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Having a Home Water Birth – Part 2: Laboring for Brooke

Brooke was born in Flagstaff, Arizona, to proud parents Mark and Clara,

under the care of Mary Ann Baul and Emily Dale of Womancare Midwifery.

March 23, 2013
8:54 pm
6 lbs. 8 oz.
21.5 in. long

Day 1_3 revAnd finally, here’s the story …

At 41 weeks and two days pregnant, I was getting rather impatient! (Not to mention, uncomfortable!) So, we decided to go downtown to walk around and also to look at mountain bikes for future purchase. It was a great distraction and we hoped the walking would help get labor started.

Later, I realized that I was probably already having contractions when we left the house around 3 p.m.! Several weeks before, one of the midwives had cautioned me that many second time moms don’t realize they are in labor because it feels quite different from the first time. I was absolutely sure that wouldn’t apply to me, as I distinctly remembered how my contractions felt the first time around.

Well, she was right! I had shooting pains down my right leg and spent much of our time out trying to get somewhat comfortable – walking, not walking, sitting, standing, massaging – hoping the baby would come!

After a few hours out, I was getting more and more uncomfortable. We decided not to eat out and arrived home around 6 p.m. Mark made spaghetti for dinner, which I gratefully ate while standing at the counter (sitting was too painful!) At about 6:30 p.m., I used the restroom and noticed a bit of blood after wiping. They call it the “bloody show” – it is actually a blood-tinged mucous plug releasing from the cervix when the body is ready for labor. I finally realized those pains for the last few hours were actually contractions!

I called Emily, one of the midwives, at 6:45 p.m. I described my pains and told her I had a bit of blood release. She told me things could be moving along and she would be over soon.

Comfortably awaiting the next contraction

Comfortably awaiting the next contraction

15 minutes later I welcomed Emily in and promptly went upstairs to try to get comfortable. Mark was giving Ethan a bath and putting him to bed. As soon as he was done, he ran upstairs to begin filling the birthing pool for me.

Emily checked my cervix and said I was at a “stretchy” 6 cm already. Being determined to have a water birth, I was not happy to hear that we may not have time to get the pool filled!

By now, my contractions were quite strong. However, because I was having a home birth, I was able to labor in any position, wherever I was most comfortable, with two midwives available to comfort and guide me … and no worry of having to drive to a hospital!

Getting a massage from Mary Ann

Getting a massage from Mary Ann

So, with dim lights and relaxing music, I continued to breathe through the pain while Mark and the midwives worked to fill the pool with warm water from a hose attached to the shower faucet, as well as water boiled on the stove.

My friend, Shauna, arrived to photograph, and managed to catch a few smiles in between the groans!

Finally, at about 8:30 p.m., the pool was filled and warm enough for me to get in. With Mark’s help, I climbed over the side in between contractions, welcoming the soothing warmth and buoyancy the water provided.

I asked the midwives when I should start pushing. Their reply, “Whenever you feel you need to.”

M. comforting me

M. comforting me

I kept waiting for the contractions to be more intense, assuming it would be as painful as labor was with Ethan. It just didn’t seem possible that I was almost ready to push!

After a short 15 minutes in the water, I was feeling the urge. I took a deep breath, bared down, and did my best to move that little baby towards the outside world.

Mark encouraged me to breathe deeply and held my hands for comfort. Another push, and the midwives assured me that I was progressing, as they could see a little head peeking out!

Emily caught Brooke and helped her swim up to my chest

Emily caught Brooke and helped her swim up to my chest

After a couple more pushes, I felt like my skin was going to rip apart. Emily assured me that my perineum was stretching beautifully and Brooke would be arriving soon. I just had to be patient and allow nature to take its course.

With the next push, her head was out. One moment to relax, and then another contraction hit.

I was thankful to have no intervention by the midwives. They were simply watching and waiting, allowing me to push and rest as I needed to. This was quite a different experience from giving birth in a hospital in Mexico, flat on my back (which is ridiculously painful for a woman in labor!) with my feet in stirrups.

Finally, one final push and at 8:54 p.m., Brooke’s body slid out!

Blue baby girl

Blue baby girl

Yes, Brooke came out a wee bit blue, but honestly, I didn’t even notice! I could only see our beautiful baby girl, curled up in my arms. (The midwives reassured us that blue babies are common at high altitudes.)

With help, I climbed out of the birthing pool and onto the bed. Brooke rested on my chest for the next hour while blood pulsed through her still attached umbilical cord. Finally, the midwife handed Mark the scissors and he cut the cord!

It was a beautiful experience. I am so thankful that the Lord allowed us to have our baby in the U.S. in a natural, comfortable home setting. We are enjoying each day with our two amazing children!

Mary Ann getting ready to weigh Brooke

Mary Ann getting ready to weigh Brooke

Mary Ann weighed, measured and tested for her Apgar score (8).

Weighing and Measuring 6 rev Weighing and Measuring 27 rev Weighing and Measuring 24 rev Weighing and Measuring 14 rev

Relaxing in bed before cutting the cord

Relaxing in bed before cutting the cord

Ethan meeting Brooke the next morning ... He liked her!

Ethan meeting Brooke the next morning … He liked her!

A big thanks to Womancare Midwifery for their fantastic support and an incredible delivery!

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Having a baby in Mexico – Part 9 (Ethan’s delivery)

"Cherub" by Sharon Hammond

I now understand why cherubs are depicted as babies … Ethan is my little angel!

Over two weeks have already passed by since Ethan’s birth. M. and I are daily amazed by God’s grace and the gift of life he’s given us.

Here is the rest of the story

The “birth team” (hubby M.; translator/labor coach S.; picture taker H.; and me, Mommy) arrived at the hospital at 10:38 p.m. after 5 1/2 hours of laboring at home. It’s funny that I remember looking at the clock in the car before getting out, despite having a strong contraction! Dr. Chavez greeted us at the door and looked into my face to reassure me that he was there. I was so thankful to see him!

M. gives me comfort during a contraction

After another very strong contraction just inside the hospital doors, with pain shooting down my lower body while I hung onto the necks of S. and H., the staff brought over a wheelchair to take me to my labor/overnight room. The nurse wanted to give me an IV, but S. graciously told them our doctor had OK’d me not getting one. She insisted, but S. continued to reassure her it wasn’t needed. Problem solved! (Check off #2 from our list – “no IV in hospital”)

M. and S. helped me change into the mandatory hospital gown and get onto the bed. Contractions seemed to be coming non-stop at that point and were quite painful! The doctor checked my cervix and exclaimed, “8 cm. She’s ready. Let’s head to the delivery room!” (Check off #1 – “labor at home as long as possible” – I don’t think we could have waited any longer, as I was already in transition!)

Moving from the gurney onto the delivery room bed

They transferred me to a gurney and wheeled me down the hall to the delivery room. Then I had to transfer again onto the delivery bed (complete with stirrups), across a bizarre “window” pictured at left. (Mexicans often have impractical solutions for simple problems. Why put up a wall of sorts to begin with? How about just having a bigger room? I think they were trying to keep the delivery room sterile, but it seemed odd to us and was quite uncomfortable to navigate!)

Now I was laying on the delivery bed with a male assistant (operation tech?) next to me and didn’t know where M. and S. were. I needed them! Everything was happening so quickly and the pain caused me to stay in my own bubble of senses. Too much stimulus was overwhelming, so I had my eyes closed for most of the time I was in the hospital until after Ethan was born.

M. (back) and S. (facing) giving me labor support

The doctor had told M. and S. to put on the hospital garb over their clothing before they went into the delivery room. I was SO thankful to hear that they would be by my side with no hassles from the doctors or hospital staff. (Check off #3 – “have M. and S. in the delivery room with me”)

So far, labor was going well. We had made it to the hospital in time and I had not taken any drugs up to this point. The next contraction hit and I suddenly understood all the birth talk about “feeling the need to push”. It was incredible how my body was telling me what to do! S. told Dr. Chavez I wanted to push and he said to go ahead when I felt pain.

3, 2, 1, PUSH! I tried to remember what we had learned in the DVD series. I needed to relax in between contractions, then take a big breath and focus the energy of the push low in my body. A few of the pushes seemed, well, inefficient, compared to the others. I could just tell that my efforts weren’t getting the results we needed! Dr. Chavez was continually working to stretch the perineum as I pushed, hoping to not have to give me an episiotomy. The baby’s head was crowning and we were making progress. After a couple more contractions, he said he might need to give me a small incision to help the baby’s head come out if I couldn’t push low. That was all the incentive I needed! I gave my best effort and focused. Dr. Chavez checked the baby’s heart rate. It was a little low. He was concerned that the baby would be in distress if he didn’t get through the birth canal soon.

Ethan enters the world outside the womb

Well, a little snip (yes, Dr. Chanez gave me a small episiotomy – that’s #5 on the list)  and one more contraction with big pushes from Mom … out he came! (Check off #4 – “no medication unless absolutely necessary” – we had a natural, vaginal birth with no meds!)

Our sweet baby boy entered the world outside the womb at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 18, 2011.

The pediatrician, Dr. Ulloa, had been with us during the delivery. He now took Ethan from Dr. Chavez and quickly used the nasal aspirator to clean out Ethan’s mouth and nose while Dr. Chavez cut the umbilical cord. In less than a minute after birth, Ethan was placed on my chest while Dr. Ulloa clamped the cord.

What a miracle! My baby boy was laying on my chest … and I was too exhausted to look down at him! All I could see was the top of his head and his beautiful hair. I told M. to help me hold him because my arms were so tired from holding myself up to push. It was wonderful to have those first few minutes with my son. Skin to skin contact is very healing for babies … and for mommies! (Check off #6 – “skin-to-skin contact with the baby immediately after birth”)

With Mommy after birth

Dr. Ulloa weighing, measuring, and getting an APGAR score

The honeymoon ended abruptly when Dr. Chavez began stitching me up. I had about four stitches – not too bad, but I felt quite a sting. A couple of them were for the internal tearing and a couple for the episiotomy. While I was getting stitches, I had Dr. Ulloa take Ethan to weigh and measure him, and check his APGAR score (8-9). He did this in the delivery room, and we were so thankful that they never tried to take Ethan away from us.  (Check off #7 – “having 100% access to baby after birth”)

Dr. Ulloa measuring Ethan

Dr. Ulloa brought Ethan back to me until Dr. Chavez finished stitching me up and getting me ready to head back to the overnight room. We were now a family of three!

The happy family

M. carrying Ethan while I get wheeled back to the overnight room

So, back I went, across the “window/door”, onto the gurney while M. carried baby Ethan (who also received hospital garb!) to our overnight room. The room was surprisingly comfortable. Of course, perhaps I was just so exhausted that I didn’t care how nice the bed was! S. and H. said good night and let us rest.

One hour after birth, Ethan was rooting toward my breast. He latched on and fed for an hour. It was a beautiful experience! When he finished, I laid him in the bassinet the nurse had brought in. He slept soundly, and so did I. But his little tummy was hungry again an hour later (it’s only the size of a marble), so when he woke he again fed for an hour. Afterward, I laid him in the bassinet and he drifted off to sleep. This time I was hungry and wide awake, so I dug through our snack bag and grabbed an apple, some pretzel sticks, and a refreshing coconut water. I was a little restless, so I took my snacks out to the waiting room. It felt good to get out of bed! The nurses were a little surprised to see me. I chatted with them in my broken Spanish, then slowly walked back to the room. M. was still sleeping soundly on the couch, as was Ethan.

The nurse with the cute lunchbox!

There was one more feeding and sleeping session and then the morning sun was shining through the blinds. A nurse came in to take my temperature and blood pressure. Another came later to bring me breakfast. A third nurse came to fill out the Registration of Birth form. She had her ink pad and wipes (for the foot print) in an adorable kid’s princess lunchbox. Only in Mexico!

At 8:30 a.m., Dr. Ulloa came back. He checked Ethan’s reflexes, abdomen,  and gave us formula recommendations (which we won’t be using since we’re only breastfeeding). He gave Ethan a clean bill of health!

H. and her hubby with Ethan

H. came back to the hospital shortly after with her hubby and a huge bouquet of beautiful flowers! Dr. Chavez was supposed to return around 10:00 a.m. to discharge me, but didn’t show. We called and found out he had attended to an emergency at a different hospital. He asked me a few questions, said everything sounded good, and gave us the OK to go home. Only 13 hours in the hospital and we were taking our little angel home! (Check off #8 – “short hospital stay”)

M. and I are experiencing the incredible bond that having children brings to a couple. He is a wonderful Dad – playing with Ethan when he is awake and cuddling him while he sleeps. I am getting the hang of breastfeeding and sleeping with my baby next to me at night. I’ve only had one break down so far – that’s pretty good, right?! After a good night’s sleep and some cuddles from my hubby, I’m feeling strong again and enjoying our time together with our family of three!

Twelve days old

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Having a baby in Mexico – Part 8 (Laboring for Ethan)

Our beautiful boy

Ethan is now five days old. Every day has been a journey!

I am so thankful for an incredible first birth experience. We had several concerns due to giving birth in Mexico, but God answered so many prayers and gave us our desires.

During our last few doctor visits, we had specifically addressed our birth plan to make sure Dr. Chavez knew our desires and would help us achieve a natural, unmedicated birth. Of course, I know emergencies happen, but here is what we were striving for and our reasons why:

  1. labor at home as long as possible (greater mobility and control over labor positions, comfort of home, ability to eat and drink as desired)
  2. no IV in hospital (prevents mobility, causes swelling, added pain during labor, necessary only when receiving medication like an epidural)
  3. have M. and S. in the delivery room with me (50% or more of Mexican births are by c-section and typically no one is allowed into the delivery room for any type of birth; having labor support and someone to translate was a HUGE priority for us since Dr. Chavez speaks very little English!)
  4. no medication unless absolutely necessary (various meds cause chain reactions which require other meds or interventions like induction, forceps/vacuum, and often end in c-sections; our bodies produce endorphins in a natural birth that are stronger than meds; ability to feel my body’s signals during labor and delivery for pushing; more alert and healthier undrugged baby )
  5. no episiotomy unless absolutely necessary (uncomfortable recovery, incision can cause more extensive damage like 3rd and 4th degree tears than natural tear, can cause fecal incontinence)
  6. skin-to-skin contact with the baby immediately after birth (regulates baby’s body temperature, comforts baby, babies often breastfeed within the first hour after birth if given the chance, greater long-term success for breastfeeding, stimulates the release of oxytocin which causes the uterus to contract, weighing/measuring and other routines can be put off briefly without harming baby)
  7. having 100% access to baby after birth (baby mix-ups; caregivers may give baby shots and/or formula or other undesired “nourishment”; rooming-in allows physical and emotional needs to be met; greater bonding; it is my baby, after all!)
  8. short hospital stay (assuming all goes well, home is always more comfortable!)

So, here’s the beginning of the story …

On Thursday morning, August 18, my pregnant friend, B., came over to do prenatal yoga from a DVD with me. The past several days had been filled with achy legs and lots of movement from my baby in the womb. It seemed he was digging down into my pelvis, looking for the exit! We laughed, shared aches and pains, and yoga’d together. It was another day of … waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

I was now two days past my “due date” – though my doctor would have said I was four days past. (How accurate is a “due date”, anyway?!) At any rate, I was ready for my baby to arrive, but trying desperately to be patient!

I went about my day as usual doing light housework and trying to stay distracted. It was late afternoon and we’d been invited to our neighbor’s house for dinner around 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., I used the restroom and noticed a big gelatinous glob as I wiped. Is this it? I curiously went to my pregnancy books and looked up “mucous plug”. Apparently, this “cork” of mucous that seals the opening of the uterus can be dislodged a week or two before the first real contractions, or just as labor begins. Well, we’re making progress, but, perhaps … still waiting.

At 5:05 p.m., I felt a little odd – my abdomen seemed to tighten and the sensation was quite different – stronger, but not really painful. I used the restroom again and the stream of urine seemed endless. Again, I went to my book. “Early contractions feel like gastrointestinal upset, or like heavy menstrual cramps, or like lower abdominal pressure. Pain may be just in the lower abdomen or in the lower back and abdomen, and it may also radiate down into the legs. However, false labor contractions may also be felt in these places … [and only] in 15% of labors, the water breaks – in a gush or a trickle – before labor begins, [rather than during labor or delivery].” OK, so it’s not like the movies! (Then again, when is life ever like the movies?!)

I told my hubby, M., that I thought I was starting labor. He couldn’t believe it! According to the “Comfort in Childbirth” DVD series we’d watched, I should stay distracted, as labor could continue for hours before becoming really painful. He asked if I wanted to go for dinner still, but I declined. “Tell them I just don’t feel good,” I said. I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, in case it was only pre-labor (a.k.a. false labor). M. went next door and called me. They were making pita pizzas and did I want to eat? Of course!

5:16 p.m. – only 11 minutes later – another tightening and a little pain started to move down my legs. That made two contractions.

5:32 p.m. – contraction #3

My neighbor soon showed up with a dinner plate for me.

5:46 p.m. – contraction #4

5:57 p.m. – #5, but I had finished eating and was feeling strong.

M. came back after eating dinner and asked how I felt. It had now been one hour and I had five contractions between 11 and 16 minutes apart. This was it! M. was excited and got out our Childbirth workbooks and handouts. We read the information to remind us what to do: time the start of the contractions and the length, keep moving and stay distracted, get hydrated and nourished, call our friends to tell them we’d be going to the hospital that night!

"Slow dancing" at the hospital

The contractions continued to get stronger. I had to focus on breathing during the peaks and found different positions to help ease the discomfort. One of the best was gently hanging from M.’s neck while we “slow danced” – moved side to side while loosely embracing.

At 7:30 p.m., S., our translator/labor coach friend (who is also our neighbor’s Mom) called the doctor’s cell phone. No answer. Then we remembered that his office hours are 4:00-8:00 p.m. So, soon after 8:00 p.m., S. spoke to Dr. Chavez. Knowing that we wanted to labor at home as long as was reasonable, his advice on when to go to the hospital was, “Just don’t wait too long.”

I decided that a little water relief would be nice, so the “birth team” (hubby M.; translator/labor coach S.; picture taker H.; and me, Mommy) went to a neighbor’s house and I got in their bath tub. (FYI – Most Mexican homes, like ours, don’t have a bath tub.) So much better! At first, I couldn’t even tell when the contractions were starting. S. timed the contractions again and I squeezed M.’s hand to tell him when to start and when to stop timing. The contractions were getting much stronger and were coming about every 3-4 minutes. We tried to time the peaks, but it was difficult. Sometimes I had double peaks, sometimes the contractions were only two minutes apart, sometimes five. It seemed that they had been quite erratic the entire night, rather than falling into the patterns listed on our “cheat sheet” from the childbirth DVD class.

One tool we learned was for M. to ask me, after the contraction, what I was thinking about during the contraction. The purpose is to stay positive and not have negative thoughts or fear during the labor process, which causes more pain. “I think we should go to the hospital soon,” is all I could say.

Dr. Chavez and S. comfort me in the hospital

We made it to the car in a couple more contractions and headed to the hospital in Guaymas, about 20 minutes away. Half way there, I told M. he had better drive faster! I had a pretty strong contraction upon arrival. H. opened the door and waited for it to pass, then helped me stagger to the hospital doors. A wave of pain hit me at the entrance and I hung each arm around the neck’s of H. and S. to relieve some of the pressure. Dr. Chavez greeted us at the door and looked into my face to reassure me that he was there. I was so thankful to see him!

I knew my baby boy would be with us soon!

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Having a baby in Mexico – Part 7 (Baby Ethan is here!)

Baby Ethan

August 18, 2011

11:30 p.m.

3.0 kg (6 lbs. 9 oz.)

51 cm long (20 in.)

Born in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico

11 hours old

We had an amazing experience birthing our first child! I will have to post the details in the next blog, but I wanted to put up a few pictures for now while Daddy is holding Ethan and I have a 15 minute break.

Baby Ethan was born naturally without any medications, as we had hoped for! The doctors and nurses were wonderful and attentive. They allowed both M. and our translator/labor support friend into the delivery room without any hassles, praise God! After only 6 1/2 hours of labor, our sweet angel was brought into this world – healthy and beautiful and very alert. We stayed overnight in the hospital and were released in the morning. We are now home, enjoying our time together.

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement!

Daddy holding baby Ethan soon after birth

Leaving for home the next morning - about 12 hours after birth

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Having a baby in Mexico – Part 6 (40 weeks … and still waiting!)

OK, I’ve officially made it to 40 weeks!

Now what?  Every day I ask myself and my baby, “Is today the day?” I know I should stay distracted and continue doing … what? Reading more baby books? Getting the baby room ready (already done)? Packing my hospital bag, again? To be honest, I’m just ready for my little one to arrive so I can put to use all the fantastic knowledge I’ve gained from months of reading and research! It’ll be easy, right?! (Are you laughing already?)

The anticipation, the restless nights, the boring days filled with activities that used to be fun and are now just ways to fill up time. I must admit though, today was a great day! I went to Soggy Peso (a beach bar/restaurant) with my friends, B. (due three weeks after me) and L. The ocean temperature was perfect and the dogs loved running up and down the beach!

To be honest with you though, I can’t stop thinking about when our baby will arrive. (I guess my little one didn’t read my previous post about full moon babies, since the full moon window of opportunity has passed!) To go along with my obsession, I’ve looked up some interesting statistics:

The most popular day for births in the U.S. is Wednesday. (hmmm … that would be tomorrow!)

More newborns arrive during July, August, and September – with August hosting the most U.S. baby births in 2006. (I think we’ve got that one in the bag.)

A normal pregnancy can last anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks. Only 4% of babies are actually born on their “due dates”.

So, this got me thinking … why do we want so much control over this process called “giving birth” that is really very natural for our bodies? Is it fear? Is it the need for control? Is it our belief in science and medicine? Is it cultural? And why in the world would we still use a formula for calculating a woman’s due date made popular by a German obstetrician, Franz Naegele, in 1838, not even based on empirical data?! He averaged gestational length to be 40 weeks from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period, assuming that the mother ovulates on day 14 of a 28 day menstrual cycle. (Because we all know that every woman has a regular four week cycle and ovulates every month exactly on day 14 … not!)

Based on the continued adherence to Naegele’s Rule, we now have the following happening:

22.5% of U.S. births in 2006 began with labor being induced (more than double since 1990), with “post-date” pregnancy being the most common reason for induction (25.1% in Australia).

31.1% of U.S. births in 2006 were by cesarean deliveries (Australia is about 30%).

The low-birth-weight rate has risen 24% since the mid-1980s. (Induced labors, c-sections, older maternal age, and fertility therapies are reasons given for the trend.)

If you’ve read my previous posts about having a baby in Mexico, you’ll know that my hubby and I want a natural birth with no medications (unless necessary). From my research tonight, I discovered that in 1990, Dr. Robert Mittendorf and his cohorts studied 17,000 births and thereby calculated the average length of uncomplicated human pregnancy to be an average of 41 weeks and 1 day from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period for first time mothers. Even the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) does not recommend interfering with a normal pregnancy before 42 completed weeks.

And yet, most doctors don’t want to allow pregnancies to go beyond 40 weeks!

So, now that I’ve reached my “due date”, what do we do?

We just keep playing the waiting game!

Sources for above statistics:

http://www.babycenter.com/0_22-surprising-facts-about-birth-in-the-united-states_1372273.bc

http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/healthandlifestyle.asp?sid=234&title=Birth-Statistics

http://transitiontoparenthood.com/ttp/parented/pregnancy/duedate.htm

http://www.transitiontoparenthood.com/ttp/birthed/duedatespaper.htm

https://wherearetheclowns.wordpress.com/tag/robert-mittendorf/

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