I am delighted to be sharing Marcella’s birth story with you. Julia, Marcella’s mama, blogs at A Little Bit of All of It where this birth story was originally published. Be sure to check out her blog for information on living naturally, babywearing, birthing resources, recipes, and so much more!
(If you are a Hypnobabies student, please use your bubble of peace while you read this story.)
My daughter, Marcella, was born March 22, 2009 at 8:09 am. She weighed 6lbs, 13oz, and was 20in long. This is her birth story.
Saturday morning, March 21st at 4:10 am I woke up to a trickle of water. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was my water breaking or not so I just put on a liner and went back to bed. A minute or so later I felt a small gush so I told my husband, Josh, and went to the bathroom to check and the liner was full of clear liquid so I was pretty sure. I kept feeling trickling and then occassionally small gushes. Josh wanted to call the midwife but I reminded him I was having no contractions and there was no reason to wake her up at 4am when it could be a long time until contractions started. Josh did go wake up my parents (where we were currently staying) to let them know. We all talked for a couple minutes and then I told everyone I was going back to sleep because I needed rest if labor was going to be starting possibly that day!
We went back to sleep and woke up around 8am and called the midwife. She said for us to come in in a couple of hours to be checked to see if my water had broken so we started getting stuff together. I took a shower. We (my mom, Josh and I) went by the grocery store to pick up some food and stuff and then headed over to the birth center.
The midwife gave me a strip to check the fluid to see if my water had broken since it was still trickling out. The strip indicated it was amniotic fluid She checked the baby, and said she sounded good and then suggested we go walk around to try to get contractions started. All I had at this point was some mild cramping and occasional tightening. My dad met us at the birth center and then we headed out to the mall to walk around. Soon it was lunch time so we went out to lunch.
Josh’s parents (who he called at 4 am to let them know today might be the day) had driven down from Ohio and were almost to the birth center so we headed back to wait on them. I was still only having sporadic contractions that I could walk and talk through. We hung out at the center for a little bit and once Josh’s parents were there we walked around outside for awhile trying to get my contractions more regular. Around 2 pm the midwife talked to us about what we wanted to do. Her recommendation, since contractions hadn’t really gotten going yet, was to go home and get some rest and call her in the morning if contractions didn’t get going in the meantime. We took her advice. We stopped at Babies ‘R Us and looked around and then went to the mall and I got some raspberry tea at Tea Junction. Then we headed back to the home.
We hung out at home for a little while and just talked. I opened some gifts that Josh’s mom had brought from people in Ohio and from her. I can’t really remember the time exactly, but I started getting contractions that were more regular and were stronger than before so I laid down on my bed. My mom said this was around 7 or so. This is when things started getting fuzzy for me. I know Josh came in because I asked him to call the midwife and ask if I could take a bath. He let her know about my contractions and asked about the bath and she said she was going to actually suggest that. She said to disinfect the tub before I got in since my water was broken.
I had remembered from my Bradley Childbirth classes that if the contractions fade out after a bath, it isn’t real labor yet. So my mom got the tub ready for me and I sat in the tub for a little while. The water took the edge off the pain which was nice even though the pain wasn’t that bad yet. My mom heated up her chicken and rice soup for me that she had made special for my “labor day” while everyone else had dinner. The soup was perfect because I really wouldn’t have wanted something heavy at that point. The contractions were still coming so we called and let the midwife know we were heading back to the birth center. This was around 8:30 pm and we got to the birth center around 9 or so.
When we got to the birth center, I changed into the long t-shirt and fuzzy aloe socks I was going to labor in. 🙂 The midwife said she wanted me to labor for a little while before I got in the tub. The contractions were stronger now and were 2-3 minutes apart. I was telling my mom and Josh I wanted to get in the tub. Being on the bed was really hard for me during contractions. I did try the birth ball for awhile and that was better.
I think the midwife came in again (or Josh and my mom asked her to, I can’t remember exactly), and then she said she wanted to check me before I got in the tub. She checked and I was 85% effaced and the baby had moved down and I was 2 cm. She said the baby’s head was a little cocked and that she wanted me to do 2 rotations of the rotisserie on the bed before I got in the tub. Basically I had 2 contractions on my right side then turned on hands and knees and did 2 that way, then 2 on my left side and then 2 on my back. I might have the order wrong there, but it was all of that in some order anyway. 🙂
I finally got to get in the tub and it was instant relief! It really took the edge off and made it easier to relax. Now it gets REALLY fuzzy. I had no concept of passing of time or anything else. I really mostly had my eyes closed and was focused within during my labor. I tried with every contraction to relax my whole body and just let it float in the water. Josh and my mom were helping me by rubbing my arms, legs, putting a cool cloth on my face, reminding me to relax, etc. and that really helped.
At some point my mom put in my Hypnobirthing Relaxation CD’s which really helped me relax, too since I had been listening to them to help me sleep at night during pregnancy so I associated them with relaxing. I would remind myself at the peak that it would be over soon and I could do it. Sometimes I would count to distract myself or try to think of something random and take my mind somewhere else. I know a couple times I actually slept through some of the contractions because I was so relaxed.
There were times were I would start to panic and tense up, but my mom or Josh would remind me to let go and relax and go into my contraction. It always felt worse to tense and it would be better once I relaxed again. I would also start low moans when the contractions started to peak. When I started to tense the moans would get higher and the midwife told me to keep them low because that is what opens you up. At some point when I was in the tub, Josh asked if I wanted him to pray and he prayed for the labor, but I don’t remember when that was exactly. I was praying off and on during contractions for God to help me through them and my mom said she noticed one of the midwifes off to the side praying while I was pushing.
I don’t really remember the order of things but I remember the midwife telling me to look for feeling the urge to push at the peak of the contraction and to let her know and then when I felt that urge to push through the whole contraction, she would check me to see if I was fully dilated. That was when I was first in the tub. I know I got in and out a couple times for them to warm up the water and did some contractions leaning on Josh and some more on the ball or leaning on the footboard of the bed, but the water was always what I wanted to get back to.
I remember at some point asking to be checked again and I think I was at a 3 then and fully effaced and the baby’s head had really come down a lot more. The midwife said I was doing well and for a first time mom a centimeter an hour for the first 5 centimeters was normal and good so I wasn’t disappointed and just kept going. She said the first 5 would take the longest and then it would go more quickly after that. The whole time every 30 minutes they would check the baby’s heartbeat and my temperature (since my water had broken to make sure I didn’t have an infection). Every time they said she was doing great and her heart rate was nice and strong.
She had me do another set of the rotisserie in the water that I had done on the bed at some point because the baby’s head was still not quite in the perfect spot. I think this is also when I told Josh to tell the midwife I was feeling pressure in my bottom and she said that was good and that meant that the baby’s head was really low. Finally I started to feel the urge to push at the peak of my contraction and she had told me to blow when that happened. That part was hard because the urge was so strong. I don’t know how much time passed, but I don’t think it was that long till I felt the urge to push through the whole contraction so the midwife checked me. She was happy to report that all that was left was a little bit of the cervical lip and I had made great progress. I was glad because that meant I could push soon as it was getting almost impossible to hold back the pushing at this point. She said I could wait another hour for the last bit of that lip to be gone or I could start pushing and she would move the lip with each push. I decided to let her move the cervical lip.
Up till this point, I had been having contractions every 2 minutes and they were about 45 seconds long for the whole labor for the most part according to Josh and my mom. I never actually went through transition and thankfully when it was time to push I got more time before each contraction came. The midwife told me to push, take a breath and push again and keep doing that until the contraction was over. Josh said I did this for 45 minutes.
Finally her head came out and I could feel that if I gave one more push, she would be out! Of course, I think I was supposed to wait to let the perineum stretch but unfortunately I didn’t. That was probably where one of my tears came from. Then there she was swimming in the water!! I was absolutely amazed! I could not believe that she was real and she was here! My mom said the look on my face was priceless and she wished she had a picture of it. I looked at Josh and said, “She’s perfect.” They put her on my chest right away and I held her and it was amazing! They had me get out of the tub and got me in the bed. Both my mom and Josh were crying.
We got the first hour alone with her on my chest (although the midwives were there) and it went by like it was 5 minutes. I passed the placenta right away with one push and I barely felt it. We also tried breastfeeding. She would only latch onto the nipple which was pretty painful.
During this time the midwives were also trying to stop my bleeding. They had to give me a shot of Pitocin in the leg which I knew meant something was wrong since they weren’t going to do that unless it was necessary to stop bleeding. The midwife went and got me a berry protein shake and when I finished that an Emergen-C and then some juice all trying to get fluids in me. They finally got the bleeding stopped and my uterus was firm. They called the grandparents in and they all got to see the baby for the first time. (My mom had left the room immediately after she was born so she barely saw her). They weighed her and measured her. They dressed her and were going to wash her hair (not a bath since we wanted to leave the vernix on and give her a bath later), but didn’t get to that because of what happened to me next.
Up until this point, my birth had been everything I had hoped for. I had a natural, drug free labor and my little girl was strong and healthy with no complications.
They had called the Dr. to stitch me up and they had to move me to the exam table for him to do that in the other room. I remember them giving me a pill, methergine, and they had asked the Dr. if they should give me another shot of methergine because of my blood loss and he said the pill was sufficient. They had the shot drawn up to give it to me and I remember being glad I didn’t need another shot.
This is when things starting getting bad. The midwife had me just sit up and lean on her for a couple minutes and I remember thinking that I was too weak and there was no way I could get up and go to the other room but I didn’t say anything. I just figured I could lean on them and I would make it. She had Josh come over to help her take me to the other room. They started to move me and then I remember nothing. I passed out apparently and had a huge amount of blood loss and Josh said I started having a seizure in his arms. He started moving me over to the bed and I woke up and saw his face and was really confused. I asked him where I was. I had no memory for a second of just having a baby or where I was or anything. They put me back on the bed and I saw that everyone was really concerned and the midwife said they were going to have me transported to the hospital. I remember being confused and telling Josh I was scared. The Dr. came over and gave me an IV of fluids and they put an oxygen mask on me.
The ambulance got there and were glad they didn’t have to do anything but put me in the ambulance since everything else had been done. Josh rode up front in the ambulance and the EMT checked my blood pressure. My in-laws followed with Marcella and the midwife also came separately.
Once at the the hospital, they had to keep transferring me to different rooms which was annoying because it was hard to move from bed to bed. I was in some sort of triage room and the OB on duty checked me to determine how bad my 2 tears were. The one wasn’t too bad but the other he said was pretty bad (although it was only 2nd degree.) Josh was on one side of me and the midwife was on the other holding my hands. I screamed and cried the whole time they were giving me shots to numb me. They had to give me a lot and it was awful. Then they started stitching me up. The Dr. was stitching me up and a couple times he stitched a place that wasn’t numb yet so I started screaming again so they would have to stick me yet again. It took 30 minutes or so to stitch me up. I could feel the tugging and pressure the whole time.
They also kept checking my hemoglobin by drawing my blood so I ended up having them do that 5 times in the same arm during my stay. And I hate needles. They also had IV fluids running the whole time so I kept having to go the bathroom which was humiliating because I was too weak to get up and had to use a bed pan. I asked my mother-in-law for some water and unfortunately she asked the nurse if it was okay instead of just getting me some. For some reason I still don’t understand they wouldn’t let me even have water to drink, only ice chips and my throat was so dry. I had not had anything to eat since the night before.
Once I was stitched up, I was finally allowed to see Marcella. I did not hold her though most of my stay there as my in-laws where there and were holding her. The nurses kept checking me and both arms were hooked up to things and I had three bands on my wrist. I did manage to try breastfeeding her and had a couple of the nurses help me but she was still only grasping the nipple so she didn’t get much and it was really painful. It was also hard with everyone standing over me to nurse her. I really wish I had had some privacy. I kept saying that I didn’t think it should be hurting so much but no one would acknowledge that, but I knew I was right. It was a Sunday so the lactation consultant wasn’t there.
My in-laws basically held her the whole day and I was afraid she wouldn’t know me since she barely saw me. 🙁 Josh got to hold her some, but he was really tired and exhausted from being up with me all night whereas my in-laws had gotten sleep while at the birth center. My parents were also there a small part of the time but knew that there wasn’t room for that many people to be in the room with nurses coming in and out so they said they would leave. The room we were in was pretty small.
They had told me I could be released once my hemoglobin level was up around 8 (it was 7 something when they first checked it when I got there) and I could get up and go to the bathroom and move around a little bit. So later that afternoon when they checked it again it was 6 something so they said they were recommending a blood transfusion of 2 pints to get my level back up to 8 and that I could stay the night and get a bigger room as it was going to take a long time. I asked if Marcella could stay with me and they said yes as long as another adult was always in the room since I couldn’t get up yet. (She was never admitted thankfully so that was why I wasn’t sure.) I also asked if I get something to eat and drink since I hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before. They said yes and gave me a menu to order some food and we finally got a bigger room. Finally around 9pm or so, my in-laws left since visiting hours were over and we finally had some time alone as a family of 3 for the first time since Marcella was born. I was also able to breastfeed her through the night without a bunch of people staring at me which was a relief.
We stayed the night and they gave me 2 pints of blood. Sometime twice in the middle of the night they came and drew my blood again to check my hemoglobin. I remember at one point begging them not to stick me again.
In the morning, they gave me a menu again and had me order breakfast and then after that I had to go to the bathroom and they had told me my hemoglobin was up to 7 something which was disappointing since they were trying to get it to 8 but it was good enough for me to be dismissed. I had the nurse help me to the bathroom which was scary but I was able to do it and was okay.
My in-laws and parents came back to see us and the midwife came to check the baby and administer the PKU test. She said the baby looked great, just a little jaundiced but we just needed to put her in indirect sun and nurse frequently and she would be fine. The lactation consultant also came during this time and gave me some nursing tips and finally someone told me it was wrong for her to be just sucking the nipple and I did have some nipple trauma.
We finally got to be released! I had to be taken out on this cart thing since it really hurt to walk, but I got to hold Marcella on the way out to the car finally. I remember finally thinking I could hold her and no one was going to take her from me because the nurse herself had handed her to me.
She eventually starting breastfeeding well (although I was losing my mind on Day 3 and can definitely see how people want to give up!). My milk surprised me and came in on Day 2 which made things more difficult to get her to latch correctly because I was pretty engorged, but she finally got the hang of it and was eating every 2 hours. She had her first Dr’s visit at 5 days old and they said she was doing great! She had only lost 2 oz’s from her birth weight, the jaundice wasn’t bad at all and her cord looked nice and dry and they said it would fall off in about a week (which it did). The nurse practitioner also said she was really strong since she was already rolling over on her side and she was able to stand on her legs when she was held up and her feet were over the table if that makes sense. I did end up with a uterine infection and had to be an antibiotics but I was finally able to get around some at 2 weeks postpartum, although I mostly had to sit or lay from the pain from the stitches.
*This post was originally published on A Little Bit of All of It and can be found here: http://naturallifemom.com/2012/05/marcellas-birth-story/