Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mason's Home Birth Story

I have been kind of absent from my blog! But as my son's first birthday looms (No I don't want to talk about it, having enough issues with him turning one!) I am remembering the day he was born and what a special and amazing experience his birth was. Also a couple of stories recently have refueled my passion for natural birth. As you read this above all else what I want to convey is that all women have a choice in how they bring their babies into this world. That is your right as a woman! Use that knowledge to research and do what is best for you and your family. That is the best lesson I have learned in my son's first year, do what works for you and your family and have faith in your decisions! So enjoy!
*Just a note, while I don't really find this graphic, this is an account of the real deal of birthing my son. If you feel that is gross or is too much information about myself, then don't read any further!
** One more note, I love to talk about home birth! If you have a question please ask me, I would love to discuss anything you might be wondering.

Mason’s Birth Story

    I had planned on writing this story much sooner than this, but here I am finally finishing it up as my now toddler approaches his first birthday this weekend. I have been feeling that my story needs told. Women need to come back to the power, safety and amazing event that turns them into mothers; birth. We are so disconnected from birth in this country, completely surrounding it with fear and trying to turn it into a medical procedure that can be grouped together. Pregnancy and birth are not an illness, they should be the most beautiful, amazing and rewarding experiences. Within a country with great women’s rights, we need to take back our rights to birth how and where we want! This is not saying that all women should birth at home, but for me and my healthy normal pregnancy it was completely the right choice for my family. So here without further delay is Mason’s birth story:

    Being a dairy farmer’s daughter I have always been around birth. The birth of calves has been at least weekly in my life, for my entire life. So I have always viewed birth as a normal and natural occurrence. A thought process that would shape the entire duration of my pregnancy and birth. We weren’t trying to get pregnant, but we also were not trying to prevent it, sort of a lets just see what happens. Well by the second month of that attitude, I was pregnant! It was totally special because I got to tell Ben, my husband, the great news on our 4th wedding anniversary. I walked in our room that morning and tossed him the pregnancy test. At first he was a little confused, but then the biggest most genuine smile spread across his face. We were both so excited!!
    We just took the first few days of excitement and basked in it! But as the initial excitement wore off, my thoughts shifted to what now? I immediately knew I didn’t want to have my baby in a hospital. I have never been comfortable in hospitals and it made no sense to me to be in place where you go when your sick. Pregnancy and birth are not a condition, they are a normal and natural part of life. So I started researching my options. My big push and help in deciding to have my birth at home was through my mother, who said she would have loved to have a home birth. Unfortunately my grandmother would have never allowed that, she was from the generation that shifted birth into the hospitals. So my search began for a midwife. My local acupuncturist said she knew of one several of her clients had used and really liked, Catherine Schaffer of A Gentle Beginning.
12 Weeks, Hello Peanut!
    I set up a consultation appointment and she came to my home. I had a great feeling about her from the very beginning. I was totally comfortable and at ease with her, it was a perfect fit! Since we weren’t planning our pregnancy, I had not been tracking my periods, so I didn’t know how far along I was. Catherine scheduled an appointment to have an ultrasound done. I was thinking I was about 12 weeks, but the ultrasound came back to find out I was only 9 weeks, our due date was April 12, 2011. As we left the ultrasound office, Ben took me across the street to get a Jamba juice smoothie. We were both so amazed at getting to hear our little peanuts heart beat and seeing it on the screen. Then Ben mentioned that our due date was our dating anniversary! How perfect that I got to tell him on our wedding anniversary and our due date was our dating anniversary! Crazy how life comes full circle like that!
    My pregnancy progressed normally and easily. I loved being pregnant and I was so happy with my decision of choosing a midwife. The home visits were amazing, with our busy farm schedule they were so convenient. We were never rushed and all our questions were always answered. It was such a loving and caring feeling we got with our prenatal care. Before I knew it the months were flying by. We took a birthing class through our midwives clinic and enjoyed it so much. It was great to be with a group of like minded soon-to-be-parents, who all wanted a natural birth. That kind of support was invaluable when we were also getting plenty of people saying; “Your crazy to have your baby at home!”, “I am so worried for you!”, “Won’t you want an epidural?”. I knew I could have an amazing experience that was perfect for me. Women have been birthing their children naturally for thousands of years. It worries me that everyone would now suddenly choose the normal hospital route that will likely include unneeded interventions. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes modern medicine is a complete blessing. But my pregnancy was normal and healthy with the baby is a perfectly safe position for home birth. I was ready!
    Then five weeks before my due date my stretch marks started to get itchy. At first it was just kind of annoying, but then it was full on misery. I was diagnosed with PUPPS. The only cure, have your baby. So now I was more then ready. But my due date came and went without any excitement. I knew I would probably be in for the long haul due to the fact that my mother carried her first baby to 14 days past due and myself 10 days past due. I wasn’t holding my breath, but it was frustrating feeling like a walking time bomb. I was so ready to hold my baby and know for sure it was a boy. We had decided not to find out the sex, but I was certain it was a boy. Tuesday, April 19th  I went up to the clinic for a stress test. Baby was doing great, totally content and happy inside! Catherine checked me, I was just curious to see if anything was happening. I wasn’t dilated at all, but my cervix was starting to soften. Since I hadn’t been having any contractions or anything going on, we decided to do a meso tablet to try to get things going. At this point I was ready to do anything to get labor going. I was so miserable with my PUPPS, any sort of warmth made it so much worse. I was so glad I wasn’t due in the summer time, but I still wasn’t getting any sleep at night. We had to get things going.
Time to come out Baby, Mommy is huge and really done with baking you!

    At about 4 pm, the contractions started. Nothing serious just light easy ones. I decided to stay in from chores to try and catch a little nap in case this was going to be the real deal. They continued light and about 6-8 minutes apart until we headed to bed. As soon as I laid down, they intensified. I knew I had to get some sleep so I tired to work through them and then rest. They were completely sporadic, I would have one really intense wave that required breathing through, followed shortly by a couple of little ones. They went on all night and I eventually ended up trying to sleep in our recliner. Ben was supposed to milk in the morning, but stayed by me all night. He got more sleep then me, but decided not to work. He let my parents know at 5 am. Things had started to set into more of a pattern, contractions 3-5 minutes apart. My parents stopped by on the way to milk, they were so excited. Ben called his Mom a little later and let her know she might be having a birthday buddy. By 8 am they were still intensifying, we decided to go for walk out in the back fields. It was dewy and wet but luckily not raining. I had to stop every once in a while to breath through a contraction. We made it to the back of our property and spent some time sitting under the trees where we got married. As we got back up and started walking I didn’t have any more contractions. By the time we made it back to the house they had completely stopped. I was a little upset, I was so ready to meet my baby! But I was also tired and gladly welcomed getting some real rest.
    Thursday the 21st, we were scheduled to have a home visit. I was really eager to see if my contractions the night before had made some progress! We got a call that morning that Catherine would not be coming, she was in Florida. Luckily I had already met and had several appointments with Catherine’s partner Regina. I felt so relieved that I was comfortable with Regina and the care she could provide, because I couldn‘t imagine going into labor with a stranger. Thank goodness because otherwise I think I might have felt like that part in the movie, Knocked Up, where Katherine Heigl is desperately trying to find a doctor to deliver her baby after hers goes on vacation. I was a little sad that Catherine would not be there, but completely understood that family is more important, her father was passing away. So it was back up to the clinic that afternoon. Regina checked me and that sleepless night had paid off, 4cm, softening and about 50% effaced. Regina suggested I do a round of acupuncture to try to get things going again. Acupuncture was intense! Not at all like the relaxing treatments I had done before. All the points were so stimulating and some even produced contractions. I tired to let the energy flow and open my body. By 2pm we were headed back home. I had contractions all the way home, which were horrible in the car.
    When we got home I went out and did chores. It was great to get some fresh air, my contractions were still coming, about 6-8 minutes apart. I was really hoping this would be it, but wasn’t holding my breath since things had completely stopped before. By 6pm, I knew I was in for the real deal, things hadn’t really picked much, I just knew it was time. I had dinner and got all the last minute things finished around the house. I called Regina to give her an update, she said to call when the contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart for over an hour, she was going to get some sleep.  Ben and I watched some TV and enjoyed our last few hours by ourselves. My friend Brianna showed up, she was so excited and commenting about how this would be the last thing we would do as friends together without kids! I was so comfortable being at home, getting to move and do what I wanted and what felt right and natural.
    By 9:30pm my contractions were coming at 5 minutes apart. Regina told me to lay down on my side, that sometimes helped intensify things. She wasn’t joking, the contractions continued to come closer together and were definitely intensifying. I tried to rest in between as Ben and Brianna watched some Bones episodes on the TV in our room. We all enjoyed some frozen fruit popsicles. But I almost hit Ben when he tried to take mine away while I was having a contraction! I wasn’t done with it yet! We had a good laugh at that one and I apologized after the contraction had passed. At 1am I tried pumping to intensify the contractions, I was done trying to rest and was feeling restless. At 2am we called Regina, my contractions were coming 3-4 minutes apart and I was starting to have to focus to breath through them. I felt like moving, so starting walking up and down our hall and through the kitchen. Towards 3am I was having to stop and lean on Ben through a contraction. I was starting to get a lot of pressure in my back and Ben and Brianna took turns rubbing and applying counter pressure. I was starting to feel like I needed more support through my contractions so moved to my exercise ball. We called Regina, I was ready to have her here. The ball felt good and I was moving on it trying to keep my hips loose. But it also intensified the pressure in my back. So at 3:30am I decided to get in the shower to see if the water and heat would help my back.
The only shot of me in labor. We had planned on having a photographer, but that just didn't work out with the way things progressed. This was right before things really started to pick up. Love my awesome outfit, my feet were freezing!

    At 3:40am Regina made it to my house and listened to a couple of contractions while I labored in the shower. The water was helping a little, but not totally what I was wanting. I asked Regina to check me to see how things were progressing. I was 7cm dilated and both my heart rate and the babies were doing perfect. She said my water bag was bulging a little bit and that maybe trying a different position would help to break it. I got on my knees and supported myself against the back of our chaise lounge in our bedroom. I was feeling great and totally in control. But the pressure from my bag was irritating, I was willing my water to break. At 5am my parents stopped by to say hi and give me encouragement. I moved to our bed and got on my hands and knees. I liked that position and tried to relax and rest in between the waves of contractions that were getting more intense. Ben was so helpful rubbing my back and talking me through some of the more intense contractions.
    By 6:30am I was 8cm, I was so excited to hear that, I felt like things were moving smoothly. Peanut and I were both doing great through the contractions, but my water hadn’t broke yet. Sometime while I had been on my bed Regina’s helpers had arrived; Carissa a labor and delivery nurse we had met in our birthing class and also Meagan a naturopathic doctor student. I moved into our bath tub and also into labor land. I was having to completely focus myself inward to breath through the very strong waves that were coming fast. I was only somewhat aware of the everyone floating in and out of our bathroom as they occasionally checked our heart rates, but mostly left us to labor together. Ben and Brianna were great helping me to make it through. Things weren’t so intense that I couldn’t relax after a wave passed, I was relieved by that. The bath felt good, but I was getting too warm and drinking water didn’t seem to be helping me cool down. I moved to the toilet and also tried laying on my side again for a bit. But ended up back in the bath tub. I was still feeling so much pressure from my water bag, I felt like that was getting in the way of my focus. We decided to have Regina break my water. We tried to do it in the tub, but ended up moving me to a squat in our bedroom supported by Ben. I felt so much better to have that constant pressure removed! Regina found me at 9cm and I moved back into our bed on my side. I was surprised to find it light outside, a beautiful sunshiny morning! It was around 8am.
    I got back into the bath tub and turned our jets on full bore, trying to get some of the pressure off of my back. I was really needing Ben’s help to get through the contractions now. Him and Brianna were talking me through them and I found it helpful to tell myself that “I can do it!” My Mom also joined my labor team at some point, it was great to have her encouragement when I knew she had actually lived through what I was experiencing. I am kind of a control freak by nature, I like to be in control of my situation or at least feel some what confident. At this point I had hit a wall. I didn’t feel like I could do it and I was pretty certain that I was going to be in labor for the rest of my life. I got out of the tub and asked Regina to check me again, I was feeling ready to push, ready to do something. But as she checked me at 10:30am, I was still at 9cm. Everyone told me later I gave her the worst death glare ever when she told me that. I thought you have got to be kidding me?!? No progress at all? I was trying not to have a break down , it wasn’t that the pain was something I wasn’t handling, it was that I didn’t feel like I was making any progress. But I just needed to get out of the way and let my body, not my brain, progress. They put me back into bed on my side, to get the contractions to intensify for the last stretch to 10cm. These waves were so much stronger then anything before, I retreated into my mind to try to find my happy place, but kept finding my frustration with no progress. My mind was definitely getting in my bodies way.
    An hour later, nothing had changed. I had kind of mentally checked out at this point. Regina decided to give me an IV to get some fluids into me, I was getting really tired. I only barely remember them putting the IV in, I was ready for a nap. I laid there and thought ok, I’m just going to go to sleep for a little bit and we’ll come back to this after I am rested. I still had to push this baby out, I definitely didn’t have the energy for that., and everyone says that is the hardest part. It was 11:40am. 11:45am, the IV kicked in full force, I felt like a new person! Totally alert and back in a place I felt I could handle. And as Regina checked me, 10cm! I was so excited and as the next wave of contraction came on, she told me to bear down with it. It took me a couple of contractions but as soon as I figured out how to push, I loved it! It was amazing to be working with my body and making progress!
    I moved down into a squat with Ben supporting me, and worked with gravity to help me push. Talk about a work out, my thighs were protesting, so I rested on my knees in between waves. I moved between the bed and squat again and finally back to the bed, my legs were getting too tired to hold that position anymore. I remember as I moved back to the bed for the last time another contraction came on and I dropped to squat, the urge to push was so strong. I had everyone scrambling to keep me upright and keep my IV attached. I got into the “Russian” position, which is basically a squat, but with my back being supported by the bed and not Ben. When a contraction would come I would hold my legs up as they pushed them back. They were finally seeing baby’s head and encouraging me to hold my pushes longer. When I thought I was giving my all I found the strength to give just a little more power behind my push. Those little extra pushes, finally kept the head from going back into my birth canal. As his head was close to crowning a tiny piece of tissue was holding things up, with the next few contractions Regina helped to move it beside my baby’s head. I hadn’t thought the pushing was overly painful, but this was excruciating! And as baby finally started crowning, I let out some mighty screams. I had heard crowning described as the ring of fire, I can agree that is accurate! I felt like I couldn’t breath and they got me an oxygen mask. Everyone kept telling me what a good job I was doing and that it would only take one more push to get the head out. After what I felt like was 20, one more, pushes, I felt like throwing something at the next person who said one more. They reassured me that I really was getting the head out, but I didn’t want to feel, I just wanted to see my baby already! I harnessed that need and put all I had into the next few pushes. Finally with what I felt like was a giant pop, baby’s head came out. One more push and with an amazing feeling that was like nothing I had ever experienced before my baby was born. Regina caught HIM and unwrapped the cord that was once around his neck, he lifted his head, yes lifted his head it was so amazing , and let out the biggest scream. They instantly placed him on my chest and all the labor, the 2 ½ hours of pushing, was completely worth it. I shifted from labor land into a complete state of euphoria. He was screaming in protest, but it was the best sound I had ever heard. Brianna was crying as Ben put his arms around me to look into our son’s face. My mom kissed me and left to tell my Dad his grandson had arrived. Regina pulled me from my total concentration to remind I had to deliver the placenta. With a couple mighty pushes I got it out and then Carissa kneaded my stomach, which was so intense and very unpleasant. Ben cut the cord and then held him for the first time before putting him back on my chest. He instantly started to root around to nurse, he was so alert and strong. I held him for at least a hour before they took him to clean him up, he had already pooped a whole bunch, and do his newborn examine.
    They completed his newborn examine at the foot of our bed between his screams of protest, his lungs were definitely working! His heart rate and breathing were perfect. 10 little toes and fingers and a head of dark brown hair. He weighed in at 7lbs. 15ozs, but after all that he had popped I am pretty sure he was over 8lbs. He measured 20 ½ inches long, a perfect package of baby perfection. After Carissa and Regina checked him all out, Ben get him dressed for the first time and I headed into the shower. They cleaned everything up and had my bed made and food waiting when I came back out. It felt great to climb into my own bed and get comfortable with my new family. Carissa and Regina helped us with nursing and then they were on their way, leaving us in perfect peace and comfort.
Weighing my new baby with my awesome team! 

In the comfort of my home!

    I can’t say enough amazing things about my birth experience. To welcome my son into the world in the comfort and safety of our home. In the last year when people hear about me having a home birth I have had reactions from curious and supportive to appalled and disgusted. This decision to birth at home was not one that was uneducated or spur of the moment. Based on the facts of my healthy normal pregnancy, an amazing support system with qualified and highly trained Midwives, who believed in me, my body and my ability to birth naturally. Home birth is just as safe or even safer for a healthy woman with a normal and healthy pregnancy. And more then anything for me was my belief that women have been safely birthing their children for thousands of years, the bulk of problems we see today are the result of unnecessary interventions.  Birth is just a natural bodily function, one must simply have faith in their ability to birth

**The formatting of this is a little weird, and for some reason my blog won't keep my changes! Sometime I WILL get the hang of this!!