Clark’s Birth Story

No better way to kick off new birth stories than to share one from a mom who’s already shared a previous birth story! Heather is a dear friend and recently had her second baby last spring. You can read her first birth story of her daughter Julie HERE. This is an amazing display of natural, hospital birth where mom and dad maintain control, while also allowing their midwife and staff to care for them. Also, this is the definition of a precipitous birth! Heather, you nearly had a baby at home, my love! 😉

***

Clark’s Birth Story

I started losing my plug at 35 weeks and 2 days. That combined with the fact that my first baby arrived at 38 weeks and 2 days had me convinced this one would be early too. I was a little worried because my husband was best man at a wedding in Texas (we live in Colorado) that fell right on my 38 week mark. So, while I was very ready for the baby to come, I was hoping he/she hold out so that Dad could be there too. As it turned out, there was no need to worry.

Despite wind storms, snow storms, and lots of false starts, May 10 came and went. Although I knew it’s not physically possible to be pregnant forever, it was sure starting to feel like I would be! I made my appointments for non-stress tests and ultrasounds and my induction date was set for May 24. My husband and I agreed that we wanted to leave no stone unturned before then in terms of getting things moving without medication. We continued walking everyday, I ramped up squats and started drinking more raspberry leaf tea. I went to the chiropractor and she suggested acupuncture, which we ultimately decided was worth a try.

Monday, May 12, I went to work as usual. As I was expecting to be gone by this point, there wasn’t much for me to do. I tinkered around with some things and then left a little early and headed to the chiropractor for my acupuncture session. I left feeling no different and with a follow up appointment scheduled for the next day. About 4:30 or so on Tuesday morning, I woke up with a useful feeling contraction, but after so many false starts that petered out after an hour or so, I refused to get my hopes up. I went to the bathroom and lie back down knowing that my daughter would be up soon.

Contractions continued, strong enough that I had to concentrate on them, but still nothing I hadn’t felt before.  Like clockwork, my daughter got up at 5 and I went in to get her, thinking I’d let my husband sleep in a bit since I was already up. I had another contraction in the middle of our good morning conversation and I actually had to stop talking and brace myself. That’s when I knew the baby was coming for real. I went in to tell my husband that I was pretty sure it was the day, but I wanted to eat something and see how things played out before we alerted everyone (my in-laws were staying with us to watch our daughter while we were in the hospital). I texted our doula, around 5:30 or 5:45 just to let her know I’d had a few pretty serious contractions and that I was planning to eat breakfast and keep her posted.

My husband made my daughter breakfast and I started making some cream of wheat for myself, but the contractions were strong enough that I really wanted to be in a quiet area so I headed back upstairs. By the time my husband came up with my abandoned cream of wheat, I was starting to need help during my contractions. I had set up the heating pad on my back and was riding through contractions as best as I could on my hands and knees.  My husband called our doula and the midwife’s office a little after 6. The midwife on call asked if we’d like to meet her at the office for a check before going over to the hospital or if we’d like to stay home a bit longer. My husband told her we were going to stay home; I was convinced I wasn’t very far along.

My contractions were strong but coming at very irregular intervals. I’d have a long one and then right after it ended, I’d have a shorter but just as strong piggy back contraction and then get a break (my midwife later told me she believes that this is because the baby was too big for my uterus to tighten all the way around him in a single contraction). My husband suggested that I get into the shower because he needed to load the car and get things ready and he knew from my first labor that I should be able to labor in the shower alone. I turned the hot water all the way up on my back and leaned my head on the cool tile and braced myself on the shower door handle. I was still having strong but irregular contractions when my husband got back. I told him I needed our doula and I couldn’t do it alone anymore. She arrived around 7:20 and I was on my hands and knees laboring in the way that worked best with my first labor. My arms were so tired though, so my doula brought up the exercise ball for me to rest my upper body on. My husband was squeezing my hips during contractions and my doula was rubbing my back and hips and legs between. The between-contraction massaging was so nice, because it kept me in the moment and didn’t let me dwell on the upcoming contraction and get scared. I was still sure I wasn’t far along because of how irregular the contractions were and the fact I had not had any show.

By 8, I was ready to go to the hospital no matter how far along I was because I really wanted to sit in a Jacuzzi bath. My husband called the midwife’s office and told them we were on our way. Meanwhile, I was starting to feel pushy during my contractions and my doula was worried we might have waited too long to leave. I kept repeating that I hadn’t had any show and she said that doesn’t matter. As she and my husband were helping me into the car, she started coaching him on when to pull over if things kept progressing. I knelt in the front seat facing backwards. My husband had kindly put a Tupperware back there in case I got sick. My doula had put a portable heating pad on my back before we left the house. I was still feeling pushy with every contraction and my poor husband was trying to drive as quickly and safely as possible while coaching me to breathe through the contractions and not push.

We arrived at the hospital and my husband asked if I wanted to go through emergency or if I wanted to park and walk and I chose to walk. It felt so good to be outside and the cool morning air gave me a second wind. My doula and my husband walked on either side of me and we made it in without having to deal with any contractions. I wanted to walk up to the labor and delivery floor but my doula talked me into using a wheelchair. I didn’t want to sit, so she helped position me kneeling backwards with my head resting on my husband’s chest. We made it to the hospital room around 9 and they hooked me up to the fetal heart rate monitors while the midwife checked my progress. To my total shock (and relief!), I was already 10 cm dilated. The midwife gave me the ok to push if I wanted to.

I started out on all fours with the back of the bed raised, the same way I pushed with my first. The nurse wanted to give me a hep-lock (which is something we said we were fine with in the birth plan), but in the moment I really didn’t want to have to mess with that. Plus I was holding pillows during contractions and I was paranoid that I wouldn’t be able to do that with a needle (or whatever) in my arm. My husband had to refuse a couple of times because the nurse was harping on the fact that if I needed a blood transfusion, this refusal would cost us precious time. My husband confirmed that that was alright. Meanwhile, pushing was getting me nowhere and the midwife said if I couldn’t make some good progress moving you down with the next few contractions that she wanted to go ahead and break my water. The baby was still at a -1 station and she thought that breaking the water would help move things along. She also suggested waiting to push until the contraction built some momentum so that I’d have that to help me.

After a couple more useless-feeling contractions, Someone (I have no idea who…it might even have been me!) decided it might help to squat and they got me a squat bar and everyone helped me change positions. The midwife said this would be a good time to break my water and stepped away to get her tool—just in time because my water broke on its own just then and would have covered her if she was still in the splash zone! It was like a movie, spurting several feet across the room! The baby didn’t like the new squatting position and both of our oxygen levels were too low for comfort so I got an oxygen mask and LOTS of reminders to breathe deeply between contractions. The baby’s heart rate was still dropping too low during contractions so the birth team helped me to get onto my left side first (no change) and then my right, which the baby seemed to like, but I was convinced would be a terrible position to push in. My birth team helped me to kind of squat on my side though, which seemed to help.

With everyone coaching me, I started to push with everything I had during every contraction. I could finally start to feel the baby sloooowly moving down. For sure it was the hardest thing I’ve done, physically. The baby started crowning a little after 10am and my midwife told me he/she was very big and I’d need to keep pushing hard to get the shoulders and the rest of the body out.  A few more difficult contractions later, my son was born and my husband told me “It’s a boy!”. Everyone in the room marveled at his size as he was moved to my chest. He had some fuzzy hair and very large hands with long fingers and big feet—his footprints were bigger than the box on his chart! My midwife was also was shocked by the size of his placenta. I guess a big boy needs a big support system!

My midwife was concerned that I had a very bad tear, but the doctor that came in to consult deemed it only a 2nd degree, same as with my first despite 2 lbs difference in their sizes. While my midwife stitched me up, I held my son (he was completely uninterested in breastfeeding right away) and chatted with my husband and doula, and the nurses. My doula helped me order some food and brought some for my husband and then left to attend another birth and said she’d be back later to check on us. I got a shot of pitocin and cytotec to help shrink my uterus and curb the bleeding and had some blood drawn to determine my iron levels while my son was weighed and measured. He came in at 9 lbs, 7 oz, and 21.5”. I couldn’t believe it! All of the nurses we had that day kept commenting on it too. Around noon we finally moved to the maternity ward and enjoyed our first few quiet moments of the day.

Advertisements

Book Review: Giving Birth by Catherine Taylor

I found this book at a local sell-back store. I’ve found a number of books there marked down and just right for the library I’m building (most recently, Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May!!). I was not sure exactly what to expect from the book, as he subtitle on the front cover reads, “A Journey into the World of Mothers and Midwives“. Okay, I like the idea of a journey and any perspectives from the midwife’s point of view is one which I am always seeking.

I did not devour this book as quickly as I thought I would. First of all, the moment I began reading it I wanted to savor every word and en grain the knowledge into my brain. I was hooked. Taylor is not a midwife, not a doctor…just a mom, doula, journalist and incredible writer. Secondly, Christian Grey made his way into my Kindle and well…I devoured him instead. 😉

The very first quote I highlighted was in her forward called Beginnings.

When I arrived at my own childbearing years, I didn’t assume that I would or should have children, but I did have a sense of entitlement to a birth experience that would include the highest-quality medical care, respect for myself as an individual, and at least the potential for a transformative, spiritual experience. I had high expectations.

This quote rang in my ears as I pictured every pregnant mama out there and made a wish upon them that they too would have high expectations for their birth experience, no matter what that entailed. Taylor goes on to write in tandem as she interviews midwives, attends births, and gains her doula certification all while she herself is expecting her second child. There is a personal and professional balance between chapters that is very captivating and easy to identify with.

The medical model within the hospital and how midwives have to work within that model of rules and regs is one of the strongest pieces of this book. It identifies the struggles that each midwife feels and how their opinions are not always the same. Some midwives don’t mind the structure while others fight tooth and nail for their patient’s wishes. My eyes widened as I learned about a side of midwifery I had not thought about yet. This is a business, catching babies, and sometimes that business gets to make all the rules and you just have to follow them. After reading the details of how the hospital in which she was shadowing in ran their services and treated their midwives, I am certain that a hospital is not where I want to end up when the time comes for me to begin my career as a midwife. I want to work in a birth center.

Throughout the rest of the book, the reader is pulled into Taylor’s aches and pains of pregnancy, the rush of just barely making it to a birth, choosing the perfect midwife for her planned home birth, and witnessing a few scary moments with some patients. The writing is crisp and gripping. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in becoming a midwife. I believe that is her true audience, however I could see a mama just wanting to learn more about midwives would benefit from this as well.

But if I can midwife the family through the birth, then that gift is going to go on after labor as well. It’s sort of that ‘teach a man to fish’ thing. ~Joanne, CNM

Happy New Year!

I am amazed by how empowering this blog has been for me. I hope to blog more often as plans begin to fall into place as I further my education.

Our family has been through a lot in the last 6 months and we’ve had to put my doula training on hold for now. As soon as we have the funds, I will take the workshop and continue on my journey. I look at becoming a doula just one of many ways I can gain confidence, experience and education.

A few things I’m looking forward to this year:

  • Doula certification
  • Lactation certification
  • Starting pre-rec classes in the fall
  • Any hands on experience I can get!
  • Finding a doula mentor

Keep following along! I also have some great ideas for the blog. More to come on that.

Article: Doulas are Mom’s Best Friend

Thanks to The Birth Muse for the link, this is a fantastic, quick article on why doulas are essential for labor and birth. Are you hiring a doula? Are you family and friends wondering what they heck you’re thinking? Show them this article. Even when I tell someone I’m becoming a doula some still give me a side-eye. It doesn’t bother me. I cannot wait to become a doula!

Why Doulas are a Mom’s Best Friend

MIA

Hi friends! Welcome! Seems I have a few new readers which just makes me so happy! I’m sorry I’ve been lacking in posts lately. Not much is going on other then reading my little heart out about breastfeeding. I checked out three books with the sole intention of skimming over all three briefly and then settling on one to finish reading to fulfill a requirement for the reading materials through CAPPA. I’m getting so excited!! Only a few more months before the workshop.

I’m trying to find a mentor in my area whom I can learn even more from and hopefully observe a few births with. I have 100% confidence in my becoming a doula, but seeing someone else perform is the best way for me to learn. Adapting my own methods and such will come with time.

A review on The Womenly Art of Breastfeeding will be up soon. I never read a book about breastfeeding when I was nursing Logan and I wish I had! I might have been able to overcome the challenges we had. Also, this is by the La Leche League which is VERY anti-formula feeding. Much like watching The Business of Being Born, the reader needs to take it with a grain of salt. There is a ton of excellent info, but the views are skewed. So many mamas TRY to breastfeed, or there’s a physical reason why baby can’t nurse, and so on, which is not covered very well. Overall, it was a good read.

I have some updates on Brio Birth, but will save that for another day. Have a great week!

Doula

In the wake of wanting so badly to become a childbirth instructor, another option has dawned on me. Become a doula. This in and of itself will get me the most hands on experience in childbirth that I would want and need to become a midwife someday. Doulas don’t give medical advice or perform medical exams, but they do provide love and support through touch, positive language, and encouragment. This venture scares the shit out of me, but so does becoming a midwife. Anytime I try to attempt something new I get so nervous. In fact, if the route to get what I want seems too difficult, I may clam up and forget it. Not this time…I am seeking what’s in my heart and praying for peace with the right decision. If everything works out the way I’m hoping, I should be attending a workshop in February. I’d love to attend the one in December but I’m afraid I may not be ready. There is SO MUCH READING! Not that nursing school will be any different, but getting a head start is always helpful. There’s also a lot of steps to complete before certification which they give you 4 years to complete. I’m going through dona.org, the official website for international doula certification. Now this, my friends, I know is legit. I’ll update more as I’m able. Thanks for sticking with me through all this!

PS Check out the list of reading materials tab above…I’ve added 10 more books! Happy Reading!

The Reading List

I want to note the things I’ve read and hopefully stay on top of reviewing those materials once I’ve finished the reading. Hopefully this can also be helpful to those of you seeking great resources whether you’re pregnant or going to school. Bolded items indicate that I’ve read the book and there’s a link to a review.

In no particular order:

  1. Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein
  2. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
  3. Labor of Love by Cara Muhlhahn
  4. Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
  5. The Birth Partner Handbook by Carl Jones
  6. Husband Coached Childbirth by Robert Bradley
  7. Natural Birth, the Bradley Way by RObert Bradley
  8. Ask a Midwife by Catherine Parker-Littler (REVIEW TO COME)
  9. Pocket Guide to Fetal Monitoring and Assessment by Susan Martin Tucker
  10. The Labor Progress Handbook by Penny Simkin
  11. Core Curriculum for Maternal-Newborn Nursing by Susan Mattson and Judy E. Smith
  12. Diary of a Midwife: The Power of Positive Childbearing by Juliana van Olphen-Fehr
  13. Midwives: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian (just for fun)
  14. Unspeakable Losses: Healing from Miscarriage, Abortion and other Fetal Loss by Kim Klueger-Bell (great for nurses too).
  15. A Child is Born by Lennart Nilsson
  16. Any of the many Labor/delivery/Perinatal nursing books published, produced by AWHONN, such as Periantal Nursing
  17. Varney’s Midwifery by Helen Varney (no not a midwife, but the info here is invaluable to an OB nurse as well).
  18. The Breastfeeding Answerbook by LaLecheLeague International
  19. Labor and Delivery in my Pocket ( www.inmypocketbooks.com )
  20. Resource/website to get a HUGE selection of books and teaching materials relating to Childbirth, Midwifery, Lactation, Parenting, Newborn/Childcare:

    www.1cascade.com