Birth Stories: Samuel

Valerie, of Atlanta Mom of Three,  found me through my dear friend Mary Susan’s blog, Oh Bless Your Heart  and volunteered to share her birth story. This is her third birth and her first all natural, unmedicated birth. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to share her story!  This is from her blog post about his birth which can be found here. She wrote it as a letter to Samuel.

Want to share a birth story? Click on the “want to share your birth story” text to the right! I fervently believe that sharing narratives about birth demystifies and normalizes it, empowering women to make educated choices as a result. Now, without further ado, Valerie:

My little baby is turning ONE tomorrow!! And so I have, of course, been thinking about his birth. His was my first all natural childbirth. With Maggie and Joshua I had an epidural (as well as pain meds with Maggie). I knew I didn’t want to go that route again. By the time I felt Samuel kick for the first time (around 17 weeks), I had read and researched enough to know that I wanted to have him without medical interference or pain management of any kind. And wasn’t I smart to do it with my third baby (since he was bound to come fast)? ;)

I wrote this to him a few days after we got home from the hospital.

On Thursday morning at 10:30 I had my 39 week visit with Katie, one of my midwives. She offered to sweep my membranes and we both felt that it couldn’t hurt, since it would really only “send me over” if my body was truly ready. She checked my cervix first and found that I had dilated since last week from 3cm to 4cm- I was so excited! She did the sweep and we crossed our fingers.
We got back home at noon and I hadn’t felt anything but a few braxton hicks. I had lunch and did some things around the house. At 2:15 I reclined on the sofa and took about a 45 minute nap. I woke up to a moderately painful contraction, which gave me a tiny bit of hope that maybe something was going to happen. For the next little while I stayed on the couch having these contractions. Because of all the braxton hicks I’d had this pregnancy, I wasn’t timing them, just observing. Short– I knew they were too short to be labor contractions. Too close together too soon– labor contractions are supposed to get closer together over time. Manageable– No way were these intense labor pains, more like strong menstrual cramps.
At 3:30, I started timing them. They were indeed short: 30-35 seconds long, and 3-5 minutes apart. I decided that I would call your Aunt Natalie just to be on the safe side since they weren’t letting up no matter what position I got into, and they were still hurting. I asked her if she would come over for dinner, that way she’d be here to stay with your brother and sister if we did need to go to the hospital or just have a nice visit if we didn’t (I still felt unlikely at this point, but I couldn’t ignore the nagging feeling I had that I make sure she came over anyway). She said she could be over by 5:00.
When I got off the phone I called your Daddy. I didn’t want to get him too excited so I didn’t say anything about the contractions or about my sister coming over. He said he was on his way home from work. Oh my goodness, I was so relieved!
My contractions were still the same, short and close together. I didn’t know what to do at this point. Should I take it easy or do some walking? I posted this question on my due date club message board, but as soon as I posted it, I realized I didn’t want to wait for responses. So I popped in my Leslie Sansone power walking dvd and started walking! I fast walked (plus sidestepped, knee-lifted, and kicked), with remote in hand. Every 3 minutes I had to pause it, sit on the couch and breathe through the contraction. Total, I exercised for 21 minutes at which point I had to stop because it was getting too intense (This took me a little over 40 minutes to do because of all the breaks).
Daddy got home and I told him what was going on, so he took a shower and got ready in the event that things progressed. Natalie arrived and by this time I was hurting worse with each contraction, and they were more like 45 seconds long. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the most painful), they were like a 4.5. At 5:30 she left to pick up dinner for the four of them. While she was gone the pain picked up significantly. By 6:00 I was squatting/kneeling while hanging my arms from the kitchen counter and semi-moaning through the pain, which was now about a 6 on the pain scale. She got back and they all ate. I had two small pieces of buttered french bread , because now I knew for sure that I was in labor and I would need the energy. At 6:10 the contractions were so intense that I was instructing Daddy to load the car and “We need to leave NOW!!” I called the doctor’s after hours number and told them quickly what was going on. We kissed your brother and sister goodbye and I assured them that this was not a false alarm and I would soon have you-their new little brother!
When we got in the car at 6:20, one of the midwives called me back and I told her we were on our way to the hospital. She heard me have a contraction while on the phone and I’m sure it was very evident that I was really laboring. The ride to the hospital was both short and long; short because I was so distracted by the contractions (which were now only a minute or two apart and about a 7 on the pain scale), and long because I felt like things were happening too fast and I just wanted to be there instead of giving birth in the car! The last few contractions that I had before getting there actually made me begin to cry when they were done. That was a weird sensation because I didn’t feel sad. I guess it was an overwhelmed cry.
When we arrived at the hospital I knew for a fact that I couldn’t walk (and I have NEVER felt that before) so Daddy pulls up to the door, runs in and comes back out with a wheelchair. He gets me out, helps me into the wheelchair and goes to park the car. As soon as he pulled away, another contraction hit hard and I had to brace myself with the arms of the wheelchair and moan/deep breathe through it. Well, when it ends I look up and see a man, looking very concerned walking toward me from a group of four people (all equally looking freaked out). I then realize how it must look: dropped off in full-blown labor, and the guy drives away! Haha. So he comes over and asks me if I’m ok and and I say “No, I’m in labor, but I will be ok. My husband has just gone to park the car.” He looks at me like he’s wondering if it’s true! Well, here comes Daddy walking toward us and I see relief on the man’s face. Lol
Daddy quickly takes me into the hospital and we turn the corner to where the ALWAYS empty elevators are. But there are, like, seven people standing there waiting for it! What?! The elevator doors open and everyone gets on. There is one spot left. As we are walking toward the door to get on too, a woman with a cart of some sort starts to walk faster toward it (as if to beat us there!) Daddy goes “Sorry lady, woman in labor here!” and gets us on instead. Go Stephen!
While going up three floors, I have another contraction in a FULL elevator. If I hadn’t been hurting so much (an 8 at this point on the pain scale) I might have been embarrased-but I assure you, I was not.
So we get to the maternity floor. Doors open and I kid you not, it was full of people when it is normally very light. I am STARED at and then, of course, another giant contraction! It was like the parting of the Red Sea in there with nearly every person watching us go by! Lol
We get to the nurses station and they very quickly put us in our room which had been prepared since the midwife called about us coming in advance. I get changed into a gown, and she checks me (in between contractions) and I am 8cm dilated! No wonder the pain is an 8, right?! My arm band says we got there at 7:09 pm. I let them hook me up to the monitors but I couldn’t stay on my back for long because it was just too intense and I needed to feel like I had some control. They put the squat bar on the bed for me and I was able to kneel on the bed and grip the bar (and hang on it between contractions). The contractions were now very, very close together and a 9 on the pain scale. I started having the very real thought that “I cannot do this!” Which, I then remembered reading means you are almost done!! So after each one, I would think it and then I would remember that I AM doing it and that I’m almost done. At 7:30 she checks me again and I am a 9 with an anterior lip (meaning just a tiny bit more of the cervix needs to go). I stayed in the position I was in at the bar for about ten more minutes and then I start feeling the need to push . I ask her to check me again because I want to push, but do it safely. She checks and tells me to go ahead. I waited until the next contraction and pushed. Your head came down fast and it really burned, but as soon as the contraction ended, you went back in a little bit. I pushed one more time in that position, but then my legs were feeling really uncomfortable and everyone helped me onto my side. This felt much better. I grabbed the sidebar to brace myself and with the next few contractions, I pushed. I was making progress. A few more and then my water broke. Then the doctor encouraged me to push again with the next one but to continue holding the push for longer if I could. So that’s exactly what I did. I gave it everything I had and out came your head! She had to manuever one of your shoulders a little but then she asked me to push again. The rest of you came out! You were born at 8:08 pm- 59 minutes after arriving at the hospital.
The doctor placed you on me immediately following the birth. You was an 8/9 using the afterbirth rating system they go by. They suctioned your mouth and nose and you began to cry loudly. Daddy cut the cord. After holding you for a few minutes more, a nurse checked you over in the baby warmer with Daddy standing right there with you. I delivered the placenta (wow! was that thing big!) I had requested no episiotomy in my birth plan, and I did end up tearing; she said it was a second degree tear, so I had to get stitches. When she was finished with me, and the baby nurse was finished as well, I was handed little Samuel Frederick. You weighed 7lbs12oz and measured 20 inches long. I nursed you for the first time and it went great; you latched right on.
All in all, it couldn’t have gone much better. The timing of Daddy and Aunt Natalie being there was perfect! My labor and delivery was very intense but I am so happy that I was able to have the natural childbirth that I wanted, and you were brought into the world with no drugs whatsoever. The only thing I wish could have been different is that we had been there in time for me to receive antiobiotics for the GBS. Because we weren’t there in time, you and I had to stay for two days instead of one. But, on the other hand, it was very nice to spend so much of my time at home where I was free to move how I needed to without any interference while laboring.

Thank you again, Valerie, for sharing your birth story. I am so glad that Samuel came when he did and that you and he fared well!


Birth Stories: Baby Graham

A friend of mine was kind enough to mention to her mommy group that I was looking for birth stories, so here is a story of a positive induction experience.

I went to my regualar OB check-up on Thursday 5/7. That Monday, my amniotic fluid level had been at the low end of normal (7 centimeters) so I knew there was a possibility that we could be meeting our little guy sooner than later. The baby passed his biophysical profile and my amniotic fluid level had increased to a 12! Probably the product of modified bedrest, but either way we were very encouraged and it seemed like the baby was going to be able to pick his own birthday. The nurse had forgotten to check my blood pressure when I arrived so she checked it after my ultrasound and it was slightly elevated – 146/93. I had consistently had readings of 110-115/70-75 throughout the whole pregnancy so they were not happy with the increase. Dr. Sesslar came in and re-checked my BP and it was even higher. She explained that at 39 weeks, the risk of keeping the baby in outweigh the risks of delivering him a week before my due date. He was officially “term” anyway. She checked my cervix and found no signs that my body was getting ready for labor – cervix was closed and thick (no dilation or effacement) and the baby was still quite high. She wanted to go ahead and induce me anyway because of the elevated BP, but she did admit that my chances of failing to progress, and winding up with a c-section, were higher because my cervix was not favorable and my Bishop’s score was low. She said we would do a slow induction since my body really wasn’t ready to have the baby yet. She told us it could take days and days and may end in a c-section anyway. I was sent home get my things and then I was to proceed to the hosptial for the induction.

I was not handling this news well at all. I was so excited that my fluid levels had increased that I didn’t see this coming. Not to mention Dr. Doom & Gloom’s positive outlook made me feel like there was no way I could naturally deliver this baby. Anyway, I held myself together long enough to get out of the office and into the car and then proceeded to lose it. There were so many thoughts going through my head all mixed up and it was very hard to stay calm. I was worried about the possibility of a c-section, yeah, but I was also worried that I was going to labor for days only to wind up with one anyway so I felt like “why even bother trying for a vaginal delivery?” I was terrified that we were taking the baby too soon and that he wouldn’t be ready. I was afraid that my plans to labor as long as possible without pain meds were out the window because I was going to be on Pitocin. We also had a sick cat that needed to be medicated daily and I really had no one to help me take care of her while I was in the hospital.

When we got home from the doctor’s office, Eric made us some lunch and I tried to calm down but all I could do was cry. I was trying to throw our stuff together for the hospital and I kept getting side-tracked with anxiety. I honestly wanted to call the doctor and tell her I didn’t think it was time yet and I would go on bedrest or just stay in the hospital but I was terrified of induction and I didn’t want to do it. I just wanted to run away and keep the baby inside where I felt he was safe. I was so afraid we were forcing him out too early even though I knew I was term.

We made arrangements for the boys and got the car packed. Set the animals up with all they needed and got ready to go. I felt a glimmer of excitement knowing that the next time I would come home it would be as a mother. 🙂

We arrived at the hospital around 3:30PM on Thursday and got set up in a room. I was hooked up to the monitors and baby looked great. To everyone’s surprise, I was having little sporadic contractions which was a good sign. They used a med called Cervidil to try and ripen my cervix and ready it for the Pitocin. Cervidil is placed behind the cervix and left there for 12-hours. I was told to be prepared that it can sometimes take as many as three rounds of Cervidil to get the cervix favorable enough for Pitocin. The first round was placed at 8:00PM and my cervix was “long and closed.” We watched some TV, ate dinner and relaxed before trying to get some sleep. This was a “pre-labor” room and didn’t have the amentities of a real delivery room so poor Eric had so sleep all scrunched up in a chair. We tried sharing the bed, but once I started feeling my contractions around 2:00AM, that didn’t work anymore. 🙂 I was finally accepting that this was what was best for me and the baby and that I was going to get through it no matter what.

The next morning (Friday) at 8:00AM they removed the Cervidil. My cervix was a fingertip dilated but I was not effacing at all. They gave me a few hours to eat and shower before placing the second round of Cervidil at 10:00AM. It was a long day. I was actively having contractions. They were not “painful” but they definitely didn’t feel good and to make me feel even worse, more than half of them were not even being picked up by the monitors! Apparently that was due to the placement of the monitor probe and not because they weren’t really happening, haha. My doctor called and had them remove the Cervidil around 8:45PM on Friday to check for progress. I was 2 centimeters and 50% effaced! Whoa. It was getting real now. My body was responding, I was having contractions, making progress and I was going to have a baby! At this point, the contractions were getting more painful. My doctor wanted to wait on the Pitocin because the Cervidil had thrown me into labor with regular contractions every 5 minutes apart. I was left to labor on my own until 11:30PM at which point I was 3 centimeters and still 50% effaced. Pitocin was started at midnight and not long after I requested pain meds. I still felt the contractions just as much, but I was able to relax more and get some rest. I layed semi-reclined with my legs in a squatting position to try and open my pelvis because baby was still quite high. With each contraction, I made an effort to relax my body and let the contractions do their job. By 2:30AM on Saturday, things were getting more painful and I requested more meds. They did nothing for the contractions, which by this point were feeling like the most violent abdominal cramps ever, but I was again able to relax more.

At 4:30AM on Saturday we were moved to a “real” labor and delivery room and I requested an epidural. At 4:45AM the anesthesiologist came in and placed my epidural. It was bizarre; felt very strange. As he was injecting meds, my water broke. I knew when that happened that things were on their way. My body was cooperating and it was ready to have this baby. Things are really a blur from here until delivery. I was now in “active labor.” Dr. Sesslar came in at 7:00AM and checked me. I was 4 centimeters, 100% effaced and baby was at a “0” station (meaning his head had engaged and he was no longer floating up high :-). I began feeling a TON of pressure. The contractions were not painful anymore thanks to the epidural, but the pressure was killing me. They checked at 8:00AM and I was up to 6 centimeters and they nurse estimated it would be another 5 hours or so – Graham had other plans! By 9:00AM the pressure was so uncomfortable that they checked again and I was 8 centimeters. The pressure got intense but I could feel the baby moving. I tried to savor those last movements. Eric was helping me through the contractions and at 9:45AM I told him “I think I need a nurse.” They checked again and I was complete at 10 centimeters. The nurse told me to breathe through the contractions and they were going to set up the room. A minute later another nurse came in and told me I could bear down during contractions to relieve pressure if I wanted. Well my “practice pushes” had the baby crowning in three minutes. I was told to stop pushing which, at this point was torture as I knew he was RIGHT THERE. I overheard the nurses say the doctor was 15-20 minutes away and I knew I couldn’t wait that long. A few minutes later the doctor appeared (thank God they were wrong on the time estimate!) and they got set up. I pushed through two contractions and in one big push Graham was born at 10:10AM.

I can’t even describe how I felt. I saw him and heard him cry and I was amazed he was out already. It seemed so easy! I mean it hurt like hell since my epidural had almost completely worn off, but it was quick and he was crying and I was crying and Eric was beaming and life was perfect. The doctor put the baby on my belly and I couldn’t believe I was looking at the little person that had been kicking and nudging me for so many months. His APGAR scores were 9 and 9.

He is so much more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. It is beyond amazing to me that he grew inside me for all that time. He is the perfect combination of me and Eric and I love that. When I look at him, I see Eric in so many ways. I knew I loved him already, but I had no idea how much until he was laying on my chest all gooey and screaming his little head off. He immediately looked right into my eyes and that was the single most amazing moment of my life. I am balling my eyes out just writing about it! Every time he looks at me, my heart melts.

Because the delivery was so fast, I did wind up with a 2nd degree tear, but recovery has been extremely bearable. After delivery, Graham’s blood sugar was low. He was given formula. This was the beginning of our breastfeeding troubles. 😦 We are still working on it but I am currently pumping and feeding him expressed milk with a bottle. This is definitely preferrable to formula, in my eyes anyway, but it’s not ideal. He was latching well for a few days but I still had to continue to supplement formula and he has definitely figured out it’s easier to get milk from a bottle than breast. My milk has come in now so no more formula (it wasn’t working for his tummy anyway) but I have to pump every 2 hours (not fun) to try and establish my supply.

Me again! I’m so glad this mom felt great about her induction. The issues with breastfeeding might be connected to delayed milk drop, because her body had to be made ready to birth, and possibly to the epidural. If you have trouble breastfeeding, contact a Lactation Consultant for help!

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