie Yes, Man, walked around Long Lake Regional park by our house, took multiple walks around the block and just enjoyed each others’ company (all while breathing through contractions). Around 4 PM the contractions picked up again in intensity. I was a bit nervous that we were not at the hospital since the doctor told me to go in immediately if my water broke. I just didn’t want to be confined there, but I also didn’t want to get an infection. So after talking it through with Liz we decided to continue to wait it out.

By that evening the contractions were coming stronger. I was crying epidural by 8 PM and ready to head out the door as soon as Liz got there. Cory even called the hospital to let them know we were coming in. But low and behold Liz came around 9 PM. We were all stationed in the bedroom with very dim lighting and Liz’ peaceful, calming voice encouraging me to work with each contraction. Cory and I would “slow dance” through them – each one lasting about a minute. I was still crying epidural. At this point Liz had me jump in the tub. The contractions came less frequently and I was able to get some rest finally between them. She explained what would need to be done in order to get an epidural. I was wanting a quick fix, willing this child out of me right now – no matter what. And that’s not what an epidural would have done. After the tub we were back in the bedroom with me on the birth ball. Cory said it was here I was a changed person. The contractions weren’t as bad. I was much more relaxed and able to handle them by just breathing, hip circling and imagining how powerfully they were helping to open the cervix. Around 1:30 I felt a slight urge to use the bathroom (not pee). This was a good sign. It was time to go in to the hospital.

Cory called St. Joe’s to make sure they still had a room for us and to let them know we were heading in for real. I climbed in the back seat of the Honda on all 4’s and did my hip circles with Liz applying pressure on my lower back. In the 15 minutes I only had 2 contractions and was able to breathe through them. I was in my zone now. When we got to the hospital Cory dropped Liz and I off at the Emergency room and parked the truck. We had to wait for a nurse to come escort us up to our room. I had one little pit stop before getting into the elevator for a contraction. But we made it. I was hooked up to the fetal heart monitor and the other monitor for contractions for 20 minutes. They checked me – 7 cm dilated!!! We couldn’t be happier! After my 20 minutes were up I was able to get into the awesome tub and work through more contractions. I was getting close. I was now between an 8 and a 9. However, I didn’t progress much after this. A shift change occurred and the labor and delivery nurse came into check me. She said either the kid had no hair or I still had a second bag of water in the way of the cervix. We decided to break the water bag. After she did this things progressed very quickly. Within an hour I was ready to push. The doctor had been called and here it was time to push. They could no longer distinguish between my heartbeat and the baby’s so they put a fetal heartbeat monitor in his forehead to pick up his heartbeat. It was low, so they hooked me up to an oxygen tank where I was coached to breathe deeply – once for me, once for baby and once for my uterus. It was now time to push. I started pushing around 9:30 and before long they were were calling the doctor NOW because the baby’s head was right there. One more push and it was out. One more push and he was half out. One more push and at 10:01 on Friday, Sept 4, 2009 Grayson Jeffrey entered the world and was put right up on my chest. All perfect 6 lb. 2 oz. of him. I couldn’t have done it without my AMAZING support team of Cory and Liz and the fabulous nurses at St. Joe’s. What a perfect ending to a beautiful pregnancy.”

Enlightened Mama

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