|March 13, 2003: THIS IS THE DAY!:
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The Personal Story of a Woman's Birth Experience at Home
3:29am Woke up with a strong contraction and immediately started my contraction timer. 9 minutes, 30 seconds later, another started…then the next one was 8 minutes later. I went to the bathroom when the 3rd one was over and discovered some blood on the tissue. Then I unloaded the dishwasher and continued to time the contractions. They are getting closer. I want to call everyone, but I also want to wait JUST IN CASE this is not the real thing…I posted a message on the TLOL message boards to let the girls know the latest!
4:20am Decided to take a quick shower to shave and wash my hair. I had two contractions during my shower. Lit candles and blew-dry my hair. Put on lotion and my soft pink nightie.
5:00am Called the midwife, Dixie, to let her know about the contractions. She asked me the timing (6 minutes now) and if I feel rested or not. She has a 10am appointment and she is going to come over to check me before then and call the back-up midwife (Lindy) and give her the heads-up too.
5:10am Called my cousin Misty to let her know that the birth is imminent. Told her to take a shower and take her time to get here.
The contractions are beginning to be closer and harder, but I can still move through them. I have set out the birth kit, towels, crock pot and did some straightening around the house. My feet got cold so I put on some socks…I set out my robe (it's my FAVORITE robe, soft and freshly washed) and some clean underwear for after the birth.
5:40am The sun is coming up and the birdies are singing!! What a sweet sound that is!! I am eating a bowl of cereal; hopefully it won't make me throw up in an hour. The house is ready, and so am I!!!
6:10am I keep pacing the house. I am afraid if I relax too much that the contractions will cease. So far so good, and they are getting stronger. I have been doing squats to move the baby down into my pelvis more, although the other day Dixie said that she was at a 0 station…
6:40am Dixie arrived. She checked baby's heart rate and it is at 141. I am dilated to 4 and baby is in the pelvis and ready. Contractions are still about 8 minutes apart, but getting stronger.
8:30am Sharlyn arrived and we have been sitting around chatting and laughing. My contractions are getting stronger and I have continual bloody show. Getting ready to eat a snack…
9:30am Dixie checked me again. I am about 6cm's. My contractions are feeling more powerful and are still about 7 minutes apart. Dixie had to leave for a couple of hours, but her back-up, Lindy, is here with us. We are having a great time talking and laughing. I discussed with Alexis that I may be in a lot of pain later and not to worry about me because I will be OK. While Dixie was checking me, Ray called to say he was going to stop by to get some gel for his hair. For some reason, I did not really compute in my head that he meant he would be coming to OUR house to put the gel in his hair.
11:00AM Ray arrived. I was in a contraction when he walked in. The look on his face was priceless: walking in on 4 women sitting around the living room and his wife with a look of pain on her face, I can only imagine what went through his head. I was in the middle of a contraction, and he walked straight over to me and said "Are you OK?". I think I may have snapped back at him "I'm IN labor". He sat down on the couch next to me and had such a look of concern on his face. I told him that he smelled bad. I thought it might be his pants. He quickly went to change.
11:30am Dixie arrived, and seemed surprised to see Ray. I had told her that I was not planning on calling him, but that if he showed up I would not have turned him away either. Contractions are getting more intense.
12:00pm Dixie checked me and I am at 7 cms and bag of waters has bulged. I started walking around and rocking my hips. Alexis rubbed my back for me. I was kneeling on the floor with my head on a pillow on my computer chair. After one of my contractions, Ray was right next to me rubbing my back. For that instant I felt it was just him and I in the room. A sorrow came over me and I sobbed. I vaguely heard the midwives ask me if I was OK. I said that I was. But in that moment of sorrow, I was so grateful that Ray was by my side, being loving and supportive in a way that I never knew he was capable of. I longed for that moment to never end.
1:00pm Ray had me walking back and forth between the kitchen and the bathroom. He told me to do it 4 times. I cannot remember how many times I had to stop and lean on him during a contraction. Being close to him helped so much, especially mentally. I was so glad he was there.
1:30pm After some suggesting from Dixie, I decided to try the tub to help me through the contractions. I kept putting it off because even though I was in a LOT of pain, I did NOT want to leave my group of support, since they would not all fit into the bathroom. Misty ran the water for me as I slowly walked to the bathroom. I got into the tub, with Ray's help. The water did feel great. I had a towel under my butt to help with the hard surface of the tub. Alexis was pouring water over my HUGE belly. Ray held my hand during contractions. I think that Misty and Sharlyn were in the bathroom with us for a little while also. Lindy came in to help me through contractions. She reminded me to not scream, as at this point I was getting pretty loud. Lindy was awesome! After about 5 or 6 contractions, I wanted out of the tub and wanted to be on the bed.
2:30pm I decide to assume the position on my knees at my computer chair again for a few minutes. A LOT of pain now. I am crying, I want it to be over. Lindy and Ray are rubbing my back again, reminding me to relax and focus on my cervix opening. I think I remember Ray calling Stephanie to come get Alexis at this point. Alexis was starting to get worried and I was starting to get distracted by her there.
I do not remember times at this point. I remember getting on the bed and Dixie checking me again. It hurt like heck whenever she went up there. Like I was tearing apart. I remember Dixie mentioning that my cervix did seem to be tearing in the places that I had the LEEP procedure done years ago. I remember screaming, and Lindy reminding me to relax, to be clam, to let the noises come from deep inside and not be high pitched. I remember Ray rubbing my hair, and me squeezing his hands and worrying that I was hurting him. I remember my legs being supported by Lindy and Misty so I could start pushing, and Ray's leg on one of my knees to encourage me to relax my knees (I kept wanting to close my legs together). I remember screaming at Dixie to "GET OUT OF ME", meaning her hands and she was telling me "That's not me that is your baby". I also remember thinking that I sounded like the women you see in movies having babies. Then I remember worrying about my cousin (Misty) and asking her if she was OK (she gets squeamish around blood and stuff). Again the thought of how grateful I was that Ray was with me came to mind.
The pushing was pure hell. Just when I felt like I could get her out, I would run out of the energy. I remember hearing Ray count and him trying to encourage me to push to ten. I remember trying so hard to follow everyone's advice "RELAX, BREATHE, PUSH, RELAX…" and then just wishing I could stop and take a nap. I remember feeling like my lips were going to crack while I was pushing, and yelling "IS she out yet?".
Dixie told me to feel her head, it took me a minute to realize what she meant. She was crowning. I reached down with every ounce of energy I had left in me. It felt nothing like I expected. A wrinkly bit of fleshy area. I though I was touching myself and Dixie told me "That's your baby Angie". She was so close, and touching her head made my determination to push her out return. I remember then that Dixie told me that I needed to follow her directions as I finished pushing her out. The final pushes were so intense, I felt it in every ounce of my being. It felt like there was only me in the room. And even though I heard the encouraging voices and felt the support of the wonderful people in the room with me, it all came down to just me and my sweet baby and getting her out so I could finally have her in my arms.
What woman can fully describe the feeling when the baby's head finally pops out completely. The relief, the joy, the excitement. Knowing it is time to meet the little human being that your body has worked so hard to create. I heard Dixie say "Angie reach up and get your baby"…and in that instant thinking "What is she talking about?"…and then "OH MY GOSH MY BABY…".
I grabbed Mistie and laid her very warm and slippery body on my chest. "Look at her oh my look at her"…the tears flowing, the pain leaving my body and the love in the room flowing like lava from a Volcano. I was holing my sweet angel that I worked so hard to bring into this world. Nothing else mattered. I was looking at her face, her hands, listening to her cry. I was somewhat aware for the first time how busy my midwives were with everything. Cleaning me up, checking for tears and making sure that the placenta was completely in-tact and healthy.
Dixie encouraged me to put Mistie to my breast. She latched on IMMEDIATELY! It was amazing to hold her to me. I remember looking up at Ray. Him being there, close to me. Again being so grateful and feeling so much love for him and for our baby. Wanting that moment to go on forever.
After she nursed for a little while and when Dixie was finished taking care of the placenta and determining that I had not torn and was doing fine, Dixie came to the side of the bed and took Mistie to measure her and weigh her. Mistie was so peaceful. She didn't even cry as she was being moved and touched. She was pink and soft and so much hair on her. Ray and I watched as she was being measured and weighed and cleaned up and dressed. At some point, Ray fell asleep. He must have been so exhausted.
Parts are starting to blur. I remember my friend Sharlyn helping me in the bathroom to shower and clean up. I remember my cousin Misty holding her namesake, Mistie Rae. I remember talking to Dixie about the birth certificate, and her instructions for how to take care of myself and the baby. But I do not remember in what order that all happened.
If I had to do it again, I would in a heartbeat! All the pain is like a distant memory, and all I can remember now is the support and love that I felt from each person at my birth.
Dixie, my sweet midwife who, despite her own loss of her very young grandbaby just days before, made certain that she was with me during my birth. Dixie got me through this pregnancy like no doctor ever could have. She supported me, lifted my spirits when they were low, instructed me in ways to take better care of myself, both physically and mentally. Encouraged me when I thought I could go another day of being pregnant.
Lindy, Dixie's fellow midwife friend, who stayed with me also through the birth. She gave me peace to remember my strength, and to remember to relax. Her smile kept me going. Her voice kept me sane.
My friend Sharlyn, who took amazing pictures of my labor and birth. Who helped me in so many ways in my home and in my head. She was there every time I needed to cry or complain the last few weeks of my pregnancy. Who reminded me without words that I am a strong woman, no matter what life throws at me.
My sweet cousin Misty. Oh WHERE can I begin. She has known a part of me that no one else does. She understands me more than any other person can. Her honestly opens my eyes, and her love opens my heart. She has given me wings. She has, without words, made me stronger and more in love with life. How can I ever thank her for her love and her strength?
My darling Alexis. Her curiosity and profound way of thinking and feeling are such an inspiration to me. During one of my contractions, my cousin tells me that Alexis said "I will always remember this moment". Sweet daughter, I will always remember your visible strength while watching your mommy in pain. Your anxious way of wanting to help and love me. Thank you.
Ray. How my love has grown for this man like I never imagined love could grow. He was once my best friend, my lover, and my husband. No matter what pain he inflicted on me in the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy, having him by my side during the labor and birth of our child will forever imprint in my heart his strength and his amazing capability to prove me wrong (for once :) and be the most supportive and loving man in the world. The 4 hours we spent together as husband and wife delivering this baby will forever be the most wonderful and amazing experience in my life. I wish there were a way that I could express my thanks to him for him being with me through it. His daughter is a very lucky little girl. He is wonderful to her. I will always love him, even though our future together has been taken away from me.
I am in tears writing this, and amazed at the length of it. Sweet Mistie you are so loved and wanted. You are going to be a constant joy and blessing. You are my strength. My blessing. I love you! These past 4 days with you have been like a dream. You are so sweet, and tender. You rarely cry, unless you are hungry or cold and naked. You love to be held, and I have to keep you close to me in bed or you do not sleep well. Nursing has been difficult, as your latch needs some improvement. My life started anew the day you came into the world. I love you third-born…
March 17, 2003