Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Elise's Birth Story

The Birth of Elise Corrine
February 6, 2010

Early in the morning of Saturday, February 6th, I woke to strong, somewhat painful contractions. Lying in bed, I quietly timed them for an hour. They were 7 to 10 minutes apart. I decided to get up and walk, but after another hour, I went back to bed. The contractions were still coming, but they were gaining neither strength nor frequency. I knew that rest would benefit me more than pacing and wondering.

When morning officially arrived, I wasn't having any regular contractions to speak of, but by mid-morning they had picked up again. After noting them for a few hours, I decided to call my midwife, Sonya. We had a home visit scheduled for that afternoon, but I wanted to give her a heads up that I thought I could possibly be in early labor. I was very cautious about even speaking that, because I didn't want it to be simply wishful thinking, and I was so hoping that this might be It. At 9 days past my estimated due date, I was very eager and ready to meet my little one.

Sonya arrived at 3:00 PM. After we finished my prenatal check-up, we talked about what the next step ought to be. Did I want Sonya to stay? Should she leave and I'd call her when I needed her to come back? Considering that it was a 40-minute drive and my contractions were twice the strength they'd been in the morning, I went with my instincts and said I'd prefer her to stay. I was still a little nervous about that, not fully believing that I was truly far enough along in labor. But she was happy to stay, and told me later that she was leaning that direction, too. Jeff called his parents, who live across the city, and were planning to come for the birth and watch our three boys.

Considering that I'd been awake for several hours during the night, Sonya suggested that I go lie down and try to rest. I am a terrible napper, but I agreed that resting my body would be a good thing, even if I didn't drift off to sleep. Once I got upstairs and into bed, things seemed to grow more intense relatively quickly. I was moving into active labor. Sonya came and sat with me, checking baby's heart rate with the Doppler every 20 minutes or so. We chatted easily between contractions, and during them I breathed deeply and tried to relax my entire body. I also began to moan, using low sounds to keep things loose and open.

Jeff's parents arrived to watch the boys, and just in time. I craved my husband's presence.
Eventually I asked Sonya to check my cervix, around 5:30 or 5:45 PM. She did, and said that she could feel the baby's head low, my bag of waters bulging, and a very soft cervix which was dilated to 5 or 6 cm. I felt so relieved by this news! This definitely wasn't just wishful thinking.

This was really happening.

At this point, my husband Jeff began to fill the bathtub. We were planning what would be our third homebirth, and fourth waterbirth. We had only been living in our new home for a month, but I'd been cherishing the sight of the master bathtub for weeks: the place where my little one would come into the world. My only concern was that always before Jeff had been in the tub with me, whereas this tub, while larger than average, probably wouldn't accommodate both of us. We decided I would try it anyway, though.
When the tub was ready, I got out of my bed. I could tell that the contractions were becoming much more intense now, and more frequent. The handful of contractions between getting out of bed and getting into the tub were agonizing. I was in that vulnerable place in labor where I didn't want to be left alone. If I sat on the toilet, I wanted my husband there. If I was going to be in the tub, I wanted my husband there. His presence lent me strength. I gave my face a quick scrub, braving a few more contractions. Jeff rubbed my back, and I leaned on him.

At last I sank into the warm water, around 6:30 PM. The air was scented with lavender, thanks to the candles I'd placed there soon after we'd moved in. I leaned back onto a bath pillow, a towel behind my head. When a contraction arrived, I focused on letting my arms float in the water, and on “floating” through the contraction. I also continued the low vocal tones, favoring “Ahhhhh” and “Ohhhhh” as my sounds of choice. I did miss being able to lean on my husband's body, but I was finding my own way in the tub this time.
Things got more intense. I could feel the power in the contractions, and it began to feel scary to me. But I reminded myself that this is how I always feel around the time of transition, and so, I kept on.

The boys were in and out of the bathroom. I've heard so many times that kids usually do fine attending a birth, so long as it's their choice to be there. Jeff and I were open to the boys being present, but my last two births had ended in the very early morning hours, and I was loathe to wake them up, considering that there was no way of knowing how long I'd be pushing. I had a feeling that this time the pushing stage would be fairly short, though. And we knew that they really wanted a chance to be there when the baby arrived.
Just as I began to feel pushy, my bag of waters broke. I waited through a few more contractions, because I wanted to be absolutely sure of the urge to push. Still, my body began pushing on its own, and the next time, I pushed too.

Now, I hate pushing. I mean, I really hate it. It is scary and painful for me. But I knew I wanted to meet this person who had been growing inside of me for 9 months. So what was there to do, but push? I had planned to move to my knees, leaning against the side of the tub – my preferred position during the last two births. But this time I decided to try it in my reclined position, instead. I knew that the water helps against the weight of gravity, and besides, I was comfortable. Or, as comfortable as I can be while in the middle of pushing!

I could feel the baby getting closer, so I gasped for the boys, who had gone into the other room. I'm glad they were able to be there, although I was a little self-conscious with them as an audience. Still, I knew they were well-prepared for the sounds and sights of labor and childbirth. I knew they wouldn't be afraid, no matter how much noise I made.
After about four or five pushes (and a lot of noise, including the often-repeated phrase “I hate pushing!”), I at last had my reward.

Elise Corrine was born at home, in the water, at 7:41 PM. She was pink and beautiful from the start, and although she didn't cry much, she did enough to reassure everyone that she was healthy. As Jeff and I sang her a lullaby, she was clear-eyed and alert as she surveyed her new world. We spent a long time in the tub, she and I. She nursed, while I stared at her in wonderment.

My baby. Here in my arms. It's always such miracle, the journey from womb to arms. My baby. A girl! Her skin feels like rose petals. She is so precious. A gift from God.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
- Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Owen's Birth Story

Owen Daniel's Birth Story
March 8, 2008

On Thursday, March 6, I was feeling very emotional and overwhelmed
because I was so ready to meet my baby, and he hadn't been ready to come
yet. That afternoon I had a prenatal appointment with my midwife.
Everything looked beautiful with the baby. After a short discussion I
decided to have her sweep my membranes. It was uncomfortable and a
little painful, but not too bad Eventually appointment ended, and
throughout the evening I had a bit of cramping and spotting (expected
after having membranes swept).

The next day was pretty quiet and normal. I continued to have a slight
amount of spotting from the procedure the day before. Late that
afternoon my husband and I enjoyed some adult time while our two boys
watched a video downstairs. As soon as we were done, I started having
crampy contractions, about every 3-7 minutes apart. These continued
through the evening. My husband and I watched a movie, and I kept timing
them all the way through. About 9pm I looked at my husband and said "I
think we'll be calling Esme [our midwife] tonight!" We had planned a
home waterbirth, so my husband pulled out the tub and got things prepared. We
had previously had several false alarms, so we wanted to be absolutely
sure before we called for the birth team to come to the house.

We decided to go upstairs and try to sleep, but the contractions were
getting stronger now, and between that and the excitement, we both
realized that we would not be sleeping any time soon. We went back
downstairs and sat on the couch. I had heard about how kissing can help
with relaxation and dilation during labor, so we sat on the couch and
started to kiss. After smooching through several contraction, I felt a
strange sensation in my belly. My husband had been touching my belly,
and he felt it too. It didn't occur to me what it was until I felt a
small spurt of wet warmth between my legs, a minute or so later. I said
"I think that might have been my water breaking! It did feel like a kind
of ‘pop'!" This was about 10:20pm. We called the midwife to let her know
what was going on, and she said it sounded like it was early, and left
it to us to call when we wanted the birth team to come. About 25 minutes
later, I had been sitting on my birthing ball, and when I started to
stand up, I felt a trickle down both my legs...and then there was the
undeniable sound of fluid dribbling onto the floor beneath me. Then we
knew, this was really it!

My husband started filling the birthing tub. I was walking around,
getting things ready and checking email. When a contraction would come,
I would find something (kitchen counter, dining room table, my husband)
to lean on. It helped to brace myself and lean with my forearms on a
firm surface. Around 11pm we decided to call and have the birth team
come. The birth team included my midwife Esme as well as two midwife
apprentices, Rebecca and Taryn. We also called my in-laws, who were
coming to help out and be responsible for our two older boys. We told
everyone it was not urgent yet, but that they should start heading our way.

Everyone arrived at about the same time, around 12:30am. I was still
able to smile & laugh, but during contractions I would find someplace to
lean and concentrate on breathing through the rushes.

My in-laws went upstairs to try to get some sleep, and the birth team
stayed in the background, letting us do our own thing (which worked so
well for us in my previous labor) and coming to check baby's heartrate

Around 1am I got in the birthing tub. The warm water felt great, and the
pain of the contractions was lessened a lot after I got settled. After a
while my husband got in, too, and we experimented with different
positions. Pretty soon things started to get much more intense. We tried
kissing through some of the contractions, and that really did help for a
while. I tried to focus on relaxing my whole body, and taking deep
breaths helped me to do that. Another tactic for this labor was making
low, moaning sounds. I think that helped to loosen things up "down
under" and also it gave me something to concentrate on.

The next few hours are a little blurry in my memory. The contractions
got really intense, and we both were feeling so tired. I sat leaning
back against my husband's chest, and we would just be really quiet in
between contractions. My poor husband kept drifting off to sleep, and
his chin would bonk me on the head, at which point he would say "Oh, I'm
so sorry!" That was actually pretty funny, he was so remorseful.

I was starting to feel like it was getting hard to handle the
contractions. Then there came a contraction that felt a little
different. I wasn't positive, but I thought "Was I just feeling a little
pushy there?" And without my mentioning it out loud, my husband asked
"Did you just get the urge to push?" I told him that I thought I had,
but I wasn't sure. He called for Esme to come, and I asked to be
checked. I had not been checked before I started pushing during my
previous labor, but for some reason this time I wanted the confirmation
of being complete. Rebecca checked me and said that she couldn't feel my
cervix at all, and the baby's head was "right there." Whenever I felt
ready, it was okay to push.

So I got up on my knees, leaned on the edge of the tub, and got started.
Right away I remembered how much I detest pushing! And this time it
seemed really intense and scary to me. I had torn with both my other
labors, and I just felt sure that I was going to tear again. Still, I
tried to take it easy and listen to my body. I had always wondered if I
just pushed with too much gusto those other times, and that if I had
taken it a little more slowly and let the tissues stretch, it might have
been better.

My dear husband kept saying "Push to the point of comfort, push as long
as it's comfortable." This is something that we had learned in a Bradley Method childbirth class we'd taken during my first pregnancy. It really bothered me, although for a while I couldn't find the words or energy to say anything to him. Finally I said, with my teeth gritted a bit, "I wish you'd stop talking about it being comfortable." There was nothing comfortable about this pushing business!

The last few pushes were really scary for me. I could feel the baby moving down, and I could feel him crowning, or almost crowning-- that might be more accurate. Then I would run out of steam, or courage, or contraction, and the head would scootch back a bit. I knew this was normal but I really, really wanted to be finished pushing! Finally after two contractions like that, I managed to just pant after the contraction ended, and the head stayed forward. The next time I pushed, my husband said the head was starting to come out, so I bore down, gave it all I had, and at 4:08am, with one savage holler, my son was born!

His dad caught him, the birth team helped me turn over so I could meet him. My dear, sweet husband handed him to me, and we sat close as we sang the lullaby we have sung all of our babies in the moments after their births. The first stanza goes,

"Baby boy fusses, baby boy laughs
The Angel who watches says 'Hey, look at that,'
There's your faith, the mountains will shake
'Cause God gladly bends just to hear baby boy when he prays..."
(adapted from a song Rich Mullins wrote for a girl named Madeline)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Kyle's Birth Story

Kyle Warren
September 26, 2005

On Sunday, my contractions began to feel more like powerful menstrual
cramps than the tightening sensations they had been before By 10pm my husband
and I were pretty certain that this was It. We called our midwife and the
birth team headed right over. We also called our parents. By 11pm or so
the team was assembled, and at around 11:45 my in-laws arrived.

Around 12:15 or so I requested a vaginal exam. The suspense was killing
me! I was 5 cm and 100% effaced, and my midwife said I was far enough along
that I could get into the tub whenever I wanted. (My husband had started filling
it after we made our phone calls at 10.) I relaxed through a few more
contractions, then decided to get in. My husband joined me after a few minutes,
and we labored together through most of the night. We were doing so well
as a unit that the birth team mostly hung out in the other room. Every
30 minutes someone came to check baby's heart tones, both during
contractions and not. During contractions I let my whole body float on
top of the water. It really helped, especially with the imagery of
"floating over a contraction."

I think it was maybe around 3:45 or 4:00am that the contractions started
to feel pretty overwhelming. Between that and my oh-so-lovely vomiting
episode (thank goodness we were prepared for that, having remembered
what happened in my last labor), my husband & I were pretty sure were hitting
transition. When I would be working through a contraction, I would think
"This is so hard, I don't know if I can do this," but after the
contractions would end, I would remember that was classic transition.

A little while later, I could literally feel myself opening up, and soon
I said "I feel like pushing." My husband was surprised (I never felt the urge my
my last pg) but kept his cool and called the birth team. I decided to
try getting on my knees and leaning my arms and forehead on the edge of
the tub. The pushing stage seemed like an eternity-- so I was shocked
when I found out that I only pushed about 25 minutes. Quite a change
from my last labor, where the pushing stage lasted almost 2 hours!!

The time came. We could feel the baby's head. Even though I nearly
panicked a few times, I remembered to use low tones pretty consistently.
Soon the baby's head was born, and then the rest of him came slipping
out too.

We had someone wake our 2 1/2-year-old son, so he could come and meet his
baby brother. He was pretty sleepy, but I'm glad we included him in the

Kyle began nursing like it's what he was born to do with his life(a huge
relief considering the bumpy start I got off to with our first baby) and was ruddy
and healthy. He weighed 8 lb 2 oz, and was 21 inches long. He is
such a joy to our family!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Benjamin's Birth Story

*** Much to my dismay, I cannot locate the birth story that I wrote. So in keeping to the freshest memories, I will publish here my husband's telling of the birth of our first child, Ben. He was born in December 2002. Enjoy ~Mindy


Benjamin’s Birth Story

By Jeff

The story starts on December 6th, one day before our estimated due date. Mindy had joined my dad and I for lunch downtown and was relaxing in my cubicle waiting for me to finish up that day’s work so I could ride home with her.

At about 2:45 I came back to my cubicle and Mindy excitedly told me under her breath, “I think I had a contraction. It’s probably Braxton-Hicks, but it’s the first I’ve been sure that it was really a contraction.”

Well, it turned out to be Braxton-Hicks and over the next few days, for about 6 hours a day Mindy would have these warm-up contractions, and we’d try not to get our hopes up that they might lead to the real thing.

On Wednesday the 11th we had our regularly scheduled prenatal appointment and when Mindy came by my office to pick me up, she had a list of the contractions she’d been having. They weren’t terribly strong, but they were relatively consistent in frequency and duration. Again we tried not to get too excited, but I admit, I thought that would be the day. Desiree admitted that it could be the beginning, but we should watch to carefully because like a watched pot it may never boil. We left excited and tried not to time every contraction, but we were very excited.

By Saturday the excitement and anticipation was starting to wear us down a little. The contractions seemed to be fairly regular and would even increase in intensity and frequency if we went for walks. But they always subsided shortly after we got home. Monday came and went in much the same way. On Tuesday the 17th I was able to finish up at work early and was headed home around 3:30 or 4:00. I gave Mindy a call to let her know I was coming and she told me that she’d had some contractions that actually hurt. They weren’t bad and she was having trouble timing them, so she didn’t think it was anything to get excited about. Especially since she had taken another long walk that day after lunch.

Somehow, I had a hunch that it would start tonight and even if it didn’t we had to take advantage of the fact that we could still go out to dinner whenever we wanted to. So we went to the Olive Garden and enjoyed a nice meal and some really special “us” time.

During the entire meal the contractions continued with the same intensity and when we got home, I told Mindy she should call Andaluz to keep them abreast of the situation and ask if they had any advice. Shortly after we walked in the door, Desiree called to see how we were doing and to let us know of a couple of things that we should consider if we were to go over 2 weeks past due. We told her about the contractions and she seemed to think things had started, but that we definitely had a long way to go. She told us to call when they were 4 to 5 minutes from the start of one to the start of the next.

So Mindy and I got comfortable and relaxed in the living room trying to not concentrate on every contraction. At about 9:30, Mindy had a contraction that made her have to sit down and that’s when we knew we were starting to get serious. We climbed in to bed hoping that we’d be able to get a little bit of rest before this all started, but that just wasn’t to be. The contractions were now averaging 7 minutes apart and lasting for around 50 seconds. We were confused because we didn’t think they should last that long until they got closer to 3 or 4 minutes apart. We just kept working at it with Mindy catching a few winks between contractions, and me trying to make sure it was me who woke her and not the pain of a contraction.

At about 1:30, they were getting very intense, but still 6 or 7 minutes from the start of one to the start of the next. Mindy ran through the shower while I packed the car and then left to go to the West Side of town. My parents live only 5 minutes from Andaluz and we figured that we would rather make the 45-minute drive now, if the contractions were already this intense. The ride would surely be much more unpleasant if the contractions were this intense and only 4 minutes apart.

We arrived at my parents around 2:30 and they had setup a bed for us to labor in private and we went to work. The contractions continued to be 6 or 7 minutes from the start of one to the start of the next, but soon they were lasting between 2 and 3 minutes each. At about 5:45 we finally decided to call the midwives. Heather answered and we told her the situation. Then I checked Mindy’s cervix and called Heather back. Mindy was about 3 cm dilated. We decided that we would keep laboring at my parents until 8:30 when Andaluz opened up, unless something changed dramatically.

We left my parents at 8:15 and arrived at Andaluz around 8:45 after fighting rush-hour traffic on I-5. Sonja checked Mindy’s cervix and after giving us a surprised look, said she’d feel better if Desiree checked it before she told us any thing, because she felt she couldn’t be sure. At around 9:10 Desiree checked Mindy’s cervix and said that she was 8 cm dilated and at +1 station. We couldn’t believe it: 5 cm in 3 ½ hours. We got Mindy into the tub quickly and I managed to race out to the car and bring the rest of the bags in between one contraction and the next. During the next break I changed into my swim trunks and got into the pool with Mindy. We had a tape playing that Mindy had made and soon Sonja, Desiree, Michelle and Heather were all there watching quietly and offering support when we needed it.

I sat behind her for quite awhile and she breathed deeply through some more very intense contractions. The water was a great help because she could just let her arms float and let me support her while she relaxed the whole rest of her body.

At around 10:15 Desiree suggested that we try a hands and knees position to get some different work done in moving the baby down. These contractions continued to be intense with 2 coming one right after the other and then a short break before the next one.

All of a sudden I heard Desiree say, “You can push if you want to,” and Mindy started with a couple small pushes. It was about 10:45. During one of the early ones her water broke and then she started pushing in earnest.

At about 11:00 the contractions spaced apart and that should have clued me in, but I was taken totally by surprise when Desiree suggested that Mindy move to one side of the tub and I sit facing her with her knees over mine... “so you can catch the baby.”

“Already,” I cried excitedly and incredulously, as I looked at the woman I love more than anything in the world. Our dream was about to become a reality. Mindy started really bearing down now and soon, I could see a head popping out when she pushed. Desiree had me feel it and there was a hairy ridge of skin there. I was confused and Desiree explained that was just the excess scalp being scrunched together as the head was being pushed out. Soon the head was staying out and I was providing counter-pressure on Mindy’s perineum. As the baby completed crowning, Desiree came back and helped guide Mindy in the last few pushes so that she didn’t push too fast and cause any bad tearing. After a couple really difficult pushes the head came out and the shoulders followed quickly afterward. I cradled the baby in my hands as Mindy and I rushed together to surround this baby with our bodies. We began singing the lullaby that we’d sung to him so many times in the womb, only this time instead of alternating “Baby Boy” and “Baby Girl”, we could sing “Benjamin fusses, Benjamin laughs. The angel who watches says ‘Hey, look at that!’...”

Benjamin Wayne **** was born on 12/18/2002 at 11:51am. He weighed 8 lbs. 3 oz. and was 20 ½ inches long.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

the beginning

I love to talk about childbirth.

All three of my birth experiences were wonderful, and my husband and I were so blessed that we were able to bring our children into the world in the way we prayed for.

Lately I've had a desire to start a blog talking about childbirth and natural parenting. The childbirth part may be behind me...we'll have to see about that. But as far as natural parenting...I'm only just starting down that road!