J’s birth – a mother of two is born

Go back to the beginning of J’s birth story.
Read the
 previous part of J’s birth story.

Not long after the baby started breathing on her own, the well-swaddled baby was placed into my arms.  Still focused more on my own anxious feelings than on my new daughter, I held her for a little bit, but gave her back pretty quickly to someone else, because I felt too weak to hold her.  Apparently I was pretty white.  I didn’t pass out, but I remember lying back in bed for quite a while.  I guess I was bleeding pretty heavily, because I remember Treesa, my doula, leaning over me, telling me that my OB wanted me to get a shot of Pitocin, and she recommended that I get it.  I agreed.

It was around this point where I had a severe anxiety attack.  I said, “I can’t handle two children!  I can’t do it!”  That had been my fear from the very moment I discovered I was pregnant, and I had done my best to ignore that fear throughout my pregnancy.  But the moment of Mother to Two Children had finally come.  I firmly believe that it was that fear that caused my labor to be so incredibly painful.  Despite the fact that my body knew what to do and was doing it, there was another part of me that was fighting against it, forcing my body to work harder and making its progress that much more painful.

I don’t remember what Treesa said to me to calm my fears.  I don’t remember what my husband said to me either.  But somehow, as I got through those first minutes of being a mother of two, it occured to me that maybe I could do it.  Maybe it was the Pitocin kicking in, but I realized that I was (sort of) already handling being a mother of two.  And I only had to take it one day at a time.  It was a good hour before I was finally calmed down, but I did eventually start to ease into the idea of being a mother of two.

One thing that helped my anxiety calm down was to actually start bonding with the baby.  During this post-birth time, my husband held the baby most of the time, and as I laid on the bed battling my anxiety, I asked him, “How is it doing?”  I guess I must have asked him that more than once, always using the pronoun “it,” because finally Treesa said, “She needs to hold her baby!” and passed the baby to me.  It was then that I finally got a good look at her and started to bond with her a little bit.  I unwrapped her to look at her body, and I think we even tried nursing for the first time.

Since my laboring time at the hospital had been just around half an hour, Treesa, my doula, wasn’t able to help me much during the birth.  Everything happened so fast, and unfortunately I was pretty much emotionally and physically beyond help during labor.  But Treesa was wonderful after the birth, staying for almost three hours afterwards, helping me process the experience, talk through my anxiety, start up breastfeeding, take a trip to the bathroom, eat a little something, and process the experience some more.  She was such a help for me – and for my husband – and I can never thank her enough for all she did to get me and my baby off to a good start, despite our rough beginning.

Treesa told me afterwards that the reason the nurse had to hold the monitor against my belly so hard was because the baby was in distress.  Her heart rate was dramatically decelerating with each contraction.  The nurses correctly figured that the baby was going to need some help “getting started” once she was born, so they called in some NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) nurses to be on hand.  My husband said that there were at least six nurses in our room.  My doctor didn’t arrive until literally the last minute; one of the nurses was gloving up to deliver the baby when he raced in the door.  When the baby’s head came out on the second push, the cord was wrapped very tightly around her neck, so my doctor had cut the cord with just her head sticking out of me.  When her body came out afterwards, he discovered that the cord was also wrapped around her body – a double nuchal cord.  It was kind of amazing that she managed to be a vaginal birth at all; God had his angels watching over her.  She was also blessed with one of the longest cords that the nurses and my doula had ever seen, and that long cord saved her from being strangled in utero.

The other big blessing was that my HUGE bag of water – apparently the nurses and my doula said they had rarely seen so much water coming out of a woman! – my bag of water did not break until the VERY end.  This was also a major blessing, because that unbroken bag of water provided a much-needed cushion that protected that tightly tangled cord from being compressed even more than it already was.  Had I started my labor earlier by having my water bag broken (as my OB had recommended), who knows what might have happened.  I reflected about this miracle in an earlier blog post.

My baby’s one minute Apgar score was only a 4 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.  But, her five minute Apgar score was a 9, which is practically perfect.  Apparently, for insurance purposes, hospitals rarely give a baby a score of 10.  Furthermore, the five minute Apgar is a more important number than the one minute Apgar.  So, while my baby took a little bit to get started, she perked up quickly.

She did spit up meconium for the next 24 hours, but she did not have to go to the nursery for special care or anything like that.  I was able to keep her in my room with me.  I even slept with her snuggled next to me in my hospital bed, and the nurses didn’t fuss about it.  Having her snuggled next to me helped me continue to bond with her, and once we returned home as a family of four, as time went on I realized that I could, indeed, be a mother to two children and love them both.  Little Baby J was a good teacher to me.

J’s birth was much more difficult than that of her big sister, but it was absolutely worth it.  I had no idea how much I would love having two daughters.  If I HAD known, I strongly suspect that my labor would have been a lot less painful.  One’s emotional state is a powerful factor in labor, and I certainly learned that with my daughter’s birth!  Regardless, I can see now how God was watching over and protecting my baby and I through labor, despite my emotional state.  I am so thankful to have my little girl!


J’s birth – the baby comes out

Go back to the beginning of J’s birth story.
Read the 
previous part of J’s birth story.

Once I arrived in the labor and delivery room, my memories get a little hazy.  I remember that I immediately climbed onto the bed and got onto my hands and knees.  My husband had to go and move the car out of the 20 minute parking zone (at least, I think he did.  Perhaps he did that after the baby’s birth.)  At some point early on, I must have gotten into a hospital gown, because I remember taking off my clothes, which included a pair of huge maternity cut-off jeans that I wore constantly the last two weeks of my pregnancy.  (I had bought them, along with a bunch of other maternity clothes, from a lady on Craigslist.  I never planned to buy the pants, because they were HUGE, but she threw them in for free, I suspect just to get rid of them.  Boy, was I glad to have them at the end of my pregnancy, because my belly was SO HUGE, and those pants were the only thing that fit me!)

Treesa, my doula, arrived not too long after we arrived at the hospital.  I felt relieved to have her there, as she had been my emotional rock throughout the turbulent final month of my pregnancy.  However, I was in a lot of pain, and I couldn’t relax into what was happening, so that made it even more painful.  Although, to be fair, it was a really fast labor, and according to the childbirth books I later read, fast labors are often quite painful.

I remember that I was in such active labor that they couldn’t get the belt for the electronic fetal monitor on me, so one nurse just held the monitor against my belly.  I remember that she was pushing very hard, and that it hurt.  However, why that pain should have bothered me so much, I don’t know, because I was in a lot of pain.  I remember yelling at the nurse to stop pushing so hard, but she said that she had to.  After the birth, I found out why.

I remember getting an internal check at some point, and hearing that I was “eight centimeters and going fast.”  I remember being told to lay on my side in the bed, and that Treesa held my uppermost leg in the air.  I asked her after the baby was born why she did that, and she told me that if she hadn’t I would have screamed in pain.

My eyes were closed during labor, so I didn’t know what was going on in the room, but I sensed that there were a lot of people in the room.  I was right; my husband said it looked like an episode of “ER” in the room.  After the baby was born, we discovered why there were so many people in the room.

Despite all of this active labor, my water still hadn’t broken.  But finally, while my leg was being held up in the air and I was contracting away, my water broke – whoosh!  I vaguely remember hearing the nurses say that there was a lot of meconium in the water, and that apparently the baby was ready to come.  I remember having the unstoppable urge to push; I couldn’t have NOT pushed!  The baby hadn’t dropped into my pelvis before this point, and so I remember feeling my baby move completely through my pelvic bones in one single push – that was quite a sensation!  The baby went from not dropped to almost crowning in one push.  At the end of that push, my husband leaned over me and said excitedly, “She’s got a lot of dark hair!”  After a second push, suddenly a whole bunch of people yelled to me, “Don’t push!”  When that many people yell something at you, it gets your attention, so I was shocked into not pushing.  I was then told it was okay to push, so I pushed a third time and out came my baby girl – silent.

The baby was born at 9:22 pm, and I had arrived at the hospital a mere half hour before, so labor definitely went fast.  As soon as the baby was out, I started sobbing aloud, not from joy, but from pain.  “That really, really hurt!” I sobbed to my husband and my doula.  I remember that I wanted to cry during labor but couldn’t, because the labor took all of my attention.  But inside I had been screaming and trying to fight the pain.  As I cried, I discovered that I was wearing an oxygen mask.  To this day, I have no memory of anyone putting it on my face, but there it was.  I took it off not long after the baby was born, and in pictures taken shortly after that time, I can see it lying on my pillow.

Once I got my initial tears out, I remembered the baby and realized that she still hadn’t made any sound.  I heard my husband say, “Should I baptize the baby?” to which Treesa replied, “We’re not there yet.”  I remember that I hadn’t really opened my eyes much yet, and I remember that I didn’t even have any emotions about the baby not making any sounds.  But then, finally. the baby gave a little, weak cry, and then a stronger cry, and the room full of people gave a cheer.

Read the final part of J’s birth story: a mother of two is born

J’s birth – getting to the hospital

Go back to the beginning of J’s birth story.
Read the 
previous part of J’s birth story.

After a busy day of shopping at the mall, eating Panda Express, and worrying about my unborn baby’s lack of movement, JJ, Lyd and I sat down to supper around 7:00 pm.  As we began eating, my contractions started up again.  I didn’t think much of it, because I had had contractions off and on almost continuously during the previous four weeks.  But as our supper went on, I noticed that my contractions were seeming to be coming regularly, and each one seemed to be a little stronger than the previous one.  By the end of the meal, the contractions were still coming, and now they were starting to have some real power.  I couldn’t ignore these contractions; I HAD to pay attention to them!  I looked at my husband and said, “I think these contractions are finally It.  It’s time to go to the hospital.”  

With that decision made, JJ and I swung into action.  Our first priority before we could leave for the hospital was to make sure our almost four-year old daughter Lyd was taken care of.  For the previous four weeks, I had had a friend from church on-call to take care of Lyd at a moment’s notice.  As Murphy’s Law goes, this happened to be the one weekend that she had an out-of-town committment.  I had managed to piece together babysitting via some neighborhood moms, but the various moms were only free at certain times.  It was a haphazard schedule, to be sure, but I was thankful to have friends who were willing to help me out.  So at 7:45, I called the friend who was on-call that night, and she immediately headed over to our house to pick up Lyd.  Meanwhile, I went upstairs to pack an overnight bag for Lyd, something I hadn’t thought to do earlier.  I worked as quickly as I could between contractions, and I moaned as low as I could, held onto the nearest solid object, and swayed my hips back and forth during contractions.  (I remembered what my doula with Lyd’s birth had taught me – moan low, don’t scream high.)  Lyd witnessed me having a few strong contractions, and while I didn’t want to make a lot of noise in front of my daughter, I couldn’t help but let some moans out.  After each contraction finished, as Lyd was still looking up at me wide-eyed, I would say something like, “Momma’s body is working really hard to open up a path for the baby to come out, isn’t it?”  When my friend arrived at 8pm, I hugged and kissed Lyd goodbye, telling her that the next time she saw me, I’d have a new sister for her.  

With Lyd out of the house, it was just my husband and myself.  My hospital bag was packed; after totally overpacking for Lyd’s birth, I had packed much lighter this time.  I paced around downstairs, moaning through stronger and stronger contractions.  I got the urge to poop, so I headed to the bathroom.  As my intestines cleaned themselves out (something that often happens in labor – it’s the body’s way of clearing everything out of the way to make as much room for the baby as possible), my husband was on the phone with Treesa, our doula, letting her know we were leaving for the hospital.  When Treesa asked JJ where I was, he told her I was on the toilet.  I remember Johnold asking me, “Treesa wants to know if the baby’s head is coming out,” to which I irritatedly responded, “No, I’m just pooping!”  Treesa had 20+ years of experience as a doula, plus she was a student midwife.  She (as well as my OB) had suspected that my labor would go fast, and practical Treesa didn’t mince words in her efforts to make sure that everything was okay.  

After bathroom matters were finished, and Treesa was on her way (she had a longer drive ahead of her than we did), I remember waiting by the garage door, wondering what was taking my husband so long.  It turned out he was still packing upstairs.  For some reason, he packed more stuff than I did!  After the baby was born, he told me that had he known how fast my labor really would go, he wouldn’t have worried about packing anything but would have just gotten me to the hospital.  Although, honestly, I didn’t realize how fast my labor was going either.  I knew I had been walking around for a few days at six centimeters dilation, but still, you never REALLY know.  

Finally JJ was ready to go, and we got into our trusty black Saturn, me in the back seat sitting on a garbage bag (because my water still, amazingly, hadn’t broken).  We set off for the hospital around 8:30.  It was a Friday evening, and it happened to be the first rainy night of the season.  (In northern California, it only rains in the late fall, winter, and early spring.)  The first rain makes the roads VERY slick, due to all the oil that has built up on the asphalt during the previous months.  So, JJ had to be extra careful when driving.  Of course, the moaning wife in the backseat didn’t help his concentration much!  And, to add one more piece of excitement to the evening, the red “check engine” light came on during our trip.  That light had come on more than once lately, but he had thought it had been fixed.  So, JJ was very annoyed to see the light come on again – while driving his laboring wife to the hospital in the rain!  My valiant husband decided to continue on anyway, but because he didn’t want me to see the light and get scared, he held his hand over the light as he drove.  So, keep that picture in your mind: dark outside, raining lightly, slick roads, engine light on, wife in VERY active labor in the back seat.  

Halfway through the 15 minute drive to the hospital, my husband suddenly slammed on the brakes and yelled a few choice words.  Apparently, the car that we had been following for some time, which was driving markedly under the speed limit (in a residential area where passing is not allowed), had cut my husband off in some way, almost hitting our car.  With this near-accident, I discovered something to be true that I had only ever read about in childbirth books: Even in the midst of a strong contraction, it is possible to be scared so forcefully that your contraction stops immediately.  I was at the peak of a contraction when the near-accident occured, and my contraction abruptly paused for a few seconds.  Thankfully, the angels were looking out for us, and no accident occured.  Within a few seconds, my contraction resumed, and JJ returned to his one-handed driving, determined to get me to the hospital while not letting me know about the red check-engine light.  Throughout the rest of the trip, I continued to have strong, active-labor contractions.  

We made it to the hospital in one piece and with the car (and my water bag!) intact.  JJ parked in the 20-minute parking right in front of the hospital door.  I managed to heave myself out, still contracting like crazy, moaning, and in pain.  JJ helped me walk slowly into the hospital, and we made it to the elevator without alerting the entire first floor of the hospital to the fact that a laboring woman was passing through. 😉  When we got on the elevator, I remember that an older chinese gentleman also came on with us.  I was moaning through another contraction, but so relieved to have made it to the hospital, and I remember him smiling gently at me and saying something along the lines of, “You’re almost there now.”  We made it to floor three and Obstetrics, which thankfully, was located right by the elevator.  I didn’t go politely to the desk to sign in, but instead I headed straight for the childbirth rooms, louding announcing over my shoulder to the nurses at the nurses’ desk, “I’m going right to a room – I’m six centimeters dilated.”  I found out later that the nurses were confused; there weren’t sure if I had said “six centimeters” or “six minutes apart.” 🙂  But, they’re labor nurses; they didn’t take anything personally, and they didn’t fuss about what I was doing.  They just got right to work.  

When I noticed that the first room on the right was open and ready for an occupant, I headed straight into it.  In the back of my mind, I was pleased to see that particular room open, as it was the same room in which I had given birth to Lyd almost four years prior.  I was glad to be able to bring my second child into the world in the same room.  We arrived at the hospital around 8:45, and the biggest excitement of the night was about to begin… 

Read the next part of J’s birth story: the baby comes out

how I became the crunchy, alternative-health-loving woman I am today – part 1

(This post is, at least partially, for David, since he was wondering at how much I’ve changed since moving to California eight years ago.  Here you go, little brother.)

Sometimes I reflect on how far I’ve come from the girl I used to be to the crunchy, alternative-health-loving woman with slightly negative attitudes towards certain aspects of modern medicine.  I certainly didn’t grow up that way.  My parents were your basic “eat healthy, get enough sleep, and listen to the doctor’s advice” kind of people, as were the majority of people then and now.  As far as medical things went, I got all my vaccines at the correct times, went to the doctor when I was sick, took antibiotics over and over again for recurrent ear infections as a child, finally getting tubes put in my ears, and when acne overtook my face in my teenage years, I took tetracycline to control my complexion.  I was a typical kid who grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s.

The initial catalyst for me to start questioning modern medicine came when I got married in 2000.  I went on the Pill about a month before my wedding, but I discovered immediately after my marriage that the Pill had, how shall I say, unexpectedly unpleasant side effects.  Very, very unpleasant side effects.  So unpleasant that two days after my wedding I was in a gynecologist’s office getting checked out.  The doctor had no answers, no solutions for my problems except to give me more medications to try to alleviate the symptoms (medicine that did NOT work!), and sent me off on my honeymoon saying, “Good luck!”

“Do you think the Pill might be causing these problems?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” he replied.  “The Pill is very safe, and it doesn’t cause these kinds of problems.”

However, it wasn’t until I did my own research a few months later and, thanks to the internet, found a woman with a story like mine (which validated what my instinct had been all along!) that I finally went off the Pill.  Lo and behold, by three months later, my issues were gone.  That was my first experience with doctors saying something “couldn’t be” and it later turning out to be true.  And after that miserable experience, I swore that I’d never put hormones of any kind in my body again.

When, to my husband and my great surprise and delight, I became pregnant with my first child, I was very nervous about the impending birth.  During my childhood, my mother had often told me about how painful my birth had been, how it had dragged on for over 24 hours, and how much it had hurt.  She always assured me with a smile that “the end result was worth it,” but I never forgot her stories and their emphasis on pain.  I began to get quite apprehensive about going through childbirth.  I considered my options for pain medication; however, I also was/am afraid of needles, specifically needles in my spine.  As if that weren’t enough, I had also had strange reactions to anesthesia in the past, such as nearly passing out in my optometrist’s chair just from having my eyes numbed, not to mention vomiting in my podiatrist’s office after having my toe numbed!  So, my only option seemed to be natural childbirth, which I didn’t even know WAS an option before I became pregnant.

I initially learned about natural childbirth by chance: When in my newly-pregnant state, my husband and I went to Barnes & Noble where I chose a random pregnancy book to take home with me.  Not knowing anything at all about pregnancy (but already having a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting) I chose Dr. Sears The Pregnancy Book.  What an eye-opening and enlightening read THAT was!  I learned about natural childbirth from that book, and I was inspired to read many other books on natural childbirth.  Each one convinced me more and more that natural childbirth with a doula’s assistance was ideal for both mother and baby — and was exactly what I wanted for my child’s birth.

Thanks to my high level of preparedness, an amazing, supportive doula, and the gracious providence of God, I was extremely blessed during my child’s birth, and I got exactly the birth experience that I had wanted.  My natural childbirth with Lyd was such an amazing, unbelievable success that I rambled on about how wonderful it was for weeks to anyone who’d listen with even half an ear.  I was completely happy, my hormones were in a beautiful place thanks to exclusive breasteffeding, and I was in love with the world and with my baby.  In the days after giving birth to Lyd, I knew that natural childbirth had become something I felt passionately about, and I wanted to become a doula in order to help other women have the amazing experience that I had had.

(Read part 2 of my story here.)

childbirth is not a crisis

Whenever I hear women say, “I am so thankful for doctors, because without them, I (or my baby) would have died in childbirth,” I’m left with mixed emotions. While, on one hand, I’m, of course, very glad that mother and baby are doing well, on the other hand, I wonder if something could have been done earlier that would have made the doctor’s help unnecessary. Simple things like being in a labor-enhancing position, being helped and enabled to relax, and allowing labor to follow its own time schedule can make a big difference in how a woman’s labor progresses. Even something as simple as having a support person knowledgeable in labor at the laboring woman’s side (such as a doula) the whole time can make a huge difference!

So, when I hear a woman relay her childbirth story, and when part of that story is that she was in a hospital with her husband (and perhaps other nervous family members), she had a number of different nurses throughout her labor, her labor didn’t follow the “correct” timetable, and that she spent the majority of her laboring time on the bed, I think to myself: “No wonder you needed medication and/or assistance from the doctor!” But yet, the way the mother remembers the story, it was the doctor or the anesthesiologist that saved her, that saved a bad problem from getting worse.

Those active in the worlds of midwifery, doula-ing, and natural childbirth know that, sadly, sometimes modern medicine follows a paradigm that creates problems it then needs to solve. Now, this isn’t the case all of the time. I realize that. But, I also know enough about natural childbirth and how it works, as well as statistics about medicated childbirth, to know that it’s true too much of the time. Childbirth interventions can easily be a slippery slope, when once one intervention is used, another intervention becomes necessary. Before long, the entire birth is being medically managed, and the beauty and earthiness and personal triumph of the childbirth experience has been taken away from the mother, rendering her simply a patient upon which prodecures are performed and a baby is extracted.

I am always happy when a mother and baby make it through labor safely. This is always a blessing. I also realize that in a sin-infected world, nothing will be perfect. Unfortunately, being a person with perfectionistic tendencies, it’s hard for me to not want to make perfection as my goal. So, when people, especially family members, tell with me that “if it wasn’t for the doctor, I would have died/baby would have died/some other bad thing would have happened,” there’s nothing I can say in response except for, “I’m so glad everything turned out well.” Because if I argue against the procedures and interventions done to the woman, there’s no way for me to not end up looking like the bad guy and sounding like I hate doctors and modern medicine. I DON’T hate doctors, and neither do I hate modern medicine. Futhermore, I know that in some circumstances, procedures done by the doctors and nurses DO save the lives of mother and baby.  But, that’s not always true.

I feel that, in a natural process like childbirth, a process that is not a disease, not an illness and is something women are built to do, modern medicine often makes it more complicated than it needs to be. Doctors mean well, want to help, and give much of their time and energy to helping other. But, sometimes I wonder if they’re working from a specific template of “Childbirth As Crisis,” and I wonder if, in some circumstances, the template might not be the best.

It’s hard. I end up sounding cranky and mean, and then people think I’m wacko. It’s small comfort that most original thinkers were hailed as idiots and/or heretics in their lifetime, because I don’t like being thought ill of, nor do I particularly like going against popular opinion. But other smart people feel the same way as me.  For example, check out Henci Goer’s book: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth.  In it, she cites studies and statistics that back up the ideas about which I have written here.  It’s definitely food for thought when you, or a woman you love, is pregnant.

Also, check out the movie The Business of Being Born.  Similar thoughts are shared much more eloquently in that documentary.

a wanna-be doula

Yesterday, one of my dearest friends and closest neighbor gave birth to her second child, a little boy.  She and I got to know each other when we were each pregnant with our first baby, back in fall of 2003.  We were each sold on the idea of natural childbirth, and we were both hoping for drug-free, intervention-free birth experiences.  We even took our childbirth classes at the same place, Blossom Birth, but at different times!  Our girls were born exactly five weeks apart, and to this day they are one of each other’s best friends.

As my friend’s pregnancy progressed, we talked a lot about birth and thoughts about a second child.  As the time for her birth drew closer, we talked more about actual childbirth, and I was able to answer some questions she had.  Since I first had Lyd in fall of 2003, I’ve learned a lot about childbirth as well as the postpartum time.  I feel very strongly that I want to become a doula, both a Birth Doula who acts as a labor coach to assist the mother (and father) through the process of childbirth, and a Postpartum Doula who assists the new mother after the birth with breastfeeding and is an expert on newborns.

I had hoped to obtain some doula training this year, but with my husband’s extra-busy schedule, that was not able to happen.  Depending on what happens with our family in the coming year, I hope to be able to try to pursue some training again.  As I talk with pregnant women, I realize that this is where my passion lies.  I love talking to pregnant women, I love to be around new babies, and I love helping people prepare to welcome a new baby into their home.

Today as I went to the hospital and held my friend’s new baby (Oh! What an amazing smell new babies have!), I was reminded of just how passionately I feel about new moms and new babies.  THIS is what I want to do.  Maybe I won’t always want to be in this field, but right now, it is definitely what I want to do.

I’ve promised my husband – and my children, even though they don’t realize it – that I won’t actively work as a Birth Doula until my children are older.  Being a Birth Doula requires the ability to be on call at any hour of the day or night, and I can’t do that while I have small children at home.  However, I am holding on to hope that I will get to witness a few actual childbirths between now and my actually becoming a Birth Doula.  I was hoping that it would work out to be at my friend’s childbirth, but circumstances happened otherwise.

But being a Postpartum Doula – that I could theoretically do right now.  For this kind of doula-ing, you set up appointments with families, and there’s no running off in the middle of the night.  It’s a lot more predictable, and I could do it while still having small children at home.  Being a Birth Doula seems more exciting and dramatic, but Postpartum Doula is no less important, and probably just as rewarding.

We’ll just have to see what the new year brings.  Hopefully I can make something happen in the Doula Training department.  It would be such a thrill for me!

L’s birth story – part 4 (afterglow)

Read Part 3 of L’s birth story here.

Within three seconds, Dr. L. and Linda plopped my newborn baby on my tummy. She was amazingly clean — no vernix or blood, just wet with amniotic fluid. My first thought upon looking at the baby was that she was huge!! I saw these long legs and a long back and couldn’t believe that she had been inside of me. She was pink and breathing right from the star; she didn’t even cry. Dr. L. didn’t cut the cord right away, but like I had wanted, waited until the cord stopped pulsing to ask JJ to do the honors. It only took about three minutes for that to happen, and once that was done, Dr. L. started massaging my abdomen to get my uterus to contract so that the placenta would come out. That came out in another two minutes or so, which seemed really fast to me. I did ask to see it, and Dr. L. gave us a quick peek at it. Although I had known it would be big, my quick glance surprised me with how big it really was. I actually would have liked to take a closer look at it, but I looked at the baby instead. 🙂

Lyd’s head was a little molded from her narrow trip out, but other than that she looked perfect. I actually hardly remember those moments right after her birth. It was such a switch from intense pressure and concentration to no pressure, no pain, and a new baby to check out! If I could go back and just re-live that hour after her birth, I would in a moment. I remember that her lips were really red. I remember that her eyes were open and she was looking around. I remember seeing JJ hold her and talk to her. I remember that when the nurse finally took her to do a few routine things that Lyd finally gave a lusty squawk, which the nurse was glad to hear. Sometime during that first hour I tried nursing her, and she latched on perfectly right away, which everyone was impressed with, most of all me. 🙂

Dr. L. checked me over after the placenta was delivered, pronounced me in good shape, and then he left. JJ, Suzanne, and I had a lot of fun checking Lyd out. We also called my parents to let them know about Lyd’s safe arrival. Thankfully, Suzanne took a bunch of pictures, which turned out really well. Finally, after about an hour of bonding, Lyd had to go to the nursery for an in-depth examination. By this time, Lyd, JJ, and I were all arm banded (or in Lyd’s case, ankle banded) with a matching number so that the hospital knew who belonged to what baby. JJ went with Lyd to the nursery, and while they were gone, the nurse got me up to go to the bathroom. While I was sitting there getting set with an ice pack and some epifoam for my tear, she put a cushioned pad on the bed and put all fresh linens on. Suzanne helped me into a clean gown, and I climbed into a clean bed. Not long after, JJ came back with Lyd, and the first thing he said to me was an emphatic, “She’s PERFECT.” I was SO glad to hear that, since that was what we had been praying for the whole pregnancy.

Suzanne had left for home by this time, and I think the nurse helped me with breastfeeding again. It went fine, although Lyd had such a strong suck that she actually gave me a hickey on my nipple, which proved rather painful over the next two weeks. After we got Lyd bedded down in her bassinet, JJ made up a bed for himself on the window seat. I voluntarily got out of bed again to take out my contacts and brush my teeth. After we were all back in bed, JJ and I talked for at least an hour, something we hadn’t done for a long time. We re-lived the whole experience, admired our daughter, listened to all the strange noises newborns make, and finally managed to get a little sleep until Lyd woke us up to be fed a few hours later. It was a good night.

So, all in all, my labor lasted for 14.5 hours from the time my water broke at 9:15 a.m. until Lyd was born at 11:47 p.m. My pushing phase probably only lasted for about 45 minutes. The whole day went really fast to me, and I was so glad that it only took one day. I was very lucky that my body cooperated to give me the birth experience I had hoped for. I was also so thankful to have had Suzanne help me through the labor. I couldn’t have gone drug-free without her constant help and reassurance. JJ was wonderful also. He followed Suzanne’s lead a lot which made for very consistent comforting, and he also stood up for me and what I wanted when he needed to. It was an amazing experience, and while I don’t want to do it again tomorrow, I definitely would be willing to do it again.


Lyd was born in fall of 2003. This story of her birth was written during the week that followed.