I've written and rewritten this post in my head many times. I guess my hesitancy stems from the drama-less birth story I'm about to share with you. In general, when you read a birth story, you wait for that moment when everything goes wrong. Those are the stories you take the time to read. An easy labor with a pretty uneventful pregnancy does not seem to be the recipe for a bestseller! But, I'm actually sitting and writing this for one reason - there are good birth stories too!!! I had a hell of a time getting my son out but my experience with my daughter made me really realize that EVERY birth is different! No matter what kind of horrors anyone might tell you!
My pregnancy came as a bit of a surprise. We had been trying for almost a year already and were about to move three hours south so we decided that once we got settled in to the new place, I'd make some calls and see if there was someone good to see.
I made a call to a relative's relative who gave me some great advice. A few night's later, I was watching a Nicholas Sparks movie and found myself crying hysterically. I knew I didn't need to follow up with any of that advice, I was clearly pregnant already! The following morning, a pregnancy test confirmed that for me!
From day one until the day I delivered, I had extreme nausea and daily vomiting. I had a few bouts of dizzy spells because of this and towards the end of my pregnancy, I holed up with my almost three year old and only left home when absolutely necessary.
Just to give you an idea of the nausea, I gained a total of eleven pounds with this pregnancy.
Anyway, at my 39 week checkup, my midwife did an ultrasound and, based on my previous labor experience (my son had shoulder distocia, was born at 41 weeks and two days, weighed 8 lbs 15 ozs, labor was almost 30 hours long, pushing was a few hours, the list goes on and on) we unanimously decided to go ahead and induce in the morning.
The following morning, my husband made me a nice breakfast while I went and cuddled with my son for a little. Told him we were going to the doctor to get the baby. Grabbed my bag and headed out the door.
We got to the hospital in a great mood, joking around with each other. Definitely ready for this to happen! Made our way up to the Birthways, as the maternity ward in our hospital is called. Got settled into my room, unpacked a few of my belongings, and waited for the midwife to come and get the show rolling. Apparently, it was a good day to have babies. People came in left and right, already in labor. Considering that I was not actually in labor yet, they profusely apologized and said they would get me started at the first chance they had. So Shuky and I got to hang out, watch some TV. Almost like a coffee date, without the coffee shop, or the coffee. Around 11:30, the midwife, Alice, finally came in and did my exam. Said I needed pitocin, the baby wasn't low enough to just break my water. So in went the IV and on came the contractions. On a side note, I was STARVING when they started everything so I convinced the nurse to let me have a few jellos, she felt bad that they had made me wait so long so (after checking with the midwife) I got a little sneak of food right at the start of everything. I couldn't even tell you what they tasted like, I sucked those things down so fast!
The contractions sped up quite nicely and painfully. In an effort to avoid slowing down the dilation, we started with a pain killer through my IV. It would last two hours and I could do two doses successfully. And I did. It was great. I knew exactly when those two hours ended, without having to look at the clock! After those two, I was ready for my epidural. The relief was INSTANT. I did not have an epidural with my first so I had no idea what to expect! Anyway, like I said, instant relief. It was almost hard to believe I was in labor. I was sitting up in bed, joking around with Shuky, watching some TV show or another. Just hanging out with my hubby. No big deal!
Around 8:30ish, the next midwife, Carol, came in to check on me (shifts changed around 7). I was 6 cm dilated. As she was telling me this, my water broke. On it's own. Yay me! My body may need to be induced to get the show started but at least my water knows what to do!! (Broke naturally with Benny as well!) At that point, I started asking the nurse, Tera, how I would know it was time, being that I wasn't really feeling a whole lot. She described the feeling to me, we chatted for a few minutes and she walked out. 37 minutes after Carol said my water broke, probably about 10 minutes after Tera finished describing the feeling to me, I got the feeling. Shuky went out into the hallway, 'Umm I think she's ready!'
Four minutes and maybe two or three contractions later, I had a little baby girl laying on my chest, screaming her arrival. It was 9:08 pm.
She was 7 lbs, 4 ozs; 19 inches long; her head circumference was 14 inches. (For comparison, Benny was 8 lbs, 15 ozs; 20.5" long; 14.5" head circumference).
I decided to have her room with us the first night, she was so cute I just didn't want to let her go. My body wasn't so sore and I felt like I could handle it! Big mistake. She was so cute that I couldn't stop cuddling with her and looking at her! Around 5 in the morning, I called the nurse and made her take the baby to the nursery. I needed sleep!!
- - - - -
Thankfully, my son fell in love with her the second he laid eyes on her and even now, almost two and a half years later, while they may torment each other until I pull my own hair out, they still have the cutest little love for each other. Maybe there is hope for a third. I said maybe!
This is Olive's story. She is Annika's little sister and a HOME BIRTH. Excuse the all caps but Sharon delivered Olive AT HOME!!! After her difficult delivery at a hospital the first time, I am amazed at the way she empowered herself. Sharon is a warrior.
As I sit down to write out my birth story, I feel like I’m embarking on the task of writing the never-ending story, as many times during my birth I wondered if there would ever be an end. It has been a little over 3 weeks, and I’m finally sitting down to write this out because I am already forgetting the details. I think this is Mother Nature’s way of ensuring that our species proliferates…only by forgetting the nitty gritty details of challenging labors can women ever think about birthing again. In fact, in the midst of labor I told Phil we would never have another child; yet within days of Olive’s birth, I decided that I would definitely do this again. After all, it would have to be easier and shorter next time, right?
So, on Friday night around 9pm, I started to notice my contractions were coming on moderately strong and were consistently 10 minutes apart. I had been having contractions on and off that entire weekend (and milder ones for about a month prior) but this time they didn’t go away. I tried to go to bed with Phil around 11pm but the contractions kept waking me up. So, I spent most of the night snuggled with Buttercup on the couch, getting up every 10 minutes to breathe through my contractions. At 2am, I called my mom to start the drive down from LA. I figured we were definitely having our baby soon and wanted to make sure she got here in time to help care for Annika during labor. It took her 4 hours to get here in the pouring rain! In the morning, I called V and told her what I was experiencing. She offered to have D come over and check me out. Later that morning, D came over and determined that I was 3cm dilated. I was a bit disappointed that it was only 3, but happy to realize that it was already more than I had ever dilated with Annika.
Phil told her that I seemed to be having back labor, since I had been asking him to push into my lower back, applying counter-pressure, during many of my contractions. During the exam she confirmed that Olive was posterior and had me lay in several positions to help move her. I lay on my side with my knee hiked up as high as I could get it, and had to remain in that position for 20 minutes, then the same on the other side. She also suggested climbing stairs two at a time which I did later that day. Most of the day my contractions were relatively minor and coming about every 8-12 minutes. By evening, they started ramping up again, both in frequency and intensity. I could not get to sleep Monday night because the contractions were coming on strong, and they eventually got to 2-3 minutes apart for hours. Sometime during the night, I had Phil set up the pool and I spent several hours laboring in it, which felt wonderful. The back pain I was experiencing was growing painfully worse, but it seemed to help when Phil would apply counter-pressure. I frequently had to wake him in the night so that he could help me get through a contraction. After strong, close contractions for hours, we decided to call V as I was sure we were getting close.
V and D arrived early Tuesday morning. D’s car broke down on her way, so her brother had to pick her up and bring her over. The rain was coming down hard, so Phil invited him to wait it out in our house. Annika was quite surprised to wake up in the morning and see all these guests in her home! When V had been on her way, Phil and I had discussed how far dilated I must be and how close we were to having our baby. We were discussing dates and decided that day, December 16, would be a fine day to have a baby. I told Phil that my biggest fear was that I’d only be 5 cm dilated and told him I would cry if it were true. Sure enough, I was checked and turned out to be 4.5 cm dilated! Oy, 15 hours had passed since my last check and I had only progressed by 1.5 cm! I was so devastated, as I was already so exhausted and had experienced such strong contractions, I couldn’t imagine it getting much worse but knew it had to being that I was only halfway there. The midwives hung around for a little while, then I asked if they planned to stay until the baby came. They said it was up to me, that they would do whatever I felt most comfortable with. Knowing that I was not even halfway to pushing time, I sadly told them they could go.
Phil was a great motivator and worked so tirelessly to keep me thinking positively. The good news was that I was progressing, however slowly. But the better news was that the baby had moved into an occipital position, out of the posterior one…though unfortunately the back labor did not go away. The midwives had encouraged us to get out of the house and walk around so we took my mom and Annika and headed out to the mall (indoor mall, since it was still storming). Annika and her Safta enjoyed running around and playing, while Phil and I slowly walked around. I was back to slowed down, less strong contractions. When I felt one coming on, I moved to stand by a store window and breathed through it so as not to stand out and look strange to the nearby shoppers. Later that evening, the contractions started intensifying again. I spent many hours of the night alternating between the pool, hot showers and bouncing on the birth ball. Phil was up with me most of the night, preparing food for me and rubbing/pushing my back. Thankfully D had shown him how to use one of Annika’s rubber bouncy balls to apply pressure to my back so that his hands had a bit of a break (I wanted him to push so hard that he was losing feeling in his hands!). At one point, I remember we went and sat in the living room with the French doors open so I could hear/smell the rain pouring down. I was on the birth ball and Phil was behind me, pushing into my back. Phil was such a great cheerleader.
There were moments during labor that I felt hopeless and ready to throw in the towel. He kept reminding me of the reasons we chose this path, telling me how well my body was working and how close we were getting, and what a good job I was doing. I am so lucky to have this man in my life! Later he admitted that he had experienced his own moments of weakness and doubt, but thankfully he never revealed them to me during the labor. At one point, I had even asked him if we could just go to the hospital for a few hours, so that I could get an epidural and feel some relief. I promised that I just needed a few hours and then we could go home. I had also made some mentions of how easy it might be to drive to the hospital and get this baby cut out of me and have this labor business be over with! Thankfully he never let me get too caught up in these fantasies and got me back on track.
On Wednesday morning, we decided to send Annika out for the day with her Safta and to get ourselves out of the house as well. We went to a nice local restaurant that we had been wanting to try for a long time. On our way in, I told Phil I was nervous about experiencing contractions while in a restaurant. I told him that we should ask for a secluded table away from other diners. At this point, my contractions had again slowed, but they still required my concentrated breathing and relaxation and they were coming about every 10 minutes. As we walked in, I was relieved to see that the restaurant was practically empty, except for one table of women. Though the owner was walking us to the opposite, very empty side of the restaurant, Phil decided to say ‘Can we please sit away from other diners? My wife is in labor’. The owner gave a very petrified glance and me and begged, “Please don’t have it here.” Thankfully we had a very quirky waitress that didn’t even notice my ‘strange’ behavior. I ate a hearty steak for lunch, Phil thought it would give me good protein energy for my endless labor. After lunch we headed to the mall again. We walked around quite a bit and even bought a cute pair of shoes for Annika. The mall was crowded with holiday shoppers, but no one really seemed to notice me. At one point, I was leaning over a banister and asked Phil if it would look inappropriate to have him push against my lower back for a contraction, as they were coming on hard again. He did it and I lost interest in whether we would look strange. Things were intensifying, so I asked if we could head home.
Late in the evening, my contractions were strong and close together. I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, not sure I could survive another night of intense labor to only watch the sun rise the following day, still pregnant and in pain. I finally decided that we had to call the midwives again, knowing that I needed their support and had to make something happen soon. I really wasn’t sure how much longer I could do this, as I hadn’t slept in days and my body was exhausted. That evening my dad was over, which was strange because my mom was here too. They were cordial, thankfully, and my dad pitched in by massaging me and pushing my back. In fact, I had trained everyone in the house (Phil, mom, dad, midwives) on how I needed the counter-pressure applied, so that as soon as a contraction came on, I assumed a leaning forward position and demanded that someone ‘push my back!’. D came over late in the evening with her partner midwife, S. I recognized S from a ‘meet the midwives’ event that ICAN (The International Cesarean Awareness Network) had held over a year ago. I remember that I had liked her when I met her at that time. D and S took action, ordering my dad and Annika to leave and my mom to go to bed. They wanted me to get focused and relaxed. Over the course of the night, they alternately massaged and coached me. I was only 5-6 cm dilated when they arrived, which was horribly disappointing. They promised me that my body was doing its work and encouraged me to work through the contractions lying on my side, which was incredibly painful. They said that the more painful contractions were doing the most work, and tried to get me to relax and give in to them.
At around 2am, I was on my knees leaning on the bed with D applying my back pressure and Phil talking to me from the bed. During my contraction, my water broke and when I looked up, V hopped on to the bed. I was so relieved to see her there and to feel my water breaking. I figured finally things would get moving. A few hours later I was checked and was 7-8 cm dilated. I remember questioning them on the 7-8…am I 7 or 8? Am I really closer to 7 but you don’t want to make me feel bad so you say 7-8? I was so worn down and really couldn’t imagine why my body was working so slowly. However, during the entire time the midwives and Phil reminded me that my body was working and my baby was coming. I told myself that this had to end sometime, I couldn’t be pregnant and in labor forever. In the wee hours of the morning I started feeling overwhelming urges to push and started doing so for a while. V checked me and said I was around 8-9 cm dilated but that I had a cervical lip and that my cervix and the baby’s head were swelling due to my pushing. She wanted me to lie down on alternating sides for 30 minutes each and stop pushing. That was the longest hour of my life and I swore they were not watching the time carefully. It was so hard to lay there while my body felt like it was being torn apart and to not push when that’s all I wanted to do. Most of the night the midwives were placing drops of herbs and homeopathic tablets under my tongue.
At one point while lying on the bed, I had the tens unit (electrodes) on my lower back, acupuncture needles throughout my body, and 2 midwives and Phil massaging me and encouraging me. S talked to me about imagining my cervix opening and wanted me to chant ‘ooooopen’ during my contractions. Phil believes this meditation was a real turning point in my labor and says that he finally saw me physically relaxing and giving in to the birth. It was so hard, I am almost in tears remembering these moments. V even had Phil pour me a shot of rum to help me relax. Towards the end, I shouted that I wanted to push so badly and V notified me that I already was pushing. Apparently I didn’t realize that even as I tried to fight it, I was still pushing. I just couldn’t control it. I had been shouting other things throughout this endeavor, some obscenities and some announcements about how much pain I was in. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t woken Annika. Finally, a chance at some relief, V offered me something to take the edge off my back pain. She wanted me to be able to focus my energy more on dilating and less on fighting the back labor. She said she could give me 4 injections of sterile water in my lower back. V said that different women have different reactions to this, some find the pain goes away while others feel no difference. Her warning was that with each injection I would feel intense burning for 30-45 seconds. I figured nothing could hurt more than my contractions and I had nothing to lose but some pain. The shots certainly burned, but nothing compared to the other back pain and shortly thereafter I felt some relief from the torture and was able to put more of my energy towards opening up.
After lying down for a while, I went out to the living room to rock on the birth ball and have V pushing on my back. The midwives had sent Phil to go eat, shower and sleep. My mom was sleeping on the couch when I got to the living room. I was so jealous of the sleepers! At various times in the night, I saw midwives, Phil and my mom sleeping all over the house. I remember thinking how lucky they were to have still bodies, I couldn’t imagine feeling nothing in my body and I wanted to so badly. After the birth ball, V said I should take a shower and then she wanted me to get outside and walk around in the back yard (I believe it was early morning). In the shower, the urge to push got the best of me. I ended up on my hands and knees pushing, and it hurt but felt so relieving at the same time. I got out of the shower and kept getting down and pushing with every contraction. At this point, I think V realized that the plans of delaying my pushing wouldn’t work much longer and that I was really worn down. She asked me if I was ready to do some hard work and I said ‘bring it on’. She said we were going to do something unconventional, some ‘assisted pushing’. Basically, I still had a cervical lip and she wanted to help me push past it. I squatted on the floor with S behind me, supporting me. V was in front of me and had her fingers inside me, feeling through my contractions. She said that I was moving the baby well while I pushed and that I could probably get her past the lip. She was using her fingers to guide my pushing so that I pushed effectively in the right direction to get her moving down. D was next to us, wiping my face and giving me drinks of water and snacks.
At some point, V asked if she could make a call and get an energy circle started. Again, I said ‘bring it on’. When she left the room for a moment, I turned to D and admitted that I had no idea what an energy circle was, but that I was open to anything they thought might help. I later learned that an energy circle consists of people calling each other like a phone tree, and sending positive energy and thoughts my way. Shortly after the circle got started, I was on the bed, pushing on my own and Olive began to crown. I couldn’t believe I was finally here, about to meet my baby. I think all the midwives were surprised at how quickly things were moving, as D suddenly went running out to wake Phil. Poor guy, woken out of a deep sleep and told that it was ‘go time’ he figured we were about to start pushing and that he’d be back on counter-pressure duty. Instead, he walked into the room, still rubbing his eyes and found me there with the baby starting to come out! I was given a mirror to look down and see her and suddenly it was all so real and so close. I asked if I could move on to my hands and knees (I had been on my side with S supporting my leg). It was amazing how my body took over and I just pushed instinctually. I reached down and felt her several times and knew she was almost here. Suddenly I had renewed energy and knew I could do anything. Once I pushed her head out, they had me slow down and push gently to get the rest of her body out. I immediately flipped onto my back and my sweet and beautiful baby Olive was placed on my stomach. She was working to release the fluid out of her throat, and in a few minutes was wailing. It was a glorious moment. I did it! My body rocks. 86 hours of labor and I vaginally delivered my baby! Later, while being sutured, I asked if my cesarean would be considered for future pregnancies even though I had just successfully VBACed. S assured me that I had a ‘proven pelvis’ now. V also said I had a ‘perineum of steel’. I need to get these things printed on bumper stickers for my car!
It was amazing to have my sweet, new tiny baby laying on my chest. She was so amazingly beautiful and perfect. She started nursing within about half an hour and did so like a champ. We quickly called my mom and told her to come home. Apparently she and Annika had just bought ice cream which my mom literally dropped when she got the call. Annika seemed a bit shocked and overwhelmed by what she saw when she came home (imagine going out for ice cream, and coming home to find a bunch of people in your parents’ room and this new bloody/slimy creature on your mom’s chest!). However, by evening she was holding her baby sister and admiring her tiny parts. Annika has turned out to be an incredible big sister who loves to hold Olive and help with her (she helps change her diapers, brings her blankets and picks out clothes for her). Annika has been very gentle and loving with Olive, it is so sweet. She has also grown and matured so much recently. She is getting better at entertaining herself and seems more understanding when her needs cannot be immediately met because mommy is tending to Olive.
I am so blessed and so lucky to have had this incredible experience. And I can’t wait to do it again!!
7lbs 9 oz
Editor's Note: This story was written soon after Annika's birth several years ago. Annika is now a proud sister of a little sister! There is more than just the birth story and I felt the experiences were an important aspect of giving birth and becoming a mother. Thank you Sharon for sharing your story.
On Friday 12/8, I went to the hospital for a routine fetal non-stress test. This is done on mothers past their due dates (I was 4 days past at this point). They want to make sure the placenta (a temporary organ) is still doing its job providing oxygen and nutrients to the baby. Sometimes placentas deteriorate and stop functioning at full capacity. So, the test showed the baby's heart rate was decelerating slightly with minor contractions I was having. The nurse was concerned that my placenta was not doing well and asked a doctor to study my results. The doctor said he was concerned about the baby's heart rate, and wanted to admit me right away and start inducing labor. I immediately broke into tears (as most of you know, we were trying for a natural birth and induction certainly wasn't in the plans). After calling Phil and updating him on the situation, I was admitted to my labor and delivery room, or what soon became known as my jail cell...
I was started on pitocin, a synthetic form of the hormone your body naturally produces to begin contractions. The doctors chose this method because its dosage could be controlled and its administration could be stopped at any time if the baby's heart rate got worse. I was hooked up to an IV for the pitocin and fluids. I was also hooked up to a monitor for the baby's heart rate and contractions. Her heart rate would steady over time, but jumped down on occasion. After about 10 hours on pitocin, I was barely 1 cm dilated. At this point, the doctors put me on cervidil , a vaginal suppository to hopefully soften my cervix. I was on this for 2 doses, lasting 12 hours each. At the end of the 24 hours, I was no further dilated. Argh! At this point, I had been having relatively minor contractions from 5-10 minutes apart.
On Saturday night, they put me back on pitocin and started really amping up the dosage. Thus, I started active labor early Sat. morning, with STRONG contractions 2-3 minutes apart. It felt really good to sit in the rocking chair, bounce on the birthing ball, or stand during the contractions. However, baby's heart rate started decelerating more, so they would often stop my movements and confine me to the bed on my left side, with an oxygen mask on (NOT a good way to deal with contractions). However, at 4:15am my water broke and I lost my mucous plug shortly thereafter. Phil and I were very excited that my labor was finally progressing!
By Sunday (12/10) early noon, I was barely 2 cm dilated and the baby was still high up in my pelvis (-2 station). I was NOT progressing. Baby's heart rate was not looking so good. A doctor came in to talk to us and said he was concerned that the baby was in distress. I was barely progressing, and would probably need at least 10 hours of more labor (I had been going for 50 hours at this point). He suggested a c-section. He didn't know why the heart rate was decelerating, and wouldn't be able to tell until after baby was born, but he wanted to err on the safe side. Additionally, the pattern of the decelerations was increasing. He said that I could easily go 10 more hours of laboring and wind up with baby's heart rate dropping lower and ending up with an emergency surgery. If I continued laboring, I would have to do it in the bed with the mask the whole time. Obviously, our baby's safety was and is our primary concern, so within 2 minutes of talking it over, Phil and I agreed to the surgery.
From this point, life moved into overdrive. Within moments, a team of people came into the room. They ordered Phil to pack up our things (we had practically moved in after 3 days there) and put on scrubs. I was wheeled into the operating room, a brightly lit place with masked people moving all around me. I was still contracting and had started shaking uncontrollably (due to the hormones). Within moments, I was given a spinal epidural and felt my body go numb. Phil was there quickly, in his purple scrubs, holding my hand. Several minutes later, I asked if I was open yet, and they said that I was and baby would be pulled out any moment. Sure enough, they told Phil to stand up and he took a picture of baby being pulled out. He announced, "It's a girl!" They then held her over the screen so I could peek at my new daughter, and then whisked her away.
While I was being stitched up, they cleaned and assessed the baby across the room. I could not see her, but could hear her strong, healthy wails. Then Phil carried her over to me and brought her to my face so I could kiss her. We were both streaming tears, and I am doing it again, just writing this today. I was then taken to post-op recovery, and thanks to our birth plan requests and a terrific nurse, they did not take the baby away to the nursery as they usually do. Instead she stayed with me and nursed for a healthy 40 minutes! We were then taken to my post-partum recovery room and baby got her first sponge bath.
The next few days were a haze. I slowly recovered feeling in my body and became more able to move around and care for my baby. She had some difficulty nursing, so we got some special help. As the lactation nurse put it, our baby is 'a drama queen' and wants instant gratification when she nurses. If she doesn't get something right away, she quits sucking and SCREAMS. We got lots of help, learned many cool tricks, and have been experiencing better nursing with every day. We don't know where she inherited her hot temper and impatience....?
I was released from the hospital on Wed. 12/13, after SIX days in the hospital, only to discover that my car had been stolen from the hospital parking lot. It was a nightmare. We had to file a missing vehicle report with hospital security and SDPD. We had to beg a nurse to teach us how to install the car seat carrier without the base into Phil's car (My car had the base already installed, and even inspected by the sheriff's dept.). In my car had also been our fancy new stroller, and our house key and home alarm control. So, the past few days have been spent changing locks, deactivating the alarm controller, and calling insurance companies. The good news is that we finally got the baby home and have been recovering ever since. We are completely sleep deprived but otherwise doing well. We lost meaningless material things, and instead came home with an amazing miracle.
In the end, we found out that the baby was being pushed through the birth canal at an angle (asynclytic) rather than straight through. Even though she was not far down, she was born with a major side sloping cone head (getting rounder every day!) It turns out my strong contractions were shoving her down a hole she couldn't fit through, thus stressing her body and her tiny heart. The doctor said that she never would have been delivered naturally. This made us feel better, knowing our decision was the best one for our baby. The best news is that she is healthy and not impacted by the stress cause to her.
And now, introducing: Annika Story. Born 12/10/06 at 2:23pm. She weighed in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and measured 21.5 inches (long baby!). Initially, we planned that if we had a girl, her name would be Annika (pronounced like Monica, without the M) Tenzin. However, Saturday night, the night before she was born, Phil was catnapping and had a dream that we had a girl and named her Annika Story. When he awoke and told me, I was blown away and loved the name. Of course, we wouldn't know we were having a girl until the next day, but then it was pretty clear that Phil's foreshadowing dream would come true, and we would have a daughter named Annika Story.
She is a beautiful angel, and we are deeply in love with her. Annika's doggy brother and sister love her too, and greatly enjoy sniffing and trying to lick her. When Annika cries, they come running and want to make sure she is okay. We are a VERY happy and blessed family.
Today marks one week that we've been home from the hospital. It also commemorates the toughest week of our entire lives. You heard the first part of our 'Story', it only gets better....
Annika's nursing was greatly improving by last weekend. She was latching on and suckling like a champ. However, we knew something strange was going on by Sunday evening when she was extremely fussy, having difficulty eating and sleeping. We visited with the lactation consultant on Monday morning (she's our 'breast friend') and she did a quick physical inspection of Annika (who had gained 5 ounces over the weekend!!!). She noticed that her nipples, particularly her left one, looked quite swollen and red. She took us over to see our pediatrician, who then determined that Annika has neo-natal mastitis. Mastitis is a condition that nursing women often get, when their milk becomes backed up in their breasts and an infection begins. It is quite painful. Sometimes babies get this condition because they are receiving the same hormones that their lactating mothers are producing. So, this causes their poor baby breasts to try to produce milk, which cannot be expressed, gets stuck, and causes an infection. It is quite uncomfortable and requires 10 days of antibiotics. Apparently this is a rare thing to see in babies, and even less common in females (males tend to be more sensitive to estrogen from their mothers). However, Annika was our pediatrician's 3rd case of neo-natal mastitis this week! Poor baby is now on antibiotics that she has to take through a syringe twice a day. She is such a trooper, and chugs along to make herself better. We give her warm compresses throughout the day to relieve the discomfort. Unfortunately the meds are making her sleepy, causing more difficulty with feeding.
As if mastitis wasn't enough for our family, we had yet another challenge. I have been feeling some tightness in my chest/shortness of breath since we got home from the hospital. I called Kaiser and was asked to go in and be seen. We went in yesterday morning at 11, and the doctor decided she wanted me to have a CAT scan. Apparently my symptoms were similar to those I might experience if I were having a pulmonary embolism, some sort of blood clot that can be caused by abdominal surgery. So, I was sent to ER for hours. We freaked out, not wanting Annika in the ER with all those germs, but not wanting to separate from her. On top of this, I had to be injected with iodine for the CAT scan, and could not nurse Annika for 24 hours, until I flushed it out of my system. So, Auntie Rachel to the rescue! She met Phil at home and took over care for Annika, bottle feeding her, changing, snuggling, etc. In the meantime, Phil came back to the hospital to keep me company while waiting for my test and results. I had some major blood work done and a chest xray in addition to my CAT scan. The hardest part was being away from Annika, we missed her so much. Thankfully Auntie Rachel was taking good care of her, cradling her while she slept in her arms. After 6 hours in ER, we finally got the results we were eagerly hoping for. I had no embolism! They did find a cyst on my liver and my spleen was enlarged, so I have to follow up with my regular doctor on Friday. We rushed home and couldn't get Annika back in our arms fast enough. She's been taking the bottle decently, but doesn't love it, which is good because she should hopefully get back to breastfeeding well by tonight. I can't wait!
Another strange event: Phil spent 4 hours in the Kaiser Hospital security office last week watching 6 days' worth of grainy surveillance video. Through grueling hours of rewinding and fast forwarding, he was able to find the spot where my car was stolen. He had to sit and watch the video of two men stealing the car, one acting as the lookout while the other popped the hood and got it running. They took off within five minutes. We are working with the PD to hopefully get this figured out.
We had a follow up pediatrician appt today to check on Annika's mastitis. The doctor said she's looking better, with less redness. The doctor squeezed her poor baby nipple and actually expressed a few drops of milk. It was the strangest and saddest thing, and made Annika quite uncomfortable. The doctor thinks she's healing and will re-check her in a week. In the meantime, we're continuing antibiotics and warm compresses.
Editor's Note: Annika is healthy and will not be producing milk until she is a mother in the far future, but not too far, she shouldn't make her mother wait forever to become a grandmother.
7 pounds, 11 ounces
I knew I was pregnant before I ever missed a period. I was a small girl and my stomach practically started showing before my pregnancy test showed me the positive sign! By the time I was three months, people were asking how much time I had left. In my seventh month, my husband was getting a lot of twin comments. People were wise enough to not say it to me directly!
Relatively speaking, it was a pretty uneventful pregnancy. For my entire first trimester, I was nauseous like you wouldn't believe, but not a lot of vomiting. In my second trimester, I had bad sciatica. Bad enough that I was in physical therapy once to twice a week, depending on how things felt. As I creeped into my third trimester, that all went away. That was actually my most enjoyable time! Hearing other people's pregnancy stories helped me keep things in perspective. Both of us were healthy, thank G-d. There was never anything to worry about. Discomfort is so minor an issue when you are talking about bringing a life into this world.
I did gain a ton of weight. Forty-five pounds, to be exact. I kept telling myself, 'I'm going to have to be working out anyway, I might as well enjoy my time and work a little harder afterward.' Horrible idea, by the way.
When it came time to talk about birthing classes, I decided I didn't really want to know what to expect in the delivery room. I'm a thinker. I tend to work myself into a tizzy about the unknown, usually making things much worse for myself. We have a family friend that's a midwife/doula. She sat down and explained the very basics, the terms I would need to understand, the stages my body would be going through. In our last meeting, she taught me some breathing techniques for dealing with the pain. I then relayed the info to my amazing husband, who would be standing at my side for this momentous occasion.
I packed my bag and began the waiting game.
At about 37 weeks, I was ready for my baby to be born. I guess having everything feel so real so early on made the pregnancy seem to last forever! As is our custom, we didn't buy anything before the baby would come around. I had an extremely detailed list of what I wanted bought at the first possible chance, down to what aisle in the store it could be found. My car seat and stroller were going to be ordered online. My mom was on stroller duty and my friend (armed with my credit card) was waiting to order the seat. All we needed was a little action down south.
38 weeks. 39 weeks. 40 weeks. Not a thing. At the checkup that day, we took an ultrasound. All we saw was this giant, squishy face. A whole lotta baby was brewing inside me. My doctor's response was, "Well, that needs to come out!" She told me to get a good night's sleep and come back in the morning to be induced. She didn't want to let me end up in an emergency C.
By raise of hand, I would like to know who ever sleeps after hearing that at an appointment?
So after a sleepless night, my husband and I nervously made our way to the hospital on a Tuesday morning.
There were a few people already in labor when I got in so I wasn't induced until about 7:45 that morning. Things moved slow. I'm talking molasses slow. Slower than molasses slow. NOTHING was happening. My little baby was just way too comfortable in my ginormous belly. I had HGTV playing in the room. I walked around a lot. And waited a lot. Kept watching that HGTV. My husband had time to run to Walmart and grab himself a book to read. A long one.
Around noon-time, we finally started getting some real contractions. The pitocin had obviously kicked in. In a painful way, as can be expected! At that point, the walking was to relieve the aches. I tried dipping in a jacuzzi tub, not helpful at all, actually made things a bit more uncomfortable. I obviously still had HGTV on.
The afternoon passed by way too slowly. The checks to see how far dilated I was were torturous.
My water actually broke naturally, while I was sitting on an exercise ball, around 10 that night.
Sometime in the middle of the night, I put in a request for some pain meds. Fun little fact I learned at that point. My hospital did not, in fact, offer epidurals, due to the lack of an on call anesthetic team. They offered what was called an intrathecal. This was a shot as opposed to a drip. Similar area of the back. According to what they were telling me, it could last up to 12 hours and would not be re-dosed during that time. Needless to say, I had about an hour and a half of in and out sleep. I had no idea if it was morning or night. My room had no windows. I was almost delirious with the pain. At one point, my bed's mechanics actually stopped working. I would find a comfortable spot for contractions and all of a sudden it was like it was depressurizing, it would slowly lower back down to flat. My husband and one of the nurses would literally hold it in place until it passed! This happened a few times.
By the way, remember I said there were people already in labor when I came in? Yeah, they were all cuddling with cute little babies already. As were the people who had come in DURING my labor.
Around 9:30 Wednesday morning, I felt ready to push. Wow. If I thought the contractions were painful without medicine, I was totally not prepared for what I was experiencing now! I didn't yell profanities. I didn't vow to never have sex again. I didn't spew words of hatred toward my husband. I did, however, end up with blisters on my palms from holding the bed rails so hard. I did push for almost four hours. I did feel like I was going to die. I'm pretty sure at one point I voiced that, however calmly I may have said it.
We finally had crowning. And then the little head disappeared. My baby was turtling (aka the turtle sign). My doctor realized what was happening and spoke to me calmly. "Your baby has shoulder dystocia. Mike* here (*can't remember his real name) is going to jump up on the table and punch your stomach a bit." I was sure she was kidding. After four hours of pushing, some huge guy was about to knock me around?? But no, she was not joking. Up he hopped! He pushed that little baby around a little and at 1:11 pm, out came my baby boy, weighing 8 pounds and 15 ounces.
(Later, after I did a little research, I found out that this was a serious thing. Thank G-d for a level-headed doctor that knew what to do and didn't throw me on an operating table!)They handed him to me as soon as they made sure everything was alright. My husband told me later that they needed him to keep me distracted while they did the stitches. Either way, it was beautiful. Holding that little bundle of gooey grossness and not caring.
As long and trying as my labor was, I have to say that I had the most amazing team of nurses looking after me. The one who checked me in (Connie) finished her first shift that Tuesday evening and called in the following morning to see how I was doing. As soon as she got back on shift, she came straight to my room to congratulate me and see our little guy. The nurses even sent a masseuse to my room!! I've asked other friends who delivered in that hospital, no masseuse came to them! Connie even called me Friday afternoon, once I was already home, to see how things were going.
My son just had his third birthday. He is an amazing kid, smart, insane amounts of energy. He challenges me every step of the way.
When I see my children (yes, I had another since then!) my heart skips a beat and yet feels complete.
Thanks Chani Meyer!
Editor's Note: A Rosh Hashanah Baby! Can you imagine? The baby decided to join the world on one of the holiest days of the year - messing up all of her parents' plans. Oy vey!
This story was a birthday gift to me. Thank you! A beautiful story and a beautiful gift.
Our Due-Near-Rosh Hashanah Baby
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, attracts the biggest crowd at our synagogue. For some reason, people we have not seen all year will make their appearance in the fall, for the High Holidays. I imagine they come to “rejewvenate” and start the year on the right foot. My wonderful husband leads the services. As a trained Rabbi and cantor, this is the highlight of the year for him.
Seven years ago, we left bustling New York City and pioneered a Jewish community center in quiet suburban San Marcos, California. Together, we have run programs and provide comfort and a “home” for the local Jewish community. For the past three years we have been temporarily relocating High Holiday services from our home to the Lake San Marcos Resort, to accommodate our expanded congregation. This move entails packing and transporting meals, prayer books, toys for the kids, clothes, and seemingly everything but the kitchen sink! Of course our two adorable energetic toddlers — with their constant offers of help — add to the hustle and bustle our home acquires at this time of year. We run a Hebrew school as well, which kicks off each year in September. So it gets quite hectic at this time of the year, to say the least.
Well, this year the Almighty had decided that we could handle just a little bit more hustling and bustling; okay, maybe even a lot more. You see, we were expecting our third child, due to arrive a week before the big day of our much-anticipated High Holiday services. So much for family planning, I guess! However, as we awaited our new addition, our excitement overshadowed any anxiety we could have been having; that is, until we got closer to the finish line.
With only a few weeks left, my husband and I discussed all possible dilemmas that could arise, should our baby decide to arrive precisely on Rosh Hashanah, the most important day for our congregation. We know how much the community was counting on us, and we looked forward to spending this important event with them. Finding a replacement Rabbi in this part of town was wishful thinking. Since I prefer that our children’s births happen without much intervention, I definitely didn’t want to interfere with my baby’s birth date. We had good reason to be stressed, but instead, we preferred to leave it in the hands of G-d — the One Who put us into this situation in the first place! My husband and I conveniently decided that we were not in control anyway, so with little choice, we agreed to adhere to the wise words of our sages, “Everything that happens is for the best.” Little did we know how true this would prove to be!
With a little over a week before the Holiday, I prayed that I would give birth, a.s.a.p. I visited my midwife, eager to get some assurance that our baby’s arrival was imminent, and that I would be able join our community fit as a fiddle by Rosh Hashanah. The instant I came face to face with the expert — who, in my desperation, seemingly would have the news I sought — I let out a sigh and explained our timing challenges. She said that I measured perfectly, but that the baby was still high up. She was sympathetic, and offered to rupture my membranes. Then she assured me, “Don’t worry, Chanie, we still have time. You can certainly have this baby before the New Year.” My due date passed and nothing was happening. I walked and jogged, ate spicy food and walked some more, and still — nothing!
Finally, I felt contractions! Three days were left until we’d usher in the New Year. I could have this baby and still get home with plenty of time to spare! But my body and mind were playing games with me. I made all the necessary arrangements and thought I had it all under control, when the contractions suddenly stopped! The following day, the contractions came and went again, making us a bit frantic. I was so desperate to give birth on time that I had to keep convincing myself that the baby would come when the time was right, by G-d’s schedule, not our own. After another sleepless night we got ready for the busy day ahead of us. To keep sane, I reminded myself that I am always in good hands: I knew then, and know extra well now, that G-d has His plans.
We arrived at the hotel with all of our paraphernalia, including a car seat for our as- yet- unborn baby (just in case). We were so rushed getting everything in order for the Holiday, I hardly paid attention to the contractions I was experiencing. As I set up the candles and attended to the last-minute touches, all dressed up (yes, in my heels!), smiling, and welcoming our congregation, I attempted to count the minutes between the pains I seemed to be experiencing. Were they getting closer? The last thing I needed was to have services interrupted by my taking center stage! I breathed a sigh of relief as I heard my husband’s beautiful voice conclude a most inspiring service welcoming the New Year. As our guests left the hotel, my husband pulled one of our loyal and more experienced congregants aside. He let him know that he might just have to take over in the morning. He gave him a crash course, still hoping that he wouldn’t have to use it.
Back in the privacy of our room the contractions seemed to intensify. As dawn approached, I turned to my husband and desperately cried, “I don’t think I can hold out until after morning services!”
He answered hopefully, “Well, maybe we will be lucky and the baby will be born quickly, and I can still make it back in time for services!”
We hurriedly prepared to dash out, first awakening my dear sister, who had graciously traveled from New York to watch our precious boys. We gave her last minute instructions, and then we were off to the hospital. I was immediately admitted and waited for the midwife on call.
It was still hard to believe that our fears -- of this affecting our Chabad House congregation’s High Holiday worship -- were actually playing out. As we started feeling guilty for leaving the community on their own, in walked Midwife Jane. She took one look at my husband — wrapped in his tallit (prayer shawl), swaying back and forth — and broke out in a huge smile.
“What happened?” She asked, “Your baby didn’t cooperate with your New Year plans, huh?!”
She did a quick exam. “Do you think you can deliver this baby within the hour, so I can make it back in time for my sermon?” my husband joked.
“Not a chance. Sorry, Rabbi,” she laughed. “But, hey, are you going to blow the shofar (a ram’s horn, traditionally blown on the Jewish New Year) here?” she asked, eyeing the one on the table nearby.
“I definitely will! Maybe it will help get the baby moving!” He answered with a wink.
Jane was flabbergasted. “I have not heard the shofar in twelve years; I’m so excited to get to hear it on Rosh Hashanah!”
Jane proceeded to tell us about her childhood memories of going to the synagogue, and how she has been disconnected from such traditions during all this time since then. Then she excitedly rushed off to call a nurse she knew, who wanted to hear the shofar as well!
My husband was praying with extra fervor, I could tell, and this gave me the strength to keep going as the labor intensified. It was 11:30 a.m. by now, and my husband was ready to blow the shofar. Jane was at my side, squeezing my hand, as the shofar blasted. I breathed fast and deeply as another contraction passed, and a rush of emotions flooded over me. I couldn’t hold back the tears. The shofar’s sound always brings back memories for me as a child growing up in Brooklyn, New York. This time it was coupled with the release of lots of hormones and the emotional pressures of the past weeks. I let it all go and said a silent prayer, and then I looked over at Jane. Her facial expression told me this experience was touching her deeply as well. The long final blast was sounded and I went into transition.
“Wait, don’t push!” Jane was yelling. “I need to get suited up.”
“I can’t,” I screamed back.
There was no waiting this time. Just a few minutes before noon, we had our Rosh Hashanah baby! I looked up at my husband, holding our beautiful baby girl, and then at Jane as she was trying to deliver the placenta, overwhelmed with joy and thanks to G-d.
“You see,” I said to her, “It was all meant to be, so that you could hear the shofar! What are the chances that a Jewish midwife would be on call to deliver our baby, on Rosh Hashanah, in this part of town?!”
She smiled back and said, “Actually, I am not usually in the hospital on Thursdays. I’m replacing another midwife, just for today!”
As for the community, when they heard the wonderful news they were thrilled to be able to share in our celebration. The following day, my husband named our baby at the Torah reading, during the services for the second day of Rosh Hashanah. Chaya, meaning life, was the name we chose for our daughter born on Rosh Hashanah, the day when all life began!
Chanie Yelin, Rebbetzin and Director of Alef Hebrew School
Editor's Note: This birth story is very special to me. As a woman who had a disastrous first birth experience that ended with a C Section, I know how much it meant to Jessica to have her VBAC. I am so proud of her and happy for her accomplishment.
I was due December 31, 2008 with my second son. I had made it clear
that I intended to do a trial of labor and hoped for a VBAC (vaginal
birth after cesarean), but by early December, I was having problems
with high blood pressure. On December 16, a Tuesday, not only was my
blood pressure once again stubbornly high, but there was +1 protein in
my urine. Figurative alarm bells went off. I was sent to have labs
drawn and go down to the hospital to be monitored. The hospital was
about 45 minutes away, and I had been there about a week and a half
before for the same reason and had been sent home within 90 minutes of
arriving. I figured surely everything would be fine again this time. I
called my neighbor to see if she could watch my older son while I made
my way down to the hospital to be checked out, assuming that I'd be
back in a few hours. I called my husband and told him not to bother
coming with me this time, since there wasn't any point in his missing
more work to watch me lie in the L&D triage room for 90 minutes again.
I went home and packed a few things to take with me in case I was
there a little longer than anticipated, then made my way to the
hospital. Once there, the four L&D triage rooms were all in use, so I
got to wait in an office with a couple of nurses while we waited for a
triage room to open up. There was no sense of urgency in my case,
really, and I kind of enjoyed the behind-the-scenes peek at what the
nurses were doing when they weren't in the patient rooms. This was a
little after 3:00 P.M. on Tuesday.
When one of the other women was sent home (as I hoped to be in a few
hours), I was put into a triage room and hooked up to a blood pressure
cuff and fetal monitors again. I was having regular contractions,
though I couldn't feel them, really, and my blood pressure Would Not
Come Down. A nurse-midwife came in and did an internal check to see if
my cervix was dilated at all. Upon finding that I was about 4cm
dilated already, she declared "this baby is coming tonight! Let's get
First of all, my husband was 45 minutes away, my son had only very
temporary childcare, we were not expecting to have a baby just yet,
and, wait, I was only 38 weeks! I still had two weeks to prepare! My
mom would be there in a week. She was supposed to stay with my son.
What were we to do?!
Well, I called my husband, of course, and told him of the change of
plans. They intended to induce with Pitocin and were still quite
willing to allow me my trial of labor and VBAC attempt. But, I knew
that a Pitocin induction would increase my risk of c-section. I
decided to delay any other interventions as long as I possibly could,
hoping that would help me avoid the dreaded repeat c-section.
We decided the only possible course of action was for my husband to
bring our son with him to the hospital. As difficult as it would be
for me to have him there with me while I labored, and as problematic
it would be that my husband would have to mind our son instead of
being totally there with me in the labor and delivery, we couldn't
think of anyone else we could call upon who would be able to take our
son overnight. My mom was supposed to have been there!
They got me set up in an L&D room while my husband picked up our son
from daycare and drove down to the hospital. I was hooked up to an IV
for fluids and Pitocin, and they also said I'd need to be on magnesium
to help prevent seizures due to my blood pressure. The problem with
magnesium is that is is a muscle relaxant, also used to stop preterm
labor! So they would have to balance the magnesium and the Pitocin
carefully to make sure labor didn't stop while still ensuring I had
adequate protection from the risks of preeclampsia.
Another problem with magnesium is that it can cause you to retain
fluids dangerously, so they would have to very carefully monitor my
fluid intake and output while I was on it. This sounded inconvenient.
The biggest problem with magnesium, though, is that, as a relaxant, I
would be unsteady on my feet, and weak, and possibly unable to control
my muscles, and unable to properly care for a baby as long as I was on
it. This meant I would not be allowed to be alone in the room with the
new baby until I was able to come off the medication, which was the
absolute biggest concern I had. I had not successfully nursed my first
son, and this time, come hell or high-water, whether I needed a
c-section in the end or not, I had every intention of making
breastfeeding work. And if I couldn't room-in with the baby, how was I
to start a successful breastfeeding relationship? I was quite upset by
this news, but still determined to make it work somehow.
My husband arrived with our son. He had the foresight to bring PJs,
books, blankie, pacifier, and snacks for the little guy, who was very
well-behaved and charmed everyone with his sweet nature, general
cuteness, and amazing red curls. The nurses started taking bets on
whether the new baby would have such gorgeous hair, too.
My son's being there meant that I was a little distracted from this
whole labor business. I tried to remember to change positions, did not
request pain relief, and got up to pee when I had to. I was quite
surprised to find, however, that I was feeling almost no pain at all,
despite the use of Pitocin. I was contracting nicely, and my cervix
was opening, and everything that was supposed to happen was happening,
but where was the pain? It was nice, but surprising.
I was very concerned about frightening my son if I were to need to
yell, so I tried only to hum quietly when the contractions became
stronger. My husband took him out of the room when the doctor came in
to break my waters. She had trouble getting slack in the amniotic sac
because the baby's head was pressed right up against the cervix. He
was excited to come, unlike his reluctant brother! She eventually
popped the bag, and my waters came gushing out.
Then the pain started. I felt those contractions like a vise clamping
down on my abdomen. It was crazy. When I had to yell, we had my son
and husband yell along with me. He thought it was a great game (ah,
I had made some calls to friends and relatives to give them the news
before things got really intense. One of these calls was to my rabbi
and his wife. My rabbi's wife called back wondering where my son was
during all of this. I told her he was with us. She said she'd arrange
for someone to come and get him and bring him to her house for the
night. I was so relieved. I couldn't imagine what we were going to do
with him when things got really heated. I wasn't sure I wanted him to
witness the birth, but I also wanted my husband to be there with me!
A friend came to the hospital, and my husband met him outside,
switched the car seat to the friend's car, and sent our wonderful
child off to a bewildering night's stay with the rabbi.
My husband came back, and the relief of not having to worry about our
son meant that I was experiencing fully the insanity of
Pitocin-induced contractions. I remember one of the nurses saying that
they needed to increase my Pitocin, and the other one saying she
didn't want to do it because she had seen a uterine rupture. How
reassuring! But they did increase the Pitocin, and I couldn't bear it
anymore. I was 6cm dilated, which I thought was a pretty good
accomplishment right there. I asked for the epidural, and they sent
for the nurse anesthetist.
They had me get up to go pee one last time before the epidural. I have
my timeline a bit mixed up here (oddly enough), but I think my husband
had taken our son outside right about the time I asked for the
epidural, so that our son wouldn't be able to watch them do that. I'm
not exactly sure when he got picked up and taken back to the rabbi's
house, but it was not long after.
While in the bathroom, the contractions starting coming one after
another. It felt like one didn't even end before the next one began. I
couldn't believe the torture. I could barely walk back to the bed, and
when I got there, I started throwing up. The nurse said not to worry,
that I was just in transition and it would pass.
In the five minutes I had taken to pee, I had gone from 6cm to transition! Wow!
The nurse anesthetist was there, and he was able to do the epidural
despite my shaking, nausea, and general incoherence. The epidural was
perfect. It took away the pain but not all of the sensation. I could
still move my legs, and I could still feel that I was having
contractions, but it didn't hurt anymore. It was amazing.
Though I was fully dilated, they said I didn't have to start pushing
right away. The baby was fine, and he could labor down on his own for
a while so I didn't exhaust myself pushing when I didn't need to. This
was new to me, since the minute I had reached 10cm with our first
son's birth, they immediately had me start pushing. I liked this new
way better! I was able to rest a bit, kind of drowsy and groggy. It
was a little after midnight by then, I think, on Wednesday the 17th. I
had been in labor for a little over 6 hours. Right there, I was
already amazed by the contrast with my first labor, which took over a
day to get to this point!
Finally, they said I really did have to start pushing. He had come
down to +2 all on his own (what a guy!), but he needed help to come
the rest of the way. (This also is in contrast to my first labor,
where the little boy wouldn't even come out of the cervix - he was
stuck at -1 station the entire time I pushed!) I protested, enjoying
my relaxation, but they set up the table for delivery and called for
the doctor. He wasn't going to come out if I didn't do a little work!
The epidural was such that I was able to feel the need to push on my
own. So I pushed, and he came down a little. I pushed, and he came
down a little more. I pushed and pushed, and he kept coming almost
out, then sliding back in. After about half an hour of this (during
which there was a fair amount of "I can't do this!" and "I don't want
to push anymore!" whining out of me, as is apparently how I react to
the pain of labor), the doctor said he really was just about there,
but my perineum wasn't stretching quite enough, and he kept sliding
back in. She said probably just a little cut would let him come right
out. Now, an episiotomy was my second worst fear in childbirth, but if
it meant all of this would be over, and I would have my baby in my
arms, I was willing to do it. It was far less traumatic than a
A little cut, a few more pushes, and out he slid, a gorgeous, little,
bald baby boy, at 1:19 A.M., after only about 7 hours of labor and 39
minutes of pushing. I had done it! He was here! I could not believe
it. I couldn't! The placenta slid out a few minutes later, to my
surprise. In fact, I distinctly remember saying, "What was that?!" and
my husband reporting that it had been the placenta. For some reason, I
had thought I'd have to work harder to get that out. They took the
baby to be cleaned, diapered, Apgar-ed, weighed and measured - he was
only 7lbs., 6oz., almost two pounds lighter than his older brother had
been! - then brought him to me quite quickly and put him on my chest
for his first breastfeeding. I had no idea how to hold him, and the
doctor was still down below doing... something. I put him to the
breast. He latched on and sucked. I held him and held him and held him
and he nursed and nursed and nursed, and I knew this was how it was
supposed to be.
First of all, tending to him took my mind off my other end, where the
doctor was working busily stitching me up. Apparently, I was bleeding
quite heavily, and she was trying to get the bleeding stopped along
with sewing up the episiotomy and so on. It was not particularly
pleasant, but I had a very pleasant distraction!
I ended up staying in the L&D room for about four hours, and the new
baby lay on my chest, nursing, the whole time. They were looking for a
room on the maternity floor for me, and they were also still
monitoring my blood pressure. It started to come down, and stayed
down, and they decided they could take me off the magnesium and
instead give me oral phenobarbitol, an anti-hypertensive, instead.
Hooray!! No fluids monitoring! No fall hazard! I could keep baby with
Everything went very well the second time around, in great contrast to
my first birth experience, and I look back on my second birth very
7 lbs, 6 oz
Jessica is a lovely mother of two boys expecting her third (boy!) in a few months. She is a wealth of knowledge regarding VBACs and car seat safety. I am grateful for Jessica's contribution to this blog and would like to direct you to her blog if you would like to read more of her work: http://jessicaonbabies.blogspot.com/
My son was due October 20, 2006, which was a Friday. That night, just
after midnight, I entered the early stages of labor. I lost my mucus
plug and started having contractions. We waited about two hours,
called the OB on call, and were told to come on in. I spent four hours
on the L&D floor, walking around, trying to move things along, only to
find, at 6:00 A.M., that I hadn’t dilated at all. They sent us home
and told us to come back when the contractions were more painful and
closer together. We dutifully followed directions.
As a side note, we had bought a car that evening, not long before I
went into labor. We had to pick it up Saturday morning, so we went
ahead and did that. I don’t think the salesman had a very good sense
of what it meant that I was in labor. He just went on with his spiel,
for what felt like hours, giving us a tour of the facility, showing us
everything we could possibly want to know about our new Toyota Rav4,
and generally doing his salesman thing. I really wanted to go home.
Anyway. We went home. I had no idea what to do with myself. My husband
called his parents in Israel. Their neighbor is a midwife, and she got
on the phone and told my husband to tell me to take a hot shower. Now
that was a great suggestion. The shower felt so good, and it sped up
my contractions because I was standing up. Eventually, I got out of
the shower, and the contractions slowed down, but it had been another
10 hours or so, and we decided it was time to return to the hospital.
This was about 4:00-ish on Saturday afternoon.
I had dilated to a whopping 2cm by then, so they let us stay, since we
were now sure I was in active labor. I had had quite enough of this
labor thing by then, and couldn't believe the long road I still had
ahead of me, with eight centimeters to go! I requested pain relief,
but I wasn’t quite ready for the epidural, so I got a narcotic
cocktail instead. That lasted about 90 minutes, during which I was
high and having the weirdest visions/dreams. I really had no idea what
was going on, how much time was passing, or who was in and out of the
That wore off, and I labored some more, mostly lying on the bed. My
mom was there with me, along with my husband. My mom had given birth
to both me and my brother totally naturally, drug-free, and she said I
should walk around. But I didn’t feel like it. I was tired, and it was
hurting, and lying down was so much easier.
By the time I reached 4cm, I wanted the epidural. It didn’t go very
well and actually took two attempts before the anesthetic took hold,
but it did its job at that point. I was then stuck in the bed whether
I wanted to be or not, but I did enjoy the break from the pain. My
water broke at around 5cm, just as the OB was getting ready to break
the bag of waters manually.
Much of the next several hours is kind of an epidural haze. They
started Pitocin at around 7cm, hoping to move things along. By 5:00
A.M. Sunday morning, I had finally fully dilated, and they started
coaching me on pushing. “Here comes a contraction. Take a breath.
Hold. Push. 1, 2, 3…10. And breathe. Hold. Push 1, 2, 3…” Etc. They
told me my pushing technique was good. But the baby wouldn't budge. It
seemed he was occiput posterior (OP), which means the top of his head
was toward my back, instead of the more comfortable occiput anterior
(OA), where the top of the head is toward the mother’s stomach – the
baby comes out more easily if he is face-down during delivery. Many
babies will turn in the birth canal as they come out, but mine didn’t
want to. It turned out he also had a very big head.
After two hours of pushing, he had not moved at all. He was still up
in the cervix, with no apparent desire to come out and see the world.
My OB told me that I could keep pushing if I wanted, but he wasn’t
making any progress, and it might be time to consider a c-section. She
was not at all confident that this baby was coming out the more
natural way. She stressed that he was not in distress – his heart rate
was fine, he was holding up very well, and there was no immediate
medical danger to the baby, or really to me, if I wanted to keep
trying. However, I was feeling a great deal of pain despite the
epidural, I was completely exhausted, and I just wanted this baby out.
So my husband and I very quickly decided to go ahead and have the
They whisked me away to the operating room, where I was suddenly
surrounded by a bunch of new people, including an incredibly sweet and
caring anesthesiologist who held my hand and looked into my eyes and
helped me stay calm during the procedure. My husband took a few
minutes to get there, because he had to put on a sterile gown, gloves,
hat, mask, etc., and I remember being terribly frightened and looking
around wildly for him. I needed him there beside me. A c-section had
been my greatest childbirth fear, and now here I was having to face
I was aware of some pressure in my abdomen, then a baby’s cry, and my
husband holding him. I looked for him and saw my beautiful son. He was
9lbs., 1oz., and 20 inches. He was healthy and strong. And he had a
big head, as advertised. And I couldn't even hold him, because I was
still strapped down on the table being stitched up.
I had lost a lot of blood and went into shock a few hours after
delivery, requiring a blood transfusion. I was confined to my bed
through Monday, still in a great deal of pain and unable to care for
the baby myself. I spent four days in the hospital, and was sent home
on Thursday afternoon. It took me a long time to fully recover,
including a postpartum hemmorrage about three weeks later. I didn’t
really feel like myself again until about three months postpartum.
9lbs 1oz, 20"
Jessica is a lovely mother of two boys expecting her third (boy!) in a few months. She is a wealth of knowledge regarding VBACs and car seat safety. I am grateful for Jessica's contribution to this blog and would like to direct you to her blog if you would like to read more of her work: http://jessicaonbabies.blogspot.com/
This was a beautiful pregnancy. I felt better, wasn't riddled with hyperemisis, gained less weight, etc. But the end of the pregnancy was filled with the stressed of a long, long, stalled labor.
All morning yesterday (starting from the night before, actually, oh and the day before. Did I mention I have long and unpredictable pre-labors? ), I was having very painful contractions, but not close enough together. I texted my friend Lisa about to just give up because if they were that strong, that far apart, how in the world was I going to make it naturally?? I had spent my new years being released from the birth center, and had actually reversed in dilation because I was in such despair. I longed for a natural birth, and had even read books on pain-free birthing, but that night as I walked back to the car, I said, "Pain-free birth, my a__."
I spent the entire next day in a depressed state, as only a fully pregnant woman with raging hormones and a stalled labor could be. Some close friends, one a mother of eleven children, came over and brought peace and courage with them. As I rested, and took some time to pray and thank God for the greater scheme of things, my contractions came back.
They eventually got closer, and so painful all I could do was lay down for several hours and try to sleep through them. I was at home, at a 4 cm. We made some calls to our midwife friend, and she suggested laboring at home for as long as possible. When we went in at 12 pm, and I was zonked. Lethargic, tired, and done! Contractions finally got to 5 apart on the way down, and I was so relieved that they were progressing instead of waning.
It was my favorite least midwife on call again, but this time I didn't care. Kadence was coming out! I was 5-6 cm so I was in. I went in the tub, which was great, but a little awkward to be naked in front of so many people (just nurses, midwives, my husband, and mom) but I soon didn't care, because the thought of clothes clinging to my laboring body was deplorable. I spent an hour in the tub, actually able to relax my muscles and jaw like I'd been trying to all day. It was a lot easier without gravity to do so. I had worship music going on, and could literally feel liquid peace coming out of the speakers. I got out to use the restroom, and felt a million times better than when I came, so I stayed out and went to the birthing ball. The entire time, I was able to listen to the little nudgings my body told me, and when I listened, there was no pain. This was something I wasn't able to do in my hospital birth, and it was so liberating.
The midwife came in to check me and I had gone to 8 cm in an hour or so (3 pm). I was chatting away with Jeff and my mom, texting my long distant friends, laughing through contractions. At 4 pm, I was 8-9 cm and they broke my water. Every now and then, during a contraction, I felt a bit of an urge to push. It was hard to decipher, because I had an epidural with my first. I still had a tiny bit of cervix left so I needed to wait to avoid making it swell or tear.
I went to the water to see if it would help. The contractions were becoming more intense, and I was much more uncomfortable. I couldn’t find a right position, which frustrated me, especially with only a 30 second break to move to find one. I wanted out, but didn’t have the motivation or strength. Then I vomited all over myself in the tub. Lovely! But it was the unpleasant motivation I needed to get out.
I got out, and moved to the exercise ball. Wasn’t working. Moved to the bed, couldn’t sit up well enough. I was restless, and in another state of mind (In retrospect, I imagine I looked like a dog spinning and spinning in circles looking for the perfect position to lay down). Finally Jeff sat behind me on the bed and supported my back. I was able to rest between contractions on his chest. The midwife came in, and started blabbing about a baby in the room over while I was trying to concentrate on being in transition. With all my frustrations prior that I’d remained silent about, this was NOT the time to let it slide. So I said, “I can’t focus!” She looked at me in a funny way, and I said, I need quiet!!” Offended as she was, she shut her trap. (I found out later that the baby she was talking about was born downstairs, moments prior, and was 11 lbs. I suppose I would have been talking about it, too if I weren't working on my own baby.)
Things seemed to plateau. The nurses suggested moving to a different position, because I had been in the same one for too long, and that was probably slowing things down. The tub wasn’t working for me, and they apparently knew it was about time to push, but I was so frustrated by not being able to find a position to alleviate the pain, I couldn’t think, and tried their suggestions. I tried squatting on the edge of the bed. It was working, but my legs were so tired. Another midwife came in, and took charge.
She had them set up a birthing stool/ bench. I had never seen one before, but it was amazing. They set it up by the doorway, with Jeff supporting me from behind. They had me put one foot on each side of the doorway, and push that way. It was so different than my last birth. I could feel right when that stubborn cervix moved to let her out. I felt her slide down, and when she went around the corner, my mega pushing instincts kicked in, and felt progress with every push. It was encouraging. The midwife helped stretch my perineum through the whole process.
They were ready to have me move to the end of the bed, just as she was crowning, to reduce tearing. But I reached down and felt her head coming out and thought to myself that there was no way I was walking over there like that with her so close to being out! It was apparent that I wasn't moving anywhere, though I had nodded, "Ok" because with two more contractions and sets of pushing, and I pulled her out onto my chest!
I didn’t tear, and walked myself over to the bed to deliver the placenta (which was a bit stubborn, but after a bit came out without problems). And after a bit of paperwork and two quick family visits, we walked out the door baby in hand, 4 and a half hours after giving birth! We drove home and slept with our precious new baby in our own bed in a dreamy cloud, thinking, this is the way it was meant to be. I'm so blessed.
January 2nd, 2010
8 lbs 1 oz, 20.5”
I told myself not to get too excited. The other three times this month had all ended up in a disappointed drive home with an empty car seat. It was a bit different this time. It wasn’t the first night that I had been up with contractions, but this time I had lost my “show,” which was encouraging. At that point, I was four days overdue, and ready to have this baby in my arms and out of my belly.
My contractions lessened in the morning, per usual, and I went about my daily activities. But as evening neared, they became closer and more intense. I realized that it was truly happening when my contractions became so strong I had to lean against the wall to breath. My husband wasn’t as convinced as I. He had drawn the short end of the stick each false labor, and had to go to work without sleep. We decided it was best to leave at ten o’clock that night so when we would be turned away we’d still be able to sleep that night.
When we arrived, I was dilated two centimeters. We walked and walked the hallways, and eventually gathered our quarters together to get a $.99 meal nearby. When we returned, I was devastated to hear that I had not dilated more. It was two o’clock in the morning, and I begged the nurse for a bit more time. Having compassion on me, and remembering me as one of her frequent flyers, she turned off the light to let us rest. Within a half hour, I was three centimeters and was admitted! We settled in at four o’clock, and I painlessly got my epidural. We were able to rest a bit, while my parents made their way to the hospital. Such love and support in the room made the time pass so quickly, and in an instant, it was two- thirty in the afternoon, and I was eight centimeters dilated.
Within moments, half of my epidural began to wear off. The pain was indescribable and I felt the urge to push. The nurse told me no pushing, and in forty-five minutes, the anesthesiologist would be back to redo my epidural. I was devastated. There was NO way I could lay there with this pain for that long. This was my moment where I wanted to give up. Rushing in came a woman in scrubs with a sweet southern accent. She said, “Sweetheart, you feel like you need to push? Well why don’t you give it a shot!” She talked me through it, and it was as if pushing were my miracle drug. No more pain!
I pushed with each contraction, and all I could do to focus was to gaze at the tiny, stuffed horse that we had brought for baby Joshua. I began to fall asleep between contractions. My Southern Bell announced that it was almost time, and said, “I’ll call the midwife!” Call the midwife?! This woman had such authority I thought the entire time that she was the midwife! She returned with the midwife and lights and the carts for the baby. We’re having a baby!
The midwife asked me if I wanted to touch his head. Ah, sweet baby! I continued to push, and as if in a dream, my baby was on my chest, singing his heart out. He heard Daddy’s voice, and instantly lifted his head to see him. Reality swept in, right with the joyful tears.
Joshua David joined our family at 3:39pm at 7 lb 10 oz.
We never felt more complete.