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.