Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Elijah's Birth Story

Elijah James
born after 12 hours of labor
August 6, 2006 at 3:26pm
He weighed 6 pounds and 4 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long

Our Story...

It all started back at week 37 when I had my first round of regular contractions. The contractions lasted about 1 full day and part of one night. The midwife checked me at our normal visit (at my request) and I was 60% effaced and 1cm dilated. Both Justin and I were excited, but when they didn't progress we quickly decided it must be a “false” labor. The false labors happened two more times, once at week 38, on a Friday night through Sunday and once again at week 39 on Thursday. I was getting mighty frustrated and mighty impatient to meet my baby!!

After having contractions all day on Thursday and Friday and then nothing, I decided to go for a walk at the Lowes store while hubby did yard work. I walked around and around hoping for something to happen. After about an hour, after I had seen everything from the garden center to the lumber I decided to head on home and make dinner. We had dinner, hamburger steak with white gravy, red potatoes and snow peas—YUM! Afterwards I felt really bloated and weird feeling but I wasn't gassy. I joked (as I had almost every night since the middle of July) that maybe tonight would be it. I was seriously praying

At 3am on Sunday I woke up with a contraction. It was pretty strong but I didn't think much of it. At 3:15am I was awakened again. This time I paid attention and sure enough, at 3:30 another came on. I decided to go ahead and get up since I was fidgeting during the contractions and didn't want to wake up my hubby. I ate a half peanut butter sandwich as a snack and had a BIG glass of water. At 4am the contractions were feeling much stronger and more intense than anything I had felt previously so I started timing them. At 4:04am I threw up the peanut butter sandwich and downed another BIG glass of water. The contractions were about 7 minutes apart and lasting a minute. Water and changing position didn't seem to have any effect. At 4:30am I decided to go ahead and wake up hubby to see what he thought that we should do. I made him coffee and he got dressed and came downstairs. He took over timing the contractions for me and I went to go and make us breakfast. I made him some cinnamon rolls and hash browns. About two contractions into breakfast it hurt so bad I decided that I couldn't stand and cook through another contraction. Justin was left to finish the hash browns and I went to go kneel and lean on the birth ball. The birth ball was my best friend during this labor—I laid my whole chest on the ball, put my weight on my knees and swayed and moaned through the contractions.

At 5am we made the call to the midwife to let her know that we thought this was the real thing. We had an appointment at 3:30 that afternoon so she said to just keep her updated on the contractions and that she would plan on staying on after our appointment to deliver the baby.

We kept on timing the contractions and by 6am they were 3-5 minutes apart and lasting 60-90 seconds. They were pretty intense and I had to moan through them all. At this point we called my parents and my brother and sister-in-law. My parents were on day 1 of their vacation and staying really close, just a few towns over. My brother and sister-in-law had to drive from Virginia. We asked that no one get here until about 9am or so. We decided to hold off on calling Justin's family because they are right here in town and we didn't want a full house.

We called the midwife with an update at 6:15 and she said that she would be right there. I decided to go ahead and take a shower and get cleaned up so that I would feel more comfortable during labor. At 7am the midwife arrived. My contractions spaced back out to about 6 minutes apart for about 20 minutes, then got closer together. At 8am the other midwife and the assistant showed up. Again the contractions slowed to 6-7 minutes apart with their arrival. At 9:30am my brother and his wife showed up (making record time from Virginia I might add!) and my parents showed up soon thereafter. My contractions spaced out again to about 8-9 minutes apart so Justin and I decided to go upstairs and labor in private. As soon as we were together they started getting intense and closer together. They were coming 2-3 minutes apart when the midwife came in and asked to check me. At this point it was about 10:30am. Our midwife checked me and I was at 8cm with a BULGING bag of waters. She kept asking if I was feeling pressure and I couldn't say. The contractions just really hurt a lot and I knew I didn't feel the urge to push at all. We decided at this point to go ahead and call Justin's family and ask them to come on over. The assistant went and gave the family an update on my progress.

Up to this point I was in a great mood (and this isn't just my opinion—everyone in attendance said I was really great). I was able to joke around with Justin and the midwives during the breaks between contractions. I was very prayerful throughout the labor and prayed Thanks for the blessed breaks between contractions. I was joking that no one had better take my watch away because I knew that the longest contraction had been 90 seconds so every time a contraction started I would keep one eye on the clock—counting down that 90 seconds.

At about 11:30 the contractions started coming back to back with very little down time in-between. I was starting to really doubt my ability to do this because the pain was so intense. I was also really exhausted at this point. Several times throughout the morning I had tried to eat-a granola bar, a labor shake-and threw everything up. I was drinking Gatorade, but during the mightier contractions I would throw that up too. I was scared to voice my concern about my own ability to do it and just kept silently praying that God would see me through each and every contraction.

Justin at this point was absolutely fabulous. I can't imagine how much stress he was under seeing me in so much pain. I was really moaning and during a couple of the contractions I actually started sobbing with the pain and the effort to stay relaxed. Justin was there just reassuring me through every contraction—he didn't talk a lot but he did keep telling me “I Love You” “You are doing fantastic” “You are so strong” “Thank you for doing this for our baby”--not all of them every contraction, but often enough. He was also there for me to lean on when the midwife suggested standing during a few of the contractions. To this point I had been on the ball or leaning on the bed. Every time I stood up through a contraction I threw up so I didn't want to stand up at all!

At 2:45pm I hadn't made any progress and was still at an 8 with a bulging bag. The midwife suggested that I go to the shower and try and labor sitting on the ball. I was very much against getting wet as it was August in NC and the temperature in the bedroom was about 80 (with all of us in there) and the temperature outside was in the high 90's. I didn't think steamy bathroom would be at all relaxing. I was getting desperate at that point though and was thinking that I couldn't stand much more of this contraction stuff without a break. Justin and I went in the shower and he did the sprayer on my back. I was in absolute agony and after 25 minutes begged him to let me get out. I was having contractions with only about 30 seconds in-between and I was actually hallucinating and falling asleep during the short breaks. I stood up and had a contraction almost immediately. I started sobbing because of the intense pain. As soon as that one let up another one came on and lasted about 2 minutes. Justin dried me off, helped me get my shirt on and go t me back to the bedroom.

Our midwife came in and saw Justin's face and sent him downstairs for a snack—he was almost at his breaking point and I was getting downright pitiful. I had a contraction leaning on the bed and it felt a little bit like it was stinging. I told my midwife and she asked me to sit on the floor so she could check me. When she checked I was fully dilated and the bag FINALLY broke. Just a little bit of fluid came out, but it was clear (I do remember asking about that!!) As soon as it broke my abdominal muscles clamped down and I said “I'm pushing and I can't stop!” The midwife said that it was fine, that I was fully dilated. She had her fingers in me and said to push up against them and I just started begging her to get them out. My abdominal muscles were just doing all this pushing and I started pushing the baby out. (Justin tells me that he had just gotten a muffin and was stepping out to the porch when the assistant ran downstairs and told him to get up there, the baby was coming.)

The midwives brought over the birthing stool to get me off the floor and they started laying chucks pads everywhere. The next contraction the baby started crowning and Justin kept saying how wonderful I was and that wow—the baby had hair! On the 4th contraction I was pushing and the baby's head came out. Our midwife was all prepared to have Justin catch when my abs contracted again and out shot the baby—it took everyone by surprise! She handed him to me immediately. I was just so amazed and I remember thinking “Well, the book sure had the description wrong, I didn't use my Kegal muscles at all.” (I know it was a weird thing to think but I was exhausted and on a major sugar low!)

Justin and I were all excited about the baby and the midwives were all excited about the bleeding. There was a LOT of blood and they didn't know where it came from. They proceeded to find the bleeding and stop it. After about a minute I thought to check to see if it was a boy or a girl. I spread the little legs and I exclaimed “It's Elijah! Oh my gosh Justin you have a son!” I started crying almost immediately. At this point the midwives had figured out that Elijah had actually torn a hole in the umbilical cord and it was the blood from there that was soaking everything. We decided to go ahead and clamp the cord even through it wasn't done pulsing. Justin got to cut the cord and then our midwife asked him to take the baby over to the sitting chair while they made sure I was OK. There was still a lot of bleeding and they wanted to make sure my uterus was clamping down. My midwife asked me if I was feeling any urge to push out the placenta and I said no but that I could push and I did and out it shot into her lap. She wasn't expecting it so she didn't have the bucket ready. After I delivered the placenta they put me on the bed and tried to clean me up and look for tears that might be causing the bleeding.

They decided to pack me with gauze and let me and the baby bond a little bit. We snuggled close and naked but the baby wasn't wanting to try and latch on. We decided to go ahead and ask the family to come in and meet the baby so Justin went to announce our son and bring them in. The midwives got me covered and a button down shirt and everyone came in. Elijah got weighed and measured (6lbs 4 oz and 19.5 inches long with a 12 in head and a 12 in chest). After everyone was in there about 10 minutes I asked them to leave because I could feel TONS of blood coming out of me. They looked and I was bleeding a lot. I asked Justin to leave and take the baby while they sewed me up. I also asked him to send in my mom (who is a nurse).

It turns out Elijah was born with his hand on his head and he jerked out a vein when he was born (in addition to tearing that hole in his umbilical cord). The vein was bleeding excessively. I also had 3 other small tears that needed stitches because of the location (surprisingly-none were in the perineum-I guess the stretching worked!). It ended up taking 8 stitches to fix me up. That whole ordeal hurt worse than the baby coming out! As soon as they were done Justin and I spent a couple of hours with the baby and put in a request for a steak dinner. We ate sirloin on TV trays and just snuggled our baby.

It was an amazing birth from start to finish and I absolutely loved having the baby at home. Looking back, the only thing I would have done differently is labored more in private with Justin. Our midwife thinks, and I agree, that the reason I made progress in the shower is because of the privacy it offered. That probably would have helped with the stall at 8cm for so long.

My homebirth was so calm and I felt like I could do anything I wanted during the whole labor. I had so many options open to me for different positions, different rooms to labor in, different people to support me. Because I was in my own home I felt comfortable asking for what I needed, when I needed it. It was wonderful not having to pack a bag, not having the worry about defending our drug-free delivery choice to nurses who mean well but have an easier shift if every mama gets an epidural, not having stupid fetal monitors attached to my belly, knowing that my baby isn't going to get stuck with needles or have goop squirted in the eye or be taken away from me. . . I loved everything about it, have no regrets and fully plan on every single one of my births from now on being a homebirth if at all possible.

Debbra and Keith Voss' Hom

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