Community Birth Story: Clara

Community Birth Story: Clara

As told by Mary:

I conceived Clara between a LEEP procedure to remove pre-cancerous cells, and the follow up from the procedure. I had been told to not get pregnant for 3 months so my cervix could heal properly. God had other plans! The Monday before Mother’s Day 2014, is when I took a home test. I hadn’t felt ill or anything, just had a feeling to take a test. Lo and behold, positive. I took another one when I got home from work to be sure. It was positive again. A wave of emotions came over me. I walked down the stairs to tell my husband but I just couldn’t find the words. When he asked why I was being so weird, I threw the test at him.  So romantic.

We went to the midwife to confirm the pregnancy 6 weeks later. It felt like forever. Hearing her little heart beat for the first time was the most magical experience of my life. Pregnancy was wonderful and terrifying. I had morning sickness, a car accident at 30 weeks, was high risk for miscarriage because of my LEEP, insane heartburn, and hospitalized with chest pains at 38 weeks. I was so anxious something was going to go wrong and overly cautious about everything I did. However, the LEEP was a blessing in disguise. Because I needed my cervix checked more regularly than a “normal” pregnancy, I had many more sonograms than a “normal” woman would. I got to see her grow and develop on the black and white screen every few weeks. It was amazing.

My Friday due date came and went. The most eventful thing that happened that day was a pedicure. My midwife had swept my membranes the day before and beside a little cramping, nothing. I was planning to work up until baby decided to come and was working 10 hour days at 40 weeks. My blood pressure had risen (I had normal BP throughout pregnancy), and my midwife said my body was telling me to slow down and I needed to stop working. We set a plan to induce at 41 weeks and 3 days. I was bummed, I really didn’t want to be induced medically. I had planned a natural birth; and while I know things always don’t go to plan, I was disappointed in my body. This is my first pregnancy so I didn’t know what my body would do. The next week I spent nesting thinking, today could be the day! The Thursday after my due date (40 + 6), I went for another appointment. She swept my membranes again and I expressed my desire to not be induced. She suggested to drink some red raspberry leaf tea. I had two cups that evening.

Kissed my husband goodnight that night and went to bed. I had cramping since I left the midwife’s office but I didn’t think much of it because I had false labor the weekend before. I didn’t sleep well as the cramping got stronger and more consistent. My husband woke at 4:30am to go to work. He kissed me goodbye and left by 5am. I didn’t mention the cramps because I didn’t want him to stay home for a false alarm. I stayed in bed, and by 6am, decided they were strong and consistent enough that I should start timing them. I timed for an hour and called my midwife at 7am. She suggested to keep timing (they weren’t close enough yet) and through our conversation she realized I was home alone. She said it sounds like labor and I shouldn’t be alone. I called my husband to come back home (he works an hour and a half away) and called my mom to come up. We live almost an hour from close family and friends. While we know our neighbors a little, I didn’t feel comfortable asking any of them to come over. Usually, we just pass a friendly wave, nothing more. I knew if I had an emergency they would help but I decided to labor alone until my mom and husband came. Laboring alone was wonderful and scary. Our dog lay with me on the bed and stayed calm (which is surprising, he is usually a spaz). We have a yoga ball, so I changed positions on that and the bed every 30 minutes or so. I had my phone and kept relaxation music and YouTube birthing videos running as I took each wave of contraction with breathing I learned from a doula. I focused totally on the labor remembering that each contraction brought me closer to finally meeting my baby. My mom arrived to the house around 9:00 am and my husband around 9:30 am. I was proud of myself for laboring alone and was ready to meet this baby. I had trouble timing my contractions alone as they got stronger because I had to focus on riding the pain out instead of the distracting timer on my phone.  I had given up timing them until my mom arrived. She helped me time them and we called my midwife as they were about 3-4 minutes apart. She said to head to the hospital.

I wanted to shower and my husband had to pack his bag. The shower felt so wonderful with the contractions. I was in a little of a daze but I just had to blow dry my bangs. Both my mom and my husband said I was nuts.  Whatever, we all have our thing right? My water broke as I was getting dressed out of the shower. No gush that you see in the movies, just all the sudden I was leaking everywhere. We got to the hospital and checked in around 11am. I could not relax at the hospital. While everyone was great, it just wasn’t home. All the noise, people coming in and out of the room, machines, were all very distracting. I couldn’t focus and the pain was rising. I couldn’t figure out my breathing. I decided to ask for an epidural. My midwife encouraged me to labor longer without it until I was 3cm dilated. She kept up the encouragement, soothing and calming me. She was so wonderful.  My mom and husband stayed in the room and continued to help me through my labor too. I continued to remind myself that every contraction brought me closer to Clara and my body knew what to do. At 1:00 pm they said I was ready for the epidural. The epidural didn’t take until 2:30pm. We had to wait for the doctor, then had trouble getting it done because I had such good posture, she couldn’t find the right spot in my spine. Also, it was so hard to sit curled over while the contractions came. It felt like the whole thing took all day. Once the epidural took, I laid down and was finally able to relax. Music continued to play and I was able to close my eyes. My epidural was one where you can control the medicine, so I was able to still feel the contractions, which is what I wanted. I continued to dilate quickly now that I was able to relax.

Soon, I felt the need to push. My mom gave me oxygen, while my husband and the nurse helped to hold my legs. Clara had dropped and was ready. I pushed for 45 minutes, it felt like it was only 10 or 15 minutes. My midwife offered me a mirror but I denied it. I regret that now. But, I did feel Clara’s head as she started to come through. 2 hard pushes and she was out at 4:30pm! I never felt so powerful or full of love in my life. My midwife gave her to me immediately. She was perfect. I couldn’t believe I just pushed this little human out of me. She looked up at me with her beautiful eyes and it was love. She did pass meconium on me but I didn’t even care. We did skin to skin for a bit and let the cord pulse. Once it was done, my mom cut the cord. They took her and cleaned her and me. She was 8lbs 13oz and 20 inches of perfection. My husband held her as they continued to clean me up after I passed the placenta. I only tore a 2 degree. I was amazed how quickly she came and how my body knew exactly what to do. I later found out the cord was around her neck once and her body once. Thankfully, my skilled midwife knew exactly what to do and it was a non-issue. Clara’s APGAR scores were 8 then 9. I also had a tear in the upper part of my placenta, which if she hadn’t come out when she did would have meant more problems and probably medical intervention. I was again amazed how beautifully and non-dramatic everything went.  My husband said it was so much calmer than he expected (you know all that screaming you hear on TV).  She latched right on to feed and nursing has gone wonderfully for us. We spent the next hour alone with her as a family to bond.  She is now 6 weeks old and we are so enchanted with her. My birth was powerful, awesome and beautiful.


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