Cayden's Birth: Unmedicated Birth in a Hospital

By: Gloria Miles

I did not have a traumatic first birth experience.  My switch from a medicated birth to an unmedicated birth (what I dubbed as "natural" at the time) was mainly from the thought that it couldn't take all of those interventions just to have a baby.  The attending staff was lovely.  The nurses were sweet and the obstetrician was kind.  I expressed disappointment after consenting to the epidural (which was ah-mazing at the time, by the way).  The obstetrician had laughed, not unkindly.  "You wouldn't get a tooth pulled without anesthesia, right?"  

Except, I didn't have a tooth extracted.  I had a baby.  A physiological event.  My labor was augmented with pitocin.  Then augmented again with artificially ruptured water.  The pain hit two contractions after that lovely cushion of water was relieved.  An hour later, I was crying, asking for an epidural.  

I read the book, Birthing From Within, when I was pregnant with my second and immediately fell in love with the idea of surrendering myself to the process.  I tried to persuade my husband into a home birth, but he was terrified of the idea.  I relented.  However, I decided to hire a doula and really educate myself on all my options.  My husband was supportive.  My friends were skeptical.  Everyone else had a million things to say, all negative. 

Still, I knew what I wanted and I knew that I would do it.  

Feb. 17, 39.6 weeks. 1:30 p.m.

I arrived at my prenatal appointment and my vitals were taken.  I was escorted into a room and instructed to undress from the waist down.  I smiled and watched the nurse leave.  The provider, a nurse practitioner, arrived and blinked in surprise but then began to speak.  I was fully dressed, the drape for my lap politely lying on the chair.  A few standard questions were asked, fetal heart tones were heard, and she measured my belly.  She was about to leave and then glanced at my chart.  She looked up, surprised. 

"Have you had a cervical check this pregnancy?" she asked. I confirmed that I had not. 

"Oh. Uh, do you mind undressing so I can check you?" she asked. I confirmed that I did. 

"I'm okay," I said. 

She hesitated. "Well, we like to at least have a few on file, just to see how you're doing." 

I shrugged. "I think I'll be okay. Labor will come regardless." She said nothing, so I continued. "Plus, with my first I was four centimeters for two weeks, so I don't think it'll tell us much anyway." 

Her eyebrows raised. "Oh! Well, if you were four centimeters today, we could start you on pitocin and you could have a baby today!"

I had already explained my desire for a "natural" process. "No, that's okay, but thank you." 

She left the room and said she'd be back.  She'd go back and forth (probably to the actual physician/obstetrician) a few times.  

"I don't think I'd feel comfortable letting you leave if you were five centimeters," she finally explained.  "There's reasons we like the checks. I promise it's not for nothing." 

"Well, that's more a reason not to get checked. Let's pretend I'm not five centimeters. I'll be alright," I said.  

In the end, we came to a compromise. I agreed to let her schedule me for a NST (non-stress test) that Friday. 

I'll call tomorrow and cancel, I thought.

10:05 p.m. 

Though I didn't want to be induced, I was ready to not be pregnant. I had heard that sex was a great way to help soften the cervix and I wanted all the help I could get. Afterwards, I'd always get mild contractions with cramps that made me irritable. We found, though, that if we had sex before bed, I could fall asleep before they really started to get uncomfortable.  And so, this night, bedtime was about ten p.m. 

Feb. 18, 40.0 weeks. 12:31 a.m. 

I looked at the clock and groaned.  Contractions, check. Cramps, check. I also needed to pee, so that meant that I was going to be awake enough not to be able to fall asleep.  After I used the restroom, I noted pink spotting in my underwear and more when I wiped. I shrugged it off.  Every now and again sex would induce some spotting.  I assumed this was the same thing. 

I waddled back to the bed and laid on my side. 

1:40 a.m. 

I gave up trying to sleep and started pacing.  I realized that the intensity had grown and the contractions had spaced out to time-able intervals rather than quick, short bursts.  

I woke my husband. "I think I'm in labor." 

He stretched and smiled. "Okay." 

We went into the baby's room and he turned on his laptop. My contractions were still mild and he decided we should watch a movie.  I made it halfway and decided to get something to eat. I ate an apple and toast with peanut butter. I also called my doula. She asked if I needed her and I stated that I felt okay laboring by myself.  She told me she was going to go back to sleep and to call her when things amped up. 

3:00 a.m. 

I felt like I was peeing every five minutes. Contractions were bearable when I was pacing but much more uncomfortable on the toilet. 

"I'm taking a shower," I announced. 

My husband checked on me ten minutes later.  At this point I didn't want to talk during contractions.  He called the doula and then our friends so they would come pick up our son. 

4:10 a.m. 

A little over an hour later, our son had been whisked away and my doula had arrived.  She and my husband chatted while I walked around the living room and the kitchen.  The talking ceased every contraction and then continue once it was over.  I was annoyed with the chatter, so I stayed mostly clear from the dining room.  

5:25 a.m. 

My doula looked at the clock and then asked if I wanted to head to the hospital.  "Rush hour traffic to the base is going to start soon and I'd hate it if you were stuck in the tunnel because of traffic." 

I didn't want to head in yet because I felt like it was still early.  I was waiting for the level of pain I had when my water was ruptured with my first.  I was afraid that the hospital wouldn't find my contractions strong enough and that I'd be given pitocin.  However, she had a great point because tunnel traffic tends to crawl once rush hour hits. 

I nodded. "Yeah," I said, "that's probably a good idea."

5:50 a.m. 

The car was packed with the necessities and I finally was ready to go.  I had always heard of the terrible trip to the hospital.  You know the ones: "The car ride to the hospital was the worst! It was so much more painful!" 

I sat in the passenger seat and buckled in. The trip took twenty minutes.  I had one exceptionally mild contraction.

Halfway to the hospital I looked over at my husband and had a horrible though. Oh, no, I thought. What if I'm not even in labor? 

"What?" he asked. 

I shook my head. "Nothing." 

6:10 a.m. 

After I was out of the car, the contractions seemed to pick up.  They came every few minutes and I had to lean over.  My doula walked with me, letting me lean on her every contraction.  The walk up to L&D seemed to take forever. 

We finally reached reception.  The nurse looked up.  "Can I help you?" 

Everyone paused. "I'm in labor," I announced. 

"Okay. Can you tell me more about that?" she asked, unimpressed.  I didn't know how to explain labor and no one else spoke.  A contraction hit me.  "When you're finished with that contraction, just let me know how far apart they are and how long you've been having them." 

"I don't know," I said. "Every few minutes. Since midnight or one." 

"So every three minutes, every six minutes?" she fished. 

"About every five minutes. She's been having them since midnight," my husband snapped, annoyed.  

She asked for our ID's and we were ushered to triage, the doula was instructed to sit in the waiting room. 

In triage, my husband helped me undress.  I laid back on the table and was checked.  The vaginal exam was painful and the first time I needed to vocalize my discomfort.  The nurse's eyes widened. "You're about nine centimeters with a bulging bag! Do you want us to break your water?"  That was the first of many requests to rupture my water.  

I thought back to the last labor and shook my head. No. 

They started getting ready to set up an IV and my husband walked in front of them. "She doesn't want an IV." 

They paused, unsure.  "She needs an IV."  He shook his head.  "It's in her plan.  She doesn't want it." 

The head nurse mulled his comments over.  "Is a heplock okay? Then, if we need to get her fluids, it'll already be set up but she won't be hooked up to a bag." I nodded my consent. 

6:40 a.m. 

I was admitted and sent to a room.  My doula joined us.  

The two standard belts were strapped to my belly.  One for the fetal heart rate, one to measure contractions.  "The doctor would like you to be on the monitor for twenty minutes.  Then, you can take it off and walk around if you'd like," the nurse explained. 

The wait felt eternal and ended up being thirty minutes.  I told my husband to go tell them I was going to take the straps off because I was in too much pain on the bed.  He almost left the room but a nurse came in and told us that she was going to remove the monitors.  She apologized for the extra time.  The doctors had been changing shifts and didn't want me off monitoring until the switch had been made.  

I should have taken them off at the twenty minute mark, I thought. 

Gratefully, I left the bed and wandered the room.  After a while, though, I hovered nearby, using it as a prop.  It felt good to lean over it during contractions rather than standing straight up.  

8:10 a.m. 

At about eight that morning, I was asked if I wanted to be checked.  I consented.  As always, the check hurt more than I felt it should.  I was fully dilated but the baby was high in the pelvis.  

"Do you want us to break your water? You could probably have a baby in two minutes if we did that," asked a nurse. No. 

She left and returned with the doctor and two other nurses. 

He smiled and introduced himself.  He told me he was going to check me.  At this point, I was just going with the flow, so I consented.  He confirmed what the nurse had stated. 

She asked me if I wanted my water broken.  I shook my head.  The doctor nodded and informed us that he was going to go check on another patient. 

"You're fully dilated but baby is pretty high.  I think you just need to labor a little longer," he said and left the room. 

"Are you sure you don't want your water broken? Might speed things up," the same nurse said. 

"Fine, that's fine," I said. I didn't even care anymore.  

"Are you sure?" asked my husband.  "You really didn't want that." 

The nurse had already left the room to grab an amniohook.   

I opened my mouth to tell him that I didn't care.  "I...I'm nauseous."  My doula quickly tossed over an emesis bag.  A contraction hit me and I threw up all at the same time.  I felt the baby shift and suddenly there was an insane amount of pressure in my pelvis.  As I threw up, the urge to bear down took over.  

My water burst immediately and the force propelled it across the room.  It hit my doula on her way to grab me a cool washcloth.  When I stopped pushing, I saw her surprised face and the water that was on the wall.  

Another pushing contraction came and I was bearing down before I knew it.  The nurses all began yelling.  "Doctor!" they shouted and started running out of the room.  A nurse returned with the amniohook.  "What happened?" she asked. "Her water broke!" they shouted. 

The obstetrician walked into the room a minute after having left it.  "Okay, okay," he said.  He positioned himself at the base of the bed.  I was in a semi-sitting position since I had just been checked.  I always envisioned a different pushing position but once it began I didn't want to move.  His eyebrows raised slightly, "Oh! Wow! Good progress!  Two pushes and you'll have a baby!" 

I didn't know what he was talking about. The baby was stuck.  I just knew it.  Everyone had told me that relief came with pushing and this was the opposite.  Labor had been so easy, but this...this was something else.  I wanted to tell him he was crazy.  I was going to break apart.  I wasn't built like this.  All that came out was, "No!!!" 

He kept encouraging me to push.  "Noooo!" I'd yell and then I'd bear down.  

I didn't feel anymore progress. 

My doula leaned in and gave me the best advice in the world.  I have realized that I don't need as much physical support during labor but this was exactly what I need to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it.  "Hey, it's okay. You're doing amazing.  Reach down and touch the baby's head." 

Head? The head was in my pelvis, not budging, not moving.  I shook my head.  

"Reach down," she coaxed. 

I reached down and I was surprised at what I felt.  I was crowning.  I felt the smooth skin, the softest hair.  I was actually doing it!  This was my baby!  Why had I been so afraid?  I was safe.  I wasn't going to break.  I was going to meet my baby.  I looked at her and smiled broadly. 

I cooperated with my next contraction and didn't fight it.  The doctor was right.  A few pushes with my cooperation and the head was out.  The body slid out as an afterthought.  

8:20 a.m. 

I relaxed into the bed.  I was finished.  A little baby was placed onto my chest and roughly toweled.  I didn't want him just yet but I was afraid they were going to push him off of me, so I held onto his body.  After a minute or so, I was finally ready to meet him.  He cried out a few times but was mostly just resting.  I touched his soft, dark hair.  I looked over his purple-red body, the funny coloring of a fresh newborn.  

"Cayden," I whispered.  "I love you."  What a journey. 


 

christian meeting his brother, cayden, for the first time. 

christian meeting his brother, cayden, for the first time. 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

Marianna's Birth Story: An Out of Body Experience

Edited by: Gloria Miles

Shared with permission of the mother, though anonymously. Names changed*

I didn't have the best pregnancy.  I think pregnancy is supposed to look better than it did on me.  I had hyperemesis and if anyone knows that is, it's morning sickness on crack.  I lost weight all the way until seven months pregnant.  I couldn't even keep down water.  I was admitted into the hospital to rehydrate and nourish my body several times throughout the pregnancy.  It was almost a miracle when it finally stopped.  When it did, I gained twenty pounds that first month.  I gained twenty-five overall.  

I remember the doctor weighed me and said, "I know we said we wanted you to gain weight, but we didn't exactly mean to gain twenty in just one month.  That's a lot."

I was 41 weeks pregnant when they said I needed to be induced, so I went into the hospital.  I wanted it completely natural, but I guess it wasn't meant to be.  I managed the labor pain well until my water broke.  I asked for an epidural, but they said the baby's head was visible.  

When the water burst, the urge to push came quickly and violently.  A few pushes later and Marianna, cord wrapped around her neck, came out limp and not breathing.  

I know I sound crazy, but when they pulled her out, cut the cord, and put her over to the warmer, I felt like I died.  I think I died.  I remember seeing my baby being worked on.  I remember seeing the top of the heads of the doctor, my mom, the nurses...everyone.  It was a crazy out of body experience.  

They eventually got her breathing and I felt normal again.  They handed me the bundle and I remember looking down wondering who she was.  I didn't feel like she was my baby, I didn't feel that instant bond with my baby like I think you're supposed to.  It made me so sad.  Now she's older and I love her more than anything, but immediately...I didn't feel that connection.  I don't know why, but I know I didn't.  It took time to love my daughter like a mom is supposed to.  There was a disconnect.  I wish I knew why.  

Note from the editor:

There are many other mothers who have shared having an out of body experience during their labor and birth, whether it was a "traumatizing" event or not. I encourage you to speak out about it. Every birth story matters and counts.

Also, the immediate bonding and "love at first sight" feeling happens to many women. And, on the other end of this spectrum, there is no bonding or "love" feeling that occurs for many other women. It is not a shameful secret. It may indicate a problem with possible postpartum depression, but sometimes love grows slowly. Keep your friends and family in the loop. Let others know how you are feeling and doing. Never be afraid to ask for help whether it's doing small chores or needing to talk to a professional.

 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 3, soon-to-be 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

A Birth Story

The Third Degree

This is the story of my natural birth in a hospital setting that turned into a medical birth.  My goal is to educate and encourage women to birth on their terms.  Please consider your provider and the location of your birth!

A note from Richmond Doulas...such a huge thank you to Cori for sharing both of her birth stories and the inspirations and wisdom she drew from both her births. It's our dream that women could enter any hospital, be treated by any care provider and receive compassionate care, but until birth culture changes in the U.S., choosing your care provider, as Cori puts it, is time well spent. Here is some more information about choosing a care provider.

Delivery Day

I woke up with contractions around 7 a.m.  They did not subside after an hour like they had the few days before.  I kept busy all day to distract myself but knew it would be the day to meet our baby! 

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I felt a gushing sensation around 2:30 p.m. - My water broke!  I called my OB and let Donna Westcott, my doula know. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible to make sure I received as few interventions at the hospital as possible. 

Finally at 4:45 we decided to drive to the hospital.  Contractions were much more intense and getting closer.  I continued to breathe through each contraction visualizing the pain going through my body and out my toes.

Contractions were painful but purposeful. And things seemed to be happening so much quicker than I thought they would.

At the Hospital:

My first nurse was a bitch… She wanted to hook me to the monitor immediately; she did not want to undo it so I could go pee. She did not care that I felt nauseous, and she said it was still hospital policy to check me to see if my water actually broke because so many people mistaken it for pee leaking!

Finally, the hospital OB came in but seemed annoyed.  He looked over the birth plan and scoffed at a few things: He said we would only delay cord clamping about a minute and reassured me there would be no episiotomy.  His biggest concern was the possibility that my baby was close to 9 pounds.

He left the room for a while and when he returned he was determined to check my cervix. He was impressed with how far along I had gotten. Again he made me feel unimportant and even though I was determined to birth naturally he seemed like he would rather do C-section to get it over with.  He did not offer pain medication, which I appreciated.  But he did insist on checking me more often than I felt necessary.  The last time he checked me, I peed on him. (he deserved it.)  They also would not let me out of the bed to walk around or unhook me from the monitor.

I remember transition…It was painful.  I also remember that being the only point at which I said: "I can't do this."  Donna, said you can and you are!  Donna’s soothing and calm encouragement was so nice to have throughout the birth!

Before I knew it was time to push… My biggest regret is not waiting for my body to tell me when to push. 

This is the point it became a medical birth and my nurse and doctor were screaming at me to push for ten seconds!  The nurse held my leg and I was lying on my back… They did not know when my body was contracting. I was pushing when they told me to.

I remember a sense of relief during stage two; like my body was doing all the work, there didn’t have to be any actual pushing.

Where it all went wrong:

I should not have been on my back and I should not have pushed for a count of ten, my body was not ready for that! I should have used the positions I practiced.  I should have spoken up and birth the way I had planned.  I should have breathed my baby out.

In a medical birth, the doctor does not listen to the woman… (*A woman’s body is amazing and knows what to do. Let your body do its job!)

Time really escapes you in labor. Pushing didn’t seem to last long.  I remember a burning sensation when the baby was crowning, Donna told me that was normal.  The doctor did not talk me through the birth.  I am so grateful for Donna being there and coaching me through. The OB was more into making sure I pushed hard enough.

After an additional push baby slid out onto the table. (A baby girl was here!)

The doctor was not seated, did not catch my baby, and did not have adequate towels underneath me.

I was numb from that point on.  I suffered a third-degree laceration and had postpartum hemorrhaging (maybe my body was being nice and didn’t want me to remember the pain and it was my body’s adrenaline reaction to go numb.)

But this is where I question if counter pressure on my vagina and perineum and assisting the head and shoulders through would have helped.  I really should have been more determined to ask for different positions during pushing.

The OB tried to partially repair me in the delivery room with no success.  I had a hard time staying still and he continually yelled at me to stop moving.  I only held my baby girl for a couple minutes on my chest before the doctor had packed me with gauze and took me out of the room on the way to the OR. 

The doctor did not explain what had happened. He did not use the word tear or hemorrhage. He just said I had no choice but to get a spinal block and come to the OR.

My husband was left in the room with Donna and a baby who was a few minutes old.  No information was shared with them except that I had to be taken out of the room and they could not be in the OR with me.

In the OR:

The anesthesiologist was pretentious.  He actually said “see this isn’t so bad” when putting in the spinal tap, “you could have done this in the first place.”

In the OR, there was still no explanation of what happened. Dr. G, the OB I had been seeing in the office for prenatal visits, arrived to help repair me.  She did not acknowledge me.  I was awake and aware during the repair and continued to ask them questions: How is it, is it bad, what does it look like, what are you doing?  They ignored me and did not speak to me directly. 

A nurse assistant held my hand and talked with me the whole time (she was so sweet).  Another nurse brought me a phone so I could tell my husband I was still alive and that everything would be okay.

After what felt like an eternity, I finally made it back to the room, with a catheter and no feeling in my legs.  The OB informed me he ‘lost’ a sponge (gauze) that he packed me with when I was hemorrhaging and to make sure it wasn’t still inside me he ordered an x-ray. 

After the x-ray, I finally got to hold my baby and try to nurse her!  She did not have a good latch.  It had been three hours since she was born and hunger had set in. 

Breastfeeding was uncomfortable and I could not feel my legs.  I also still did not really know what had happened… I was disappointed Dr. G. never came in to check on me after I made it back to the room. (So much for being her patient.)

I held my baby all night.  I continued to try and nurse her with little luck.  Instead of sending in a lactation consultant or a nurse who could help me get a latch, one nurse gave me a nipple shield.  (Hindsight is 20/20, the nipple shield may have saved my breastfeeding journey! But it led to many weeks of stress and anxiety that I could not feed my baby without it- Why couldn’t I be coached on getting a better latch instead of using an artificial nipple?) 

In the morning, two nurses came in to help me out of bed and into the bathroom where I passed out and they had to use smelling salts to wake me!  I returned to the bed weak, helpless, and groggy. 

Eventually, I moved to a postpartum room.  Those nurses barely came into check on us.  One did come in to give the baby a bath but did not welcome my help with my child…

Discharge Day:

A well respected and favorite OB discharged me.  She told me three things: 1 Here are your prescriptions for Oxycodone and ibuprofen, 2 you can sit in a bathtub or sitz bath a few times a day for swelling and pain relief, and 3 you need to make an appointment to see this specialist in a week.  (At this point I still have not been told what actually happened, she had the perfect opportunity to show some sympathy and do her job, yet nothing, she didn’t want to be bothered either, I was not her patient….she lost my respect.)

I was so scared to leave the hospital! I cried, a lot. I did finally take a shower but still felt numb, weak, and terrified.

The First Days Home:

I don’t remember much except that I was helpless.  (A feeling I do not do well with!) I did not take the oxy but did take ibuprofen for pain and swelling.  I was uncomfortable and spent a lot of time in bed trying to nurse.  I would cry every time she nursed.  I would look down at this perfect little human and knew that I loved her but could not express that love with words.  I continued feeding her and holding her. But all I really wanted to do was leave.  

The Specialist:

A week later I went to see Dr. S., an urogynecologist.  She was wonderful! Smart, direct, and caring.  Finally, someone explained what had happened, she even had an illustration.

She informed me I had an infection in the laceration and listed what we would try to do to fix it.  Surgery was a last resort. My instructions were to sit in a sitz bath at least three times a day, take a whole concoction of antibiotics and drink Miralax to make sure all my stools were super soft! (gross, I know)

I had follow-up appointments weekly.  The only time I left the house was to go to the doctor.  I continued to be devastated and uncomfortable. I blamed myself for the tear and the infection.  I continually thought about what I should have done differently. Not pushing the way I did, not laying on my back, also what did I do to get this infection? Did I deserve it somehow?

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The Last Resort:

Finally, at five weeks, post-partum, Dr. S. said we needed to go in and surgically remove the infection and repair the tear.  I lost it.  I was so nervous.  I was hoping to go my whole life without any major surgery…

I had two options for hospitals.  I will not go back to the hospital I delivered my daughter in for as much as a hangnail. So I chose a different location.  The surgery was scheduled for the next day. 

I was not prepared to leave a five week old at home without me.  I had no bottles or formula.  No milk pumped.  I barely had the hang of breastfeeding (I was still using the nipple shield).

I had total faith in Dr. S. to get me repaired and keep me safe.  But major surgery is still frightening. 

The surgery was successful and Dr. S. informed me it wasn’t as bad as she thought it was going to be, the infection also was localized and not systemic and she repaired the other trauma to my vagina.

My recovery nurses at this hospital were so sweet and compassionate.  They helped me set up the breast pump and kept all my milk frozen for me.   

I continued to see Dr. S every other week until I got the all clear to resume all normal activity two and a half months postpartum!

The New Normal:

It took me months to feel completely comfortable in my skin (squatting scared me, I felt like I would just rip into a million pieces). At about eight weeks postpartum, I had breastfeeding down!  I nursed my baby lying down, standing up, one handed, with a pillow, without one! 

I continued to have feelings of anger and grief.  I still blamed myself but was mad at the hospital OB.  I didn’t know who to blame.  

I changed to a more positive outlook shortly after.  I realized it could have been worse (I could have died; it could have been a 4th degree tear going through my rectum completely)

The whole experience made me stronger and I couldn’t love my daughter any more than I do! 

Baby #2

I had a lot of anxiety after finding out we were pregnant with baby #2.  I feared that I would tear again, get an infection, and not be able to take care of a two and a half year old and a newborn. 

I told Donna we were expecting as soon as we found out because I knew I wanted her to be there.  She was an amazing resource and coach the first time around!  One of the first things we discussed was what provider I should use.  It didn’t take much convincing to know I should switch to a practice with Midwives. 

I broke down in tears at each Midwife appointment. I was so nervous to birth again.  They comforted me and really encouraged me to be positive. (I read positive birth affirmations daily and those positive thoughts made me believe and trust my body going into my second birth)

The pregnancy was uneventful and healthy and I enjoyed spending quality time with my oldest while she was the only one.

I thought labor was fast the first time…

On the way to the hospital my water broke in the car.   Upon entering the hospital we were met by Donna and my midwife.  Both were so happy to see us.  They were both encouraging and calm and no one was annoyed to be caring for us.  It was a positive experience from the moment we got there!

I birthed my son about twenty minutes after getting to our room.  I was coached and talked through the whole birth.  The nurses were welcoming to both Donna and the midwife.  Everyone respected each other’s position in the room. 

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I labored in positions that were comfortable to me and I was not yelled at to push harder.

My son’s entrance into the world was calm. 

My vagina was in one piece. 

I felt empowered because my body did what it was supposed to do. His birth was a completely different experience because of my caregivers and I am grateful for that.    

My advice to any soon to be mom, veteran or not, is to choose your provider wisely, research birth positions and use them, but also be ready for anything!

XOXO,

Cori

 

Nathaniel: A Birth Story

Nathaniel: A Birth Story

Yesterday, Shea heard his brother's heartbeat. He said, "my brother," and put his hands on my stomach. He smiled shyly and wanted to hear the heartbeat "again." I'm so excited for them to meet each other.

Nathaniel Ashe Sears, 7 pounds, 14 ounces, born December 19, 2014 at 4:14 p.m.

He holds his tiny hands up to the glass and says, “There, Mommy, I want to eat there!” Inside is a pool hall, completely inappropriate for a toddler. “No, Shea, just one more door down.” I drag him into Ipanema. I don’t know it yet, but active labor will start in less than 12 hours. I wanted to take Shea out for dinner, just me and him, knowing that the time of his being an only child is getting shorter. I am having near constant Braxton-Hicks contractions that don’t stop when I sit down, stand up, walk, lay down, take a bath, drink water, or anything. They are just constant, lasting for 2-3 minutes with a 30 second break in between and it’s been that way for 2 days. It’s exhausting but I try to ignore my too tight abdomen as I pick Shea up and carry him through the door of Ipanema. I am expecting to go past my due date on this one too, and I don’t take any contractions seriously. Only if they are deep low, and getting longer, stronger, closer together. I decide, only then will I pay attention. Thinking back, I realize how almost heroic it is that I went out for dinner alone with a two-year-old while I was in actual early labor.

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Christian: A Birth Story

By: Gloria Miles

Every mother, every child, has a birth story. This is mine; this is the story of my firstborn, the story of transformation into motherhood. Birth, motherhood, all of it, transforms people into clearer versions of themselves. I learned things about myself through the pregnancy, labor, and the days that followed. I was stronger and more vulnerable, impatient and more stubborn than I thought I was. 

Labor began hours after I thought it had. I was sitting playing a card game with my husband and his friend as gentle contractions moved through my abdomen. I could feel them coming and going, but I didn't focus on them. 

Later that night, I couldn't sleep. At this point I'm not sure if it was discomfort or excitement or both. I advise women to go to sleep when contractions begin, but I know that most first-time mothers will ignore the advice. I was also the excited first time mother who could not possibly sleep with the thought of holding my brand new baby on the horizon. Of course, actual labor was hours away, and the actual birth wouldn't occur until later the next day. 

At the hospital, I was contracting away, but the first vaginal exam gave me bad news. I was only four centimeters, almost fully effaced. The obstetrician told me I had a choice: pitocin or I could go home. 

I chose pitocin. How could I go home? 

I had heard terrible things of pitocin, especially how severe contractions could get with it. With bated breath, I signed consent forms and a bag of pitocin was hung next to the IV fluids. I smiled broadly at the addition and looked at my husband. "Are you ready?" 

He laughed and told me, "I hope so." 

Six hours later, I was fully effaced and only at a five. The pitocin had strengthened the contractions, but they were very tolerable. The nurse stated it was time to break my water. I didn't want to, but I felt that since I had agreed to pitocin, that what followed needed to be agreed to as well. 

Two contractions after my waters were ruptured, the pain intensified in the center of my pelvis. My eyes grew huge and I looked over at my husband for help. The pain is still something I can't really explain. I squirmed on the bed, not knowing I could have stood up or walked around, even attached to the bags of fluid. After an hour, I was in tears and begging my husband to find the anesthesiologist. 

Mercifully, the anesthesiologist walked into the room ten minutes later.  The epidural was placed and my husband almost passed out after seeing the needle. He was carefully led to a couch where he sat for a few minutes to recover. I didn't care at all. The medicine ran through my back, my abdomen, my thighs. It felt warm and wonderful. I started drifting off and fell asleep. 

I was woken up a few hours later by a nurse. Another vaginal check. I was at a nine! Party time! I didn't realize that it would be a few more hours before I'd be ready to push. It took almost another hour to reach ten centimeters and then even more time for baby to "labor down." 

When the nurse stated I could begin pushing, I was energized. It was time to meet my baby! The first forty-five minutes or so, I pushed with intensity and for as long as I could hold my breath. The next forty-five minutes was much harder. I had napped for a few hours earlier, but aside from that, I had been awake for a day an a half. I hadn't eaten as per hospital protocol. I was very tired. 

"I can see the head!" my husband proclaimed.

I looked up at him, hopeful. 

"Yeah! When you push, you can see," he paused and held up his hands and made a small gap that could probably fit a quarter, "about that much. And then it goes away." 

I wished that I hadn't had the epidural. Then, I could have kicked him. 

This kid is never coming out, I thought. 

I pushed and pushed and pushed. It was only for an hour and a half, but I worked hard that entire time. 

"Do you want to feel the baby's head?" the nurse asked. 

I paused, reluctant to feel such a small area and discourage myself.  When I reached down and felt around, though, I felt so much of the baby's head.  The term is crowning and the nurse was buying time for the OB to arrive. I looked at her and grinned. He was almost here! I actually was moving my baby.  The worst part of having had such a heavy dose of epidural medicine was that there was no feed back of my progress. I could not feel anything aside from a general pressure that felt like it had always been there. 

The doctor walked in at that moment and smiled at me. "Looks like we're having a baby!" she exclaimed as she put on her gloves. "Give me just a second and to sit...and alright, go ahead and push with the next contraction." 

At this point I could tell when to push due to the tightness of my abdomen.  A few more pushes and she asked that I stop pushing.  

My husband told me that it was the weirdest sight, the doctor grabbing his son's head and (from his perspective) pulling until the body was somehow dislodged. 

I felt the strange relief of a body sliding out and heard a loud cry. I didn't even look, I collapsed back and closed my eyes. The cord was clamped and he was placed onto my chest. The abrupt placement of my baby and rough toweling roused me and I looked down. Dark gray eyes looked around and he cried again. I wanted to bat the women away. 

Leave us alone.

The pediatrician entered and looked at my baby while the obstetrician delivered my placenta. What a strange and hectic time! He immediately declared my son too pale and wanted him under the warmer. After some negotiation I bought about ten minutes to try skin-to-skin before resorting to the warmer.  He left.  By the time he came back, my son had pinked up and was beginning to root.  This satisfied the doctor and I was left alone. Well, as alone as someone in a hospital can be postpartum. 

My husband and I gazed at our first-born.  We thought he was perfect, cone-head and all. I couldn't believe that I could create such a beautiful creature. I didn't realize how perfect little newborn toes and fingers were, how delicious they smelled, and how arduous a process it could be.  It couldn't always be that involved, could it?  I let that linger in the back of my mind until I became pregnant with my second. 

The birth of my first was such a learning experience for me. I love it also, because it is the day that I met one of the first people that have changed my life in such a profound way. I didn't realize that while a mother is a teacher, a child teaches more; I'm still learning. 

 

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Guest Post: The Six Words that Changed Everything: AKA Why I Became a Doula

Guest Post: The Six Words that Changed Everything: AKA Why I Became a Doula

When I found out I was pregnant, it was not by surprise. That’s what conceiving via intrauterine insemination (IUI) will get you—thinking about nothing but getting pregnant every minute of the day from the moment you decided you were ‘ready’ to have a baby 2 years ago (those of who have been through infertility can understand this new kind of crazy).

What was a little bit of a surprise; however, was that once I was given the clear from our fertility doctor to move on to normal prenatal care, the choice of provider was up to me. Wait, you mean there are choices? My go-to plan was to find an Obstetrician (OB) who my friends and family recommended. But then I learned of a friend’s experience with a Midwife group, and that’s when everything changed.

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Birth Story: Lauren Patterson

Birth Story: Lauren Patterson

My Sweet Poppy,

Here I am with only one week left until your first birthday, and I’m finally sitting down to write your birth story. It’s not that this is something I haven’t thought about. Trust me, I’ve thought about it literally every single day. I always knew that the story of how you came into this world was something that I wanted to spend time capturing, so we would never ever forget a single detail. I think how I feel about your birth and how I feel about being your mom is so overwhelming that it’s been hard to actually sit down and do it. Your birth is the single most monumental event in my life and always will be. Here it goes...

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Birth Story: Brandy Buckel

Birth Story: Brandy Buckel

Brandy Buckel shares her inspirational birth story in this week's blog post. We thought it was beautiful to read! Thank you, Brandy, for allowing us to share your story with the world!

If you'd like to share your birth story on the RD blog, please email it to us at rdoulas@gmail.com, along with a few photos. We are looking for all kinds of birth stories to help normalize any kind of birthing experience in RVA!

Being a plus sized girl, when I was pregnant I was already overweight. I was 4'11 at 185lbs and wore a size 16. I didn't care about my weight when thinking about how I wanted to labor; it wasn't even an issue but I found out quick while at my first visit to the birthing center that weight DOES matter. I was told if my BMI hit 50 I wouldn't be able to labor at the center. I KNEW i wouldn't hit that but it still kind of hurt to hear.

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