This is the birth story of our first child. Since this is a birth story, I decided to do a simpler version for my male readers and for any children who may read Raising Olives.
For men and children readers:
I went into labor and a very long time later our baby was born, a girl whom we named Amber. Both mother and baby were fine. Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow, bye now.
If you are a child, please get you mom’s permission to read the rest of this post.
For other moms:
Mark and I planned a home birth for our first child.
A week and a half before my due date, I wake to contractions around 6am. The contractions come every 5 minutes for several hours and we finally decide to call our midwife.
Mid-morning Mark and I head out to splurge on a nice, big breakfast at Shoney’s. We talk and laugh about having a new baby that day while we continue to time contractions and eat.
Around lunch time our midwife arrives at our home. It is exciting to see all of her things set up in our house. A scale to weigh the baby, tiny baby hats and all the accoutrement that surround a home birth. Even though I’m only beginning labor we are in high spirits as we contemplate the arrival of this child who will make us parents.
Mark and I walk, play cards, I try to rest, spend some time in the shower and we just sit and talk.
Around 7pm our midwife wants to check again. There has been no progress. The baby is now higher than it had been earlier in the day. I’m devastated. No baby today? She packs up her things and goes home telling us to get some rest.
I lay down to rest, but the contractions keep coming making it difficult to impossible to sleep and besides I don’t really want to rest, I want to have a baby.
Mark and I spend much of the night walking around the block, talking, playing games and occasionally resting.
Fridaypasses in much the same manner as Thursday. (I realize that those of you who’ve had a few children are probably shaking your head at my younger and much more naive self, trust me, I do the same thing.) I’m tired and beginning to be convinced that the baby is NEVER going to be born.
Friday night Mark and I traipse around the neighborhood between 1 and 5am with no positive labor progress, but with plenty of opinions on our neighbor’s landscapes. These middle of the night walks are something that we always treasure when we remember Amber’s birth.
My contractions fizzle out. After two days and two nights of regular, consistent contractions, they simply disappear and there is still no baby. Our midwife now decides to try to get this show on the road by encouraging labor with some natural induction methods.
We try castor oil, blue and black kohosh, etc. The only real result of this is that I feel horrible. I am more exhausted, more frustrated, more weepy and more convinced that we are never going to be parents.
Saturday evening the contractions resume and I spend a considerable amount of time begging God to allow this child to be born.
I start spotting. That means I am making progress, right?
I want to go to church and have a normal Sunday. Mark and the midwife both put their feet down. We are not going to church.
Another long tedious day of contractions stretches out before me and I’m not sure that I’m up to the task. But by afternoon things change.
As the afternoon wears on my contractions become stronger and we realize that this birth is not going to be the uncomplicated, peaceful home birth that we imagined.
As my contractions increase in intensity (FINALLY!), I begin to bleed….. heavily. I’m soaking through pads almost as quickly as I can change them. The midwife checks our baby’s heart rate and everything still sounds fine.
I’m put on oxygen as a precaution and our midwife explains that this may be a partial placental abruption and that we will most likely have a c-section when we get to the hospital.
We arrive at the hospital around 4pm and the bleeding has subsided. After checking both baby and me, Dr. G does not suggest a c-section. He believes that we are fine to continue and just wants to monitor me. The great news is that I am 4cm dilated and 80% effaced. Finally after 3 days and 3 nights, I am in ‘active’ labor. This news boots my spirits.
Our back up hospital is a small hospital and the nurses were wonderfully accommodating. As we settle in, they busy themselves with making our room as homey as they can.
My contractions continue to intensify and my labor finally seems like what we read about in all those books. I stand, walk and remain active and although the contractions are intense I’m able to relax and enjoy the fact that I AM going to be a mom soon.
Around 8pm I’m 9cm and fully effaced. I’m overjoyed and continue to work with the contractions. I speak to my mom on the phone, “Guess what Mom? I’m 9cm!” I don’t think she believed me.
Dr. G.tells Mark, “This is not how someone who is 9 cm should be acting.” Honestly, I felt terrific. As each contraction began I would relax and breath deeply and as it subsided I was simply excited that we were so close to meeting our baby.
After a while my progress stalls once again and Dr. G. suggests breaking my water. After some discussion, Mark and I agree.
Dr. G breaks my water and rather than moving down further into the birth canal, the baby moves up. We are now at risk for cord prolapse, where the cord moves down into the birth canal and then will be compressed by the descent of the baby’s head. I need to be flat on my back or on my side to try and prevent this and I am closely monitored.
At this point, I begin to understand how most women experience labor.
The contractions come in waves, one on top of the other, never completely subsiding. I can’t catch my breath. I can’t move to a more comfortable position for handling them. I can’t get on top of them. I feel completely incapable of dealing with what I am experiencing. Dr. G nods at Mark and says, “Now that’s more like it.”
I beg Mark for a break. I can’t keep going. It’s too much. I promise to come back and finish, but I just need a short break.
My poor husband would do anything for me and he tells me later that he wanted to pick me up and run out of the hospital, but we didn’t have a choice. We both had to just walk through it and keep going, there is no time-out in labor.
The nursery nurses enter and begin to set up the warmer. Vaguely I realize that they are preparing for a baby. We must be nearing the end.
An hour and a half later and it’s time to push.
As the next contraction begins a nurse urges me to push. I push through the contraction and then try to catch my breath.
But everyone begins to move quickly, more nurses pour into the room. Dr. G says, “Keep pushing.” I think, “I’m not having a contraction.” Mark leans close, “Don’t stop pushing, honey. You have to keep going.” The nurses are yelling to push. “I’m not having a contraction.” It doesn’t matter. Everyone is insistent that I push and push now.
Dr. G says, “The baby is in trouble, you need to push the baby out with this next contraction.” I push and push.
I don’t know what’s going on, but everyone else in the room sees that the baby’s heart rate has plummeted. It has dropped, down, down into the 40’s, 30’s and it continues to drop.
I push until I have no strength, no breath and Dr. G. acquires the forceps. It is not the first time that he will apologize to me for having to use emergency procedures to save the life of one of our children. Dr. G. uses the forceps to pull the baby down the birth canal, then I am able to push the head out. Oh sweet relief, the body simply slides out and Dr. G is holding our daughter. A girl!
I’m a mom, I’m giddy, I think that it’s all over and I’m still unaware of how serious things were, still are. I say over and over, “It’s a baby.”
I’m in love an I’m in awe of the tiny blue and purple creature that the medical team is frantically working on.
I’m no longer in pain, that is a miracle. I am a mom, that is a miracle. I think at this point, I was the only one rejoicing.
My parents are waiting outside in the hall and they hear that the baby has been born, but they hear no cry, they hear no gasp or splutter. Mark knows how low the heart rate had gone and for how long and of course the medical team knows. I was rejoicing in a miracle that no one else had the confidence to rejoice in, yet.
Then I realize, I become aware.
“Is she OK?”
They always say, “yes”. I wonder if they say that even when there is no hope.
I look to Mark and he wants to know as much as I do.
After several minutes we hear a slight squeak.
More time passes before they let me peek at my baby. I get to hold her for a brief moment before she is whisked off for testing. Testing to see what damage the lack of oxygen may have done, x-rays to confirm a broken collar bone and probably other tests that I still don’t know about. I insist that Mark stay with our baby. I don’t want her out of our sight.
Amber, 7lbs. 5 oz. was born at 11pm and is finally returned to me at 3am. She is worth everything, the days of frustration and nights of tears, each contraction and each push. She is worth much more than I was asked to give, even though at the time I thought it was a lot.
Amber’s collar bone was broken, but all the other tests came back normal. No permanent damage.
Dr. G. would go on to deliver our next 6 children and he told me later, that in his 30+ years of practicing obstetrics there were only 2 babies that he did not think would live. Amber is one of those miracle babies!