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October 19th, 2006, 06:16 AM
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Frelle Frelle is offline
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I had Grace in a hospital with an OB using the Bradley method. I had a good birth, just a lot of unecessary stuff involved.

Grace, born 12/16/99, 7 lbs 5 oz, 19 3/4 inches long, 37 weeks 2 days gestation

Grace's birth story:
I had just gone to see my OB for what I thought was the last time on Wednesday, and had gotten an ultrasound. I told her that I would be leaving her because of insurance issues (which was true, though deeper than the insurance issues was the ideology difference we seemed to have). She was disappointed, gave us a copy of some things in our files and told me to have my midwife's office call hers for other documents to be faxed before my next appointment. The ironic thing is that I had an appointment with the midwife scheduled at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, and I had asked the question, "I know this is me just being paranoid, but what happens if I go into labor between my appointment with Dr. Carol and my appointment with you ... who is responsible for my care if I have left her but have not yet gotten to you?" She told me until I was in their system at the Birth Center, that Dr. Carol would be responsible. Looks like it wasn't such a paranoid question after all.

Well, at midnight that evening, I had bloody show, thin streaks of red blood in with mucous, though not a big glob of mucous. At 4:30 a.m., I was awakened by a contraction, and my water either broke then or just before. It was not much water, maybe two cups, so I really was not sure it was my water until I started peeing about every three minutes. There was never a big gush of water after the bit in my bed. I tried to rest and sleep, but I was way too anxious for that -- some because I was excited, some because we didn't have any bags packed and most stuff not bought because she was 19 days early. For instance, we don't have a printer, and I had not printed a copy of my birth plan, so I had to write it all out by hand while I was in the early first stages of labor. I needed to pack a bag for baby and a bag for Rob and me, make a list of things we needed and didn't have, etc.

About five hours into labor, my contractions were about 10 minutes apart, and not any more painful than menstrual cramps. We decided to head for the hospital. During the ride there, my contractions developed a rhythm and were six-to-nine minutes apart. We arrived at the hospital right about 11 a.m. and I allowed them to check for dilation, and I was at 5 centimeters. I'd had mixed feelings about being checked for dilation, and the nurses were made aware of that. I asked *to* be checked but never was asked if they could or told that they had to. At 3 p.m., I had progressed to 7 centimeters and was fully effaced. At 5 p.m., my contractions suddenly became much more intense, lasted longer, and were about three minutes apart. I had not noticed much back pain up to that point, but it set in then. My friend Pat (our pastor's wife and an RN), was there with me also, and used her cold hand to put pressure on the area of my back that hurt the most, and it was exactly the relief I needed during the contractions. Rob was busy helping me focus and relax and brushing the hair from my face and being tender

About 5:30 p.m. I requested to be checked for dilation because of the dramatic change in my contractions. I was found to be at 9 centimeters. I continued to labor like this for another hour or so, and asked to be checked again, and was found to be very nearly fully dilated except for a part of the lip of the cervix. I finally began to feel the urge to push, and I was examined by my OB, who confirmed that I was ready to push. We began a series of pushing for three sets of 10 seconds apiece every time I had a contraction (still three minutes apart). For a while I was told to push, then for a while I was told to just relax. Eventually we got to a point where I was told to push every time, and I think that lasted for about 20 minutes.

I was in pretty rough shape at that point. I had been tired all day and had not wanted to get up and walk to help labor progress any faster and at that point I'm glad I'd done that, because I felt like I didn't have any energy to push at all. I cried and moaned and tried my best to relax between contractions, and every time another one would come, I would wish I'd had more time to rest between them. Pushing was a series of one step forward, two steps back, My OB, Rob and the nurses could see Grace's head come up and go back, crown and then go back in. Finally, Rob convinced me to look in the mirror they had set up so I could see Grace crowning, and that gave me my last bit of incentive to push her out. I gave several primal, groaning deep screams during the last several times to push, simply because that's what it took to get the drive to push her out. It was as if every cell in my body had to become involved in the pushing for me to really do it. It was indeed a whole body experience!

Grace was born with the umbilical cord tied around her neck once. Dr. Carol quickly unlooped it after telling me to stop pushing for a second. Her Apgar scores were first 8 and then 9, mostly because she wasn't quite pink enough the first time because of the cord. She cried almost immediately after being born, as far as I can remember, though I do think they did some suctioning on her with the little ball suction thing. I had requested that they wait to cut the cord until after it stopped pulsing, and it took no time at all for the placenta to deliver. My uterus seemed to continue to contract and the placenta sort of pushed its way out spontaneously with little help from me.

The OB and hospital staff paid close attention to my birth plan and were able to give us the birth we had hoped for, and we are very blessed and fortunate! The hospital stay was not great.. too many interruptions at night and too many restrictions about rooming in and stuff. Also bad feeding/scheduling advice from the nursery workers!!! Was glad to get home!

Lily, born at home 11/26/02, 9 lbs 4 oz, 21 3/4 inches long. 39 weeks 6 days

Lily was born at home in the water with a midwife, and it was an awesome and empowering experience:

was in pre-labor for several weeks prior to the actual day Lily was born. I had several days of intermittent contractions, cramping, and pain in the last 3 weeks, resulting in my walking around at about 100% effaced and 3-4 cm dilated for about 12 days. The off and on nature of the preparatory contracting and cramping left me hopeful sometimes and very discouraged other times. My midwife and my doula did their best to keep my spirits up and encourage me to go about my day to day activities as usual. I kept myself busy running errands, doing laundry, cooking, and washing dishes, last minute nesting activities like organizing the pantry. One never knows when labor will finally set in, but I was prepared for it to be fairly quick, since my body had already done a lot of work. Good thing, because I was blindsided!

Active labor began as I was leaving the grocery store with mom, Grace, and the Thanksgiving turkey, among other things. I'd had about a half dozen Braxton Hicks contractions while we were shopping, over the course of about 35 minutes. They never made me stop and breathe through them, I just noticed they were happening more often than usual. I had also begun to leak fluid that morning, but didn't think it was my water. I mentioned it to my midwife and she said it was probably the outer membrane of the amniotic sac leaking. After we checked out with the groceries, and I sat in the van, I had a small gush of fluid. Before we left the parking lot, I got my first contraction. They started right off the bat at 3 minutes apart and peaking after about 35-45 seconds. I got in the door to the house and called my midwife, and she and my doula came over about 45 minutes later. She checked me, the amniotic sac was still intact, and I was dilated to 6 cm or so. I labored on my hands and knees for a while, finding that holding my abdominal muscles tight and arching my back to keep my rear tucked helped alleviate the pain somewhat. Lily had dropped very low already into my pelvis, and my tailbone hurt almost as much as my belly! I was excited about the day finally arriving, and that excitement helped me through a lot of the early contractions. I spent a little bit of time chatting in my bedroom with my midwife and doula while I labored, and I enjoyed the camraderie of women, knowing they knew how I was feeling and I was excited that we were going to share this experience of bringing my baby into the world. I labored on the birthing ball awhile, while my doula was applied counter-pressure to my knees. This helped my tailbone area feel better, and mom was applying a hotpack to my lower back. I could feel the contractions becoming stronger at this point, and I think I started moaning through them while on the ball. I began to get a little frightened even as I let my body labor freely while I vocalized, I suppose because I was really surrendering to the contractions and not holding back. While the act itself seems relaxing and good, the surrendering of the control seemed unnatural to my personality. But I wanted to flow with it, and moaning and swaying seemed to be what came naturally. I finally decided I needed to get brave, and stood through a few contractions, hoping that gravity would help bring baby down more. I know that gravity does a lot of work, but I knew the contractions would be more painful then. I stood hanging onto the fridge a while, I was rocking and swaying my hips and moaning through these contractions as well. It was interesting to me that I did not want any physical support, I just wanted pressure and heat on my back, and some gentle encouragement and guidance. I suppose it relates to where I was in labor, that I really wanted to be left alone, since I was listening so intently to what my body wanted at various times.

Rob, my midwife, doula, and my mom finished setting up and filling the birth tub in my kitchen, and I decided to get in. My midwife never checked my dilation again, but said later that she suspected I went from 6 to 10 in about a half hour after she got there. She thinks I was probably complete soon after I got in the tub.

I hadn't been in more than about 5 minutes when I started feeling the urge to push, but I tried to hold out for a while... not stopping what my body was doing, but also not pushing. I was on my hands and knees for a while, leaning over the sides of the tub, moaning. Sonya was nearby and would hold my hands as I clenched them through the contraction. Then I got on my bottom in the tub, and sort of lifted my hips up and swayed through the contractions as I moaned. My body started pushing during contractions, and I just went with it, letting my body push sometimes, and helping it by bearing down other times. I started feeling very out of control at that point, even though following my body�s cues was what I wanted. I began to feel like the contractions were overpowering me, and realized that I needed to begin bearing down during the contractions that made my body push. I don't think I was holding myself back very much from beginning to push, but I do think psychologically I was not ready for the pushing stage. I really didn't think it was going to come as quickly as it did. My midwife and doula knew better, they told me afterward.. simply by the quality of my moaning and the denial I was in about how soon baby would come. The tub, although supportive, does not really give anywhere to bear down, so I asked Rob to get in with me. As soon as he was behind me in the tub, the pushing really started. On the birth video, I can see that I really quieted down and went deep inside. I was expecting to see more tears and more deep primal screaming, because that is how I felt that the pushing stage went. But all my fear and uncertainty during pushing was not apparent on the video. I knew that I could push the baby out, I just kept wishing for a break in the constant pain as the baby came down my birth canal. The ring of fire that women talk about as the baby crowns was something I felt for the whole 20 minutes of pushing. I was aware when my amniotic sac finally exploded, and announced that to the room, and soon after, Lily�s head was out. I have never felt such relief in my life as when her head emerged! I even leaned my head back on Rob's chest and said "Oh THANK you!" when her head came out. I knew the rest of her body was still inside, but I could not imagine that it was going to be more difficult than pushing out the head. Interestingly, all pushing sensation left for a minute or more. I know her head was out and in the water, but without a contraction to tell me to push, I was afraid to just barrel ahead. So I caught my breath and waited for the next surge. It did come, and she was out! From the sound of my midwife's voice on the video, and her words "The baby's trying to come out, Jen!!", I think she wanted to let me know I had not pushed the entire baby out in that one push. At the time, all I could do was let her know that I didn't want to force it. I don't think my midwife touched me during the entire pushing stage, until she saw Lily crowning, I hve a vague memory of her supporting my perineum during that stage, and then keeping her hand on Lily's head as I was preparing to push her body out. She lifted her from the water and handed her to me as soon as she was out. All the way through, she was offering encouragement, praise for my effort, and validation of what I was feeling. When Lily emerged, they were busy gathering the needed items for cord cutting, juice for me, towels for us, etc. They waited patiently as we had several minutes in the tub together as a family, and gently helped us out afterward.

Lily has been a great joy ever since her arrival. She came into the world in a peaceful way, surrounded by people who love her. I can't help but believe that it will affect her personality in a positive way. She is very instinctive at nursing, and makes me feel more centered than I ever have as a person.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed every aspect of Lily's birth. There�s not one thing I would change about it. The long pre-labor was emotionally draining, but encouraged me that I could look forward to a shorter labor than last time. The beginning of labor was what I had expected and emotionally prepared myself for, so I was not terrified of the intensity or the spacing of the contractions from the outset. I was able to labor on my own, at my house, in whatever position I felt most comfortable. I needed only to ask for physical or emotional support, and it was offered without hesitation. The joy of homebirth!

Felicity, born 10/06/05, at home in the water, 9 lbs 0 oz, 20 1/2 inches, 39 weeks 3 days gestation

Felicity was born at home unassisted, but we planned to have a midwife. It was very exciting, but I would not choose to have an unassisted birth again. Here is her story:
woke up at 4:30 Thursday morning (10/06) to a strange and intensifying burning and stinging feeling deep within my body. There was nothing I could do to ease it, but it dawned on me that it was my cervix that was burning.

The first contraction came about 20 minutes into the burning sensations, and the second one hit soon after. Five minuted apart if I was laying down, and 2 minutes apart if I was sitting or standing. I called my midwife and expressed my concern that I could not breathe through these 30 second long contractions, and she assured me that I was in early labor and that I should call if things changed.

I endured a few more contractions, and had my husband get up to provide moral support through them. I was not scared, but I was concerned that after having birthed two children naturally, I could not seem to handle the contractions alone, or with any of the techniques I had used with Lily's birth. I had spent a large portion of her labor on my knees, arching my back and tightening my abs during the peaks of my contractions.

I turned to using the techniques I remembered from my Bradley birth classes with my first child, to vocalize low and moaning, to keep my chin to my chest, those sorts of things. I was shocked at how incredibly painful they were becoming, and how quickly they progressed to 2 minutes apart peaking after a minute. Labor was a blur at this point, just trying to keep hold of the edge of my ability to maintain control during contractions. My husband called my midwife again to tell her of the change, and I had some significant bloody show.

I asked Rob to fill the bathtub, as I thought it might provide some relief. I had forgotten for the moment, that my midwife had told me that if you think you re going to birth quickly, get into a bath and get your tissues hydrated. It might also relax you enough to slow things down a little bit.

I was feeling like the contractions were much bigger than I was at that point, and I called my mom to pray for me and to tell her we were having a baby today. I had no idea I was in transition at this point!

I felt another rush coming, and got off the phone. I was thrown to my knees, my hands and head clinging to the couch as I moaned louder and louder as it progressed. During this contraction, my body started to push!

My head spun wildly during this contraction as the realization hit me that I was about to have our baby in just a minute. "What? This can't be pushing! I don't know if I am fully dilated! What if she'd not engaged? What happens if you push and you aren't dilated enough? How do I know it's the right time?"

As soon as that contraction peaked and I started to descend from it, I began tearing off my pajamas, and running toward the bathroom. "She's coming! She's coming!" I kept yelling.

I leaped into the tub, and placed my hand on my womb. I prayed very quickly that God would preserve me from tearing badly, and that he would keep us both safe.

I had my first contraction in the tub, gripping my husband's hand and the soapdish handle, and she crowned and her head was out!!!! Rob supported her head in the water while I waited for the next rush to push her body out. It seemed like an eternity, but was probably only a minute. My final push was much more her than me, and it seemed as through she propelled herself out. She spun perfectly, and her father's hands guided her body through the water and into the air. Time stopped, and we stared at her and then at each other. "We did it!" I remember exclaiming.

Her cord was nice and long, and it was looped loosely around her head, so we unwrapped her, and he handed her to me. She was perched on my knee in the tub, looking around, wide eyed and alart, and not even breathing yet. She was probably in shock! I just stared at her, taking in her surroundings quietly, reveling in the moment we had alone with our thoughts.

Rob called the midwife and asked what he ought to know about delivering the placenta. My midwife was in utter shock that I had already had the baby!!! She had not heard the baby cry while hwe was talking. As if on cue, she let out her first wail. She told him to get some chux pads from the birth kit and help me out of the tub and into the bedroom, to wait for the placenta and to not cut the cord till she arrived. My daughters woke up when the baby wailed, and came flying into the bathroom. They saw the baby in low light in the bathtub just minutes after her arrival. It was amazing and beautiful to share it with them. We made our way to the bedroom, and snuggled in, and my midwife arrived about 20 minutes later.

My husband is a very calm and levelheaded person. I always knew that if we were faced with a "precipitous birth" situation, that he would perform well under pressure and be a great source of strength and focus for me. He was just exactly those things, and I am so blessed to have a husband who can keep his wits about him! He told me later that I made it all look easy, not sure how that's possible since I was barely contained for that last half hour or so! He also said that if his hands had not been right there, she might have hit her head on the opposite end of the tub as she came out with the force of a freight train.

My midwife was a wonderful source of comfort and stability for me after Felicity's birth. She is one of my best friends, and was so happy for us and validated my feelings about the birth, saying so many empowering things after our unplanned unassisted birth. She and I both wish she has been here, but she was confident in our ability to UC even before it happened. While startlingly intense, Felicity's birth was an amazing experience. Thank you for letting me share it with you.

Thank you BAM for my signature!!

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