Thursday, January 28, 2010


Our Birth Story

On January 4th at 5:30 am, I awoke to a gushing of water and thought for a split second that I had wet the bed. As I waddled to the bathroom, liquid continuing to pour down my legs, I smiled to myself knowing that this was going to be the most incredible day of my life.

I sat on the toilet and let the water continue to gush debating whether or not to wake my snoring husband for about ten seconds before yelling, "Honey I'm pretty sure my water just broke." To which he jumped out of bed and asked, "Are you sure?" So I told him to grab a towel and clean up the mess I had made walking to the bathroom if he didn't think I was sure.

We debated what to do next for a few minutes and then decided we should go back to sleep. Yeah right!!! We were way too excited to sleep so we lay in bed for about an hour and then called our parents and told them to hurry and pack up, that it was time. At 8:00 I called our midwife, Karni and said, "I think we're having a baby today." She very calmly replied, "Call me when your contractions move to the next level." What the heck does that mean, I thought.

Meanwhile Jon had decided to go to work for a few hours because I was hardly having contractions. Of course, around 8:30 my contractions started to pick up and were coming every three and a half minutes. Being a novice laborer, I had no idea how serious or not serious things were at this point so what did I do? I panicked and called Jon immediately asking him to come home ASAP. Then I called my best friend, Lisa nearly in tears and asked her to skip work and come over to which she graciously agreed and offered to stop by the store for electrolite drinks and fresh fruit.

So Jon came home and got to work preparing the house for the home birth we had been planning over the past 10 months. Lisa arrived with groceries and immediately started checking things off of the to do list I had made for the moms since neither of them were expected to arrive until about one or two o'clock. By eleven we were ready and waiting for the baby so Jon and I left for a nice long beach walk. About half way through our walk my contractions were getting to the point where I couldn't walk or talk through them and they were only about two to two-and-a-half minutes apart so we decided to head back. We got home at about twelve thirty and I lay down for a much needed nap. One by one our parents arrived and by two o'clock the house was full of loved ones in eager anticipation of the baby's birth.

Jon called Karni again to give her an update and she said she would come by around 4:00 to check me. I walked around the back yard a little bit, ate some lunch, and then lay down for a while to save my strength. When Karni checked me at 4:00 I was 90% effaced but only one centimeter dilated. I couldn't believe it!!!! But I was still hopeful that we would get there naturally and at home. She prescribed 30 minutes of rest on each side followed by an hour walk and then a hot shower with some nipple stimulation, then the rest on each side again. She left and told us to call her once we had done all of those things and she would come back.

Keep in mind that we were working against a ticking clock. Typically, once your water breaks modern medicine dictates that you get the baby out after 24 hours.

So Karni returned at 10:00 pm and checked me again only to find that my progress was minimal. I was at 2 cm. For the next two hours we were on walking and nipple stimulation and by 12:00 midnight, I was at 3 cm. Things just weren't progressing fast enough and my contractions were very unorthodox so we had to do something to improve the situation. Karni suggested castor oil. So we sent my dad to the only 24 hour pharmacy in Ventura to retrieve two bottles of the stuff.

The idea was for me to drink one whole bottle in one fell swoop. The stuff is the thickest oil I've ever seen, it's the consistency of motor oil. I plugged my nose, got the juice chaser ready and then chugged all 4 ounces down. Thankfully Jon was ready with a trash can because it all came back up in about five seconds. So for the second bottle we took it spoonful by spoonful at 15 minute intervals which seemed to work. The idea behind the castor oil is that it creates such bad stomach cramps, it forces your contractions to intensify thereby improving their effectiveness. Our goal was to get me dilated. Unfortunately, the only thing it did was clean me out and when 6:00 am Tuesday morning came around, I was only at 4 centimeters.

And so my dream of having a peaceful and cozy home birth had come and gone. Jon started packing a bag for me while I took a shower. That was my time to grieve the "loss" of my homebirth. I cried, felt defeated, frustrated, angry and just plain sad that our little one would not get to enter the world in the peaceful, gentle arms of our home. In our birthing classes we were taught that the baby would be born where it needed to be born and that it was important to make educated decisions about changes in your birth plan, to grieve for what you may have to change, but then to adapt quickly and always be looking forward. So I called for my mom and sat in a chair while she dried my hair and I got my attitude adjusted for our trip to the hospital.

At 7:30, Jon and I left by ourselves to go check into the hospital. Our goal was to get me some pitocin to help my contractions without being pumped full of antibiotics and epidural. Karni had warned us that it would take a while for the staff at the hospital to "catch up" to where we were because they hadn't been with us for the past 24 hours. She was right. It wasn't until about noon that I finally got my pitocin drip set up. Miraculously we were able to avoid the antibiotics though I was hooked up to a pulse ox, a fetal monitor, an IV with two bags and my ass was hanging out of the back of a hospital gown. It certainly wasn't the comforts of home!

After a nice visit from my parents and Jon's mom, they started my pitocin drip at a level 2 and Karni had invisioned that we'd get to about a 4 and then have the baby by dinner time. It didn't exactly play out that way. At 4:00 pm my Pitocin was up to 13, my contractions were crazy intense, and I was only dilated to 4 cm. Frustrating to say the least.

Pitocin is a synthetic hormone for Oxytocin which is what the body produces naturally to get the contractions going. The difference is that the Pitocin contractions are much stronger which is why most women who are induced with Pitocin end up with an epidural. But I was determined at this point to have my baby drug free, or so I thought.

At 6:00 pm the nurses were switching shifts and our new nurse happened to be my prenatal yoga instructor and very much an advocate of natural childbirth. Her name is Sally and she is a charming Irish woman. She immediately checked me and I was at a 6. So not ideal, but progress was being made. However, I was in so much pain from those nasty pitocin contractions that I began to cry and feel totally defeated yet again. I turned to my loving husband who had been by my side at this point for a day and a half and said, "I don't know if I can do this anymore." Code for please let me cave and have the epidural. He ever so calmly said, can you try to make it for one more hour? I looked into his eyes and found the strength I needed to press on without the pain medication.

He and Karni took turns comforting me through the gnarliest contractions and some vomiting for the next two hours. The vomiting was a good sign as it typically means "transition" which the moving from 7 to 10 cm. at 8:30 I was at a 9.5 and it was finally time to start some practice pushing. There's no such thing! There's pushing and not pushing, but you can't really practice push.

The so called practice pushing melted into pushing. Minutes turned into hours. I had Jon on one side, Karni on the other and Sally calling tactics in the middle. It was incredibly hard work for all of us, but especially after two days with no sleep and the pitocin at 21. Finally, at 11:30pm they called the doctor in. I was hyperventilating, mine and babies heart rates were dropping and there was no time to waste. Sally leaned over to me and told me that it was really important that with the next few pushes we get the baby out. I nodded, closed my eyes for a quick prayer and chat with my baby and then as I felt the next contraction coming on, I pushed with all my might.

I felt the baby slither out and eyes still closed, I heard Jonathan say, "it's a boy!". As I lifted my head to look down, they lay the baby on my bare chest, rubbed him down with a warm towel, wrapped him in a warm blanket and then he let out a beautiful newborn cry as if to say, "we did it Mama, I'm here." Jon and I stared in awe of this amazing miracle. He kissed my forehead as we exchanged I love you's.

If you had asked me two seconds before he was born if it was worth it, my answer would have been no way. But the instant I saw him, it was worth every second.