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On Father’s Day 2000 my husband took me out to breakfast. Then he took me to the hospital—St. Luke’s Allentown—to give birth to our second baby. She was (and still is) a stubborn child, she waited until 3:30 a.m. the day after Father’s Day to be born.

My husband accompanied me in the labor and delivery of each of our 6 children, providing support that I truly think I could not have done without. Ironically, the man who was instrumental in making this possible, Dr. Robert Bradley, died less than 2 months after the birth of our first baby. Dr. Bradley revolutionized childbirth in America, yet many of today’s parents do not even know his name.

When my husband’s parents were expecting their first child they went to the same hospital that our first child was born at. My father-in-law tried several times to sneak into his wife’s room—somewhere that my husband was allowed to be openly. However the nurses kept shooing him out, leaving him to express his joy at the birth of his first son by giving a cigar to a random pedestrian.

Dr. Bradley, understanding the importance of having expectant fathers with the expectant mothers in labor, lobbied strongly to move the father from the waiting room to the delivery room. He even went so far as to arrange boycotts of hospitals that would not allow fathers in the delivery room. For my parents-in-law it came too late. St. Luke’s Allentown, then Allentown Osteopathic, allowed fathers into the delivery room the year after my husband was born—their third son and last child. My father-in-law never experienced the joy of seeing one of his children be born.

In 1965 Dr. Bradley wrote the book Husband Coached Childbirth. This book was the foundation upon which the American Academy of Husband Coached Childbirth was founded in 1970. This organization trains childbirth instructors to teach expectant parents the Bradley MethodÒ of Childbirth. My husband and I chose to take these classes in preparation of the birth of our first child. The multi-week series of classes give extensive time to preparing the father/partner to be an effective coach as the mother labors though the athletic event of childbirth.

The satirical role of a father in labor in many Hollywood productions is someone to boil water…what that water is to be used for is never quite made clear other than to perhaps keep the father occupied. My husband, however, had a very meaningful role in the birth of each of our children. He walked with me; massaged my back; let me hang my entire weight off of him when sitting/laying was too painful, but I was too tired to really stand; whispered words of encouragement; and helped me to relax. I have a picture of him the morning after our first daughter was born that I highly treasure—he is holding our daughter looking incredibly proud, but incredibly bleary eyed. I think he was more tired than I was!

I truly believe that the education we got in our Bradley MethodÒ classes helped me to avoid cesarean in my first two labors. Many women have told me stories of their labors with less “cause” for cesarean than I had, and they indeed had cesareans. For example, in my first labor I was “stuck” at 9 cm dilation for 7 hours, most women are moved to the operating room after 2 hours without dilation progress, sometimes after only 1 hour at such high dilation. However I was prepared for this from my childbirth classes. I told my care providers that if my baby was fine, I was okay with a slow labor and preferred to avoid augmentation. So my OB never even suggested that I needed Pitocin, let alone a cesarean. After all, my baby and I were both fine, my labor was just slow.

The statistics support my belief that my education helped to avert cesareans. Expectant couples who take comprehensive classes have a c-section rate that is 30-50% lower than the national average in any given year. Knowing this makes my heart grieve when I hear women say that they “don’t have time” for a comprehensive class, opting for short classes or no classes at all.

Our third child was born at home with two midwives present. This time around my husband got to fulfill the Hollywood directive and boil water—gallons of it, which we used. But if you want to find out what it was used for you are going to have to ask him about it. By the time our sixth child was born last September his role had morphed significantly from that of his father—Steve caught our third son as the midwife looked on from across the room. Perhaps this son will catch his children while a midwife paces in the waiting room like my father-in-law did so many years ago.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 263 user reviews.

Posted 5 years, 11 months ago at 1:06 pm.

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One of my clients recently sent me her written birth story, and she gave me permission to post it.  I think she has a great story of thoughfully considering interventions to use along her path to a low intervention birth.  I hope you enjoy! 

I Got Stuck in the Jacuzzi, and Couldn’t Get Out, So I Had a Natural Birth!
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Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 245 user reviews.

Posted 7 years, 7 months ago at 10:45 pm.

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Janelle over at the Birth Sense blog is rapidly becoming one of my favorite blogs because of her very well written posts that include references to current research findings.  Using one of my comments as a spring board for a post made my day today, because once again, she has provided references to current research that is of use to laboring women.

Janelle writes:

Over the 28 years I’ve been a labor nurse and then a midwife, I’ve seen Continue Reading…

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 177 user reviews.

Posted 9 years, 4 months ago at 6:02 pm.

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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.

It’s a BROTHER!

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.

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 192 user reviews.

Posted 10 years, 3 months ago at 6:04 pm.

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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.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 276 user reviews.

Posted 10 years, 3 months ago at 6:04 pm.

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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…

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