Monday, December 31, 2012

Quinn's beautiful hospital birth

I'm so happy that my friend Regina chose to share her story here! She sent it to me after we were talking about how we both felt misled by "The Business of Being Born":

Before jumping into my second child’s hospital birth story, let me give you some background. Our first child was born at home with a certified professional midwife who, although she was highly recommended, ended up being a big bully and pushed many “natural” interventions on me by playing on my fear of the hospital. I am thankful that my daughter and I are safe despite the midwife’s mismanagement of my labor. That experience with the midwife led me to search out why my experience was so different from others who have homebirths, but then I learned that it wasn’t so different and I realized that there are birth bullies everywhere.

Fast forward to when I became pregnant with my second child. I was so sick at the thought of calling our former midwife for my files that I made my husband do it. I couldn’t bring myself to even talk to her on the phone. We talked to many people during our search for an OB/GYN (which began before we got pregnant, but continued for 12 weeks into it). We finally settled on a doctor who was highly recommended by friends, strangers (on the internet), homebirthers, and hospital birthers. She was from Ghana and didn’t bat an eye when she heard our first birth had been at home, instead she asked why we were choosing to use the hospital this time. She made no judgement of anyone after my story was shared, simply said, “Well, we’re going to make this birth a good one.”

On to the birth story! My labor began early one morning. We were using Hypnobabies for our “birthing method” so I chose to remain still and utterly relaxed in the quiet house. For 5 hours I labored this way, enjoying the quiet, and believing that I was still in the very early stages of labor since my contractions were no worse that strong menstrual cramps. When I finally started timing the contractions, I was surprised to see how regular they were: lasting 1 minute and coming every 5 minutes.

I finally forced myself to get up and start collecting things for our hospital bags and our 2.5-year-old girl’s bag. Within minutes of getting up, the contractions severely intensified and I started feeling sick. My husband woke up in the midst of this and I informed him of what was going on. The lucky man was only aware of my labor for the last quarter of it. ;) Somewhere in the midst of packing, contractions, dealing with my fear of labor, getting our girl up, fed, and off with the child care I lost my center and couldn’t regain full control of myself. There was no where to retreat to hide; I had to keep going forward and I didn’t want to.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived at the hospital. I had been laboring for 6.5 hours at this point. As the nurses cheerfully checked me in, they tried to comfort me. When I expressed my desire to be left alone, they quieted down and stopped touching me except for necessary things (which is exactly waht I wanted--I can’t stand being touched while in labor). One of those necessary things was an IV for antibiotics since I was GBS+. It took several tries to get the IV in because I was mildly dehydrated from not drinking much over night and because I kept moving during contractions. I was never scolded, but eventually the nurses figured out a way to help me hold still long enough to get the tricky IV in.

Once most of the business was taken care of (I later learned they totally ditched the intake interview and paperwork), they finally checked my dilation. At that point, I learned that--yay!--I was almost 8cm dilated but, sadly, that meant that there wasn’t time to set up the birthing tub. I had been looking forward to a water birth. Guess we should have gotten to the hospital sooner, but I thought I still had hours and hours to go.

As soon as they were done with those checks, I was off that hospital bed as quickly as I could move. They brought me a birthing ball that I draped myself over and rocked and moaned. At some point, they fastened the baby heart monitor onto me and that thing proved to be a pain. The baby did not like staying on the monitor and that made the nurses (and therefore, me) nervous. If there were one thing I could change about the whole birth, it would be the monitor alarm. I understand they need to know the baby’s doing OK (they were just trying to get the baseline at this point so they could switch to intermittent monitoring) but if only they could have turned off the alarm sound I could have focused so much better. The alarm kept going off and it would startle me out of any focus I had been able to find.

Otherwise, the nurses were great. They brought me hot rice packs, took the clock off the wall so that I couldn’t see it, rearranged the room so that I could labor on the floor, and were otherwise very helpful and sweet. Sometime in all this, my OB arrived and sat quietly in a corner doing paperwork and observing. About 40 minutes after arriving at the hospital, I started feeling the urge to push. My OB commented on it and had the birthing stool brought in but didn’t do anything else except encourage me until my water broke.

My water broke with a very loud snap. As the nurses cleaned it up, they realized I was bleeding with it. I was bleeding steadily, though not heavily. They moved me up to the bed to get a better look and after a pushing contraction, they guessed that I must have torn inside the birth canal though they couldn’t tell for sure at that point (this did turn out to be true, thankfully). At this point, the OB requested that I remain on the bed so she could keep a closer eye on the bleeding and asked me to push as hard as I could with each contraction--I believe her words were, “Time to get this baby out!” They allowed me to get comfortable and change positions for pushing, they just wanted me to stay up on the bed for now. Somewhere in a lull between contractions, one of the nurses joked to me that she was sad I was up on the bed now, she had been looking forward to seeing the OB get down on the floor to catch the baby. This lightened the mood, which was helpful.

Within 10 minutes the baby was crowning, and the OB asked if I wanted to catch the baby (I had expressed this desire in my birth plan), I didn’t care at that point and just wailed, “I don’t care; I just want the baby out!” Our baby boy’s head was born with the next contraction and the OB said very calmly, “The umbilical cord is around his neck twice. Not tight but not loose. Don’t push just yet, Regina.” As soon as the cord was unlooped, his body was born and he was handed directly to me.

I was surprised when our son didn’t cry right away. He waved his arms around a bit and kind of mouthed at the air. It seemed strange to me, so I started rubbing him. The nurses started rubbing him as well almost as soon as I had started, so I assume that was the right thing to do. He started crying within a few seconds and everyone left us him alone again.

I kept him on my chest for almost an hour before anyone asked to examine him. Because I was GBS+ and had delivered only an hour after getting the IV started, he needed separate antibiotics and some blood drawn for culturing (I know some people call this ridiculous, but I didn’t want to mess around with GBS). I hated to do it, but they promised to hurry. He was away from me for about 5 minutes and was in my husband’s arms or the bassinet (hospital liability rules) for the whole trip. After he was returned, he was weighed and measured in our room, the hospital bed was exchanged for a queen-sized murphy bed, the much-delayed intake interview was finally conducted (which the nurse giggled through because the questions were ridiculous post-birth), and then we were left alone.

About 5 hours after the baby had been born, I finally called a nurse and asked her when they would wash him (I wanted to feel my baby’s soft hair--it was still matted with blood and mucus or vernix). The nurse said they’d do it in a while. So, 8 hours after birth, he finally had his first bath with both my husband and me in attendance. That night, I snuggled in bed with our finally-clean baby and no one batted an eye when I kept him there with me rather than putting him in the bassinet.

Overall, this was a nice experience. Sure, I don’t like giving birth, but I don’t think it could have gone much better with all the small things that went wrong. This hospital was just a small hospital in a small town but they did a great job taking care of me and my baby. It was like staying at a nice hotel. Oh! And the food? It was delicious! The meals were good-sized and the kitchen delivered extra snacks to the new mothers throughout the day. It was great! I was ready to go home after our 48-hour stay, but it was a nice, restful time there and I would be glad to deliver there again.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It's OK to be broken

New post on my personal blog about feeling like your body is defective because of how you gave (or will give) birth.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Laboring under misconceptions

Have you seen this going around on Facebook yet? I saw it the other day, and it really ticked me off:

"Can I labor over there?
Can I labor on the chair?
No! No labor over there!
Don’t labor on the chair!
Sit there, sit there, you will see,
You must labor with this IV!
I do not like this sharp IV!
I need to move, to dance, to pee!
...Doctor, Doctor, let me be;
Say, get your pesky hands off me!
No! You can’t move, or dance, or pee!
You must labor with this IV!
Not over there, not on the chair,
Not with the ball, you’ll have a fall!
Can I labor with a doula?
Can I use some calendula?
Can I labor on hands and knees?
Can I birth just how I please?
No! Not with a doula!
No – what’s calendula?
Lay back, lay back, count to ten,
Breathe – he he hoo – push again!
No thank you, doctors, nurse, and crew,
I’ll go and labor without you.
I’ll labor here, I’ll labor there!
In the shower – everywhere!
I’ll labor standing, squatting, sitting
I’ll labor on my couch while knitting!
I’ll have a doula –I’ll have three!
They’ll let me eat and bring me tea.
Try them! Try them! You will see!
You can go shove that darn IV."
- author unknown
This is in no way representative of my three birth experiences in a hospital, or of the stories submitted here, and it irks me that this is being passed around as what typically happens at a hospital. (I'm not saying that it never does, but I have yet to have a woman relate an experience like this to me that happened more recently than the 1970s.)

The part that struck me as funny about this is that I specifically did all of those things in my last labor, with Natalie -- I asked for a birth ball, and they brought me one promptly.  I asked to be in the shower, and they happily unhooked my IV (I was GBS-positive) so I could go stand in there as long as I liked. I didn't have a doula, because I didn't want or need one, but I had one at my first birth, and everyone was very welcoming of her. I don't recall sitting in a chair, but I DO recall doing some bellydancing-type hip circles quite a lot. I pushed when and how I wanted, in the position I wanted. And yes, I most certainly peed. (Good lord, where is this hospital that doesn't let laboring women PEE, for crying out loud?)

If you are passing around this sort of thing, please call and find out what your local hospital actually DOES. If they are not allowing laboring women out of bed, and most particularly if they are not letting them even PEE, then take it up with them -- please. You have my blessing. Heck, drop me a line, and I'll write them a letter, too.

But please be aware that hospitals that have these sorts of policies are the tiny, tiny minority nowadays in the U.S., and you are in great likelihood spreading misinformation in the name of "educating" women.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Join me on Facebook!

I totally forgot to share this! I recently started a Facebook page for Happy With Hospital Birth -- come join us!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My talk with Kelli of Birth Stories on Demand

I had a wonderful time talking the other day with Kelli, fellow Michigander and host of Birth Stories on Demand, for her radio show! We talked about how this blog started, plus lots of other stuff (especially regarding the homebirth movement), and had some callers -- yay!

You can check it out here or download it here on iTunes. No making fun of our Upper Midwest accents allowed!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Baby Evan's birth by C-section

Michelle shares her son's birth story:

I’ll start at my doctor appt on April 22 (36w4d). My blood pressure was suddenly much higher than it had been, which seemed to be the start of mild pre-eclampsia (which I also had with my first baby, Miranda, who was 3 ½ when her brother was born).  The next day was spent getting a NST at the hospital birth center, and letting everyone know that I was officially out of commission — on bed rest.

Surprisingly, bed rest at this point in pregnancy was not a bad thing. It certainly beat going to work, which had gotten progressively more difficult as I had gotten bigger, more sore and more tired. Miranda was in school three days a week, and a friend was kind enough to watch her the other two days. My blood pressure continued to swing wildly, so my OB, Dr. C., decided to move my C-section date to May 4, when I would be 38 weeks.

I had been induced with my first baby (due to pre-eclampsia) and ended up with an emergency C-section when baby Miranda did not tolerate labor well. My OB and hospital were supportive of VBACs for women who wanted them, but due to the possibility of needing an induction again, and my fear of the risks of VBAC, I had chosen to have a repeat C-section.

During my weeks of bed rest, I went to the doctor’s office a couple of times for NSTs, and got several blood draws to check various things related to liver function, or whatever else they worry about with pre-e. Fortunately, my NSTs were perfect, which was quite a relief. All blood tests were normal as well. It was just my BP and some minor swelling that were concerning.

As the delivery got closer, I started to feel more uneasy. I had a great doctor’s appt and NST on Friday, April 30, which put my mind at ease. But that evening, I was getting ready for bed and my husband, Reid, suggested I check my BP again. I was feeling pretty good, so I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary. But it was 158/113. Yikes. A phone call to the on-call doc (Dr. P., sounded kind of grumpy at 11:30 at night), and I was told I needed to go in to the hospital to be monitored.

We had a bit of a dilemma — Miranda was sound asleep, my parents hadn’t arrived yet, and asking anyone to come and stay at our house would mean waking them up, disruption, etc. So I decided to leave my Reid at home and go in by myself. Of course at that time of night, I had to go in through the ER entrance. That got great reaction, both from staff and patients. I told everyone I was NOT having a baby that night, but they didn’t seem to believe me.

I got to the FBC and all the nurses expressed surprise that I had come by myself. I explained why (sleeping 3-year-old) and met my nurse, Cindy, who was very kind and had a lot of energy. Seems like good qualities in a nurse on the night shift. BP was still high, but lower than it had been at home. I had yet another NST and blood draw and both were perfect. So, at Dr. P.’s instruction, I just hung out for a few hours and watched my BP go down. It eventually got nice and low — not quite healthy, but low enough to be considered “normal.”  During all of this, I watched my contractions on the monitor — strong and regular, as they had been for a couple months, but still not causing labor. I drove myself home around 2 a.m.. Cindy told me she would see me Tuesday night after my C-section, since she would be working that night.

The rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful. My parents arrived, I stayed in bed and checked my BP. Miranda liked having extra adults around to pay attention to her. Monday was the day before the scheduled C-section, and I cheated on my bed rest a little bit to get my hair cut. Nice haircut, but I felt fat, hot and dumpy at the salon, and I had to pee the whole time.

Monday evening, Reid and I went out to dinner (more bed-rest rule breaking — I checked my BP first, of course). Over pasta, we ironed out our final name choice — both first and middle names. I was not very hungry, and it was at that point that I realized I was getting nervous. We went home and puttered around — packing up our hospital bags, taking a couple of last pictures of the belly, putting Miranda to bed, etc. Despite an early wake-up time (4:15 so we could be at the hospital by 5:30), we went to bed fairly late. Reid snored, I tossed and turned, and neither of us slept much.

We were tired and weary the next morning, but made it to the hospital on time. The nurses quickly started getting me prepped for the surgery. An IV was placed (easy — this was my biggest fear when Miranda was born, and it turns out to not be a big deal), and I changed into a lovely gown with no back, and was hooked up for another NST. In contrast to all the non-eventful NSTs I had been having for the past few weeks, the baby was not responding well. It took a long time before they saw what they wanted to see from his heart rate/reactivity. I just thought, “Hmmm … good thing we’re getting him out today!”

I was very anxious to meet the anesthesiologist. I had found out during Miranda’s C-section that this person has the most visible and active role (at least from my point of view) during the surgery. And yet, like most surgeries, you have no idea who the anesthesiologist will be ahead of time, nor do you get to meet them. I had a neat typed list of questions for this mystery doctor. Eventually, Dr. W. bustled in at about 7:15 (surgery scheduled for 7:30). The only way I could describe him is as a “dude.” He was loud and boisterous, muscle bound, called me “kiddo.” He kind of blew off the questions, and I was a little irritated. He unhooked the IV bags from the pole, and said it was time to go down to the OR. I guess I hopped out of the bed and flew out of the room pretty quickly, because he had to hustle to keep up. “You’re nine months pregnant and faster than I am!” I realize that at this point maybe most women turn to say goodbye to their husband, or get teary or something. Well, I just really wanted to get this show on the road. I was a little bit tired of being pregnant, and really ready to meet this baby.

The OR was freezing. It was odd to me that I just walked down there and climbed up on the table by myself. No one knew where Dr. C. (my OB) was. Dr. W. was pretty adamant about finding Dr. C. before placing the spinal anesthesia, which I appreciated, and that helped make up for a few “kiddos” in my mind. Dr. C. finally showed up (he had been on call all night — this made me a little nervous) and introduced me to the assisting OB, Dr. M (“This is the guy who will push your baby out for you”). That sounded okay to me, how often do we get to make men do the pushing?

I rested my head on the shoulder of a nice nurse while Dr. W. did the spinal. It did not hurt much at all. I lay down and waited to become numb while they started draping and prepping. Unfortunately, a few minutes later I could still feel everything that was going on (including catheter placement — yuck). So we waited some more. They continued to prep. I got nervous, and told them what I could feel — my legs, that contraction, the baby moving, them washing my belly, etc. Dr. C. did a pinch test, and I felt each one. So they had me sit up and Dr. W. did another spinal injection. Again, it didn’t hurt, but I was really getting nervous at this point. I knew they wouldn’t do the surgery without me numb, but I was worried they would say I needed general anesthesia. Luckily, whatever he did the second time seemed to take, and I did not feel the pinch tests.  Nor did I feel when they actually started the surgery, which was before Reid was even in the room.

Reid joined us mid-surgery, and everything went really quickly from that point forward. Dr. M. pushed the baby out (it felt like he was standing on my chest), and Dr. C. announced a healthy baby boy. A moment later I heard the baby cry, at which point I started crying and fogged up my glasses. Reid went over to the warming table to be with the baby.

Despite his “dude” demeanor, Dr. W., the anesthesiologist, turned out to be very gentle and attentive throughout the surgery — patient and reassuring as he started (and restarted) the spinal, sitting next to my head during the surgery, wiping my glasses when they fogged up, checking if I was warm enough, asking how I was feeling, smiling reassuringly, etc. All this on top of the more demanding and important job of making sure I was healthy and safe during the surgery. For surgery with a conscious patient, it’s like the anesthesiologist is the patient’s own ambassador and advocate — a really amazing role, and vital to my positive experience and comfort. 

Dr. C. mentioned that it was a good thing I was having a C-section, and that we had done it that day instead of waiting a week — there was meconium in the water, the cord was around baby’s neck twice, and was between baby’s head and the cervix. I was a little nervous hearing about the meconium, but could hear the baby crying vigorously. He was quickly wrapped up and brought over to me. I got my arms free so that I could “hold” him with Reid’s support. His face was scrunched up in a grimace, eyes closed tightly. I peeked under his hat and saw lots of hair. Reid, Evan and I posed for a picture by one of the nurses. A nurse then gently suggested that Reid take the baby back to our room since the OR was so cold. I was sad about this, since I thought I would get to stay with Evan the whole time, but it was really cold in that room.

They left, and to my surprise, the surgery was completely finished about 10 minutes later, and I was ready to be wheeled back to my room. Once in my room, I was given Evan to hold almost immediately. I held him skin-to-skin under my gown, and we were piled with blankets since he was a little cold. I think nurses were fiddling around with me, but I was not really paying attention, I was just focused on my new little one. We tried nursing, and he latched on pretty quickly. He opened his eyes briefly, but mostly kept them tightly closed.

The spinal wore off after about an hour, and I was starting to be in pain. I was a little perturbed, since I had hoped to avoid IV narcotics. During recovery from Miranda’s birth, I had felt very sick and out-of-it, and had concluded that whatever was in my IV had caused that feeling. But when the pain started interfering with my ability to focus on Evan, I asked for the drugs. Thankfully, the morphine did help the pain, and didn’t make me feel too sleepy or loopy, and I was able to focus on Evan again.

After a bit, he needed to be weighed, bathed and given his vitamin K and eye ointment. They did this all in our room. I knew he was a little peanut — 6 lbs. 13 oz. It was nice that he did not cry for the vitamin K shot, and he liked his bath in the sink of warm, soapy water. I loved getting to watch the bath, since that was something I missed when Miranda was born. He was quickly back in my arms and stayed there for the rest of the day.

The day was a blur, but happy and cozy. Evan napped, I napped, we nursed.  The nurses removed various gadgets (BP cuff, IV, etc.) throughout the day and I started eating real food. I was hungry almost immediately after the surgery, but they encouraged me to go slowly (jello, Saltines, and such).  I finally got a smoothie and a bowl of soup that evening and it tasted awesome. It was so incredible to eat without the nausea that had plagued me for the past nine months.

Miranda and my parents came by that evening to meet Evan. Miranda was a little bit unsettled, and understandably was much more interested in me than in her new little brother. We shared a packet of graham crackers, which delighted her. She still talks about that. “Remember when I came to visit you at the hospital and you shared your snack with me?”

My milk came in the second night (less than 48 hours after birth), which is nice and early for a C-section. Evan and I were lying in my bed together, both of us on our sides while he nursed. I realized that I heard him swallowing, which was new, so I knew he was getting milk. He slept for several hours after that.

The rest of the hospital stay was relaxing and uneventful. I was having a great time resting, ordering good food from room service and getting to know Evan.  I felt so good that I spent nearly all my time holding, nursing and caring for Evan, and Reid started to get bored. He asked, “When do I get to hold the baby?” 

I still look back very, very fondly on those peaceful, magical first days. Evan, Reid and I were in our own little world and waited on hand and foot by the caring, attentive nurses. Every morning, Evan’s pediatrician would show up and exclaim over what a perfect baby he was. I felt great, and by the day after surgery I was moving around easily. We left the hospital on Friday morning, three full days after my C-section on Tuesday morning.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Baby Cary's birth

Emily shares her birth story:

When I found out I was pregnant, I hadn’t been to an OB/GYN in years. Since I was a child, I have despised going to the doctor because of the chance that I might have to remove some or all of my clothing. I wasn’t raised to be ashamed of my body – I am just naturally extremely modest. So I was delighted to be pregnant, but not excited about going to the doctor and having to get undressed.

Around the time of my first OB appointment, a pregnant friend of mine started posting articles on Facebook about the terrors of hospital birth. According to her information, I would be strapped to a gurney in the manner of a horizontal crucifixion, paralyzed by pain medicine from the waist down, forced to labor nude in front of 100 strangers, with the doctor and nurses taking turns violating my body with various unnecessary instruments and machines. If by some miracle I got out of there alive with my baby, we wouldn’t be able to bond or breastfeed because of the trauma, and he would grow up to be a psychopath incapable of making eye contact. 

Needless to say, I was terrified by these posts (from a heretofore reasonable friend) and spent many hours agonizing and crying over my decision to have my baby in the hospital. Being a total birth novice, and having no way to authenticate my friend’s claims about the hospital, I was sadly resigned to my fate but felt it was the only way to be sure that we weren’t too far from help if a true emergency arose.

My son’s birth couldn’t have been more different than what had been portrayed as a typical hospital birth. Six days after his due date, I started feeling strong contractions around 11:30 p.m. My husband (a scientist) tracked them on a spreadsheet. They were one minute long and 7-8 minutes apart until around 2 a.m, when they picked up to 3-5 minutes apart. I rocked and breathed through them, and didn’t scream, to my surprise. We were having a hard time determining when to leave for the hospital, because I thought we were supposed to wait until the contractions were 3 minutes apart consistently for an hour. For some reason, I would have a whole bunch of regular contractions, and then there would be a big gap of about 8 minutes. I figured this meant it wasn’t time to go yet. Suddenly around 5 a.m., the contractions accelerated to 1-3 minutes apart. At this point, I had vomited enough from the pain where I figured I had no fluid left in me to vomit in the car, so it was safe to leave. I really didn’t want to have to take baby home in a vomit car. 

We got to the hospital around 5:45 a.m. After walking around for 10 minutes and becoming lost, I sat on the floor and told my husband to go find the right area, and come back for me. We made it to the labor and delivery intake a short time later, and after determining that my pre-registration information had been lost, I had to take off my clothes and get checked out. YAAA! Pain! I was dilated to a 6. Several nurses asked if I was having a natural birth because I had apparently waited a long time to come in. They got me ready to move to the delivery room, and kept fussing about my gown, making sure it covered everything for the trip down the hall. At that point I couldn’t have cared less if I had to somersault nude to the delivery room on broadcast television…I wanted that epidural. 

Tracy, my delivery nurse, was so nice! Because of all the heavy breathing through the contractions, my mouth was dry as a desert and my tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth. I kept asking politely for ice chips, but no one was responding. When Tracy came in, I asked her and she directed someone to bring me ice. It was the best ice I’d ever tasted. She did another check and determined I was 8-9 centimeters dilated. I was starting to be afraid that I wouldn’t have time for the epidural, and silently cursed myself for not leaving earlier. The fetal heart rate monitor was attached, and I had an IV in my arm (I asked the nurse not to put it in my hand because I am a pianist and I’m sensitive about my hands – this wasn’t a problem for the nurse at all). Neither the monitor nor the IV was obtrusive at all, and I loved listening to baby’s heartbeat. Once the monitor was attached, I couldn’t imagine how nervous I would be not knowing if the baby was alive and kicking through the stress of labor. 

Finally the anesthesiologist arrived, and after asking a lot of questions, he was able to place the epidural while Tracy held my hands. I don’t remember feeling any pain when the epidural was administered. About 5 minutes later, I felt a contraction that was about one-tenth of the strength of previous contractions, if that. The anesthesiologist became my new best friend. I started shivering uncontrollably (side effect of the epidural?), so Tracy brought over a bunch of warm blankets and piled them on me. My OB arrived and checked me. This time I was quite relaxed! She said I was at a 9 or a 10, and she would let me get some much-needed rest, and check on me later. I took a 10 minute nap, and then my husband and I called family and friends to let them know the baby was on his way. I felt so relaxed and stress-free after the epidural kicked in. That break was just what I needed to gather my strength to continue laboring after a sleepless night of contractions. I felt totally at ease, and was able to enjoy and reflect upon the experience and marvel at what was to come. 

The doctor returned about an hour later and decided to break my water to move things along. Tracy helped me turn on my side so that the baby could get into a better position and move past my pubic bone (not 100% sure of the medical details here). I spent the next couple of hours relaxing, eating ice, and talking to my husband. Tracy popped in and out to check on me and the baby. Around 11 a.m., it was time to start pushing, so she turned off my epidural. She helped me into a reclined seated position and showed me how to use my arms to brace myself. She and my husband each took a leg (which I could move just fine) and used their bodies to provide leverage for me to push against. Pushing was going rather slowly despite the epidural wearing off and the pain coming back, so I asked for a mirror to see my progress. After a few more pushes, I could see a spot emerging which was the size of a half dollar – the top of the baby’s head!

My OB came in to deliver my son. I was feeling the pain quite a bit and it was causing me to hold back the urge I felt to push, so I asked for the epidural to be turned back on. Once the epidural returned to near-full strength, I wasn’t scared to push harder. I could see the baby crowning in the mirror, and I could feel that I was going to tear, so I asked my OB to do a small episiotomy so that I wouldn’t have to see my perineum explode. She did this for me even though she thought I wouldn’t tear too badly. Since I could feel the size of the baby coming out, I disagreed! One huge push later, and the baby’s head was delivered. My husband said he had his eyes open and was looking around! My OB caught the awed look on my face and said “I know, right!”

She asked me for one more push, and two seconds later my baby was on my chest. He was amazing! Tracy saw how large he was (9 lbs, 8 oz), and said, “No wonder it took so long!” I thought an hour of pushing was not too bad, actually!

After a few minutes together, my husband cut the cord and Tracy took the baby to a little warm table to be cleaned up and checked out, while my husband took pictures. My OB delivered the placenta and stitched me up. I had torn a bit to the side in addition to the episiotomy, but nothing major. Tracy brought the baby back to me and we breastfed right in the delivery room. We are still breastfeeding two months later, and our little family has bonded like you wouldn’t believe.

Thankfully, it turned out that my friend’s “insider knowledge” was a bunch of lies and exaggerations. I loved my hospital birth. It was one of the best days of my life!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Eris' hospital birth

Alex shares her story (and a darling video!) from her daughter Eris' birth:

I had the textbook-perfect pregnancy, from the winter solstice to the autumnal equinox, despite having polycystic kidney disease. I was extremely physically active throughout, including taking a Dancing For Birth prenatal class. Since I was Group-B Strep positive, I was instructed by my Family Physician to call as soon as my water broke, which it did with an audible popping sound at 1:40am in the morning on my due date. After calling my doctor to describe the orange fluid leak, I woke my husband at about three in the morning to head to Swedish First Hill hospital in Seattle, Washington state, USA. After we checked into triage, more amniotic fluid gushed out in their bathroom, causing me to be responsible for closure of their bathroom for bio-hazard clean up for the rest of the night. 

I napped between mild contractions until 7:33am in the morning, when I was checked and my cervix was found to be 3-4 centimeters dilated and 70% effaced already, qualifying me for a Birth Suite! At this point, the nurses asked me to rate my pain on a scale from one to ten, where ten was the worst pain I'd ever experienced. I was sorta sore from the internal exam, so I said three or four. They said, "So, five or six?" My husband and I laughed. My doctor told me to walk around for two hours, which I did, and by the time I was checked again in the Birth Suite at 11:10am in the morning, I was 4 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced with the baby at 0 station. They asked me about my pain again, and I was doing fine as long as I wasn't laying around, so they just intermittently monitored my daughter's hear rate with a hand-held monitor. 

I danced during contractions, later retreating to rocking in a rocking chair between them. The port on my hand for my occasional IV antibiotics was not restrictive in the least.  My doula arrived on the scene and pampered me with back-rubs and cups of tea for the rest of my labour. As the endorphins kicked in, the world seemed surreal, and reality melted away, but not in a bad way; more like in a "Yellow Submarine" sort of way! By 2:09pm in the afternoon, I was 6 centimeters dilated after sitting in the rocking chair listening to movies, and my doctor recommended the jacuzzi tub, which slowed contractions but made them far more productive! At 3:29pm in the afternoon, my uterus simply started pushing on its own. My doula whispered softly that she was going to tell my doctor I was having the "urge to push" and that I would then be surrounded by a lot of people and noise and to just stay inside myself. I was surprised to be found to be 10 centimeters dilated, since I was expecting the feeling of "giving up" or wanting pain medications that was described during transition in all the books I'd read. Those thoughts had never crossed my mind, and I remained relaxed and in great spirits.

They put up a support bar over the bed so that I could squat and push. My doctor donned booties and joked that she always regretted it when she didn't. Foreshadowing of the splashy event about to take place! At a potty break to reduce the physical barrier of my full bladder, my external intermittent fetal monitoring briefly registered a heart deceleration, which frightened me, but switching to a hands-and-knees position solved it. The two and a half hours of pushing really didn't hurt until the last minute, and felt good, albeit tiring! Strangely, I did decide to yell during this stage, despite the great reduction in pain, sort of like a war-cry! My husband dozed in spite of it all.

In between contractions, I shouted for somebody to order me some oatmeal, which I ate after the birth. At 6:32pm, all 6 pounds and 13 ounces of her shot out like a baby horse! She was 19.5 inches long. My first words to her were, "Hi. I built you. I guess that makes me your mom." Then, my husband said something like, "I think we'll keep her" and I looked up at him with tears in my eyes and said, "I'm so relieved that I love her!" 

Unfortunately, she had swallowed a bit of meconium, and I had significant tearing that needed some stitches, but we recovered quickly and we still got out of there after our standard 24-hour watch period. My daughter also punched a nurse right in the face during her first bath!

My hospital experience was terrific, and I look forward to another great hospital birth of my son, Orion, coming this May!  It is funny because during the last labour's potty break described above, my doctor told me, "We should do this again sometime!"  Sure enough, we will! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hey, check it out!

We were featured on Frugal Dad's Top Parenting Blogs! Thanks, Frugal Dad!

(Sorry I haven't been updating more frequently -- Miss Natalie has been crawling for a few months now, and is THE biggest troublemaker! I'm getting quite a backlog of stories, so I'm hoping to get some up here soon.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Baby Blair's happy hospital birth

Chelsea shares her daughter Blair's birth story:

I would like to tell a little about my daughter Blair's hospital birth. The hospital staff was just fantastic, and I cannot thank them enough. I hope this story will help dispel the lies that all hospital births are horrible and traumatic.

I am a first-time mother. Like any parent, I was nervous and excited when my boyfriend and I found out we were having a baby. We chose an Ob-Gyn recommended by a neighbor. The office staff truly made me feel welcome and at ease, and my doctor was so warm, caring and helpful the whole way through. When I was about 24 weeks along, we took a tour of one of the two hospitals in town. I fell in love with the tour leader -- she reminded me at once of my grandmother and my kindergarten teacher. We saw how clean, secure, calm and quiet the maternity ward was. I liked that mothers were guaranteed private rooms.

My boyfriend and I went home to work on a birth plan. I like the idea of a birth plan, because it allows you to express how and what you think will happen, and what you think you might like or not like, and your doctor can offer imput and suggestions. I knew I did not want an episiotomy, and my doctor assured me she rarely, rarely performed them. She informed me I was positive for Group B strep, so I would need to arrive early at the hospital so that I could receive IV antibiotics. (Funny thing, I was actually more scared of the needle than the pain of childbirth!) As far as pain management, I wanted to try without any, but I told myself I wouldnt feel guilty if the pain was too much and I decided I needed them.

Months later, once my contractions were 5 minutes apart, we drove to the hospital. The admitting nurse was very friendly and helpful. Of course, with Blair being my first baby, labor took a while. We arrived around midnight, and Blair was born at 8:45 that night. So, I went through several nurses and both of my on-call OB's. (The delivering doctor ended up being an affiliate of my OB's. She was also just wonderfully helpful.) The staff were all immensely caring and helpful, I really felt cared for. Everyone made an effort to answer my questions, address my concerns, explain what was going on.

I really could not have asked for better care or people to help me give birth. There were no complications for me or for Blair. I am so grateful to the entire maternity ward staff! One especially wonderful staff member was the lactation consultant, the lady who had given us the tour earlier.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lisa's baby stories

Birth story one

It was January 26th, and I was 9 days past due. My OB had scheduled an induction to be started the following morning, so in addition to being tired of the pregnancy, I was worried about being induced. I very much wanted to have a natural birth, and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this if I had the induction. For a week I’d been trying everything I could think of to bring on labor, except eating spicy foods since I have a huge aversion to them. It was four in the afternoon, and my husband was heading out to his evening classes. We had just tried one of the more…intimate ways of bringing on labor, and I was having some mild contractions, but I figured they wouldn’t last since I'd been having them on and off for a week, and they always went away after an hour or less. So off to class my dear hubby went, and I promised to call if things picked up and became regular.

When around 5:30 the contractions had not yet gone away, and seemed to be fairly regular, I started timing them. They were 10 minutes apart and lasted about 20 seconds or so. Nothing to get excited over, but excited I got since this was the most that had happened in weeks. I had a snack and watched some TV trying to distract myself so I wouldn’t get my hopes up to high if this didn’t turn into real labor. I timed them again at 7, and they were 7 minutes apart, lasting 35-40 seconds. Now I did get excited. But I didn’t want to call my husband yet, just in case. Besides, they weren’t close enough to go to the hospital. I double checked that my bag had everything I wanted/needed in it. I spent about an hour fiddling with baby clothes and planning what I would put my baby in for his first pictures. At 8:30 I timed my contractions again, and they were 5-6 minutes apart lasting a solid 40-45 seconds. So I called my husband. He got home about 9 pm, and was raring to go to the hospital. We timed my contractions again, and they were still about the same as before, so I said we’d wait. He spent the next hour and a half timing my contractions, and asking me if I was ready to go yet. He was so anxious. At 10:30 they were a little less than 5 minutes apart, still lasting about 40 seconds. Off to the hospital we went.

The hospital wasn’t far, and there was no traffic since it was late at night. But in the span of that short car trip my contractions actually slowed down. When we checked in they were back to being almost 7 minutes apart, lasting only 30 seconds or so. Luckily, I was dilated 4 centimeters, 100% effaced, so they let me stay. I would’ve been really bummed if they had sent me home, which I was afraid they would do considering how much my contractions had weakened. It was a little after 11:00, and I’d now been in early labor for about seven hours.

The hospital was great about my desire to maintain mobility during labor. They put in a Hep-lock so I wouldn’t have to be attached to an IV, and they put it about midway up my forearm so that it wouldn’t interfere with my ability to use my wrist or elbow joints. They told me that since I was still fairly early in labor, they would wait until I thought things were really picking up before they did another cervical check, and attached the monitors. After that, they wanted to attach monitors once every hour or so for about 15 minutes, so that I wouldn’t have to be continuously monitored. I spent most of the next couple hours walking back and forth in my room.

Sometime after one in the morning, maybe closer to two, I got really nauseous very suddenly, and threw up everywhere. I was also beginning to feel pretty miserable in general, and decided I was going to lie down. They hooked up the monitors, and checked my dilation. I was 7 centimeters, and I think they said contractions were about 3 minutes apart, lasting for about a minute. After monitoring the baby and I for a little bit, they removed the monitors so I could move about as I liked, but I did not want to get up again. At this point, I remember there was a wonderful nurse who would sit with me for a while and help me through contractions. She didn’t stay in the room all the time, but when she came in she would stay for several contractions, and talk me through them. My husband spent most of the remainder of the labor alternating between pacing, and asking me if he could do anything for me. I remember he also had a wet washcloth that he would hold to the back of my neck or wipe my face with when I asked. I remember being really hot, and not wanting the sheets on my bed anymore. At some point, they had hooked me up to continuous monitoring. They gave me an oxygen mask, which I didn’t want to use. I think they gave it to me because of the baby’s heart rate, but I’m not sure. I also remember that the thing they put on my finger to monitor my pulse was for some reason seriously getting on my nerves. At some point, after asking the nurses several times if I could take it off, I just removed it myself and told them I wasn’t wearing it anymore. They didn't make a big deal out of it. The nurse just put up her hands in a sort of placating way and said, "OK, sweetie, that's fine." I think that was around the time I was dilated 8-9 centimeters. Somewhere in all of this they broke my water, since it hadn’t yet broken on its own.

I spent a lot of time thrashing about in the bed trying to find a comfortable position, and I didn’t want to get up. I was crying because it hurt so much, but I dozed in between some of the contractions, that’s how tired I was. Finally, I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, and asked for pain medication. I had been at 9 centimeters the last 3 times they checked, and I was frustrated and tired. They called the anesthesiologist, and then that wonderful nurse came back in. She told me I needed to get up from the bed and go pee, which I didn’t want to do, but between her and my husband they got me to do. Then she had me stay standing leaning against my husband while she changed the pads that were on the bed. Finally, when I got back in the bed, she said, “Let me just check you one last time, dear, before the anesthesiologist gets here.” Lo and behold, I was at 10cm. I think I laughed I was so happy. She cancelled the anesthesiologist, and a few minutes later, I felt like pushing.

They say I only pushed for 20 minutes before my baby was born. I remember that during the pushing stage, the contractions didn’t hurt. My husband helped support me sitting up in the bed, and he rubbed my shoulders in between contractions. I vaguely remember the “ring of fire”, but it didn’t last long, nor did it hurt nearly as badly as I’d been told it would. I remember the awe in my husband’s voice when he said, “I can see his head.” What I remember most is the doctor telling me to reach down and grab my baby, as he guided my hands under my son's arms, and allowed me to pull him the rest of the way out and onto my chest with the final push. I remember my son’s eyes locking with mine as I greeted him, and those few seconds of silence and recognition before he resumed his cries.

My beautiful boy was born January 27th, 2010, at 6:37am, 8 pounds, 1 ounce.

Birth story two

So I was 10 days past due, again, and still no baby. I went to bed cranky and uncomfortable. With my first, I went into labor at 9 days past due, and he was born at 10 days past due. I’d been having pro-dromal labor on and off for days, but so far no real labor. At my appointment four days prior, I was 4 centimeters dilated and had really expected to be in labor by now. After all, second babies are supposed to come sooner, right? Not.

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. needing to use the restroom. When I got up from the toilet, I felt my water break. Yay! I was having contractions, but they didn’t feel any different from the false-start contractions I’d been having, so I waited. They started becoming regular around 3:30 or so. This is when I woke my husband up. We took our time getting ready. I made sure I had everything ready to go for my toddler when he woke up so it would be easy for my dad to take care of him. We were about to head out at 4 a.m. when my boy woke up crying. I laid back down in bed with him to try to get him to go back to sleep. It difficult at that point to lie next to him through a contraction without him knowing something was different. But I did it, since I didn’t want to scare him.

At 4:45 we finally headed to the hospital. By now my contractions were 3 minutes apart, and really hurting. The hospital is typically a 45-minute drive over the mountain, but there was no traffic, and hubby sped a little. We arrived just after 5 and were checked in to L&D at 5:20 a.m. They hooked me up to the monitors for 20 minutes, put in a Hep Lock. Hubby fetched me some ice water to sip on in between contractions. They checked me, and I was 6 centimeters. After 20 minutes, they took me off the monitors and told me I could walk around if I wanted. I had originally planned on laboring in the tub for a while, but at this point it just seemed like too much trouble. I didn’t even want to get out of the bed really. I don’t know how far apart the contractions were or how long they were lasting at this point. I was no longer paying attention to the clock.

I got out of the bed anyway since usually that helps speed things along. Hubby was basically holding me up during contractions. At some point, the midwife (CNM) arrived. She suggested squatting during contractions, but I couldn’t. It hurt too much, and my legs were shaking just trying to stay standing. Shortly after this, I wanted to get back in the bed. Hubby says it was just after 6 at this point. I was feeling a lot of pressure, so the midwife checked me and said I was at 9 centimenters. I started crying. I was upset because I’d gotten stuck at 9 centimeters for almost an hour last time, and I was immediately anticipating the same thing happening this time. Hubby was holding me, and telling me, “It’s ok, you’re doing great, that’s 3 centimeters in an hour, etc.” The next contraction came, and I told the midwife I had to push. She asked me to try not to, but I couldn’t help it, so she checked me again. She said I had just a little lip of a cervix left, but that I could go ahead and push past it.

I only pushed for about 10 minutes total. I started out pushing on my side, but then things got scary. First of all, this was completely different from my first in that the pushing stage hurt, a lot. With my first I stopped really feeling the contractions while I was pushing. This time was the opposite. The contractions hurt worse. I heard the midwife say, “He’s stuck, go get the on-call doc, now.” A nurse ran out of the room, and I think a couple more came in. Apparently we had a shoulder dystocia. They had me turn on my back. One nurse was doing compressions on my abdomen just above my pubic bone, kinda like CPR. That hurt like hell. It hurt more than the contractions and pushing. Another nurse was helping my hubby push my legs back during contractions. Whatever they did worked. He wasn’t stuck for long. I was told less than a minute.

As soon as he came out they rushed him over to the little warming table and gave him some oxygen. Apparently oxygen deprivation can be an issue with a dystocia. So I wasn’t able to hold him immediately like I was with my first. But everything was fine. He didn’t suffer any complications. Once they were sure he was ok, they handed him to me so I could hold and nurse him. They had to cut the cord quickly to get him to the table with the oxygen, but they still handed my husband the scissors to cut it down further once it was clamped. I thought that was nice. Everyone left the room for a while to give my family some privacy. We spent over an hour bonding before they took him to weigh him and clean him up.

And so, my second son was born at 6:29am Sept. 20, 2011, 9 pounds, 4 ounces, after just over an hour in the hospital.