Our Birth Story
Our first little one, Sabrina Lynn Ott, was born at home in the Waterbirth pool at 2:08 a.m. on Friday, January 2, 2004!
I had a great pregnancy. I had about four weeks of morning sickness; threw up four times (which always made me feel better afterwards, so maybe I was getting rid of toxins when I did that). I found out that I was pregnant just a few days before I graduated from college. Since I was going to school full-time, I was not working a job at the time and we wanted me to be a stay-at-home mom, I didn¹t look for a job and just took care of myself and the baby. Once I started exercising at the YMCA (walking on the treadmill, taking Yoga classes, and going to Water Aerobics), my energy really came up. I had a lot of fun exercising and showing off my growing belly to everyone at class. The older ladies were the cutest! They would share stories from their pregnancies. It wasn¹t until I was about five months along that they started saying, ³You can finally tell you¹re pregnant!² I also worked hard at eating enough protein, eating my veggies, and drinking lots of water. I always had my water bottle on the side of the pool during class.
Before getting into the labor and birth I have explain that I got a cold on Tuesday afternoon (December 30, 2003). I started getting a stuffy nose and scratchy throat in the afternoon. It got worse in the evening, so I didn¹t get but three or four hours of sleep that night.
Then Wednesday my cold just kept getting worse. I took some herbs (Nature¹s Sunshine HistaBlock, which has Nettle and kept drinking tons of water as usual (I drank 60-130 ounces of water a day during my pregnancy, usually around 90 ounces). That evening at 9:30 p.m. I started ³heating up² (I guess kind of what a ³hot flash² would feel like?) and feeling funny. I threw up on the kitchen floor a few minutes later, which my loving husband Tyler cleaned up. Tyler suggested that I take my temperature to see if I had the flu. Since I was at the usual body temperature, I wondered if my labor would start soon. I threw up a ton during my miscarriage last February, and I¹ve even thrown up at the beginning of a really bad period (I would ³heat up², throw up and then cool down, and the cycle continued a three or four times; not fun!).
Around 10:30 p.m. my usual Braxton-Hicks contractions became very regular, around eight minutes apart. I didn¹t think too much of it since I had had a ³practice labor² two weeks ago. I didn¹t want to get myself excited if things weren¹t headed toward birth yet.
My husband Tyler and I went to bed. I tried to sleep, but I woke up later because not feeling well made it hard to sleep and the contractions continued. I timed them from 1:30 a.m. until just after 3:00 a.m. I decided that if things were going to head toward labor, I should try to get some rest (especially since I hadn¹t been able to get much lately because of my cold). Right as I lay down I felt some liquid coming out. Since it was so little, I wasn¹t sure if it was my amniotic fluid or if I had peed on myself! So I got up and went to the bathroom. I couldn¹t really tell, so I went back to bed. As I lay down that time, more liquid came out this time and it was unmistakable to tell where it came from! I leaned over Tyler¹s shoulder and whispered in his ear to wake him up, ³Wake up, Tyler. You¹re going to be a daddy soon.²
Tyler got up and started filling up the birthing pool. I must take the time here to brag about how wonderful of a husband I have. We bought a hexagonal kiddie pool from Toys¹R¹Us back in the summertime. The sides are quite wide and sturdy. Then we were faced with how to keep the water warm. Tyler didn¹t want to keep the water warm by taking out water and adding warm water in with a bucket. He didn¹t want to use a garden hose to do just about the same thing. He wanted to be there for me as much as possible during labor. He decided to buy a water heater that is really for a small spa. He bought pipes from Home Depot and set up an elaborate system that would cycle the pool water through the spa water heater and keep the pool at a constant warm temperature. He also had a draining valve/pipe to empty the pool quickly; that water would be sent through a pipe that hung out the window, to drain the water to outside. He spent three or four Saturdays working on this. We tested the pool four or five times before my labor. It was pretty funny watching a movie in our Living Room in our ³spa²! It was wonderful! He is wonderful!
After my water began leaking, my contractions got much closer together (2 or 3 minutes apart). So I thought things were going to go pretty quickly. I snacked and relaxed in my birthing room (the Living Room). We had a comfortable couch, a queen-sized mattress, a La-z-boy rocker/recliner, a glider chair, the birthing pool and the TV/VCR/DVD stereo system in the Birthing/Living Room.
Not much happened for the next few hours. My contractions were a little stronger than my Braxton-Hicks were, but they were very easy to work with. The contractions also spaced out a little, going back to the eight minutes apart schedule. I called my midwife around 8:00 a.m. and told her how things were going. Obviously I could talk just fine between and during contractions, so she didn¹t see a need for her to come yet. She said to call her back when things got a little more intense. Even though Tyler didn¹t think I should bother my massage doula yet, I did go ahead and call April. She had asked me beforehand if I wanted her to give me a full body massage at the beginning to start out labor relaxed. I said that would be a great idea. The other reason I went ahead and called her is I had the feeling that I was possibly halting/slowing my labor since she wasn¹t here yet to help me relax as well as I would need to. My instincts were confirmed when she showed up between 8:30-9:00 a.m. and contractions got closer together again (2-3 minutes apart) right after she walked in the door!
The massage from April was great. She really worked those labor-stimulating acupressure points. It was pretty funny how a contraction would start once she began rubbing one of those points. Later I called Leanne (the midwife), and she showed up just after noon. Leanne checked me, and I was at a 3. She told me take a walk around the neighborhood with Tyler since it was such a beautiful day. It was January 1st, 70-something degrees outside, and a beautiful blue-sky with a few clouds day. We¹re in Georgia, but this kind of weather at this time is still a little unusual. I did have to stop and squat during our walk when I had contractions. These were definitely different from my Braxton-Hicks which I could have continued walking through. A little while later Leanne left to visit a couple of other mommies nearby for their prenatals.
April and Tyler kept massaging and supporting me. April suggested that I use the birth ball for a little while, and it was great. It took a lot of the pressure off my pelvic floor during a contraction. Tyler was in front of me, and April was behind me massaging. She showed him a ³pelvic squeeze² maneuver that helps to ease the baby down. She can do it herself, but it is even better if you have two people, one pushing on each side. It felt really good to me, too, so that was helpful. She also showed him different pressure points to alleviate where tension would get built up in my lower back. April worked really well with Tyler. She didn¹t try to take over his role at all. He had commented to me during our walk outside that he was very glad that I had asked to have April come and be my massage doula even though we had taken Bradley classes, we had educated ourselves quite a lot, and Tyler was already good at giving me massages. He noted that her presence calmed me, and since she massaged me more often than he, it would help him save some of his energy for later.
Leanne returned after 4:30 p.m. and found me at a ³stretchy 5². She said I could get into the birth pool now if I wanted. Of course, I did! The warm water felt great.
Tyler and April had kept me well hydrated and made sure I ate light snacks often. Leanne joined in on that and also gave me Liquid Calcium (Nature¹s Sunshine) a couple times during labor to help my muscles relax. They helped me in and out of the tub to take bathroom breaks. Contractions on the toilet were actually pretty good. I would relax during them as I leaned to my left side on Tyler. It always felt good to get back into the warm water. Tyler came in the pool a couple of times to massage my back while April massaged my arms. It was somewhere at this time that I had the urge to say the word ³open² during contractions. It actually helped me to not tense up my pelvic muscles during a contraction, to keep them open. I would repeat ³open² over and over. At first I felt self-conscious about saying it, even though I was close to my supporters. After a few contractions of repeating ³open², I commented to them that it really seemed to help. They encouraged me to continue doing that, and so I used it more and more confidently. I got out of the pool a couple of hours later for April to massage me some more. Things were getting more and more intense. Leanne checked me at 10:00 p.m., and I was still at a five. She told me that she was concerned about me getting exhausted. I guess her concern (and my own) made things pick up quickly. The contractions were already the most intense they would get; they had been that way for the past two hours or more. They started out slowly and would peak, but then they would jump up twice as strong and stay there for a minute. The only things that got me through that stage were Tyler and April. I was lying semi-reclined on the mattress with Tyler snuggled up on my left shoulder. April was sitting on the floor on my right side massaging my arm and looking in my eyes. I realized that I needed to focus on April¹s eyes during the most intense part, and I needed her to intently focus back into my eyes at the same time. I told her that, and she did just that. Every now and then she would smile, and it would automatically make me smile and help ease the discomfort. Every now and then she and Tyler also would tell me how great a job I was doing. It helped so much.
It was during these contractions that I thought, ³Boy, if I was in the hospital, it would be very tempting to take some drugs.² I also thought, ³With the positive attitude I have about birthing, I didn¹t expect it to be this difficult. Do I want to go through this again?² This was a very challenging stage for me. I was so glad to have such great support from Tyler, April and Leanne. They constantly told me that I was doing a great job and that I looked great. I couldn¹t hear that enough. It was also during these contractions that I thought ahead to the pushing stage. I realized that I would be pushing my baby through my body, my birth canal and into this world. I was a little scared about that even though I had read many women¹s stories and accounts on how good it feels to push, to be ³doing² something active. Obviously I was a little scared because it would be a new experience for me. I wonder now if my being scared was what prolonged my dilation. Possibly so.
I quickly dilated more and more. I got back in the pool to finish dilating. The warmth of the water felt so good! Sometimes in and out of the pool it was difficult to stay relaxed during a contraction, and I would tense up in the middle of the most intense part. That was always a big mistake, because that would turn the intensity into pain! I remember one contraction in particular while I was in the pool at the end. I didn¹t start it out relaxed, and as it got stronger, it began to get painful. I said, ³I started that one out wrong² and just swayed my rear end back and forth in the water. That got me through the contraction.
Another time while I was in the pool, Leanne was telling us a story. She could tell by my face or something that a contraction was coming on, and she stopped talking until I finished my contraction. That helped so much. I really needed the silence to concentrate through the contraction. I¹m so glad that she was in touch with what I needed. April and Tyler also picked up on that and didn¹t try to get Leanne to continue her story. Everyone was just so in tune with what I needed throughout my labor and the birth. A little while later Tyler got in the pool. He would massage my lower back and then press on those pressure points during contractions. April would massage my arms as I leaned over the side. During the final dilation, Tyler and I both sat semi-reclined in the pool with Tyler leaning on the side and me in front of him. Actually he kind of lifted me up so that I was resting between his knees. During contractions he would use his left knee to press on a pressure point to help me feel better. I would say that the very most intense/challenging part of my labor/birth (other than dilating the last few centimeters; that would be the second most intense/challenging part) was the not pushing when I felt the urge to push while I was at 9 and the final ³getting her to start down the birth canal².
The last hour or so before I began the pushing stage I leaned over the edge of the pool and rested my head there. I would doze off between contractions and dream. During a lot of those dreams I started to talk in my sleep! It was really funny! I would start talking, and they would ask me what I am talking about, thinking that I¹m giving them instructions on how to help me or something. It was really neat how my body let me sleep between contractions to store up energy for the pushing stage. I had gotten pretty tired near the end, and it felt good to rest between contractions. However, when I had a contraction, I was wide awake and alert working through it. Then I would immediately fall back to sleep. When pushing stage came, I felt like I had tons of energy (or at least A LOT more than I had had a couple hours before).
Finally, I had made it to the pushing stage. I was hesitant at first to push hard with the contraction because I wanted to ease my baby out into the world so that I wouldn¹t tear. As I really got into the pushing with the contraction, it made it even easier to handle the contraction. I was left with much less tension after the contraction if I pushed stronger with it. Also, as the pushing stage continued, I just got tired of it taking so long. (My midwife wrote down that second stage was one hour and seventeen minutes. It really seemed like 30 minutes, or 45 at most. Even that was too long for me because I was eager to see my baby and know if the baby was a boy or a girl.) I started pushing even stronger with my contractions. It definitely wasn¹t ³easy,² but it wasn¹t painful or anything like that. The only word that I think can describe how I felt (my feeling something that big coming through my pelvic bones for the first time and sitting there between contractions) is ³strange.² It¹s not a bad strange, just simply strange. It was something I had never experienced before. I have to say that my earlier thoughts about being scared of the pushing stage were gone by now. It wasn¹t as hard as I thought it would be, even though it wasn¹t easy. At the end of the pushing stage I was getting really good at pushing with the contraction and I was getting more and more excited at the prospect of seeing my baby any moment. Tyler and I both reached down to feel the baby¹s head a few times as she rested there between contractions. It was so weird to see myself opening up that wide for my baby. I knew and trusted that I could stretch as much as my baby needed me, too, but it was neat to see the reality of it right in front of me. We didn¹t have a mirror small enough to use for us to see the head. Well, I was small enough that I could look over my belly. We did have a digital camera though, and April had assumed the role of photographer/video person. She took a picture of the baby crowned and showed it to us. Amazing!
Tyler later told me that he really liked that I would advise them that a contraction was about to start up so that he could be ready to support me during the pushes. He said that he also liked that I would let him, April and Leanne know what worked for me during the dilation part of labor so that they could keep supporting me the way I needed to be supported, and when I let them know that things were getting intense so that they could give me even more support. He really liked knowing what was going on with me. At the very last cluster of pushes Leanne made pushing noises and breathed with me to ease the baby out. Once the baby¹s head was out, the rest of the baby¹s body just wriggled right out! Funny feeling! Leanne immediately put the baby on my chest and looked for the time as I rubbed the baby¹s back. It was 2:08 a.m. Then we tried to find out what gender the baby was. The cord was amazingly short, which made it hard for me to turn the baby to side to figure out the gender. The baby¹s head was up between my breasts and the cord was very tight. Leanne lifted up the baby¹s leg and announced that she was a girl! I smiled wide, and Tyler happily laughed. Tyler was convinced we had a boy. I thought it could be a boy, but I wasn¹t sure. We both wanted a boy first, but I am so glad we have our little girl. She is the perfect little angel.
Right after she was put on my breasts, she began yelling, letting us know that 1) she was breathing, and 2) she didn¹t like being taken out of her warm, snug home of thirty-eight weeks (I was at thirty-eight weeks gestation right when she was born). She calmed down quickly though and looked around. She was so awake and alert. It was amazing!
We got out of the pool several minutes later. It was hard maneuvering out of the pool with the baby still attached since the cord was so short. April held the baby close to me, Tyler supported me from behind, and Leanne helped me out. I sat down on the mattress (on top of a chux pad, of course), and daddy cut the cord. We tried to get Sabrina to nurse to help push the placenta out, but she just licked me and looked around. A few minutes later Tyler took Sabrina, and I stood up, squatted a little, and pushed the placenta out with one push. It was quite small, but so was Sabrina. Sabrina weighed 6 lbs. 13 oz. and was 20 _ inches long. Her head was 12 _ inches around. Leanne showed the placenta to us, showing us how Sabrina had laid inside. I still wondered how she fit in there since it was so small. Leanne explained that the placenta had some calcification. She said that meant it was getting old. Sabrina had only two small spots of vernix left on her lower abdominal area. She was perfectly done!
Tyler put Sabrina back in my arms after I reclined back on the mattress and pillows again so that I could breastfeed her. Leanne cleaned me up and told me that I hadn¹t torn the perineum at all. However, I had a small skin split (surface scratch or ³skid mark²) on my left inner labia. That¹s what was bothering me to get out of the birth pool.
April helped Leanne clean up and she left shortly after 2:30 a.m. Leanne stayed longer to help me get Sabrina nursing and help me take a shower to fully clean myself up. Leanne played with Sabrina for a little bit while Tyler asked her some baby care questions. Then she left a little before 5:00 a.m. And we were left to our own devices to figure out how to get a fussy newborn girl to go to sleep. We all had some adjusting to do. After a little while Tyler told me to just lie down and sleep since I had just worked hard bringing her into this world. I fell asleep reclined in the La-z-boy. I woke up at 7:30 a.m. to find Tyler lying on the mattress skin-to-skin with our little girl and a blanket over them. It was too precious. I should have taken a picture. Tyler woke up while I was looking at them. He explained that that was the only way he could get her to sleep, and he really enjoyed holding her skin-to-skin, too. He is the sweetest daddy!