A birth story

This is the story of my labor with Alexia. It’s got details- somewhat graphic ones- so if you don’t like birth or birth details, I’d skip it.

This is probably going to be somewhat scattered- the whole night was- but I want to get it down before I forget too much more of it.

The day started off early- Thursday the 2nd- at about 3:19 according to when I finally checked my phone and began to wonder if these erratic contractions were it. I was alone in our big king size bed because Jarell had taken to sleeping on the couch due to back pain which in turn allowed me to stretch out to the most comfortable (relative term here) position I could manage with my 40 weeks, 3 days pregnant belly. I spent the rest of the morning tossing and turning and thinking “Oh lord another day of false labor and I brought it on because of my joke about Ali being born on my in-laws anniversary!” They were mild tho so I didn’t complain much. I spent the day mostly just puttering around and not doing much.

At about 4, my mother in law and J14 came down to our house and all of us were hungry so we went to the local Thai place to get our fix. Almost as soon as I sat down, my contractions started picking up, getting uncomfortable, and getting more regular. They moved up to about 7-8 minutes apart but since they still weren’t clockwork regular so I didn’t call my midwife, but I was starting to get more excited. We went to the grocery store and my walking around caused the contractions to get really hard so we hurried through the shopping (as much as one can hurry while in early labor anyway).

We headed home and the next several hours passed with my contractions getting more and more intense. Around 9 or 10 Jarell finally called my midwife because I was in a lot of pain and the contractions, tho not regular, were very intense.When she arrived, I was disappointed to find out that, again, I was only 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. My midwife did some work on my round ligaments which were ridiculously tense and some essential oil therapy, told me to take some ibuprofen, have a glass of watered down wine, and get some rest. I did as she suggested and attempted to go to sleep while Jarell and his mom kept watch. It didn’t take long before I was in pain again and the contractions picked up momentum until I reached the point where I was in constant pain which was quickly more than I could take. Jarell, taking a proactive stance, decided we needed to go to the hospital to make sure things were alright and I agreed because the pain was very intense.

We notified my midwife who headed toward the hospital and headed out ourselves. The drive was a blur and if I never have to ride in a car while having intense contractions, it will be way too soon. We arrived at the hospital and since the midwife had called ahead to notify them to be prepared for our arrival, we were met at triage with a wheelchair and moved quickly to a room. The nurse was really pretty great, even if she did have to hook me up to torture devices (fetal monitor, blood pressure, and heartbeat monitor) and check my dilation (ouch). I can honestly say I have no idea how long I was there, but at some point in there my midwife arrived and started talking me through my contractions which made things soooo much better. With her reminding me to relax my face and shoulders and breathe, I was able to catch my breath once in awhile, but my contractions didn’t lessen in pain level or become more regular.

I decided to have a shot of demerol because my pain was more than I could handle anymore. This required me to be monitored for another 45 minutes which was painful because it meant I would have to stay in bed, but the demerol helped. The pain didn’t lessen, but I was able to step back from it and relax enough to drift off for awhile. As the demerol started to wear off, we realized that the contractions were finally regular and when they checked me, I was 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced. Woo hoo!! Although I really wanted to go home at this point, Jarell and my midwife made a strong case for the fact that once I was home, there was no pain relief if I needed it and my midwife was concerned that I might have some nerve damage or another injury that we didn’t know about so to play it safe I opted to be admitted. It was one of the harder decisions I’ve ever made because I knew it meant giving up my dream of a home birth for this baby and that broke my heart.

Once I was admitted, they moved me to the birthing center, a very nice comfortable room with a big easy chair and a comfortable bed. I was determined once I got there that I was going to get this baby out because my midwife was concerned about my energy levels at that point (I hadn’t eaten since 10pm the night before and all I’d managed to eat was an apple with some peanut butter). I was not willing to have any further interventions and so I began walking the hallway. Walking actually made the pain a bit more bearable and so Jarell and I shuffled back and forth for quite awhile. They checked my dilation again, but I honestly don’t remember where I was altho I had progressed some. All of this is a blur to me but I eventually moved to the bed, kneeling so that I could rest against the back of it. When the morning nurse checked me I had dilated to an 8 and my body was doing involuntary small pushes at the end of each contraction. My doula arrived at some point during all of this, but again, I don’t remember when. I remember asking at some point if I was in transition, and they assured me that I was. My response was something along the lines of “Oh thank god!” which got a laugh from everyone. I do know that somewhere in there I dilated 5 cm in 45 minutes which was intense to say the least and I remember going to the bathroom and losing my most of mucus plug in one huge chunk.

Suddenly, I knew the baby was coming. I could feel her moving down and my body needed to push. The nurse checked me again (agonizing and rough- I didn’t like the morning nurse- she was awful!) I remember her asking what time it was and someone told her 8:57 (in the am) and then calling for the OB. The OB came in and introduced herself followed by telling me that I needed to turn around because my position wasn’t safe for the baby and she couldn’t deliver me if I stayed that way. I panicked at this point, turning to my midwife for guidance because I knew it wasn’t true that my position was unsafe and I wanted to fight her. Looking back now, I know I could have told her tough luck you can’t leave because that would be abandonment and I’m not moving, but at the time all I could think was the mean lady is making me move and it hurts and don’t want to move. I wanted to cry when my midwife reminded me that we were in the hospital and we needed to do things how they wanted us to do them (she was trying to keep things on the same positive path they’d been on up to this point without the staff punishing me for her interference like she had experienced in past births) but at the time I was a little lost. Like a child who’s been reprimanded I dutifully turned over and assumed the position the doctor wanted me in.

My water broke not long after and the remainder of my mucus plug came out. I remember that I began pushing soon after that with the doctor doing perineal massage during the contractions. I would have a hard time starting off and I was roaring, but with my doula’s and midwife’s help I was eventually able to focus my attention and energy into pushing in the way that best moved the baby down. It was intense and uncomfortable, but the contractions that led up to this point were much worse than this was so I was okay with it. I drifted off between contractions, but during them I had my husband’s hand clamped in one hand and my doula’s in the other. My midwife brought me a wet washcloth to wipe my face down and suck on since water wasn’t allowed :/. The contractions and pushing seemed to go by very quickly and after what felt like about 5 minutes (but was really 45) I finally decided I was done with this because I couldn’t take much more so I pushed with everything I had until my daughter’s head was born. The OB wasted no time pulling her body out which pissed me off at the time but I had no more energy to be angry. I did manage to get across that I wanted to wait til the cord quit pulsing before it was cut and she mostly followed my wishes.

They laid Ali on my chest and my doula got my sports bra open so I could have skin to skin contact with her which was wonderful (and baffling- I know she did it but how she did it and how she did it that fast was pretty mind boggling at the time lol) The doctor decided that the cord had pumped enough and said we should cut it. I protested that I wanted to wait til it was done which she assured me it was, but I know now that it wasn’t entirely done. Again, I wasn’t in any state to argue at that point so I believed her. She pulled on the placenta rather than waiting to allow me to deliver it on my own, but I was too involved in learning to nurse my baby to notice or care about much else although in a corner of my mind, I was intensely annoyed. At some point they took Ali and weighed and measured her, but I don’t honestly remember her being away from me despite the fact that I remember them doing it. The drugs were long worn off but I was exhausted and lost in baby land. It was 9:49 am when she was born. I had been in actual labor for less than 8 hours. Ali weighed 7lbs 11oz and was 19in long. Her Apgar scores were both 9’s and she was quick to look incredible pissed at the world for disturbing her, but otherwise she was calm and content.

Tho I was sad to transfer and give birth in a hospital, I was thankful to bring my baby into the world safe and sound. I know now that I can do it so next time I will without giving in to my fears, and I’m grateful for the wonderful support of my midwife and my doula as well as my husband and my mother in law.

Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on

Lots and lots happening in our household lately. I took some time and took pictures of baby things that either I or someone else has made for the little one

This lovely blanket was knitted by my cousin who has her own little one on the way just a few weeks after ours is due to arrive.

The jacket and hat were made by her mother

This blanket was made by my aunt- it is beautiful and so intricate

These next two were made by Jarell’s great-aunt. This little one will be her great great niece- how awesome is that?

I love the granny squares

Here’s the changing table all set up for the homebirth with blankets, towels, clothes, diapers, and a whole bunch more.

Close-up of a few of the newborn diapers I’ve made

One of the fleece skirty soakers complete with owl applique

Hand cut applique of the ninja turtle, Donatello because he was always my favorite

More diapers in one-size

And a few more soakers.

I’m excited to see all of this coming together at long last!

I’m kind of a hippie…

And I’m cool with that. Not in the traditional free love, flower child, smokes a lotta dope sense of the word, but in the sense that I will breastfeed my children, carry them in wraps or other carriers, possibly cloth diaper them, avoid immunizations, co-sleep and of course there’s the whole home  water birth with a midwife situation. I write this post because I was recently added to a local group on Facebook for cloth diaperers and as I’ve read some of the stories on there, I was surprised to find how many people face so much opposition to these natural things. Women being called hippie freaks in Wal Mart because they have their child in a sling, family and friends lecturing about cloth diapers and home births, not to mention breast feeding. Its all so backwards to me, who was raised with most of these things. I don’t think I was carried much in a sling, although I do have very vague memories of a carrier more like a Mei Tai that my mom and dad both carried me in before my younger brothers were born. I am so thankful tho that all these things are not only normal to me, but encouraged by everyone around me from my mother, my mother in law, my husband, friends, extended family, and even people that I’m only slightly acquainted with. I know there may will probably come a time when someone decides to tell me that what I’m doing is not natural, (giggles) or safe, or normal (snorts), but up to this point I’m thankful beyond words for the people who have raised me to believe these things are natural, as they most definitely are, and not only normal, but the best possible way to raise my family.

I know that part of my respite comes from the fact that, at 3 months plus a couple days, no one can tell that I’m pregnant. I am prepared for the fact that once I start to show many more people will have opinions (that they can keep to themselves or risk the wrath of this pregnant mama) whether they know me well, a little or are strangers on the street and I’m okay with that. I have begun already to build myself a bubble that keeps my baby safe and if that means going from the quiet, sweet and good natured personality I normal possess to angry mama bear, so be it. I know to that putting these beliefs out there  for anyone and everyone to comment on leaves me open to criticism from strangers, but I’m okay with that as well so if anyone feels the need to comment in a negative fashion, please be prepared for some serious backlash from yours truly. I know I only have about 6 or 7 people reading my posts on a daily basis (and many of them get here searching for Charlie Brown, Lot Lizards, and the Michelin Man) so I don’t worry too much about negativity since no one really knows I’m here anyway. 😉

Update on the midwife visit

Well I made the trip to meet the midwife yesterday and boy was it a heck of a trip. I’m a little wary about the trips further along in the pregnancy- its a 65 mile trip one way and I know that’s going to be hard on my various parts. That said, I doubt not one bit that it will be worth it- my midwife is wonderful and we immediately clicked. We talked quite a bit about all sorts of things. Family- she has 6 children ranging from 19 to 15 months which just tells me I’m in good hands since she’s done this a time or two herself :). It turned out that she knows my cousin because their daughters are best friends so that made me grin to find out yet again how small this world really is. She lives on a farm, raises goats, gardens, and is dealing with a recently discovered gluten allergy. All these things just added up to me feeling as though I was talking to a friend and not a stranger and I loved hearing her stories about births, her family, and people’s reactions to the size of said family.

Her philosophies on birth and in general matched mine in so many ways which had me very reassured and her qualifications are excellent. In the state of Missouri, it is a felony for lay or religious midwives to practice, which I guess I understand, but my mother was attended by a very competent “lay” midwife and I feel that there are good ones out there, who have been unfairly persecuted. Do I feel that some sort of certification should be necessary? Absolutely! But I also feel that doctors and hospitals are doing everything in their power to prevent anyone from being able to have an assisted home birth that will cost them patients and money.

When she told me that babies are not taken from their mother, period, I was sold. She said even on the few occasions that she had to resuscitate babies, she worked on them in their mothers’ arms and they responded better for that skin to skin contact. I cannot imagine being separated from my child so soon after birth unless it was absolutely necessary so this is very reassuring to me. Finally, she is well versed in herbs and homeopathy and told me her assistant always makes a cup of traditional Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon and cayenne to help prevent hemorrhaging that sounds heavenly to me. Can you imagine- birth in your own home with only people you are totally comfortable with surrounding you, holding your baby and no one trying to take it away, and then a cup of hot chocolate when the hard part is over. Or… go to a hospital, maybe have the OB of your choice, but maybe not, nurses, students, visitors coming and going, and they try to take your baby from you to do all sorts of stuff after a few minutes of contact. Now I know I may be exaggerating a bit, and I understand that home birth is not for everyone, but for me it is the only option.

My midwife will have everything she needs for my medical care, with a c-section being the only thing she can’t do. I’m less than a 15 minute drive (going the speed limit, mind you, which my husband wouldn’t be if I were in danger) from the nearest hospital and it takes 20 minutes to prepare an operating room. I know that my midwife will transfer me if the need arises, and I feel safe in her care.

I am so thankful to be moving forward on this adventure with someone I can trust implicitly with both my and my baby’s life.

12 weeks and counting

Hard to imagine I’ve made it one third through this pregnancy. Between the holiday rush and counting the days down til each appointment, the time has already flown past and I’m looking forward to the rest going like that too. I have enough time to enjoy the pregnancy (when not dealing with morning sickness, evening sickness, lunch time sickness etc.) but I really can’t wait to meet this little darling.

As things progress and everything looks good, I am planning for the birth more and more. My plan is to go completely natural with a midwife and a home birth and although that is something that is not necessarily widely accepted, I can’t imagine doing things any differently. If you’re a long time reader or have taken the time to delve into my archives you might notice a trend toward doing things a bit old-fashioned- gardens and home-sewn clothing, knitting and crochet, cooking, preserving, and my goats. All of these things represent the good things in this world to me and a natural, un-medicated birth at home with a midwife who I know and trust to take care of me and my child and get us to a hospital if necessary is also part of that set of beliefs.

In this vein, I am going to meet with a midwife today who I hope will be the one to work with me and I am very excited about this meeting. I remember my mother’s midwife who helped her with both my brothers’ births and being raised with that as the norm rather than the exception and even as a small child I always knew that I would go that route myself when the time came to have my own children, just as I knew I would breastfeed and be a stay-at-home mother with my children. As an adult I am thankful that those desires and dreams are so close to coming to fruition.

 

Exhaustion

When some one or something you love is going through something potentially life threatening, you worry. My little dog had her first litter of puppies last night and I stayed up with her till 1 am. She had 6 puppies in the space of about 2 hours and I knew at least 2 more were left to come, but I couldn’t stay on the hard basement floor any longer and I was seeing double. So I went to bed worried but deciding she’d done wonderfully with the first 6, the last two would be fine. I spent about an hour trying to fall asleep and was about to drift off when my phone rang. It was an unknown number so I let the voice mail get it. But now I was awake. Slowly I drifted back to dream land, but rather than sleeping soundly, I was haunted by dreams of dying dogs and puppies. One dream had me putting Tinkerbell and her babies in a little overturned tupperware bowl on the sink counter (these things make sense when you’re asleep) and then there was a storm in the bowl so I had to keep the babies from drowning. This kind of madness went on all night interspersed with me half-waking thinking the puppies were hurt or worse that Tinkerbell was. Finally at 8 I gave up and went downstairs to check on her again. She was fine altho she looked exhausted and there snuggled up to her were 8 beautiful little babies. It took a little talent to count them as 7 of them are black as is she. The 8th little guy is blonde. He really sticks out like a sore thumb among his darker brothers and sisters and he was the second born. I have decided to name him Navin after Steve Martin’s character in the movie “The Jerk.” This means that either we’ll have to keep him or he has to go to J14. I can’t risk someone renaming him when they don’t know that he was meant to be the white boy in a black family. After all of this there ended up being 4 boys and 4 girls. I think Tink had ballroom dance lessons in mind for the future and did this to ensure that none of her children would be wall flowers. It works out rather nicely. I’ll keep one girl and J14 can have one boy and we’ll have to find homes for the other six but we’ll convince everyone that they have to take a matched set. If this is all rather confused and loopy, forgive me. I’m having enough trouble with keeping the typos at bay to worry abou this making sense. I’m half tempted to leave this as is with all the mistakes because man would that be trippy. But my innner english teacher is censoring that sort of stupidity so I’ll just lieave you wondering. Yes I saw that. but is not as funny as “forvige” woild would have been.