Birth Story: Anna

Guys, I am so excited to share this birth story on the blog today!

Anna is a fellow Niger MK, and I absolutely love her perspectives on motherhood. She gives some good advice, too! But, you probably don’t want to hear me talking all about it….so I’ll let you read it all for yourself!

ANNA

 

What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

Laid back, perfectionistic, indecisive?

How long have you and your husband been together?

We started dating about 5 1/2 years ago and are going on 4 years married.

How many children do you have?

A 2 1/2 year old boy, 1 year old girl, and a surprise baby on the way.

How many children do/did you think you would like to have?

Several, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8…? We planned to have a several year gap after our first two and also were interested in adopting our third child, but other things happened. We would like to adopt at some point, but haven’t put the time and planning into that yet. One of my (probably trivial) concerns with adopting has been that I won’t have the birth experience that I’ve had with my other children, which have been such intense and special bonding times for our family. But I recently realized that the adoption process with be it’s own whole unique “birth story.”

Tell us about when you first found out you were pregnant:

The first time, for some reason, I felt like I was pregnant as soon as I conceived and got a couple negative tests before my hormone changes actually showed a positive. All three times I’ve suspected and found out within a few weeks, as soon as the test will read positive.

Did you find out the gender beforehand?

Yes.

Can you share your birth story with us?

ISRAEL

Born the day before his due date, 7lbs 13 oz, 21 1/2 inches.
I got pregnant a few months after we were married, just after I graduated from college. Pregnancy went pretty well but the first trimester was a lot more miserable than I had expected. In hind site, it was wonderful in comparison with my 2nd pregnancy! Noah was not planning to have any part in the birth or be in the room or anything since it’s traditionally a women’s thing, and this was disappointing to me. In the 2nd trimester I started looking at birth classes. With experienced mothers around me and having studied these things in nursing school (though in clinical rotations I had actually only been in on c-sections and no vaginal births) and reading books on it during pregnancy, I wasn’t sure a class would be that helpful. But I was wrong. I liked what I heard about Bradley classes. Those are geared toward the husband being very involved in coaching through the labor process, so I was surprised when I talked to him that Noah said to go ahead and sign us up for the 12 week class (but he still wasn’t planning to be at the birth…). During those weeks it was really exciting to see Noah learn so much (and me too) and become so interested in the birth of our baby, and yes, he was absolutely planning to be at the birth as my main support person. 🙂

I went to a little birth center with two midwives and just one birthing suite, and was really pleased with their care and looked forward to the birth with one of them. I am a very small person and one of my concerns was having a baby who would be too big for me to birth vaginally. My mom had this issue with her first and had a miserable 70 hour labor, only coming to an end by a c-section. She also had fairly big babies (7 1/2-10 lbs). I really wanted an unmedicated vaginal birth and to push for a long time if need be if all was well. My midwives seemed a good fit and the most likely to help me make this happen.

I started having Braxton Hicks in my 2nd trimester and they increased in frequency in the last month or so. The last few weeks I had some high BP issues and pre-eclampsia scares and Israel was measuring big. My family was flying in a week before my due date, and my mom was the only support person that I had planned to come with me to the birth besides Noah. I was having dozens of Braxton Hicks a day and thought the baby was coming soon. Noah’s grandmother’s out of state memorial service was a week before the due date, and we really wanted him to be able to fly to that. So I ended up with a couple days the week before my due date when I didn’t have my mom or Noah anywhere near enough if I went into labor, so I made plans with my Bradley class instructor to be with me during labor in case I went into labor, but that all ended boringly, thankfully!!

Three days before his due date while I was hanging out with my family playing a game, my contractions were 6 minutes apart for several hours while we timed them. But they didn’t hurt at all, just slightly uncomfortable, like what I had been having for weeks, so I figured they were just more of the same. I went to bed and forgot about them. Nothing happened. The next day my contractions were very roughly 13 minutes apart, but sometimes sporadic. I cleaned my house with my mom and got our car seat washed and put in the car (yeah, kind of last minute). That evening the same thing happened, contractions 7 minutes apart for several hours. I had supper, played cards and went on a walk with my family, took a shower and went to bed. I wish I had gone to bed earlier. Around 11 just before I went to sleep, I had a shockingly painful contraction and that’s how they stayed from then until I gave birth. I tried two of these contractions “relaxing” in the side-lying position celebrated by the Bradley method and decided I had better find a better way for me to deal with these contractions. I hate lying on my side, still, whether I’m in labor or not so I never had been counting on this position of relaxation. I was already freaking out. Noah was trying to make me comfortable and time the contractions but I just wanted him to be with me and forget this timing-contractions nonsense and get me to the birth center!

A few hours went by like this. Noah called mom and she came and helped get things ready for going to the birth center and called the midwife. I was shaking badly the whole time, but not cold really, and threw up a couple times. It sounded like transition to me, but my labor had just started? After a while Noah said my contractions had been 4 minutes apart for an hour (or whatever rule of thumb the midwives had given us as an idea of when to come in), so we finally left. I was dreading the 10 minutes car ride, but it wasn’t too bad.

At the birth center, the midwife checked me and I was thrilled to hear that I was 7 cm. I got in the warm tub on my hands and knees and that helped a lot. After 2 hours I got out and my midwife checked me and I was 10 cm. At that point she said I could push and thought it would be good to stay out of the tub for the pushing, for some reason I don’t remember. It was around 5:30am and I had been in the active painful labor stage for only about 6 1/2 hours. Maybe all those contractions in the previous weeks had done some good. The midwife said the baby might be here soon, and mom called my dad and brothers to come. They came and waited and waited in the living room area (and they later said they could hear me being pretty noisy down the hall, lol).

Sometime during my first few pushes my water broke. I was really surprised because I had forgotten about that. Things progressed very slowly. After an hour or two they could see a little bit of his head and were excited, but when they gave me a mirror I was really disappointed with how little of him was showing. I tried a lot of positions: on a birthing stool, on all-fours (one of my favorite) squatting, on the toilet leaning on Noah, and in a semi-reclined position. I had long contractions, close together, pushing 3-5 long pushes each contraction. I threw up a couple more times. I was GBS+ but had opted out of having an IV and antibiotics, instead doing a chlorhexidine vaginal wash, which my midwife did as soon as I got to the birth center. But when it was time to do it again 4-6 or so hours after the first time, she couldn’t because my baby’s head was there. So I got an IV with a couple bags of fluids and antibiotics. I hadn’t wanted an IV because I didn’t want to be attached to anything, but it was no big deal and I ignored it and moved around as needed and I think mom or someone took care of keeping it with me. I wasn’t really clear who was doing what a lot of the time because I was focused on what my body was doing. It was just voices and arms moving around me helping with whatever was needed. The IV ended up being really helpful I think because I needed the fluids since I was throwing up most of what I ate and drank. Besides the oxygen and antibiotics (which I am very thankful for) it ended up being an unmedicated birth.

I don’t think I knew how to push very well the first hour or so. But I had a lot of time to perfect my technique. 🙂 Looking back I think I shouldn’t have started pushing when I did because even though I was 10 cm and it felt better to push I didn’t *have* to push. Maybe it would have gone better if I had waited, maybe not. More time went by, maybe a couple more hours. Israel’s heart beat started dropping during contractions in a concerning way, and they put me on oxygen and asked me to not push every other contraction to give Israel a break. But at that point I couldn’t not push, so they said just 3 pushes a contraction and leave off the 4th and 5th weak tired pushes I was doing at the end. After another hour or so my midwife called the hospital to talk about transferring in for a vacuum or forceps delivery, I think. They said they would probably go ahead and do a c-section and would get the operating room ready. I wasn’t really aware of most of this, but I knew things weren’t going as great as they were at the beginning and I was worried. I was so exhausted, worried about Israel, and wondering what my BP was and if my heart (physically and emotionally) could handle this. Noah took a few breaks, which he later said were to go cry. Somewhere around that time things took a turn, things felt different, I perked up a bit, and I felt pretty sure he was coming. Things were progressing and the midwife cancelled any plans with the hospital, if she had made sure plans. Eventually his head came out but it seemed to take forever for his body to come. In videos I had seen the baby’s body practically jumped out after the head came. They urgently told me to get on my hands and knees and push even though I wasn’t having a contraction, and that worried me. His shoulder was stuck and later my mom said the midwife was really pulling hard on Israel, and finally he was born just before noon the day before his due date after 6 1/2 hours of pushing! I was so relieved and laughing and crying and all of a sudden felt like I had more energy. I got to hold him and nurse him right away. It turns out he did have a large head with a whopping 15 inch circumference.
Israel, minutes old
Noah, my mom, and my midwife Beth and her assistant Kim were amazing and the perfect birth team. I don’t remember anything about the placenta, except to answer that no, I didn’t not want to take it home… The poor boys who had been waiting came in to see him as soon as things were decent. I had a small tear and was stitched up and we went home to rest 4 hours after he was born. And wow, was that a life changing day in so many way. People will tell you that, but what does that really mean? In the following weeks I could not believe that so many of the people I knew had been through all this and I had no idea! No one had ever *really* told me. 🙂 I was so sore in the following days, my muscles were so achy and stiff from the pushing, especially in my neck and arms, like I had done some crazy working out, and I guess I kind of had. The stitches were painful and recovery took a while. It didn’t help that getting going with breastfeeding for the first time was so painful and Israel was a pretty terrible newborn to be honest and slept maybe an hour at night and screamed so much. It was probably a traumatic experience for him. I know one of the reasons some women don’t want to have any pain medications in labor is because they are concerned about how it might affect the baby. But I wonder if Israel might have benefited if he had gotten some pain meds through me! Just a thought.

EVE

Born 3 days after her due date, 6lbs 13 oz, 19 3/4 inches.
With my 2nd, the pregnancy was much worse. I could hardly keep any food down the first trimester and lost a lot of weight. It was miserable. I think the first trimester is the worst part of it all, worse than an unmedicated labor and birth even. Her labor was a lot easier. I had lots of Braxton Hicks again, starting at the beginning of my 2nd trimester and increasing at the end. She was measuring small and was a few days over due. Several hours before she was born, I was standing in line at Sams having contractions roughly every 5 minutes, wondering if I was finally in labor. I went home and rested and had supper, then contractions started getting painful when I was nursing Israel and putting him to bed. I tried to hurry the bedtime routine, and decided that yes, I must be in labor. We got things together and left for the birth center as soon as possible. I was 5 cm when we got there and Eve was born 1 1/2 hours later. I don’t know if it was that it was the second time around or that she was smaller or in a different position. It was wonderful to have Noah and my mom there again, as well as the midwife and her assistant (different ones than with Israel because of our move) I labored in the water and was thinking of giving birth there, but I got out to use the toilet and I had to push and my water broke and she was born 13 minutes later, a little after midnight. Whew! Her whole labor was shorter than the pushing with Israel, but in other ways it was similar with the throwing up and shaking throughout and my water not breaking until pushing. I bled a lot and the immediate recovery was miserable, with more throwing up. The others tried to get some sleep and we went home in the morning. I didn’t tear and the next day I hardly felt like I had had a baby, except for being a little weak and the afterbirth pains I had when I nursed, which were like full strength contractions. Eve was such a nice sleepy newborn, the way “normal” babies are my mom said.

Eve, several hours old
I am so thankful for my relatively uneventful births with healthy babies and being able to keep things mostly as planned, whatever “planned” means when you’re talking about birth. Birth sure takes you on a ride and you never know where it will take you. I have loved my experiences with out-of-hospital births with CPMs and am “looking forward” to doing this again in March!

 

Can you share one piece of mothering advice with us?

Advice can be helpful, but maybe the best advice is that in the end you just have to experience your unique situation yourself, make your own choices, and roll with it. Labor doesn’t really stop when the baby is born; it’s still hard work, painful, uncertain, beautiful, and you have to keep remembering to relax and breath.

 

Thank you so much for sharing, Anna!

Here are the other birth stories in the series so far:

Jenna: Landyn and Braedyn

Nancy: Suzanne

Mandie: Owen

Nancy: Daniel

Suzanne: Tera

 

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