Oh the beauty of childbirth, regardless of location

Beautiful and peaceful are two descriptors I never really expected in the same sentence with “I attended a hospital birth”.

But, that’s exactly how I’d describe my friend Diana’s birth.  What an amazing first experience as a doula.

I think I’ve mentioned my reasons for my own non-hospital births before.  I can’t seem to find those posts with this hazy brain I’ve got going on right now, so I’ll elaborate.  I chose to avoid hospitals with my two births for the same reason many women would never have a home birth: fear.  At least to some extent.  I’ve always seen hospitals as places filled with death and sickness.  That perspective no longer holds true.

It was around 9:30AM on Sunday, September 23, 2012 (four days past Diana’s due date) when I opened my eyes, glanced at my phone, and realized, in a panic, that I’d missed her call.  Hubby had graciously gotten up with the boys so I could sleep in a little.  I listened to the message where she calmly announced something along the lines of, “looks like this is going to be the day she’s born”.  Struck with both excitement and nerves, I called her back to get the details.

The contractions started around 7:45AM and they were holding a steady pattern at ten minutes apart and increasing in intensity.  This was her second baby and her first experience was quick, so I knew it was possible things could speed up.  I also knew from my own experience that, that wasn’t a given.  I told her I’d get ready to come over and asked her to let me know if anything changed before I got there.

Let me just say, I was a little bit nervous about leaving my 6 month old for one entire day, so it took me a little longer than expected to ready myself.

Next thing I know, it’s 11AM and she’s calling back to let me know she’s going to the hospital.  Her contractions had sped up and the level of intensity was beginning to make her nervous.  I dropped everything and jumped in the car to meet her there.

When I arrived at the hospital, realizing I didn’t have her husband’s number, I called Diana to see where she was and headed up to her room.  As it turned out, her hubby had gone to drop off their 2yr old son at the grandparents’ house.

When I got up to her room, she was laying in bed and her mom was waiting there with her while the nurse asked her the required questions for admittance.  Her contractions were about 4 minutes apart and she was already starting to feel the urge to push.  Her midwife wasn’t there yet, but was en route, so no one had checked her yet.

At this point, I asked Diana if she’d like some soothing music and, with a “That would be great”, went over to my bag, grabbed my iPhone, turned on my Sleep Pillow app, and selected spa sounds.  I also downloaded a contraction timer and began timing her contractions while encouraging her through the contractions and stroking her hair.  Her contractions were 3 minutes apart and she was starting to break a sweat.

She took each contraction with amazing control and grace.  It was apparent that they weren’t easy, but she didn’t panic or tense-up and she greeted each one with confidence as she concentrated and managed her pain.

The midwife arrived around 12, checked her (she was 9cm), and decided to try to get one round of antibiotics in her quickly before she started pushing.  They shot the antibiotics in faster than they normally would, so it burned, but again, Diana pushed through and within minutes, the midwife broke her water and she started pushing.

Because of how fast her labor progressed, there wasn’t time for considering any other positions.  Precious baby girl was ready to come out and her beautiful mama was ready to have her in her arms.

I offered support on her left side and her hubby, and amazing birth partner, stood on the other as she pushed.

In that moment, I couldn’t help but notice the abounding love that flowed between her and her husband.  He pressed his head against hers and spoke to her with such raw affection as he encouraged her, as if he felt every contraction right alongside her.  And, even now, I have tears in my eyes with the memory.  It was more than beautiful.

After three incredible pushes, a few minutes shy of 1pm, Diana’s precious miracle was born.  I’m not sure I can adequately express the emotion that filled the room when this baby girl entered the world.  It was such a beautiful, amazing, and joyful rush of love.

To say that I am no longer afraid of a hospital birth after this experience is an incredible understatement.  The miracle of birth is, without a doubt, always incredible and beautiful, no matter where it happens.  I’m so excited for my next experience as a doula.

Thank you Diana for letting me attend your birth.  Thank you for letting me share this extraordinary moment with you and your family.  You are an amazingly strong and beautiful woman, mother, and friend.  I am blessed to have you in my life.

Fighting for life. Can you help?

News spreads like wildfire. Thankfully in this case.

A close friend of mine, whom I’ve known since childhood, Diana (from Hormonal Imbalances) almost lost her twin boys at 18.5 weeks when her water broke this past Friday. She made the decision not to induce and was forced to fight for that decision up until yesterday when things finally changed. Katherine Stone from Postpartum Progress posted this on Babble to bring attention to the situation and help fight for Diana’s rights. It worked.

All the verbal and written support has been amazing and, since we all know how expensive hospital stays can be, a paypal account has been started in her name (heartsfordianadrive@gmail.com) courtesy of Amber from A Day Without Sushi. Check out Amber’s post to learn more: Social Media for Good – How can you help?. I will be joining Amber in chopping off my hair if we get 5000 donations.

Even if you can’t donate, please check out this Facebook Page or stop by Diana’s blog and show your support. Let’s show this hospital and the rest of the world that no one should mess with a mom and her right to fight for her babies.

*Update: Sadly, Julian and Preston were born too early and have gone to be with Jesus. Here are Diana’s words. Donations are still being accepted on her behalf, though not at her request.

As Promised: Littlest Man’s Birth Story

The menstrual-like cramp rippled through my body. “Could this really be it?”

I woke up with a start around 8:00 on the morning of Monday, March 26, 2012. I laid there for about twenty minutes timing the contractions. They were ten minutes apart and I prayed they were real. Maybe, Little Man would become a big brother today? I made my way to the bathroom for confirmation and was thrilled to find a little spotting. (Probably the only situation in which I would find this news so exciting)

I called my midwives’ answering service and notified my doula and a few friends via text. Pam, one of my two CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwives), called me back within a few minutes to gather the facts. She decided she would go to the hospital to discharge another patient of theirs and then make her way over to our house. Dana, my doula, requested I keep her updated. I went downstairs for breakfast around 10AM and the contractions sped up to five minutes apart. This might not alarm most laboring woman as it usually just signifies the switch from early, latent labor to active labor which can last all day. I, however, delivered my last baby within three hours of this switch, so my midwife and doula both opted to come over immediately.

Taken around 1pm

Once everyone arrived (midwife, assistant, and doula), around 1PM*, I requested that Pam check me. The contractions were somewhat erratic and I began to wonder if I had jumped the gun. She found me at 5-6cm dilation, a soft and fully effaced cervix, and fully engaged baby.

Okay, yes. I might be a freak of nature as I realize many woman request their epidural around 5cm. But, I should share that I don’t exactly have a high tolerance for pain. What I do have is a long track record of losing consciousness quickly over tiny injuries like biting my tongue (I’m not exaggerating). Though I didn’t take Hypnobabies or Hypnobirthing, I believe I used some degree of self-hypnosis. With both labors, I felt discomfort and the intensity frightened me at times, but I refused to acknowledge it as pain.

Around 2 or 3PM*, I decided I wanted to spend some time in the pool Hubby set up in our bedroom earlier that morning. A shower sped things up for me with LM, so I thought the tub might do the same. Though the intensity of each contraction increased, the frequency slowed to a stop. Around 3 or 4PM*, I decided to dry off and come downstairs to bounce on the ball and do some stair lunges. The contractions returned and continued to increase in intensity but remained ten minutes apart.

In an effort to get things moving, I went for a walk around the block probably around 5PM*, during which my contractions jumped to approximately 3 minutes apart and there was a dramatic change in my comfort level. When we returned, the contractions were hard and frequent and I felt a dramatic shift in my emotions from excited to irritable and scared.

Before getting back in the pool, Pam checked me again, at my request, and found me to be a “stretchy” 9cm. I was ready. I got back in the pool, breathed through about three very challenging contractions before finding the courage to push.

Towards the end of one contraction, I pushed and felt my waters break. I pushed Littlest Man out in the next two contractions which happened in about 6 minutes (6:06PM).

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This was a very different story than my labor with Little Man a little over two years ago. With LM, I slept through seven hours of early labor, shifted into active labor as soon as I got out of bed, and, including a hurried trip to the birth center, delivered LM three hours later after twenty minutes of pushing. I’ve never really shared this before but I found my first, very rapid labor both scary and extremely draining. I had a pretty bad tear and I felt completely wiped for several days. Though my recovery time, as far as the ability to perform the normal day to day tasks, was pretty standard, it was months before my body felt close to normal again. My second labor, on the other hand, left me feeling peaceful yet energized and excited and I’m finding the recovery much faster.

I hope this story encourages the first-time mother not to fear the “standard” longer labor. My first experience was completely abnormal for a first labor and, in retrospect and after a much different story this time, I feel having the time to let your body and mind prepare for delivery makes for a beautiful experience.

*I wasn’t watching the clock so most times are approximate.

**none of this would have been possible without my parents and best friend, Diana, who helped with LM while all this happened. I am so thankful.

Introducing Our Newest Littlest Man

Just a short post to share some pictures and share the news. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you already know this, but our newest addition arrived at 6:06PM on 3/26/12 in our home in water.

We felt this delivery was the best decision we could have made and I will share the story soon!
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