Birth stories

Declan Asher's Birth

Despite two previous hospital transfers for different reasons, I wanted to try for another homebirth. I loved the midwives I used for my second birth (Midwives Cooperative) and I was excited to perhaps have the homebirth I had been dreaming of. However, at 10 days past due, I was facing a possible induction at the hospital. I talked to my husband and we decided to take a day to try and do as much as possible to get things moving on their own. I had my membranes stripped by my midwife and scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor. After having my membranes stripped I definitely noticed some mild contractions, but after a couple of false alarms in the previous weeks I decided to just wait until they made me pay attention to them.

After visiting the chiropractor, almost immediately my contractions picked up. They were crampy and much more noticeable. I was so excited; this could be it! I went home and laid down to try and nap or rest before things really got going, and called my midwives to let them know it was possible I was in labor. I rested some, but I found myself too excited to sleep. Around 6pm, my mother in law arrived to care for the kids and I asked my husband to come join me as I wanted more support during contractions since they were starting to get stronger. I sat and rocked on the birth ball, and got in a hands and knees position leaning over the ball with my chest while Matt did some good counter pressure on my back. At 7pm we called the midwives, as my contractions were about 6 minutes apart but really long, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. My previous birth was about 4.5 hours from start to finish, and I was worried this one might be even quicker. She told me to call back when they were closer to 5 minutes apart. It didn't take long for them to get to that point.

The midwives arrived just before 8pm. I asked if we could set up the birth pool, but my midwife asked if she could check me first, because I was contracting pretty close together and she was worried I might not make it in the tub. I agreed, and she encouraged me to empty my bladder first. I did, and as I was sitting on the toilet, I started having a contraction. I heard and felt a "pop" and a gush of liquid that was not urine came out. "My water broke!" I said. My midwife said, "Great! What color is it?"

I looked in the toilet and it was green. I said, "uhhh it definitely has some meconium". They came in to look and both midwives stepped out to chat for a moment. Then, one of them broke the bad news to me. "That is classic particulate meconium. You have to transfer to the hospital." I was so disappointed. She asked if she could check my cervix so we could see if there was time to get to the hospital, and I was 3cm. Plenty of time. Unfortunately, they had to call an ambulance again, because that is the best way to bypass triage and get into a delivery room. The midwives stepped out for a minute to call and to let me talk to my husband. I cried a few tears, packed a bag, and walked into the ambulance when they got to my house.

The EMT was a woman, and made small talk with me while we drove to the hospital, and I breathed through contractions. When I got to the hospital, I was pushed upstairs in a wheelchair, even though I asked if I could walk. The nurse told me to sit, and then told me to please not have the baby in the elevator. We got set up in the delivery room and after having a few contractions in the bed I said, "if I have to be here, strapped down to this bed, I want an epidural". My midwife laughed and said she understood and would probably say the same in my situation. The OB checked me and I was 5cm, so they sent in anesthesia. I went to relieve my bladder again, and then sat on the edge of the bed while the anesthesiologist cleaned my back. My contractions were right on top of each other and I was moaning loudly with each one. My husband looked at me and said "this is the last contraction before relief comes". I nodded in agreement and at the end of the contraction I had a very strong urge to bear down. I screamed, "I'm pushing!!"

The nurse was shocked, because it was 9:25 and I was 5cm just 25 minutes before. She said "what?" And my midwife said, "that sounded a lot like transition. The baby is coming." She said, "well stop pushing! We need to get the doctor in here!" If I could have laughed I would have, because telling a woman who is giving birth and having precipitous labor to stop pushing is ridiculous. I sat back onto the bed, and he was already crowning. Another contraction came and my body did all the pushing for me, and his head was out. The OB came running in, still putting her gloves on, and gently unwrapped the cord from his neck. One more push and he was out, crying, and completely covered in meconium. I mean everywhere, green in his eyes, ears, and the folds of his skin. But he was crying, so they let me hold him.

He was perfect! The pushing was so quick; I literally did not feel any pain in that part. He came out so smoothly and perfectly, I was amazed. The anesthesiologist looked at the OB and said, "I'm so glad you got in here when you did. It's been a while since med school and that's the last time I delivered a baby". His face was priceless. We all laughed and I held my baby while he searched for my breast and nursed for the first time. We had a wonderful hour of skin to skin time before they weighed and measured him. Declan was 8lbs 11oz and 21.5 inches long, born at 9:30pm. Only 2.5 hours of labor! I was glad, in the end, that I didn't get the epidural.   I wish I had been able to stay home, but I understand the concern about aspirating meconium- thankfully, Declan did not aspirate any meconium! I consider that a miracle, considering how much meconium he had on him! He has been such a blessing to me ever since.

Alex Holding Newborn Declan

Callen MIcah's Birth

Alex and Newborn Callen

It was Election Day, November 6 2012, and I woke up before my husband and toddler to go vote. I got to the polling location around 6:50 am and got in line to cast my ballot for the president. While standing in line, I noticed some contractions with mild cramps low in my belly, but I attributed them to Braxton-Hicks contractions and went about voting. I drove home to make my family breakfast and get my husband to work. I started noticing the contractions coming extremely consistently. I decided to time them, just to see, and they were about 6 minutes apart and about 30-45 seconds long. They were not very strong though, hardly even uncomfortable, so I sent Matt to work and called a friend to come hang out with me in case things changed very quickly and I needed back up with Liam or getting Matt home from work. We decided to go to another friend’s house for a play date. I was worried it would be a false alarm, since they weren't changing much, but my friend said she felt like I was in early labor and would have a baby by the next day. My friend helped drive me home since I was not the best person to drive at the time, and then she left me to rest.

We ate lunch, Liam and I, and I decided to nap while he did. Thankfully he took a nice long nap, and so did I. My mother in law came over to help me with Liam, since she was going to take him while I gave birth, and let me rest even longer. I was awakened a handful of times by contractions, but I quickly went back to sleep. When Matt got home from work, we all went to grab a quick dinner. I was still having contractions every 5 minutes like clockwork, and they were still about 45 seconds long. I called my midwife to let her know it might be the night, and she told me to call back when things picked up. Matt put Liam to bed and I snuggled down on the couch, watching the election results roll in. By 10pm, it was clear Obama won, and I was still not noticing any changes in my contractions. Annoyed but hopeful, I decided to go to bed and rest as long as possible.

While I took a shower before bed, my contractions kicked into high gear. Suddenly each contraction grabbed my attention and made me focus on it until it passed. I practiced some rhythmic breathing and leaned forward, letting the warm water run over my back. I lingered in the shower, and when I came out, I called Matt into the room to let him know things were really getting started. As soon as a contraction hit, I almost instinctually leaned forward and got into a hands and knees position. Matt put some counter pressure on my back and I vocalized loudly. We moved downstairs, talking and resting in between contractions, and getting on hands and knees during contractions. Matt decided to call the midwife. She arrived around midnight and watched me labor through a few contractions. She asked if should could check me, and I was at 3cm. She listened to fetal heart tones, and asked if she could listen through a contraction. As she listened, I focused on the contraction, relaxing and vocalizing. She asked if she could stay and listen through another one, and I could tell something was wrong by her voice. The next contraction started and this time I stayed quiet to listen. Callen's heart rate was dropping significantly during contractions. He went from around 115 bpm to 50bpm. To my mommy ears, it was quite alarming- and I shouted "is that his heartbeat?!" 

The midwife said yes, and asked her assistant to get oxygen from the car. She placed a mask on me and I started to cry, knowing this was not a good sign. She told me I needed to take deep breaths for my baby, and began discussing what would happen next. They would call an ambulance to take me to the hospital, and when I got there they would rupture my membranes and place an internal fetal monitor on my baby. Then, depending on what happened, I might need to be put under general anesthesia for an emergency c-section. I was trying very hard not to panic, and I was so thankful this midwife was going with me- she actually worked part time at the hospital as a CNM! 

I rode in the ambulance with oxygen on, and on my hands and knees, as that was the position that seemed to be best for Callen's heart rate. When we got to the hospital at 1am, there was a flurry of activity and they ruptured my membranes. Light meconium was present, but nothing too alarming. The OB came and watched a few contractions on the fetal heart rate monitor. Whatever position Callen was in, he must have moved, because his decelerations were considerably less severe. His heart rate dropped from the 110's to the 100's or 90's during contractions, so he was no longer in distress and was tolerating labor quite well! The OB said I could continue to labor and he would come back to check on us.

I was trying to labor naturally, but with a fetal monitor, blood pressure cuff, IV, and blood oxygen sensor on my finger I was completely tied down and confined to my back in the bed. Being unable to move into different positions was extremely frustrating. I felt boxed in and the contractions felt so much more intense in this position! I asked for an epidural, and the nurse said I would need to be checked before I could get one. I was at around 7 cm, so they sent anesthesia to me at 2am. The anesthesiologist was really nice, and said his wife had an attempted home birth and hospital transfer too, and he knew my midwives! He placed my epidural, but my contractions felt like they were on top of each other. He asked if it was working, and I said I could still feel the contractions but it felt like it took the edge off somewhat. He left, and almost immediately the intensity was back- and I could feel everything. 

I had immense pressure in my hips and pubic bone and felt the need to bear down. I got into a sitting position in the bed. My midwives encouraged me to hold my legs back while I pushed to simulate a squat. I did, but was having trouble doing so, so my husband and my midwife helped hold back my legs on each side. As he was crowning, I almost kicked my midwife in the face because the "ring of fire" was upon me, and the pain was unexpected. I hadn't felt that during my first labor. My midwife encouraged me, as she could tell I was afraid of the pain, and she told me to push into the pain. I did, and his head was born. One more push and his body came out too. Callen was born at 2:38am, 8 lbs 6 oz, 20.5 inches long and came out crying lustily. This time, I knew I wanted uninterrupted skin to skin, and he was placed, wet and perfect, on my chest. He stayed there for the first hour, and they didn't move him to weigh or measure him until the first hour was over. He eagerly latched on during that time, and then slept on my chest for a while. He was not taken to the nursery and stayed by my side for the entire hospital stay. I was so thankful that he was born healthy despite the scare we had at home.

 

Liam Noah's Birth

My first pregnancy was wonderful. I had some pregnancy nausea for a few weeks during the first trimester, but I was extremely healthy and low risk the rest of the time. I decided I wanted to have an out of hospital birth, to try to avoid some of the interventions that can happen in hospitals. I chose my local midwife run Birth Center.

I woke up on the morning of February 4, 2011 with a backache and some cramping that felt a lot like my period was coming. I had stopped working 2 days before, as my due date came and went, so I was awakened by my husband's alarm going off so he could get to work. He kissed me and told me to keep sleeping, but I was excited at this new change and told him that today could be the day. He asked if he should stay home but I knew that early labor could last for a long time and sent him off to work. I ate breakfast, took a shower, and started noticing some definite cramp like contractions every 7 minutes. They were not painful, but uncomfortable, so I went about my day and kept my contraction timer open so I could keep track of them. I thought about going back to sleep, but I was too excited to rest. So instead I created birthing playlists, watched movies and tried to relax. The contractions were picking up in intensity and frequency, so I called Matt to come home around 10:30am. Around noon, we decided to head to the birth center since my contractions were "5-1-1", or 5 minutes apart, 1 minute in length for an hour and they were strong enough to require all of my attention and focus when they came. The midwife on call checked me when I arrived and said I was 1 cm and 50% effaced, and I should probably go home and try to rest or nap.

We went home, and I was feeling extremely discouraged. My back was really hurting during each contraction and sleep was not an option anymore. I was already trying to find a labor rhythm, and I slow danced with Matt around the living room and got in various positions with him where he could do counter pressure and practiced breathing through the contractions. We went for walks around the neighborhood. Around 6 pm, we headed back to the birth center and my friend Jen met us there. I was 3 cm then so the midwives said I could stay since I was in "active labor" (after having two more kids, that was the most difficult and painful "early labor" I have experienced, it felt quite active to me). My midwife put a line in my arm with a hep lock so I could receive antibiotics intermittently, since I was Group-B strep positive. Once I had my first dose, I was free to move about again.

Alex Laboring with Liam

I walked around the porch with Jen, pausing during contractions to lean against a bench or wall. There were no positions that felt good during contractions except standing, and if I was sitting, I immediately stood up during a contraction. I melted into Matt or Jen, letting them bear my body weight so I could try and relax and open up during each contraction. I would vocalize to ensure my mouth and jaw were relaxed. Matt made sure I drank and ate throughout, as it was getting late. I labored for a few more hours before the midwife said I could get in the tub, as they did not want my labor to stall in the water. Around midnight, I was 5 cm and she said I could finally get in. Immediately, my body relaxed and each contraction felt so much easier, as though the tension I felt in my body was being released into the water somehow. It also relieved the intense back labor I was having. I felt great and did not want to get out! The student midwife attending said Liam was OP, or occiput posterior, which explained the intense back pain I had been feeling even during early labor. Unfortunately, as soon as I got in the water, my labor slowed down and I needed to get out of the tub and go climb the stairs. Up and down we went; Jen, Matt and I, over and over. I begged to get back in the tub, as now I was loudly vocalizing during each contraction and longed for relief from the intensity of labor. My friend Jen encouraged me that my vocalizations were nice and low, which helps encourage the cervix to open. The midwife checked me again and said I was 7 cm and that Liam was nice and low against my cervix. She asked if I would be okay with breaking my waters artificially, and that it might help me progress more quickly. I hastily agreed, as it was now 3:30 am and I was getting so very tired.


I laid down during a contraction and she used an amnio-hook to break the bulging bag of waters. It burst with a "pop" and a gush of liquid. As soon as it broke, the intensity of my contractions seemed to increase dramatically and suddenly my contractions were giving me no break in between, as they came one after another. I started feeling discouraged, saying "I can't do this anymore!" And they all said that it sounded like I was in transition, and that I was doing great. At about 5:00am, I started feeling some pressure and an urge to bear down. The midwife checked me and said I was 9.5cm, almost complete, but I had a small anterior lip of cervix that would not dilate or efface fully, so I should try to wait for an overwhelming urge to push. I got back in the water and felt like pushing. Matt got in with me, since I needed something to lean against for more support. I started to feel a stronger urge to push and got into a squatting position in the tub. At one point the student midwife said "reach down and feel your baby's head", and I did, he was about an inch away from crowning and in a +1 position. Then the midwife came in to check my progress, and said that because of the anterior lip, my cervix was swelling and I needed to get out of the tub and stop pushing. 

I dried off and put on a robe, and got into a knee chest position. I was on all fours, with my elbows down on the bed and my butt up in the air, panting through contractions with my chin up to try and not push while contracting. This was to get the weight off my cervix to encourage the swelling to go down. In between contractions I laid on my left side to try and rest. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done- panting and not pushing when my body was trying to bear down. During this whole process it felt like time was suspended and I lost all track of time. After about an hour of this, my cervix stopped swelling and I was allowed to get back in the tub. The sky was starting to turn pink from the first hints of the rising sun, and the student midwife attending told me that I should try to sleep between contractions as I was getting quite exhausted. I dozed off a few times, but woke up each time feeling the need to bear down again. My body was pushing, I was not trying to! My midwife checked me again and once again, my cervix was swelling from the anterior lip that would not efface, and so I went back into the knee chest position on the bed for another hour or so (time had no meaning here). Once the swelling went down again, I was still spontaneously bearing down, so my midwife suggested a sitting squat position so she could try to push my anterior cervical lip out of the way while I pushed. This was very uncomfortable and it didn't work. My cervix started swelling for a third time, and I was once again told to get in the knee chest position. At this point it was about 11am and I started crying in pain, exhaustion, and frustration. I had been pushing on and off for about 6 hours! As I laid on my side in between contractions, I told my husband I didn't think I could go on. The midwife had another laboring mom to tend to at this point, so she left me with the student midwife while I cried. The student midwife, Mary, looked at me and told me that this was very atypical labor progression. She said if I wanted to transfer to the hospital, she would support that decision. I didn't want to go and get pitocin and all the other interventions at the hospital, but I was exhausted at this point, so I told Matt to make the decision because I was not able to at that time. Matt, Jen, and Mary talked. Matt came back with my bag and said we were going to get in the car and go to the hospital. Mary and Jen came with us, and we climbed back into the car and called the OB to let him know we were on our way. The CNM was on call that day, so I was transferring to her care, and my midwife gave her the rundown on what was happening. 

As soon as I got in the room, I demanded an epidural. I needed a break to regroup. I wanted a nap. At this point, it was about 12:30pm, and it had been a full 24 hours since I was sent home from the birth center to labor at home because I wasn't dilated enough. The CNM checked me and confirmed the anterior lip and said Liam was still OP, which was why I had all the back labor and intense spontaneous bearing down! She also said I was only 8 cm, because my cervix had started swelling again from being upright in the car ride over (or Ina May's sphincter law is very real and I didn't want to have a baby in the car). The anesthesiologist came and administered my epidural and suddenly, I couldn't even tell I was having a contraction. My CNM gave me some pitocin, since I had already been in labor so long and they were worried I might end up with a c-section. I felt kind of bullied into the pitocin- I wish I hadn't agreed to it, as I don't think it was necessary at that point, but it was my first baby and I didn't know much about hospital procedures so I agreed. Then, I looked at the nurse and said I wanted a nap! They turned all the lights off and me and my husband slept for about an hour and a half. The contractions were definitely longer, and they woke me up, but they mostly felt like tightness or pressure. I was so tired I didn't care, so I went back to sleep as soon as it was over. 

The CNM came back in around 2pm and said I was complete- the lip had finally disappeared! She told me I could start pushing if I wanted to. I told her I couldn't even feel my contractions. My labor nurse looked at the monitors and told me when I was having a contraction and when to push. I didn't like the directed pushing- it was weird to go from being unable to stop my body from bearing down, to needing to have someone tell me when to push. Liam was still posterior, and this makes pushing a baby out much more difficult too. The CNM found somewhere else for my nurse to be, and she turned off my epidural so I could feel a contraction and push when I needed to. She also helped me get in various position to turn Liam- such as hands and knees, squatting, side lying with legs pulled back in a laid back squat. It took a little while, but soon I could feel my contractions again and Liam was progressing down! He was crowning for what felt like hours, and his positioning made it difficult for him to be born quickly. Finally, I pushed hard and he turned a bit to slip under my pubic bone, and he was born all at once! Head and shoulders came out in one fell swoop. The CNM almost missed him, but caught him just in time! He was born at 3:53 pm on February 5, 2011. If you count my early labor (which in this case, I do) I was in labor for nearly 33 hours. About 28 of those hours were quite intense.

He was laid on my chest, wet and slimy and screaming. I held him for a couple of minutes before they whisked him off to be measured and weighed. He was 8lbs, 13 oz and 21.5 inches long. They also did quite a bit of suctioning on him before giving him back to me to breastfeed for the first time. Meanwhile, I was being stitched up from a 2nd degree tear. When they finally gave him back to me, I was shaking from exhaustion, so the pediatric nurse held him to my breast while he nursed for the first time. My labor nurse said his temperature was slightly elevated and that he should go to the nursery to be evaluated. Mary, who had come with us to the hospital, spoke up for the first time and said that she really didn't think it was necessary, and that skin to skin would help regulate his temperature. She ignored Mary, and he was sent to the nursery. I told Matt to go with him since I could not. Mary had to head back to the birth center to attend the other laboring momma, so as soon as they were done stitching me up, they removed my epidural and let me rest. This was the loneliest time for me- I was all by myself, and I had just had a baby! I called and texted Matt, trying to figure out what was going on. He sent me some pictures of Liam in the nursery. They said that Liam was fine, but that he needed to get a bath before he could come back. He was gone for almost 3 whole hours before he came back to me, and by that time he was asleep. We were moved to mother baby and kept overnight. We went home the next day, and we embarked on our journey as new parents, a journey that had just begun.