I’d like to preface this story with a note about contractions.  My body is extremely sensitive.  I feel Mittleschmerz when I ovulate, and I start feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions starting around 16 weeks into pregnancy.  I get lots of those practice contractions as I get further along, culminating in about 6 an hour starting around 34 weeks up until I deliver.  I get so used to them, I don’t notice them much.  So when I describe contractions in this story they are the real thing.  The pain starting in my back and lower pelvis and them circled around me, with a definite peak of intensity.

On Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 3 days past my due date, I went to Dr. Fountain’s for my weekly check-up.  I didn’t undress, since everyone at the office knew I didn’t get “checked” at my visits.  Dr. Fountain came in, leaned the chair back, and I pulled up my shirt.  He said, “Whoa! That’s going to be a big baby.”  He measured me and listened to the heartbeat, then he asked with a wink if I had considered being induced.  He already knew I’d say no, which I did, so then he told me that he guessed the baby was going to be 9lbs.  He knew that size wouldn’t be a problem, since my last baby was large, but he also knew I really had a fear of tearing.  I tore really badly with my first baby and discovered that it wasn’t that bad, but I really wanted to minimize the risk this time.  I asked if he would check me.  When he checked, I was 3 cm dilated.  Since I was already past my due date and a bit dilated, I asked if he would sweep my membranes to try and get things started.  I had old blood spotting that evening, but it was just from the doctor poking around.  I also made love with my husband and stayed on my back afterwards to let all the happy prostaglandins bathe my cervix.

The next morning, Wednesday, May 19th, at about 5:30am, I got up to use the bathroom and noticed that I lost the mucus plug on the tissue and had started having real bloody show.  Later that morning around 10am, I took my daughter, Lily, to the park while Kenny went exercising.  Once I was there for about half an hour, I started having contractions about every 10 minutes, but they weren’t too bad, just annoying.  I got excited mentally, but tried to keep things in perspective, since it was just early labor, but I knew that it was starting.  About an hour later when Kenny met us at the park, I was starting to have to breathe through some of them.  He packed us all in the car and we headed home for some lunch.  The contractions steadily got stronger and stronger, but they stayed between 7 to 10 minutes apart.  We called Teresa, the doula, to tell her that things were starting, but that we didn’t need her.  We also called my parents and sister to put them on alert.  I went to bed after lunch and Kenny entertained Lily.

I woke up around 4pm, and had a snack, and sat to watch a movie.  The rest of that day is beyond memory for both my husband and myself.  We know we ate and got Lily to bed, but we were concentrating on contractions, so we don’t remember much.  We tried to go to bed at the usual time, around 11pm, but I didn’t sleep well at all because the contractions were coming about every 7 minutes.  Kenny downloaded a contraction timer onto his iPod Touch so that we could keep better records.  Some were easy and I just breathed steadily, and some were strong enough for me to wake Kenny and have him massage my back.  I would lie down between contractions and try to sleep, and when one came, I’d get on my knees and put my head down on the pillow.  I started to be afraid to go to the bathroom, because urinating always brought on a very strong contraction, but I kept drinking after every contraction, because I didn’t want to get dehydrated.  I finally decided that squatting while urinating felt much better, because contractions felt better that way, so I got a big Tupperware container and would just squat over the container to urinate.  It was a little funny, because sometimes I could feel the baby move into my pelvis while I was urinating, and then a big gush of urine would come out as he squashed my bladder.  At some point during the night, Kenny mastered his mantra that saved me in contractions.  He’d lean in close to me and say, “You can do it…  It’s only 6 breaths….  That’s right, this is the worst one, and you’re doing it…  Okay, just a couple more and it will be gone…. Yes, this is the last one…  You did so well.”  If I really went wild, he’d get in front of me and breath with me, or just grab me and pull me into a labor posture while he crooned his contraction speech.  It was very intimate.

We called Aunt Kim at 6am before she left for work, and told her to come and pick up Lily, because we were sure we would be having the baby soon.  She came over and my contractions were about every 5 minutes.  Aunt Kim got to see a couple of contractions, and then she took Lily back to her place for the day. We all thought that I’d be having the baby any time that day.   I noticed that somehow in the middle of the night, the baby had turned from Left Occipital Anterior to Right Occipital Anterior, which is not the best position for delivery.  I tried laboring in many positions to try to turn him.  At noon, I was still having contractions about every 5-7 minutes, so my Doula suggested that I call my doctor and see if he could check me to see if I’d made any progress.  We got an appointment and Kenny drove me to the office to see Dr. Fountain at 3:30pm.  Doctor fountain said I was still 3 cm, but that I was almost fully effaced.  He told me that I’d probably have the baby soon, but that he’d see me at my regular appointment on Monday if I didn’t.  I didn’t say anything to anyone, but I was horrified and devastated to think that I’d have to bear the labor until Monday!

We went home and continued to labor.  I tried to labor in many different positions to get the baby to turn back to LOA.  I had contractions in lunging positions, in knee-chest positions, and spent lots of time making figure 8s on my birth ball.  Kenny was really good at coaching my breathing.   Aunt Kim brought Lily back to our house that evening, and then Laura Bogle, our friend, came over to get Lily.  It was interesting, because when Laura came over my contractions slowed down and then stopped, but about 30 minutes after she was gone, they came back.  At 10pm, my Doula, Teresa, came over and she suggested I drink a large glass of wine and I also took a Tylenol PM sleeping pill.  Again, my contractions eased up, and eventually faded away while she was there.  She sat with me and we chatted while I drank the glass of wine, then I crawled into bed and she gave me a nice massage with calming oils.  I slept well that night, only waking about once an hour when a very strong contraction hit, and I slept until 9am.

When I woke up on Friday, May 21, my contractions were gone!  I was so disappointed.   I just took it easy and tried to relax so they could come back.  I got a few every hour, but they were spaced apart by about 12-15 minutes.  That evening around 5pm, the Bogles dropped off Lily, and Kenny and I took everyone out to dinner at the Cracker Barrel (Amanda’s favorite restaurant) as a thank you.  Lily slept at home that evening.  It was nice to see her and snuggle on her a bit before putting her to bed.  Kenny and I had sex again, knowing it might be our last time for a while, and I laid in bed afterwards to let the semen bathe my cervix.  I slept for a bit, but woke up around 10pm because the contractions got very strong again.  I got up out of bed and sat on my birth ball so that I could lean on the bed.  I didn’t want to wake Kenny, because he had been getting just as little sleep as me, so I labored as quietly as I could.  It’s a good thing that he’s the heaviest sleeper ever, because some of the contractions were strong enough that I had to moan out loud to get through.  By 1am, I was miserable.  I was mad at Kenny for being able to sleep, I was mad that he could sleep through my moans, and I was mad that I was the awake in the middle of the night.  I didn’t want to wake Kenny, even though I knew he’d stay up with me, so I was mad at myself for being too nice.  I drank a glass of wine and took a long bath to try and ease the discomfort of the contractions.  It helped slow things down again so I could slip back into bed and lay down through contractions.

Saturday morning, I was really tired again after having no real sleep, and the contractions were very strong, so Lily went to spend the day with Mimi and Didi.  I labored all day, with contractions coming every 5-7 minutes.  Most of the day was Kenny and me watching movies.  When a contraction would hit, I’d crawl onto the coach, so that my knees were on the cushion and my arms and head rested on the arm.  Sometimes I’d rock, sometimes I’d just relax.   Sometimes to break up the monotony, I’d walk in circles around the living room and do effleurage on my abdomen during contractions.  Thankfully, the baby decided to turn himself into a better birth positon and was laying on my left side by now.  I called my Doula and my doctor around 4pm and told them I didn’t know how much longer I could labor like this.  I asked them if I should come in and get my water broken to speed things up or try to get some rest.  Both of them told me that there was no right answer, but that once my water was broken, I’d be on a timeline, and that if I was already tired, speeding labor up might not be what I really wanted.  Dr. Fountain said that he could prescribe a sleeping pill, but that if I went into labor, I’d be groggy, so he suggested that I use my Doula Teresa’s advice and take the Tylenol PM sleeping pill and the wine, because both of those things could metabolize in my system much easier and wouldn’t make me or the baby groggy.  Kenny and I decided to try to sleep, and decided that when I woke up, I could come into the hospital and Dr. Fountain would break my water to try to speed up labor.  The doctor promised that even if I woke up at 3am, he’d come in and break my water.  Kenny went out and got me Spicy Basil Eggplant from the Vietnamese restaurant down the street and we had a nice dinner, then I took the pill and drank the wine at 7pm and I went to bed at 8pm.

IMG_2298I woke up at 12:03am on Sunday when my water broke on its own.  I jumped out of bed as soon as I felt it, and most of the water went on the floor.  We were very thankful that we’d put a water-proof liner of the bed.  I didn’t feel any contractions, so Kenny and I casually got our things ready and called my parents so that my mom could meet us at the hospital.  We figured that we had at least a few more hours to go.   My contractions started up pretty intensely while we pulled the car out.  We got in the car and called Teresa, our Doula, at 12:26am.  During the car ride to the hospital, my contractions became 1 ½ minutes apart.  Kenny experienced every man’s dream and got to run two red lights and go way over the speed limit.  I could tell he was enjoying himself, even though he was a bit nervous about my contractions being so close.  We got to the hospital at 12:45am. Kenny had to check us in because I was really working through some contractions.  In fact, I didn’t even make it far into the lobby, before I grabbed a chair and squatted in the floor to get through the contractions.

IMG_2301My mom arrived just as we did and we told her to go move our car and bring in our things.  They got me into a wheelchair at 12:57am and ran down the hall.  It felt nice to have the air rushing past me.  I got into the bed at 1:07am

and my wonderful nurse, Lakisha Kerr, checked my cervix.  I was 7cm.   Kenny and I looked at each other astonished!!  Someone said, “Where’s the doctor?”

IMG_2302

I turned around in the hospital bed so that I was on my hands and knees.  I did a few more contractions while they put my ID bracelets on and asked me some questions, and when she checked again, I was 8cm.  My mom came into the room with our bags and my birth ball and one of the nurses said, “She’s not going to need that ball.”  I didn’t see much of anything happening, because I was sitting backwards on the bed on my knees, concentrating on Kenny’s face.   Kenny was up by my head, helping me breathe through contractions.  The nurse never questioned my being on my hands and knees, which was really nice… and good, since I wouldn’t have moved even if she did.  I had been laboring most of those days in that position, and that’s how I was comfortable.  I could hear them start to run around and someone said, “Find the on-call doctor.”  The nurse told me to tell her if I felt any pressure.  All of a sudden with one of the contractions I felt the baby move down into my birth canal and I said, “Pressure!”  It was a magical feeling.  I thought, “This is it!”  They told me not to push, and I knew that they were trying to find someone to deliver the baby.  All the pain was gone.  I looked up at Kenny and smiled.  I remember grunting and groaning and lots of breathing, and then they told me it was okay to push.  They had found a midwife, Susan Doyle, to deliver the baby.IMG_2322

I felt great!  I remember smiling at Kenny and him smiling back.  The sensations were very unusual and exciting; I could actually feel the baby moving down through my body.  I felt very powerful.  I felt the twists and turns of his body moving in mine, and then he started to crown.  When I felt the baby’s head start to stretch me, I reached down with my right hand and felt his head.  His head felt wet and squishy, and at first I wasn’t even sure it was a head.  It certainly didn’t feel like my head, but I figured it must be him, since I felt no sensation when I touched it.  I applied pressure to his head and the midwife helped move my perineum over his head so I wouldn’t tear.  I did baby pushes and breathed away some of the contractions so that my body could stretch.  I remember telling myself to relax and go slowly.  Nothing hurt at all.  I loved it.  It took 4 minutes from crowning until I was ready to deliver his head.  They told me I could push his shoulder out on the next contraction.  After another minute, I felt the contraction and gently pushed, the midwife got his shoulder and told me to give one more push.  The rest of him slid out and I wanted to see him, but I was turned around, and couldn’t move until they cut the cord.  He was born at 1:34am.  His APGAR score was 8.  Once the cord was cut, my doula, Teresa, helped me turn around and sit on the bed.  They handed me the baby, and he lay on my chest and we covered him and me with blankets.   He wanted to nurse right away.  I felt wonderful and happy.  My doctor came in immediately after the birth.  I was sad that he missed it, but it was nice to see him.  We all sat there bewildered that the last part of labor went so quickly.  I hadn’t even been at the hospital for a full hour yet!  I don’t remember delivering the placenta at all, probably because I felt so good and was talking up a storm with everyone in the room.  I do remember the pain as my uterus contracted.  They were almost like labor pain!  The nurse showed me how to massage the muscle so that it would help shrink.

At about 2:30am, they moved me to the recovery room upstairs.  Nurse Lakisha brought a wheelchair over to the hospital bed.  I stood right up and got in.  That felt really good.  I felt in control and healthy when I was able to stand on my own without pain or help.  Once I sat down and looked at the bed, I was amazed at how much blood was on the bed under where I had been sitting.  Everyone told me that it was totally normal, but I didn’t realize that one loses blood like that for the birth.  They estimated that I lost 200cc of blood on my chart.  They handed me the baby and we wheeled past the nursing station.  All the nurses smiled and one nurse called out, “That’s how to have a baby, honey!”

Once we got in the room, my recovery nurse introduced herself.  I requested cereal and whole milk for a snack, and once it came, I ate it with enthusiasm.  They asked if I needed pain medication, and I said no, because I felt awesome.  I did take a pill that they said was routine to help with postpartum blood loss.

 

We had decided that Gavin was not to leave us for any reason other than emergencies, so Gavin’s nurse came into our room to do his checks.  She was wonderful.  Her name was Vicki Hyde.  The first thing she had to do was a blood test on Gavin since he was so big, just to make sure his blood sugar was okay.  She never questioned us or made any remarks when we told her that we would not be administering the eye ointment, the hep-B vaccine, or having him circumcised.  She asked Kenny if he wanted her to wash Gavin, and he said that we’d like that.  She washed him right there in the room with us so that everyone could watch.  She had a really nice personality.  I’m glad that Gavin’s first experience with nurses and hospitals was with her.
Thi
s pregnancy and birth experience was very empowering and rewarding for me.  It makes me want to do it again, but I know that every birth is different, so if I do this again, I’m not going to set any expectations in mind.  I’m just going to stay relaxed and let my body do what it does, because it knew just what it was doing this time.

 

Brielle Cain Davis’ Birth Story

I first started feeling contractions on Wednesday morning, April 14, 2010 at approximately 3:30 a.m. I decided to get up and do some work until I had to get dressed and ready at about 9:00 a.m. I had a midwife appointment and a sonogram scheduled later that day. I went through the rest of the day not feeling any more contractions.

At around 8 p.m. I went into Brielle’s room to do some last minute finishing touches and I felt a little bit of water leaking out. I thought to myself that my water may have broken, but there was no gush like you hear about on TV/movies. So I realized I had a few last emails I wanted to send to my bosses, so I got on the computer and worked until about 9 p.m. The contractions started to get stronger and more regular. I admitted that I was actually in labor and thought that I better get focused on giving birth to Brielle. I went upstairs and asked George to start timing the contractions while I rolled around on my exercise ball. The contractions were about 8 minutes a part. I watched Glee and some other show we had on DVR. George went to sleep for about 45 minutes! Lucky him! When he woke up the contractions were about 6 minutes apart and getting stronger. I asked for my wine, which tasted pretty good, but it seemed to slow down the contractions, so I only drank about 3 good sips. In order to manage the pain, we danced, changed positions, and I sounded.

When the contractions got to be about 4-5 minutes apart I got into the tub (probably about 11:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. and got some relief. The contractions seemed to slow down so we decided to get out of the tub for fear that my labor was slowing down. By about 1:00 a.m. the contractions were less than 3-4 minutes apart. George insisted that when they got to 3 minutes apart we were going to the hospital. I said 3 minutes apart for an hour and then we should go. He compromised and said 3 minutes apart for 30 minutes and then we would go. I acquiesced. We called our doula, Persis, and asked her to meet us at the hospital.

We arrived at the Atlanta Medical Center’s labor and delivery floor at 1:47 a.m. We had to wait approximately 30 minutes for a room to be prepared for us, so I had to labor in the hallway. Lots of sounding and dancing went on in the hallway. My midwife checked me at 2:30 a.m. and said I was 3-4 centimeters dilated. For those familiar with birth, that meant I had 6-7 centimeters to go until I would be ready to deliver Brielle. Suffice it to say I was crushed. My contractions were 3 minutes or less apart and pretty strong at this point and I could have more than 6 hours to go! I cut George a dirty look and lamented that we had come too early. Everyone assured me that I had not come too early and that everything was going to be fine. My midwife also advised that she wanted me to wait until I was 6-7 centimeters dilated before I got into the tub. George and I wanted to have a water birth if possible.

We spent the next 2 hours laboring between the hallways of the labor and delivery floor and our room. We had a great view of Atlanta’s night skyline. I used that view to distract me and manage the pain of the contractions. I knew she was moving down the birth canal and I was pushing a bit during each contraction. At about 3:30, I asked the nurse if she could get my midwife so she could check me to see if I could get into the tub. I needed pain relief which I knew the water would give me. The nurse suggested I wait an additional 30 minutes since I had just been checked at 2:30 a.m. I agreed, but about 10 minutes later the contractions were so intense and coming so closely together that I just knew that I had to have progressed to at least 6 centimeters and I really needed the tub! My midwife came and said I was definitely 6-7 centimeters and that I could get into the tub. I asked, “can I get in while you fill it,” I was a desperate woman. She said yes, so they wheeled in a deep inflatable tub and began to fill it with water. I got into the tub and continued to have strong contractions every 2 minutes or less. I began to feel the intense need to push. My midwife said then it is time to push. During transition I doubted myself and my body’s ability to push out my baby without harming myself. My midwife assured me that I could do it and George gave me lots of encouragement and told me I was doing it and doing a great job. I gave 2 pushes and delivered Brielle’s head. The third push delivered the rest of her body. I was never so relieved as to have her out.

My midwife caught her under the water and told me to grab her and bring her up. I did just that and she landed on my chest making the screaming face with no sound. Once she caught her first breath she began to cry, with sound. It was a great smooth birth. We were very excited that we were able to have a second healthy baby via a vaginal birth with no drugs. She was born April 15th (Tax Day!) at 4:47 a.m. My labor was approximately 8 ½ hours. I dilated 6-7 centimeters in 2 hours. Brielle weighed 7.65 lbs. and was 21 inches long. She is a great baby. She sleeps pretty well and doesn’t cry a lot (well, that is compared to Carter).

You know they say “best laid plans always fail”?

I had a “best laid plan” for the birth of Little Miracle. I hired a doula, switched to a midwife that does water birth, had taken all the
classes, read all the books, and was ready for my HOSPITAL water birth with my doula and midwife there.

I didn’t get it.

12/7/09

I cleaned the house tonight when Stephen took Little Man to the gym. I was having a few contractions, but I was having them all week. They would come and go, nothing consistent. After I cleaned, I sat on the birth ball for a while. Bouncing. Swaying. Doing anything I could do to get the contractions to come back and stay consistent. Nothing was happening, so I decided to give up and go to bed. I had seen my midwife that morning, and I was 2-3 cms, but she stretched me to 3-4. She said she would “see ya tonight” but I did not put faith into it.

I went to bed at 9:30. I say went to bed, but I just laid there and tossed and turned. I was uncomfortable. I was 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I wanted to get the show on the road! Little did I know the show was on its way, coming down the fast lane.

I was just about to drift off to sleep around 11:15 to 11:30 when I felt a contraction. Hum, I usually don’t have them when laying down. And this one was getting painful. I got up and went to the bathroom. I had another fun sign of labor approaching in the bathroom, so i knew something was happening. I texted my girlfriends that I think something was up. This was 11:42 pm.

I filled my tub and crawled in hoping to labor at home for a while. I told my husband to get the computer and to start timing the
contractions. By midnight the contractions were 2 minutes apart lasting about 2 minutes each. Hum. Maybe time to call some people!

12/8/09

Stephen called my mom (to come and watch Little Man) and our doula and midwife. Looking at my phone, he called my mom at 12:13, the midwife at 12:19 and my doula at 12:21. (My water broke when Stephen was on the phone with our doula) My mom was on her way, my midwife said get to the hospital. The contractions were coming so fast, and starting out SO hard, I just knew there was NO way I could do this naturally. I begged Stephen to get me to the hospital and to get me an epidural!

I suddenly felt the urge to push. I never felt this with Little Man since I was so drugged, and I did not believe that I was feeling it.
It was too fast. There is no way I was fully dilated!

I pushed once and put my hands down there. I felt his head bulging me outward so I told Stephen to call 911. He didn’t believe me when I told him I NEEDED to push. He was telling me to just hold on and we would get to the car, and to the hospital. He did not believe that the baby was coming either.

I pushed again and felt his head crowning. At this point Stephen was on the phone with 911. I don’t know when he realized that I was not kidding, and called 911. He told them “my wife’s in labor”.

I pushed again and his head came out. I was in SHOCK. OH MY GOODNESS!!! I was having him in my tub at home! All these thoughts came to mind. I am at HOME, in my tub, with NO MEDICAL PEOPLE PRESENT. What if he gets stuck? What if the cord is wrapped around his neck? What if I can’t get him out?

I gained my composure, and knew that I could do this. I knew what to do. Almost like instinct.

The next contraction came and I pushed out his body. I had my hands down there to catch him and pull him up to my chest. I rubbed his head and Stephen patted his back. Stephen was still on the phone with 911. He told them that the baby was born! I asked Stephen what time it was. I wanted to know the exact time I had him. It was 12:30 am.

He let out the tiniest little cry. I knew he was ok. I pulled him off my chest to check for his cord. It was around his shoulder, but not
his neck. I untangled him, and put him back between my breasts and covered him with a towel that was on the side of the tub.

Stephen went downstairs to let my mom in (who had been trying to knock for a few minutes, and even called, but we never heard her) and wait for the ambulance.

My mom came upstairs and saw him. The look on her face was priceless. I don’t think she believe that I just delivered a baby in the tub at home either!

The paramedics got there a few minutes later. I still had Little Miracle on my chest and covered so we stayed that way for a few
minutes to try to wait for the placenta. The paramedics were very nice and were doing things on my time. After a few minutes they suggested that we go ahead and cut the cord so they could check on the baby. I agreed and they clamped it. They went to cut it (with a razor blade they had!) I stopped them, and asked if Stephen could cut it. They all looked at each other (there was about 4-5 men in my bathroom… all of them with a look of disbelief and shock on their face… I don’t think any of them had ever seen a call like this before, either that, or they were just happy they did not have to deliver a baby) and someone finally said “Well I don’t see why not” and handed Stephen the razor blade.

The one female that was there with the paramedics took Little Miracle and wrapped him up in a foil blanket. She took him to the master bedroom. We (the men and I)waited about 10 minutes for the placenta and it was not coming, so they loaded Little Miracle and I up into the ambulance to head to the hospital. I told them which one I wanted to go to, and away we went.

I held Little Miracle on my chest skin to skin the whole ride down. I was having contractions still, but they were no where near as strong as the ones I had just had. We finally made it to the hospital, and my doula showed up, then Stephen (he had to follow in our car) then my midwife.

The placenta took what felt like forever, but it was nice to have my doula there to help me thru the contractions. Once it came I felt SO much better! My midwife had to sew me up because he came so fast that I tore. I did not feel it when it happened, because his head numbed me on the way out.

The female paramedic was finishing up her paperwork and talking to me. She said that the initial call she got was “woman in labor”. Then she said not even 30 seconds later, dispatch said “woman delivered”. She said she had to question dispatch “Woman delivering, or delivered?” because she did not believe it either!

By the time my midwife was done sewing up my nether regions, it was all starting to sink in. I had a baby! At home! In my bathtub! With no one there! In less than an hour! Now that’s a feeling! Talk about on top of the world. I still want to stand on top of the roof and shout! I DID IT! Granted, not how I had planned AT ALL, but either way, I did it!

He was born at 12:30 on the nose. 7 lbs 6.9 ozs 19 inches. Perfectly healthy!

http://lifeofasahm-lisa.blogspot.com/2009/12/you-know-what-they-say-about-best-laid.html

I was 39 weeks pregnant, feeling good physically and emotionally–better than I had for most of the pregnancy. Over the weekend, I started to get the feeling that something was going to happen soon. Isabel had changed the way she was moving inside of me. Instead of kicking, punching, and having “playtime” in there, it suddenly started to feel as though she was getting down to business. Her movements were more studied and intentional, like she was getting lined up for her big entrance into the world. She would move her little head back and forth, telling my body it was time to start opening up. She made little changes to her body position, making sure everything was just right for the big day.

Sunday night Doug and I went to dinner with friends, wanting to get in one last “grownup” excursion before baby became the primary focus for a while. It was a lovely evening, with yummy food, candlelit conversation, and good friends. We came home afterward, sat in our warm little living room, and basked in the afterglow of our beautiful evening out. I kept saying to Doug, “That was just what I needed.” We went to bed in a happy glow.

Around 3:30am Monday morning, I woke up feeling a little “pop” inside of me. I sat up to go to the bathroom and felt some water run out of me. In the bathroom I saw part of my mucous plug, and I knew then that the length of time we would have to wait to see our little girl was growing short–little did I know how very short it would be!

I went back to bed, and I started having mild contractions twelve minutes apart, though I didn’t really believe they were the real thing. I was able to sleep in between, so I just laid there and rested and felt very calm. Doug woke up a little bit and I told him what was going on, and we agreed not to get all worked up, but instead to go back to sleep and save our energy for the work that lay ahead. In retrospect, I realize that I was definitely having contractions and though far apart, they were already regular, but I was dealing with them so well that, being a first time mother, I kept second-guessing myself and thinking these couldn’t possibly be REAL contractions. Maybe they were just intense Braxton-Hicks contractions? At any rate, I slept as long as I could and tried not to speculate on how much longer it would be before Isabel came to us.

In the morning, Doug went to Chick-Fil-A and got me a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit–my favorite pregnancy breakfast–and I devoured it with gusto in between the little contractions. I was still able to talk through the contractions, but they were starting to feel more intense, so I decided to call my doula, Teresa, around 10am. I realize in retrospect that because of my first-time-mom insecurities (and the fact I was handling the contractions easily) that I was reluctant to tell Teresa things were getting started, but deep down inside, I knew I was in labor. I was just scared to say “I’m in labor” in case I was wrong. Anyway, fortunately Teresa suggested I contact Margaret, my midwife, and let her know what was going on. Margaret suggested I come up to the office so she could check me and see if my cervix was changing.

Doug and I got dressed and headed up to the office on Howell Mill, which was a bit of a drive, but the contractions were still manageable, so it was okay. There were a lot of people in the waiting room, so we didn’t get in right away. By the time Margaret checked me, it was around 1pm and I was 2cm dilated and 80% effaced. There was some uncertainty as to whether or not my water had broken (I never had the big gush, but had been leaking clear fluid pretty constantly all morning) but Margaret didn’t seem concerned so we didn’t worry about it. So things were happening, but it looked like we still had a long time to go before baby. Margaret said maybe she’d see us later that night, and we were thinking maybe we’d have the baby the next day. At the advice of Margaret and Teresa, we decided to continue doing what we were doing–just going about our normal day, and not timing contractions until they were so strong there was nothing I could do but time them.

We were getting hungry, so we thought we’d stop off and get one more good meal inside of us before things got more intense. We stopped for my favorite pregnancy lunch–Pad Thai from Doc Chey’s–and got it to go. The girl at the cash register noticed me breathe through one of my contractions and asked if today was the day, and I told her we thought so, and she congratulated us and I felt so proud and excited about what we were about to do, I wanted to tell everyone! While we waited for the food to be ready, I sat outside on a low wall, basking in the beautiful fall sunshine and feeling the cool breeze, and being so happy to be alive and doing the amazing work of bringing a child into the world. The contractions were getting more intense, and when Doug came out with our food, I leaned on him and we breathed through one together–the first one I’d needed help to get through. I had no idea this was a sign of the major ramping up in pace that was about to occur.

We got in the car and on the way home I said to Doug what a gorgeous day it was and how when we got home I wanted to sit out on the front porch and eat my noodles and then maybe we could labor outside together for a while. He said that sounded like a good idea if it was what I felt like I wanted to do, so it was settled.

By the time we got home, everything changed. Contractions were suddenly no longer manageable while going about normal activities. It was like a switch had been flipped, and I was no longer in early labor, I was in active labor. I had to stop everything to deal with the contractions and they started to hurt a lot. Needless to say, I didn’t eat any of my noodles, and I didn’t sit on the porch and I didn’t enjoy the sunshine. I got in bed and I started to struggle through the contractions deliberately, breathing and trying to relax my abdomen and just let myself open.

At my insistence, Doug wolfed down his noodles (I wanted him to have energy for the journey ahead) and then came to the bedroom to be with me and help me through contractions. He did such a good job, I get all emotional when I think about it now. We did some of the things we learned in our birth class, but mostly he was just there with me, and we were connected, not just here in the physical world, but also on a spiritual plane that is difficult for me to explain. But we were there together, and I felt our connection stretch into infinity, and I felt so loved and held and protected by him and it was so beautiful. This middle part of my labor was very short, but I will treasure it for the rest of my life as the most special moment Doug and I have ever shared. He laid in the bed with me and held me, and I held onto him and we rode the waves together. It was so very very short, and I wish it could have lasted longer, but I’m so grateful that we got to share that time at all and I would not trade it for anything.

And just like that, the switch was flipped again and we catapulted into the next phase of labor–transition. Only we didn’t know that’s what had happened. You have to understand that all through this experience, our brains were in one place, and my body was in another, and it wasn’t until after all was said and done that we realized what had happened. There I was working really hard, contractions coming one on top of the other, the pain never really letting up in between, and Doug and I were still trying to breathe and relax through them like it was early labor, and frankly starting to get scared that things were quickly becoming too intense to handle. We tried and tried to time the contractions, but I was getting little ones and big ones, and they were all over the place time-wise, and the pain never really let up in between, so we couldn’t establish a pattern and when Doug called Teresa and Margaret to tell them there was no pattern, they quite understandably assumed that there was no way a first time mom had dilated that quickly and told us to keep doing what we were doing and stay put at the house. So we did.

And I got more and more scared. At some point, I remember looking at Doug and telling him I was terrified, and I know he tried to reassure me, but I don’t really remember what he said anymore because by this time I was in another place entirely. My brain split into two–there was my rational, logical, “modern” brain, and then there was my primal animal brain. The primal brain was taking over, and the logical brain was drifting to the background. The logical brain still interjected comments from time to time, but was mostly playing second fiddle to the primal brain, which now had me kneeling on the bed or the floor and roaring my way through contractions. Doug could no longer do anything to help me through them, and my logical brain felt so bad for pushing him away, not wanting to hurt him or keep him from performing this role he’d been getting himself ready for. But the primal brain was now in charge, and she said there was no breathing through this, there was no relaxation, no being touched. All that was left was to get on my hands and knees and roar the baby out.

Part of the reason I was so scared is that I didn’t know when we should go to the hospital. In retrospect, I realize we should have gone to the hospital well before we did, but as I said, we didn’t realize how rapidly I had progressed. I just thought I was doing a really bad job of dealing with regular contractions, not that I was actually doing a GOOD job of dealing with transition. But I was afraid, and I know that made the pain worse. I knew as time passed I was getting into more and more of a state where I wouldn’t be able to tolerate the journey to the hospital and I was worried we’d have the baby at home. I don’t remember exactly how the decision was finally made to go to the hospital, but Doug made the phone calls to Teresa and Margaret because I was way past being able to talk on the phone. Doug tried to get me dressed, but with each contraction my clothes became more intolerable and I kept ripping them off myself and getting down on my hands and knees. I realize now that I was experiencing an intense urge to push, but at the time I just knew that every time I tried to relax into a contraction, I felt a sense of panic and pulled back in instead. I think my instincts were working to slow me down and keep me from having my baby there on the bedroom floor!

Finally Doug found me my purple cotton dress to wear, since clearly I was not able to keep my pants on. Doug got the bags loaded into the car and moved the car seat out of the back. I did NOT want to get in that car–I knew it would hurt so much more in the car, and I was scared to make that trip, but I knew that for my baby to be safe, I really needed to do it, so that’s when I started to pray.

I started out asking for strength and courage and guidance. I asked for these things over and over again, at first under my breath, but then out loud, and it became my mantra I repeated to myself, as Doug helped me climb into the car.

Doug made the drive as quickly and smoothly as possible, but it was hell. I had to bring my logical brain to the fore from time to time and give him directions (“turn right at the cemetery”, “go under the blue bridge and turn left”) because we had never gotten around to doing our trial run to the hospital–and every time I had to bring forward the logical brain, the pain was worse. Then I would switch back to the animal brain and I would howl and grunt and go back to chanting and praying.

I called on the gods and goddesses, and my ancestors. I believe a part of me needed to be mothered at that moment, because I asked Freya to hold me and cradle me and give me strength. I asked my female ancestors for guidance in bringing the next in their line into the world. I asked for courage to do the work required of me. And in the middle of all of that, somehow I received a message. The message was: “It has to hurt to mean something. If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be worth doing.” And I found strength in that, and realized that, even though it was hard, I was safe and my ancestors were there with me in that moment, and my children and my children’s children were also there with me in that moment, and it hurt, but I would not break and I would make it through.

To anybody in a car passing us, it probably looked as though I was out of my mind with craziness, writhing around in the back and yelling and chanting and praying. But actually it was then that I started to pull myself together. Those things that seemed crazy were actually me centering myself and pulling on reserves of strength that I wasn’t aware I had.

When we arrived at the hospital, I had to help Doug figure out where to park and how to get into the hospital–I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do a trial run of this sort of thing, and I will definitely plan better next time! But we managed it. We didn’t bother waiting for a wheel chair for me–we didn’t have time, and I wouldn’t have been able to tolerate contractions sitting down, and besides, I was determined to walk in there under my own steam. We made it up to the 7th floor (thank goodness for elevators!) and stumbled up to the reception desk, and I feel bad for the cleaning crew because I was leaning my head and face and hands all over the glass window, propping myself up while they got me admitted. But these people knew their stuff, they could tell I was late in labor and in no fit state to sign waivers and the like. They immediately got me into a room.

Margaret showed up not much later, but by this point time meant nothing to me, and I have no idea how quickly it all happened. People were bustling everywhere around me, but I didn’t know what was happening outside of my own little bubble. I know the nurse asked if I wanted to put on a hospital gown and I said I’d prefer to keep on my dress. Then at some point I know I had to get out of my dress, and two people helped me–possibly Doug and the nurse? I don’t know. Margaret checked me and announced I was 8cm, and I have never been more relieved in my whole life. If I had been less far along, I would have known there was no way for me to make it through the rest of the process. But knowing that I was right there, right at the worst part of it, that this was the worst it was going to get–that’s what allowed me to keep going.

They started to get the birthing tub inflated and filled up. The nurse was trying to monitor the baby, but I couldn’t stay still long enough to keep the monitor on. I writhed around and I remember whining something about “it’s so bright in here…” and they cut off the overhead fluorescent lights and I was SO grateful. i know I was also bitching about how they needed to hurry up with the tub, and how the damn monitor band needed to come off my belly NOW. They were so good to me, and the nurse took off the monitor and they switched to intermittent monitoring, and I’m pretty sure they fudged the rules for me because they’re not supposed to let me in the tub until the baby has been continually monitored for a certain amount of time, but they could all tell where I was and they took care of me right. I don’t know what I did or said to cause it, but at one point I remember Margaret saying “and that’s how we know she’s in transition” and the other people in the room laughed. I don’t know who all was in there–it seemed like so many people, but I just shut it all out and went with the contractions, and Margaret started coaching me through them, urging me to grunt low. Sometime in all this mayhem, Teresa arrived, of which I was vaguely aware, mostly because my logical brain (which was now completely in the background) was thankful she was there to reassure Doug. I knew he must have been terribly worried and felt things were out of his control, and I was thankful when I saw Teresa put a reassuring hand on him from time to time.

After what felt like hours, but I now know was quite a short time, they had the tub inflated and filled enough for me to get in. When I did, it was the most blessed feeling of relief, I can’t even explain. I’m sure if we’d realize a few hours ago we were progressing quickly and I had been able to labor in that tub most of the time, I’d be telling a very different story now about a more gentle birth experience. But as it was, I was thankful beyond belief even for the few minutes I did get to spend in that tub. The warm water and buoyancy gave me the comfort I needed to push through the last little bit of labor. I was able to get on my hands and knees and be comfortable, and between contractions I could lean against the soft walls of the tub.

When my baby started to come down the birth canal, I reached down with my hand and touched her, felt her tiny head coming out, and that was all I needed to keep going. Doug held me in his arms there at the side of the tub, held me so tight, and even though I was still in my primal brain, I was there with him, and he was with me, and he gripped me and sent me his love, a palpable force which I could feel as I pushed our daughter out into the world.

Isabel Ivey was born at 7:12pm, into a tub of water that had just barely finished filling. She was not born on the bedroom floor because her daddy was strong enough to help me into that car when I didn’t want to go. She was not born in the car because her momma somehow knew not to push yet, even though I wasn’t even aware it was pushing I wanted to do. And she was not born on the hospital bed because the life-giviing sound of the water pouring into a tub gave her mom the patience to hold on just a little longer.

No, Isabel came into the world in a warm, watery dimness, as gently as her momma could manage, given the circumstances.

I felt her slide out of me, like a rubbery cork, and I breathed a sigh of relief and I don’t know how I got into an upright position, but I did, and I held my baby there in my hands and she had her eyes wide open and gazed into mine, and she was so alert, and started to turn pink right away, and I just knew she was okay and had come through the journey safely. I held her for a while, and I don’t remember what I did or said. I just remember wanting to memorize everything about her, down to the way the umbilical cord looked attached to her body and the way the vernix felt on her skin. I wanted to remember it all before it all changed, before cord-cutting and tests and baths and time rushed us away from that moment. I held her little purple sticky wet body in my hands, and there in the dimness I fell in love.

Doug cut the umbilical cord and after what seemed entirely too short a period of time, they took my baby from me and helped me out of the tub. I immediately started shaking uncontrollably, partly shivering with cold, and partly reeling from the intensity of the experience I had just had. They wrapped me up in warmed blankets, and helped me to the bed, and it was only then that I finally started to be aware of the people around me. Doug was at one side of me, and Teresa at the other, and Margaret and the nurse were at the foot of the bed as I delivered the placenta. Afterwards they let me see it, and Teresa even took pictures of it for me, and it was beautiful. Teresa showed us how it had a Tree of Life in it, and Margaret showed us where it had attached to my uterus to transfer life to my baby. It was amazing.

The baby was never more than a few feet away from me while they checked her out to see if everything was okay, and Doug says that whenever I talked she would turn her head in my direction. When they put her back on my chest, she laid there and I was amazed at how strong and alert she was. She could lift her little head up and push herself around with her feet, and her eyes were wide open and she looked at everything around her, most especially focusing on my face. I’m so grateful we got that period of quiet alertness that comes with a non-medicated birth. It was priceless.

I have a tendency to doubt myself, and because during my labor I felt such intense pain, I thought it meant I was weak and not managing well. But I realize now that a hole inside of me opened up, and did so much more quickly than it usually does for most women, and that when things progress that rapidly, it hurts more. And considering how I breezed through early labor, I realize now that I dealt with the sensations very well indeed, and I’m proud of myself. Several people have said to me after the fact “Oh, you’re lucky it went so quickly”, not realizing that the faster passage also means more intense sensations. But I know, and Doug knows because he was there, and we know that my shorter journey in no way lessened the intensity of my ordeal. It just made it different. My rite of passage was mine, and I lived up to the challenge. I know now what I’m made of and what I’m capable of.

We spent our first night with the baby in the hospital, and in the middle of the night, while dad slept in the cot next to us, Isabel and I laid in the bed together, in the dim orange glow of the city lights, and she stared into my eyes and I stared back. It felt like all of eternity was encapsulated in that one night, in my little girl’s eyes. As exhausted as she and I both were by the experience we’d been through, I think we both could have laid there gazing forever if we’d been allowed to.

When we left the hospital two days later, the hospital people insisted they bring me a wheelchair to ride down in. I was resistant at first, just because I was impatient and waiting around for a wheelchair seemed silly when I could walk perfectly fine. But as I rode along in the chair, followed by the hospital person pushing it, and my parents walking along after him, cradling my new baby in my arms, I felt a sudden surge of pride. People looked at us as we went by, commenting on how cute my baby was, or stopping to congratulate me, and I felt triumphant. The wheelchair didn’t make me feel weak, it made me feel like a triumphant queen on a litter!

And then, when Doug and I pulled into the driveway of our happy little house, I looked out of the car window and saw my front porch, decorated with bouquets of flowers, and teddy bears, and balloons–congratulatory gifts people had sent to greet us as we arrived. And I carried the fragile little bundle of my baby into our living room, and I sat on our little couch, and I told her “Isabel, this is your home now” and I burst into tears and finally all the emotions of the last few days became real and came pouring out of me, and I told Doug “We’re a family now. We were partners before, but now we are a family”.

Nearly a week has passed now since the birth of our daughter. Her wrinkly, funny looking little face has filled out and pinked up and turned into the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful thing in the world to me. We are bonding with reckless abandon, nursing constantly, snuggling in between, and drinking in every moment of togetherness we can. Dad takes care of us both, bringing me food and drinks, changing Isabel’s diapers, and lavishing us both with kisses. I know eventually Doug has to go back to work and I have to do things like laundry, and every day won’t feel quite this blissful, but I don’t think I have ever in my life been happier than I am right now.

NeriyahMonths of preparation finally became real on the morning of October 2, 2009. Nyokabi had a restful night and was ready for the day. After Morning Prayer with Jonathan, she decided to call Baby Depot to check on the special delivery of a hutch that she ordered for the nursery. After being on the phone with them for 15 minutes and not getting anywhere she started to get frustrated when she felt her first contraction. She knew right away that labor had started so she ran to tell Jonathan that her contracts had started at 10:56AM. After experiencing irregular contraction for about 30 minutes Jonathan calls Persis, their doula, to let her know today was possibly the day. Nyokabi told her that she saw part of the mucous plug and the contractions were not in any real pattern yet. However, 20 minutes later, Jonathan calls Persis again to let her know Nyokabi has a heavy show off blood. At this point Nyokabi starts to worry so Persis decides to come to the house just in case the labor was going fast.

Persis arrives at 12:23pm. Nyokabi answers the door with a beautiful smile and a big hug. She is excited this may be the day and wonders what she should do next. Persis suggests she continue her normal day. Jonathan makes lunch while Nyokabi finishes up her last day at of work while sitting on her birth ball. We all watch “7 pounds” with Will Smith. Nyokabi rocks with each contraction and stays hydrated as she finishes up her last day before maternity leave. She was determined to finish a project and get paid for her last day of work before her leave. After lunch Jonathan runs an errand and Nyokabi has a craving for pancakes and decides to make them as she continues to breath and rock through her contractions. Nyokabi starts to wonder how long will labor last and Persis reminds her of the marathon analogy for labor so she tries not the think about the time. The contractions are getting stronger, but Nyokabi stays positive and laughing.

At 4:00pm Nyokabi goes upstairs to take a bath for relaxation and her contractions starts to slow down significantly. So she gets out of the tub and stays upstairs for the remainder of the night in her room where she rotates between the rocking chair and the bed. Nyokabi even manages to take short naps in between the contractions. Persis stays near by in the upstairs sitting room as Jonathan prepares the home for the Sabbath. At 9 pm Persis suggest they all rest for the evening so Jonathan sets up the guest bedroom downstairs. Nyokabi continues to remain quiet in her room with contractions in a somewhat consistent pattern. Jonathan stays close to the room but continues to occupy his time around the house. At 10:00pm Jonathan reports the contractions are no longer in a pattern and Nyokabi is complaining of back pain. Persis suggests she get in knee-chest position to help ease the pressure on her back. At 11:00pm with the back pain still present, Persis reminds Jonathan to rub her back. Nyokabi’s contractions gets intense and she feels like she has to vomit. Within 30 minutes Nyokabi can no longer be consoled and suddenly she is at a loss for words and can not communicate what she wants other than wanting to go to the hospital. She does not want to be touched, talked to, or questioned as she is now unable to express herself through the intense contractions. Persis suggest she get in the bath while Jonathan gets the car ready for them to leave for the hospital. Nyokabi’s contractions are now coming very close together and as soon as she gets in the tub Nyokabi could no longer resist the urge to push. Persis works to calm her down and quickly gets her out of the tub and bathroom but Nyokabi is still pushing because she can not control the urge. Persis yells for Jonathan to move quickly and starts to refill the tub just in case the baby’s head crowns. Luckily the decent of the baby is slowed and they are able to get downstairs and in the car quickly.

They pull out of the driveway at 12:21am. Persis advises Jonathan that he needs to get to the hospital as fast as possible so he drives nearly 85mph while breaking several traffic laws to get there before the baby starts crowning. The hospital was only 4 miles away but the drive seemed like an eternity to Nyokabi. She continues having contractions and pushing in the car as she squeezes and bites Jonathan’s arm to help her deal with the discomfort. Jonathan calls Nyokabi’s obstetrician (Gwinnett OB/GYN) to let them know that she was in labor and was starting to push. He got an answering service and left a message for them to call him back.

They arrive at 12:30am and Jonathan drives frantically to the entrance of Emory Eastside Medical Women’s Center. Monique, a postpartum nurse, was outside saying goodbye to her daughter when Jonathan pulled into the women’s center. As they approached the entrance, Nyokabi yells to Monique “hit the blue button!!” This is to let the labor and delivery department know it was a “cold blue” emergency. She hit the blue button and quickly brought a wheelchair as the labor and delivery nurses arrived prepared to assist with the delivery. Jonathan lets Nyokabi out of the car to the care of the nurses while he went to park the car when he gets a call from Dr. Traci Johnson (the OB on call for Gwinnett OB/GYN). Dr. Johnson starts to ask Jonathan questions to find out the status of Nyokabi’s labor. Jonathan tells Dr. Johnson that Nyokabi is pushing but Dr. Johnson did not seem convinced as this was her first baby and her water had not broken yet so she informs Jonathan that she will be there shortly. By then Nyokabi was wheeled to the birthing room and within minutes where the nurse confirmed she was fully dilated and the baby was crowning. So the nurse called for the birthing team to come in and assist with the delivery. When another nurse decided to check Nyokabi her water suddenly broke without notice at that point Dr. Johnson arrived to assist as Nyokabi continued to push. Dr. Johnson says to Jonathan, “Wow I guess you knew what you were talking about!”

Once Nyokabi was flat on her back she was told to push and at 12:39am on October 3rd, after 4 pushes Neriyah was welcomed into her new world. Nyokabi feels an immediate feeling of calmness come over her and says to everyone, “I can’t believe I did it!” She was able to accomplish her goal of having a natural childbirth.

Melia had her first baby using pain medication- I can’t remember the details- hopefully she will share them in the comments… She then took my childbirth class and hired one of the LOL doulas and had a home birth. This time she hired a local doula- an excellent one I might add- and took the Birthing Again classes that I teach. They chose to give birth at Athens Regional using the wonderful midwifery group that supports women there. I read her birth story and asked if we could please post it here to share with you. She happily agreed!

The Birth of Della Ruth Digby

I sit here with my four day old daughter on my shoulder, sleeping peacefully. The mere thought of her still seems very surreal to me. I have a daughter. Della Ruth. Oh, how I love her and know her already.

Her birth story really begins in October 2008. For the years following her brother Erick’s birth, her pop and I had always felt we were done having children. We had two beautiful, wonderful boys. It was enough. Or so we thought.

One afternoon in October, I was dancing in my bedroom holding young, 2 year old Erick in my arms. We were listening to. “I called my daughter, called her by her little name…” and I had this overwhelming sensation, this knowing, I have to have a daughter. In that moment, I believe, Della Ruth and God called to me, and I answered.

I called my wonderful husband, Rick. I said, “I want a daughter.” He said “We’ll talk about it when I get home.” And we did. He walked in the kitchen. We hugged and kissed like always and I said again, “I want a daughter.” He said, “It might not be a girl.” I said, “We have to try.” And the miracle of it was, he said “okay.”

Never before had we been in this place regarding another child, and so to both be there, at the same time, well, I knew…this child is meant to be.

We spent the next two months almost giddy with anticipation and love. And on Christmas Eve, around midnight, I took a pregnancy test. And it said “pregnant!” I just stared and stared at it. I was on the phone with my sister, Lindsay, when I took it and we were so very thrilled together.

That next morning (I could barely sleep that night!) I gave pop an ornament with the date 9.09 on it along with the positive pregnancy test. Oh, how thrilled and excited we were!

The pregnancy progressed (oh how sick I was!) and at 20 weeks, we chose not to be told our baby’s sex at the ultrasound. We had found out with the boys, and I wanted this time to be different. Also, a part of me knew that I would love love love my child regardless, and rather meet my child and find out than be told by a technician. Everyone seemed to say “boy” (strangers, coworkers, etc) based on how I was carrying. I didn’t really know. I trusted, though, that whoever it was, Della or Seth, it was the child who called to me. So it didn’t matter.

My due date was September 5th, and that came and went. On Thursday, the 10th, my irregular Braxton Hicks contractions seemed to have more pressure to them, and began to involve my back. It was late, about 11 pm. Rick and I were watching television. I got up and told him that I thought I’d be having the baby in the next day or so. I went to the bathroom and before I even removed the toilet paper, I knew it would show some indication of birthing, and it did. Bloody show. How exciting!

I called Lindsay and told her to plan on coming in the morning. I texted my doula, Alexa, and told her I’d call in the morning. All night I woke up every 10 minutes or so with contractions that felt similar to menstrual cramps. They were quick and easy, but they kept me awake for the most part. I listened to some Hypnobabies and tried to rest. In the morning, we woke the kids up around 7:00. I told Lucas first, and he was so excited (about the birth and about missing a day of school!) How they had been waiting for this day! I woke up Erick and he wanted to come with me, to stay with me. We got him excited by packing his book bag full of books to take, and I got a picture with the boys cuddled with me. Our last picture together before Della. Rick took the boys over to Grandma Rosie and Grandpa Johnny’s condo. They were very excited to go, as they are usually completely showered with gifts and attention there. I was really ready to build a nest to birth in, and was ready to focus on that, so I was thankful the boys had somewhere good to go.

I set myself up in the baby/Erick’s room with my birth ball and Hypnobabies. I found that during contractions, it felt good to lean back and recline- less pressure on my cervix, I guess. I was moaning through them, yet they were still only about 30 seconds or less in length, and probably 10 minutes or so apart.

Rick came home and cleaned the house and brought me water and anything else I needed. Lindsay got to our house around 8:30. I was so happy to see her! Early on I had a contraction and began to moan, and she started to co-chant with me, and I started cracking up and then so did she. She said, “well, I thought you weren’t going with it, I was trying to help.” (co-chanting was a big part of John Ross’ birth)

This laughter, this fun, is what I most wanted for this birth. I wanted to *enjoy* giving birth. To be present, and birth in awareness. I wanted to talk and laugh and bond.

I showed Lindsay some fun, new things around the house, including the bathroom with large tub that Pop was redoing for me and the birth. We then went downstairs and watched a movie that I recorded called “Shag.” It is a movie that she and I both loved when we were young, and it was so fun to watch it together. We knew a lot of the cheesy lines and were cracking up at how silly the movie seemed now, while remembering how “cool” it seemed to us in our youth. During the two hours of the movie, I’d have contractions, go to the bathroom, and ate some graham crackers with peanut butter. Pop watched the movie with us, and basically just waited on me hand and foot.

After the movie, we decided to go for a walk, to see if that would help things progress. It wasn’t comfortable to walk, and I felt rather vulnerable out in the day light with neighbors driving by. With every contraction I felt the need to pee so badly. We just walked a little ways, very, very slowly, and then came back home. I laid down on the couch and actually fell asleep between contractions.

When I woke up, I felt kinda embarrassed or guilty for things not progressing faster. Here I was with Lindsay off work, Alexa’s kids in childcare while she waits for me to tell her it’s time to come over, and Rick off work and “ready.” I voiced my feelings and got reassurance from Lindsay, and especially Rick. I called Alexa and asked her if she thought I should be actively trying to get things to progress (walks, nipple stimulation, etc), or if I should just rest and hang out. She recommended I just go with the flow, and enjoy the day. To balance activity with rest. So, with that, I said, let’s go to lunch!

Lindsay, Rick, and I went to eat lunch at Panera. I was actually really hungry and ate the entire meal. I was having strong contractions, although by being out in public, I realized that I didn’t have to moan through them. I would just look out the window, or put my face in my hands and breathe. If someone were to watch me, I’m sure they would have known I was in labor. The contractions remained about the same in length and intervals.

After lunch, I didn’t want to just go home and be bored; I wanted to have fun on this day with my sister and my husband! I said, let’s go see a movie! We went to the theater and picked a light comedy, “”Extract.” Walking into the theater was slow, with small steps. Basically, whenever I changed positions (from sitting to walking) I’d have a contraction in addition to the regular ones I was having. We went to the bathroom a few times while we were there. So much pressure! There were a few other people in the theater, so during the contractions, I’d lean forward in my chair and just breath in and out slowly and audibly. I’m not sure what those people thought if they could hear me! Then, I’d go back to watching the movie. The contractions were getting stronger, it seemed. After the movie, we slowly walked to the car, and I kept my eyes on the ground the whole time, so as not to make eye contact with any passerby.

When we got home, I got into the bath. Oh, how nice it felt to be in the warm water in the big bath my husband made just for me, for this day. My hands could relax and float at the surface of the water. Limp and loose. I listened to my hypnobabies CD. I could pee with every contraction without having to get up and move! Heaven. Rick ran to the store to get me different headphones because the ones I had kept falling out. Lindsay laid on the bed checking email. It felt very relaxed and safe and simple.

I didn’t know when I wanted Alexa to join us. I didn’t feel like I “needed” her per se, and I was worried that another person joining the little nest we’d created would throw off the balance. She called Lindsay to check in on us, and I had a contraction during their conversation. She heard me chanting/moaning and told Lindsay that it sounded like I was in laborland and she’d like to come on over. I agreed, although it still seemed early to me.

She got to our house around 6:00, which turned out to be perfect timing. I was still in the bath. The water had become cool, but it still felt so good to be in there. Alexa and Lindsay sat in the bathroom with me, chit chatting quietly between contractions. Rick went to shower and shave and change into the soft blue shirt I had chosen for him to wear. I started to feel nauseous, so Alexa gave me a washcloth with peppermint oil on it to sniff. I held that cloth up to my face and just breathed…breathed. After awhile, I decided it was time to get out of the tub and change things up a bit. Oh, it was hard to get out of that water! Lindsay and Rick dried me off from head to toe, stopping while I contracted. Getting underwear and clothes back on me was so exhausting, as they stuck to my huge, awkward, damp body. Finally I was dressed. The plan was to go sit on the birth ball again, but I didn’t make it that far.

I stopped in the hall bathroom to sit on the toilet and I realized that it was starting to feel very intense. I could barely move without another contraction coming on. I told Alexa that I wanted to save some energy for the walk from the car to the hospital, and questioned whether she thought we should go or not. About that time, the contractions seemed to be coming one after the other, and calmly she said that she thought I seemed ready to go.

Rick began loading the car with the bags I’d packed, the quilt my best friend Amy had made for me, my ball, my sign, my birth plan…

Getting down the stairs was no easy task. I went so slowly, with the support of Lindsay and Alexa. I stopped every 2 or 3 stairs for another contraction. Finally at the bottom, I looked around the living room in what felt like slow motion for any last minute items, and spied my water on the fire place hearth. I walked over to get it and put my hands up on the mantle for a real hard contraction. Alexa came behind me and rubbed my back. When it was over, I went out to the car.

It felt surreal to be outside. Strange that it was daylight and the world was going about as usual. I felt a million miles away from everything outside of my people and my contractions. I tried to sit in the front seat and it was like a torture chair! I immediately got out to finish my contraction- there was no way I could sit in that chair! Alexa, thankfully, recommended I sit in the back seat on my knees, leaned over the back. So, that is what I did, with the support of Lindsay in the backseat with me. Rick drove us slowly and smoothly to the hospital, while Alexa followed behind in her car, calling the midwife Toni, to tell her we were on our way. I felt so much pressure during each contraction. It is likely that this was transition, based on when Della was born. I felt nauseous, and couldn’t hold it back any longer. Thankfully, we had remembered to bring a bowl, which Lindsay held lovingly for me, eventually passing it off to Rick where he dumped it out the window at a red light. What must the other cars have thought?!? Rick drove as slowly and smoothly as he could, and still it felt like I was trying to survive the car ride. Contractions would come so forcefully, pushing all Della and my energy down down down, and then my body would be bouncing and turning with the car. My feet fell asleep. I tried to wiggle them awake, but eventually had to change positions and lie on my side to allow the blood to flow. I was exhausted.

We pulled into the hot parking garage at 7:30 and everyone got out. I just sat there- completely drained and on a different spiritual plane. Looking back, it is like I was in a dream. Alexa asked me how I was, and I just stared at her, finally saying “tired.” Rick got all the bags out of the car, and I wrapped one arm around Alexa and the other around Lindsay. We walked slooowly through the parking garage. I kept my eyes closed and my hypnobabies turned up loud so as not to have to have any interaction with or knowledge of other people in the garage. It was so hot. I felt sweaty and clammy. I vomited three times as well walked from the car into the hospital. Oh, that air conditioning felt amazing as we walked in through the automatic doors! We turned to get on the elevator and I noticed a man behind us. Like an animal in her cave, I did not want an outsider to enter. I told Rick, and he asked the man to wait for the next elevator.

We got up to the third floor and Rick checked me in. While I waited, I was aware of other people in the waiting area, but I closed my eyes and acted as if they weren’t there. A registration worker approached me at one point just as a contraction was beginning, and Lindsay kindly said “wait just a minute” and then she moaned in perfect harmony with me so that I would not feel awkward. It felt so good to know that she was supporting me and “had my back.” I felt safe.

We were given a room number and continued on to find it. As soon as we got into the room, I went straight to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. It felt good to sit and to pee. Rick gave the nurse a copy of our birth plan and answered any questions she had. Toni, the midwife, came in to see me. She asked me how I was and told me that she wanted to put me on the monitor to listen to the baby. I asked if I had to move, and she said that yes, I’d need to go to the bed. Well, that wasn’t happening, and Lindsay intuitively knew it. She asked Toni if there was a way we could do it in the bathroom, that she would hold the monitor in place. Toni said okay, and shortly after a tiny little box the size of a pack of gum was in Lindsay’s hand, listening to the baby. Toni had also said that she wanted to check my cervix for dilation, but again, not happening.

I had a few contractions on the toilet, and then Alexa told me that it was normal, but that the baby’s heart rate was starting to drop a little, and she wanted me to change positions. She knew that this is often a sign of the baby descending lower preparing for birth, but just to be sure, she recommended I get up. I’d do anything for my baby, of course, so I stood up, took two steps toward the door, and then dropped to my hands and knees for a contraction, still in the bathroom. Lindsay and Alexa reassured me that it was okay. I felt a lot of pressure in my bottom, and decided to just go with it. I started to push (between 8:40 and 8:45). I realized I was pushing, but I really wasn’t sure at first if I was going to have a huge bowel movement or a baby! It became obvious to Lindsay and Alexa that I was pushing, and through frantic whispers they alerted the nurse to find Toni. I still had my pants and underwear on. I occurred to me that if I pushed the baby out into my pants that would probably not be good, but I couldn’t stop pushing and I couldn’t focus on getting my pants off. During a push, my water broke (8:43 pm) with a pop and a gush. I calmly said “my water broke” and kept pushing. My waters got on Lindsay and myself. Alexa told the nurse and Toni, and they wiped some up with a towel to check color (the lights were off in the bathroom). Toni said there was a little bit of meconium. I started to feel my baby’s head in my birth canal, and then soon through the parting lips of my vagina. I was basically sitting on my knees, so Toni told me that I needed to lie on my side. She told me a few times, and so I did. Lindsay held my weight under my arms, and I laid across her body. Rick went to wash his hands and then joined Toni in front of me so he could catch the baby. I put my hand between my legs and felt the baby’s head stretching my perineum. It stinged and I tried to put counter pressure against the head so as to slow down its exit, hoping to allow my skin enough time to stretch. Toni had some lubrication gel and kept asking me to move my hand so she could apply it, but I felt very protective and didn’t want anyone touching me for fear that it would cause more pain. Lindsay kept telling her just to do it around my fingers, and I think she finally did and I moved my fingers a bit.

And then into my hand the head was born. It really didn’t hurt that bad. It’s so surreal when just the head is out, but the body is still in. The baby is here, but not quite. They don’t cry yet. It’s like time just stops. I remember the baby’s head felt so small in my hand. So wet. Toni used a stern voice to tell me to move my hand. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck 3 times. She unwrapped it, and I pushed again and out came the rest of the baby. The cord was also wrapped once around the baby’s body.

I don’t know if it was something I actually saw, or because of how dark it was, or if I was just in a dream and saw what I expected to see, but I thought I saw a pinky sized penis. I said “it’s a boy!” No one thought to question me, and the baby was all curled up so it wasn’t easy to see. The baby wasn’t crying (apgar of 5, then 9), so Toni was rubbing and trying to stimulate the baby. Lindsay said “talk to your baby,” and so I did. I talked to Seth. I called him by name and professed my love and pleaded to Toni to make him okay. Toni handed Rick the scissors to cut the cord, and Rick reminded her that we wanted to let the cord stop pulsating before we cut it. Toni said that the baby needed oxygen (which would be administered in the actual room, not on the bathroom floor with me), so the cord needed to be cut. Looking back, I don’t think the baby really needed oxygen; I think it was personality not to cry.

Toni and the nurses took the baby into the birthing room, and I told Rick to go with the baby. I remember feeling great and amazed that it was already over. I looked out at the nurses and saw one of them say something with a confused expression, and then immediately I heard Rick shouting with the most joyful voice, “IT’S DELLA RUTH! IT’S DELLA RUTH! HONEY, IT’S DELLA RUTH!” Lindsay said “it’s a girl, that’s your daughter!” and I just started wailing with tears and emotion. I will never, ever forget that moment. The cry was of thanksgiving from deep within my heart and soul. I had a daughter. Della Ruth. It was so unreal.

I love that there was a time when we thought it was our third son, to have been named Seth Leon. In that moment, I loved my child- boy or girl- didn’t matter. It was the unconditional love of a mother. But to find out that it was my daughter, just felt like an answered prayer because I think deep within I knew it was Della that was supposed to be born.

I was helped to the bed in that big, beautiful birthing room. Outside it was dark and I could see cars driving by down below. I was handed the beautiful, blanketed Della and fell deeply, heavily in love. Rick said, “honey, we have a daughter” and he started to cry. She looked right in my eyes. Oh, she was beautiful! I kept remarking on how tiny she was compared to her brothers. All her little features were perfect. Her little ears, nose, mouth…breathtaking. I took off my top and bra and put her to the breast. With her eyes locked on mine, she began licking my nipple. It was the sweetest thing ever! Like a little kitten she licked and sniffed my nipple, finally latching on and sucking perfectly. Dear God, how thankful and happy I was!

Della Ruth Digby sprang from my heart to my arms- 9/11/09. 8:54 pm. 7 pounds, 8 ounces. 21 inches.


My version of Noah’s birth story
-by Lindsay

Noah’s due date was August 20th, 2009. Throughout my pregnancy I kept thinking/hoping he’d be late so I could attend my brother, Mark’s, wedding on August 22nd. Maybe all my pep talks worked because he stayed put! Then, on Monday August 24th I went to my final prenatal appointment. My midwife, Margaret, said I was about 1-2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She could feel my belly contracting and thought I might be in early labor. They did a non stress test to check out Noah’s heart beat and track my contractions. It went just fine. I left the office thinking I’d probably be back for another appointment the following week.

That night I decided to give eggplant parmesan a try. Figured it couldn’t hurt and I thought it’d be funny if I did go into labor afterward. Met my mom at Provino’s and we had a great time. Around 9:30 Brian and I decided to go for a walk. Before we left I used the bathroom and realized I had begun to lose my mucus plug!! I continued to lose more throughout the day on Tuesday. That night we went to bed around 10:00 and I woke up at midnight to pee. Then again at 1:00. Except that time there was more than just pee! My water broke! It started off mostly as a trickle so I decided to go downstairs, check my email, and wait to see what happened. It definitely picked up and contractions began.

I called Margaret to let her know what was going on and she told me to try to get some more sleep. Laid down for a while but couldn’t get comfortable enough to fall asleep. Went back downstairs and started timing contractions. They were about every three minutes. Contractions continued to get worse so I woke up Brian. Called our doula, Teresa, at 4:00 and told her what was happening. Finally at 5:00 the contractions were strong enough that I wanted to leave for the hospital so we wouldn’t get stuck in rush hour traffic. Our drive only took about 30 minutes but that was a very uncomfortable car ride! Tried to distract myself by singing along to 80s songs in between contractions.

When we got to the hospital the elevator took forever. I remember holding onto the wall, breathing through contractions while waiting to go up to L&D. Once there, Brian signed us in and we were taken to a triage room. Our nurse, Jennifer, asked me to put on the hospital gown and I told her no, I was going to wear my own clothes 🙂 Teresa arrived a few minutes later and the nurse hooked me up to the machine to monitor baby’s heart beat and my contractions. She also checked my cervix and announced I was 6-7 cm dilated! That shocked me. We stayed in triage for at least an hour or two. Teresa was pushing for them to get me into a room with a tub since I was so far dilated. Poor Brian started feeling really sick to his stomach and threw up right before we left triage.

We were eventually moved to a delivery room (with great views of Atlanta) and Margaret showed up while our new nurse, Rebecca, strapped more monitors onto my belly. I sat in bed while she took all the readings and Margaret got the tub ready. After they were done monitoring me I got out of bed and leaned over the window sill while Teresa massaged my back. I was having a lot of back labor. That was no fun! A little while later Teresa said “you could get in the tub, you know…” so I did just that. It was great. The warmth and buoyancy of the water made the contractions easier to deal with. Brian was so exhausted…they instructed him to lay down in the bed and take a nap. Good thing we had a doula 🙂 Eventually he got up and started helping me with back labor. He pressed so hard on my back for so long he was sore for a few days afterward! Margaret checked my cervix and found I was about 5 cm dilated. She thought the first nurse was probably wrong when she said 6-7 cm.I stayed in the tub for about three hours until Margaret suggested I get out and walk the halls.

Walking made the pain worse. I had to stop every other minute to hang onto the wall railing and moan. Brian would press on my back which helped me cope. After just a few laps I decided I was done with the walking and headed back to our room. Next I tried sitting on my birthing ball and again Brian pressed on my back. I was starting to breathe in an unproductive way and Teresa got me back on track. Saying “OHHHHHH” in a really deep voice helped. Eventually I got back into the tub.

The back labor continued so they had me do an exaggerated sims position to try to rotate the baby. So uncomfortable! Margaret checked me again a couple hours later and found I was 8 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Shortly after that I felt like I wanted to push. Teresa told me to do little grunts during contractions to help with all the pressure. I continued to want to push for the next four hours. At 3:00 I was 9 cm and I didn’t reach 10 cm until 7:00! I was so happy when they told me I could begin to really push.

The pressure was overwhelming. Seriously felt like I was going to poop out a 15 lb bowling ball. I pushed while squatting, on my knees, sitting, lying back, holding onto a sheet tied to the bed, etc. It was frustrating because I felt like I wasn’t making any progress…seemed like he’d go all the way back up after each push. At this point it was dark outside and a storm was rolling in. I had three midwives, a nurse, Teresa, and Brian cheering me on which was really neat. They kept telling me to push harder but I didn’t know how. My energy level was so low after being in labor all day.

I ended up pushing harder than I ever could have imagined and finally his head came out. They asked for one more big push and out came his body. That was such a strange feeling. His body was nothing compared to the head! The cord was wrapped loosely around his neck once which was no big deal. He was so calm and quiet when he first came out. Margaret suctioned his nose and mouth, rubbed his back, and tried to keep him warm by putting towels over him in the water. Finally he let out a cry and my mom came running in saying “I can’t take it anymore!!” It was 9:50 pm and she had been in the waiting room since 8:30 am!

Brian cut the cord and started crying. I was too tired and relieved to cry. I think my reaction was more like “WHEW.” I got to hold him while we were both still in the water which was awesome. He was so cute. Margaret took him away a few minutes later so they could warm him up. His APGARs were 8/9, he weighed 9 lbs 2 oz, and he was 20.5 inches long. I got out of the tub shortly after giving birth and got in the bed so I could deliver the placenta (what a WEIRD feeling!) and Margaret could repair my 2nd degree tear. Ouch. Teresa helped me focus on something else while that was going on and also helped me start breastfeeding. My dad and in laws came into the room to check out their first grandson. After that we headed downstairs to our postpartum room. Noah came with us instead of going to the nursery which I was very happy about. We settled in for a two night stay and fell in love with our precious baby boy.

Born in the water at 7:37 am
7 lbs, 8 oz
19.5 inches

Well, I was going to bed on Sunday night at 40 weeks and one day overdue, and Shane and I joked about the full moon that was high in the sky that night! I woke up at 3:15 am thinking that i had just had a contraction. I laid there for a few minutes, and sure enough, another came, so I got out of bed without waking Shane and went downstairs to start timing them. They were really mild but coming really close together…like every 3 minutes or less, and so I checked email and facebook and waited 45 minutes or so until I felt like they were really starting to be something. I went upstairs around 4 am and woke Shane up and called my parents and our doula.

Shane hopped up like he was on a mission. He made coffee and took a shower and started packing. Meanwhile, I started into full blown labor. We had planned a natural, drug-free waterbirth, and our plan was to stay home as long as possible before going to the hospital. I did great handling the contractions, as long as I was standing and leaning over something. I spend a lot of time leaning on the bathroom counter and the bed. I also took a HOT shower and leaned on the walls. The contractions were intense, but I was waiting and waiting for it to be unbearable, so that way I would know to go to the hospital. Well, everything I was doing got me through the contractions just fine, but around 6:15am, Shane started to get nervous that they were really close together, so he timed them, and they were a steady 2 minutes apart. He took it upon himself to call our Doula again and tell her. She talked me through a couple contractions and told me that it sounded like I was close and maybe we should go ahead and go and that she would meet us there. I agreed and we started hustling.

We pulled out of the neighborhood and the sun was coming up but the full moon was still high in the sky. That’s a picture I will have in my head forever. It was wild! The ride to the hospital was the worst thing ever. I couldn’t move to try to control the pain at all. I NEEDED to be standing. We got to the hospital and parked outside of the ER and went in. I walked the longest walk of my life to my delivery room–including 4 contractions. The Doula met us halfway and instantly started doing her thing. She squeezed my hips during contractions and helped me sway to get through them. I can’t imagine birth without a doula.

They had to monitor fetal heart tones for 30 minutes before I was allowed to get into the water, so they tried to put me in a bed and I was out of it in 2 seconds. I told them they were going to have to do it with me standing or not do it at all. The midwife came in to check me in the middle of all of this and my biggest fear of only being a few cm. dilated was put to rest when she told me I was 9 cm! Not 2 minutes after telling me that, I yelled that it was time to push! They never got all of the fetal heart monitoring done because I was begging the midwife to let me get in the tub. They took my blood pressure and it was high because they were taking it in the middle of a contraction. Apparently hospital rules say that BP has to be at a certain level or no tub. So they took it again, and it came down a bit, but not enough, so my wonderful doula told me to lie down on the bed on my left side and shut my eyes. She told me to focus on her alone and do what she said. Whatever she said worked. She basically had me meditate my blood pressure down by following her words and relaxing by envisioning my BP falling. They took it again and BAM–perfect! I can’t imagine birth without a doula.

I got into the wonderful warm water–they keep it at 101 degrees and it REALLY helped to ease the pain. I started pushing right away–whenever I felt like I needed to–no counting or anyone touching me, no IVs, no blood pressure monitor…just my doula encouraging me and my husband standing beside me so excited, and the midwife there to watch over the birth. Within 15 minutes, we had a baby–only 37 minutes after arriving at the hospital! I got to pull the baby up to my chest and we just sat there, warmed by the water, hugging each other. Shane was standing next to the tub and I looked up at him and he just looked amazed. I just kept saying, “I can’t believe I did it!” It felt like I was on top of the world. It is by far my greatest accomplishment. I can’t imagine birth without a doula. At least a minute or two went by before someone asked–what is it? I was so elated, I had forgotten to think about it–10 months of waiting…what’s a few more minutes??? We I picked him up and turned him over and…we have a baby boy! What a moment!

The doula stayed with us for a good two hours after the birth to help me get situated and help me start breastfeeding. Shane went out to make the big announcement to everyone who was waiting. They moved me into my regular room. We were instantly surrounded by family to celebrate little Sawyer. We got to introduce him by name for the first time–little Sawyer Hawk. For everyone who is asking about the name, Shane and I really liked the name Sawyer when we had Wyatt, so we had been planning on using that one for a while now. A hawk is a really cool bird–and there’s a lot of them around where we live. Wyatt’s middle name is River, and Shane and I are tree-huggin’ hippies at heart, so that should explain it.

So we’re home and getting settled. Wyatt is doing great so far. Really, really well actually. He doesn’t mind the little intruder at all. Of course Shane has done a really good job keeping him entertained so far, but he is so excited to see Sawyer every morning. It’s so cute.

And for all of you guys that think people want to be left alone after having a baby–stop it! Come on over! We’d love to show him off! For anyone interested in truly experiencing the wonderful journey that is birth, I highly recommend  A Labor of Love Childbirth and Doula Services. Words cannot describe how invaluable her service was. “Every woman deserves a doula!”

Tinika Hawk

Melody did not sleep well on 6/1. She had contractions off and on once she awakened but she knew it was early. She went for a walk with Luna and the contractions intensified and then diminished. She went on a second walk with Sherwin and Luna and the intensity returned and stayed strong. At 4:30pm she decided to call the on call midwife. Sherry suggested they come in to be checked. What they did not know was Sherry when on call stayed at the hospital, so she often had couples come in even it she thought it may be too early. I had wished they had called me first. It sounded like early prodromal labor to me still when I did talk to them.

I received my next call at 9:30pm. They had been checked and the hospital decided to send them back home. They called to let me know they were headed home. She was only barely effaced and not even l centimeter dilated. This was frustrating to Melody and Sherwin as they were unsure how to determine if they needed to return. She was contracting every 3 to 4 minutes for a full minute. But these contractions were only moderately intense. I think the comment from her mom that in comparison to her menstrual cramps, these might not be more difficult had confused her. They suggested she take a Tylenol pm or Benedryl to help her sleep. She did so but got no sleep at all.

On 6/2 my next call came at 230am. These contractions felt more intense, and had been feeling more intense ever since the previous exam. Melody thought that that was possibly when Abigail might have turned posterior. Sherry suggested they come on in for another exam. At 3am she was found to be barely 2cm (later Sherry said this was generous- she said only a loose 1 centimeter) and more than 50% per the exam by Carol the nurse.

I arrived 3:30am. She told me she was now feeling the pain mostly in her back. I got her in an exaggerated Sims position and she received a shot of Morphine and Phenergen at 4am in hopes of helping her sleep. Sherwin got Luna taken care of as I made up the bed up for Sherwin and lights out at 4:15am in hopes of everyone getting some sleep.

Sherwin was antsy. He could not fall asleep. It reminded me of Christmas Eve. He knew he was soon to be a dad and just could not calm his internal self down for a long time. I on the other had slept lightly while curled into a chair next to Melody sleeping in the bed. At 7:30am, Sherwin was up and out to the car and then out to get breakfast. I stepped out once he returned since Melody was still sleeping to get myself some breakfast.

I received a call at 730am from Rebecca, a client who was already past due. She was possibly in early labor. I called Guina for possible back up. At 9am Melody moved back to a deep Sims position and was resting well. At 10am we left for home (her mom’s). They called me at 230pm and I went to meet her at her mom’s. We moved her into a ton of positions to get the baby to move to occiput anterior. After a sacral release and some rebozo sifting, we believe that the baby did indeed turn! Melody had some much welcomed relief.

I suggested that they come to my house after she had some dinner. Sherwin says Melody had one bite of macaroni and cheese in order to fulfill the dinner requirement, then they came over around 330. She labored at my house for a couple of hours with Sherwin providing sacrum pressure during contractions. During this time, she also started having bloody show, which was very encouraging. Soon she took a bath while Sherwin showered. We left for hospital when Melody said she started feeling pushy. This was about 7pm. We arrived at 745pm. Upon arrival Melody was dilated to 6cm (I had guessed her to be 7cm) and had a bulging bag per Carol, our nurse again! Anjili was the midwife on call now. Melody was on the monitor and soon her IV was placed and she got her antibiotic at 8pm.

By 8:40pm, despite Carol not wanting us to be in the in tub without having her water broken, Melody got in the tub. Melody labored great in the tub and then began to start to feel a little pushy at 9:11pm. At 9:52pm she was now 8 cm and the baby is at 0 station. At 10:41pm her water released and there was meconium. So we had to get her out of the tub per hospital protocol.

Her exam at 10:46pm showed she was 8cm and the baby at 0 and she is effaced to 100%. She got her 2nd dose of antibiotics. At 12:15am, on June 3rd only a lip of cervix was remaining. The baby was at +1 station and is laying left occiput posterior. We encouraged her to try toilet sitting and then hands and knees. 1:20am a lip of cervix remained that easily reduced when Anjili checked her but then it would return. 1:52am Melody began pushing using the squat bar. At 2:23am was Abigail’s birth. Sherwin had intended to catch her, and Melody had intended not to over push (“horse lips”) in order to avoid a tear, but Abigail had other ideas. She burst out of her mother in one push, right past Sherwin’s hands into Anjili’s hands. She had APGARs of 9 and then 9 but Melody also had a partial 3rd degree tear. Abigail Jinju weighed in at 6# 2.8″ and was 19.5″ long. A little Korean doll was born today.

I was delighted to be invited to this gentle labor of love.

Teresa Howard, doula

The Pregnant Patient’s Rights


Most pregnant women are not fully aware of their rights to informed consent or the obstetrician’s legal obligation to obtain informed consent to treatment. More than twenty years ago, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists acknowledged the pregnant patient’s right of informed consent in the following excerpt from its 1974 Standards for Obstetric- Gynecologic Services (pgs. 66,67).
“It is important to note the distinction between ‘consent’ and ‘informed consent’.”
Many physicians, because they do not realize there is a difference, believe they are free from liability if the patient consents to treatment. This is not true. The physician may still be liable if the patient’s consent was not informed. In addition, the usual consent obtained by a hospital does not in any way release the physician from his legal duty of obtaining an informed consent from his patient.

“Most courts consider that the patient is ‘informed’ if the following information is given: (more…)