"For I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in You...You make it Beautiful Somehow"

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Charlotte's Birth Story Part 3: Happy Birth Day

Catch up here for part 1 and 2 of Charlotte's birth story!

We got our grocery shopping done and headed home. I had a few more contractions in the store. They were not strong and were still very far apart.

When we got home I was feeling a little depressed, so I decided I was going to take a very long relaxing shower. I noticed I had maybe one or two contractions in the shower, but nothing bad. Once I was done taking a shower...I decided to take a bath.

Hey, my midwife did say that I was supposed to relax!

I laid back there listening to music and reading the birth stories in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (best book about child birth out there in my opinion!) After I got out of the bath I decided to fix my hair. That is when things finally started!

My husband would come back every once in a while to refill my drink and ask me if I was having any contractions. I said yes. I didn't want to start timing the contractions though because my midwife said not to. Plus, they were not strong at all. I could still walk and talk through them. I felt fine. But as I called out to my husband each time I was having one I quickly realized they were coming pretty close together. My husband suggested that I time them. I agreed, but said that we would not head to the center again until the contractions got too hard to deal with or my water broke.

To my surprise....they were coming 2-3 minutes apart. I was so confused. I thought they were supposed to hurt by the time they got this close together. My husband suggested I call my midwife just in case.

"Hi Bernadette, this is Lorissa. I am having contractions 2-3 minutes apart."

"Oh honey, you need to get back here right now. You are having a baby tonight."

"No, no, I'm sure it's nothing. They are so mild. I can still talk through them."

"No you need to come back right now."

So we put all of our bags back into the van, dropped the boys back off at our friends house and headed to the birth center.

When we arrived my midwife checked me and found that I was already at 8cm! I just laughed. I couldn't believe it! I was at 8cm and was no where even close to what I would call in pain.

My midwife had already prepared the tub for me and I got right in.

This is me right after we got there. Happy as can be. I was so over joyed to finally be in labor! I remember being in labor with my boys, basically strapped down to a bed and begging for an epidural at 5-6cm. This seemed way to surreal to be at an 8 and this HAPPY!

Contractions did slowly start to increase in intensity. But they never became painful. I would have to stop and move gently from sided to side and and focus through them, but I never got to the -screaming and cursing- part that so many people talk about. I couldn't believe the difference in being able to move freely, and not be confined to a bed, made in being able to handle the contractions. The water also made a huge difference. It felt wonderful to relax in the tub.

My mom and husband were wonderful. They both would massage my back and neck while I was having a contraction. I did start to get nauseous at one point and my midwife got a bottle of peppermint for me to smell. That helped tremendously and the nausea faded. 

My favorite part of labor was when my husband would hold my hand during a contraction and I would lay my face against his arm. There was something indescribably comforting about that to me.

At 8:20 pm my midwife checked baby's girl heart rate and discovered that it had dropped to 110bpm. At this time I was sitting back resting in the tub. She told me, 'okay momma, turn over, time to have a baby!' I was confused because I wasn't feeling the "urge" to push. But as soon as I flipped over onto my knees, I felt it! I think my exact words were "wooooooow! Holy crap!". The intensity went from feeling like you are sitting still, to being shot out of a cannon. It took me a little bit to adjust to the sudden intensity.

This was the only point in my labor that I would consider "painful". But to be honest it was more
-crazy intense- than painful.

My husband wanted to be the one to catch the baby, so he went with my midwife, and my mom stayed by me for comfort and support. It really was amazing. My husband kept encouraging me and my mom prayed over me the whole time. It took a little bit to figure out how to push properly. I would almost have her out, and then I would get scared of the intensity and stop. It finally came to the point where I just had to surrender to the pain and push. I never felt that "ring of fire" that others describe. All I remember is feeling the most intense amount of pressure ever. It was crazy. It was a good thing we didn't wait at home till my water broke or things got intense, because neither of those things happened until it was time to push.

After what felt like eternity to me, but was only 10 minutes of pushing, Charlotte was born into her daddy's hands after only 3 1/2 hours of labor. 

She had the cord wrapped around her neck twice, which is what caused her heart rate to drop. The good thing about her being born in the water was that they were able to unwrap the cord while she was still under the water and it did not have to be cut prematurely or risk any complications. 


I turned around to see our baby girl for the first time.

To say it was one of the most emotional and wonderful moments of my life would be a huge understatement. There was such a peace and yet such a euphoric high of holding our sweet baby for the first time. It was a moment I will always treasure.

It is so funny how the pain and intensity you were feeling just seconds before completely vanishes when you are holding your baby. Everything I had heard others say about natural birth being worth it was so right. Every single moment was worth it. 

I got to snuggle with Charlotte for a while before she was handed to her daddy for some snuggles. 

My midwife helped me get out of the tub, cleaned up, and to the bed so I could start nursing right away. 

At this point one of the major questions I had was...how bad did I tear? With both boys I had tore horribly, and she seemed to be much bigger than my boys. I was worried. 

My midwife gave me the news...barely a tiny tear, only needing one tiny stitch. Praise the Lord!!!! She gave me one quick stitch with no pain medicine-it was either one poke for the stitch or one poke for the pain medicine. I declined the pain medicine.  
After lots of snuggles and nursing, I got something to eat and drink while they did all the vitals for Charlotte. 

My little chunker weighed 9lbs 2oz and was 21 1/2" long. She was 9 days "late" and completely perfect. I am so thankful I waited on God's perfect timing for this little one. 

Daddy got her dressed, my midwife gave us our discharge instructions, and we headed home that night to our family.

 Recovery this time has been so much better than my other delivers. Choosing to have a natural birth was with out a doubt one of the best decisions I have ever made.  As crazy as it sounds I would love to do it again!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Charlotte's Birth Story Part 2: Come On Labor!

Catch up on part 1 here...

Fast forward to 40 weeks pregnant. I was still feeling fantastic. No contractions, no cramps, and still sleeping comfortably through the night.

It was annoying. Haha!

I was convinced that because I was feeling nothing that she was staying put for the long haul. I was right. At my 40 week appointment my cervix showed almost no signs of change. Dilated to a 1 but not thinned out at all. I knew things could change overnight so I stayed positive. I was okay with her cooking for as long as she needed.

But the days start to wear on you. Any day could be THE day. So every day I worked tirelessly to keep the house clean, the laundry all washed, and everything ready for the baby's arrival. By 41 weeks I was done trying to keep everything together, it was way too exhausting.

Sunday morning, 41 weeks, we were sitting in church when I noticed I was feeling horrible. I felt light headed and dizzy, and was developing a horrible headache. I looked down at my hands and realize that not only were my feet and legs starting to swell, but so were my hands. I told my husband as soon as the service was done that we needed to leave right away so I could check my blood pressure. We stopped at a Walgreens and I went in to check my blood pressure. Sure enough it was high- 144/90. I called my midwife immediately. She was already at the birth center with some one in labor so she said to come by and she would check me over.

When we arrived at the center she checked my urine and blood pressure. Sure enough I had protein in my urine and my blood pressure was very high. She checked my cervix again and found I was still at a 1 but at least I was thinning out. I was terrified this meant I was going to have to transfer to a hospital, have an induction, epidural, all of the things I desperately did not want.

My midwife said we definitely need to have the baby soon, but that there were things they could do to encourage baby to come. She stripped my membranes and gave me a tea mixture of pregnancy tea and black and blue cohosh. She told me and my husband to go walking and that if labor hadn't started by morning to be back at the center by 8:00 am.

Our dear friends watched our boys for us while we went on a little mini date. We got some dinner and walked around a bunch of stores. I had some minor cramps but no contractions.

 In the morning (Monday) we finished packing our bags and headed off to the Birth Center. When we got there my midwife immediately checked my urine and blood pressure. To every one's surprise and relief there was no protein in my urine and my blood pressure had gone back down. My midwife checked my cervix again and discovered I was dilated to a 3 now, 80% thinned out, and she was able to stretch me to a 4. She stripped my membranes again, gave me another mixture of black and blue cohosh, and sent us out walking again. She was sure that by lunch time, dinner time at the latest, we would have a baby.

So my husband, my mom, and I went to walk around a few stores. Still no contractions. We headed back to the Birth Center after lunch for the midwife to check me to see if anything was going on. I was dilated to a 5. So we decided to head home for a few hours to rest and would come back to the birth center around 5:00, and if no more progress had been made they would go ahead and break my water.

I was still not feeling any contractions by the time we headed back to the birth center. The whole day my midwife had been checking my blood pressure and it had stayed low. After talking, we decided that we would go home, get a good nights rest and come back in the morning and she would break my water then to get things going.

We went home, had a wonderful dinner, enjoyed the company of family, and slept wonderfully. Still no contractions.

Tuesday morning we woke up and headed back to the birth center, hoping this would finally be it. When we got there my midwife checked my blood pressure and urine again. Still great. Praise God! They decided to wait on breaking my water though and try some more black and blue cohosh. This time just straight black and blue and not diluted in a tea. Wow that stuff was horrible! After taking several rounds it and bouncing on a birthing ball, I was still feeling zero contractions. Not even a single cramp. So my midwife came back in and stripped my membranes one more time before sending my husband and I out to do some curb walking.

We walked around the birth center, on foot on the curb and one off. My husband was amazing during this entire process. He was so encouraging and loving. Through out this entire thing I found myself falling more and more in love with the man that he is.

It was now 3:00. It had been a long day of trying our hardest to get labor started. I was dilated to a 5 but nothing was happening. Another one of the midwives met with us and said that my midwife would break my water for me if I wanted or we could just wait since my blood pressure had been perfect.

I felt so torn. I thought that if they broke my water that might just be the thing my body needed to kick it into gear. But, if contractions did not start I would end up in the hospital, on pitocin, and all things I did not want to happen. After talking through the pros and cons with my husband and mom, we had finally decided to go ahead and ask her to break my water. I still felt scared and unsettled about the whole thing though.

When my midwife came in I expected her to say 'if you all want me to break your water I will'. But I was surprised to hear - "Ok, we have done everything we can to start contractions naturally. Obviously your baby is not ready to come yet. I think we should wait". That was all the reassurance I needed that waiting was the right decision. My midwife told me "go home and relax. Take a bath, enjoy a nice meal, and don't think about labor. Don't time contractions. Nothing. Just enjoy your evening." The plan at that point was that if labor had not started on it's own by Friday that I would come into the center and they would for sure break my water. (Once you get to 42 weeks you can no longer deliver at the center and have to go to the hospital. So at that point the risk of breaking my water would be worth it.)

I felt peace about our decision to wait, like God was telling me to keep trusting Him. I still cried however, as we drove home. I knew my baby wouldn't stay put forever, but I was still sad that I wasn't going home with her in my arms. We decided to stop at the grocery store on the way home. As we were walking into the store my husband turns around and says "Now you know that since we are going home you are not allowed to have this baby tonight right?".

And wouldn't you know...I had my very first contraction right at that moment.

Part 3 Happy Birth Day continued here...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Charlotte's Birth Story Part 1: Why a Natural Birth?

 It is now 6 weeks since the birth of our precious baby girl. Life has been busy, but wonderful. We are currently visiting with my husbands family and I finally have a few moments to sit down and write our daughter's birth story.

For her birth we decided to use a midwife and have our daughter at a free standing birth center (meaning it is not located in a hospital). Before I jump into the birth story I want to give you a bit of background to explain why in the world I would even want to have a natural labor.

When I was pregnant with my first son the thought of a natural labor was completely insane to me. Why in the world would some one not want an epidural?! I always said I wanted to enjoy my labor and remember my son's birth, not be screaming in pain and so out of it that I remembered nothing. So at 39 weeks, after being on bedrest for the last 6 weeks dealing with preeclampsia, I went into the hospital for my induction. Looking back now I realize how uneducated I was about the whole ordeal. I just went with the flow and did what ever the nurses and doctors told me to. Praise God because I know His hand of protection was on me and my baby during that labor and delivery. I had no idea all of the risks I was taking by being induced- a cytotec induction no less. Thankfully I was able to deliver my son vaginally after only 6 hours of labor, an epidural, and a horrific tear.

I remember being so drugged up and feeling very out of it. I loved my baby and was so happy to meet him, but something was missing. I truly believe all of the drugs made it difficult for me to really connect immediately and enjoy the experience. Funny how what I thought would help me enjoy my labor more actually disconnected me from it.

Recovery was horrific. I healed for 6 weeks, then had to have surgery since my tear did not heal properly and had 6 more weeks of healing. There had to be a better way.

My second son was born in a different state, with a different doctor. I had a dear friend who had told me all about how wonderful her natural homebirths had been so I began doing some reading and research. I found myself thinking if having a natural birth can help me feel more connected and not tear as bad I think I could handle the pain. But here we were at 39 weeks again and I made the choice to have another induction. My little sister was getting married two weeks later, 12 hours away, and I was to be her maid of honor. I just couldn't miss that. Yes I know many would say that I was selfish, stupid, whatever, for having an elective induction, but I made the choice and I would not change it.

His birth was the one that made me know for sure that I would never have an obgyn or hospital birth again. After pitocin being set to the highest level possible, not being allowed to get out of bed to even pee, an epidural, and 4 hours of labor, our second son was born. I had a 3rd degree tear and still felt very drugged up from all of the pitocin and epidural. But this time I had made it to 8cm before getting the epi. I was proud of my self for making it that far but also disappointed that I was not able to have the birth I had really wanted. I realized that for me that would never be possible in a hospital with an obgyn.

Praise God that He protected me and my precious boys through both of my inductions. I know not all women are as lucky.

When I got pregnant with our daughter, I determined that this time would be different. We were living in Oklahoma City at the time but were going to be moving soon to Houston. I decided to temporarily go to my OBGYN that I had with my last baby, but as soon as we moved to Houston I began looking for a midwife and a birth center.

Read Part 2 here...
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