Tag Archives: birth stories

A Birth Experience

21 Aug

Let me begin by saying this isn’t about spreading a fear of birth, this is about talking about experiences. That everything isn’t always what it seems. Wonderful outward appearances don’t always mirror what the actual reality is for the participant. I had no idea that my experience was so common. It happens in home births, unassisted births, and hospital births.

No one talks about it, though. It’s like there’s a stigma attached to having negative emotions in regards to an ideal birth.

I chose to give birth in a hospital. That’s the only place my beloved midwife can legally attend births. She hand picked the nurses who were in the room with me. Everyone was respectful, nothing was done against my wishes, and I wasn’t talked into anything. My husband was my rock, my doula was my strength, my midwife was my faith. Lights were kept dim, talk was at a low murmur. Words were always encouraging, conversation light. I was respected and supported in every way a birthing woman could want.

This is what was seen in the birth photography, what was read in my birth story, what others expressed to me when I asked them about their perspective of the birth.

But I felt nothing but betrayal. Anger, pain, distress, and bitterness. I couldn’t talk about the whole thing without crying for weeks. It took me longer to be able to think about it without wanting to cry.

I felt betrayed by my body. The enormous, ferocious pain I experienced during the pushing stage was beyond my wildest imagination. It blew me away because it was not what I had been expecting. Ella’s birth was an almost euphoric experience. Pushing gave me relief from pain and was something I looked forward to. Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed her birth experience. I was not prepared, in any way, for the vicious, bone shattering pain that ripped through my body and actually intensified as I pushed.

It really messed with my mind and emotions to choose to inflict such incredible pain upon myself. There’s more to it than that, but I can’t find the words to delve into it. I’ve been angry, sad, overwhelmed, hurt, gasping, and a myriad of other emotions off and on for the past year.

I had no idea that such emotions could be tied into a normal, natural birth. I had always assigned those reactions to unwanted medicalized births. Never, ever to a “perfect” hospital birth.

I’ve nit picked my birth over and over again. There was absolutely nothing I could have done to alleviate the pain. I did nothing wrong. For those of you who are knowledgeable about birth, perhaps not pushing on my back would have relieved pain, perhaps not. Unfortunately, pushing on my back is how I was able to progress with Miles. I have some physical deformities that caused him to get stuck no matter what position I tried, until I reluctantly tried sit ups while pushing. That is what got him out without forceps, a vacuum or an episiotomy.

I’ve been healing, bit by bit. I can’t lay my finger on any one specific event, but rather it’s been a compiling of small happenings here and there. I cried with my doula a week after Miles’ birth. I wrote and wrote and wrote for myself, expressing my emotions and treating them as valid. I talked about what I experienced with friends and was shocked to discover I wasn’t a ungrateful freak, but rather one of many who was working through a similar flood of emotions.

Most recently, I emailed a small circle of friends and asked them to come over the night of Miles’ birthday. To talk to me and listen to me while I verbally talked through Miles’ birth. To cry with and receive validation from women who had been at my birth and who had also worked through similar emotions.

Sending the email and hearing back from them all saying that they would come was exactly what I needed to work through the last lump of pain. Healing and soothing emotions have replaced senses of betrayal and anger. So much so, that I emailed them all back 10 days later saying that I was all right. I didn’t need to cry and I was healing well. I’m sure that more emotions will surface and need to be sifted through when I am pregnant again, but that is in the future. It is not now.

Right now? I am okay. No, I am more than okay. I am at peace.

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11 years ago tonight…

23 Dec

… it was snowing and my poor mother was THIRTEEN days past her duedate.

Things are rather blurry in my mind from that cold night but some very specific images stand out CLEARLY in my mind.

The apprentice midwife’s parents picked up my brother and I to come to the hospital to meet our new baby brother or sister. Dad couldn’t come because Mom’s labor was three hours from start to finish and he was told that if he left to get us, he’d miss the birth of his child. I remember the anticipation, excitement and thrill surging through me as I sat in their car, waiting to see if I had another brother or something brand new — a sister!

I remember sitting outside the room in the hallway with Grandma and Austin, bouncing my feet and generally being unable to be still. Then I noticed the door was opened a crack, so I crept forward and pushed it open a hair more. I could see through the sink mirror’s reflection a rolly polly new baby, pink and with a precious face. Then a nurse turned around, SAW ME, and quickly shut the door.

Then I was sitting in the recliner in Mom’s room, holding my NEW SISTER for the first time. The excitement and happiness threatened to overwhelm me and I thought that my grin was going to crack my face in two.

Having a sister is such an amazing relationship. She is so near and dear to my heart and she means the world to me. I love her to the moon and back. I am thrilled beyond words that my children have such an amazing person to be their “Aunt Nanny”. Savannah is such a caring, loving, funny, attentive, compassionate, spunky, and genuinely nice person. I can’t believe that she is no longer a little kid. She is rapidly becoming a young lady and such a pleasure to spend time with.

I wish we lived closer. Sometimes I cry because I miss her so much.

Happy birthday, Savannah Lou. I am honored to call you my sister.

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The Birth of My First Son

29 Aug

**Apologies to those who read this already on Facebook. These past eight days have FLOWN by and I’m trying to get back into the swing of blogging by cheating and putting up something I’ve already written elsewhere.**

The birth of My Friday Child, Miles Jacob
Friday, August 21st, 2009
4:10 am
9 pounds, 5.8 ounces, 22 inches long
7 hours active labor, 1 hour of pushing

This birth was such a different experience compared to the birth of my daughter, which was almost 2 years ago. During Miles’s birth, it was not only the birth of my son but also a huge turning point for me on so many levels. It was almost as if by birthing Miles, I birthed a new part of myself as well.

Starting Wednesday night, I was experiencing contractions about every 20 minutes. Sleep was a struggle that night and by Thursday morning, I was in tears when my husband left for work. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with an intense toddler while concentrating through prodromal labor. The whole day was such a struggle for me. I didn’t believe that it was the real deal, even when I started having to close my eyes to focus and change my breathing. Ella (my daughter, almost 2) would simply not stop touching me during contractions and was trying to help me feel better by rubbing my back, playing with my hair or otherwise stimulating my overly sensitive senses. Intellectually, I knew what she was doing was very sweet, loving, and adorable but emotionally I wanted to string her up by her toes from the ceiling fan.

By the time Aaron got home from work, I think he knew this was actual labor and took Ella out for dinner to allow me to go hide in the bathtub. It really surprised me that the water didn’t cause the contractions to stop all together, though they did slow. I decided to lay down on my side in bed and read a book until bed time and that caused them to come closer, stronger, and longer. My mind was in a very strange place. Emotionally, I was still in denial that this was actually labor. Intellectually, I knew I’d be birthing a baby shortly. Finally around 9pm, I called Sherry (my midwife) and she encouraged me to wake Aaron up and call my doula (Julie).

While we waited for Julie to arrive, I labored alone in the living room on the birth ball while Aaron called folks who were standing by to take care of Ella. While she was still home, it was like my brain was split. Half was worried about her, concerned that I’d wake her up, how she would deal with being away from us for a night, etc. The other half was trying desperately take over and focus on birth.

Julie arrived before Ella’s childcare, so she provided counter pressure for my back labor while I leaned against Aaron for support. I think that was my favorite position to labor in – me on the birthing ball, Julie pressing behind me and Aaron sitting in a chair in front of me. However, that was only comfortable for so long and it never worked out to revisit that position the rest of labor.

Our friends who were Ella’s childcare arrived, but they were very aware and in tune to my birthing space in the living room and just waited by the front door for Aaron to get Ella. After her carseat was installed, I suddenly decided that I just couldn’t watch her leave so I high tailed it to my bedroom where it was completely dark and I wouldn’t hear her cry.

Julie followed me in and I suddenly started crying. For a while, I couldn’t figure out exactly WHY I was so devastated. It wasn’t until I heard Ella’s door creak open that it dawned on me. I was so worried about how she would react to having a new sibling, worried about how she was going to feel about being away, worried that my love for her would change, worried that I wouldn’t be able to be the same mama that she needed. My heart was breaking because things were changing in ways that I wouldn’t be able to predict or plan for. I felt that I was abandoning my daughter, who thrives on consistency, at an age where she needs her mama so much.

So I cried. I cried and I cried and I cried. I felt like my heart was ripping.

Aaron came it a little while later and I demanded to know every little nuance, reaction and expression Ella demonstrated. He laid next to me in bed, stroked my hair, and described in the most intimate detail everything that took place. She was angry that he woke her up, excited to see our friends, and was chattering away with lots of emphatic hand motions as they drove away. I was finally able to breath, calm my mind and let the birthing half of my brain take over completely.

I labored at home for about an hour when suddenly there was a very very long contraction that just overwhelmed every single one of my senses. About half way through it, I found myself making a beeline for the bathroom because I was afraid I was going to have a major case of diarrhea. I made it just in time and as the contraction wrapped up, I felt Miles slide very low. I stood up and told Julie that it was time for us to go, even though there was still toilet paper left. She and I laughed together as it had been a bit of a joke that we’d head to the hospital either when the toilet paper ran out (somehow we only had a quarter of a roll of toilet paper in the whole house) or when I felt it was time. Whichever came first.

We beat my midwife to the hospital! I didn’t mind too terribly much because the nurses who were helping us expressed so much pleasure and excitement to be working with Sherry, that I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. Sherry arrived about half way through the 20 minute monitoring strip and assured me that she wasn’t sending me home. I was STILL in doubt that this was actual labor!

When the monitoring was finally finished, I labored a lot on my side in bed due to the excruciating back labor I was experiencing in addition to the traditional abdominal contractions. This allowed me to get the exact pressure and positioning of counter pressure I needed. It was SUCH a new experience for me because in my labor with Ella, I never experienced any discomfort in the abdominal area – it was all back labor. During this time, Sherry asked if she could check me. I agreed but requested that she NOT tell me how much I was dilated or effaced. Later on, after Miles was born, I asked where I was at that point and she said that I was almost completely effaced and at a 7.

After a while, I labored in the bathroom doing a supported squat using the sink and bar rail. In between contractions, I’d lower myself down to sit on the toilet to give my sore wrists a break. It was during this time that I began to have the urge to push. At first, I was so excited because I was expecting it to provide a release from the back pain like it had in Ella’s birth. This time, not so much. If anything at all, it increased the discomfort ten fold.

My first 3 or 4 pushing contractions provided a lot of visual change and were very beneficial in pushing Miles further down. So much so that Sherry brought in the birth kit and was preparing to help me catch Miles. But after that, nothing happened and after a while Sherry suggested that we might want to try a different position. So we tried this and that but nothing seemed to be effective. I also threw up for the second time. I was starting to have serious doubts that I would actually be able to birth Miles vaginally.

During my entire pregnancy, there had been something niggling in the back of my mind. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was and hoped that it would resolve itself. It wasn’t until I began to have doubts of birthing Miles that I realized what that problem was. I thought I had been simply incredibly lucky to have birthed Ella completely naturally. I thought it had been a fluke that we had gotten her past my deformed pubic bone and spinal issues. I asked Sherry if “this was going to work”. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “If I have anything to say about it, it will. You are so strong and are doing so well.”

That gave me the confidence and trust to move past my fears and distrust of my body. I stopped pulling on the side rail up and away from the contractions and began to push into the back pain. We also discovered that I made the most progress when laying on my back and my knees pulled up to my chest. Again, totally backwards from anything you hear in natural birthing communities but it’s what worked with my daughter and it’s what worked with my son as well.

Crowning was the most overwhelming sensation I have ever experienced. His head emerged very slowly and it became evident very quickly that slow and steady was the best way. Even though he was head down, he had both hands curled up by one cheek. My body needed the extra time to stretch and accommodate extra wide circumference without tearing.

Shortly after that, my son was earthside and in my arms.

I feel profoundly changed after experiencing this labor and birth. I feel that something fundamental has shifted in the way I think and feel. I’m not sure how to express this or find the words to assign to it’s description and you know what? I think that’s okay. It’s a good, positive shift and aside from that, no one really has to understand it but me.

Here are the amazing pictures Amanda took. This is the “safe for work” version, no obvious nudity.

Ella’s birth story

21 Oct

Ella Michelle
Born October 21, 7:26 pm
7 lbs, 14 ozs, 22 inches long

Just as a prenote — I knew Ella was going to be born on a Sunday and she was. I love my Sunday child.

Saturday morning found me at the doctor’s office for a 41 week check up with my midwife, Sherry. She wasn’t concerned about the baby, but she was concerned that her overseeing OBGYN would strongly push induction at my next appointment the following Tuesday. She suggested that Aaron (my husband) and I have some quiet time and talk to Ella and encourage her to be born sooner rather than later. That night, I took a hot bath and we both put our hands on my belly and explained to Ella that it was safe now for her to come, etc.

Six hours later, at a quarter to two in the morning, my water broke with a trickle. At first it was hard for me to figure out if I was just having incontinence issues or if it was the real deal, but I clued in really quick. I jumped into the bathtub and plug it to catch the water to make sure there wasn’t any meconium staining. Thankfully it was all clear.

I called my midwife and dula to let them know what was going on and also called my mom to tell her that the party was getting started. There were no contractions at the time, so I got a couple of towels and went back to bed. My husband pretty much slept through the whole thing because he was horribly ill and I couldn’t get him to wake up.

By 4:00 my contractions were seven minutes apart and I couldn’t ignore them. I called my dula, Jenny, and asked her to come over because I still couldn’t get my husband to wake up! By 5:30, Aaron finally roused and quickly kicked into labor mode. He was a huge help to me emotionally and the sense of pain in my contractions lessened when he talked me through them.

The next few hours all sort of blurred together for me. I spent about an hour and a half on my hands and knees, chest on the bed and butt in the air to encourage Ella to flip over from her posterior position. It didn’t seem to work and it was causing me more stress than anything, so I labored on my side until 11 am when my midwife called to see how I was doing. By that point, my contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds, so she asked us to come into the hospital if we were comfortable with it. By that point I wanted to head in, so Jenny drove me in her van since it was easier for me to get in and out of while my husband followed behind in our car.

We had to go through the ER to be admitted since it was a weekend and the ER staff really didn’t know what to make of me. Hospital policy dictated that I had to be wheeled upstairs in a wheelchair, so I told them she’d have to stop every time I had a contraction so I could stand up. We stopped three times through the ER triage area and every time someone asked if I was in labor. The last contraction through that area of the hospital found me shouting as I stood up, “Yes, I am in labor. Shut up!”.

Sherry offered to check me right away when I got upstairs to the labor and delivery floor, but I declined because I wasn’t relaxed because of the drive from home. She was very respectful of my space and helped create a fantastic atmosphere through lighting, music, and affirmation CDs. With the exception of one ten minute period, my midwife stayed with me from the moment I stepped into that hospital room until an hour after Ella was born. She provided me with the medical confidence I needed progress with Ella’s birth unhindered.

At 1:30pm I had a cervical exam and was at 1 centimeter and was completely effaced. I had discovered leaning over the counter was the easiest way for me to labor. I could sway my hips back and forth during each contraction and that seemed to relieve the pressure I was feeling on my spine. My knees were beginning to bother me by 4:30ish, so it was suggested that I try laboring on the toilet for a bit. While I was there, Aaron sat beside me and rubbed my lower back through every contraction and Sherry stepped out for a moment to grab a bite to eat.

Just before she stepped out, I asked her if I was in transition because I was having a lot of bloody show. She smiled at me and said, “It’s probably on the way but if you have to ask, you’re probably not”. Not five minutes later, I felt the urge to push and panicked a bit because there was no way I could be all ready at a ten. I pulled the nurse call chain the bathroom and the nurse came rushing in, asking what was wrong. The only thing I could get out was, “I need Sherry, I need Sherry”.

Sherry came back a few minutes later and she said I could either just push as I felt the urge or we could have another cervical check if it would help ease my mind. I opted to have a check because I couldn’t accept the idea that I was already at the pushing stage. I was completely dilated and Ella was at a +1 station. When I heard that, I was able mentally relax and get down to business.

Pushing didn’t hurt. It actually was an incredible relief to be actively involved in my contractions instead of trying to relax through them. It was discovered that the best way for me to labor was over a labor bar. So as each contraction started, Aaron and Jenny (the dula) would help heave me up and I’d hang myself by my armpits over the bar while I bore down. Through each contraction, I’d average about three pushes. After the contraction ended, they would support my back as I laid back down on the bed to rest.

After about 2 hours of pushing, it became obvious that something had to change. Ella was still posterior and when combined with my deformed pubic bone, she just wasn’t getting past a certain point. Sherry asked me to try not to actively push through the next contraction while she stretched me. That was the hardest part of the whole day.

Sherry pulled out a large set of three interconnected rings and the nurse offered to pull on one end while I pulled on the other. With each contraction, I would pull myself up by my arms on the rings and curl myself around them as I bore down. It went against logical thought that laboring on my back would provide any progress, but it turned out to be the perfect position. After about 6 contractions, I felt Ella suck herself back inside and flip around. It was the strangest sensations ever and according to my husband, I said some rather colorful and unique word combinations.

Within 15 minutes after that, Ella slipped out of me and I was holding her for the first time.

It was the most amazing, rewarding, and empowering experience in my life. It wasn’t scary or frightening. Instead, it was exactly what my body was made to do. Within five minutes of her birth, I turned to my husband and said, “Okay, I’m ready to do that again!”. I thought Sherry was going to drop my placenta when I said that. I still feel that way to this day.

I had only a very minor tear in the vaginal tissue that normally wouldn’t have had to be stitched, but I was struggling with anemia and it wouldn’t stop bleeding.

My entire birth plan was respected. Not a single thing happened that I didn’t want to happen. Our nurse was absolutely amazing and what I find incredible is that during her seven years on the L&D floor, she had never witnessed a natural birth. Evidently she approached Sherry partway through my labor and told her that this was completely out of her box and that she didn’t know what to do. By the time Ella was born, the nurse was shouting “Yes, yes, yes! You can do this! You ARE doing this!” and she cried with me as I held Ella.

I am amazingly blessed.

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