Here is my story about the birth of my first child Liam.
I was laying on the couch feeling some little cramps and when I got up to go to the kitchen I felt a warm gush and I knew my water had broken right away. I was so surprised, I had been preparing myself for so long that I was going to be late, I hadn’t even felt any little contractions yet and I was only three days past my due date. It was exactly, five pm. We figured we had plenty of time to prepare so we went up to the grocery store for some last minute groceries, we had fun picking out goodies, ice cream etc. It was like I had big secret I was in labor doing my grocery shopping.
For the next hour I didn’t feel much at all, a little crampy, nothing I would characterize as a contraction. When we got home Andy started getting the water birth pool ready and I started making a lasagna, so we would have something good to eat for after the baby came. While I was cooking things started to feel more interesting like I would have to stop a moment to relax, I was so excited that things ere getting started. I had been waiting so long for this I couldn’t believe the time was finally here, pretty soon I would have my little baby, I could hardly wait. You know what’s funny? I don’t even remember making that lasagna, today when I was having a piece, it was like I was eating something someone else
had prepared for me.
Time went by so fast. Once the contractions started, they progressed very rapidly. They were very mild, but very close together, I was surprised that when I got around to timing them, they were close together, four or five minutes apart and about twenty seconds long, it was about eight o’clock by then. I rocked in a rocking chair for a while and that felt soothing, I would lightly breath when a contraction would start an close my eyes and relax. I remembered through all the midwife stories that a loose mouth makes for a loose bottom, so I thought about that a lot and kept my mouth very relaxed and open.
3:00 AM Physical relief and the natural urge to push and get this baby out of me and out of the water.
The newcomer was trying to size up the matter at hand . . . He had an eye on us right way.
I called the doctor to let him know I was having fairly regular contractions and then I took a hot shower. In the shower contractions got stronger and I would lean up against the wall and support my body with my arms. The hot water felt so good on my back, it was easy to relax in the shower. Once I felt how great the shower was; I knew that the birthing pool was going to be very soothing. I laid on the bed for a while with Andy and he brushed my hair and we joked around a little, he rubbed my thighs just a bit. Each contraction would bring a throb to my upper outer thigh area, that really got my attention, and it was a hard area to relax. I laid in bed for a short while, then moved to a mattress on the floor. Each contraction took more concentration now and they were longer, about a minute and probably still around four minutes apart. We weren’t timing every contraction, it was around ten o’clock by then and I really figured by the strength of each contraction that the baby was still going to be quite a while away. I felt up inside to see what I could feel, I could feel the babies hard head, maybe about two or three inches of it, this is about the only time it would have been a comfort to have the doctor their early, to let me know how I was progressing and how much I had opened up.
Words can’t describe the excitement I feel at this moment.
Another hour went by on the mattress and around eleven I decided to get into the pool. I tried to put off getting into the pool until I was really feeling uncomfortable and I it would be a relief and a comfort to enter the water. Also I had read that getting into the pool too soon can slow down labor.
When I got into the water and I was a little let down at first. I remember thinking geez the hot shower was more soothing than this. There were cold spots and the water was not as warm as I would have liked ( although it did have a heating unit ), but I also remembered that complaining while in labor is totally the wrong thing to do. It doesn’t help and doesn’t accomplish anything. So I got that out of my mind and the contractions were close together and I started breathing very rhythmically in and out to get through them.
I remember Andy telling me I was doing a good job and that felt good to hear. He also got the hose and started putting more hot water into the pool. The added hot water felt very good. It got the temperature up enough and the water level higher. I started to appreciate the pool a lot more. After laboring in the pool for about two hours, changing positions in between contractions, quite often, the transition stage started to set in. I hoped that was what I was experiencing.
It was difficult to tell if labor was entering a whole new level or if it was peaking, but some contractions would last two or three minutes with a couple of peaks and they were very tough to get through, I continued to breath in the same rhythmic fashion, as it had been working so well. I kept telling myself that my body instinctively knows what to do and to just listen. A few times I worried that my strong breathing would tire me out and at that time I would try to slow down the breaths and think about relaxing my mouth.
A good cry, the little cub is here to stay
I felt most comfortable on my hands and knees, or with my hands on the edges of the pool and my head over the edge a little bit. But I remember moving around a lot during that transition stage trying to get comfortable. At this point I was a real mush brain. I had no brain at all, I remember reading some midwife stories where they tell their women to not worry where their brains are because they are in their bottoms, and that made me feel a little better. I felt like I could throw up after each contraction for about a half an hour and then thought that would take way too much effort and suppressed that thought. This was definitely the toughest part to deal with. I remember hoping that this was the peak and it would get better after this was over.
Quite honestly this is where women break down and take the drugs, if I was in the hospital and a nurse kept offering me relief I would have definitely taken it, because like I said I was brainless at the time so I could totally understand how vulnerable a woman is to that suggestion. I would say that if you have it made up in your mind ahead of time to not take drugs or an epidural, part of your plan should be to not have anyone ask you if you want pain relief, because you will take it and miss out on all the good stuff that follows the tough part. Unfortunately, I doubt that you could prevent a whole hospital staff from offering you drugs while you are in labor.
I tried to think about all the women that gave birth before me and all the women that give birth in the sterile hospital with people telling them how to feel and act and how lucky I was to be at home with just Andy. I also remember thinking about my Mom and that she had her babies naturally and she had to have felt all the things I was feeling and that if she could do it, then I could do it too. That was a comfort to me, having that thought. I guess that lasted maybe a half hour or forty five minutes. There was very little time between each contraction and many of them blurred together. But that part was over before I could get too upset and I just continued breathing as before.
The contractions were still strong or stronger than before but now I had time in between them to gather up energy for the next one. One nice thing about labor was I had no sense of time unless Andy told me. I remember looking over at Andy holding my wrist watch and timing contractions and I could have cared less about how long they were or how far apart, but I thought it was probably good someone was paying attention and I figured it gave him something to do as well. For the next time around I wouldn’t even worry about timing anything and I will know next time when it’s getting close to having the baby and when to call the doctor.
This time we cut it pretty close with the doctor because not too long after the transition period I had a contraction I hadn’t felt before and I let out a sound I hadn’t heard before and I had the strongest urge to push, and I did just a little. I didn’t tell Andy right away, I waited one more time and on the next contraction it happened again and then I said I feel like pushing and I want the doctor to come now. Once I starting feeling like pushing that urge grew stronger with each contraction, and I pushed with my body and never held my breath or tried pushing for a specific period of time.
Doctor Fred Duhart was just right for us.
A perfect practitioner.
I remember Andy talking to me a little and I would just put up my hand like a big stop sign, I remember just hoping I wasn’t hurting his feelings too much, because I new he was only trying to help, but for me helping was saying nothing.
I remember the phone ringing and it was the doctor, he was a little lost. I wanted him to be there very badly at this time, the pushing was intensifying and I could feel his head wanting to come out. I held back though, I really wanted him to be there. What a relief to see his headlights out the window. When he came in I remember totally shutting down labor unconsciously.
I had done all this by myself and now there was another person with me and I had to refocus my attention.
Once the doctor was there though, I could put more effort into each push and soon after I could feel the babies head beginning to crown, it was all wrinkled and soft to the touch. Three or four more good pushes and his head popped out. I reached down to feel for a cord around the neck. No entanglement. I
looked down to see a little head under water, all I wanted was for the baby to be above water so I gave one more push without the help of a contraction and the baby was completely out, what a relief and awesome feeling.
I was supporting my body with one hand on the bottom of the pool and one on the edge when he popped out. The doctor quickly pulled him above water and handed him right to me. I brought the baby to my face and kissed him. Then the doctor worked on him for a few minutes to get him going. The cord was between his legs, so I couldn’t see what the sex was, then the cord slid to one side and I looked at Andy and announced “It’s a boy”.
The doctor continued on him, his lungs were quite congested and you could tell he was struggling, the doctor was critical at this point, he put a thin hose down the babies nose and down his throat and syphoned quite a lot of liquid from his nose and throat, it was a light green color.
After the fluid was out, he cried a little, then Andy cut his cord and we were separated for the first time, Andy took him and rubbed him down and held him. I felt a huge rush at this point, total exhilaration, I stood up in the pool and delivered the placenta within just a few minutes.
What a thrill it is to finally get to hold the little person that I’ve been feeling kick around for months inside. The whole experience was such an incredible rush, even though I only had him a day ago, and even though I am physically exhausted, a little part of
me honestly wants to do it all over again.
The birthing pool was essential for the warm comfort, and maneuverability it provided. I don’t know if things would have been as smooth without the AquaDoula. Being able to feel that little bit of buoyancy and to roll into different positions with relative ease would not have been possible outside of the water. Once I was in the pool, I did not want to get out. I think that the level of the water was important as well, we had that pool filled to as full as possible and that was great. To be surrounded by warmth was so relaxing, it really took so much weight off my back and around my sides. It made all the difference for my labor.
I wanted to tell my story because the stories I read on the internet, while pregnant, were such a tremendous help in making my decision to have a home birth and a water birth. Hearing other moms tell their brave tales gave me the courage and inspiration to stick to my decision and feel confident that I would also have a successful and happy birth.
I believe that every mom should get to feel proud and strong as I did. It was a very powerful experience that I think too many women miss out on due to medical intervention. I have heard women say “If you do it naturally and don’t take the epidural it’s not like you get a medal or some reward.” Well they are so wrong, you really do get rewarded. Our bodies are made to reward us after such a difficult and laborious task. A runner finishing a marathon wouldn’t have someone pick her up one hundred feet from the finish line and carry her across!
What a feeling when she breaks the finish line ribbon with her arms stretched out above her head.
Yes I had a baby, I don’t feel I had a miracle birth or anything of the sort. We always hear the sad tales and not the happy ones. Here is a positive story about giving birth naturally. I hope other expecting mothers, contemplating a home birth or a water birth, read my story and reach a more informed conclusion. No matter what you personally choose; I only wish that you feel more secure with the decision that you ultimately make.
Liam Wolf Ashley
Born 5/9/99 at 3:00 AM
7 lbs. 12 oz. 19 3/4 in. long
Abbie has said it all, but she asked me to contribute something, so here is my two cents:
I feel so lucky that Liam’s birthing actually happened just the way Abbie wanted it to. I am sure the birthing process would have been much more taxing on Abbie’s body and spirit, without the help of the AquaDoula. The water helped ease the force of gravity on her bones and on her insides.
Naturally, an easier birth for the mother is going to benefit the baby as well.
For a first child Abbie labored very quickly. Only 9 hours passed from her water breaking to Liam’s birth.
This is quite good for a first time mom. The baby came out squeaky clean, which was a nice bonus. I was little more than a spectator for almost all of those nine hours.
Abbie became more apart of Nature than I have ever seen in any human. Her breathing and the way she flexed and relaxed her hands and the muscles in her face revealed to me that she grew much closer toward understanding the universe in which we live. I hate to hurt feelings, but I don’t believe, even for a second,
that a woman giving birth numb from the waste down and intoxicated from pain killers, is going to gain much understanding of the natural process. I realize that my view is an extreme, but I believe many hospital births leave the mother feeling victimized a little bit. The most important day of her life and she is often shoved to the back of the bus, only a passenger at a time when she should be firmly at the wheel. I am appreciative that the hospital is exactly the best place to be if there is an emergency, but I will never be convinced that the act of birthing in itself is a medical emergency.
Birthing is as natural as breathing.
Abbie really got something accomplished that night. I am in awe of it, and also very proud of her. Through out the birthing I never felt anything more than the slightest twinges of apprehension. What is there to fear? If there is anything at all sacred in this world, than this really has to be it. I will tell you, I did feel a lot of concern once Liam was out and trying to give a good cry. It was obvious that quite a bit of mucus or amniotic fluid was in his nose and throat. The doctor removed all this with in a minute, but I was super concerned about it. As the doctor worked to clear Liam’s airway, I though how crushing it would be to come this far only to see your child fail to catch the breath of life. For a minute I was consumed by that tragic thought.
I held Liam as Abbie and the doctor took care of the placenta while she was still in the Aquadoula. I had to pester the Doctor a couple times about the amount of fluid taken from Liam’s airway before I was convinced everything was alright. It seemed very right for the two of us to be alone for almost the entire process. However, I would always want a practiced doctor or midwife present for the birth.
Someone who has plenty of experience. Doctor Duhart has delivered babies for over twenty-five years. He was the perfect person to have at Liam’s birth.
Here is what Mother’s Day morning looked like at the house on the Missouri River. Liam’s Cord is buried here.