Tag Archives: home birth

Harper’s Birth Story: Part 2

Our story picks up at 1 am on February 20, 2011.  We had just finished cleaning up the house and were on our way to the hospital.  And now for the fun part…driving in the car while in the midst of labor.  Can we say painful?!  Most uncomfortable car ride of my life.  Thank God we live in a small town and the ride was only a few minutes.

When we arrived at the hospital, my midwife whispered in my ear.  She told me to surround myself with a bright light.  She encouraged me to put my hood over my head and do my best to remain in the head space I had created for myself at home.  This was an important piece of wisdom that I held with me throughout my experience.

They transported me in a wheelchair and took me upstairs to labor and delivery.  The nurses had a ton of questions to ask, which I wasn’t in the mood to answer.  Freddie did his best to step in for me, but after answering 5’9” for my height (I’m barely 5’3”), I knew I had to do my best to get them the information they needed.

Once I was naked again and able to move about the room I felt a bit better.  They tried to run a shower for me but after waiting 20 minutes for the water to warm up, we realized that a shower wasn’t going to happen.  I spent some time laboring on the toilet and walking up and down the halls.  But soon they wanted to start an internal monitor on me to track my contractions, as I was still only at 5 cm.  So they wanted to take a peek and see what was going on.

A few more hours passed and by 4am, 24 hours into labor, the nurses came in and said that I was going to need some intervention.  I was stalled at 5 cm and after tracking my contractions with an internal monitor, it was found that my contractions “weren’t adequate enough” to move my cervix along.  I, on the other hand, happened to think my contractions were more than adequate, or at least they sure felt like it.  At this point my body was shaking and trembling.  I was having trouble getting through my contractions so they thought that if they gave me an epidural, maybe I would be able to rest and allow my body to do the work it needed to do.

This was a tough pill for me to swallow.  I looked over at my midwife for advice.  She looked back and said, “Heather, this might be your best chance at a vaginal birth.”  So I gave in and succumbed to the drugs.  At first I felt a bit defeated.  Not only did was I disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to have a home birth, but now I wasn’t going to have a natural birth either.  Plus, after all the things I learned about the cycle of drugs from watching The Business of Being Born, I had a bad feeling that this wasn’t going to end well.  But I did my best to refocus my thoughts back on Harper.  I began to strip away my expectations of when, where and how I was going to give birth and resolved that my only expectation should be a healthy baby.  And luckily, through all of this, Harper continued to do well.

Once I finally agreed to the epidural, the drugs couldn’t come quick enough.  It seemed like forever before the doctor got me hooked up.  But once he did, I dozed off into la la land for some much-needed rest.  At this point, my birth assistant Jen and midwife Alice left the hospital, as there was nothing more they could do.  But they told me to call the other midwife Anna when it was time for me to push.

The nurse continued to come in and check on me.  My cervix still would not budge so they decided to give me a round of pitocin.  It took a few rounds to get things going but things finally started to move.  At this point I was most concerned about Harper because I knew that these drugs could affect her heart rate.  But she was a trooper and was holding on.

At 9 am, the doctor on call came to check on me.  She said I was complete and ready to push.  I called my midwife Anna and asked her to come for support.  In the meantime, the doctor and nurses began to prepare the room for delivery.  By 10 am we were ready to go.  I had Anna on one side and Freddie on the other.  Anna was in charge of keeping my lips lubricated with chap stick and Freddie was offering me water from a straw.  Being that I had an epidural I didn’t feel the full sensations of the contractions.  But when I started to feel pressure, I knew I needed to push.  In between pushing we were telling jokes, sharing stories and chatting away.  The music was playing, the lights were low and I felt at peace.

Because of the meconium in my water, the doctor explained that she wouldn’t be able to give me Harper right away.  They had a neonatal team standing by to check her out and make sure she hadn’t ingested any of it.  So as soon as Harper started to crown, she told me to reach down and touch her head.  I was surprised to find a full head of hair, silky and smooth.  A few pushes later and Harper Marie was born at 10:54 am.  As soon as she was out they whisked her over to the neonatal team.  Freddie went with her.  They checked her out and she was 100% perfect.  Her breathing was fine.  So as soon as they could, they brought her back over to me and I was able to hold her for the first time. And then I looked into her eyes.  Pure magic.  A miracle.  Amazing.

She was ready to eat and latched on right away.  I was grateful to have Anna there to instruct me on how to get a proper latch.  After a few feedings, it was time for Harper to go to the nursery with her dad to get cleaned up, measured and weighed.  I was excited to finally get the chance to eat.  Yum.  Real food!  They offered me a delicious turkey sandwich with avocado, bacon, lettuce, sprouts…you name it!  And a milkshake on the side.  Food never tasted so good.

Harper, Freddie and I reunited in the postpartum wing after she was done with all her tests and we enjoyed spending time as a family.  Just the three of us.  It was the beginning of  new chapter in our lives.  And I was loving every minute of it.

Even though Harper’s birth didn’t turn out the way we planned it, we were grateful to have a baby that was happy and healthy.  And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.  I appreciate the constant support of my midwives and birth assistant, who were at my side the entire time.  And of course, my husband, who remained calm and strong.

After all was said and done, I am glad I was able to experience a hospital birth.  I am thankful for the success of the interventions that were used.  I was pleasantly surprised by how everything turned out.  It definitely changed my perspective hospital births and I am grateful that I am able to share my journey with others.

What I learned most about this entire experience was that when it comes to giving birth, the best thing to expect, is the unexpected.  Try not to hold on too tight to the details and do your best to go with the flow.  Trust in your body, trust in your baby and believe that everything will turn out right.

Photo taken by Rachel Bradshaw of Little Sparrows Photography.

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Harper’s Birth Story: Part 1

The process of giving birth is truly amazing.  The wisdom that your body has to deliver another human being is nothing short of a miracle.  I am forever grateful for the experience of giving birth to Harper.  I was so blessed to have my midwives, birth assistant, doctors and of course my wonderful husband by my side throughout the entire journey.  Their support and encouragement was unbelievable.

It was February 19, 2011.  I woke up in the middle of the night to some uncomfortable cramping.  Having never been in labor before I wasn’t quite sure what I was experiencing.  I tried to go back to sleep but the cramping kept coming and it seemed to be happening in some sort of pattern.  Finally, at 4am, I decided I should probably time them to see if there was something significant going on.  About an hour later, Freddie woke up and asked me what I was doing playing with my blackberry at 5am.  I told him that I thought that I might be in labor.  At this point, the uncomfortable cramping turned into waves of contractions.  But that didn’t distract me from my goal.  I needed to get the house cleaned and make food for the midwives.

Since Freddie and I were planning a home birth, it was important that our space was ready for our little girl to arrive.  We pretty much already had everything set up but there were a few minor details that we needed to complete.  One of which was to clean the bathroom, and the other was to get snacks ready for everyone to enjoy during labor.  Freddie took the bathroom while I cut up some apples in the kitchen.  I was able to get through a few slices before a contraction came on.  I would just grab the counter, lean over and moan my way through.  When I was done I went back to business as usual.

Around 8am, I decided to call my midwives to let them know what was going on.  Being that they had just checked me and not much was happening down there, they suggested I try to get some rest.  Well, lying down seemed to be the most painful, so sleep wasn’t an option.  So we headed to Costco to stock up on paper products.  By this time, my contractions had gotten pretty strong.  As we walked the aisles of Costco looking for the paper towels, I would grab on to Freddie and slow dance with him as I moaned my way through contraction after contraction.  After our cart was full of everything we needed, we checked out and made our way to the car.  On our way out, as the man was checking our receipt, I had another contraction.  The clerk looked at Freddie and said, “you better get her to the hospital!”, to which I replied, “it’s ok, I’m having a home birth!”.

On our way home, we decided to stop at Trader Joes.  I wanted to pick up some lunch meat and a bouquet of flowers for Harper.  We didn’t last long as it seemed like my contractions were lasting longer and getting closer together.

When we got home, we called our midwives again.  Freddie talked to them for a bit and gave them the statistics on my contractions.  Then he handed the phone to me.  The first thing I heard when I answered the phone was, “Are you having fun yet?”.  I couldn’t help but smile.  I love the way they helped me to reframe this uncomfortable pain.  They then asked me if I needed them to come over.  I told them I was ok and that Freddie was doing a great job supporting me.  But as soon as I gave the phone back to Freddie I was moaning my way through another tough contraction.  When they heard me in the background, they told Freddie they would be right over.

One of our midwives, Alice, arrived around 4pm or so.  At this point, I had been in labor for about 12 hours or so.  She decided to check me and I was only at 3 cm.  Are you kidding?!  She looked me in the eye and said, “This is going to be a long night”, I stared back and said, “I’m ready”.

In the midst of working through my contractions and dancing around the house in my underwear, our changing table arrived.  Hooray for perfect timing!  Alice asked Freddie to put it together, which left me to labor on my own.  Easier said than done.  But she wanted me to own my labor, work through my contractions and experience some of this journey by myself.  Looking back, I am glad I was able to have this time alone.

About 3-4 hours later, my birth assistant Jen arrived.  At this point, I had been in and out of the shower, the bath, the toilet, the bed, the couch…it was like musical chairs.  But I loved how I could move around my house, listen to my music and feel free to labor the way that worked best for me.  I continued to move around from room to room for a few more hours and then at about 10pm, they wanted to check me again.  This time I was only at 5cm.  And Harper wasn’t really dropping.  At this point, my midwife asked me how I would feel about her breaking my water.  She said she is normally not a fan of interventions, but she felt it was important in this case and thought that maybe it might help Harper to drop a bit and hopefully speed up the labor.  I told her I trusted her and was comfortable with whatever she wanted to do.  She said she was going to think about it a little more and went out on the couch to rest for a bit.

An hour later, Alice came back in and I was still at 5 cm.  So she said she wanted to go through with breaking my water.  As I laid on the bed, I felt a warm gush of liquid between my legs.  To be honest, it was a little comforting.  But the words that came from my midwife’s mouth were not.  She looked up at me and said, “I’m sorry, Heather, but we are going to have to go to the hospital”.  My first reaction was a cry of “No!”.  I had worked so hard with maintaining a healthy diet and monitoring my blood sugar levels so that I could have a home birth.  I had also already labored for almost 20 hours at home.  But as soon as those thoughts came into my mind, they left.  And the only thing that was important to me was the health of my baby.  “Is she ok?”, I asked.  “Yes.  She is doing great.  Your water is just full of meconium.  So we want to be able to deliver at the hospital in case there are any complications with Harper aspirating it.”

Luckily, we were in no rush.  In fact, at one point, Alice asked Freddie to charge her phone.  This helped Freddie to relax a bit because if our midwife had time to charge her phone, then this must not have been an emergency.

I had already packed a bag just in case, but to be honest, I didn’t pack my “best” things.  So I had Freddie throw in my comfortable jammies, my glasses, socks, and a few other items.  Then Freddie, Alice and Jen started to drain the birthing tub and clean up a little bit around the house.  By 1am, we were ready to go to the hospital.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2, and the conclusion of Harper’s Birth Story.

Photo taken by Rachel Bradshaw of Little Sparrows Photography.

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