In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month 2010, we will be filling the blogosphere with stories from real women (and their families) who know first-hand the consequences of a 32% cesarean rate. Each day we will post at least one birth story submitted by these women. Prepare to be moved (hint: grab a box of Kleenex)!
The birth of Emerson James
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
6 lbs 6 ozs
Thursday, April 25, 2009
I had my midwife appointment, and everything was perfect, as usual. Head down, great heartbeat, my BP was good, measuring perfectly…Found out I tested GBS + and since I was out that day with a “sick” Holden, I used the day to my advantage—ran some errands and bought some Hibiclens in an attempt to get rid of the +GBS. She said we could re-test the next week, so I was determined to knock it out! I started Hibiclens rinses, garlic cloves, and yogurt.
Friday, April 24, 2009 (37 weeks)
I woke up to pee around 3:30am. I hoisted my large self out of bed and Baby was sitting in such a way that made it nearly impossible to walk! I somehow made it to the bathroom, but I remember thinking that if the baby didn’t move into a different position, I would be starting maternity leave WAY earlier than planned—gotta be able to drive and walk into my office! I made it back to bed, and then spent the next couple hours feeling HUGE movements. I figured Baby was re-positioning–maybe into a better position than the transverse-ish lie that it had felt like. (We guess now that’s when he turned…little stinker!)
By the time I woke up the next morning for work, I could walk again (yay!) and things felt normal. At some point during the day, I noticed my Braxton-Hicks were a lot more frequent and intense than they had been. It was one of those, “Oh, there’s another one…Didn’t I just have one?” Just for fun I started writing down the times on a Post-It. 8 minutes, 15 minutes, 7 minutes, 20 minutes. All over the map. No big deal.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I know I was having a lot of BH contractions, but I was very busy this day! I went to my chiro, got a mani/pedi at the local salon, raced downtown with Holden to my salon for my bikini wax, took Holden to a playground downtown for a while…Lots going on. I definitely paid no attention to them, but they were there. I was just too busy with other stuff to notice.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
We headed to our friends’ Bill & Courtney’s for brunch with the kids (they have a daughter, Abby, one day older than Holden). We walked from their house to the restaurant, which was about a mile. I was having contractions the whole time. I could walk through them, but I had to slow down and breathe through them. Same with while we were eating. I did a little closed-eye, deep breathing, rocking thing to get through them. They were certainly noticeable to C and our friends.
After we were home and Holden was down for a nap, I went to the rec center by our house to swim. I swam for an hour, contracting the whole time. When they hit in the middle of the lap, I had no choice but to keep swimming (I was in the 6ft lane!). If I wasn’t swimming I just hung onto the side of the pool, rocked my hips and breathed. In hindsight, I got to labor in water after all!
When I got home from the pool, I thought I saw mucus plug. So I called my midwife to report in. Three days of contractions, building up, and a mucus plug lost. When I described it to her, she didn’t think it was mucus plug, but merely an increase in discharge gearing up. She told me to hydrate more and rest. I thought I had been hydrating well, but I figured I would take it seriously…
We also did the belly cast while Holden napped, which wasn’t easy because I was having contractions the whole time, but I’m REALLY glad I got it done when I did!
Monday, April 27, 2009
I woke up and chugged a 32oz glass of water. I had a glass of milk and a double Emergen-C at breakfast. I had a 32oz Sigg bottle of water and a 32oz Sigg bottle of red raspberry leaf tea at work. I worked 10 hours, trying to make up some time. When I got home, I had another two or three 32oz cups of water. I was hydrating my butt off and the contractions were not slowing down. Hmmm…
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
About 3:30am, I woke up to pee and noticed a milky white discharge. I had been using garlic in combination with the Hibiclens for the GBS, so I figured it was a reaction my body was having to the garlic. No biggie. I did notice my discharge was more watery, but again, I just thought it was an increase in the discharge. (Yes, I realize I’m an idiot! LOL). After I went back to bed, contractions were waking me up every 10 minutes. I was falling asleep between them, but I’d look at the clock every time they woke me up and it was 10 minutes. Not exactly the best night’s sleep.
When I got out of the shower in the morning, I couldn’t make it from the shower to my underwear drawer without running back and grabbing some toilet paper because I was dripping down my leg—slapped in a liner and started my day. I know, right? Slap your forehead for me now…but be prepared to give yourself a bruise…
As we were getting ready for work that morning, C and I were discussing how difficult the next couple weeks would be if I had so little sleep before Baby arrived. C said something like, “If you don’t get some rest, you’re not going to have the energy for the birth! You’ll be too tired!” I believe my reply was something like, “Yeah, tell me about it!” Turned out, we didn’t have to worry too much about that…
As I headed in to work, I called my midwife again with a status update. Five days of frequent contractions, lots of discharge still (I didn’t mention the milky white stuff or the dripping—duh!). When she mentioned hydrating I told her how much I had had the day before and that I didn’t think it was possible to hydrate more. She told me to relax, not to worry, and just let her know if anything changed. We both agreed: no baby this week—I had WAY too much going on! (Holden’s birthday was Saturday, Abby’s birthday party was Saturday, his party was Sunday, and we had a whole day planned together for Monday.) Plus, mentally, neither C nor I were prepared for a baby for at least another week and a half. When I was pregnant with Holden, nothing ever happened by 39 weeks, when he was born, so I didn’t think in a million years…So yeah…
As I was dropping Holden off at daycare, they had a fire drill, so instead of hanging out in my car waiting for it to end, I grabbed my drink mug and Starbucks card and walked across the parking lot to Starbucks for my soy chai fix. (It was SO cute watching Holden walk outside with his class, go across the daycare lot, and sit under the tree with his friends. I had no idea the next time I’d see him would be while I was in transition!) I had four contractions walking over there, got in line, had a contraction, and ordered my drink. I handed over my mug and card and…$0.68 short on my card! Oh crap! There was NO WAY I was going to be able to walk back to my car to get my wallet. Stress! I didn’t know what to do when all of the sudden, a man in line handed me a dollar bill! I thanked him profusely, got my drink, and headed back to my car at daycare…another four contractions…
I went to work, sat on my yoga ball for a chair, and had contractions. At this point, they were starting to pick up. Again, I wrote them down, just for fun, and noticed they were coming every seven minutes, pretty consistently. If I was chatting with someone, I had to stop talking and breathe and rock through it. If I was standing, I had to lean over a desk. No big deal though. No baby today!
Oh yeah, and uh…I went #2 five times. I had to go! DUH!
I called Wendy, my Bradley instructor, midwife apprentice, and who I rented my Aqua Doula from. I left her a voicemail asking her if she could drop the pool off then instead of Thursday, when it was supposed to arrive because, “I think things may be moving along…” (Insert hysterical laughter)
I called and talked to my friend Kristin who had had twins (un-medicated, vaginal!!) three weeks earlier and while we were on the phone, she heard me breathing through some contractions. She wasn’t convinced that Baby wasn’t arriving sooner than expected. Same with my mom. La dee da, nothing to see here.
The contractions didn’t stop though. Since I couldn’t exactly lie down and rest, and I couldn’t possibly hydrate more, I decided I’d go for a walk to stop the contractions. I popped my iPod in and headed for my daily power walk through my building. I was listening to Beastie Boys. The walk started out fine, but I quickly realized the contractions were not slowing down. They were picking up—big time! I started glancing at the clock on my iPod. Now they were coming every two minutes. I have no idea how long they were lasting because I wasn’t timing actual contractions, I mean please! Then I was unable to walk through them. I was trying my hardest to get from trash can to trash can so I had something to lean on—I had to get the pressure off my back!!—and breathe through. If you can believe it, only one person asked if I was okay while all this was going on—one! I will say, in everyone else’s defense: I was wearing headphones and I wasn’t asking for help, but still! Very pregnant woman, leaning over trash cans and breathing heavily and you say nothing?? Strange.
Anyway, I finally decided I should cut my walk short–I realized I had been gone an hour, but I hadn’t gotten very far in that amount of time. Yeah, I think it had just a little bit to do with the fact that I was stopping every two minutes!
I made it back to my desk and posted to the LiveJournal naturalbirth community. Then I went to the bathroom to pee. I saw some bloody show and a contraction hit that made me cry. I don’t think it was the pain, per se—I had been dealing with the same thing for about an hour now—but more the fact that I realized that this was it. I was in labor!
I went back to my desk and saw the first four replies to my post, all of which said something along the lines of, “Sounds like you’re in labor! Good luck mama!” I realized there was NO WAY I could drive through these contractions—I drive stick—so I called C. He began packing up his work stuff while I called my midwife. I spent a couple minutes calling them back and forth getting ETAs, then I headed to my co-worker Justin’s desk. This was about 5pm, and there were no other women left in the office. Just the guys. I walked over to his area, where three other guys sat around chatting.
“Hey Justin? I need your help…” A contraction hit and I dropped to my knees. I can only imagine the looks on the faces of those guys! Justin was cool as a cucumber.
“What do you need me to do? How can I help?” I was so thankful I had spent the past several months talking to him all about birth, home birth, VBAC, labor, etc…this was one calm 25-year-old single guy!
I asked him to call security to get C access into our gates to pick me up. While he was on the phone with them, explaining that they didn’t need to call 911 because I was not going to a hospital, and to let my husband and son in to pick me and, and no, they wouldn’t actually need to enter the building, blah, blah, blah…two other guys were helping me pack up my personal belongings. I was pretty much on the floor because it took a lot of pressure off my back during contractions, and at one point, I had a contraction and heard one say to the other, “What was that?” The other one replied, “Three minutes.” Hahaha! They were timing my contractions! Too cute.
A few minutes later, Justin came over to my desk to tell me that he had squared everything away with security and that C wouldn’t have problems getting in the gate. We finished packing me up and started to head out. One of the guys offered an office chair for me to “ride” on, but the last thing I wanted was to sit and look like a “patient” of some sort. Nope, I was walking out of there…or crawling…
As we rode the elevator down (yes, me and three men!), another contraction hit and I ended up crawling out of the elevator. Oh the look on the security guys’ faces when they saw that!! One said, “I’ll get the wheelchair…”
“NO!” Justin and I yelled at the same time. “She wants to walk out of here. She’s fine, guys.”
We walked out of the building and I ended up on the front steps of my building, backwards on my knees, surrounded by six men. THEN people kept stopping and asking if I needed help! REALLY? I think I’m covered!
About five minutes later, at 5:45, Holden and C drove up. He hopped out and helped get me and my stuff in the car, then Justin and another guy hopped in so we could drive into the garage really quickly so they could see where my car was parked–we had them move it outside the facility so my parents could come pick it up for us the next day. You should have seen the security guys–watching us like hawks! Like I was faking labor to sneak my husband and toddler in! LOL.
About a block outside the facility I had C pull over. Sitting in the front seat was NOT happening! I crawled into the back seat, kneeling backwards, next to Holden, who was chilling out, watching Elmo’s World on his DVD player. He wasn’t the least bit phased by Mommy moaning in the seat next to him! He took it all in stride–I was glad I had shown him some birth videos on YouTube a week earlier!
I don’t remember if I called Marilee or if she called me, but I spent the ride home on the phone with her. C drove as quickly and carefully as possible through Parkway rush hour traffic. At some point I kicked my shoes off, and I remember C trying to reach back and rub them–poor guy was trying so hard to help me! I remember looking at all the people in traffic and wondering what I could possibly look like to them. Could they tell I was pregnant? Could they tell I was in labor? Did they realize why I was riding backwards like that?
I was having REALLY intense contractions, right on top of one another, and Marilee calmly talked me through them. I kept moaning (I’m a loud laborer) and breathing–she kept telling me to ride them like waves, breathe over the crest and ride it back down. Oh that visual helped me get through them so well! She kept asking where we were, and I would look up and around and give her a status report on where we were. I discovered later that this was because she could tell I was in transition and wanted to know where I was in case she needed to come to us for a car delivery! While all this was going on, C was driving home and fielding calls: from work, to my parents to coordinate picking up Holden (they had to get home from work too!)…And Holden was having me put my “sunny glasses” on him.
We arrived home at 6:30. I walked in the house from the garage and Wendy was already in there, setting up the Aqua Doula (we had given everyone our garage key code). Marilee, Liz, and Valerie showed up pretty much exactly when we did. Everything happened really quickly from there. C was running around, getting a bag packed for Holden, helping Wendy get the water hose hooked up to fill the Aqua Doula, trying to help me, and trying to figure out the nightgown I told him I wanted to wear. (I knew EXACTLY where it was, told him EXACTLY where it was, and it was not located…until two days later, when I opened the armoire and grabbed it right out. *sigh*) I started stripping off clothes and didn’t freaking care. I remember being semi nervous about this “part” of the birth process. In a hospital, you’re covered up for the most part, and your OB has seen your girl parts plenty of times in advance. Up to this point, Marilee and team had seen only my belly. I didn’t give a crap at that point, so yeah, I was nice and deep in transition! Valerie was helping me through contractions since C was still trying to get everything together and situated, and he was still taking care of Holden who was talking all the chaos in stride. (We probably could have just kept him there, but we had no idea how quickly everything would go.) She was doing some awesome sacral pressure during contractions that was AMAZING. I was on the floor in the family room. C tried to help during a couple contractions as well. At one point, he was touching my back in some way that annoyed the crap out of me. I smacked his hand away. As soon as the contraction ended, I apologized. At least I knew what I was doing! LOL.
Marilee needed to take fetal hearts tones and wasn’t able to get them in the position I was in. She needed me on my back on the couch. It sucked, but we got me there and they tried to help me as I hadcontractions on my back–WORST POSITION EVER!!!!). Problem was, she couldn’t find heart tones. So Wendy grabbed her doppler. Wendy couldn’t get tones. Liz grabbed her doppler. Nothing. I had three dopplers on my belly and they weren’t finding heart tones. They were apologizing for making me stay in that position as long as I did (maybe a couple minutes). I wasn’t worried at any point, but I poked my belly and told the baby to talk to them. I wasn’t worried–I was annoyed that baby wasn’t saying hi and letting me get off my damn back! FINALLY they found tones, which were perfect, and I was able to get off my back and continue laboring on my knees. Turned out, they couldn’t find the tones because he had flipped, which we didn’t know, so his tones were no where near where they had been my entire pregnancy. Ugh! It threw everyone off, and things were happening so fast, no one had time to think about what the new location of tones meant. We also never took tones again because I was pushing very soon after…
My parents arrived to pick up Holden and my mom was freaking out. She wanted to see me, but I didn’t want to see them. My dad, because I was pretty much naked, and my mom because she was the one person I encountered my entire pregnancy who was so negative about my HBAC plans. I didn’t want her saying or doing anything that would throw me off or upset me. My dad pulled Wendy, Liz, and Valerie aside and said to them, “I know she’s 33, but she’s my baby, so please take care of her.” They told me about this later and they all got misty eyed. Aw, Dad!
I went to pee and C was in the bathroom with me. He told me my mom was BEGGING to see me just to say hi. I finally agreed, but she had very little time between contractions. He yelled at her to get in there now. She came in and got right in my face. I think she was crying as she wished me luck and told me she loved me. I felt another contraction starting so I started yelling, “Good bye! Good BYE! GOOD BYE!” I think C actually pulled her out of the bathroom! After I finished, C and Wendy were helping me back to the family room, when a contraction hit in the kitchen. I dropped on the floor on my knees. And pushed. It was a little one, but I heard Wendy say, “That was a push.” Holy crap. This is it!
We quickly got me to my favorite position on the floor at the couch. The pushing began. It was surreal. I had heard of the “urge to push” and I’ve heard of people telling women to fight the urge and not push. There was no “urge” and there was no stopping them. I equate it to throwing up–once you start, you have no control over it and it just keeps coming. That’s exactly what my contractions were like. It was amazing. I was amazed at the power of my pushes. I could feel my pelvis separating–I felt a little like a turkey wishbone, but I knew I wouldn’t snap! I loved how aware I was. How much a part of this birth I was. I felt like I took no part in Holden’s birth–it was all taken away from me–so this was amazing. I was doing it, my body was doing it! When I had started pushing, Marilee asked if she could check me really quickly because she could tell I was pushing hard, but she wasn’t seeing anything. I agreed, but just as she was about to check, another contraction hit and I was pushing again, and this time she saw the baby, so away we went. I *loved* that I had someone there with me who asked me before touching me. Who actually consulted with me before anything went on. So much respect. I never found that at the hospital. As the baby was coming out, I thought about reaching down to feel the head, but the position I was in would have made it awkward and since Marilee didn’t say anything about me doing it, I didn’t. It was a good thing I didn’t…Marilee said something about the baby coming out and my water not being broken. She asked if she could break it. I thought for a second and thought, “In the caul? How awesome would that be!?” So I replied, “I’d rather you not…” It was quiet for a second, then she said, “Okay…but once the baby is born I’ll have to break the bag to get the baby out…” Yes, yes of course! As the baby was coming out, I was very aware of the forceful nature it felt the baby was coming out. I thought there were about six hands on me and the baby was being yanked out! My thoughts at the time were, “What’s going on? Marilee doesn’t intervene! What’s happening??” I could tell part of the baby was out and Marilee asked me to raise up a little (my chest was flat on the couch–I was still on my knees on the couch) and do some little grunt pushes. I did and then everything felt much lighter! The baby was out! I felt like I sat down immediately with the baby handed to me between my legs, but C said it was about 30 seconds later. I scooped the baby up in my arms, amazed at what I had just done. I looked down…It’s a BOY! Two boys! So happy! So amazed! He looked perfect! So teeny! So cute! That moment, that feeling, had me HIGH for months! It wasn’t until a few seconds later that Marilee and Wendy told me to start talking to my baby. He hadn’t cried yet and I hadn’t even noticed! I started rubbing him and talking to him and he quickly perked up and cried a beautiful cry for us. That’s when Marilee started asking questions:
“Jenn, when did he turn breech?” Um…WHAT?!!? He was BREECH!! (See Friday morning) My initial thoughts on that were, “Uh oh, I’m going to be torn up down there!” Nope, completely intact–yay! (I had a slight internal laceration from his right arm coming down, but no biggie.)
“And Jenn, when did your water break?” (So much for in the caul.) Um…WHAT?!?!? My water was already broken!? (See all day that day–DUH!)
We had many laughs over my complete and utter denial over all the facts! When I told the midwives about the white stuff I had seen, their jaws dropped. “Jenn, that was VERNIX! Your water was broken and that was the baby’s VERNIX! Why didn’t you tell me!?!?” Uh, I didn’t know!
(A little on his entrance into the world: My midwife is experienced in breech births, but he threw them off a little. What they initially thought was crowning and hair quickly told them it was butt and meconium. Normally, mec streams out of a breech baby, and his wasn’t. One leg came out next, followed by the other. My midwife thought she was going to have to go in and sweep his elbows to get his arms down–two nuchal arms!!–but he knew exactly what to do. They said it was the coolest thing: he rotated his body and pulled his left arm out, then rotated in the other direction and pulled his right arm out. The little raised chest grunt pushes she had me doing were to gently deliver his head. She simply supported his body the whole time, made sure the cord was okay, and guided him as he came out. Amazing. All the bizarre things I was feeling, thinking my midwife was intervening was really him helping himself out!)
We carefully moved me and my baby boy, still attached, onto the couch. I looked at the time. It wasn’t even 8pm yet. We had gotten home at 6:30 and he was born at 7:23, after a mere 12 minutes of pushing. My parents had left with Holden only a few minutes before I started pushing. The Aqua Doula (which I begged to get in to, even while pushing) never got completely filled and I never even laid a finger on it. I asked for the phone and dialed my parents’ number. I know my dad knew it was our house calling, but he wasn’t expecting my voice.
“It’s a boy!”
“What is?” Hahaha! The last time he heard me, I was moaning in the throes of labor, and here I was cool as can be, calling to say the baby had arrived! They were having dinner with Holden, so we agreed they would come over with him in a little bit.
After about fifteen minutes, C got to cut the cord–another thing we missed out on the first time. We slowly got me up and upstairs into bed. I carried Emerson–he never left my arms, which was beyond amazing. I didn’t really see or hold Holden for four hours after he was born, so this was just perfect. We worked on getting him latched on, which he took to pretty easily–it was strange remembering how to nurse a newborn again. It had only been a little over a year since I last nursed, but I was nursing a toddler, not a newborn. Ah yes, a learning curve for the both of us! I delivered the placenta about 45 minutes after Emerson (who still hadn’t been named yet) was born, and C headed downstairs to help with some cleanup while we examined the placenta–I was amazed! I totally forgot to get a picture of it, which is a bummer because I had what is known as a battledore attachment, where the umbilical cord is attached at the end of the placenta instead of in the middle. Unique! The midwives left us alone for a little while for family time, so they could finish cleaning up and writing all their birth notes. I requested pizza, and my parents arrived with Holden and awesome pizza! They had given Holden a bath and he was in his jammies when he came in our bedroom. All of the sudden, he wasn’t a baby anymore! They say that happens, but you just don’t a have a concept of it until it happens to you! He was suddenly so grown up, so big! He was amazing! He was in awe of the baby–he wanted to hold him, to touch him. He was so excited to meet the baby! This was another amazing part–he had been gone for less than two hours, then he was going to go spend the night at my parents’ and be back in the morning–no big separation, no visiting me someplace strange. I loved it. I curled him up close to me and thanked him. His birth had been everything I didn’t want, an event clouded by doubt, sadness, anger…But it changed me. It made me who I had just become. A VBAC mom. A HBAC mom. His birth made this experience possible. If he hadn’t been a C-section, I probably would have returned to a hospital this time around and not gotten this amazing experience. I wouldn’t know my ICAN friends and now be co-leader of the NOVA ICAN group. I wouldn’t be the VBAC advocate that I am. From darkness, came my light. And I had him to thank for that. He and my parents visited with us for about an hour or so, then they headed back home to get him in to bed.
The midwives returned to our bedroom and did Emerson’s newborn exam (I think this is about the time we finalized his name, which completely coincidentally is the reverse of my midwife’s grandfathers’ name–our Emerson James and her James Emerson) at my feet on the bed while I chowed down on some pizza. They left for their homes around 11pm, and C, Emerson and I laid down to sleep. C looked at our new son and then at me and said, “I don’t know why people do this any other way. This is amazing.” I agreed. We blissfully slept, the three of us in bed…until the next feeding. I wasn’t too tired to lift my baby; I wasn’t in too much pain to get out of bed; I wasn’t too drugged to stay awake and look at my baby. This was so. Much. Better. This was what I always dreamed of. And more. I got my VBAC. I got my HBAC. I got the birth I wanted for my child. He was breech–he
pulled his own arms out and helped himself out quickly. My body could do it. I wasn’t broken. My baby could do it.
My post-natal care was amazing. Marilee and team were back the next evening, two days after that, a week later…and she called every day for a week, checking in. I felt so cared for, so nurtured. It had that “It takes a village” feeling to it, which was wonderful. I also had someone come over and encapsulate, which was wonderful. I really think it helped with my overall well being after the birth.
Nearly a year later now, and I still look at Emerson sometimes and just smile at what we went through together. He’s such an amazing little boy. He’s so happy, calm, easy, adventurous(!!!!TROUBLE!!!), and boy does he love his mama–I step away for mere moments and water works start as though I’ve abandoned him–it’s cute, and I love it, even when it’s frustrating because I can’t run out for 15 minutes by myself without leaving him with some poor soul (my husband or parents) who has to try and calm him down. He loves to suck his thumb and won’t take a bottle. Holden took to a bottle easily and still loves his paci–a good thing since I worked after him, and he didn’t mind if it was direct from the tap or pumped and bottled. My two boys had such different starts, and thankfully each has the personality to simply go with it. I may always have guilt that Holden didn’t get the kind of start Emerson did, but I will always make sure he knows that it’s because of what we went through together that’s made me the mom I am today. They have such a wonderful relationship with each other and I don’t ever want that to change.