Amelia’s Birth Story

Amelia’s Birth Story

Mama: Lauren W.

Stats: 7lbs 5oz, 20 inches

Type of Birth: Vaginal, unmedicated

Birth Location: Hospital

Primary Care: Midwife and Obstetrician

So much was different about my first pregnancy and my second. I know that’s not abnormal, but everything was so much more intense — the exhaustion, the nausea (which lasted well into the second trimester) and the weight gain. One thing was similar, though — I had low PAPP-A levels with both pregnancies. Low PAPP-A is a soft marker for a whole host of complications, but it usually isn’t seen as a problem by itself. Since I had some issues with my first pregnancy (early deterioration of the placenta leading to spontaneous labor at 37 weeks and a baby born at just shy of 5 lbs — though healthy and thriving), I was more closely monitored this time around. I escaped the gestational diabetes diagnosis I had with my first pregnancy (ice cream — hooray!), but we were still worried about the possibility of placental deterioration, which can happen suddenly, and attendant complications (like IUGR and the scariest of “S” words — stillbirth).

But, I had such a wonderful natural birth experience with my first daughter that I very much wanted the same with my second. Although we had moved halfway across the country, I chose a similar practice — midwives working with OB/GYNs and delivering in a hospital — and had a near-identical birth plan.

The second hitch in my plan came when I found out I was positive for Group B strep, and would have to have IV antibiotics before delivery. That meant getting to the hospital earlier than I would have originally preferred (we use the Bradley method, and one of the key teachings is not to get to the hospital too early), and I worried that having an IV would hinder my movement and bother me during labor. After a lot of research about alternatives and even briefly considering switching to a birthing center, I decided to continue with my birth plan and just try to get to the hospital a little earlier.

My first daughter came early on her own, but I was getting close to 40 weeks without much of anything happening. Contractions would stop and start, which was maddening, and I had been waiting on pins and needles for a couple of weeks to see if this was “it.” I was getting very discouraged, since, due to the possible complications from low PAPP-A, my OB did not want me to go past my due date, which was rapidly approaching.

I really, really didn’t want to be induced, but they assured me that they were masters of the “gentle induction” and that it wouldn’t be the experience I was afraid of. That, plus the possibility of scary things like stillbirth, made me agree to the induction. I still hoped to avoid it, though, so I tried everything I could think of to help jump-start labor — walking, sex, evening primrose oil, red raspberry leaf tea, squatting, going for a run, even acupuncture. I’d have contractions here and there, and a few times they even started to become regular, but then they’d peter out again. I was frustrated, exhausted, and just done.

On Tuesday, December 10th, I had my last scheduled OB appointment before the induction. I broke down in tears about it, saying I really didn’t want to be induced, but I knew it was the best thing. I practically begged her to strip my membranes, and although standard practice says not to do it in patients who are Group B Strep positive, she agreed, since, in her words, they are an evidence-based practice and there is no real evidence that it’s risky.

My husband and I went out to an early lunch after the appointment, and I started having some mild contractions. I tried not to get my hopes up, since I’d been there before, only to have the contractions taper off into nothing. I had a spicy lunch (hey, it’s worth a shot!) and then went to my second acupuncture appointment in two days. I continued feeling contractions a few times during the session, and by the time I got home (around 12:30), I was convinced something might be happening. My husband and I went for a brisk walk around the neighborhood, and I started timing contractions. They were coming close together — 3-5 minutes apart — and lasting for 45 seconds. That sure sounds like labor! They were also beginning to get a bit stronger.

When we got home, I decided to lie down and try to take a nap. I was able to rest, but the contractions kept coming, so I got up after a bit. At that point, they became more intense, and I decided to call my mom, who was slated to take care of Nora, and ask her to start making her way up to our house. It was almost time to pick Nora up from preschool, and my husband and I planned to take her to her 3-year pediatrician appointment, which we’d scheduled for that day. As we made the drive to preschool, it quickly became apparent that her appointment wasn’t going to happen, and that we needed to get to the hospital sooner than later (especially since they hope to get in a dose of IV antibiotics at least four hours before delivery in Group B Strep positive moms). We picked up Nora, calmly told her what was happening, and I called the pediatrician’s office to cancel Nora’s appointment on the way home.

When we got home, my mom still wasn’t there, and when my husband called her, she was stuck in traffic. Nora freaked out a little bit, saying she didn’t want to be by herself… but thankfully we were able to explain that no one was leaving her, and our neighbors down the street were at home and able to watch her until my mom was able to get there. At this point, my contractions were becoming very intense, and — let me tell you — it is no fun to try and hold a sad and scared preschooler in need of comfort while working through a contraction!

Finally, we were in the car and on the way to the hospital. Of course, we caught every red light on the way there. As an aside, I do NOT recommend spending most of one’s labor in the car! We arrived, parked in the front lot, and started walking in. I felt a small gush, and figured that was my water beginning to leak. We headed upstairs and got checked in, and I got undressed and in the shower as soon as we had a room, with my husband pointing the warm water right at the small of my back while I sat on the shower seat. The midwives from my first birth called this the “drug-free epidural,” and I heartily agree — it was amazing pain relief.

I was in the shower for a little while before the midwife and nurses showed up, and I started feeling a wave of nausea at the end of each contraction, along with a mild urge to push. I recognized that I was probably in transition, so when the midwife and nurses got there, I told them that somebody had better check me, since I was starting to feel the urge to push. I was already at 8 cm, and they got the IV hooked up as quickly as possible so they could start the penicillin. The midwife explained that, as a second-time mom, the urge to push might come slightly ahead of when my body was actually ready, but that I could try pushing if it felt good. I tried a couple of practice pushes, but I wasn’t really feeling the need to push, so I rested for a bit more.

At this point, thinking back, I really should have gotten back in the shower for a little bit, but I had nurses all over me, putting an IV in, gowning me up (I had brought my own nightgown to deliver in, but I didn’t think of it in all the rush, and honestly, I would have been more comfortable just naked) and monitoring me. That’s the part that bothers me a little bit about this birth — it all got a little too medical at this point, and I really think I would have progressed faster if I had gotten up and moved around like I had planned.

I had delivered my first baby on hands and knees, and I thought that was what I’d want to do for this one, too, but as it turned out, I was more comfortable sitting up, in the “Bradley position,” which is a modified squat. When the urge to push was undeniable, I tried again and this time we started getting somewhere. Even though I was a second-time mom, my second stage was much longer this time around, probably due to the baby being larger (7 lb 5 oz vs. 4 lb 15 oz) and in a kind of weird position. I pushed for a long time — over an hour — and I kept thinking, “What the hell? This has to be over soon!” I was very much “in the zone,” though — one of the nurses commented that I looked very relaxed for someone who was about to give birth. In between contractions, I would just relax back and close my eyes, gathering strength for the next one.

I tried lying on my side for a couple of contractions, but it didn’t feel comfortable, and neither did the hands-and-knees position, so I went back to the Bradley position. The midwife encouraged me each time, telling me to curl around my baby and show her the way. Finally, finally, I felt the “ring of fire” — baby was crowning! With the next push, she was born, and the midwife immediately put her on my chest. She was wide-eyed and squalling — ready to meet the world!

It was such a joy to hold my baby, Amelia, on my chest for the first time and say hello. After we had some initial bonding time, the nurses weighed and measured her, diapered her, and then gave her back to me so I could nurse her for the first time. The room cleared out quickly, and just the three of us had some quiet time alone to start getting to know each other.

Nora was able to come up to the hospital the next morning to meet her new sister and hold her for the first time, and she was so amazingly gentle and sweet. There really is no joy quite like seeing your two kids together for the very first time.

4 Responses to Amelia’s Birth Story

  1. Way to go Mama! Were you able to get the full dose of antibiotics in? Love the milk drunk photo!

  2. Fantastic story, thanks so much for sharing!!

  3. Congrats!!!

  4. Beautiful birth story! Thanks SO much for sharing!

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