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My mother had her first 4 children at home with only my dad and grandmother to help her. My younger sister and I were born in hospitals only because my parents were in a new state and worried about the possibility of legal trouble should something go wrong. My mother always recalled her "hospital births" with bad feelings. From that legacy of natural childbirth, and also from my own research, I decided that I wanted to have a natural childbrith. I also felt that for my first one, being in a hospital with a midiwfe would be best, just because I didn't know what to expect. I'm not sure that was really the best decision, as they intervened more than I wanted them to.
I was GroupB strep positive and was taking pills for it so I wouldn't have to get an IV. Adam came 3 days early, before my pill dosage was complete, so I had to have an IV anyway...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
May 18th, 2006. About 2:15am, I woke up to pee. I went back to bed and 5 minutes later, I was all wet! "I don't think I peed, I just went a moment ago! Wait a second...did my water just break?" I thought to myself. I called my mom and told her what happened, and that I kept gushing and it had no smell. She informed me that yes, my water broke, and that she'd pack her stuff and leave as soon as she was off work. She lives 2 states away from me and would drive the 16 hours to be here by the time I got out of the hospital. I wasn't having any contractions at all, so I called my midwife (Dr. E) and asked her what to do. Since I lived a 45-minute drive from the hospital, she told me to come right over. I woke up my husband and told him my water had broken and that it was time to go. He rubbed his eyes and blinked several times, trying to process the information. Then he jumped up and got dressed, emailed his professors to tell them he'd be out for a few days, and we left.
We arrived at the hospital at about 4am, and all the labor rooms were in use, so they put me in a surgery recovery room, separated from 3 other just-admitted women by curtains and all sharing one bathroom. They hooked me up to an IV and gave me very cold antibiotics...my entire arm went cold.
By 7:30 or somewhere around there, I still wasn't having any contractions worth noting, so Dr. E ordered that I be given a Pitocin drip by IV. I was hesitant, but they convinced me that if I didn't get it, (because it had been 5 hours since my water broke and I guess there's a certain amount of safe time before there's a problem), I risked giving my son a potentially life-threatning infection, so I gave in. It took effect immediately. Quick, sharp contractions. Dr E was very helpful, getting me a birthing ball and giving me and my husband tips on how to work with the contrations. Her only other patient that had been admitted was sent home with false labor, so she was able to be right there with me for most of my labor. Finally, around noon, one of the labor rooms opened up and I was able to go in there. I took a nice warm bath, which helped for a few contractions, and then got out, not caring to dress again. The nurses had seen it all before anyway. My midwife rubbed lotion into my feet and my husband held me and rubbed my back while the contrations got stronger and harder. It begun to hurt, but I was determined not to have any pain meds. I had prayed for help and had been promised that the Lord would help me bear my pain.
Around 2:30, I wanted to push. Dr E checked me and said I was fully dilated but had a lip in the way. She kept her hand up there and told me to push really hard while she tried to slide the lip around the baby's head. Oh, that hurt! I had to do it three times before it worked. I said, "It's too late to ask for something to help with the pain, isn't it?" and my midwife said yes and I said "ok" and I laid back and prayed, "Lord, you made me a promise! I'm holding you to it!!" Then I fell asleep! For the rest of my labor, I fell deep asleep between each contraction and awoke to push and fell asleep again. That rejuvenated me and gave me strength to do this. I could feel His help and I could bear the pain. I pushed and pushed, and I pushed so hard that I somehow clogged the IV and they had to take it out and give me another one in my other hand. That was annoying.
As I pushed with all my might, he began to come down a little more, but then his heartrate would slow. The contraction would end, he'd slide back up a little, and his heartrate would come up again too. This concerned Dr. E, who worried that the umbilical cord may be wrapped around the neck and cutting off blood flow to his brain (my closest cousin had lost a double-neck-tie child just a few weeks earlier and I had taken it really hard, so hearing her mention that really scared me).
It was actually his little hand, pressing into his neck as I contracted, that was slowing the blood flow. Having his arm up there made it harder for him to fit through the birth canal, and because of that, Dr. E gave me an episiotomy. She just took some little scissors and snip, snip! That hurt SO BAD, but it helped, and a few pushes later, Adam crowned, and my husband's eyes started to glisten as he watched with wonder and amazement at the whole thing. A few more pushes, and the baby came out and I finally got to hold him! At my request, Dr. E caught Adam and put him directly on my stomach, goop and all. My husband was crying by this time, so excited to see his son and so amazed at me and my body and this amazing process. He was a huge help, encouraging me and holding me and helping me in every way he could.
Adam was born at 3:49pm and was 8lbs even, 21 inches long, and absolutely beautiful! He had a healthy cry and nursed right away.
The episiotomy was stiched up. I also I had a few minor tears around the opening that didn't require stitches. I had a hemmorroid from pushing so hard and those made for a very uncomfortable recovery. I was later told that oftentimes when the water breaks, the body will go into labor after 5 or 6 hours. I wish that I had known that. I would have put off the Pitocin for another 1 1/2 hours, and maybe I wouldn't have needed it after all!! However, I am so glad to have my darling boy. He is such a great joy to me, and I'd do it again for him if I had to.
And now fast-forward 19 months for the birth of my second child, Joseph.
He was due to be born on December 21, 2007. That was the perfect date, in our minds. My sister was going to come take care of Adam while I was in the hospital, and that was the day she was going to come. Then she would be with us for a whole week to help me take care of the baby and of my healing body and also to take care of Adam. We were worried Joseph would come early, like Adam had, but Joseph had his own plans. His due date came and passed, my sister arrived, then the next day passed. I thought, maybe Joseph will come on the 23rd. That would be the birthday of his namesake. But the 23rd came and passed, and still he stayed warm and comfy inside of me. I started to worry that he'd be born on Christmas Day, and then always be sad that his birthday wasn't his own special day.
Well, Christmas Day came and nearly passed. That night, around 10:30, I had my bloddy show. Since I never had that with Adam, I wasn't sure what it was, so I called the dr on call and she told me I was in the early stages of labor. Yay! I was starting on my own! It was close to midnight that I had my first contractions. DH says the baby was thinking, "Well, Christmas is over, now I can come!" and I think that he just might be right.
No Pitocin made such a difference...my labor was easy, the contractions so much milder, and I was able to take a couple of naps to help me have energy. At 4am on the 26th, I felt it was time to go to the hospital. I was GrpB strep positive again, but this time I had been refused the option of taking pills for it, so I had to be there with enough time for 2 doses of IV antibiotics, which would be 4 hours apart. At 4:05, we arrived at the hospital. We'd moved closer and it was so nice not to make that long drive again! They checked me and sure enough, I was in real labor. I was 80% effaced and dilated to a 3. An hour later, they hooked me up to the IV and gave me Penicillin. At least it wasn't cold this time. I took another nap at the hospital, and then at 8:30am they gave me more Penicillin. Dr. E came in and checked me, and I was dilated to 5cm. She said that labor up 4cm is the hard part (wow, I thought it had been easy!), and that things would move quickly from there. I watched a movie and dozed off some more. I wanted to walk around, but there was nowhere to go and my room got boring very quickly. Well, at 11:30, I was still only 5cm, so Dr E. felt it would be best to rupture my membranes and release all the fluid so that the baby would want to come faster. Again, I was hesitant to be interfered with, and again I was persuaded otherwise. Not much of the fluid came, but it worked! Within 10 minutes, my contractions got harder and closer together, and by 12:30pm, I was feeling ready to push! Dr. E said to wait, though, and didn't let me start pushing until almost 1pm. I can't remember why. Maybe I wasn't 10cm yet, but I can't remember. I was focusing on my breathing and on working through the contractions as much as I could. They were hard, but still much nicer than my Pitocin birth.
As Joseph came down the birth canal, his heart rate dropped from the 130s per minute down to the 60’s. It stayed there for several minutes and everyone was worried that if you didn't come out right away, then he'd have brain damage. I was getting very tired, and wanted to take a rest, but Dr. E said, "If there was a doctor here with forceps, he'd be using them to pull the baby out right now, and if you don't get him out, we'll have to take him by C-section!" I did NOT want that, so I got an adrenaline rush and pushed harder still, he wasn't quite coming and his heart rate was still too low, so she gave me an episiotomy (again!!). Two pushes later his head came out (along with a huge gush of amniotic fluid...my poor husband gagged and had to turn away for a moment) and then the rest of his body slid right out. He took his first breath at 1:22pm. They immediately put him onto my tummy again, so I could hold him and look at him. He looked up into my face and melted my heart! He was so beautiful!
He was 8˝ lbs exactly, and 21 inches long. He had a hard time breathing at first. He breathed too quickly, so they wouldn't let me nurse him until his breathing calmed down almost 2 hours later. I guess the labor was as hard for him as it was for me!
I think I want a home birth next. After Joseph was born, Dr E told me that I wouldn't have needed that second episiotomy if I had been pushing harder. That really upset me. I was giving it all I had! I wouldn't have needed that episiotomy if I hadn't had to be on a bed. If I had been able to squat or something to let gravity help more, it probably would have been enough. But for the dr's convenience I was up on a bed. Not flat on my back, but close enough that the dr had a good view and easy access.
In spite of it not going as I wished either time, I am so grateful that I did it, and my two handsome healthy boys are my greatest blessing.