Friday, June 7, 2013

Birth Story

It's hard to know where to start when you are trying to retell your birth story.  With Jackson I started from when I found out about his birth defect...but where do I start when I have a...wait, do I dare say it...normal, boring old pregnancy?

I guess I will begin with the book, Birthing from Within.  I read this book in the early weeks of being pregnant with Jackson because that was going to be my dream birth and labor.  Of course as many of you know that dream floated away when Jackson's omphalocele was discovered and I was told to have a c-section.

This time I reread Birthing from Within with fresh eyes because at 15 weeks all blood tests, and sonograms came back clear.  I knew that I was going to be able to try to have the birth that I dreamed of having with Jackson.

I remember watching, The Business of Being Born when I was pregnant with Jackson and just crying through the movie or rather mourning the birth that I had wanted to have with my first little one.  Now was my chance to have my baby, my way...for me a homebirth was out of the question because I wanted to be near or in a hospital setting because of my prior c-section.  Therefore it was pertinent for me to be at a practice and hospital that allowed and supported VBAC's  because I WAS going to have a VBAC. 

Long story short, at 33 weeks I had my VBAC consult with my OB/Midwife practice (my doula had told me that she didn't like the sound of it) and I thought I knew what I was about to go into at the appointment.  I knew he was going to tell me all the dangers of having a VBAC (3 years ago when I had to sign my c-section consent form I asked about a VBAC and he said it was possible but again listed the myriad of dangers then).  So I patiently sat in the waiting room for an hour and then another 15 minutes in the exam room to finally be brought into his office to discuss my plan.  Clenching onto my birth preference sheet I listened as my doctor listed the dangers (I was totally prepared for this) and the benefits.  Then he began to tell me his stipulations to having a VBAC:  no laboring at home, epidural must be put into place right when you come into the hospital, no bath during labor, no moving around or walking during labor, and you will be scheduled for a c-section on your due date so you better have your baby before your due date or a c-section is inevitable.  You see for 33 weeks I had been told I could VBAC and how I was a perfect candidate.  So I wasn't really thinking about how this consultation was going to go.  I figured I was going in to read the form over with my doctor.  I quickly learned that I was TOTALLY WRONG.   I began to cry and slowly tucked my birth preference sheet into my pocketbook only to look up as he was saying, "I do not understand, what is the hold up?"  I told him that none of that was in my plan and that I had already met with the hospital who didn't tell me any of these requirements that I am being told about now.  Infact, they pretty much told me the opposite and was very excited to have me, "VBAC there in their new holistic birthing center with his practice."  Someone was playing me like a fiddle, was it my OB practice or the Holistic Birthing Center at the hospital?  I don't know, and honestly I do not think I want to know.  Either way, both should be ashamed of themselves for leading me on like the did. 

I abruptly wiped my tears and said, "Well I am not signing this consent form" to which he replied, "I'll see you in two weeks, you can give me the form then."

I walked out while texting my husband, "OMG I have to find a new practice. Worst appointment ever!"  I then called my doula and told her what happened and said, I need you to help me find a new practice, I replayed everything my doctor told me and she was in shock.  Gail being the leveled headed woman she is said, "First, take a deep breath.  Don't make any decisions right now."  But I think Gail knew that my mind was already made up, I asked her to email names of VBAC friendly practices because I knew that I was leaving that practice.

That night Gail emailed me a few names and I recognized one.  I called that office the next day, went in for a talk that day, and transferred my records as I was walking out of my consultation with The Childbirth and Women's Wellness Center in Clifton, NJ.

To say that these women were my birthing saviors would be putting it lightly.  Though I only got to see them a handful of times before my little man was born and the founding midwife goddess herself Lonnie the evening my water broke, I feel like I have known them for my whole mothering life.  Perhaps it is because my mom delivered me at Lonnie's first ever stand alone birthing center 35 years ago (I know I look pretty good for my age huh?) or it was Rachel's non-wavering support during my consult and birth preferences discussion or Myriam's proactive approach to helping me breastfeed before my son was born?  I may never figure out this answer and perhaps I do not need to.  I love these women for helping me make my dreams come true!

At 8:30pm on February 5th I felt a gush and immediately knew that my waters were breaking.  I called my midwife and told her the news...she told me the standard, if you do not have the baby in 12 hours come into the hospital, if you have contractions lasting 1 minute 2-4 minutes apart call her. I called my doula and her directions were to relax and try to get some rest because I was about to do a lot of work.  At 9:30pm the contractions started...they were shallow and inconsistent but as the evening went on and my waters was still breaking (at this point I have on one of Jackson's old diapers) they became more intense and steady.  Chris looked at me and at around 1:30am and asked me how far apart my contractions were...HA!  I had no idea but I could tell that he was starting to get a little concerned.  Chris decided to keep track and for about 45 minutes the were 1-4 minutes apart lasting 45 seconds to 1 minute.  Chris encouraged me to call my midwife and against my own idea I did just that.

After relaying my contraction information to Rachel, she told me it was time to come to the hospital.  I of course was not convinced...I didn't want to get there too early and be pushed into doing something that I did not want to do.  I called my doula and told her I was heading to the hospital and she was going to meet us.

The car ride there seemed to take forever and as we were getting off the highway my contractions began to change...I was not able to answer Chris's question to me and my breathing became intimately important to help with the waves of pain.

We got the the hospital and I walked into the ER where they promptly put me in a wheel chair and asked me what I thought to be redundant questions since I already preregistered.  Chris ran out to bring in all our bags and then to find a parking spot.  The admittance nurses asked me questions about my labor and were astonished that my doctor was "letting me have a VBAC."  PAHLEASE....they obviously didn't know how hard I worked to have one and that I had found the best midwives around!

As I rolled into labor and delivery there was Rachel eating a snack behind the desk; she followed me into the room as the nurses helped me out of the wheel chair.  I changed and began to talk to the women there, I arrived at 6 cm and stood for an hour breathing my baby down...moaning (like an animal or so I was told) rocking, and holding my doula and husband's hands...squeezing them, breathing through the contractions.  Rachel stayed by my side the entire time writing notes, talking to me through the waves.  At one point I looked up at her and said, "I can't do it anymore, I just can't."  That is when she looked me in the eye and said, "That means it is almost over."  She asked me if I wanted to be checked and I did...I was about 9 cm and we decided that I was going to start to try and get this baby out.

Breathing, and not breathing, legs up, legs down, moaning and being silent...I did it all...I was crying...I just wanted to get this baby out!  Gail pulled out the Robozo and suggested that we play tug of war because Rachel was starting to get a little nervous.  After a contraction the baby's heart rate would go down...she wanted this baby out NOW...and so did I.  Rachel threatened me with another c-section, she was kind and tried to schmooze me into pushing the baby out, she tried to bribe me but honestly I just wasn't listening to her...not until I heard her whisper to the nurses, "Call the surgeon."  That is when I knew that I had to get this baby out, and NOW.  I grabbed that Robozo, pulled  and I pushed like no one's business.  I felt a pop, a gush and I heard his beautiful cry.  The surgeon walked in and Rachel turned and said, "We don't need you, she just had the baby." The doctor turned to me said, "Congratulation, " shook Chris's hand, and spinned right out of the room.

Two hours after I arrived at the hospital Elliot Ray was born, 5:36 am weighing 7lbs 19.5 inches long.  He was perfect...I DID it, I DID it MY drugs, vaginally with a midwife...This is my victory, this is my dream come true.  I did have to have a little episiotomy...I yelled at Rachel as she stitched me up...but how I felt giving birth the way I wanted to trumped it all.


So I can now say that I birthed both ways and each has its difficulties. Vaginally for me, was the better of the two.  I was alert and awake seconds after giving birth, as was my baby, like it was any other day...was it painful?  YES of course it was, but it was a different kind of had a purpose.  Birthing without drugs is not for everyone and I totally understand that.  I never preach about my birthing choice, infact, I rarely tell people that I VBAC'd with out drugs because I really do not enjoy hearing people tell me I am crazy and then retell their own traumatic birth story.  I listen to them as they tell me about how terrible their birth experience was and then smile and say, "That sounds difficult but that is wasn't my experience."  I do not even really talk about it too much with my friends because I do not want to come off sounding like I am preaching...but since this is my blog, I can brag all I want...I am F'in proud of myself, that's right...I dug down deep, held to my convictions, fought for my rights as a birthing mom, and in the words of the great Lonnie Morris, "I took back my birth!"

I want to extend my deepest thank you to The Childbirth and Women Wellness Center especially my goddess midwife Rachel for supporting me through our short journey together.  Thank you Gail Cirlin-Lazerus, my doula at Mother's Intuition for her quick thinking and pulling out that Robozo even when I gave her the eyes of death when she suggested it, Katherine Yannalfo of Photography by SKY for getting to my birth as fast as she could and documenting the most intimate moment without making me feel uncomfortable.  Thank you to my mom and dad for raising a hippie, granola crunching daughter who isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in and to fight for what is right.  Chelsea and Ian who came to our house late at night when my water broke to make sure Jackson would be taken care of when we had to leave...and of course, THANK YOU to my husband Chris...he never questions my hippie sensibilities, stands up for me when I need it, and lets me shine in my own quirky way.

And, thank you, thank you, thank you will always be my little baby.  I love you more than words can express.  You are already an incredible big brother.

Props to University of Hackensack Mountainside for trusting its midwives and letting them run the are truly a Mother=Baby Friendly hospital!  Gracious thanks to the nurses who didn't try to push me to do anything I didn't want to do...Kelly you rock, in her words, "S*#*t you did a VBAC, I mean I gave up cursing for lent but S*#*t you had  a VBAC!" You made me feel so cool!

All photos taken by Kat Yannalfo

"Mothers of earth, take back your birth." Lonnie Morris

 Get educated and make the choice to birth the way that is right for you and your baby.  My choice may not be for you and that is alright but you can certainly be informed and be comfortable with how you are going to give birth.

Birth on friends!

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