My Second Birth Story

My second birth story REALLY begins with my first birth story:

After all that we decided to heck with hospitals! Never again! Know your Birth Options! Down with the regime!!!

Kim and I at a Birth Rally

Kim and I at a Birth Rally


OK, got a little crazy there at the end of my pregnancy as I adamantly shouted out my frustration to everyone and anyone at being coerced into unnecessary medical intervention with my first birth.  If only I had read more, known more, I could have pushed against the system more and had the birth I wanted and known what they do to babies as soon as they come out and had a say in what was or wasn’t done to my child.

I still feel all this is true! I still feel EVERY pregnant women should understand how a hospital works and know where they stand on certain issues and make sure your hospital; should you choose to enter one, follows your wishes and does not deviate no matter what. Its your body, your child and your decision.

I still feel every woman should prepare for birth. READ READ READ. Just don’t stop reading any book you can get your hand on during pregnancy. So many of us just assume the doctors and everyone has our best interest at heart. The human condition being what it is, that’s just not true. YOU need to take responsibility for your pregnancy and your children. The hospital will look out for itself and do whats best for it.

What follows is my personal journey against and around and eventually back into the system:

I spent the pregnancy, when we weren’t moving or stressing about life situations out of our control, learning. I am a stubborn and determined woman and I realized if I didn’t want a hospital check ’em in cut ’em open check ’em out birth I was the only one who was going to make that happen. I read Peggy O’mara and Ina May Gaskin. I re-read all my old pregnancy books. Re-watched The Business of Being Born. I practiced kegals, yoga and meditation and focusing positive thoughts towards myself and my pregnancy and my baby. Visualizing a healthy quick birth in a warm tub surrounded by my husband and my daughter and my midwife and my doula Kim.  The birth photographer happily snapping pictures of our glorious moment and my wonderful triumph over the rigid system that is the American way of birth. The self affirming and wondrous moment that is WOMAN to go through labor unassisted and unhindered and come out the other side with your new child safely in your arms. Everyone happy. I knew it was going to be hard, I knew it was going to be a trial and I was ready!

Even after the second move I retained my positive attitude and found a Birth Center and a birth photographer. I had lost my doula, but at least I could stay away from a hospital! I still felt strong, like super woman even. Through all the trials we went through during the pregnancy I knew I could handle birth. Even my hubby kept saying how strong and determined I was and if anyone could do it I could.

The due date came… and went…. with a few contractions but nothing more…

The week after the due date came….and went…. with more light contractions that would start and stop and start and stop…but nothing more…

The 42 week mark loomed over my head like a black balloon. I knew no matter how supportive and wonderful my midwives at the center were (and they are!!) they couldn’t let me pass the 42 mark without going into the hospital. It felt like a jail sentence. My friends kept telling me what a trooper I was and Oh Poor You still pregnant? I remained zen… mostly. But laying in bed at night, I was terrified that I would have to go back to a hospital and go through that again. Dread sank in almost every night.

I focused all my energy to jump starting labor. I drank raspberry leaf tea constantly. I drank castor oil. I walked laps and laps and laps. I got hubby involved for some not so spontaneous hurry up and soften my cervix sex. I did stairs. I danced with my toddler every day shaking my butt and hips. I did nipple stimulation. I cried a few times and sat and asked the baby to just start to be on the way before Friday please please baby start making your way before Friday aren’t you ready to come meet us…

Non stress tests came and went. Baby was healthy. I was healthy. My belly was pretty big, but other than that there was nothing wrong with anybody. So why hadn’t baby come yet?

Thursday arrived, my last non stress test and check up the day before the 42 week mark. That morning, I awoke in the dark to labor pains! Trying to remain optimistic I made sure everything was ready to go. I felt strong contractions for nearly 5 hours… and then everything stopped. I could still feel a little fetal movement and my test was soon anyway so we packed up the car just in case and headed to see the midwife a little early. She put us on the monitors. Everyone’s fine, but labor had stopped again. Baby was back to resting happily. We then discussed our options. Since it was so close to 42 weeks we decided to spend the day trying to stimulate labor to start again. My cervix was ripe, I was 5 cm already when we entered the center and could be stretched to 7. The contractions just wouldn’t come back and the baby’s head was still too high.

Again; castor oil, nipple stimulation with the pumps, membrane sweepings over and over, stairs, bouncy ball, pacing, dancing, warm water. My mom arrived. My birth photographer arrived. Midnight arrived. Friday was here. Still no contractions.

At the birth center, before things got intense.

At the birth center, before things got intense.

Around 4 am I felt a few stirrings. Nothing to write home about. Hubby and birth photographer were asleep. Around 5 am we started re-evaluating our options. We talked about breaking my waters.About now was when I was getting afraid. The midwife was amazing. She explained EVERYTHING to me in detail about risks and that it might not work. She said if it doesn’t start labor you will be in the hospital and might have to have a c-section. We talked for at least a half hour as she explained the process. I knew all of it, but to have someone sit with me and really talk to me helped. Around 5:30 am we decided to do it, and by 5:45 am my water bag was manually broken. Some water came out, but not a huge torrent like with my daughter. I continued to leak on and off excessively for the remainder of labor.

After that the contractions came on strong, and headed into my back for another bought of nightmarish back labor. Hubby was up by then, as he had held my hand as she gently had broken the bag. He helped me so much. He rubbed my back with oil. and gave me support with his body and pillows. He fetched me water and towels and helped me bounce and move and eat a little. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to get as far as we did without him. He was incredible.

By noon, it was pretty clear things weren’t progressing. My contractions weren’t intensifying, for as intense as they were they had seemed to reach a plateau. A spine mangling moan-yell inducing volcano in my back plateau. I was fully effaced, but had gone down to only 4 cm and the baby’s head was still at a -2.

I was in the tub on my hands and knees; my face dipping slowly into the water after every contraction from exhaustion. I could hardly think. I was on all instinct and my instinct was willing me to just flee. I kept wishing I could just sleep for just a few moments. Beyond that each contraction just kept coming. I couldn’t tell you any deep thoughts or mantra’s because I couldn’t think beyond the next contraction is coming and I am so tired. I rolled over and put my spine against one of the jets in the tub for momentary relief. I will say, the warm water made an instant and significant difference in my ability to focus on breathing and try to work through it. I wish I could have slept in the tub without drowning. The midwife came in, concern plain on her face. I think part of me knew what she was going to say. At that point I almost didn’t care… almost…

They called an ambulance and I was taken via stretcher. Hubby stayed behind and grabbed all out things and rushed behind us in the car. The birth photographer followed in her car. We made the hospital in under 30 minutes. It was hell. The contractions had hurt before (hurt being too light a word) but now that I was confined to a sitting position and out of the tub and not allowed to move they were unbearable. I couldn’t stop myself from screaming with each rush. I think I was muttering no no no in between contractions and I know I was yelling it during. They kept telling me to focus and breathe. Didn’t they understand how long I had spent focusing and breathing thru them already? I was done focusing and breathing. I wanted to just physically get up and run away from the ambulance and from my body and from how upset I was that I was going to the hospital after all. I would scream if I felt like it dammit.

Don’t really remember much from that time until the epidural was put in. I remember Hubby arriving and grabbing my hand and telling me he was there. I am sure I was processed and stamped and placed into a nice little box.

After the epidural was working, my brain cleared and I was able to start asking questions and making sure they knew what we were OK with and what were weren’t. We want delayed cord clamping, we want my child placed on my chest skin to skin as soon as it emerges, we want to breastfeed right away. We don’t want a vitamin k shot or any vaccinations, no episiotomy or forceps or vacuum extraction. We don’t want you to take the baby from our sight for any reason. We don’t want sugar water or pacifiers or formula used. In the event of a boy we don’t want circumcision. We want you to keep us informed of ANY and ALL procedures and not push us into any decisions.

The word c-section was thrown in the conversation again. Now, instead of praying for a non-medicated real natural birth in warm tub I was just praying not to be cut open. Luckily, we had our midwife! We all talked and she checked me again and we decided that we were still going to go for a vaginal birth with the help of some pitocin and an epidural, although certainly was not going to be the way I had hoped for one. I discussed with her my fears… and how I felt like a failure. How weak I felt for not being able to do it unmedicated. How hypocritical.

We discussed why I could have been working for another 26 hours and still not have gotten anywhere. How it was not weakness on my part that was the reason this baby wasn’t coming, just plain biology. For whatever reason my uterus this time just wasn’t contracting strongly enough to force the baby’s head into position. The shape it was in this time and the excessive amount of amniotic fluid I had in there had also had given the baby enough room to float around so the head didn’t have to be forced into a lower position either. It would seem that my body had been making attempts to have the baby for the past two weeks, but kept stalling because the baby’s head just wouldn’t drop. She assured me there was nothing I could have done about it. I still felt weak because I am just that stubborn to believe I should be able to be in full control of my uterus and cervix.

I think I finally let myself cry just for a second. Then it was back to work. I still wanted to avoid a c-section. The midwife believed that with the pitocin forcing my contractions to be stronger that I could still do it. The baby was looking good and strong, so we began. It took another 9 1/2 hours, all of which I was stuck on my sides, rotated by nurses every now and then and could not move my legs but the baby’s head was finally at a +2 and I was dilated to a 10!

They helped pull me up into a classic hospital birthing position since I still couldn’t move my legs. 4-5 pushes later (about 5 minutes) with my husband holding my leg, my birth photographer in the corner snapping pictures happily and our daughter in a hotel room with my mom across town, our new son was born! They let me feel his head as he was emerging, placed him directly on my chest skin to skin and waited until the cord stopped pulsing before cutting it. He looks like my dad.

I can honestly say that the staff at the hospital followed all our wishes and for the most part just left us alone. We never met the “bitch nurse” and everyone was really friendly and open to our wishes. The midwives came to visit us each day we were in the hospital. It was 100% different experience then the last hospital we birthed in.

Here we are, 4 days later. We are successfully exclusively breastfeeding and my milk came in last night, he has quite a latch! I am still pretty disappointed in myself for not “being able” to have the birth I planned BUT I am so happy we were at a progressive hospital that actually listened to our wishes.

I still STRONGLY encourage women to trust in their bodies and most of all to EDUCATE themselves on all the options and what it all means to them. I still agree that most hospitals are money sucking pits that care more about your insurance status then your well-being and they are NO PLACE for a healthy pregnancy and a normal birth. HOWEVER in an emergency situation when medical intervention is needed it is good to have one nearby.I still believe too many hospitals try to force laboring women into procedures they don’t need and shouldn’t have, but things might be getting better as more women educate themselves and push back.

I still feel our country needs to understand pregnancy is not a disease. It is not a disability. A woman is stronger during pregnancy and birth then at any other time during her life and our country treats them like invalids and so many have come to believe they are invalids. I still feel a hospital is NOT a place you should have a baby unless medically necessary.

I know I gave it my all, I know that medically my son was not going to come out without some help. I Know I am Strong and that I did everything I could. I am happy my midwife was strong and smart and recognized early that we needed help and thus helped me avoid the dreaded c-section. I am happy we were transferred to a hospital that was open and flexible and had a great staff.

And of course, I am ecstatic that we have our wonderful son here with us. I would do everything again just the same if I still got the same outcome. I really am blessed to have such a wonderful little family.




Our Birth Story in Pictures

    • Kciretuok Nitsuj
    • May 1st, 2013

    I like the part about the husband.

  1. Oh Sharah!!! Good job!!! What a wonderful story! I have so many questions I want to ask you about this experience!!! Can’t wait to talk!!!

  1. May 10th, 2013
  2. July 26th, 2013
    Trackback from : Inside Pale

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