The morning after my due date (Friday, May 27th), I was sitting on my couch watching TV and I felt what I thought was my water breaking. It soaked through my clothes leaving a puddle on the couch about the size of a pineapple. I immediately called my husband and told him the news. He suggested I call the doctor, and I said I didn’t want to because we were going in for an appointment that afternoon. Contractions had not started, but after an hour my husband’s advice got the better of me. I called the office, and the nurse said, just wait until we come in for our regular appointment. Ha! I was right!
At 3pm we saw the doctor, she checked my cervix which was still 1 cm and 70% effaced like it had been for the past 3 weeks. Then she checked my fluids. The ultrasound indicated that I still had enough fluid, and that my water probably did not break. When she checked the fluid under a microscope she did not see the tell-tell sign of “ferning” that shows the presence of amniotic fluid. So, conclusion, my water didn’t break…
That evening my husband and I went on a date, and while at dinner I started having mild contractions about 5-7 minutes apart. This lasted for several hours, and I went to bed expecting to wake up in more active labor. However, this did not occur. The contractions went away, and I slept quite well! On Saturday, I had contractions every now and then, but without any regularity. Finally, on Sunday morning at 4am, I woke up with what I could tell were regular contractions. They were about 10 minutes apart, but after two hours they didn’t act like they were going to go away, and were getting somewhat stronger. Not too strong to eat pancakes, go for a long walk, and go to the grocery store for some last minute items to have on hand. We returned home around noon and my contractions were still about 7-10 minutes apart, and increasing in intensity. My husband worked on a casserole while I ate a light lunch and began settling in with the contractions. I could still talk through a contraction, but they would stop me in my tracks. Eventually they were about 5 minutes apart and pretty strong. So, I ate some of the delicious cheesy casserole, and I called my doulas. They arrived around 5:30pm. I bounced on my birth ball and in between contractions we gossiped while my husband got the pool of warm water ready for me.
One thing I started to notice about the contractions is they weren’t very consistent. Sometimes they would be 5 minutes apart, then 8, then 3, then back to 5. In addition, the length of the contraction would change. Sometimes they would last a minute, sometimes 2 minutes. There were times when it felt like I was having back to back contractions. We were using an app on my iphone to keep track of the contractions. One of the doulas was in charge of keeping time. Another thing I was noticing was the large amount of fluid that had been leaking out of me since Friday night. Earlier in the day I had looked up fluid loss on the internet, and what I was experiencing was considered normal for someone who is in labor but whose water has not broken. The fluid was somewhat mucusy and slightly pink or red. I had no reason to believe it was amniotic fluid.
Finally the baby pool was ready for me. We set it up on the back porch, and it was heaven! The warm water was really soothing during the contractions. At this point I could not talk during them, and I was getting increasingly uncomfortable. Being in the water was helpful because it kept the weight off of my hips and legs. I stayed in the pool for about 2 hours, and then I became cold, even though the water was still warm. The contractions were very strong at this point. It was about 8:30pm and many of the contractions were lasting more than a minute or coming right on top of each other. I was having a hard time staying focused, because of the intensity. I utilized my yoga training and tried to breathe deeply through each contraction. One of the doulas suggested focusing on a point in the distance during the contractions rather than closing my eyes. I found this advice to be very helpful throughout the rest of my labor. For the next two hours I could not get comfortable. The birth ball felt like torture, hands and knees was worse, and I was having a hard time standing. I laid down on the couch to get warm, I got up and tried to walk around, and I tried leaning on my husband for support. The contractions were really strong to the point where I felt nauseous, and my knees were buckling under me when I was standing. However, they were not coming with regularity. Finally I got back on the couch and tried to rest. I was getting very tired, and we were waiting for the contractions to be about 1-2 minutes apart before going to the hospital.
My husband sat beside me and rubbed my head, and held my hands while I tried to get through each contraction. They were lasting over a minute, and I wasn’t getting much relief between them because I was experiencing pain even when I wasn’t having a contraction. I remember thinking that something didn’t seem right, but I wasn’t sure what. What was clear to me was I was getting more and more exhausted. I tried drinking some coconut water, but it made me feel like I was going to throw up. Eventually, the contractions were about 2 minutes apart. Well, some of them were.
At 10:30pm we decided it was time to go to the hospital. I assumed since the contractions were so strong I was approaching transition. My main doula seemed to think so too. I couldn’t move very well, so my doulas helped me get dressed while my husband loaded the car. I was so glad we live so close to the hospital because the ride there was pretty bad. In order to help get through the long contractions I was starting to vocalize a little bit while I did my deep breathing. When we got to the hospital they took me right away back to triage and checked my cervix. I was on the verge of tears because of the pain, and when the nurse told me I was only 2cm, I broke into tears! The hospital would not admit me, and the doctor on call wanted to send me home. I grabbed my husband and said I was NOT going home!! The nurses told the doctor I was in a lot of pain and he suggested I take a vicatin or start walking the halls. I decided to walk. I thought, maybe my cervix had closed up on the ride to the hospital, and with a little walking it would open back up to the 7 or 8 cm that I thought it should be with the level of pain I was in.
My husband and I got up and started shuffling through the halls of the hospital. I could barely walk, and when I had a contraction I fell onto my husband and rocked, breathed deeply, and focused on his shoes. He held me through every contraction, and I was so grateful to have his strong arms keep me from falling on the floor! It took an hour to do two laps, and I thought I was going to pass out from exhaustion. We went back to triage hoping for some good news. At this point I had decided to get an epidural if I had not progressed very much as soon as I was admitted to the hospital. I was afraid I would be too tired to push when it came time, and I really wanted to get some rest since we were going on 20 hours of labor with no end in sight. Unfortunately, after an hour of walking I was only 3cm, and they still would not admit me to the hospital. I was too tired to walk anymore, so I labored in the bed in triage. Every contraction I dreaded, and I was pretty vocal trying to breathe through each one. After the longest 45 minutes ever, the nurse checked me again, and she said I was almost 4cm, and they would admit me to the hospital!
They wheeled me to a room, but we had to stop so I could have a contraction. We still had to wait another hour for the anesthesiologist to arrive, and that meant more intense contractions. My husband held me through each one, and I tried as hard as I could to breathe deeply and calmly. That was nearly impossible! Then the doctor arrived and, I had three contractions while he put the epidural in, and those were the hardest ones to get through because I could not move during the procedure. I felt immediate relief after the epidural was in, and I was in a much better mood! Since it was the middle of the night we all decided to get some rest. I never went to sleep but I was able to get rested and relaxed, and with each hour I was dilating bit by bit.
The next morning our families came to visit us in the labor and delivery room. I tried to keep my energy up with juice and high calorie soda because the nurses would not let me have anything to eat. The nice thing about the epidural is we had time to go over the birth plan with the nurses and the doctor in detail. Also, we had time to narrow down our list of names. We did not know if we were having a boy or a girl, so we had a list of about 15 names each. After some deliberation we got the names down to 3 each. I knew I would have to see the baby before I could decide exactly what to name it.
By noon on Monday, May 30th I was dilated 8cm. We were getting very excited, because it looked like the birth of our baby was just around the corner. At some point when the nurse was doing a cervical check she asked if my water had broken. I said I did not know, and I told her what had happened on Friday. She said, “Well, I think it has because I feel hair”. She meant the baby’s hair on its head! This fact was an indication that the bag of membranes was no longer surrounding the baby. So, at some point, (probably Friday) my water broke, and I had a slight leak for two days and while I was in labor. So by the time I started having strong contractions, I had very little fluid left. Perhaps that is why the contractions were so intense really early in my labor.
Well, I stalled out at 8cm. After 5 hours and no change, the nurse suggested in order to avoid a cesarean, (which the doctor wanted to do), I should get the lowest dose of pitocin to help me get to 10 cm. In the mean time, I changed positions several times including each side and hands and knees. This was difficult to do with the epidural, but I wanted to have as natural birth as possible despite the circumstances. The baby was turned slightly, and the movement helped to get the baby in the right position. Once I got the pitocin things started to move pretty quickly, and I was able to feel the contractions again. This was a good thing, because I wanted to be able to feel to push. Finally it was time to push my baby out!
I was so grateful for the epidural for giving me the time to rest so I could push with strength. And I was grateful for my yoga training, giving me the tools to breathe and focus. Pushing took 2 hours, but I made progress with every push. I wanted to take things slow so I would avoid bad tears. I sat all the way up in the bed, and my main doula and my husband held my legs up, so I was in a squat position. I used the mirror to focus. Everything was quiet and peaceful, and I breathed out with every push. No one counted at me, or yelled “push”! I was in control and that was exactly the way I wanted it to be. Getting the pitocin was a great idea because I could feel when to push, and I could feel the baby coming out! Then the baby started to crown. The doctor was there, and the next moments are a blur! The doctor quickly pulled the baby’s head out, and I saw him suction the baby before I had pushed it out. Then the doctor pulled the baby out the rest of the way, and all I wanted to do was grab my baby! What had happened did not register with me, until my husband said, “Amelia, we have a son!” Then I could see why the doctor did not immediately give the baby to me. He was completely brown from head to toe, because he was covered in meconium! As soon as they could tell that he had not breathed in the meconium he was given to me, and when I saw his sweet little round face, and wide, searching eyes! After 37 and half hours of labor our son was born at 5:35pm on May 30, 2011. He was 7lbs, 9oz, and 20 inches long. We were able to breastfeed right away, and we stared at each other for hours!
Even though I did not get to have a non-medicated birth as I had planned, the birth of my son was perfect! I think I would have been way too tired to push the way labor was going, and I wanted to avoid surgery. I knew what my body was capable of because of yoga and marathon training, and I could tell the pain I was feeling was not what it was supposed to be. I know everyone is different, and we all experience pain differently. But, I know I was not supposed to feel nauseous, and have knee buckling pain when only being 2cm dilated! I had the best support from my husband and my doulas, and I never felt like a failure for getting the epidural. I am glad I was able to be rested, strong, and present for the birth of my beautiful son. I would not change anything about my experience. In fact, if my doctor had known that my water had broken on Friday she would have wanted to induce labor the next day, and that would have increased my chances of having a cesarean. So, everything worked out for the best!
I had met Ashley and Heather early in their pregnancy with their precious little one. We met at McDonalds so that the others could play. I was totally impressed with how educated about pregnancy, labor and birth that she and her husband were. She knows her stuff! Her pregnancy went along without any problems at all. She was textbook. We had a bit of concern that Abby was breech for a while but she turned herself around and we were just awaiting her arrival.
I went and met with Heather on a couple of occasions and we talked and chatted and got to know each other. She was very calm and very confident. At the same time, she had warned me during a couple of chats that she would be ready for an epidural at 4 cm. In my mind I thought, “You won’t need it!”
Friday before her due date, I was out on a run. My phone rang. It was Heather just giving me a heads up that she was experiencing some early and pretty consistent contractions and just to put me on alert. I made it home and made sure that I had everything together. My bag, Birth Wish List, husband on notice, I was ready.
5:30am on Sunday morning the call came. Heather was ready for me to head over to her house. We had agreed that she would stay home for as long as possible so that we had as little intervention as possible and she could be relaxed and in her own environment. I was so excited for them. I arrived about 6:45am. Everything was perfect. It was a beautiful morning. The other children were excited that Abby was coming today. Heather was doing magnificent. She had found her place on the couch in a particular position and she would have a contraction, call for Ashley and he would comfort, encourage her and put pressure on her forehead. PERFECTION!!!! We chose to go for a walk. We walked and walked. She would contract and we slow pace a bit and then go right back at it. We walked her street I believe 4-5 times. This is what labor is supposed to be like I thought. Ashley and Heather had arranged for the other children to go and spend this time with some close friends of theirs. Ashley gathered up the others and off they went. Heather was now totally relaxed and in her zone, ready to meet this precious baby she had carried for 9 months.
We talked. We walked. She was on the couch. She slept so peacefully at times between contractions. Ashley had returned home and things were starting to pick up a bit. Heather chose to get in the shower. It would help her to relax. She was in and out of the shower. She was drinking her fluids and snacking as she wished. Ashley was perfect. He was at her every call. Heather would change positions. We used the birth ball, the chair, walking, showering and then of course there was the CD. I was familiar with this type of CD but Ashley had said something funny about the music and well…..that was it. This was supposed to be a calming, relaxing type of CD. Well, it was not happening for us. I don’t know when I have laughed that hard during labor. We would gain composure and then someone would make a comment, we would laugh and Heather would fuss because every time we laughed, she would contract. It was GREAT!!!!!!
Heather progressed beautifully. She would have a moment and we would reassure her and just kept going. Around 12:45pm, she proceeded to the bathroom. She called me and her water broke. YEAH!!!!!! I told Ashley we should head for the hospital. Bags were being placed in the car. Now, we have a problem. From the time I left to tell Ashley to Heather coming out of the bathroom to the front room, she was sweating, trembling and saying “I can’t do this”. Transition was happening and I knew we had to leave NOW!!! Well, she is now on her knees over the couch, sweating buckets and I am talking as calmly as possible to encourage her to get in the van. I even went so far as to tell her, “You can have the epidural when we get there”. I knew we would be lucky if we got there. Ashley stepped in. He comes over and lays his hands on Heather and prayed. OH MY!!!! I was amazed at what filled the room after he prayed. Heather calmly asked if she could get in the bathtub. I knew if she did, Abby would be born, right there. I gently encouraged the van and she agreed. She is dressed in her shirt and pants that she has been in since her last shower. We made it into the van. By the way, the van is a 15 passenger van. All car seats had been tossed to the rear. Ashley is driving and Heather I are on the first bench seat. Heather is riding on her knees facing the rear of the van. I am hanging on to the side of the seat with one hand and the other on Heathers back for comfort and safety. Ashley is driving calmly down Hwy 40 at 80 miles an hour and Heather is quiet. Scary quiet. “Turn up the air” and “She is coming” is all that she says. The AC is on full blast and we just keep reassuring her we are almost there. We finally make it to the Hwy 73 exit in Greensboro. Heather has not moved. We just pass the Friendly Ave. exit and she says, “She’s out!” Baby is crying!!!!!!! Ashley pulls over; we are trying to get rid of the pants so that we can get to Abby. She is crying and breathing and BEAUTIFUL!!!!! “Give me a towel!” is all I can utter. Ashley, bless his heart is sitting on it. I grab the towel and Heather grabs Abby and we bundle her in the blanket. Ashley calls 911 and says “My wife just had a baby in the van. We are fine. Baby is crying. We are on our way to the hospital.” I am overwhelmed and overjoyed. WOW! Is the only thing that I can think. Heather is doing fabulous. Abby is beautiful. Ashley pulls back out and we continue on to the hospital. We arrive and they didn’t call to let Women’s Hospital know we were coming. I have never seen so many nurses running at one time. Then Deirdre shows up, one of Heathers favorite Midwives. “You could have waited until you got here and let me deliver her”. She was as calm as she could be. We were amazed at the reception that we received when we arrived. There was nothing from the staff about waiting to long at home or any condemnation about what had just happened. They were supportive and gracious. We were so grateful. Abby was born in the van at approximately 1:45pm weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces and 20 inches long. It was the fastest, most exciting hour of my life.
I am happy to say that Abby, her 2 big sisters and her big brother are all doing well. She is a breastfeeding champ. This was Heather and Ashley’s first natural childbirth experience and I am sure that this will not be their last. I consider it a privilege and an honor to say that I was there during such an exciting time. Not only was I able to be their Doula, I can now call them friends. Thank you Ashley and Heather for such a blessing!!!!!!
Of Special Interest…..
No Artificial Rupture of Membranes
No Tears Ate and Drank as desired
No Excessive Bleeding
No excessive Vaginal Exams
Delayed Cord Clamping
Dad and Mom bathed Abby
Placenta Delivered without Help
This is a new post and sharing of a precious little one. His parents are Ben and Brittney. His big sister is Parker and his name is Jackson. I had the privilege and honor of being in attendance of his delivery in October. I chose to wait until now to share his story as the first one on my new website.
Ben and Brittney had invited me into this intimate time when she gave birth to Parker. It was incredible and such a blessing. She was induced during this labor as she was with Parker. Her last delivery was so very quick, we had all anticipated the same with Mr. Jackson. Well, he had other plans.
Brittney and Ben once again, stepped up to the occasion and she was determined to labor and give birth without an epidural. She had done it before and she could do it again. We were ready to go. She labored like a champ. She walked. She "danced". She rocked in the chair. She was on the birth ball. She loved the ball. She was powerful and perfect. She found her rhythm and she was focused. At one point while on the ball, she would pant, rock and bounce on the ball. When the contraction would end, she would rest her head on the bed and would turn into a limp rag. If she had not been in labor, I think she would have gone to sleep. She had done it. It was almost time to give birth to Mr. Jackson.
Her Ob, Dr. Delcambre, was in surgery most of the day and kept coming in between cases to check on her and encourage her. Always encouraging, whispering in Brittney's ear and being the "Midwife". She was ready to push and pushed like a champ. She made use of the mirror and could see the goal of holding her baby in her arms. Dr. Delcambre walked right in before Jackson made his grand entrance. Brittney received Jackson, skin to skin and he stayed skin-to-skin with her for a good 15 minutes. He was beautiful. He was calm and wide-eyed and ready. Absolutely beautiful!!!!!!!!!!
Brittney and Ben were so very excited and she had done such a beautiful job. I could not help but just beam with excitement over such a beautiful delivery and watch this family welcome a new little one into their home. I've had the honor of watching Brittney grow up to become a powerful woman, an awesome Mother and great friend. Her family is precious to me. While everything was being wrapped up in the room, I turned to see the most beautiful sight that I have ever witnessed. Brittney holding Jackson. Ben leaning over the bed and holding Brittney and Dr. Delcambre standing over them and praying blessing over them. His presence filled the room. I caught a picture that I will share.
This was a powerful delivery. A family of 3 changed to a family of 4. Absolutely powerful!!!!! Thank you so much Brittney and Ben for allowing me the honor of being a part of such a special day!!!!!!!!