Giving birth is life-changing! The story of how we come into the world is as much a part of us as anything else. Most people enter midwifery care hoping for a natural birth, at home or the birth center. Most of the time things go as planned, but sometimes they don’t! These stories represent the breadth of our clients’ experiences: from calm, fast “easy” home births to five day labors that transfer to the hospital for a much-needed epidural to premature babies to necessary cesarean sections.
On Tuesday January 17th, 2012 I woke up and worked a little bit, then went to Zumba class at the gym and did about 15 minutes on the elliptical machine. I did what I could at Zumba and my moves were certainly not as precise as they could be but I was having fun because, hey, it’s Zumba! How can you not have fun! At 11am I had my 40 week appointment with the Alma midwives. I was concerned about going extraordinarily past my due date (January 16th) so they offered to do a membrane sweep of my cervix to stimulate hormone production in that area which can sometimes encourage labor to come. After that, they suggested that if I really wanted to get things moving I could go to acupuncture for a labor induction treatment. However, my cervix was 80% effaced and I was 4cm dilated so my body was doing what it was supposed to do which was very reassuring for me. I decided to go to acupuncture for the treatment and then went home to work some more. Morgan came home from work and we had dinner and just relaxed at home and watched Louis C.K.’s Hilarious.
We got ready for bed and just as I was getting under the covers I started noticing cramping and discomfort at semi regular intervals. I thought “could this be it? Is this what contractions feel like? Could it be starting?” As opposed to obsessing over it I decided if it was labor, it would be in my best interest in get as much sleep as possible.
I fell asleep around 11:30 and figured that the contractions would wake me up as they got more intense. Sure enough, I woke up around 3:30 not being able to sleep through the contractions anymore.
I rested and started timing the intervals which were about 10 minutes apart at that point. I woke Morgan up and told him what was going on. Around 4:30 I texted the midwives Kori and Stephanie and told them what was happening. Kori said “let me know when they are closer and more consistent” and Stephanie said “looking forward to seeing you at the birth center in the next couple of days.” I thought “Couple of days! More like couple of hours!” The contractions got more and more intense and were about 4-5 minutes apart around 8am. I texted Kori and Stephanie back and said I think it’s time I come to the birth center because things are happening fast! Stephanie came over around 8:30am to check my cervix and see how things were going and said yep, it’s time to go! During this time the contractions were getting VERY intense. I threw up a couple times and my bowels cleared themselves so there was nothing left to clear out except a baby!
By the time we got everything in the car, and made our way to the birth center it was about 9:30am. I had 3 contractions in the car which was no fun at all. It was amazing how fast and intense they were coming and I was starting to feel out of control with the pain. We made our way up to our room and the midwives had filled the giant bathtub. I couldn’t wait to get in it because my back was killing me and I was hoping it would help ease the pressure. After getting in the tub I only had a few contractions before I started feeling the urge to push. I think the midwives were surprised at how fast things were going for a first time mom. Morgan was by my side on the edge of the tub doing his best to coach my breathing and keep me under control but honestly, it was happening so fast I couldn’t really gather myself and was starting to scream and growl like an animal at each contraction. It was very difficult to slow down and use any of the techniques that we learned in the birth classes. My body was truly taking over and doing what it was designed to do.
Let me be totally honest with you, I completely underestimated the intensity of labor and birth. It is true that there is no way to describe what it feels like and there is nothing to compare it to. It’s not like playing roller derby, running marathons, or getting tattoos. It only feels like labor and birth. It also feels like you are pushing the baby out of your butt, not your vagina, which was surprising to me. I continued to labor in the tub, bite down on towels, doubt myself that I could do it, ask everyone in the room how many more contractions I would have to endure, and plead with them for it to be over.
Midwives Kori, Stephanie, and Tara were very encouraging (although i couldn’t hear them very well because I was screaming and growling so loud!). My husband Morgan was so encouraging and reminding me that I WAS doing it. That reassurance helped me keep going.
I had made good progress in the tub and baby’s head was beginning to crown but my legs were starting to fall asleep because of the kneeling/squatting position I was in and I couldn’t find another position in which I was comfortable. Kori suggested I get out and try the birthing stool which is like a toilet made out of wood. I had never seen a birthing stool before but it sounded good to me. They helped me over to the stool and had the area all prepped to deliver the baby. The first push was the total “ring of fire” that you hear about and it was insanely painful. The midwives were trying to get me to slow down the pushes so that my skin had time to stretch (apparently I’m a very strong pusher!). As much as I knew how that would be in my best interest to allow the skin time to stretch, I got to a point where I didn’t care and just wanted her to be born and for the intensity to be over. So, it only took 2 more pushes after that to birth my babies head. Morgan was in position to catch the baby along with midwife Tara. One more push and her body was out , very punctual at noon on Wednesday January 18, 2012. I was kind of dazed, and still biting down on a towel, as they pushed my baby into my arms and started walking me over to the bed. I lay down with the baby’s umbilical cord still attached. The cord is shorter than I thought (or I am just tall) but she only reached up to my lower belly and the midwives were trying to get her up to my chest. I was like “hey this is as far as she goes!”
We hung out together on the bed for a few minutes and they wiped off most of the baby goo while the placenta stopped beating. After that, Morgan cut the cord and we were able to move her up to my chest. Within a few more minutes she began hunting and pecking around for my breast for her first taste of colostrum.
Her baby instincts were incredible that she knew how to do this. She was using her legs and scooting all around looking for the boob. While she was nursing I felt a few cramps and birthed the placenta. The midwives checked out my vagina and stitched up a few exterior labial tears that occurred in the last couple of pushes when I didn’t heed there advice to slow down and let the skin stretch. Luckily, my perineum was intact even with my rocket pushing. Morgan was next to baby and I the entire time, but I was exhausted and zoned out and asked if someone could get me a hamburger and French fries. One of the birth center doulas obliged and I had a burger in my hands in no time! We spent the next 48 hours at the birth center being doted upon and learning from the most caring doulas.
Morgan and I had still not selected a name for our girl. Hours were ticking by and we knew we had parents and friends to alert of her arrival. We went back and forth between a few names and middle names and finally landed on Piper Agnes Hay because that seemed to fit her the best with Agnes being a shout out to my late grandmother. Then we started calling and Facebooking the world of her arrival.
Although the experience of natural birth for me can only be described as incredibly intense, I am so happy I choose to birth this way at the Alma Midwifery Birth Center. I am forever grateful that my pregnancy, labor and birth experienced zero complications. I know how lucky I am to have the most positive outcome possible and am so pleased that Piper arrived when and how she did.
It was 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, and I knew. I knew we would have a baby that day, just like I knew at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning a little more than three years ago with Sofia.Three years ago, however, I felt invincible. I went to the office, I held a meeting, I didn’t think too much about what I was, or wasn’t, eating and drinking. And yes, I paid for it later on. Though Sofia’s birth was the most profound experience of my life to that point, there were certainly some, shall we politely say, rough stretches.So this time around I was armed with knowledge gained from that experience. I ate the most nutritious food I could before the pain got to be too much, and slugged a ton of water. Score a point for me. But sometimes ignorance is bliss, because with all my lovely knowledge came…more knowledge. Knowledge of hours of contractions, exhaustion and pain that pushes you to the brink. Honestly? I was scared. I questioned whether or not I could do it again.
Thankfully, I had a little help.In what has to be one of the biggest blessings of this pregnancy/labor/delivery/recovery, my sister flew down from Alaska on Monday evening — just in case I happened to go into labor during the three days she was able to stay with us. Because of the effort that required, especially traveling with 2-year-old Aidan, I just assumed that it was pretty much guaranteed that I wouldn’t have Nico while she was here. But in one of the best cases of timing EVER, there I was, in labor.So with Sofia wonderfully occupied by Auntie Jess and cousin Aidan, I labored away. Labored and wondered just how all of this would turn out. The contractions grew stronger, but were still sporadically spaced out — anywhere from 5-15 minutes apart. They needed to be consistently five minutes apart before it was time to go to the birthing center. As it turns out, they never did reach that point.All of a sudden, contractions were coming fast and furious at 2-4 minutes apart. John called the midwives, who were to meet us at the birthing center in half an hour.And here we faced the dreaded car ride. As there was NO WAY I was going to deal with these contractions while strapped upright into a seat bumping along the most pothole-filled road in Portland, I crawled into the backseat and hung onto the headrest for dear life. I may have also yelled at John once or twice…or maybe every time he so much as touched the brakes.We reached the Alma birthing center at 9:30. Every second of the car ride was worth it the moment I entered the candlelit birthing room to the sound of the tub being filled. Ahhhh. It was here that I could finally, completely release myself into the process. No more clock watching, no more half listening to the kids, no more physically holding back. It was go time.After about a half an hour on my hands and knees on the bed, I dimly wondered how much more I could take. Thought I never wanted to do this again. Wondered if I was two centimeters or ten. It was at this point that I caught my heaven-sent midwife Melissa telling John that I was likely about nine centimeters. I also somehow perceived her encouraging me to get into the tub.With Sofia, I was so exhausted and dehydrated that moving from the bed to the tub was impossible. This time around I managed the ten feet or so to the tub, stopping for just one contraction.The moment my skin hit the water, I could breathe again. I knew I could do this. I prayed, I meditated, I let my body do what it needed to do. Every ounce of my strength was directed downward, and I realized I wasn’t just having contractions, I was pushing. And then came the realization that although I was completely released into the birthing process, I was still in control. As soon as I felt I could take no more, I stopped. I let the water envelop me and relax me. When the time came, I marshaled my strength and gave it everything I had.And thus at 10:31 p.m., May 31, Nico entered the world.If there is a more intense moment in the world than when a mama first meets her baby, I can’t imagine was it is. The physical relief, the elation, the amazement, the pride, the awe, the LOVE. And let’s face it, a little bit of shock! All these things hit at once…and there are simply no words to describe it.Later on, I learned a bit more about the moments surrounding Nico’s birth. My little rock-n-roller had his cord wrapped around his neck, but God blessed and guided the hands of my midwives and they unwound him so gracefully we never even knew it. And apparently, my little guy took a bit of a swim upon his grand entry! John will swear he breast stroked across the tub.The next few hours were a blur of bonding with, nursing, and eventually measuring Nico (7 lbs, 6 oz, 19.5 inches). Watching John meet his son was tremendous…I knew immediately we’d be fighting for snuggle time!
As I’ve looked back on all this over the last few days, my amazement continues to grow at the natural birth process, and at the utter awareness and skill of my midwives. Aside from checking Nico’s heartrate, there was no need for me to be monitored or measured in any way — simply by listening to me and watching me, my caretakers knew exactly what needed to happen and when.Now I continue to process layer after layer of this, the second of the two most profound experiences of my life. Since the moment of Nico’s birth, my circle of awareness is slowly expanding from simply realizing that my baby was in my arms in a seeming blink of an eye, to my husband, to my body, to my daughter, and now it’s slowly expanding to the world around me. I think I even know what day it is today! Monday? Yep! All right!But the outside world can wait awhile still. Right now I’m reveling in watching this incredible love blossom between Sofia and Nico. It truly was love at first sight, and Sofia is exceeding all our expectations of being a fantastic big sister. She loves checking on Nico, and he’s the first person she wants to see when she gets up in the morning. When she snuggles with him, he is quiet and still and looks at her with what I think are adoring eyes.This post can’t be complete without a section on John. He has been nothing short of Superdad this last week. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, diaper duty, entertaining Sofia — he has handled it all gracefully! He even managed to prune our front yard AND set up Sofia’s trampoline. Now if I can just get a neck massage out of him, I can confidently say he’s been perfect. Thank you, thank you, thank you, John, Sofia’s father, Nico’s father, my hero!
Glenn is strolling around our room at Alma Midwifery with our new baby, singing. It is unreal, what we’ve begun; neither of us can fathom it. It is still so strange and new that we haven’t at all caught up to it. We’re still back there, wherever we were before any of this began.Early Friday morning, middle of the night, I got up to use the bathroom and saw a little bit of cervical mucus. Would there were a prettier word for mucus, but there you have it. I had a suspicion that this may be the turning of things. I woke to use the bathroom again later, and there was more of it, tinged pink, so I asked Glenn what time it was – 3:13 – and said I had news: what they call “bloody show.” Another not-very-nice term for something, but again, there you have it.
I knew it was important to get rest while I could, but I also knew myself too well to know I wasn’t going to fall asleep while there was writing to do, so after lying in bed a while looking at the half moon I went downstairs to savor the moment of turning. I walked outside to get some soup from our bag in the car because I was so hungry, and knew it was important to eat while I could. After soup and yogurt and raspberry leaf tea, I went back to bed – but first, standing outside in the driveway I looked at the moon, at Orion and the seven sisters – the micro-dipper, we always called it – and felt the night air, and remembered all those other nights I’d looked at them, and how different it was then and how same.
Early, around 6:30, I asked Glenn if he’d be willing to go out for coffee. I also wanted to take those few last photos of pregnancy. He tidied up our room while I went downstairs to make some breakfast; our housemate Sarah was in the kitchen, getting ready for work. I told her cheerfully that I was in labor, which was funny. She asked all about it, kind of taken off guard, but more and more excited. She said to keep her and our other housemates all informed, because she for one wasn’t going to be thinking about her job that day.
At this time I’d been having surges since three in the morning, which were uncomfortable enough to make it difficult to lie in bed, but manageable enough that if I was standing and moving I felt fine. They were different than the practice contractions I’d been having for months: they were sharper and heavier, like gas pressure, and they weren’t a whole-abdomen thing. Unlike the feeling of my uterus turning into a stiff ball, these were low, deep down in my pelvis.
Glenn suggested we take the photos I had in mind before going to coffee, which was wise. Then we changed our season dial: a ceramic disc on the wall with the wheel of the year engraved in it; we’d forgotten to turn it to autumn on the 21st. On my way back downstairs I passed our house chalk board, where we leave notes for each other, and saw that Glenn had written, “No one had Friday? Hmmm….” Funny and interesting: we’d been collecting guesses on when the baby would come, and of all our friends and family and coworkers who placed a bet, not one of them guessed Friday. It was the only day that *didn’t* get a guess. So I suppose our baby likes the negative space.
We went to coffee, the Albina Press, where most of our early morning coffee getaways have taken us. I wanted to have one last special coffee date, just the two of us. Glenn brought the book of Scandinavian fairy tales I’ve been reading (the complete and unabridged stories collected by George Webbe Dasent), and, over his Americano and my peppermint chamomile tea, we read “Gudbrand on the Hillside,” a story about a husband and wife whose bond is so strong it gets them through all kinds of follies unscathed. I was barely able to sit through it. I was ready to get going at the end.
We drove over Mount Tabor on the way home to see the park in the fall. It was nice, but I was kind of impatient. We got home and chatted a few moments with our housemates Russ and Sue, who were really excited and deliberately playing it cool. Sue had the look of recognition when I described how contractions were feeling. We chatted a good couple minutes before I felt another one coming and knew I had to get off by myself. I said I was going upstairs to nap, hoping the chamomile would bless my effort, but it didn’t work out that way.
Glenn called our midwife Kori to give her an update. Surges were coming every four minutes – had been since we’d left for coffee – and getting more intense. He told her I was very calm and lovely about it. She said they’d be getting stronger from here, and that I might start making noises, and that was okay. I actually wanted just to go to the birthing house then. I didn’t want to wait till things were really happening, and then have to handle the transition by car, which was feeling more impossible to face the longer we waited. Kori said she’d send Tarra, another midwife on our team, to check on us. At that point – I don’t know if it was coincidence, or if having heard her say it made it come true – surges got serious, and I started vocalizing them, keeping my voice low and my throat open and letting my lips inflate each time, the way a horse sighs, because I knew from Ina May’s books that letting your lips blow air bubbles also relaxes all your sphincters, including your cervix. I was really sleepy and wanted to rest, but couldn’t get comfortable, even in between. I lay on my side, I sat propped on pillows, I pretended to doze when I could, I perched on the edge of the bed – but everything had its catch 22, and nothing was comfortable for long.
When Tarra arrived I was grumpy because I wanted to have left a long time ago, and also because the intensity was getting bigger. I was putting more of myself into my voice by then, hanging on the volume to carry me through. Tarra suggested we go. I concurred and started the journey out of our room, down the stairs and out the door, holding my belly and moaning steadily, while Myrtle and Guthry – our almost five-year-old housemates, Russ’ and Sue’s twins – watched with big eyes from the corners. Glenn got the car door and Tarra suggested I kneel on the seat backwards, but that hurt so much I could hardly even try it. I lay sideways instead, hanging by one hand from the handle over the door, just as a nice couple showed up and said to Tarra, “We’re here to see the house?”
Our landlord was showing the house that day.
Tarra said, “Um, we’re not the people to talk to.” So they went up the porch to meet Sue instead – and we officially won the Spectacle of the Year Award.
“Are you driving or am I?” Glenn asked me. We’d been making little jokes on and off the whole time. Ina May said you can make things easier for yourself by being amused, and by being grateful and considerate. In her words, if you can’t be a hero, at least you can be funny while being a chicken. Which is why, along with making my own jokes when I could, I’d been saying “thank you” and “I love you” and “how are you.”
In any case, the drive was awful. Five miles of it. I realized within the first 50 yards I would not be able to handle the car moving during a surge, so Glenn would pull over, which he had to do 8 or 10 times, start to finish. There were speed bumps, traffic lights, bumpy pavement and road work. “Flaggers be damned!” I laughed, and, “Run it!” at the yellow light. Glenn asked if he could yell out the window to the flaggers that his wife was having a baby, so get out of the way. (I opted no.) Once we were stopped at a light during a surge, which hit its peak as the light turned green, and I said, “Don’t go!” It wasn’t really done when the light changed to yellow but I didn’t want to get caught there again, so I told Glenn to gun it, which is funny when you think of all the cars behind us who probably thought we were real jerks. In between surges we’d cruise along, and I’d breathe, “Okay… okay… okay…” mostly to reassure myself; then a surge would set in and I’d start vocalizing, louder and louder to get through it, hanging on that handle over the door and calling low deep down.
We finally pulled up to the birthing house, Glenn got the door for me and I started walking up the sidewalk, up the stairs, stopping once to hang from his arms. Stephanie, the third midwife on our team, led us to the suite where they’d already filled the tub. I went to the bathroom, came out taking my clothes off, and got straight in. It was so intense at this point that when we first got into the room and they said, “Okay, now you can do whatever you want,” there was absolutely nothing I wanted to do, and I turned to Glenn and cried, “Help me!” But as I got into the water I realized that nice things did still exist in the world, things like relief.
That didn’t last. I leaned back in the water and felt, at first, that most wonderful quality – equilibrium – in between surges. But I also felt more and more uncomfortable, like I needed to lean forward, get moving. Tarra suggested I change positions, apparently picking up on that, so I crawled to my hands and knees, and that set everything to chaos. “Ow, ow, ow,” I was breathing, and then a surge would sink in and I’d start calling again, loud and long. I hung on the edge of the tub, I lay on my side, I crouched on my knees. At the end of every yell I’d say quietly, “Water,” and Glenn would put the straw to my lips. Ice water in a glass, or iced juice. I love ice; at least I do now. At one point I said I was hungry, and then there were Clif bars and sliced strawberries and crackers and cheese. I had two nibbles of Clif bar and that was all. Otherwise I just kept saying, “I just want to sleep,” or “Why?” or “It’s so much.” Sometimes I’d cry during a surge. I just did whatever my body wanted to do. But surges were, by now, so big, there was nothing *to* do. They were coming right on top of each other. I kept waiting for that alternate state of consciousness they talk about, when the world gets lucid and things blur together, time ceases to be, and best of all you fall asleep between waves. But that didn’t happen.
I remembered one of Ina May’s birth stories, where a woman said that labor can feel like a train is bearing down on you and you’re about to get run over, but that you need to realize, no, you’re not on the tracks – you’re strapped to the front, speeding along with it, and you’ve got to be okay with that. I remembered, too, women choosing to say, “I just want to open; I just want to integrate this.” I felt an incredible pressure between my legs – something I can only describe as a hollow tree trunk expanding wider and wider, so heavy, so thick. I remembered Ina May saying it’s better to pay attention to the expansion than the contraction. So I did. I said aloud, “I just want to open!” I kept telling myself, “It’s not going to hurt you. It’s not going to do you harm. It *is* you. This power *is* you.” And I’d listen when Glenn said, “Let it roll through you.” Or when Kori said, “Deep breath… blow through your lips now… that one’s over; let that one go.” And I squeezed Glenn’s hand, and Stephanie’s, and I kept asking for water, and I wiped my face with the cool wash cloth they brought. All of this really helped.
Of course, I also thought, “Why aren’t they doing anything?” Glenn said later that was the hardest part, feeling like something had to be done about this, but choosing to know that I was already doing it. I don’t know if I could have chosen to stick it out if I were in a hospital being offered interventions. I had no idea how long this was going to last – minutes? hours? days? There was absolutely no escaping it. The only way out was through. I’m so grateful for that. I’m so glad I had no choice but to figure it out, to go through this series of revolutions on my way to dealing with it. The first and most immediate impulse was, “I don’t like it! Make it stop! I want to get away!” But I knew that wasn’t the way through. So I turned toward believing it wouldn’t hurt me, and choosing to work with it, choosing to want to open, choosing to relax myself. But it got so strong, that started falling apart. So I remembered Ina May’s advice to “let your monkey do it,” to get out of the way and follow your body, and when I did, I found myself doubling over, gripped by a vise around my middle, and then I was pushing into my body with a force I’d never felt before. I felt it like a bowel movement, and heard my voice take a whole different tone: deeper, hollower, fuller, louder. I realized it was better if I kept my eyes open. I felt wildness and shock pouring out of my face, like someone who wasn’t hidden in the rock when God was walking by. I remembered a photograph of a laboring woman with that expression, and I remembered she was smiling, so I smiled, and rode it high and hard and wild. I stopped looking for rest in between surges. I stopped trying to be conservative and save my energy. I took it by the mouth. When I met Glenn’s eyes, I saw that he saw it, and he would nod to me, and he would say, “That’s right,” and look scared and amazed and compassionate.
Then Stephanie said, “Why don’t you check yourself and see if you can feel your baby?”
And I felt a head: two knuckles’ distance in.
“Am I pushing?” I asked. I remembered that in the Hypnobirthing school they talk about breathing the baby down, rather than forcibly pushing, and wondered if that’s what I was doing. It sure felt like it. But I still didn’t know if I was even fully dilated. I knew we hadn’t been there that long – they were checking the baby’s heart rate every half hour, and I knew they hadn’t checked that many times. I didn’t want to push if I wasn’t fully dilated; I didn’t want to waste my strength. I also didn’t want to know if I wasn’t very far along, though, because that would be so discouraging. Stephanie just shrugged peacefully. Then I was gripped by another wave, and a short while later I felt the baby crowning.
Now I knew we were almost done. The presence of this body in my birth canal was so solid and thick. I pushed, or breathed, or bellowed it down even further. I felt it withdraw again as the pressure receded; I didn’t want it to withdraw though. I looked for another surge and when it came I pushed again, and cried, “It stings!” and tried to cover my perineum as Kori told me to, to support the stretching, and I didn’t know if I should wait or go, and didn’t want to linger there like that, so I went. The head was born. Strange, impossible sight, impossible sensation. Then the body slithered suddenly out into the water, onto the floor of the tub.
I was too shocked to catch him. Glenn reached in and we lifted him up together. I leaned back and held him, someone peeled the membrane off him to let him out – his waters were still intact; they had never broken – and Glenn came around behind me to see him. Someone said, “It’s a boy.” His lips were stretching back, pursing together, blowing brown bubbles. He squalled once or twice. His cord was thick and blueish. His body was grey and round. His face was round too. People say this moment is when you feel elated, but mostly I was surprised. I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea how to feel anything at all.
After a few minutes I asked what was next, how to move on, since I was sitting in a tub of red water with a slippery baby in my hands, still tied to him by his cord. The midwives helped me pass him to Glenn without pulling on the cord, then I stood on my knees, forced a cough, and delivered the placenta. Glenn cut the cord, took off his shirt, gathered the baby to his chest and went to the rocking chair to sit with him, while the midwives stood me up, rinsed me with the shower head and scrubbed me with a soapy towel. I lay down in bed. I think we lay there together for a good while – this part is where it becomes a blur to me. At some point the midwives came back and sutured me up – I’d torn a little – and Glenn stayed with the baby for his first exam, then snuggled him on the bed during my suturing. Kori helped me start to nurse him. We cuddled up in bed again what seemed like an eternity later, exhausted.
So, start to finish, labor began at three in the morning. Active labor started around nine. We got to the birthing house around eleven, and the baby was born at 1:30 in the afternoon. Four and a half hours active labor, about 10 hours total. He was 7 pounds 14 ounces, and 19 and 3/4 inches long.
I can’t believe it went that fast. No one else can either. Kori said it was an honor to share this with us; we were so tuned in, instinctual, able to flow with the moment. She also said that being born in the caul, with waters intact, is an auspicious sign in many cultures, a rare thing meaning this baby has a special spiritual gift. For instance, being born this way is prerequisite to being the Dalai Lama. We’ve been joking about that since, but it’s really cool to know.
In the morning we decided on his name: Hemlock Conall Harvey McCumber. We liked Hemlock for the beauty, age, silence, strength and magic you feel when you’re standing in a hemlock forest. Something about the spirit of that resonated with him being born in the caul. We liked Conall because it’s Irish, from our heritage, and it means “wolf,” which is an animal that’s very important to me. We liked Harvey because it’s a gift from my family, and we liked McCumber because it’s a gift from Glenn’s.
Little Conall, little Hem, is beautiful. They say having a baby means falling in love all over again. I guess that makes sense, given that it takes time for me to fall in love. I was looking into his eyes the next day, after a long morning of activity – finally there was a quiet moment and I looked into his clear blue eyes and saw him. It was overwhelming. He is rich and clear and very, very real. He is a little person, and we know him. He is beautiful. That was when I knew I loved him.
Viola May Rhame was born Jan. 9th at Alma Midwifery at 8:32pm. I’d been having pretty significant Braxton Hicks for about a week and a half. I went in for a visit at Alma on Thursday, three days before the birth. I asked Kori to check my cervix, and she said I was 2 cm dilated. With my baby fast approaching, I felt a lot of gratitude that I was going to be giving birth at Alma where I felt safe, supported and in a cozy environment.On Sunday morning I felt like the Braxton Hicks took on more intensity, but they were irregular and totally manageable. I used the mini-Braxton Hicks surges to practice the Slow Breathing that I’d learned about in HypnoBirthing. With each one, I slowly filled my belly and lungs with air and envisioned the long muscles of my uterus moving up and the blue ribbons of my cervix opening with the exhale. When our elder daughter got up from her nap at 3:30pm, I was lying on the sofa and realized that I wanted to retreat and be alone. My husband took over childcare, and I went upstairs to nap. Around 5:00pm the Braxton Hicks took on regularity ranging between 5 and 10 minutes apart. I got in a bath, rested my forehead on a towel and floated belly-down in the tub for the next hour. Surges came every 4 to 6 minutes apart, and I texted the midwives an update that the baby was clearing her throat and may make her debut that night. Kori immediately called, and somehow talking to her made the fact that I was in labor more real. I was rocking the Slow Breathing and noticed that the more relaxed I was, the more manageable the sensation was. I reminded myself not to think about what was to come, but to only be present in what my body was experiencing at that moment.
My mother came to pick up our daughter at 6:20pm. I got out of the bath and spoke to Kori who advised me to put one leg up on a chair for each contraction alternating legs for half an hour to open up the pelvis. After that half hour, the contractions became more intense. I went to lie down with Damion and kept my visions going with each surge. I found myself drifting off and falling asleep in between them even though they were peaking more highly. I focused on keeping my tongue on that spot where the teeth and the palate meet. If I had to clench something at the peak, I would clench the blanket underneath me. At 7:15 I was breathing through another surge. I felt the baby’s head move inside of me, and my water broke in one big pop. It startled me for a second as my fluid rushed out in one gush all over our comforter. I got up to clean myself in the bathroom, and the next surge peaked with an involuntary heave. I called Kori who told me to come into the birthing center. Damion packed up the car, and we left for Alma 15 minutes later. At that time, I thought I’d be in labor for quite a bit longer but wanted to be at the birthing center with my trusted midwife team in a big tub.
I moved slowly from the car to the front door where we met Kori. I walked up the stairs and had to stop for several surges. Kori and Whitney had the tub running, and I striped off my clothes. I stood over the headboard and had another surge that ended in a big heave that bent the top of my spine over. Kori told me that my baby was coming soon, but I still didn’t believe her somehow. I felt like I should be more “out of control” if my baby was coming so soon. I got in the tub and felt the baby’s head in my cervix and moved to Birth Breathing. I tried to breath into the back of my throat and imagine her moving down. The pressure was intense, and I felt my body take over. The midwives remained extremely calm. I hadn’t even heard Mirra arrive. I put a towel under my knees in the birthing tub to get some traction and leaned over the edge of the tub. When her head moved to the vaginal canal, the midwives had me exhale with “horse breathing” to keep my jaw, face and lips loose. The perineal pressure was intense, but I tried to meet my body’s urgency with taking my time on pushing. As her head was making it’s final exit, I could feel her wiggling which was a pretty amazing feeling. I could feel that she was trying to help me. Damion caught her at 8:32pm. Because of the cord, he released her and she swam back between my legs where I brought her up and out of the water. Such an amazing moment to finally be able to look onto her face. In the end, I gave birth 27 minutes after arriving at Alma! I had no concept of how long we were there.
Throughout both of my labors, the most powerful tool was my visualizations. I also believe that the HypnoBirthing breathing techniques allowed me to conserve energy and keep myself calm throughout labor. However, the biggest differentiator for this birth was the kind, talented and flawlessly competent midwife team. The whole experience was so wildly different than my hospital birth with our first daughter. My hospital experience felt like a fight at every turn where I had to deal with time pressure, scrutinizing observation, and resident after resident repeatedly checking my cervix. It’s truly amazing how much of a difference it makes when your caretakers work in harmony with your individual birth process, and you can go into that focused surrender that ushers along labor and birth.
This is our tale of love, learning, and life that brought our son into the world. We chose to welcome our baby at home.
My labor started around 10PM Friday night with a cranky-making back ache. I just took myself to bed. By midnight, the contractions were close enough together to call Melissa. She suggested getting rest and calling if anything changed. Around 2AM I fell asleep and woke up Saturday morning, contraction-free. Drat. I had so wanted to be in labor for real. By noon, however, they were back. We called Melissa back and she suggested walking. Off we marched to the grocery store. It turns out that having contractions in a grocery store is less pleasant than it sounds, so we took our few groceries and headed home. Melissa came to check on me and found my cervix, after rather a hunt behind Baby’s head, 3cm dilated. Excellent! She went ahead and stripped the membranes (not as pleasant as it sounds) to pep things up a bit.
We had our friends over for dinner as planned, but I was getting pretty uncomfortable and didn’t protest at all when they made an early exit. Shortly after they left, I hit the bathroom and passed my mucous plug. For weeks I had been eagerly awaiting my mucous plug, but for whatever reason, the sight of it unhinged me. I called Melissa about an hour before dark, having holed up in the dark den with a heat pack. She was very excited and supportive, as usual, and asked me to tell her when we needed more support from our midwifery team. I was scared and not being especially pleasant to my loving husband, so Robert and I decided that we were ready for support. Melanya came to hang for the night. Her calm presence was very reassuring to me and I was glad that Robert was able to get some rest, off and on, knowing that I was being taken care of if he was asleep.
Sleep is a pretty relative description as Adrienne was having a fitful eventing that pretty much went on all night making it tough for any of us to really get much rest. It was an entire night of wrenching guts, occasional sips of an athletic electrolyte drink and multiple contractions. Melanya whose 7 dwarves name is now “Doc” spend the entire night tag teaming with me to see to it that Adrienne always had a calm hand and soothing voice to help her through the contractions and vomiting. We carted multiple containers of liquid to get dumped into the toilet, it was getting pretty obvious after the she upchucked my really good Italian dinner that her body was going to go into the birth mode running on empty which does happen with some women.
About 10:00 that night, my 16 year old step-son, Noah, returned from his year abroad in France. We had been saying that the baby would wait for big brother and it seemed to be true. I felt bad that I wasn’t in better shape to greet Noah, but I grunted a greeting from the couch and returned to labor land. Noah and Robert headed downstairs to catch up for a while and Melanya stayed with me. She listened to baby every 30 minutes, took vitals, timed contractions, held the barf bowl, etc. The birth hormones were alternately making me puke and shake. I was able to remain lying down through the contractions though and get some small rest in between. Robert came and laid with me on the futon. I could cuddle with him between contractions, which felt very nice. Despite that, I was darned glad to see the sun come up and I knew I didn’t want to go through another night of labor.
I was still fighting labor, as opposed to embracing it. I’d read Spiritual Midwifery from cover to cover and knew that more than half the battle was attitude. Nonetheless, my attitude stunk.
Melanya headed for the back room to get some much earned sleep when Steph arrived to take over Sunday morning. Steph’s seven dwarves name is henceforth “Sleepy” since her suggestion that the best thing that could happen now in the pregnancy would be for Adrienne to get some sleep to have her better rested for things to come. No one was quite certain when that would be happening. I had a sense that the baby would be born Sunday evening before dark, but that opinion was not widely shared due to where Adrienne was in the dilation department, but it was still my gut instinct that this was the time schedule, reality and body signs be damned! Robert was able to get some sleep as well. Steph helped me get more comfortable during contractions and found a great way to rub my back. It felt good to have other touch on my skin. I was quite low on calories, feeling dry mouthed, and dejected. I told Steph I didn’t want to do this anymore. She said that no matter what happened, I had to do this. Even if we went to the hospital for drugs (something I’d thought about, but hadn’t voiced), I would still have to do it. I ruminated on that for a while. She also told me to keep my energy focused downward and to stop puking. It pretty much worked. Even so, when Steph checked my cervix again, I was horrified to hear that in more than 12 hours, I’d only gone from 3cm to 4cm dilated. She suggested we get some herbs to slow me down so I could get some rest. A hot shower and a nap in my bed (as opposed to the futon in the living room) felt quite good, even though I woke up a bit for each contraction.
When I got up I asked Steph the plan. She said Melissa was on her way and we were going walking. I highly doubted that they could get me to do any such thing, and went back to contracting and resting on the futon next to Robert, who was getting quite good at the mid contraction back rub. Noah poked his head in occasionally, but I could tell he felt uncomfortable. I felt uncomfortable as well and tried to stay covered up when he was around. I didn’t feel uncomfortable being unclothed in general, but I was concerned about Noah’s reaction.
I know Noah well enough to be sure that he would rise to the task when things got to serious birthing time. I had requested of him on his arrival the evening before that he be here at the house and not head off to his Mom’s house, that we needed him as moral support and that the magic of welcoming his new sibling into the world would be an experience that he would never forget and would treasure always. Plus I knew that because of the age difference between the soon to be connected new siblings that this would be a way to cement their relationship forever. Plus how many sixteen year olds get to see something so magical happen right in their own home. I figured that the issues of nudity, babies popping out of vaginas, etc. would pale in comparison to the incredible privilege that attending a birth provides.
Melissa arrived and, to my shock, did not order me off the bed at once. We talked and she applied counter pressure during contractions, all the while sending Robert to the bedroom for walking attire (Ha! The preggy pants with the loose elastic that wouldn’t stay up and drove me crazy for four months were the perfect thing for labor!). Dressed and ready, Robert, Noah, Melissa, the two little dogs, and I headed for Buckman School. Looking back, the walk was the event that showed Noah and me that being uncomfortable with each other wasn’t important. I was a very slow walker and we paused once or twice a block for contractions, in which I would hang my arms around Robert or Noah while Melissa applied back pressure. It was nice to be out, remembering that there was a world outside of labor. Once we got to the school, I could do contractions on all fours on the grass.
I have to laugh when I think what the neighbors around Buckman think when they see so many mommas on the birth walk with their midwives and other supporters in tow. Here is Adrienne on all fours on the soccer field having contractions right out in the daylight like this is a normal thing to do. We stop every 30 or so paces for Adrienne to have a contraction usually with her hanging on one of our shoulders or a tree if one is close by with a limb low enough to grab. An uninformed observer would have just figured that we were trying to get our drunk friend home!
After a lap around the field, I had to pee so we headed for home. I asked Melissa when she thought the baby would come, and she told me she was pretty sure we’d have a May baby. I did a little math and realized it was May 30th and there are 31 days in May. Wait a minute! I was NOT signing up for another endless night of labor in the blackness. This baby was coming by midnight, doggone it! In retrospect, it probably wasn’t coincidence that after so massive an attitude shift, on my very next contraction, I first felt the urge to push.
Once back in the house, I wanted to rest a bit, but the contractions were coming fast enough that it wasn’t worth laying down on the bed between them, so I just stayed on all fours. Melissa suggested we check my cervix again, saying that we might get great news or we might not be so happy with the news. I wanted to know how things were coming (I was ready to run a marathon at that point if it would get my baby out) so we checked. She asked me to let her feel my cervix while I had a contraction, which I was only able to do for a short while before asking her to stop. She said the good news was I was 9cm dilated. As that sunk in, I cried and hugged Melissa. I was going to have a baby after all!
Within moments of saying I needed to pee, I had a contraction and spilled a great deal of fluid on the bed, whether broken water or urine I don’t know. Shortly after, I was feeling the urge to push mildly on each contraction and I asked if I could get in the birth tub. I was surprised and glad to hear a yes!
Robert and Noah worked hard to fill the tub. When the water heater ran out of hot water, the tub was about a third full, but Melissa said I could get in while more water was heated on the stove. It felt great to be in the tub free to move as I wished. I asked for the music I had selected, and asked Noah to come upstairs to put it on. I warned him that I was naked that I wasn’t worried about it. He said he wasn’t either and got the tunes going. It made me happy to hear Melissa singing along with the Indigo Girls. When Noah came back in the kitchen he looked down at me and asked, “you have a tattoo on your breast?” I guess that was the end of secrets!
I began pushing without too much conviction, but quickly got rolling. I found a rhythm of three to four pushes with each contraction. Meanwhile, Melissa called Steph and Melanya to come to our birthday party. The warm water kept coming, I kept drinking Recharge (which was staying down!) and Steph helped me wipe my face and neck with a cool cloth.
When Robert and I had talked about the birth, we had envisioned being very connected and touchy. In the event, I didn’t want a great deal of touching, and didn’t want ANY touching once I was in the birth tub. I needed to feel unrestrained. I began to fear pushing because it felt like my guts were being pushed out instead of a baby. Melissa kept assuring me that things were fine and telling me to listen to my body and find my power. I did find my power and I pushed hard. After each contraction, I felt baby’s head and would show how far it still had to go by putting my thumb the appropriate distance from the tip of my middle finger. Steph and Melanya knew what I was doing, but Robert and Melissa did not. Once, after Robert had cracked a joke, he thought I was flipping him off and Melissa said, “you go, girl!” I found out about the confusion later.
I found it helpful between contractions to lean forward on the edge of the tub and hold someone’s hand, preferably Robert’s. Though I didn’t want to be connected during the contractions, human touch kept me anchored when not pushing. I began to feel like I was tearing as baby came closer to crowning. Melissa assured me that things were OK and that I could apply gentle counter pressure at the source of the pain. Steph then told me to listen carefully because she would help me slow down when baby crowned so I wouldn’t tear. I asked what was going to happen (control freak that I am) and Steph said baby would crown and it would be uncomfortable, then on the next contraction we would get the whole head, then the rest of baby. So much for good intentions- instead of crowning and waiting, baby came flying out like a little torpedo. I remember apologizing as baby was placed on my chest. I held the little grey form on my chest and he looked at me very clearly before starting to cry. I knew he was a boy before we had visual confirmation. I said, “Hi Axel,” while looking at Robert.
I held little Axel while Melissa helped me pass my placenta. I had expected everything to stop hurting when the baby was born, but I found I needed one hand to hold myself off the bottom of the tub. Axel tried to nurse while I pushed out the placenta. When the placenta came out, so did a “Jaws” quantity of blood. I asked if everything was OK and was told yes- that a membrane tore and it wasn’t a big deal.
Axel was getting cold, so he went onto his papa’s chest wrapped in a towel while Steph and Melissa helped me out of the tub. I was vaguely concerned with the amount of blood dripping into the absorbent pad I was wrapped in but nobody else seemed concerned. By the time we got back to the futon in the living room, Axel was nice and pink and I got him back. Steph and Melissa worked on the source of my bleeding. They gave me a shot of pitosin and another of methergine to help my uterus contract and stop the bleeding. The bleeding didn’t stop and I asked if I should eat some of my placenta. I got a surprised look and then a yes. I expected to have to will myself to eat it, but it didn’t taste like much of anything. Axel was trying to nurse, and did, but it was very hard trying to help him eat and have my vagina examined (I later learned that Melissa classified my bleeding as minor hemorrhage, but you’d never know it from how calm the midwives were. They never gave me cause to worry). I asked Noah to take of his shirt and have some skin time with his brother. He was happy to, and the brothers were fun to watch having skin time together.
Actually the best pictures of Axel early on were of him on Noah’s chest. Noah looked very rested and coifed- kind of GQ like. I joked that he was the stand in father as I looked like a tired bag of crap after the long night and stress of the birth event. Even though I was quite happy and content after baby and momma were OK, there was no hiding my haggard appearance.
Steph and I went to the bedroom to get me comfortable while Axel had his newborn exam. I could hear what was going on and knew Axel was less than ten feet ways, but I wanted my baby and was amazed by that strong mother urge. Eventually, the activity died down. The midwives went home and left our new family to get reacquainted in the outside world. Robert and I couldn’t go to sleep. We just lay in bed with the light dimmed and looked at our little miracle. Axel was so perfect sleeping soundly between us. The only thing to grab our attention finally was hunger. Robert heated up leftover Thai food that we scarfed in bed at 1AM. We somehow managed not to spill any on Axel.
The beauty of having a home birth is that the walk to the bedroom when it is time to turn in is familiar and close at hand. I was quite grateful that the evening was quieting down and we might actually take our beautiful new person to bed and while we mostly just stared at him and marveled. Eventually, there was some rest to be had; however, his every sound or silence had us turning on a light to make sure all was well. This little periodic breathing thing that newborns do is a bit disconcerting, so it took a bit of time for us to settle down and get used to his 4-8 seconds pauses.
What I learned from labor mirrors what I’ve learned from life. Attitude is everything. When I embraced labor, it became fun. It didn’t hurt less, but the pain became productive and energy giving instead of something to fight against. I think that every parent dreams that maybe their angel will make a difference. The reality is that if you never stop believing this, then it really does happen on some level whether subtle or large!
Every time I look at Axel, I’m amazed by him. I wonder what he’s come to teach us, and how the world will change with him in it. I’m grateful that I get to be mother to so miraculous a boy and that Axel has so wonderful a papa and big brother.
I woke up out of a dream at 5:00 am on June 11th to a contraction. This was really nothing new, considering I had been feeling contractions for a few weeks on and off. (In the dream, I was paddling on a boat, lost, on a swampy river while having contractions…worried I would not find my way back in time to have the baby)
Being 9 days past my due date, I think I subconsciously knew this could very well be the beginning of labor but I didn’t want to say it out loud yet. My contractions were roughly 20 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds. I decided to go back to sleep, because I knew that if this was “it” I would be happy I was rested.
I woke up at about 7:30 am and ate breakfast. By this time, the contractions started to slow down. I decided that I would go about my day like normal and was very glad I hadn’t been too excited about the earlier contractions. Ben decided to stay home from work. Instinctively, I think he must have known too. We dropped Hunter off at Gigi’s house and headed to my acupuncture appointment. I had decided to start acupuncture as a natural induction method since I was rolling up on 42 weeks “post due” and did not want to transfer care to a hospital if this baby wanted to stay longer than 43 weeks. During my acupuncture treatment, I immediately started having little contractions. Once again, I didn’t want to get too excited.
After my appointment, the contractions kept coming at about 15-20 minutes apart. Ben and I went to the food carts on N. Mississippi and ate. He had pizza and I had curried tempeh. I will never forget this lunch we shared together. Looking back now, I realize that everything started to feel very lucid and dreamy. I sat there eating, having contractions, wondering if people could tell I was in labor.
On the walk back to the car, I had to pause and really breathe when the contractions came. I just felt really crampy, but was so relieved it wasn’t in my back like Hunter’s labor was. We decided to drive home and let Hunter play at Gigi’s for a while longer. Once we got home I called my midwife, Angela. She suggested I check my dilation if I felt up to it (something Laura had shown me how to do) and I estimated I was about 5 cm. We decided to gather our things and head back into town to be near the birth center. The contractions were about 10 minutes apart now, and I felt more comfortable getting a head start on traffic since it was 3:30 pm and rush hour was going to set in.
I was able to ask Ben to call my mom and get a text sent to a few close friends before the contractions started to come full force. All this was happening as we approached the on ramp to Hwy 26 which was FULL of cars. I continued having pretty intense contractions the entire car ride to the birth center. I was begging Ben to run stop lights…all I could think of was “If I have this baby in the car, I will be on the news. I DON’T WANT TO BE ON THE NEWS!”
As we crossed the Burnside bridge, it seemed like every contraction was a minute closer together and I was having to make a lot of noise to get through them. The only thing I can compare it to was a runaway train, my body just took over and I had to surrender to it.
Thankfully, we pulled up to the birthing center at 4:30 pm. The second I got in the door of the birth center I had a contraction. Angela was waiting there for me. She said that the room I had originally wanted was still being prepped. At this point I could have cared less what room the baby was born in as long as it wasn’t the highway. The next contraction sent me to my knees and Ben started running the water in the birthing tub. Angela asked me, “Junia, do you feel an urge to push?” I think she could tell by the sounds I was making that I was close. I started to feel nauseous, so Angela gave me some nux vomica under my tongue which stopped the nausea right away.
I immediately got into the tub and Angela checked my dilation. I was 10 centimeters already. I couldn’t believe things were moving so fast. It is amazing how your body will just open up when you feel safe and trust the people around you. My body was so closed off during my son’s hospital birth. She checked the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler and everything sounded perfect. She told me I could push when a contraction came, so I did…even a small push made progress. It was so rewarding to be able to FEEL the progress, as opposed to being completely disconnected the way it felt with an epidural. At this point, I knew it was only a matter of time before I got to meet my baby! The second push brought her down even farther and I supported my perineum with my hand. Just then, I felt my water break. I said, “I can do this, right?” Everyone in the room responded, “YES you are doing it already!”
As she started to crown, Angela encouraged me to really ease her out to prevent any tearing. It was so hard to fight the urge to just push her out the rest of the way, but I managed. I felt a warm, burning sensation as her head came out and I could hear the change in Ben’s voice as he saw her face for the first time. This gave me the strength to push her out the rest of the way. The next contraction, her body came.
It was an incredible full feeling followed by intense relief as I pulled her out of the water. She immediately started to cry and turn pink, and I checked to see that yes, “the baby” was a GIRL.
We sat in the water together as I stared at her, trying to process what had just happened. I have so much faith in the birthing ability of women, but even more so now that I have experienced it first hand. I was just in complete awe of my body’s strength. She was so alert and healthy and she wanted to nurse right away. Once her cord stopped pulsing, Ben cut it and I pushed out my placenta. Ben held our daughter as my midwives helped me to the bed. I started to feel dizzy, and it turned out that I had lost quite a bit of blood.
Kori immediately gave me a single shot of pitocin in the leg to stop the bleeding and once she knew everything was under control, she made sure that Hazel was with me as she sat next to us on the bed to reassure me that everything was just fine and that my baby was perfect.
We stayed at the birth center for two nights. We opted out of having many visitors- I am so glad we had the time to get to know our daughter together and privately- while doulas were there for us around the clock to bring us delicious home cooked meals and care for Hazel and I. The doulas were there if you wanted them, but also gave plenty of space for bonding and private family time. One of my doulas even helped me wash my hair in the tub, since I didn’t feel up to walking the stairs to the shower. Before we left, I had an hour long postpartum massage which was incredible. The care throughout my entire pregnancy and postpartum was loving, and the wisdom and skill of my midwives continues to inspire me.
I had a plan. A good plan. I learned a thing or two the first time around, we had the same fantastic birth team, and my second labor was going to be different. My second labor was going to be fast, I was going to be happy, I wasn’t going to hemorrhage, and I wasn’t going to puke…When midwife Melissa asked when I thought the baby would come, I told her, “May 16th”. I was, therefore, not surprised to go into labor around 5PM on May 15th. “Fine,” I told myself. “Baby will be born after midnight. Short and sweet- I like it. Axel (our 2 year old) will sleep through the whole thing. Perfect!”
Since walking was the thing that moved my first labor along, I went out for a power walk when contractions started. It worked; my contractions were 7 minutes apart when I started, and nearer than that when I got home. Midwife Susannah brought the tub over and set it up while my husband, Robert, and I kept walking. My 18-year-old step-son, Noah, popped over for a visit, announced that one labor was enough for him, gave me a hug, and left again.
Since I was cranky and mean to Robert in my first labor, I was determined to have more fun and be nicer the second time. It worked. We walked and laughed and contracted and cuddled our way up and down the block until midnight. Contractions weren’t getting stronger, closer together, or doing anything else to make Susannah think a baby was coming immediately. She couldn’t even feel my cervix, it was so far back. Sigh… and so much for walking those contractions on.
Off to bed. Robert went to sleep- he knew from baby one that resting during labor is key for everyone. I slept a little between contractions, but was mostly pouty that I wasn’t in active labor. About 2AM, I started puking. “Really, I’m already at three strikes? Slow, grumpy, AND barfing? You’ve got to be kidding me!” I was, however, prepared for puking. I asked for my homeopathy book and discovered that pulsatilla is good for crankiness and puking during labor.
It worked! Puking stopped and I was able to get some (mostly restful) sleep. I woke up in the morning without a contraction in sight. Thoroughly exhausted and dejected, I called Melissa to report my lack of progress. We decided on a walk to see about getting things moving. If no contractions, then a nap. We loaded up Axel in his stroller and walked down to Alma (we’re only 4 blocks away). I had one contraction the whole time, and it wasn’t very impressive. “Fine. I’m going back to bed.”
A very strong contraction woke me up and it was off to the races from there. At some point in the late morning, Melissa came by for a checkup. I was 7 centimeters dilated! “Good. I knew these new post-nap contractions were getting me somewhere!” Melissa suggested staying upright, as the baby was still pretty high. I more or less cheerfully sat on my couch, ate salty watermelon, and contracted. Susannah came back and started on filling the birth tub (it’s a 2 hour job). Ruthie, my friend and acupuncturist, came and worked her magic. Axel and Grandma (my mom) played outside and attempted to have a normal day. Robert worked on the birth tub and let me hold onto him during contractions.
A urine analysis showed ketones. I was low on calories and metabolizing my body. No good. The answer was to eat some protein. I had a go at chicken, but couldn’t get it swallowed. It was all I could do to stay upright and awake. I was very awake for contractions, but I felt like I was floating in and out of consciousness the rest of the time. I was starting to get antsy that Steph (our third midwife) and Melissa weren’t there yet. I was not going to have a baby without them, and it was starting to feel important that they come. I announced that it was time to push. I wondered how I could push in my semi-conscious state, but labor is not for over-analyzers. We later figured out that this semi-conscious period was transition- something I didn’t experience at all in labor one.
I suggested that Axel and Grandma take a walk. I wasn’t convinced that the birth tub was going to be a quiet affair, and (even though we’d been reading homebirth stories about how mamas are sometimes noisy in labor) I didn’t want to scare Axel.
Steph and Melissa arrived and I climbed into the birth tub in the kitchen. I contracted a bit more and decided, “maybe I’ll push a bit.” I did, but not very hard. I couldn’t feel the baby at all. “Fine, I’ll push harder. Ah! There’s a head way up high.” I got down to pushing in earnest. The baby dropped very fast and I felt close to crowning.
I was sure that I would be braver about pushing the second time. I knew what to expect after all. Wrong! Once again, crowning completely unhinged me. After keeping silent for 20 plus hours of labor, I screamed my head off trying to birth the head. Something about feeling one is coming apart at the seams… Melissa suggested lowering the pitch of my voice because low tones (like grunting or guttural yelling) are more productive than high pitched screaming. As usual, Melissa’s suggestion worked, but I was in full-blown panic mode. I didn’t know what to do. Just like the first time, Steph came and put her face up to mine and gave me a plan- breathe and push the head out. “Perfect! A good simple plan. I can do that.” I was able to recenter myself, and after a huge effort, the head came out.
In my first labor, the whole baby came at once. From crowning to done in one contraction. This time, I got to enjoy the sensation of resting with a head sticking out of me. “Oh my goodness, it feels good to have that head out!” One more big push got the job done, and Liam Michael slid out into the water.
Twenty-two hours of labor; twenty minutes of pushing; one healthy baby boy, born at 4PM on May 16th; and one healthy mama. Liam needed a little help with latching, but he needed no assistance with cuddling! He happily laid skin to skin while I smiled at him.
Axel and Grandma got home from their walk. Axel’s smile was bigger that I’ve ever seen when he saw his baby brother. He had been waiting patiently for baby Liam, and he was finally here.
I had a plan. The universe had a different one. Liam Michael is here to teach us. Our family is now complete. Three miracles, two lucky parents, one happy family.
At 34 weeks–a few weeks after our Bradley class had ended–we decided to change our care from the hospital midwife to Alma Birthing Center. After soaking in all the knowledge from the class and doing a little more research, we decided it was the best decision for us and our baby and we couldn’t have been more excited. It was and continues to be a great experience.
Her mama’s story: I loved being pregnant—all 39 ½ weeks of it! And up until the morning that I went into labor, I was convinced that our sweet Clara would be a June baby. With my due date being May 28th, it being my first pregnancy, and a history of late babies in my family, I was sure that I would go at least 1 week past my due date. And I was completely happy with it. I was still very comfortable, and although I was super excited to meet her, I was prepared to wait a little bit longer enjoying every kick and roll.
On May 25th (3 days before my actual due date), I woke up at 6:30am to my water breaking. After calling my midwife, Kori, and confirming that no real contractions had started yet, we decided I should eat something, try and sleep/rest, and just wait for my body to go into labor. She would call soon to check up. In hindsight, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to give birth at a birthing center.
The hospitals here in Portland require that you give birth no later than 24 hours after your water breaking in most cases. I really believe that not having any pressure to make my body hurry up and start labor really helped me relax and allowed me to go into labor sooner.
At 7:30am I started having some mild contractions so we decided to pack our bags and get things ready around the house. Brandon was really tired, from not sleeping well that night, and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. At about 9:30am the contractions started getting closer together so I decided to start timing them. They were maybe 5-7 min apart and still not super intense so I continued to rest on the couch and watch tv. At about that same time Kori called and I told her my contractions had started and where they were at. She said she would send one of my other midwives, Tarra, to our house between 11 and 12 to check in on me and Clara.
At 10:30am I woke Brandon up to let him know that Tarra would be here soon and that my contractions were getting closer together. By 11 my contractions had gotten to 45 seconds-60 seconds long and under 4 minutes apart. Tarra arrived at 12 and stayed for the next two hours with us, checking mine and Clara’s vitals during and in between contractions. (No cervical checks were done since my water had broken and were able to let me labor as long as possible because of that.) She basically just hung out with us and helped pass the time to see how fast I was progressing.
During those two hours, my contractions went from barely painful to really having to concentrate when they came. She had mentioned to Brandon as she was leaving that if my contractions continued in this pattern that we should consider making our way to the birthing center around 3 or 4. Kori’s and our desire was that we labor at home as long as possible, but we also didn’t want to wait too long since labor seemed to be happening pretty fast.
As soon as Tarra left at 2pm I was in intense pain (looking back now probably going into transition) and told Brandon that we needed to go now. He called Kori and told her that I was in a lot of pain and wanted to know if we should come in yet. She asked to listen in on a contraction. After hearing how I was dealing with the pain (aka moaning! ) she told Brandon that I sounded like I was ready and to make our way in.
Brandon was awesome in this whole process so far, using all the coaching techniques that he had learned. He was super calm and that really helped a lot. He helped me to the car and in our short 10 minute drive to the birthing center I had 4 or 5 contractions and those might have been the hardest since I was on my back in the car. At 2:45pm we arrived at Alma and were taken to our birthing room. The whole atmosphere was so serene and peaceful. They had the birthing tub filled and ready and the lights dimmed. I immediately got in the tub. It was the only thing that sounded good at that moment and after laboring in there for a while, I had no desire to get out. At about 3pm my mom arrived from flying in from Denver, Colorado and about that same time I started feeling the urge to push.
I told Kori how I was feeling and she said that my body knew what it was doing and that I should try and push. I pushed for an hour in the tub, changing positions and completely relaxing in the water in between. Brandon, the midwives, and my mom were awesome during the entire thing. Everyone was so encouraging and just let me do what my body was telling me to do. Brandon suggested different positions and kept a cold washcloth on my head. He was literally my strength when I was feeling too weak to push anymore. And when I was at the point where I didn’t feel I could push through another contraction, they were there telling me that I was doing great and that I could. At that point, Kori decided to check my cervix for a lip.
I did have a little bit of a lip left so I tried squatting during the next few contractions. That did the trick and after 30 more minutes of pushing Clara was born at 4:36pm (9 hours of labor total). This was such a special moment! I had so many emotions running through me: accomplishment, joy, gratefulness, and excitement just to name a few. I was finally looking into my baby’s eyes for the first time. After wondering what she would look like for 9 months, I could finally see for myself and she was even more beautiful than I had imagined.
She was immediately placed on my chest in the tub and we waited for the placenta to be born. After birthing the placenta and cutting the cord, Clara, Brandon, and I walked over to the bed and spent the next hour getting to know each other. I was feeling awesome and Clara was so alert so our time was spent sitting on the bed talking about the whole experience and staring at her. It was so great to have my mom there as a support and encouragement and to share in the whole process with me. After an hour the midwives came back in and checked her and me over. She was perfect and healthy weighing in at 6lbs 6oz and measuring 19 inches long. I had a tiny tear in my labia that required one stitch so that was taken care of while Clara had her newborn testing done next to me one the bed. We spent that night and the next at the birthing center just resting and enjoying our new baby girl.
At her 3 day check up, she was down to 5lbs 14 oz but was back up to her birth weight by the next week! She has been a great eater and sleeper from the start and today at her 2 week check up weighed 7lbs even She is a complete joy and we have had so much fun sharing our birth story with everyone. We are so grateful for the knowledge gained in our Bradley Class and our amazing experience with the midwives and doulas at Alma. We are now firm advocates of birthing naturally. It was such a joyous experience and I cannot wait to do it again.
Her papa’s story: Callie and I had been chatting more and more about the possibility of having this baby soon. We had recently switched to Alma Birthing Center, at 34 weeks, because of our desire to have a natural birth after taking the Bradley Method class. We were truly starting to consider the reality that we were about to be parents. A lot of emotions were running through our hearts and heads but we were excited nonetheless. We kept talking about how little Clara was going to be born late and about all the things that we needed to get ready and get done before she decided to come. We were just in relaxation mode trying to not get too anxious for the birth. On May 25th, three days early, Clara decided to make her appearance.
Callie came in and woke me up at 6:30am. I awoke (half asleep) to hear her say to me “I think my water just broke…” I barely vocalized, “What…??” She repeated herself; “I think my water just broke” and she showed me her night shorts that now had a wet spot. It clicked in my head, despite my grogginess, that this might actually be happening. I came to my senses and said “I should call your mom…so she can get on a flight.” Claudia, Callie’s mom, immediately began to try to find a flight to try and make it in time for the birth from Colorado. After making the call I told Callie “You better call Kori (Callie’s midwife) and tell her that your water broke.” Callie began to call as I finally started to roll out of bed and pull what little bit of my mind I had together for the response.
I heard Callie chatting with Kori on the phone. Callie hung up and said that Kori told her that labor could start very soon but may not start for quite a while. The best thing she could do is rest and let her body do its thing. If she did start labor that day, she would need her rest. Callie got all situated and crawled back into bed with me with a towel underneath her and we proceeded to get some rest. One hour later, Callie rolled over and woke me up again and let me know that she just had a contraction. Callie said to me, that her contraction was not that bad but uncomfortable enough that she was going to get up. She called Kori again who said that labor had begun and what she needed to do was get a good solid, healthy breakfast while she could still eat. I got up half asleep and began to do my husband duty of cooking breakfast. I took some sausage and bacon and threw it into a small pan and whipped some eggs together for a quick scramble. I grabbed some bagels and tossed them in the toaster. Callie threw down at least 3 eggs with cheddar cheese, a whole ‘everything’ bagel, sausage, and piece of bacon. After Callie’s belly was full, she told me to go back to sleep, get some rest and get rid of my grogginess, and that she would wake me up if they got worse or if she needed me (what a blessing!). Next thing I knew, it was 10:30…
Callie was just sitting on the couch with the computer in her lap typing away on Facebook updating her status about going into labor and chatting with a friend of hers online. I sat next to her to ask her how she was doing and immediately she went into a contraction after clicking the computer. She paused for a moment, looked down, and began to enter in this concentration mode that I had never seen before.
I sat there next to her and let her be and just observed to see what she looked like while she was contracting. She was tailor sitting so I ran my hand along her shoulders to make sure that she was not tensing up her back and shoulders. She was doing fine and I noticed that the computer was open to a contraction timing program that she had been using to keep track of her labor. After observing the first one I realized what this type of thing was going to look like so I could start my relaxation techniques that I learned in the Bradley class. Contractions kept coming every 5 – 6 minutes and Callie kept going into this concentration mode so I did my best to help her get through each one and then relax in between contractions. I helped her try a few different positions, tailor sitting, side lying, and eventually had her knees on the floor and chest on the couch with some pillows underneath. Each position was helpful in a different sort of way and I think it was good for her to change positions so she could release tension. I kept focusing on making sure she was drinking water and some Gatorade here and there so she could stay hydrated. We were waiting for one of her midwives to arrive; she had been scheduled to arrive sometime between 11:00 – 12:00.
At about 12:00pm Tarra arrived to take Callie and Clara’s vitals. She sat next to Callie and did her thing as I continued to provide Callie with relaxation techniques, coaching, and massage. Tarra stayed until about 1:30 – 1:45 and it was obvious that Callie had been progressing quite quickly. The contractions had moved to below 4 minutes a piece around 11:00 and they continued that pattern until Tarra left. Callie transitioned into a serious concentration mode and her moans became louder. I could tell she was working quite a bit harder and they were definitely closer together. Tarra decided to head back to the Birthing Center and I asked “If Callie continues to progress like this what time should we think about heading down to the Birthing Center.” Tarra was hesitant to put a time on it because every pregnancy is different. She had originally told me that if Callie persisted that she should come in around 4:00. However, when I asked her this time, she said if Callie continued to work hard like this we might consider 3:00 but 4:00 was still fine. We just needed to be open. Tarra left and Callie continued to progress quite hard. 2:00 rolled around and Callie was continuing to work extremely hard. This time, she told me that she was ready to go to Alma. I called Kori and asked what she thought. After listening to Callie through one of her contractions she suggested we head to Alma in about 30 minutes so that they had time to get the room ready. At 2:30 I had the car packed up, I put Callie in the car, and we proceeded to drive to Alma. Despite only having a 10 minute drive Callie probably had about 4 – 5 contractions in the car which drew a lot of attention from pedestrians and fellow drivers.
We pulled up to Alma and I jumped out and helped Callie get her way into the center. As we walked into Alma, there was Kori and Tarra waiting in our birthing room. They had already drawn up Callie a warm bath for her to relax in. Immediately I could tell that Callie was either in transition or beyond because the second we walked into the room Callie was stripping off her clothes to jump into the tub. She didn’t care who was watching or who was there, her modesty was gone and all she could think about was getting some sort of relief. I ran back out to the car a few more times to get the rest of the stuff and entrusted Callie into the midwives care. I also called to check in with Callie’s mom because I knew she had landed in Portland but was not at the birthing center yet. I told her that Callie was quite close and she better hurry.
Around 3:15 Callie vocalized her need to push. I basically let Callie do her thing once she was at that point. She gripped the side of the tub with more force and muscle than I had ever seen her flex. She changed positions between leaning her back against the side of the tub to being on her knees leaning over the edge of the tub. The whole time I was there by her side, putting cool cloths on her head (provided by the midwives), telling her to relax between contractions, reminding her that every contraction and push got her one step closer to Clara, and rubbing my hands (either stroking or through light massage) across her neck and back. Stephanie, Callie’s 3rd midwife of the team came in a few minutes after we had arrived; I had never met her before but I could tell right away who she was.
Finally, at about 3:30-ish Callie’s mom arrived. It was a very emotional moment because she walked in, squatted in front of Callie, grabbed her hands and just was an automatic overwhelming sense of encouragement. She jumped in right next to me helping with cool cloths and encouraging Callie.
Callie was continuing to push and I could tell she was getting tired. She even spouted out once “I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this….” We all were there immediately to let her know she could. Kori eventually around 4:00 decided to give Callie her first vaginal exam because she had been pushing for one hour and thought there might be a lip in the cervix. It was extremely amazing to think back on the experience and that moment because they just allowed Callie’s body to do the work rather than trying to step in. They did not check to see how dilated Callie was which I think was more beneficial in that Callie did not have to worry about the fact she was having the urge to push but was only 6 cm. or something. Kori noticed that Callie had a slight lip but was able to feel Clara’s head. She helped things along and told Callie that Clara was getting quite close. She encouraged Callie to get in more of a squatting position because it might be more conducive to opening up her pelvis and having Clara work her way down. While Callie was squatting and pushing, I applied pressure to the outside of her hips in order to help the pelvis open up and relax some pressure.
Callie finally flipped over so that her arms were dangling over my knees and her chest was upwards because the midwives said she needed to choose if she wanted to birth the baby out of the water or completely in the water. Callie decided that she was comfortable and not going to move. Another contraction came and Callie continued to push, she seemed like she was getting quite tired now. The midwives suggested that I help hold her up in the air because she said she was getting tired and she mentioned that her arms kept falling asleep. I then hooked my hands around her upper arms and began to hold her up, nearly suspended as she pushed so she could focus all of her energy on pushing that baby out. When Callie pushed again, the midwives and Claudia said that they could see Clara’s head popping out. They mentioned that she had quite a bit of hair on her! I suggested Callie reach down and touch the head in order to give her a little more connection to Clara and a little more desire to push and get her out. Callie did and became extremely excited amidst her exhaustion. Kori mentioned that it was only going to take a few more solid pushes and that Clara would be there. She mentioned to Callie to take it slow because she wanted her perineum to stretch slowly to prevent tears. Callie gave it all her might when the contractions came on and Clara continued to come one step closer to us. Finally, Clara’s shoulder began to poke out and she was nearly there. Callie gave it one last push and Clara came fully out and Kori guided her out and right away put Clara on Callie’s chest.
Callie was weeping with joy as she told our little girl “hi” for the first time. I was leaned over putting my hands on Clara’s back and overjoyed with Callie. The next 10 minutes seemed like a complete blur. I remember asking after a few minutes if they would check and make sure Clara was a girl since the ultrasounds can never be 100% sure. I also remember Kori mentioning to us that it would not be long before Callie had to push out the placenta. Clara’s cord was quite short so we could not fully lift Clara up to me so I had to just wait and touch her with my hands. After the placenta was birthed, I cut the cord and Tarra put on the rubber band to keep the cord shut. Now, it was my turn to hold Clara so they could empty the tub and clean Callie up. I had already had my shirt off in order to not get it drenched in case I popped in the water so I was already prepared for the skin-to-skin bonding time with my new baby. Callie released Clara into my arms and I gently pulled my feet out of the side of the tub. I walked over to the queen bed that was in the same room and sat down holding Clara next to my skin with a towel on the outside. I could not believe that I was finally a father, a daddy to a little girl. I was so pumped and excited to finally meet little Clara and see what she looked like. My arms were exhausted and my lower back was extremely sore and tired from leaning over and holding Callie up but I did not care. I was in my moment, similar to that moment when you get married and have your first dance; everything else around just faded in the background.
Callie eventually joined me on the bed and we both sat up next to her on the bed and just enjoyed our few moments as a new family. It was amazing! The midwives let us have our bonding time alone and rest for a little bit before they even suggested doing the measurements and weight. This was nice because we did not have to feel rushed or feel like she was apart from us the early moments of her life. She could feel safe in our arms before she had to experience being naked on the scale by herself. Our new family had begun, our parenthood had begun, our lives would never be the same but this is what Callie had worked 9 months for. Callie was so awake and ready to be Clara’s momma and hold her; Clara was extremely alert, eyes open ready to be our little B. Amazing!
As I reflect back on the experience I cannot help but think about what some of the people had said to us about birth. Many people had said “Good luck!” when we told them that Callie was going to give birth naturally. I remember people telling us that their wives had planned to give birth naturally before they entered the process and the immediate moment that they experienced intense pain their wives had asked for drugs. Callie did not ask for drugs the entire time. She only expressed the words “I don’t think I can do this” twice when she was quite exhausted. But, that is what the midwives and I were there for; to remind her that she could do this. I remember men telling me about their fears and struggles with child birth because they felt so helpless watching their wives in such pain and that there was nothing they could do about it. I never experienced that because I was connected with Callie the whole time and active during the whole process. I was helping her relax, telling her to breathe, rubbing her back, pushing on her hips, rubbing her sacrum area relieving tension, putting cold wash cloths on her head and holding her up when she was tired. It was rewarding that I was a part of helping her get through this birth and relieve her intense pain.
I never imagined giving birth at a birth center or having a water birth but now that it happened this way I would never have it any other way. I know for sure that we will do a natural birth for all of our other children after this and I wish it could be at Alma Birthing Center again. Alas, we are moving back to Colorado to be closer to family and will not still be in Portland. Our experience with Kori, Tarra, and Stephanie was amazing as well as the two nights that we stayed at Alma.
Alma provided us with doulas the entire time we were there who would come in every so often, not intrusively at all, and check on us or ask if we needed anything. They checked Callie and Clara’s vitals, talked about breast feeding, and even offered to hold Clara for an hour if we needed to get a little shut eye (a service we didn’t need because Clara was an awesome sleeper). One night I went outside the room with Clara because she was making a lot of noise and Callie was not sleeping. One of the doulas chatted with me about my experience, held Clara for a few moments and answered all the questions that were running through my mind (thanks Courtney!). They cooked us two meals each day and ordered out for the other meal; one gal even cooked pork sausage for us even though she was a vegan and cooked some scallions and put them on top of our eggs that she had brought from her own garden (thanks Melanya!). The other doulas were amazingly helpful as well.
We were completely pampered for those first few days and spent some quality time resting up and making sure we were completely prepared to do this thing on our own. Callie also got set up with a few sitz baths during those two days to help her heal and even got a full body massage the morning of the 2nd day. What a blessing it was to be there and experience this birth with Alma and our midwife team. Claudia was blown away at how much she did not know when she had given birth to Callie and her other children. She too was apprehensive at first about the birthing center but after watching this amazing process of birth she was a ‘believer’ as well. Finally after our two night stay we packed up and prepared to head home. Clara was so small, 6 lbs. 6 oz., that she did not even fit into some of her newborn clothes. We put the huge outfit on her, put her in her car seat, and said goodbye to the ‘Lily Room’ which had been our makeshift home for a few days. It was now time to begin the rest of our lives as parents and bring Clara home…
There is nothing easy about labor! But when we look back on the night I labored at Alma, we are overwhelmed by how special it was. Our son Oskar got his one perfect birth because we were at Alma. I got the best coaching, most importantly from Chris, but also from my midwives who knew when to get tough with me and when to encourage me. I will never forget how wonderfully supportive they were of us. They sensed when we needed direction but also did a really great job of letting us work it out on our own. My friends look at me like I’m crazy when I say I enjoyed laboring and giving birth. But it’s true, I did – not least because of the amazing midwives at Alma. (The awesome doulas/massage/food/recovery room didn’t hurt, either.)
So when the two separate pee sticks showed positive, I cried so hard I gave myself a bloody nose.
Two weeks of bed rest due to a threatened miscarriage four weeks later changed my mind real quick. I wanted this baby. Badly.I was 30 weeks pregnant when I watched a birthing video with a couple of girlfriends just for the heck of it. What kind of video is called “The Orgasmic Birth?!” While I couldn’t imagine getting so in touch with my labor experience to orgasm, this video shot such an electric bolt of realization through me that I felt like an idiot.
I had OPTIONS. I could CHOOSE my birthing experience; I didn’t have to labor in that cold, bland, impersonal hospital room I recently toured just because I had insurance. Wow. I went home late that night only to fire up the Google search engine, researching my options, pouring over reviews, typing several emails to midwives…on and on ’till my eyes glazed over with too much grit.By 32 weeks (8 months) I was a patient and guest at Alma Midwifery. The environment there was immediately welcoming, the atmosphere there reaching into me and smoothing away any doubts for a natural childbirth. This is exactly what I wanted, what I had been craving without even knowing it. I was set up with a birthing team of two midwives and an apprentice: Kori, Stephanie, Courtney, and later Kate. I liked these women from the very start, and to this day believe I got the best care from them. I loved having an apprentice there at the few visits I had. Courtney would ask questions I wouldn’t think to ask. She’d feel my belly to learn which way he was laying, trying to identify body parts. I loved it because I got to learn right along with her; I couldn’t tell my growth’s face from his butt before Alma!My due-date was September 10, 2009, due to be a summer baby and a Virgo.September 10th comes.September 10th goes.September 17th passes…8:00am, September 23rd, I wake up, waddle into my bathroom, and there it is – The Bloody Show – my first sign that I may not be pregnant for the rest of my life. Not five minutes later I experience my first contraction… Will today finally be the day?I giddily made myself breakfast then drove to my dad and step-mom’s house where my sisters were waiting for me. I had called and encouraged my mom to finish her shift at work and to come over to Dad’s for dinner after; Gabby was going to make Mexican food. I had also sent a text message to Dad and Dana, who had landed in Colorado that very morning and wouldn’t make the birth.The contractions slowly increased between 15 and 20 minutes apart. I tried to follow my midwives advice to rest and go through my day as normal as possible. We walked the Clackamas mall sucking down Jamba Juice. We played speed card games. We talked and drank tea. Evening descended and I ‘hammocked’ my son, knees on the ground, my head pillowed in my arms resting on the sofa, gently rocking my belly from side to side, trying to promote a good position.
I remember Glee being on TV, the dancing football team episode. By this time I was calling Stephanie every two hours; all I wanted was to get into the relaxing atmosphere of my chosen birthing room. Not yet. She kept saying not yet. I wanted to cry. My sisters took turns sleeping and timing how long my contractions lasted and how far apart, while my mother sat next to me and tried to ease the back labor.I tried to sleep between contractions. I vaguely remember something being on about a seven-year-old body builder.
Finally, at 4:00am Stephanie said to come on in. They’d been about five minutes apart, but were now lasting about a minute and half. I could tell she hadn’t liked telling me to wait. We piled into Dad and Dana’s 4-Runner, myself taking a backseat so I could lean over the back, clenching Sami’s hand. I remember Gabby swearing at some other motorist on the way for almost hitting us.Arriving at Alma and being allowed to make the trek up the stairs to the Chloe room was such a relief. My son was coming! The lovely tub with the beautiful pregnant woman mosaic overlooking it was filled for my comfort. This was the plan, to birth my son in the water.Of course that didn’t work.While I slept between contractions, they didn’t progress. Courtney was always there to offer me something to drink or take down our vitals. Kate was now a part of my birthing team as Kori had gone to Haiti to teach midwifery there. Kate and Stephanie suggested I go walking. I got up, had a contraction standing, and said no way, I don’t want to. So, to the birthing stool we went. This was probably the best thing for me; though I was on it a long time, Stephanie taught me how to push and how to get the most out of them. She sat there on the ground, her fingers helping to keep the cervix lip out of the way, encouraging and complimenting always. She tried to doze as I tried to doze. My water finally broke. I remember feeling such an endless amount of admiration and gratitude towards this midwife at my feet, so patient and so encouraging. I felt so much love for my mother, too, as she sat behind me, exhausted, still trying to ease my back labor. I don’t know how long we sat there. It was suggested that we move to the bed. I hated the thought of the bed. I had the awful feeling that if I labored on a bed that it wouldn’t be much different than doing so in a hospital.I was wrong. Once on the bed things went very quickly. My mother stood to the side holding one leg, Gabby on the bed with me holding the other. Sami was shining a flashlight on my son’s crowning head, while Shayna took pictures. Stephanie was there in the middle of it all, with Courtney observing over her shoulder. Stephanie gave a quiet laugh and told me that she could see his head wiggling, trying to help get himself out; she hadn’t seen that before. Contractions were no longer five minutes apart as they had been this whole time, but they weren’t right on top of each other either. When his head came out there was a brief resting period, where I heard everyone exclaim with “Awww!”.I was told his little hand had come out with his head, the back of it resting against the opposite cheek and ear. I couldn’t wait for this to be over! I wanted to see him! Finally it came, and I rode those contractions out until I felt him slip from my body and into Stephanie’s waiting arms, which quickly transferred him into mine. I just cried. He was here. Exactly two weeks later from his due date, but HERE. My son was in my arms, and perfect. Completely and utterly perfect. He peed on me.Someone eventually had to take him from me so I could deliver the placenta, but there were no more contractions. None. I couldn’t push it out, and it couldn’t be pulled out, so I had to stand. Poor Stephanie. As I tried to stand on the bed I fell into her, not having much strength in my legs to get up. I couldn’t stop laughing. I finally got up with some help, and a large metal bowl was placed under me to catch the placenta. It came out with a plop, showering everyone too close with drops of blood. I just kept laughing.After that, I bonded with my son. He had no troubles latching onto my breast, and when I burped him he could already lift his little head. Our vitals were taken. I touched my placenta and declined to keep it. My little boy’s stat’s were taken: Reilly Galen made his debut on September 24, 2009 at 11:43am, 8lbs 9oz, 20 inches long, now an autumn baby and a Libra. I learned later that Dad and Dana were 9,500 on a mountain somewhere in Colorado when he was born; very cool.
I stayed 2 days at Alma, cared for by lovely doulas, eating wonderful food brought to me that I chose from nearby restaurants. On my last day I had a massage. I enjoyed it and took that time to really rest and relax. I wasn’t sleeping well, trying to listen for sounds from Reilly as he had been choking on gunk coming from his lungs. I was scared to death that he would drown in his own mucus. But we made it, and I was loving every minute of my son’s existence.
I cried when it was time to go home. I didn’t want to leave this bubble of comfort and serenity. I didn’t want to rejoin reality. I had grown very fond of Alma and the people there, and I just wanted to keep them close. I still miss them. But we’re thriving. My son is growing rapidly, and strangers stop me to exclaim what a beautiful boy I have, how jealous they are of his long, LONG lashes. My son is my world and he fills me with pride, and I believe I had the best possible labor and birth experience. I highly doubt I would have been allowed to labor so long or get such caring advice on how to really push in a hospital setting. I am truly, truly grateful to my birthing team and Alma Midwifery for having such a positive and loving role in my memories.
My husband Chris, our son Hayden and I got into our car and headed to Alma where there was already a tub of nice warm water waiting for me. Things were moving very quickly, and I was checked to find out that I was over 7cm dilated shortly after we arrived. I spent a bit of time in the tub, and it felt amazing. The contractions hurt considerably but the water really helped with easing the pain, and helping me relax most of all.I got out of the tub for a little break and remember laying on my right side on the bed. I was at a point where the pain had really taken over and I was saying, “I can’t do this.” I had my amazing midwives Melissa and Brandie there though to support me, and during the break between my next contraction I realized that I was not thinking the way I needed to be, I took a deep breath and said, “I can do this.” Almost immediately my body started pushing on it’s own. It was pretty amazing to feel my body doing this, and I got back in the tub and pushed some more.
After about 11 minutes of pushing, deep breathing, and motivation from the amazing people surrounding me, I (very loudly) gave birth to our second son who we named Isaiah Kingsley. He was beautiful and he was big! He was 9 lbs 8 oz! I couldn’t have been more thankful to have the amazing midwives I did during my pregnancy and the birth of our son.
In the days and weeks following birth, my husband and I spoke into a digital voice recorder whenever we had poignant memories or thoughts, as well as recording our tellings of the birth story to close friends. At seven months postpartum, I still have not listened to them, but the tellings helped to form a coherent narrative, which I remember now as follows.
After our 40 week appoint with our midwives at ALMA, my husband said, “I don’t want to come to another appointment next week. I want to meet our baby!” I was finally feeling ready too. We went to bed the night before our next appointment, and around midnight I woke wondering if I could have urinated in my sleep, but quickly realized the trickle of fluid wasn’t pee! I called Melissa to say I thought my water had broken. She asked a few questions then confirmed this and suggested what I could expect in the coming hours, but that I could call back at any time. She encourage resting as much as possible, advice my husband was eager to accept! His first thought when I’d woken him was, “not yet, I need to sleep first!” I was too excited – finally knowing my baby’s birth date, feeling a little anxious, curious, and watching the clock – to get deep sleep, but i did doze on and off.
In those still, dark, quiet hours we both had visions of our daughter. We’d not found out he sex previously, but I grew certain that Ayla was joining us as the pregnancy progressed. The sensation that night that she had chosen us and this life actually gave me great calm, trust and confidence.
Things progressed exactly as Melissa predicted. Contractions began, very mildly initially, and over the next five hours drew closer together and increased in strength very gradually. During these early hours, I was surprised to actually be able to localize the sensation and feel my uterus gently tugging open my cervix. Around 6 am, I woke my husband again, as I was ready for him to time the contractions with the second hand of his watch. He was alert, excited and supportive, sitting behind me so I could lean back on his chest and squeeze his hand with ebb and recession of several contractions. They were lasting at least one minute and coming about five minutes apart. I called Melissa again; I could come in whenever I was ready, or stay home longer if that was more comfortable. I wanted to get out of bed so we got up to check the list I’d made of last minute things to add to the bags and to do in the house. (One list were things for me to do if a daytime labor got a slow start or was on and off for days, but my husband did not know that, so while I was trying to get ready and having to grip a chair or dresser during contractions, I was wondering ‘Why is he doing dishes and not helping me?!’. He had dutifully thought it was a To Do listfor him! We laughed about that later.)
It seemed like only a short time later I asked my husband to call Melissa again. She laughed, “I love when the husbands call; it means things are really moving along!” Contractions were every four minutes, and I didn’t feel able to speak much. Even though things were progressing gradually and it was not really painful, I still thought a little break would be nice, and had heard that the car ride and/or arriving at their hospital often slowed or stalled women’s labor. During the car ride, my belly and its sensations felt too big to fit in the front of the car, like the last clown crammed into the circus VW bug! Railroad tracks and the seatbelt were very uncomfortable, but we managed to call parents, my sister and a friend to tell them we were on the way.
I cried when we arrived at Alma and Melissa and Brandee sweetly met me at the door – the day was finally here! They ushered me up the stairs, and the room I’d had so many prenatal appointments in was now arranged for birth: the birth stool and ball were out, as were emergency equipment in a corner and medical supplies on a table, and candles were lit. Of course, we were so familiar and comfortable with Alma and our team that I did not get a break! They timed contractions and offered to check me; I was quite surprised to learn I was already a “stretch 7 cm” dialted! The midwives asked if I wanted to get into water and I was amazed it was ‘already’ time for that, but glad. As warm water began to fill the tub, we quickly found ourselves into the rhythym of laboring in our new setting. It was probably at this time that I subtly lessened my hold on normal time, entering into another physical, mental, spiritual dimension. The warm water was instantly soothing, a relief that told me I was well into the process. The contractions had progressively intensified and the water helped me to not resist them. The best advice I had been given was this: try to stay with what was happening in the moment, without lingering on the contraction which had just passed or anticipating the next one or wondering how long it had been or how much more it was going to be. I found myself repeating achoiceto open, to breathe, to help my body and baby by choosing not to tighten, resist or have aversion, a choice I made over and over and over again. The sounds I was making however were unfamiliar and unexpected, and I became concerned about what the baby was hearing. I voiced this to Brandee, who shifted my perspective by reminding me that they were completely natural, strong and healthy sounds, and were not scary for my baby. So, from then on, I made a lot of sound! (I joked after the baby tested her lungs and released her first big sound/cry that since she’d been hearing similar for hours it must have seemed like the thing to do!) I did not make high-pitched sounds, and my husband helped by toning low pitches for me to match if i sounded like i was tensing. Keeping tones low helped me focus on opening up, not clinching or tensing in resistance.
It didn’t seem like long before I was really resting for more than a moment of catching my breath, and Brandee told me I was in transition, a lull to regather some strength before the work of pushing out my baby. It seemed incredible to be at this point already, but the greatest sensation was the urge to rest and I actually did fall asleep between contractions leaning back against my husband’s chest in the tub.
Contractions began to intensify again and I was told I could push if I felt the urge to do so. The impulse to push was weak initially, but gained momentum. Pushing was a chance to be a more active participant and to help my body. Yet, I had the suspicion that there was some sort of blockage. Never having birthed before though, I just continued to push, as trying to articulate this vague perception seemed too difficult. Fortunately, Melissa and Kate began offering to check me and encouraging me to use the toilet. I got out and was unable to urinate. They strongly encouraged me, and we had the sink running, standing in the shower (incessantly redirecting my poor husband’s aim of the spray), a wash cloth on my neck back on the toilet, all to stimulate me to pee and I couldn’t! I wondered: how am I going to get a baby out if I can’t even pee? I questioned if there was some emotional block I wasn’t being honest with myself about, and searched for a cause within me for what felt like an inability to open and let it flow out. Nothing came to mind and this troubled me because I didn’t know how I was going to get passed it; it was the hardest moment of the labor and the only time I doubted. They helped me to the birthing stool where Kate checked me and discovered that my cervix had unevenly dilated. She held back the crescent and it was such a relief. We’d found the block I’d sensed in the tub, and she was also able to feel my contractions and pushing and gave me lots of affirmation that I was doing it just right and strong too, directing me with great encouraging words. By happy coincidence during this process, as she palpitated baby’s skull to determine baby’s position, a flood of pee gushed out! Kate wasn’t bothered in the least, and neither was I. The baby’s head had essentially clamped my urethra and the slight movement on the baby’s head had released the pressure. This physiological explanation came later, of course, but at the time I was just so relieved that my bladder was emptying and not going to be in the way, and that it apparently had nothing to do with insufficient strength or effort, nor my emotional, psychological or spiritual readiness! My confidence had wavered for a moment, but after this I felt much better and was able to stay with experience as it occurred without questioning. The lip of cervix was finally staying back on its own, and I was free to move about again. By now though I had been having back pain and found strong lumbar pressure essential with each contraction. It felt like a rebounding tightness that took over my belly, receded and then spasmed into my back. I could catch a quick breath and then my uterus was contracting again. This might sound terrible, and I know my husband had a hard time seeing me like this, but in my inner world, it truly wasn’t ever more than I could handle in each moment. The hard working uterus is a sensation unlike anything I’ve ever felt before; it certainly isn’t “pain” like we associate with an injury or a migraine. My body was working very hard, but as it was designed to, and, though it sounds cliché, it was true for me that I forgot the discomfort very quickly after it was over. To make it through this stage though, my awesome birth team helped me through a series of positions, from a supported side-lying on the bed, to on my knees over pillows being fed bits of a Nectar bar, to hanging on my husband from my arms around his neck and lifting my feet a foot off the ground!
Eventually, I was back in the tub, and most comfortable there. I did not know at the time that this phase was lasting a unusually long time, or that I was having “back labor.” Fortunately my midwives and husband did not talk to me in those terms, and not having those words and a story attached to them was very beneficial. They were so patient, subtle, supportive and encouraging, I assumed everything was as it was supposed to be, and kept to my work. We had prepared several playlists of music, but early on i had indicated a mellow mix of prayers and chants, including some by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We had also brought several special items we imagined setting up when we arrived, but there was never a chance for that. There were moments however in which I was aware of the music (though everyone else probably got very tired of this playlist on repeat for hours!), or the presence in the room of things we’d been given or brought, and all the love from so many friends and family that they embodied; it wasn’t necessary to see them with my eyes, I could feel the support.
I later learned from Melissa and Kate that although baby was LOA when we arrived, she was pivoting in my pelvis. In the last months of pregnancy, I had done a lot of yoga and optimal fetal positioning, and baby had never been in a posterior position. I guess this peaked her interest in taking the scenic route out! When Kate felt baby’s skull when I was on the birth stool, she confirmed her suspicion that baby was perfectly posterior and twisting like a corkscrew. In the end, she turned a complete 360 degrees, emerging LOA! She has a prominent swirl of hair on her crown, which we think of as her spinning souvenir. All I knew at the time however was that labor was supposed to be hard work, and I kept gratefully accepting the water and smoothies which consistently appeared for me to sip if i wanted to (bendy straws should be on every birth preparation check list!). Most of all, I kept choosing to work through it with all I had in me. After I was back in the tub, I pushed more than 100%. A strength I could not imagine I possessed or that I could access just spontaneously arose. I felt baby’s head once with my fingertips. Then the power went out for many blocks around us! Someone brought in lots of candles, and the room was soft and quiet. Then baby began to crown, and that was the only part that really painfully hurt, but it was also very good motivation that baby was so close to being out. The end was near, but the only way to get it over was to go for it. In the scale of things, that crowning part was quite short.
I was leaning forward kneeling in the water when baby’s head emerged at 7:25 pm, and in a quick synchronized movement before the next contraction, they rocked me to leaning back onto my husband’s chest. The cord was loosely around baby’s neck and her shoulders were wide (but i didn’t know that then), so my midwives were, I suppose, quite hands on at this moment, but I don’t remember feeling that. And then baby was out! I asked if baby was a girl, and as they checked and said “Yes!” I said ” hello, Ayla” and felt her body in my hands as they placed her to my chest. I felt her warm, soft, tired, little body on mine and closed my eyes. The feeling of holding her is my clearest first memory of my daughter. We looked in her eyes and she looked back at me, and then her father greeted her, and she turned towards that familiar voice! Our amazement with her every feature, gesture, expression and sound began.
I remember a gentle tugging on the cord attached to the placenta still inside me, which was vaguely annoying as I wanted to be able to focus all my attention on our baby girl, but they reminded me I had one more thing to do. Pushing out the placenta, they promised with a laugh, would be much easier since it didn’t have any bones! I actually couldn’t remember even the next day the feeling of birthing it, it just seemed to slip out, but I do remember the midwives exclaiming over its big, healthy appearance!
They offered my husband the opportunity to cut the cord after it had ceased transmitting between Ayla and I, and he said some special words to Ayla as he did so. It seemed to happen so quickly that I was already being helped to the bed, but once I was lying down there, it felt so good. I was excited, but also exhausted! They left us to bond for a while and Ayla was so alert and searching us and getting nice and pink. I had help latching her on, and she nursed quite eagerly from the first time. The midwives then checked us both thoroughly. I had one tiny ‘skid mark’ and thus no tears or stitches. Ayla had quite a molded head after her long spin through the narrow passage and a couple of bruises from trying to navigate through all my bones, but was in great health. At this point, I became aware of a real headache coming on, and although I’d just delivered a baby totally naturally without any drugs, I requested Advil for my head! (This was good to take anyway, as the long pushing left me sore for days through my entire body!) We ordered a huge Cuban dinner, and I ate a half a chicken, rice and beans, plantains and licked the plate while Ayla slept next to me on the bed. The midwives headed home around 11 pm and a doula came to spend the night outside our door, helping me to the bathroom and with nursing throughout the night. On the second morning at Alma, I had a fabulous postpartum massage, which was amazingly therapeutic in acknowledging the hard work my body had done (which I had not really thought about since being absorbed with the baby) and beginning the balancing hormones and releasing tensions and restoring alignment in the pelvic and lumbar areas. Laura brought some cranial sacral therapy touches to Ayla in evaluating her skull, but the molding had disappeared and all the plates seemed normal. The care we received was absolutely incredible, from pampering and praising me to the way they modeled gentleness, respect and and concern for our baby.
The next day, Obama was elected president. We listened on the radio, feeling, in this old Victorian house, as though we lived in an age before television, until the results were announced incredibly early in the evening and immediately the entire city was alive with honking cars, fireworks, cheering in the streets. The joy we expected to feel on this occassion was definately a distant second place to having our baby, but it was quite moving to sense the nation, our friends and city all also celebrating in the fresh, new, hopeful beginnings we were feeling.
Giving birth was the most transformative, empowering and powerful experience of my life. I hope for all women to know that in pregnancy and birth, the hormones function with astounding precision, at least in my experience of natural childbirth, and I believe far more women are far more capable than they know. After channeling so much raw power, I was elated, in love, and wrapped in a soft, magical cocoon for several days. We had a “baby moon” for a while after we came home. I stayed skin-to-skin with Ayla in bed for the better part of a week, and we prolonged the magical sweetness and freshness of our new family for several weeks. The loving, congratulatory and complimentary words of my team also made me feel great about the whole process (though it was odd to hear that and go from such power and strength to states of total weakness and dependency on others just to get out of bed – humbling and also part of the perfect way we are made to be).
I later learned that had I been in a hospital, it would have been very unusual to have been permitted to push for six hours and I would have been told I needed as cesarean. In the midst of my labor though I did not doubt or fear, and neither did my team. Their supportive patient presence enabled Ayla and I to do our work, and we were never in any danger, as frequent fetal monitoring evidenced. To learn that, had I not been at Alma, my expreience might have been traumatic rather than inspiring and empowering has made me an even greater proponent of natural childbirth and midwifery. In the postpartum weeks, there were some emotional rollercoasters, but they never diminished my core belief that our birth was the best possible experience or my sense of accomplishment. I saw though how much more challenging these times would have been if I had been disappointed in our birthing process. My love for my daughter grows impossibly deeper every day; she is so immeasurably precious. We hardly knew the meaning of the word before her. Our gratitude for the kindness we received at Alma and from Kate, Melissa and Brandee, can never be repaid in full, and we hope to be fortunate enough to do it all over again with them in the future.
He is here. Just shy of the 32 week mark my little Koze made his way into the world early this morning at 2:19am, during the Leonid meteor shower. Completely unexpected, my water broke last night at 11:05. Thinking there was no way I could possibly be in labor I had almost made up my mind to just go back to bed and call Laura, my midwife, in the morning. Thankfully I ended up choosing to play it safe and called Laura at 11:18. After explaining to her what had happened she felt confident that my water had indeed broken and that I could have this baby very soon.I had been a little crampy that day since early afternoon but, again, never imagined that I was in labor since I still had a good 2 months to go and the cramps weren’t even as painful as a menstrual cramp. Laura suggested that we meet at the birth center so she could do a test to be 100% sure that my water had broken. My good friend, Theresa, drove me to Alma where we arrived shortly before midnight. Laura tested my water and confirmed that it was BROKEN. I could barely believe it.
At this point I began to realize that there was actually a rhythm to my contractions and I began to accept that my little boy was on his way. Laura had already called ahead to Emanuel Hospital in North Portland to let them know we would be coming so Theresa and I, followed by Laura headed over and I was admitted. Because my contractions appeared so mild we all prepared for what we thought could be a long wait – several hours to a couple days is what I was told to expect. After I was all settled in my room Laura decided to head home to get some rest and told me to call her when things progressed. I felt totally relaxed and agreed that there was no reason for Laura to wait at the hospital with me. We were just getting ready to say good bye when I suddenly felt like I was going to throw up and said so to Laura. I knew this was often a sign of transition and remember feeling like it was strange that I would be getting sick so early on in labor. Laura quickly grabbed something for me to throw up into and I threw up all the soup I had had for dinner that night. After this happened the MD on duty checked me and found that I was 7 to 8 centimeters dilated.
Much further along than the 3 centimeters she had predicted just minutes before. It was a very busy night for labor and deliveries and there were no immediate rooms available for me to go to so they moved me into the O.R. Once there my contractions began to intensify and I soon felt the urge to push. I finally began to become more vocal about how I was feeling as I felt the force of what was going on in my body rapidly gaining strength. My nurse told me not to push yet. The contraction eased up a little and with the next one she said I could push so I did and almost immediately it seemed he was crowning and that was the first real pain I felt. It was so intense that for a moment I was afraid to continue pushing but everyone around me encouraged me that I was doing so well and someone told me that his head was almost out and asked me if I wanted to feel him. I reached down and felt the top of his head, which was covered in hair.
Suddenly my perspective shifted from fear to determination and I began pushing as hard as I could until I felt his head followed by the rest of his body slide out. The relief was instant and I could see him and hear him crying right away. Since he was so early they had to cut his cord and whisk him right away to the NICU. I didn’t feel any disappointment that I was not going to be able to hold him right away like I had wanted – I was grateful that he was in very capable hands and felt confident that everything was being done to give him the absolute best start under these circumstances. I was so grateful for Laura’s presence. Her confidence in me gave me so much strength and her calmness in the midst of the whirlwind of nurses, doctors, questions and hospital equipment was beyond comforting.
I would say I had an incredible experience with this birth and am incredibly grateful. After the placenta was out and I was given a stitch or two for a small tear I was able to see Koze almost immediately. He did great right from the start and has been breathing all on his own. He weighed 4lbs 12oz and is absolutely the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Ever. I am so in love with him that it makes my heart so happy and also ache just a little.
The last 2 weeks of my pregnancy were extremely uncomfortable. I was getting little sleep and I had to pee what seemed like every 5 minutes 24 hours a day (you mamas who have been there know exactly what I’m talking about!). At my 39 week appointment I got a cervical check and was 1.5 cm dilated and 50% effaced. Phoenix was at -1 station. All of that was good news but I knew from previous experience that I still had a long way to go before labor. I so wished I was one of those women who spontaneously went into labor at 39 weeks just because I was so uncomfortable at that point. But it was not to be. All that week I walked a lot and in the words of my midwife “had lots of sex” to try and get labor going. Sex is known to start labor because it releases oxytocin in your body (the same hormone that is integral during labor) and semen contains prostaglandins which ripen the cervix and can spur labor to begin. Well, it certainly did its job because I was up with contractions and extremely unpleasant cramping for 2 nights that week. One of the nights I thought for sure I was in labor because the contractions did not let up for 12 hours, but once I forced myself to take a nap, they went away. I was totally bummed out but had hoped that it was at least dilating me.At my 40 week prenatal on Wednesday December 26th (my due date) I got another cervical check and the dreaded membrane sweep. I was 80% effaced and dilated to a 4 and as soon as Kori did the membrane sweep I went to a 5!! Baby also had moved to 0 station. With August I got 2 membrane sweeps and both of them were really uncomfortable. But this time around it just felt like a regular cervical check and wasn’t uncomfortable at all. I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that I was more dilated this time around! Kori seemed very happy with the progress of my cervix in just a week and gave the impression that I probably wouldn’t be pregnant much longer. I was optimistic, but seeing as I was 9 days late with Gus, I prepared myself for the long haul just in case.
On Thursday night (December 27th) I got a craving for Mexican food so I told Joel I wanted to go to Pepitas for dinner (seeing as it may be our last dinner out or quite some time). We packed up Gus and headed out. I ended up eating very little because I had about 5 contractions during dinner that were pretty strong but once we got home they faded out and nothing much happened. Joel proceeded to do nighttime routine with Gus at about 9 pm, but since Gus was and still is going through a horrible, hellish sleep regression Joel couldn’t get him to go down. I was laying in bed that whole time trying to sleep but could not get comfortable and then once I would start to drift off I had to pee. Also, Phoenix was extremely active for about 3 hours straight..kicking and punching like crazy and every time he moved I had to pee, again. I took over with Gus at about 1 am and he finally drifted off to sleep in his own bed at about 2 am. Joel was just falling asleep when I came back to bed and crawled under the covers. about 15 minutes later I thought I had felt a contraction. But I had had so many false alarms at this point and I was so tired that I didn’t think much of it. Then another one came and another and they were strong. I had to breathe through them. I woke Joel up and stupidly asked him if he thought I was in labor. Within another 15 minutes we knew this was it. The contractions were coming every 5 minutes and lasting 45 seconds and were strong. They were also very different than what I was used to. With August I was in back labor the entire time because of the way he was positioned in the womb, and with these contractions I felt them very low in my abdomen and pelvis and sometimes an achiness in my thighs too. I told Joel he better take our bags out into the trunk of the car (note to self- next time have the bags in the car!) While he was doing that he called Kori at some point and let her know how close together contractions were and she said to head on in to the birth center as soon as we were packed up. I was downstairs trying to clean (don’t know why) and stopping for every contraction and leaning over and breathing through them. The contractions very quickly went to 3 minutes apart and I was feeling a lot of pressure and discomfort with each one. I had to concentrate a lot more through each one and I knew that we needed to get going since the last thing I wanted was to be in transition in the car on the way to the birth center. Joel woke Rob up and let him know it was go time. He also called his dad to meet us at Alma as soon as he could. And then he transferred a sleeping Gus into Robert’s car since Grandpa was meeting us at the birth center to take him up to his house while I was in labor. As soon as everything was finally packed up, I headed out to the car and had at least 3 contractions before I was even able to sit down in the passenger seat. I knew we needed to get going and we finally drove off at 3:30 am headed to the birth center (we made great time obviously because there is no traffic at that time). When we got there Robert thankfully waited for Dale and took care of transferring Gus and his car seat into Grandpa’s car when he got there. I went straight into the center with Joel and we headed up into the same room that I had given birth to Gus in. I think I got into the tub immediately and all 3 of my midwives were already there. It was reassuring to see familiar, friendly faces when I wasn’t feeling too hot. Steph was able to plug in our ipod with my labor playlist on it and Rob went outside the room to call my parents and let them know to head up to Portland because I was already in active labor.
The tub was filled and ready when I got there with all 3 of our midwives in the room with us while I labored (sign that I knew it would be a short labor). I labored in the tub on all fours or in a squat position for I would say close to an hour. Unlike my last labor, I do distinctly remember thinking for a brief second that I might not be able to endure this pain, but of course I never voiced that fear and pretty soon was engulfed in my next contraction.
I continued to have consistent, hard contractions in the tub and at some point Kori checked me and said that I still had an anterior lip of cervix left and if I wanted she could pull it over baby’s head during the next contraction. The best part of this whole thing is that she looked at me and said “I’m not going to lie, this is really going to suck.” I love that she shoots it straight with me……so much better than sugar coating it. I’d rather just know what to expect and she knows that about me, just one of the many reasons she is such a great midwife! During my next contraction she had me sit back in a reclining position in the tub (I had been leaning and squatting during contractions) and what she did was painful and not fun but so was the contraction so I just kept thinking it would be over soon. I don’t know if Kori doing that skipped over most of transition or what but I immediately felt tons of pressure and the need to push on the next contraction. I was still having 3-4 peaks during each contraction like in transition but it was a different kind of intensity than it was with Gus. I could not get comfortable between contractions either since there was so much pressure and crampiness in my pelvis. I started to feel a ton of burning and stinging so I knew his head was probably crowning. I kept asking Joel if he could feel the head and he kept saying no so I thought maybe I wasn’t as far along as I thought. But within a couple more contractions he could feel the head. I was able to reach down and feel it too….a wrinkly head with hair. It motivated me knowing I was that close. I heard the midwives give directions to Joel on what to do when baby was born so I knew it would be very soon. The next few contractions I actively pushed (I pushed through the pain instead of fighting it, which helps so much!). It was so much more intense and painful this time around and I felt the ring of fire throughout the whole pushing stage this time which was not pleasant. Finally his whole head was out and during the next contraction and me pushing he shot out under water. Joel caught him and handed him to me right away. Phoenix was born, au natural in the water at 6:05 am, a short 3 1/2 hours after I went into labor! Shortly after birth Kori and Joel helped me to the bed so I could get a shot of pitocin to help my placenta come out (since I had PPH last time it was a preventative measure). Well just as luck would have it my placenta did not come out right away, even after the shot. I tried breastfeeding to help my uterus contract and P latched right on and suckled for a good amount of time. Still no placenta. So they had me sit on a toilet chair and have me try and pee since sometimes urine in the bladder can prevent the placenta from coming out. I peed and still no placenta. I squatted and pushed trying to get it out, still no placenta. Kori informed me that they had 2 hours to try and get it out and if it didn’t come out that we would have to go to the hospital. I knew as soon as she said that that was probably in my future. I was too scared to ask what would happen if we had to go so I just tried to focus on helping my placenta get out. Kori decided to catheter me to try and get any leftover urine out and Stephanie gave me an herbal tea of some sort and also iv-ed me to a pitocin drip all in a last ditch effort to get the placenta to come out. No luck. Kori gave the ok for Steph to call the hospital and let them know we were coming and I believe Kathy called 911 to get an ambulance. It was all very surreal and I was still in denial that we were going to the hospital. Kori told me that they would have to surgically remove the placenta at the hospital, which was my worst fear. When the EMT’s got there I was naked and covered in blood from birth but didn’t care. I just didn’t want to go to the hospital but knew I had to. They sat me up on the bed and they had to transfer me to a chair stretcher thing in order to get me down the stairs at Alma and onto the actual stretcher that I could lay on. They told me before I got moved to the chair that I may pass out since I had lost blood. Next thing I knew I woke up from passing out. According to Robert I went limp and my lips turned blueish gray and they had to rub me all over to wake me up. Before they took me I remember Joel telling me he loved me but I couldn’t bear to kiss him and the baby goodbye because I knew they had to stay at the birth center. I was so scared. Joel knows how fearful I am of hospitals in general and on top of that I am scared to death of being put under for any type of surgery and to have to go through it without my husband there scared me so much more.
The EMTs then took me down the stairs and transferred me to the stretcher that was in the kitchen of Alma. They got me into the ambulance and that’s where things went from bad to worse. Kori came with me to ride with me in the ambulance to the hospital. I could tell right away that the main EMT was not happy about this. The other EMT was trying to get an IV in one of my arms before we even got going. ( I had a giant horrible looking bruise from his attempt that stayed with me for 2 weeks!) They gave me an oxygen mask and hooked me up to a blood pressure cuff and were asking me all sorts of questions about what day it was and what my baby’s name was etc. etc. I was very annoyed but now realize they were probably just trying to keep me awake and to see if I was still with it.
Meanwhile the EMT was still trying to get a viable vein while we SAT there in the parking lot of Alma while my uterus was filling with blood. Kori told the main EMT that we needed to go with lights on to the hospital asap and all the EMT wanted to do was argue with her. He kept telling her I was stable and she said yes she is stable now but she can turn any second we need to get her to the hospital. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally went on a very bumpy ride to Providence Portland. In the elevator I felt like I was going to pass out again and like I said before everything was extremely surreal. An out of body experience. It felt like a bad dream. When I got to the OR, Kori had to stay in the waiting room so I was even more scared not having her there! The anesthesiologist and the OBGYN were both there. The anesthesiologist told me I would probably be getting at least 2 transfusions and the risks of Aids was 1 in 2 million blah blah…all I wanted was for them to get me into surgery already and get the hellish experience over with. The OBGYN put me at ease, she was sweet and told me they didn’t know exactly what was causing the placenta to not come out so she couldn’t tell me how long my surgery would take or what exactly they were going to do. The thing she said that is imprinted in my brain is that “the chances are slim but I may have to do a hysterectomy to save your life. I will do whatever I have to do in order to save your life.” Needless to say that really freaked me out and all I could think about was never being able to have more children. The next thing that happened is the anesthesiologist iv-ed me and told me he would give me something to relax me but they weren’t putting me to sleep yet. Next thing I remember is waking up in a recovery room with my 3 wonderful midwives by my side. I was very groggy and I think I asked what happened and I remember crying- a lot. Kathy fed me ice chips and Kori explained everything to me. My surgery had lasted 45 minutes and they removed the placenta…it was the best case of a worst case scenario. about half an hour later Joel and Finn arrived and I was so relieved to see them both!
So basically they have no clue what causes a retained placenta and it is pretty rare. Sometimes the placenta just embeds a little deeper at one site and will not come out without surgery. During surgery, the obgyn had to literally reach up into the uterus with her hand while my cervix was dilated, and manually remove the blood vessels that made the placenta stay attached to the wall of the uterus. Then they go in with an instrument to make sure all remnants are out to reduce the risk of infection. Next is a shot of antibiotics to prevent infection. They also stitched up a pretty small tear from birth. And lastly, two blood transfusions. Because my placenta did not come out, it caused another PPH, go figure. There was nothing that could have been done to prevent either one, just happened to be the way the dice rolled for me, unfortunately. I stayed in the hospital until 8 pm that night and got released back to the birth center since my blood work came back with fantastic numbers after my transfusions. Right before I got released, our nurse came in and mentioned that the nurse who was on duty when I came into the ER that morning had asked about me. She said the nurse thought I was going to die and need resuscitation upon arrival to the ER that morning. Why in the world would you tell someone who just went through surgery and a very scary situation something like that?!?! I freaked out thinking I was near death. I wasn’t, although it was an urgent situation, I was fine and was in good hands the whole time. But that is not something anyone needs to hear from a nurse, ever.
Luckily, after going through the trauma after birth, I got the huge reward of having a healthy, happy 8 pound 8 ounce baby boy. And I got to have another natural water birth exactly as I wanted. So there is a silver lining to the whole thing. I also got to appreciate just how freaking wonderful my midwives are and my husband is. Without them, I would have been absolutely hysterical during the whole process. Kori was especially my rock through the whole ordeal and really talked me through the trauma afterwards. She is such an amazing human being, not to mention the very best midwife I can think of! I can really not imagine ever going through labor without her. Hopefully I will be lucky enough to have her there through all of my kids being born.
I started feeling contractions at around 2:45am on January 8th. After about an hour my husband Devon called our midwife Kori, who was very reassuring and told us that she’d send Kathy over later in the morning. Kathy came and helped show me some positions to be in while laboring and regularly checked on me, and also spent some time with Devon. Kori and Cassie also came by at different times during the day. By 5:00pm we decided it was time to go to the birth center, where we got settled in the Fern Room. I walked the stairs, spent time in the tub, had acupuncture, some herbal teas, tried different positions and rested when I could, but labor was just moving really slowly. Through it all we had at least one member of our birth team with us at all times and their support was amazing. At one point that evening we heard another woman laboring in the room above us and was able to hear when she gave birth! I have to say it was both encouraging and frustrating. Finally by 5:00pm the following day, I was done. I was just getting too tired, and I wasn’t quite fully dilated. As much as I loved being in the birth center, things just weren’t progressing. We could see that my baby’s head was turned sideways and we were unable to get him/her (we didn’t know yet!) to budge. I decided that it was time to go to the hospital.Because it wasn’t an emergency, we drove in our own car to Legacy Emanuel. I was so happy to have Kori, Kathy, and Cassie there too. The care we received at the hospital surprised me; overall they were very considerate and efficient. I had an epidural and tried pushing there (I was finally fully dilated), but my contractions were getting too weak and it just wasn’t happening. A Pitocin drip had a negative effect on the baby’s heartbeat, so it was quickly stopped and decided by all that a C-section was the best option. Things moved swiftly from there. My daughter Aria was born at 10:20pm January 9th, after about 44 hours of labor.
Recovery from a C-section was a little harder than I thought (I hadn’t really prepared for the possibility of needing one), but the aftercare I received from Alma and my team was wonderful! It made everything so much easier, mostly because I felt so supported. If I were to have another child, I would go to Alma again in a heartbeat. I can’t thank Kori, Kathy, and Cassie enough.
Zoe Rowan Scales
Your Birth Story
June 19, 2011 11:36am
6lbs 15ozs 19”Your birth story starts in early May 2011. Your Dad and I had our normal appointment with the midwives on Tuesday, May 3. For the last several months at our appointments there had been discussion that they felt like you were not in a head down position. But you were small enough that it was hard to tell and there was still plenty of time for you to turn around. (Ever since I first started feeling your movements, in January, you were never a super active baby. I did not feel you swirling and whirling like the other Mama’s described. We were assured that as long as I could feel you moving consistently, which you were, there was nothing to worry about.) At the previous appointments the midwives would press down in my upper pelvic region and feel your head, or butt, resting there. At this appointment, Kori (your senior midwife) was concerned enough that you were in the breech position and with your birth getting closer, she sent me for your third ultrasound.We made that appointment for Thursday, May 5. Sure enough you were in a ‘frank breech’ position; like a ‘V’ inside of me with your little head on my right side and your feet sticking up on my left side. He also confirmed that your placenta was on top, sort of positioned over your head and feet and that I had a small extra ‘lobe’. Dr. Hoffman tried at that appointment to turn you (version), but you were wedged in pretty good and wouldn’t turn. He even had me upside down on the table so that you could ‘pop’ out of my pelvic area and he could turn you. Stubborn girl- you weren’t doing it. I called the midwives and told them that you were a frank breech and to get direction on what to do now.This is when the roller coaster of your last six and a half weeks in utero began. Let me just tell you here that you were the easiest pregnancy- Mommy never had morning sickness (not once!) or any of the other normal pregnancy complaints. You have always been an easy going girl. ? Now I knew that when I pressed down on my right side under my ribs and you pushed back against my hand, that was your head! I would push down and move my hand and we could see you bop your head back up at me.That Sunday, May 8 was my baby shower. It was a wonderful party at your Aunt Ramona’s house- but I chose to keep the fact that you were breech private. Your Dad and I felt like we had time for you to turn and I didn’t want to have to keep discussing it over and over. Only the family knew at this time.The midwives had said that we should start with trying acupuncture and I made an appointment for Monday, May 9. We were given moxibustion- an herb- and told to burn it on the outside of my baby toe for 10 days, 20 minutes on each foot. Me and your Dad were pretty hilarious doing this every night! Luckily it wasn’t too rainy and we could do this in the backyard cause it was a pretty smoky process. The acupuncturist said that I should feel you moving around when we did these treatments- that it was stimulating my womb- but I never did feel you moving any extra. I had to keep a close eye on your Dad to make sure he didn’t burn my toes each night! Every night I would lie on a pile of pillows with my hips up in the air and we would alternate rubbing my belly, encouraging you to spin around, talk to you, play music to you and put cold things on my belly- all in trying to get you to turn.The next step was to go to the chiropractor- which we did after the 10 days of the moxibustion. My first chiro appt. was Thu. May 19. I went to the chiro two times a week for about three weeks. Dr. Jenny told me at the last appointment that she had only had one other baby that didn’t turn with the same treatments I was having. She felt that since we were not getting any results, there must be a reason for you to be in that position and that she didn’t think any further treatments were going to change anything. I appreciated her honesty. We were seeing the midwives weekly and I was talking with them every few days to get more suggestions on things to try. We continued doing the nightly upside down exercises.The week of May 23, Kori met us at Dr. Hoffman’s office to see if they could turn you together. We spent over an hour with me upside down on the exam table with my legs thrown over the upright part of the table. They just kept pouring Weleda oil on my belly and changing positions and trying to push and pull you out of my pelvic area. You would not budge, they would get you popped out a little bit and then you would slip right back in. After almost 90 minutes of this they decided that was enough, as I was getting pretty bruised up and they didn’t think they could turn you after trying for that long. My hopes and dreams of having you naturally at the beautiful Alma birthing center were fast slipping away.It is illegal in Oregon to deliver a breech baby at a birth center- you either have to birth at home or in the hospital. In order to have you at home the midwives would have to call in a more experienced breech birth midwife from another practice and get consent from Laura at Alma because of the liability. I was not prepared to have you at home even if everything was going great so it wasn’t really an option for us to have you at home. That left us with a hospital caesarian section birth. I was devastated. Kori knew that OHSU was starting a new program of allowing breech births vaginally. I made an appointment to meet with that Dr. and also with a midwife at Legacy Emmanuel for Friday, May 27.That morning your Dad and I went to the Legacy Emmanuel Midwife clinic to meet with them about a hospital c-section birth. We met with a midwife and a Dr. Both were very helpful and able to answer most of our questions. We would be allowed to schedule a day but we needed to do so soon as we were already at 38 weeks and technically you could come at any time. I expressed over and over that if possible I wanted to go into labor so that we knew you were ready to be born. They wouldn’t let me schedule the C-section any later than 42 weeks unless I went to the hospital every day to be monitored. We left the appointment feeling reassured and I was hopeful that if I was going to schedule your birthday that I could choose June 19, so that you could match our birthdays (19), and be born on Father’s Day this year. We were told that Dad could certainly be in the operating room when you were born but that it depended on the surgeon if Kori could also be in the room. So we wouldn’t know that until your birthday. I was also instructed that if I went into labor I was to come to the hospital immediately. I would not be considered an emergency c-section, but I was higher risk because of you being breech, and they wanted me to get there as soon as I could to be monitored and prepared for surgery.From there we went straight up to OHSU and met Tara (our junior midwife) to meet with the Dr. there. We spent all day at OHSU, they were running late that day so we didn’t start the ultrasound until almost 90 minutes after our appointment was scheduled to begin. Then the ultrasound itself, your fifth, took almost two hours, with three different techs taking measurements. By this time it was afternoon and we had not eaten and I had to keep drinking water for the ultrasound and we were all getting a bit cranky. Then we had to wait to see the Dr. after the ultrasound was complete. The Dr. was very nice and explained the whole program, that I would be allowed to labor however I wanted, in the hospital, and as long as there was no distress, birth you vaginally. Only four other women had participated in this program, three delivering successfully and one needing a c-section. There was a lot of information about the ‘odds’ and what could happen. At every step in this process I expected them to tell us that we, you and I, were not good candidates, that you were too big or small, that my measurements weren’t ideal, all of the factors they use to determine if you can ‘qualify’ to participate in this program. And at every step we were told that we were perfect for the program, no risk factors, etc. We left that early evening after making an appointment for Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day) with the radiology department for an x-ray of my pelvic area as one last qualifier. Wow did we have a lot to think about that weekend! And through all of this we still hoped that you would turn before your birth and all of this stress and worry and planning would not have been needed! Kori was not super confident that you were going to turn because you had been in this position for months at this point, but it was still possible. Breech babies are only 3-4% of all pregnancies, so you were already presenting as a special little baby.Over the weekend we continued with all of our nightly exercises and we did a lot of talking. What I remember the most, and that had the biggest impact on our decision for me, was your Dad looking at me and saying, ‘Vanessa, I feel like part of becoming a parent means that you have to do what is best for your child, not what is best for yourself. I know that it would be best for you to deliver naturally, but what is best for the baby is to be born by c-section.’ He was absolutely right and I had to begin to work through my own sense of loss for not delivering you the way that I had always imagined having my baby; mourning losing that experience and come to terms with the fact that I was going to have a major surgery to bring you into the world and all the fear that is inherent with a surgery. This process was very difficult for me, but I agreed with your Dad 100% that I needed to do what was best for you, even though I was scared for me.I cancelled the radiologist appointment that Monday morning and on Tuesday called and scheduled your Birth Day, Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 8am.We spent the next few weeks continuing with our now weekly appointments at Alma and continuing to hope that you would turn. I went to the hospital to see where you would be born and to get all the paperwork done early so we wouldn’t have to worry about it if I went into labor. It was very stressful for me to try to plan and be mentally prepared for both a natural, birthing center birth and the exact opposite, a c-section in a hospital. They were both such unknowns, and such different types of unknowns from each other! We were also getting so excited for your arrival and knowing that you could come any time now, but that for sure you would be here by June 19. I was still working every day and worked until Friday, June 17.We spent the day before you were born doing random things. I was contacted by the hospital that morning and they said they were moving the surgery back by two hours, to 10am, so we didn’t need to be there until 8am (instead of 6am). We took Breezy to Shannon’s house where she would be staying for the first two weeks while we got used to caring for you. The Alma summer picnic was that day but I didn’t want to go because it was still really hard for me to know that I wasn’t going to get to deliver you at the birthing center. I had stopped going to the summer mom’s group as well because it was too hard to know that I was having a completely different experience than all of the other mom’s. I think we went out to dinner and watched a movie that night. I rechecked our bags to make sure we had everything and that we were ready to go in the morning. It was obvious by this time that I would not be experiencing any labor before you were born.On the day you were born, we woke up and went to the hospital. We met Tara there and she was with us as they got me all ready. It took four tries to get an IV in me and they pumped so much saline into me that I was very bloated. They shaved me a little bit where the incision would be, put monitors on to listen to you. The Dr. came in and introduced herself and they did another ultrasound to make sure you hadn’t changed position. Kori was also there and we were told she could join us in surgery. She would be taking pictures and being supportive of both your Dad and I during and right after the surgery. (She had been a L&D nurse midwife and had attended lots of c-sections so was very comfortable and familiar with the surgery- this was very reassuring and comforting to me.) Then they came in and asked if I was ready, and they wheeled me into the operating room. This was the only time that I had to be alone and I was very scared. The operating room was very cold and I was naked. There were people there I didn’t know who were prepping everything. They had me sit up to give me the spinal block and then they said James and Kori could come in. I remember going numb, from my nipples down to my toes. I think it took about 15 minutes for me to go completely numb. I remember them asking me if I could feel them scraping something across my stomach, and I could feel the pressure of it, but not any pain. It was very strange. I remember I started to cry because I was scared, and then Dad started crying too and telling me that it would be OK, that you would be here very soon and that everything was going to be just fine. They started the surgery pretty soon after that, I think around 11:20.Then the Dr. said that they were getting close and that I would feel even more pressure. They said ‘stand up Dad, your baby is here.’ We had asked them to not say if you were a boy or a girl, we wanted Dad to look and then tell me. I remember hearing you cry, I think before he even said if you were a boy or a girl, and I was so happy to hear that. Most c-section babies do not cry right away so I was prepared to not hear you cry- when you did I was so surprised and excited! Then Dad said, ‘it’s a Zoe!!’ And I knew you were my girl, just like I had hoped for. They took you over to the side but very soon they gave you to Dad and he brought you over to me so that I could see you. Kori was taking pictures and we were crying and so happy to meet you finally. I was so thrilled that you were able to be with us right away, I reached up to touch you and set off a bunch of the monitors on myself, funny, cause I just wanted to touch you and hold you, but I couldn’t yet. Dad brought you back so they could weigh and measure you and do your Apgar test (a nine! Very high for a newborn c-section baby) I was trying to watch all of this but I couldn’t see everything. Kori was with me while Dad was with you. You were 6lbs 15 ozs and 19” long, such a petite little baby! You were incredibly alert and awake. You also had very wrinkled up skin, especially on your hands and feet. Kori said this was normal for a baby that has been in utero longer than average. That actually made me feel good- to know that you were kept growing and safe inside of me till it was just the right time for you to be born! As soon as they were able to they had Dad put you in his shirt, up against his chest so that you could feel his skin and hear his heartbeat. You stayed like that with him until they were finished with the surgery on me and wheeled me back into our room. I do remember that the end of the surgery was tougher than before you were born, it took almost an hour and I got nauseous while they were finishing up.
I never got to see your placenta, nor did Kori, before it went to be made into placenta pills for me. But Kelly (who made the pills) said that it was a pretty large placenta and did have the extra lobe like Dr. Hoffman had said. Maybe this was the reason you couldn’t turn? Because it was taking up so much room that you weren’t able to flip back around and it kept you from moving as much as most babies do. We will never know for sure, but this is a good theory!
Then we were wheeled into our room and Kori made sure to start getting you to breastfeed immediately. It had already been more than an hour since you were born and I remember being exhausted. I said to Kori I couldn’t understand why I was so tired when I hadn’t done anything and she said that I just had major surgery and my body was very tired. You latched on right away and I was so happy that we weren’t having any c-section difficulties at all. Your Grampa Skip was there taking lots of pictures and we spent the next few hours just recovering and holding you. Kori stayed for a few hours and Tara stayed until we were settled into our new room in the nursery section.
You stayed with us in our room the whole time at the hospital, except for a short lunch the day we checked out. We constantly held you and you slept in bed with us, even though we were supposed to put you in the bassinet when we slept. Dad gave you your first bath the next night, with a nurse helping him. We got your footprints and filled out paperwork to get your birth certificate and Social Security Number. You had lots of our families come to meet you, all your Grandparents and Aunts. We were supposed to stay in the hospital for three days but you were doing so well and I was feeling so good that we asked if we could leave on our second day. The Dr. approved it so we went home on Tuesday, you were just over 48 hours old. Dad was very nervous to drive you home. I remember getting home and being so happy that you were with us. You were such a sweet, alert, interested baby from the very beginning.
I love you so much Zoe Rowan. Thank you for choosing to be my baby girl.
Love always, your Mom