Ada’s Birth Story

393646_10150540591054203_1024355298_n

(One of my favorite pregnancy photos)

The evening of Friday, January 13th 2012 I started feeling cramping while out at dinner with friends.  I decided to ignore it and not say anything as I wasn’t sure if it meant anything.  Shortly before midnight as I was trying to fall asleep the cramps started to intensify for short bursts.  I watched on the bedside clock and saw that they were coming about every 8 minutes.  I was so excited!  I decided that since I couldn’t sleep  would get up and have a half glass of wine and take a bath as my midwife said the best thing to do during early labor was to try to sleep.  I also filled a big sock with rice and heated it in the microwave to use to ease the contractions while I tried to sleep.  I was pleased with myself for thinking to use  my belly band to hold it in place and it remained banded to me for most of my labor.

I was able to sleep on and off until about 5am.  Zeke woke up soon after and we were both really excited.  He decided to go up to the roof and film the sun rising on the morning of what we assumed would be the day our child was born.  We then went out to breakfast and to pick up some things from the farmers market.  I was in pain but it was pretty manageable at this point.

We had been planning to have a home birth.  I had done a lot of research and found that it was just as safe as a hospital birth and carried less of a chance of infection.  I also really wanted the chance to have a natural birth and knew that hospital births often involve lots of interventions that I wanted to avoid.  My biggest fear wasn’t the pain, but having to go to the hospital.   I was especially afraid of having to have a c-section but I knew that by attempting a home birth I would only end up having one if it was really necessary.

We called my midwife at some point during the morning to let her know that labor had started. She asked that we call back when things intensified more.  Zeke and I spent the day laboring at home and took several long walks around the neighborhood.  We found that the contractions sped up when we were walking.  I loved the feeling of laboring and walking and made up lots of strange ways to handle the pain through vocalizations and dance-walking. The hormones were surging through me and I felt as if I was on top of the world.

That evening the contractions started to intensify.  My midwife, Stacey came over around 9 pm to assess where we were.  She did an exam and found that I was only dilated to 2cm.  This was somewhat upsetting news.  She said that it was impossible to say, but I would probably would have between 6- 18 hours of labor left.  We felt somewhat deflated by this and Zeke and I were both pretty tired after not sleeping much the night before and laboring all day.  My midwife left and we decided to call my friend Rebecca, who is a doula, to see if she could come over and assist.

Rebecca got there around 1am and soon after Zeke was able to get some sleep while Rebecca helped me through the contractions. After a few hours Zeke woke up and I decided to labor in bed for a while with Zeke helping me.  I was able to sleep between the contractions but would wake up writhing in pain every 5 minutes of so when another would come.  Zeke helped by massaging me and talking to me.

The next morning, which was Sunday, Zeke went up to the roof to film the sunrise again, as we were pretty sure today would be the day!  The contractions had been getting longer, lasting about a minute and a half to two minutes but were still coming only about every 5 minutes. Stacey came back mid morning and at this exam found me to be 3-4 cm. She stripped my membranes, and tried to stretch me out a bit, which was extremely painful.  It was pretty disheartening that in the past 12 hours I had only dilated a little more than a centimeter.  She gave me some positions to try out (including standing on my head off the couch)  to try to move things along as she thought the baby might be in a less than optimal position.  She gave me black cohosh to take every hour and also told us to contact an acupuncturist.

Knowing that this could be going on for a lot longer we sent Rebecca home to get some rest and decided to take another walk while we waited for the acupuncturist to arrive.  It felt good to be outside but we had a lot less energy than the day before.  The acupuncturist came and did her thing, I’m not sure if it helped but it gave us some hope.

I’d been laboring for so long everything was becoming foggy.  All of my previous life was erased, and this was the only existence I knew.  Zeke and I decided to labor just the two of us for a while.  At some point on Sunday night/ Monday morning I insisted that Zeke try to sleep. I knew that he needed to rest and was glad that he was sleeping, but laboring on my own was physically draining and my energy was starting to fade.

Monday morning the pain started to become really intense.  I was having continuous back pain between and during contractions.   I decided to take another bath which really helped with the pain.  The contractions were coming about every four minutes or so and still lasting over a minute.  Rebecca and Stacey both arrived during my bath.  We were all frustrated that the contractions weren’t getting closer together.  This is when I first voiced my desire to go to the hospital.  I was totally exhausted after several nights of not sleeping. We decided to go for a walk together to see if a change of scenery might move things along and to consider our options.

Walking was becoming difficult.  I felt like I had cement between my legs and in my pelvis.  We walked for a while and agreed that Stacey would examine me when we got back.  It was around 2pm on Monday and I was measuring at 5cm.  I realized that I had been laboring for 62 hours.  I was really frustrated and tired.  We talked to Stacey about how much longer I might have.  She said it was impossible to say for sure but that upon examining me she had been able to feel the baby’s head and that it was turned occipital posterior, or “sunny side up”.  I couldn’t believe it!  I had been sitting with good posture for the past month to try to avoid having the baby in this position!  Stacey said that sometimes it just happens.  She explained that labor with occipital posterior babies is often very long and painful as the head doesn’t push properly on the cervix to help it to open.  She also said it  would explain my back pain as this position causes what’s known as “back labor”.  We could continue to do the exercises to try to moving the baby but until it repositioned, labor would likely continue to progress slowly.

Zeke and I agreed that it was time to abandon Plan A and move on to Plan B which included a large dose of pitocin and an epidural so I could rest.  We called a car service and soon we were at our Brooklyn neighborhood hospital, Woodhull.

Dealing with contractions while filling out paper work was kind of strange, but before I knew it, I was in the labor and delivery room getting my epidural.  They pumped me full of pitocin and we all watched the contractions and the baby’s heart rate on the monitor. Everything was going well and the baby was tolerating the contractions without an issue.  My hospital midwife, Nicole, examined me at around 8pm.  She found that my waters had broken somewhat on their own but then during the exam had broke more fully. She had me rest on my side in an effort to get the baby to move.  I was finally comfortable, and talkative again.  Zeke commanded me to pipe down and get some sleep since I hadn’t truly rested in 3 days.  I napped on and off as my contractions intensified and became more frequent…

Around 11pm I started to feel the pain of the contractions again.  I was somewhat surprised when I had to start breathing through them. Not being able to get out of bed made it really difficult to manage.  Around 11:30 I expressed this to Nicole who said that she wanted to check me out before bringing back the anesthesiologist as the epidural had run out.  She examined me and said that I was at 10cm and it was time to push!

I was so excited!  I was also happy to see that it wasn’t midnight yet and was still the 16th as I liked the idea of my baby sharing a birthday with my friend Lydia.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really could feel the contractions and was able to use that to know when to push.  Everyone gathered around and they put a large mirror in front of me so I could watch my baby emerge.  I was sitting up with my legs pulled out to the side but bent,  which actually felt pretty good.  I pushed for about 10-15 minutes and then the baby slid out.  The baby had moved positions luckily making the delivery much less difficult. I only tore a little and required 3 stitches.

Nicole put her on the bed in front of me as I had requested so I could check her out before picking her up.  We looked down at her and Zeke announced that she was a girl.  We were both pretty surprised by this as we had guessed we were having a boy.  She was so cute!  I was surprised that she didn’t look more squished up!  I picked her up and cuddled her.

552270_10150782146459203_100104118_nThe next three days were spent in the hospital negotiating the bureaucracy of policy, some of which we refused, some of which we begrudgingly accepted.  Some of the hospital staff was wonderful, while others blindly wielded hospital policy.  Finally, after three days of negotiation, a bout of post-partum pre-eclampsia for me (high blood pressure), a touch of Jaundice for Ada, and Zeke sleeping on a chair, we were able to bring our sweet baby home.

It certainly wasn’t how I had imagined Ada’s birth to play out, but ultimately I’m just happy to have a healthy baby.  Birth is an amazing experience and I still strongly believe in attempting home birth, although next time I hope it can play out a little more smoothly!

Advertisements

Ezra’s Home Birth Story

My first child, Ada was right on time so we expected this baby to be on time or early.  My husband, Zeke was able to take off the week before my due date and we had a wonderful time as a family going on hikes and hanging out together at home.  Every night we went to sleep wondering if tonight would be the night and every morning I woke up a little disappointed, but excited to spend another fun day with Zeke and Ada.  Starting a few days before my due date I began to feel increasingly crampy but nothing too uncomfortable.

My due date came and went, which was coincidentally our wedding anniversary.  We decided that maybe the baby wanted to share a birthday with Zeke and that August 24th would certainly be the day.  As the day passed I became less sure of this but in the early evening the crampy feeling began to intensify and I started to have very light contractions.  The next day, the 25th, was a new moon and I thought that would be a perfect time for a new beginning!  I figured this could be it so I did some final gardening I hadn’t gotten to just in case.  While putting in a plant I lost my mucus plug and got a little excited.

We had Mexican takeout and ice cream cake on the deck.  I put extra hot sauce on for good measure.  It was a beautiful night and we had a lovely meal as a family of 3.

That night Ada woke me up around 1:30 to bring her to the bathroom.  When I laid back down I felt what seemed to be a real contraction.  It was still very mild but the way it wrapped around my uterus and back made me giddy.  I laid in bed eagerly awaiting another, which came 20 minutes later.  I enjoyed breathing and imagining myself as an ocean.  Not because it was particularly painful but more just for the fun of it.  I decided to get up and have a glass of red wine to help me get back to sleep.  Sitting alone waiting for the next wave was exhilarating, but I knew I needed to stop being so excited and forget about it so I could rest up.  

I went back to bed with my birthing meditation on repeat and drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the night.  Around 7:30 Ada and I woke up and we cuddled on the lounge chair outside as she drank her “latte” and I had my coffee.  Zeke woke up a little later and we all had breakfast on the deck.  It was another beautiful, sunny and clear day and I hoped that this would be the day we would meet our baby.

Around 9 we started to talk about how we should spend our morning.  My contractions were still about 20 minutes apart so I figured we should do something to distract ourselves.  We talked about going to a nature preserve in town and started to get ready.  I decided to call my doula and midwives to let them know that I was in early labor.  By 9:30 we hadn’t left for our hike yet and the contractions were starting to get closer together and intensify.  I suggested we just go for a walk up our street.  By 10 we hadn’t left and I decided I only wanted to sit on my birth ball.  By 10:30 I told Zeke no one was going anywhere.  

10365985_10152828051259203_5987408448782017926_n(This is me laboring while Ada eats ice cream cake and goldfish for lunch… Papa was in charge that day! Lol)

We set up the umbrellas on the deck so that we had a big shady area for me to labor with Zeke and Ada playing and hanging out nearby.   I decided for this labor to create a playlist mostly of classic rock and indie stuff.  Last time I used a meditation album mostly and in retrospect it felt a bit too serious.  The music was really nice and kept me relaxed and in good spirits.  From 11-1 the contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart, lasting 30 seconds.  I spoke to Nancy, the midwives assistant around 12 and she suggested I try to rest.  I checked my cervix and guessed I was about 3 cm.  I could feel the baby’s head, which was really cool! I laid down in bed but quickly decided that the time for resting had passed as it was very uncomfortable to be in that position and I felt like I needed to be moving my body.  I also realized it was much better to have Zeke alternating hot and cold packs on my lower back during contractions.  I had myself set up at the edge of the deck with towels as a pillow on the railing while sitting on the ball and staring out into nature.  I was drinking lots of labor aid and some fancy Kombucha that Zeke served me out of a champagne glass. That was fun.  Between 1:00-2:30 the contractions increased to 3.5 minutes apart and were 45 seconds long.  I was texting with my Doula, Kharis and asked her to come over soon.

She got there around 2:30 and I decided to stop tracking contractions.  I also immediately lost my focus and with it the intensity of the contractions. I felt like chatting with her upon her arrival and it gave me a break from the intensity but I quickly decided I wanted to return laborland.  I realized that I did better when I avoided talking and making eye contact with Kharis and Zeke.  Ada didn’t seem to break my focus though surprisingly.  

We tried some different positions as I had been on the ball for quite a while.  Squatting while hanging from the deck railing was intense in a good way.  Kharis suggested I try laboring on the toilet a bit as she said this would intensify things. Doing this made contractions come on fast and hard.  I decided to go with it.  Also, I took several showers and had super intense contractions while leaning on the window in the shower looking out into nature.  Walking around the yard on my own brought them on too.  It seemed that being on my own helped me to really get into the zone but I also would start to feel a little lonely if too many contractions passed in solitude.  My legs were getting crampy and Zeke massaged them which was really helpful.

Around 4 my sister Lauren arrived to help out with Ada.  This was a big relief as things were intensifying and I wanted to make sure Ada was taken care of and having a good time.  Plus I wanted Zeke all to myself!  Nancy came over to check on things and again the arrival pulled me a bit out of the zone.  She didn’t seem to think I was too far along, which was somewhat discouraging.  I didn’t completely believe her though as I knew what I was experiencing was much more intense that what I had experienced during my last labor, when I had ended up getting an epidural at 5 cm.  

Zeke and I went for a walk around the yard for a few contractions.  Ada and Lauren were having a picnic on a blanket in the yard and seeing them happy and enjoying themselves was great.  I decided to sit down in the grass as the coolness of it felt so good.  Things were getting intense.  I remember thinking about what a relief the epidural was last time but then quickly reminding myself that that wasn’t what I wanted.  I also took a moment to reflect upon how amazing it was that I got to labor outside, just as I had hoped I would.  I had been looking forward to that since finding out I was pregnant and then that we were moving to the country.

Deep breathing during contractions had been so helpful but it was starting to get harder and harder to keep my breathing under control.  I was also starting to feel overwhelmed in general and unsure where I wanted to labor and in what position.  Around 6 Ada and Lauren went out to get dinner.

Zeke, Kharis and I moved into the den where we tried various positions for laboring.  The best for contractions was me on the birth ball with Kharis behind me pressing ice into my lower back while I burrowed my head into Zeke.  I asked Zeke to do the low vocalization with me and for Kharis to verbalize what was happening with the contraction, saying it was about to peak and then that it would subside.  I started to feel nauseas and they brought a bowl, although I never actually vomited.  The contractions were now going to a peak that made me feel like my body was jumping away from the pain at the top of it.  I felt myself screaming in the middle, although Zeke and Kharis say I sounded the same as I had for the past few hours and wasn’t actually screaming. They didn’t realize my labor was moving as fast as it was.  At some point during this I realized that I really needed to concentrate on relaxing and that the only way to escape the pain would be to push into it.  I imagined myself opening with each contraction and in between reminded myself that soon this would all be a distant memory and I would have my baby.

After about an hour of laboring in the den I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom.  I also wanted to check my cervix again.  I went into the bathroom and when I reached inside myself I felt a strange bulge which I guessed was the bag of waters pushing out of my cervix. That was pretty cool and made me realize that I was close to having this baby and the pain wouldn’t last much longer!   I sat down and immediately had crazy feeling!  It was like my whole body was bucking and I made some loud, gutteral sounds.  Kharis came in then and told me to stop pushing.  I didn’t even realize that “pushing” was what had been happening.  My body had totally taken over!  She immediately had Zeke call the closer of the two midwives, Susan, and told her to come right then.  

Kharis and Zeke helped me out of the bathroom and into the birth pool on the deck.  It was around 7pm now and the sun was setting.  Kharis helped me to breath quick breaths during contractions to hold the baby in until Susan got there.  I felt so hot so they helped me to pull off my dress and gave me a cold washcloth for my forehead.  I told Zeke to get Ada back from dinner as I really wanted her present at the birth.   I had a few crazy pushing contractions in the tub that I had to hold back before Susan arrived.

As soon as I saw Susan I felt so much relief.  I knew that meant I could stop holding back as that was even harder than breathing through contractions.  Susan only managed to get one glove on before the next contraction came.  The baby’s head pushed right out.  I reached down to touch it and I told Susan the baby was coming out now!  She asked me to hold on as the cord was wrapped around the neck and she wanted to move it aside.  As soon as she said ok I pushed the rest of the body out and we both pulled the baby up.  It was amazing!  I pulled that little blue bundle right up to me.  They gave me towels to dip in the warm water and put over the baby.  We were in a state of bliss just like that for a few minutes as the baby began to cry and pink up.  Then I realized we hadn’t seen the sex of the baby yet.  I unwrapped the towels and saw that we had a little baby boy, Ezra.

IMG_0018

Susan, Kharis and Zeke helped me out of the pool and into the bedroom where they had set up wee-wee pads over the bed.  They laid me and Ezra down and covered us with warm dry towels.  During this time Ada and my sister returned from dinner, shocked to see that the baby had already come!  Ada was so sweet and excited.  She loved meeting her baby brother and was so gentle with him.  The other midwife, Cathy and Nancy arrived at some point during this as well.  I birthed the placenta and Susan examined me.  I was so happy to hear that even though Ezra shot out so quickly in just a few pushes I didn’t have any vaginal tears!  

Everyone helped to clean up and to settle me into bed with Zeke, Ada and Ezra.  It was just like I had always imagined and so perfect.  Giving birth on the deck while the sun was setting is about as good as it gets! That night we cuddled into our cozy nest as a family of four.  

IMG_0053

IMG_0162

First cuddles…

IMG_0196

Ada and Ezra the day after he was born…