Tag Archives: Midwife

Birth Story

11 Feb

I’ve been meaning to record our birth story for some time now. I’ve managed to get bits and pieces of it down here and there, but haven’t taken the time to put it into one coherent story. This is probably because it is rather long. So without further ado…the story of Baby E’s birth.

I started having mild contractions on August 8, a Monday night right when I went to bed. By about midnight they were keeping me up – partly because they were mildly uncomfortable and partly because I was a little excited about the commotion in my uterus. Baby E’s due date guesstimation was August 4 and I had grown huge, hot, and a little uncomfortable. I lay in bed and timed contractions for a little while before I decided to get up around 1 a.m. when it was clear to me that I wasn’t going to be sleeping. I got up, drank some water, and took care of a few things I needed to do in the event that this was actual labor and we’d end up heading to the birth center. I had packed a baby bag, but still needed to put some things in a bag for me. And I decided I really needed a playlist on my iPad for labor, so I set about finding some soothing music suitable for bringing a baby into the world. (I settled on Bach Cello Suites, which I am glad to say, is delightful and doesn’t even get annoying when you listen to it for 20 hours straight.) Darion woke up around 2:30 and realized I wasn’t in bed and got up to check on me. When I told him about my contractions, that was pretty much the end of his sleep for the night too.

The contractions got a little stronger, but weren’t that close together (they were about 5 min apart and 45 sec in duration), so I remembered what we learned in our birth class and decided to take a bath, then eat a snack and drink some more water and see what happened. They continued to progress a bit, so I decided I’d try to get a little rest and lie down, but after lying on my side for a while the contractions got stronger. Around 5:30 we decided to check in with Midwife Linda and see what she thought. Of course, she told us that we could come to the birth center whenever we felt we needed to, and we decided to head that way around 8:00 Tuesday morning.

Linda checked me when I got there and I was at 2 cm, but my contractions were progressing a bit and since we have the drive from Greenville, we decided to stick around for a bit and see what happened. After lunch and a nice long stroll around Westgate Mall and a delicious meal of Chick-Fil-A, we decided to head home and wait it out there for a while. Throughout the afternoon my contractions got stronger and I started needing some help getting through them. Darion and my sister, Kim provided good entertainment and distraction while we waited and were great support in timing contractions and helping me get through them as they grew stronger. We decided to make our way back to the birth center around 5:00 – we probably could’ve waited, but I was pretty uncomfortable and Darion was a little worried about I-85 traffic and the potential of getting stuck and delivering a baby on the side of the interstate. By the time we got back to the birth center I was at only 4 cm, so yeah, we totally could’ve waited at home.

Back at the birth center is where the fun really began. The going was SLOW to say the least. My contractions were fairly regular and seemed to be increasing in intensity, so I felt like we were making pretty good progress. I spent most of the night on my feet – walking, swaying, rolling my hips around – just trying to keep things moving along. I honestly have no idea how on earth I would have made it through labor if I was forced to be on my back the whole time. My contractions were about 2o times worse when I was lying down and I avoided it at all costs.

Contractions were getting stronger, and with that came some nasty back labor. Really, back labor was the worst part of the whole experience, I think. Around 10, Linda suggested I get in the tub for a little rest and pain relief. HEAVEN!! I lounged about in the big tub for a good little while, resting between contractions and enjoying a little break from gravity. But then it was up and back to work.

Heaven is a jetted bath tub.

By this time (maybe 11, midnight?) I had only made it to 6 cm, but my contractions were pretty strong and the back labor was kicking. Darion and Kim got a good workout applying counter pressure to my hips throughout the night. The rolling-pin and tennis balls we brought were definitely put to good use. Since things were moving slowly and the baby wasn’t engaged and my water hadn’t broken, I tried some different positions – on the birth ball, squatting a bit, moving my hips around, lunging – pretty much anything I could remember from birth class that might help scooch the little squirt down. After a couple of hours more of this we found that I was still hanging out at 6 cm.

Oh so much more cozy than a hospital bed.

By this point, we were all getting a little tired. Linda told me to do rotations for a while to try to get the baby in a better position – she had a feeling that there was some hang up that was stalling the labor. If you don’t know what a rotation is, well, it’s kind of like hell. You basically rotate like a rotisserie chicken, doing two contractions on your back, two on your left side, two on hands and knees and two on your right side. I mentioned before that for me, lying down through a contraction was the worst. Lying on my back waiting for the next contraction to come was misery. I think anticipating it was almost as bad as going through it. If I had to spend the whole labor on my back, I’m sure I would’ve been begging for an epidural.

Once the rotation was done, I was back up on my feet again. Darion and Kim were pretty fatigued and by early morning were taking turns with contraction duty. One would take a couple of contractions while the other caught a quick cat nap. Did I mention how much I appreciate their help? I’m so thankful that Kim decided to make the drive from ATL – I really needed an extra support person, and I know Darion was glad to have the help.

The hours ticked by with still no progress, so I hopped back in the tub for a little more pain relief and more rotations. During my pregnancy I had read several birth stories where the women said they slept between contractions. This seemed crazy to me. Until I found myself awake for over 24 hours doing contraction rotations in a big, jetted bathtub. It wasn’t much sleep, but it helped a little, as I was bone tired by that point.

Once out of the tub again we found that I was still at 6 cm, and as a last-ditch effort to move things along, Linda wanted strip my membranes to see if that would help. My membranes must have been pretty tough and attached and she didn’t have much luck. By around 6 a.m. she sat us down and suggested that we think about going to the hospital. This was something I hadn’t really prepared for. I knew it was possible, but I had such a wonderful pregnancy and I was just sure that I was going to have an uncomplicated labor. I mean, I have excellent birthing hips. How could they let me down like this?! Traitors.

Linda knew that I was exhausted and we just didn’t know how much longer I would have to labor before I’d be ready to push. She explained that by going to the hospital, they could break my water which may speed things up, but to be prepared that they may want to give me Pitocin and that Cesarean was a possibility. My heart sunk. We had put so much time and energy into preparing for a natural birth, free of interventions to minimize the chances of C-section and here I was, after laboring over 24 hours looking at a hospital trip and potential C-section. This was the lowest point of the whole experience, and I think the only time I cried. But we decided that was what was best for me and for the baby, so we gathered our stuff, hopped in the car and headed to Spartanburg Regional around 8 a.m. (Note: car contractions are NOT fun.)

Now, I had not mentally prepared myself for the hospital, which is a totally different experience than the birth center. Fortunately, Linda has a great relationship with the hospital and knew that the doctor on the floor would cooperate with her and she was able to stay with me in the hospital room. We got to the room and they equipped me with a hep-lock and a fetal monitor that was a pain to try to keep on. The nurse was nice enough, the doctor was kind of an ass, but mostly stayed out of the way, and then there was a young resident who got to experience an interesting birth.

Once I was all hooked up and we were settled, they started offering the epidural. At that point, I was so tired and I just didn’t know how much longer this thing would play out. I was worried they would give me Pitocin and I’d have crazy strong contractions and I wasn’t sure I was prepared to handle that. This is where my support team became vital. Darion suggested that I just wait and let them break my water and then see what happens. This advice, coupled with the fear of an anesthesiologist bill (our insurance kind of sucks) kept me hanging on.

To be honest, there was one more thing that kept me hanging on. Smart Ass Doctor kept popping in and making comments about taking the drugs. At one point, I was telling Darion, Linda and Kim that I was feeling a lot of pressure, to which Smart Ass Doctor responded “You’re trying to push a watermelon out of something the size of a grape. What do you expect?” He pushed me right over into obstinance and I wanted to do it just to spite him.

Fortunately, once my water was broken things started to speed up and dilation progressed. I moved around as much as I could on the bed to avoid being on my back. The most I could do while keeping the monitor on was get on my knees, leaning against the top of the bed. When it was time to push, I was able to be on my side, for which I was very thankful. The side position allowed Linda, Darion and Kim to continue counter-pressure on my hips and back, which I desperately needed. At one point they were pushing so hard that I heard Linda say she was afraid I’d be all bruised the next day.

Things were starting to get pretty intense, but I was so relieved to be able to push and to know that we were getting close. I did get a little burst of energy, but the hormones and tiredness make that part a little of a blur. I remember opening my eyes and suddenly there were about 15 people standing there staring at my crotch. (Why so many people are needed, I have no idea. But I think this explains why healthcare costs are so stinking high.) I remember pushing. I remember asking Kim not to talk when she was trying to encourage me because the pitch of her voice was distracting. I remember Linda coaching me through the contractions and pushes. I remember hearing the Resident say that she thought I was going to kick her off of the edge of the bed (well, she wasn’t doing anything else at the time and I needed something to push against when I pushed). I remember Darion holding my hand and encouraging me. I remember being told that they could see the head and that I was almost there. And then a couple of pushes later, at 11:46 a.m. on August 10, little Ezra came screaming into the world. I was so happy and so relieved and so thankful that we made it through, that everyone was healthy, and that I got to have the drug-free, natural birth that I had worked so hard for (with no tearing – woohoo!!).

Finally he's here!

While it didn’t go completely to our plan, I am thankful and I am happy with the experience. I am glad that we went the route that we did, and if we choose to have another child I would want to use a midwife and birth center again. Having experienced both midwife and the hospital, there’s really no question. The preparation and care I received under the care of my midwife during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum were so personal and so special, the hospital experience just cannot compare.

Training for Birth

28 Dec

One of the things that I found most interesting and empowering about midwifery care was the amount of participation that was expected of me and The Hubs through the whole process. Of course, all women participate in their pregnancies and births, but I really feel that under standard OB care, you just don’t learn as much about the whole process. For the most part, I think that American women are victims of pregnancy – that it happens to you, you don’t have much control, the doctors are the bosses, and things end up how they end up. With our midwife, I felt that I was in charge, that I played a major role in maintaining a healthy pregnancy – and I learned that what you do can make a HUGE difference in how you feel and the total outcome of the whole ordeal.

I have to say, I had an awesome pregnancy and felt pretty great the entire time. Not too much sickness, not too much tiredness after the first trimester, no swelling, healthy weight gain, and while my third trimester belly inspired comments like “do you need to use a wench to get out of bed in the morning?” (no joke, a guy said this to me around week 37), I was active and pretty much pain-free down to the very end. For all of this, I feel very blessed. I know a lot of women have a much harder time, through no fault of their own. But I do feel that my actions contributed to my wonderful experience. Here’s what I think made the difference:

  • Diet: My midwife recommended the Brewer Pregnancy Diet, which basically recommends eating a s%!t ton of protein every day, getting plenty of calories, and NOT restricting salt intake. Okay, I’m paraphrasing it a bit – here’s a link to its daily recommendations. I tried to follow this as closely as possible and I drank a ton of water. While it’s challenging to eat 70-100 grams of protein each day, it’s worth the effort. The diet is filled with healthy, satisfying foods that give your spawn the nutrients it needs to grow, it helps you maintain your energy, and it helps prevent conditions like pre-eclampsia. I started my morning every day with two eggs, wheat toast with butter, orange juice and some fresh fruit. I snacked on a lot of almonds and tried to add spinach to pretty much everything. And I did not restrict my salt intake at all. My blood pressure stayed low for the whole pregnancy and I had no swelling. Now, the blood pressure thing isn’t that big of a deal to me, as I’ve never had any issues with it, but the swelling thing was huge. My non-pregnant, birth-control-taking self would plump right up for any old reason. If it was hot out, my fingers and feet would swell. If I was on my feet a good bit, my ankles would get huge. I just KNEW I would have cankles by the third month and my rings would have to be cut off of my enormously fat fingers. My baby was due in August, after all. To my shock and delight, none of that happened. Thank you, Brewer diet!

    This is what I thought I'd look like at 9 months.

  • Exercise: I’m not a fitness-ey person. I don’t do things like run or have a gym membership. But I did make sure that I stayed active during my pregnancy by walking a lot. My midwife and our childbirth educator emphasized the importance of doing some simple exercises to prepare your body for birth. Do a lot of Kegels – squeeze and hold for extended periods and do short bursts. And do them a lot. They help strengthen the pelvic floor, keeping your uterus and stuff in, helping you push that baby out, and possibly preventing incontinence when it’s all over with. To counter Kegels, do a crazy amount of squats. Short, repetitive squats and loooong deep squats. These can help prevent tears. If that’s not worth it, I don’t know what is.
  • Chiropractic: I saw a fabulous chiropractor every two weeks throughout my pregnancy. He uses the activator method, which is extremely gentle and doesn’t involve any weird positions or loud cracking of things. He helped keep my neck, back, hips and pelvis loose, aligned and feeling good. And he has this fabulous massage device that he runs over your back at the end of each visit. Absolutely heavenly.
  • Education: Being mentally and emotionally prepared for pregnancy and birth is just as important as being physical prepared. Unfortunately, they just don’t teach you much in school about how pregnancy and childbirth work, and a shocking amount of American women know squat about childbirth options. The Hubs and I took a wonderful class with Mary Kury¬†where we got to learn in-depth about pregnancy, how to stay healthy, what to expect during childbirth and tips and techniques for pain management. I cannot emphasize how important this info was for a natural, normal childbirth. Plus, it was just so darn interesting. Being pregnant is kind of like having your body taken over by aliens. It’s just weird. I was dying to know every little thing that was going on in there.

While my birth experience didn’t go exactly as I had envisioned it, I do feel like I was extremely prepared and in control the whole time. I made it through a 36-hour labor, pushed out a 7 lb – 13 oz baby with no tearing and had a really quick physical recovery. Absolutely worth every scrambled egg, deep squat and Kegel!

Decisions, Baby! Installment 1

8 Dec

How should I get this baby out of me?

Seems like it should be pretty straight-forward, right? Oh no, not for the Indecisive Momma.

Once we got past the giddiness of the news that I was growing a human it was time to get down to business and find a care provider. I had had a falling out with my OBGYN a couple of years before (she prescribed me Clomid the day I told her I’d stopped taking birth control because we were thinking of trying for a baby) and I hadn’t found a replacement yet.

I’d never given childbirth that much thought before, I assumed I’d have a regular old hospital birth, just like everyone else I knew. Then one of my good friends delivered her baby with the assistance of a midwife in a local birth center and I was intrigued. She delivered her perfect, healthy baby and four hours later was picking up Chick-fil-a on her way home with her bundle of joy. Anything that ends in Chick-fil-a seems like a pretty good deal to me.

But really, my decision wasn’t that easy. I knew that I wanted a vaginal birth if at all possible, and I knew that my local hospital cesarean rates were kind of high. Nationally, the rates sit at about one-third of all births, which I think is just ridiculous. This belief was reinforced the closer I got to my due date and I repeatedly had strangers tell me their birth stories and they all seemed to end with “they said the baby was too big and I needed a c-section.” Then many told me their babies ended up being only 6 or 7 pounds. But I digress…

I initially decided that a hospital setting would be good, but only with a provider who was supportive of natural childbirth. I found Dr. Stafford, a family physician who also offered obstetrics and was rumored to let you deliver in whatever position you fancy. I saw Dr, Stafford for my first few prenatal visits and he was fabulous. Even better, once he delivers the baby, he’s your pediatrician and family doctor – a one-stop-shop who knows your whole family! Unfortunately, he didn’t accept my crappy insurance, so we were left looking for another alternative that would work within our budget and give us a good chance at a natural birth. Since I was lucky enough to have a fabulous, low-risk pregnancy, we decided to go with a midwife.

Let me tell you a little something about midwifery care…these ladies know what’s up. The care I received was far above and beyond any physician I’d ever been to. Each of my prenatal visits were so relaxed and informative. Each time I had at least half an hour to ask questions and just talk about my pregnancy. They assigned reading, recommended classes, and kept me on top of my diet and exercise to make sure I stayed in the low-risk category and was in tip-top shape for natural birth. And thanks to their advice (some of which I’ll share in a later post), I maintained a healthy weight gain, low blood pressure and had no swelling. Now, my feet normally look like little sausages stuffed in my sandals in the summertime, and I was 9 months pregnant in August in South Carolina with no swelling. THAT is a freaking miracle. Of course, my midwife was incredible during my actual birth (a long story for another post) and provided exceptional postpartum care in my home. Really couldn’t ask for more!

Me: Decisively Pregnant

Me. August. 40 weeks pregnant. Miraculously un-swollen.

Indecisive Momma’s advice for getting a baby out: decide what you value most and find a care provider that shares your values. Don’t be afraid to look into less traditional options. Ask a lot of questions, learn about the childbirth process and don’t be afraid to make changes no matter how far along you are. A great birth experience is worth the preparation!