Ashley's Birth of Zoelle
Birth Story of Zoelle Olive Shannon born November 23, 2010
And I apologize for any typos or anything like that ... it's so hard to find time to do this!!! I will slowly make changes for any mistakes in due time!!!
On November 15th, I had my weekly midwife appointment. As always, everything was going really good. I really didn't have any major concerns. I had ordered my birth kit two days prior to that and was starting to get stuff together for the birth. For anyone who knows me, I am a huge procrastinator. I had such a busy couple of weeks prior to that - with my baby shower and Liam's birthday party. I was really happy to get those two things out of the way though so I could really sit down and concentrate on the upcoming birth.
That same night (November 15th), I started having contractions. They didn't really bother me but they were definitely regular. They were coming almost exactly at 5 minutes apart, lasting about 60 seconds each. I went all night with them like this so the following morning I called my midwife after I dropped off the boys at school. I felt kind of dumb for not knowing if it was real or not so I really debated on whether to call her or not. I caved in and called. I told her not to hurry or rush - just to come over whenever she was done with her one of her appointments. I called my friend Becky and she came over even though I kept insisting that she did not need to come. I ended up dropping Kris off at work that morning as well and told him to keep his phone handy just in case. I was slightly worried about it being "real" labor because I was only 37 weeks .. and while I was considered full term, it was early for me. After dropping off Kris, I stopped by Walmart to pick up stuff for the birth. I was worried because I did not have ANYTHING for the birth (remember, I just ordered my birth kit).
Becky got to my house shortly after I got home from Walmart and we just sat around and chatted until my midwife got to my house. We went back into my bedroom, I stripped down and she did a cervical check. Surprise! Not labor, I was only 1cm dilated. I was stumped! She suggested that I go to the chiropractor ASAP to see if I was out of alignment and maybe that was triggering the contractions.
The following morning I met my midwife at the chiropractors office. The amazing chiropractor, Darci Stotts, did a Pro Adjuster adjustment as well as Quantum neurology. The Pro Adjuster was used to keep the spine and pelvis in alignment and Quantum Neurology was used to correct and rehab nerves that weren't functioning. Since baby girl was posterior, I was in a lot of pain if I did "too" much. There were times that I could barely walk or I would just limp around. This was the first pregnancy that I had a ton of back pain in. Darci got me all into alignment and told me to come back the following morning. I went home and was still having contractions every 5 minutes.
The next morning I woke up to absolutely NO contractions. They stopped during the night. I went back to the chiropractors office and they did the same thing to me. I told her that the night before my back was in extreme pain and I got "locked" up in a position after bending over. Once again, I was all out of alignment. She fixed me up and out the door I went.
Friday November 19th, I went out shopping with my mom. We went to Target and the mall - then to my friend's house to visit her new baby. I noticed while at my friend's house that I was starting to have contractions again. I tried not to think about them, considering everything I read online said that posterior babies were bad about triggering contractions for weeks on end to aide them in turning.
On Sunday November 21, I went to my belly casting appointment.
I was still having contractions about every 5 minutes but .. I just ignored them. I had a BLAST at my belly casting appointment. The actual casting was really quick. My midwife met me there since she had never seen a belly casting done before. After we were done with the cast, I got dressed and we decided to try a "Diaphragmatic Release" technique. You can read about it here:
Pam (the lady doing my belly cast) raised up her massage table and I hopped on. My midwife started doing the technique until she no longer felt any movement. During the whole thing, my contractions stopped for the most part. I stopped at Walmart on the way home from my appointment so I could buy a pumpkin pie since I was craving it. ;) That night, my belly started itching REALLY bad. I had a rash all over my belly and boobs. I assumed it was from the belly casting, even though we coated my skin in olive oil. It didn't really surprise me though since my entire pregnancy had been so WEIRD. I got many, many rashes. I took two benadryl that night and went to sleep.
Monday, November 22, I had another midwife appointment. Everything was still going really well. Baby girl was still posterior but during the appointment we did the "diaphragmatic release" again. I was starting to have contractions again but as always, blew them off.
That night, after dinner, I noticed that the contractions were more noticeable and slightly different from the ones I had been having. I also noticed that I was WAY more irritable. I just could not wait for the boys to GO TO BED! To take my mind off the contractions, I sat on my birth ball at the dining room table and wrote out thank you notes for my baby shower. Once I was finished with that and the boys were sleeping, I went in to take a bath. I was so tired and just wanting to relax. I did not get any sleep the night before because of my rash so I desperately wanted to sleep that night. I was getting so frustrated with the contractions and lack of sleep. The bath did absolutely nothing to help me relax or take the contractions away. My belly and boobs were on fire from the rash. I felt completely annoyed and took two benadryl hoping to fall asleep fast. As soon as I got in bed, the contractions were more intense and it was very uncomfortable to lay down. I grabbed the laptop and put it next to me in bed and started to time the contractions. They were coming about every 7-10 minutes and lasting about 45 seconds, give or take. I texted Kris to let him know so that he would come home right away after work (11pm). Sometimes he stops at Walmart and I didn't want him to make any pit stops. He came home and I let him know that it might be the real thing but that he needed to REST and get some sleep. I promised to wake him up if I needed him. I got absolutely no sleep that night. I remembered the advice that my midwife gave me - "REST REST REST". While I obviously couldn't sleep, I did stay in bed the entire night watching tv and timing contractions every so often. The only time I got out of bed was to pee and honestly, I probably did that about 20 times! Around 3am, I noticed they were picking up in strength and frequency - coming about every 4-6 minutes and lasting over a minute. I debated on whether to call my midwife then or wait. I totally did NOT want her to drive all the way over in the middle of the night for another false alarm. I put it off until about 5am when I texted her telling her what was going on and if there was anything I could do to see if it was real or not. She called me immediately and asked me some questions. She told me she was going to grab a shower, load up her van, and head on over. She did say that since I was calling her at 5 am that I was most likely in labor!
(It's now Tuesday, November 23, 2010)
After I got off the phone with her, I started to mentally prepare myself for "labor". Labor is hard work and I wanted to be prepared mentally, emotionally, and physically. I did a quick "clean up" in my house, picking up misc. crap off the floor. I woke up Kris to let him know that Kelly (my midwife) was heading over. My contractions were pretty noticeable and I couldn't really talk while having one, but they were pretty mild. My midwife got to my house a little after 6am. She brought her daughter over to assist, just in case I was in labor so she would have someone to help assist. We tip-toed back to my bedroom where I got undressed and ready for a cervical check. To my surprise, I was 5cm dilated ... so woohoo! It was the REAL thing and I was already "half" way there!!! Baby girl's heart-rate was also really strong so I knew she was tolerating labor well.
I immediately called my mom to see if she could watch the boys or take them to school and pick them up later. They were having an early release that day so I was debating on whether to send them to school or not. Luckily, my mom was able to take off of work and she said she would be over to pick them up soon. I ended up waking up Pace and getting him ready. I made him some breakfast and let him know that I would be having the baby very soon and he would be heading over to Grandma's house. He was slightly upset about missing school (only because they were going to be watching The Charlie Brown Thanksgiving movie) but it didn't seem worth the trouble of sending them if they got out early. I woke up Kris to let him know I was in labor but to continue resting for a little bit longer. I didn't really need him yet and considering he had worked the night before, he needed the rest. He doesn't function as well as I do on little sleep! :)
My mom came over and we got the boys ready. I kind of wanted them here to see their baby sister born but the timing just didn't work out. Had she came in the middle of then night, they probably would have stayed. I was super grateful that my mom was able to come over and watch them though - one of the positives about only living a block away from her! I was starting to get really excited - knowing that REALLY soon I would be meeting my baby. I texted my friend Becky to let her know it was not a false alarm and to head over as soon as she could - but not to rush. She texted back asking if she had time to stop at Starbucks and if I wanted anything! ;) I WANTED something but knew that coffee probably would not sit well in my belly during labor.
At 7:01am, I did my first hibiclens rinse since I was group b strep positive. I have never dealt with group b strep before in my previous pregnancies so this was new to me. I'm pretty thankful that I was not in the hospital setting for this part of it. It was an easy rinse that I squirt in and around my vagina. It is used in Europe but not in the states because almost every labor involves an IV.
Sometime during all the chaos of getting the boys ready, Kris got up. He helped put the carseats in my moms van and I told him to crank up the water heater as high as it would go to get ready for filling up the birth tub. During all of this, my midwife was setting up all of her stuff throughout the house. She had a LOT of stuff, more than what I thought she would! She also put up the birth tub and got it inflated. She got in touch with Pam (the lady who did my belly cast) and let her know I was in labor. Pam was going to take birth photos for me so I wouldn't have to worry about it, or Kris. I should mention that Pam is a massage therapist and a birth doula, but she was only at my birth to take photos for me! My midwife also got in touch with the chiropractor to let her know I was in labor. Darci (the chiro) wanted to attend a home birth and had asked me if it would be okay. Of course! I wanted people to see that birth at home IS normal.
At 8:15am, I took some pulsatilla and kali carbonicum. They are just itty bitty pills (herbal stuff) that you put under your tongue that dissolve. Once those were in my system, I got on my bed into the banana position. This position is very uncomfortable for both mom and baby. We were hoping that the baby would turn the right way and we had been trying this position for several weeks. Basically, I sit on a big stack of pillows on my bed and lean over. My legs dangle off the side of the bed (and basically go numb, hah!). This puts pressure on my lower back and on baby's head. We checked her heart rate in this position and she was tolerating it well. I didn't mind this position before labor hit (the weeks prior) but it wasn't the most pleasant while having contractions every 4 to 6 minutes.
After that position, I moved into the living room to just sit and squat. I visited and chatted with everyone, only pausing during my contractions. I couldn't talk through them anymore but I was still in a pretty good mood. The contractions were most intense in my lower back and I almost always needed pressure on my lower back. My midwife would apply some pressure there or my friend Becky would. At 9:50am, I took some more pulsatilla and kali carbonicum and got into the knees-chest position. This position is a bit more tolerable than the banana. I have my chest/face flat on the floor while on my knees.
Ten minutes before 10am, I went into the kitchen for a snack. I picked applesauce and cheese. I stood in there munching and making light conversation with everyone. As soon as I finished my little snack, the contractions got more intense. I was no longer in a chatting mood. They seemed to be coming more frequently. I started to tense up more and shake. Then the tears started to come. I'm not sure why I was crying. I know it wasn't from the pain. I think it was more about me knowing that I would be having my sweet baby really soon. I knew I was entering transition but I think I was in denial about me hitting it so soon! We timed some of the contractions and they were coming every 2-3 minutes lasting about 75-80 seconds each. I remember that some of them would double peak at times. My midwife got some pillows for me to rest my head on while in the kitchen as well as a birth ball to sit on. She warmed up the rice sock to put on my lower back for warmth. I was surrounded by amazing people who always knew what to do. Kris would hold my hand as Becky massaged my shoulders while my midwife would apply pressure to my lower back. I felt like a princess with all of this amazing support. I was feeling pressure at this time as well. My midwife made a comment that she knew I was in transition but I still wanted a cervical check just to make sure!
At 11:07am, we did a cervical check and I was 9cms and 90% effaced. Baby was still really high at -3 station. I could not believe that I was almost fully dilated and still walking around. I kept waiting for the "pain" to get so bad. It really is amazing how a woman's body works. If you trust in the process and believe in yourself, you can do it! After she checked me, I asked if I needed to get in the water and she said sure. Kris started to fill it up. My midwife mentioned pushing on my lower belly above my pubic bone with each contraction to help get baby's head down. Our water heater couldn't quite fill it up so Kris was having to boil water to dump into it. It felt really, really nice to be in the water. It was super relaxing and while I still felt the contractions, I just felt more relaxed. I didn't tense up as much while in the water. I did a variety of different positions in the water - sometimes I would squat on my knees or rest my head on the side of the pool. I still needed the counterpressure on my back with each contraction so everyone took turns in helping me out with that. I remember just waiting around for the urge to push. Considering I was so close, I knew I would get that urge soon. It never came though. I had pressure, but no urge to push. Baby was just way up high and not descending, which isn't uncommon for posterior babies.
After spending over an hour in the water, I got out to see what the heck was going. Her head was just not coming down and my bag of water was bulging. That was the pressure I was feeling - my bag of water was bulging. I could just feel how swollen I was getting just by the bag of water bulging. I did NOT want my bag of water broken ( hello, interventions!). And honestly, I wanted my baby to be born in the caul, if possible! I was terrified of my water breaking because I knew that cushion would be gone and it would be way more intense. My midwife suggested that I use the birth ball a little bit. I would sit on it for a while and then I hopped off of it and rested my head on it. At 1:12 pm, we moved back to my bedroom. I felt the need to have a bowel movement so I sat on the toilet for a while. I just knew I had to go but barely anything would come out. I wanted it out so bad because I knew once the pushing stage came, it would come pouring out! Since I was on the toilet, we did my second hibiclens rinse.
Once I was done on the toilet, we did some positions on the bed. We did the knee/chest position as well as the banana. Both of which were pretty uncomfortable since I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes. I remember saying, "ow ow ow" through some of the contractions but my midwife reminded me that "ow" is a negative word. She suggested that I make low tones through them instead of "ow". At 2:25pm, we moved into the living room again to do some standing supported squats. I had Becky and Pam hold my arms on each side with on of my legs propped up on the ottoman. With each contractions I would squat. We were hopping she would turn and descend. It was very exhausting and trying but I continued to keep my faith in the process. I had to remind myself over and over that babies come when they are ready. Babies do things on their own schedule, not ours.
A little after 3pm, we did another cervical check. I was still 9cms but 100% effaced now. Baby was at a +1 station now but still not engaged. The midwife tried to turn her head but didn't have much luck. We discussed breaking my water but we were both hesitant in that. She thought something was blocking the baby's head and maybe that was why she was not engaged. I knew it wasn't my placenta since my earlier ultrasounds didn't show that. Maybe it was cord? With each contraction, more and more water would come down so my water sack continue to fill up under her head. We went back out to the living room to continue doing different things to encourage her to turn and/or descend. We did some more standing supported squats as well as some make-shift Rebozo techniques. I am quite positive everyone at my birth got an eye full of my lady bits during all of this, hah!
I remember with each contraction I was leaking some sort of mysterious fluid. We thought we might have a small leak of amniotic fluid but it turns out that it was just pee! My midwife sent out an email to everyone she knew to try and get some advice on what was going on. I knew everyone was getting anxious at this point. I was getting very tired since I had not slept in two days. The only thing that kept me going was baby girl. She was doing so fantastic. Her heart rate was always loud and strong. She was not in any kind of distress but then again, why would she be? I was not having any sort of drug pumped inside of me. I was in a comfortable environment as well. We continued doing various things - some of them were quite crazy and uncomfortable. A little after 4pm, we decided to just rest. Kris made me some chicken noodle soup while every one else had some sonic. I remember how hard it was to eat, I just didn't WANT to eat. I took about ten bites total just to have some energy. I never had a problem drinking during labor but eating was kind of hard at this point in labor. I was so very sleepy too. I just wanted to sleep. Kelly told me to go into the bedroom and lay down to rest. I went back there with Becky. It was very uncomfortable to be in a side-lying position. I tried to rest but it was really hard. At this point, I didn't know what to think. I didn't want to go to the hospital but I wondered how long we could go on like this. I've read enough online to know that a lot of home birth moms get hospital transported just because of maternal exhaustion. I didn't want to be that mom. I wanted a home birth so bad, I had invested so much in this. I silently prayed through each contraction for something to happen. I talked to my sweet girl, heart to heart (in my head, not out loud), for her to turn and come out to meet us. I eventually looked at Becky and asked her if she thought I could get back in the birth tub. I wanted to be relaxed again. She said she didn't see why I couldn't.
When I walked back into the living room to ask if I could get in the water, my midwife said that Darci (the chiropractor) was going to try a few things on me to see if it helped. It was now 5:35pm in the evening. She had me lay on the couch and she adjusted my pelvis and SI joint. I heard a pop a time or two so that was a good thing. Having a pelvis in alignment is crucial for a natural delivery since that is the path for the baby. After she did her magic, I got back in the water at 5:40 pm. We checked baby girls heart rate again and it was 140. Kris was on my right side, in the kitchen door way. I could just see and sense his frustration. All I could do was pray, pray, pray. I looked at everyone else. Everyone was so quiet and I knew everyone was getting anxious. Everyone was stumped. I kept thinking that maybe I needed to just go to the hospital. I told myself I would give it just a little bit longer before even bringing that up. At 5:55pm my water broke, exactly 20 minutes after my chiropractic adjustment. It wasn't just a little gush, it was HUGE. I will never, ever forget what that felt like! I think my face expression says it all:
I told Kris that it literally shot across the length of the pool. I yelled, OMG, my water just broke and let everyone know that I was in some SERIOUS pain. I don't know if it was PAIN but I was definitely having the urge to push. Her head was definitely engaged now, I just knew it. My midwife jumped up and grabbed the doppler to check baby. We were worried about cord being below her head but no cord came out so that's a good thing. After waiting HOURS AND HOURS for the urge to push, I suddenly had the urge to push. I wasn't sure what position the baby was in but I had done some reading on women birthing posterior babies and how sitting upright (but leaned back) really helps with the pain of delivering so I tried pushing like that. I started to push at 5:58pm. It was very, very painful. I know I screamed a few times and lost control of my breathing. I remember Pam telling me slow down my breathing. Everyone was cheering me on. I don't remember much of what they were saying but I know it was all encouraging. Poor Becky had stepped outside right before my water broke to make a phone call so when she walked back in, she was wondering what all happened! My midwife told me to get on all fours and start pushing. I did as she said and just pushed as much as I could. It hurt. All I could do was scream as I pushed. I knew that I was having some bowel movements but I just did not care. I remember my midwife asking me to reach and touch her head but I said NO. I just physically could not get my hand down there to touch. I just wanted her out! I envy those women who can push silently and quietly, I just couldn't. At 6:06pm, we had a full crown and at 6:07pm, baby girl Zoelle Olive Shannon Martin was born!
She was kind of blue/purple, but I remember her trying to open up her eyes. She was absolutely gorgeous. My midwife was checking her heart rate and what not. At 6:10pm, her heart rate was at 140 but she was still not breathing yet. I wasn't concerned AT ALL because she was still attached to the placenta. Three minutes later, the midwife did some mouth to mouth to her to get her lungs to fill up with air. After that, she started to move around a little bit and try to open up her eyes. We eventually gave her a bit of oxygen at 6:18 to help her out a bit. After that, she pinked right up and started to move around. She had the prettiest red lips. She looked like she was pouting! I noticed how big her feet were. She had all ten fingers and all ten toes. I was in complete awe of her. She was opening her eyes so we dimmed the lights. At 6:30pm, she was latched on and nursing. She latched on like a champ! I was very, very sore so the ladies put a few towels in the water for me to sit on to help. The midwife asked if I was having any cramping to see if the placenta was ready to come out. I was having some, but not a lot.
We decided to get out of the pool at 6:40pm and head to the bedroom to lay down on the bed. It was definitely weird to be walking around with the baby still attached to me - placenta still attached, cord still attached, baby still attached to both. We made it the bedroom and we put lots of pads down on the bed. At 6:59pm, Darci did a newborn test to see if the baby was in alignment - perfect! She also did her magic on my back as well. After that was all done, the cord had stopped pulsing so Kris cut it at 7:12pm while I breastfed her. It always makes me sad to have the cord cut. She was wrapped up in a towel and I let my friend Becky hold her. Totally sweet. After Becky held her, we got Kris in the room to hold her as well. He was busy draining the pool during all of this. The placenta was eventually delivered at 7:19pm and put in the little bucket in the bathroom to be looked at. My vitals and her vitals were checked during this time and everything was super great with both of us. We took bets on her weight. I knew she was small so I figured she was on the low-end of 7 pounds. She weighed in at 7 lbs 13 ounces and a little over 20 inches long. She was my smallest baby by an ounce!
My parents' and boys showed up to see their new sister. They were all excited to see her! Pace made her a little card welcoming her to the world. They all inspected her. Liam commented right away that her "pee pee" was small! While my mom was holding her, we started getting the herbal after bath ready for us. I could not wait for this bath. Zoelle and I got into the water. She was SO alert, just looking around. She would stretch out those itty bitty bird legs and kick my belly. I could not stop looking at her. I was just amazed that she was finally here and we were at home! We stayed in the water together for about 20 minutes. Zoelle was wrapped up in a fluffy towel and held by my midwifes daughter. I sat on the toilet for a while since I needed to pee before my midwife could leave. I had the urge to pee for a while but nothing would come out. I sat on the toilet and my midwife inspected my placenta. She explained it all to me. What a beautiful placenta. I find placentas to be amazing! I eventually pee'd during all of this so once I was done, I got dressed.
We had my placenta double bagged and placed in the freezer. Once the weather warms up, I'm going to bury it outside and eventually have a tree/flower planted over it. I literally could not throw it out in the garbage considering this organ kept my baby alive for 9 months. We did the newborn exam out in the living room. We checked all of her vitals again and inspected her body. We took pictures and just sat in awe of her. She was beautiful! Gorgeous! The midwife explained our care instructions for the next couple of days. I had to do simple things like take our temperature a few times a day and record diaper output. Kris helped the midwife load up the rest of her things and off she went!
I knew I needed to rest but I could not sleep at all. All I could do was lay on the bed and just hold her, stare at her. I was so very proud of myself for having her at home. I did it. My birth story is not typical. It was a strange labor. I did have some thoughts and emotions at times doubting things. I began to wonder if something was seriously wrong. The thought of transferring to the hospital did cross my mind. Some people have asked why I did not have my water broken. The one thing that sticks out most about my labor with Liam was having my water broken at 7/8cms. My labor with him was very mild until they broke my water, then it got painful and intense. I did not want that with this pregnancy at all. I wanted nature to take its course. I had faith in the process - either it would break on its own or she would be born in the caul. I don't know if she would have been born sooner had I chose to have it broken. I don't know why she took so long to descend. I really think that Darci, the chiropractor, helped me out a TON. I think I was so out of alignment that her poor head just couldn't turn. But then again, maybe that had nothing to do with it! Maybe she just didn't want to come out until she was good and ready. The only thing that kept me strong and positive was knowing that she had a wonderful heart rate the entire time. I walked away from my birth knowing that babies do not come on schedules. Stages of labor should not be on a time schedule. "Failure to descend" = "Failure to wait". We waited and she came. As long as mom and baby are doing well, there is no harm in waiting in out!
All in all, would I do it over again? Absolutely. It was an amazing experience. I think every woman can have a natural birth in the hospital AND at home. Birth does not have to be scary. Trust your body, it is AMAZING. It was so nice to be at home after she was born - not having nurses bother us every few hours. Not having to eat gross food. All in all, a very positive and empowering process!!
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