Birth of Abigail Maria

Written by Rachel (Mom of Abigail). Posted in Birth Stories

P1030157When I was born 26 years ago, my mom was told she had gestational diabetes and she had to be on bed rest with me for 4 months.  My mom was induced with me and had the whole gamut of hospital interventions.  She pushed me for 3 hours and finally I was born - with a permanent birth injury.  I have a brachial plexus injury due to a shoulder dystocia at my birth.  This injury still affects me to this day.  My left arm will never be normal.  My first Apgar was 1.  I barely survived.
Still, I trusted "the system" - I was raised in it.  I used to be one of those "drug me up when I walk through that hospital door in labor" people.  I always thought what happened to me was nobody's fault.  I put my faith in that system until my son was born. 

Long story short, my first (Isaiah) was born naturally at the hospital. I thought it was a good experience. I didn't know better. And honestly, for a hospital birth it probably couldn't have gone smoother. However what I remember from Isaiah's birth was the sea of interns that showed up last minute to watch his birth. That image is what has stuck with me.  But I learned something extremely valuable from that experience: I could birth without intervention.  I was suddenly empowered and amazed at nature rather than putting my blind faith in science.  I couldn't believe how powerful nature was - why did I always swallow what I had been spoon fed to believe?  I took the "red pill," if you will.

In researching various areas of natural health after the birth of my first, I came across natural birth moms like myself. It was then that I encountered home birth moms.

I thought only crazy people had babies at home. 
Then one day I came across a bit of information. I learned that the US has the highest infant and maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world according to the World Health Organization. I didn't believe it but it was true. My research began there.  A friend of mine had a home birth and gave me some suggested reading material.  After reading Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, I realized that when I did this again, I wanted a beautiful experience just like what she had described. I interviewed several midwives but Dotti was the obvious choice for us.  She was professional, organized and extremely personable - exactly what we wanted for our birth.

P1030155TO THE PRESENT!!  I started having contractions the week before. I'd have 2 hours of 30 second contractions that were 3 minutes apart, then they'd stop as soon as I laid down to time them further. Frustrating.

Saturday night we went to church. My mom and I stayed out in the foyer area during the service with my son since he is not all too thrilled about being put in the nursery. We listened out there. It was there that the contractions started to pick up. The contractions were accompanied by a mild backache, which my other contractions had not done. It was about 8:00 pm.

I called Dotti, she said to keep her posted. We went home and put my son down to bed. After that Arick and I watched two episodes of "Lost." (We downloaded the entire series so we've got about a hundred episodes to watch) I sat on the exercise ball and timed contractions. Increasing in intensity and length, there was no way I'd be able to sleep through them. At 1 am I called Dotti again. She arrived about 45 minutes later.

***TIME CHANGE*** - the quirky thing about this birth is the time change. Dotti arrived at 1:45, but then 2:00 became 3:00. We lost an hour due to daylight savings.

So, around 4 am (just over two hours later), the tub was filled, Dotti and her assistant Emily had everything set up and contractions were starting to double peak.  I needed to hold Arick's hand to get through them.  I was checked before getting in the pool and I was 5 cm. With the contractions coming the way they were we decided it was a good time to get in.

Here is what is often referred to as "laborland." It's all a blur - where you don't care what sounds come out of your mouth or who sees you do what. Contractions were intense enough that I needed to vocalize through them.  Emily is a doula and I really could not have done it without her. She had the right things to say every time.

I started feeling nauseated and Arick had found some information on acupressure points in labor. One was for nausea. It helped so so so much. After just about throwing up he started the acupressure and it stopped within minutes and I could focus on contractions.

Around 6 am I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I got up and they moved me to the bathroom. Nothing. But I had several contractions sitting there.

All this time I was still waiting for transition.  This was the point where I was dreading having another contraction every time. I didn't get much of a break between contractions for about the last hour. Sitting in the bathroom, Dotti told me to reach down and check if I could feel the baby's head. I could! I could feel the water bag right there! That was one of the coolest things I've ever done. Labor alone had moved her down my pelvis without me having to push her! I had made it through transition without realizing it!  What a relief!P1030150
So I got back in the tub and with the next contraction pushed at the peak, trying to break the water bag. Instead, her head came out! She was born in the caul - the water bag never broke on its own. I was NOT expecting this to happen so fast and it took me by such surprise I wasn't prepared for the sudden change in sensation. I thought it'd be much slower than that. I pushed one more time and out she came! 6:39 am on March 8, 2009!

Daddy got to catch! What a special time for Arick to catch his daughter. That is why we named her Abigail - it means "her father's delight." And needless to say it fits since he was the first person to hold her!

She let out a wail of a cry on her own that lasted all of 4 or 5 seconds. When we put her back in the water next to me she was back to a perfectly peaceful state of contentment, breathing regularly just fine. I leaned back in the pool and just visited with Dotti, Emily and Arick until the placenta was born. Then Dotti gave us an anatomy lesson on the placenta - that was actually really interesting!!! I never thought I'd be so fascinated with it.

They got me out of the tub and put the placenta in some plastic bags to carry around with the baby. We wrapped her up and went to the bed so I could nurse her. She latched right on - 20 minutes after birth! She stayed nursing for about another 20 minutes while Dotti started breaking down the tub doing cleanup. My mom showed up at about this time and she was so impressed with how the home birth worked.

They checked my vitals and stuff and helped me get into the shower.  What a relaxing shower - it was so nice to be in my own hot shower after giving birth!  Arick got to take his baby girl while I got cleaned up. I sat on the bed after my shower and Dotti did the newborn exam. 7 lbs, 8 oz, 20 and 3/4 inches long. 13 inch head circumference. Super healthy, apgar of 9.

The whole experience can not be compared to being in the hospital. How I was treated in labor at home versus at the hospital is apples to oranges. At the hospital I felt like I was at the edge of crisis, like everyone was waiting for something bad to happen so they had to keep coming and checking this machine and that machine, check my vitals, break my water, check my cervix, move things along. At home I was in charge. I was free to move about and do what felt right to me during each contraction rather than laying in a hospital bed like I was sick. The rhythm of labor led the way for everyone involved. I felt that there WAS a rhythm to this labor and that even though I was uncomfortable some of the time, this is how it was meant to be. Despite the pain, I'll do it like this every time. If we have another, it will definitely be in the peace of my own home.

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