Jason's Birth Story By Pam Print
Birth Stories - Birth Center Birth Stories
Friday, 16 January 2009 08:51
January 16, 1999 5:35 am 7 pounds, 4 ounces 20.5 inches

I had just turned 39 when I became pregnant in May after only two months of trying. My DH and I had just gotten married in January, but I insisted we try to conceive right away because I worried my age would make it difficult to conceive. I was certainly in a hurry to have a child because I feared that my years of delay would prove to be my undoing.

We chose to seek prenatal care with a midwife practice that operated a free- standing birthing center. After attending their orientation we felt comfortable with the attitude taken by the staff. We shared their philosophy that pregnancy was a normal human event to be celebrated, not a medical condition to be managed. An added benefit was that the birthing center was located a half block from our home. I often joked that I would walk there during labor.

My pregnancy progressed normally. I was healthy before I conceived, which certainly benefited me. I kept up my schedule of jogging 4-5 times per week until I was almost five months when the heat of the summer forced me to slow to a fast walk. I totally bypassed the morning sickness of the first trimester and aside from some fatigue, I felt great. I read everything I could that supported the type of birth that I wanted - an empowering of my ability to do what my body instinctively knew to do. About halfway the pregnancy we decided to utilize the services of a doula. (Beth) Since we lived so close to the birthing center we wanted to remain at home as long as possible. Given that neither my DH or I had been through labor before, we felt the support of a doula would keep us from worrying and heading to the birthing center too early. A sonogram at 21 weeks revealed we were going to have a boy.

Like most women, the last weeks of the pregnancy really began to drag. Fortunately, I had the holidays to keep me busy until I was 35 weeks, but the early days of January made me realize the end was near. I was ready!!

At the start of my 38th week, I experienced very sharp, shooting pains deep in my pelvis that nearly doubled me over. After discussing the situation with one of the midwives she felt my son was pressing on some nerves in his attempt to push himself deeper into the pelvis. The good news, according to the midwife, was that the deeper he was in my pelvis before labor started, the shorter labor would be and that the lightening usually indicated labor was 2-4 weeks away. Such was not the case.

Up to this point the winter had been very mild, but when the pains of lightening began, on came the ice and snow, making it difficult to get to work each day. On Thursday, it was so bad, I stayed home. Thursday night we had several inches of snow, but in the morning the roads looked passable. Eager to keep busy, I decided to make the trek in. After getting stuck on the ice and snow five times, I gave up and headed home. As I got out of my car at 9:30 am I felt liquid trickling out of me. I experienced that weird mindset of knowing that my water had broken, but at the same time thinking it was just some incontinence. By the time I got in the house and went to the bathroom I was sure about what had happened and called the midwife. She advised me to sit tight and hope that labor would begin spontaneously. We called various family members and Beth to let them know it would be soon. Since the protocol our midwives allowed gave me 24 hours to start labor before being admitted for a Pitocin-induced labor, we knew our son would be born Friday or Saturday.

By noon the contractions had not begun so my DH and I went for a checkup. The midwife (Catherine) told me, to my disappointment, that my cervix was quite closed - no dilation or effacement. Wanting to avoid a hospital admission at all costs, we set up a plan of action that involved natural induction methods from nipple stimulation to castor oil and black cohosh. We went home and sat down to eat lunch before trying to induce when the contractions began at 2:00 pm. They continued on until about 10:00 pm varying from 7-12 minutes apart and 30-60 seconds long. They weren't very uncomfortable and I went about my day and evening with not much of a fuss. By 10:00 pm I was tired of the pace and believed that lying around the house relaxing was not going to move things along. Since the snow kept me from walking around outside, I began walking around the first floor of our house. The movement did the trick and by 11:00 pm the contractions were 5 minutes apart and lasted 45-60 seconds. Unfortunately, they slowed up again if I sat down, but we were sure they were progressing so we called Catherine and asked Beth to come on over.

Beth arrived around midnight and persuaded me to lie down and relax. She felt I was still in early labor and it would be a long night. We sat in the living room with the lights dimmed and Mozart playing, just chatting about various topics. After about an hour, the contractions began to increase in intensity, but remained 7-8 minutes apart. At about 1:00 pm I got up to go to the bathroom. Within minutes, my contractions jumped to 4 minutes apart. I moved back to the toilet and the contractions then quickly jumped to 2 minutes apart. I began vocalizing with a low groaning sound that really helped with pain management.

At 1:45 am we called Catherine and arranged to meet her at the birthing center at 2:30 am. By the time we were ready to get in the car, I was fully into contractions and they were now only 1 minute apart. I remember having two contractions on the sidewalk getting from the house into the car and wondering if any of my neighbors heard me since I was vocalizing very loudly at that point to deal with the pain.

I had planned to use the Jacuzzi at the birthing center for pain management, but an internal exam revealed that I was already 9 centimeters dilated!! It took me a few minutes to realize that, by the time the tub was filled, it would be too late to get in!!! I knelt on some pillows beside the bed with my DH on one side and Beth on the other. Catherine sat behind me in a rocking chair and observed with supportive words. We worked though some very tough contractions with vocalizing, swaying and counterpressure for another hour and I began to feel the need to push slightly. Catherine told me to do what felt right. At about 3:30 am Catherine did another internal and determined that, while I was 10 centimeters, I had an anterior lip. She asked me to lie on my side and not push. I remember the next half-hour as being the most difficult of the entire labor. Trying not to push was incredibly tough, even with Beth in my face, breathing with me. Catherine did another internal, during which I had an incredibly strong contraction and involuntarily pushed. Fortunately, that pushed the lip away and it was time for serious pushing. It was 4:15 am. I made good progress, thanks to my son being so deep in the pelvis from his movement earlier in the week.

However, shortly after I started pushing, my son's heartbeat was not recovering as well as it should have after each push. I was given some oxygen, which helped somewhat, but after a time, the slow recovery came back. Catherine encouraged me to push as hard as I could in order to get him out as quickly as possible. Even though he was close to crowning, I was beginning to really tire at this point. I wasn't sure how much more pushing I could manage and Catherine began to be somewhat concerned about needing to do some sort of intervention to get him out quickly. She suggested a small episiotomy to get him out faster. I knew that she was making the suggestion only because she was beginning to be concerned about needing to do more serious intervention. She was well aware of my desire to avoid an episiotomy. After two more pushes failed to deliver his head, I agreed. The next push brought out the head and after a brief pause to suction him, another easy push brought out the rest of his body. I was amazed at how easy it was to birth his body.

Our son came into the world pink and screaming almost as soon as he left my body. We were all amazed at how loud he was!! After a few minutes of vigorous screaming, he settled into sucking his hand. While I got stitched my DH helped the nurse clean him up and do a few birthing procedures. He then returned and learned quickly how to latch on. After a few minutes of nursing and snuggling he fell asleep.

After a few phone calls, to wake up family members Jason, my DH and I settled down for a brief nap. Later we practiced nursing a few more times with help from the nurse and had a little breakfast. By 12:30 we were on our way home to rest and recuperate. Today Jason is six weeks old and amazes us every day. He smiles, coos and has some awfully funny facial expressions. We wonder what he is thinking. We think he is the best!!!!