The Perfect Home Birth of Finnella Blessing

May 31: I had been getting more and more tired of being pregnant and trying different tricks that might get labor going for several days. Of course it was nothing drastic as my due date wasn’t until 9 June. When Kevin and I went to bed that night, he noticed I had a “piddle pad” a reusable thick cloth pad one could use for incontinence; we used them for changing pads for the wee ones. He was teasing me about it; but I pointed out that my water broke as my first labor symptom with Elivette and I wanted to be safe, in case that happened this pregnancy too, I knew only about 15% of labors start with breaking waters, but maybe it would bring me luck. Unfortunately, I’d been sleeping on it for several days too, and it had done nothing to start labor. 😉

We had been in bed for a while, and were still in that drowsy awake stage of pre-sleep when suddenly, I felt a tiny “flick”, and boom: the precautionary mama cloth I was wearing, my pajamas, the piddle pad and the mattress pad were all soaked! Guess who was glad I had preemptively protected the mattress now!

I knew it could be a while before contractions started, but I went ahead and texted my midwives and the people who had promised to be in prayer for us, around midnight. I was excited and jittery and found it hard to get to sleep. I got a surprising number of replies too, which helped keep my mind calmer. I’m thankful for my night owl friends.

I woke up around 7 as usual, and no more signs of labor, just the occasional gush of amniotic fluid reminding me how I wasn’t laboring. By 10, I was starting to get resigned to the fact labor was not going to happen, and frustrated about it. My mother-in-law picked up the three youngest and the girls and I kept busy around the house. We went for a walk down to the lake about 1/2 mile from our house. It was pretty and peaceful and I would have stayed there most of the day if not for a heavily pregnant woman’s need to relieve herself frequently and the fishermen I wouldn’t want to see me do so. We trundled back to the house and relaxed a little.

At lunchtime, Kevin wondered if he and Aviana could drive a few hours to go pick up the milking LaMancha goat he found on Craigslist. I said they may as well, since I wasn’t going to have the baby. My midwife thought it was possible it wasn’t my actual amniotic sac that ruptured, but the forebag. She also thought that perhaps it wasn’t amniotic fluid at all, but pee. I was positive THAT wasn’t the case.  A friend,meaning to be helpful, bless her heart, told me she had gone to the hospital one day thinking her daughter would be born, and she wasn’t born for 17 more days. And my discouragement grew.

I posted on Facebook , “We aren’t having a baby, but we are getting a milk goat, so yay.” The support and solace my friends offered were bountiful. My photographer and friend, Kelcy, commented that there was still plenty of day left, and that made me feel a little better.

At 3ish, I felt a twinge of something. A dozen minutes later, definitely, something. I put the first birthing wave in my contraction app at 3:30. I texted my midwives again. Kathy lives an hour away and I’m not known for long drug out labors.  Sarah, my midwife’s assistant and friend and I chatted for a while. While we were going back and forth, my uterus amped up. Now the waves were about five minutes apart. I told her I would feel more comfortable if she were with me. She texted back, “ME TOO!” A little later she told me she would leave as soon as her husband got home from getting a chicken.

Meanwhile, Kevin was still 45 minutes away from home after picking up the goat.

Kevin got home eventually, and he started filling up the birth tub. Sarah arrived soon after, much to my relief.   Aviana felt strongly that JuneBug, the goat, needed milked then and there. Since I had the tub ready now, and Sarah was with me, I was ok with that. The contractions were coming right on top of one another. Getting in the tub spaced out the contractions so I was able to have some breath of a break; I was amazed at how the water helped!

During the time they were down at the barn, I had a contraction that was ‘different’, one that made me feel if Kevin and Aviana didn’t hurry up with that goat, they were going to miss Fizzy Baby’s arrival!
My good friend Karen arrived. She was here as support for the girls. We wanted someone to specifically be with them, in case of anything going awry especially. She was absolutely perfect in her role, and supported anyone who needed her. She and Brielle went downstairs to get some fruit ready to snack on. The watermelon tasted wonderful. It was the first time I had ever eaten in labor.

Close to 6, I told Sarah she had better tell Kelcy she had better come. She texted back, “I can see your house.”  I asked her if she would braid my hair, as it was starting to get wet and was all in my face annoying me.

It was such a peace filled, calm hour. Aviana tried to read some Baby Blues comics to me when Wanda was giving birth. It was amusing for a while, but quickly got to the point where I needed it to stop. I had some praise music playing. The birth affirmations were hung on the mantel so I could read them, and I would think of one when a birth wave came on, over and over again as a meditation.

 It wasn’t long before things started to intensify incredibly. A few days before, I had watched a mare give birth out in the open air. It was beauty to behold. She would get up, turn around a few times, and then lie back down again. I found myself sort of spinning around in the tub, and thinking of that mare.

 The mare was so composed and tranquil. I was starting to get noisier, but I felt like that mare. I never once felt scared or worried or out of control. With all of my other births, there was at the very least one moment, if not a whole scene, where I felt tumultuous.

A couple of times, as a birth wave crescendoed, I started to say “no” and then I caught myself and released myself into the passionate force of the moment. Being able to do that, being given the safe space, being surrounded by love and prayers, being completely mentally comfortable, was awe striking.

Soon, my birthing waves changed and my body needed to start pushing Fizzy Baby. There was no one moment of “Now, I shall push.” It was a gradual buildup and I didn’t really notice exactly when it was different. I never got checked to see if I was complete. No one told me what to do. Everyone just supported me and held me emotionally.

I had my hand on her head, and could feel as she began to come out into the world. This was a wonder-filled stage for me. I had never felt as in control before, so aware and internally calm.

I have seen several videos depicting the mechanics of birth (start watching about 1:40) and knew cognitively what was happening. Now I could feel it happening to my own baby, under my own guidance, under my own hand! I could feel her head molding. I felt her head turn and then her shoulders slide out, and then she was here!

 She didn’t even cry at first, just opened her eyes and looked at me, and gazed around at her new world. It was astonishing to see her be so peaceful and placid.
My legs started aching and shaking immediately after she was born, and I started whining about soon after that.  Somehow they managed to get me out of the tub, and into bed. There I delivered the placenta. Kathy assisted Aviana in its delivery. 
Finnella– heart–  placenta
 Brielle then cut the cord, and Finnella was forever her own person.
 We all fell immediately and irrevocably in love.

 Our phenomenal midwives.

The Absolutely Amazing Home Birth of Babe E

I’m sharing this video for several reasons.

One:  Because it’s awesome.

Two: I want to educate people on natural birth. Women were created to do this! (Not just this, but you know what I mean). I want people to know that even though it’s hard, and even though it can hurt, women CAN do this!

Three: My first birth was a Cesarean. That means I’ve had four VBACs, three out of hospital. VBACs are safe and should be encouraged.

Four: After Elivette was born, I had uterine clotting and bleeding. I lost a lot of blood and fainted. My midwife gently removed the clots, and administered oral Cytotec to clamp down my uterus. My midwife called 911 and I went to the hospital in the ambulance about two hours after the birth. My blood pressure was almost non-existent upon arrival. The ER doctor on call flipped out on me. At one point, he panickedly yelled at me “Do you just want me to take you back and do a hysterectomy right now?!” What kind of question is that for a medical professional to ask; especially to a woman in my weakened state? I knew my midwife had given me medicine at home, but I was unclear at the time exactly what it was. All I wanted was for him to wait until she arrived so I didn’t end up with some sort of drug reaction.

After my midwife arrived at the ER, we got the OB on call to come down. She removed (NOT GENTLY) still more clots from my uterus. I remember screaming and writhing. It was much worse than anything I’d ever been through. I had been loud during the birth, but now I was really screaming! Then, after she got down off of me, they gave me morphine for the pain. A little late, I’d say. I was also hooked up to Pitocin.

I was thankful at least I got to nurse my baby in the ER.

They wouldn’t let me eat. Once I got admitted, they made me stay awake and answer all these ridiculous questions for their intake forms. They wouldn’t let me eat! I just had a baby and they wouldn’t let me eat! I had to be on the surgical floor (I think) because since my baby was born at home, apparently she’s contaminated and can’t be in the Mother/Baby unit. The nurses were as kind as could be and very curious about home birth. I didn’t really want to talk though; I just wanted to sleep! And eat!

The next morning, the OB came back to check on me. She told me that my midwife did everything right. My home birth midwife saved my life. She told me that while it was good we transferred, in case I needed a blood transfusion, the her actions and the actions of the ER doctor and the hospital staff are not what saved my life. My home birth midwife saved my life.

I reiterate this because I want it known that home birth is safe. Home birth, even when there’s an emergency, is safe.

I want people to know that moving birth out of homes and into the hospital in the 21st century is much less about safety as they are led to believe, and more about money. Absolutely, there are instances where you need to be in the hospital–my first birth was one of those. But in the vast majority of cases, for the vast majority of women, it’s unnecessary.

Welcome Home banner the girls made for me.

Meeting biggest brother

Meeting big brother

Five: I want to encourage other expectant moms out there with this video. I loved watching youtube videos of birth while expecting because I felt it helped me be more prepared. It could happen this way, or that way, or some way I’d never anticipated. I loved watching the miracle of mamas bringing their little ones into the world. My baby was malpositioned, and it was difficult, but the euphoria of being able to bring her earthside is unparalleled.

Six: Our birth stories matter. Birth matters. Helping women have a “good story” or even, the story they want is important to me. I hope that this video encourages someone to have a natural birth and to be able to say “I did it!”

Because you can!

Birthin’ My Baby: Number Five’s Birth Story

We’d had a busy weekend with Aviana and Cadrian’s birthdays back to back, so I wasn’t too surprised when I woke up Sunday 22 July with extremely swollen fingers and face. (Extremely being relative, I know people who get much worse.) I was concerned enough to mention it to a friend at chuch, and when she confirmed my worry, I went ahead and texted my midwife, Kathy. Part of me was worried it would be pre-eclampsia again, like I had with Aviana, and part of me was sure it was nothing.

We stopped to get my blood pressure checked a couple of times on the way home from church and sure enough, it was elevated. Pregnancy induced hypertention is fairly common and the main ‘cure’ for it is to rest plenty and of course, not be pregnant anymore. I still had five weeks to go, so the second choice wasn’t an option.

Thus my weeks of modified bedrest began.

I really hated the restricted activity and was already getting bored and lonely and feeling sorry for my kiddlets and myself. I was trying to do my best for Babe E though. I would allow a small outing some mornings or doing some housework and then when the children started quiet time at one, I would sit on my bed for the rest of the day.

Kathy was being vigilant about the situation. I was monitoring my blood pressures three times a day, and checking my urine for protein as well as weighing myself daily. Protein and sudden weight gain combined with the high blood pressures can both be signs of pre-eclampsia.

The night of Monday 6 August I went to bed with a fierce headache. I had just been adjusted that day and hadn’t had a headache since May. As another sign of pre-eclampsia, I was mildly worried; but at the same time knowing I am just prone to headaches, I tried not to think about it. Because of the pain, I couldn’t sleep. Also because of a brain I am incapable of shutting off, I couldn’t sleep.

I was so miserable through the night, I was just praying that God would just start labor and my  water would break and I would be able to just meet out Babe E. I was 37 weeks 4 days pregnant and felt Babe E would be healthy if he/she was born now. I was up doing random stuff like finding baby hats and getting out the old sheets we had procured for the birth. At about four in the morning, I was getting a drink of water when I felt something running down my leg!

Startled into stillness, I watched some liquid pool on the floor. Could this be my water breaking and the onset of labor? Could this be an answer to the prayers I was just sending? I went to get a towel from the bathroom and it happened again.

Knowing your water can break hours before contractions start and that there really isn’t anything urgent about the situation, I decided to wait for a reasonable hour before telling Kathy and Kevin. I checked for protein just to be on the safe side and was relieved to see the test strip showed a yellow green, which means only a trace. Nothing to concern oneself with, especially in the middle of the night when one’s urine is more concentrated.

I may have slept for an hour or two. About 7:45 I texted Kathy and my prayer chain (friends and family) to keep everyone abreast of what may or may not be a “situation”. Prayer is always a good thing.

We already had planned to give me the day off by sending the girls with Kevin’s sister and the boys with Kevin’s mom for a day date. I was relieved for that as I possibly would get to nap and could baby my aching head.

Kathy came to check on me about one, to see if my waters truly had ruptured. As it turned out, it was copious amounts of cervical mucus, entirely normal. Odd, the things that are perfectly normal in pregnancy.

She did the whole run down in a prenatal check, including checking my urine for protein. Tears sprang to my eyes when I saw the square on the test strip turn bright green–definitely a bad sign. Upon discussion, we decided that Babe E would be better off out than in. With high blood pressures, the placenta has a higher chance of tearing away from the uterine wall, baby isn’t getting as much nutrition, everything is more difficult for the mother’s body to maintain due to the constriction of vessels. With the added danger the protein was indicating, Kathy wanted to be cautious about letting the pregnancy go on any longer.

She checked my cervix; finding it dilated to a three (10 being ready to push the baby out), midline and very soft, all of which showed that my body was getting ready for labor. She stripped my membranes, gently separating the bag of waters from my cervix, encouraging the body’s own hormones to get  labor underway. She also opted to give me a homeopathic (less intense than the actual herbs) version of  both black and blue cohosh. These herbs have been used for centuries to start labor. Unlike artificial methods of induction, black and blue cohosh don’t cause crazy intense contractions, nor will they work if your body isn’t ready, eliminating the danger of “failure to progress” and Cesarean section (typical hospital induction carries with it a 67% increased risk of being cut open).

I planned to try to rest and see what happened and she left to go check on another client who is a dear friend of mine. She was 41 weeks pregnant and had been more than ready to meet her baby for a month. I was planning on taking her birth photos when her baby made his/her appearance. I was also feeling guilty because I was due four weeks after her!

After getting and replying to some texts, I silenced the phone and tried to take a nap. Suddenly I felt a *poof* and knew without a doubt my water had broken in earnest. I was thankful I had decided to lie down on a towel! I texted Kathy and tried to rest some more. I felt a few ‘real’ contractions, and was starting to get  excited that we were really doing this!

Last Belly Shot Ever

By about 3:30, the contractions were feeling a lot more serious. They were only about three minutes apart. I was having to stand up or breathe through them, but labor didn’t feel like was super intense yet. My other midwife Monica arrived as well as my birth photographer Kelcy. My mom had gotten there sometime as well. All the people suddenly were in my space and the contractions were tapering off and becoming less intense.

Thankfully Kathy and Monica recognized what I needed and left the premises and Kelcy went home for dinner. At about 6:45 I made my last status update asking people to bet on Babe E’s arrival time. I was through with Contraction Master too, no longer needing to see the frequency of contractions, knowing I was just going to go with them.

 I told Mom to go get the girls because they wanted to be here for the birth.

The next hour was a total riot of my moving around from hands and knees, to squatting to kneeling to finally standing next to the bed leaning on it. Apparently I only pushed for 25 minutes, but it FELT like 25 years. Babe E was coming down face up and whole headed, instead of face down and crown first, just like Brielle had been. This time though I didn’t need an epidural to be able to get her out, and I didn’t tear at all.

At 8:06 p.m. Tuesday 7 August we got to meet our sweet
Elivette Marjory.
Marjory was my grandma’s name.
She is beautiful.
I was surprised she was a girl!
She was covered in vernix and I couldn’t get over how sticky she was because of it.
Holding her was kind of like touching contact paper! 
Aviana got to cut her cord.

She weighed 6 pounds 2 ounces and was 19 1/4 inches long.
Her hair is blond and her eyes are breathtaking. 
She is perfect and so worth it, both the birth and what came after.
  We are so very very thankful she is blessing our family with her being.

Welcoming Baby D

Last Tuesday 24 August I woke up feeling a little…odd. I had had a few contractions throughout the night and early morning that were definitely something, but still not really anything. It was enough however, to prompt me to say to Kevin before he left for work that I truly thought today would be the day. He, on the other hand, thought it was just wishful thinking on my part.

I kept having strong contractions that followed no real pattern throughout the morning. It was surreal thinking I was in labor, and still just going about the daily business of life; caring for my children, hanging clothes on the line, reading stories, returning emails. About 11:30, I pulled up ContractionMaster and showed Aviana how to use it, so all I had to do was holler at her to “Push start!” when one would flow over me.
I also called my mom and my midwife to tell them to be on high alert. My mom believed me and went to work prepared to leave when she got “the call”. My midwife took a Kevin approach of “this could go on for a long time”, and wasn’t really thinking that 38 weeks 3 days, I was really going to have the baby today. (She told me this after I had the baby, she was super encouraging whenever I spoke/texted her.)
When Kevin came in for lunch at about one, I told him I was in labor, the contractions were varying from 8-15 minutes apart. He still didn’t believe me! He told me he had hay to mow, and the baby needed more time to bake. I told him I couldn’t help it, I was pretty sure the baby would be born today.
By that time, the contractions did start coming closer together, and the evidence convinced my skeptic of a husband. I would lie down and stretch out when I had one, vocalizing low and long and breathing out “Oh baby, baby, baby, baby” because I really wanted to meet our little one and wanted to encourage him or her to come on out.
He began making phone calls asking for people to pray for us and our baby, while I finished up some last minute things–like getting baby clothes out of storage, making a birthday card for my cousin, random odds and ends. Cadrian was down for his nap, and the girls were quietly entranced in the atmosphere. We called Kevin’s mom at work to come get the younger two around three, when Cadrian would most likely be awake.
My mom arrived around three. The midwives got here around 3:30. After talking for a bit, and sitting through a few more contractions, they checked me. I was dilated to 9 centimeters. My midwife said that probably my water would break soon and I would start pushing. Everything was calm and peaceful. I continued to lie down and stretch out during a contraction wave and then be up and normally conversing and laughing between them.
Kevin’s mom called to say she was stopping at the store first, and got here around four. I don’t think she realized how imminent birth was, as I looked so normal, standing there in the kitchen chatting with her. Brielle and Cadrian left with her a few minutes after four. I wandered back into the living room, where the midwives had covered everything with plastic sheeting and chux pads.
I lay down on the couch to have another wave and with a small sigh, my water broke. I rolled off onto the floor, and rested alternating with writhing my head in Kevin’s lap for the next couple of contractions.
Then, for me, things got really intense. It seemed like if I wasn’t pushing, I was contracting in the front and I couldn’t get away from the all consuming force of the birth. I roared. I brayed. I thought to myself, “Boy, I can really let go and get primal!” I grunted and roared some more.
It seemed like it never stopped until finally I felt the head come out, I got to pause, then I pushed out the rest of the baby, heard my mom exclaim “It’s a boy!” and at 4:20 we met our son.

He weighed in at 7 pounds 12 ounces, measured 21 inches, and features a perfectly round head of dark hair, eyes that will melt your heart, great suckling instincts, a dolphin rivaling range of squeaks and skin so soft you can barely feel it.
Aviana was intently watching the entire thing. She was enthralled with the entire process and loved being part of welcoming Baby D. His name is Denton Leroyce. Denton, we just liked, Leroyce is my dad’s name with a ce added for originality and to make it sound like Kevin’s mom’s name to boot.

We are so thankful for our precious gift from God.

*This story will be continued, as I had some pretty severe complications after the birth.*


Welcome Baby C

Guest Blogger Gigi, Jessica’s mom

Yesterday afternoon we were at the pool between 4-5 for Aviana and Brielle’s BD party when Jessica had about 4 contractions that said, “This could be it!” We had spent all morning getting ready for the cookout, plus all the friends and family had showed up, plus, Jessica LOVES parties! So she wanted to go ahead with it.We called the midwife who said to just keep an eye on things, and we’ll check back in with her in an hour.But as we were getting everything set up, the contractions ramped up to about every 4-5 minutes. At 5:45, “something changed,” she said, and she wanted to go home. Kevin, Jessica and I encouraged everyone else “eat, drink and be merry,” open presents and take LOTS of pictures, since we were obviously going to miss the party! Everyone gathered round for a quick prayer for a safe, easy-as-possible labor, and we took off.
. We called the midwife again, who lives 1.5 hours away, and she left within 10 minutes of our call. As soon as we arrived home, Jessica laid down on the bathroom floor while Kevin struggled to get the birthing tub ready for our home birth. I stayed in there with her, helping her along as best I knew how, hoping against hope that the midwife would get here soon!.
. By 6, she was 3 minutes apart. By 6:50 she was pushing. She asked me, “Is he coming out?” I replied, “I don’t know! You’re on your side. You gotta roll over!” Kevin called the midwife and since I’d been in there with her the whole time as Kevin sweated over whatever problems he was having with the tub, she asked me for the status. I was so scared by then that we were going to deliver this baby with no outside help whatsoever that panic was only a breath away. I actually couldn’t talk to her at first, because my brain couldn’t form coherent sentences and anyway, I was actually and literally “scared spitless!” Not a drop!
. The midwife was very calming, however, and soon she had me back in the bathroom, repeating to Jessica and Kevin what she said to me. First thing she said was, “Get the nose aspirator out of the birthing kit.” OH! The birthing kit!!! How could we have forgotten? I was struggling along using old towels, rags, toilet paper and baby wipes. Those chux would have been so handy!!!
.She told us to have Jessica get up on her hands and knees and all of a sudden, we could see the top of his head! I knew for sure we were going all the way with it then!

Kevin got into place to catch the baby, and I reported, “There is his head!” One big push and out he came, right into his daddy’s arms! Cadrian Kevin was born at 7, and the midwife arrived at 7:10. He is strong and healthy and weighs 8.5 pounds, and is 20 inches long. He is a vigorous nurser!

Everyone is fine and doing well, including me, and if you know me at all and can believe this, I did not panic, throw up, or faint, during OR after!

God’s hand was upon us all, and answered the prayer we prayed in an unexpected way! WE had no idea how important that prayer was! We are grateful, if very surprised!

PS We never did get to use the birthing tub.
PSS They happened upon his name, Cadrian (rhymes with Adrian) a couple of weeks ago, liked it and changed their minds right then and there! So that’s why it’s not from the list. It was going to be Callister.
Here’s me and the baby. Notice I am still wearing my sparkly skirt and fancy earrings from the party. I’m the only one who managed to sidestep all the amniotic fluid and all the other gross stuff! But no, I am not planning on changing careers, I will not take Jessica up on her offer for business cards for “Kevin and Gigi’s Home Delivery Service Extraordinaire”. I much prefer Library Lady to midwifery.


Birthin’ My Baby; Birth Story Child 2

It’s been a good while since I wrote about the time I had a baby. I thought now would be a perfectly good random time to follow-up with the time I had another baby. This post is really for me, so don’t feel bad if you skim.

It was a hot August back in aught 6, and I was more than ready to have our second baby. I was somewhere between huge and humongous. I had been having prodromal or latent labor for a couple weeks, waking up every night, writing down how often contractions were occurring. After several hours of semi-regularity, they would subside, and I could finally sleep. The baby had also dropped and engaged really early, and it was painful to move much those last few weeks.

The afternoon of August 10, Kevin and I went in for my 40 week check-up, the due date of Baby B (who never let us see the gender at the ultrasound) being August 12. Kim, one of my midwives, asked me if I wanted her to strip my membranes–which means she separated the bag of waters from the cervix to try and jump start labor. I agreed because I was so tired and tired of being in pain. Well. Let me just tell you. I didn’t know what pain was. The process of stripping my membranes about made me crawl off the table! I was dilated to 3 1/2 (centimeters; 10 being ‘complete’ and hopefully ready to push the baby out.)

She also prescribed some sleeping pills because she was concerned about my going into labor so energy depleted, since I had been up most of every night for 10+ days.

We were at Target getting our prescription for the Ambien filled when labor really did start! I started getting contractions that scared the other customers. I had to stop and hold onto the cart and concentrate on breathing low to get through them. They were still about 10 minutes apart, and we had read to just go about your business in early labor, so we finished our little jaunt, and called my mom, Cindy our labor assistant ( a Bradley instructor), and picked up Aviana from Kevin’s mom’s. We made sure the bag was packed and all preparations were in place in case this was finally and really it.

My mom arrived at our house, and made us dinner. I tried to eat, but was contracting so much I had to get on all fours (at which point Aviana thought playing Horsie would be a swell idea). After they got her to bed, my contractions were closer and still lasting 90 seconds or longer, which is longer than average (30-60 seconds in early and active labor) and were quite, shall we say, intense… (referencing the above link: I never got to eat a single Oreo or watch the movie…I made them stop watching too, because that just wasn’t fair.)

Around midnight, the contractions were three to four minutes apart. Since we live a half hour from the hospital, and I thought I must be close to delivery, we decided to head in. Every time I had a contraction in the car Kevin had to pull over and let me out. It took forever to get there.

When we got there I had to go to the ER, because Admissions were closed. Even though we had pre-registered, I had to wait in the ER with strangers staring at me, and weird smells and noises and people, for close to an hour. When we finally were allowed to go up to the Labor and Delivery floor, some idiot stranger was trying to make small talk with me in the over heated too bright elevator.

We met Cindy in the parking garage, and Beth, the midwife on-call (who was my least favorite of the three midwives in the practice), met us at the floor. Then I had to go to Triage, where I had to listen to a nurse with a voice like Marge Simpson’s sisters, and worse breath than that, who demanded I do this or that, including climb up on a narrow bed that was nearly at boob level all while I’m hugely pregnant and contracting to boot! Smokey ‘checked’ me, which huuuuuurt! I was at a 4 1/2. Not even halfway there. We had to wait in Triage for almost an hour, because all the L & D rooms were full.

We finally get admitted to a room, I have to get hooked up to more machinery (Seriously? I had no idea those monitors were so tight. The belts actually hurt. And it was aggravated every time I had a contraction. Which were still long, frequent and INTENSE despite all the hospital interference. And every time I tried to loosen them, I’d get in trouble with the nurses.) Plus I had to get an IV port put in, just in case, because I was a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Plus they had to draw blood. Plus I still had to sign more papers! Abso-freaking ridiculous.

I’m trying to get a baby out here people!! (Can you sense a tad bit of animosity?)

I labored all night. Fortunately, we were “allowed” to try different positions with a portable monitor and fortunately Smokey wasn’t my nurse. I labored all over that room. I threw up so many times. I threw up so hard it broke my water. The night is all a blur. I remember Kevin reading to me from the verses on strength and courage I had written out. I remember having to go pee for the umpteenth time, and they told me to just go where I was. I couldn’t.

By daybreak, I was not handling things well at all. I asked for an epidural, which I was totally against. Cindy thought I was in transition, and would soon be done, so I got ‘checked’ again, and I was at a 6. A six. The entire night and I had ‘progressed’ 1 1/2 centimeters. Then in my head, I really started freaking out that I would end up with another Cesarean, for failure to progress.

On one level, I knew I was doing the hard work of getting the baby to where it needed to be, and was progressing, but on the other hand, I also knew the hospital protocol would kick in eventually, if I didn’t meet their standard of progress.

Kevin, Beth, and Cindy tried to talk me out of the epidural, knowing how I felt about it. Beth suggested I tried Nubane, but having had that before, I knew it just made me feel drunk. So the anesthesiologist, who was supposed to be in the hospital because I was VBAC made his surly appearance 45 minutes later.

Try holding still with not much covering you, cold stuff on your back, rubber bands around your middle feeling as if they are cutting off your air supply, and a baby who is trying to drill its way out your midsection with a hayfork.

Finally, though I could rest. I think I even dozed off a little. He gave me what is called a walking epidural, so I was supposed to be able to feel the contractions a little. I could tell when I had one, but that was about it. My care givers wanted me to try and labor down, which means allow the baby to work its way out on its own, without pushing. Beth said I would know when it was low enough, because I would feel a lot of pressure, then we could start pushing.

After an hour or so, I thought I was ready, and sure enough, the magic “10”. They told me to go ahead and push whenever I got a contraction. This time seemed to fly by because I was working so hard, but it turns out I pushed for two hours.

We think that Brielle was face-up, and that is why labor was SO intense, and I never really got a break from the contraction, the pain never went away, just varied in intensity. We think that the epidural allowed my body to relax enough for her to turn over while she was in the birth canal, which is probably what caused such major tearing.

Brielle finally was born at 9:07 in the morning. It was precious to meet her, and I was enthralled with her.

And it was a good thing I had her to occupy my time, because I got stitches upon stitches. Nearly 1 1/2 hour’s worth of stitches. In addition to the internal tearing, I tore outside and had been given an episiotomy (which I didn’t even know until I started asking questions during pre-natal visits this pregnancy).

Recovery from her delivery was a lot harder for me and took a lot longer than my recovery from the Cesarean.

But she is well worth it! I am so glad I got to have a VBAC. I’m so glad she was born perfect and healthy. I’m so glad to know my sweet Baby B .
And I’m so glad I get to have a home birth this time!


Birthin’ My Baby; Birth Story Child 1

It was another sweltering day in July 2004. I was all finished teaching summer school, and had no big plans other than reading and scrap booking. I wasn’t feeling the best that day, just a general feeling of malaise, so I pretty much laid around until it was time to go to my 34 week check-up.

Kevin had been planning on going with me, but then ended up working on a big project instead. Our doula had been going to go with me, but she had something come up too. I told them both that it was no big deal, just a routine appointment, they could come next time.

Little did I know how far from routine we were about to diverge.

Nearly the first thing I did was get weighed. I had gained a lot more weight than normal, so the nurse said we’d better check my urine. When she dipped the test strip she exclaimed, “Oh my GOSH! I’ve never even seen it turn that color before!” and rushed out of the room.

Very reassuring.

Rita, my midwife, came in right away, and told me basically I was already severely pre-eclamptic, my kidneys and liver were already starting to shut down because of the toxemia in my body, even though my blood pressure was still normal. She told me to call Kevin and whoever else I needed to, and commence to prayin’ because I was getting admitted to the hospital and wouldn’t be going home without my baby, one way or another.

Almost immediately (which in hospital time involves a lot of waiting) I got admitted. My sister and Cora came down to keep me company, for which I was grateful. I was feeling sure that everything was in God’s Hands, but feeling surprised and nervous about having Aviana like this and having a preemie.

They hooked me up to an IV and started Magnesium Sulfate, which is supposed to prevent seizures and my going into shock. All it really did was make me really sick. I threw up about every time I moved. By this time, Kevin and our doula had arrived. Poor guy had packed a lot of things for me and the new arrival, but forgot anything for himself. We live half an hour away from the hospital too, so it’s not like he could just run home. My parents and brother came too.

Rita and the doctors decided to start the induction process. That evening they gave me Cervadil, which is supposed to ripen and soften the cervix. It didn’t really work. The next morning they started Pitocin, which is supposed to start contractions, dilation and officially bring on labor. It didn’t really work. I was continually getting sicker and sicker. I had a headache that no amount of narcotics was even touching. The doctors were thinking this was a sign that I was about to go into shock.

By the evening of the 21st, more than 24 hours later, my condition had seriously worsened and labor hadn’t even started. We decided that the best way for Aviana to meet the world is via Cesarean.

This entire process was orchestrated by God’s hand. We found out that if I had dilated at all and they had broken the waters, as planned, Aviana’s placenta was such that she would have hemorrhaged and died within minutes! Additionally, her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck.

“He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close His heart.” -Isaiah 40:11

She was incredibly healthy for a 34 weeker. She cried so much at birth they were worried she would hurt herself. She had to be in the NICU for precautionary reasons, and she was a little jaundiced as well, so had to spend some time under the bilirubin light. The pediatrician was doing his level best to be accommodating, but he had never met anyone like me. I wanted her with me, I wanted her to not get formula, I wanted her to be touched and held all the time. She was never in any danger; she was off her oxygen and feeding tube almost right away.

I started pumping because I was planning on breast feeding, and of course I had no milk or even the right hormones to even get some in. We bought some milk from the Breast Milk Bank in Iowa City, which they delivered. It was the first time anyone had ever done that at our hospital, so there were all kinds of hurdles to go through. I sweet talked the night nurse into letting Aviana co-sleep with me, which I felt was so important for bonding. I never even got to hold her the first day of her life, as I was still too sick, and she had to be whisked away.

On day five, we finally were discharged and got to go home! Kevin’s mom was at our house with stuffed green peppers, which might possibly be the best meal I’ll ever eat.

Pictures from her first week can be seen here.

We finally did get breast feeding established, and despite several bouts of thrush, stuck with it for a wonderful 18 months. Aviana turned out to be a classic high-needs baby, which I never learned the name for until she was seven months old. I remember reading Dr. Sears’ book , crying the entire way through it, realizing I wasn’t a bad mama, I wasn’t the only one, it wasn’t just my child. I have no idea how much of her terrible fussiness was due to her innate God given personality, and how much was due to her traumatic birth experience.

I could only hope the next birth would be a gentler entry into the world.


Tue, Jul 27, 20044:12 PMThe birth story:

I went into our midwife’s for a routine prenatal visit at 4:00 pm. She immediately was concerned because I was suddenly exhibiting several signs of severe pre-eclampsia, the only cure for which is to deliver the baby.

She told me to call Kevin and then to go over to the Birth Place, where they admitted me. They hooked me up to an IV and started Magnesium Sulfate, which is supposed to prevent seizures and my going into shock. Rita and the doctors decided to start the induction process. That evening they gave me Cervadil, which is supposed to ripen and soften the cervix. It didn’t really work. The next morning they started Pitocin, which is supposed to start contractions, dilation and officially bring on labor. It didn’t really work. I was continually getting sicker and sicker. By that evening, more than 24 hours later, my condition had seriously worsened and labor hadn’t even started. We decided that the best way for Aviana to meet the world is via Cesarean.

This entire process was orchestrated by God’s hand. We found out that if I had dilated at all and they had broken the waters, as planned, Aviana’s placenta was such that she would have hemmoraged and died within minutes! Additionally, her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck.

“He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close His heart.” -Isaiah 40:11

Praise God! Thank you for your continual prayers.