Monday, July 9, 2012

A Birth With a Change of Plans

We had our baby at 35 weeks. He is doing well and we're home thankfully. He weighed 5 lbs 14 oz and was 19 1/2 " long. he's a cutie and we love him and are glad that things turned out well. My water broke Saturday morning in a slow trickle, my midwife confirmed that it was amniotic fluid and so we went to Good Samaritan's Hospital in Lafayette. I was really nervous about how they would receive me as a homebirth transfer. But they were extremely respectful.

When I got there they confirmed as well that it was fluid. Did an u/s to confirm baby was head down and then the on call OB talked to us about options. He said that typically they would want to start pitocin to get baby out that babies at 35 weeks fair so well that the risk of infection was greater. That was my gut feeling as well. But he told me that it was my decision ultimately and that I could wait as long as I wanted to and they would just monitor for signs of infection. I told him thanks and that I wanted to hold off on pitocin in order to get things going naturally. He told me about a study that showed that "walking the halls didn't decrease labor time but just helped with pain management." I smiled and said thanks but I felt that I could get things going on my own. I use hypnosis and felt that I could use that to get things going.

So after we got everything settled. Dh ran out to get my Hypnobabies CDs from home, including Baby Come Out and bought me a cute skirt from Motherhood Maternity that I could birth in and my sports bra. I called my family and let them know what was going on and wrapped my head around the fact that this was actually happening then the NICU nurse came in to talk to us. She said that only 10% of babies at 35 weeks need to go to the NICU. After that I felt like I could fully release and let myself go into my birthing time (ie labor).

My midwife went to run errands and let us have some time to ourselves. My dh kept things light which I appreciated, laughing helped. They periodically monitored me (with no belts, just handheld doppler which was great). I hadn't eaten much that morning so I had dh go buy some food and snuck a burger for lunch and then some Subway for dinner :) and some Lara bars, etc for snacks. mmmm, that helped.

By 9 pm I decided to go walk the halls. As soon as I stepped out my pressure waves (ie contractions) started to get more intense. I walked and stopped for about 5 and then went back into the room. They slowed down for a bit at 10 pm, only had 4-5 the whole hour which was a nice break and then at 11 pm I did some belly lifts and got things going in earnest. My goal was to have a 5 hour labor and I made the mental goal to have the baby by 2-3 am. I was receiving antibiotics since the GBS status wasn't back yet and I was fine with that given the break in waters. But I didn't want ds to have too much. I called my midwife at 11:30 pm to come back and gratefully she had been waiting in the lobby and was right there good woman. By 2:15 am I was heading into transition and asked that they call the Dr by 2:30 am and get the team assembled in case ds had any issues. I started to push but held off until everyone got there. The silly nurse wanted to do a cervical check before she called the Dr (the only time I yelled, "Get out!"), baby was starting to crown. My midwife said later she was thinking, "Can you not see her bottom bulging?".

Ds was born at 2:58 am after a few good pushes on my side. The on call OB was great about honoring my impromptu birth plan for all of the natural stuff (let the cord pulse, any position for pushing, etc). My only complaint was a nurse named Shauna who was the NICU nurse (the other one didn't make it initially). She grabbed the baby and started aggressively scrubbing him with a scratchy, awful towel yelling that she needed to make him cry after I told her to be gentle. She calmed down after a few seconds and we got to cuddle. Ds's lungs needed some help so the nicer NICU nurse got to work on him for about 1/2 an hour doing chest percussions and oxygen. Finally he was able to maintain his O2 rate. The next day I spent staving off the recovery nurses from wanting to supplement him by nursing and pumping. He had a sleepy, preemie nursing style of one good nurse to 2-3 lazy non-nursings. So we had to use the SNS feeding tube and syringes a few times to get him back on track but did it with my own milk thankfully.

Then we got to come home Monday afternoon. All in all it was a great birth although unexpected. I feel happy to have been able to utilize my mind-body connection and felt like I was in great hands having my midwife plus a great staff at Good Sam there.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Baby Kellam's Quick Arrival

It is hard to believe that I was in labor over a month ago anticipating the arrival of my sweet Kellam and my “perfect” birth. Through my whole pregnancy my sweet sister told me not to plan anything because I would be sadly disappointed if things didn’t go the way I wanted them too. Boy was she right! I should have listened to my younger wiser sister. Thanks for trying Jess! (;

May 16, 2012, was a normal feeling day for me. Jack and I woke up to our normal routine. He watched his favorite program and I was tired but began some house work. Around 11 am I looked in the pantry to decide on lunch and realized that I had not been to the grocery store in almost two weeks due to the fact my husband’s grandmother had been in the hospital and then had passed away on Mother’s day and we buried her on that Tuesday. Needless to say we needed food. Jack and I loaded up and went to the grocery store. I had felt some strong Braxton Hicks contractions but I had been having them “strong” since I was 36 weeks along. Along with lots of “false labor.” Which I have renamed “getting me ready to deliver in hours labor.” I was 39 weeks 3 days and was very pregnant so moving around the grocery store with a toddler that had his own cart took a long time. Almost two hours later we were home unloading the groceries. After unloading them I fixed us lunch and was extremely tired. So nap time it was. My husband Brad arrived home from working around 6? I had had some “pressure down there” and had a burst of energy. (Should have been a sign.) Brad made dinner for us. After dinner he had to go run an errand and I decided to clean up the kitchen. Around 7:30 pm I started having irregular contractions. I was cleaning and Brad had gotten home. It was 9:30 pm at this point. I calmly told Brad that “I maybe in labor” mind you false labor was still on my mind. I text members of my birth team gave them the heads up. I told them I was in early labor. I believed I was since everything I knew stated that contractions became regular during real active labor. I called my midwife around 10 pm she believed I had a ways to go yet and said she would send her student midwife who was an hour away at the time and she would be along shortly. I continued to labor contractions were getting really intense fast. I decided to get in a warm bath to help ease them. I laid on my right side and felt relief for a bit. The pressure began to build again. I decided to get out and get on my yoga ball. I bounced, rotated clockwise and counter clockwise. Still climbing with intensity my instinct was to go sit on the toilet. Sitting on the toilet helped greatly. It helped relieve the pressure from “down there.” Around 11:15 Christine my midwives student arrived. She took my vitals and then helped Brad with the birth pool. I went back to sit on the toilet. I decided I needed to get back in the water. The birth pool was not ready so I ran a tub of water. I realized that after the fact I probably should not have done that since I need to fill the birth tub with warm water. In the bath tub I began to feel myself enter into “labor land.” My midwife arrived at some point. At this point I had lost track of time and was working calmly through each intense contraction. I don’t remember when I decided to get out of the bath tub but I did and moved to the toilet. Vicky came and asked me if I wanted to be checked and to my surprise I said yes. Something I had not planned on. She checked me and I was 8 cm! I was so shocked! I turned to Brad who was on his way to Walgreens to get a few things and said I am 8 cm. That didn’t seem to make him moved he said “okay how is that relation to when the baby gets here?” I smiled because this was a honest question and he really had no clue. This also told me how much he listened to the birth stories I told him about! Brad went to the store. Pressure and contractions were intense I was breathing and doing really well on the toilet. I tried to sit down on the toilet and that was a no go. I yelled to Vicky I think I need to push. She instructed me to go get in the birth pool to see if that relieved the pressure. AWWW….sweet relief!!! I highly recommend being in a large warm tub of water while in labor! The contractions were still coming fast but there was so much pressure relieved I could finally breathe. Well, for a minute anyway. Christine kneeled down in front of me and helped talk me through the contractions. I was breathing but the turning point came very quickly I was calm on the outside but very irrational on the inside. I was panicing in my head. I was scared and afraid of all of this at once. I even told myself in my head that it would be easier to go to the hospital. I laugh now because there is nothing they could have done for me at that point. I snapped myself out of it and told myself I could do this, I wanted to do this and I was going to do this. I also reminded myself that I knew when I had gotten to this “panic” feeling my baby would be here in my arms soon. I finally began to vocalize and moan a bit. My midwife jumped up and I heard Christine say “She knows what that means!” She did I looked up and said “ohhhhh I need to push!” She said go ahead. Well I barely began to push when my body began to work all on its own. The most amazing thing I have ever experienced!!! My body was pushing all on its own! I was in the birth pool on my hands and knees leaning over the side. I heard a “pop” and asked what was that? Christine told me it was my waters breaking. My body then gave my baby an eviction notice so fast I barely felt the crowning of the babies head. I felt my baby move out of my body. I felt his head, his shoulders, body, legs and feet. It was amazing!! My midwife almost couldn’t reach the baby to help me bring him up. She almost ended up in the birth pool with me!! I grabbed him and brought him out of the water. He was so cute. All I could say was how cute he was over and over. I felt relief that was very nice!! I had the overwhelming but most welcomed feeling of oxytocin! That was an unbelievable high!! It was wonderful. I was smiling like a Cheshire Cat! Grinning from ear to ear!! There are no other words other than AMAZING!! That describes this kind of experience and feeling. You cannot buy this kind of high. The baby came out looking to nurse so as soon as the cord stopped pulsating and the placenta was delivered which was like 5 mins later then we moved to the couch and began to nurse. He nursed like a champ!! Which made me even more excited!! Big brother woke up was very excited that he had a “cute” as he put it baby brother. Jack held him with pride.

I loved this experienced and although I didn’t get my video or pictures I am very happy with the labor being fast! Kellam McCommas Taylor was born May 17, 2012 at 1:26 am, weighing 7 pounds 9 oz 20 ¾ in long.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Poor Families Reusing Disposable Diapers

I can't help but wonder why we can't provide poor families with reusable cloth diapers. It would save money over time, help the families be more self-reliant, and save hundreds of thousands of diapers from going into landfills.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Madeline's Birth at Home

August 30 is a day that I will always remember. How could I forget when I now have two children whose birthday falls on that day? August 30, 2011 ended the most chaotic week that I have ever lived in my life. I think for anyone on the East Coast of America they would agree with me. Just the Tuesday before I experienced my first earthquake. I've lived in Delaware my entire life I would of NEVER guessed I would ever feel an earthquake here. That weekend a visitor named Irene came to visit. All I could think about was keeping my family safe and hoping I wouldn't go into labor during the storm. There were tornadoes and floods that night but my precious baby listened and stayed safe inside the womb. Did I mention that two of my older children were sick all week? Not fun! Clean up came on Monday. I felt much better and relaxed from all the stress of preparing for the hurricane. I took a shower late that night. While I was in the shower I told the baby that I felt safe for her to be born and if she was ready I was ready. I went to bed that night wondering if I would wake up in labor or not. I had been wondering that every night for weeks though. Every night around eight I would start out with contractions and go to bed with them. By morning they would be gone.

If you've ever been nine months pregnant you know how your nights are. Either you can't sleep comfortably or your up anyway going to the bathroom every five minutes ( not really but it feels like it.) So at 12:45 I was back up going to the bathroom. I always check for bloody show or a mucus plug. No such luck. I stood up almost disappointed when my water broke. I was still having random contractions. My previous labors were similar except I never had contractions. This time would be different. I yelled for my husband downstairs. He was still up playing Xbox. He came up and helped me clean up and get me back into bed.  I called my midwife and let her know what happened. She told me to call her when I was ready. I stayed up talking to a few people on Facebook and texting my friend. I was too excited to get much sleep but eventually I did. Our oldest daughter heard the excitement and slept in my room that night in case I needed her. It was now my oldest son's birthday. I woke him up and told him the new baby would be born on his birthday or the day after. He was SO happy. He wanted the baby to share his birthday. My contractions were pretty strong and coming somewhere around ten minutes apart. I hated timing them. It annoyed me because I could barely tell when it would start and end. I didn't really understand when to look at the clock or to push the timer button on a contraction app I downloaded on my phone. So I just guessed.

I called my best friend who wanted to be there for the birth and told her today would be the day. She knew I had been having contractions for weeks and was excited when I finally told her it was real. She came over and almost instantly my contractions stopped. I became disappointed. All the kids had gone back to sleep so I told my husband that I was going for a walk. I had a couple contractions on the walk but I knew I wasn't 'in labor' any more. When my husband woke up he told me he wasn't happy that my friend was here. They really don't get along. I wanted and needed him to be as happy with this birth as I would be. I knew this from the beginning. I suspect that this is why my labor stopped. My body wanted to be happy and stress free for the birth.

My midwife came over after lunch to check on me. She checked my blood pressure. It was fine. I gave her a sample of my urine. That was fine. She gave me a strip of something to put on my pad to prove rupture. That was pretty obvious. She went over her protocol to keep me infection free since my waters had broke. She never once checked my cervix. I was glad. She never even asked. Having my cervix checked annoys me, to say the least. Plus with a rupture it can introduce infection which is NOT what I wanted to do. I felt very comfortable with her. There was a sense that I had with her from the beginning. She had been the midwife to a family that I love, look up to and miss SO much. To this day she is still close to them. I knew if they loved her and trusted her I should and would too.

When the midwife left I suggested to my friend that she go ahead and go home. Her kids would be getting off of school soon and I wasn't in labor any more. She agreed and told me to call her if they started back up. As soon as she left my contractions started right back up. Soon I was in labor. It was funny though because by this point I was in complete denial. I posted on FB asking if any one had a birth ball. A good friend of mine messaged me and said she would bring one over ASAP. The only way I could work through a contraction was to kind of squat and walk through them. Another good friend of mine asked if we needed anything to eat. She came over with pizza for the kids and subs for Tim and I. Since it was Timtim's birthday I asked her to bring over his favorite pineapple pizza and he LOVED it. With two different friends here my contractions didn't stop. I felt like I didn't have to explain anything to them and my husband almost didn't care that they were here either. We were all relaxed and my body was doing what it needed to do.

After I ate I started to become afraid. I had never had an unmedicated birth before.  These contractions were coming strong. The only kind of birth I had ever had was with pitocin. A pitocin labor is hard. The contractions come steady one over top of the other. The contractions are strong and nonstop. With a pitocin labor I always had stadol. A drug that puts you to sleep through contractions. I had always just woken up when it was time to push. Now it suddenly hit me that I would have contractions one on top of the other and they would be stronger than what I was having and I would have no relief. I texted my midwife and told her I was scared. Being the person she is, honest and straight forward, she asked what I was afraid of and what I wanted to do. I told her I wanted a homebirth more than anything. She said ok cause she doesn't have stadol and to not be afraid. I could do it. She knew I was having contractions and told me to count how many I was having in the next half hour and call her back. Haha! I'm glad she knew what was going on because I was still in denial.

After thirty minutes I had concluded that I had three or four strong contractions. I told her I felt something else but that it was just fake contractions between my strong ones. I had just walked upstairs and she asked me what was going on now, wasn't I having a contraction. I was out of breath and yes I was cramping but it wasn't strong so I just blamed it on walking upstairs and being out of breath. She told me to call her when I was ready. I agreed. I wasn't sure what I was going to do next. I remember laying down. I wanted to take a nap. My four year old was staying pretty close by me. I remember him hiding under my papasan chair next to my bed watching me. I had prepared all of my children for the birth. They watched plenty of you tube videos and they had all watched Ricki Lakes documentary The Business of Being Born on Netflix with me. I told them they could do what they wanted during the birth. They could be in the room or they could play or whatever they felt most comfortable with. My oldest daughter, Makayla, who is just 9, wanted to be in the tube with me while I gave birth. She was super excited and checked on me and brought me water and ice all the time. She was my little doula. She even told everyone that she wanted to be a midwife when she grows up.

Around 8 I remember telling one of my friends, Iris, that I was going to get in the shower. I wanted to see if it would help me any. Besides I didn't want to smell horribly while giving birth. The shower helped SO MUCH. When I got out I bounced off a few ideas to Iris. I wanted to get in the tub. I wanted to relax. The contractions hurt. She knew I was in full labor. But I was convinced I wasn't and even told her that I was going to get into the tub even if it relaxed me enough to take my contractions away. I started filling the tub. Makayla was so excited at this. She knew that she had to get a shower before she could jump in with me. I told her to wait a while for the tub to fill up and then she could get in. Since I had just taken a shower the hot water ran out before the tub filled up. Makayla had told Tim that I was filling up the tub. He responded with is the midwife on the way? I didn't know if by getting in the tub my contractions would stop so I didn't want to call her yet. He stayed downstairs and played with the four boys. I assume that he put them to sleep. I don't really know what was going on downstairs. I do know that Jezaniah, my four year old, stayed up and kept an eye on things from my bedroom. Makayla of course was waiting to jump in the tub.

Once the tub was full I jumped in. It felt SO good. I could still feel the contractions but they didn't hurt like they did when I wasn't in the tub. My friend Trish played with Makayla for a while. I remember hearing them and I knew Makayla was coming back and fourth from her room to check on me. Iris stayed in the bathroom with me. I don't remember what we talked about. Probably me being in denial. I know I fell asleep. When I woke up I yelled for Makayla to grab me a bowl. I had to throw up. She got me a little cereal bowl and I ended up filling that up and a huge Royal Farms cup. After that I felt much better. I wasn't in denial any more though. I knew it was time. I told Makayla to call the midwife. She knew how to do it. I could hear the midwife on the phone. Makayla told her that I said it was time. The midwife, said she would be right on her way. Makayla told Tim that midwife was on her way. He came up to check on me. He told all of his friends that the baby was the way. I lost track of time. I know I asked what time it was pretty often. I wanted to know how much longer till I would have the baby and if the baby would be born that day or after midnight.

Makayla stayed in my room from that point on. My friends Iris and Trish stayed in the room too. I could hear them all talking and playing a card game. When I looked up I could see them. I took comfort in the fact that they were there but left me alone. Things where getting pretty intense. Makayla would come hold my hand and rub my head. I wonder if she knows how much that meant to me. I still tear up thinking about how much she cared for me. She was so brave to not be afraid of Mommy's pain but to help her through it. Jezaniah would not come into the bathroom. When I started vocalizing through contractions I think it became too much for him and he would cover his ears. My midwife would come over and talk to me a little bit. She would check the baby's heart. I didn't have to have one of those things wrapped on my belly the entire time. I was comfortable. Yes I was in pain but I was as relaxed as I could be knowing that the people there loved and supported me. The midwife reminded me to listen to my body and to push when I could no longer stand not pushing. When a contraction would come I could no longer sit down. I would hold onto the sides of the tub. There was a towel there and I would bite it. I know at one point I thought I had 'quietly' cursed. I heard the midwife say "I know that word". I couldn't really laugh but I did laugh. Apparently everyone in my room had heard me too.

I told Makayla to go and get Tim. He is pretty uncomfortable seeing all the pain of labor. He had stayed downstairs until I was ready to push. Makayla got into the tub at this point too. The way I was pushing through contractions she ended up sitting on the side closest to the wall. I was getting loud and at this point it might of scared her a little. Then suddenly everything stopped. I was so surprised. I was having a break. My body was preparing me to really really push. I had heard of this break from other moms. I never expected it myself. I laughed and was reminded how great it was to have an all natural birth. I knew my baby would be in my arms soon.

This time I was pushing and pushing hard. I wanted my baby to be here. Makayla could see the baby's hair and said it was a lot of hair. I liked watching her facial expressions as the baby was born. As I felt the 'ring of fire' I tried to say ring of fire but no one could understand me. Her head came out and I was waiting for her body to just slide out. I gave another strong push and the midwife told me to catch her. I tried. She was so buttery I needed help to grab her. The first thing I said was 'my baby' and then 'my baby is perfect.' We had kept the gender a surprise and through all of this I had forgot to look. My midwife picked up one leg and told Makayla it was a girl. There were cheers coming from in my room. Makayla was crying. I asked what was wrong. I had some fears of how she would feel if there were another girl in the house. She told me through her tears "I'm so happy I have a sister!" I think we were all choked up. I will never forget that moment.

I got out of the tub to get into my bed. Later on Makayla told me that even though I had no clothes on, as I was walking on the towels completely nagged holding the baby she thought that I looked like Miss America or that I had just won first prize at something. I cant imagine a better way to think of someone who had just given birth at that moment. She has such a positive outlook on birth and being a woman now. I am so proud of her and so glad she was there. I birthed the placenta on my bed. Tim hates placentas. I love them. Tim continued to take pictures of the process but he would cover up what he could see of the placenta with his hand. I had to laugh at him. Jezaniah came and checked out his sister. Through out my pregnancy he would hug my belly and say I love that baby several times a day. He gave the baby a kiss and said I love you Baby. I imagine that he is going to be a very protective older brother. Shame on any one that mess with my baby girl. She has four older brothers looking after her. Makayla cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing. She had done the same with my youngest boy. Daddy doesn't like cords and placentas so it seems like that is Makaylas job. She likes to do it. Not many nine years old have cut two baby's cords and been to a home water birth.

My baby girl weighed exactly 8 pounds. I had been worried that she would be under 7 as I am a vegetarian. I had told myself I wanted an 8 pounder. My older babies were all in the 7 pound range. I was so happy to reach 8! She was 20 1/4 inches long. Her head was 13 1/4 cm. To me she was just perfect. Tim and I talked about her name one last time. After all the craziness of the week I teased him and said we should name her Sunshine. He was thinking about it and I told him we could call her Shiny for short. We laughed about that for awhile. Later on we agreed to stick with the name we had talked about the entire pregnancy. Madeline Louise. The name Madeline means woman of Magdalene. Louise is my Grandmother's name who I was very close to. I helped take care of her before she passed. She once made me promise that I would have six boys before I would have a girl. So I made a deal with her in my head that if I named the baby Louise could I have a girl. I guess she agreed.

I nursed and went to the bathroom. I even took a shower. I ate pizza. I shared with my family and friends how much I loved them and glad they could be there. We woke up Timtim to tell him he had a baby sister to share a birthday with. I knew he wouldn't remember in the morning. He looked like he was sleep walking. I called my friend who had been there that morning. She was upset that she missed the birth. I think she forgave me once she got to hold her. I am really stingy when it comes to holding my newborns so she knew she was special by holding her. Soon everyone left. It was three a.m. when I remember Makayla saying she was too tired to stay up any more and was going to bed. I held her and told her how much I loved her and was so glad she was there for me. Tim and I fell asleep cuddling our new baby in our own bed. It was all very surreal. The time flew by way too fast.
I love that I gave birth at home. I love that I gave birth in water. The water is very special to me. I am trying to soak up every second of my baby girls life. I am so in love with my family. I want to say Thank you Tim for realizing how much a home birth means to me. Thank you for supporting me and loving me. Thank you Makayla for being there, RIGHT there for me. You might not know how great of a service you did for me that night. Our bond is so strong now. I love you. Thank you Iris for the ball, even though I never ended up using it. Thank you for taking pictures. Thank you Trish for dinner that night. Thank you for the bag of ice from Sonic. Thank you to my midwife for believing in me for knowing I could do it when I was scared and reminding me of it through out my birth. I couldn't be more happy with how everything turned out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pre-eclampsia, a Long Induction, and a C-section. Welcome to the world, Baby Lucie!

Welcome to the world, Lucie Elizabeth! *possible TMI... Lucie's Birth Story
On Tuesday, January 17th, I started having contractions at 2:30 pm, as I worked my on-call position subbing at the day care. I just ignored them for the most part,until 3:30, when they began to hurt, so I mentioned it to the head teacher in the room, who alerted one of the directors, who found someone to cover for me. At this point, I still thought i'd be safe to drive, but after thinking about it a few minutes, I decided to text my dad and brother who worked reasonably close to the day care to see if either of them could pick me up from work and give me a ride home. I figured that Jon and I could pick my car up the next day after my non-stress test at the hospital, if I felt any better. 

The next day, the contractions continued, but they were still not 5 minutes apart or less. We went to my non-stress test appointment, the contractions weren't really noticeable, but I still wasn't feeling well, so I didn't pick up my car. I would end up having my dad and Jonathan go to pick it up together later that night.

In the meantime, on Wednesday, Jonathan got an email about a job interview in Farmingdale. I was super excited for him, but I wasn't feeling well, so i asked him to take the Thursday interview, but at 2 pm, so if I was sick while he was at the interview, my mom would be getting out of work soon, and could have driven me to ths hospital, if need be. 

Thursday came, Jonathan and I went to Panera Bread for lunch, to celebrate the fact he was going on an interview. I was very excited for him, but I wasn't so excited that I could ignore the cramping and the headache that would not go away. The headache had been around since Wednesday afternoon. Jon asked if I thought the contractions were far enough apart that I could hold out until after his interview, and I agreed that they were. According to the Lamaze instructor, I had at least 5 hours of contractions to go from that point. 

Jon went to his interview. While he was gone, I updated my written birth plan and medical history sheet. I had gotten sick of repeating my surgical history every single time I entered L&D triage, so I thought presenting the nurses there with a printed copy of that, and every other thing I've ever had would make things easier. I also had a medication list.

The birth plan was updated to reflect things I learned from Lamaze Class, mostly. I was open to systemic pain relief, or a spinal, if absolutely necessary, but no epidural. The epidural would have had to be inserted right near my herniated disks, which would cause the risk of me not getting any pain relief at all. I outlined that I wanted Jonathan with me at all times during the birth, and I wanted to be able to wear my own clothes once admitted (with the exception of during surgeries, should any be required, per hospital policy).

I printed 3 copies of the birth plan. I gave 2 to Jonathan, and I kept one to give to the nurses upon admission to L&D triage area. When I arrived, the contractions werent regular... they were anywhere from 6-10 minutes apart. I was dilated "a pinky fingertip" which was "half a cm, maybe?" according to the resident. I was hooked up to the non-stress test. I mentioned I had a headache. I was given tylenol. The headache didn't budge. In the meantime, the doctors noticed my elephant feet. They decided to test again for pre-eclampsia. The blood tests came back fine, but my urine had "trace amounts" of protein in it. 

Dr. Hsu, the chairman of the OB/GYN department at NUMC came in then, to tell me about his decision to admit me to the L&D area. He counselled me on pre-term babies, but then added, "As of midnight tonight, you're 37 weeks, which is considered term. New York State wants all doctors to counsel women to try to keep their babies in until 39 weeks, but if you have the pre-eclampsia, the only thing that will make it better is to deliver your baby."

At this point, I thought that I would end up having a c-section the very next morning, but since Nassau University Medical Center prides itself on its low c-section rate, I was going to be allowed to attempt to deliver naturally, albeit with some medicinal coaxing. This made me very happy, since this was the reason I chose to birth at Nassau University Medical Center. I knew that if they recommended a c-section, it was the best decision for myself and my baby, and that there were no other agendas besides good health for all.

First, they had to relieve my headache, though. Tylenol did nothing for me. Percoset allowed me to sleep, because it made the pain in my lower back from the contractions go away, but the headache remained. At about 4 or 5 am Friday, I was given Staidol. What a trip! I felt like I was on every ride at the amusement park at once. The room was spinning, and I was hallucinating. I screamed, I was confused, I thought it was drugs, but I wasn't sure. I also thought that someone tried to trick me by giving me this medicine, so they could take my baby away. It was horrific, but my headache disappeared. I decided that I would rather deal with a headache next time rather than take Staidol again, but it was important for the doctors to know how bad my headache was. Finding out what lengths it took to relieve the pain gave them an indication.

When I came to in the L&D room I'd been admitted to, there were several nurses, the resident, and the chairman of OB/GYN standing there. They again counselled me on birth before 39 weeks, and the risks associated with it. They also told me that pre-eclampsia can turn into eclampsia, which is a seizure disorder. The only way to avoid this is to have the baby, so they wanted to induce.

I was both grateful and horrified. I wanted to be able to have the baby naturally, well, as natural as possible. I didn't want to have a surgery. That was my plan. However, I was in the worst pain I'd ever felt. The doctors told me that it could take 3 days to induce. First, they would have to use a pill insert called "Cytotec," which is a synthetic version of Prostaglandin. The pill would be inserted manually, by a doctor, right onto my cervix. Then, once the cervix was soft enough, I could be given the pitocin. 

I would also have to be on IV magnesium sulfate until 24 hours after delivery.

I was put on a schedule, I could eat every four hours. 2 hours before and 2 hours after I would eat, I would have the Cytotec inserted, and be checked for progression. By Friday evening, I was having contractions, so after dinner, I wasn't given any cytotec, nor was I given Pitocin, athough I know I heard talk of Pitocin. I was still only 1-2 cm. I had a panic attack, screaming that I wanted a C-Section. I was in so much pain from a catheter that was adult sized in my tiny baby sized bladder, and I couldn't get comfortable, and every time I had a contraction, the tube pinched. The nurses were kind enough to replace the catheter with a child sized one, which was much more comfortable. I told Jonathan, "I'm sick, because of the baby being inside me. The quicker she gets out, the quicker I get better." Jonathan told me I was a wuss, and that if he were a woman, he could go through labor 10 times better than me. I had to laugh, because when he had only 2 of his wisdom teeth pulled, he was a mushy baby. But then, even the laughing hurt me.

Saturday morning, I was told that I was still only 1-2 cm. A third dose of cytotec was administered. Jon started talking about the fact he wanted to go down to the coffee shop for some cereal. I'd thrown up water at around 6 am, so they didn't deliver a food tray, which I could have shared with Jonathan. Then, the nurse came in, and started moving the fetal monitor around. They could find her heartbeat, but little wiggle worm kept moving, and when I had a contraction, her heart rate would drop. Jonathan waited about 30 minutes, but doctors still hadn't come in to say anything, so he went down for breakfast, after I yelled at him that if he missed the birth of his daughter, I'd never forgive him. 

While Jonathan was at breakfast, the anesthesiologist came in to introduce himself, and basically ask why I didn't want any epidurals. I told him I had herniated discs at L4-L5, but if a C-Section was necessary, I was open to spinal block or general anesthesia. 

The anesthesiologist on duty the day prior had also come in to introduce himself, so I didn't think much of this.

Then, another 1/2 hour later, the pediatrician comes in and starts asking about my request to feed the baby Similac, and asks if the formula I brought was ready-to-feed or powder... since I was going to have a C-Section, and the baby would be delivered soon. I said, "Oh, wow, they hadn't told me it was definite about the section yet." 

So then, Jonathan gets back from breakfast, and two doctors and two nurses come in to my labor, delivery, recovery room. One of them says, "Well, the tracing shows the baby is minimal reactive, as I'm sure you're aware, and at this point, you are only dilated to not even 2 cm. To continue this lengthy induction..." I cut the doctor off at this point, and said, "Get her out healthy, I want the c-section." Jonathan was okay with the C-section at that point, because he recognized it was the last resort.

I called my mom and Jonathan's mom and we told them to come to the hospital. Previously, I hadn't wanted people to come to the hospital, since I didn't want people waiting around for hours, but since we knew that they would be doing the c-section within the hour, I didn't think they'd have to wait too long. 

Jonathan put on the scrubs I'd bought him for Chr*stmas. The shirt had "I'm the Dad" embroidered over the pocket. He held my glasses in his pocket, since I couldn't wear them during the surgery. I was wheeled into the operating room, and made to sit on a table, where the spinal would be administered. Jonathan was outside waiting at this point. My parents caught a glimpse of him as he put a mask on before heading into the OR. He wasn't allowed to come in until I was numb and the drape was up. 

The spinal was very odd. I had to drink an anti-nausea medication. Then, I received a series of shots in my spine which numbed from my ribcage down to my toes. My diaphragm was partially numb, but I could still breathe. Then, they laid me down, and I got really nauseaus. I turned my head sideways, but the anesthesiologist told me to turn the other way (so I didn't puke on his equipment). He got me a basin to puke in and cleaned me up. Ironically, I had thrown up the anti-nausea medicine. Then, Jonathan was allowed to enter. I was a bit groggy, but then I got nauseaus again. He held the basin in front of me, and cleaned up the puke from my face. I don't know why, but that made me love him more, and know that he would be a great dad. 

There was a lot of pulling sensations and rocking sensations while the C-Section was being performed. I kept asking them to straighten my left leg, because it had been slightly bent when it was numbed. My leg was straight, but I still felt it was in the same position. I felt really cold, like I'd gone outside naked in the snow to make snow angels. The anesthesiologist put a plastic sheet over me, and had a shop vac looking contraption pump warm air over me. That was heavenly. 

At 11:43 am, they said, "It's a girl!" Lucie was brought over to the warmer immediately. Jonathan had been told to let the pediatricians do their thing for a few minutes before going to check on her. I asked what color her hair was, and the pediatrician said that it looked red, but they were still cleaning her up, and she was still covered in amniotic fluid and blood. The pediatrician's initial analysis of redhead was enough for me. I asked if we could make a phone call. I had tucked my iPhone in Jonathan's pocket prior to being whisked off to the O.R., and I just really wanted to call his grandma and tell her that it was a redhead! We knew how important it would be to her. So, we called her as the doctors began to put my organs back inside and sew me up. I realized then that I hadn't heard her cry yet, and I said, "Why isn't she crying?" That was the scariest realization... but then when she heard her momma ask for her cry, Lucie did just that. She didn't scream, she just whimpered a bit. Then, Jonathan went over and took a photo of Lucie while she was still on the warmer, and then came back to where I was, and showed me the photo on the LCD screen. Then, they let him hold her, and he brought her close to me, so that I could see her. I wanted to touch her pretty head, and her hands, but I had my arm strapped down still, and the doctors were still putting humpty dumpty back together again. 

Then, we called everyone who was in the waiting room on my cell phone to tell them she'd been born. I taught Jonathan how to use my phone to text the photo of Lucie to everyone who I knew could text, and whose cells were programmed in my phone (my arms were still strapped down at this point, so I couldn't do it myself). Then, the doctors told Jonathan they were finishing up on me and he'd have to leave so they could maneuver me around. 

They would have to bring Lucie to the NICU for a minimum of 15 minutes, because she was a little groggy since I'd been on the magnesium sulfate for the pre-eclampsia. I asked Jonathan to go find out where the baby was at that point. 

Jonathan must have found all the relatives in the lobby, and he was able to point out Baby Lucie in the nursery to them all. I was wheeled back into recovery, where they told me I'd have to stay for 24 hours, since I had to be on the magnesium sulfate. 

First, my mom came back, then Jonathan, and his mom, and Jonathan's brother, James, who had picked up Grandma Kathryn, so she could see the baby. 

After they all left, my sister and brother came up, and at that point, they brought the baby to the recovery area with me, and handed her right to me. I was in awe. She was so tiny. I had no idea how I could love anything so tiny with so much of a muchness! I wanted to hold her and kiss her and cuddle her forever. But, then, I saw Jonathan. He wanted to hold her. I could tell. He just didn't want to take her away from me, so he didn't ask. It was actually kind of sweet. I asked if he wanted to hold her, and he very quietly and very shyly said, "Yes." 

And, so, I reluctantly turned her over. Jonathan held her, and then Susi held her, and had to have a ton of photos taken, and then Mike asked me if I trusted him to hold her. I told him that he'd better not drop her. He was trying to be all macho, but he was a little misty eyed. I don't think he's ever seen, let alone held, a baby so tiny. 

Lucie Elizabeth weighed in at 5 lbs. 13.8 oz. at birth, and she is 18 1/2 inches long. My sister had accidentally bought a preemie outfit for the baby... but God has a way of these things working out. That outfit was in my diaper bag which was brought to the nursery. When the nurses handed the baby over to me, she was wearing that outfit, and wrapped in purple flannel blankets we'd received as a gift from my best friend, Tricia. 

When my mom heard that Susi and Mike got to hold the baby, of course, my dad and her had to come back up to hold Lucie themselves. 

Since I'm stuck in the recovery room until noon tomorrow, when I'll be assigned a room, and there is more than one person in here, Jonathan had to leave at the end of visiting hours. Since I am hooked up to an IV, Catheter, blood pressure cuff, etc., and am unable to get out of bed, I had to send Lucie to the nursery. If I can't retrieve the formula to feed her from the fridge, or get the water to warm her bottle, I can't effectively care for her. Plus, I'm still in a lot of pain, and with the pain medications, I can't take care of her on my own right now. It sucks to admit that, but it's the truth. Once I'm in my own room tomorrow, things should be better.

I really absolutely can't wait to shower! I also hope they'll remove my IV completely when they take me off the magnesium sulfate drip.

Originally posted here:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Baby Born in the Car, Into Mama's Arms!

I just read your beautiful birth story on your page, and saw the link to share stories.  I'd like to share my fourth birth story.  

It is certainly a morning that we will never forget, our little guy was born in our van, en route to the birth center, with our other three kids in the back of the van!  In hindsight, I realize that the contractions I had been having all through the night were clearly 'those' contractions!  However, at the time I felt that they were pretty sporadic and didn't feel that strong, and being 2 weeks early, I had assumed they were the 'practice' contractions I remember having with my other three labors.  I relaxed on the couch in the early hours of morning, and when my husband got up for work I told him I thought I might be in labor.  I took a quick shower and got out to call our midwife.  By this time my contractions were feeling much stronger, and I really had to focus and breathe through them.  My husband called the babysitter to come over so we could go to the birth center.  As I was grabbing my bag, my water broke and I immediately started having these strong, powerful contractions that just took my breath away.  It's funny, I don't remember them as 'painful', just 'powerful'.  I yelled to my husband to call the sitter and have her meet us there, I felt like we wouldn't have time to wait for her.  We all excitedly ran out to the van and got everyone buckled in.  As soon as we pulled out of the driveway I started saying, 'Pull over!'  He kept saying, 'No.. we can make it!'  I undid my seat belt so I could squat in the front seat, thankfully I had thought to throw on a little beach skirt that I had worn to the lake the day before, so I didn't have any clothing to worry about.  I remember my husband saying.. "Stop pushing!"  and I replied, "I"m not pushing!"  But with that low grunt that made me realize, Oh God, I WAS pushing!  I remember looking into the backseat, and our two older boys, ages 10 and 8, looked wide eyed, and our daughter, age 3 was just looking at us like we were nuts.  I remember saying, "It's okay!  It's just really intense!"  Then I reached down and could feel the crowning of the head.  I said, "I can feel the head!"  My husband still believed we could make it, (still about 25 minutes away), and said, "No you can't!  We are going to make it!"  I remember saying calmly, "The head is out."  Which made him finally pull over.  I reached down, and the rest of our baby just tumbled right into my hand and forearm.  I remember not seeing if it was a boy or a girl for a few seconds.. just looking at this little person face down on my arm was so shocking!  My husband looked and said, "It's a boy!"  The kids all unbuckled to come and take a peek at their new baby brother, Brody Van Roberts.   Some people ask if I was ready to divorce my husband for not pulling over, but I really think that if he had pulled over, panic would have set in as I realized what was happening.  But my focus was to get him to pull over, not so much what was actually happening!  I honestly wouldn't change a thing about his birth story. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

When Place Matters: Guest Post by Author Lani Axman

This guest post is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.  

When Place Matters

By Lani Axman

Our maternity care providers’ words and actions have the potential to impact us for the rest of our lives, and selecting the best provider available is crucial (Read more about this subject in our book—“Unity With Providers of Care,” page 433).  There is no doubt that care providers, staff, and support people can positively or negatively affect a woman’s birth experience—regardless of where that experience takes place.  Even so, sometimes location matters.  Sometimes things need to happen in a particular place for reasons we may or may not ever understand.

In the classic memoir, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were imprisoned for hiding and assisting Jews.  They were transferred, eventually, to a concentration camp in Germany.  After being shown their sleeping quarters, they climbed into the crowded platform bunk together.  Within seconds, they were attacked by fleas.  The beds were completely swarming with them.  Betsy’s response, in prayer to God:  “Thank You for the fleas.”  Corrie couldn’t believe her ears.  She said, “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.”  But, even so, they thanked God for the fleas.  It wasn’t until later that they realized just what a blessing those fleas actually were.  

For months and months, Corrie and Betsy held nightly Bible study devotionals for the women in their dormitory using a set of scriptures they had managed, through divine help, to sneak into the camp.  Through their efforts, many women were brought to God and the atmosphere among the women in their quarters changed from quarreling and selfishness to a spirit of love and sisterhood.  Corrie and her sister couldn’t understand why their spiritual study groups had never been interrupted or silenced by the camp guards.  Then Betsy overheard a conversation that made it all clear.  None of the guards would ever step foot inside that particular dormitory—because of the fleas. God knew where Corrie and Betsie needed to be.

Of course, Cherylyn (our blog hostess) knows this principle well. The surprise breech birth of her fifth baby is included in The Gift of Giving Life (p. 93). When she became pregnant with her fifth baby, Cherylyn had spent the previous several years studying and immersing herself in childbirth:

As I thought about my options, the idea of a water birth at home gave me great peace. The peace I felt surprised me, but I welcomed it. I prayed about planning to birth my baby at home, and that resounding peace filled my soul. That peace stayed with me throughout my entire pregnancy. I never felt fear about my choice to birth at home.

When it came time for Cherylyn to push out her baby, the midwife discovered that he was unexpectedly breech.  Despite this unexpected surprise, he was born safely, calmly, and easily:

My husband and midwife described to me how the baby had kicked his legs in the water while I was pushing, and moved his body to help wiggle his way out. . . . It was good for me to be in the water and allow the baby to feel the weightlessness similar to the womb and be able to manipulate his own body in ways I never would have imagined possible. I was immediately grateful I was at home in the tub. . . . I don't fault anyone for not knowing he was breech. We didn't know, but God knew, and provided us with what we needed to handle it.

Because Cherylyn followed the promptings of the Spirit, she was able to have a peaceful, beautiful breech birth rather than a surprise cesarean—something she knows would have been very traumatic for her.   Additionally, her breech birth account has since brought inspiration to countless other women via her blog (and will continue to bless more women through our book).  God knew where Cherylyn needed to give birth.

I believe God sometimes prepares “lands of promise” where significant events in our lives are to occur. Sometimes we are guided to those places without our seeking direction, but I feel confident that God delights when we seek divine guidance.  As The Book of Mormon teaches us:

Blessed art thou, . . . because of thy faith, for thou has sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.  And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands. (1 Nephi 2:19-20)

While it may not matter in every case, sometimes God has a specific place in mind for a child’s birth.  That “land of promise” may be a particular hospital with the right staff and equipment to handle your baby’s unique health issue.  It may be in a makeshift tent in the particular disaster relief camp where a skilled midwife happens to be present and available.  It may be at a birth center, at home, or in a parking lot on the way to the hospital. I don’t know where your particular “land of promise” is located, but I am confident that God will guide you to it if you ask in faith. 

Visit The Gift of Giving Life site to sign up for their newsletter and to receive a free Meditation MP3 as well as tips to help increase spirituality in your pregnancy and birth. For my readers I have a coupon code for 10% off a copy of The Gift of Giving Life.   Click here and after you add the book to your cart use this coupon code.  GWFWXR3F  This code is good until Father’s Day 2012. 

Lani Axman is one of the authors of The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Childbirth. She has been blogging at Birth Faith since 2007, became trained as a birth doula through DONA International in 2009 and in neonatal resuscitation in 2011, and looks forward to serving through birth work when her children are older.  Lani now resides near Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and four children. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Auburne's Posterior Birth at Home

Auburne’s Birth Story or I Was Planning to be Pregnant Forever

Originally posted by Auburne's mother here

Intensity: precursor to discomfort during surges
Discomfort: sensation that requires coping techniques to get past
Pain: sudden shock to the system that almost always involves swearing. Follow up sensation to pain is discomfort.

I woke up at 6 AM on Easter Sunday with a surge that was uncomfortable enough that I didn’t want to experience another one lying down. I wrapped myself in a blanket and sat on the floor at the foot of the bed. I didn’t want to disturb either J or Bri, both still asleep in the bed. I rocked and did cat and cow poses on the floor in between surges and breathed my way through the surges themselves. I didn’t want to keep track of their frequency, duration or regularity. I just experienced them. About 7 AM, I drew a bath in the garden tub in our bathroom. Only a few days prior, it had been growing things and I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of cleaning it or laboring with the growing things. Sherri, my midwife, had said that it would be great to labor in and she assured me that her apprentices would clean it out for me when the time came. On Friday, I had filled the tub and added about a cup of bleach to it. By the time I drained it on Saturday morning, it was clean and whatever was growing in the jets was nowhere to be found.

I still wasn’t sure I was in labor. I had been having regular and intense surges for a few weeks and they had died down each time. Twice I had called my midwife, wondering if there was a chance this was it, and both times it fizzled out. I had decided several days previously that I was going to be the first woman in history to carry a live fetus forever. This baby was never going to come. When I got into the tub on Sunday morning, I was fine with it if it caused the surges to slow down, lessen the intensity or stop. I was going to be pregnant forever anyway.

I created a mantra for myself to help open up during the surges. I whispered “I can do this” repeatedly and during the peaks when I needed to loosen further, I dropped my jaw and said, “haaaaaaaaaai can do this.” I discovered during this time by myself that I could also apply my own counter pressure to my sacrum if I used my arms to press my back into the back of the tub. For awhile, I was able to keep this up during the surges without tensing my lower body and it helped me cope with the intensity. The water helped with the intensity too. Water rules.

Around 7:30, I woke J up by calling him from the tub and I asked him to sit with me. He started asking me inane questions to which I had no answers. He wanted to know how frequent and regular the surges had been. I, of course, had no idea because I didn’t want to try to time them and cope with them simultaneously. He texted Sherri with the best info I could give him and apparently “pressure” was the magic word. She said she would be right over.

The kids woke up around 8-8:15. J went about trying to get them ready and though the older kids followed the instruction to get dressed and eat breakfast readily, Bri was resistant to allowing someone to put her dress on. She fussed. As soon as J got her into the kitchen to eat and she saw her Easter basket, she grabbed it and brought it to me in the tub to show it to me. It’s awkward to focus on laboring while your toddler is standing in front of you and needing you to pay attention to her. She gave me a little tour of the things in her basket and J finally got her to put her Easter dress on so my father-in-law could take all of the kids to church. They left around 8:45 and Sherri showed up at our house shortly thereafter.

“You can’t pay me enough to get out of this tub.” She laughed and asked me what made me think she would want me to get out of the tub. I had thought she would want to do a cervical check on the bed. She assured me that I didn’t have to get out of the tub. “I have mad skills,” she said.

She sat with me for a few surges and asked me if she could do a cervical check. She just had me float my bottom up in the tub to do it. Since I was terrified of having a surge outside of the tub because I felt like I was only barely coping with them in it, this was a huge relief. She asked if I wanted to know where I was dilation-wise. I told her no, because I didn’t want to be discouraged. Curiosity eventually got the better of me though. She pronounced me at 8cm between surges. I still wasn’t getting out of the tub. It was nice to hear that I was so far along though. This was my thought process: 8cm is in transition. Transition goes fast. Pushing usually goes fast for me too. I’m almost done.

At this point, the series of events starts to get a little hazy. I know Sherri called her apprentices and they came. I know that they got me juice, ice water and both gave me counter pressure during surges. One gave me counter pressure on my sacrum and the other on my hips. It made a huge difference toward helping me cope. The intensity had gotten to the point that it had become discomfort and I had a few surges where I had been in a less than favorable position when they began so I found myself scooting around the tub trying to escape them and whining. It was very much like my experience when Aiden was born. It didn’t seem long before I was pushing at the end of each surge, but oddly, it didn’t feel like anything was happening. I tried pushing a few times in the tub and it just wasn’t working. Sherri and her apprentices helped me out of the tub when I experienced the only real pain I felt during the birth. That first surge out of the water startled and frightened me and I tried to escape it again by scooting around to get away from it.

They helped me to sit on the birthing stool. Nope, that isn’t working either. Ok, well, let’s try on hands and knees. Nope. Holding onto J’s neck on the bed on my knees I felt the baby descend through my spine. I wiggled my hips back and forth during those two surges and I yelled a few times something about not being able to do it. The discomfort really was more than I felt capable of handling at that point. “Why don’t you lie down on your side?” Sherri held my right leg up and back and I freaked. “No, let me up.” “But you’re doing so well.” “NO! I’m getting back on the stool. It will work now. HELP ME GET UP.” During the two surges I felt on my side, it felt like I was being punished. I know I wasn’t being punished. I know Sherri was seeing the baby descend and the progress made her feel like it was a good position. Right here is the point in the story where I tell mothers to be how important it is to voice your opinions and preferences no matter what anyone around you is saying. It’s important because women aren’t necessarily rational at this point in labor, so if you want something and you are absolutely positive, say it, and say it loud, until someone listens to you.

I had one surge between that awful couple of minutes on the bed and the birthing stool. Once on the stool, I could feel that the baby was ready to come. None of my kids have taken more than 2 or 3 pushes to come, until now. I pushed as hard as I could on the stool and it took a couple of tries before my water broke. I had been trying to get it to break ever since I felt pushy. There was meconium in the amniotic fluid, so Sherri encouraged me to push again. I felt the baby descend into the birth canal and I didn’t want her to come back up, so I continued to hold my muscles in that position even after the surge ended. I took a breath and pushed again. Now something between a yell, a snarl and a scream was coming out of my throat. Sherri told me I should try to keep the tones low or I would scare the baby, but I needed to yell or the baby wasn’t coming and I knew it. Something inside me said so. I yelled and pushed again. Sherri told me she could see hair. I yelled and pushed again and she said the baby was crowning. I kept pushing past the end of the surge again and time slowed down. It was like I was having an out-of-body experience simultaneously while I felt all of the sensations in my body and everything was moving in slow motion. I yelled and pushed until I could feel that the head was out and it felt like it took years. Then I had the strangest sensation: The head was out, but I was still feeling pressure on my tailbone and the rest of the body wasn’t just falling out on its own.

“The baby is posterior.”
“It’s looking over the shoulder.”
“Hold on: there’s a cord. It’s looped around twice.”
“Wait, don’t push.”

I felt the body rotate on its own. One final push and she was out.
“It’s a girl!”

I let her sit on the floor on the pads under the birthing stool for a minute while I shook from the adrenaline rush. Then I held her and laid down with her on the bed until the placenta came. It took longer than it had in the past, but still not very long: about 20 minutes. She nursed like a champ right then. I had no tearing or bleeding. When the others got home from church just after noon, Sherri and J wrapped her in a blanket and brought her out to meet them. Bri saw the baby: her Easter gift. She reached for her and said, “Thank you.”

Auburne was born at 10:40AM on Easter Sunday at 40 weeks 6 days gestation. She was 7 lbs 4 oz and 18 inches long. She was a posterior presentation with a double nuchal chord, and she was born at home.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stefanie's Preterm Baby

My pregnancy itself was altogether a complete and totally unplanned surprise. The first trimester was absolutely horrible. I struggled with a lot of morning sickness and tried everything to ease it. Crackers by my bedside, tums, prescription zofran, ginger, smelling garlic and lemon, peppermints. Nothing in the world helped me with my morning sickness, and there was very little food items I could even keep down.  Even though I lost weight in the first trimester, the baby was growing healthy and everything was going normal.

My second trimester I was still dealing with a lot of morning sickness. Although it wasn’t as bad as the first trimester, it was still a losing battle for me. But just like in the first baby was still growing strong and according to my OBGYN was going to be a very long baby. I don’t know if it was because it was my first pregnancy or if it was because she did not have a lot of room, but I barely felt the baby move. Maybe because I didn’t really know what to feel for, but when I did feel her move it was wonderful feeling.

My third trimester never happened. I went into preterm labor at 30 weeks. Looking back I know now that my labor most likely started on a Thursday night. That night I was feeling a lot of pressure and tightening, but I thought it was just some Braxton Hicks contractions. The next morning while getting ready to go to work I noticed I was spotting a thick bloody mucusy type of discharge. Hoping it would stop and was nothing I went ahead and went to work. However it didn’t stop so when I got my break at work I called my doctor and they scheduled me an appointment that afternoon.

When I went into the doctor’s office the nurse practitioner checked me and said my cervix was thinning. They sent me to have an ultrasound which showed my cervix was about .5cm dilated. I was checked into the hospitals labor and delivery unit where I would be monitored, according to the nurses I would be there until Monday so that my doctor could discharge me and after being released I would be on bed rest for the remaining of my pregnancy. Friday night and Saturday was uneventful, I had very irregular contractions and nothing was progressing. I was ready to go home.

sSunday brought a change of pace though. I woke up with even more pressure and tightening than I had had all weekend long. I told the nurse immediately and she told the doctor on call. When they came in to do a vaginal exam I was 3 cm dilated and they needed to move me to another hospital because they didn’t have a NICU in that hospital. Immediately I was given some mag medicine to help stop the labor.

After about a 20 minute drive to the other hospital the doctor there checked me and I was now dilated to 5 cm.  They took me off the mag and I was told we were going to have a baby that night.  What happened between that decision and the pushing I don’t remember all to well, perhaps it’s because I received an epidural. Which I kind of regret because I did not like how numb my legs got afterwards and during, I couldn’t get up and walk on my own for a few hours.  Around 7:20 pm I started pushing and at 7:47 I had a beautiful baby girl. I couldn’t do a lot of skin to skin with her which I hated  because it sounded so wonderful and I was hoping for a breast crawl. But she was taken away after seeing my face and getting a kiss to the NICU.  She was 5lbs and 18in, very long and big for a 30 week gestational age baby.

My baby girl spent a little over a month in the NICU and leaving her in there everyday was hard. She had some oxygen and breathing problems but when she finally came home it was sooo wonderful and relieved to finally have her home with us. I finally felt like an actually mommy having her home.

We also got to do a lot of skin to skin in the hospital, even though it wasn’t right after delivery I was still happy that we got to do some skin to skin. Which we still do at home to this day.

This is her coming home day, she was only about 6 lbs. here.

This is one of her recent pictures. She is now  3.5 months old and 11lbs 10oz. She is growing way to fast for me.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thomas Vibol's Med-Free Hospital Birth

My Birthing Story

Thomas Vibol

October 3rd, 2009

Friday, October 2nd 2009 was like any other day. Tony and I had a lot of rental work to do that day: we had an entire kitchen floor to rip up (Jose and his crew did the work, we just facilitated), we had a couple stop by and look at a 1 bedroom apartment, Joan came to visit with us and audit how we are doing.Then we went to work at Jo Ellen’s and from there to Tony’s parents. We had dinner with them and then went to the mall. We walked around, looked for nursing bras (didn't purchase any, since I was sure that this baby would overdue), stopped at the arcade to play a few games, then went home and played a game together.  We got ready for bed around 11:30pm. A busy day, but good and we got a lot done. One important thing we got done was finish packing the hospital bag and putting it in the car along with the car seat and other necessary preparatory things. Since I wasn’t due until the 5th and most mothers I knew were normally a week or so overdue, we thought we were getting things done with time to spare. Well… not as much time as we thought.

Tony fell asleep promptly after closing his laptop. I was less inclined and starting looking up ways to kill fleas. A week or two earlier I had found a couple that were lurking around. I think they entered our car after a nasty couch was removed from our new parking spot near the dumpster and from there entered our house.  I was very perturbed and upset that they dared enter my new apartment with a baby soon to be there. But this is beside the point. While I was reading and tried a few of the home remedies (putting a bowl of warm water on the carpet and seeing how many jump in over the next day or so) about an hour had passed. I was just ready to settle down at 1:00am and go to sleep when I noticed a slight pain in my stomach. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a week or so before, but had never had cramping in my abdomen until that day while at work. So, thinking this was just more practice, I did a few pelvic rocks and tried to sleep. When I noticed these pains were coming and going and felt exactly like I was starting my period.  Not wanting to get my hopes up, I casually grabbed my phone and made note of when they started. It was very erratic: one started eleven minutes, then five, then nine and so on. But I couldn’t help noticing that these were definitely more real than my previous Braxton Hicks were.

Following the Bradley method, I got up and walked around a bit and went to the bathroom. While in the bathroom I had two or three more contractions just sitting there. Again, not wanting to get my hopes up, but getting more convinced that this might be the real deal, I woke up Tony at 2:30am to let him know what was happening and to inform him that I was going to eat something and rest some more and see where this took me. He immediately got up, got his watch, put some episodes of The Office on and laid down on the ground next to the couch to help me keep track of these contractions. By this time they were getting noticeably painful. Not terrible, but more intense than the 1:00am contractions. At one point they were coming every six minutes, but then would become erratic again and skip to eight, or ten or whatever. So we decided to go to sleep again. It was nice to get some rest in between, but they kept on coming. So at 7:00am we got up, took showers, grabbed our last minute hospital items and headed out to get breakfast. We were going to eat out, but the contractions kept coming and we decided better to grab some Sunrise Bagels and go straight to the hospital. At this point the contractions were difficult enough that I had to stop and focus on not clenching and would take very deep breaths. I had made a deal with myself that if the pain lasted longer than 30 deep breaths, I could use medication. I knew I’d never have to follow through with this because the longest any of them were lasting was about 6 or 7 long deep breaths.

When we got to the hospital I had only eaten about a third of a bagel and was full. I sat down at the check-in desk and signed myself in. I was a little anxious because just then I didn’t have a contraction for about twelve minutes. I began to doubt myself and prepared myself to be disappointed that this was just a false start and I had to go home and wait for the real deal to come later. However, once I stood up I was hit with one. Walking down the hallway was a little difficult but we made it to the prep room where they hooked me up to a monitor to check on the baby and on me. I was still worried that I was wasting everyone’s time, and I wasn’t really in labor. The second she hooked up the baby monitor, that worry was pushed past with a bigger worry. The nurse said, “this worries me.” Apparently the baby’s heart rate during my first contraction on the monitor was slowing down. She repositioned me and the monitor and checked again. This time he was fine. But the nurse still seemed a bit worried and informed me that we would need to have a fetal monitor and that I would need an IV in case of an emergency cesarean. This was not very comforting, but I was glad he was doing better. Next the nurse checked my “progress.” She looked at me in surprise and said “you’re about a six.” I immediately replied, “are you kidding me?!” I was so elated. If I was already at a six and it was only 8:30am, then surely I would be done and holding my baby by dinner. So I was introduced to my midwife for the day and my nurse and we set out to get to my birthing room. I was then given an IV, luckily didn’t need to have a continuous drip, and was hooked up to a portable monitor that let the nurse know when I was having a contraction and what the baby’s heart rate was. This proved to be more of a nuisance than anything. Baby was doing great and his heart stayed steady and awesome during my contractions, but with almost every move, the monitor would get thrown off or something would happen that it would need to be repositioned so it could have a proper reading. And with each repositioning, I would have a contraction because of the movement and pressure on my uterus. We called our friend Bethany, who had originally told us about the Bradley method and who graciously agreed to take some pictures of us. And Tony’s mom was present too, assisting when she could and just enjoying the fact that she was going to have a grandchild soon.

Labor progressed like I thought it would. The contractions were regular and intense and I would stop as each one came, breathe deep and hard, and focus. Tony was there with me every step. I enjoyed being in the relaxing position on the bed, but Tony would insist I walk around, and try the ball, or hands and knees position. I even spent time in the Jacuzzi tub, which was very relaxing. At around 1:30pm the midwife came in to see how I was doing. Considering I was at a 6 at 8:30, I figured I’d be pretty close to the big push and have this baby out soon. But I was only at 7½ centimeters. I felt a little discouraged. She suggested breaking my bag of waters, but I was not convinced yet. She was a nice midwife and wanted to deliver me and I had wanted a midwife in the delivery as well. So I felt a little pressure because she was going off-call within the hour (which I didn't really appreciate). So Tony and I tried to speed things up (without the intervention). We walked a lot more and were pushing through the contractions. They were getting more intense and I was feeling a lot more pain in my back. At 2:30pm I felt pressure in my rear, similar to having to go use the bathroom. It wasn’t an urgent feeling, more of constipation? I was sure this was it. I must be getting ready. I told Tony “I think I can see the light at the end of this tunnel.”

I was very wrong. The midwife checked me again. Not only had I not dilated further, but she noticed the baby was posterior. This was not only really disappointing but worried me as well. I knew that a baby could be delivered posterior, but it was very difficult and even more so for first time mothers. But I was going to prevail. I had spent money, time and emotional investment into having an unmedicated birth, and I was going to do all I could to do it. So we set out to change the position of this baby. I spent time in the Jacuzzi, alternating which sides I laid on. I spent a lot of time on hands and knees. My nurse, KC, tried one position, lying on my side, putting my leg in a stirrup. All the while, each contraction felt like a vice grip on my spine and back. I felt terrible and found it much more difficult now to breathe deep. Which each exhale I had to moan in a low rumble in order to keep me breathing. At 5:30pm, I was checked again as KC’s shift ended.I was only at 8. Why was this happening? Why wouldn’t the baby turn? It’s okay, I told myself, by tomorrow it will be over. But would it?

My next nurse was Crystal. She came in and encouraged me right away to get on the birth ball. She explained how we were trying to let gravity swing his back to the right position. As I sat on the ball, Tony sat across from me and I leaned forward into his arms. Crystal was at my back putting pressure on my pelvis and lower back. Each contraction felt like forever, but was so wonderful when each one ended. By this point I was tired. I’d been up basically since the previous day, with only minimal naps in between each contraction. Tony was tired too, but kept being there for me. I could not have done any of this without him. He was so supportive and did his very best to make me as comfortable as I could be. His reminders to breathe and relax are what made the contractions bearable. While I was on the ball, my water broke. Then it got really painful. Without the extra cushion, the pressure to my pelvis was greater, and the contractions were coming more rapidly.

Around 8:00 or 9:00, I don’t remember when, I was feeling like this would never end and the only way to get him out was to cut him out of me. I was in a sort of trance or zone; in between contractions I was only half-awake and only half-aware of what was going. I remember saying a few times, “I just want this to end. I want to be done. I need to sleep. Etc.” I started contemplating drugs, and would make bargains with myself about a time limit or a pain limit or whatever. I was back on the bed with Tony sitting behind me and rubbing my back in between contractions. During this time I felt the definite urge to push. It would come fast and hard and I would resist as much as I could, but often would push and have to stop myself. Because I wasn't fully dilated they worried about damage to my cervix if I started pushing. The only thing that stopped me was Tony reminding me to relax my back and feet and shoulders and arms. It was a really wierd time - and though not completely aware of it then, I know now it was transition. I would get chills, I even had some hallucinations - weird designs in front of my eyes, and the weirdest of all was the Today Show announcer saying "Hoda Kotbe" over and over. I dreaded being checked. I had to lay back and with every poke and prod my uterus would vengefully tighten up and contract. And it never seemed to be good news. I was only checked three times during this time: once at 8 ½, once at 9 and then finally, one where I was almost completely dilated – there was only a slight lip on one side which Crystal massaged and smoothed out. I didn’t quite believe it when Crystal said, “ok, on this next contraction I want you to put your knees up and give me a push.” Up to that point I had to resist pushing in order to protect my cervix and the baby. I pushed and it felt as good as anything can feel after 22 hours of labor. I looked at the clock, it was 11:00pm. After so many hours of telling myself this little baby’s birthday was October 3rd, 2009, I was beginning to feel like it was a possibility. Crystal walked over to the phone and asked for a Dr. for a delivery. I was so shocked, I looked at Tony and he looked at me with a grin and said “something is going on down there – it’s like a conveyor belt.” I didn’t quite understand, but I kept pushing on the contractions. The doctor was there after one or two more and was very excited to see me. He had stopped in before when he came on shift and apparently had worries that I would need a cesarean. He reassured me that I was doing well, Tony reminded me to breathe and I felt like I couldn't push hard enough. I had no idea what was going on, only that I wanted this over as soon as possible. I asked to use the squat bar, but after a few minutes and contractions, my legs were tired and weak. I layed back down and used the bar to prop my feet up to help push. Tony looks down at me excited and says he can see the head. A mirror was brought from somewhere and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was like watching a movie: there was no way this was me and that this was really happening. Also, it did not seem possible that I would be able to push that big head out of that small canal. But I kept trying because I knew that this was almost over and I wanted it to be over. A fetal monitor was being used at this time, and baby was being as strong and healthy as ever. He wanted out too.

The hardest part now was just waiting for contractions. I wanted to push constantly, but only with the help of contractions did it really make a difference. At one point I noticed that I was being very vocal – there were screams and shouts and random words. It didn’t even sound like me. During the stretching and burning they put olive oil on, trying to prevent tears. What was slightly discouraging, but only made me push harder, was seeing the baby’s head slightly recede whenever I would stop pushing. At one point I felt like yelling, “can’t you just grab him out already?!” But it eventually came, it was intense burning and I remember an immediate relief right after, the doctor told me to grab him. And with that I had my baby boy in my arms. He was crying and slimy and we both had plenty of blood on us, but I didn’t care. I had done it. The time was 11:54pm. It was the hardest but best thing I’ve ever done in my life. He was perfect.

After wiping him down and trying to calm him down and keep him warm, Dr. showed us the placenta and the cord. It was crazy that all that plus this baby was inside of me. I tore twice and had a few stitches, it wasn’t til later that I learned he hadn't completely turned and that his hand had been up by his face which mostly attributed to me tearing. I didn’t care. Already the memory of those painful hours were deteriorating.  I was wide awake and didn’t think I could ever sleep. Tony cut the cord and the baby was eventually taken and weighed and measured and put into a diaper. He was 7lbs, 3.9 oz and was 19 ½ inches long. A tiny little guy. Then he was passed around, first to Daddy, then to grandma, then Bethany, then back to Mommy.  Tony’s mom and Bethany went home. The doctor congratulated us and left. Crystal helped me clean up a bit and use the bathroom. House keeping came, changed the sheets, cleaned up the blood and gunk off the floors and took all the nasty linens and rags away. Tony gave Thomas Vibol his first bath. He was so alert, his eyes were open and he was moving around and looking around. Tony was in love, he sat there and whispered to him for half an hour.

Then there was the busy work of getting footprints and talking about breastfeeding, the menu for the next day, how much I should be bleeding, etc…

When all was calm, Tony fell asleep and so did Tommy Vibol. All I could do was look at this beautiful, healthy little boy in awe. What a marvelous blessing from Heavenly Father. I’m so grateful for eternal families, because I know that this boy is mine forever. Eventually I slept too, relaxed and content. What a wonderful day.