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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Birth Stories

I was inspired to write down the stories of my children's births before the memories get blurred.

Julian (October 7th, 2006)
Late September 2006
We had decided to hire a midwife to deliver our child. We didn't want to deliver at home because we wanted to be closer to the hospital due to my previous C-section. We finally decided to deliver at the home of our Pastor's, Randy & Clara Maranville. Clara had five home births so she was well aware of what she was getting herself into.
I was due on October 1st. On September 27th, I received a call from Clara saying that her mother-in-law who lived with them went into the hospital for a couple of tests. She went on to explain that, during the night, her mother-in-law fell on her way back from the bathroom. The fall caused her to have a brain hemorrhage, and they expected her to die within the day.
I was extremely sad for their situation, but I was a little nervous about where we were going to deliver this baby. Clara told me that if I could just hold out for a week or so then they could still accommodate my birth. I was thankful for the first time that my babies like to bake for a couple of extra weeks.
I met with my midwife three days before my due date. I anxiously allowed her to check me (scared to death that she would tell me I had not dilated at all). Thankfully, she told me that I was already to 3 centimeters and that she didn't think I would be back for another weekly appointment. Although I woke up several times that week with contractions, I showed up on her doorstep the following Friday (now 5 days past my due date).
The midwife striped my membranes, and sends me home to get a good nap and eat a good meal. She was sure that I would be in labor by evening. At 5 o'clock, I woke up from my nap. I went to the pantry, bent down to get something, and felt my pants get wet. I called Stephen and then the midwife. I was nervous that my water had already broken and I wasn't yet feeling contractions. The midwife thought that the outer lining of my bag burst and not the whole bag. She told me to keep her updated.
I began making dinner, and by the time Stephen came home I was having regular contractions. They were mild enough for me to finish dinner and then spend an hour watching TV. We weren't really good at timing these contractions because we didn't have to last time.
We made plans to take D'arcy to a friend's house, but weren't sure if we would return home afterward or go directly to the birthing house. It took us a long time to pack up the car because we were taking all our birth medical supplies, extra towels, water, Gatorade, clothes, D'arcy's suitcase and pack-n-play. Our backseat was packed to the ceiling.
We casually dropped D'arcy off, and took a few minutes to talk to our friends. They were in charge of calling our parents so we talked about how that would work. We decided to go ahead and go to the birthing house even though my contractions weren't too difficult. By the time we arrived, though, a mere ten minutes later, my contractions were much more difficult. It took me three contractions before I could get to their front door. I used the restroom, and several more contractions came and went before I could make it to the bedroom. We called the midwife, and told her it was time for her to come.
For thirty minutes, I stood holding on to a post of our pastor's "hippie birthing bed", the mixture of a four post canopy bed and a 1980's water bed frame. The midwife finally arrived around 10 o'clock, checked me, and declared I was already to 7 centimeters. I was thrilled, and immediately had the urge to call my mom with the good news.
The midwife got the bathtub ready and I got in. I spent the next three hours going through transition in the tub. The contractions were difficult, but I had time to relax and talk in between. Stephen was in the tub with me encouraging me to relax. His main technique was to keep my hands from clenching up. This worked well.
I began to feel the urge to push so the midwife checked me and told me that a lip of my cervix was still there. This lip never fully went away, but the midwife assisted in pushing it aside while I pushed. This was difficult for her to do in the tub so I got out and headed to the bedroom. I was trying different pushing positions trying to get this baby to come down. This was where it went wrong with D'arcy so I was getting nervous that he wasn't going to cooperate. I got down in a squat and lost my breath after a long push. The baby's heart rate dropped, and the midwife declared that she was "officially" uncomfortable. She called the hospital and let them know that we might be coming to the hospital. They're always ready and willing to do another C-section.
Meanwhile, I was being given oxygen and told not to push. The oxygen was WONDERFUL, but the not pushing part was PAINFUL. I was wondering how I was going to make it to the hospital without pushing. After I took it easy for a few contractions, the baby's heart rate went back up, and the midwife knew that my uterus hadn't ruptured (a big concern for VBACs). She gave me the go ahead to push again.
At this point, we had asked that our pastor, Clara, and her eldest daughter, Joy, come into the room to pray for us. I was fairly unaware of their presence, but their prayers proved helpful as Julian finally made his way into the world, making a crazy head spin at the last minute according to Stephen and the midwife. I will always remember the soft, warm feeling of his head. It was 4:00am.
The midwife placed him on my stomach which is where he stayed for at least the first thirty minutes. At some point, Stephen finally got up from underneath me. He had been sitting behind me and holding me up for at least the last hour of pushing. It was almost as tiring for him. ALMOST. Every single muscle of my body was sore. I could barely move for a week.
Eventually Julian was weighed, phone calls were made, and I got a shower. By 10 o'clock that morning, we were heading home with our little, six hour old boy. We all slept the rest of the day.

D'arcy (August 25, 2004)
After several weeks of going to the doctor and leaving in tears because I was two pounds heavier and no closer to going into labor, Stephen and I made the grueling decision to be induced. We had been told that D'arcy was close to ten pounds, and that it was time for her to come out. We were ready. On the evening of August 23rd, eight days past my August 15th due date, we were admitted to the hospital to have our first baby.
That night, they gave me Cervadil, a drug to soften my cervix. They told me to get a good night's sleep before they started pitocin the next morning at 8am.
By 10am, I was feeling contractions. At 11, my doctor came by and broke my water. The first shift of nurses came in regularly to sop up all the fluid and up my pitocin. One nurse asked, "On a scale of one to ten, how high would you rate your pain." I answered about four, but over the next four hours it turned to about an eight or nine. I was in pain, and was forced to stay in bed, on my back, in order to keep the fetal monitor on.
Stephen was massaging my hands, and I was crying and trying to explain to him why I needed an epidural. The anesthesiologist was called, but, in the meantime, I was given a dose of nubane. I was so relaxed by the time the anesthesiologist came, that we told him to go away. He was surprised because he probably doesn't hear that very often! We went through two doses of this drug, but they didn't want to give me another dose because it can be problematic to the baby.
About 8pm, the anesthesiologist was called again. I had now been on pitocin for twelve hours and gone through two nurse shift changes. Normally, the husband is asked to leave while the epidural is given, but the nurse felt like Stephen was being so helpful, she allowed him to stay.
Stephen left to get some food, and I slept and slept and slept. Sometime after midnight (I have now been in the hospital over 24 hours), I woke up feeling pain in my left hip. The epidural was wearing off in that area. The anesthesiologist came back in to fix the problem. By this point, I was at about eight and running a fever. I was feeling the time crunch.
Our family was in the waiting room asleep. Stephen's mom woke up and came into the room to pray with us. All of the sudden, the nurse came in and believed that I was complete based on the fetal monitor reading. I was, and the nurse set up the pushing equipment. After pushing for a while, the doctor came in and said I had made little to no progress. He told me that I still had a fever and that I could push a little longer, but he didn't believe it would make much difference. Stephen and I decided to push for another hour. The doctor sat on the couch making small talk in between contractions. After the hour is up, we made the decision to go ahead with the C-section.
I was rolled to the operating room, transferred to the operating table by a board, and the anesthesiologist proceeded to confirm that I didn't feel anything. I was a little nervous because I could still feel some prickling in my legs. They started the surgery, and I remember feeling pulled. I also remember someone, who I thought was the anesthesiologist, massaging my head. I thought it was a little weird, but it felt good so I didn't ask him to stop. Come to find out, it was Stephen. This is how out of it I am. I fall asleep during the surgery, and when D'arcy is born she is rolled over for me to see. Stephen says that I asked, "Are there two?", but I don't remember saying this. It was now 5:38 or so on August 25th.
I barely remember nursing her in the recovery room, being asked if I want morphine, and asking the nurse if they were going to play her little birth tune over the loud speaker. I was asleep by the time I got to the post-partum room. D'arcy slept too. All the nurses that we met during labor (4 shifts of them) came in to see the "silver haired baby". Her hair was so light, I remember wondering if she was albino. Remember, I was very tired, hungry, and under the influence of a lot of drugs. By evening, though, we were awake and ready to do some bonding.


  1. Thanks for writing these stories down! I had never heard them and always enjoying hearing other birth stories. I should write M's down some day. Maybe after I give birth to this one. Twenty five weeks left and counting!

  2. Okay, I'm coming out of blog lurking status. I have no clue if you remember meeting me, but my name is Alyssa (formerly Helms) and I grew up with Stephen. I remember finding it funny when I met you because we had the same birthday, the same middle name, nearly the same first name, and both of our husband's were named Stephen. Anyway, I found you from Julie's blog and I've been having fun reading about and seeing your kids. Your photos are lovely. It's a great idea to write out birth stories out while you remember it clearly. Birth stories are always so interesting!

  3. Melissa , You were right most of it I had heard before but what an impact to see it all in print. Of course this emotional Grammy is in tears. Birth is such a miracle no matter how much or how little medicine gets in the way. These are beautiful. I am fairly certain from our talks before that the time that Julian's heart rate went down is the time that I was awakened to pray during the night--I was in and out all night but there was once that I woke up feeling breathless myself and this time seemed to match with the story. God is good ! Di