5 years ago yesterday my sweet T. was born. It was Saturday, the day before Easter. Friday evening, as I stood in line at the video store, I noticed a pretty strong contraction. Since I was already a week past my "due date" and I'd had several nights of fruitless contractions, so I didn't get too excited. I came home, ate dinner, and watched "Message in a Bottle", the movie I'd rented. All evening long I continued to have one strong contraction every 30 minutes or so. They were even more noticeable when lying down on the couch during the movie. It ended around 11:30pm and I went to bed. A short time later I heard a loud unidentifed noise, so woke D. up to investigate. He didn't find anything and unfortunately was unable to fall back to sleep. Meanwhile, the contractions become stronger and about 10 minutes apart. D. got up and went into the office to do some work while he had insomnia, and I got up and paced around the bedroom. After a while I went out and told him "this is it." I paced in the family room while watching PBS documentaries till around 3am, when I called my midwife, Lylaine Gavette (CNM). I told her "I think it's time," and she said "You think it is?" "I know it is."
We called my friend Tammy to come and be with the kids and headed off to the Bethany Birth Center. We almost forgot the infant carseat, but luckily I saw it sitting in the driveway where D. had set it when he carried it out of the house. It was about a 30 minute drive away, but much to our surprise, the freeway we needed to take was closed during the night for construction. (It was a very heavily traveled area so they only worked on it at night to keep daytime traffic moving.) I began to panic, but luckily D. knew how to get there via surface roads.
When we got there, Lylaine examined me and said I was 5cm dilated and very stretchy. She asked if I wanted her to break my water, and I said yes. She told us to call our family if they were coming because she thought it would go very fast once my water was broken. We called Tammy and told her to bring the kids. They arrived around 5am. J. came into the room to say hi and stayed. She was 6 at the time, but did not seem bothered as things got more intense. D. kept asking her if she wanted to leave but she said no. The birth center had a family room area where Tammy and the rest of the kids were waiting.
It was an unusual labor because the contractions alternated, one hard one followed by one less intense, continuing that way through transition. In addition, she wasn't coming down completely straight and pressing directly on my cervix, but was a little off to the side. This may have been the cause of the alternating strength contractions. Whenever I laid down, every contraction was strong. I preferred pacing/standing. Lylaine said this was OK, that it would just take longer, which it did. Finally I was at 8.5-9cm and she said, "I think you need to have about 8-10 good strong contractions and you'll be ready to push." I said, "Aren't these strong?" and she replied, "I mean in a row." In great irritation, I laid down on the bed. After 4-5 very hard contractions in a row I began involuntarily pushing.
We called in Tammy and the kids. I had been on my side, but now got on my back, semi-upright. I., who was 2 year and 9 months at the time, was fascinated, and leaned on the foot of the bed watching closely. Tammy had to move her over so Lylaine had a spot! Lylaine told D., "Come her eand catch your baby." I pushed out the head halfway, the contraction ended, and during the next one I pushed it the rest of the way out. Then I prepared to rest a moment while waiting for another contraction. Everyone began urging me to push the baby out the rest of the way. "What do you mean?" I asked in annoyance. "I'm not even having a contraction!" At this point Lylaine looked me in the eye and said very seriously, "Paula, I need you to push the baby out right now." I took a deep breath and began pushing, with everyone cheering me on. Lylaine eased her shoulders out as I pushed and out the rest of her slid. She put her on my chest and began rubbing her vigorously with a towel. "Wait! What is it?" I asked. She paused and removed the towel. I saw that it was a girl and that she was rather blue. She seemed to be breathing but not very vigorously and she hadn't cried. Meanwhile, the nurse had brought over the oxygen and had the tube arranged to blow in her face. After a moment or two she gave a little cough, then cried and began breathing strongly.
Apparently the cord had been around her neck, although not really tightly, and Lylaine had been able to loosen it once her head emerged, but it was being compressed between her body and the birth canal so she wasn't getting any oxygen. The others could see this, and that her head was rather blue, but I couldn't see her head from my angle. That was why D. stepped out of the way and didn't catch her after all. Her intial Apgar was only 6. The nurse who was there told me that in a hospital birth (she worked in a hospital also) it would have been handled much differently. She said they would have screamed at me to push, and pushed on my belly or pulled on her if necessary, and whisked her away from me right away. I asked Lylaine how serious of a situation it had been, and she said, "Well, we like to have to resuscitate as little as possible." Her heartbeat had been monitored frequently during labor, just as in my hospital births, and there had never been any sign of distress (or they would have immediately transferred me to the hospital), so it must have only become a problem at the very end. Her face was very bruised from pressing on my pelvic bone and remained blue for 24 hours or so. She also had darker bruises around her eyes that lasted several weeks. I was very sore on the inside, bruised also, even though I had no tears or stitches. She arrived at 7:57 am, weighing 10 lbs. 7 oz., and I went home about 2 hours later (the minimum stay required).
Tammy had taken the kids home earlier, and after D. retrieved them we all napped. The next day we had Easter dinner with our friends down the street.
She is my sweetest child, naturally polite and grateful. She was the baby for the longest and during that time I referred to her as "my best friend" because she went everywhere with me and was SO easy, truly a delight, even as a toddler. I'm so glad I have her!
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