by Jennifer Brotherton
I have to start this birth story with a journal entry I wrote the day before Gabi’s birth…
March 25th, 2002~ Two days past my due date now…I feel no anxiousness at all. I know in my heart with a peace and certainty that baby will come when it’s ready. My children have been sick with some nasty flu virus, vomiting all hours of the night. Thankfully I haven’t gotten it.
I did have a bit of a scare last week. On Monday night, as I lay in bed sound asleep, a distinct “pop” awoke me. I thought my water had broken, as I felt bubbles and gurgling inside of me…but I didn’t feel wet so I lay in bed. I rolled over and felt another bit of gurgling, but nothing came out (or so I thought). I was too tired to get up, so I fell back asleep (talk about lazy! HA!) In the morning, hubby had already left for work and I went to the bathroom to pee. I sat down and looked down and there was blood all over my undies and two huge clots fell into the toilet. My eyes must’ve popped out of my head. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was earth-moving, the level of emotion. I was stunned, and I broke down sobbing. I have NEVER bled before labor. I have never even had “bloody show”… I always lose my plug weeks or a month before labor, and I had been losing it this time, but never had I had anything like this. It wasn’t bright red blood, more of a dark maroon in color…the clots were about the size of a golfball and the size of a half dollar. I yelled for my son to get the phone. I called my husband and probably scared the life out of him! I was just sobbing and sobbing, saying I didn’t know what was wrong, or what to do. I was still on the pot. He said “Calm down. You’ll know what to do if you calm down…”
I hung up the phone. I sat there a minute, cleaned up, then I tried to get online…Yahoo servers had been down the previous day and were still down. I checked email and had gotten nothing…I didn’t know what to do. So, I sat on the edge of my bed and prayed. I was as calm as a cucumber within 5 minutes. I knew somewhere I had read about this, so I wracked my brain. I knew clots could be normal. I knew some women bled before labor or birth…I knew that it wasn’t bright or gushing blood, so that had to mean something…
I also knew I had never bled. And I knew I wasn’t having contractions, so birth may not be imminent. These thoughts washed over me with much panic, so I had to not think about all the terrible what-if’s. I was on a mission. I grabbed every pregnancy book I have and started reading. I could find nothing specific to what I was experiencing…I was irritated. I finally got online and posted about everything to the cbirth list. I was frantic, because no-one was answering me. By the time hubby got home, blood was still coming, but only in streaks when I wiped, and was tinged with mucous. He was concerned, but I told him I thought I would be ok for now, and I wanted to try and get as much info as possible before rushing to a hospital. I wanted my UC so badly. Not enough to risk my child of course, if I thought for one second it was life-threatening, I would go to a hospital, but that prayer earlier in the day calmed me so much that I felt it wasn’t a dire situation. I felt at peace taking my time to make an informed decision. That day, the bleeding had almost stopped and by bedtime, I knew things were fine.
In the night, I was awakened again, by gurgling and some more wetness. I went to the bathroom and couldn’t believe it, MORE blood, and alot more, after it had all but stopped. I was very upset. It was 3 am and I lay in bed for an hour, unable to sleep. I finally got online and wrote every single person I knew who might possibly have any information on the subject. I wrote midwives. I wrote the list, blasting them for not being more help to me… I had to find out all I could, in order to make an informed decision. Everyone kept suggesting placental problems (previa~ which I knew it couldn’t be, I could feel the baby’s head!! abruptio placenta, which I knew it couldn’t be, as I had none of the symptoms of that…) It was very disturbing to be getting so much mixed advice, and so many differing opinions. The more I read, the more confused I became, worrying needlessly. Most folks were warning to “GET TO A DOC ASAP!!” This scared me. I got offline, and laid in bed. I sang my songs to the baby, our favorites. I rubbed my belly with lotion and I prayed harder than I have in a long time (since my daughter’s illness last year…) I got a stethoscope and after a whole pregnancy of not being able to find my baby’s heartbeat, I found it for the first time! It was a very spiritual and moving moment. It was so strong, beating so loud. I was singing as I was listening and when I sang, the heartbeat would get faster. When I stopped it slowed and then I would start again and it would get faster. I felt such a connection to my baby. I knew in my heart the baby was fine and had never been in any danger.
I do not know why this happened to us, but I believe it was cervical bleeding and not placental. Now, a week has gone by and I have no more bleeding. ( I stopped bleeding 3 days after I started.) It is now clear fluid coming out of me ( I have no idea if I am leaking amniotic fluid, or if it’s just fluid around the sac…) I do not care…I am sure in the knowledge that we are ok and we are going to have a beautiful, healthy, quick, safe birth and delivery. I feel like everything in life happens for a good reason. You may not see it at the time, but it always has a good outcome (yes, even seemingly “bad” things…) Nothing is ever really bad. Everything is good…I don’t know if I make any sense, but I know that this happening changed me. It made me more grateful for the life within. It made me realize life is safe and birth is as safe as life gets. It made me patient and calm…before this happened, I was ready to just have the birth over with…I was beginning to feel antsy again…but now, I don’t care at all how long it takes, AS LONG AS BABY IS OK!! That is all that really matters.
Ladies, do not listen to due dates, I beg you! Trying to force a baby to come before it’s ready is so wrong. Doctors do it all the time and it’s very disturbing. The baby and only the baby can know when it’s ready. When I was pregnant with Hannah, I took castor oil two days after my due date. She was born the next morning…with meconium stained fluids. She was ok, but I know the intervention caused the problems. I would never do that again!! I am ready to wait weeks more if need be, but I do not think I will have to. I feel birth is imminent. Wow, my Hannah, the one I birthed in the tub with hubby looking on, she turns 2 tomorrow. What if this baby comes on her birthday? That would be something…I will never forget feeling her head still inside of me. I had never experienced that before and it was so gratifying. To be the first person to touch her, to hold her precious head in my hand before she had a chance to slide out of my body. To lift her to me, and cradle her, not knowing the sex, not caring. To be the first person to rub her back, kiss her face…hubby looked on, but never interfered, never asked to hold her, never took that precious moment from me. It was mine and it was so healing, so beautiful and so perfect.
I am in love with the baby in my womb and after all we have been through together, I cannot wait to experience birth again. I cannot wait to count his/her fingers and toes…I cannot wait to see who he/she looks like. Two of my three children look just like their daddy…will this one look like me?? Will this one have hair, as the others have had, or will it be blond instead of black?? I cannot wait, but I can. I must and I will…nothing is worth impatience now. If I was impatient and then something happened to impede the birth or I ended up in the hospital, instead of at home, or if baby was sick or placenta had ruptured, if any of those things happened, would it be worth the impatience I felt for it to happen?? NO!! I will be calm… I will stay patient, loving, ready, happy…I will not let anything negative come from this birth. I will not say one time “When will baby come?…I wish baby was here…Why won’t baby come out??…I am tired and want it over with…” I will not say those things, I will not think those things. I will cherish every movement, for it’s one that could be absent. I will cherish every hiccup that usually drives one mad…I will cherish every strong kick that takes my breath and every time that foot or butt rides under my ribs, making me unable to breathe, I will cherish it, smile, caress it and say “Go on, stretch out…” Thank God that baby is there to stretch, thank GOD that baby moves, thank God you have a few more precious days where baby is safe…so safe, in your womb!!
And when the big day comes, celebrate. Let no-one take it from you. Let it lift and carry you and revel in its beauty. Ban visitors, who squeal loudly and stay too long. Ban those who take baby from your safe arms and touch too quickly, talk too much, take too many photos…Make them see it’s not about them…you are not angry with them…it’s a moment gone too soon, it’s a healing ****HEALING****moment that can NEVER be replaced. Surely they must understand that, and if not, who cares??
All that matters is that baby, you, your husband, your children. Everyone else is invisible. Cherish your moment. YOU DID IT!! You made it. You brought forth life. You created it, then you and your husband brought forth…In all this chaos, in all my uncertainty, fear, frustration, anger, sadness, confusion…the one thing I kept repeating over and over and over in my mind and that helped me more than anything is the bible verse, where the Lord is speaking and says…” Would I bring you to the moment of delivery and not deliver? Would I bring you this far and close up thy womb??” Remember that ladies…God is with you. Whoever your God may be…feel safe in the fact that birth is perfect. It needs no interference…it needs no help. It will happen exactly the way it is meant to. Your mind is very powerful, let it not have negative thoughts. Banish those and concentrate on beauty, the beauty of birth…let no-one take your power. YOU are the expert…you know your body better than anyone. Your baby WILL talk to you, if you listen. And God will be beside you all the way…. Brightest blessings…
P.S. Thank you Lord for a supportive husband. If he had panicked, I couldn’t have been strong. If he wasn’t supportive, I wouldn’t hold on…I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a strong marriage partner. I feel for women whose husbands are close-minded to unassisted or homebirth….
Gabi was born the next day…My water had broken at 7:30 pm that night. I had gone to my mom and dad’s house to visit them for a bit, but they weren’t home, they were at a neighbor’s, so I drove over there (mom lives about 2 min. away from me). I visited with our friends and I was feeling VERY uncomfortable, so mom and dad and me left within a few minutes. Thank goodness we left when we did! As soon as we got back to mom and dad’s house, I sat down and felt a gurgling between my legs. I had been having this for several days (I think now that my water was leaking, but at the time, I just thought it was watery discharge).
I went to the bathroom to change my mini pad. I did and when I stood, ALOT more came out. I let out a shocked cry…mom and dad came rushing…”What’s wrong??!!” HA! I said, “Oh, I think I must be leaking water…could you get me a maxi pad? This mini pad isn’t enough…” So mom brought me one, shooing dad away, who was standing in the bathroom door, trying to look inside…(what did he think he’d see? a head coming out!?? HA!)
I put it on and went back into the living room…dad asked if I was spending the night with them…he is funny like that…I said “No, dad…” As soon as I said that, I felt a HUGE gush between my legs…very different from the trickling before…I stood up “OH, OHHH, I have to go home NOW!” This was a totally new experience for me, my waters have NEVER broken before labor, and never even during labor, but always RIGHT before the head pops out…I was a bit nervous, but also excited and laughing…I couldn’t believe it was happening and happening so differently than I expected! I went to get my jacket, but it was too late, water started pouring out of me, tons of it, and my pants were instantly soaked and a big puddle formed on the floor of my mom’s kitchen. Dad drove my van home and mom put towels down on her car seat so I wouldn’t get it wet. I guess the head had pretty much sealed off the opening, because by the time we got to my house, I had quit gushing…
I walked in the door and said “My water broke!” My husband had just gotten Hannah, our youngest daughter, to sleep. “Oh, really!?,” he said…shocked. I went into the bedroom, took off my pants and panties. I put on a long t-shirt and started laying down my plastic sheets and laying blankets and old sheets on top of them. The bed was covered, the floor was covered. I made a drip-way to the bathroom using newspaper. I stood on this covering and water kept leaking out of me, like I was peeing. My husband came into the room and stood in the doorway, talking loudly to my mom, who was nervous/excited and being WAY annoying! I said “Ok, BYE MOM!!”…loudly…she got the hint. “Ok, call me if you need me…”
~~ NOTE: I sat on the bed at this time, and noticed my stomach was very small, whereas a few hours ago it had been absolutely huge (see photo at top) I could put my hand flat all the way to my belly button. All of the baby was *below* my belly button, and it startled me…all this time, we had thought I would have a big baby, a 9 or 10 lb. baby, but most of my stomach had been amniotic fluid. I believe had I had prenatal care, there would’ve been MUCH intervention. I also believe this is why I bled the following week, due to the weight of the waters on my ripening cervix…I am very glad I had an unassisted pregnancy and birth, or the outcome may have been severely altered…~~
There were no contractions, and after the events of the following week, I knew I had no idea what to expect. It was all so different and so new for me. I lay on the bed finally and hubby was in the living room. I told him I would call him if I needed him. I lay there for two hours…they seemed to drag by as I searched for a sign of any pains…there were none. I had heard of women walking around for days with broken waters. I prayed that I wouldn’t be one of them. I called mom and told her to go on to sleep, nothing was happening…The bed was icy…the more the water leaked, the more I froze, for within a few minutes, the warmth of the water turned cold. It was terrible, but I had to laugh about it… I didn’t want to ruin a bunch of towels, sheets and blankets, so I balled up under one small recieving blanket and stuck a towel between my legs, hoping to catch the drips. I felt it gush on and off most of the night. I couldn’t sleep, too anxious for “it” to start, too nervous, wondering…confused…why wasn’t it starting??
I was so tired. I finally started to doze around midnight. At 1 am, I was awakened by something, just a feeling, not a contraction, just a feeling deep inside that told me it was time. I got up, feeling rather icky, decided to take a shower. In the shower, that feeling grew stronger, I KNEW this was it, but still, no contractions…I swayed against the shower wall, letting the hot water pour down my lower back. I washed up a bit and got out. I went to the hall to turn up the heat, I was freezing! I also woke up hubby, who was on the futon asleep…I said, “It’s time…” I went back into the bedroom and propped up on some pillows. The pains started coming and they felt as though they were splitting me in half. I arched my body with them, and moaned. I was joking between these contractions, which were coming about every 5 min. but they were only lasting about 20 seconds, which I thought odd…again, something new. Hubby said “Oh, we could be here for HOURS!!” I said, “I know, this is very different…” and I would sing songs, act silly, arch and moan, yell, then act silly again. I was in a great frame of mind. I was not afraid at all and so happy “it” had finally started.
I did feel strange making so much noise. I had wanted a silent birth…Hannah’s birth was much less painful and I never vocalized very much. I thought this time I could do the same, but it was totally impossible. I *HAD* to make noise…it was my only release, my way of dealing with all that intense pain…After about 45 min. of this, I started to get really uncomfortable. I tried turning around, leaning over pillows, with my rear in the air, as I had with Hannah, but it was awful. I tried getting up, threw some pictures off the dresser and leaned on it, but that didn’t help. I tried leaning against hubby, and he rubbed my back, but it didn’t help…no matter what I tried, the pain grew stronger and stronger, feeling as though it was ripping through me. I finally just stood and told hubby ” Let’s try some labor music…” This was something I had never tried before, but we talked about it before the birth and decided it might be a good idea, since I love music so much and it has a way of transporting you out of the moment. He put in ENYA~ “Only Time” and it was PERFECT!!
Just then, my youngest daughter Hannah woke up. He went into the living room to rock her. The pain was pretty much constant by now and I swayed gently to the music. I closed my eyes and smiled. It was so soothing, took away my pain, transported me to another dimension…I felt so connected to my body, my baby and this moment. It was surreal…I never wanted it to end. Hubby came back into the room and was trying to get the CD to play the same song over and over, but couldn’t get it to do what he wanted…I felt a very distinct movement inside, the head just moved LOWER, and it felt about to pop out. I said “Water…NOW!!” So, hubby ran a tub of water. We have a very small hot water heater and our tub faucets run out of hot water quickly. I got in the tub and told hubby to go boil 2 big pots of water…so he left to do this.
Again, as with Hannah, the moment I got into the water, the pain was gone. I had several minutes to re-group…it was exactly what I needed. I sat there, dumping water over myself…hubby came to me and I said “It’s taking too long, I need hot water now…” He said it was close to boiling…I said “Turn it up full blast…so what if it boils over!” By this time, it was hurting again, too much to sit, so I got into a hands and knees position. Hubby came back and then left to get the water… he dumped it in…Ahhhh…just perfect! I told him so…he put the pans up and I said then “Don’t leave me again…” I knew it was time. He said ok, and sat by the tub. I started to feel the pushing urge. I pushed a bit…Oh, God, it was sooooo painful. I had never felt anything like it with the other births, and I suppose it was due to the waters being broken for 8 hours…It was very intense…I was sobbing (no tears, just the noises…) My knees were hurting, so I asked hubby to get me a towel to put under them. This helped tremendously.
My body finally started to push her out and I was yelling loudly. I would yell and then it would be very quiet, as my body rested…I could hear the music in the background and it kept me centered. I knew I was in labor and that I was fine…not dying, like it felt! I felt every single inch of her being born…it was incredibly painful and it seemed like it took forever. I just let my body push her out, no extra effort from me. Hubby got between my legs, coaxing me along…telling me what was happening…”Ok, here comes the head…” “You’re doing great…” And when her head started to crown, I whispered “Ring of fire” which I hadn’t felt with Hannah, she had emerged so quickly…I just breathed shallow through it all, my body was just a vessel for my baby in which to enter the world…I felt my perineum stretch so tight and I said “I’m ripping…” Hubby assured me I wasn’t…It stretched over her forehead to her eyes, where it stopped for a good while. Then, finally, slowly, past her eyes, to her nose, then slowly past her nose to her chin, where she stayed for a moment. Hubby was holding her head…then time for her shoulders. It was excruciating…I said “Don’t pull, DON’T PULL”…It felt like he was reaching inside of me and turning the baby and ripping her out. He reassured me he wasn’t touching me or her…just cupping her head…then, I felt her wiggle, her body turned, her shoulders came out, then she kicked strongly, her legs came out and then her feet, inch by inch, torturous, but so awesome!!
I was glad when it was over!! Hubby let her slip a bit, as he couldn’t get a good grasp on her and whoosh!…under the water she went. She gulped in the bath water…”Ohhhh…” He was very upset at himself. I said “It’s ok, give me the baby…” I was so calm. I told him to get the bulb syringe. The baby was blue and not breathing, but I knew she would be fine as long as she was attached to her cord, which was pumping strongly. I suctioned the baby a bit, and then we checked to see the sex. It’s a girl!! ANOTHER girl!! I couldn’t believe it. All this time, we just *KNEW* she was a boy. We knew it!! We thought so mostly because of my stomach, how big it was and how I was carrying…I carried my son much the same way. We sat in the tub for a minute. I told hubby to go wake the kids, as they wanted to be the ones to cut her cord. They came running excitedly…Sam said “This is good…” I said “It’s not a baby brother…” He said “That’s ok…”
I sat in the tub a good while. We looked at the baby, I dumped water over her. I was in alot of pain, so I decided we cut the cord now so I could get out and get the placenta delivered. It was still pulsing a bit, but not strong and it was turning limp and white. I felt really bad about cutting it, I had wanted to wait a long time. Hubby got the shoelace I had embroidered and we tied it off. The cord was fairly short and the kids could barely reach to cut…so hubby helped them. I couldn’t look.
So hubby gets her out, bundles her in towels. He lays her on our homemade baby bunk (that lays next to our bed) and the kids look at her, kiss her and talk to her.
Hubby comes into the bathroom, where I am leaning over the side of the tub, waiting on the placenta. It doesn’t seem to want to come yet. I decide to get out. I squat over the ceramic bowl, and try to push…nothing. The baby acts hungry, chewing her hands and fussing, so I nurse her and this does the trick. When I am done, I hand her to hubby and once again squat over the bowl…I feel right inside of me and it’s there, at the opening, so I push and push again, and it plops out. I look at it to see if there is anything wrong with it (due to the bleeding I had experienced…) but it seems perfect and has no missing pieces or scars…we take several pics of it.
We store the placenta in the fridge and then the freezer later. I was going to take a blood sample from the cord, but decided not to. I get up after a moment, and I am trembling and feel very weak. I take a shower and once out of the shower, I lay on the bed to nurse the baby again.
We weigh the baby…We take some photos…Hubby cleans up the mess and takes the children into the living room to eat breakfast. I have been up at this point for 24 hours. I eat a bit later, and that really makes me feel better. Hannah awakens. It’s her second birthday. She was born about an hour after the baby was, on this same day, 2 years ago…the baby is her birthday present and she is in love! I also went into labor with Hannah at 1 am, as with this baby. It’s strange. I never thought it would happen so closely together.
I had no tears, no skid marks even…I didn’t even feel I had given birth.
Now, one week after her birth, I am back to normal, over the engorgement, over the mastitis, my belly is almost flat, I have already lost 20 lbs. I jump on the trampoline with my kids…my bleeding has about stopped. Babies cord fell off on day 5. It had gotten really stinky and I was worried…but we heard to put goldenseal powder on the stump, so we did and it fell off that same day. I recommend doing this…it is something I never knew before, but wish I had.
I am so happy and so in love and this is how it’s meant to be….
Gabrielle Josephine Brotherton (what a mouthful, but so pretty!) *we call her Gabi Jo* born at 3:36am on Tues. morning, March 26th, 2002 weighing 7 lbs. 14 oz. and 19 inches long