I immediately adored my first baby girl, Jade Lillian. I cried at the sight of her beautiful face; completely relieved that she was born healthy and complete. It was an hour before I could hold her. I was scared, unsure if the drugs would wear off in time for me to cradle her safely. I was alone in a sterile, ugly room. There was a nurse to my right. She didn’t talk to me…what I needed most. I needed to hear encouraging words.
All I could see was the ceiling and some equipment. The room was spinning. I was weak. Where was my baby? Please, let my husband be holding her, protecting her. Finally, an hour later, she is in my arms. But, she is all wrapped up. Whose fingers and toes does she have? I won’t know until the next day, when I ask a nurse to unwrap her so I can admire her tiny body. We sleep soundly all night.
At about midnight, I see my baby open her eyes and look around. I desperately want to hold her, but I am stuck in my bed, unable to get up. Adam is asleep, so I don’t wake him. I’ll need him to be rested so he can help me in the morning. Jade was content all night. Was she hungry? Shouldn’t I be feeding her? Did they give her a bottle? I am so exhausted, I fall back asleep. I wake in the morning to the nurse telling me it’s time to get up and walk. I feel like I’m going to split in two. She leads me to the shower. I ask Adam to stay with the baby. I think the nurse will at least help me wash my hair. No. I am left to shower on my own. My body shakes. This is the most painful feeling I have every experienced. Now what do I do? The nurse comes back. This is the beginning of a very long week.
The normal hospital stay for a c-section is 2-3 days. On the morning of the third day, I start to shake uncontrollably. Adam alerts a nurse. She pays no attention. Something is wrong. Can’t she hear the urgency in Adam’s voice? The night-shift nurse tells me I have to get up and put a girdle around my belly. I am shaky and in a lot of pain. I tell her I can’t do it. She insists. I refuse. Maybe if she had looked into my eyes, at least, she would have seen my pain. Her eyes are fixed on her computer and the schedule laid out for me.
Day 4: Antibiotics are administered to fight the infection in my blood. They don’t work. I am moved to a private room. Adam has a feeling they don’t want the “sick girl” spreading infection. But, they tell me I will be more comfortable in my own room. Adam’s mom comes to stay and help. More antibiotics. A nurse changes out the old IV, because my veins are hard. They run out of room on my arms for a new IV. My hands are black and blue. I can hardly hold Jade. There isn’t much talk about what’s wrong with me. They are holding back. Why?
In the middle of the night, I have a heavy chest. I can’t breathe. They put me on oxygen. Now it’s time to call my mom. I am afraid to fall asleep, unsure if I will wake up. Adam doesn’t want me to see him cry, so he goes into the bathroom.
Day 5: My mom walks into my room. She took the first flight she could find. The antibiotics are working now. There is a hope of going home soon. I have to be fever-free for 24 hours before I will be discharged. Jade is discharged. She is NOT going anywhere without me! They let her stay, but they won’t care for her anymore.
The ob-gyn who delivered Jade checks on me, and sends me for an x-ray. She tells me I have pneumonia. My lungs are surrounded with the fluid that is being pumped into my body. I learn more about this condition almost 4 years later (Asphyxiation Pneumonia). She doesn’t explain anything further. I sense fear in her. Why is she afraid of telling me everything? It’s my body, I want to know, but I am too overwhelmed and tired. What kinds of questions do I ask? I feel like I’m a burden to the nurses. There were 2 nurses who were very sweet. They spent time with me, talking. They wanted the best for me.
I change Jade’s diaper for the first time. If only I didn’t have to wheel this IV machine around. I just want to take care of my sweet baby. She is alert, yet very sleepy all week because of the medication I am on. Thankfully, breastfeeding comes very easily. She’s my little trooper. I snuggle with her as much as I can. Adam is growing weary. My mom stays with me so he can get a good night’s sleep at home on a real bed.
I walk around the maternity ward. I get nauseous, and start to cry, knowing that if I get sick, it’s another day in the hospital. I have a fever again. No going home. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not. Day 6 is long. Day 7 is even longer. The fever subsides and I feel a little better. The ob-gyn tells me I have Sepsis. What does that mean? I’ll have to do my own research to find out. It will be 2 ½ years before I finally find my answer. None of this information is on my medical record. Nor is there a reason stated for the c-section. All that is listed is my insurance. How many other women have been down this road? We won’t know by looking at records. What are the stats? Only the ones who have suffered have an idea.
Day 8: We get to go home. I eat, shower, feed Jade and we leave. The nurses at the nurse’s station cheer. The car ride is painful. But, I walk into the comfort of my home and cradle my baby. Adam and my mom take care of me from here. I am so thankful for them. The stairs are an obstacle, so I stay downstairs, with a little “baby station” all set up. After a few days, I no longer need pain meds. Finally. I feel better, physically, but not emotionally. I am very weepy. I have negative thoughts about my body and my mothering skills. It gets better after about 3 weeks. I mourn the loss of Jade’s first 8 days. I feel like I missed them. But, I move on, and I fall more in love with her. She is the most precious little baby I have ever seen. I am thankful for her. We have made it over a huge mountain.
I didn’t plan on having a c-section. My water broke at 4:30am two days after my due date. We went to the hospital at 6:00am. I was not having any contractions yet, but was admitted to the hospital. I wanted to stay in the bathroom, or at least walk around the room, but the nurse made me get in the bed. Soon, another nurse was trying to put the IV into my hand. She coughed on her hand and didn’t wash after. She tried and tried, but couldn’t get the IV in. Not even in true labor yet, and my hands were already bruising. The anesthesiologist came in to do the IV, and then it wasn’t long before Pitocin was administered. She told me I was in danger of an infection because my water had already broken. So, after the Pitocin, she told me that now I need an epidural, because the contractions will be too intense. Labor progresses, but I can’t feel anything. By 2:00pm I am fully dilated and ready to push. Adam and Brenda can see her head. I hear Brenda say that the baby will be born by 2:30.
Since I was lying on my back, I felt like I had no control. I couldn’t feel when to push, because I was numb. I was very thirsty, but I wasn’t allowed to have water. The ice chips didn’t help… All I could think about was a huge glass of water. Hmmm, I should have been focusing on my baby. My neck was sore from bearing down, and pushing on my back. Two hours later, the doctor came in and told me I had been pushing too long with no progress. My baby wouldn’t come out by my own efforts. She didn’t examine me, but concluded that my pelvis was too small. The baby’s heart rate was fine. I was fine. Neither of us was in any kind of distress. I was next in line for a c-section. Waiting was horrible. The epidural was wearing off, and I was stuck lying down. I wanted to jump out of the bed, but obviously couldn’t.
It was half an hour before I was taken to the OR. I got really scared when they asked if I could feel them touching my belly. Yes, I could! They said there is a difference between pain and pressure. What did I feel? I didn’t know!!! What if I feel them cut me open? Fear overwhelmed me. The surgery began and I discovered what they meant by “pressure.” It was horrible! Nothing I would ever want to feel again. I heard Adam say, “She’s here!” Jade was born at 5:30pm (the last c-section of the day). Her face was gorgeous, but I didn’t get to kiss it. She was crying, but I didn’t get to comfort her. The nurse told me she had beautiful, long eyelashes. She was the perfect mix of Adam and I. She was weighed and measured (8lbs 9.5 oz, 19.5 inches), and then Adam went with her for her first bath…I was alone.
For two and a half years, I believed that my pelvis was too small, and that I would have to always have c-sections. I wanted to wait a long time before having another baby, because I accepted my fate: surgery with every baby. But, I also wanted to avoid it. Maybe I would never have another baby.
Two years later, in December, I start to yearn for another baby. It would be so nice for Jade to have a sibling. I know I need to pray about this decision. Jade will be three in June. We think that three to four years between our kids is a good amount of time. So, I start asking the Lord for a baby. He begins to heal my heart and show me that I have been believing a lie. My body IS capable of birthing a baby. He made it so.
In January, God lead me to Chrissy (my doula). I asked her a few questions, and she gave me some homework to do. I watched “The Business of Being Born” twice (once alone and once with Adam). I also read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Soon after, I officially met with Chrissy, who herself was pregnant, and planning a home birth. We talked about my first birth. I needed to process my thoughts about it, and get some feedback from someone who knows all about VBAC. I came to realize that I had experienced a traumatic birth. It was true. I felt as though I had moved on, but the truth was that, I wanted to experience what other women all over the world do. I wanted to birth my own baby. I felt cheated, and I knew that had I been given more of a chance, I could have given birth to Jade without intervention. I never want her to feel like her birth was not special, because it was. Adam and I were in awe of her. So beautiful and perfect, with her daddy’s eyes and mommy’s hands. I also realize that if I hadn’t experienced a traumatic birth, I might never have been led down the path of home birth.
I did a lot more studying, and became passionate about birth. The natural process of birth is so amazing. It was something that I looked forward to, and I wasn’t even pregnant yet. I wanted to have a baby in the winter or spring.
I was so excited in early July when I took a positive pregnancy test! I waited a few weeks before calling Claudette, who would be my midwife. I met with her and her team when I was about 6 weeks along. Every appointment with them was so different from going to the doctor. Claudette spent so much personal time with me. The only thing we couldn’t quite nail down was my due date. We thought it was March 16th, but it turns out we were off by about 10 days. (I missed the opportunity for an ultrasound to measure, because my Mom passed away when I was 9 or so weeks pregnant).
My due date rolled around, and there I was, still pregnant. Another week went by…still pregnant. I started to wonder if I would be pregnant forever! In the back of my mind, I had a feeling that I was not as overdue as I thought. I knew that Emery was fine. I was fine…feeling great, actually. The 42 week mark was approaching. Claudette talked with me about trying castor oil. A few days before I was going to try it, I ended up sick with a cold. My body would not go into labor if I was sick. More waiting. When I was feeling better, I didn’t have peace about getting labor started. I decided to wait a little longer. I wanted my baby out, but I wanted to do the right thing. I also wanted to know that my body knew what to do on its own. I had a dream that Claudette invited me to go snowboarding on a Thursday at 5:00am. I thought she was crazy. The night before I went into labor, I had a dream that a Robin left a little blue egg in my hand. It cracked open, and the baby bird perched itself on my finger and would not let go. The egg actually looked like a little Easter egg.
The Birth of Emery Joy, April 1, Four Years After Jade
I woke at 4:30am, Thursday March 31st. I was so hungry! I ate leftover tacos. I went back to bed, and an hour later, I felt like my water was about to break. Sure enough, it did, all over our bed! Adam laid towels down all over our bedroom floor. I felt stuck…what do I do now? Oh yeah! We’re staying home. There is no rush to get to a hospital. I laid down on an air mattress, covered in chuck pads and towels Jade came in and “admitted me to the hospital” before leaving to stay with her friends until the baby came. “You stay here Mama. You stay in the hospital.”
We rested at home for the morning. Well, I tried to…I ended up secretly folding laundry while Adam slept. I knew that if he saw me doing it, he would make me stop and rest. But, I was feeling fine, and I wanted to the house to be nice and neat.
We went to see Claudette and her team at 11:30am. It was nice to get out of the house. I was feeling restless. Baby and I were doing great. Claudette said that if labor didn’t pick up by 3:00pm, I could take some castor oil. We went to the Vintage Café for lunch, and timed contractions when they started at about 12:30. I got really uncomfortable by 1:00pm. The drive home was hard. We stopped at Safeway to get the castor oil. I waited in the car, but had to get out, because the contractions were too painful while sitting down. No castor oil. We drove to CVS. I called Claudette, letting her know that the contractions are getting closer together (about 2-3 minutes), and lasting about 30 seconds. Chrissy came over not long after we got home. The contractions were more bearable at home. I felt comfortable there. Chrissy reminded me to stay relaxed and breathe. I felt like I had a split personality! I was one person during a contraction, and then my normal self in between.
Chrissy left for a while to feed her baby. Adam and I watched TV to distract me while I was on hands and knees, with ice on my sacrum, encouraging Emery to turn and drop into the correct position. She was LOT (laying with her back on my left side, looking to the right.)
I took one ounce of castor oil. We expected it to affect me with about 20 minutes. Chrissy came back in about an hour. The castor oil had not affected me at all. Here is where time became somewhat of a blur. All I remember is, lying down on my bed to catch some sleep in between contractions. I literally fell into a deep sleep in the one minute or so that I had as a break. All of a sudden, they came on stronger. I heard Chrissy talking to Claudette in the phone, “She’s having them back to back.” I think it was about 7:00pm.
Claudette and her team arrived and she checked my dilation. I was only one centimeter. She applied cervical pressure points. In four or five minutes, I dilated to 5cm. It was horribly painful, but so worth it. I trusted every decision Claudette made. She instructed me to get on my hands and knees again, with ice on my sacrum. The ice would make Emery uncomfortable and cause her to move. She needed to turn and drop down so that I could fully dilate and begin to push.
I asked Adam to call Jamie. I needed my friend! I was so relieved when she got here. Chrissy and Adam helped me through each contraction. I could hear Jamie singing and praying. Lynda was praying too. I was comforted by everyone’s presence. I had been in and out of the shower throughout the day, but I didn’t like being alone during a contraction. I needed someone applying pressure to my hips, or at least resting their hand on my back. I was on my hands and knees for a long time. It was getting so uncomfortable, but I knew it had a purpose. I finally gave in to the contractions. I had been tightening my back, and I knew that I needed to let the contractions do their work, instead of resisting them. I relaxed and gave in, but wanted to scream!!! Adam started to pray. I could feel God’s presence come over me. Emery moved! At this point I felt completely out of control. I wanted to push, but my body wasn’t quite ready. I start dry-heaving and crying instead. Ha ha, the thought is kind of funny now. In my mind’s eye, I was a crazy, yelling, noise-making cave woman! I said out loud, as the thoughts of epidural and c-section swirled in my mind, “I DON’T need an epidural or a c-section. I can do this. Jesus HELP me!”
I wanted to get into the tub. Claudette told me I could stay in as long as it didn’t slow labor down. It felt good to let my arms float after being on hands and knees for so long. I wanted to know what time it was…11:45pm. Not long before April 1st. Would Emery be a March baby? It was hard to control my breathing. Chrissy reminded me how to breathe. “Breathe for your baby,” she said. This was a good reminder…I was having a baby! This was the reason for my pain. I momentarily forgot! I was overwhelmed by the pain, and thought about how other women feel in labor. Was I the only one who had every felt this much pain? The wonderful women in the room must have read my mind. I could hear them saying, “It’s supposed to feel this way. You’re doing great! You can do this! She’s coming!”
I pushed for a while in the tub, but didn’t feel grounded enough. It was too hard…not enough gravity. It was difficult realizing that I had to pull myself together to get my baby out. I also thought I might be the first woman in history to be pregnant forever. I was exhausted, but Chrissy reminded me that my body was storing reserves to give me the energy I needed. I think I said something like, “Really? Women all over the world do this everyday? CRAZY!!!!” I could hear God telling me I needed to get out, but I couldn’t focus enough to tell everyone else that. Finally, Claudette suggested I get out and onto the bed. I gathered my strength from the stories of other women who have had to change positions when their babies’ heads were about to come out. Lifting my legs over the tub and walking to the bed at this point seemed impossible, but I knew I could do it.
Once on the bed, I laid on my right side. This was the hardest part. It took every ounce of strength I had, and I was the only one who could push her out. I felt helpless and strong at the same time. I kept thinking that she could be out as soon as I wanted…I just had to work hard. I think it was about 20 minutes before her head came out. Her body followed immediately with no pain…no time for Claudette to “admire her beautiful face.” It was so amazing feeling her come out! I did it! I gave birth to my baby!!! She was all wet and warm and soft lying on my chest. I cried and cried! “My baby! My baby!!!” This was the moment I had dreamed of even before I was pregnant.She cried too! What was funny, was that she came out looking so clean. She didn’t have any fluid in her nose or mouth. We let the cord finish pulsating before Adam cut the cord and I pushed the placenta out. Pillows were propped up behind me so I could sit up and nurse Emery. She latched on immediately and nursed for a while. It was so peaceful. No one was running around, frantic. This was a normal part of life, nothing to be worried about. I was being fed eggs, toast and tea. It was nice to be doted on! We were treated like this was the most special birth ever, and that Emery was the most special baby. Time seemed to stand still, as though nothing else was going on…just the birth of this precious baby girl.
After some bonding time for Adam, Emery and I, the team weighed and checked Emery. 6lbs, 14.5 ounces, 20 ¼ inches long, very alert and healthy. She was dressed and swaddled. Time for sleep. We slept peacefully for five hours.
I can’t even begin to explain how elated I felt that night, and for the days that followed. When Jade came home in the morning, she rushed ahead of Adam into our bedroom. “Mommy, is the baby here?” “Yes, she is.” She was so excited! “I’m gonna go and tell Daddy that the baby is here!…DADDY!!!!! The baby is here!” Our friend Lynda came to take pictures of Jade first meeting her baby sister. Jade did great! She was so happy to hold her new baby sister.
My milk came in the next day, and nursing was easy. I didn’t feel tired, I felt excited and so peaceful. Claudette came back to weigh Emery again, and check in on us. Emery weighed 6lbs, 7 oz. It was amazing to stay in the comfort of our bedroom. No nurses waking us. No car rides to the doctor. The baby and I stayed in our bedroom for 3 days. Adam brought my meals to me. I slept when the baby slept for the first week, and then I started to move around the house more. I recovered easily, and had lots of herbal remedies to bring comfort to my body without the use of medications. I will always cherish that bonding time with my baby. Nothing to do but care for her, stare at her and rest.
My prayer is that home birth becomes the norm in North America. Pregnant and laboring women, and new mothers need the care of other women who are sensitive to their needs. Claudette came again when Emery was six days old. She weighed her again. 6lbs, 11oz. She stayed for an hour, and made snacks for Jade and I. I was so touched that she would stay and make me tea, and just visit for a while. She was an answer to prayer, in a time when I missed my Mom more than ever.
It’s been wonderful going forward and feeling normal again, but I also miss those first moments of Emery Joy’s birth. It was the most incredible experience, and has made me feel more whole and full of joy. –Lindsi G.