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Jessica’s Birth Story

Before the birth…

When I first found out I was pregnant I was terrified of the pain of labor.  I was very happy with the idea of epidural anesthesia. My biggest fear was having an episiotomy.  I didn’t fear c-section, because somehow I had a confidence that my body was built for the task, and I would birth vaginally. I approached pregnancy/labor as I did most challenges I had met in life thus far-by reading. I read everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and labor.

When I was about 5 months pregnant I started talking to a friend I had lost touch with from college. It turned out that she was also pregnant with her first child, due 2 months before me. She was taking Bradley Method childbirth classes, and thought I might be interested too. On her advice I looked into it. I was not totally convinced to pursue un-medicated childbirth at that point, but the level of education offered by Bradley Method classes as opposed to the standard hospital childbirth classes appealed to me. By the end of the class series I was convinced that I had the tools and ability to handle labor without pain medications.

I thought I might be in labor…

…but Steve was more certain of it than I was. Around 7 pm on Tuesday, October 28 I started noticing that I was having what I labeled “Braxton Hicks contractions,” so I started trying to time them.  I wasn’t really getting a regular pattern–partially because some of them were so mild that I didn’t feel them–unless I put my hands on my belly when I was “expecting” a contraction, then my belly was really hard.  From 7-8 the “contractions” were anywhere from 6 to 15 minutes apart, usually no longer than 30 seconds.

Steve and I went to see a movie at 8:40, and the theater was pretty empty–including us there were 5 people. At 9:08 I told Steve about a contraction, and he started timing them. Pretty much throughout the rest of the movie (until about 10:30) contractions were coming 3-5 minutes apart, but again, they were really mild, so I didn’t really feel them all, and they were entirely in front. Since there were so few people at the theater, and since we sat the furthest back, I had a lot of freedom to get up and walk around.

We came home, and took a walk from 11-11:30. I still didn’t think they were “real,” or even “regular” since they were so mild. I finished getting snacks together for Steve & Dotty (my doula) in case it really was labor, then went to bed at around midnight.

Yes, I’m in labor…but its going to be a long haul!

I woke up shortly before 5:30 a.m. with a contraction–I looked at the clock and must have just rounded the time to 5:30 thinking that they would be pretty far apart, and I just wanted a general idea. The next contraction came at 5:30, then at 5:38. I got up that time to use the bathroom and had a “bloody show.” Woke up Steve, and we called Dotty to see if she thought we should call the Dr.  We weren’t really timing through this, but they were about 2 minutes apart, 30 seconds long.  Hurt a little bit, still all in front.

Dotty said to call the Dr, who told us to come into the hospital to get checked. After last minute packing, we left the house around 6:30, got to hospital at 6:45. I was still 2-3cm dilated, 50% effaced (same as at my appointment the previous morning). My contractions slowed to every 5-6 minutes when they hooked me to the fetal monitor, and I also noted that laying down (even with the head of the bed elevated) made the contractions hurt more. My blood pressure was slightly elevated (I think just from all the running around to get to the hospital), so they wanted to run blood work, which all came back fine. While they were waiting for the lab results on my blood work, they let me walk around the halls, which brought my contractions back to about 3 minutes apart, 40-55 sec long, but MUCH easier to handle.

{Note: When I arrived at the hospital my OB was there, we’ll call him “Dr. M.” Dr. M. had been my GYN for 4 years prior to my pregnancy. He practiced with 3 other OB/GYN’s, so during my pregnancy I had appointments with the others to meet them. At about 5 months I started trying to get scheduled with Dr. M., but there was always some reason why he was not available. I did not see him until I was 39 weeks pregnant. I discovered in the hospital that not only had he not read my birth plan that I submitted at 32 weeks-explaining why he stripped my membranes without my consent and set this labor in motion-but he would not be on duty for my labor. Not only would he not be on duty, but none of the other OB’s from the practice would either! A Dr. who I had never met before, Dr. R., would be caring for me while I was in labor. This scared me very much, but turned out to be a very good thing in the end.}

Since it seemed I was going to take a while, they told me I could go home. 

Of course we didn’t go straight home.  Nope.  We went out to Friendly’s for breakfast, and got quite a few shocked looks from people when we kept standing up every 3 minutes for a contraction (me because it was more comfy, Steve because he was rubbing my back). We did ask for a table in a back corner so we were somewhat less on display. The waitress stopped by while Steve was in the bathroom to comment that she thought it was great that he was rubbing my back and all because when she was having kids “husbands just dropped their wives off at the hospital to have the kid, and showed up after the baby was born.”

After breakfast we went home, and we attempted to nap–especially Steve, who despite believing that I was in labor, hadn’t gone to bed until about 3 a.m. Well the nap didn’t work. Laying down made contractions much worse, and they were only about 3 minutes apart, 1 minute long, so we kept jumping up and down out of bed. After about about 20 minutes, we gave up. We decided to go for a walk. So we walked around the neighborhood for about an hour, stopping for each contraction for Steve to hold me up. Got some strange looks from passing motorists…LOL!

Time to go to the hospital!

When we got back to the house I was contemplating taking a warm bath, thinking that would be helpful, but all of a sudden my contractions started coming about 2 minutes apart. So we decided to go back to the hospital (with visions of the Jacuzzi dancing in our heads…). We called Dotty, who was going to come assist us at the hospital. The hospital was only a 10 minute drive from our house, but we had to stop about 5-6 times for me to have contractions. We would jump out, I would lean against the car and Steve would run around to my side and massage my back. We decided to call this routine a “Bradley firedrill”–not meaning to offend anyone of Chinese decent out there.

We got to the hospital around 3:45, Dotty arrived slightly after 4. We were the only patients there (and would be until Friday evening). The nurse we got we had met that morning-Jan, and she was great! I heard her tell another nurse in the morning that I looked like “a good candidate for the Jacuzzi,” and I was definitely all for that! We found out later she is studying to be a mid-wife.  After being hooked up to the fetal monitor for 20 minutes (nurse let me sit in a rocking chair so I could stand up for contractions) then getting examined by a resident–Dr. E. (5 cm dilated, 75% effaced), we were allowed to do what we wanted. We decided to walk the halls while the Jacuzzi was being filled. The standard hospital policy is 20 minutes in the Jacuzzi, then you have to get out for fetal monitoring. Well Jan talked to Dr. R., and got him to have an order put in my charts to allow me to stay in as long as I wanted, with Doppler monitoring every 15 minutes! We stayed in the Jacuzzi for an hour, then got out because we were turning into prunes.

Slow Progress, But Still Doing Fine…

I went on the monitor, then was checked again by Dr. E.–6 cm dilated, 90% effaced. The progress was a bit slower than “textbook,” but we were happy with it, and set off walking the halls. During this time, Dr. R. was hanging out at the nurses’ station and observing Steve and I as we would walk past every 5 minutes or so. He was apparently really impressed with how we were handling labor, and went to talk to Dotty to learn more about what preparation we had for labor (the Bradley Method classes). Dotty was hanging out in our room at that point because as a doula she tries to allow husbands & wives as much time alone together as they want for bonding; and also she needed rest because she had been at a birth the previous day for someone else in our class, and she does have a regular job.

Sometime around 7pm there was a shift change, and the new nurse I got, Judy, was really nice. She had only been in Labor & Delivery since June or July, she had been in Pediatrics before that, and this was her first experience with a “natural” childbirth. She has kids of her own, and she couldn’t believe how relaxed and cheerful I was with obviously intense back labor, and that I wasn’t yelling, moaning, swearing…she willing continued the same kind of care Jan had provided–fetal monitoring in a chair, offered me some Hi-C, allowed us to go into the Jacuzzi. Again we stayed in the Jacuzzi for an hour, then got out. I threw up a little while in the Jacuzzi (I felt it coming one contraction in advance, so I had Steve bring the waste can close to the Jacuzzi). The throwing up encouraged me that I was reaching late first stage. I was kind of disappointed that at 9pm I was only 8-9cm dilated with a lip, but I figured I would be pushing by 11 at the latest…

28 Hours of Labor Can Tire You Out!

Well I wasn’t pushing at 11 pm yet, I was stalled at 8-9cm with a lip. There was a shift change at 11 and we got a bad nurse–a real stickler for rules. The first thing she wanted was to put me on the monitor, so she directed me to the bed, and I politely told her that being in the bed made my contractions too intense for me to handle, that I had been sitting in the rocking chair for contractions prior to that. She argued a bit, so I didn’t bother to tell her that in addition to not being in bed for monitoring (God forbid!) I was also allowed to stand up for each contraction. I assured her that the monitors would stay in place under the belly band. The heartrate monitor fell out right away when I stood up, and it keep loosing the baby’s heartrate–which I had not had problems with at all before. Also, the contraction intensity numbers didn’t seem at all like the numbers we had seen before–my contractions felt more intense to me, but were measuring less intense. While being monitored I started to leak fluid, so we requested a check to see if my water had broken.

After the monitoring session the nurse came in and took the monitor off and again directed me to the bed because Dr. E. would be coming to check my bag of waters. I again told her that being on the bed was too painful, and that I would get on the bed when the Dr. was in my room. You should have seen the look on her face! I was going to make GOD (oops, I mean the Dr.) wait for *the patient*!!! She just spun around and walked out because I’m sure by now she knew she wouldn’t be able to budge me, and that Dotty and Steve (who had been pulling me out of the rocking chair for contractions because I was too tired to do it myself) would back me. Dr. E. came in, and as usual, was just fine with waiting for me. She was even okay with waiting when I started to get into bed and had to get out because a contraction started. She started checking me, and determined I had a small break in my waters, but had not completely broken. As she was saying that, I felt a POP!, and my water completely broke.

I thought the contractions had hurt a lot before that, well they REALLY started to hurt after my water broke. Steve, Dotty, and I began to walk the halls…we walked for about 20 minutes then I needed to use the bathroom. While I was in the bathroom the nurse came in and wanted me to get monitored again, even though it had only been 30 minutes since I got off! I hid in the bathroom for a bit, but eventually came out and got hooked up. While on the monitor, we asked her to get the Jacuzzi ready, I wanted to go back in (lucky thing that I was the only patient on the floor, they didn’t have to keep draining and refilling the tub, just adding warm water).

We went to the Jacuzzi and I trustingly stepped in, expecting the relief I had felt the previous two times. What a shock when I discovered that the temp was 94F (LOWER than body temp) rather than the 102 I needed to have any “theraputic effect!” It sent me into a contraction, and I could not get out! All I could do was try to get as much of my belly submerged as possible to “float” it off my back while we desperately drained & refilled to get the temperature up. I had the contraction for 5 minutes straight, until the temp got up. Poor Steve was scrunched in an awkward position to keep the water level up–that was the only time in labor I raised my voice to him. He kept trying to get up because it was cold and his position was awkward, but when he did, the water level dropped around me, and the pain was terrible!

Barely 10 minutes after we had gotten the temp correct, the nurse came to get us out. We told her of the Dr. order on my chart, and she left in a huff. She returned in a few minutes with the Doppler though. After 45 minutes in the Jacuzzi, I was feeling I needed to push, so we got out.

It’s Time to Push! …or is it?

We went back to the room, and requested a check. I was still 9 cm with a lip, it was around 1:30 then. We were all getting exhausted, I was no longer cheerful. I just sat in the rocking chair, and would drift off between contractions. Steve & Dotty would pull me up, I would lean on Steve & Dotty would massage my back. My contractions were coming in pairs–1.5 min apart then 6 min apart. We all “zoned out” for a while.

By 3:30 Dotty was wondering why I had stalled, and she was praying. She clearly felt that the chair was the problem, I needed to get on the bed and get on all 4’s for contractions. I argued–the bed was too painful, I had tried all 4’s earlier and it hurt…but Dotty persisted so I got in bed. It took until nearly 4 to get me on the bed, but after just a few contractions I was definitely feeling the urge to push! We got Dr. E. to come check me, which she agreed to do with me on all 4’s. I was ready! The room sprang to life, and I began pushing right there. After a few contractions Dotty said I should try squatting, but I didn’t want to–my legs were so tired! I was so tired, that for the last hour I had actually been trying to ignore contractions, hoping they would just disappear if I did! I tried this during pushing too–”maybe if I just relax I can let this contraction pass without pushing”  That didn’t work! I couldn’t help but push once I started!  Dotty insisted, and had the nurses get the squatting bar set up. Then we got me turned around, and after 3 contractions Jessica Ann was born at 4:41 am on Friday, October 30!  Dr. E. actually caught Jessica, while Dr. R. looked on. 

There had been some meconium staining (Dotty later told me that Jessica’s head was fairly covered with meconium-enough to concern her. At the birth though she just tried to calm Steve down as he saw Jessica’s green head crowning), so Jessica was taken to the corner of the room to be suctioned–did she ever scream! Her Apgars were 8 & 9, she was 7lb 1oz, 21in long. I had no episiotomy, but did have some internal tearing.

We came home Sat. afternoon.  I was so happy I did Bradley and was able to go natural. It was tough, but having a VERY supportive husband, concentrating just on one contraction at a time, and being educated made it doable.

Thoughts after the birth:

Jessica was very clearly in a posterior position for the majority of my labor-as evidenced by my experience of “back labor,” and intense contractions that did not produce quick progress. 25% of all babies are in a posterior position, yet they account for 50% of all “failure to progress” (dilation too slow) and “CPD” (Dr. determines during pushing stage that baby will not fit out vaginally) c-sections. C-sections for “failure to progress” and “CPD” are the leading cause of primary c-sections, accounting for 33% of all c-sections performed in America. 33% of c-sections are planned repeat c-sections, and the remaining 33% of c-sections are for other causes. Posterior positioning is very effectively corrected by having the mom assume a hands & knees position for 20 minutes or more at a stretch-this is what worked for me. But it is very rarely suggested to moms who are having a non-progressive labor. Instead these women are augmented with Pitocin to strengthen contractions. But the strength of the contractions is not the problem, so the “solution” does not work, and the mom is taken to have a c-section.

At many points in my labor an OB who had less faith in the natural progress than Dr. R. might have suggested augmentation of the labor with Pitocin or even moving to c-section-when I didn’t dilate the “textbook” 1 cm per hour after 5 cms, when I stalled for seven hours at 9 cms… (As a doula I was once told as my client was taken in to have a c-section that the hospital staff had been “generous” to allow to her remain at 9 cms for 2 hours!) But in the end I had a vaginal birth with an excellent recovery-I was out shopping 2 days after getting out of the hospital.

In all fairness to other OB’s out there, some use Pitocin when they don’t really think it is needed because they know that their clients, who lack the education about the normal birth process that I had, will be upset about having as long of a labor as I had, and hold their OB’s to blame since they heard that their friend got a “magical drug that made her labor speed up.”

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 6:07 pm.


Katie’s Birth Story

Before the birth…

This being our second child, we approached the birth much differently than we had our first. I was not scared of labor, I knew I could handle it. I had switched care providers from a practice with 4 OB/GYN’s to a single OB/GYN in practice with a midwife. I joked repeatedly with Dr. R. that after a 33 hr first labor, I would be happy with anything under 20 hrs this time around. I did not want a repeat of Jessica’s posterior positioning, so I did a lot of research on how to avoid posterior position.

At my 38 week pre-natal visit I learned that I had tested positive for Group B Strep. This is a normal bacteria that occurs in approximately 1/3 of adults at any given time causing them no harm. However it can be very serious to a newborn-even fatal. It is easily treated with IV antibiotics administered during labor, but that meant I would have to have a Hep-lock, something I had been quite happy to skip in my first labor. I also learned at this visit that my blood pressure was starting to creep up.

At my 39 week visit my blood pressure was still up (148/90), so I was told I could not continue working and should start mild bedrest. I had planned to work up until my due date as I had in my first pregnancy. This was on a Thursday. I got reluctant permission from Dr. R. to finish out the week at work because I had things I needed to get completed. My labor story picks up at this point.

Wet Clean Up on Aisle 9!

(this part of the story was written during the evening of Saturday, June 17)
I was out shopping this afternoon (bedrest? LOL!), and about 2 hrs into my little excursion I started thinking that the wetness I was feeling didn’t really seem like the “stress incontinence” I’ve had for the past few months–mainly that I didn’t take coughing to produce wetness.

I had one more store I needed to go to–Steve wanted some shoes that were on sale, and I was determined to find them (silly man…he picked out *women’s* walking shoes from the ad! No wonder I couldn’t find them despite thoroughly examining the men’s shoe section!). As I was packing up Jessica’s stroller after putting her into the car I had a stronger discharge, so I grabbed one of her diapers, and got into the car. Paged Steve. This was at 3:30.

I was about 10 minutes into my drive home when I decided to page Steve again because he still hadn’t returned my call. Turns out that he was napping, so I made it the whole way home without him responding. I got home, still not sure that it was really my water leaking. So I called Dotty (our Bradley instructor and doula) to get her input. We called Steve’s parents to see if Jessica could spend the night with them “just in case.” Started scurrying around to pack a hospital bag-I hadn’t even started one yet-and an overnight bag for Jessica, fix carseats in the car (only a person truly obsessed with safety would install a tether anchor with her water broken!). After about 1 hr of being home (around 5pm) I was convinced I had a slow leak in my water. I was also starting to notice a few very mild contractions.

By 8 pm we were just waiting for the contractions to get stronger/more regular. We planned a trip to the grocery store because I hadn’t shopped yet for food to take to the hospital. We also considered Friendly’s for dinner–we went there for breakfast when I was in labor with Jessica. I was a bit perturbed that once again the labor process was beginning the day after I quit working. I really had things that I wanted to get done–mostly just some relaxing!

Waiting for labor to start

(this portion of the birth story was written on Tuesday, June 20) We didn’t really know exactly how Dr. R. would handle things with my water broken before labor–we hadn’t really thought we needed to discuss it with him since I was 8-9 cm dilated with Jessica before my water broke. So we were hesitant to call him-we didn’t want to get put on a clock to c-section since most OB’s will only “allow” a mom to have ruptured membranes for 12-24 hours. By 10 pm Saturday my contractions had been about 5 min apart all through dinner at Friendly’s (one hour), and were coming 2-3 min apart in the grocery store–although they were still very mild. We decided to call Dr. Rittenhouse on my cell phone. I chatted with him, and he never asked if my water was broken. As we ended the conversation he told me to come into the hospital when my contractions got more intense or if my water broke. Crossing my fingers and going on the technicality that he phrased his directive in the future tense and my water breakage was a past tense event, I said “okay!” and hung up

When we got home, my contractions slowed down considerably when I stopped moving.  We went to bed for the night. My water quit leaking all night–I actually hadn’t noticed it since around 7 or 8 pm, so I was hoping it had resealed, something Dotty said could happen. I got up at 3 am because I couldn’t sleep. I painted my toenails & read a magazine, then went back to bed around 4:30. I was having occasional (every 1/2 hour) contractions that were mildly painful, but nothing that seemed serious.

We got up around 6:30 Sunday morning (Father’s Day!) and took a walk. Then we went out to breakfast. As we were leaving the diner at around 8 am I had a significant gush of water, so we decided to head into the hospital–a bit disheartened because I still didn’t have a good contraction pattern.

We arrived at the hospital around 9 a.m. I was set up in the same room I had been in for Jessica’s birth. By 9:30 I was on IV antibiotics. Dr. R. couldn’t get in right away, so the nurses asked if I wanted the on duty resident to check my progress, or if I wanted to wait for the midwife who works with Dr. R. I opted for the midwife. When I got done with the antibiotics & got the IV disconnected she wasn’t there yet, so Steve and I set off walking. She arrived shortly after that, and we chatted. She asked why I thought my water had broken, so I told her about the gush of fluid as I left the restaraunt at 8 am (I know this let her believe that is when my water broke, but it was a choice my DH and I had discussed. We decided that the risks of our baby actually catching GBS vs. the risks of c-section made this the correct thing to do). She stressed that she and Dr. R. are very proud of their low c-section rate, and that she was totally confident that since I was a second time mom I didn’t need to worry about that–of course I would go into labor within 12 hours of my water breaking. It was nice to deal with her non-interventionalist attitude, but of course I knew that my water had already been broken for at least 19 hours at that point. She expected that around 8 pm if I wasn’t in labor that Dr. R. would start discussing Pitocin. She did an internal at around 11 am and I was 3 cm, 50% effaced, at -1 to -2 station.

The next few hours were basically walking with mild contractions 2-3 minutes apart interspersed with monitoring where my contractions would drop to every 10-15 minutes and even milder. Oh–and antibiotics every 4 hours. At around 3 pm Dr. R. arrived at the hospital. He did another internal, and I hadn’t progressed at all. He was very sympathetic about it–he really does treat the emotional side of the patient, he doesn’t adopt just an “all business” attitude. He explained then that since it was Father’s Day he really did want to go visit his father, so he was going to be gone. If I hadn’t gone into labor by 9 pm he would have the resident discuss with me putting in a chip of prostaglandin to see if that would get things going. He was willing to let me try 3 doses of this–administered one chip every 4 hours–prior to then moving on to Pitocin. This was a much less interventionalist approach than I had expected even waiting so long to suggest any sort of drugs, let alone waiting on the Pit.

Let’s get this show on the road!

At 9 pm when the resident walked into the room I had a significant gush of fluid–I think that the small tear in my membranes may have totally ripped open at that point. But I hadn’t progressed, so the resident put the chip in–it was a very tiny thing, less than 1/4 inch across. I had to lay on my back for 1 hour while it dissolved, but since I wasn’t really having contractions, this wasn’t too hard to do. At the very end of the hour I had 3 contractions that were starting to build in intensity and were hard to take laying down, so I didn’t wait a minute beyond my 1 hour mark to get out of bed. We started walking the halls. Labor really got serious at that point. It was pretty painful, although not as painful as it had been with Jessica. We were pretty confident that I wasn’t having back labor this time–although I did have pain in my back. The difference was though that I had pain in my front as well, and I don’t really recall having pain in my front with Jessica–if I did it was totally overpowered by the back! I was pretty upbeat that things were going well, although I kept reminding Steve and Dotty that they weren’t allowed to call the contractions “nice” — as in “that was a nice strong contraction!”

At 1 am the resident wanted to check me again to see if we should do another prostaglandin chip. I already knew that my answer was NO! because I knew I couldn’t handle laying on my back for an hour. She did the check though because Steve, Dotty, and I were sure I had progressed and we wanted to see how far. She was totally all business, seemed to make no attempts to be gentle at all. Announced that I was 5 cm dilated, 90% effaced, and -2 to -3 station. No smile or positive reinforcement or focusing on how I had progressed. Now the 90% effaced was nice, but since I could literally feel my baby pushing into my cervix toward the end of each contraction then pulling back up, I had expected more than 2 cm of change in dilation. And what was with the baby moving UP when I could see with my own eyes that the butt had dropped about 2 inches? So I asked her if she was sure, and she got real bristly. “That is what you are, I’m not the one in labor so I can’t do anything about it.” Turned around and walked out of the room.

We discussed this amongst ourselves and decided that no way did I want to have any more interactions with that woman. We asked the nurse to call Dr. R. and have him come in to the hospital.  After that point I was pretty discouraged. I’m sure some of it was just natural transition stuff, and some of it was from the resident’s attitude, but I really was thinking that I couldn’t do this anymore, that I just wasn’t going to progress. I was thinking “here I am, a co-leader for the Bradley childbirth board, and I am sure I am going to have a c-section!” Just like how I took my diagnosis with GBS, it is MUCH easier for me to encourage others that this does not mean failure than it was for me to accept it for myself. I kept a lot of this to myself. I started to turn around though as we walked past the room of an woman who had been admitted just a few hours after me and heard the resident telling her husband that the MORPHINE would kick in soon. Wow. Just knowing that I would never consider giving my baby Morphine for the level of pain I was in–this helped me to know that I could do it.

Water play
We decided to try the shower for pain relief. I really wanted the Jacuzzi, but was kind of scared that not being vertical would slow my progress. The shower was nice, but it was really hard on Steve’s & my already very tired feet. So we decided to try the Jacuzzi. Dr. Rittenhouse had been called to the hospital sometime around 1:30, 1:45, and arrived around 2:15 while I was getting out of the shower. I was just tired & in pain, so I barely mumbled at him that I was doing okay and was glad he was there as I slowly walked past him on my way to the Jacuzzi. I think it was around 2:30 when I got into the Jacuzzi.

Just like with Jessica, it was SUCH relief. It did space my contractions out I think…I don’t really know because Steve and I both were sleeping between contractions, and we were alone in the room. About the 4th or 5th contraction that I had I thought I felt a tiny urge to push, so I told Steve that I thought it might be time to get out, lets wait for the next contraction to see. We both promptly fell back to sleep. Woke up not even a minute or two later for a DEFINITE pushing contraction. Steve pulled the panic cord–he says it was 3:15 then–and the nurse was there before my contraction was even over. Dotty & Dr. R. were close behind her. It was kind of funny with everyone struggling to get me out of the Jacuzzi (it is set up very poorly as far as “grab bars” go for getting a pregnant woman out of it), then deciding what state of attire I would be in for the trip back to my room. I shoo-ed most everyone out of the room so that I could take my bathing suit top off (a two piece maternity suit with as much coverage as a fairly modest one piece–very handy for labor!) and put the hospital gown back on. It was kind of funny since I had told a nurse earlier who tried to cover my legs with a sheet prior to Dr. R. checking my progress that it was kind of pointless since he was standing right there and was just going to push it up so that it offered less coverage than the hospital gown I had on-I must be one of the only women to experience an increase in modesty as labor progesses. I slowly worked my way back to my room, doing my best not to push. It had taken us about 30 seconds to walk the entire U-shaped hallway of the unit earlier, now I only had to walk about 1/3 of it to get from the Jacuzzi to my room and it took about 5-10 minutes between the slowness of my walking and stopping for contractions.

Dr. R. checked me when I got to my room and he said I was basically complete (9.5 dialated), a slight anterior lip that was very stretchy so I could push through it if I wanted to. I’m not quite sure why, but he started back out of the room to go sit down at the nurses’ station rather than getting his scrubs on. Perhaps with the slowness of my going from 9 to complete with Jessica–7 hours-he thought he still had a wait. He made it half way across the hallway before Dotty and I started arguing over whether or not I should push — I didn’t want to tear and she said I needed to push because the baby was crowning! Dr. R. was instantly at my side, encouraging me that it was okay to push. My body was pushing whether I wanted to join in or not. 3 contractions & 10 minutes later and Katie was born. I was too busy to notice, but Dotty and Steve said it was funny to watch Dr. R. struggling to get into his scrubs & booties (never got his face mask on) in time to catch. I was very surprised with this speed that I didn’t tear at all–just a little bit of “rug burn.”

The umbilical cord was wrapped around Katie’s body, so she was pretty blue when she was born–but she was breathing & crying okay. Her apgars were 6 & 8. A few hours after she was born the nurse said I needed some Pitocin by IV & a shot because I was bleeding more than they wanted me to. Since Katie was already born I wasn’t too concerned about having Pitocin at that point, so I readily agreed to it. However, as odd as it may sound considering I had just given birth without pain medication, I really did NOT want to feel the injection! LOL!

Thoughts after the birth…

I got my wish-a labor less than 20 hours. I actually only had less than 6 hours of true labor. Unfortunately I was totally exhausted for all of it because of the premature rupture of membranes. If I had it to do all over again I would still wait to go into the hospital until the morning-to at least get some sleep. But I would have asked to be induced first thing in the morning while I was still fresh rather than waiting in hopes that labor would start.

The “prostaglandin chip” used to induce my labor was 1/4 of a dose of Prepidil–a suppository used to induce labor. I’ve learned that the hospital I was birthing at prefers to dose it this way rather than giving the whole suppository every 12 hours, as this seems to reduce the risk of hyperstimulation.. I found it very effective in inducing my labor, and allowed me to avoid the use of Pitocin, which would have come with a constant IV and constant fetal monitoring that would have kept me tethered close to my bed and out of the Jacuzzi. Given the slow progress I had made, I could have had a second dose if I wanted it. But being unmedicated I knew that my contractions were effective enough without it. Sure enough, I gave birth shortly after refusing the second dose. If I had taken it I could have possibly experienced uterine hyperstimulation.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 6:05 pm.

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Jason’s Birth Story

Before the birth:
Jessica and Katie were born in the hospital–”good” births, but I felt they could be better. My first was posterior, and resulted in a 33+ hr labor after my OB stripped my membranes without my consent (fortunately my OB was not on call for my labor, another OB was). My second I was positive for Group B Strep (GBS), and my water broke–slow leak–at least 18 hours before I went into the hospital. After being at the hospital for 12 hrs I was induced with 1/4 dose of Prepidil, and had a 6 hr labor that was unmedicated beyond that and antibiotics for the GBS. During both births I had to deal with hospital staff that I was less than happy with–my 3rd nurse with Jessica, and a resident OB with Katie. I stood up for what I wanted with the nurse, but it still galls me that she got to hold Jessica before I did (Jessica had to be suctioned due to meconium). Not wanting regrets like that the second time around, and being more assertive, I gave the resident the boot when her “bed side manner” got rude.

So on to Jason…I knew I wanted a homebirth before I even got pregnant. I was happy to learn that the OB that I had been working with and liked happened to back up a home birth midwife-Lynn.

My first two labors went overnight–Jessica with contractions starting around 7 pm one night, then she was born at 4:41 am 33 hrs later. With Katie my water broke around 3 pm, I went into the hospital 8 am the next day, and she was born at 3:30 am the following day. So basically a lot of lost sleep. Steve “requested” that I not do this again–LOL! His plan was that I go into labor around 9 am on Feb 8, have the baby by midafternoon, and then he would have the whole weekend and most of Monday to take care of us before having to be back to class (he was in school full time). Before he left for class Thursday he went through what he wanted to do the next day, and it included a “dry run” of putting together the Aquadoula we had rented for the birth.So much for that “dry run!”
Steve left for class around 6:30. Around 7 pm I was on my way to the bathroom when I felt something pass–which turned out to be my mucous plug. I had passed a bit on Sunday, so didn’t think too much of this, but did note that it seemed to be accompanied by fluid. By 8 pm I was pretty much convinced that my water had broken sometime earlier and that it had flushed my plug out. So before putting the girls to bed I called Lynn and my doula (Dotty) to let them know.



Of course the girls *had* to be particularly giddy that night. :) It took until 9:30 to get them down. I was starting to have contractions that were painless, I hadn’t timed any yet though. Steve got home around 9:45, and I told him he wouldn’t be getting a “dry run” on putting the Aquadoula together. I cried a bit at that point because I was a bit keyed up about my water breaking yet again without true labor. I sent him out to Walmart to pick up a few things that we hadn’t gotten yet–like peroxide and baby laundry detergent. I got the bed made up with plastic sheets & two sets of regular sheets (after the birth you take the top layer off–assuming they got messy which they didn’t in my case–and you have a clean set of sheets on the bed already). Then I laid down to try and rest. I couldn’t rest though, contractions were coming about every 10 minutes and were getting stronger. Around 10:30 I got back out of bed and joined Steve folding the baskets of clean laundry that had collected on the couch.

Labor begins
We timed contractions during this time. They were around 1 minute long, and a unique pattern–10 minutes, 8, 6, 4, 10, 8, 6, 4 apart. I was starting to need to stop what I was doing and focus on contractions. After timing those and deciding they were getting reasonably “real” we called Lynn around 12:30 and told her to go ahead and come over. We finished folding laundry and getting things together, and were just starting to unpack the Aquadoula when Lynn arrived around 1:15. Her assistant Robin arrived a few minutes later. I had not met Robin before that.

After Lynn and Robin got settled in with all of their equipment Lynn checked me–I was 4-5 cm, 75% effaced, +1 to +2 station. My contractions were coming regularly at this point, but weren’t incredibly intense. I wanted to start working on setting up the Aquadoula, but my blood pressure was a tiny bit higher than Lynn wanted (she wouldn’t tell me what it was precisely), so I had to sit on my rocking chair reading the instructions and trying to explain it to Steve…let’s just say he’s not the one who puts together the kid’s toys on Christmas Eve. :-) He’s very handy around the house with repair/redecorating tasks, but anything requiring following a series of “put this part here and that part there” type instructions is just not his forte. Finally Robin pitched in to help him, and the tub was set up by 2:15 am and was starting to be filled.

It was at this time that I learned that Steve–despite having been a homeowner for over 15 years–did not know that hot water tanks have a thermostat that you can adjust. I told him to turn it all the way up, and he didn’t know you could do that. He said he would look for the thermostat though. Around 3:30 I found out he never had found it, so I trekked down to the basement to turn it up myself. So much for my statement to my father-in-law a few weeks prior that I would not be giving birth in the basement because I wouldn’t be laboring in the basement! :)

Walking, walking, walking
Okay, so we didn’t walk nearly as much in this labor as we did in my first two. But Lynn wanted me to walk to encourage labor, so around 2:45 a.m. Steve and I set out around the block. Steve seemed to want to wander around the neighborhood, I couldn’t quite get him to understand that just sticking to our block was fine. It took us 15 minutes to do one lap, and we had to stop in to the house to get gloves & hats. It was COLD out at that time of morning! We did one more lap after that. My first contraction during that lap apparently Steve got a death wish–he spotted something on the ground that interested him, so he started to walk away from me to see what it was. I had to call him at least 3 times before he finally got the hint that he was NOT allowed to do that. :-) Labor definitely had picked up by that point–I was moaning softly through contractions, something I had never done before-I had labored silently for the girls. We decided to call Dotty and have her come over.

I was feeling burning pain in my hips during contractions. Lynn suggested the double-hip squeeze for that, and it was very effective. However, it is very tiring to do, so Lynn, Robin, Dotty and Steve were rotating and generally two would apply pressure together–one on each hip. During one contraction Steve was videotaping and apparently that death wish returned–he joked that with people around me with their hands on me and with my moaning it looked like a Pentecostal prayer meeting. I could barely control wanting to laugh, which of course made the contraction worse so I admonished him not to make me laugh. Everyone else was trying not to laugh, as soon as the contraction ended everyone burst into laughter. That was at 4:20 a.m.

Sometime shortly after we moved from the living room up to the bedroom so I could get in the Aquadoula. It still wasn’t totally full–every time the hot water ran out we had to wait about 1/2 hr for the tank to heat up. We decided to heat some water in large pots on the stove–so Steve got to boil water. :) Lynn checked my progress before I got into the tub, and I was 7 cm, 80% effaced, but the baby had moved up some. When I got into the tub the hip pain dissipated entirely, only to be replaced by very intense rectal pressure, which I interpreted as the baby moving down.

I was very aware of being in transition at that point. I felt nauseous, so asked Steve to bring a small wastebasket close to the tub “just in case.” After the next contraction “just in case” was there, and I was emptying the contents of my stomach. So much for the apple juice Lynn wanted me to drink, I’m not a big apple juice fan anyway and had to force myself to drink it. I commented after that about not having a “traditional” transition in my first two labors, and not being happy to experience it this time around.

Time to push!

After involuntarily emptying the other end of my digestive system, the rectal pressure disappeared…for a few contractions. During one contraction I felt a TINY urge to push in the very middle. After the contraction was over I told everyone about that. The next contraction I definitely needed to push. Lynn checked me in the tub, and the baby was right there. I pushed through two contractions and the head was out. Lynn checked for a cord and it was wrapped around his neck–she slipped it off. Then Jason was born on the next contraction with “telephone hand”-his hand along side his head. After seeing that he was a boy, I asked what time it was–5:22 a.m. He was 7 lbs 8 oz, 19.5 inches long, APGARs of 7 & 9.

The cord was short, so I couldn’t hold Jason facing me. Lynn called Steve to cut the cord and passed Jason to Robin–he seemed to be a bit mucousy and was a bit blue. Robin worked with him while I got out of the tub to deliver the placenta. When I got onto my bed Lynn checked my uterus and it wasn’t contracting down. She had to do some uterine massage that honestly was more painful than any of my contractions had been. I passed a large amount of clots that I assumed just from feeling it pass was the placenta, but it wasn’t. I was bleeding more than Lynn liked (I have a history of a lot of bleeding after birth–needed Pitocin for it a few hours after Katie was born). Lynn had Robin give me a shot of Phenergin. I then delivered the placenta, but was still bleeding heavily and wasn’t contracting much.

I was feeling tired which kind of concerned me–I wasn’t sure if it was from excess blood loss or just the normal effect of staying up all night in intense physical activity. I kept saying how I was tired and just wanted to fall asleep and how I felt bad that I wasn’t more interested in holding Jason. I was saying this because I didn’t want to suddenly pass out and have everyone be surprised. Lynn discovered at that point that I had a fibroid on top of my uterus about the size of an egg. It seems to be on the outside, but that can only be determined with ultrasound. Lynn had Robin give me a shot of Methergin, and finally my uterus contracted and became hard like it was supposed to. Lynn estimated that I lost about 750 ml of blood, I lost about 1000 ml after Katie was born without such active efforts to stop the bleeding (that blood loss was estimated after the delivery was finished a few hours before I got the Pitocin), but I guess with being out of the hospital Lynn needed to act more proactively since emergency support wasn’t quite so close if it became needed.


After everything was cleaned up (no tearing or skid marks or anything…yay!) Robin helped me to the bathroom–they like the mom to urinate before they leave. I’m not sure what time it was when the women left, but I know I got a brief nap before Jessica woke up at around 6:30 am. Jessica was SO excited to meet her new brother. She snuggled into bed with Steve and Jason and I. Around 8:15 Katie woke up and was quite upset to be alone–Steve and I had only started sleeping in our own bedroom a few days before the birth and until that morning Jessica had been with Katie each morning when she woke up. So the poor child is standing outside her bedroom crying while Steve videotapes her, encouraging her to come to our bedroom to meet her brother. I called to him to pick her up and comfort her–”but I can’t do that and get video of her first look at Jason.” Umm, sweety, do we really want her first view of him to be when she is feeling so alone? LOL.

A few hours later Steve began making calls to announce the birth. He made certain to call our church so that it would be in the bulletin on Sunday morning. When our pastor found out we had our baby, he attempted to call me to offer congratulations-except that we really hadn’t told a lot of people that we were planning a home birth. So he called several hospitals before one of the secretaries told him that she thought Steve was at home when he called. So he called the house, and was rather surprised to find out that I was there too!

Thoughts after the birth

A few days after Jason was born I told Steve that if it weren’t for dealing with the pregnancy and then the resultant children, I could easily home-birth 15 children. It wasn’t that it was a “fun” recreational type experience. But it was a very fulfilling and moving experience. It was much better than my hospital births. I’m certainly far from being a “natural” type of person-I don’t buy organic produce, wear Birkenstocks, eschew processed foods or synthetic fabrics-but home birth was a fantastic experience for me. A home birth is not for everyone-some couples are just not comfortable with the idea, and thus could not relax and enjoy it. For them a hospital or birth center birth is the right choice. I was in that category for my first two births-I was simply uncomfortable with the idea during my first pregnancy; and during my second, while I liked the idea, I did not feel comfortable with birthing in the particular house that I lived in. Others have health complications that make home birth an unwise choice. However it is sad that in America homebirth is viewed as abnormal and unsafe. Only 1% of births in America occur at home. Midwifery care is slowly gaining acceptance. Ten percent of births in America are attended by midwives in a hospital or birth center. We have a long way to go though–America is 23rd in maternal/infant morbidity and mortality. The country that ranks 1st-Holland-boasts a 40% homebirth rate and 60% overall midwife-attended rate.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 6:04 pm.

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Sean’s Birth Story

Before the birth:
This was the first pregnancy where I got to a point where I felt “done” being pregnant. By 7 months into the pregnancy I was ready for it to be over. I just felt tired. Based on my previous history of birthing both Katie and Jason at 39 weeks, I predicted that this baby, who I vaguely thought was a boy, would be born on January 17.

On Friday, January 9 I had a meeting with my manager, and I was particularly fidgety. 3 times during the course of our meeting he asked me if I was in labor! I wasn’t, but I guess it was practice for the following Friday when I was having contractions at work, but just kept telling people “I feel great, but I don’t think I will be here on Monday.” I had no firm “end date” for working, I had cut back my hours to part time on Monday, January 12, and told people I would work “as long as I felt like it, or until I don’t have anymore clothes that fit me.” :-) On January 16 my coworkers had a cake and gift ready for me, but I arrived to work particularly late that morning, so people were afraid I was having the baby that day.

I did begin having mild contractions on January 16, but I really didn’t think they were much of anything. They would get to 10 minutes apart–but too mild to really time how long they were. Then they would space out to an hour apart.

Are we doing anything?

The contractions continued into the evening, and I even had a bit of bloody show. The contractions were mild, and all in front. Saturday morning this continued, but the contractions were radiating to my back. I finally called my midwife (Lynn) at about 7 a.m. to give her a “heads up.” She was tired–had just returned from a birth. Of course my contractions slowed down then!

Steve and I decided after a couple of hours that we would go ahead and take Jessica and Katie to their dance class, and we would take a walk during the class to see if that would do anything to get things going.

It didn’t do anything but make me cold. We went home, picking up lunch at Wendy’s on the way home. After lunch and some light housecleaning, I took Jason (almost 2) to put him to bed for his nap, intending to nap a bit with him just in case things got going in the evening. Well Jason had no intention of napping–just kept bopping around me on the bed, while I faded in and out of sleep. I started having contractions that were more intense, and closer together.

After about an hour they were 10 minutes apart, and Steve took over getting Jason to sleep. He was supposed to go to a furniture store to order furniture for the remodel of the girls’ bedroom that we were doing, but about 30 minutes after he had taken over with Jason I went into the room (to find them both asleep!) and told him he wasn’t going–I was having contractions 5 minutes apart. I called Lynn and told her I wasn’t entirely sure if it was really “it” since contractions had been getting close together and then getting further apart, but she probably should come over just in case. She has about a 45-minute drive.

Surprising progress

After I got off the phone with Lynn it was 30 minutes before I had another contraction! Sheesh! And really, while they were wrapping around my back, I didn’t think they were all that intense–I could handle them without back massage or anything. The midwife who works with Lynn–Robin–arrived first at about 5 pm. Lynn arrived 10 or 15 minutes later. After getting settled in she checked me, and I was 5-6 cms, 75% effaced, and 0 station. I was really surprised! I just didn’t think I had intense enough contractions to get that far!

While I was getting checked we found out that our plans for childcare fell through, and the kids were VERY riled up with anticipation of the birth. Steve started fixing some Mac&cheese for the kids, and called one of our neighbors who had offered previously to be “on-call” to see if the kids could go over to her house for a couple of hours. She was very accommodating, even offered to let the kids sleep at her house, so we sent over sleeping bags with them.

Getting things going
After Steve got the kids fed he sent them over to Holly’s house. Mean while I’m happily chatting with the midwives, scanning through “Beyond Jennifer and Jason” for a boy name that would “grab” me… Contractions were pretty far apart…

Steve decided to give the midwives a tour of our new kitchen–which had not even been started yet when they were at our house for Jason’s birth. While in the kitchen we heated up some leftover lasagna from the previous night for the midwives to eat for dinner. Well Robin ate an ice cream sandwich first…LOL!

They strongly urged us to go for a walk to get labor going, and I resisted because it was COLD outside, I couldn’t button the bottom 4 buttons on my coat, kids had broken my ear muffs… Finally Lynn told me to wear her coat and get going! Told me to keep walking through contractions if I could–which I had also done to get things going with Jason. So by 7 p.m. we were out the door walking. Contractions kicked in immediately. We didn’t time them, but we walked for about 30 minutes and I think I had 10 or more contractions. I was still happy between them though.

When we got home we found Robin & Lynn watching “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Robin had popped some popcorn and was munching on it. Robin had never watched “Queer Eye” before because for some reason she thought the idea was a bunch of gay guys trying to “convert” a straight guy! LOL! (I’ve never watched it before either just because I had other things to do–I found the small snippets I saw to be amusing.) Contractions were coming fairly close together, but between contractions I happily munched on popcorn and chatted.

Steve was sitting on a couch, and I was standing up. For contractions I would put my hands on his shoulders and lean against him to relax. Shortly before 8 I had a contraction that came on quickly, so I had my eyes closed before putting my hands on his shoulders. I accidentally jabbed him in the eye–and hard!–with my right thumb. OUCH! Either I pushed his contact lens out, or he did while rubbing his eye. It really hurt him and I knew it, but for some reason Lynn and Robin and I all cracked up laughing. I felt bad about laughing at Steve (AND laughing through a contraction!), but I couldn’t stop, and I lost total bladder control! It was like Niagara Falls, we weren’t totally sure at first that it wasn’t my water breaking, but we later decided that it wasn’t.

After getting upstairs and finishing emptying my bladder and changing out of the wet pants (into a bathrobe…the only clean pants I had that fit me were jeans, which I did NOT want to put on), Lynn & Robin took up residence in our bedroom, but I went back downstairs with Steve to finish cleaning up my mess. LOL! Still munching popcorn, which I mentioned to Steve worried me–when was I going to stop wanting to eat? Normally laboring women stopped wanting to eat in late labor–so I was sure I must have a while to go. This was sometime around 8 p.m.

About this time the phone rang, and looking on the caller ID I noted that it was our pastor. He doesn’t normally call our house, especially on a Saturday night, so I answered it. As he talked, I had a contraction, and silently prayed that he would keep talking until it finished. He did. :-) He wanted me to host a showing of a pro-life film the following day at church since I was the church representative to the Crisis Pregnancy Center; but I declined, telling him I thought I was going to have my baby that evening. “Why do you think that?” he asked. I replied that I had just had a contraction while he talked. He prayed for me very quickly, then got off the phone.

Then I went back upstairs. Chatted with the midwives about footprints in baby books, which prompted me to go downstairs and get our Creative Memories albums–our wedding album and the 3 kid’s baby books.

Meantime I’m telling Steve he should get Jessica from the neighbor so she doesn’t miss the birth (she had seemed to assume from fairly early in the pregnancy that she would attend the birth, and we judged that she would do well with it. We bought a disposable black & white camera for her, and she took some great pictures), but he thinks it is too soon–he wants to wait until I’m ready to push! Ummm…my pushing history is 20 minutes, 10, 5…. Finally I convinced him to call the neighbor to have her get Jessica ready to go so that he can walk over very quickly.

I was getting into the Aqua doula at this point–a bit concerned that it would be too warm because it was 110 degrees. Earlier in the day when I saw that it was 110 I wanted to take the lid off to let it cool, but Steve convinced me not to, that it would cool too much. Well that thing holds heat! We never even plugged the heater on for it! Robin convinced me that it would not be too warm…but you have to understand that she was wearing 2 warm shirts, while prior to getting my bathrobe on I just had a tankini top on…

I did find the heat to be relaxing, but by the time Steve got back with Jessica I was overheating, so I asked him to get ice. Rather than just bringing up the whole bin from the freezer, he filled a 1 qt container, and brought that up, and was slowly dropping a few cubes at a time in. I snapped at him that a few cubes weren’t going to do anything, dump the whole thing in and go get the rest! So snappy during contractions…but still friendly and patiently reminding Jessica between contractions that the contractions were okay, it was just my belly “hugging” the baby to help the baby be born…but Jessica, LOL! Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk…. So then I’m having another contraction and she keeps talking asking me questions, and finally I just say “Jessica, be QUIET!” Then Steve comes in and starts to pour the ice into the tub and I yell “BE QUIET!” Lynn & Robin gave each other knowing looks.

After that contraction I tell them that I’m feeling like I need to have a BM, and not wanting a repeat of last time, I’m thinking of going to the bathroom, but the contractions are coming so close together and I don’t want to do a contraction out of the water…and I’m not really sure that I need to have a BM vs. it just being the baby because I really had been cleansing a lot during the day…so then I’m finally convinced by Lynn to just go try, and I stand up just as a contraction starts to come on, so down I go again… After it was over I tried to hurry to the bathroom. Had a contraction sitting on the toilet, which I did NOT like. Knew pushing stage was VERY imminent, no BM.

Rushed back to the bedroom before the next contraction could come, midwife notes say I was back in the tub at 8:53. I couldn’t have had more than 3 contractions before I felt that it was time to push…by which I mean that I was yelling through the contractions–I’m fairly quiet through first stage contractions—perhaps some low oohs & aaahhs are it. Robin thinks my water broke at 9 p.m.–she saw some cloudiness in the tub then–probably the first contraction I was pushing for. Lynn checked to make sure I was complete, which I was. Next contraction the head slowly eased out.

And then it was there for what seemed like forever! Moving around, which was weird feeling, and sometimes painful. I was touching the head and rubbing the hair, which was neat. I could feel a pulse down there and commented on it, not sure if it was the baby’s or mine. Finally had a contraction to push out the baby–9:07. Reminded Jessica that she was to announce the gender, and just as she said “there’s the penis, it’s a boy!” my hand brushed over his boy parts as I was turning him over.

He was turning blue and not breathing, so Lynn wanted to cut the cord to have Robin take him to the O2–but I wouldn’t let her–told her to bring the O2 to the baby! So they did. I really wanted to leave the cord intact, I’d wanted delayed cord clamping in previous births, but each time for one reason or another it hadn’t happened. But this time I was adament because I’d heard that leaving it intact until the placenta delivered could significantly reduce maternal blood loss–I’d always lost a lot of blood, and with Jason’s birth the “uterine massage” to minimize bleeding was the one negative part of an otherwise great birth.

Then I got out of the tub so we could wrap him up. There sitting on the bed naked except for the receiving blanket over Sean and I, I found it odd that I wasn’t cold, I was actually hot enough that I asked for the ceiling fan to be turned on. Robin checked the space heater and found that she had accidentally heated the room to 80 degrees Uuuuugggghhhh! (our room is an addition over the garage–under insulated and an insufficient heat run, so we have the space heater)!

Sean was only vaguely interested in nursing, he would stay latched on, but didn’t suck much. Finally at 9:35 the placenta delivered. Lynn and Robin kept commenting on how there was just no blood loss…hmmm…and they wondered why I didn’t want the cord cut? They ultimately put down 100 mls blood loss on the birth certificate, although they both seemed to think that was an over estimate. I’ve lost 500-1000 mls on previous births.

Jessica was SO happy to have seen the birth. She excitedly told MIL on the phone a couple of days later about how she knew he was a boy because he had a penis…conversation abruptly ended, and when DH called back to see how shocked MIL was she was laughing, so I guess she’s come to accept this stuff from us. LOL.

The girls were both excited about Sean, we had to set a timer for sharing the privilege of holding him! Jason though..he studiously ignored Sean for a few weeks. We couldn’t get him to hold Sean or interact at all. He slowly came around, I’m sure once Sean is big enough to actively play “boy games” with him he will appreciate having a brother.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 6:04 pm.

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Sophia’s Birth Story


After having Sean we definitely thought we were done having kids.  We were confident enough in this that we did that thing that you never should really do…we gave away the baby clothes.  And the maternity clothes.  And the majority of the “baby things.”  And then I REALLY jinxed myself…I signed up for Weight Watchers.

And by my best estimate, Sophia was conceived 2 days after my first Weight Watchers meeting.  ;-)

Jason's belly art

Jason's belly art

With my previous children I had guessed the gender correctly each time.  So when I guessed that this baby would be a boy, Steve was pretty confident that I was right.  I tried to explain that a lot of my “guessing” this time around had to do with *wanting* to have a boy so that he could play with the other two boys, but apparently that didn’t register.  Yes, Steve was truly shocked when I brought some girl clothes home “just in case” late in the pregnancy.

At 38 weeks I got a nasty stomach virus accompanied with high BP. Ugggh. Recovered on Friday enough to hold Jessica’s birthday party (slumber party with 6 10-11 year old girls!), and was good Sat & Sun. Monday afternoon (38 weeks 4 days) I was sick again, and so Tuesday I pretty much did nothing all day.

Tuesday afternoon I started having pains in my upper abdomen about every 10 minutes. Pretty intense pains. Because they were UPPER abdomen, I wouldn’t have identified them as contractions, except that the pain wasn’t constant–but as I said, about every 10 minutes. And I had small amounts of bloody show (prior labors I’d not had bloody show until well into dilation, other than when my OB stripped my membranes in first pregnancy). My poor hubby got home from doing a painting job (painting a garage ceiling–painting a ceiling is hard work!) and said that he wanted to take a soak before dinner, and I told him “no, you have to help me make dinner! I can’t do it!” Keep in mind that it was about 5:30 at this point…and my planned dinner was lasagna. From scratch. With 5 cheeses (really, it’s worth it!). And I had just turned on the water to boil to cook the noodles (gluten free because I have Celiac).

Homegrown PumpkinsBeing a wise man…he didn’t argue with me. 45 minutes later we were both in the Jacuzzi while the lasagna baked. Abdominal pain went away. Yay. Ate dinner at about 7:30, which is a bit more than “fashionably late” when you’ve got 4 young kids!

After dinner the pains came back. Sigh. I gave my midwife a call, found out that she’d already had one birth that day, and was with another laboring mom. Oh boy…the deal was that if she had another mom in labor at the same time as me, I might need to go to her birth center–an HOUR from my house. NOT what I wanted to do. Okay…well, let’s see what happens.

The contractions continued through the evening. My midwife’s client gave birth. Since my “contractions” were about 3-4 minutes apart and seemed to be getting a more intense (I made hubby set up the birthing pool), we decided to have her come out to see how far along I was. She arrived around 11:30 I think–I wasn’t very focused at that point.

She spent a while getting her stuff inside and chatting, then checked my cervix. I was 3 cm…and she said that was generous. She also didn’t feel that my cervix was “ripe,” and said baby was still floating high. Sigh. NOT what I’d expected. She hung out for about an hour, during which time I didn’t have any contractions. Decided to send her home, so she was out the door by 1 a.m., and hubby and I tried to sleep. I took some Tylenol, which helped with the abdominal pain enough for me to sleep. I did note that the bloody show had stopped.

I woke up at 2:45 to definite contractions- -low and in the front. They were about every 5 minutes until 3:25, then gradually slowed to about every 10 minutes, but got more intense.  I woke up hubby at 4 a.m., noted bloody show was back at 4:30. By 5 a.m. ctx were every 5 minutes, 30-60 sec long.

My midwife called around 7 to see how I was. Since I’d had the false alarm and the ctx weren’t consistently long, we didn’t want her to come out. Ctx immediately fizzled out after getting off the phone…which had me even more concerned than I’d already been about poor positioning/ prodromal issues.

My midwife called again sometime mid-morning to check on me, and I told her I wasn’t having ctx. “Oh! I just finished rescheduling all my appointments for the day!” I awkwardly replied “I’m sorry…perhaps you need a nap after the births yesterday?” She agreed that would be good.

She called me again at 11-ish…another client in labor…”okay, well I’m not, so let’s hope it stays that way!”

Ctx started shortly after noon, every 10 min. DRAT! Hubby was back at the painting job, but had promised to be home around 2–when the older kids would be home (they get out of school early on Wednesdays). I tried to distract myself from the ctx by processing the last of the tomatoes from my garden that I’d picked the afternoon before the first frost less than a week previous. LOL! By 1:30 ctx were ever 3-4 minutes. I called hubby to confirm he would be home by 2. He wanted to stay a bit longer to be home at 2:15 (I know how that goes! Add 15 minutes to whatever his predicted time home will be…but I didn’t want to make him stop in the middle of rolling a wall…he would have to clean up all of his tools, only to have to set them back up another time to do 15 minutes of work). So I didn’t say anything about the ctx, just urged him to finish up as quickly as he could.

Kids came rushing home at 2…”did your water break yet?” asked an excited Jason (6 years old), “did you have the baby yet?” asked Jessica (10) and Katie (8) in succession as they got through the door a minute apart. Two of Jessica’s friends had written me “congrats” notes (too cute!–they’ ll go in the baby book!), she was so sure I would have the baby while she was at school.

About 2:25 Steve got home. I called my midwife at 2:30. Her other client was no where close to delivering. She seemed distracted. I had a ctx at 2:33 and couldn’t focus on her–although in retrospect I’m not sure she knew I had that ctx. “Okay, we’ll figure this out, keep me posted” she said. I hung up.

Ctx continued, getting more intense. 3:30 hubby called midwife. Somehow she thought my ctx stopped at 2:30! HUH???? She must have been really distracted! She said she’d check with another midwife to see if she could come out. Keep in mind that she had called said midwife the previous day to see if she could provide back up…and found that this midwife was shoveling 15″ of snow out of her driveway–not exactly typical conditions for this time of year in PA!!! We didn’t have even a flake at my house…about 45-55 minute drive south.  I’d talked to this “back up midwife” on the phone before as “doula to doula” conversations and e-mailed, but I’d never met her in person.  She had only just recently finished her CPM stuff and started attending births on her own, I didn’t think she was technically certified yet–she was still apprenticing when I got pregnant.

In the pool

In the pool

The back up midwife could come…so that was the plan. She would arrive around 5. 

Hubby finally got the birth pool all set up, and I got in around 4. I did not like it as much as I like the Aqua-doula I’d gotten for previous 2 homebirths. “Reccommended” water level was too low from top, so I couldn’t comfortably lean forward over the edge–my back curved too much. I thought about asking hubby to fill it fuller, but I knew that he was already paranoid about it bursting and leaking into the first floor. I also think it needed to be warmer for me (as I always liked the water at about 102 in my previous labors…but again, hubby was paranoid about bursting the pool because the directions said to keep it below 96, so I was already pushing it in his mind to have it at about 99!). I stayed in it though. Ctx got more and more intense.

Our friend Ellie arrived shortly before 5 to take care of the kids.  She and her husband are our “Titus 2″ mentors from church.  She set about getting dinner ready for the kids.

The back-up midwife showed up 5-10 minutes after Ellie.  Set her stuff up, and then I got out of the tub for her to check my vitals and then my cervix. We laughed about the nature of our meeting. “Hi Jennifer!”  ”Hi Jenn, so nice to meet you in person finally! Now let’s check that cervix!”

She said I was 5-6 cms with a bulging bag of water, baby at -1 to 0 station. Sigh. Not quite how far along as I’d hoped to be as I’d gotten to 5 with barely any significant ctx with my previous 2 births, although not *completely* depressing, since I went from 5-birth in just a few hours with those. This was probably at about 5:10.  Jennifer called my midwife to report my cervical check, and my midwife reported that her other client had just birthed, so she would wrap things up, and then be over in about an hour and a half (her daughter–who is an RN and works with her–would stay with that client for a while).

So I had put my swim suit bottom back on (yeah…full swim suit–my sons were in and out of the room after all!), and was trying to decide if I wanted to get back into the pool, or labor out of it for a while. Ctx…very intense.  At the end of it I feel a pop…there went my water! Good thing I’d had hubby put chux pads on the floor! Pulled off the swim bottoms to switch for dry panties with a maxi because I did not want fluid running everywhere. Getting that on was a trick! I tried sitting on the toilet, but couldn’t before a ctx hit and it was INTENSE. Hubby had no clue what to do to put a pad in my panties for me (this is why women are better doulas–LOL! How many pads have I put in for laboring women…).

Somewhere in there Jessica came in to see what my progress was, and I told her my water had just broken, that she should tell Jason since that had been his repeated question for days when he’d get home from school. “Baby will be born sometime tonight.” So she went downstairs. And I was aware in the ensuing melee that Jason came upstairs…though I never actually saw him. Jessica stayed downstairs because she thought nothing exciting was going on and she was watching the Hannah Montana movie and calling a friend to report the progress.

The midwives weigh Sophia

The midwives weigh Sophia

Finally I got myself put together and walked back into my bedroom.  Another ctx hits and it again is INTENSE, I’m leaning on the end of my bed, Jennifer is squeezing my hips and encouraging me, and then it hits me…I’ve got to push!

Jennifer pulls my underwear off.  Asks if I want to get on the bed or in the tub. I don’t know, can’t think. Steve is calling the kids so they don’t miss the birth.  Jessica later told me about how she hastily got off the phone with her friend “well the baby should be born sometime tonig…wait, I’ve got to go, she’s having the baby NOW!”  The next ctx hits, and yes, baby is coming–and I was not pushing with it (yelling, yes, pushing, no–LOL! I didn’t want to make it any more intense!).  Steve yelled again that the girls better get upstairs or they would miss the birth.  Another ctx, and baby’s head slides out.  Jason snapped a picture on his disposable camera at that moment.  Jessica walked into the room to see me from behind with a baby face between my legs, which was not what she’d expected!  She backed up a couple of steps out the door…then came back. Next ctx baby was completely out…Jennifer somersaulted her through a nuchal cord, and I just stood leaning on the bed relieved that it was over–LOL! After catching my breath, I turned and took my baby, then walked over to the bed to lay down.

I had a baby girl at 5:28 p.m., October 29. She was 6 lbs 3 oz, 19 inches long Sophia’s Birth Announcement

All the kids

All the kids

The kids were SO excited! Sean didn’t come up until after the birth.  Ellie kind of poked her head into the room about 15 minutes after Sophie was born, but wouldn’t come in–went back to finish with making dinner.  We finally got her to come in about half an hour later.

It took 75 minutes for the placenta to deliver, during which time my midwife arrived.  “What happened to 5-6 cms???” she asked. It was my hardest 3rd stage so far, I guess my uterus is just tired.  I had burning back pain with it like a posterior labor.  I tried standing, sitting on the toilet…of course Sophie was eventually nursing (she didn’t leave my arms for the whole time I was waiting for the placenta, one of the wonderful things about home birth!).  I pushed more than I’d had to with my others. We left the cord intact again until the placenta delivered.  Like last time…no hemmoraghe. I hemmoraghed with my first three, and because of my high BP, my midwife was concerned I would this time too.  She had even mentioned at my last prenatal that she wanted to do a prophylactic Pitocin shot, but I told her I’d rather only use the Pit if my uterus wasn’t clamping down or I was bleeding too much.

I felt great the next day–probably too great–LOL! It’s a double edged sword you know, because people tend to think “wow, she’s bounced back, I guess she doesn’t need much help…” but I did still have a newborn taking up an aweful lot of my time! And I had Jessica’s birthday the day after the birth–which I needed to bake a cake for (okay, hubby offered to go buy an icecream cake, but she had been asking for my gluten free chocolate cake for over a month–it is REALLY yummy)…at least I had wrapped her presents previous Friday when I was feeling well!, sent Jello-Jiggler pumpkins to preschool with Sean on Thursday (had made them on Wednesday before ctx kicked in) and the older 3 kids had a Halloween parade at school Friday which I needed to pack them up for…and I needed to cut up apples for all of their classroom parties WHAT was I thinking??? At least I have one of those apple slicer/corer things which neatly cuts them into 8 wedges… People from church brought over dinners for a few days, as did several neighbors.  All told, it translated into 15 meals when you count in leftovers…

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 5:40 pm.

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Class Schedule

Classes can be scheduled privately if this schedule does not work for you, or a class may be shifted to Tuesday or Thursday evening rather than the posted day. Please contact me at for more information.

Healthy Pregnancy & Birth Class (10 weeks long, start dates are listed)

  • Sunday, January 20; 6:00 - 8:45 p.m. (finishes in mid March)
  • Saturday, February 23; 9:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. (finishes in late April)
  • Wednesday, March 20; 6:30 - 9:15 p.m. (finishes in mid May)
  • Sunday, April 28; 6:15 - 9:00 p.m. (finishes in late June)
  • Wednesday, July 10; 6:45 - 9:15 p.m. (finishes in early September)
  • Sunday, August 4; 6:15 - 9:00 p.m. (finishes in early October)
  • Saturday, September 14; 9:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. (finishes in mid November)
  • Wednesday, October 16; 6:30 - 9:15 p.m. (finishes in mid December)
  • Saturday, November 9; 9:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. (finishes in early January)
  • Thursday, December 5; 6:30 - 9:15 p.m. (finishes in mid February)

Home birth Preparation (12 hours for first time parents, 4 hours for “refresher” students)

  • Offered on request

The Lord of Birth Bible Study, 10 weeks 

  • Wednesday, March 20; 6:00 - 6:30 p.m. (finishes in mid May)
  • Sunday, April 28; 5:45 - 6:15 p.m. (finishes in late June)
  • Wednesday, July 10; 6:00 - 6:30 p.m. (finishes in early September)
  • Sunday, August 4; 5:45 - 6:15 p.m. (finishes in early October)
  • Saturday, September 14; 12:15 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. (finishes in mid November)
  • Wednesday, October 16; 6:00 - 6:30 p.m. (finishes in mid December)
  • Saturday, November 23; 12:15 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. (finishes in mid January)
  • Also available as 5 weeks of 1 hour sessions upon request.

Private Instruction

  • Offered in your home or my classroom at a mutually agreed time. Billing is based on the number of hours of instruction time, a minimum of 6 hours of instruction for first time parents or 4 hours of instruction for refresher is required for in-home instruction.

Contact me at 610-844-6223 or to enroll in classes.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 4:21 pm.


Why Christian Childbirth Classes?

Christian childbirth classes are not about whether it is right or wrong to use pain medications in labor, or if it is right or wrong to breastfeed. I admit to having a bias of believing that from a physiological standpoint, unmedicated birth is the best choice for mother and baby in the absence of complications that require intervention. I also believe that breastfeeding is the method of feeding infants created by God, and provides many benefits for mother and baby (and father-a good excuse to skip 2 a.m. feedings :-) ). But I do not believe that specific choices in medication and feeding are moral issues.

The Presence of God

What is a moral issue is that expectant Christian parents prayerfully examine the scriptures and make choices that reflect their trust in God, not their fear of what might happen. Christian and Certified Lactation Counselor Laurie Moody sums it up well when she writes:

…how is it that in every other situation we face as Christian women we totally believe in the power of God to sustain us except this one area? Very few talk about childbirth and trusting God to enable them to do the job. For the most part, women who have the right kind of support and preparation would find that labor can be a tremendously strengthening and spiritual experience. The same God who can “supply all our needs,” who is the God of all comfort, is our strong defense and high tower, is our buckler and strength, is the same God who can help us experience every aspect of labor and manage it without undue hardship. When my labor with my third child was not progressing, my husband, doula, doctor and I all joined hands and prayed individually for God to bring the child forth. That was an incredibly strengthening experience! There was a palpable presence in our room of the Great Physician. Nothing but feeling completely in His hands could bring about the peace that I knew. So, how about it? Are you at least willing to pray about it? Become informed and see if it makes a difference in your labor.

In a Christian childbirth class couples have the opportunity to ask questions about how their faith and pregnancy inter-relate.  The have an opportunity to examine scriptures in a way that they have not considered, and learn how their faith can help them weather the challenges of birth–whatever those challenges are.  Also, when taught in a group setting, Christian childbirth classes allow expectant parents a chance to develop relationships with other couples who will be able to walk alongside of them in the challenging days of new parenthood.

“For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 4:20 pm.


Doula Services Lehigh Valley Childbirth Classes Birth Babies Allentown Easton Bethlehem

Just creating something for the search engines to find!  Please check out my other posts!

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 4:18 pm.

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