Matthew’s Birth Story


It was Friday, April 17, 2015. I had stayed up late making a pennant banner for the nursery and had then gone to bed around midnight. At 1:30am, I woke up feeling like I needed to use the bathroom very badly. As I got out of bed, my water broke. “Seriously?? I’ve only had 1.5 hours of sleep!” I wasn’t sure at first because it was just a little bit, and nothing more came out in the toilet. I decided to assume it wasn’t and just go back to bed since I was really really tired, but as I climbed back into bed there was more water and then the shaking started. At that point I knew for sure that my water had broken because when my water broke at the beginning of labor with Alex I’d had that same, uncontrollable shaking. I wrapped up in the covers and tried to get the shaking to stop, but I couldn’t. I was shaking the entire bed and was afraid I’d wake up Dennis and Alex. (Alex was sleeping in our bed that night because Dennis had painted his room the evening before.) I decided I should at least send a text to our midwife, Angela, to let her know what was happening, but I was shaking so much that I could barely type the words! Shortly after I sent the text, she called me. I answered the phone, trying to speak quietly. She told me to just try to get some sleep and to call her when my labor started. She said most women go into labor within 24 hours of their water breaking. As I was about to hang up the phone, Dennis woke up. “Huh, what’s going on? Who are you talking to?” he asked. “Babe, my water broke. I was talking to Angela.” I explained. “WHAT???!!!” he nearly shouted. “Honey, calm down.” I laughed.

I had expected contractions to start right away since that’s the way it happened with my first labor. After 40 minutes, the shaking finally stopped, but contractions still hadn’t started. FINALLY I had a contraction, just a little one. I tried to go back to sleep, having weak, irregular contractions. I think it took me 3 full hours to go back to sleep, and I could hear Dennis’ regular breathing as he slept. “How can he be so calm??” I was so excited, anxious, on high alert. I stayed in bed the rest of the night and most of the next morning, waking up every once in awhile when I had a stronger contraction, but they were never consistent and it was very frustrating. I ate a bit of food and checked in with Angela a couple of times. She kept telling me to try to rest while I could. I tried, but I wasn’t really sleeping and labor wasn’t really starting.


Finally, at 11:30 am, I decided that I’d had enough of being in bed. I wanted to have this baby already!! I got out of bed and got dressed for the day. I even put on makeup! Almost immediately my contractions got stronger, and some of them were longer. I started using a contraction timer as soon as I got out of bed so that I could periodically send Angela screen shots of what was going on. I began walking around the house, outside in the yard, trying to stay moving as much as possible. During contractions I felt like I wanted to stay standing, but to lean slightly forward against a wall and move my hips from side to side. For a long time all I needed to do to handle the contraction was to take deep breaths. Although the contractions never really became consistent as far as duration or frequency, I could tell that labor was progressing when they began to feel more intense and I needed to begin vocalizing during them.


At one point Angela called and talked to me. She asked if I thought I was in active labor yet. I said I didn’t know. She asked if I could talk during a contraction, and I told her that I certainly didn’t want to. I know that I felt a little bit “out of it” starting shortly after I got out of bed, and that feeling steadily intensified over time. I tried to keep myself in labor land and just let the rest of the world float by me. It was interesting to me to note that any interruptions, like the phone call from Angela, would noticeably disrupt the flow of my labor. I’d have an extra long break between contractions, or I’d have a rather weak contraction next. I was aware of Dennis and my mom shushing Alex a few times saying, “Be quiet or you’ll bother Mommy”, but I honestly didn’t really notice any of his noise or care. It all just felt like it was far in the distance because I was so focused on the task of labor.

My chart says that I was in active labor by 1:00PM. Sometime around then contractions got rather intense and I needed very much to lean on Dennis or a wall and sway until each one was over. I stayed very calm and relaxed between them, drinking protein shake and coconut water to keep myself hydrated. I also made sure to use the bathroom frequently, remembering how I waited too long in my labor with Alex and then had to have a catheter. I was texting a couple of my friends frequently during much of my labor, giving them a play by play. That was fun.

At one point, I found myself in the nursery, sitting on the exercise ball in between contractions and then standing up to lean on the wall during them. I sent a screen shot to Angela showing that my contractions were coming as close as 3 minutes, and she texted back that she and Cassidy were just leaving Portland and were on their way to our house. I was glad and felt like I was ready for them to be there. As soon as I knew that they’d driven up, I stopped timing contractions, stopped texting, and put my phone down. It was about 2:30PM. From there on out things noticeably ramped up and I really got down to business. Our midwives came in, took my vitals, and set up their things. My labor took a pause for a bit, but the nursery felt serene and cool and sort of away from the busyness, so I was able to stay focused. I remember starting to make some pretty loud moaning noises during contractions, and feeling very uncomfortable if I found myself sitting during one. Pretty soon Dennis asked our midwives if it was time to fill the bath and they said yes. I was relieved and really anticipated getting into it.

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I got into the bath and insisted that Dennis give me my bikini top so I could actually show the pictures to people this time. I sat sort of reclining on my side at first. Dennis asked me questions a few times, like did I want music and did I want my candle lit. I was a woman of rather few words by then, so I basically just said “No, I just want to get this baby out!”. He brought me protein shake and coconut water to drink, and I think I did a great job staying hydrated. Our midwives had asked if I wanted hands on me for support, and I said no. I knew too much touching would make me feel hot and claustrophobic. I did, however, anticipate Dennis’ hand on my shoulder or back during each contraction. It seemed like he almost always made it there when he heard another one starting, and that support of just knowing he was there was perfect. It was exactly what I needed. Nothing more, nothing less. Our third midwife arrived not long after I got into the tub, a fact I was only vaguely aware of.


Alex was in the bathroom with Dennis some of the time when I was laboring in the tub. I was getting pretty loud by then, involuntarily, and he got scared and cried a few times. I’d talked with him beforehand about the noises and stuff, so I just reassured him between contractions that I was ok and that the noises helped me feel better and were helping to get the baby out. He really did very well, I thought.

At one point I knew I must be in transition. I had such a strong feeling of just wanting the whole thing to be over, and each contraction was extremely intense. I was reaching the peak of what I felt I could handle. I knew that probably meant I was at transition, but it just felt like it lasted so long. I remember reading my labor inspirations that I had in little frames beside the tub a lot during this time, especially the ones about fear and trusting God, because I did feel afraid and not at all sure how I was going to get this baby out. My experience of not being able to push Alex out prevented me from feeling completely confident, but there was nothing I could do but keep going and trust that everything would work out. I finally shifted positions so that I was kneeling in the tub and leaning against the side. That really opened up my pelvis and made that contraction very intense, but it must have been just the thing to get my through transition because it seemed like the very next contraction was when my body just began to push. My noises changed abruptly from a moan to a huge grunt, and my midwives could tell that I’d begun to push. It was 4:13PM.

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Pushing was crazy. Immediately I could tell how different it was from pushing with Alex’s birth. I felt my baby move down. There was no denying it. It was exhilarating and scary all at the same time. And I couldn’t stop it. Again my noises scared Alex, and I told him between contractions that it was “just like pushing out a really big poop!”. The things we say while we’re in labor….. I had been facing the part of the tub that was open to the rest of the room, and they had me move so that my bottom was facing that way instead. It was so tough to move. I mean, I felt glued to one spot and position, but I was able to do it. I wondered where my mom was, and wanted to tell someone to make sure she was there so she didn’t miss the birth, but I couldn’t talk. By then I was panting out loud between each contraction. It was the most intense thing I had ever felt in my life and it consumed my existence. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was hard work.

From there on out it was just a series of fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime moments one right after the other. The first was when Dennis said something and Angela replied with, “Oh, this baby’s coming OUT!” I heard him say “Really??” with so much joy and emotion and she replied “OH yeah!” I was ecstatic! The next grand moment came when someone suggested I see if I could feel my baby with my hand. I put a hand between my legs and WOAH! I COULD FEEL SOOOO MUCH OF MY BABY’S HEAD! It felt soft and squishy and then I realized that I was feeling a bunch of hair floating around in the warm water. Let me tell you, THAT was extremely motivating, and I pushed with even more energy than before. Each time I pushed I could feel my baby move down, and when each push ended the baby would move back up a little bit, but each time the baby was a little further down and a little further down. Finally my perineum really began to bulge, and Angela urged me to go slowly to let my tissues stretch. I was able to support my tissues, both in front and back, with my own hands as the baby came down into a full crown. It did burn, that famed “ring of fire” that always sounds so scary when veteran birthers recount their adventures. It didn’t last for long, though, because with one GRAND contraction I pushed my baby’s head out INTO MY OWN HANDS! Let me tell you, that was another fantastic moment and one of the greatest of my life! Angela told me to still go slowly and wait for another contraction before pushing again, but that contraction came the very next minute, and I pushed my baby’s body out into the warm water!!!

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I flipped over, the baby was passed between legs and up to my chest, and there was my prize. Best. Moment. Ever. I couldn’t believe it! And that’s about all I could say, over and over: “Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe it! Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it!” I’d had my home water birth, something I’d been dreaming of doing for almost a decade, something that I’d been unable to have with Alex’s birth, something I’d been scared might not happen this time, BUT IT HAD! I loved that Alex was right there to see his little brother born. I’ll never forget looking up at him and seeing the look of shock and wonder on his face! And yes, my mother had found her way into the room in time. And of course Dennis was right there, helping to lift our baby out of the water to take his first breath of air. Everyone was there, and it was perfection.


I checked between the baby’s legs- A BOY!!! Matthew David was his name and he was born at 4:49PM after just 36 minutes of pushing! He was breathing right away, but we had to rub him a little to get a really hearty cry and get him to pink up. I hadn’t been able to tolerate having the water very warm while pushing, so we moved us out of the tub right away so we could get Matthew dry and warm. As soon as I sat down on the bed I felt a gush of blood as my placenta detached. I pushed it out easily, about 5 minutes after Matthew had been born! My bleeding was minimal. No hemorrhaging this time, thank you, God!


The hours following Matthew’s birth were full of a unique joy. It took me days to wrap my mind around what had happened! I did have a 2nd degree tear along my former episiotomy line, but it was really clean and straightforward and my midwives were able to stitch it up just fine. The procedure really didn’t hurt at all, and everything healed up very well. I didn’t even having burning the first time I peed! I did have very bad after pains as my uterus shrank back down to size, but that is to be expected with 2nd babies. Matthew latched and breastfed within 30 minutes of birth, which was such a relief to me!

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The whole labor and birth was so beautiful and natural, easy as births go, and felt so completely healing after the traumatic experience of Alex’s birth. Both of my birth stories are unique, but this one restored my faith in my body and in the birth process. I’ve never felt so strong and victorious in my life, and our little Matthew is a blessing. He has already brought so much joy to our family, and I can’t wait for all that the future holds.


Special thanks to my mother for most of the pictures taken during and after Matthew’s birth. It happened so quickly and we were so focused on the task at hand that we only got a handful with our camera.


Alex’s Birth Story

I’m so excited to finally be sharing Alex’s birth story!  He’s already nine weeks old, and I both can’t believe it’s been that long and can’t believe it’s only been that long.  Time definitely takes on another quality when you go into labor, and I’m convinced it doesn’t really return to normal afterward (probably because days and nights kind of merge together when you’re up every couple hours to nurse a newborn!).  I wanted to write and post this much sooner than now, but writing it felt overwhelming, probably because I was compelled to write down every detail.  It was also difficult to write because of my conflicting feelings in regards to the birth.

It’s super long (seriously long), but I’m not going to apologize.  I only mention it to warn you.  I wanted to write absolutely everything because this story is to make sure I don’t lose these memories.  I feel like they are seared into my brain, but I know my brain will eventually age (probably while I’m trying to keep up with a smart, energetic little boy) and they might grow hazy.

My birth experience with Alex was crazier than I ever could have imagined!  It was simultaneously everything I’d dreamed of and everything I’d feared.  Nothing, NOTHING could have prepared me for how it all turned out!

Note: Some of the pictures might be a little graphic, though I actually tried to use the least graphic ones.  Just a warning in case you’re squeamish or easily offended.  🙂


On Tuesday December 11 I decided to do some Christmas shopping.  Nothing crazy- just one store for a couple of hours.  We’d had our 39 week midwife visit the night before and discussed how we hoped our baby would be born when my family was here (they were supposed to all be here by the 19th, which was also the due date).  My midwife, Stacia, had joked that I probably shouldn’t go Christmas shopping for 10 hours or anything if I didn’t want to go into labor, but I thought only 2 hours should be safe.  The baby was very low and in a great position for birth, and our midwives both kept saying that they didn’t expect me to go much past my due date.  I had had a feeling for several months that the baby would be early, but thought it was probably just a paranoid reaction after being afraid of preterm labor when we thought my uterus might be bicornuate.

While in the store trying to find a sweater for my mom, I began to have some cramping that felt like menstrual cramps.  This had been happening on and off for a few weeks, but it seemed a little more intense this time.  I got a strong feeling that the baby was coming soon.  When I got into my car, the cramping stopped, but I still texted my mom that I felt like I was going to have a baby very soon and I got a little emotional on the drive home thinking about it.  We went to sushi with friends that night, per usual.  They asked me how I felt and I said I felt like I was about to have a baby. 🙂

Back at home that night, we decided to have sex.  We weren’t sure if we should since the last time we did (the previous Saturday morning), I’d had cramps all during church.  We knew that semen would soften my cervix and wanted to wait until our due date to have a lot of sex, but we figured a little beforehand would be fine…. Well, shortly after we’d done the deed, I began to have cramps again.  The baby was also kicking the crap out of my insides as the little dear liked to do each evening, so I got out of bed and came downstairs and made paper snowflakes (yes, that was the last “project” I did before giving birth, ha!).  After that, I read a birth blog where a woman had blogged several times during her labor, which was really cool and gave me the idea to blog while I was in labor too.  I finally crawled into bed around 1:30am, feeling really tired.

I was partially awake at 5:55am for some reason, enough to feel a “pop” from inside.  My first thought was: “I wonder if that was my water?  No, surely not!”  I thought about walking to the bathroom, but hesitated a few seconds, and that’s when I felt a gush of amniotic fluid.  And then another.  Good thing I’d put that shower curtain under my sheets!  I grabbed the towel I had stashed by the bed, shoved it between my legs, and waddled to the bathroom.  Water soaked the towel and went into the toilet.  There were flecks of pinkish white in it, but otherwise it was clear- good!  No meconium!  (I actually have a picture of what I saw in the toilet, but I decided to refrain from sharing, haha! You’re welcome.) I sat there for a moment, absorbing this turn of events.  I had never expected my water to break before contractions started, so I was surprised!  I also now knew that my family wouldn’t be present for the birth.  They were going to be so disappointed!  After giving myself a minute to adjust to what was happening, I crept back to our bed, still using the towel to absorb the periodic gushes of fluid.  I whispered “Dennis, my water broke.”  He struggled to escape a deep sleep, “Really??  Should I still go to work?”  he babbled.  “Uh… NO!”  Silly Dennis.  😛

I got back into bed and Dennis and I lay there holding each other for awhile, excited that this was finally happening but trying to remain calm.  For some reason I began to shake violently even though I didn’t feel cold or stressed.  I’m still not sure why it happened- maybe because of something in my amniotic fluid?  Contractions began almost right away as I lay there.  They felt a lot like the cramps I’d been having but had a definite beginning and end.  They were very mild, but I didn’t want Dennis to talk or move during them.  They started out 4 or 5 minutes apart and about 1 minute long and pretty much stayed that way all through early and active labor.  After about an hour, Dennis got up and called Stacia and Erin, our doula, to let them know what was going on.  I called my parents and sister and texted 3 of my friends to tell them it was go time!

We got out of bed and Dennis began to run around getting stuff ready.  The hose for the pool was still outside and frozen, so he had to thaw it out.  He also vacuumed (bless him!), something that always makes me feel better (clean floors- ah!).  I don’t remember exactly what I did- just some puttering around in my bathrobe and putting away clutter.  I found the pile of freshly-cut snowflakes from the night before and cleared them from the kitchen table.  I probably brushed my teeth.  I was so happy that we’d mostly gotten everything important done early.  I put on a big pad to catch the fluid that was still periodically gushing out.  I tried eating a little bit- some trail mix type stuff- but threw it up.  This was disappointing because I’d always planned to eat in early labor to keep my strength up.  😦  Stacia had told Dennis that since my water was broken I shouldn’t take any baths or get into the pool until active labor, but that I could take a shower.  I wanted to take one, but decided to wait until a little later (time morphed from there and I never took one).

From here on out I get a little fuzzy about times, but I do know that I wrote a blog around 9am, and I said that I was beginning to feel different even between contractions, kind of in a daze, and everything felt hazy.  Around 10am I was no longer able to text people.  I kept trying to figure out where in labor I might be based on how I was feeling and acting, though I didn’t want to assume I was farther along than I was.  When contractions first began, I felt completely normal unless I was actually having one, so I knew I was progressing past early labor when I began to feel so out of it all the time.  I was in the “labor land” that women always talk about!  Your body really does take you to another place when you’re in labor- a merciful place where time loses its meaning and pain is relative.  I made sure I let myself stay there and remain detached from everything else happening around me.


The entire time I was in labor, I felt the contractions mostly in my lower back/pelvis area.   The baby was not posterior, so I wasn’t having the dreaded “back labor”.  In retrospect, I think I was feeling my pelvic bones moving apart.  The contractions were definitely happening in front as well, but I really don’t remember feeling them there because the sensations in my back were way more intense.  It felt right to lean forward during each one, which is what I did for the whole labor.  I spent some time in the kitchen where a heating vent blew air onto my feet and felt really good.  I could lean forward there and rest my forearms on the counter and move my hips.  About this time I started having Dennis put some counter pressure on my lower back/pelvis- it felt so good!  For the rest of labor, I always wanted someone to give me counter pressure during contractions.

Sometime around noon I got incredibly sleepy.  I was glad I’d had a few hours of sleep the night before, but really really wished I’d gone to bed a little earlier!  I moved to the living room where I tried leaning on my birth ball covered in a towel.  After that I leaned on a big cushy chair and pretty much slept between contractions, which was totally crazy!  Dennis was in the kitchen making himself some lunch- something with leeks in it.  The smell of those cooking leeks filled the house.  It seemed like it was taking forever and I just kept thinking: when is he going to be done cooking those leeks so he can come push on my back?!  That seemed like the longest part of labor for me.


We weren’t sure when to call Stacia, Cynthia, and Erin to come over.  I wanted to labor alone with Dennis as long as possible.  Finally he called Stacia and she said she could come over just to check on the baby, and we said ok.  She arrived around 2:30 and ended up staying.  She sat with me during a few contractions and then told Dennis he might want to start filling up the pool.  I felt really excited when she said that because I figured it meant that I was in active labor or at least close.  I didn’t know for sure because I hadn’t had any internal checks yet, and I was ok with that.  Erin came around 3PM, I got into the pool around 3:30, and Cynthia, the assistant midwife, arrived shortly after.  The water felt so good!  I labored leaning on the side with my arms out of the water between contractions.  I think I was on my hands and knees a lot during contractions as well.   The temperature was sometimes perfect, sometimes too hot, and a couple times too chilly, but my birth team was great about adjusting the temperature when I asked them to.  We had a hose coming into the pool from the utility sink in our laundry room.


Whenever I had a contraction, my birth team would take turns providing counter pressure on my lower back/upper pelvis.  Between contractions, Erin got a bowl of cold water and put cool washcloths on my forehead, back, and neck.  That felt really good!  I was so warm and so absorbed in what I was doing that for the most part I didn’t want anyone to touch me.  That surprised me a little bit.  I just felt like I wanted to put absolutely all of my attention on what was happening inside my body.


The wee stocking I made 🙂

I hadn’t had any internal checks during my pregnancy or labor.  I hadn’t really wanted checks during labor because, if I wasn’t very dilated yet, I didn’t want to hear a disappointing number and feel discouraged.  I know that dilation doesn’t necessarily happen in a linear fashion, but in the midst of labor I might not remember that very rational thought and just think “Oh no, this is going to take forever- I can’t do it!”.  I could tell, though, that I was progressing just by the sounds I was making.  I’d begun to make sounds pretty early on, and the longer I was in labor the louder my sounds became.  I kept them low in tone, but I increased the volume and duration to match my contractions.  I remember at one point thinking, “Wow, I’m amazed that I’m able to make that loud of a sound for that long!”  I don’t think my contractions ever really got longer, except maybe at transition, but when they got more intense the period of time that I felt I needed to make a sound during one got longer, if that makes sense.  I was relieved that I didn’t feel too self-conscious to be vocal.  That was something I had worried about, along with whether or not I’d feel comfortable being naked in front of several people.  I needn’t have worried!  I had a bikini ready to wear in the pool, but when it came time to get in, I just threw my bathrobe out of the way and jumped right in; I didn’t care!

We videotaped some parts of the labor.  I haven't looked at it yet.

We videotaped some parts of the labor. I haven’t looked at it yet.

Dennis’ parents stopped by in the early evening with some food.  Stacia met them at the door and told them that it would be about an hour until Baby arrived!  I couldn’t believe that it was possible, but I was excited.  About this time as well, Stacia talked to us about whether my husband was going to be in or out of the pool to catch the baby.  She said she anticipated that there was still some time left before the birth, but she wanted to talk to us while I was still lucid.  I really didn’t feel very lucid at that point, but I figured she knew I’d be less lucid later on.  That was around 6:00 or 7:00pm.


Dennis was feeling really excited and was looking into my eyes and kissing me and telling me how happy he was that we were about to meet our baby and how well I was doing, how proud he was of me.  He was so emotional.  That’s one of my favorite parts of laboring in the pool, though at the time I was just so focused on the work that I still had to do that it was tough for me to join him in his pre-celebration.  Erin was also really happy and told me that this was just how she had imagined that labor would go for me.  I remember feeling really proud of myself for how I’d handled labor so far, but I just wanted to get to the end and THEN be really happy!  I had no idea what was still ahead (and neither did anyone else, apparently).


In most of the birth stories that I read in preparation for labor, I noticed a common theme in which each woman would reach a point, usually during transition, where she would doubt herself.  Sometimes those “I can’t do it” thoughts would only be in her head, but often she would vocalize them, usually to her husband.  A lot of women beg for the hospital or pain meds at this time.  I had warned my husband and family ahead of time that at some point I would probably say that it was too hard or that I couldn’t do it and that I just needed them to encourage me because I KNEW I COULD do it.  To my surprise, I never really reached the point where I felt that labor was impossible to handle.  I do think I know when I passed through transition, though, because I remember, after one particularly long and intense contraction, thinking “Wow, this is really intense!  I wonder how much more intense it’s going to get??”  There might have been a few contractions that were also closer together.


That must have been the most difficult part though because then I began to think about pushing.  I decided to try it a little on the next contraction, just to see how it felt.  It felt ok…  At that point, though, it was definitely just a thought, not an urge…. Until it WAS!  After a few contractions of “thinking” about pushing, I was definitely pushing and I Could. Not. Stop.  When they say that your body takes over and pushes and there is nothing you can do about it, they aren’t kidding!  I’ve heard it compared to vomiting and that’s a pretty apt description!  As long as I pushed, I felt ok.


After a few pushing contractions, Stacia told me that she could tell that the baby wasn’t moving down.  I still am amazed that she could tell so much from the outside.  She asked to check me and I agreed.  She found that I was about 9.5 centimeters dilated, but still had a cervical lip that I’d been pushing against and it was getting swollen.  She asked me to try NOT pushing for 3 contractions to see if it would move…..  WHAT??!!  Not push- are you KIDDING me??  I didn’t see how it was possible.  Erin explained to me, though, a way to breathe to keep myself from pushing.  It was a very very fast “hoo hoo hoo” sort of panting breathing.  So I tried it.  Man, not pushing was really rough, but I did the breathing and didn’t push.  I’d lose control a few times during each contraction and my body would push, but I’d just get things back under control and do the panting again.  Erin told me that’s exactly what I should be doing, so I felt really good about it.  Erin was so encouraging and supportive the entire time.  She was truly an emotional bolster, and I loved loved loved having her there!


After 3 contractions of the horrible not-pushing, Stacia checked me again.  The lip was still there.  She wanted to keep her hand inside during a contraction and try to push it out of the way, and I said ok.  I kind of floated on my back in the pool with Dennis holding me under the arms and Erin and Cynthia holding my legs.  Stacia kept apologizing for the unpleasantness of her hand inside me during a contraction, but the funny thing was that it really didn’t hurt at all.  If anything it felt better.  I still haven’t figured that one out….  In any case, it worked!  I was fully dilated!  Back to pushing, for real this time.  I think that was around 9:00 or 9:30?

At about 10:30, the baby still unfortunately had not moved down and Stacia suggested getting out of the pool to try other positions.  …….And this was the point at which my lovely straightforward home water birth turned into a very difficult complicated birth……….

I had to go to the bathroom anyway, so I tried pushing on the toilet for awhile.  Dennis sat in there in the dark with me, as did Erin for awhile.  Stacia came in periodically with a flashlight to check the progress.  There wasn’t much.  We didn’t know exactly why the baby wasn’t coming down.  Stacia said that when he did come out we’d probably see what had been the problem, a hand by the face or something like that.  Finally Stacia suggested that we go upstairs and have me try pushing in the McRobert’s position.  This is the only back-lying position she would ever recommend.  We had talked about it during our prenatal visits.  Basically, you lie there like a cockroach with your legs up and knees pulled back toward your head.  This position allows the birth canal to be open, but also lets you get some rest.  Stacia herself had given birth to both of her children in this position.


So we tried McRobert’s.  And we tried the birth stool.  And we tried the toilet again.  I was in the bathroom alone when I heard Stacia telling Dennis that they would have my try for a few more contractions and then begin talking about hospital transfer…  I felt so mad just hearing those words!!  At that point, I did NOT feel like giving up on my homebirth dream and I was DETERMINED to get that baby out right then and there!  When the next contraction came, I pushed and pushed and pushed for all I was worth and even tried to stretch my perineum with my fingers.  They came away bloody.  I didn’t know where they blood was coming from, and I didn’t care!  I just wanted to get the baby out, and my thoughts were no longer on the preservation of my body.  People, if willpower alone could have brought the baby into the world at that moment, it would have happened!  Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

I finally came out of the bathroom, feeling slightly defeated but still not ready to give up.  I was willing to do anything and everything that Stacia suggested.  I tried the McRobert’s position again, my birth team falling asleep between my contractions and then waking up to hold my legs while I pushed and pushed and pushed.  I remember kind of feeling badly for them.  It had been many hours at that point, and I knew they must be exhausted.  It’s odd that I was worried about them being exhausted, right?!  I remember Dennis on my left and Erin on my right, with Stacia and Cynthia down near the end of the bed.  Erin kept telling me how amazing I was, how strong I was.  She was really such a wonderful emotional support the entire time.  Dennis was trying to make sure I got some liquids in me between contractions.  I really had to pee, but hadn’t been able to for hours.  Finally Stacia put in a catheter just to drain my bladder.  I was pretty dehydrated at that point even though I was trying to take sips of water, tea, and an electrolyte drink whenever they were offered to me.

I pushed on hands and knees, I pushed leaning on the birthing ball, I pushed leaning on Dennis, I pushed in a full supported squat.  So many times everyone seemed really excited and told me they could see more of the baby’s head during a contraction- “We could see a lemon-sized portion of the head that time!  You are SO close! Push your baby out, Lydia!” –and I would keep trying to move the baby down.  I think they were really just trying to encourage me because Dennis told me later that it always looked about the same to him during those hours of pushing.

Yes, it had been hours and hours by now.  I remember looking at the clock and realizing that it was no longer December 12, but December 13.  My baby wouldn’t be born on 12-12-12.  Funny that this should be something to greatly disappoint me at that point, but somehow it made it all so much worse.

Finally Stacia began to talk to me about hospital transfer.  My birth plan had stated that I didn’t want any talk of transfer unless it was under the strong advisement of Stacia.  I knew that she had been thinking about it for awhile. I also knew that we had tried just about everything we could and that I was really exhausted and weak from not having eaten anything for almost 24 hours.  I had been keeping fluids down, but then I vomited during a contraction and lost what must have been everything in my stomach at that point.  It was time to get some help.  Stacia talked to us about what they would probably do at the hospital.  She said they would probably want to do an episiotomy and then assist the delivery with either vacuum or forceps.  She said she would do an episiotomy there in our home except she wasn’t sure that that was the only issue.  If the baby was stuck on bone and not just tissue (if he had an elbow up, for example, that was keeping him from coming through my pelvis), an episiotomy alone would not do the job.  The irony of actually asking my midwife for an episiotomy was not lost on me.  I remember her response to the episiotomy question when we first interviewed her: “Eckh!”

Once a transfer was decided on, everyone began to scurry around getting ready.  Stacia called ahead to the hospital to let them know we were coming, and Dennis began to gather the things we needed.  Of course I hadn’t packed a hospital bag, so they were asking me what I wanted to take.  It was difficult to think clearly about packing when I was still having regular pushing contractions.  I requested my bathrobe, the boy and girl blankets I’d made for the baby, and my chapstick (I believe I requested this several times to make sure I got it, haha!).  Cynthia was to stay behind and clean up while Stacia and Erin went to the hospital with us.  Erin sat by me on the bed with kindness in her eyes, and I remember just looking up at her and saying “I’m so disappointed.”  She said, “I know, this is hard.  But remember that it’s not over yet.”

I felt a little stunned that this was the thing that was making us transfer.  I had anticipated pain upon pushing, I had accepted the fact that I might tear upon crowning, and I had even come to terms with facing the famous “ring of fire”.  What I had never never imagined is that I would not even be able to move the baby far enough down to feel perineal pain or burning or to fully crown.  It was incredibly frustrating.  I’d been pushing all night and I just wanted to have my baby at home, but as we made transfer preparations that dream slipped away.  I’d been in labor for 24 hours.

I was a little concerned about the car ride- HOW was I supposed to sit in a car for 20 minutes with a baby’s head trying to come out of my vagina?!?  I mean, his head was right there, my perineum was bulging and swollen, and I could NOT sit without sitting on his head.  I walked out of our house wearing some mesh panties and a giant pad, my bathrobe, and snow boots.  It occurred to me that I must look ridiculous.  Oh, and I couldn’t really stand up and walk straight, thanks to aforementioned baby head.  Half walking, half leaning on Dennis, I made it to the car.  We had talked about me kneeling on the floor in front of the seat, but with the carseat in the back, there was no room to move my seat back (my car is kinda small), so I knelt backwards on the front seat leaning my torso on Dennis as he drove.  When a contraction started (I had 3 during the ride), I would grip the bars on the headrest of my seat and, bearing down with all my might, push and push and push.  I hated that I was still pushing!  If I couldn’t push the baby out without help I wanted to rest until we got the hospital, but I literally was powerless to stop.  The incredible birthing force would not relent in spite of my exhausted and spent body.  Each contraction, I could feel the baby’s head move down, and I actually reached down a few times to make sure it wasn’t all the way out!  I wondered how it would be to have the baby right there in the car!

Finally we pulled up in front of the hospital at about 6:30am.  Dennis told me he would let me out and then go park the car.  “HOW am I supposed to walk into that hospital??” I wondered, when out of the blue a man in scrubs appeared with a wheelchair.  I climbed onto it backwards just like I had been in the car, gripping the IV pole as he quickly wheeled me in the doors and into an elevator, where I had another massive contraction.  The unearthly roaring sound I made while I pushed echoed through the elevator and was released into the lobby when the doors opened.

The wheelchair-pusher stopped me in front of a desk, where they asked me to, yes, fill out some paperwork- ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?  I’m busy pushing out a baby here!  Right on cue, I had another contraction and my roars filled the waiting room.  The phrase “pushing in public” popped into my head, and I remember thinking that this was probably one of the things I’d laugh about later. J I almost laughed about it right then with Dennis and Erin when they appeared and, I think, took over the paperwork for me because I don’t remember doing much more than sign my name in the messiest way possible.

I guess they could tell that I was definitely having a baby because we got into a room very quickly.  The doctors and nurses began to poke and prod me, trying to figure out what the situation was, and they were not as gentle as Stacia had been.  They found out I hadn’t peed since Stacia catheterized me, so they catheterized me a second time to drain my bladder.  My pee was really concentrated.  I was really dehydrated, and so was the baby based on the way his heartbeat pattern looked on the monitor (his heartbeat was always good and strong during the entire labor, thankfully), so they gave me an IV.  They actually hoped that hydrating me would give my uterus some extra ooph to produce more powerful contractions and get the baby out.  I guess it didn’t work that way.

Shortly after we arrived, there was a shift change.  The new shift did everything the first shift had done all over again.  Poked and prodded.

The hospital staff was really nice, though.  They looked at our birth plan and tried to honor our requests as best as they could.  They saw that I wanted a dim environment with music, so they actually played music for me and dimmed the lights.  I count that as a kindness that I’ll never forget.  I guess there was one crabby nurse who seemed kinda mad that we homebirth transfer people had to come ruin her day, but I didn’t notice.  I did notice the one really nice nurse.

I felt so out of it during this time.  I literally was in such a dim hazy place that I felt like I wasn’t really there.  I rolled onto my side on the bed and fell asleep.  When a contraction came, I’d roll over onto my back again, throw off all my blankets, and call for someone to come hold my legs back.  Normally I would have wanted to be anywhere other than on my back, but I was too exhausted at that point not to be lying down.  I tried pushing on my side and they said it seemed to work well for me, but the hip pain after the contraction was excruciating.  I had hip pain in my sides after each pushing contraction, especially if I didn’t push until the contraction was completely passed (in hindsight maybe it was my pelvis expanding?), but while on my side it was much much worse.

During this time I threw up again when I stopped pushing before my contraction completely ended.  It was like if I didn’t direct the energy downward it had to go somewhere.

Finally the doctors on the second shift had examined me and determined that I need an episiotomy and forceps assistance.  I guess the baby’s head was too “stuck” for the vacuum.  I was ok with this.  The doctor mentioned something about the baby’s head being wedged behind my pubic bone, but that there was plenty of room posteriorly if they could just move the head in that direction.  Then they talked to me about pain medication.  At first I said no way, but they let me know that the main reason I needed it would be for the stitches I’d get afterward.  I talked it over with my birth team and the anesthesiologist and decided to get an epidural without the narcotic part.  I think.  That’s the best I understand it, anyway.  They wanted to go ahead and put the spinal in because that way if I needed a C-section they could just top me off instead of having to put me under general anesthesia.  I was so out of it that I had a tough time understanding exactly what I was and was not getting, but I did know that having a C-section while completely out would pretty much be worse worse case scenario.  I really never thought I was headed for a C-section, but if it ever did come to that, I definitely wanted to be awake for it!  I was concerned about the effect of the epidural upon the baby, but was reminded that the baby would hopefully not be in there for more than a few minutes after I got it.  Also, it’s not like an epidural was going to slow down my labor because I was already past that part.  I was taking medicine for what was basically a surgery, not for the natural labor process, and that’s the only thing that makes me feel better about having ANY drugs involved in the birth.

So then it was time to put the epidural in.  HOW in the world was I supposed to sit still while they did it if I had a contraction during the process??  I was really quite worried about this, but I obediently “sat” on the edge of the bed (I think a nurse was pretty much holding me up as I put the barest minimum of my butt on the bed.  Remember, there was still a baby head there.) as the anesthesiologist inserted the numbing stuff and then the needle.  Sure, it stung, but whatever.  I immediately felt a tingling warmth go through my legs.  It was nice to feel warm for the first time since we’d arrived at the hospital.  Right away I had another contraction, but only barely felt it and didn’t have the urge to push during it.  And that’s the last contraction I felt.


Getting ready to finally push out our baby!


Giving it everything I had…


Waiting for the next contraction…

I’m sure it was only a few minutes before everyone was assembled and ready for me to deliver my baby, but it was nice to relax for a few minutes and not push for the first time since the night before!  I was numbed from the waist down, but I could still feel things, if that makes sense.  It definitely took the edge off, but I still felt everything that was going on down below.  They told me that they were going to help with the forceps but that I needed to push as well.  “You’re still going to push your baby out,” the doctor said, and those are the words I remember most.  They made me feel that I still had some control over the delivery and took some of the sting out of needing assistance.  First, the doctor (a woman doctor, which makes me happy somehow) inserted the huge salad-tong-looking forceps (that hurt!) and then we waited for the next contraction, my feet in the dreaded stirrups.  A nurse with her hand on my tummy and an eye on the monitor had to tell me when one was coming (kind of a buzz-kill).  The first contraction came and I pushed and pushed with everyone cheering me on.  I definitely gave it my all, and Dennis later told me that the doctor was putting so much force on the forceps that her arms were shaking.  That kind of freaks me out, so I’m glad I didn’t notice at the time.  The next contraction came and I knew this was it.  I pushed and pushed and I kept pushing, not caring whether I was contracting or not.  This baby had to come out!  I know I had been putting my everything, my 100%, into pushing for the last 12 hours (YES, 12!), but I think I probably reached even deeper and put about 120% into those final pushes.  I heard someone say “The head! …now the shoulders….” And then, accompanied by the most amazing sensation, I pushed/they pulled my baby out… of my butt!   That’s what it felt like, anyway- like that baby had literally been in my butt this whole time!  As the doctor lifted my baby up and out, I  Could. Not. Believe. How big and long that baby was!!  And the head- it was HUGE!  “That was what I was trying to push out??” I thought.


Here’s where his head is coming out!!

And then I had my baby on my chest.  Well, on my tummy really, because the cord was kinda short.  The baby was screaming from the beginning and had a big beautiful pouting lower lip (that was the second thing I noticed, along with how heavy he felt).  It was a moment of shock and awe.  I heard someone say something about girl or boy and then it occurred to me to check.  I lifted him up to look and Dennis said, “It’s a boy!”  A boy!  We had a son!  And his name was Alexander.  He was bloody and slippery and crying and beautiful!


I knew he would have the coniest conehead ever, and he certainly didn’t disappoint! Funny how quickly it changes, though. Also, I’m SO glad Erin was snapping these pictures for us or I never would have seen the look on Dennis’ face!

We had asked the doctors to please wait until the cord stopped pulsing to cut it.  It seemed like only a couple of minutes when they told us it had stopped pulsing, but they were really patient and waited a few more minutes still until we gave them to go-ahead.  I know from looking at the time stamp on the pictures that it was cut about 15 minutes after his birth.  Dennis was given the honor of cutting the cord as we had requested in our birth plan.


They wanted to take Alex to the warming table to doing the Apgar and stuff.  I really kind of wish they had just left him on me, but I didn’t ask at that time.  Dennis was with him the whole time, though, and Alex recognized his voice and looked for him.

They pulled on my cord a bit to speed the delivery of the placenta, something I also didn’t want, but I’m not sure if they could wait because they were eager to get me stitched up.  I know that usually tears, at least minor ones, can wait until all that is finished, but I had a fourth-degree episiotomy.  For those of you fortunate enough to not know what that is, it’s basically the most extensive one they can do.  The cut went all the way from my vagina to my rectum, and extended through several layers of tissue. L  I thought they said that the stitching would take only 10 minutes, but they must have been talking about how long they’d have Alex over at the warming table because the stitching seemed to last FOREVER!  I don’t want to sound like a big baby, but it was really horrible!  I know I was numbed, but I still felt it really well!  It was a stinging/stabbing sensation over and over.  My feet were still in those stupid stirrups, and I was freezing cold.  I could stop shaking, and I couldn’t put a blanket over my legs to warm myself until they were finished.  Erin appeared by my head and reminded me to do my labor breathing- haha!  I thought it was funny that I had a tougher time with this than with labor, and I was glad I’d had the epidural to take the edge off at least.


Notice how pale I am. This is when things got kinda sketchy.

Somewhere around that time I began to feel kind of funny and my hearing suddenly went dim, like my ears had gotten plugged.  I said, “Um, my ears feel plugged up!” to whomever was listening.  The nurses looked at the monitors and went into a small flurry of action because my heart rate had gone up to about 120 and my blood pressure was extremely low- 60/30 or something like that.  I was losing a ton of blood.  They gave me pitocin through my IV and I stabilized.  My husband said it was pretty scary.  I lost about twice the normal amount of blood, which I guess makes sense because I had so many things happen that can contribute to abnormal blood loss: a long labor, forceps delivery, cord traction and episiotomy.  I think that letting the placenta deliver naturally and leaving Alex on my chest and maybe having him nurse right away would have helped.  They had told me to massage my breasts, but when the stitching began to hurt a lot I quit.  I should have kept it up, but oh well.


Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Alex was back on my chest.  It bothered me for weeks that I had no idea how long he was away from me or how long it was before he got a chance to nurse, but I finally looked at the timestamps on the pictures and saw that it was only about 30 minutes.  That’s not too bad, I guess, and Dennis was with him that entire time, but it still felt like way too long.

When all the chaos finally subsided- when I was all stitched up, Alex was back with me, and I was finally able to cover up and get warm again- that’s when Dennis and I finally stood  there together looking at the peaceful sleeping face of our son- OUR SON!  And I finally cried, with joy.


Alexander Josip was born on Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 9:38 am.  He weighed 8 pounds, was 21 inches long, and had a 14 inch head!

What had caused the problems with delivery?  The best Stacia could tell, from watching the delivery and looking at the pattern of swelling on his head after he was out, was that he was asynclitic, meaning that his head, though facing the right direction and tucked well, was tilted a little to the side.  This meant that he was presenting a larger diameter of an already large head and I just couldn’t push it out that way without assistance.

During our two-day hospital stay and the weeks that have followed, I have had a lot of emotions to deal with concerning the way Alex’s birth ended.  I wish I could write that I am completely at peace with having to go to the hospital and that I don’t really care how he was born as long as he was healthy, but I have to be honest and say that I’m not at that place yet.  The birth story does matter, and it’s something that you cannot just forget or push aside.  I was SO confident that I would give birth at home and SO sure that everything would go well, that my disappointment was acute.  I’ll save more discussion of my feelings surrounding his birth for another time, though.

Nevertheless, I AM so happy for a healthy baby!  I always imagined that the only reason for transfer would be in case of an emergency, which to me would mean that something was wrong with my baby.  Praise God, he was fine the entire time, and for that I am so grateful.  It would have been so scary if something had been wrong with him.  As it was, I never felt afraid, it never felt like an emergency, and we were able to take our time and make our decisions thoughtfully.

I am also VERY thankful that Alex and I were able to experience a vaginal birth and reap all the associated benefits.  I really never ever thought that we were in danger of having a cesarean section, but it could have easily happened.  A few weeks later, when Stacia was doing a prenatal visit in our home, she was telling my family that they should have been there to see how amazing I was (that comment alone made me feel pretty good! :)).  She then told them that anyone else would have had a cesarean.  It was only because of all my hours and hours and hours of pushing that I was able to push Alex down far enough to have a vaginal birth.  I was pretty much floored when I heard this, and I had to struggle to keep from crying because hearing that made me feel like I had accomplished something during all of that pushing that I thought was fruitless.  I had fought for a vaginal birth and I had earned it for us!  That made me feel SO good!  🙂  As acute as my disappointment has been over losing the home birth I’d dreamed of, having to give up a vaginal birth as well would have been so much more difficult to come to terms with, so I thank God for that blessing!


After my first post-labor shower

Giving birth was simultaneously the most difficult thing I’ve done and the most wonderful time of my life!  I was on a birth high for days, and so was Dennis.  I felt like he and I bonded emotionally in a way that I’d never expected or even hoped for.  Sometimes I wish I could go back and experience it again because all the bad was more than worth the good.  We completely fell in love with our son during those first few emotionally charged days the three of us spent alone before family arrived, and we continue to do so now.  He has brought us an incredible amount of joy already, and we are so proud of our strong sweet boy as we see him grow up little by little each day. 🙂

39 Weeks, 2 Days: MY WATER BROKE!!!

Yesterday I went Christmas shopping for a couple of hours- very slow and easy, just one store….. by the time I left I was having cramps that made me feel like I was on my period.  They quit once I got in my car to go home, but I still had a strong feeling that I was going to have a baby soon.  I got a little teary on my short drive home because I felt so happy, I guess.  I texted my mom: “I’m going to have a baby soon. I can feel it.”

We had dinner with friends.

We had sex before bed.  I wasn’t sure if we should do this because I knew that after the last time we did (Saturday morning) I had cramps for several hours afterward, so I was pretty sure it had worked on my cervix.  I figured it would just ripen it up, however, and then when the time came (hopefully after my parents’ arrival on the 17th), I’d be good to go.

Sure enough, after sex I began to cramp again.  The baby was also kicking the heck out of me, so I got up and went downstairs.  I made some snowflakes (tee hee), put claw caps on my cat (she was missing 3), and then read a birth blog, cramping the whole time, though it didn’t seem timeable.  I think I went back upstairs around 1:30 am and fell asleep.  I know the cramping continued throughout the night, but I didn’t pay much attention.  I had a dream that I’d had the baby and had to sit on a roof afterward, which really sucked (I’m scared of heights).

At 5:55 am, I was just awake enough to feel a popping sensation, though I heard nothing.  I immediately thought, “I wonder if that was my water?” but thought surely not.  I put my hand between my legs in time to feel a small gush of liquid, then another.  I grabbed the towel beside the bed (good thing I had it there!) and went to the toilet.  More water came out on the towel and in the toilet.  I dealt with the paradigm shift I was experiencing since: #1 I never expected my water to break before active labor (my mom’s never did) and #2 I was hoping my family could be here for the birth.

I woke my husband with some kisses and a whispered “My water broke”.  He was kinda out of it and asked if he should stay home from work…. Uh, yeah!

We lay in bed for awhile as the contractions came- close together but totally manageable, though I didn’t want him to talk or move during them.  My water continued (and continues) to leak out.  I’m wearing one of the huge overnight pads that I’d stockpiled for after the birth, and I’m on my second one.

We’ve called the midwife, doula, family, and a couple of friends so everyone knows what’s happening.  I’ve run around tidying up a bit, gathering a few last-minute supplies, trying to eat (though I feel a bit nauseous- either from excitement or labor).  My husband is vacuuming (this makes me very happy).

Contractions feel like period cramps right now.  They were last approximately a minute when I was timing them and coming anywhere from 1.5 minutes to 5 minutes apart, though I know some have been a little farther.  I’ve had 4 now since I’ve been typing this.  I want to close my eyes, lean on something if I’m standing, and I don’t talk during them.  I’m not sure if I can’t or if I just don’t want to, but my thoughts do feel more muddled.  I can already tell, from three hours ago (has it seriously been that long already??) that different hormones are kicking in.  I feel a little out of it even between contractions, though I’m obviously still able to type.  Obviously I’m still in early labor.

It’s kinda nice to just have my husband here with me right now.  I’ve been praying since the beginning that Baby would come at exactly the right time, so God must know that this is the right time and that this is what I need to labor best.  I’m seeing my birth affirmations around the house and I love them!

Maybe I’ll write more later, maybe not.

It’s 12-12-12… What a perfect day to have a baby!  😀

…Just had another contraction.

I forgot to say that right after my water broke, I shook uncontrollably for a least half an hour.  I didn’t feel cold and I didn’t feel too excited or stressed, but maybe I was.  Either that or some hormone in my water made it happen.  Anyway, that’s something I never expected.

Also, my water was clear with some light pink stuff that I assume was my mucus plug.  Maybe vernix too.  So, yay for clear water!

Time For More Birth Videos!

I think it’s time.  More birth videos, and I’ve found a couple great ones!  Get your tissues out before watching these, especially if you’re preggers.  😛

Sweet water birth– the labor and birth is about half the video, and the last part is all the joyful celebration after- very cute!

Another water birth showing a lot of what happened right after the birth.  The baby’s older sister is just adorable in this video, and I loved seeing the placenta and the herbal bath mom and baby take afterward (something I’m planning to do).

Last night our doula loaned us More Business of Being Born, and we watched one of the five segment, the one about celebrity moms. It may sound like it would be… I don’t know, not so great, but it was FANTASTIC! I’d definitely recommend it for anyone wanting some good labor vibes and exposure to positive birth experiences. My husband actually ended up saying he is jealous because he won’t get to experience this in the way I will….. And he looked at me with all kinds of awe and love all over his face. Wow, thinking of labor and birth as a privilege instead of a chore is a really powerful thought!

36 Weeks, 5 Days: Engagement, Birth Pool, and Thanksgiving

Time is kinda flying by now.  And standing still.   I vacillate between wanting the baby to come RIGHT NOW and wanting to hold off until everything is “ready” (which will never really happen).

Our midwives visited Wednesday, and will come at least once a week from now until Baby arrives- it’s the big time now!  Everything was good:

  • I’ll get the ridiculous one over with right away… Our midwife took her shoes off at the front door! 🙂  Not sure if it was the fun sign I posted or the millions of shoes in the entryway, but it worked and I was relieved.  Even more so when she put them back on and I noticed they were really dirty, leaving dirt clods everywhere.  What cracked me and my husband up was that she somehow bypassed the huge tiled hallway space available and had her feet on the carpet while putting on her dirty shoes!  We waited until they pulled out of the driveway and then my husband had to vacuum that spot.  It’s ok, though.  At least she didn’t track that all through the house!  I feel a tad more respected now 🙂

  • Baby has dropped!  That’s right, we’re in a GREAT position and engaged at about zero station.  I couldn’t really tell from looking at my belly or anything, but I guess I am having a little better time breathing during those nighttime Braxton Hicks.  And someone at church last week did comment  that I was carrying super low.  Our midwife told me that Baby could descend further at this point, into +1 or +2 station (or is that the other way around at -1 or -2?….), but then I’d just be super uncomfortable for the last month of pregnancy, so the way things are now are really the best we could ask for.  Did my chiropractic visits help this happen?  I guess we’ll never know, but they couldn’t have hurt.  My pelvis is getting looser and I’m going longer between visits now.  My round ligament is still tight and I can kinda tell because Baby has begun to punch it- ouch!
  • We got our birth pool!!!  Yay!  The mom who was “in line”  to use it before us gave birth the day before they came, so it worked out perfectly.  We had to blow it up to finish drying it out, so we got a good look at it.  It looks so nice and I’m excited that I get to birth in it if I want to!


  • Everything is good with me and the baby.  My midwife mentioned fluid intake again, but said she isn’t worried.  I told her I’ve been making sure I get at least a minimum of 8 cups/day (although I think I should be drinking more and probably actually am). I drink half my water at night because every time I get up to pee (every 1-2.5 hours) I feel so thirsty!   The only reason she mentions it is that she can easily see from the outside of my tummy how the baby is lying, especially when I’m contracting.  I wonder though if part of that is just that I have no fat layer to smooth things out?  It’s just skin, uterus, baby.  Anyway, I’m sure she has had moms like me before, so I’ll just keep paying close attention to my fluid intake and trust her that everything is fine.
  • We talked about some other stuff (our midwife really likes to talk in long-winded paragraphs- hopefully she knows how to shut it when I’m in labor 🙂 ), including the newborn screening test.  My husband thinks we should do it.  The only negatives: heel poke, extra $98 cost, and the possibility of false positives.  The last negative is the only one I really don’t like, but I guess we’re going to do it, and I’m fine with that.  The only thing we have to decide is whether we want our midwife to do it or a pediatrician.  I don’t really want to have to take the baby out to a doctor in those first few weeks, but my husband  thinks insurance may cover the test if we do.  The whole pediatrician thing is something we still need to decide on, though- do we want to establish a relationship with one right away or wait until/if Baby actually needs to see one?  I’m not feeling like a huge fan of pediatricians right now, but we do have some recommendations for some non-traditional options.  I just need to check them out.
  • We showed our midwife the birth plan we wrote, and she seemed really happy that we wrote one (which made me feel relieved because I was feeling kinda anxious about it, for some odd reason).  She read through it and talked about each point.  She had a few minor suggestions (if I transferred to a hospital for a cesarean, for example, I’d probably have a spinal instead of an epidural), but for the most part I didn’t change anything.  Most of what she said was explaining how she agreed with what we’d written (her particular biases are against  induction, separation of mom and baby, and… one other one that I can’t remember) and would never do anything differently, which is what I’d figured.  She took awhile with her explanations, and the whole visit lasted about 2 hours instead of 1!
  • Both midwives keep telling us that they don’t think my labor will be very long.  Their reasons are they that think we have a great attitude and a particularly healthy pregnancy.  They see that we don’t expect it to be easy (we know it will be hard work and will probably hurt), but we also are relaxed about it.  I appreciate the vote of confidence 🙂
  • I haven’t had any internal checks my whole pregnancy, but our midwife told us that my husband or I could check me if we want- both to feel the baby’s head and check for cervical dilation- and she described what to look for.  I can VERY easily feel Baby’s head through my vaginal wall, near my pubic bone!!!  It is the coolest thing ever, and also crazy weird.  It really made me feel like Baby is so close to our outside world and helped me picture how birth will happen.  Try as I might, though, I couldn’t reach my cervix.  I guess that means it’s still very high and posterior.  Apparently it does that during pregnancy to protect itself and will then move down/anterior closer to delivery.  I never knew that before.  I’ll maybe try to find it again in a week, just out of curiosity, though I know that being dilated or not dilated at this point will really be no indication of when labor is to begin.  I used to to cervical self-checks all the time when we were TTC.  After I got pregnant, I did feel my cervix once and was shocked at how different it felt- not nose-like anymore, but gushy like puckered lips!  I was a little taken aback.  It was also very high and I could barely reach it (pre-pregnancy my cervix was always very low and super easy to find- right where the baby’s head is felt now, actually!).  I think that was first trimester.  During second trimester I looked for it once again and couldn’t reach it.  Anyway, maybe my husband would be able to check since he wouldn’t also have to do contortions around a huge belly, but he surprisingly declined and thought it would be “weird”, saying maybe another day….  Ok, whatever.

For Thanksgiving we went to my husband’s brother’s house.  I felt soooo out of it all day!  Just super sleepy and tired, and couldn’t figure out why.  I felt badly for not being very sociable or helpful.  My niece kept wanting me to play with her and I did, but then I’d have to take a break to sit in a chair with a back.  I felt so zoned out.  I actually took about a 2 hour nap in their guest room after lunch while everyone else watched the football game (which didn’t interest me at all).  Anyway, during the night my throat felt super dry and scratchy, and the next morning (yesterday) I woke up coughing weirdly and feeling rather sick.  So I guess that explains my extreme tiredness.  I also hadn’t taken all my vitamins the day before, and as soon as I took them yesterday and drank my tea, I magically felt sooo much better!  It was like some kind of miracle cure.  I actually feel quite normal and well today, but I still stayed home from church because I was so tired this morning I couldn’t seem to wake myself up enough to know if I was well or not.  I feel like such a lazy bum for staying home, but maybe it’s good that I did.  I might take a nap in a few minutes.  I couldn’t sleep again last night and can’t wait for my next chiro adjustment on Monday so I can zonk out before 2 am…..

Angry at A Baby Story

Aaaaaaaargh!  I’m so mad!!!!  [Warning: this post is a bit of a rant]

Many times the TLC show A Baby Story has made me feel frustrated, but never has it made me downright angry like this episode has.  It was the episode about “Baby Rawls”.  Very sweet couple who would like a drug-free labor.  The mom is a week “overdue” and has been having some contractions/cramps for a couple of days.  She finally heads to the hospital for an induction at 1cm dilation.  At first, she’s doing great, sitting on a chair, leaning forward on her husband, her family is rubbing her back, etc.  She lays down on the bed to get checked again and is at 4cm and the baby has moved down- awesome!

Then her medical team offers some pain relief so she can sleep, warning that she will afterward be confined to bed because it will make her feel woozy.  It’s not an epidural yet (can’t remember exactly what it was), but she accepts it and gets an hour or two of sleep.  She wakes up feeling great and gets checked again- 5 cm.  At this point she is (of course) in more pain because A: she’s lying on her back and B: she’s on pitocin which is probably making her contractions quite intense, so she’s offered an epidural.  You can tell that she really doesn’t want it, but also feels like maybe she can’t handle it anymore.  She gets lots of encouragement (to have the epidural) from her husband and medical team, and is actually given the impression that an epidural will help her make progress more quickly- whaaaaa??  There is no mention of getting out of bed or trying movement.  She finally agrees to have the epidural, looking very worried.

Next scene: the doctor comes in and tells the mom that she has “failed to progress”, probably because either the baby is too big or her pelvis is too small, and that she will need a c-section.  That is seriously exactly what the mom was told, and I couldn’t believe it!  What a load of crap (this is where I start to get really mad)!  The mom is devastated.  She didn’t even want to have an epidural and now she’s having a c-section?!  She’s so disappointed, and she’s crying, and her family is praying with her.  Ugh.  I’ve seen pleeeenty of A Baby Story episodes where unnecessary c-sections were performed, but none were so clearly unnecessary and against the mom’s wishes as this one.  I guarantee you that her pelvis was NOT too small and her baby was NOT too big, but the doctor stood there and seemed really sorry, saying she really wanted to help her get as far as she could and that it just didn’t work out…

Cut to several weeks later and mom admits that she’s still going through a grieving process over the c-section, hoping to someday see it as less of a trauma.  Breaks my heart because I can see how unnecessary it was.  😦

I don’t know if I can watch  this show anymore.  Or maybe I’ll only DVR the homebirth episodes because those are usually really good.  The people present at the birth support the birthing mom in a way that affirms her ability to do her job, not make her feel that she or her body are inadequate for what they need to do.  I just hate to keep seeing emergency or unnatural situations created by the choices made.  People say that all the stories we hear about the typical hospital birth are so biased, but shows like this really do nothing to convince me.  It makes me want to give birth at home more than ever!

Bicornuate Uterus?- Ultrasound on Tuesday

After I stressed about the possibility of a bicornuate or septate uterus for a few days, my husband and I decided that, rather than wait until our next appointment to see if the baby was still breech, we’d rather know now what is going on.  I e-mailed our midwife and she recommended an obstetrician who will usually see her patients and told us what to tell him- that we are planning a homebirth, but our midwife is concerned about the size and shape of my uterus and would like a second opinion.

We have a consultation scheduled for this Tuesday afternoon.  Either we will see  that my uterus is completely normal and we can breath a sigh of relief; or we will see that it’s not, be able to see the degree to which it is bicornuate or septate, and go from there.  From what I read, the time to turn a breech baby in a bicornuate uterus is during the SECOND trimester, not the third.  By the time we would have had our next appointment we would be into the third trimester already, so I’d feel better knowing now what we’re dealing with and having the chance to be more proactive.

Also, I just feel that knowing is always better than not knowing.  If there is an issue, I will know to be more on the lookout for preterm labor, and if not then I can relax a bit.  I believe I’ve been having Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions for several weeks and didn’t really know it.  I wouldn’t describe them as painful, just uncomfortable and strange-feeling.  It dawned on me on Wednesday as I was driving home that maybe those tight feelings I get every once in awhile aren’t just Baby moving forward!  I tried to describe what they felt like to my midwife in an e-mail because, of course, I freaked out thinking I wouldn’t recognize preterm labor if it happened, and she said that they were Braxton Hicks.  Alright then.  She told me not to worry unless they are painful and accompanied by bleeding, so I’m trying to relax even though I have read that sometimes early labor is NOT painful for awhile, but is still dilating your cervix.  Ugh.  I really shouldn’t read message boards right now.  I kept having BH last night pretty frequently- maybe because I was tired or a little dehydrated?  Who knows.  I do seem to feel them more in the later afternoon and evenings, it seems.  I’m a little bummed because they are kinda cool to feel and I really just want to enjoy them without wondering if everything is ok.

My husband got home Friday evening, and I immediately felt better to have him around.  It makes such a difference to know that I won’t have to go through anything alone.  I also had spent awhile thinking and praying while relaxing in my bath Thursday night.  These are my thoughts: I can’t deny that sometimes babies die.  I have to be honest.  Sometimes it happens, and if it happened to my baby, I wouldn’t understand.  I just wouldn’t, and I don’t think I could be expected to understand.  But I would still trust God.  I would have to, and I would know that He was still with me.

That being said, babies also live.  They live despite the odds, despite the complications, and even despite the mistakes of those caring for them.  If God meant for me to grow this baby, birth this baby, and care for this baby, He will have given me a body capable of doing the job.  He doesn’t call us to do anything without giving us the strength, the resources, and the ability to accomplish it.  So, I will assume that God means for me to carry this baby long enough and well enough and trust that He has given me a uterus adequate to the task.  I guess if everything went perfectly during this pregnancy or if I never had anything to be scared of, I would never have the opportunity to build my trust in Him.  So this has been a beneficial experience even if everything is completely normal.  And I am coming to realize that this trust in God, this belief that my baby is God’s to care for, is something that I will need to have and keep working on for the rest of my life.  No matter the age of our children, we will always have to surrender them and their lives to God.

Thank you for your prayers.  I appreciate and need them so much!

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