MAYD to Birth: At Your Doorstep

Promoting gentle, empowering mother journies…

Heather Rose

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Jessica, 23.

I knew right after my first daughter was born that my next child would be born naturally, without unnecessary interference from doctors and medicine. I first blame newness on failing to continue through my first delivery naturally, but I also put some blame on the nurse and doctor who attended me as well.
My nurse was new, and couldn’t get the external ultrasound belt on correctly, which led my doctor to believe I wasn’t really contracting regularly. Thing is, I was. But alas, he insisted on moving labor along by breaking my bag of waters with a wire. It took him a couple of tries to get this done, and by the time he was finished, I was in such severe pain from it that I was cold sweating, dizzy, and horrified of how much worse labor would be soon becoming. That’s when I opted for an epidural. When all was over, I secretly regretted my decision and knew that by taking my first experience and learning from it, my next delivery (barring medical disaster) would be directed by me, by my body.
As I got closer to d-day with my second child, I started researching anything that would ease labor. I printed out page after page of things my husband could do to help me and things I could do to help myself. I watched Youtube videos of some very beautiful natural deliveries, and talked to other women who had done what I wanted to do, like my mom. More importantly than the head knowledge though, was the mental preparation I did. As long as I knew what I wanted, I would figure out how to make it happen. After all, women have been delivering naturally for thousands of years, with no other options!
I also made a point of writing out a very short, concise birth plan stating that I did not want to be hooked up to an IV (allowing me to walk and move as much as I needed), that I wanted to be able to deliver my daughter in any position I felt I needed to be in when the time came, that I wanted a mirror set up so I could watch my daughter’s progression through delivery, and a couple other things. I had this birth plan approved by my midwife, and all was a go.
At 15 weeks of pregnancy, I started experiencing Braxton Hicks, which is similar to how my first pregnancy went. I knew that when my child decided to come then, it would be fast. And it was. I was dilated at 35 weeks, progressing steadily until 37 weeks, when my contractions became very consistent but still painless for two days before my husband almost pushed me out the door and to the hospital. I was embarrassed to go, thinking I would be sent home, but after an hour of monitoring and being told that if I did go home, to wear a towel under myself because my bulging bag of waters would break at any moment, I was admitted. This time, my water was broken (because it was bulging so much) and it was quick and painless. I got up, started walking around, and after about 20 minutes the contractions started getting stronger. I started working my way though them by intentionally keeping my muscles relaxed and leaning on my husband, always remembering to breathe. Then, I moved on to the birthing ball, where I was able to lean against the bed with my legs wide open. My husband sat in front of me, doing nothing but letting me stare at him and breathe and hum whenever contractions hit, and my mom sat behind me, massaging my back. 
After laboring for about 1 hour, I all the sudden… and I mean ALL THE SUDDEN has this crazy, animal urge to push. My mom ran out to get the nurse and I somehow made it to the bed (although that part it a little fuzzy). I didn’t think I would be so loud, but I was. I really couldn’t help it. I wasn’t screaming, but I was major vocalizing through the pushing urges, like singing a song in one loud note. The nurse did an internal exam and told me I couldn’t push because I still had a little lip of cervix left, and I freaked out, saying I HAD to push, that I couldn’t stop it. 
At one point, in order to help stop me from pushing (and amidst all my crazy vocalizing), all I saw was I mom’s face over mine, yelling at me to just breath, just move her hair with my breath, to just focus on that. It was all I could do, and sometimes I pushed anyway. Finally I was given the okay to push and oh I did! I saw my daughter’s head crowning after one good push (remember, I insisted on the mirror), and then the proverbial ring of fire began. The neat thing about going naturally is your body takes over, and you almost become animal in your strength. So I just pushed… I didn’t care about the pain. And five minutes later, I felt the slick body of my daughter emerge, and I went numb (down there J ). She was all I could see after that. 
I did tear in two places, but no episiotomy was performed, and I healed just as fast as if I would have had one. My husband claimed that as I was pushing like an animal, he couldn’t help but pushing too! I thought was kind of funny. 
That is my story, and it is a story I am proud to tell. To any mother who wants to go natural but isn’t sure she can… she can. But it must be something you prepare yourself mentally for. If you go into the hospital not confident that you can deliver without an epidural and are not prepared to be in charge of your labor and delivery instead of handing all reigns over to your doctor or midwife, than you most likely won’t go naturally. But it can be done, and it sure it worth it!

 

For questions e-mail Heather at theitalian3721 at yahoo dot com

Rowan

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I am not sure even where to begin with this. There is so much that I want to express and I am not really sure how to get it all out in written form. There is so much more to the birth of your child than you can really ever express to someone. It is a moment in time that will always stand still as its own very magical moment in your life. No matter how tough it is, as soon as its over and you are holding your little one the experience cements itself in your brain as this very surreal time frame that really can’t be explained in full detail to anyone that wasn’t there with you.

That’s how I feel anyways.

Rowan was 9 days late. Every day that went by that she didn’t come had me more convinced that she was never coming. Then one night at 3:30am in the morning I woke up and all that changed.

I had mentioned before that my family had come out on Friday night because my midwife told me I was 3 centimeters dilated and could go anytime. I wrote how we spent the evening swimming and eating Chinese food. It was a wonderful evening except there was still no baby. Kev and I were sure she was going to come that day. Friday ended and Saturday began and we filled the day with activities to keep us all (Kev, me and my family) entertained. We went to a Tugboat Fair on the waterfront, we went for a walk around Peebles Island, we went and saw Toy Story 3. We even came back to our place and watched Fantastic Mr. Fox all together. We finally had to say good night to my family and they went back to the hotel. I was pretty discouraged. Everyone was here to welcome this baby and she just was not coming. That night Kev and me got into bed and spent what seems like forever talking, giggling and just enjoying each others company. It will be a night I will always remember. It was if we were both waiting for that evening to happen. It settled our nerves and I think deep down made us ready for Rowan to arrive. We fell asleep that night holding hands like we always do. At 3:30am I woke up. My stomach was killing me. So crampy. I got up because I thought I had to go to the bathroom. Nope and then my stomach started feeling better. I went back to bed. I woke up again about 15 mins. later. My stomach killed again. I laid in the dark room wondering is this what contractions feel like? I wasn’t sure. I grabbed my iPhone and looked up “what do contractions feel like?” haha. After reading some message boards and getting the consensus that they do indeed feel like very strong period cramps. I was sure I was having contractions. I got up. Walked around a little bit trying to get myself ready for what was ahead. I said a prayer that I would stay calm and that Rowan and myself would have a safe and health labor. I woke up Kev.

“I think I am having contractions” I said. He jumped out of bed grabbing his glasses, trying to put on clothes and asking “Really?” I told him what I was feeling and he started to get all our stuff together and by the door. He asked if I wanted some music on and he put on some Frank Sinatra for me. I love Jazz/lounge music. Frank Sinatra, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald you name it I love it. It was dark but with a few lamps on. I paced back and forth taking some very deep breaths while he finished getting everything packed. I could tell he was a little frazzled. He went down stairs to pack the car and when he came back up he had this calm and strong demeanor. Something had changed. He came over and gave me a hug. He said “we can do this, I know we can!”

We started timing the contractions and they were coming every 5 mins. Kev kept telling me we should call our midwife, I wasn’t ready though. I really wanted to stay home as long as possible, but within 30 mins of having 5min contractions they were down to 2 mins. I finally agreed. These were no longer strong period cramp feeling contractions. She told us to come in. So off we went to the birth center at the hospital. It’s only about 10 mins away but it seemed to take forever. Every bump was torture. The contractions were getting more intense with every one that was coming. I was still in good spirits and was able to breath thru them. We got the the hospital at exactly 6am. We went upstairs and I got checked in. I got into our room and the contractions were getting very, very intense. Walking around was not cutting it anymore for easing the pain. I was starting to moan thru each one and I was starting to get a little scared. My mom hadn’t arrived yet and it was just Kev and I in the room. We were waiting for the nurses to come in still. I remember starting to cry and I asked Kev “what if i couldn’t do this? What if I can’t do this with out an epidural?” I really wanted to go natural. Its not a choice for everyone and I don’t have any judgement on anyone and how they labor but for me that is what I wanted. So badly too. He told me he knew I could do it and if I wanted to have a natural birth he had faith in me that I could do it.

mins so they could monitor the baby, see how everything was going and do an exam. They checked and I was still only 3 centimeters dilated. Ahh I was crushed. I thought for sure I would be farther along than that. Sitting in that bed while they monitored the baby for a bit was absolute torture. Having contractions while laying there was the most pain I felt. I hated every minute of it. At 7am there was a staff change. The new nurse that came in was seriously like my guardian angel. I really feel like she helped me in the exact way I needed. Tara was a young, super sweet, gentile natured girl. She came right in got me out of the bed and got me set up on a birth ball next to the bed. She kept telling me I could do this and I believed her. As soon as I was out of the bed and on the birth ball the pain became so much more manageable. I straddled the ball and leaned forward with my head on a pillow on the bed. I rocked from side to side to help move the baby downward. Kev sat behind me rubbing my back and pushing in when I had a contraction.

Everything was more intense. The contractions were coming so fast. When they hit you- it takes over your entire body. It takes everything in your power to try to not tense up thru them. This part really all becomes a blur to me. I think I was very focused and almost kind of retreated into myself a little. I remember listening to the music, laying my head on the pillow, and focusing on rocking side to side. Every once and a while I would hear my mom tell me to take a drink of water and she would hold a cup next to me with a cute pink and white stripped straw from our baby shower so I could sip some water. I never got angry or snappy. I was just quiet. No talking. I could also hear Kev whispering to me every once in a while, telling me he loved me and that I could do this. I sat on that ball and rocked for a very long while. I started getting the urge to push with each contraction at around 8am. They were surprised that I was already feeling that so they got me back on the bed to check and sure enough I was already 8 centimeters dilated. They could feel that the baby was ready to come but because my water hadn’t broken yet it was slowing her down a little. They told me as soon as the midwife was there she would break my water and that the baby would “ride the wave” out. Waiting for the midwife seemed like forever. I was definitely in transition. I sat back on the ball and rocked. All I could think about was to continuing to rock back and forth.

There was an emergency c-section down the hall so the midwife that was coming in for me had to go into surgery. They called another one of the midwives. I had to wait a little longer. I was passing out in between each contraction. Exhaustion starts to take over. I wasn’t sure I could do it anymore. I think I started whimpering and crying. I was tired. Everyone rallied around me and were so encouraging. The 2 nurses were so great to me. The last 30 mins were extremely hard. I remember finally hearing Margaret’s voice in the hall. She was one of my favorite midwifes and I couldn’t be happier that she was finally here. She came into the room. I got back on the the bed and she broke my water. It was a rush of very warm water. She told me if I wanted to I could start pushing when I was ready. It seemed so surreal.

The room was so calm. It felt like a cozy little bedroom. My midwife sat right on the bed with me, coaching me thru what I needed to do. The nurse held one foot, Kev held the other and I grabbed under my legs. When I had a contraction I would lean forward and push with everything I had. I remember feeling a very distinct movement the first push. I feel like I actually felt her move down and become ready to come out. I felt a burst of energy. I could feel her with every push. You really have to push and give it everything you have. I didn’t push all that long. Maybe 15 mins. I remember giving it that last final push and having the greatest feeling of relief. It was like this rush and then everything was over. She was born at 9:38am and weighted 8lbs. 11oz.

Rowan was instantly put up on my chest, covered with blankets and there for me to hold. It was absolutely amazing. Tears just pour from your face as you look at this little being that you just birthed. A real little baby. The room may have been busy but I don’t remember any of it. I laid there in a bubble with Kev and Rowan. In that moment it’s all that I remember, crying and laughing with Kev as we stared in disbelief at our 1st baby. She was perfect, half me and half Kev. I hardly remember having to push out the placenta or that I even had to be stitched up. You are so focused on the baby that nothing else seems to matter. I did tear a little and I got 3 tiny stitches. At the birth center they let you delay everything that needs to be done to the baby for up to 2 hours. We totally opted for that. We took those 2 hours to sit in the room by ourselves with her cuddled together on the bed. Letting her get to know us and feel safe and secure in our arms. It will be 2 hours I will never forget. What a magical moment.

The whole thing although hard was everything I had hoped it would be. Afterwards you are on cloud nine because 1. you are holding your baby but 2. You feel like super women. I was so proud of myself for what I just accomplished. That is why I say it was amazing. It was such a rush of emotional highs and lows, but to go thru that and then be rewarded afterwards with a healthy beautiful baby. No feeling can top that. I still look at her now a month later completely in shock that she was inside of me, that I pushed her out and that she is here. It is so crazy sometimes to think of.

I have to say our nurses, midwives and birth center were the perfect match for us. That is the only advice I would give someone in all this. Every women labors different so there is no right in wrong in how you give birth but just make sure you are giving birth in a place that supports you in every way. A place where you trust every thing they say and a place where you know your voice will be heard. It will make for such a rewarding experience in the end. I wanted to give birth in a very natural way. I didn’t want lots of cords, and machines and drugs. For me that is what worked. Our room was calm, relaxed and I was able to move around. We had Cat Power playing the whole time. It helped keep everything feeling relaxed. I wanted the baby to come into this world feeling that calm atmosphere. To Kev and My Mom: I could not have done that with out you. You helped keep me calm and were there for everything I needed. You encouraged me thru every doubt I might have had and I love you guys forever.

Rowan Winter is our perfect little baby and I love her more than I ever thought I could.

For questions for Jennifer visit her blog Jen Loves Kev