Friday, February 25, 2011

Previous birth stories - Part 1

With all these birthdays recently, I have been reflecting upon each of my "birth stories". I love reading other ladies stories, so I thoughts I'd share mine. I have already blogged Becky's and Anna's birth stories before. 

 a few minutes after birth

Solomon, our firstborn - wow, we were so young, and knew so little! The thought of home birth crossed my mind once early on in pregnancy, wondering if anyone still gave birth at home in the 21st century, and if so, why they would want to do that. I also was under the notion that if anyone were to attempt a home birth, they probably had to have an ambulance waiting in front of the house, ready to rush to the mother to the hospital if needed.

I saw an OB early on in my pregnancy who was morbidly obese, but very friendly. Her weight would have made me doubt any nutritional advice she would have given me, but she never gave me any advice, nutritional or otherwise. My appointments took a few minutes each, and basically consisted of recording my weight, blood pressure, and temperature. Later on, we moved to the other side of town and I switched to a different OB, but my appointments with her were pretty much the same other than the fact that I suddenly weighed 9 lbs less because obviously one of the two offices had a scale that was way off. 

Instead, the popular "What to expect when you're expecting" became my main source for learning about pregnancy (we didn't have internet). What I didn't know was that pregnancy in mainstream America is a very strange adventure. But not to me, who had little else to compare it to. One night, my husband remarked that I had been reading the book so much I had probably committed it to memory. He was joking, but I told him I probably had. Just for fun, he picked it up and started reading a sentence, and I finished it word-perfectly. In disbelief, he did that a couple more times, and sure enough, I knew how to finish those sentences, too. Pathetic, huh?

The pregnancy was very uneventful, other than suffering from debilitating morning sickness at first. A couple of weeks before my due date, I started having prodromal labor: my contractions would pick up and be regular and painful, only to stall out again. What I didn't know then was that I am prone to have labor drag on like that, and that Solomon was facing the wrong way ("sunny side up"), which was causing these false contractions. My OB was either not skilled enough to palpate the baby's position and teach me how to get him to turn, or she didn't bother to inform me of it.

After two weeks of having painful contractions that accomplished nothing other than to rob me of sleep, I was induced early in the morning on my exact due date by having my water broken and being put on pitocin. Ugh, to think how little I knew about what I was getting myself into! This being our first, looking back I realize how much God was watching out for us by not allowing this to turn into a needless Cesarean for "failure to progress" - many induced first time births end in one. 

The pitocin immediately made me violently sick to my stomach. I had secretly eaten one of my husband's Arby's roast beef sandwiches when the nurse wasn't looking, and it suddenly and violently decided to turn around and come back. Funny thing was, my husband and I were only concerned about hiding all evidence of my getting sick, as it would have exposed me as having had food against hospital policy. 

The pain from these synthetically generated contractions was unbearable right from the start. Pitocin is like a storm in a water glass - it makes labor feel like transition the whole way through. Not wanting an epidural, I finally gave in to one half dose of some intravenous dope they shot me up with. It took effect within seconds, and I literally felt tipsy and like I was floating above the bed. Somewhere in the back of my mind I felt that surely this was no different that recreational drug use, and that I shouldn't be doing this, but I was too "happy" to really care. I was still in just as much pain, but in an altered state of mind where I didn't care so much.

Of course, that didn't last very long. The drug had completely worn off after about two hours, and I soon asked for another half dose. Again, it didn't take the pain away, it just drugged me up to where I no longer cared about it. By the time that dose wore off, it was evening and I was dilated to a 7, so they would no longer let me use the drug because of how it could affect the baby that close to birth. Too late to get an epidural (which I had been against all along), I was now suffering the full effects of a posterior baby - back labor at its worst. I must say that the labor nurse that was helping me was really nice. She showed me how to change into a position on the bed that would alleviate some of the pressure on my back, and also encourage the baby to turn around (which he never did). From this point up until I finally started pushing hours later all I remember is being in horrible pain and screaming uncontrollably with each contraction. The poor moms in the other rooms must have really hated me!

Pushing was surprisingly easy and relatively painless. Solomon's head was soon on the perineum, about to be born, when my OB (in full battle gear, with a plastic shield covering her entire head) announced that I needed an episiotomy. I knew that this was not good, and tried to argue with her, but to no avail. The second the doctor cut me, Solomon slipped out immediately and flopped onto the bed that I was pushing on, but I did not see him because I was reclined. They held him up briefly, cut the cord, and then whisked him off for a few minutes to do their little song and dance. Solomon was screaming the whole time, until my husband started talking to him and he took a break to listen to that familiar voice. Finally, he was handed to me for the first time, tightly wrapped in a swaddling blanket, as seen in the picture above. I still clearly remember the feelings that swept over me as the nurse placed this little bundle in my arms. My life was changed forever in that one instant.

My recovery from the episiotomy was quite painful, but we were beyond elated with our newborn son, and our little family. Breastfeeding was a bit bumpy at first because Solomon was quite tongue-tied, but we soon got the hang of it.


two days old

Isaac was our first home birth, but we did not go into this pregnancy planning one. I was going to go back to the same childless OB who I felt had not given me the best of care the first time around, but I didn't know there were other alternatives available. Solomon at the time was 7 1/2 months old, so at my first appointment, the OB told me she would for sure do an episiotomy again on me for this second birth because the births were so close together she was afraid I would tear along the scar from the first birth. I had read enough about natural birth in the meantime to know that this was ridiculous, so I started looking for another OB. Our HMO health insurance only had 4 other female OBs that were still accepting patients in our area, and for various reasons, none of the other doctors would work out for me. One of them actually interviewed her patients before taking them on for care, and she would not take me on unless I agreed to stop nursing Solomon immediately, something I would not do. 

My husband, who didn't really see what the big deal was, would have been fine with me staying with the same doctor. I continued to see her for prenatal checkups, while trying to find an alternative. There was a birth center across from the hospital that was run by midwives, but our insurance wouldn't cover it and there was no way we could afford the cash rate. I was feeling more panicked as time wore on - the prospect of having my perineum butchered was scary at best. Then something wonderful happened. My husband met a young couple while out soulwinning one night. They were already Christians, but looking for a church, and they started attending our church after my husband's visit. The lady was expecting their third child, so of course I immediately asked her about which hospital she was going to deliver at. To my utter surprise, she told me that she was planning a home birth, and that her first two had also been born at home. Wow, she might as well have been an alien! So people DID still have babies at home!

I immediately brought the idea of home birth up to my husband, who dismissed it as entirely crazy. He was concerned about me bleeding to death at worst, or a horrible mess to deal with at best. As I kept bringing it up to him, he really didn't warm up to the idea at all, especially because of the cost of it. While we paid several hundred dollars a month to have me on his insurance plan through work, the insurance would not cover out of network providers such as homebirth midwives. Their cash rate  for midwives in the area was $3500 to $4500 for the entire prenatal package, which was utterly out of our budget - my husband only made about $2000 a month back then. The thought that we should drop my health insurance and instead pay for the midwives or get different insurance never once crossed our minds.

A couple of midwives I had called took pity on me and offered to do all the prenatals and birth for $1200, and after much pleading with my husband, he agreed to go ahead with the home birth and paying the midwives $50 each month on our balance (which we paid off in full within a couple of months after the birth when we got our tax refund).

The day I went into labor, my mother-in-law had come to our apartment to pick me and Solomon (who was only 16 months old) up and take us out for lunch. I still remember going to Jack in the Box and having to grip the back of the chair during contractions. We also stopped for dipped cones at Dairy Queen on the way back home. I remember my contractions really picking up intensity and wanting to get home quickly, but my mother-in-law was driving painfully slow, or maybe it just seemed that way. It runs in my husband's family to slow WAY DOWN during a conversation, so it was probably a combination of both.

Once my labor progressed to the point that I had to call the midwives to the house, grandma took Solomon to her house for the rest of that day, and night. We filled the birth pool (which was actually a water trough for horses that was being used "off label") in the living room of our tiny one-bedroom apartment. We like to joke that this started Isaac's love for horses. My labor was fairly easy up until 6 or 7 cm dilation. For no apparent reason, I was not able to progress past that point for several hours. My midwives finally suggested that breaking my water would most likely speed up labor, but it didn't. In exhaustion, I finally left the birth tub and lay down on our bed, where I fell asleep for the next hour or so except for the peak of each (excruciatingly painful) contraction. Suddenly, I woke up very alert, and felt the urge to push. Oh, what a relief it was! I have always found that the hardest part of labor is over once the pushing starts. Not sure how long I pushed for, but probably not more than 10 minutes, give or take.

Isaac looked slightly blue for a few seconds after being born, which is perfectly normal, and then just started breathing without crying. I thought for sure he was dead, but my midwives assured me that he was perfectly fine, and that a lot of babies don't cry much. After another minute, he did start crying. I had no tearing whatsoever, and didn't require any stitches. What a different recovery I had!

Upon inspecting the placenta, it was discovered that the reason I had had such a hard time fully dilating was because of the baby's failure to fully descend. The cause of this was a relatively short cord, and the fact that it was wrapped around his thigh and back in three loops altogether to make it even shorter. It just took a long time to get it to stretch long enough to be born. I do remember the cord appearing stretched thin when he came out.

Just a few weeks later, another lady I knew was having her first baby at the hospital. She had an almost identical situation with her cord (short, wrapped around baby, stalled in transition) and ended up being given a C-section. I was so glad that I was at home for Isaac's birth, because I would have been begging for a C-section at the hospital - labor was just so overwhelmingly painful and slow. I was very glad to have been able to have a natural birth at home, and felt confirmed in our decision to do so. 

To be continued with John and Miriam's birth stories...


  1. Reading this, I feel so grateful that the "homebirth" and "homeschool" was blazed before me. I had so many great examples and support from my church, seems like all the hard work was already done for me.

    I did see an OB the first 2 appointments while I was still deciding between hospital vs. home. The appointments were 10 minutes and so clinical and cold. In contrast, appointments with my midwife were an hour long, took place in the basement of her home, on comfy couches in front of a blazing fire and plenty of toys for children, because it was encouraged to bring your children with you as well. She taught me so much about pregnancy and the little one growing inside me, taught me so mush about birth and baby care. Then sent me home with good books and worksheets about what part of the baby was developing at that time.

  2. Can't wait to hear the others! I am so grateful that I heard about homebirth before our first was born, so that I didn't have to go through what you and so many others did. Love reading your stories!


  3. I absolutely reading birth stories. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to read the next two.

    Have you ever been by the website My OB said WHAT?!? You'd probably get a kick out of the outright stupid things said on it.

  4. I unfortunately ended up having to be induced because I was diagnosed with cholestasis and there was a real risk of the placenta cord spasming and cutting off blood flow, resulting in spontanious stillbirth. I'm relieved to know that natural birth is not as painful! I've heard it from multiple sources now.

    God was watching out for us though, my waters broke naturally and once that happened it was only 5 hours before baby was born. The midwife we ended up with in the hospital was one of the few really good ones. I gave into the gas, which has similar effects to the ones you describe, but I felt it actually helped me. It allowed me to zone out of what was happening around me, and focus internally. I don't think baby would have been born as quickly without it.

    I don't know what we will do for our next baby, I still want a homebirth but there is a fair chance the cholestasis will recur and I hate the thought of just showing up at hospital when it's time without having made any connections. If I am to be at the hospital I'd rather do it from the start so the doctor treating me knows exactly what I want and expect rather than trying to explain it and fight for it in the delivery room.

  5. Most women don't like it when I tell them my birth stories... ;)

    #1-Hospital, pitocin, no epidural, "sunny side up", extreme back labor, 4.5 hours total.

    #2-Hospital, textbook labor & delivery, 3 hours total.

    #3-Hospital, textbook labor & delivery, baby born 30 minutes after arrival. Cord wrapped around his neck 3 times tightly. He was revived quickly. 2 hours total.

    #4-Hospital, pitocin, baby born in exactly 30 minutes from first contraction. :D

  6. Oh, my biggest pet peeve? The health professionals not taking me seriously when I told them I have fast labors.

  7. Bakershalfdozen,

    I have fast labors too. Mine were all home births, the midwife barely made it in time for #3. Believe you me, the midwives I know take you seriously when you tell them that : ) I actually think a midwife gives better care because they have to, they don't a hospital and staff to fall back on as easily. They have to be more aware of potential problems.

    abba12, is having a midwife hospital birth an option? Or a birthing center? I recommend having a midwife over a OB to all my friends, whether that is at home, at a birthing center, or at a hospital. If I had a risk, there is no question I would choose a hospital environment but I would insist on a midwife still.

  8. I too, have heard that pitocin contractions are worse than natural ones. Just hearing that makes me so happy. I labored for a very long time with I don't know how many pitocin doses. Those contractions were ridiculously horrible. Makes me happier when planning for my HBAC.

  9. I loved reading the birth stories of your two eldest children Zsuzsanna! I could tell immediately who was who in the photographs also.

    I am looking forward to reading your birth stories for John and Miriam!

    God Bless

  10. I can't wait to hear the next stories! Your birth of Solomon sounded a lot like how mine went :( I'm just so incredibly happy I didn't go for the planned c-section they wanted me to have. I really hope to have a home birth next time around!

  11. Can't wait to hear the others! I had two in the hospital vaginal but with epidurals and pic. The last one I had a natural water birth in a much more granola type hospital with midwives. I can't wait to do a home birth with the next one, God willing of course. When you go that way do the midwives come to your house? That would seem like such a huge relief if you have a lot of children. I hate having to take them all and wait forever in tiny waiting rooms.

  12. A horse trough being used 'off label.' That cracks me up--he'll really have a story to tell his children and grandchildren--I can't say many are born in a trough!

    Pitocin, in my opinion, is a nasty drug. My cousin breeds horses and I discovered this through helping her with administering laboring mares shots that it's indeed 'off label' to be used on humans--it was developed for farm animals. It's barbaric--women are not cows or horses.


    P.S. Speaking of horses, I finally put my folder for the children in the post today, so it should be arriving shortly!

  13. Your blog is very inspiring! I loved reading your birth stories! My first baby is 10 months old. I took Bradley Method classes while pregnant with her and I was so excited to have a natural birth and to find out what my body was capable of without a ton of medical interference...but at 34 weeks i found out she was breech! I tried everything I could find to try to turn her but it didn't work. I begged the doctor to let me go into labor on my own at least to try to give her every opportunity to turn, but the best she would allow was for me to go to my due date. She never did turn, so instead of being surprised and letting her come when she was ready, I showed up at the hospital at 8am for a scheduled c-section :( Up until that point my biggest fear was having to have an episiotomy! I never even got to feel a single contraction and the delivery went alot different than I had been looking forward to. Anyway, my whole reason for posting this is that I'm wondering if you have any info/advice/encouragement for me? The town we live in doesn't allow VBACs, in order to have one we would have to go to a hospital that is an hour away. I'm not pregnant again yet but my husband and I would love to have a large family and I know repeat c-sections can be dangerous.

    Thanks for all you post on such a crazy world it's nice to read things from people with similar views :)


  14. Thank you, everyone.

    Elizabeth, I have heard of that website before, and it cracked me up. Pretty sad.

    abba12, so sorry to hear about your cholestasis! I know a bit about it because with my pregnancy with Becky, I was concerned that I had it (blood tests ruled it out, thankfully). Hopefully, you will not experience it in your next pregnancy.

    Karen, some midwives come to the house for all appointments, some do half-half, and some to all the checkups at their office. Each midwife is different, but they all encourage you to bring the whole family along to appointments.

    Mindy, thank you - the kids will be thrilled to get your letter.

    Angela, so sorry to hear the birth did not work out the way you had planned. Sadly, there are virtually no doctors practicing today that allow breech births, especially in a first-time mom. Your options for a VBAC depend on which state you live in. Here in AZ, there are only a couple of hospitals and a handful of doctors in the entire state that will allow an "attempt of labor", but their rates for successful VBACs are low because the labors are too managed. Your best option would probably be to look into having an HBAC (home birth after cesarean). Maybe you could consult with some midwives about your case, concerns you may have, etc.

    It may be possible to find a hospital OB that is dedicated to VBACs, again, that depends on where you live. You can get lots of great VBAC info at and

    Best of luck for your next pregnancy!

  15. So true about the pitocin! Nasty stuff! I am actually blogging my birth story of my first born (should post at midnight :) and my 5th! Totally opposite! My first was induced in the hospital, my 2nd was a hospital too, but my 5 girls were all born at home! I ended up in the hospital with my last baby and I am RESOLVED to NEVER go to a hospital for birth again except for a life threatening emergency!

    I have a question for you though...You said Solomon had a bumpy start because of being tongue tied...How severe was it? My last had it and his was so severe the end of his tongue looked like a heart shape. He COULDN'T nurse because of it. They ended up cutting it there in the hospital. He went over 12 hrs without nursing because the first night was spent trying to latch and screaming by turn. He was sore from the cut, but able to eat afterwards and he's now 14 months and still nursing! So I was just wondering how you nursed well with it? Does he still have it? Does it cause him problems, like speech wise? I've never heard of this before my son, so I'm curious about others experiences!

    BTW...Not that I'm trying to push my blog or gain followers, but if you read my blog on the 8th you will read an AWESOME display of God's power and protection, involving the birth of my 5th baby! :D

  16. So, I already posted it... This is what 8 kids does to you! LOL...You do things and forget that you've done them! The happy busy life with kids!

  17. Will you ever do John and Miriam's stories? Very interested to read.


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